The Vestige, also known as the Soulless One, and later Meridia's Champion, the Hero of Coldharbour, and the Savior of Tamriel, is the player character and main protagonist in The Elder Scrolls Online.
As with all Elder Scrolls games, the player starts off as a prisoner, referred to throughout the game as the Vestige. The Vestige, at the game's opening, has been captured by Molag Bal and is imprisoned in his realm of Oblivion known as Coldharbour; their soul has been stolen. There is an ancient prophecy in the Elder Scrolls which states that the Vestige will thwart Molag Bal's plan to merge the world of Tamriel with the realm of Coldharbour in Oblivion. During the events of The Elder Scrolls Online, the Vestige attempts to reclaim their soul from the Daedric Prince and stop the merging of Oblivion and Tamriel.
The Vestige was one of many mortals sacrificed by the Worm Cult to Molag Bal, specifically by Mannimarco himself. They were sent to The Wailing Prison in Coldharbour. There, the Vestige was contacted by the Prophet, who informed them that they had an important part to play in foiling Molag Bal's schemes. First, the Vestige had to escape and locate a Nord half-giant named Lyris Titanborn to help free the Prophet. At that moment, the prisoners overpowered the Dremora guards and began liberating the other prisoners, including the Vestige. They fought their way through the prison, eventually finding Lyris and, with the aid of a mad Soul-Shriven knight named Cadwell, were able to locate the Prophet's cell. However, for him to be liberated, someone had to take his place in the cell. Lyris switched places with the Prophet, who vowed they would find a way to free her. The Prophet and the Vestige made their way to one of the Dark Anchors and, with the aid of the Prophet's magic, were able to return to Nirn.
The Vestige and the Prophet were not returned to the same location on Nirn, but they eventually reunited at a place called the Harborage. There, the Prophet explained the events that led up to his capture. Several years prior, the Cyrodiilic Emperor Varen Aquilarious desired to become Dragonborn in order to light the Dragonfires in the Imperial City to legitimize his claim to the Ruby Throne. Mannimarco was able to convince him that he knew a ritual that could accomplish this, but that it required the Amulet of Kings. Along with the leader of the Dragonguard Sai Sahan, Lyris Titanborn and the High Chancellor of the Elder Council Abnur Tharn, they became the Five Companions. They were able to retrieve the Amulet of Kings and begin the ritual. At that moment, Mannimarco used his magic to immobilize the others and reveal his true intentions: he was an agent of Molag Bal, and the ritual in fact weakened the barriers between Nirn and Oblivion in an event known at the Soulburst. This event allowed Molag Bal to initiate a Planemeld, a forceful merging of worlds.
After the ritual, Varen disappeared, Sai Sahan fled with the Amulet of Kings, and Abnur Tharn pledged allegiance to Mannimarco in cowardice, and Lyris was captured and sent to Coldharbour, both in different locations. After his tale was done, the Prophet informed the Vestige that he needed more time to rest and to devise a way to free Lyris from Colharbour.
Shortly after, the Prophet contacted the Vestige and asked them to return to the Harborage, having found out where Lyris was being held in Coldharbour. Molag Bal had moved her to the Foundry of Woe and the Prophet opened a portal to Coldharbour. Once the Vestige located her, they were forced to aid her in retrieving several aspects of herself Molag Bal had removed to torment her: settle her regret over killing her mother at birth, assuage the solitude she'd felt throughout her life, resolve her uncertainty and defeat her terror. The pair then escaped Coldharbour and returned to the Harborage.
The Prophet recalled the Vestige to him, having heard whispers of fear near the Harborage. The Vestige was tasked with locating a Worm Cult agent nearby. Locals pointed to a mysterious Imperial nosing around, leading the Vestige to a cellar infested with undead. Inside, Abnur Tharn appeared to them via the Orb of Discourse which was sowing fear in the nearby populace, thinking the Worm Cult agent was trying to contact him. Tharn was surprised to see the Vestige instead, but before they could speak further, the Worm Cult agent attacked. The Vestige defeated him, and then brought the Orb to the Prophet, who believed he could use it to locate Sai Sahan. As Sai had fled with the Amulet, and the Amulet was the only way to stop Molag Bal, the Prophet desired to locate him.
