|Binomen||Unknown, though belong to Suborder Lacertilia|
|Place of origin||Nirn|
|Behind the Scenes|
|Universe||The Elder Scrolls|
Argonians, also known as Saxhleel, are a species of lizardmen indigenous to the large marshy province of Black Marsh, a region of Tamriel on the planet Nirn. Due in part to their natural habitat and having to fight off other warring tribes as well as Dunmer slavers, they have become experts at guerrilla tactics. Their natural tactical abilities however did not save their home realm from becoming subjugated by the Empire; however this has been a blessing in disguise as they have since come to be found in all the other regions that encompass their ruling government, though certainly in far fewer numbers than are found back at home.
Of all the higher races on Nirn, the Argonians are one of the few that are completely unrelated to either men or mer, having descended directly from the Hist. They have natural abilities that suit them very well in their swampy homeland such as an ability to breathe water (thus allowing them to explore underwater locations), and have developed immunities to the multitude of diseases that plague Black Marsh, which have been found to be deadly to any would-be explorers to the region.
As enigmatic as they are intelligent, Argonians make for proficient thieves as they have innately superb lock picking and sneaking skills. Their many centuries of guerrilla warfare also have produced very capable warriors and archers.
A breed of Argonians known as the Naga also exist. They resemble limbed puff adders with black scales and eyes, and large mouths full of fangs. They range from 7-8 feet tall but generally live only in the inner swamps of Black Marsh, choosing to have very little contact with either the Imperials running the Empire or other races not indigenous to the region. It is not recorded whether this means they simply dislike outsiders or if they are full-on racist.
Despite being reptilian by nature, Argonians possess some traits more suitable for amphibians. The best example of this is a set of gills located in their necks, normally covered by scales, which both protect these organs as well as likely keeping them from drying out and becoming useless or worse yet, dessicated. These gills, as one could easily assume, provide the Argonians with the impressive ability to breathe underwater. This capability has been taken advantage of by their race, and has proven itself to be advantageous in combat situations against other races time and again, especially in the species' home realm of Black Marsh, where they make use of guerrilla tactics to drown their enemies, dragging them below the surface and holding them under until they cease to struggle.
They are native to Black Marsh (also known as "Argonia", leading to the common name for this species), a region of Tamriel that has fallen under the rule of the Empire, becoming one of the nine provinces of Tamriel. This entire region is a swampy rainforest, filled with great inland waterways, dense forests, and impenetrable swamps due to the multitude of mangrove thickets; this terrain makes it nearly impossible to reach the interior of the region to any but the Argonians themselves.
In comparison to the other higher races, Argonians have a very unique type of biology that even differentiates them from the other known beastfolk race, the Khajiits of Elsweyr. Whereas each Khajiit's physical characteristics are directly connected to the phase of the then-current phases of planet's two moons, Argonian physiology is instead believed to be affected by sap. When a hatchling emerges from their egg, they ingest a special sap considered sacred to their species, which comes from the Hist Tree. It is this sap that will determine the overall appearance of each individual throughout their life. Some of the variety that occurs are cranial features such as fins, feathers, ridges, spins, or horns.
It is the tail of the Argonian that make them so effective as thieves and assassins, providing them with extra balance and giving them an extra advantage in these occupations as well as in other certain situations. Their tail is also used for swimming to propel them as they glide through the water.
An unarmed Argonian is still a dangerous foe, as they have adapted very sharp teeth that line their mouths and they do not have any qualms about using them as an effective weapon if needed.
Strangely, despite being reptilian by nature, the females have mammalian traits mixed into their physiology - namely breasts or at least a breast-like extension to their form. No known studies have been done to determine why this exists, but Argonians are not known to lactate.
Should an Argonian contract vampirism, they appear to age tenfold that of the other races instantaneously. Their eyes also regress to a light red hue and become nearly blank, though their pupils are still clearly visible, possibly indicating some form of cataracts.
As a social norm, female Argonians have come to pierce their cranial features, whatever they may be.
They are notorious for attacking soldiers walking along rivers, as well as ships in the ocean or barges moving along river systems, where they have set up ambush spots and have lay in wait. During these attacks they will kill the foe unless they are forced to flee back into the depths, though this latter strategy makes for excellent hit-and-run tactics. No other higher race on Nirn can follow them into the deeper ocean or even effectively under a river.
First Era (1E)
Almost nothing is known about the Argonian peoples' First Era historic events, partially thanks to only a very rare few of their kind choosing to leave the province at all, and these few preferred to not talk about their own history and instead just integrate into the larger Tamrielic cultures. The region and its people chose to remain independent of the Tamrielic Empire until the 29th century of this First Era.
One of the things that is known is that there was an incredibly successful enterprise of bandits and thieves that long exploited the swamplands of Black Marsh in southeastern Tamriel, including the most infamous of all brigadiers, "Red" Bramman (a take on the idea of a "red bull"). The coastline along the eastern side of Topal Bay also became notorious for piracy due to the bandits and thieves living in the region, and by 1E 1033, Empress Hestra had demanded Bramman's head. After numerous unsuccessful battles within this bay, the Imperial Navy finally discovered how the pirate-king had been evading capture: A narrow, winding river that emptied into the bay near the settlement of Soulrest, whose mouth was hidden away by dense thickets of mangroves. Finally knowing this, the Imperial Fleet followed the course until they were deep in the heart of Black Marsh, further than any non-Argonian had reached prior. They ultimately caught Bramman and his bandit kingdom not far from what would become Blackrose, and slew him, taking his head back to the Empress.
