Sasha Arius was a powerful Imperial Mage and Arch-Mage of the Mages Guild in the early Fourth Era. Around the year 4E 20 she managed to organize a massive coup in the underground Thieves Guild of Cyrodiil, overthrowing the then-Gray Fox. Upon becoming the new Master Thief, she undertook a massive campaign to overthrow Cyrodiil and become the new Empress. Acting under the alias of the Gray Spirit, she managed, through a mixture of both warfare and subterfuge, to gain complete control of the Empire, before her rule was destroyed by the efforts of rebel Jesan Goneld, and she herself was killed by none other than Count Janus Hassildor of Skingrad.
Sasha began her life as a young, aspiring mage in the city of Wayrest in High Rock. During her youth, her dedication to magic was greatly supported by both her mother and father, and when she was sixteen she left High Rock to study in Cyrodiil at the Arcane University. Before leaving, her father gave her a steel shortsword, a weapon she would cherish as her most prized possession for many years to come.
In Cyrodiil, she managed to receive recommendations from all Mages Guildhalls in the province and was granted access to the University. She studied intently there, eager to master her preferred art of Alteration. She also met another young mage, a Dark Elf named Relen Athinyn, who befriended her early on. The two eventually became close friends, and finally fell in love. However they, like so many young mages of the time, were fated to be swept into the events surrounding the return of the Necromancers and Cyrodiil's next great war.
War of Black SkullEdit
In the year 4E 10, a Reguard Necromancer named Jalbert II succeeded in reuniting the scattered remnants of the Order of the Black Worm, the ancient Necromancers' Cult founded by Mannimarco during the Second Era. The Order had been broken and defeated in 3E 433 by the Mages Guild, Mannimarco perishing in the struggle. The Necromancers had never recovered, thus when the call went out from Jalbert to unite under a new banner, that of the Black Skull, Necromancers from all around Cyrodiil flocked to his side.
Sasha bore witness to one of the first attacks of the new war. While working with a Mages Guild team investigating the Ayleid ruins of Vahtecan, she saw the Necromancers make their first assault on the city of Cheydinhal. Having days ago overtaken the small settlement of Harlun's Watch, a sizable group of Necromancers summoned a powerful army of Undead and marched on the gates of the city. Sasha alerted the leader of the investigation team, Horus Callidan, and the Mages immediately made for the city. Much of what occured during that first attack is unknown; the majority of the city was laid to waste, and by the time Callidan and his team arrived, there was only a smattering of defenders left, most from the Fighter's Guild. What is known is that while Callidan, now revealed as a great Battlemage of old, led a counterattack, Sasha proceeded to the castle, where she found the Necromancers responsible.
Sasha was forced to fight through numerous Undead guards, including the reanimated corpses of Count Andel Indarys and Guard Captain Garrus Derellian. In the throne room she faced the Necromancers and one by one defeated them. At their deaths, the Undead army outside became lost and disoriented, attacking everyone at random, including themselves. This gave Callidan and the remaining defense the ability to finish them off and end the battle. Following these events, Sasha was declared the Hero of the Battle of Cheydinhal, and was recognized throughout Cyrodiil as a powerful mage.
Commander and ApprenticeEdit
Upon returning to the Arcane University, Sasha was summoned by none other than the Arch-Mage. The Arch-Mage, who was himself the hero of the last conflict against Mannimarco, requested that Sasha become his apprentice. Having read the report from Cheydinhal, the Arch-Mage was impressed by the aptitude for magic that Sasha displayed in defeating the Necromancers. With no shortage of delight, Sasha accepted, and her training began. The Arch-Mage taught her many of the secrets of magic he had learned during his time experimenting with sorcery. Perhaps the greatest of his teachings was his instruction in increasing beyond the normal limits the speed at which one could travel. This especially was a lesson Sasha took to heart. During this time, Sasha also enchanted her steel shortsword, giving it powerful fire damage effects and naming it the Sword of Sasha.
It was training that would often be cut short, however, by the necessities of war. Jalbert II's vendetta against the Mages and the Empire continued. The next salvo came in the form of a covert Assault on New Kvatch, which forced an evacuation of the city and ended with the destruction of the Mages Guildhall there. Following this event, the Arch-Mage, working with the Elder Council, organized and dispatched a vast Battlemage Army to several defensive positions about the province, as well as a few known Necromancer sites. Sasha was relegated to command the garrison for the Gold Coast, tasked primarily with holding off the advance of the Necromancers in that region, who were now based in New Kvatch. Thankfully, her lover Relen was to command beside her during the campaign. After several harrowing battles at the small settlement of Sutch, the Necromancers succeeded in slipping past the Battlemages and descending on the city of Anvil.
