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Tsaesci are a race featured in the Elder Scrolls series. They are vampiric, serpent-like humanoids.
The First Tsaesci Invasion
For thousands of years, the Tsaesci lived, and presumably thrived, on Akavir, without disturbing or being disturbed by Tamriel. Late in the First Era, around 2703, the Tsaesci invaded Tamriel, at a time when the Cyrodilic Empire was still fairly small. This invasion is usually credited with forcing the Colovian Empire to officially join the Cyrodilic Empire, under then-Emperor King Reman I. The invaders managed to fight their way through northern Tamriel, into the Jerall Mountains near modern-day Bruma. Reman eventually defeated the Tsaesci, trapping them at Pale Pass and cutting off their supply lines until they died or fled back to Akavir.
After their defeat, the Empire granted amnesty to many of the remaining Tsaesci men, including taking them on in key political and military roles. The Tsaesci presumably bred into the Imperial families, as Tsaesci surnames are now considered a thing of pride among Imperial nobility. There are rumored to be small clans of "true" Akaviri still on Tamriel, though the details are inconsistent. The military prowess of the Tsaesci was one of the key reasons the Empire was able to expand as successfully as it did.
A Serpent King
At the end of the First Era, in 1E 2920, a Tsaesci Potentate named Versidue Shaie was advisor to Emperor Reman III as part of the emperor's attempt to conquer Morrowind. A theory states that the Potentate was secretly plotting to eliminate the royal family (another possible source of their depiction as "snake-men"), and eventually succeeded. The heirs of Reman III were all killed, in battle or by hired assassins, and eventually Reman himself died without a successor. The Potentate assumed command of the Empire, and ruled for over 300 years before being assassinated by the Morag Tong. His son then ruled for another 100 years, before he was also assassinated and the Elder Council put an Imperial back on the throne. At that point, the Tsaesci and Akavir in general disappeared from historical record, until the time of Uriel V and his Akaviri invasion.
Uriel & the Tsaesci
Around 3E 290, near the end of his reign, Emperor Uriel Septim V launched an invasion of Akavir. Uriel had mostly succeeded in stabilizing his empire on Tamriel, including retaking lands recently lost to revolt, and was anxious to focus the might of the Empire outside of itself. Relying primarily on information retained from the First Era Potentates, and extensive reconnaissance of the areas between Akavir and Tamriel, the Emperor launched a military initiative to conquer the small island kingdoms in the Padomaic Ocean, to the east of Morrowind. When he finally reached Akavir itself (roughly 4200 miles east of Tamriel), he landed in the kingdom of Tsaesci, on the southeastern Akaviri coast.
According to the official record of the invasion, it was initially successful, but primarily due to a lack of Tsaesci resistance. Once the Tsaesci armies decided to put up a fight, the Imperial armies were routed in short order, with nearly the entire invasion force lost. Only a fraction of one naval fleet managed to return across the ocean to safety back home. The Emperor himself was killed before he was able to flee Akavir, and to date there have not been any subsequent attempts to invade the continent. In addition to the obvious military prowess of the Tsaesci, there are persistent rumors that the Tsaesci mages possess very potent abilities, including changing the weather patterns off the Akaviri coast, and large-scale disruption of magical communication lines.
Even though the Tsaesci are the best known of Akavir's inhabitants, very little is known about them, and much of it is contradictory or cryptic. Within the current lore of Tamriel, there are two quite different depictions of the Tsaesci. Some evidence seems to indicate that they are humans, much like the Nords and Redguards from their respective continents. Other evidence, however, paints a much stranger picture, as vampiric snake-like creatures that feed on humans. One source says that the serpentine beings are tall and beautiful with golden scales.
Regardless of which of the views of the Tsaesci people are correct, there is a good bit of information available on their culture, dating from the time of their first invasion. They were known as powerful warriors, especially when mounted, and are very disciplined soldiers. Their battle prowess made them ideal as guardsmen, and by the Third Era, the descendants of Akaviri men were training nearly the entire Imperial Army, Imperial Guard, and made up the bulk of the Fighter's Guild and the Emperor's personal guard. The Emperors of Cyrodiil also traditionally kept a Tsaesci advisor, or Potentate, on hand.
The Tsaesci fought with daikatana blades, and wore dragonscale armor, their army gear became the source of most of the traditional raiment and banners of the Blades. They also apparently had tamed, and perhaps even rode, the Akaviri dragons in battle. The red dragon was eventually adopted as the main symbol of the Imperial Septim Dynasty. Of particular note, Reman I was the Emperor who instituted the tradition of lighting the dragonfires, and was ruling Cyrodiil at the time of the Tsaesci invasion.
In addition to being powerful individual warriors, the Tsaesci are very potent as a unified military force. A relatively small invasion force managed to fight its way through all of Skyrim, and into the northern Jerall Mountains, before ultimately being stopped only by the combined armies of Cyrodiil, Colovia, and their allies. When Uriel V invaded Akavir, with as large an army as he dared pull out of Cyrodiil, he was soundly defeated by a Tsaesci army that, by all reports, was barely even seen before they struck. The military prowess of the Tsaesci so impressed Reman I that he granted amnesty to any Tsaesci left on Tamriel after their failed invasion, and promoted a Tsaesci adviser to the high political office of Potentate.
They seem to make buildings of stone as evidenced by Cloud Ruler and Sky Haven Temple. They have blood seals that can only be triggered by a specific kind. The Tsaesci appear heavily based on feudal Japan judging by their armor, weapons, and buildings. They use hieroglyphic-like murals for story telling. In the book called the Annals of the Dragonguard, a map with their written language can be seen.
Trivia & Notes
- Tsaesci can presumably live for hundreds of years.