Varen Aquilarios, also known as The Prophet when the Vestige first meets him, is an Imperial sorcerer, Moth Priest, and the former Emperor of Cyrodiil. He is the founding member of the Five Companions, and plays a crucial role in the main questline of The Elder Scrolls Online.
Varen was born in 2E 536[OOG 1] as the son of a Colovian Duke, and later became the Duke of Chorrol. He had an unknown sibling whose son, Carolus Aquilarios, in turn being Varen's nephew, viewed him as a role model. When Leovic, third of the short-lived Reachman dynasty known as the Longhouse Emperors, assumed the Ruby Throne, he legalized Daedra worship across the Empire. This outraged much of the population, and prompted Varen to spark a rebellion.
He left his homefront, the Gold Coast, in the hands of his nephew Carolus. Using large amounts of stone, Varen constructed a wall spanning around the Gold Coast, later dubbed "Varen's Wall", in order to protect the region should Leovic's forces arrive.
Varen summoned the military forces of the Colovian Highlands. Secretly, he also contacted Abnur Tharn, who would later become one of his Five Companions, for assistance to "depose those foul strangers from the north". Varen based his rebellion out of the city of Bruma, and subsequently won many victories across Cyrodiil.
In 2E 576, Varen and his army stormed the Imperial City, before breaking into the White-Gold Tower and driving his sword into Leovic's heart at the foot of the Ruby Throne, thus instantly killing him, and immediately declaring himself Emperor. For Abnur's loyalty and assistance in the rebellion, Varen agreed to take Leovic's widow, Clivia Tharn, as his bride. Due to the mass amount of casualties during the uprising, Varen converted the Market District of the Imperial City into the Memorial District, filling it with mass graves.
Varen's rule went mostly without problems, but he was constantly worrying about him being an illegitimate ruler as he was not Dragonborn.
Believing that only a Dragonborn can rightfully take the Ruby Throne, in 2E 577, he formed the Five Companions to find the Amulet of Kings after the Altmer sorcerer Mannimarco convinced him that he knew a ritual that would allow Varen to become Dragonborn. After hearing of this, he set out on a two-year quest to find the Amulet with his Five Companions: Varen himself, the half-giant warrior Lyris Titanborn, the sorcerer Mannimarco, Sai Sahan, a Redguard blademaster and the captain of his personal Dragonguard, and Elder Chancellor Abnur Tharn.
The Five were able to recover the Amulet and begin the ritual in 2E 579. They gathered at the Temple of the One in the Imperial City and began to perform the ritual. While Tharn held the Amulet, Varen asked Akatosh to rightfully grant his claim as emperor by making him a Dragonborn. At that moment, Mannimarco immobilized everyone present and revealed his true intentions; he was an agent of Molag Bal, and the ritual did not reignite the Dragonfires, but in fact did the exact opposite, destroying the ancient barriers shielding Mundus from the forces of Oblivion and thus allowing Molag Bal to begin the Planemeld, a forceful attempt to drag Nirn out of Mundus and into his own realm of Coldharbour. This event was known as the Soulburst, and it shook every corner of Tamriel.
Subsequently, Lyris was captured and brought into Coldharbour. Sai Sahan fled with the Amulet and managed to hide it in Sancre Tor before also being captured later on. Mannimarco summoned his Worm Cult and turned the Temple of the One into a sacrificial ground where dozens of souls were harvested and brought to Coldharbour, and Abnur joined him in order to gain his trust and spy on him. Varen, however, disappeared.
Studying the Elder ScrollsEdit
After the Soulburst, Varen woke up weak and near death at the Abbey of the Moth Priests, with no memory of his past life as Emperor. The Moth priests took pity on him, assuming he was a lost vagabond, and gave him shelter within their establishment.
