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Monsters of Northern Folklore

Minerva Calo

By Minerva Calo, Imperial Chronicler

You can learn a lot about a people by examining their superstitions. Ancient fears run deep—deeper even than cherished traditions or historical enmities. While few Nords will admit to fear of any kind, I've found one topic that reliably sets a northerner on edge: the "snow ghosts." At first, I thought they referred to ice wraiths or wispmothers, but I've come to learn these "snow ghosts" bear no similarity to those monsters. Alternatively referred to as "bogles," "riekr-kin," or "clatter-coats," they plague herders and traders alike—stealing livestock, stabbing wandering merchants in their sleep, and spoiling root cellars with poisonous slime. I gathered the following testimonials in Morthal and Solitude. I leave it to you, dear reader, to parse the fact from the fiction.

Bonbetta, a Morthal fishmonger, had this to say: "Aye! I've seen those scamps more than once! Skulking around the docks they were. Snatching up our nets and tearing out the fish. They only come out on the moonless nights, you know. So's you can't see them proper. My eyes aren't what they used to be, mind, but seemed to me they had sharpish ears like an Elf, they hunched over like Goblins, and they had skin like the underbelly of a dead trout. All white, you see? My husband set out to run them off, but they're quick as a whip, and Ralmig's knees creak like a dead pine nowadays. Probably for the better. Way I hear it, they'll kill a person as soon as look at them."

I met a herdsman near the Dragon Bridge who could barely contain his contempt for the creatures—shaking his fist often as he gnawed on a dried kilnr root. He asked not to be identified. "To Sovngarde with those bastards! Used to be that you'd only hear about them once or twice your whole life long. Now, they've snatched up three of my best cows in the last six months alone. Can't hardly get a wink of rest anymore. It's bad enough we've got to compete with damned mammoths for grazing space. Now I'm wringing my beard day and night worrying about clatter-coats cutting my livestock to pieces. My brother tells me it's just rustlers in black leathers, but I've seen them. No Nord could hunch the way they do. And the clothes they wear—I've never seen the like. Like it's carved off one of those damned cave-bugs you see near Morthal every now and again. Next time I'm in Solitude, I'm going to fetch a good, sturdy bow and pierce one of those cow thieves right between the eyes."

Gilse Tistar, a surprisingly pleasant Dark Elf from the Bards College, dismissed these testimonies as local superstition and nothing more. "You know how these Nords are. Honestly, they'll blame any misfortune on bizarre creatures or foreigners. Just the other day, some pale-eyed merchant blamed me for putting an "Elf hex" on their dog. I mean, what is that? And why would I care about their dog? It's all nonsense. That said, nonsense often makes for entertaining verse! Just last night I wrote a farce about a five-eyed troll. It will land with a splash. Guaranteed."

I met a wild-eyed vagrant in Karthwatch who offered a truly outlandish claim, flapping his hands about as he spoke. "They're Elves! Snow Elves! These people ... Goblins some say! And Riekr. Riekr! Can you imagine? Feh. I've seen these things, missy. Got a real good look. They're paler than the palest Nord, with pointy ears and noses like a bat! You say, 'Elves don't have noses like bats!' But you'd be wrong, missy. Dead wrong! Ole Ysgramor cut their noses off so you could tell them apart from other Elves and drove them underground like the worms they are. Now they're all hunched and squinty from living in caves and never seeing the sun! And they're coming back. Mark me! They aim to take Skyrim back, just like they did back on the Crying Night. Beware, missy! Beware!"

Real or imagined, these creatures grant us a fascinating glimpse into Nordic folklore and serve as a perfect example of how ancient ghost-stories still plague the northerners today.

Translation of Calcelmo's Stone

Kurt Kuhlmann

Ye sa sou meldi calne tarn va nou molagnenseli,ye trumbi nou bala.
And so it was that your people were given passage to our steam gardens, and the protections of our power. (literally “protection of our mathematics”)

Ilpen av sou meldi nagaiale as guntumnia, spantelepe-laelia arani Morae, ye sou liebali racuvane, ye nu rautane sye, ye nu hautalle nou buroi gume sou gravuloi, sa metane sye garlis.
Many of your people had perished under the roaring, snow-throated kings of Mora, and your wills were broken, and we heard you, and sent our machines against your enemies, to thereby take you under.

Frey as gandra dwemera tarcellane sou agea, ye frey as emeratis Avatheledia carelle sou anyamissi bisia silya.
Only by the grace of the Dwemer did your culture survive, and only by the fifteen-and-one tones did your new lives begin.

Nu hecta sou arcten, rias nu nemalauta ge. Nu hecta sou epegandra, rias ne nemalauta ge.
We do not desire thanks, for we do not believe in it. We do not ask for gratitude, for we do not believe in it.

Nu frey sepa sye arcta varlor denai, cullei noue staneia.
We only request you partake of the symbol of our bond, the fruit of the stones around us. [lit. “we only ask you to accept”] (literally “the fruit of our stones”)

Ye ry sou alasil auta, ry loria shanta, abagaiavoy.
And as your vision clouds, as the darkness sets in, fear not.

