Lord of Souls Lore Notes: Oblivion

This page contains lore-relevant quotes and summaries from Lord of Souls, by Greg Keys. Some quotes have been truncated to improve clarity.


The air in Malacath’s realm "was full of ash, a gray cloud that extended in every direction. … It was hard to breathe; the gray powder cloyed in his nostrils and mouth. … Light seemed to filter through the walls themselves—[Attrebus] cast no shadow. The air had a stale, burnt taste, but he was no longer choking, and his chest rose and fell."

A story about Malacath, as told to Attrebus by his childhood nurse.

"In the bygone-by, there was a hero named Trinimac, the greatest knight of the Ehlnofey, champion of the Dragon of Time. One fine day he betook himself to seek out Boethiah, the daedra prince, and chastise him for his misdeeds.

"But Boethiah knew Trinimac was coming, and he put on the appearance of an old woman and stood beside the trail.

" 'Good day, old woman,' Trinimac said when he came along. 'I'm in search of Prince Boethiah, to chastise him. Can you tell me where I might find the scoundrel?'

" 'I know not,' the old woman told him, 'but down the road is my younger brother, and he might know. I'll gladly tell you where he is, if you will but scratch my back.'

"Trinimac agreed, but when he saw her back, it was covered in loathsome boils. Nevertheless, having said he would, he scratched the noisome sores.

" 'Thank you,' she said. 'You'll find my brother on the road to your left at the next crossroads.'

"Trinimac went on his way. Boethiah scurried ahead by a shortcut and put on the appearance of an old man.

" 'Good day, old man,' Trinimac said, on meeting him. 'I saw your elder sister, and she said you might know the path to Prince Boethiah's house.'

" 'I do not,' the old man told him. 'But my little sister knows. I'll tell you where to find her if you will only wash my feet.'

"Trinimac agreed, but found the old man's feet even more disgusting and smelly than the old woman's back. Still, he had made a bargain. The old man told him where to find the younger sister, and again Trinimac went on—and again Boethiah went ahead, and put on the guise of a beautiful young woman.

"Now, Trinimac was dreading the meeting with the younger sister, fearing he would have to wash or scratch something even worse than he already had, but when he saw the beautiful girl, he felt better.

" 'I met your elder brother,' he said, 'and he told me you would know the way to the house of Prince Boethiah.'

" 'Indeed, I do,' she declared. 'And I will gladly tell you if you will but give me a kiss.'

" 'That I can do,' Trinimac said, but as he leaned forward to kiss her, her mouth opened wide—so wide that his whole head went in, and Boethiah swallowed him in a single gulp.

"Then Boethiah took on Trinimac's form, and made him burp and fart and say foolish things, until finally he squeezed out a great pile of dung, and that was what was left of Trinimac. The dung got up and slunk away in shame, a proud knight no longer. He became Prince Malacath, and all of those who loved him changed as well and became the orcs."

Malacath first appears to Attrebus disguised as an elf with "rosy gold" hair, "alabaster white" skin, and "emerald" eyes (Attrebus thinks that she is a High Elf). Later, he appears as a 100ft tall humanoid with gray eyes and skin, a broad, piglike face, and tusks. His teeth are sharp.

"Around them rose a garden of slender trees, and wound about the trunks were vines festooned with lilylike flowers. A multitude of spheres moved, deep in the colorless sky, as distant and pale as moons. [Attrebus] heard birds chirping, but it was a doleful sound, as if something with a vague memory of having been a bird was trying to reproduce sounds it no longer felt." Malacath appears to feel some sort of sadness towards this locale, reproducing it in his realm. He describes it as a "shadow of a garden, this echo of something that once was."

The "received wisdom" is that, due to the Oblivion crisis, "Tamriel can never be invaded from Oblivion again." Although Umbriel is not truly on Tamriel, it still needed to be summoned/conjured/facilitated into coming into Nirn.

Aresse summons a Daedra (Clanfear?): "there was a clap like thunder, and the man went staggering back, and in the next instant something appeared, something horrible. Colin had a glimpse of slits of green balefire, scales, and claws like sickles. The man almost managed to scream before his lungs and viscera were spattered across the room."

Even for a Daedra prince, it is not always possible to teleport people to the exact location needed.

"Vile can’t come into Tamriel, at least not in an aspect potent enough to do anything about Umbriel. And if he could, he would probably make a far bigger mess than Vuhon will. If Clavicus Vile could take his power back from Umbriel, he already would have. What he needs in order to do that is what we’re looking for [the sword Umbra]." Although it is not clear that the sword is actually important, Sul believes it is because "Vuhon went way out of his way to try to retrieve the sword. Azura gave me visions of it, and even Malacath seemed to think we’re on to something."

