Firsthold (also spelled as First Hold) is one of the eight major cities in the province of the Summerset Isles and is located on the northernmost tip of Auridon, the second-largest island of the archipelago. Just as the name references, Firsthold is the oldest city in the province and was founded by the first Aldmeri inhabitants of Tamriel, who had previously sailed across the Eltheric Ocean to escape the destruction of their homeland, Aldmeris. The city is also where the mage Vanus Galerion founded the original Mages Guild charter and thus provided the common people with access to magic and other arcane pursuits.
Layout and GeographyEdit
Firsthold is located on the highest point of Auridon, in the Vafe region. From here, the city looks across the Abecean Sea to the north. Just off the coast is the small island of Calluis Lar, where local pirates congregate and organize raids on royal ships. Though the city is not built on its shore, Firsthold's position on the peak of Auridon accents the northern end of the Auridon Strait, the body of water between Auridon and Summerset Isle.
Firsthold, in particular, sits at the top of a hill, at the base of a mountain right on the tip of Auridon. It sits in a well-defended spot, surrounded by mountains and separated from the northern Vafe coast by a large river. It also sits above sea level, behind a vast and imposing wall of craggy cliffs. The land around it is heavily forested with maple, laurel and larch trees, and the city itself is at the end of Auridon's roadways.
The southern gate leads to the lower coast on the Auridon Strait. The eastern entrance is a river bridge leading into the greater Vafe region. Firsthold is neighbored by several settlements, one of which includes West Guard to the far southeast. On an island just southwest of the city is Belport Run, which has no road connections to any other part of the province.
Firsthold is noted for its beautiful and clean cityscape. Its docks are described as pristine and their streets are supposedly made from crystals and silk, and shine like mirrors.[UOL 1] The central city section is centered around a river canal that forms a Y-shape and divides the area into threes. The western section of Firsthold is an open parkland with a cave entrance and a winding road to the southwest gate. The eastern section between rivers is filled with homes and the local Mages Guild, while the north section is the Firsthold castle grounds.
The Diceto is a great river that runs through the city's royal parks and Kanthleaves grow around the area. Overlooking the Abecean Sea are the city's high cliff palaces, of which includes Firsthold's palace, where the royal family lives. The palace is described as enormous and shines bright like a white diamond.[UOL 1] Underneath the cliffside wall is the port town, built into a tightly protected hollow that is big enough to fit large ships.
The Lay of Firsthold and the Odyssey of TopalEdit
Firsthold was founded sometime in the mid-early Merethic Era by the original Altmer ancestors of Auridon, the Ancients. The northernmost shore of the island, known now as Nine Prows Landing, is considered by tradition the first place where these ancestors first landed. As the story goes, from their lost home of Aldmeris, High Lord Torinaan led the Ancients across the Eltheric Ocean to this very spot.
Scholars give different dates when the Aldmer arrived on Tamriel. Fenlil the Wayfarer's research leaves him to believe it was in the middle of the early Merethic Era, but Aicantar of Shimmerene states it to be the middle Merethic Era, which by then, the aboriginal beastfolk of the mainland had already built preliterate communities. In any case, Torinaan proclaimed himself Kinlord of the land and named it Auridon, enchanted by the golden dawn. He swore an oath to never depart from his new kinhold and built his home.
Since then, the Ancients had spread themselves out across the Summerset Isles, and although more kinholds were founded since, Torinaan's home will always be the "first among holds", hence the name. Some years later, by the time the Aldmer had settled Summerset Isle, Firsthold was a port. The Third Era author, Florin Jaliil was able to translate the Aldmeris journal of Topal the Pilot, known as the Unhendra Nibenu and thus provide context for his Merethic Era voyages. The book describes three ships were given the task of finding a way back to Aldmeris, using Firsthold as their launch site. While the first ship and its pilot are unknown, the second was the Pasquiniel helmed by Illio, and the third was the Niben, helmed by Topal himself.