Malautavoy fey nou darre ye alata nou malae, asma moraga sou anyamis av sercen pado, ye gethena sou wend narilia vey emeratu sou oia bisia.
Know only our mercy and the radiance of our affection, which unbinds your bones to the earth before, and sets your final path to the music of your new eternity.

Ice Elves: Fact or Fiction?


Are there Ice Elves? I have heard of these strange creatures but until recently, I dismissed the stories as myths. But now I am pretty sure I met one.

My cousin Knudek and I were hunting deer south of Fort Amol with little luck. Knudek was determined to bag something bigger than a rabbit. After a few bottles of mead and feeling encouraged, he ran off waving his bow, telling me he would return with a fine buck before the sun fully set. I decided to make camp, figuring my cousin would soon tire of hunting as evening fell.

The snow started just as I finished off another bottle of mead and crawled into our small tent. Not long after, I heard some strange beast thrashing about in the woods nearby. I called out, thinking it was Knudek. An eerie moan was the only response, making the hairs on my arms stand up.

I grabbed my bow, determined to face the creature. As I leapt out, a strong gust of wind caused the snow to swirl. I became tangled up in my tent and pitched forward, my hand landing in the small campfire. I screamed in surprise, startling the creature as it paused near the camp.

The creature was too small to be a frost troll. It made some odd noises and I yelled at it to go away. I could not see it clearly because of the snow and my eyes streaming from the pain of my burns. The creature made more unintelligible noises.

In desperation and in fear for my life, I grabbed a handful of hot embers with my uninjured hand and flung them at the creature's head. The pain caused me to scream even louder than the creature, which began to thrash around, flailing into a snowdrift. I managed to stand as the creature struggled to its feet. It was pale-skinned and hunched. It did not attack me. The pain in my hands had rendered me speechless.

In spite of my pain, I decided to make a run for it. I fled toward Fort Amol. Luckily, I ran into a group of soldiers heading back to the fort. They got me to healer, who tended to my hands. Knudek showed up several days later. He said he'd gotten lost, fallen and broken his arm, and was later attacked by a rogue mage who flung fireballs at him repeatedly. He was sorry he missed the Ice Elf. He wants to go looking for it again, after we both heal.

Touching the Sky

Parmion Saldor; Calcelmo of Markarth, trans.

Touching the Sky

Parmion Saldor

Translated from Falmer Text
Calcelmo of Markarth

Many of the most dedicated snow elves once committed themselves to a tireless journey through the Chantry to the Inner Sanctum. They carried with them the paramount desire to become one with their god, Auri-El. Though all set out with the determination to prove their worth, few were prepared for the trials that lay ahead. For the path to Auri-El was not without its tribulations. The pilgrims struggled not only against the natural elements of the treacherous vale, but with a myriad of tests upon their faith and loyalty.

It is told that many simply could not continue on the path for long before turning back. Some argue that the rebuke they endured upon their return was crueler than any punishment that may have lay ahead of them along the path. In their failed attempt, they were forced to live in the shadow of those who did continue on to achieve the great glory and honor of ascension into the light. Forever after, their faith and loyalty in Auri-El would be scrutinized and their remaining days filled with shame and regret.

Tales of those who reached the Inner Sanctum are not without their share of woes. It is said upon their arrival that many were mere shells of the person they had once been. Some were quite mad from sleeplessness and starved to the point of frailty. By the end of their journey, the marvel that they had strength yet to carry their vessel and ascend the stairs of the temple was the last true testament of their loyalty. Regardless of each individual's tale, the final words remain eerily similar. It is said that every pilgrim ascended, bathed in light, a look of relief and contentment on their face.


Diary of Faire Agarwen

Faire Agarwen; Calcelmo of Markarth, trans.

Diary of Faire Agarwen



Translated from Falmer Text
Calcelmo of Markarth

The dates noted in this diary are translated literally. This verbiage matches no known modern measure of time, and is assumed to be a custom form of counting the days and months. Excavations of ancient Falmer slave quarters have turned up brass vessels, very similar to a deep bowl, with twenty markings crudely etched onto the inside. Falmer scholars theorize that this bowl would be placed under a drip of water coming from an overhanging rock and as the bowl filled, the water's level would reach these markings, thus indicating a crude passage of time. Because of this diary, the vessel has been called a "kulniir," a primitive Falmer timekeeping device.

Third Marking, Tenth Kulniir
It feels like years since we were forced into hiding. I dare not write where we stay for fear of endangering the good people of this house should this diary be discovered. We have been shown a kindness by this family once known to the Snow Prince. Even in death his great influence has ensured our safety. We were separated from many of our kin along the road when it became increasingly difficult to travel discreetly in our numbers. We were forced to go our separate ways and travel only at night. I have heard no news of where the others may have gone and fear I never shall. Our lives are forever changed.

Seventh Marking, Tenth Kulniir
In the night I find it difficult not to focus on times past. There are moments in my rest when I still hear the laughter of Young Ones at play in the valley. Other times I see the pale flicker of happy moments which were once so common in the land of the Snow Elves. I try not to dwell on these memories too long. Often our surroundings make it impossible to dwell on any happiness. We have been locked together in such close quarters for so long we grow tired of each other's company. Even the strongest of us have faltered with nothing to do but think on what is lost. I wake each day to forlorn faces and am reminded of where we are and all we have left behind. We are all yearning for a day when we can emerge from hiding and walk freely in the light once more. But I fear we are losing all hope that such a day will ever come.

