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Thenephan's Mysteries of Mead


There's a reason I was kicked out of Daggerfall, chased out of Elden Root, and banned from Mournhold. I've tried every variety of intoxicant, wine, ale, and Argonian swill this world has to offer. I've sampled skooma with Khajiit, licked an Argonian Hist Tree, and hunted "magical" toads with the Bosmer.

None of that compares to Nord mead. There's nothing like it.

The purest stuff is made in Nord villages, but we're at war with the Nords, and a Breton has no guarantee of surviving a trip like that. Leave that sort of thing to the professionals. There is still hope, however. If you're ever at a tavern, and there's a cask of Nord mead, you'd be a fool to pass it up.

Mead is made by fermenting honey and water (though a few recipes call for molasses). Sometimes, you add grain mash and strain it, but that isn't necessary. Some of the High Elves call it "honey wine," but mead needs more than good honey. Every meadery has its own recipes. After you drink enough mead, you learn the names of the brewmasters who create them. A drunk Nord will gladly punch another in the face over the honor of a good brewmaster. Then again, a drunk Nord will punch anyone for just about anything.

Every brewmaster has a distinct blend of spices, fruit, and sometimes hops (which makes a mead bitter, which makes some Nords bitter, too.) I've even heard tales of mead mixed with the blood of heroes, allegedly granting them the words of a poet or skald. I'd like a mead named after me, but I'm not going to bleed for it.
An Altmer once told me that brewing is the basis of all culture. It's why our ancestors started farming and forming cities. It's what we do when we've got too much wheat and barley and hops and we're sick of farming. The culture of drinking seems to be what keeps Nords together.

Nords must be really sick of farming, because they brew and drink prodigious amounts of mead. Whenever a cask of really good mead is opened, Nords gather round because they know that cask won't last long. But if you don't know how to behave in the Nord drinking culture, you'll end up broke, broken, hungover, and helpless. I found out the hard way.

Nords love to drink. But more than that. Nords respect those who can endure adversity. I know that sounds flowery for explaining why two drunk Nords would have a "hit-me-hard-in-the-face" contest, but really, that's why their culture celebrates getting drunk.

A Nord can gain respect by consuming more mead than anyone else, just as he's respected for surviving a blizzard or killing a bear with a sharp stick. "Nord honor" is something they talk about endlessly when they're drunk, and even more when they're sober. So the first thing you learn about Nords is if you want their respect, never turn down a drink. It's a test. If you can't handle that next drink, leave. Otherwise you'll wake up somewhere they find hilarious, but you won't be laughing.

Nords also love their skalds. Songs and stories go over well with a drunk audience, once they've had enough of brawling, boasting, and throwing axes at each other. Their songs are all about how they're better than everyone else at everything. They've all heard these over and over again, so bring some of your own. They're desperate to hear something new.

Anywhere you go, drinking is also a good way to redress a mistake or make an apology, and it's the same with Nords. If you lose a contest, you need to buy a drink. If you make a mistake or offend someone, you need to buy a drink. If you're insulted, stand there and take it, then you need to buy a drink.

You don't have to be the best brawler around to survive a room full of drunken Nords. You can also impress them by being clever or by being talented, but you better be really good. When it's time to take a punch in the face, you better be ready for a punch in the face. If you don't like getting punched, there are some things you should never talk about, like politics, who's the best brewmaster, and who punches the hardest. And never demand to know why someone just punched you in the face.

If you want to hear more, buy me a drink the next time I'm in Daggerfall. I'll tell you a story.

The Wandering Skald


Every library holds musty old tales
Carried through rain and snow
But a Nord skald gladly regales
What the poets all sang long ago
Every book has its title and name
But its pages soon turn to dust
A poem we sing will live on in fame
From a history all of us trust
Old tales come down from long ago
With inflection and meter and verse
Soon the skald's audience will hap'ly know
"Yes, this life could be worse."
And the kings know that truth,
Is better than sword and shield
Taught from their distant youth
Skald Kings have wisdom to wield
So welcome me as a friend
For the poems I sing tonight
Will last for nights without end
From first mead to dawn's early light!

The Road to Sovngarde


Loremasters hear tales of heroes who claim to have traveled to Sovngarde and back, but their truth is uncertain. The greatest warriors stride the road to Sovngarde upon their deaths, but if the living can walk there and return, it has not yet been shown.