After traveling northeast to present-day Tamriel, only the Niben returned to Firsthold and it was laden with all sorts of items, from gold, spice, furs, and strange creatures. Sometime later, Topal leaves again for Tamriel and roughly eighty months later, according to Florin Jaliil, he is on the eastern Tamrielic coast, between the Necrom region and Black Marsh, looking for a passage back to Firsthold. In a miscalcuation, Topal had inadvertently discovered the eponymous Topal Bay, the Niben River named after his ship, and Lake Rumare. Florin Jaliil further theorizes that after coming back down the river and traveling southward, Topal and the Niben were able to return back home to Firsthold.
House Rilis and the Mages GuildEdit
Sometime after Torinaan's reign over Firsthold, the city came under the control of House Rilis, starting from High Kinlord Rilis I. They were described as a line of proud warriors and have fought in conflicts of the past, like when Rilis III fought in the Battle of Ten Maws.
Though much of Summerset's history throughout the First and Second Eras is largely unknown to the mainland, what is known is that internal conflicts occurred between the cities, like Skywatch and Firsthold, and they often sparked to full-out war. The legacy of House Rilis, however, went untouched until the reign of Rilis XII, who in his youth was a hero of the people but hid a darker side that proved to be his ultimate downfall.
During his rule, the Psijic student, Vanus Galerion began to assemble like-minded magic users to his new enterprise based in Firsthold's urban center, at the time known as "Galerion's Folly". At that point, magic was something that only the upper echelon of society and academia could use, and it was only something practiced out in secluded areas. But Vanus Galerion hoped to introduce the arcane arts to the common folk and even provide services for anyone in need.
The Master of Incunabula, Valaste writes in her essay discussing the Kinlord's role in the guild's founding, that Rilis XII saw this enterprise as an opportunity to play mages and commoners against each other and in 2E 230, initiated the Charter Conclave, a meeting between him, Vanus Galerion and the Ritemaster of the Psijic Order, Iachesis to formally lay out Galerion's intentions. Though no records exist of this meeting, the Mages Guild was formally approved and was spread out across Tamriel, at the time Galerion even gained the title of "First Mage of Firsthold". By then, Rilis XII was already interested in daedric affairs, making pacts and dealing in evil magic. In his pursuit of power, he ordered the Great Orrery's disassembly and fired the Varmaster when it could not predict his future in 2E 235.
Rilis XII's downfall came when he presented his powers and its possibilities to other nobles. But in fear, he was sentenced to the Banished Cells however his immense power and daedric pact proved to be too much to sustain him. Upon his death, his son, Rilis XIII sealed his spirit within a binding stone and enlisted the Keepers with the life-long task of guarding him. With his father left in prison, Prince Rilis XIII takes up his throne as the High Kinlord of Firsthold.
Rilis XIII's reign and the Daedric InvasionEdit
Rilis XIII continued his governance of Auridon many years later. With his father's death, he decided to leave behind Castle Rilis and instead lived in Firsthold Castle within the city limits. Even though Skywatch was still the region's capital, he saw fit to remain close to his ancestral home. Rilis XIII was High Kinlord when High King Hidellith passed away in 2E 580. Upon the news, Princess Ayrenn returned to the Summerset Isles via the city docks in Firsthold, where she was greeted by the Court of Alinor, her friends and family.
In the short time since her ascension to the throne, Queen Ayrenn formed the Aldmeri Dominion with the Bosmer of Valenwood and the Khajiit of Elsweyr. To familiarize herself with the newly united realm, Ayrenn and her court took a tour across the Aldmeri Dominion, and in 2E 582, she traveled through Auridon. However, a radical group of Altmer called the Veiled Heritance sprung their attack against the Dominion. After High Kinlady Estre of Skywatch revealed herself to be the group's leader, the Veiled Heritance began their large-scale attack on Auridon, beginning with the town of Dawnbreak.
Rilis XIII expressed to Estre his decision to remain neutral and would rather have Auridon's best interests in mind. Ultimately, however, Firsthold was the most important stronghold in turning the tides of this war. After she escaped from Skywatch, Estre arrived and was accepted into Firsthold with open arms by Rilis XIII, who was completely unaware of her treachery. Without a moment's notice, Estre summoned oblivion gates to the Deadlands and daedra poured into the city. Estre sealed Firsthold Castle with a powerful barrier, powered by wards and guarded by Dremora. Ayrenn's battlereeve, Urcelmo led the counterattack from the Mages Guild and commanded a militia made from the Eyes of the Queen and the Eagle's Talons.