Tenth Marking, Tenth Kulniir
I tire of the tears of women and children. My own have run dry. The men have begun to look upon us as if we are all weak yet we have survived the same trials as they. I cannot bring myself to think on the numbers we lost in battle. Yet I cannot force the images of my own losses from my mind. And now in a time when our people should be banding together it feels we are drifting apart. The Nords have truly won. Our once great pride and unity are shattered. If we lose hope now we will never survive. Today many, myself included, have tried to speak out in voices of reason. There can be no hope without talk of our future. We can make no difference if our spirits remain broken.

Eighteenth Marking, Tenth Kulniir
We know that we can never again be the Snow Elves and live freely in this world. We will forever be in hiding in one form or another. But there is no reason we cannot live life with the sun and the wind against our skin. There are those here who are friends to us and plan to help us once the threat has ended. We know now to survive we must be born anew. Outside, we will appear as though we belong here. Inside, we will carry our truth and our scars.

Journal of Mirtil Angoth

Mirtil Angoth; Calcelmo of Markarth, trans.

Journal of Mirtil Angoth



Translated from Falmer Text
Calcelmo of Markarth

4th of Evening Star

I used to dream of fighting in battles like my Father. He had begun teaching me to fight the moment I was able to pick up a blade. Mother had argued that I was too young, but he paid her no mind. I can still remember the elation I felt the first time I bested Father in a match and the look of pride on his face. If it were up to him I know he would have allowed me to join him in battle. With me at his side he may have fared better. Now with Father and so many others slain, the Old Ones claim we are left with too few warriors to continue the fight. I was not the only Young One to speak out in protest, but our small voices went unheard. It has been decided that we must flee to seek help and protection.

8th of Evening Star

News has reached us that the great Snow Prince has fallen in battle. The urgency to go into hiding has left many of us scattered and those of us still together unsure of which direction to turn. In the long hours of night we keep huddled together always fearing the worst until the first light of the blessed sun. May Auri-El guide our footsteps.

13th of Evening Star

In the night I overheard the Old Ones whispering secrets of the underground and the Dwemer who dwell there. I thought back on stories Father once told me of these dwarves, heroic tales of honor and glory. The Old Ones must know of these stories for it has been decided that we will change course upon first light. I feel hopeful that the Dwemer will help us to avenge our fallen and reclaim our land. 

The Betrayed

Engwe Emeloth; Calcelmo of Markarth, trans.

The Betrayed

Engwe Emeloth

Translated from Falmer Text
Calcelmo of Markarth

And when the Snow Prince fell to ground,
The Ice Elves divided above and below.
Now vanquished and brutally bound,
One moment had shattered all they did know.

The once cool wind on their skin,
Now replaced with the heat of the flame.
And a pride once felt deep within,
Forgotten along with their name.

Torn from their home of ice and frost,
Thrown into the pitch black dread of night.
Living in fear as their minds become lost,
As their eyes begin dimming the light.

Chained and enslaved,
What once was light turned to blackness.
Alone and betrayed,
Sinking deeper into madness.

The Falmer: A study

Ursa Uthrax

I have studied, and traveled, and explored, and observed, and my hypothesis has finally been confirmed: that the twisted Falmer that inhabit the darkest depths of Skyrim are indeed the snow elves of legend.

No one really knows when the story of the snow elves began, but the ancient work "Fall of the Snow Prince," which is an account of the Battle of the Moesring as transcribed by Lokheim, chronicler to the chieftain Ingjaldr White-Eye, gives a rather vivid account of its ending.

According to this eyewitness account, the great Falmer leader known only as the Snow Prince died in glorious battle, and was buried with honor by his Nord slayers. The remaining snow elves were scattered or slain, and were never heard from again. Or so many thought.

But where the story of the ancient snow elves ends, that of the current-day Falmer begins. For when the snow elf host was shattered on that fateful day, it did not simply disperse - it descended. Into the earth, deep underground. For the Falmer sought sanctuary in the most unlikely of places - Blackreach, far beneath the surface of Skyrim, in the legendary realm of the Dwemer themselves.

Yes, Blackreach exists. I have been there, and unlike most of those who have witnessed its terrible glories, I have returned. And I now know the truth about the Falmer.

After their defeat by the Nords, the dwarves of old agreed to protect the Falmer, but at a terrible price. For these Dwemer did not trust their snow elf guests, and forced them to consume the toxic fungi that once grew deep underground. As a result, the snow elves were rendered blind.

Soon, the majestic snow elves were rendered powerless. They became the dwarves' servants... and then their slaves. But the Dwemer's treachery was so deep, so complete, that they made the fungi an essential part of the Falmer's diet. This guaranteed the weakness of not only their current Falmer thralls, but their offspring as well. The snow elves, for time eternal, would be blind.

But as is always the story with slaves and their masters, the Falmer eventually rebelled. Generations after they first sought solace among the dwarves, and experienced bitter betrayal, the Falmer rose up against their oppressors. The overthrew the dwarves, and fled even further down, into Blackreach's deepest, most hidden reaches.