Yet loremasters know this: Sovngarde exists. So our gods promise, so we believe. Sovngarde lies in the heart of Aetherius, awaiting the souls of departed warriors. Nords who prove themselves in battle awaken in the realm after death. Pain and illness vanish within the Hall of Valor. Revelry is never-ending, mead flows freely, and the greatest Nords of all time compete in tests of strength and prowess.

Spirits trapped in this world know torment, emptiness, and endless suffering, obsessing over lost battles, fallen kingdoms, and unresolved lives. Not so in Sovngarde! Even the tedium of immortality is unknown, for spectral foes wait in the surrounding shadows, waiting to do battle with those who would test their mettle.

Shor created the realm of Sovngarde with his clever magic long ago, but the trickster god has faded from our world. Others have attempted to part the veil of his deceit, practicing forsaken arts and seeking hidden paths into the afterlife. All such attempts end in tragedy. None can out-trick the trickster. For all we know, Shor retreated to that realm and laughs at all who would outwit him. He may even rule the realm, choosing heroes to honor according to his whims.

All this is speculation. Only those who are worthy know the truth, and they speak no more to the living. Through all the suffering and adversity in this world, true Nord warriors endure, for Sovngarde awaits.

The Ternion Monks

Elgad the Scribe

Some call them a cult. Others say worse things. But the Ternion Monks carry on a tradition that honors the Three Old Gods and the totems associated with them. While the religion is ancient, its followers are few. In many respects, the Ternion movement is slowly dying, as very little proselytizing takes place by the current contingent of monks. Fewer and fewer converts take up the worship of the Three Old Gods, and soon the religion may become nothing but a vague memory.

Known for their healing magic, the Ternion Monks can call forth aspects of the Three Old Gods. With the help of these aspects, the monks can perform tasks beyond the scope of mere mortal limitations. The aspects take the forms of the Three Old Gods: the Fox, the Bear, and the Wolf.

The Fox is crafty and quick, and its aspect enhances the speed and agility of the monks who call upon him.
The Bear is strong, mighty. A protector. The aspect of the Bear enhances strength and shields those who call upon him from harm.

The Wolf is sly and observant, ferocious and deadly. She watches and waits, looking for the best opportunity to make her move. The aspect of the Wolf enhances vision and perception, allowing those who call upon her to see more clearly, to notice the hidden and the obscure.

The Ternion Monks prefer nigh-inaccessible spots as places to meditate and worship. Often, the only way to get to these holy retreats is to use the magic of the monks. A guardian is always appointed to open the way to the retreat, but will only do so for other monks or if the need is great and the requester is worthy.

I have spent time with the monks, learned something of their ways and seen their healing magic in action. I believe that they are good people, following a worthy tradition. But I fear that when this generation comes to an end, the Ternion Monks and the Three Old Gods they worship will fade away.

And that will be a sad day, indeed.

War Weather


Bring this to Neidir's attention immediately. It's a transcript of an old text, but she needs to see this. Beg her pardon for the conjecture on Nord legends and Psijic nonsense, but this text contains the angle of attack she was looking for:

Weather magic has never been an exact science, perhaps because of the temperamental nature of what it seeks to control.

Minor spells to conjure gusts of wind or forks of lightning are common, but manipulation of a region's climate is much more difficult to achieve. Our war wizards have longed for the ability to lower catastrophic hailstorms onto enemy borders as a preamble to invasion, or to halt a blizzard to make an unexpected march through inclement weather.

There are claims to such spells—spells originating from foreign lands and beyond.

Legend has it that a sect of Nords in faraway Skyrim command the spell-like language of dragons, which allowed them some mastery over the weather. Accounts of these Nords' abilities during the Merethic Era Dragon War include the power to diminish fogs, mists, and clouds with the sheer bravado of their shouts. Negil's "Dragons at Windhelm" notes that an army of these bellowing Nords foiled an airborne sneak attack by dragons who sought to strike under a cover of storm clouds. Negil writes, "We thought the heavy clouds looked better parted, and when we spoke our Words of Power, the clouds thought so, too. But even with their passing, the sun remained hidden. A then-apparent wing of dragons stretched across the blue, and the curse that escaped Vofodor's mouth brought a hearty guffaw to mine. Our Words of Power did not spare us the battle, but they told us battle was coming. We joined it gladly." The Maormer lack access to the dragon language, but I have confidence anything the Nords can accomplish we can match.