An Agent of the Dominion rendezvoused with Urcelmo and began their plan to retake the city. While mages of the guild were performing a ritual to break the barrier, the Agent was out in Firsthold, dispelling the wards with a talisman. With the barrier broken, a final push toward Firsthold Castle was made. Before confronting High Kinlady Estre, the Agent destroyed oblivion gates around the castle and entered the final one in Firsthold Castle with their companions, Razum-dar, Battlereeve Urcelmo, and the mage Sinien. In the caldera of the Refuge of Dread, they had their final battle with the High Kinlady and saved Firsthold. High Kinlord Rilis XIII was saved and Queen Ayrenn finished her tour through Auridon in the aftermath of the battle. The Queen sent the Agent across the sea to Elden Root to assist the King of the Wood Elves.
Firsthold and Auridon had been saved from a daedric invasion but it took some time for the city to recover fully. Text and reference works were lost from the Firsthold Royal Library and so the High Kinlord asked leading experts across the region to replace old text with new accounts. The skilled blacksmith from Vulkhel Guard, Vandalion Brightsteel provided his definitive description to making Summerset glass armor.
Firsthold in the Third Era and onwardEdit
According to the historical-fiction The Wolf Queen, in 3E 80, Prince Amiel of the Septim family visited Firsthold to meet the Archmagister of the Mages Guild. In 3E 110, the kings of the Summerset Isles formed a unified alliance to combat the Maormer in their last-known invasion of the province, the War of the Isle. Despite having assistance from Emperor Antiochus and the Imperial Navy, the Maormer were defeated because of a supernatural storm accredited to the Psijic Order.
When Pelagius became the King of Solitude, he was visited by the Princess of Firsthold who famously wrote to her brother that "the king's gripped my hand and it felt like I was being clutched by a skeleton. Pelagius is greatly emaciated, indeed." Even though just five months earlier, he was described as a "hale and hearty soul with a heart so big, it widens his waist".
During the Imperial Simulacrum in the late Third Era, the city-state of Firsthold was an active settlement. It was ruled by King Kalalian and had a rivalry with Cloudrest. By the turn of the fifth century, Firsthold was ruled by King Reman Karoodil, whose son later died around 3E 405. At around this time, he was encountered by the King of Worms, Mannimarco, who provided Reman the means to communicate with him for a short time. In exchange for this service, however, the King became engaged with the Princess of Wayrest, Morgiah and officially married three years later in 3E 408.
Morgiah's arrival to the otherwise insular Summerset Isles brought her contempt from many locals and peasants. Many of them took to calling her "the Black Queen" but King Karoodil paid no mind to it. This resentment also resided in nobility, most notably with Lady Gialene, King Karoodil's chief concubine and daughter of the King of Skywatch, who partnered with the Trebbite Monks to coordinate Morgiah's downfall.
While the King was away dealing with pirates on Calluis Lar, the Trebbite Monks revolted in a well-coordinated attack on the city. But Morgiah was able to outsmart her detractors by feeding Gialene false intel and thus convincing the Trebbite Monks to use mysticism to cast reflective spells on themselves. On the dawn of the siege, however, Morgiah, instead of using battlemages as believed, used archers to shoot them down. And with the reflective spell, denied them magical healing. The monks were defeated and forced to retreat, while Lady Gialene was sent back to her father's court in Skywatch.
As the years went by, the royal couple bore children, Prince Goranthir and Princess Rinnala who despite their Altmer ancestry, were fully Dunmer in appearance. Though many people in Firsthold could not bear the idea of non-Altmer inheriting the throne, the two were eligible by the late years of the Third Era. At that time, the younger generation of Altmer in the province had grown accustomed to and gained respect for mainland Tamriel's foreign cultures and races, while also heavily criticizing the rigid hierarchy and xenophobia of their people. When the two children inherited their parents' throne is unknown, but after the death of Potentate Ocato of Firsthold and the subsequent Stormcrown Interregnum, the Thalmor were quick to claim power over the province. Not only did they overthrow the monarchy across the isles but they also conducted one of their many pogroms against those who were not "of the blood of the Aldmer" as well as dissidents.