For decade upon decade, the two sides waged a bitter conflict. A full-fledged and bloody "War of the Crag" that raged deep below Skyrim's surface, completely unbeknownst to the Nords above, a war whose battles and heroes must forever remain lost to our knowledge. Until one day, the war ended. For on that day, the Falmer went to meet their Dwemer foes in battle, only to find that the entire race had... vanished.

Finally free from the threat of their Dwemer overlords, the Falmer were able to spread freely throughout Blackreach. But years of fighting the dwarves had left them bloodthirsty and brutal. Feeling the need to conquer, to kill, they began mounting raids to the surface world.

And so the legends began. Of small, blind, goblin-like creatures who would rise from the cracks of the earth, in the dead of night, to slaughter cattle, attack lonely travelers, and steal sleeping babes from their cribs.

In recent years, however, the sightings of these creatures have become more and more frequent. Their raids, more organized. Their attacks, more brutal. In fact, one might even come to the conclusion that the Falmer are ready to change once again. Could it be true? Are the snow elves of ages past ready to reclaim their long-forgotten glory? Are they ready to surge to the surface, and make war upon the "light dwellers"?

If that happens - if the Falmer are indeed planning on reconquering Skyrim - I fear a horror neither man nor gods could possibly stand against.

Aldmeri Alphabets

Lady Nerevar


All Merish languages share similar forms due to their common origin the Aldmeri. Back in the early days of lore scholarship, the nature of this alphabet was one of the biggest mysteries of the Elder Scrolls. Now, between Skyrim's fonts for Dwemer and Falmer, Oblivion's examples of the Ayleid language, and a pre-Morrowind Dwemer alphabet, the translation of these alphabets has become commonplace. There are, of course, lingering secrets, and we hope that this page will perhaps help you in making your own discovery.

Dwemer (Runes) - This version of the alphabet is found throughout Hammerfell's Stros M'kai ruins and on documents in Morrowind. It was the first variant of the font to be designed, and features two glyphs not found in other alphabets (see below). Its J, P, X and Z runes are quite different than their alternatives in other alphabets.
Dwemer (Script) - A more calligraphic variant of Dwemeris, found on pipes and doors throughout Vvardenfell. Since only two examples exist, this is an incomplete alphabet. The letters that we do have are quite different than their runic counterparts. All are significantly looser, and the A, D, F, G, I, and N glyphs vary in shape.
Dwemer (Skyrim) - This is the Skyrim variant of the Dwemer script, available in True Type format in the game's files. Its letters are curvier than the traditional runes, but largely retain the same shape. The P and S glyphs are notable exceptions.

Ayleid - Very similar to Dwemer, though less angular. Like the Dwemer script, this alphabet is incomplete due to lack of references. The letter B is the biggest difference.

Falmer - Also found in Skyrim, this font is beautifully embellished with additional strokes, and its lines are very calligraphic, varying in weight and ending in serifs. However, once stripped down, the letters are largely identical to the Dwemer runes (this can be seen in the Simple variant). The letter H is perhaps the only differing glyph.

The Alphabet

In addition to the alphabet above, the Dwemer Runes font (found in both Hammerfell and Morrowind) makes use of two special glyphs: , which capitalizes the letter it precedes and hence marks the start of a sentence; and , which indicates that the following glyph is to be read as a number rather than a letter. Interestingly, there does not appear to be a number for zero, despite its presence in Dwemeri writings. These two symbols don't appear to be found in the other scripts.

Reading & Pronunciation

There are three styles of translation for the Dwemer, Ayleid, and Falmer languages. The first, most complex, and, in my opinion, most interesting assigns sounds to the glyphs, and uses them to form words in Dwemeri, just like real life letters do. The second, simpler version is to assign an English letter to each glyph, and use that to form words in Dwemeri, Ayleid, or Falmeri. The third version assigns English letters and uses them to directly write English words.

Our best example of the pronunciation of Dwemeri glyphs comes from the game Redguard, where Cyrus must speak a passage in Dwemeri to open a door. The passage, learned in the Book of Dwarven Lore, reads "Shahbth ih awerk. Stuh ndah bthahhrk. Awerd sheh ahhmzrteh." Contrary to previous theories, it does not have anything to do with the inscription on the door (more on that in the Translation section below). In Dwemeri, the phrase would read "". The pronunciation of the rest of the letters (found in the chart above) comes to us from a Redguard-era concept document, courtesy of Michael Kirkbride. Note that the letter for H is actually a different pronunciation of A.

The names of most Dwemer ruins can also be pronounced in this system. For example, the ruin Mzahnch in Morrowind can be spelled as MHN: . Other names, like Mzark (which can be spelled MR, ), have vowels added for easier pronunciation  The biggest hickup is the syllable Zel, which is found in many Skyrim ruins but is absent from this version of the alphabet, perhaps indicating a shift in pronunciation.

More examples exist for the direct glyph to letter to Aldmeri word translation. Most interesting is a "Rosetta Stone" which includes both Falmer and Dwemer inscription. The Dwemeris on this stone varies quite a bit from the pronunciations above, indicating, once again, a change in the language. It is also possible that there existed several forms of transcription or formal and informal versions of the language. Both the Falmeri, which is strikingly similar to Ayleid, and Dwemeri versions of the text will be described below.



