We are the Aperture, the House of Visionaries and False Deniers. Our masks dilate depending on the directions of the ‘morrow’s breath, the currents that bear our prophet’s words [MAY THEY BLESS THE GREAT HLAATHOOM, WHO GRANTED US THIS BEAUTIFUL SIGHT]. We disavow the Wings of Mourning, for their fluttering harmonies have gone out of tune. Hear how the proud horns of the Crab have broken against the Walls of our Hearth. In the House of Cynics, self-proclaimed mystics seek an irresistable light, only to be blinded by their inward voices. And what of the House of Upholders, who keep dying traditions by bearing false faces? Without our Eyes, they cannot see the truths they have been blinded to, nor the follies they have indulged themselves in. Slowly, we must open the gate for them to see past the Rock of Lies, whose tricks have perpetually attenuated the songs that were meant for our ears. Behind our masks are those that build the Prophet’s dream. In time, his true Children shall mend the Star-Wounded East, and polish the jewels that hang on her gilded crown, so that His Endeavour may shine for all to see.
-The Oath of Seeing, transcribed by Vanil Oran, Officer of the 9th Gnostic Conclave
Table of Contents
- General Schematic of Hlaalu Society
- History of House Hlaalu
- Character Tropes
- Internal Factions
- Worldspace Implementation
- Quest & Character Implementation
General Schematic of Hlaalu Society
The Hlaalu's specific Tribune is Almalexia.
The subtleties of economics do not matter a great deal in the design of video game worlds, but one thing should be understood about the Hlaalu ideology: it is not capitalism. The Hlaalu ideology has much more in common with mercantilism. The Hlaalu seek to profit themselves, the house, and Morrowind through economic activity. They are generally unscrupulous. They use force to set up house-enforced monopolies and economic regimes.
The Hlaalu value personal self-sufficiency & autonomy, ingenuity & entrepreneurship, and cunning. They are playing a game that is bigger and more self-conscious than any other Dunmer. They have no objection to lying, in general.
Hlaalu society is a society of disguises in which things are frequently not as they seem. An open port full of commerce is run by cheating, chauvinistic tongs. A small publican's cornerclub hides a Twin Lamps safehouse in its basement. A shipping magnate carries a fortune in skooma in the hull of his boats. Whatever public face the Hlaalu elite put on, their true goal is their own survival and prosperity.
Like all the Great Houses, Hlaalu is political machine, acting as a patronage system and governance structure in areas it controls. Most Hlaalu members are independent merchants, yeomen, and artisans who are in business for themselves. Their connection to the house gives them a competitive advantage, connecting them with other traders, protecting them from thieves and contract violators, and so on. The most successful of these sort of traders can be recognizes as House Peers, the Hlaalu social elite.
The Hlaalu become independently wealthy through a variety of activities. Primary agricultural crops in Hlaalu areas are comberry, hackle-lo, wickwheat, meadow rye, tanna & scrib cabbage. Comberry is the most major of these, and its primary use is to ferment it into alcohol at breweries. Tanna is a plant that is smoked in pipes, similar to the siyat most colonists are familiar with. The Hlaalu also farm kwama eggs, a main Morrowind food stable, in cavernous mines, and mine valuable earth stones and metals from around Morrowind, especially ebony and volcanic glass. In addition, some Hlaalu make much money as merchants, traders, or craftsmer in the Hlaalu cities. Hlaalu’s recent land-grabs in former Redoran and Indoril territory were done with the goal of increasing the House’s stake in Morrowind’s internal trade.
Great House Hlaalu has continued in its role as the gatekeeper of outside trade. The wealth of the Empire - from Colovian steel to Nibenese moth-silk - must pass through their hands on the way to Morrowind. So too do they export the treasures of Morrowind: Telvanni bugmusk, kwama eggs, racer plumes, saltrice, and more.
Though the East Empire Company maintains a monopoly on the extraction of valuable native resources like ebony and glass, the close relationship between the EEC and Great House Hlaalu means that the masters of Narsis can often get a cut of the profits. The watchful eyes and hungry hands of the Cammona Tong likewise ensure that smugglers (of skooma, slaves, and Dwemer artifacts) also pay their dues.
The plantations, farms, ranches, and kwama mines are used both for local consumption and export, as are the newer and rarer ore mines. As a governing faction, Hlaalu also raises money through taxation, rent, and likely profits from housing many Imperial factions and administrative bodies.
