A Refutation of "The Madmen of the Reach"

  • A Refutation of 'The "Madmen" of the Reach'
    Francis Rowland, Imperial Scholar
    Second Seat of the First Division of the Guild of Imperial Scholars for Furthering Facts


    No doubt many have read the essay by my colleague Arrianus Arius, ‘The Madmen of the Reach: A Cultural Treatise on the Forsworn,’ and no doubt those readers have blindly accepted it as the standard on Forsworn culture, holding it up as a defense of their barbaric actions. Even when confronted with the savagery of the Forsworn’s decapitation décor, Miss Arius maintained her defense of their culture. To offer a much-needed second opinion on the matter, I followed in Ms. Arius’ footsteps by speaking with the hoary residents of Markarth, and obtained safe passage to a nearby Forsworn camp where I was able to speak with one of the elders. In addition to chronicling my expedition, I have included notes throughout my Refutation for the vagrants of Skyrim, should they wish to inform themselves on navigating the many present social challenges of the Reach.


    I was shocked to find that upon my entry into the city of Markarth, there were people going about their business like any civilized community might. Either the descriptions of the savage Forsworn I had come to learn were incorrect or I had walked into the wrong city. I learned shortly thereafter that there was in fact an unseen third option -- there were not actually Forsworn within the city walls. This hypothesis was immediately refuted by a problematic looking man who lived up to his guise by stabbing a woman in the market while shouting pledges of loyalty to the Forsworn. I wish I could have spoken with the man before the guards swarmed him, leaving his corpse to lie in the street.

    Traveler’s note: I devised the theory that Markarth’s smell was not in fact due to the poor sewage systems, but the rotting corpses that guards left in the streets for days on end. I brought this to the attention of the Jarl who immediately had me thrown from his court. Avoid Markarth if you value cleanliness and dignity.


    After skirting the inconvenient pair of murders, I sought out one of the “native peoples” that Miss Arius had liaison with previously. The large number of indistinguishable elderly in the city made this a laborious task, however. In desperate need of respite from my search, I sought out the city’s famed fountain of youth -- the Temple of Dibella. It was there I intended to start taking notes for my next book which focuses on the gender-exclusionary, hedonistic culture of the Sisters of Dibella.

    Traveler’s note: The Sisters of Dibella do not practice what they preach.


    After being removed from yet another one of Markarth’s establishments, an elderly woman approached me in the streets near the local theater which was featuring a play about a haunted house, most apt for Frostfall. She demanded that I cease my questioning and leave Markarth at once. With my wits about me, I won her over with a healthy coin purse containing more gold than the poor woman has likely ever seen at once. I was directed to a camp southeast of the city known to the Forsworn as Karthspire Camp.


    I approached the camp per the woman's instructions and was immediately besieged by a sizeable group of near-naked and dirty people dressed in furs and thorns. My elation at having discovered a long lost tribe in the reaches of Skyrim was thwarted when one of the nude savages approached me and claimed himself to be the Forsworn leader of Karthspire Camp. A glimmer of hope returned and I listened to what he had to say.


    The leader’s name was Edwin, an ironic name for someone as poor as he and his flock, but it was at least easy to spell, unlike the common Nord names which to this day I am surprised the Nords can even spell. Though, it may be reasonable to assume that the spelling of Nord names have to do with their illiteracy in the first place. Perhaps I will investigate this and publish my findings in future works.

    Traveler’s note: Do not ever, as far as you can help it, imply that a Nord is unintelligent. Your assertion will be promptly refuted by a sharp head-butt.


    Karthspire Camp is a large Forsworn settlement; half of it is built into a rock face and half of it is built over water, held up by wooden stilts. It is an impressive camp to be sure, assuming one has not experienced modern architecture. The camp sits in a valley and serves as a testament to the Forsworn’s distinct lack of war strategy and forethought. In this case, the Forsworn’s need for seclusion will be their downfall if anyone ever becomes so inclined to stand on a hill and fire arrows down at the inhabitants of the camp.


    I was not given a tour of the camp, but was instead led directly by Edwin to the center back of the camp where his hut resides. On my way to Edwin’s hut, I noticed a distinct lack of livestock and crops in the camp. Perhaps the Forsworn eat the flesh of the animals whose fur and teeth adorn their “armor”, which would include that of bears and saber cats.


    (What the Forsworn lack in grace and intellectualism they certainly make up for in numbers and willingness to die.)


    My notes at the time suggested that a small group of peaceful Forsworn subsisting on leeks and potatoes had taken up residence in a camp Northeast of Markarth. As my notes were more than a year old at this juncture, I did not make an attempt to visit this camp on the only logical conclusion available -- that any peaceful, vegetable-loving Forsworn would have died at the hands of their kinsman or packed up and joined civilization.


