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Great Spirits of the Reach: Volume 2

Vashu gra-Morga
By Vashu gra-Morga, Chief Daedrotheologist at the University of Gwylim
The Reachfolk worship many spirits, both great and small. In truth, there are as many faiths as there are clans in the Reach. Some clans might worship a sacred elk or the spirit of a mountain spring. Others might sacrifice goats to ghosts of ancient heroes. There are some spirits, however, that transcend clan boundaries—those we in the rest of Tamriel recognize as the Daedric Princes.
Chief among the Reach pantheon is Hircine—Prince of the Hunt. Names vary from clan to clan: Old Elk-Eye, Hunt-King, Beast Father, Skinshaper, and the Spear with Five Points. Like all Reach gods, Hircine is regarded as a cruel teacher. Indeed, Reachfolk do not call their articles of faith "beliefs;" they call them "lessons." But those who heed Hircine's lessons grow swift, strong, and cunning. For a Reach hunter, these physical manifestations of faith are far more important than any of the nebulous ethical concerns debated in the temples of the Divines.
Hircine is the avatar of the fierce and terrifying "now." He tells his followers that life is lived breath-by-breath, and all creatures are predator, prey, or both. This engenders a sense of urgency and constant wariness that often leads to conflict, but also keeps Reachfolk safe. In the heart of a Hircine-worshiper, there is no rest and no expectation of rest.
For the uninitiated, such a faith sounds exhausting. But the fruits it bears are difficult to dismiss. Reachfolk maintain a level of focus and athleticism that few races can match. While brief stillness waits at the end of the hunt, there is always another hunt on the horizon.
Reachfolk also welcome Hircine's truest servants into their midst as protectors and guides. I speak, of course, of werewolves. Few Reachfolk describe lycanthropy as a blessing, but they accept it as a useful condition. The werewolf suffers on behalf of her clan and causes enemies to suffer in turn.

The Worldly Spirits


by Amun-dro, the Silent Priest

Nirni. The Green Mother. Spirit of Harmony. Though her spirit has diminished, Nirni can still be felt in the warm sands, dense jungles, and all places where mortals have not disturbed the earth. The Khajiit are her secret defenders, for her spirit seeds life on the Mortal Plane. This was Lorkhaj's gift to Nirni. Because she always tried to compete with Azurah for Fadomai's favor, she is sometimes called the Jealous Sister. Despite this, it is said she was the only spirit more beautiful than Azurah.

Y'ffer. The Elden Shaper. One of the Bastard Sons of Ahnurr. Unlike his father, he was wise and kind. He convinced Nirni to be his mate by creating the first flower, and they had many children. Y'ffer was corrupted by the Great Darkness sometime after the death of Lorkhaj. Consumed by chaos, Y'ffer struck Nirni, killing her. Azurah, Khenarthi, and Hircine destroyed him in vengeance and made a cairn for Nirni out of his bones. Some woodland folk say they can still hear his voice, but we Khajiit no longer speak of him.

Hircine. The Hunter. Spirit of Pursuit and Purposeful Change. Hircine was in love with Nirni, but she chose Y'ffer as her mate. In his sorrow, Hircine slew Y'ffer's champion, the Graht-Elk. Now he wears its head as a trophy. He is fond of Nirni's children and walks among them often. Khajiit should pray to Hircine when they have strayed from the Path, for the Father of the Hunt will always set them back upon it. Some tribes claim Hircine is the father of Nirni's first litter, who were as changeable as the Moons. They say these children were chosen as vessels for the ja-Kha'jay.

Hermorah. The Watcher. Spirit of the Tides. Hermorah records all the events he perceives and stores them away in a great library under the sea. A patient spirit, he helped Azurah maintain the Moons and their Motions after the world was made and Khenarthi could no longer bear to do so. He is the Keeper of the Knowledge of Others, and he shares all he learns with Azurah, who walks the halls of his library often. You should not call on this spirit unless you wish to be tested along the Path. It is best to leave Hermorah to his duty.

Sangiin. Blood God of the Second Litter. Sangiin is not an evil spirit by nature, but Khajiit must know that all things within his sphere turn True Cats from the Path. These are the urges of blood and pleasure without purpose. To fall to Sangiin is not to give in to the Dark, but to give in to the flesh. He tries to tempt Khajiit into making their flesh immortal, and this is a prison to all spirits of the ja-Kha'jay. Sangiin is therefore a spirit that will test you on the Path and must be overcome. The secret to defeating him is to ignore him, and this we learned from Mafala, who said: Lust for nothing but Truth.