No strangers to vice, the Hlaalu are also heavily involved with the slave trade and the production of alcohol. Traders once enriched themselves upon the enslavement of neighboring Elsweyr’s Khajiit. The prohibitions of the Armistice now limit the trade to Morrowind’s existing slave population, though smugglers still move their living cargo across borders. The Othreleth Woods (and Shipal Shin) in particular boast a wide variety of regional liquor flavors, distilleries, and wineries.
The core of the house is the Hlaalu Council Company, which acts as the central administrative organ. The Company does not itself participate in any productive industry. It earns money by controlling the avenues of trade in Hlaalu territory. It controls border passes at Kragen Mar and Shadowgate (west of Narsis), allowing it to charge tariffs on all products which pass in and out of Morrowind (at favorable rates to Hlaalu merchants, of course), and was historically the sole importer of slaves from the West. It also controls a great deal of the internal freight infrastructure, including the ports at which it charged tolls for docking as well caravanserai at key stopping points along land routes. The Company is, by Hlaalu law, the only entity allowed to charge interest on loans, making it in practice the only major lender. Almost all land in Hlaalu territory that is not an Imperial grant belongs to the Company, and it leases that land to independent merchants to cultivate.
This Company does not have a unitary will. Conflict within House Hlaalu is over control of the Hlaalu Council Company. One of the most powerful and organized factions in House Hlaalu is the Camonna Tong, a fraternal order of Hlaalu working to undermine the Empire. These sub- factions function as cells within the larger Hlaalu corporate structure, competing for influence over the House in general. The heads of these factions have varying perspectives on how to execute Hlaalu's main project.
History of House Hlaalu
After the Annunciation of the Tribunal, while House Redoran set about rebuilding the borders and House Indoril set about generating the theological and judicial governance of Morrowind, many of the other houses set about actually rebuilding Resdayn, after decades of war, the disappearance of a large & economically important minority of the population (the Dwemer), and the ecological damages of the eruption of Red Mountain. Foremost among those who took up mundane matters of rebuilding were the houses of the Othreleth Woods & the upper Thirr, including such houses as Hlaalu & Narsuaes.
These houses were also able to sustain their independence when House Indoril began absorbing other houses into itself following the abolition of the First Council. While initially politically isolated, the absorption of a schismatic part of the Raathim lent legitimacy to their independence, bolstering an economic niche that the Indoril could not match. Said economic niche was their trade connections to Cyrodiil and beyond, including the import of Khajiit slaves traded by Catcatchers, river-going Nedes who harassed the shores of Ne Quin-al during the degenerate periods of the First Empire. The houses found their strength and survival in economics, when political will alone would have easily led to their extinction.
By the Second Era, these houses had coalesced under the leadership of Hlaalu, and were recognized in Dunmer social theology as one of the Great Houses, a worldview that has been anachronistically stretched back to the days of the Chimer. They took on the role of mediating trade with the outside world, and so long as Morrowind was fully independent, they were widely regarded as the least significant house. Historically, the inferior position of Hlaalu in terms of regulating internal trade pushed them towards involvement in markets the Indoril were not willing to involve themselves in; secret trades that went on during house wars out of sight, and then later involvement in the criminal underworld.
However, following the Armistice, which recognized Morrowind's sovereignty while creating a western-style kingdom as an instrument for the Empire’s governance, the Hlaalu's opportunities for power greatly expanded. In narratives of the Indoril, Dres, & Redoran, the Hlaalu have come to be seen as traitors for their relationship with the Empire, including aspersions on their role in the period leading up to the Armistice.
House Hlaalu’s closeness to the Empire also means that Imperial problems tend to become Hlaalu problems. The War of the Red Diamond (3E 120 - 127), for instance, saw the Hlaalu riven between supporters of Empress Kintyra II and the rebellious Wolf Queen, Potema. The throne’s eventual victory necessitated a purge within the house so as to ensure its loyalty.
Though the Hlaalu avoided the worst violence of the Arnesian War (3E 396), they were sorely tested during the Simulacrum. Hlaalu was certainly not unique in supporting Jagar Tharn, nor could they have known his true nature—however, their actions corroded the trust the Empire had placed in them.
In about 3E 425, political maneuvering led to the replacement of the Chancellor of House Hlaalu. Previously, this position had always been held by members of the personal Hlaalu family, a status that no other Great House had maintained. The new leader, a self-made woman, is visionary, brilliant, and cutthroat, and is playing the other actors of Morrowind like chumps for the betterment of herself & her house.
