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Songs of Skyrim - Revised

Giraud Gemaine

Songs Of Skyrim
Revised Edition

Compiled by
Giraud Gemaine
Historian of the Bards College

Ragnar the Red is a traditional song of Whiterun. Despite the grim final image the song is generally regarded as light and rollicking and a favorite in inns across Skyrim.

Ragnar The Red
There once was a hero named Ragnar the Red, who came riding to Whiterun from ole Rorikstead!
And the braggart did swagger and brandish his blade, as he told of bold battles and gold he had made!
But then he went quiet, did Ragnar the Red, when he met the shieldmaiden Matilda who said...
Oh, you talk and you lie and you drink all our mead! Now I think it's high time that you lie down and bleed!
And so then came the clashing and slashing of steel, as the brave lass Matilda charged in full of zeal!
And the braggart named Ragnar was boastful no moooooree... when his ugly red head rolled around on the floor!

The Dragonborn Comes
Our hero, our hero, claims a warrior's heart.
I tell you, I tell you, the Dragonborn comes.
With a Voice wielding power of the ancient Nord art.
Believe, believe, the Dragonborn comes.
It's an end to the evil, of all Skyrim's foes.
Beware, beware, the Dragonborn comes.
For the darkness has passed, and the legend yet grows.
You'll know, You'll know the Dragonborn's come.

The Age of Oppression and The Age of Aggression are variants of one song. It isn't known which of the two was written first but the tune, with loyalty appropriate lyrics, is quite popular on both sides of the war.

The Age of Oppression
We drink to our youth, and to days come and gone. For the age of oppression is now nearly done.
We'll drive out the Empire from this land that we own. With our blood and our steel we will take back our home.
All hail to Ulfric! You are the High King! In your great honor we drink and we sing.
We're the children of Skyrim, and we fight all our lives. And when Sovngarde beckons, every one of us dies!
But this land is ours and we'll see it wiped clean. Of the scourge that has sullied our hopes and our dreams.

The Age of Aggression
We drink to our youth, to days come and gone. For the age of aggression is just about done.
We'll drive out the Stormcloaks and restore what we own. With our blood and our steel we'll take back our home.
Down with Ulfric the killer of kings. On the day of your death we'll drink and we'll sing.
We're the children of Skyrim, and we fight all our lives. And when Sovngarde beckons, every one of us dies!
But this land is ours and we'll see it wiped clean. Of the scourge that has sullied our hopes and our dreams.

The following is an ancient song we've only recently been able to translate. Without a tune or a sure pronunciation the song is lost to time. It's included here to show the deep history of song here in Skyrim.

The original version...

Dovahkiin, Dovahkiin, naal ok zin los vahriin, wah dein vokul mahfaeraak ahst vaal!
Ahrk fin norok paal graan fod nust hon zindro zaan, Dovahkiin, fah hin kogaan mu draal!
Huzrah nu, kul do od, wah aan bok lingrah vod, Aahrk fin tey, boziik fun, do fin gein!
Wo lost fron wah ney dov, ahrk fin reyliik do jul, voth aan suleyk wah ronit faal krein!
Ahrk fin zul, rok drey kod, nau tol morokei frod, rul lot Taazokaan motaad voth kein!
Sahrot Thu'um, med aan tuz, vey zeim hokoron pah, ol fin Dovahkiin komeyt ok rein!
Ahrk fin Kel lost prodah, do ved viing ko fin krah, tol fod zeymah win kein meyz fundein!
Alduin, feyn do jun, kruziik vokun staadnau, voth aan bahlok wah diivon fin lein!
Nuz aan sul, fent alok, fod fin vul dovah nok, fen kos nahlot mahfaeraak ahrk ruz!
Paaz Keizaal fen kos stin nol bein Alduin jot, Dovahkiin kos fin saviik do muz!

And the translation...


Dragonborn, Dragonborn, by his honor is sworn, To keep evil forever at bay!
And the fiercest foes rout when they hear triumph's shout, Dragonborn, for your blessing we pray!
Hearken now, sons of snow, to an age, long ago, and the tale, boldly told, of the one!
Who was kin to both wyrm, and the races of man, with a power to rival the sun!
And the Voice, he did wield, on that glorious field, when great Tamriel shuddered with war!
Mighty Thu'um, like a blade, cut through enemies all, as the Dragonborn issued his roar!
And the Scrolls have foretold, of black wings in the cold, that when brothers wage war come unfurled!
Alduin, Bane of Kings, ancient shadow unbound, with a hunger to swallow the world!
But a day, shall arise, when the dark dragon's lies, will be silenced forever and then!
Fair Skyrim will be free from foul Alduin's maw, Dragonborn be the savior of men!


Tale of the tongues is a newer song. One that has come in to favor since the Dragonborn put down Alduin. It actually describes the events of the first battle against the dragons.

Tale of the Tongues
Alduin's wings, they did darken the sky. His roar fury's fire, and his scales sharpened scythes.
Men ran and they cowered, and they fought and they died. They burned and they bled as they issued their cries.
We need saviors to free us from Alduin's rage. Heroes on the field of this new war to wage.
And if Alduin wins, man is gone from this world. Lost in the shadow of the black wings unfurled.
But then came the Tongues on that terrible day. Steadfast as winter, they entered the fray.
And all heard the music of Alduin's doom. The sweet song of Skyrim, sky-shattering Thu'um.
And so the Tongues freed us from Alduin's rage. Gave the gift of the Voice, ushered in a new Age.
If Alduin is eternal, then eternity's done. For his story is over and the dragons are... gone.

Children of the Sky


Nords consider themselves to be the children of the sky. They call Skyrim the Throat of the World, because it is where the sky exhaled on the land and formed them. They see themselves as eternal outsiders and invaders, and even when they conquer and rule another people; they feel no kinship with them.

The breath and the voice are the vital essence of a Nord. When they defeat great enemies they take their tongues as trophies. These are woven into ropes and can hold speech like an enchantment. The power of a Nord can be articulated into a shout, like the kiai of an Akaviri swordsman. The strongest of their warriors are called "Tongues." When the Nords attack a city, they take no siege engines or cavalry; the Tongues form in a wedge in front of the gatehouse, and draw in breath. When the leader lets it out in a kiai, the doors are blown in, and the axemen rush into the city. Shouts can be used to sharpen blades or to strike enemies. A common effect is the shout that knocks an enemy back, or the power of command. A strong Nord can instill bravery in men with his battle-cry, or stop a charging warrior with a roar. The greatest of the Nords can call to specific people over hundreds of miles, and can move by casting a shout, appearing where it lands.

The most powerful Nords cannot speak without causing destruction. They must go gagged, and communicate through a sign language and through scribing runes.

The further north you go into Skyrim, the more powerful and elemental the people become, and the less they require dwellings and shelters. Wind is fundamental to Skyrim and the Nords; those that live in the far wastes always carry a wind with them.

A Dream of Sovngarde

Skardan Free-Winter

In a few hours, I will likely be dead.

My men and I, Nords of Skyrim all, will soon join with the Emperor's legions to attack the Imperial City. The Aldmeri are entrenched within and our losses will be severe. It is a desperate gambit, for if we do not reclaim the city, we will lose the war.

Last night I prayed to mighty Talos for courage and strength in the battle to come. In these last cold hours before the sun rises, I sit down to write this account of a dream I had not long after.

I believe this dream was the answer to my prayers, and I would pass along the wisdom it contained to my kinsmen, for the battles they will fight in the years after my passing.

In the dream, I walked through mists toward the sound of laughter, merriment and the songs of the north. The mists soon cleared, and before me lay a great chasm. Waters thundered over its brim, and so deep it was, I could not see the bottom.

A great bridge made all of whale-bone was the only means to cross, and so I took it.

It was only a few steps onto the bridge that I encountered a warrior, grim and strong. "I am Tsun, master of trials," he said to me, his voice booming and echoing upon the walls of the high mountains all around us.

With a wave, he bade me pass on. I knew in my heart that I was granted passage only because I was a visitor. Should the hour come when I return here after my mortal life, the legends say that I must best this dread warrior in single combat.

Beyond the bridge, a great stone longhouse rose up before me, so tall as to nearly touch the clouds. Though it took all my strength, I pushed open the towering oaken door and beheld the torch-lit feast hall.

Here were assembled the greatest heroes of the Nords, all drinking mead poured from great kegs and singing battle-songs. Suckling pigs turned on a long iron spit over a roaring fire. My mouth watered at the smell of roast meat, and my heart was glad to hear the songs of old.

"Come forth!" cried out a hoary man who sat upon a high wooden chair. This I knew to be Ysgramor, father of Skyrim and the Nords. I approached and knelt before him.

"You find yourself in Sovngarde, hall of the honored dead. Now, what would you have of me, son of the north?" he bellowed.

"I seek counsel," said I, "for tomorrow we fight a desperate battle and my heart is full of fear."

Ysgramor raised his tankard to his lips and drank until the cup was empty. Then he spoke once more.

"Remember this always, son of the north - a Nord is judged not by the manner in which he lived, but the manner in which he died."

With that, he cast aside his flagon, raised his fist in the air and roared a great cheer. The other heroes rose to their feet and cheered in answer.

The sound still rang in my ears when I awoke. I gathered my men and told them of my vision. The words seemed to fill their hearts with courage.

The horns are blowing, and the banners are raised. The time has come to muster. May Talos grant us victory this day, and if I am found worthy, may I once again look upon that great feast hall.

- Skardan Free-Winter

Songs of the Return


Our great lord Ysgramor, the harbinger of us all, did then sent forth his two beloved sons (with him the only other survivors of the brutalities of Saarthal) to seek out the bravest warriors of the land and mount the great return.

Yngol and Ylgar, they were called, and they were known among Atmora as fine warriors with bright eyes and dawning futures. Yngol, the elder, was the brave strategist, bringing his learnings to bear on the battlefield that his enemies would be defeated before they even know the battle had begun. Ylgar, the younger, was possessed of an unwavering spirit that drove his singular prowess to overwhelming feats in war. Together, the mind and the arm, they were capable of sowing a destruction most thorough and glorious to any foe who stood before them. 

Before they parted ways to gather their crews, the two clasped arms and necks in the old fashion and laughed at the heavens for their stories to come. 

Young Ylgar then took to the massive shipyards of Jyljyrfyk at the southern point and commissioned two ships for himself and his brother. He would command the Darmuzu, and his brother the Harakk, thus carrying the names of the two favored stars of their heavens. The shipmakers spirits had been suitably filled by Ysgramor's tales of the savage elves, and they set about to birth ships that befit their noble homeland. 

Arrangements having been made, Ylgar set forth to the academies of honored soldiers, seeking out his most trusted friends and advisors to join him on the venture of the Return. By now the stories of the new land to the south were spreading before him, and the emergence of his presence was enough to cause the finest warriors to lay down their present undertakings and follow him. 

