THE HISTORY OF AZURA’S WATCH
By Senarus Carnutius
BEFORE THE COLONY
Before the Imperial arrival, the island was home to a thriving Bosmeri civilization. It is not known when the first Bosmers came over, but their few sources still talk about a great Age of Paradise when they lived at one with nature under utopian conditions. As influence from outside grew, the Bosmers mixed with Redguards, Cyrodiilians and even Altmers and became a mixed people that somewhat still followed old Bosmeri traditions.
Under the reign of their Great King Vasator the Warlike, they erected a great stone citadel in the east of the island which still stands today as a monument to their greatness. The kingdom on the island projected some power, but after his death, it soon fell apart and today only scattered remnants of Vasator’s kingdom remain as uncivilized tribes across the island. They have been mostly peaceful towards the Imperial colony, but are known to make raids if they feel their homeland is being violated. Recently, these raids have intensified as the colony grows and more and more impact is made upon the surrounding environment.
The Third Tribe came to the island during more recent events. When Red Mountain erupted in 4E 5, it left the island of Vvardenfell in Morrowind a desolate and uninhabitable wasteland. Many Dunmers sought refuge in the bordering provinces. Due to some Dunmeri superstition, parts of the Urshilaku nomadic tribe, came by ship to Azura’s Watch and settled in the south east of the island. This caused uproar amongst the Bosmer tribes and a series of tribal wars have been fought between the newly arrived “Ashlanders” and the already settled Bosmers. This is also part of why the “Ashlanders” have been mostly left alone by the colonial government – they keep the other tribes busy.
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE COLONY
Imperial/Cyrodiilic presence on the island dates back several decades before the first official settlement expedition was sent out. Mostly, the island was used for replenishment and temporary basing for Cyrodiilic privateers, traders and explorers. No permanent settlement had been founded though, and in 3E 399, it was decided that a permanent Cyrodiilic colony was to be founded on the island to once and for all plant the Imperial banner there. The earliest documents referring to Azura’s Watch in the Imperial Library date back from 399 when The Emperor signed the orders to construct a fleet and outfit settlers for the island.
The end of the 3E 390’s were a time of turmoil and many wars in the Empire. The first expedition to the island had no shortage on willing settlers who wished to move away from the political strife on the mainland and settle paradise. Early reconnaissance spoke of the island as pure paradise and it was as such it was marketed to the early settling families who joined the colonisation effort. The first expedition was led by Captain Kerah Hawker, a Redguard sailor with a questionable past as a “high seas adventurer” (read pirate) but with extensive knowledge of the island and a staunch follower of the Empire. The expedition consisted of fourteen transport ships and three warfrigates which was a tremendous input of resources from the Imperial government.
On the twentieth of Sun’s Dusk, 3E 399, Hawker and his men went ashore in what is now the Colonia Bay. On the next day, the landing of settlers and equipment started and lasted for two days. Hawker officially founded the colony ten days after the landing, on the first of Evening Star, but construction of the initial buildings had already started. He named it simply Colonia, which in the Imperial tongue means “Colony” and by Imperial decree Hawker was also the first governor.
PLANTATION ECONOMY AND PRIVATEERING
The settlers had been promised a careless life in paradise, but they found hard, sweaty work, aggressive natives and a scorching sun to be challenges. They were hardy, persevered and endured. Colonia was expanded to house the settlement; warehouses for exports were built and an initial harbour area that could serve merchant ships was built. Fort Delta (named so after being situated on a little island of the Azura River Delta) was started, but was initially nothing but woodworks and simple palissade fortifications housing nothing but a garrison of rag-tag war veterans who hardly wore armour.
The initial exports went well and money poured into the colony. Exports then, like now, included exotic fruit, cotton, potatoes and other tropical goods, like tropical wood. Hawker ordered the building of an impressive governor’s mansion at the outskirts of the colony. The first real stone building was thereby started, followed by an upgrade to the harbour as well as the fort. The great tower of Fort Delta was built during these days as well. Hawker saw his colony expand and flourish during his lifetime but he passed away in 3E 416.
Riches were pouring in and attracted attention in both positive and negative perpectives. During the 3E 430’s two very rich families appeared in Azura’s Watch. Natus Cornelius, who was among the first settlers, had built a small farm in the north west of the island and his son, Natus II Cornelius expanded the farm to become a grand plantation during the 430’s. The Rockfall family arrived in the late 430’s from Cyrodiil seeking refuge from religious persecution. It was said that they had been followers of the Mythic Dawn cult but that has not been proven. In Colonia the Rockfalls indulged in money lending and soon founded The Rockfall Bank.
Azura’s Watch attracted a lot of new settlers, especially since the native population on the island remained peaceful towards the settlers. As the colony expanded east, there were some tensions though, which led to some bloodshed on occasion. Especially the Red Mushroom Lake incident in 4E 17 became famous. The road between Colonia and Red Mushroom Lake was being built and this offended the tribes. The Taerwak attacked the builders from the north at the lake and a bloody fight ensued. Several builders as well as natives were killed and word was sent to Fort Delta. An army detachment arrived on the next day only to find the builders surrounded by howling natives at an improvised fortification at the lake. Legion captain Mooreford did not attack, but instead negotiated with the natives. The Taerwak then pulled back north. Mooreford was the hero of the day and even became the next governor for his action at Red Mushroom Lake. The natives had a lot of respect for him and he even managed to persuade them to continue pulling the road from the lake all the way to their village as trade and relations between the colony and the natives became stronger. The other tribes were not as friendly, but never attacked the colony outright or in an organized manner.