The Huntsman Prince

Hanu of the Zainab

Tribe Huntsman of the Princes. Father of Manbeasts. The Hungry Cat. Hircine has many names, but all relate to his one known sphere; the hunt. The Daedric Prince is obsessed with the chase, the capture, the kill; whether the prey be mer, man, or beast.

Hircine is a favored subject of worship in Tamriel, although it is not out of line to question this popularity. None would go so far as to call him a deity of benevolence. In fact, Hircine has never seemed to actively want worship or reverence. He simply seeks out, tests, and rewards hunters he finds worthy.

Perhaps that's the appeal of such an idol. There's an odd purity to his savagery. Unlike many other Daedric Princes, his boons are generally found to be more or less fair. All his followers must do is prove themselves to him. Do so, and they are promised an afterlife of endless hunts within his Hunting Grounds.

The Hunting Grounds

Followers of Hircine are promised one thing; an afterlife within the Prince's realm of Oblivion, known as the Hunting Grounds. An endless forest where endless hunts are held. A land of savagery and violence, where an eternal cycle of death and rebirth take place.

Hunting lodges dot the landscape, home to the souls which haunt this realm. Powerful beasts lurk within the forests, allowing Hircine's followers to indulge in spectacular hunts. A true paradise for those who have dedicated their life to the Huntsman Prince.

The Great Hunt

Though a rare occurrence, Hircine does allow the living to enter his realm. This event is known as the Great Hunt, a deadly competition held for the Huntsman Prince's amusement. This contest of skill and cunning has only one goal in mind; capture the Hare and present it to Hircine. Only then will you earn his favor.

Many die during this bid for Hircine's boon. It's not uncommon for competitors to turn against one another, or to be killed by one of the many natural dangers the realm presents. And the Hare itself, of course, never goes down without a fight.


Hircine's title Father of Manbeasts is a well earned one. He's believed to be the creator of lycanthropy, the ability for mer and man to transform into beastial creatures. The most well known of these lycanthropes are werewolves.

Those infected with lycanthropy, whether by birth or infection, are cursed with an aggressive madness that compels them to bloodlust. Upon their death, they are sent to spend their afterlife within the Hunting Grounds. This is regardless of their allegiance to Hircine.

There's no known documentation of a soul escaping the Hunting Grounds, but there is one possibility. If a competitor of the Great Hunt would ask for a soul's freedom as their boon, Hircine will be compelled to free that individual's soul. And that is exactly what I must do if I ever wish for my father to be free of that savage realm.

The Glory of the Hunt

Wyress Strigidae

The glory of the hunt. I've always known it, always felt it. As my arrow pierced the heart of a creature, its lifeblood slowly draining from its chest. As my dagger punctured an enemy's skull, as I stared into their eyes as the life slowly faded from them. The beautiful symphony of my prey's dying screams, screeches, pleas.

I was always one of Hircine's children. No greater satisfaction could I gain than the thrill of the hunt, the feeling of triumph after a difficult kill. And the Huntsman Prince saw this, and smiled with bloody teeth.

As I laid dying, a sword sticking into my gut, I had no fear. I knew where my soul would go.

The Hunting Grounds. The forest of eternal hunts, of endless glory. Every day I join my sisters as we track our prey. Every night we lay under the majesty of Hircine's stars, recalling tales of our past victories. The wine is rich, the meat is fresh, and never do we fall ill. Our Lord has given us a paradise.

Soon the Huntsman Prince will gather outsiders for his Great Hunt. An exciting time for all of us hunters within His realm. We shall test these newcomers, see if they are truly worthy of Hircine's boon. And should they fall, what harm then? They shall simply remain within this paradise, this home we call the Hunting Grounds.

The Blessings of Hircine


It is the will of Hircine that the Bosmer become as we were in the Dawn Age. Before Y'ffre trapped us in a single shape, before he told us our story and took away our freedom.

The gift of Hircine is the gift of a second shape. The sacrament of Hircine is the scent of prey on the wind, the taste of blood on the tongue. Praise Hircine and his Houndsmen! Rise up and reject the tyranny of shape and story!

The Legend of Fallen Grotto


Long ago, a man with seven sons and seven daughters lived in Bangkorai. Their home was in a deep and twisted cave at the edge of the woods.