So was he able to call to his side the great Shield-Sisters, Froa and Grosta (who thought and spoke as one), and they brought with their the wise war-teacher Adrimk, who first taught them to dance among the blades. She, in turn, mustered all the students at her command, whose names were not yet made, but some of whom would one day be know: Hermseskr (Who Threw his Shields), Urlach (Who Breathed Fire), Ramth the Greater, Merkyllian Ramth, and the Far-Sighted Uche, who would see the first of many dawns. 

On the Day of Final Passage, when the many-oarded fleets would last see the distant green summers of Atmora, the brothers were near in their father's wake as the freshly joined Five Hundred would eagerly press onwards towards Tamriel. Ylgar could see his well-minded brother smiling from afar across the waves, and they shouted war-cries to each other, longing for the soon-day when their assembled crews would draw the treacherous elf blood itno the ground which they would now claim for their own rights. 

But Kyne's ministrations are not to be taken lightly, and though her blessings gave wind to drive those brave sailors to their destiny, so too did her mmighty tears fall, to drive them apart. When the Storm of Separation first arose, young Ylgar had no fear, for his crew was strong and able, and their ship drove true through the forest of swells as though pulled by the rope of fate. 

When the skies cleared, and Ylgar glimpsed again, with new eyes, the land of his past and future home, he knew his brothers vessel was not within his horizon. The Darumzu, arriving late, drew forth onto the sands and Ylgar rushed to his father to seek word of his brother. The Grear Ysgramor, harbinger of us all, wept for his lost son, and sought comfort in the arms of his only remaining joy. The crew of the Harakk became the first deaths among the Five Hundred, and Ylfar was so enraged with love for his brother that his crew would soon be counted as the first among the many noble and honored names in the Companions. 

It came to pass that our great lord Ysgramor, the Harbinger of us all, sat before an encampment fire. The crews of the Jorrvaskr, the Fallowfire, and the Kaal Kaaz bade him eat, and boast, and drink. For the boon members of the Five Hundred Companions were abroad in the land. Stories were told, hearts won and lost, and always the smell of roasting meat hung in the air. The greatest of us all beckoned every warrior to his side, and spoke the tale of Wuuthrad's forging.

Every Mer the Harbinger slew died at Wuuthrad's bite. All through the long campaign, the only weapon that would fit in the Harbinger's hand was the mighty Wuuthrad. As he told it, the most legendary of axes was forged in the darkest of nights.

It was the Night of Tears. Ysgramor sat staring out across the waters. He rode upon the last ship in his fleet, fleeing Tamriel for the shores of Atmora. From that vantage point, he watched as Saarthal—the first city—burned. A swollen sky poured rain upon the flames and upon the sea. And the greatest of us all wept bitter tears.

So great was the grief of the Harbinger that, instead of salty sorrow, Ysgramor wept tears of purest ebony. His eldest, Yngol, collected the tears in a stein and held his father in a warm embrace. He poured mead down the Harbinger's great throat, wrapped furs around the Harbinger's great shoulders, and slung the Harbinger into a great hammock below decks.

Then he set to work. For Yngol, eldest son to the Harbinger of us all, was the greatest smith our people have ever known. There, on the sea, Yngol set to work with his tools. He used lightning to heat the Night's Tears, the ocean's swell to cool them, and always his hammer-blows rang in concert with the rising wind.

When Ysgramor awoke the next morning, Yngol presented him with a mighty axe, hewn from the sorrow that had laid him low just the night before. And the Harbinger of us all embraced his son. He cried out in joy, sadness, and rage. And there on the deck of the last ship from Saarthal, Ysgramor named his axe Wuuthrad, which means "Storm's Tears" in the language of Atmora.

It was then, in telling the tale, that Ysgramor paused. The Harbinger of us all called out to lost Yngol, who had been with the crew of the Harakk in the Storm of Seperation. For his son, his eldest and greatest joy, was with him always. He who had bound the storm's tears, he said, rode with him always in the days of the noble and honored Five Hundred.

When at last the rightful claim of Saarthal had been retaken, driving the murderous elves back to their lofty cities, did great Ysgramor turn and let loose the fearsome war cry that echoed across all the oceans. The Five Hundred who yet stood joined in the ovation for the victory and the lament for their fallen peers. It was said to be heard on the distant and chilling green shores of Atmora, and the ancestors knew their time had come to cross the seas.

As the reverberations echoed out and drowned to silence, all looked to Ysgramor, who bore the blessed Wuuthrad, for his next commandment. With his lungs that bellowed forth the fury of humanity, he bade them to continue their march, that the devious Mer might know the terror they had brought on themselves with their trickery.

"Go forth," he roared. "Into the belly of this new land. Drive the wretched from their palaces of idleness. Oblige them to squalor and toil, that they would see their betrayals as the all-sin against our kind. Give no quarter. Show no kindness. For they would not give nor show you the same." (Our great forebear gave this order as he did not yet understand the prophecy of the Twin Snakes, that he would be fated to die before seeing the true destiny of his line.)

Hearing this, the Circle of Captains gathered each their crews unto themselves. From here, they decreed, we will go forth. Let each ship's band make its own way, seeking their fates to the open sun. A night spent in feasting, the Oath of the Companions was sworn anew, with each of the Five Hundred (so they still named their count, in honor of the shields that were broken at Saarthal) swearing to act as Shield-Brother and Shield-Sister to any of the Atmoran line were their fates to ever again entwine.

As the red hands of dawn stretched from the east, so broke the Five Hundred Companions of Ysgramor, setting about their journeys, sailing now across the land with waves of stone and crests of trees flowing under their footed hulls.

The first to break from the grounded fleet was the crew of the Jorrvaskr, who had been formed of Ysgramor's closest friends. Their captain was known as Jeek of the River, so called by the Harbinger himself from their youths passed in glory. When assembling their glistening hull, he sought out the labors of Menro and Manwe, who now bore the native timbers across this new land of Tamriel. Among their fiercest were Tysnal (Who Was Twice-Named), and Terr, his twin and Shield-Brother whose girth was never spoken of to his face. There were others, too, in their band -- Meksim the Walker, Brunl (Who Fought with his Off-Hand), and Yust the Smiler. These and others were sworn to Jeek, and they pushed forth into the shadows where yet the sun had not reached.

Southwards they went, by beast and by foot. Elves they found, though none remain to tell what those battles entailed. The numbers of the Jorrvaskr never faltered, so shrewd were they in battle, with minds as sharp as their blades.

Once, as the sun beat from its high-home, Jonder the Tiny, the one who ran ahead, came over the hill to tell what was seen. Amidst a vast plain his eyes had met a monument of a bird, whose eyes and beak were opened in flame. When his brothers and sisters crested the hill, they too saw its glory, but they were afraid for no elven settlement could be seen to the horizon.

"But this is not seemly," said Kluwe, who went by Loate when hiding his face. "Is not this wide land fit for harvest? Why have not the elves, vile to their core, seen to exploit and tame it?" They asked of their elven captives (for they had many) what they found unfit about these plains. Yet even the captives who still bore their tongues could say nothing of the valley. They looked with fear at the winged colossus, and from their babblings did the warriors of the Jorrvaskr learn that it was older than even the elves themselves. Of those who wrought it solid from its mother-stone, nothing could be said, but it was known to drive a magic almost as old as Nirn itself, some remnant of the gods' efforts to render a paradise in Mundus before the shattering of Lorkhan.

This first of many, this crew of the Jorrvaskr, heathens and ancestors to us all, feared no stories or gods. Indeed, if there was something the elves feared, they would have it for their own. Thus began the labors, once more, of Menro and Manwe, whose eager hands again laid to the Atmoran wood which had born them all across the sea, and what was their ship became their shelter as this valley became their purview until the end of all their days.

Thus began the building of the Great City, circled by the running of the White River, as brought forth by these beloved of Ysgramor, yet but twenty-two of the glorious Five Hundred Companions.

When that final battle at the barren pass was completed, and the melting snow carried elf-blood back to the sea, the crew of the Kaal Kaaz, the Sadon Reyth, and the most exalted crew of our lord's ship, the Ylgermet, at last parted ways, never to join shields again. They drew apart in that form which is not a loss, but a gain knowing one's heart can be carried in the chests of others. So great was the love that those first of the Five Hundred had for each other, and most especially for the great Ysgramor, harbinger of us all.

They pressed eastwards, seeking the sea, when they came upon the barrow of Yngol, the mighty of Ysgramor's son who had fallen to the whims of Kyne rather than the treachery of the elves.
Our lord had not expected to lay eyes upon it again so soon, and his grief flowed anew at the sight of it, as a reopened wound will bleed as it did when first received.

His eyes turned to the south, where a river met the sea, and decreed that there would he and the crew of the Ylgermet create a great city, in monument to the glories of mankind, and that from his palace he might always look upon the hill of his dead son's resting place, and feel that his line would know peace in this new home that was never known in Atmora.

The elven captives were set to work, bringing forth stone to build in their conqueror's fashion. As many elves died in the building of the city as had the crew of the Ylgermet slain while on way to its site, and Ysgramor drove the wretches ever more, to build higher, to lay a claim to the river so that none might pass into the interior of this land without first showing due respect to its rightful claimant.

Thus was the great bridge constructed, forever striding the river that no elf might sneak through to avenge his devious cousins. As the bridge was build long, so too was the palace built high, spires reaching the sky to show dominion even over the very winds that had brought forth such grief.

In the deep hollows beneath the city, a great tomb was prepared for the day when lord Ysgramor, harbinger of us all, would be called home to glory in Sovngarde. But as we know, he chose instead to be buried on the shore, facing towards Atmora, that though his heart lived and died in this new land, it would forever yearn for the beauties of still-green Atmora, before the freezing took it.

Thus was founding of Windhelm, the city of Kings, though her history is long and her glories did not end with her founder.

[When the time came for] breaking of camp, not all crews took southwards across the rolling lands. Some turned with quick eyes back to their ships, for their hearts were bounded to the waves as sure as they were bounded to each other [as allied Companions].

One such crew was that of the Krilot Lok, sinewy long folk from the [eastern] edge of Atmora. Their ruddy skin matched the dawn and it was often said that morning herself learned [her glorious colors from] the first faces to meet her at the break of day. The great Kyne lifted their souls and their winds, propelling them westwards with the new lands of Tamriel ever beckoning to the south.

In time, these perpetual wanderers came upon sights fearsome and terrible. Entire kingdoms of men beyond their recognition, skin charred like overcooked meat. Elves [even more devious than the northern betrayers] disgraced their horizons, until they learned the sheltered ways between. Great deserts the likes of which were never known in the homeland, peopled by beasts that spoke like men, with the [savagery?] of elves. Many a notable and well-sung Companion met his end at the spears of the legged snakes of the southern marsh.

