The Elder Scrolls are artifacts of unknown origin and quantity, being simultaneously archives of historic, past and future events. The prophecies of the Elder Scrolls and the Heroes are interdependent; one cannot exist without the other. They are also known as the "Aedric Prophecies," suggesting that they may have been created by the Aedra.. Without technological aid, Elder Scrolls cannot be read without extreme side-effects, among which are blindness and insanity.
Generally regarded as sacred, and narrowly viewed with skepticism, the scrolls are infamously associated with bizarre acts of magical or abnormal force. More commonly, the Scrolls are renowned for their impeccable prophecies, ranging from the return of Alduin to the Tyranny of the Sun.
They are also the namesake for The Elder Scrolls series.
The influences of the archivally historic Elder Scrolls cannot be understated. Once a prophecy contained in an Elder Scroll is enacted in Tamriel, the text of the parchment becomes fixed. After that time, all readers ingest the same divine message, creating a historical document declaring the unequivocal truth of a past event. Scholars cannot argue the bias of the writer of an Elder Scroll, and the contents of a scroll, once solidified, cannot be altered by any known magic. It is known that the events which alter the linearity of time, known as Dragon Breaks, cannot be recorded or predicted by these scrolls.
Paarthurnax explains that dragons are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of the Elder Scrolls, being born of Akatosh, the god of time. This would explain how Alduin was cast into the future and how a Time Wound was formed at the point of his exile.
Reading an Elder Scroll
Any person gifted with prescient powers is able to interpret the contents of the Elder Scrolls with practice. It is said that those with no ability see only unknown etchings and runes, often claiming to recognize constellations and birth signs. True insight into the divine contents comes at a price as each new foretelling and interpretation strikes the reader with blindness that gradually increases with each reading, while simultaneously granting them a broader view of the scroll's contents. Ultimately, the reader, having engaged in frequent acts of prophecy, is left bereft of their vision, forever after removed of their right to read the scrolls. By time-honored tradition only those of The Cult of the Ancestor Moth may read from the scrolls, the younger members caring for the elder as they gradually lose their sight for eternity. The loss of sight for the reading of an Elder Scroll is described as "a price," probably for the learning of what the Elder Scroll chooses to reveal to the reader. Some go insane from reading an Elder Scroll because, as the game describes, it is too much knowledge for some to handle.
The Dwemer were so technologically advanced, they were able to develop a device, called a Lexicon, which allowed someone to read an Elder Scroll without going blind or insane.
The Dragonborn is able to read the Elder Scroll with only limited vision impairment, the effects lasting a short period of time. When trying to read an Elder Scroll, all that can be seen are seemingly incoherent patterns and lines. In the case of the Dragonborn, these patterns can take the form of a map that can pinpoint the location of what the reader is searching for.
Ritual of the Ancestor Moth
The Ritual of the Ancestor Moth is a rite performed by Moth Priests in order to read an Elder Scroll. It usually takes place within one of the many secluded Ancestor Glades scattered across Tamriel. Usually Moth Priests take months to prepare themselves for reading an Elder Scroll as only the most resilient of the Moth Priests can read an Elder Scroll with this ritual and it takes years to interpret the harmony. As such, only a few get the chance to perform this ritual.
The voice of the Ancestor Moth has always been an integral part of reading an Elder Scroll. They maintain a connection to the ancient magic that allows a Moth Priest to decipher them. Moths within an Ancestor Glade emanate a soft harmonious trilling that when amplified tap into a form of primal augur. The allows the moths themselves to become a conduit for deciphering the scrolls. By having the moths close to the Moth Priest, they can utilize the conduit and share the moth's augury.
The ritual itself involves carefully removing the bark of a Canticle Tree with a traditional tool called a Draw Knife which in turn attracts the Ancestor Moth. Once enough moths are in the vicinity, they grant the reader with the second sight needed to decipher the scroll.
Opinions of the Scrolls
The exact number of Elder Scrolls itself cannot be counted, as was proven by the Cult of the Ancestor Moth. Each attempt to quantify their number or even location causes the scrolls to change place and number, for no discernible reason.