The surrounding forest was filled with all manner of creatures: bears, wolves, badgers, and deer. Though his family was large, they never knew hunger, for the animals were plentiful and easy prey.

"We must give thanks for Hircine's blessing," said the man.

And the man prayed to Hircine, building within his home a shrine to the God of the Hunt. He painted the walls of the cave with pigments he made by combining animal fat with the earth. From the deer his children slew, the man took antlers to make an altar, and his wife braided hides into leather rugs to cover the dirt floor.
When the shrine was complete, the man and his family lit tallow candles and roasted an ox, pouring its blood onto the altar as they chanted prayers.

Suddenly, they heard a laugh, and before them stood Hircine himself, drawn by the death cry of the ox and the scent of its roasting flesh.

"You've done well!" Hircine cried, striding forward. He was clad in layers of animal hide, though his feet were bare.

"To prove your faith," said Hircine, "send forth your seven sons and seven daughters. I will hunt them from dawn until dusk and from dusk until dawn, until I am sated."

The man recoiled in horror. "I cannot do that!" he said. "You may take anything, but do not take my children from me!"

Eyes narrowing, Hircine raised one hand toward the cave's ceiling. Then he pointed to the ground with the other. Hircine screamed, and the walls collapsed inward, destroying the shrine and the man's home.

As dust curled upward like the smoke from an offering, sixteen forest trolls lumbered uncertainly from the debris, staggering from the grotto to the woods.

"You were not worthy of becoming beasts," Hircine remarked coolly, "but I shall hunt you anyway."


Aspects of Lord Hircine

Juno Procillus, Academy of Chorrol

The following is the transcribed statement of a shaman of Druadach who named himself Uraccanach the Witchman:

"Like the fingers of your hand, like the clutch of the hagraven, like the arrows to kill a bear, Five are the Aspects of Lord Hircine. You may meet any of the Five. All are true and right and death-in-the-woods. All are worthy of reverence.

"You may meet the Hunter, who is invoked as Alrabeg. He bears the Spear of Bitter Mercy. He comes here from the Hunting Grounds to hunt new prey, or he brings prey native to the Hunting Grounds, like the Unicorn, to hunt in new forests. If he brings not prey, then woe betide you who meet him, for he may dub you the Hare. Then you must flee as best you can, though you will not escape.

"You may meet the Manbeast, who is invoked as Storihbeg. He wears the Wolf Skull Totem and his growl is like a landslide in the Karth Gorge. He comes here to hunt with his children the Skinshifters, or to adopt new children and turn them pelt-side-out. His howl will freeze your inwards like a pond in Evening Star at midnight—you will see your death approach, but be unable to flee.

"You man meet the Great Stag, who is invoked as Uricanbeg, and whose hooves drum the Blood Summons. He comes to mate with the hinds, and may transform a comely woman for that purpose, or to cull the herd of the weak. Those who hear his drumbeat are doomed to run with the herd, and may follow him back to the Hunting Grounds where they will be chased and unmade."

"You may meet the Quick Fox, who is invoked as Gulibeg, and who wields the Wand of Bone. He comes here to confound mortal hunters, to run them in circles until they are so plexed and wildered that they follow him over a cliff or into a trackless mire. He may fill you with such fury you can do naught but pursue him, or he may note you as clever and teach you his tricks.

"You may meet the Mighty Bear, who is invoked as Hrokkibeg. He embodies the Totem of Claw and Fang, and comes here seeking solitude, peace from labors, and renewal of the Burning Spirit Within. Beware, for if you rouse him and disturb his serenity you will be torn asunder. But if you approach him with deference and an offering of honey-sweet mead, he may grant you the power of the Bear-Heart in your next fight.

"These are the Five—there are no more, and any who say so are witless and foolish. So states Uraccanach, and whenever have I been proven false? I have said it, and it is so. Pass the juniper-draught."

Invocation of Hircine


Mighty Lord Hircine, noble Lord Hircine, we come before you in all obeisance and humility, acknowledging your divine authority over the forest and all the lawful prey therein. We invoke you, O Master of the Chase, in your aspect of Alrabeg the Hunter, to look kindly upon the endeavors of these, your worshipers, as we praise you by engaging in the hallowed tradition of the Hunt.

Ever do we respect the Law of Fair Hunt, never taking a quarry that had no chance of escape.

Ever do we respect the Prey, thanking it for its sacrifice in our worship of you.