Sasha took her troops and gave chase, arriving to find Anvil under attack by the majority of Necromancer forces within the Gold Coast. In the ensuing battle, Sasha confronted Jalbert's second-in-command, his lover Etinna, in the caverns beneath Castle Anvil. There Sasha learned the truth behind Jalbert's actions: He sought the robes of the King of Worms, which would allow his body to be influenced by the divine spirit of Mannimarco. After dueling and killing Etinna, Sasha returned to the surface to lead her forces against the Necromancers and win the Battle of Anvil.
Following Anvil, the Necromancers retreated from the Gold Coast. Reports from all over Cyrodiil said that the all Necromancer armies were pulling back to the Imperial Reserve. That was not all the news; an attack had been made on the Imperial City and the Arcane University. Half the Council of Mages was dead, and the Battlemages were asked to rally back to the capital to prepare for a final assault. Arriving back in the Imperial City, Sasha was relieved to see that the Arch-Mage was alive and well, and she reported what she had learned from Etinna regarding Jalbert's plans. The Arch-Mage responded in kind, saying that the plans were already being carried out. Jalbert had made off with the King of Worms' Robes, which the Arch-Mage had kept hidden in University for many years. With no time to waste, the Mages Guild, aided by the Imperial Legion, marched eastward into the Imperial Reserve.
The Battle of the Reserve was perhaps the most contracted and bloody of all the conflicts of that war. Sasha led the front lines, alongside both Relen and the Arch-Mage. In that fatal fighting, many would die including Sasha's first mentor, Horus Callidan. But the battle paved the way for an assault on Jalbert's base within the giant Ayleid ruin of Ehlnadasel. The Arch-Mage led a thousand Battlemages against the power of Jalbert and his Necromancers and Undead minions. While at first the charge seemed promising, the tide changed when Jalbert himself entered the fray. Using his own powers of Illusion, Jalbert turned Relen against his own allies. Both Sasha and the Arch-Mage tried to break Jalbert's control, but it was to no avail, and in the fighting that followed, Relen succeeded in killing the Arch-Mage.
The shock was enough to release Relen from Jalbert's illusion, but the deed was done. Sasha was left with no time to mourn her master, for Jalbert had used the distraction to finish his Necromantic ritual and invoke the God of Worms. Wearing the King of Worms' Robes, Jalbert became an extension of that God, and in his grand hall Sasha was forced to fight the very manifestation of Necromancy itself. The duel was long and ardous, made more so by Jalbert's constant attempts to use illusions on her mind. But Sasha ultimately won by utilizing the speed-increasing power she had learned from the Arch-Mage. Appearing directly in front of Jalbert, she took the Arch-Necromancer by surprise and killed him with none other than the Sword of Sasha. Shortly thereafter, the Battles of the Reserve and Ehlnadesel came to their respective ends. The Mages and the Empire were victorious, and the Necromancers suffered what seemed to be their final defeat.
In the Imperial City, High Chanceller Ocato awarded the heroes of the battles in a public ceremony to commemerate both them and the fallen. Afterwards, it was decided by what remained of the Council of Mages that Sasha would become the new Arch-Mage. The next day, she accepted. It was a shining moment for her. Three years previous, she had been an idealistic young mage just starting out in the Guild. At nineteen, she was the youngest Arch-Mage ever given the post. She also inherited the Arch-Mage's home of Frostcrag Spire. The happiness was not to last, though.
As time went on and more and more information about the war became clear, charges were brought against Relen for the murder of the previous Arch-Mage. During that time, Sasha and Relen had decided to be married. It was during their wedding ceremony that Imperial guards came to arrest Relen on the charges. Sasha, learning the truth behind the actions, began petitioning for Relen's freedom. But her pleas were unfounded; only three people had witnessed Relen being illusioned into killing the Arch-mage, and both Jalbert and the Arch-Mage were dead. Sasha tried everything to gain evidence, even attempting to summon the spirit of the Arch-Mage, and when that failed the spirit of Jalbert himself. But her efforts garnered nothing, and Relen was sentenced to death. Sasha was present for his execution, and she buried him on the grounds of Frostcrag Spire. Following this, Sasha receded from public view, and even the Council began to see her only rarely. It was assumed she was slowly succumbing to grief, but the assumption was wrong. She was slowly succumbing to madness.