The dragon Paarthurnax describes the scrolls as being, "artifacts that exist outside of time" as well as, "fragments of creation."
Tyranny of the Sun
During the Merethic Era, the remaining Snow Elves who had not been massacred by the Atmorans or had fled to the Dwemer for help had fallen back to the Forgotten Vale as a new safe haven for them. The Snow Elves who had went to the Dwemer for help had been enslaved by them and had been forced to ingest a toxic fungus which blinded them. Over time, those Snow Elves had de-evolved into the Falmer, and, at some point, a large group of the Falmer had discovered the Forgotten Vale, and they began to massacre all of the Snow Elves in the Vale. Ironically, the genocide the Falmer were committing was against their own former brothers and sisters, who had not been affected by the actions of the Atmorans and Dwemer. Early before when one of the initiates came before Arch-Curate Vyrthur and bit him turning him into a vampire despite the fact that he was supposed to be protected by Auri-El. In revenge, Vyrthur created the Tyranny of the Sun prophecy foretold in three Elder Scrolls. In the end, only Vyrthur and his brother, Knight-Paladin Gelebor, were the only survivors of the attack, and the Tyranny of the Sun prophecy would continue to be unfulfilled until the Volkihar Clan discovered the prophecy and began to uncover it.
During the Three Banners War, the Elder Scrolls were an important aspect of the battles raged in Cyrodiil. The three factions would steal each others' scrolls back and forth, and as such power shifted between them. Varen Aquilarios, the Emperor prior to the Soulburst, had begun studying with the Moth Priests and read the scrolls. He gained a significant amount of knowledge, but had soon lost his sight.
The coming of Alduin to Skyrim in 4E 201 through a Dragon Break was foreseen by the Elder Scrolls prophecies. Before Alduin returned to Skyrim, he was leading the dragons in a war against all of the people of Tamriel. Atop of the Throat of the World, three Nord heroes were fighting against a number of dragons, and one point, Alduin arrived, and the Heroes attempted to fight him off. After Alduin killed Gormlaith Golden-Hilt, the rest decided that in order to defeat Alduin, they had to use an Elder Scroll, which they did. Alduin was sent through a Dragon Break, and arrived to Skyrim in 4E 201.
Septimus Signus read an Elder Scroll and went mad, eventually writing a popular commentary called Ruminations on the Elder Scrolls on the abstract nature of the scrolls. During his experiments at an outpost, north of the College of Winterhold, he discovered that the Dwemeri people developed a device known as the Lexicon, which allowed Elder Scrolls to be read without side-effects.
The Volkihar Clan, lead by Harkon, sought an Elder Scroll from the Soul Cairn, to end the sun's threat to vampires with Auriel's Bow. Serana, Harkon's daughter, was in possession of an Elder Scroll, which was draped across her back in plain sight. The third Elder Scroll was the third key in the Tyranny of the Sun prophecy; it had to be read in the Ancestor Glade to locate Auriel's Bow.
Known Elder Scrolls
- Elder Scroll (Oblivion)
- Elder Scroll (Dragon)
- Elder Scroll (Blood)
- Elder Scroll (Sun)
- Elder Scroll of Altadoon
- Elder Scroll of Chim
- Elder Scroll of Ni-Mohk
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- The Elder Scrolls Online
- ↑ Lost Histories of Tamriel
- ↑ Where Were You When the Dragon Broke?
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Dialogue with Paarthurnax
- ↑ Dialogue with Septimus Signus
- ↑ Events of Dawnguard
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Dialogue with Dexion Evicus
- ↑ An Accounting of the Scrolls
- ↑ Dialogue with Arngeir in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- ↑ The Falmer: A Study
- ↑ Dialogue with Arch-Curate Vyrthur
- ↑ Dialogue with Knight-Paladin Gelebor
- ↑ Events of Online
- ↑ Events of Oblivion
- ↑ The Dragon War
- ↑ Events of "Alduin's Bane"
- ↑ August 24, 2013. TESO Elite ESO Interview with Maria Aliprando