Ever do we respect the Huntsman, beseeching your permission even as we loose the arrow.

Bless us as we hunt, O Hircine. Help us to hunt with honor, and bring in prey both lawful and bountiful.

The Book of Daedra


Azura, whose sphere is dusk and dawn, the magic in-between realms of twilight, known as Moonshadow, Mother of the Rose, and Queen of the Night Sky.

Boethiah, whose sphere is deceit and conspiracy, and the secret plots of murder, assassination, treason, and unlawful overthrow of authority.

Clavicus Vile, whose sphere is the granting of power and wishes through ritual invocations and pact.

Hermaeus Mora, whose sphere is scrying of the tides of Fate, of the past and future as read in the stars and heavens, and in whose dominion are the treasures of knowledge and memory.

Hircine, whose sphere is the Hunt, the Sport of Daedra, the Great Game, the Chase, known as the Huntsman and the Father of Manbeasts.

Malacath, whose sphere is the patronage of the spurned and ostracized, the keeper of the Sworn Oath, and the Bloody Curse.

Mehrunes Dagon, whose sphere is Destruction, Change, Revolution, Energy, and Ambition.

Mephala, whose sphere is obscured to mortals; known by the names Webspinner, Spinner, and Spider; whose only consistent theme seems to be interference in the affairs of mortals for her amusement.

Meridia, whose sphere is obscured to mortals; who is associated with the energies of living things.

Molag Bal, whose sphere is the domination and enslavement of mortals; whose desire is to harvest the souls of mortals and to bring mortal souls within his sway by spreading seeds of strife and discord in the mortal realms.

Namira, whose sphere is the ancient Darkness; known as the Spirit Daedra, ruler of sundry dark and shadowy spirits; associated with spiders, insects, slugs, and other repulsive creatures which inspire mortals with an instinctive revulsion.

Nocturnal, whose sphere is the night and darkness; who is known as the Night Mistress.

Peryite, whose sphere is the ordering of the lowest orders of Oblivion, known as the Taskmaster.

Sanguine, whose sphere is hedonistic revelry and debauchery, and passionate indulgences of darker natures.

Sheogorath, whose sphere is Madness, and whose motives are unknowable.

Vaernima, whose sphere is the realm of dreams and nightmares, and from whose realm issues forth evil omens.

[Especially marked for special interest under the heading "Malacath" you find a reference to SCOURGE, blessed by Malacath, and dedicated to the use of mortals. In short, the reference suggests that any Daedra attempting to invoke the weapon's powers will be expelled into the voidstreams of Oblivion.]

"Of the legendary artifacts of the Daedra, many are well known, like Azura's Star, and Sheogorath's Wabbajack. Others are less well known, like Scourge, Mackkan's Hammer, Bane of Daedra...."

"...yet though Malacath blessed Scourge to be potent against his Daedra kin, he thought not that it should fall into Daedric hands, then to serve as a tool for private war among caitiff and forsaken. Thus did Malacath curse the device such that, should any dark kin seek to invoke its powers, that a void should open and swallow that Daedra, and purge him into Oblivion's voidstreams, from thence to pathfind back to the Real and Unreal Worlds in the full order of time."  

The Totems of Hircine


Among those of us to whom Lord Hircine bestowed his most precious gift of Lycanthropy, there are legends that he also set into the world specific artifacts of his power. They date to a period when men could neither write, nor speak, nor barely think, but the powers of blood of the beast were yet flowing strong among the selected.

The first: a carved skull, of the wolf itself. Used by those ancient shamans in the blood ceremonies that created our lineage, it is said to grant a great presence to those who prostrate themselves before it, such that those who witness their forms cower in a terror unknown except to those who have glimpsed the face of Hircine himself.

The second: a thigh bone, carved as the skull, but from some animal unknown. Used as some form of medicinal wand in the more ancient brotherhood, it was said to grant a kind of heightened awareness, both in sight and smell, such that the prey could never flee too far from our senses.

The third: a simple drum, its mundane appearance meaning it is most likely lost to the mists of long ago time. As our fathers would beat time to summon their brethren from the fields, so too would our forebears in the blood call their allies to them with its pounding.

Through these totems, we channel and focus our energies of the beast. While werewolves give up the powers of magic known to men, we can tap into a more direct natural energy at times, and through these totems, discover the abilities that first tamed the world before wrought civilization sullied it.