It was there where he set his eyes on the Elder Scrolls, mysterious artifacts of immense knowledge and power. He began to study and read the scrolls in order to learn the events of Tamriel which have happened and have yet to happen, including his life as Emperor and his destiny with the Vestige. The priests were shocked to discover how quickly he managed to read the scrolls, believing it to be a prophetic sign from the Eight Divines. As a result of continuously reading the scrolls, Varen gradually lost his eyesight. He carved himself a staff which he also used as a walking stick. Blinded, Varen still continued to study the scrolls in his mind's eye, and foresaw the events to come in Tamriel's future.
Word of Varen's prophecies began spreading across the land, eventually reaching the Imperial City. When Mannimarco discovered this, he arrested the Prophet under the grounds of rumor-mongering and treason. The King of Worms had the abbey and its contents burned to the ground, and transferred Varen into the custody of Molag Bal. Bal then initiated the Planemeld upon Nirn, and had Varen imprisoned in The Wailing Prison.
In 2E 582, a mortal was captured and sacrificed by Mannimarco. Their soul was brought to the Wailing Prison in Coldharbour. After being transported to Coldharbour, a projection of Varen, using the pseudonym "The Prophet", appeared before them, giving the mortal the name of Vestige and telling them to find Lyris Titanborn. At the time, Lyris was unaware that The Prophet was her fellow Five Companions member Varen.
The Vestige journeyed through the prison with Lyris after she freed them. They struck down several of Molag Bal's minions before arriving at the courtyard and destroying a Sentinel, a minion made to stop prisoners from escaping. They find that Varen's cell is warded off, so they seek Cadwell for help, whom directed the two to the Undercroft.
Once Lyris and the Vestige reach Varen's cell, Lyris tells the Vestige that the only way to free Varen is for Lyris to take his place. Lyris then chants for her to take Varen's place in the cell, freeing Varen but imprisoning Lyris. Varen, still concealing his identity, and the Vestige journey to a portal out of Coldharbour. They strike down the Guardian of the portal, and Varen restores the Vestige's corporeal form before they both return to Tamriel in different locations.
During his reign as Emperor, Varen was considered a good leader, doing what was right for his people. The fact that he was not of dragon's blood continuously pestered him, often causing him to believe he was not a legitimate ruler, and even married Leovic's widow, Clivia, in an attempt to solidify his title, just as his predecessor had done. Varen founded the Five Companions in order to find the Amulet of Kings for two long years, and during the ritual in which Varen would become a Dragonborn, he was betrayed by Mannimarco, whom he had blindingly put his trust in. Varen later remarked that his decisions were foolish and taken out of desperation.
Varen later lost his memory following the Soulburst, and was found outside the Abbey of the Moth Priests. He began to study the Elder Scrolls, and slowly began to encompass their knowledge by reading them, regaining memories of his past life. However, due to his consistent readings of the Elder Scrolls, he became blind, having to rely on his cane/staff in order to be aware of surroundings. The Prophet became a considerably wise man, aware of events that have occurred and events which are yet to occur. He occasionally speaks in riddles, and initially keeps his origins a secret. Inside, Varen does not consider himself to be very grand or accomplished, referring to himself as simply "a blind old man". He still does what he considers best for the people of Tamriel, ensuring that every step he takes is done to stop Molag Bal from merging Nirn with his own realm, which he considers mainly his fault.
Coldharbor Quests Edit
Varen, initially introduced as The Prophet, contacts the Vestige at their cell in Coldharbour. Lyris Titanborn later travels with the Vestige to free him, and the Prophet speaks to them again on their way to Cadwell. Later on in his cell, Lyris takes the Prophet's place as a prisoner, so that he and the Vestige could escape. Once Varen is freed, he will say "Freedom. I remember this feeling. It will be fleeting though, if Molag Bal has his way."
You are then tasked with escorting him to the Dark Anchor Mooring. At the Mooring, Molag Bal will appear and summon the Child of Bones. Once it is defeated, he summons a Skyshard for you to absorb, then calls upon the Akatosh to open the Mooring to Tamriel:
The Prophet: "Great Akatosh, Dragon God of Time! I require your strength!
Let the way be opened! Let these wandering souls return home! Let the will of Molag Bal be denied!