Most of the new settlers to Azura’s Watch were peaceful and came for good purposes like fleeing persecution, looking for work or just the want of a better life. Some new arrivals to the colony were not as positive. The flourishing economic expansion attracted criminal elements as well, like smugglers, thieves, slavers and pirates. The slave economy on the island flourished, and although prohibited by Imperial Law, continued to expand. The great plantations and farms often employed cheap, hard working slave labour.
Piracy flourished and as the pirates started targeting Imperial shipping in the early Fourth Era, the governors of Azura’s Watch made a plea to the Imperial government in Cyrodiil to actually issue inofficial letters of marque to the pirates. This was done to end the piracy against Imperial shipping and aim it in the direction of the Empire’s enemies instead. The idea proved an immense success. Azura’s Watch’ perfect location for privateering against the growing Aldmeri Dominion empire and its rich northern trade lanes meant that pirates and men of violence flocked to the colony. The pirates brought in large amounts of plunder that was sold through the traders of Colonia while the Imperial government looked the other way. The island became a thorn in The Dominion’s side.
THE GREAT WAR
In 4E 171, the Aldmeri Dominion invaded The Empire and made swift advances in Cyrodiil and Hammerfell. Azura’s Watch’ situation immediately became very precarious since it was situated far from mainland Cyrodiil and rather close to Aldmeri territory. Defences on the island were perfected and all able men and women were drafted into the island’s defence force. The town Council suggested to Governor Valet that the island should negotiate with the Aldmeri to try and avoid an outright invasion, but the governor refused calling them cowards. Instead, he successfully employed the pirates and privateers of the island to carry the war to Aldmeri Dominion homelands. For several years, Azura’s Watch fought a lonely but noble offensive war, while the rest of The Empire was being overrun by Dominion forces. On several occasions Dominion ships were sighted by the watch at Fort Delta but chased off by lightning bolts or even engaged by the privateering fleet.
The privateering war obviously attracted a lot of attention from the Thalmor, especially after several bloody pirate raids were executed against the Dominion mainland in 4E 173-74. In late 4E 174 the Dominion navy showed up and this time they couldn’t be chased away by simple ligtning bolts or privateering hit-and-runs. It was a considerable fleet that blockaded the harbour at Colonia on the 10th of Sun’s Dusk 4E 174 and on the next day, the army started its landing on the island unhindered. By then, Governor Valet and the whole population had escaped into Fort Delta or into the woods.
The Siege of Fort Delta was long and bloody, in fact, it took almost a year. The enemy burned down the whole town around the fort, erected siege weapons, threw magic at the walls and tried several stormings. All attempts at storming, was met by hard resistance. From the woods, guerilla bands operated against the rear of the Dominion siege forces along with native allies and from the sea, Colonia’s pirates and privateers captured Dominion resupply ships, did hit-and-run operations and harassed the enemy effectively.
By the time the peace treaty of the White-Gold Concordat was signed, the siege was still raging. One morning, when the morning watch got up on the walls, they noted that the enemy camp was empty. Scouts were sent out. The enemy had retreated in the dark of night, boarded their ships and left for home. A few days later, it was learned that the peace treaty had been signed the day before the enemy’s surprising departure. The war was over and Azura’s Watch had been saved.
One of the clauses of the White-Gold Concordat was a very clear indication to Azura’s Watch. It stated that The Empire should end its privateering and piracy in the Abecean Sea and the Imperial government was tasked with overseeing policing of the waters and hunting down pirates. This was done half-heartedly at first, but due to complaints at the Imperial court by the Aldmeri Dominion that the clause was not followed, the Aldmeri were allowed to station a permanent observer in Colonia and governor Valet was relieved of duty. The subsequent governors in colonia have rigorously followed through with fighting piracy and restoring peace to the Abecean Sea. Valet, though, lived out his days in Azura’s Watch, a celebrated hero.
Azura’s Watch lies in the western Abecean Sea. It has a warm, pleasant tropical climate. To the west, lies the Sestres archipelago and to the south, is Summerset Isle. Cyrodiil is a fair distance to the east. The island has an Imperial colony and several small native tribes. The Empire is in total political control of the western parts of the island, but indeed, the entire Azura’s Watch area is considered officially Imperial territory.
The main island is completely surrounded by long, warmm white sandy beaches, making it ideal for vacationers from all of Tamriel. In the western areas, the beaches are mostly settled by tourists and locals looking for pleasure in the sun, but out east, the beaches are still untouched and ready for exploration.
Azura’s Watch is commonly called an island. This is not entirely correct, since Azura’s Watch really constitutes a series of islands. If we were to be entirely correct, we’d call it an archipelago. Some geographers insist that Azura’s Watch is a part of The Sestres archipelago. The Azura’s Watch archipelago is dominated by the great main island though with the highest mountains in the north and east.
In the central of the island, we find Red Shroom Lake; the greates of the lakes on the island which also supplies the Colonia River leading south west, out to the sea. Red Shroom Lake gathers the cold waters from the surrounding mountains. Dense tropical forests cover much of the island’s centre.
The very west of the area is covered by a mostly regular tropical environment. Palm trees and tropical plants are among the dominating. This is perhaps why the Imperial colonists settled here, because they were familiar with the climate and found it pleasant.
To the east, the terrain and environment gets more exotic. The great mushrooms dominate the landscape and we find Muckspunge and regular Morrowind Emperor Mushrooms mixing in with the indigenous plants. The Morrowind flora has been brought to the island with the Dunmer settlement and it has conquered much of the east. The areas, including the minor islands, to the south east are good examples, also surrounded by high menhir rocks sticking out of the water, giving the entire environment a strange Morrowind look.