Among the brave crew of the Krilot Lok were of Roeth and Breff the Elder, the great Shield-Brothers (who often swapped spears), and [their] war-wives, Britte and Greyf (the fair child), Shield-Sisters in their own right who could bring [the face of terror?] across the ice-chilled seas. Together these four stared into the abyss of trees that formed the foul-smelling homeland of the snake-men. And as they were blessed Atmorans who feared no shore of Tamriel, they ventured forth to seek out their glories in the most dangerous of these new lands.

Onward they flew, ravaging the swamplands, beating a trail between themselves and their ship such that they would never lose sight of the shore. In the far-off day when at last Roeth would fall, when Britte screamed her famed war-cry so that all the marshes were emptied, this trail would fill once more with the treacherous snake men. So began the [burning?] march of these great captains of us all.

At last Sinmur was brought to bay. Ysgramor, Harbinger of us all, boldly led the remaining Companions into the final battle. Many a brave Companion had already fallen to the giants. Stalwart Valdur and Sly Hakra, long may their spirits be honored, fell assaulting the wily half-giant. Many others now trod the blessed pathways to Sovngarde. With all his kin slain, only Sinmur still defied the greatest among us.

The axe Wuuthrad, dripping with the gore of a hundred dead giants, gleamed in the darkness of Sinmur's barrow. Ysgramor strode forward, halting his followers with a gesture. With another he dared Sinmur to face him in mortal combat. The giant-kin proved willing, roaring his defiance and leaping to battle. His massive, iron-bound club swung forward to crush. Our Lord Ysgramor stepped aside and the club shattered the stone a pace from his side. Wuuthrad sang a blood song as it chopped into the club, breaking it asunder as if made from straw.

Sinmur howled his rage and hurled the stub of his once-fearsome weapon at Our Lord Ysgramor's head. He grappled Ysgramor, seeking to squeeze life away. A roar of laughter was the answer the monster received. Ysgramor's forehead and knee delivered two mighty blows. Sinmur screeched and fell to his knees before our lord.

A song of death and delight keened from Wuuthrad as Ysgramor buried it deep in the giant-kin's skull. A splatter of gore and a death rattle came from Sinmur as Ysgramor gave a victory yell. The Companions cheered mightily as Wuuthrad waved overhead. The depredations of the giant and his vile kin were at last ended. And the legend of Ysgramor, Harbinger of us all, grew mightily that day.

With the Circle of Captains' decree that each ship's crew should go forth of its own accord, making its own legend, the crew of the Fallowfire rejoiced. They yearned to bring the fear of Men to new lands of the Mer that had not yet been put to the sword. They took to heart their Lord Ysgramor's words to "Give no quarter. Show no kindness."

A pyre upon the shore was raised for the Fallowfire. The ashes of their beloved vessel fell upon the waters and drifted toward Atmora, cutting all ties with their homeland. Led by Captain Gurilda Sharktooth, the crew of the Fallowfire turned their backs to the sea and strode inland.

South they traveled, seeking lands untrammeled by others of Ysgramor's crews. South and south they went, sowing the blood vengeance demanded by Ysgramor. No Mer escaped their axes once seen, no settlement remained unburnt in their path. Truly the Fallowfires brought their lord's wrath to bear upon the treacherous Elves. As they journeyed, so the terror of them grew among the Mer.

Gurilda led her crew to the foothills of a lofty range of mountains. These they named Ysgramor's Teeth and long they sought a pass through them. When finally a way was found, the crew crossed over and into a new land. "The Rift" they called this region, for it was riven by deep canyons and swift-flowing rivers. In the name of Fallowfire, their lost Companions, and Yngol, they scoured the land, burning Mer villages and putting all they encountered to the axe.

Finally, the Mer offered battle. The cowardly Elves gathered in great numbers high atop a rocky hill, daring Gurilda's Companions to attack. And so they did. Challenges were offered, brave deeds were done, and heroes made. Battle raged through the day and as the sun touched the peaks of the western mountains, the Mer broke and fled. Gurilda lay dying, pierced by a multitude of weapons, but lived until sunset. Her spirit ascended to Sovngarde knowing her crew was victorious.

That day, the dominion of Elves over the Rift was ended. The Companions claimed the land in the name of Ysgramor, Harbinger of us all, and made it free to all Nords. To honor their dead, the Companions labored long, delving into the hillside to craft a tomb. Gurilda was buried there, with all her weapons and armor. There too were placed the remains of Bergitte the Toothless and Kajord Eagle-Eye, laid alongside Gurilda as they had fallen in battle, defending their captain. Others of the honored dead were entombed as well. A mighty cairn of stone was erected around the tomb entrance, to forever mark the grave.

Vikord One-Ear, long Gurilda's first mate but now captain, gazed long upon the hills rising about them and the valleys at their feet. This was a land he could love, where his people could prosper and grow. He decreed the crew's wandering at an end and caused a great hall to be built on the battle site. Thus was Fallowstone Hall created, in homage to the ship that carried them to these shores. From this time, the days of the Companions of the Rift are counted. Never may their glory fade!

These Songs of the Return are eternal and numerous, for these first Five Hundred, those Companions of Ysgramor who cleared the way for mankind’s rightful habitation, burned with a fire not seen since those days long passed. Each ship carried a crew that performed legendary feats that could feed the pride of any nation for a thousand years. And during this time of the broadening, scores of Companions wandered the land, bringing the light of the proper god to the heather land of elves and beasts.

They were but mortal, though, and in time, all would taste the glories of Sovngarde. It was in one of the uncounted years after the retaking of Saarthal that the crew of the Chrion was declaring their fortunes in the eastern lands near the Red Mountain. They were encamped, surrounded by bodies of murderous elves who had attempted to make them believe they held peace in their hearts. The shrewd Rhorlak was the Chrion's captain, though, and would show no quarter to the liars of the southlands, as had been commanded by his lord Ysgramor, harbinger of us all.

It was in this state of carousing that they were approaced by a young and breathless messenger of their sister crew from the Kall Kaaz. The boy (Asgeir, as his name is now sung) had ran unimaginable distance at breakneck speed from the blood-stained fields of the Clouded Sun, to deliver the news to all would would hear. When he reached their camp, he bellowed a great sob before releiving his heart of the news that the mighty Ysgramor had breathed his last.

Asgeir continued his swift run, to inform the other crews as quickly as they could be found (for there were many now crawling the land, rendering our legacy from their deeds), and the camp of the Chrin descended into a mourning of the most forlorn sort. Among these fiercest sat the bravest men and fiercest women who had ever graced the dirt of this land, and they were brought low by such a notion. While we in the day-shine know only of Ysgramor's glory as the gleams of history, these Companions knew his might with their own eyes, and such a loss hands so heavily on the heart that mere words cannot express the altering of their world.

For indeed the stories tell that Rhorlak, the most battle-hardened and unflinching of all captains, did collapse with grief, and never again lifted his mighty axe. And all around Tamriel, as the news spread as dark cloud washes from horizon to horizon, did brilliant lights go out in silent honor of their fallen general and war-leader.

So ended the period of the Return, and the original glories of the Five Hundred Companions of Ysgramor, harbinger to us all.

The Five Hundred Mighty Companions or Thereabouts of Ysgramor the Returned

Michael Kirkbride

The first of Ysgramor’s Five Hundred Mighty Companions was actually two, the ashen-amalgamation of his sons that had survived Sarthaal only to die in the freeze-rains of the returning, named Tsunaltir and Stuhnalmir when alive and now called the Grit-Prince Tstunal, whose Tear-Wives were Vramali, Jarli-al, Alleir, and Tusk Widow Who Foreswore Her Name, whose Wine-Wives were Elja Hate-Basket and Ingridal who lost her casket at the burning, and Mjarili-al Half-Casket, whose Hearth-Wives were none survived, and whose Kyne-Wives were none survived, and whose Shield-Wives were Shanjenen the Echo-Eaten and Jahnsdotter Whose-Name-Stays-in-its-Cradle. There were also the twenty-two Thunder Shield Women ungiven to marriage and so served as Ysgramor’s oracle-aunts until Kyne would wind them away: Unalt, Hrim, Kjhelt of the Cult of Orkey, Ingridal who used her wine casket as a drum, Fjorli, Mjemk, Soress-li, Anshalf whose gigantic shield was stripped from a karstaag-man, Khela and Akhela who traded shields daily out of some geas, Vemmab, Borgasa, Nem-yet, Vashina, Frekshild, Dahnarlyet, Mem-yet Chemua who held secret shield-songs “unneeded yet”, and their five eldest, called the Five Eldest of the Thunder Shield Women. There were also his ten Totem-Uncles, whose names are too long for ink, but are these in swift: Aldugapadptujenmenhelfnenjaarighuruijleymora, Ghrojarhisysmirirekyetrethaalma, Talochletnoocnenuethethelaldmerysriemaeneynjora, Kjarkaakfajiriutyestrualkethmemvirillichenswalwe, Mnenatmetmoraldumirirekyetrethaalnenjaarighuru, Bjornalijleyyetrethaalmaljarkaakfaltalochletghuru, Mjanorralpaghrohardolwepthuulruelmehykhenharl, Kaejistroonaalmerrisliysmieiltethahldlungalthadnh, Drummersretyaljarkaakfaltalochletgehmoraldukyne, and the Last, whose name cannot even be writ in swift, but you know him. There were his Torc-Nephews, Khaalthhe the Lynx-or-Leopard (this one was more his pet than torc-bearer, but Ysgramor was gregarious and warm), Alabar the Oddly-Colored (his personal Clever Man by blood), Hegm the Deaf, and Bjurl Dahnaorsson who Heard Enough to Let Hegm Know Later. There were his Nieces-of-Snow, Teb the Deaf, Mbjanal the Deaf, Fehg-fehg the Deaf, and Tsjari their Speaker. There were his pets of renown, the Hoagbellows Goat, Bjorga-mawr the Definitely-a-Leopard, Jeorr the Rabbit-Hawk, Heimnelraw the Regular Hawk, Hans the Fox, Fefmem and Gemalleir, the two-headed glow-eel, Dyssl-veb the Bear, whose tusks were adorned in devil-scratch, Dyssl-veb’s Wine-Wife Casket-Jane, Gremfell the wicker-what, a creature no one could identify but was counted among the Mighty, Hgmm the Snake, Febhradrneed the Cloud, and Rackety-Nix the Nix-hound. Of Ysgramor’s immediate family there were these among the Five Hundred, but he counted among their number and of that of his own hearth his belt, Ysgrim Ysgramorsbelt.