Hurry, we must go now!"
After going through the anchor, you will arrive in either Stros M'Kai, Khenarthi's Roost, or Bleakrock Isle depending on your alliance. When you regain consciousness, he will say "The Vestige awakens, once again. Come here, we must speak." He will then recommend you explore your surroundings as he organizes a plan to rescue Lyris, and will contact you in time. He will then give you a Sealed Urn and answer questions you may have, before departing.
Once you reach level 5, The Prophet will contact you at the nearest opens a portal to a realm depicting past events. He briefly explains his story, and tells the tale of the Five Companions, concealing the information that he is the then Emperor Varen Aquilarios. The visions in the realm show the events leading up to the Planemeld, known as the Soulburst, the crisis which in turn ended up costing the Vestige their soul.
The Prophet tells the Vestige that after Lyris took his place, she was moved to The Foundry of Woe, a location of Coldharbour dedicated to torture and despair. After Lyris is returned to Tamriel, the Prophet is informed that Sai Sahan is still alive. The Prophet then begins his search for his captured friend.
The Prophet asks the Vestige to investigate the Worm Cult's activity in the nearby city (Daggerfall, Davon's Watch, Vulkhel Guard). After speaking to Abnur Tharn in The Worm's Retreat, the Vestige must give the Orb of Discourse to Varen.
Varen asks the Vestige to come to the Harborage, where Abnur Tharn would like to speak with them. He requests asylum in return for Sai Sahan's location, and Varen tasks Lyris and the Vestige with retrieving him. After Abnur comes to the Harborage, an argument will begin with him Lyris as he doesn't currently know where Sai is. Varen puts an end to the fight, and reveals the truth to the Vestige that he is Varen Aquilarios, the previous Emperor of Cyrodiil.
After informing Varen that Abnur has located Sai in the Halls of Torment, he will agree to help Tharn look for a safe to break him out.
Upon entering the Harborage, Lyris and Varen will be found arguing about her travelling to the Halls of Torment in order to save Sai. Varen informs the Vestige that they have found the Halls, and asks the Vestige to pick either Lyris or Abnur to accompany them. Once a companion is picked, he will open a portal to the Halls and say "Go with! Save Sai Sahan from the Halls of Torment!"
After reaching the final location where Sai is being held prisoner, doppelgangers of Varen appear, asking Sai why he didn't trust him. Once all the enemies are defeated, Sai will be informed Varen is alive, much to his relief. A projection of Varen will appear saying "You have done it, Vestige! Bring him through the portal, quickly!" and open a portal back to the Harborage. After returning to it, Varen will reveal he knew that the Amulet of Kings is hidden in Sancre Tor.
Varen will appear to the Vestige later, saying that Sai's strength has returned. At the Harborage, Varen can be spoken to regarding the key needed to access Sancre Tor. He will reveal that the key is actually a ring bearing the sigil of Stendarr. After retrieving it from the The Valley of Blades, it must be given to Varen.
In the Harborage, Varen will say that the Amulet of Kings was hidden in Sancre Tor, and opens a portal leading to the fortress. The Vestige will be acquainted by Lyris, Abnur, and Sai, in the quest to retrieve the amulet. Once it is obtained, it must be returned to Varen back at the Harborage.
Varen confirms that Mannimarco has been defeated, and is now being punished by Molag Bal. He gives the Vestige the option of seeing it in a vision, where the King of Worms is being whipped by skeletons as Bal watches. Sai Sahan then speaks to the Vestige, offering them a place as the fifth companion, as the replacement for the traitor Mannimarco. Abnur Tharn says for the ritual required to stop the Planemeld, he requires a sacrifice. Varen, along with Lyris and Sai, offer their services for this task.
Varen is one the candidates eligible to be sacrificed in order to power the Amulet of Kings. They can all be chosen to be spoken to. After the ritual is completed, the Vestige will be granted with the imbued with the power of Akatosh. After Molag Bal is defeated and Meridia is spoken to, the Vestige will be returned to the Harborage.