Most examples of Dwemeri text are, sadly, just random letters. This may be in part due to the fact that no font for the language existed in the Morrowind and Redguard days, when most of the texts were made. Of the Falmer alphabet, most examples are simply Falmer glyphs standing in for English letters, and have not been preserved here.

This example of the Dwemer Script style, found on doors throughout Vvardenfell, is an homage to GT Noonan's father. It reads:

In loving memory,
Gary Noonan,

The image depicts Dumac and features a tiny scarab.

Another example of the Script style, these pipes read "Wormgod." This was the online name of GT Noonan, a Morrowind developer.

Golem plans, found on both Vvardenfell and Stros M'kai. The two columns at the left read:

A  B
F  G
L  M
Q  R
V  W

The small text at the bottom, below the columns, reads:


The three large letters at the bottom are "S U V," and the two small letters, one pair next to the golem's head, the other in the bottom left of the paper, are "B D"

These airship plans are found on both Vvardenfell and Stros M'kai. The text in the bubble, enlarged at right, says:


The _ symbol at the top is used to denote a capital letter. The | next to the B does not seem to match up to any Dwemeri letter. This is the same sequence as in the right column in the golem plans (minus the W), and again below in the limeware pottery and Stros M'kai ruins. The sequence is also found on the robe of the Dwemer depiction of the Lord constellation.

These letters correspond to the constellations Ritual, Shadow, Lady, and Golem. They might function as ideographs rather than letters in some contexts.

This pattern, found on limeware pottery popular with Vvardenfell's elite, repeats the B G M R sequence. It is unclear whether this pottery is a Dwemer original or an artist's copy.

The left column is another example of the B G M R sequence, this time from a floor panel in Stros M'kai.

The same letters are repeated again out of order on the right side.

This is the carving from the door mentioned above. Contrary to what Cyrus reads, the letters actually say:


This bit is actually an Easteregg. According to Michael Kirkbride, who made the area, the door was originally not accessible (hence, "no street"), and you had to take another way around. Later, they included the bookshop and the secret password, but left the texture as a joke to themselves.

Inscriptions found on a broken golem in Stros M'kai. They read:

1. U O T Y P K

2. L ? ? Y ?

3.U P Y T R

4. # P K H

5. # Y O U T

This is the Vvardenfell variant, a similar emblem is found in brass on Stros M'kai. The letters on it are "M M E"

An oscillating machine connected to the steam pipes which run through Stros M'kai. It reads:

M  N  O
R   E   T
W  X  Y

Architectural trim found in Stros M'Kai. They read:

G W # O P
S H _ V T B S Q R

The _ indicates the start of a new sentence.

This type of lexicon appears twice in Skyrim, once to store the "accumulated memories of centuries of Dwemer" in Avanchnzel, and again to record an Elder Scroll. Interestingly, it used the Dwemer Runes from Morrowind, rather than the Skyrim script.

Most of the text is too small to make out, even when enhanced. That which we can read appears to be random.

This lexicon also uses the runic script. The lefthand edge reads:

- H
-S -

The top triangle:

-- - V --- -
C---Y -GUK- ---

And the bottom triangle:


We also have two more extensive examples in the form of two Dwemer texts which we were able to get translated in Morrowind. Baladas Demnevanni gives us their contents, but the actual letters appear to be gibberish. In the transcriptions, the underscore (_) represents the glyph indicating a capital letter and start of a new sentence. The number sign (#) indicates the glyph that means the letters should be read as numbers, and any letters following # that have a numerical equivalent have it listed in superscript. You'll see that both these glyphs are not properly used.

Divine Metaphysics, is, according to Baladas Demnevanni, "an explanation of how the Dwemer tried to make a new god, Anumidium, using Kagrenac's tools and the sacred tones on Lorkhan's Heart."




Egg of Time, by Bthuand Mzahnch, is, ironically, "a refutation of the idea that linking to a divine source of power can be dangerous if interrupted."



We have only two examples of Ayleid script, one presumably from the 1st era, and another from the end of the 3rd.

A carved pillar in the middle of Cloud Top. Why the only extant Ayleid text is found in the middle of an Imperial fort, we'll probably never know. It reads:

Av latta magicka
av molag anyamis

This translates to "From light, magic; from fire, life." This is a reversal on the phrase as seen in Ayleid Inscriptions and their Translations. The second M in "anyammis" has been omitted.

This inscription was found in Anvil's Chapel of Dibella, written in the priest's blood. It says:

As oiobala Umarile, Ehlnada racuvar.

According to the Prophet, this translates to "by the eternal power of Umaril, the mortal gods shall be cast down." This same text is found on the trim of the Knights of the Nine box.


Although there are numerous examples of Falmer script, they all translate directly into English, and we have not listed them here (you can find them all in the Skyrim Books section of the library).

There is however one Falmer example that is signification: a "Rosetta Stone" like stele found in Calcelmo's tower in Markarth. It features both Dwemer and Falmer script, and presumably says the same in both. Due to the similarity between Ayleid and Falmeri, we are able to translate some parts.