Another recent development is an Imperial ban on inter-province slave trade, and the trade of slaves over “Imperial waters,” which includes the Inner Sea. This has halted the flow of slaves into the province from the West & also had a prohibitive impact on slavery in the new Vvardenfell colonies.
Slaves, like in many parts of Morrowind, form the lowest rung of Morrowind's society. Many do not even consider them part of society, and see them solely as beasts. They are most often found in the countryside, toiling the fields of large plantation-estates and farms. In large settlements Hlaalu slaves are often kept out-of-sight as an appeasement to the Empire and sympathizers. The transport of slaves over Imperial waters is illegal, and as such, the Hlaalu rely on smuggling networks and the existing slave population to bypass this. Slaves are often found in smuggling dens around the Thirr, Othreleth, and Ascadian & Bitter Coasts. Elsewhere in the country, they are seen in the open, in defiance of Imperial law.
Commoners in Hlaalu tend to come from all walks from life. Unlike the Indoril in which commoners and peasants live in serfdom, the Velothi in Hlaalu lands have been directly absorbed into Hlaalu's patronage system, while outlanders are plentiful in the large trade cities. Outside the cities, they often serve as tenured workers on plantations, large farms, and trade ports. They can also be independent farmers outside Hlaalu patronage.
In large cities, many commoners can be seen as independent merchants and tradespersons, though they do not benefit from the competitive edge of being associated with House Hlaalu. They can also be independent contractors and guildspeople that do business with the house on a tenured basis. Most of these tend to be outlanders and westernized Dunmer. Some nobility also incorporate indentured servants (wage slaves) in their workforces, mostly in urban centers where slavery is seen as taboo by the Imperials.
Hlaalu House Members
The Hlaalu themselves (excluding nobility) are generally split into three major categories: retainers, tradespeople, and Company agents. Much about their character has already been mentioned above. They are subtle and nuanced in their internal dealings, but are open-minded and can adapt well to different situations. Their organization is substantial and intertwined.
Retainers are simply those who have sworn an oath to serve House Hlaalu, yet do not have a particular trade. They serve as guards, mercenaries, and Tong Enforcers, and occupy other practical roles that are generally considered risky for typical Hlaalu. They usually operate at an arm’s length from the upper ranks of Hlaalu.
Tradespeople form the bulk of Hlaalu society, Individual merchants and artisans who are financially independent and self-sustaining. In the large cities, they often are found running large shops and businesses, while outside the city, they often run small farms and plantations. They form the lynchpin of Morrowind's economy and trade, and the most successful of these end up in Hlaalu's elite.
Agents are those who work directly for the Hlaalu Council Company. Bonded agents and House Officers who maintain the general day-to-day affairs of the Company, often as stewards, bankers, lenders, and clerks working directly for the Hlaalu nobility, or in some cases are members of peerage themselves. They are often left in charge of ports and infrastructure. Many still operate their own successful enterprises alongside their Company duties, though naturally this presents a conflict of interest.
Entering nobility in House Hlaalu is not necessarily hereditary. In fact, much of Hlaalu peerage is comprised of self-made individuals who have risen to be the most powerful entrepreneurs in Morrowind. The highest echelons of Hlaalu nobility form the executive of the Council Company, and wield tremendous power in economic, political, and trade affairs, often dictating terms to other, lesser merchants and tradesfolk, and amassing substantial wealth from collecting tariffs, dues, and interest on goods and services tendered. Many live in the ancient clanstead of Narsis, while a few others have holdings in large plantation-estates. Some also have country manors and retreats.
The Cammona Tong represent the dark(er) side of House Hlaalu. Though the nobles may proclaim the benefits of Imperial law, these laws must sometimes be flouted for the sake of profit.
As smugglers, leg-breakers, and procurers, the Cammona Tong work to ensure that House Hlaalu has a stake in black markets throughout Morrowind. Slaves, skooma, Dwemer artifacts, and illegally mined ebony are among the resources handled by the Cammona Tong.
Though they work with outlander criminals, the Cammona Tong is one of the most deeply xenophobic entities in Morrowind. They are allied with Hlaalu nobles who see the Empire as nothing more than a means to an end, and who only feign the cosmopolitan values that their house espouses.