Firsthold is an important city on the island of Auridon. For much of history, it was the seat of power for House Rilis, the royal family that ruled all over the island for many generations. Though other places like Dawnbreak and Silsailen are administrated by their local canonreeve, the general Firsthold region was under their control. Despite its position in the region's politics, it was neither the capital nor where the family lived until much later. The southern city of Skywatch is considered Auridon's capital while the Rilis family lived in the eponymous Castle Rilis until after Rilis XII's reign. Rilis XIII was the first to make Firsthold his home and the seat of his power.
Historically, Firsthold's rulers went by the title of High Kinlord or High Lord, thus the land is recognized as a kinhold. The family is generally known as the Royal House of Firsthold[UOL 1] or more simply the high family. By the Third Era, Firsthold was the capital of the eponymous Kingdom of Firsthold and its ruler held the title of King/Queen. Though the size of the kingdom is currently unknown, the Trebbite Monks are recognized as citizens and their monastery fell within its borders. The city of Skywatch was also the seat of a King but it is unknown if they were a sovereign state or still part of Firsthold.
For the longest time, the Psijic Order served as counselors to the rulers of the Summerset Isles. If anyone wanted their counsel, their best method was either through a select few places or the kings themselves. They continued this service up until their island of Artaeum first vanished in the Second Era, around when the Mages Guild was formed. When they returned several years later for the Third Era, they continued where they left off until Artaeum disappeared a second time sometime in the Fourth Era for whatever reason.
- The Merethic Era
- House Rilis — Rilis XIII claimed that the House had ruled the northern tip of Auridon as long as Altmer has lived on the island, which the author, Fenlil the Wayfarer believes was the mid-early Merethic Era.
- High Kinlord Rilis I
- High Kinlord Rilis II
- High Kinlord Rilis III
- High Kinlord Rilis IV
- High Kinlord Rilis V
- High Kinlord Rilis VI
- High Kinlord Rilis VII
- High Kinlord Rilis VIII
- High Kinlord Rilis IX
- High Kinlord Rilis X
- High Kinlord Rilis XI
- High Kinlord Rilis XII (fl. 2E 230 – 2E 235) — Rilis XII was already imprisoned in the Banished Cells by the time of his death and his son, Rilis XIII was the one to bound his spirit afterward. He died sometime around the 22nd of Frostfall.
- High Kinlord Rilis XIII (fl. 2E 580 – 2E 582)
- The Third Era
- The Fourth Era — Once the Thalmor came into power, they abolished the monarchy across the Summerset Isles.
Culture and SocietyEdit
The Lay of Firsthold is a ballad about the Aldmer's journey across the sea, and Torinaan's discovery of Firsthold and the land around it. The Altmer that live in Firsthold help keep ancient traditions and customs alive in the changing modern world. Firsthold has some notable places of interest, such as displayed mosaics and royal parks.
But one of its most iconic landmarks is the Great Orrery. It is overseen by the Varmaster and it remains as the legacy of the Sun Birds of Alinor, attempted explorers of Aetherius from the Merethic Era. The orrery's spheres are made of celestial minerals that were gathered by them. A Fruit and Cheese Plate dish originates from Firsthold.
As per tradition across the province, Firsthold holds a Cotillion throughout the week, and in the city, it marks the start of the social season. Nobles are emphasized to wear all-white clothing but anyone can sport any style.[UOL 1] Firsthold also has a masquerade season, in which people wear costumes and masks for the celebration.[UOL 2][UOL 3] Firsthold became a primary stop in the East Empire Trading Company's shipping lines and connected to other cities like Stros M'Kai and Woodhearth.