The Dwemer text at the top reads:

Chun thuamer arkngd chend duathand, th ahvardn btham. Amz thuamer ahrkanch kemelmzulchond aka Mora, th thuangz ahrk, th duum melz thuabtharng, th kanthaln duabcharn mzin thuastur, btharumz thua mer zel. Abakch duumarkng tuathumz amakai, th abakch avatheled kagr tuamkingth mzan. Du chal fahl ngark, che du fahl bthun ur. Du chal fahl ngalft, che du bthun ur. Du abak chal thu abazun nchur duabthar, nchul duanchard. Th ur thuanchuth irknd, ur irkngth eftardn, thunch fahlz. Bthun abak dua mzual th nchuan duarkng, chun fahlbthar thuanchardch anum ralz, th eftar thuachendraldch kagren thua vanchningth.

The Falmer, at the bottom:

Ye sa sou meldi calne tarn va nou molagnenseli,ye trumbi nou bala. Ilpen av sou meldi nagaiale as guntumnia, spantelepe-laelia arani Morae, ye sou liebali racuvane, ye nu rautane sye, ye nu hautalle nou buroi gume sou gravuloi, sa metane sye garlis. Frey as gandra dwemera tarcellane sou agea, ye frey as emeratis Avatheledia carelle sou anyamissi bisia silya. Nu hecta sou arcten, rias nu nemalauta ge. Nu hecta sou epegandra, rias ne nemalauta ge. Nu frey sepa sye arcta varlor denai, cullei noue staneia.Ye ry sou alasil auta, ry loria shanta, abagaiavoy. Malautavoy fey nou darre ye alata nou malae, asma moraga sou anyamis av sercen pado, ye gethena sou wend narilia vey emeratu sou oia bisia.

The translation of the text was recently provided to us by Kurt Kuhlmann, its author. You can find a line by line translation here.

And so it was that your people were given passage to our steam gardens, and the protections of our power. (literally “protection of our mathematics”) Many of your people had perished under the roaring, snow-throated kings of Mora, and your wills were broken, and we heard you, and sent our machines against your enemies, to thereby take you under.Only by the grace of the Dwemer did your culture survive, and only by the fifteen-and-one tones did your new lives begin.We do not desire thanks, for we do not believe in it. We do not ask for gratitude, for we do not believe in it.We only request you partake of the symbol of our bond, the fruit of the stones around us. [lit. “we only ask you to accept”] (literally “the fruit of our stones”)And as your vision clouds, as the darkness sets in, fear not.Know only our mercy and the radiance of our affection, which unbinds your bones to the earth before, and sets your final path to the music of your new eternity.



Certain Dwemer runes also symbolize constellations on the Orrery in Stros M'Kai. Although there does not appear to be a connection between each glyph and the constellation it represents, this subject merits further study. You can read more about Dwemeri constellation depictions here.

Glyph Translation Constellation
A, aah, 1 Thief
B, bth, 2 Ritual
D, nd, 4 Lover
E, eh, 5 Lord
F, ft, 6 Mage
G, ngth, 7 Shadow
H, ah, 8 Steed
I, ih, 9 Apprentice
K, rk Warrior
M, mz Lady
N, nch Tower
R, rd Golem


Special thanks to: Aquiantus and Nigedo, authors of the original Dwemer Runes article and webmasters of the Academy for Dwemer Studies. To Michael Kirkbride, for providing the original alphabet, and his stories about its use and creation. To Gary Noonan, for his translations. To Zaethron, for his creation of the Ayleid runes. To everyone who has over the years worked to figure out these tongues, created resources, theorized, dreamt and wondered. To all who remember magic.


Imperial Geographical Society



Guri Nail-Face, Lord of SkerdSkyrim, also known as the Old Kingdom or the Fatherland1, was the first region of Tamriel settled by humans: the hardy, brave, warlike Nords, whose descendants still occupy this rugged land, and, although perhaps somewhat reduced from the legendary renown of their forebears of old, the Nords of the pure blood still unquestionably surpass the mixed races in all the manly virtues.

EastmarchExactly when the Nords first crossed the ice-choked Sea of Ghosts from Atmora, their original homeland, is uncertain. As recorded in the Song of Return, Ysgramor and his family first landed in Tamriel at Hsaarik Head, at the extreme northern tip of Skyrim's Broken Cape, fleeing civil war in Atmora (then rather warmer than at present, as it seems to have supported a substantial population). These first settlers named the land "Mereth", after the Elves that roamed the untamed wilderness which then covered the whole of Tamriel. For a time, relations between Men and Elves were harmonious, and the Nords throve in the new land, summoning more of their kin from the North to build the city of Saarthal, the site of which has recently been located by Imperial archaeologists in the vicinity of modern Winterhold. But the Elves saw that the vital young race would soon surpass their stagnant culture2 if left unchecked, and fell upon the unsuspecting Nords in the infamous Night of Tears; Saarthal was burned, and only Ysgramor and two of his sons3 fought free of the carnage and escaped to Atmora. The Elves, however, had reckoned without the indomitable spirit of the Nords. Gathering his legendary Five Hundred Companions (whose names are still recited every Thirteenth of Sun's Dawn at the Feast of the Dead in Windhelm), Ysgramor returned to Tamriel with a vengeance, driving the Elves out of Skyrim and laying the foundations of the first human Empire.