Far to the southwest of Skyrim, members of the Psijic Order have been long-rumored to possess spells cast in the Old Way of magic that can bend the elements to the user's desire. Our scouts have reported sudden lightning and flash rain turning to small-scale blizzards off the coast of Artaeum for years. It's possible instructional texts on the matter exist—and translating them from the Old Way into intelligible magic will be difficult, but it would be an excellent starting point.

Arresea's "The Daedric Primer" describes a spell devised by Sheogorath, Daedric Prince, called Manipulate Weather. She writes, "Sheogorath's spell folio includes an incantation to match the weather with his mood. The Lord of the Madhouse has been known to teach the spell to mortals in his favor, allowing them to alter the climate of an entire region. Unfortunately, the spell functions at Sheogorath's whim, no matter who casts it—meaning it functions entirely randomly. There are stories of his followers trying to stymie flashfloods but summoning torrential rain instead, or trying to put out brush fires and feeding the flames with unwanted lightning storms, to Sheogorath's delight. Making a Daedric Pact with Sheogorath is probably not in our best interest, but it seems there is something we can learn from the Prince of Madness.

I include the above examples to say that large-scale weather control has been noted across the world, to convince King Orgnum or any in his close circle that weaponizing such an ability would be an incredible asset to the Maormer military.

I set out to prove as much this past winter, with the help of twenty journeyman mages. We didn't quite succeed—though we're on the cusp of success. We started by clearing an open plain near the sea and created a lightning storm by manipulating the charge of a passing cloud with our own skeins of lightning. It worked, but we lost a member of our group (entirely regrettable) to the sudden storm and a fork of wayward lightning. It's possible we would all have perished had our storm not consumed itself. We tried several times, managing to lengthen the duration of the storm each time, even learned to direct it out over the water. But the duration of our spell remained our enemy, and we eventually had to admit that the exercise would be futile in a battle.

We concluded that if we had had some way to physically suspend our spell at a high altitude—perhaps with a conduit device? Perhaps a series of devices—we would eliminate the need for continued expenditure of magicka and free the casters to direct a storm across a great distance.

Goddess of Storm, Mother of Nords


Kyne, one of the Eight Divines of the Nord pantheon, is considered by some to lead those Divines. She is one of the Hearth Gods, watching over the present cycle of the world. Her titles are numerous, revealing much about the character of Kyne.

Kyne is called the Kiss at the End, for most Nords agree that Kyne leads the dead to Sovngarde. She is revered as the Goddess of Storm, called upon to bring rain and snow in dry times. She protects her faithful from the raging gales and blizzards that regularly sweep across the Skyrim expanse. Other names applied to Kyne include Widow of Shor and the Mother of Nords.

Warriors favor Kyne, as they call upon her for strength in battle and victory in conflict.

Crafting Motif 4: Nord Style

Doctor Alfidia Lupus

Being notes by Doctor Alfidia Lupus for a series of pamphlets on the major cultural styles of Tamriel

(Dr. Lupus was Imperial Ethnographer for Potentate Savirien-Chorak from 2E 418 to 431)

We come now to the Nords, the first human culture on Tamriel to successfully resist, and even displace, Elven hegemony on the continent.

Not unlike the Bosmer, the Nords rely heavily on stylized, often interlocking natural motifs in their architecture, crafts, and clothing. However, where the Wood Elves' designs are mainly floral, the Nords emphasize animals, in particular the eight "totem" animals of the old Atmoran religion: wolf, hawk, whale, snake, moth, fox, and so forth. They also allow for much more variation of design, to the point where some of the animal motifs are so abstract they are difficult to recognize. Indeed, areas of trim are often filled with interlocking geometric designs that evoke nothing natural at all.

Nord design varies in other ways from that of the Elves as well, in general relying on simple, heavy yet dynamic forms where Elven work would be slender, elegant, and understated. Nothing the Nords make is understated, ever.

This was clear even from outside the Imperial City's Skyrim Embassy, where Morian, Divayth and I had gone to a reception for King Logrolf. The lintel above the embassy doors was crowned with a great iron hawk's-head, its mouth open as if screaming defiance, while the doors were flanked by bas-reliefs of hawks so stylized they looked as much like axes as they did birds. The door itself was dark oak, banded with iron and studded with iron rivets, as if they expected to have to repel an attack.