By tradition, the Boat-Thanes were allowed to race for the vanguard of their High King, and Morgan the Red and his longboat Drumbeater took the foremost before crashing into the hazards of the Broken Cape in 1E68, no souls aboard surviving except for Olaf the Dog, a berserker who had been to Hsaarik’s Head a thousand times or more and knew leaping magic. He jumped from the wreckage all the way to Skyrim, landing on Olaf’s bridge. He was burnt there for his cheating by the students of Haafingar, which now happens every year. Besides his Boat-Thane, Olaf’s dead companions were these: Gyre the Old Beater, Grimwelt his Witch-Glass, Stenv Stenvnulson, Jeghwyr and her brothers Fjurlt the Going Grey, Vrolwyr who changed gender on accident, and Deilmark the Master of Oars, the Clever-Man Hguelg the Mumbling, who whipped the sails of the Drumbeater too hard with his mutter-magic, his student Frendlmegh the Kilt (too short for most), his Wine-Wife Shenya Cracked-Casket, Piemaker Maefwe and her cake-uncle Thendjar the Snappily-Clad, the leader of reavers Mjhro-li who bore a three-bladed shield, her Whetstone-Sons Unjor and Hghewenntar and Djaffidd, the whale-addict Gfeful who cracked his face across the ice laughing like a child at fair, the Six Drum quartet, and the oarsmen: Blue Dugal, Ttuj the Driftsman, Einhelf, Amornen and his brother Tefflnen, Gjaarigh, Urul Uruson, Dgaargl who slept through it all, Nenmor Orcsneck, Svir the Unthaned, Saddle-Not the Mule, Hgelhelm the Outcast who once married a snow drake as if no one would notice, Haalj Hgelhelmson (of whose lineage the less the said the better), Crendandel and Hfewl and Nuil and Second Nuil (four brothers who had not talked since their father’s death at Sarthaal), and Fvelfrim the Heaven-Scented.

Afterwards came the crash of the longboat Bloodwood Tongue of Nhemakhela Stare-breaker’s belong, no souls aboard surviving. Its loss was grievous and hard enough to break the song out of any flourish, and immediately the Toll-Taker called Gald, Ugawen, Thehp, Naandl, Mjtujjor, Jarnnmegh, Sveinhelf, Nenthwen, Jaaril-ghur, Einmor, Lleymwnnem, Mnoor, Thurwhn, Ghrokarg, Nhsmir, Fire-kin Fhaal, Mjaaloc, Thletnn-li, Bjrochtehl, Nocnenue, Fhethe, Llaldesmiir, Wyndl, Maewyn, Svenredd, Kaene, Einnjoral, Jjarkaak, Nendlfaj, Ciriul, Gwemlthrest, Ruald, Einndmel, Mjuul, Sorshen, Swalne, Njnenya, Thoraj, Frendetter, Rrummrir, Grethnaal, and Swemnen to the Under-Hall some call Hell.

By 1E421, Ysgramor revised the rites of vanguard and appointed Rebec the Red to lead the return with the Nail-knock, whose longboat counted these Sons and Daughters of Kyne among their number: Rebec’s Hearth-Husband Jjauf who shouted out shoes, her Pity-Husbands Korl-jkorl, Heimgrud the Laughing Lake, Njimal, Bjimal Njimalson, and Thalld the Hobbler, found wandering in the forests of Mora with lost feet, who not even Jjauf could help, her Shield-Husband Valomar of the Daggershout, his brother Halomar the Handle-Maker, and their ash-uncle Noaheim who was risen also from the Sack, and her ash-aunt Marthelk, the last two of which bore (the first) Guri Nail-Face, Hgaehmhel, Nbikki the Red, Khalokehl, Ysmehka, Jorgal the Child-Skald, Ghem-fegh, and Dolweppa Heimsdotter, all of which were seen as outcasts from Shor’s eye, as dust shall not mate with dust, but Ysgramor’s Sovngarde's Plea was enough that they could be Accounted, if only by being ground into the very timbers of Rebec’s longboat. And their gathered brothers and sisters were Mjanor, Ralpagh the Red, Rohard the Red, Olwep the Bald who couldn’t stand so many reds, Thuulrue Thuulsson, Kaejis, Ntroonaal the Bailiff, Merry Eyesore the Elk, Ysmieil the Younger, Ysmieil Named as Such Because His Parents Forgot They Used That Name Before, Tethahld, Lungalth, Thadnh-eli the betrothed to all Sarthaal in the manner of the Dibellites, Drum-Maker Haraldmer who was part mer to his sorrow, Ysret the Red, Yaljar who ate a whole bear out of haste because he needed to keep his picnic courtship of Kfalta Lakesdotter going (and she was here with him still but unwed until her tutelage under Chemua was complete), Fegh-let and Lochlet, Gehmora who would never know doom and this maddened her, and Idulkyne the feather-painter. Of the Nail-Knock’s Heroes unrelated to Rebec directly were the boat-carls and staghorn-fighters, Taloc of the Thorn-Torc tribe, Hletno who never made up his mind until wasabi, Ocne the Clever Man, Nue his Book-Wife, Thethel the Red, Lundga Aldmer-Eater for she did so, Bysri her sister that once knocked down Ysgramor’s belt at the Old Hold fair, Njemae and Neyn, Jora and her younger brother Jorel, Lynx-singer and Clever Kid in turn.

Behind the bulk of Ysgramor’s fleet were the rest of the Boat-Thanes, who are named in full shortly hereafter. The Five Hundred’s last few were still in Ald Mora and yet to break sail. These were the Fifty Five Beards of the Broadwall, who gave tithe-torc and swear-casket to their Thoom-Thane, Vrage the Gifted, born under the strange suns (meaning the sun of Ald Mora and the sun of Merethland) of 1E208, and it was his clan that built and broke and rebuilt Broadwall whenever the Nords deigned to sing their return whether forwards or back and they were Vrage’s Sky-Wife, Thoom-Sha, the Queen of the Tongues of Men, whose lineage was without end in a language of silent letters and bog-gods that still hide in the moss beneath the previous kalpa and who wore a fake beard everywhere save for bed, and Hwamjar the Bear-Shaper and his brother Hwem, both of which served at the shieldwall of Elhnowhen under the direction of Stuhn, and Olaj Olo the demi-god of Mead, and Jarmungdrung the Hammer who could read rock, and Five-Headed Ysmalos (meaning also Gulgar, Solst, Svon, and Hoomdel), and Gorgos the Greywalk whose stride could cross the perimeter of Broadwall in a the span of a hiccup (a measure of time still used among the Lords of High Hrothgar), and Bhag the Great Debater who would one day be undone by invisible deeds, and Bhag the Counterargument who would also one day be undone, and Fjalr the Fire Trophy, recovered from the void by Vrage his torc-uncle, and Harald Hairy-Breeks, who never looked on Vrage directly for fear of foxes, and Thoom-Hungry Hjeimdal, whose flesh was breaking with his collected shouts, and Baruhk of Baruhk whose paganism would’ve been disavowed had anyone known its source, and Karkux the Tower of Meat, who even the karstaag-men feared Alduin could not eat ever in whole, and Eighteen-Eared Maryx, who listens to all the shouts that predate our dawn and is counted as the king of those mice that the lynx-cats swear fealty to (and his Heroic Ears are these, Accounted: Thirfl, Jhun, Chorj, Penny-Town Pel, Tsmir, Stsmir, Ear Seven, Tark, Herjdel, Aleh-meht, Jhun Jhunson, Orozurhak, Fha-taloc, Doon’s Ear, Vrajmel, Tor’s Tallow, Khemolech, and Njord), and Haralf Half-a-Casket, whose shouts were drunken and made the snow that heard them drunk thereby, and Fokbar whose daughter will trouble the east, and great Hjalmer the soon-father of Vrage who left us the 222nd year of these days, and Unn Undershout, long-remembered Idiot Prince of Iil, and Bfehg of the Biggest Beard whose beard covered all others at Broadwall when the hurricanes came, and Thopwil the Swimmer who never knew water, and Ragam the Red Kalpa who held two kalpas one in either eye, and Formdell the Builder who baked bricks in his whispers, and Torc-Minded Tor, a hill-o’-man who gave one ear to Maryx for safekeeping, and Bright Cnechctoth who knew every shape of stone except any thereafter repainted in red, and Jkulgar the Handsome who hid his beard in shame, and Horldrung the Hammerer of the Wounded Roaring, and Idolmaker Khemkel whose urns were made to confuse the Jhunal-men, and Harag the Attack who led the spears of Broadwall in any of its aspect-myriad, and Njarlmuk the Shovel, who buried the Architects of those gone fey, and Bladdermost, the demi-god of mileposts who would make signs on the Broadwall for those that should stay away, and Djemi-thir Unnson the Sail-Maker, whose job it was to ensure no return would suffer delays.

The fleet proper included the following Heroes, and they were guarded by the giant karstaag-men who walked the under-ice, the Nine Storms, Potemaic the Wolf-King, whose daughter would be of less height than her father but no less in stature, coming to her own in the nearing solitude, and blue-wristed Telmo of the Wrestling Telmos, whose tumultuous sport caused much upset in the border-makers of the Reach, and the Alehouse Giant, whose woad-markings explained how to build these halls lest some demon make us forget and set us into the ire of a summerlong sobriety, and Helmbolg with his Coughing that sometimes set the guard lamps of the karstaags into ill record, and Jurg his boon companion whose wind-calling would set it all back aright in calming assurance, and the Chandry-Man with twenty watch-lamps hanging from an icicle-chandelier he held with no hands, and Hogo-o’-Swirls who had been given to cattle-theft until Ysgramor cursed him into indenture (and all Hogo’s children thereafter perceived their inherited cow-thieving tendencies differently unto something like a law), and the proud Jhunal-Giant called Mnegmegh the Banner-Lamp who settled affairs with all foreign and jingoistic winds, and Hbolh, Storm Ninth the Name-Caller, whose lamp was lit in loud recitals, and their Crown, Hjal, whose presence will not be explained under the Pact, for that would lessen the names of the Five Hundred by many times, breaking the genesis of eschaton, and not even Fhalj the Carcass-Mouth wanted that, nor hoarse No-Questions Nidhammer Skald, whose job it was to recite the names and deeds of all present to the un-heroed children brought to ride aboardships with their Accounted parents.

Despite the swinging lamps of the karstaags, great horns were often blasted from one boat-caller to another to keep the Row of Succession on their proper bearings, for Ysgramor’s Gathered have always been an unruly lot, even in make-war time. The first names of the Successor Heroes were these: Vagabond Thane of the Pale, who would always upset those in his wake, and his shield-bearers Fghiul-kul, Morhe, Morhema Morhesdotter, Mtel the Mountain, Korlo the Crevice, and Felji-hoom and Hoomfel, and the six banner-brought daughters of Eastmarch, named Felki, Grelk, Swimmer-lock, Snow-braid, Bell-striker Bel, and the Holder-of-Winterhold who was not yet set against her thane, and the Battlemost Brothers Toad-Capped Thendermah and the Eel-Eared Ghronund, and Jehgmire, Hemf the Fielder, and Jirmoug, Tsek, Malfwe, Svndlkoff the Torcless Kyne-Man, Urysmr, Ffirl the White, Vrendl the Fort, Healkmeat and his hawk-mistress Hgajfwen, their daughter Culecha who looked on Hjal when unlooked on herself, which was seldom for she was fine-looking in every known return.