It may be that the exploits of the near-mythical Ysgramor conflate the reigns of several early Nord Kings, as the Elves were not finally driven from the present boundaries of Skyrim until the reign of King Harald, the thirteenth of Ysgramor's line, at the dawn of recorded history. King Harald is also remembered for being the first King to relinquish all holdings in Atmora; the Nords of Skyrim were now a separate people, whose faces were turned firmly toward their destiny, the conquest of the vast new land of Tamriel. Indeed, the history of the Nords is the history of humans in Tamriel; all the human races, with the exception of the Redguards, are descended from Nordic stock, although in some the ancient blood admittedly runs thin.

King Vrage the Gifted began the expansion that led to the First Empire of the Nords. Within a span of fifty years, Skyrim ruled all of northern Tamriel, including most of present-day High Rock, a deep stretch of the Nibenay Valley, and the whole of Morrowind. The Conquest of Morrowind was one of the epic clashes of the First Era, when ensued many a desperate contest between Nord and Dark Elf in the hills and glades of that dire kingdom, still recalled by the songs of the minstrels in the alehouses of Skyrim. The system of succession in the First Empire is worthy of note, as it proved in the end to be the Empire's undoing. By the early years of the First Empire, Skyrim was already divided into Holds, then ruled by a patchwork of clan-heads, kings, and councils (or moots), all of which paid fealty to the King of Skyrim. During the exceptionally long reign of King Harald, who died at 108 years of age and outlived all but three of his sons, a Moot was created, made up of representatives from each Hold, to choose the next King from qualified members of the royal family. Over the years, the Moot became permanent and acquired an increasing amount of power; by the reign of King Borgas, the last of the Ysgramor dynasty, the Moot had become partisan and ineffective. Upon the murder5 of King Borgas by the Wild Hunt (see Aldmeri Dominion - Valenwood), the Moot's failure to appoint the obvious and capable Jarl Hanse of Winterhold sparked the disastrous Skyrim War of Succession, during which Skyrim lost control of its territories in High Rock, Morrowind, and Cyrodiil, never to regain them. The war was finally concluded in 1E420 with the Pact of Chieftans; henceforth, the Moot was convened only when a King died without direct heirs, and it has fulfilled this more limited role admirably. It has only been called upon three times in the intervening millenia, and the Skyrim succession has never again been disputed on the field of battle.

Guri Nail-Face, Lord of SkerdThe land of Skyrim is the most rugged on the continent, containing four of the five highest peaks in Tamriel (see Places of Note: Throat of the World). Only in the west do the mountains abate to the canyons and mesas of the Reach, by far the most cosmopolitan of the Holds of Skyrim, Nords of the pure blood holding only the barest majority according to the recent Imperial Census. The rest of Skyrim is a vertical world: the high ridges of the northwest-to-southeast slanting mountain ranges, cleft by deep, narrow valleys where most of the population resides. Along the sides of the river valleys, sturdy Nord farmers raise a wide variety of crops; wheat flourishes in the relatively temperate river bottoms, while only the snowberry bushes can survive in the high orchards near the treeline. The original Nord settlements were generally established on rocky crags overlooking a river valley; many of these villages still survive in the more isolated Holds, especially along the Morrowind frontier. In most of Skyrim, however, this defensive posture was deemed unnecessary by the mid-first era, and most cities and towns today lie on the valley floors, in some cases still overlooked by the picturesque ruins of the earlier settlement.

Nords are masters of wood and timber construction; many structures survive in use today that were built by the first settlers over 3,000 years ago. A fine example of Nord military engineering can be seen at Old Fort, one of the royal bastions constructed by the First Empire to guard its southern frontier. Towering walls of huge, irregular porphyry blocks fit together without seam or mortar, as if constructed by mythical Elhnofey rather than men.

The nine Holds present a varied aspect in people, government, and trade. The Reach could be mistaken for one of the petty kingdoms of High Rock; it is full of Bretons, Redguards, Cyrodiils, Elves of all stripes, and even a few misplaced khajiit. The northern and western Holds -- Winterhold, Eastmarch, Rift, and the Pale, known collectively as the Old Holds -- remain more isolated, by geography and choice, and the Nords there still hold true to the old ways. Outsiders are a rarity, usually a once-yearly visit from an itinerant peddler. The young men go out for weeks into the high peaks in the dead of winter, hunting the ice wraiths that give them claim to full status as citizens (a laudable practice that could serve as a model for the more "civilized" regions of the Empire). Here, too, the people still revere their hereditary leaders, while the other Holds have long been governed (after a fashion) by elected moots. It is fortunate for Skyrim and the Septim Empire that the people of the Old Holds have preserved the traditions of their forefathers. Skyrim has long been dormant, slumbering through the millenia while upstart conquerors bestrode the Arena of Tamriel. But now, a son of Skyrim7 once again holds the world's destiny in his hands. If Skyrim is to awake, its rebirth will be led by these true Nords who remain its best hope for the future. [TRAVELER: I found many of these mountain villages almost empty of young men, who have been seduced into joining Septim's army by promises of wealth and glory; the village elders see little hope of their sons ever returning.]*


Snow Elves4

Nords attribute almost any misfortune or disaster to the machinations of the Falmer, or Snow Elves, be it crop failure, missing sheep, or a traveler lost crossing a high pass. These mythical beings are popularly believed to be the descendants of the original Elven population, and are said to reside in the remote mountain fastnesses that cover most of Skyrim. However, there is no tangible evidence that this Elven community survives outside the imaginations of superstitious villagers.