While using the Orb of Discourse to locate Sai Sahan, the Prophet was contacted by Abnur Tharn, who desired to speak with the Vestige. Upon arriving at the Harborage, Tharn informed them that he had no desire to continue to serve Mannimarco, but that he was imprisoned in Coldharbour's Castle of the Worm and needed to be rescued. In exchange, he offered knowledge of Sai Sahan's location. The Vestige and Lyris entered Coldharbour once more, where they were aided by Cadwell to enter the Castle undetected. Fighting their way through many Worm Cultists and undead minions, they eventually managed to locate Tharn and free him. However, Mannimarco appeared before them and attempted to slay them using several waves of summoned skeletons. After dispatching them, Tharn and Mannimarco began a magic duel, which Tharn won when the Vestige hit Mannimarco, breaking his concentration. The Prophet then opened a portal to the Harborage and the trio escaped Coldharbour. The Prophet then revealed that he was in fact Varen Aquilarios. He claimed he had hesitated about revealing himself as he was not sure how the Vestige would react, since his actions ultimately lead to their death.
Tharn revealed that while he did not know Sai Sahan's exact location, he was willing to assist the Prophet in locating it. This angered Lyris.
During their travels, the Vestige was contacted by a banekin bearing a message from Abnur Tharn requesting a meeting away from the Harborage, at a Mages Guildhall. There, the Vestige found Tharn disguised as a guild mage. Tharn explained that Mannimarco stored artifacts and occasionally information in a nearby Ruin and that it may contain Sai Sahan's whereabouts. The two entered the ruins and discovered that Sahan was being held in Coldbarbour's Halls of Torment, being tortured for the location of the Amulet of Kings.
Varen informed the Vestige that he would need time to determine the Halls of Torment's exact location in Coldharbour and would contact them when he knew.
When Varen determined the location of the Halls, he sent the Vestige through a portal and made them choose whether to take Tharn or Lyris along. The two entered the Halls and found Sahan being tortured by a Xivilai called the Duchess of Anguish, who was using doppelgangers of the Five Companions to torture Sahan both physically and mentally in an effort to reveal the location of the Amulet of Kings. After slaying the doppelgangers and the Duchess, the pair rescued Sahan and returned him to the Harborage. There, Sahan informed them that he had hidden the Amulet in the ruins of Sancre Tor. He requested a few days to recover from his ordeal before setting out.
Sai Sahan informed the Vestige that they required an item to unlock the chamber in which the Amulet was being kept: the Ring of Stendarr's Mercy. Sahan had left the Ring in the care of Kasura, a Redguard Blademaster and his old mentor. Varen opened a portal in the Abbey of Blades in Hammerfell and the Vestige, Tharn, Lyris and Sahan entered. Upon arriving, they discovered Molag Bal had sent a Daedric Titan to destroy the Abbey. They were able to slay it, but it had already destroyed most of the Abbey and killed most of the students before they arrived. Kasura thanked her rescuers and led them to where she had stored the Ring: the ancestral crypt of Sai's ancestors. Within, a vision of Mannimarco appeared and raised the dead within the crypt in an attempt to stop them from retrieving the Ring, but they were stopped and the Ring was recovered. Sahan, Lyris and Tharn stayed behind to assist Kasura and her remaining students in burying the dead while the Vestige returned to the Harborage.