The second names of the Successor Heroes were these: Kilsobrad of All Camps Dunmereth, Djel-the-Diil, whose surname would litter the south, and the four witchmen of Fairhold, Jirlohem, Eloja, Mjolsmar the Smoker, and Hendel Hendson, and once the frontier oars of the blessed longboat Windhelm were broken, sixty-seven souls were given back to Shor’s keeping before their landing was reformed again to rejoin Ysgramor in Skyrim, known in song as Telhm the Master of Oars, Jwamghli-el his Wine-Queen, Felimyz their lamp-lynx, the high lord of the Collegiate Skalds, Kath Markathson, and his professors, Jirfol the Well-Read, Formu of the rangelands still-in-treaty, Ghemjour and Fehjdwhen, Daarban and Fjork-Stag, Silst and Orl the Flea, Brundhel the Sky-Scribe, her husband Greahj the Monk, and their children-in-dream Greah-li, Brundl Brundsfirst, Hgehwen, Jurldhel, and Wendel-light, and Vrandal’s Tongues-in-training, Borthwel the Mace-Biter, Hgul the Weaver, Vhguegel, Naejisl, Neltroon-li, Aald the Candlewick Sweeper, Erris-li, Grunahl the Better, Dlunga the Dwarf (not that kind), Ilthmcnon and his sister lthadnhelda, Rum-Drummer Rselret, Yalj the ark-minded craftsman, Fjaltalo made of marrow, Hjhlet and Gehmor-edda, Ghaldorj the Slave’s Whip, Hoegdi and Dehmwe, Vjalor the Knight who would wait in his metal until thaw, Chejor the Twin-Tricked, given to a grief so bitter that even snow-whales would remove themselves from his passage, and Bjorth and Ghilred and Vhehilda and Jkarle the Stoker, Bhwem-li the Succor-Wife of Khel Kehlerson, who manned reef and sail with a face of sleeted scars, and Olagga and Nemweg and Manwehg, and the eighteen oarsmen in chains: Stehn Skelsgard, Tsun’s-Folly Mjor, Freckled Ben in exile, who knew of Sarthaal only from Herkl the Shield-Fed rowing beside him, and Arjac and Thendlmegh, Freidlgaard, Nodin Nail-Try (whose face was pocked in a semblance of courage which explains his family’s ill fortunes in the Succession), Kjhelknhnel of the Stuttering Tongue, Fjac Welfson, Njacndl Welfson, Hoary Ghonn’s Skeleton, an unfleshed rower who no one questioned under the orders of Alabar Kings-Clever, Braadel and Fdedel, who sat behind the stink of Urlfjir Who-Wolves-Won’t-Eat, and the triplets beloved by Mara Mora’s Wife, Jungarrd, Kjhemger, and Red Relde, who by some contract made these last Heroes even in their chains.

With the loss of the Windhelm, Rebec was given leave by the belt of Ysgramor to send an outrunner beyond the range of the karstaag lamps to scout the sludge channels of the Cape ahead for any more trouble. The Skaal volunteered her crew, who batted their way south-southeasterly into the were-winds of the Tidal Woe. Their Boat-Thane was Korst Wind-Eye, who lusted for Telhm’s Wine-Wife but was too greedy to pay tithe for her Tent-Hand, and perhaps it was this doom that spelled the loss of the whole. They were Ranalduga the Purser, Padj his Glass-Man, Tujenhelf the Clever who made for them all woad-weird against the eye of the Horned Man, Faern Sargtlin who led Korst’s reavers and would forget his place among them all, and Enjaarl and Ighur, and Uora the Witch-Wife of Jarhis (who was sleeping in the ale-ice), Irek the Fanged, Falx the Reefsman, Medoch that watched the moons move awry, and thirty-eight more names whose skins were sent back to the fleet in sacks of hair, and while those names are Accounted it is now only by the howling echoes of lost Hbolhl the Giant, who, after a blight-shaped litany of profanities against Rebec’s haste, abandoned this return in his blood-mourning.

With his brother-in-karstaag gone, Helmbolg took his leave, as well, coughing out the lamps as he did so, for he was beyond anger now and into madness, and Jurg the Calm had to swallow its storms lest even the sun went out in the shouting. The issue of Borgasa, Borgas, ill-omened, the Broken-Born, then called for a reformation of the Pact, and many of the Boat-Thanes came to his side. Ysgramor could have none of it and the Heroes fell on each other as Jurg and his remaining brethren watched, called the Battle of the Guarded Sun. The dead were these, Accounted: King Kjoric and all the crew of the Whiterun, including Felmar of Teed, Gjhul-li, Killimjir, Bori Fehdson, Helmudela the Cult Maiden of the Circling Faith, Eingen the Skald, Rejnrile the Daggerlad, Mehga the Mead-Milker, her brewery-cow Cephor, the Four Nieces of Victory, the Twins of New Teed, Fevorl the Run-Like-Hell, Thistle-Song Slekka and her Tusk-Brother Jhan the Compass, and oarsmen Ghemeldart, Undel Bjem, Bjem the Elder, Corlecain, Nelfast, Svenjerl the Hale, Ghurlik the Stripped of His Cleverness, Broken-Torc Deimdel, Jarrolend and his brother Jardrung, Hammer of Caskets, who left his rowing to reaver topside, spilling the wine-hold of the Gore Use and then shouted it aflame, claiming it and all aboard, Lav Larich her Boat-Thane and his Shield-Wife Briin-Willow, and his Hearth-Wife Nulfaha, and his Orc-Orphans Settle-Down, Behave-Ye-Now, Touch-None-Here, Brought-His-Own-Blanket, and Numc the Number-Man, his three Nieces-of-Snow, their Boar Bristleback that once laid low the offal-army of Hirc, Dorald and his Autumn-Wife Kendral of Falkreath, and the oarsmen Juryl the Hairshirt, Ben Bvdel the Wide, Kjurl “Curly” Mop-Head, Vendr, Solsven, Storenar, Colhe Mehnson, Count Sthedth in exile, Ukil the Whirlpool, Hghenaard, Evanghl Dunson, and Muurldek who won his love at the Totem-Wife Fair of 1E478. Bagpipe-for-a-Back Hjuro-Gul the Giant (Accounted now that he showed, for he had been summoned long before now) rose from the ice and roared the sixty two souls of the Skin-Greed into Shor's domain and was slain in turn by the thooms of the Ten Tongues of the Merkiller. Reavers and archers and shield-biters were crow-bones by the third serpent-month of the battle, including four from Clan Dire, eight Rye Slaves of Ris, Rhoar the Oak, Ghemgaard the Beaked, Skarb the Haunter, two Wind-Wives of South Mereth, seven berserkers of Clan Gant, a thundernach who was granted hearth rights at the thirteenth burning of Sarthaal, eighteen Arrows of the Scrying Eyes Side-Tribe, and three fighting sharks of the King of the Hjaalmarch (who was ravaged by his pets renown when he attempted to hunt alongside them covered in ambergris). The last to die was Borgas himself, written in viscera across the ice by the power shouts of the Lord of the Wulf’s Hart, and no one gave pity when the monsters of the changewinds arrived to claim their bond on the soul of the son of Borgasa. Pyres-in-tribute delayed the return for another month, but the smoke of the kin-strife had sealed the Pact again, if only for now in shame.

It is customary here that the song of return removes the one-hundred and seventy-six dead (or might-as-well-be) from the numbers of the Five Hundred for going to war without Ysgramor’s leave, who have become now Unaccounted (even the Lord of the Wulf’s Heart, who had ended Borgas, and for this he still wishes Skyrim ill). The annual reckoning of the Thirteenth of Sun's Dawn Feast for the Dead allows the skaldsingers to pause for mead and then to hearken the Reinforcements from Sovngarde, sent by Shor himself to replace the traitors, and whose number reset the sum neatly at Jhunal’s delight, for no march of the Sons and Daughters of Kyne can be ever ended. Those ghosts of the Under-Halls came from dust and were Accounted: Dust-Breeches Duadeen the Half-Viri, Kendelmarch his Tear-Wife, Hjorinu and Jerek and Ceth and Khamal (who took sidelong looks his whole life for his name and its association) and Pelek and Gorh and Fjendel their sons, Valmok their Kyne-touched oarsman, Redj the clock-talker, Tmejir and Soorn and Coll the swimmer-shield triplets, and Double-Drums Djorl, and Meghorj Ghorjson Bite-the-mer the Perhaps a Bear (no one really ever asked), and Ysmret and Ysmalijli the sisters in salt, and Rkaak the Cougher (who of course was their scout), and Aedelfalk and Haloch Helsdsooter and Mnelet and Klorgeh and Belmor the Chicken-Legged (true enough) and Maldu the Missile-Whip and Welkydna who somehow knew Aldmeri varliance and Wine-Knived Njnen who, even after being returned, bled from the wounds of his betrayal head to hand to foot, Altmet who after the decline of Winterhold ever after wore shields for boots and thereby suffered an odd gait, and Knedl and Jhoriul the brothers of mace-face violence, and Topal who loved canoes too much and Ut Hal and Ut Haj and Aldier and Versef and Plotinu who ran once with the Pelinal and Attrebal and Ut Harza and Keptak and Klo (the Hudda) and Greydill and Selt and Tso Ut and Sebl-fright and Ald Hatta and Urie-Ut and Vandal Briggs the vandal and Kama-ge and Jori-ge and Ut Ge the Old Get and Tulemeht who ran once with the Pelinal and Hearken-Beak who spoke bird and Klopitu, and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif and Periff and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif and Perrif their wives and finally Kopro and his wife Perrif (all southerners pressganged into Ysgramor’s service by a tweak in Shor’s breath), and Thumm, and Horaldu, and Haromir, and Kire the weird-looking lyg and Kye her sister (not weird-looking), and Dantreth the Master of Chains beloved, and Daalne and Kljnjaarighu-ru who no one called by name because it was hard to say, and Bjornal and Vjijley and Theyet and Njrethaal and Suthmal and Jjark the jerk and Hgnaak his Suffer-Wife and Fat Falt and Alo their lynx and Jarch and Mnletgh and Uru the Better-Lamplighter and Kjanorr who took a spear in his teeth cursing Merish walking-gods and Kjalpagh the Just How Many Pockets Do You Have and Drohard and Sendolwep and Thumul and Aeru and Telmedh and Yyk the Stipulator and Henharlecain (whose great-great-grandson would become so famous), and Kaejuul who wrote of a sky below us, and Nistro his wife who laughed at that notion, and Bonaal-mer the ill-blooded (for his arteries had been tampered with in the Sack) and Thisris Nail-Tongue who had Drelys speak for him and Jhun-ge the Tailor and Hgmieil their five-membered wolf, and Njork the Tooth-Torc’d, so proud in the bounty he drew from the jaws of Old Mary, and Vrendunsvalla Whose Beard Became A Mountain, and Bahldlu and Engngal and Kolth and Hgdead and Njkirnhal Njkirnhalson and Rum-Loving Seanil the Lit to Here and Takl Taklsun and his sister Kakl who wore wasabi as eyeliner, and Hgjmer and Aesret and Nyaljar Who Wore His Woad On the Inside and Angka whose lips were thorned (she was never getting married, for sure) and Barakal and Farfork and Umtalos and Gnechlet and Hegehel-mo and Haraldu and Ffedl the Favored-of-Kyne, though no one is quite sure how she gained that sobriquet, though some whispered it happened during a card play and no one can really argue with that. (If that’s not exactly one-hundred and seventy-six names it’s because I’m drunk and everyone here just yell out your names to make the difference, for you were there as you are here and let Shor’s hole-shadow beleaguer ye not.)

