I have a kitty on my keyboard, and this is making it EXTREMELY difficult to type. I legitimately have no clue what to blog about, yet again (I sense a recurring theme here towards the end of Blaugust here). So. I guess I am going to do another lore segment. Mostly because these things are fun, and I have a really interesting topic today. It’s not a person, like my last few posts have been, but this is a… faction of sorts. The An-Xileel.
Towards the end of the 3rd Era, when the Oblivion Crisis was happening all over Tamriel, there was a group of Argonians (lizard people) in the Black Marsh gaining political power called the An-Xileel. Now, a little backstory is probably required for those who’ve never played TES IV: Oblivion. The Oblivion Crisis is the name for when Mehrunes Dagon tried to take over Tamriel by opening portals from his realm of Oblivion and allowing his daedric henchmen to storm the cities. In Oblivion, the main story is focused around your character putting a stop to Dagon, and ending the invasion once and for all. While the game itself is centered on Cyrodiil, the seat of the Septim Dynasty’s capital, you’re lead to believe that similar events are happening across the entire continent. Now back to the An-Xileel. The Black Marsh was nowhere near as well defended as Cyrodiil, but the Argonian army were the kings of guerilla warfare.
The An-Xileel had already been spreading anti-imperial propaganda around the Black Marsh. They were gaining power and support around the time the first Oblivion gates opened up. Now guerilla fighting is all well and good, but when faced with a seemingly limitless horde of fiery demons, hit and run tactics will only get you so far. In a last ditch effort, the An-Xileel effort prepared a counterstrike, into the gates of Oblivion itself. They sent a massive force of their best warriors, and rebuffed the invasion force to such a degree that Mehrunes Dagon reportedly closed all of his portals into the Black Marsh.
After the Oblivion Crisis was over, the An-Xileel obviously gained massive support from the people, and earned enormous political sway in the Argonian capital of Lilmoth. They used this power and support to secede from the empire, and turned their eyes to securing their borders. In the early years of the 4th era (some 200+ years before the events of Skyrim), the Argonians invaded Morrowind (homeland of the Dunmer or Dark Elves), preying on the weakness left in the wake of the daedric invasion. For centuries, the Dunmer had been making skirmish raids into the borders of the Black Marsh and taking Argonians into forced slavery, so this was the Argonians’ chance to send a clear message in response. The invasion decimated the already weakened Dunmer forces, and sacked several cities before the Great Houses (the aristocracy of the Dunmer) were finally able to halt the advance. The An-Xileel weren’t particularly interested in the land they took during the invasion, but the message they left was clear, and the Dunmer were scattering between the onslaught of the An-Xileel and the eruption of the Red Mountain several years earlier. They eventually were driven back to the borders of Black Marsh, but not before devastating the southern portion of Morrowind, and making it clear that they would suffer no more slaves to be taken by the Dunmer.
The Argonians secession from the empire marked the rapid increase in what had been an already slowly decaying unification. A century and a half later, Valenwood and Elswyr (home of the Wood Elves and Khajiit respectively) had been ceded to the Aldmeri dominion. Morrowind was a ghost of it’s former self between the losses during the Oblivion crisis and the Argonian invasion, and Hammerfell (home of the Redguard people) was on the brink of it’s own civil war. A few years later, the Aldmeri Dominion invaded on two fronts, which ultimately led to the events that occur in Skyrim.