After Lyris, Sahan and Tharn had returned from the Abbey of Blades, they joined the Vestige in venturing to Sancre Tor. As they entered the ruins, they encountered yet another vision of Mannimarco. This time, the King of Worms explained that he had placed a spell on Sahan to track his every movement. More importantly, he revealed that he planned to use the Amulet of Kings to trap Molag Bal and absorb his essence, turning himself into the next Daedric Prince of Domination. The wards of Stendarr that Sai Sahan had placed on the chamber containing the Amulet would conceal him from Molag Bal until he was ready to strike. The Vestige and their companions fought their way through the ruins before confronting Mannimarco himself in the Amulet chamber after removing the wards. After killing him, Molag Bal himself appeared and dragged Mannimarco's soul into Coldharbour, having known of his betrayal all along. The Vestige recovered the Amulet of Kings and returned to the Harborage.
Varen asked the Vestige to join them at the Harborage once more. There, Sahan gave the Vestige the choice of joining the Five Companions or not. Afterwards, Tharn explained his plan for the Amulet: he believed that the Divine power of the Amulet could harm Molag Bal sufficiently to force him to relinquish all the souls he had stolen, including that of the Vestige. However, there was a price: the ritual needed to imbue the power would require a soul. Obviously the Vestige could not do this; neither could Tharn who would need to perform the ritual. Lyris, Sahan or Varen would need to sacrifice themselves to imbue the Vestige with the power of the Divines, and each of them volunteered to be the sacrifice when the time came. Varen then explained that forces would soon launch an assault on Coldharbour, and that the Vestige would need to join them.
The Vestige was contacted by Vanus Galerion of the Mages Guild. Vanus told them that he and Countess Hakruba of the Fighter's Guild had a plan to attack Molag Bal's realm and end the Planemeld. To do so, they needed the cooperation of the Ebonheart Pact, Daggerfall Covenant and Aldmeri Dominion in order to maintain the Guilds' neutrality. Vanus and the Vestige visited Jorunn the Skald-King, High King Emeric and Queen Ayrenn and convinced them to meet for a council on the island of Stirk, off the western coast of Cyrodiil.
The negotiations quickly broke down as the leaders began to argue and insult each other. As Vanus and the Vestige attempted to restore order, Molag Bal appeared before them and opened portals to Coldharbour on the island and Daedra poured forth. The enemy was repelled, but Vanus and Hakruba realised that neither alliance leader would agree to send forces into Coldharbour for fear that the other two would take the opportunity to seize the Imperial City. The Guilds would need to do it on their own. They assembled all available Guild members on Stirk and entered Coldharbour.
The plan quickly fell apart as the force became scattered all over Coldharbour due to Molag Bal's defenses. The Vestige appeared alone and entered an intact, pristine yet abandoned city. They encountered a being called the Groundskeeper, who explained the origin of the city.
Centuries earlier, the Daedric Prince Meridia had been at war with Molag Bal. Using Daedric artifacts called the Lights of Meridia, she forced a city into Coldharbour, protected by her power so that Molag Bal could neither see into it nor touch it. Inside was a force of Ayleids loyal to her, led by the last King of the Ayleids, Laloriaran Dynar. Meridia had foreseen that this safe haven would one day be instrumental in foiling the schemes of the Lord of Brutality. One by one, however, the Ayleids lost faith and left the safety of the Hollow City and were slain. King Dynar himself was eventually captured and imprisoned by Molag Bal's forces.
The Vestige then set out to gather the Guilds' assault force and rescued King Dynar, who had been kept alive by Molag Bal in order to torture him. They all assembled in the Hollow City and planned the assault, with King Dynar taking command of the Fighters Guild since their commander had died shortly after arriving. The Vestige also encountered and assisted several villages and settlements that had been sent to Coldharbour for various reasons over the centuries. In exchange, these damned souls agreed to join the force gathering at the Hollow City.
Despite being separated and arriving alone, Vanus Galerion had set off on his own to destroy the Black Forge, where Dark Anchors were built, and the Great Shackle, which was powering the Planemeld. He failed and was captured, but was rescued by the Vestige who was then able to destroy both objectives. Cadwell assisted and revealed to them they were too late: the Great Shackle had already created a Planar Vortex which was quickly drawing Nirn into Coldharbour faster than ever before. They would need to reach the Planar Vortex and activate the Lights of Meridia within to destroy it.
