Conflicting Accounts: Davon’s Watch

I saw his form limned in ash and torment
Abreast two beasts of war / The township quaked
They sang to him / Women in fiery form
Darvon [sic] was no more / And the Beast was sealed

Back when Tamriel Rebuilt was still trying to play nice with The Elder Scrolls: Online lore, I wrote up this post to help bridge the gap between our differing canons. Like much of ESO’s lore, it wasn’t well received by the rest of the developer team. The planned series was discontinued, and this post lives on solely on my blog.

For those of you curious about what happened to Davon’s Watch in Tamriel Rebuilt, I’ll just point you to this particular town instead.

Author’s Note

Not many official records exist of the Second Era, and our most intact accounts of the time reside in songs and folktales instead. I have compiled a list for you, Master Kogothil, of the most puzzling mysteries of the Interregum, as well as their respective folk references. These will hopefully shed a little more of the Tribunal’s light on just what had truly occurred during this time period in our great nation.

Davon’s Watch

Davon’s Watch was a Inner Sea port governed by House Indoril. In the Second Era, some accounts tell of the city coming under fire by magi of the Daggerfall Covenant, who burned the city to ruins. A popular lyrical account of the time reads thus:

I saw his form limned in ash and torment
[He/They; both are sung] strode forth
Abreast two beasts of war / And the township quaked
They sang to him / Women in fiery form
Darvon [sic] was no more / The Beast was sealed
Underneath [the lyrics here are untranslatable]
To fire's calling / The fires answered
We cry aloud the heresies
Of their slaughter of our own

One could gather that this Beast was the Covenant’s lead battlemage as seen during the attack, outfitted with his offensive enchantments. However, phrases from other sources make the reference less clear. “A golem made of bone as high as a mountain” is found in the seventh stanza of the Chantey of the Sea Wrights, a song originating in High Rock at the time of the Second Era. This traditional ballad details the making of the ships that carried men from High Rock to war across Tamriel during the Interregum, and for this reason is often regarded as a true historical account.

While most of the song is dedicated to describing the craftsmanship and magic that went into making the Breton war galleys (making it popular among ship wrights now as a kind of workman’s chantey, lending to its name), the last two verses paint an entirely different picture. Historians will be excused for discounting these, as they are often left out due to the length of the song and are not well known, but as I see it, their message is remarkably similar to the lyrical account above, and so may hold clues for the Davon’s Watch mystery.

These two verses–which I will not reproduce here for similar concerns as to their length–describe images of fire and death, which one can only assume refer to the great battle in which the war galleys met their end. Could this great battle be the destruction of Davon’s Watch as a once-great sea port by outsiders? Earlier verses, such as “to a land of mushrooms and their golden faces” further imply this battle took place inside Morrowind. (To those pointing out that “golden faces” could just as easily mean Altmer as well as Ordinators, I make reference to this silly ditty from Old Ebonheart: “Where skins had to go dour colored for lacking of dye/ they would moan and shout out, asking for a gift of the sky/but wherein Azura, so sick of the cries/did tear down that old station and leave them to die.”)

And yet, as my detractors would quickly rebut, how could any foreign navy ever penetrate so deep into our country’s heartland? The garrisons in Telvannis and the city of Baan Malur would surely have spotted and stopped the approach of several large war galleys from the West. The Covenant would have needed to employ powerful Illusion magic indeed to get past the watchful eyes of both Telvanni and Redoran! For this reason, some scholars suggest there was no invasion of all, and the symbolism refers instead to a great volcano, similar to Red Mountain, that wiped Davon’s Watch from history, and in doing so, collapsed as a mount and became the Ashlands of Armun and the Sundered Scar.

To which I ask, what then does the reference towards a golem of bone mean, if not an attack by a Covenant atronach? Was this a reference to an Indoril bonewalker perhaps, helping to dredge victims for the ashes? Or, given the rest of the song’s proclivity towards metaphor, was it merely to describe the incredible death toll: corpses of the city’s inhabitants, heaped as high as a mountain? Admittedly, a verse taken from the same song gives this theory more credence: “The ancestors shrilled in dismay at grave terror unleashed.” However, other versions of the song replace “grave” with “the grave’s”, suggesting the terror was an intentional entity rather than a general disaster.

As you can see, none of my research into songs of the era proved conclusive, so my studies next took me to the beaches of the Sundered Scar in hope of more clues. In about the same location as old maps place Davon’s Watch is a ramshackle village of huts that the local fisherfolk call Ildrim. The village’s elders remember a time when the village’s name was instead “Darnim,” in reference either to a large hill abutting the Inner Sea, or a hero who once lived in the town. A favorite folktale of the area makes reference to a Darnim “watching for monsters by the waters”; these monsters come either from Red Mountain or a pair of dormant volcanoes, depending on the tale-teller. This wording intrigued me so much that I asked the elder if he could recall anything about an entity called Darnim or Davon. Sadly, the elder only shrugged his shoulders and said they sounded like Aldmeri names, not Dunmeri, and suggested I take a look through old censuses to find it.

As wise as our ancestors and their living kin are, I took his advice, bringing me to the last leg of my research. The city of Necrom contains records of some of the oldest families in Morrowind, and I used these to trace back all great Indoril families that may have once lived in the Ildrim area. And I did indeed find some! Avani, Daveleth, and of course Indoril were among those listed. Curiously, many of these family lines ended abruptly at the same time Davon’s Watch fell off the maps.

Coincidence? I think not! The name Indoril in particular was marked with many deaths at this time period, indicating that an arm of the great family may have fell in defense of the city. Of course, my eyes may be deceiving me as they seek for evidence of my theory on Covenant aggression, and it just as easily could have been from a natural disaster, or another rash of Indoril honor-deaths protesting a controversial change to history, like those committed after the signing of the Armistice.

Unfortunately, Master Kogothil, my research here comes to an end, and remains inconclusive. Whatever caused the destruction of Davon’s Watch, only two things are clear: there did indeed exist a grand city a few days’ march east of the mouth of the Thirr River at one time, and this city was destroyed and its inhabitants killed in a short stretch of time during the Second Era. Now there only remains the fishing town of Ildrim, built in the same cove, and its ramshackle appearance belies the idea that this village could have ever been something as grand as the legendary Davon’s Watch. Whether this great destruction was caused by war, a natural disaster, or Indoril politics, we may never know.

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