Birth of the Gray SpiritEdit
The innocent girl that had arrived in Cyrodiil in 4E 7 was gone, replaced first by a commander hardened by war and battle, and then a grief-stricken lover who was developing a deep hatred for the Empire. In her mind, it was all wrong. How could they have executed Relen? He had been a hero, and a powerful mage; most importantly, he had been hers. That the Empire ended the happiest thing that had ever occured in her life was too much for her to bear. So at last Sasha Arius, Hero of the Black Skull War, decided to launch her own assault on the Empire. Secluding herself in Frostcrag Spire, she began plotting a master scheme, researching any and all magic that might be able to aid her. She began by learning everything she could about the art of Illusion, so as to never suffer as she had by Jalbert ever again. She delved deep into the lore of the Daedra, whose artifacts contained great power, and she eventually found information concerning Nocturnal and her Gray Cowl. A plan came together in Sasha's mind, and she set her sights on the Thieves Guild.
Thieves' Coup of 4E 20Edit
Under the guise of one Ashara, Sasha managed to infiltrate the Thieves Guild of Cyrodiil in the year 4E 20. Dressed in plain robes and constantly hidden beneath a dark cowl, she was unrecognizable to anyone who might know her. The exact details of her tour within the Thieves Guild is unknown, though several remarkable thefts of the time were attributed to her. Eventually she became the Guild's top Doyen, second only to the Gray Fox. Much as the Arch-Mage had, the Gray Fox treated her as both an apprentice and a confidant, even explaining the history of his rise to power and the events surrounding the return of Count Corvus Umbranox of Anvil. Sasha was not interested in another mentor, however, and used that information to her advantage.
Sasha began spreading the tale around the thieves, first in tidbits and then gradually in full. Many of them were baffled, believing that the Gary Fox was the exact same one that had led them in the late Third Era. The tale spread so much confusion that a faction of thieves rallied under Doyen Amusei and demanded the truth from the Gray Fox. The Master Thief refused to illicit the details, saying that it made no difference whatsoever. At that point, all Sasha had to do was sit back and watch as a great schism split the Guild, and it broke into bloody violence. In one night, the Thieves Guild was torn in half, and the Gray Fox was dead. Amusei's faction, which had proved the victor, named Sasha the new Gray Fox and bestowed Nocturnal's Cowl upon her in recognition of the role she had played. Sasha gladly accepted.
Murder of Sasha AriusEdit
Sasha had everything she needed to put her plan into motion. She spent the remainder of 4E 20 reorganizing the Thieves Guild beneath her, and in 4E 21 she began the largest string of thefts Cyrodiil had ever seen. She herself was a prominent figure in these thefts, revealing herself to the world not as the Gray Fox, but a new Master Thief known as the Gray Spirit. In addition to Nocturnal's Cowl, she wore a long, heavy gray cloak that could hide her entire being. When she appeared in public, it was under this guise, and even though she was instantly recognizable as the Gray Spirit, no one could catch her. One minute she would be there, the next she would be somewhere completely different. To the people and guards, it appeared she had mastered directed teleportation. In truth it was a trick; combining an invisibility spell with the speed increasing spell she had learned from the Arch-Mage, it was easy to make everyone believe she was teleporting, as opposed to disappearing and moving extremely fast. As the Gray Spirit, she made a large, and terrible, name for herself.
As Sasha Arius, however, she once more became a hero in the eyes of the Empire. Where she had disappeared from public view for so long, she suddenly returned to take a more active role as Arch-Mage and, utilizing the resources of the Mages Guild, began hunting down and ensnaring the thieves. It was all a sham; the Empire had no idea she was the Gray Spirit, and the thieves had no idea she was Sasha Arius. Manipulating both sides, she was able to become an influential figure both in the light of the Empire, and in its underground. Eventually, she made ties to the Dark Brotherhood as well, bringing them under her control through a number of bribes and a few well-executed murders. Her greatest feat was yet to be accomplished, though. In 4E 22, in the city of Bruma, Sasha enacted a massive plan to stage her own death. Appearing in Bruma as Sasha Arius, under the premise of visiting Countess Narina Carvain, she enacted a mass Illusion spell, covering the entire city. The illusion allowed it to appear as though the Gray Spirit had appeared in Bruma to challenge her. In truth, she retreated to Frostcrag Spire to recover from the effort of so powerful a spell, all the while keeping the illusion alive long enough for the entire city to see the Gray Spirit force her onto the battlements of Castle Bruma, where they fought a terrible duel that ended in Sasha's death, and the destruction of her body at the hands of the Spirit's powerful Destruction magic. The deception was a complete success. Sasha Arius, Arch-Mage of the Mages Guild and hero to all of Cyrodiil, was declared dead at the hands of the Gray Spirit.