    As Ms. Arius observed, I too observed the animal skulls, severed heads, and beating hearts that were as common place in the camp as spoons and forks are in any household. I also observed upwards of a dozen genitals. Because of this, it occurred to me that the Forsworn’s armor is not made to protect, but to scare foes, and entice lovers, much like an Argonian’s head frills.


    Edwin’s hut was the most luxurious of all the straw and mud hovels, furnished with a weather-warped wooden table, two chairs at the table placed opposite one another, an alchemy station tucked into the back corner, and a dagger stabbed into the table through a map. We took our seats across from one another. I thought better of opening the interview with a question regarding the effectiveness of blade over quill for marking.


    When I asked that the map be removed so that I may place my parchment on the table, Edwin threw the map to the ground; he kept the dagger on the table for the duration of our conversation.


    The following section is the transcript of my conversation with Edwin about the culture of the Forsworn and his personal views on their current state of affairs in Skyrim along with personal notations throughout.


    Interview begins


    FR: Now then, Edwin. I presume you know why I’m here?


    E: I know that the elder’s generosity has spared you a quick death at the hands of my people. Ask what you must and leave before my patience runs out.


    FR: Very well then. First, I’d like for you to describe your people. Who are the Forsworn?


    E: You want to know who the Forsworn are? We are the people who must pillage our own land. Burn our own land. We are the scourge–


    FR: Yes, yes, burn your own ground, scourge of the Nords, land that isn’t ours. I am familiar with the speech. Very captivating, passionate. I’d like to get to know the Forsworn in detail, however. What sort of rituals do you and your people perform daily?

    Note: Edwin appeared angry at my interruption. I will send an apology letter and draft a new speech for him to use in the future.


    E: The most sacred ritual my people perform is the Briarheart ritual that uplifts our most superior warriors to supernatural fighters.


    FR: And how is this ritual performed?


    E: With magicks beyond your comprehension.


    FR: Yes, I imagine there are quite powerful magicks at work to keep alive someone whose heart has been replaced by a flower. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, your Briarheart warriors are undead, are they not?


    E: Where did you learn of our practices? What do you really want?


    FR: I only reasoned that there must be some sort of necromancy involved to keep alive someone without a heart. And I’ve told you what I want -- to learn about your people and culture.


    E: You already know a great deal, yet you test me.


    FR: I did not intend any offense, Edwin. I simply seek to explore the depths of the Forsworn culture.


    E: I don’t believe you. Leave, now. Return here, and we will not hesitate to deliver your crippled body to the hags.

    Interview ends


    My findings on the Forsworn have turned up some very damning implications. The Forsworn have demonstrated that they do not value the lives of their own people more than they value the lives of those they kill in the name of a misguided cause. Haphazard surgeries, rampant martyrdom, the distinct lack of basic resource management, and a failure to forge defenses or offenses strong enough to withstand or launch an attack of their own show that the Forsworn are simply not meant for this world. Time and dedication to their suicidal cause will surely see the end of the Forsworn. To this scholar, that sounds like a Tamriel that is better off.


    Francis Rowland, Imperial Scholar
    Second Seat of the First Division of the Guild of Imperial Scholars for Furthering Facts
    Evening Star 18th, 4E 202


    Sucketh it, Arrianus

    TSC's Book and Terminal Event Page


8 Comments   |   Amornar and 7 others like this.
  • Legion
    Legion   ·  August 19
    :D Thanks, guys.  I'm glad I inspired some luls. I'll see if I can dig up my other piece and add another story to the event. 
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  August 19
    Added to event.
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  August 19
    I raise a paw to you Legion. The traveller's Notes is an excellent addition and really help to bring this to life.
    As to the P.S.  Hahaha 
  • Teineeva
    Teineeva   ·  August 19
    I love it, this event is turning out some pretty great works. Those traveler's notes... :D
  • Mega-Dragonborn-of-Doom (1921)
    Mega-Dragonborn-of-Doom (1921)   ·  August 19
    Ah, I'm going to have to go read the other story Legion but this was a rather entertaining read, especially the various traveller's notes (though the bit about genitals was pretty solid as well :P)
  • Paws
    Paws   ·  August 18
    Hey, I remember this! Great to see it back, still lols galore: " Traveler’s note: The Sisters of Dibella do not practice what they preach." Awkward scene the mind's eye conjures, write that next! Also, the Markarth carriage driver's boasts that it is the ...  more
  • Amornar
    Amornar   ·  August 18
    Lol good read Legion. Love that P.S.
    • Legion
      Lol good read Legion. Love that P.S.
        ·  August 18
      Thanks Amornar! The P.S. is my favorite part.