And now the 500 were reunited, and Ysgramor sent the Four-Score ahead to blast the ice with its varlianced prow, and we were beset upon by the Devils we would rule and lose and rule again, but the Boat-Thane was a sacred Tor-Queen, her skirts and hides covered in southern moths, who made manifest in that coming fight with the crow-headed spirits of the Morag. Aboard the Four-Score were these that opposed them (and won): Aol the Oars-Body, who was mainly made of living Atmoran wood and looked a bit like a maniacal puppet but no one cared when things came to needing proper raiding speed, and Ghemel-Huhn his Whittling-Wife (a marriage type that was made solely for their own), and Wuhlnjar the lookout, and Kalo Wuhlson his son whose eyes had been Cleverly replaced by lenses of Dwemer-make, and Apletnoo and Pocne and Dooir the Devil-Bellied, and Pale Pass the snake-fighter, and Ysmanue and Jhethen the siblings who fashioned their beards as Stuhn and Tsun once did, and Hgil who used a ridiculously-large Totem of Kyne as a club, and Baarl who wore a Colovian Arrow-Catcher even though it was dyed yellow, and the Remanites called D’Arleunce and Jean-Piet and Camorleigh and Alexe, and Umjanor and Ralpag and Old Hrolhdar and Mothol Mothsdotter and Galaej peerless in the Voice who yet vowed never to use it, and finally Varoonaal who plucked the poison darts from the body of the King of Cyrod.

With the Morag broken and sent into the eastern slush, we finally caught sight of Snow-Throat, and knew that our journey was near its ending again. It was the World-Eater’s-Waking that broke shore first, Shouting our victory and doom, whose Boat-Thane was Ysmaalithax the Northerly Dragon, his first-clutch-sons Tsuunalinfaxtir and St’unuhaslifafnal, whose Tear-Jills were Vorramaalix, Jarliallisuh, Alleirisughus, and the Dewclaw Widow Who Foreswore Her Name, whose Void-Jills were Eljaalithathisalif Hate-Fire and Ingridaaligu who lost her minutes in the mending, and Mjaariliaalunax Half-Fire, whose Earth-Jills were none awoke, and whose Aether-Jills were none survived, and whose Magne-Jills were Shanu’ujeneen the Star-Woven and Jaalhngithaax Whose-Name-Stays-in-its-Egg. There were also the twenty-two Thunder-Scaled Jills unbound by time and so served as Ysmaalithax’s oracle-oocytes until the Ald’uin would burn them away: Unaalthiigas, Hriimaalixixigis, Kuujhe’elthilax of the Kalpa of the Orsidoon, Ingriidarligar who used her tailclaw as a song, Faajoorliidovahilagar, Ma’aheemi, Sorress’lilargus, Ansahaalifar whose gigantic feathered-crown was stripped from a Dawn Goddess that was eaten before she could fully congeal, Khelsadaalix and Akheelaalix who traded heads daily out of some geas, Vemmaabilthax, Borgaasaalthoom, Nuum’hyetthex, Vashuunaliasthoom, Fraalxshildadoon, Daahnaarlilagus, Mehemeem’yetthex Aththoommua who held secret syllables “unneeded yet”, and their five eldest, called the Five Eldest of the Thunder-Scaled Jills. There were also Ysmaalithax’s ten Shed-Uncles, whose names cannot be heard in the language of Men. There were his Clutch-Nephews, Khaalthaheelodoon the Jill-or-Drake (this one was more his pet than descendent, but Ysmaalithax was expressive and endless), Aalabarliggus the Oddly-Colored (his personal Shout Holder by neck-blood), Hegmaaligus the Mute, and Basdsdajurlahnaor who Shouted Enough to Give Hegmaaligus His Leave. There were his Nieces-of-Clock, Teeablalidoon the Mute, Mabaanaalix the Mute, Feehuugfe’hg the Mute, and Tsjaarlilargus their Chorus. There were his shed skins of renown, the Hell-Bellows Ghost, the Rabid-Thought, Heimnelraaliagus the Regular Thought, Pelinaalilargus the Pragmatist, Fefmem and Gemalleir, the two-headed rhetoric, Dyssle’vehb the Stoic Shout, whose dewclaws were adorned in numantia-scratch, Gremmelfellixl the Elenchus, Haa’gmmel the Logoi, Febhraadrnaalis the Trivium, and Ysmaalthoom the Arête. Of those Nords that stepped back onto Skyrim from the World-Eater’s-Waking there were these among the Five Hundred, but Ysmaalithax counted that the first was his destroyer, Ysgramor the Returned.

Shor son of Shor

Michael Kirkbride

"And the awful fighting ended again.

"Kyne's shout brought our tribe back to the mountaintop of Hrothgar, and even our recent dead rode in on the wind of her breathing, for there had been no time to fashion a proper retreat. Their corpses fell among us as we landed and we looked on them in confusion, shaken as we were by this latest battle in the war of twilight. The chieftains of the other tribes still held their grudge against our own, Shor son of Shor; more, they had united finally to destroy us and used skin-magic to trick us into disarray.

"Shor was disgusted with the defeat, and disgusted more when reminded by Jhunal that our withdrawal had been wise, for we were outnumbered eight to one. Shor took on the form of his Totem then, which he used to better shape his displeasure, rather than to shout it aloud and risk more storm-death. His shield thanes, the brothers Stuhn and Tsun, bowed their heads, collecting the spears and swords and wine-knives Shor threw about the broken pillars of the easternmost sky-temple. The rest of us looked away and to our own, not even to acknowledge the thunderclap that signaled our Queen's arrival, who stepped in from the tunnel of her own breath last.

"Kyne had taken the head of Magnar, the jarl that betrayed the weakness of our spear-lines and fled the field. Shor shook his scaled mane. "That isn't Magnar," he said, "Magnar, I fear, fell at sunrise and became replaced by mirrors. The other chieftains are using our forms to lead us astray."

"And then Shor walked away from his War-Wife to enter the cave that led to the Underworld. He needed to take counsel with his father yet again. "Our chieftain loses heart," Dibella said, Bed-Wife of Shor, hefting another body onto the corpse pile some of us were making, "And so goes to the speak to one that has none anymore. Mirrors, indeed, and in that I see no logic."

"Tsun took her by the hair, for he was angered by her words and heavy with lust. He was a berserker despite his high station, and love followed battle to his kind. "You weren't made for that kind of thinking," Stuhn said, dragging Dibella towards a whaleskin tent, "Jhunal was. And no one should be speaking to him now." Tsun eyed the Clever Man who had heard him. "Logic is dangerous in these days, in this place. To live in Skyrim is to change your mind ten times a day lest it freeze to death. And we can have none of that now."

"Kyne could have stopped all of this but did nothing but stare at the crowd of Nords around her. Stuhn and Tsun were shifting and it was still uncouth to prevent this kind of neighboring. She looked on Jhunal and did not know if he should be spoken to or not. Rules were changing. Even her handmaiden was gone, and that lack of attendance was a transgression, but Kyne knew Mara was no doubt making treaties with one of the other chieftains, and the Pact still allowed for Tear-Wives to do that. After her husband Shor had forgotten to kiss her, a tradition among the War-Married when they returned from the field together, Kyne kept her storms to herself and knew there would be no true understanding until the twilight was lifted.

"Shor breathed the lamplights of the Underworld to life with small whispers of fire. The dark did not frighten him-- he had been born in a cave much like this-- but nevertheless it added to the mounting disgust in his spirit. Ever since the Moot at the House of We, where the chieftains of the other tribes had accused him of trespass and cattle-theft and foul-mouthery, he knew it would come to a war we could not win. Any of those words were enough for the treason-mark, and traitors were only met with banishment, disfigurement, or half-death. He had taken the first with pride, roaring a chieftain's gobletman into dust to underscore his willingness to leave, knowing we would follow. He had taken the second by drawing a circle on the House's adamantine floor with his tailmouth-tusk which broke with a keening sound, showing the other chieftains that it would all come around again. And he took the third by vomiting his own heart into the circle like a hammerclap, guarding his wraith in the manner of his father and roaring at the other tribes, "Again we fight for our petty placements in this House, in the Around Us, and all it will amount to is a helix of ghosts like mine now spit into the world below where we fight again! I can already feel the war below us starting, and yet you have not yet thrown your first spears even here!" We took our leave of the House and would never reconvene again in this age.

"The Moot looked to the tribe of Ald son of Ald but he would break no oath of the Pact, saying "Shor has paid ransom now three times for the the sins we accused him of, and by that we will hold him as dead and shake not our spears against him or his kin. Of the below he speaks, he is confused by it, for under us is only a prologue, and under that still is only a scribe that hasn't written anything yet. Shor as always forgets the above, and condemns himself and any other who would believe him into this cycle." Ald's shield thane Trinimac shook his head at this, for he was akin to Tsun and did not care much for logic-talk as much as he did only for his own standing. He told his chieftain that these words had been said before and Ald only sighed and said, "Yes, and always they will be ignored. As for the war you crave, bold Trinimac, and all of you assembled, do not worry. A spear will be thrown into this soon, from Shor's own tribe, and the House of We will be allowed our vengeance."

"Shor found the alcove at the core of the world and spoke to his dead father. He said a prayer to remove any trickery of mirrors and the ghost of Shor father of Shor appeared, saying "Ald and the others have paid time and again for the the sins we accused them of, and by that you should hold them as dead and shake not the spears of your tribe against any of their kind again. Of the above he speaks, Ald is confused by it, for above us is only an ending, and above that still is only a scribe that hasn't written anything yet. Ald as always forgets the ground below him, and condemns himself and any other who would believe him into this cycle." But Shor shook his head at this, for he was akin to Ald and did not care much for logic-talk as much as he did only for his own standing. He told his father that these words had been said before and Shor only sighed and said, "Yes, and always they will be ignored. As for the counsel you crave, bold son, and in spite of all your other fathers here with me, that you create every time you spit out your doom, do not worry. You have again beat the drum of war, and perhaps this time you will win." Shor son of Shor returned then to us on the mountaintop.