The following is a Daedra commonly summoned by Nibenese battlemages during Alessian Order times. "After the War of Righteousness, the relationship they cultivated with this species deteriorated," and the knowledge of summoning them was confined to a single secret text. The Daedra "was something left to deal with the likes of him [Colin]. It contorted in his overvision, a chimera that refused to settle on a shape, then bloomed fully into Mundus, the world, and brought harm to him." The Daedra has "a sort of center" that is solid. When it manages to hit Colin, it doesn’t strike him with corporeal matter but instead travels through his arm, "leaving detailed and unbelievable agony behind." It can be harmed by weapons (though not common ones - Colin’s sword has "consecrations bound into its crystalline metal). It can also strike out with "yellowish mist" that causes razor-like pain and paralyzes the victim. When hit, emits a high pitched sound almost out of human hearing range. Colin notes that "worse things" are summoned in the modern day.

"[Lord Sathil] made certain pacts with Vile, and in exchange the prince asked him to find a certain sword in Morrowind. What Vile didn’t tell my father was what would happen when someone picked the sword up." When picked up, the sword drives its wielder mad almost instantly.

"Attrebus found himself on his back, staring up at what appeared at first to be a few cottony clouds in a perfectly blue sky. But as he garnered his strength to rise, he noted odd unsettling patches, greenish-gray streaks that didn’t appear to be clouds but were more like stains on the sky itself. […]

They had landed in a field of white clover—a woodland meadow that might have come right out of the paintings of Lythandas of Dar-Ei. But like the sky, a close look revealed withered, twisted foliage and odd melted-looking places that his eyes couldn’t focus on. Beneath the perfume of wildflowers, the breeze carried a scent of profound decay, like a wound gone to gangrene.

Attrebus caught a motion from the corner of his eye and faced it. A small white dog was watching them from the edge of the clearing, where a little path wound off into the woods. It twitched its head toward the trail and wagged its tail excitedly."

It is possible to summon mortals from Tamriel to the realm of a Daedric prince. Vile does this while both Attrebus and Sul are in contact with Umbra, and are wearing the salve they used to travel to Oblivion last time, so an artifact and/or conduit may be required for the procedure. It feels like "something like a fist seemed to grab him, yanking him so hard the blood rushed from his head and black spots danced before his eyes."

"The dog led them from the clearing along the little trail, where the vegetation seemed to grow progressively sicklier. They crossed a brook on a fallen log, and he saw fish floating on the surface, their gills working desperately. Something fluttered by in the trees, which he at first perceived to be a bird, then a butterfly the size of a hawk, and finally a caterpillar with wings.

They wound along a spiral trail up a hill, where they found a table large enough to seat thirty or so, with whimsically slim legs that terminated in hooves. Now and then one of the hooves would lift and stamp, rattling the empty plates and cups on the table. Beyond the hill, the colors of the world seemed to melt and flow before the sky gave way completely to shimmering chaos. From this height, Attrebus could see that the trees and grass only extended a mile or so in any direction before similarly dissolving at the edges.

Seated at the head of the table, on a large wooden throne, was what appeared to be a boy of perhaps thirteen or fourteen years, although his lack of shirt displayed a paunch that would have been more at home on a middle-aged beer glutton. He had what appeared to be a goat horn growing from above his right eyebrow, but over the left there was a festering sore. He had his bare feet up on the table crossed at the ankles, and a mean little smile showed on his face. His eyes were most peculiar; Attrebus somehow could not focus on them, but his impression was contradictory: They seemed empty, but empty in a way that nevertheless held limitless meaning.

"When the boy saw Sul and Attrebus, he laughed. It was an eerie laugh, almost like the imitation of one, although there seemed to be a tinge of genuine madness there as well.

The dog hopped up on the table. "I give you Prince Clavicus Vile," it announced, and then fell over and began licking itself."

""Don’t think I’m weak," Vile said. "Everyone who comes here now thinks I’m weak, just because a wee bit of my stuff has been stolen. The trick is, if you’ve got less to work with, you just don’t spread it so thin. My realm may be a little smaller than in happier times, but in it I’m just as strong as I ever was.""

According to Vile, "there is no Umbra. This—thing—that suffers from the delusion that it is its own—person—is actually nothing of the kind, do you understand? No more than a stone rolling down a hill is capable of real self-locomotion. Or an abacus of doing math by itself. What was in this sword was me, plain and simple. If someone cut your leg off and the leg starting calling itself ‘Umbra,’ it would still be your leg, wouldn’t it? You wouldn’t humor it, would you? Help it out with its delusions of grandeur?"

"A sharp report rang from the walls in the room, and suddenly something appeared, something shaped a bit like a man but covered in black scales, with three scythelike fingers on each hand. It hopped, birdlike, toward Hierem, and Colin noticed it had sickles on its feet, too—one on each foot." This is likely a Clanfear.

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