The Twin Lamps do not belong to House Hlaalu, nor does the house formally recognize them. However, more sympathizers and members can be found within Hlaalu than in any other Great House. Dedicated to the abolition of slavery within Morrowind, the Twin Lamps represent Hlaalu at its most visionary.
Nobles and retainers associated with the Twin Lamps can be those who genuinely believe in the Empire’s mission and in House Hlaalu’s professed values. However, some might also see the reliance on slaves as a potential weakness that House Hlaalu would be better off without.
The Hlaalu Conspiracy
Though the Hlaalu elites speak of a bright new age of cooperation between Morrowind and the Empire, their words mask their true goal: survival at all costs.
The drive for this goal began during the Tiber Wars, as the eastern houses stated their unwillingness to defend western Morrowind (favouring guerilla tactics in the interior of the province), and Hlaalu and Redoran were faced with the prospect of having their lands overrun without outside support.
The Redoran seemed almost perversely enthusiastic to die for the cause. The Hlaalu alone advocated appeasement. Their councillors were forced to consider all of the worst-case scenarios that faced them and try and find a path for survival - to an extent for themselves, to an extent for their house, and to an extent for Morrowind as a whole.
As it turned out, Vivec saved them from the worst by signing the Armistice, effectively putting Morrowind under Imperial control while maintaining a large degree of autonomy for the houses and Temple. The survival of the house was assured for the moment, but nobody was sure how long the situation would last. Mer have longer memories than do Men. The Empire had fallen before, and it would fall again.
With Indoril and Redoran internally weakened and the Empire poised to set up shop in Morrowind, the Hlaalu were suddenly in a strong position to expand their power and diversify from being pass-bound merchant clans to possessing a strong economy, infrastructure, territory and political position. By doing so, they could ensure that their survival would not be as easily threatened in future.
However, there were still powerful factions that could threaten House Hlaalu. For one, the other houses, the strongest of which was still House Indoril. For another, the Empire. While Hlaalu set about taking what land they could from Redoran and Indoril, they did not forget about the potential threat that both the Empire and its eventual absence presented to them, and considered ways to survive in all possible outcomes.
Their answer was to keep the Empire close; to encourage involvement with it on all levels within the house; to adopt the new ideas that the Hlaalu could use for their advantage; to form strong bonds with local officials, thereby building trust with these same officials and reduce the Imperial military presence on Hlaalu lands.
In short, the Hlaalu intertwined themselves with the Empire, but the councillors never stopped having and updating an exit plan in case it would one day no longer prove advantageous or possible to remain under the Empire’s mantle. What that exit plan was and when it should be enacted, however, would prove to be a source of continuing disagreement, which would lead to delicate situations during events such as the War of the Red Diamond, the failed invasion of Akavir, and more recently the Simulacrum.
Worldspace Implementation of House Hlaalu
Architectural Characteristics and Settlement Space Layout
The settlement spaces of House Hlaalu can be divided into three categories: major trade cities, plantation-estates, and small townships/trade-ports. Other Hlaalu structures such as individual manors, houses, and guard towers are also common in large agricultural areas.
Hlaalu's major settlements are usually large cities centered around trade and industry, often with large public spaces and holdings of private enterprise. They often have council clubs and various guildhalls for players looking for work. Broad boulevards and streets form the central arteries, and are relatively easy to navigate, containing the majority of the settlement's businesses and guildhalls. Upscale Manor districts are usually also found to house the dwellings of Hlaalu officials and structures related to the local administration. Side streets and back alleys behind structures are sometimes labyrinthian and harbour a seedier side of Hlaalu society. Some may even be dangerous for the player.
Plantation-estates are often found in the countryside and are usually owned by members of the Hlaalu peerage. The largest of these estates usually are owned by Council-Electors of the Hlaalu Council Company, and usually contain auxiliary structures for plantation workers and slaves. The largest of these estates should have some self-sufficiency.
Smaller towns and villages in Hlaalu territory are numerous and often constitute local trade nodes, or ports. These usually only consist of a few structures which house local workers and tradesmer. Some also contain auxiliary housing for those in charge of these settlement spaces.
Main Settlement Spaces
Narsis: Narsis is the ancient clanstead of House Hlaalu. Prior to the creation of the house, Narsis was already an important outpost in which the Hlaalu family maintained trade relations with outsiders. Over the years it has grown to be one of the largest and most powerful cities in Morrowind. It is a large city, deserving of its own section and documents.