The inside of the embassy was less martial in appearance, at least once one got past the armed and armored guards inside the door. I wondered if they really needed to wear full helms sporting ram's-horns in order to check the invitations of party guests, but the look in the Nords' eyes didn't exactly invite questions.

The party, as I said, was a reception for King Logrolf, visiting the Imperial City to pay his respects to the Potentate. Morian was there representing the Arcane University; he'd asked me to accompany him and I'd accepted, eager to see our fierce northern cousins in their own environment. When Divayth learned where we were going he'd attached himself to our party, in spite of Morian's baleful glare, but once we were inside the embassy and he was surrounded by loud, boisterous Nords, the Dark Elf wizard seemed to be regretting his decision to join us.

Not so Morian! After he'd downed a flagon of mead, I was suddenly seeing a new Professor Zenas. Attired in his new robe, he positively bloomed, holding forth on the history of magic to an admiring crowd of diplomats, whom he enthralled with tales of the feats of wizardry of the Nord Arch-Mage Shalidor. He seemed twenty years younger, and I suddenly saw him as he must have been in his prime, when he first came to the Imperial City to help found the Arcane University.

Morian even introduced me to King Logrolf, though how he came to know the monarch of Skyrim I have no idea. When I looked around for Divayth, he was nowhere to be seen. Morian and I stayed late at the embassy, quaffing mead and laughing at the Nords' hearty jokes. When we finally left and he walked me home, I thought I could see a new gleam in Morian's eye.

He may have seen the same gleam in mine.

Nords Arise!



Nords Arise! Throw off the shackles of Imperial oppression. Do not bow to the yoke of a false emperor. Be true to your blood, to your homeland.

The empire tells us we cannot worship holy Talos. How can man set aside a god? How can a true Nord of Skyrim cast aside the god that rose from our own heartland? Mighty Tiber Septim, himself the first emperor, conqueror of all Tamriel, ascended to godhood to sit at the right hand of Akatosh. Tiber Septim, a true son of Skyrim, born in the land of snow and blood, bred to the honor of our people, is now Talos, god of might and honor. The Empire has no right to tell us we cannot worship him.

Our own high king, Torygg, betrayed us to the empire. He traded our god for peace. He agreed to a pact with the Thalmor signed by an emperor in a foreign land. Are we to be beholden to such a pact? No! A thousand times no.

Do not let the lessons of history go unheeded. The Aldmeri Dominion and its Thalmor masters made war upon men, just as the elves made war upon Ysgramor and our people in ancient times. Shining Saarthal was burned to the ground, reduced to ruins and rubble in their treacherous assault. But Ysgramor and his sons gathered the 500 Companions and made war upon the elves, casting them out of Skyrim. In the Great War fought by our fathers, the elves again betrayed men by attacking us unprovoked. The Dominion and the Thalmor cannot be trusted!

Like Ysgramor, Ulfric Stormcloak is a true hero of Skyrim. His name will ring in Sovngarde for generations to come. Only he had the courage to single out King Torygg and challenge him to trial by arms. Ulfric's thu'um, a gift from Talos himself, struck down this traitorous ruler. And by his death we are now free of our Imperial shackles and the Thalmor overlords that darken the Imperial throne.

The Empire has sent its Legions to govern us. They have enlisted our own countrymen to their cause. They have set brother against brother, father against son. They have caused Skyrim to battle itself in their name, for their cause. Do not let them divide us. Do not let them conquer us! Reject the Imperial law that forbids the worship of Talos. Join Ulfric Stormcloak and his cause!

Nords of Skyrim

Hrothmund Wolf-Heart

Nords of Skyrim - My People, My Pride

Respected reader. My name is Hrothmund Wolf-Heart, and I am a Nord. But, more importantly, I am a Nord born and raised in the land of Skyrim.

I write this volume in the desperate hope that the rest of Tamriel can come to know my people as they deserve to be known, and understand this province for what it truly is - a place of uncontested beauty and culture.

Some of what you know is undoubtedly true. Physically, we Nords are an impressive, often imposing sight - tall of stature, strong of bone, and thick of muscle. Our hair is often fair, and worn braided, as has been the custom for generations. Often we are swathed in the hides of beasts, for such creatures are abundant in Skyrim, and we would be foolish not to take advantage of such an available resource.

Having read this far, you may be shocked at the strength of my words, and the literacy of a northern "savage." Aye, many Nords can both read and write. My father began my instruction in the way of letters when I was but a bairn, as did his father, and his father before him.

