Forum Scholar’s Guild: On Tonal Architecture

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This article is part of the Forum Scholar’s Guild: a collection of peer-reviewed original research written by fans about Elder Scrolls lore.

A theory of the destruction/creation effects of Kagrenac’s Tools

To my esteemed colleagues of the Imperial Library,

It has been some time since last I wrote to you. Since my last note, I have continued my exploration of various ruins, and have acquired various articles originating in Morrowind concerning the Dwemer. In addition, the staggering events which unfolded in Red Mountain, have revealed astonishing facts, which have led me to this new theory.

Last I wrote, I referred to the “unlife” of the golems, and how the Dwemer might have utilized the power of the Daedra themselves. As events revealed, it was not the Daedra who were used, but Lorkhan himself! However, I was interested in how the power was drawn from the Heart. As most know, the Heart of Lorkhan acts as an anchoring point for the energy of Mundus, the final spark of creation. Thus, the Dwemer must have used extraordinarily odd means to extract energy without endangering all of the world.

What set me on this path was a portion of the Dunmeri Apographa, Nerevar at Red Mountain. In it, Dumac swore by the “fifteen-and-one golden tones”. This caught my eye, and set me to thinking about the Profane Tools and Kagrenac’s title, Chief Tonal Architect. The Tools are said to have brought forth a tone from the Heart, which was then manipulated, either to imprint powers on the bearer of the Tools, or to shape the enchantments. Sunder rendered a single pure tone, and Keening shattered this into lesser tones, most likely fifteen. This explains their source.

But why fifteen? The answer lies not in the Heart, or even on Mundus, but without. The Daedric Princes. Although most people view there as being sixteen, Malacath is not truly a Daedric Prince, merely a corrupted hero-god. Thus, originally only fifteen Daedric Princes dwelt in Oblivion. Why are the linked to the Heart? Because the Heart deals with energy, the province of Change and Padomay, the realm of the Daedra. All together, the tones form a single pure tone, the original voice of Padomay. Each sub-tone represents a unique form of Change, which the Daedric Princes rule over.

Thus, Tonal Architecture deals with the arrangement of Change in new fashions. Chaotically arranging them destroys the previous enchantments, as seen by the Nerevarine’s defeat of Dagoth Ur. By looking at the Princes, we can see which Tones would have been desired, and which would have been discarded. Ironically, Azura’s own sphere, Static Change, may have been used by those she hated to slow their aging until the proper arrangement of Tones was completed.

But how can the Tools elicit these tones? To understand, I turned to a fairly disreputable source: The Five Songs of King Wulfharth. A vocal tradition until recently, most of the tale is likely corrupt. However, secret songs refer to the Profane Tools, calling Keening “a dagger made of the sound of the shadow of the moons”. The moons, according to many, are the remains of Lorkhan’s body. The shadow which falls upon them is the decay which has befallen his immortal flesh. The force which can cause the immortal to decay is powerful indeed. Sunder, “a hammer of divine mass”, was imbued in some way so that it had a relation to the Heart’s own true essence. Thus, Sunder could cause a resonance with the Heart, creating a single tone. Keening, bearing a force which tears the immortal apart, then took that tone and reduced it to its components, shaping them as needed.

Wraithguard acts as a shield against these energies. When held, the power of the weapons deals mortal blows to the wielder if not protected. Keening sucks the life from them, and Sunder overwhelms the life. Wraithguard blocks both assaults, allowing the wearer to be safe.

With these Tools and the Heart, Kagrenac most likely wove an enchantment designed to cause a transformation in his race’s very nature, granting additional power, knowledge, and pushing them beyond the Gray Maybe. However, any error could have been fatal. Mixing in a bit of Destructive or Random Change would turn transcendence into chaos. Perhaps Kagrenac, in his haste, allowed an element of the wrong Change to enter his work. Were it Destructive, the Dwemer are gone, destroyed. Should it have been Random, there is no knowing their end. My personal belief is that an element of Static Change was snuck in at the end, either by Nerevar through the Tools or Azura as Kagrenac worked desparately, leaving the Dwemer stranded between Mundus and their intended level of existence.

Regardless, this concludes my rather convoluted commentary on Tonal Architecture. I bid you all a good day.

— Harold Trontskii (TSBasilisk)
Chief excavator of an undisclosed Dwemer ruin

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