Kragen Mar: Once a Redoran outpost, Kragen Mar is a large trade town on the border with Cyrodiil. It is the nexus of cross-border trade in Morrowind. Control over the lucrative trade in Colovian goods is a key aspect of the city's intrigue, and there are many shops and guilds that compete over the production of goods and services. It has the second-largest population of outlanders in the entire province.
Andothren: Andothren is a mid-sized port town on the Inner Sea. It was once a Velothi settlement under Indoril rule before the Hlaalu sacked and rebuilt it as the city of Andothren. Some outlanders refer to the city as “Stonefalls”, though that name has fallen out of favour in recent years, even amongst outsiders. It's location and proximity to Vvardenfell make its location strategically important for goods coming in and out of Vvardenfell, as well as an important port for agricultural goods coming up from Southern Morrowind. In-game, it fills the role Balmora previously had as the player's “first city”.
Balmora: Balmora was House Hlaalu's regional capital in Vvardenfell, suddenly becoming relevant when the island was opened for colonisation 13 years ago. As such, it has been neglected as a backwater for a long time and is largely beyond the control of Hlaalu's central leadership. Of all places, it is a haven for enterprising tradesmer looking to seek a fortune from Vvardenfell's untapped riches.
Vivec: Hlaalu’s holdings in Vvardenfell made it prudent for them to rent one of Vivec’s cantons. The Hlaalu may also pay rent for properties in other Temple settlements throughout Morrowind.
Borders Within Morrowind
Hlaalu is not involved in any active border conflicts at the start of the game. There are subdued ones on Vvardenfell (against House Redoran, and Telvanni to a lesser degree) and in Aanthirin (against House Indoril).
The mainland border with Redoran is heating up slightly, due to the conflict in Vvardenfell, but all clashes there are strictly local affairs between guards and "bandits". The situation around Ald Iuval and Ald Marak will need further discussion, as the local garrison could feel emboldened by any conflict the Hlaalu are involved in and try to break the “siege” by trying to get the local settlements to defect.
The Imperial factions see Hlaalu effectively as partners and do - warily - appreciate them almost as equals. They also tend to imagine a stronger connection between the House and the kingship of Helseth.
The Tribunal Temple is muted towards Hlaalu, and Vivec does not like them. Mephala, if she cares at all, would find them more amusing and interesting than the average Dunmer. For their part, the Hlaalu maintain a show of piety, but no one believes them to be particularly devout.
The other Great Houses are naturally reserved or antagonistic.
- The Redoran see the Hlaalu as cowards for being unwilling to fight and die the way Redoran’s warriors were prepared to do. Nor do they approve of how Hlaalu has abandoned so many of the Dunmer traditions.
- Indoril’s attitude is similar, but with a heaping of envy for how Hlaalu has largely replaced Indoril’s once vaunted position.
- The Dres loathe Hlaalu’s cosmopolitan pretensions.
- The Telvanni are fairly indifferent.
Quest & Character Implementation
Head of the Hlaalu Council Company & leader of the House in general.
- Falena Narusa (Narsis - Upstart)
- Council Man
Sits on the Hlaalu Council
- Dram Bero (Vivec/in hiding - Family status unimportant)
- Vedam Dren (Ebonheart - Established family, Duke of Vvardenfell District; his seat is both Ebonhearts)
- Tholer Andas (Andothren/Ascadian Isles - Family status unimportant)
- Llaasa Indarys (Kragen Mar - Established family which still has a Redoran branch - House Indarys had been a minor house in the Waters March which, much like the march itself, got partially incorporated into House Hlaalu)
- Ivul Hleryn (Ud Hleryn - Established family)
- Atran Oran (Oran Plantation/Thirr Valley - Possibly an upstart family, related to Avon Oran in Suran)
- Edayn Sadras - (Kragen Mar/Sadrathim - Ence part of House Redoran, Sadras switched to Hlaalu generations ago and has been profiting from it ever since. Sadras is building up connections with the Empire so as to catch up with their Indarys rivals, who were also formerly of Redoran)
- %PCNAME (Nav Andaram/Thirr Valley - Upstart. Possibly gets the spot to fill a vacancy created during the Hlaalu or Indoril questlines. Tholer Andras is a likely candidate for removal.)
- House Father
The fathers are the highest rank of House Hlaalu, nobles essentially.