Many notable figures have either lived in Firsthold or were born there. The notable scholar, Ahrtabazus lived in Firsthold in 2E 456 when he did an in-depth study on the nature of Faeries and proposed a controversial theory in his book called the Faerie Chain. Olpion of Firsthold was a mage of the Crystal Tower that attempted to break the liminal bridges to the Deadlands of Oblivion but failed in his ritual. Perhaps Firsthold's most accomplished citizen was Ocato of Firsthold, the former High Chancellor of the Elder Council in the latter years of the Third Era, and later the Potentate of the Third Empire after the death of the Septim Dynasty. He served alongside Uriel Septim VII for many years and was both his closest confidant and chief advisor.:4
- Arena was originally conceived as a fighting game featuring a tournament that took the player to each of Tamriel's cities to challenge different gladiatorial teams. According to a file from that stage of development left behind in the final game, Firsthold's gladiatorial team would have been called "the Reapers".[UOL 4]
- Firsthold location and rumors in Arena
- Firsthold in ESO
- The Lay of Firsthold
- Auridon Explored, Chapter XII — Fenlil the Wayfarer
- Origin of the Mages Guild — The Archmage Salarth
- The Firsthold Revolt — Maveus Cie
- The Improved Emperor's Guide to Tamriel: The Summerset Isles: Auridon — Flaccus Terentius, 2E 581
- Map of Summurset Isle – The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- Words and Philosophy
- Feyfolken II — Waughin Jarth
- Crafting Motif 16: Glass Style — Vandalion Brightsteel, Armorsmith Peerless of Vulkhel Guard
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: Arena Supermundus: The Tapestry of Heaven — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- Before the Ages of Man — Aicantar of
- Ode to Auridon
- Father Of The Niben — Florin Jaliil
- Lady Elanwe's dialogue in ESO
- High Kinlord Rilis III's dialogue in ESO
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Blessed Isle: Alinor and the Summersets — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- Keeper Cirion's dialogue in ESO
- Kinlord Rilis and the Mages Guild — High Incunabulist Valaste of the Mages Guild
- Loremaster's Episode of ESO-RP ZOS Interview — The Elder Scrolls Online Roleplaying Community
- Manifesto of Kinlord Rilis XII — High Kinlord Rilis XII
- 4th Manifesto of Kinlord Rilis XII — High Kinlord Rilis XII
- High Kinlord Rilis XIII's dialogue in ESO
- Rothondothrin's dialogue in ESO
- Ayrenn: The Unforeseen Queen — Headmaster Tanion of theCollege of Aldmeri Propriety
- Firtorel's dialogue in ESO
- Queen's Tour Schedule treasure text in ESO
- Canonreeve Sinyon's dialogue in ESO
- The Gift of Arson
- Letter to Estre — High Kinlord Rilis
- Curime's dialogue in ESO
- Battlereeve Urcelmo's dialogue in ESO
- Breaking the Barrier story quest in ESO
- Sever All Ties story quest in ESO
- The Wolf Queen, v1 — Waughin Jarth
- Brief History of the Empire v 1 — Stronach k'Thojj III
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: Other Lands — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- The Wolf Queen, v5 — Waughin Jarth
- The Madness of Pelagius — Tsathenes
- Morgiah's Wedding story quest in Daggerfall
- Rising Threat, Vol. IV — Lathenil of Sunhold
- Canonreeve Valano's dialogue in ESO
- Despot's Shoulderplates in ESO
- A Game at Dinner — An Anonymous Spy
- Fragment: On Artaeum — Taurce il-Anselma
- Tolfdir's dialogue in Skyrim
- The Vault of Exile in ESO
- "Lay of Firsthold" Music Box treasure text in ESO
- Music Box, In Dreams and Memories antiquity codex entries in ESO: Greymoor
- Firsthold Fruit and Cheese Plate in ESO
- Map of the East Empire Company — The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- The Faerie — Szun Triop
- Tome of Daedric Portals — the Sinistral Apprentice
- Daggerfall User's Guide
- Rising Threat, Vol. III — Lathenil of Sunhold
Note: The following references are considered to be unofficial sources. They are included to round off this article and may not be authoritative or conclusive.