During their war with the Reman Empire, Argonians were known to build some but not all of their headquarters and camps at the bottom of lakes and rivers in order to guarantee their safety from their adversaries. It was well understood by all that even if their foes could reach these underwater settlements that any attempt at taking them would still be pure suicide, as the Argonians still had gills, fins, propelling tails, sharp teeth, claws and underwater vision as advantages in such an environment. It is not known if or why the Reman Empire didn't attempt to drain the lakes. Despite this clever strategy, the Argonians were still soundly defeated in 1E 2811 at the Battle of Argonia. With this defeat, the remaining lizardmen retreated to Haelstrom, where they could not be followed.
With this defeat Dunmer slaver traders began to exploit the Argonians, and entire tribes were dragged away in chains back to Dunmer lands. For numerous millennia to come, the Dunmer and especially House Telvanni, inhabiting the neighboring Morrowind, would make it their custom to raid the Black Marsh to collect slaves, which came to leave the Dunmer to look down upon all Argonians and the Argonians to often hate the Dunmer. This would eventually lead to retaliatory attacks after 4E 6.
During this time, former Imperial officers transformed themselves into the warlord dynasties that earned a reputation for tyranny even in an era notable for its dark times. Formerly a land considered a sanctuary for Tamriel's criminals, it became the continent's greatest prison state, holding anyone considered too dangerous to be held within "civilized" dungeons of the other provinces in a sort of natural maximum security penitentiary.
Second Era (2E)
Second Era Argonian history seems to have been lost to the annals of time.
The only known recorded event occurred in 2E 560, when the Argonians responded against tyrannical oppressors by unleashing the terrible Knahaten Flu. Although it is a matter of debate as to whether this flu arose from natural causes or whether it was concocted by some shaman, the results are obvious: The plague began in Stormhold in the same year, and quickly spread throughout every corner of Black Marsh, killing all who were not of reptilian genetics. Lasting for over forty years, it held the entire province in its chilling grip, destroying entire culture (most notably, the Kothringi) and driving most if not all outsiders from the land.
Even after the land had become hospitable once more, a general phobia of the disease kept most outsiders away, typically seeing no reason to trouble themselves with the land. However, House Dres of Morrowind continued to send slavers into the northern regions. It is said that even Tiber Septim had to think twice before choosing to conquer Black Marsh for his new and growing Empire. While the borders of the marsh fell easily to his forces, he wisely chose to avoid strategically unimportant inner swamps, thus meeting little resistance that otherwise probably would have crushed him and ended the new Empire prematurely.
Third Era (3E)
By the beginning of the Third Era most of Black Marsh had finally assimilated into the Empire with the single exception of Haelstrom. In the center of Murkwood, a marshy area in the center of Black Marsh that is almost impossible for non-Argonians to travel to, Haelstrom is understandably the center of non-Imperial Black Marsh ideals. It was here that the Arnesian War uprising, taking place during the Imperial Simulacrum, saw the Argonians extracting revenge for the slavery they had suffered at the hands of the Dunmer of House Dres.
In circa 3E 200 (during Katariah's reign), there was a massacre at the village of Armanias due to a lack of proper armoring.
In 3E 398, Decumus Scotti, enior clerk at Lord Vanech's Building Commission, was tasked with improving trade in the region; however it is not recorded how successful he was, and considering Fourth Era events it can be assumed that he was unsuccessful in his endeavors.
It was also during this era that a Hist prophesy appeared to come to pass involving the Oblivion Crisis, which called its people back to Black Marsh both to protect them as well as to coordinate a proper defense for their province, leading to the defeat of the forces of Mehrunes Dagon.
During this crisis, an Argonian political faction known as the An-Xileel that was comprised of several powerful clans, such as the Scale-Song, rallied the Argonians against the Daedra following the Battle of Kvatch. With the opening of the Oblivion Gates in Black Marsh, the Daedra didn't so much flood into Argonia as they did the rest of Tamriel as the Argonians flooded into Oblivion. The natives fought and defeated the Daedra on their own turf, doing so successfully that the Dremora lieutenants actually chose to close the gates themselves to prevent being overrun by the lizardmen, an occurrence completely unheard of in the other provinces. This left the An-Xileel to hold Black Marsh until Martin Septim finally ended the Oblivion Crisis with the permanent closing of the Gates. This also apparently left the An-Xileel particularly unimpressed with the rest of the Empire.
Fourth Era (4E)
With the last Septim king deceased and the Oblivion Crisis only recently averted, Black Marsh chose to secede from the Empire and returned itself to an independent province. Not long after, following the aftermath of the Red Year of 4E 5, the Argonians invaded Morrowind looking to exact revenge upon their former slavers, the Dunmer, as well as to place the region under An-Xileel control in a "now it's our turn" sort of plot.
They chose to remain neutral during ongoing hostilities between the Empire and the Third Aldmeri Dominion, though whether they were waiting to see which one would win the upcoming war or instead simply because they had grown tired of the other races and simply no longer cared about them is not widely known.