- Crassius Curio (Vivec - Outlander, patron of the arts, sleazy)
- Yngling Half-Troll (Vivec - Outlander, ties with the Cammona Tong)
- Velanda Omani (Omani Manor/Ascadian Isles - Family status unimportant, probably moved there with Orvas Dren; may not need to be a House Peer)
- Neveni Ules (Ules Manor/Ascadian Isles - Possibly from the family that controlled Suran prior to House Oran taking the position. This does not necessarily signify resentment or conflict between the Houses Ules and Oran. May not need to be a House Peer.
- Reynasa Rethan (Odai Plateau - Established though fairly minor family; gets Rethan manor. We should keep the scripts as intact as possible, so she would only become a House Peer in-game)
- Fethas Hlaalu (Narsis - Established family, possibly the Duke of Narsis District)
- Ralen Hlaalo (Balmora, West Gash - Established family and very dead)
- Nolus Atrius (Balmora or Andothren - Outlander)
- Eoli Frixaal (Kragen Mar - Outlander)
- Avrar Narsuaes (Othreleth Woods - The Narsuaes family generally hold at least one seat on the council, but Avrar generally tries to keep out of intrigues. He would be another candidate for Duke of Narsis District, in which case he would be an ineffectual duke whose sole purpose is keeping himself and his family out of trouble, not caring whether he actually does his job well or not.)
- Tharsa Omayn (Narsis - Established family)
- Ivasu Raran (Narsis - Perhaps newly established family; a relative of Llananu Raran. I don't think Llananu herself needs to be a House Peer, she just needs to come from an important family.)
- House Brother
- House Cousin
An officer of the Company.
Bonded to the Company, a permanent part of the bureaucratic structure of the Hlaalu.
A contractor for the House Hlaalu Council Company.
A House Hlaalu member who has taken up a trade for themselves & is financial independent.
An initiated member of House Hlaalu.
Signed a contract to serve House Hlaalu exclusively.
Faction Member Knowledge
Great House Hlaalu is by far the easiest house for outlanders to join. But as is so often the case with Hlaalu, the smiling public face is nothing more than a mask. Hirelings and other low-ranking members are unlikely to learn anything about the House’s long-term goals. Generally, members get insider knowledge on things like local trades and trade routes, what authorities can be dealt with in what ways (i.e. bribery, blackmail); some might know information about criminal activities.
Those who earn a place in the higher ranks will learn how the connection between House Hlaalu and the Camonna Tong works. Alongside this, they would naturally have an overview over trade routes, administration of lands, money flow.
The “normal” upper levels of the House would understand how the actual dynamic between the Empire and the Hlaalu works: the Hlaalu see the Empire as an overbearing trade partner that can be swindled, but not ignored, while the Empire in turn is trying to manipulate the Hlaalu to its advantage and is not aware of the depth of Hlaalu operations.
The local plots would both show House Hlaalu on the rise, and portray how the house doesn’t have a one-track mind: petty rivalries and fingers in all sorts of messes are causing conflicts all over the place. The house is currently coming out on top by entrepreneurship and expertise in intrigue, but how long will this streak last?
Vvardenfell aside, as part of their land grab in Redoran territory, the Cormar questline will involve a minor charter company with Hlaalu “mercenary” guards.
On other fronts, the Hlaalu are pushing Ashlanders out of Roth-Roryn and replacing the Velothi out of the Ascadian Bluffs.
There is a conflict between the Oran and Mundrethi plantations, as Llethys Mundrethi is trying to overthrow and replace his current boss, Atran Oran, with no real chance of success.
The main TR questline would start in Andothren, where there is intense political in-fighting amongst Hlaalu nobles, entrepreneurs, and other factions such as the Camonna Tong. The player would rise through the chaos and early ranks to a relatively dominant position in the region. This would be thematically linked to the vanilla questline, newly-opened-to-settlement Vvardenfell experiencing a similar state of upheaval.
Having completed the first stage of the questline, the player will catch the attention of the Hlaalu Council Company in Narsis and will start doing business directly for them. This will involve the player building up strongholds, first the Rethan Manor then Nav Andaram, and also going on a mission to Almalexia to try and win over Helseth as a Hlaalu ally.
The third stage of the questline kicks off when the player established the stronghold at Nav Andaram. This ultimately leads to a fledgling coalition of the other houses (all but Telvanni) forming against Hlaalu, and the player must defuse the situation before it erupts into outright war, which Hlaalu would certainly lose.