But the accomplishments of the children of Skyrim are multitude, and go beyond mere wordcraft. For we are artisans as well, and through the ages have learned to manipulate steel the way a sculptor would clay.

Indeed, I have seen with mine own eyes, visitors from High Rock and Cyrodiil weep in disbelief as they beheld the blades wrought in the fires of the Skyforge, and honed to beautiful deadliness by the gods-touched hands of Clan Gray-Mane.

But how can this be true, you ask? How are such achievements possible from a people who have yet to emerge from the muck and snow? Again, provincial bias clouds the truth.

The cities of Skyrim are a testament to Nord ingenuity and craftsmanship. Chief among them are Solitude, seat of the High King and capital of the province; Windhelm, ancient and honored, a jewel in the snow; Markarth, carved into the living rock itself, in ages long since past; Riften, nestled in the golden shadows of the Fall Forest, whence comes delicious fish and mead; and Whiterun, built around the hall of Jorrvaskr, home of the most noble Companions and revered Skyforge.

And now, respected reader, you have the full measure of it. We Nords are everything you imagined - and so much more.

But let not this work be your only gateway to the truth. Book passage on carriage or vessel, and make the journey north. See Skyrim with thine own eyes. See Skyrim as have the Nords, since the gods first shaped the world.

Sovngarde: A Reexamination

Bereditte Jastal

Speculation regarding Sovngarde, the Nordic Hall of Valor


Death. It is something we all face. Or do we?

Just ask the nearest Nord what he thinks of the end of life, and you'll likely be treated to a horrific story of blood, bone and viscera, of courageous deeds and heartbreaking sorrow. Carnage notwithstanding, there may be even more to death than the average Nord warrior realizes. New evidence suggests a life beyond the battlefield, where a valiant Nord may live forever, downing mead and engaging in contests of strength and skill. But in order to fully understand the possibility of a Nord's eternal life after death, one must first reexamine the legends surrounding that most wondrous of warrior's retreats - Sovngarde.

According to the ancient writings and oral traditions of the Nords, going back as far as the Late Merethic Era, there exists a place so magnificent, so honored, that the entrance lies hidden from view. Sovngarde, it is called, built by the god Shor to honor those Nords who have proven their mettle in war. Within this "Hall of Valor" time as we know it has no meaning. The concepts of life and death are left on the doorstep, and those within exist in a sort of self-contained euphoria, free of pain, suffering and the worst malady a Nord could suffer - boredom.

But just how well hidden the entrance to Sovngarde is has been a matter of much scholarly debate, and there are those who believe Shor's great hall is just a myth, for there are no actual accounts from Nords who have experienced the wonders of Sovngarde then returned to tell the tale. Not that this has stopped anyone from looking. Some Nords spend a lifetime searching for the mysterious hidden entrance to Sovngarde. Most return home sad and broken, their hearts heavy with failure. They'll never know the pleasure of a mead flagon that never empties, or a wrestling tournament without end.

What, some may ask, does the entrance to Sovngarde have to do with death? Everything, according to a series of ancient parchments recently discovered in the attic of a deceased Nord's home in Cyrodiil. What at first seemed to be a series of love letters was later found to be a correspondence between one Felga Four-Fingers, a medium of some note, and the ghost of a Nord warrior named Rolf the Large.

According to the parchments, Rolf had spent his entire life searching for the entrance to Sovngarde, without success. He was returning home to his village of Skyrim when he was waylaid by a band of giants. Rolf fought bravely, but was quickly killed, and the giants proceeded to play catch with his head. Amazingly, all of this was seen by Rolf in ghostly form as he drifted away from the scene, soaring upwards into the heavens, where he finally arrived... in the magnificent hall of Sovngarde!

Rolf could not believe his good fortune, and his foolishness for not having realized the truth so many years before. For death was the entrance to Sovngarde. So he was told by Shor himself, who greeted Rolf the Large as a brother, and personally handed him a leg of roast mutton and the hand of a comely wench. Sovngarde, Shor told him, can be entered by any Nord who dies valiantly in honorable combat.

It is time for Nords to learn the truth. Eternal life can be theirs, without the need to spend an entire mortal life in vain pursuit of something completely unattainable. In the end, all valiant Nords can enter Sovngarde. Dismemberment, decapitation or evisceration seems a small price to pay for the chance to spend an eternity in Shor's wondrous hall.