"He didn't need to explain what he had learned, for we had been there with him. Trinimac left Dibella in his tent as we assembled, and he had not touched her, frozen in the manner of the Nords when we are unsure of our true place, and asked his brother to rearm him. Stuhn was confused for a moment, thinking this an odd shift, but Mara was returned and had made great headway into treaty with the other tribes, telling him that such Totems here in the twilight could now be trusted. Our Queen merely nodded to her War-Husband and shouted us back to the fields of our enemies, towards a weakened spot among their spear-lines that Magnar our scout would light for us.

"And the awful fighting began again."

On the Nords' Lack of a Creation Myth

Michael Kirkbride

"Creation myth? Hoo boy. First off, that whole phrase smacks of Monkey Talk-- and we thank Talos to this day for their turn at Glenumbria-- or the Wheel-Eyed Wonderment of the east devils-- who at least have the wheel part right, but that's so obvious as to offend your own navel, which is to say, wasting the time of even wasting time-- but I guess that's what you want to hear about, really: time. Our place in it now, our place in it then. Well, you've earned the truth of it then: you've taken your first tusk and been kissed by a Kyne Wife, so fine.

"The Nords you know are the Nords that were, and any formalization beyond that is southern comfort. We came from Skyrim since the end of the beginning of the last end... and so on as sung by the ysgrimskalds of the world. What's that now? We're descended from the gods? So that must mean, what, they went away at some point and then we started? Sure, that's all true, and, yes, there was a war with the gods of Old Mary where Shor died, and, yes, Old Mary's own stories of "how everything started" are just as true as ours. The untangling of it all, though, is where examining the tree nets you nothing for the basket because the fruit is all dead by the time you've reached any sensible conclusion. Which is to say, there is no conclusion, my lad, there is only the telling, and only time will tell the dead, for only by the dead can we tell the time, and so of course it all must fit together, all versions of every last telling, whereso or whensoever it comes from. Yes? Elsewise we'd never have time to tell it again.

"See now why asking the Nords for their creation myth is as unbearable to hear for them as it is for you to hear their never-really-an-answer? We'll never think that way, at least not long enough for what some would consider the "proper" amount of time-- it's just not how our brainpans were built. As a rule, we change our minds a lot, and properly so, which drives the other take on properlarity crazy. It's intrinsic to our nature; to live in the North is to live with a mind that dances near the hearth lest it slow like old Herkel's lot. (That's what happened to the Dwarves, by the way: their minds froze to death by thinking one thing over and over until poof, gone in a belch of a mountain.)

"But I can see by the droop of your shoulders that none of this has met to your satisfaction. Let me show you then, the proper way to ask the Nords their proper place in history: ask them to tell you the oldest story they know that's also the best. That will get you as close to a creation myth as anything else, even if the next telling changes it a bit, but that's beside the point of being the point.

"Just because we hate to waste time in Skyrim, we have lots of it to use with nothing else to do, and there's no better way to use up time without wasting it than by telling a good story. And the best of the oldest stories we still know is [untranslatable], which I guess you'll probably want to hear after you get me another round."


Another story for another time, maybe. Cyrus got tired of listening to the old man go on and on and on.

Merry X-Mas, everyone, the snows a'comin',




Nord - OblivionArena Description
Nords hail from the province of Skyrim. They are tall and fair skinned people who are strong, willful, and hardy. It is rumored that growing in their arctic environment has inured them to its effects, for they seem to shrug off all but the coldest of attacks. Nords take half damage from Cold based attacks, and on a successful saving throw take no damage. They are excellent in all arts concerning the blade and shield.

Know ye this also: Thy race is strong as the northern winds which sweep through icy glaciers. The arctic clime hast hardened thy folk for life's cruel and bitter hand...

Nord - MorrowindDaggerfall Description
The citizens of Skyrim are a tall and fair-haired people. Strong, willful, and hardy, Nords are famous for their resistance to cold, even magical frost, and are known for their prowess as warriors.

Battlespire Description
The citizens of Skyrim are a tall and fair-haired people. Strong, stubborn, and hardy, Nords are famous for their resistance to cold, even magical frost, and are known for their prowess as warriors.

Morrowind Description
The citizens of Skyrim are a tall and fair-haired people, aggressive and fearless in war, industrious and enterprising in trade and exploration. Skilled sailors, Nords can be found in seaports and settlements along all the coasts and rivers of Tamriel. Strong, stubborn, and hardy, Nords are famous for their resistance to cold, even magical frost. Violence is an accepted and comfortable aspect of Nord culture; Nords of all classes are skilled with a variety of weapon and armor styles, and they cheerfully face battle with an ecstatic ferocity that shocks and appalls their enemies.

Shadowkey Description
A hardy race that favors giving better in battle than they take and they are known to take quite a bit. Nord Resilience lowers physical damage done when an enemy lands a blow.

Oblivion Description
Citizens of Skyrim, they are tall and fair-haired people. Strong and hardy, Nords are famous for their resistance to cold. They are highly talented warriors.

Skyrim Description
Citizens of Skyrim, they are a tall and fair-haired people. Strong and hardy, Nords are famous for their resistance to cold and their talent as warriors. They can use a Battlecry to make opponents flee.

Elder Scrolls Online Description
The Nords once conquered most of Tamriel, and as a result, feel a certain entitlement to rule. They broke the power of the Ayleids, nearly drove the High Elves out of High Rock, and conquered much of Resdayn, the precursor to Morrowind. The Nords are excellent with arms. They are quick to anger, boisterous, and strong. They are natural-born warriors who fight with an ecstatic ferocity that terrifies their enemies.

Elder Scrolls Legends Description
Hailing from the inhospitable mountains of Skyrim, Nords are fearsome and hardy warriors.

Nordic Gods

(World Eater)
Alduin is the Nordic variation of Akatosh, and only superficially resembles his counterpart in the Eight Divines. For example, Alduin's sobriquet, 'the world eater', comes from myths that depict him as the horrible, ravaging firestorm that destroyed the last world to begin this one. Nords therefore see the god of time as both creator and harbinger of the apocalypse. He is not the chief of the Nordic pantheon (in fact, that pantheon has no chief; see Shor, below) but its wellspring, albeit a grim and frightening one.
(Goddess of Beauty)
Popular god of the Eight Divines. In Cyrodiil, she has nearly a dozen different cults, some devoted to women, some to artists and aesthetics, and others to erotic instruction.
(Old Knocker)
A loan-god of the Nords, who seem to have taken up his worship during Aldmeri rule of Atmora. Nords believe they once lived as long as Elves until Orkey appeared; through heathen trickery, he fooled them into a bargain that 'bound them to the count of winters'. At one time, legends say, Nords only had a lifespan of six years due to Orkey's foul magic. Shor showed up, though, and, through unknown means, removed the curse, throwing most of it onto the nearby Orcs.
Tsun Extinct Nordic god of trials against adversity. Died defending Shor from foreign gods
(Goddess of Love)
Nearly universal goddess. Origins started in mythic times as a fertility goddess. In Skyrim, Mara is a handmaiden of Kyne. In the Empire, she is Mother-Goddess. She is sometimes associated with Nir of the 'Anuad', the female principle of the cosmos that gave birth to creation. Depending on the religion, she is either married to Akatosh or Lorkhan, or the concubine of both.
(God of Ransom)
Nordic precursor to Stendarr, brother of Tsun. Shield-thane of Shor, Stuhn was a warrior god that fought against the Aldmeri pantheon. He showed Men how to take, and the benefits of taking, prisoners of war
(Kiss At the End)
Nordic Goddess of the Storm. Widow of Shor and favored god of warriors. She is often called the Mother of Men. Her daughters taught the first Nords the use of the thu'um, or Storm Voice.
(Rune God)
The Nordic god of hermetic orders. After falling out of favor with the rest of that pantheon, he became Julianos of the Eight Divines. He is absent in modern Skyrim mythology.
(God of the Underworld)
Nordic version of Lorkhan, who takes sides with Men after the creation of the world. Foreign gods (i.e., Elven ones) conspire against him and bring about his defeat, dooming him to the underworld. Atmoran myths depict him as a bloodthirsty warrior king who leads the Nords to victory over their Aldmeri oppressors time and again. Before his doom, Shor was the chief of the gods. Sometimes also called Children's God (see Orkey, above).
(Dragon of the North)
The Nordic aspect of Talos. He withstood the power of the Greybeards' voices long enough to hear their prophecy. Later, many Nords could not look on him without seeing a dragon.
(The Woodland Man)
Ancient Atmoran demon who, at one time, nearly seduced the Nords into becoming Aldmer. Most Ysgramor myths are about escaping the wiles of old Herma-Mora. Also called the Demon of Knowledge, he is vaguely related to the cult origins of the Morag Tong ('Foresters Guild'), if only by association with his brother/sister, Mephala.
(Mountain Fart)
Orcish god of the Velothi Mountains, Mauloch troubled the heirs of King Harald for a long time. Fled east after his defeat at the Battle of Dragon Wall, ca. 1E660. His rage was said to fill the sky with his sulphurous hatred, later called the "Year of Winter in Summer".


The Sons and Daughter of the Direnni West: High Rock

Imperial Geographical Society

Map of High Rock

High Rock, the westernmost province on the mainland of Tamriel, is a land of temperate climates and soft rolling hills, split in half by the towering Wrothgarian Mountains. The quaint charm of its hamlets and austere grandeur of its cities speak of a gentle life, something that was only a distant dream for most of the long, peculiar history of the Bretons.


With its fertile soils and generally clement weather, it is little wonder that the region that is now known as High Rock has attracted many cultures throughout history. The Gods were the first of these. The Adamantine Tower, in a little island in the middle of the Iliac Bay, is widely considered to be the oldest structure in Tamriel. If the ancient tales are to be believed, it was crafted in the Dawn Era by the Gods themselves to have a place for meeting and deciding what would be the fate of Nirn. Perhaps this is merely a myth, but it is true that when the earliest Aldmer came to the region, the Tower was already standing.

Breton RaceThere is evidence that early beast men of one variety or another may have been the original inhabitants of High Rock, but the Aldmer coming from Summerset Isle were the first to settle and form permanent communities. The early Nedic people who arrived next were stumbling upon a highly sophisticated culture, and were quickly overwhelmed and absorbed. One of the earliest tales of Khosey describes a Nord raiding party attacking a group of what they presumed to be Aldmer, but who were, on closer inspection, a mongrel race between elf and human, the remnants of the earlier lost Nedic tribe. They were somewhat awkwardly called "Manmeri," but we know them today as Bretons.

It took many centuries for the Bretons to become the dominant force in High Rock. For most of the First Era, the elves kept their hold on the land, with the Nords founding fortified towns along the coasts to support their pillaging parties, such as Daggerfall, which as a kingdom would have a profound influence on High Rock in years to come.