To reach the Planar Vortex, the Guild force would need to cross The Chasm, a narrow and heavily defend strip of land, and capture the Reaver Citadel. The Vestige leads the charge, closing Daedric reinforcement portals and eventually defeating Molag Grunda, the commander of the Chasm's forces. Upon capturing the Reaver Citadel and the Endless Stair, they then entered the Planar Vortex, where the Groundskeeper revealed herself to be the Daedric Prince Meridia. She assisted the Guild force in closing the Dark Anchors inside the Vortex, but was confronted by Molag Bal at the final Anchor. The two fought one another as Vanus prepared the Lights of Meridia. The Vestige and the remaining Guild forces fought wave after wave of Daedra and Dremora until Vanus finally activated the Lights. The Planar Vortex then collapsed.
The Vestige awoke back in the Hollow City's Chapel. Meridia congratulated them on their victory, but informed them that King Dynar had been mortally wounded in the final battle in the Planar Vortex. The Vestige heard the Ayleid King's last words and exited the Chapel, only to find Varen waiting outside informing them the time to reclaim their soul had come. The Five Companions assembled at the Harborage one last time and entered Heart's Grief, the seat of Molag Bal's power in Coldharbour. Within, they found Mannimarco being tortured by undead. After speaking with them, the Vestige was given the choice of freeing the King of Worms or leaving him to his fate. Regardless of their choice, the Five Companions approached the Seat of Tyranny and prepared the ritual. The Vestige then had to choose whether to sacrifice Lyris, Sahan or Varen. Tharn performed the ritual and imbued the Vestige with the power of the Divines. After the ritual, the Vestige glowed with divine golden light and carved a path through countless Daedra and Dremora. Finally, they reached Molag Bal and engaged in combat with the God of Schemes, finally cutting him in half with a blade of golden light.
The Vestige was transported to the Colored Rooms, Meridia's Oblivion realm. The Vestige is reunited with their soul and is told by Meridia that whichever companion they had sacrificed is now part of their soul as well. Molag Bal appeared and spoke with them; calmly explaining that he was impressed with their prowess but that the Vestige had attracted the attention of the other Daedric Princes and that they could not comprehend the politics of Oblivion. Meridia then materialized and told Molag Bal to leave her realm, which he did after one last mockery. Meridia then congratulated the Vestige on their success but that the journey was far from over. She explained that Tharn fled after the ritual with the Amulet of Kings, that he would never be able to use its power for himself but that he would spend many frustrating years trying nonetheless. Meridia then explained the significance of the Vestige, whose task is to unite the peoples of Nirn by seeing the world from their eyes and fighting to unite the people regardless of faction. The Daedric Prince returned the Vestige to the Harborage to bid farewell to the remaining Companions, promising to send an item to help them in their quest to unite Nirn.
Upon return, Cadwell rewards the Vestige with the weapon of the sacrificed companion, and then provides a single crystal of the Light of Meridia. By touching the crystal, it allows the Vestige to start their quest over in another faction as an unknown drifter, destined to rise again to heroic status through their tasks in the other faction.
- About the Vestige: "A true champion is like a stone cast upon the waters of history. The ripples it creates travel far and wide." (Queen Ayrenn, during Messages Across Tamriel)
- The Vestige is one of the few protagonists to have ever defeated a Daedric prince in direct combat, others being the The Apprentice defeating Mehrunes Dagon, the Nerevarine having defeated Hircine and the Hero of Kvatch assisting against Mehrunes Dagon and defeating Jyggalag.
- The Elder Scrolls Online
|Main Series||Eternal Champion • Hero of Daggerfall • Nerevarine • Hero of Kvatch • Last Dragonborn|
|Spin-offs||The Apprentice • Cyrus • Master Tunnel Rat • Dawnstar Hero • Soul of Conflict • Vestige • The Forgotten Hero|
|See also||Sheogorath • Champion of Cyrodiil • Dragonborn • The Hero Cycle|