First War of the Gray SpiritEdit
Having successfully staged her own death, Sasha went to work with the endgame of her master plan. She gathered the Thieves Guild and the Dark Brotherhood beneath her, as well as various other factions. She commissioned the services of several bandit gangs and maurader groups to aid her. She even went deep underground to find what was left of the Order of the Black Skull to gather to her side. The Necromancers, rejoicing that the Gray Spirit had "killed" Sasha Arius, immediately joined her cause. Sasha took great pleasure in the irony of the situation. The last group that she added to her growing force was none other than the Daedra themselves. Having deeply studied them both at the Arcane University and on her own, Sasha knew all she needed to summon her own personal army of Daedric warriors. Favoring the forces of Mehrunes Dagon, she summoned hordes of Dremora and Xivilai to act as her shock troops. When at last she was ready, she went to war.
The First War of the Gray Spirit was perhaps one of the shortest, yet bloodiest, wars ever fought within the bounds of Cyrodiil. Devastating attacks by Sasha's mortal servants were launched on the cities of Chorrol, Bruma, and Bravil, while assaults by the Daedra were launched on Anvil, Cheydinhal, and Kvatch, cities that Sasha had helped defend during the Black Skull War. At the same time, the Dark Brotherhood enacted dozens of assassinations of key individuals throughout the province. Count Farwil Indarys, Legion Commander Giovanni Civello, the Master of the Fighter's Guild, all were killed in cold blood while the province erupted into chaos. This all came to a head when Sasha herself led an army of Daedra and Necromancers in an attack on the Imperial City itself. Bereft of a Legion Commander and thrown into disarray by the multiple other attacks on the cities, the Imperial Legion proved to be little defense. The Gray Spirit overtook the Imperial City in a single, terrible day. In the Imperial Palace, she used her powers of Illusion to bend High Chancellor Ocato to her will, and he subsequently declared her Empress of Tamriel. The war ended almost as quickly as it had begun, and Sasha took the throne as ruler of the Empire. Her revenge was complete.
It would later be said that the Empire had never suffered so terrible a dictator since the days of Jagar Tharn. The Gray Spirit's rule was a bloody one. Executions were held almost daily, taxes were higher than ever before, and Sasha cared nothing for the plights of the provinces. The entire infrastructure of the Empire was drastically altered: The Mages Guild was immediately absorbed into the Order of the Black Skull, and the Fighter's Guild was disbanded and absorbed into the Imperial Legions. The Thieves Guild and the Dark Brotherhood were given leave to act as they pleased, so long as their actions did not interfere with Sasha's rule. Indeed, the Empire's former underworld was suddenly being treated in a manner befitting lords. Amusei and Sasha's other compatriots were given massive estates all over the provinces. The new Legion Commander, a former guard of Battlehorn Castle named Tiberius Granus who had answered Sasha's call to arms, was given complete lordship over New Kvatch. The Listener of the Dark Brotherhood was given all of New Cheydinahl to use as a base of operations, and the new leader of the Black Skull, a Necromancer named Ellis Aurinus, was given complete control of the Arcane University and all the Mage institutions in the Empire.
Not a month after taking the throne, the Gray Spirit enacted a mass genocide on the city of Skingrad. The Legion was ordered to kill everyone in the city, save Count Janus Hassildor. Sasha herself entered the massacre and within Castle Skingrad she took control of Hassildor just as she had Ocato. Skingrad was then declared the "Retreat City" of the Gray Spirit, and the castle was changed to serve her as a type of summer home. Matters were further complicated when she began an expansion of Cyrodiil's borders, pressing heavily into Hammerfell, Skyrim, Morrowind, Black Marsh, Elsweyr, and Valenwood, seeking to "further unite the Empire under [her] beloved banner". Though the provinces fought back, Sasha had done too well a job of conscription with the Legions, as well as keeping her allies within the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood. She soon formed alliances with external underground forces, such as the Cammona Tong of Morrowind, and the witch covens of High Rock. Before long, Tamriel was in a complete stranglehold, and it seemed that nothing could, or would, be done to quell the Gray Spirit's advance.