If Varen is sacrificed, the Vestige will receive his restoration staff: The Emperor's Blessing. If Varen is spared, he will decide to leave and fades into the unknown.
Wrothgar Quests Edit
Regardless of whether he died or not, a vision of Varen will appear to the Vestige at the end of the Orsinium DLC if they have completed the Main questline. He will warn them that the Daedric Princes are planning another attack on Tamriel, specifically "the great deceiver, the sewer of discord, and the patron of darkness." This is a hint towards the Daedric War story arch involving Clavicus Vile, Mephala and Nocturnal. He says the war will begin "when the gates of Sotha Sil's lost city are re-opened."
|Show: Soul Shriven in Coldharbour|
"Slowly, now. You've been through an ordeal. Take a few moments to collect yourself."
What's happening? Who are you? "Like you, I am a prisoner in this place, yet so much more. I am the past and future both. I am despair and hope. The tapestry we weave is a complex one. You cannot hope to see its pattern in its entirety. Not yet."
"Thank the Divines, you are safe! There is that, at least. Lyris sacrificed everything, that we might go free. Her sacrifice must not be in vain."
"Quickly, now! We must not let Lyris' sacrifice be in vain!"
"The Dark Anchor's portal is high above us. I will prepare a spell to lift us to it. But first, you must re-attune yourself to Nirn in order to regain your physical form. To do this, you will need a skyshard."
"As I feared, we arrived in different locations.
Depending on your alliance, Varen's dialogue will vary:
Regardless, the rest of the dialogue will remain the same:
It matters not. You have awakened once again and we must set you on your path."
"Be wary, Vestige. Our very plane of existence is in peril. The threat of Molag Bal looms across all Tamriel, and chaos spreads in its shadow. Danger roams the land and will assume many forms. Do not let it catch you off-guard."
|Show: The Haborage|
"There you are, Vestige. We must speak at once."
Hello, Prophet. "Listen well. I have located a safe harbor from which we might plan our course of action. You must meet me there."
|Show: Halls of Torment|
"The time has come for another foray into Oblivion, Vestige. We have one last ally in need of rescue."
"Sai Sahan lives! You've outdone yourself, Vestige."
The Daedra tortured his mind as well as his body. "The minds of some men can endure hardships far greater than anything the Daedra can concoct. The forces of loyalty, honor and friendship are powerful, indeed."
"When Sai Sahan has recovered, you must accompany him on a journey to the Valley of Blades, where his mentor Kasura resides. I will contact you as soon as he is ready to travel."
|Show: Valley of Blades|
"It is time, Vestige. Sai Sahan's strength has returned. You must accompany him to his ancestral home in the Valley of Blades."
The Valley of Blades? "An ancient trading hub, high in the mountains of Hammerfell; a place I thought lost to the ravages of time. Sai Sahan entrusted the key to Sancre Tor to one of his mentors there. It must be retrieved."
|Show: Long Live the King|
Varen? But, I saw you die! "So you did. And I have gone on to the next great adventure."
- Varen has a nephew, Count Carolus Aquilarios, who viewed him as a role model and wrote Count's Correspondence directed towards him. He does not know of Varen's fate, implying that Varen hasn't contacted him despite already remembering his identity.
- Out of all 14,000+ NPCs, Varen's character ID is 1.
- The Prophet is currently the only character from the main quest to appear in a DLC.
- Varen is voiced by Michael Gambon, best known for playing the role of Professor Dumbledore in the 3rd - 8th Harry Potter films.
- When the Vestige escapes Coldharbour and talks to Varen, he is voiced by Jim Cummings (only for that conversation). This is likely a placeholder as Zenimax had to edit the dialogue at the last minute before the game launched to fit in with the redesigned tutorial.
- As of Update 7, this conversation is now voiced by Michael Gambon.
- The Elder Scrolls Online
|Emperor of Cyrodiil|
|Leovic||2E 576 - 2E 579||Clivia Tharn|