Of all the families of Aldmer who colonized High Rock, none did it so successfully as the Clan Direnni. So dominant were they that by the middle of the First Era, the whole of High Rock was commonly called "The Direnni Hegemony." As an economic and military power, they were formidable enough to pose a continued threat to the battle-hardened Nords and the nascent Alessian Empire of Cyrodiil. Taking advantage of the internal strife in Skyrim, the Hegemony began taking land north and south of High Rock, claiming portions of Skyrim and Hammerfell. At the peak of their power, they controlled nearly a quarter of Tamriel. But they had overextended their reach, and slowly, year by year, they lost all that they had gained, falling back to their fortress in Balfiera, the Adamantine Tower, now called the Direnni Tower.

The Bretons were operating beneath the eyes of history, and their rise in High Rock was through commerce and the foundation of small villages in well-chosen positions, such as the sleepy fishing hamlet of Wayrest on the coast between the Bjoulsae River and the Iliac Bay. Daggerfall, Camlorn, Reich Gradkeep, and many other Nordic cities became Breton not by any act of war, but simply by being assimilated by them. By the end of the First Era, High Rock was the land of the Bretons, and would be so ever after.

But High Rock was never a single cohesive Breton nation. The power vacuum left by the decline of the Dirennis fractured High Rock into a hundred fiefdoms of small, walled city-states. This has often left the Bretons at the mercy of the larger powers of Tamriel, but has also made High Rock surprisingly resilient during the times of chaos following the fall of the great empires.

Scarcely had the rule of the Dirennis passed into history before two new powers arrived in the region. The Redguards of Yokuda began their conquest of Hammerfell in the 808th year of the First Era, largely displacing beast folk in their attacks, but also supplanting Breton settlements along the southern Iliac Bay. The two cultures warred over dominance in the Bay, until they were faced with a common enemy in the Orcish kingdom of Orsinium.

The rise and fall and rebirth of Orsinium is detailed in a larger section, but suffice it to say for now that the discovery of the "monstrous" kingdom of the creatures, as they were regarded, was a very unpleasant surprise to both the Redguards and Bretons. An alliance between Daggerfall and the new kingdom of Sentinel led to the long war known as the Siege of Orsinium. The humans eventually prevailed: Orsinium was destroyed and the Orcs dispersed far and wide across Tamriel.

High RockHigh Rock fared relatively well during the long interregnum following the fall of the Cyrodilic Empire, but its multitude of fractious kingdoms were easily conquered by Tiber Septim. Indeed, many Bretons welcomed the rebirth of the Empire. Still, some of them managed to unite to stop the encroachment of the Camoran Usurper in his destructive march northward from Valenwood in 3E 267. With a weak Emperor on the Imperial throne, and no clear leadership from the usual powers of the west, the Usurper may have swept over High Rock had the smallest of regions of the Iliac Bay not banded together under the Baron of Dwynnen to defeat him. Once again, an overwhelming force had underestimated the Bretons, and been defeated.

The unity was lost when the threat was removed, and for the next one hundred and fifty years, internal and external conflicts continued. In the east, the Nords reclaimed some of their old kingdoms in the War of the Bend'r-Mahk. In the west, the War of Betony, though ostensibly between Daggerfall and Sentinel, spilled into Daggerfall's neighboring kingdoms. In the center, Orsinium reappeared as the home of the Orcs, threatening once again the fortunes of Wayrest. In the year 417, however, the province redefined itself in a most mysterious way.

They call the even the Miracle of Peace. On the 10th of Frostfall, a strange force exploded over the Iliac Bay, displacing armies and decimating whole territories. Though its nature is still unknown, most Bretons believe it was the ancient Gods who had once made High Rock their home scouring the land, making it whole once again. Though it was a painful process for most - the Miracle is sometimes spoken of as the Warp in the West - the result of it is a province that is more unified than it has ever been in modern history.

Where once there were a hundred small squabbling kingdoms, today, just two decades after the Miracle, there are five.

Current Events

Battle-weary, the kingdoms of High Rock have eschewed violence recently in favor of diplomatic solutions. This is not to say that there have been no tensions over the new borders between Daggerfall and Wayrest, or between Camlorn and Northpoint and Evermore, but they are localized skirmishes, and have yet to explode into war, as they might have done in the past. The royal family of Daggerfall has recently celebrated the marriage of their son Camaron to Lady Kelmena, the daughter of Duke Senhyn of Camlorn, suggesting a possible unified kingdom along the western coast of Tamriel. King Gothryd and Queen Aubk-i's own marriage twenty years before had cemented relations and formed the basis of the peace between Daggerfall and Sentinel, which continues to this day.

Northpoint and Evermore were not directly affected by the Miracle of Peace, but took advantage of it, swallowing up their small neighbors in the chaos of its aftermath. Far enough west to avoid the predations of Skyrim in the Bend'r-Mahk, and far enough north not to be targeted by Daggerfall and Wayrest, they have been quiet of late, watching their neighbors distrustfully.

The Queen of Wayrest, Elysana, is considered by many to be the most feared ruler in the West. It is hardly surprising, considering that in order to achieve the throne, she had to outmaneuver and defeat her stepbrother, Helseth, a man now renowned in the East for his cunning, as well as his mother, Barenziah. With her consort, Elysana continues to control and dominate politics in High Rock, and her recent alliance with Wayrest's old enemies, the Orcs of Orsinium, has many observers wondering what her next move will be.

The Throat of the World: Skyrim

Imperial Geographical Society

Map of Skyrim

Skyrim is the northern province of Tamriel, a land of breathtaking beauty and lethal winters. It is one of the ancient seats of power in the Empire and well-populated by the Nords. As if to compensate for their freezing environment, the Nords are famously hot-blooded and the political climate can be as shifting and dangerous as the winds.


Looking at viturally any vista in Skyrim, one is looking at the remains of a battlefield. The great Aedric cataclysms that brought Tamriel into existence in primeval times seems to have spent most of their fury in this northern land. Vast majestic mountain ranges form the spiny twisted backbone of the province and one can hear echoes of the early Nedic people's battle cries whistling in the winds of the valleys.

Nord RaceTradition has it that the first humans came to Tamriel from the continent of Atmora in ancient days. It was a not a single invasion but a series of them over hundreds of years, creating many different Nedic cultures, the new-arrived Atmorans always clashing with the generations that had already established themselves. The region around Saarthal in the high northern coastal mountains exchanged hands many times, becoming more powerful and more permanent, like the Nords themselves, by adversity.

In addition to fighting one another, the Nedic people faced off against a new enemy, the Aldmer. The struggles between the two - prototypical men and prototypical elves - continues in some form or another to this very day, as the Nedic people became the Nords, Imperials, and Bretons, and the Aldmer became the Ayleid, Altmer, Dwemer, Chimer, Dunmer, and Bosmer. Out of this time also rose one of the most legendary of all Tamrielic figures, Ysgramor, from whom all Nordic kings are descended.

Spreading out from the north, Ysgramor's clan stretched its arms, proving that no ancient force was more fearsome than the Nords. In the 113th year of the First Era, the entirety of modern Skyrim was under the reign of King Harald, and still, it continued to expand. Leaving their snowy valleys and mountains, the Nords attacked the Dwemer of neighbouring Resdayn, the Altmer and Bretons of High Rock and lent aid to the rising slave rebellion in Cyrodiil which was to end the Ayleid rule of the south.

SkyrimIn the centuries that followed, Skyrim expanded and contracted as battles were won and lost. Though Cyrodiil was considered a separate domain, the Nords and the early Imperials formed a loose alliance against their elven opponents, their cultures mixing together, creating the foundations of modern day Aedric worship. Yet Skyrim remained the dominant human nation in Tamriel until it was torn apart by rivalries within the Ysgramor clan. As individual chieftains fought each other, Skyrim gradually lost her holdings in present day Morrowind and High Rock, and certain localities in Skyrim became independent kingdoms. For brief periods, one ruler has managed to unite all of Skyrim, but the Nord character is one essentially of conflict, and the confederacies never last. The Cyrodilic Empire and later the Septim Empire was able to take advantage of this tendency and recruit the warlike Nords to their side before they became a force of the opposition.

In the third era, if Cyrodiil has been the heart of the Empire, Skyrim has been its strong arm. The greatest threat to the Empire's unity occured in the 120th year, when the so-called Wolf Queen of Solitude, Potema, aunt of the Empress Kintyra, launched a rebellion that became a blood civil war. Though it was eventually quelled, the repercussions are evident to this day. There is a strong underground movement called the Horme that believes Potema and her deposed son of Uriel III to be the last of Tiber Septim's true blood and under that principle lead raids against Imperial interests in the province.

Under the Imperial Simulacrum of Jagar Tharn, cold animosities between the kingdoms of Skyrim and their neighbors in High Rock and Hammerfell were fanned into the fire of war. Upon the true Emperor's return to his throne, this war ended, but not before Skyrim had reasserted itself on territory it had not held since the 1st Era.

Current Events

The War of Bend'r-Mahk increased the territory that is considered Skyrim considerably, allowing the Nordic counts to swallow up many miles of eastern High Rock and Hammerfell. Resistance by the Bretons and the Redguards is feeble in the cities of Jehenna and Elinhir, and more active in the border zones of the countryside. The city-state of Dragonstar continues to be divided into western and eastern sections, walled off from one another, each with its own government, and each with an atmosphere of mistrust and fear. There are few days without an act of terror from one resistance group or another, though, so far little territory has changed hands since the days of the Imperial Simulacrum.

Solitude, always one of the richest and most influential counties in Skyrim, has grown ever more powerful, controlling much of the northern coastline following King Thian's alliance by marriage with Macalla, the Queen of Dawnstar. It has sought to expand its influence further by annexing several former Imperial fiefs, such as the island of Roscrea, ruled directly by the Emperor since Uriel V conquered it in the 271st year. It has begun sponsoring exploratory missions even farther from the mainland into the misty waters of the Sea of Ghosts.

Winterhold, Solitude's ancient rival, has also experienced a renaissance of power and influence. Refugees from Morrowind, far from burdening the eastern city, have brought with them new ideas, enriching her culture and stimulating its old mercantile spirit. Scholars from all over Tamriel have descended on the county since it became home to the Ysmir Collective, a library rescued from destruction in the east, and the cornerstone of academic life at the College of Winterhold.

Hrothgar and Whiterun have not been as fortunate as their coastal northern cousins. A dynastic feud, attacks by Hörme bandits and frost trolls, and a series of annihilating winters of alternating floods, droughts, and fires has crippled the area that was once considered the Imperial City of Skyrim. The population blamed and then curiously exalted the leader of the local witches' coven, Jsashe, a self-proclaimed priestess of Lorkhan. The Witch-Queen of Whiterun, as she is called, now wields effective control of the county, though her magic has not brought it prosperity as of yet.