Established in 2E 291, Root Sunder was intended to be a great city, built as an early attempt at colonizing Grahtwood. Its location was chosen based on the economic landscape of the period, designed so that it would function as a trading hub. Historians disagree on who exactly established the city. The majority of sources claim the settlers to be Ayleid, which would match the architecture and Dawn Era magic used in its construction. Others claim that they were Altmer, which would fit better with the time period.
Faced with the daunting prospect of taming the wilds of Valenwood, the settlers attempted to use Conjuration magic to control the surrounding jungle and "grow" the city. The effort was proposed by the conjurer Arandore, and construction subsequently began in earnest. However, the jungle's wildlife became increasingly aggressive, and construction was forced to halt following the disappearance of every conjurer by 2E 292. Through their rituals, the conjurers has unwittingly bound the spirit of the jungle within the walls of Root Sunder, where it began to starve. Trapped within impervious Welkynd Stones and unable to acquire nutrients, the jungle took on a malevolent sentience. Calling itself "the Root Sunder" after the name of the settlement, this spirit sent roots to destroy the stonework and pull the city beneath the ground. The settlers within were killed and drained of nutrients, becoming skeletal undead abominations. The Root Sunder then slept, and wouldn't be woken again for several hundred years.
The location of this ruined city was eventually lost to time, and the subterranean ruins became home to Senche, spriggans and stranglers. It was avoided by the Bosmer, who noticed that the protruding roots were not the same as those of regular graht-oaks. In 2E 582, following the formation of the first Aldmeri Dominion, Root Sunder was rediscovered by a group of academics, the majority of whom were quickly killed upon entering the ruins. The sole survivor, an Altmer woman named Tandare, urged adventurers to enter the ruins and help recover her colleague's research journals. However, the Root Sunder had been awakened by the researchers. No longer concerned with escaping the walls of its prison, it was content to lure mortals to their death within the ruins in order to feed. The Root Sunder attempted to draw the adventurers to their doom by projecting images of a researcher named Sirdor, who had died deep within the ruins after discovering the jungle's plight. The adventurers survived the Root Sunder's attacks after discovering the true fate of Sirdor, and managed to follow his notes and free the Root Sunder from the Welkynd Stones through the use of an "Attunement Stone". The spirit of the jungle subsequently departed the ruins, and the recovered journals were given to Tandare to bring to Elden Root.
- For game-specific information, see the ESO article.