The Tongues

The Nords have long practiced a spiritual form of magic known as "The Way of the Voice", based largely on their veneration of the Wind as the personification of Kynareth. Nords consider themselves to be the children of the sky, and the breath and the voice of a Nord is his vital essence. Through the use of the Voice, the vital power of a Nord can be articulated into a thu'um, or shout. Shouts can be used to sharpen blades or to strike enemies at a distance. Masters of the Voice are known as Tongues, and their power is legendary. They can call to specific people over hundreds of miles, and can move by casting a shout, appearing where it lands. The most powerful Tongues cannot speak without causing destruction. They must go gagged, and communicate through a sign language and through scribing runes.

In the days of the Conquest of Morrowind and the founding of the First Empire, the great Nord war chiefs - Derek the Tall, Jorg Helmbolg, Hoag Merkiller - were all Tongues. When they attacked a city, they needed no siege engines; the Tongues would form up in a wedge in front of the gatehouse, and draw in breath. When the leader let it out in a thu'um, the doors were blown in, and the axemen rushed into the city. Such were the men that forged the First Empire. But, alas for the Nords, one of the mightiest of all the Tongues, Jurgen Windcaller (or The Calm, as he is better known today), became converted to a pacifist creed that denounced use of the Voice for martial exploits. His philosophy prevailed, largely due to his unshakable mastery of the Voice -- his victory was sealed in a legendary confrontation, where The Calm is said to have "swallowed the Shouts" of seventeen Tongues of the militant school for three days until his opponents all lay exhausted (and then became his disciples). Today, the most ancient and powerful of the Tongues live secluded on the highest peaks in contemplation, and have spoken once only in living memory, to announce the destiny of the young Tiber Septim (as recounted in Cyrodiil). In gratitude, the Emperor has recently endowed a new Imperial College of the Voice in Markarth6, dedicated to returning the Way of the Voice to the ancient and honorable art of war. So it may be that the mighty deeds of the Nord heroes of old will soon be equaled or surpassed on the battlefields of the present day.


Places of Note:

Haafingar (Solitude)

The home of the famous Bards' College, Haafingar is also one of Skyrim's chief ports, and ships from up and down the coast can be found at her crowded quays, loading timber and salted cod for the markets of Wayrest, West Anvil, and Senchal. Founded during Skyrim's long Alessian flirtation, the Bards' College continues to flaunt a heretical streak, and its students are famous carousers, fittingly enough for their chosen trade. Students yearly invade the marketplace for week of revelry, the climax of which is the burning of "King Olaf" in effigy, possibly a now-forgotten contender in the War of Succession. Graduates have no trouble finding employment in noble households across Tamriel, including the restored Imperial Court in Cyrodiil, but many still choose to follow in the wandering footsteps of illustrious alumni such as Callisos and Morachellis.


Once the capital of the First Empire, the palace of the Ysgramor dynasty still dominates the center of the Old City. Windhelm was sacked during the War of Succession, and again by the Akaviri army of Ada'Soon Dir-Kamal; the Palace of the Kings is one of the few First Empire buildings that remains. Today, Windhelm remains the only sizable city in the otherwise determinedly rural Hold of Eastmarch, and serves as a base for Imperial troops guarding the Dunmeth Pass into Morrowind.

Throat of the World

This is the highest mountain in Skyrim, and the highest in Tamriel aside from Vvardenfell in Morrowind. The Nords believe men were formed on this mountain when the sky breathed onto the land. Hence the Song of Return refers not only to Ysgramor's return to Tamriel after the destruction of Saarthal, but to the Nords' return to what they believe was their original homeland. Pilgrims travel from across Skyrim to climb the Seven Thousand Steps to High Hrothgar, where the most ancient and honored Greybeards8 dwell in absolute silence in their quest to become ever more attuned to the voice of the sky.

Annotations by YR:

1. "Most of the Nords I met seemed amused by this 'Fatherland' nonsense ~ the war with the 'Aldmeri Dominion' was the furthest thing in their minds"
2. "!"
3. "Ysgramor's provocations and blasphemies have, of course, been long forgotten"
4. "Uncle, I saw signs that might be Falmer boundary-runes, but nothing sure. If any survive, they are wary and withdrawn."
5. "righteous slaying"
6. "Septim's new college is staffed by hacks and charlatans ~ the so-called Grand Master is said to have formerly earned his living as a street performer in Windhelm ~ the students are scions of the most obsequious Nord families, hoping to curry favor with Tiber Septim's New Order ~"
7. "a disputed claim"
8. "~ At last, a few Men worthy of respect. I met with an ancient Greybeard who could actually converse with me almost as an equal ~ my only such experience among the humans so far ~"

*. This annotation does not exist in the final version of Pocket Guide from TESA: Redguard.