This is the first of a series of blogs that I plan to use to detail many lore bits people may not know of.
In this first article, I would like to talk about Lorkhan, his avatars, the takers of his power, and others connected to him, or his myths.
Lorkhan, as we all know, was the spirit responsible for bringing the other spirits together to create the mortal realm, an act which earned him a death sentence when Trinimac tore out his heart.
- "One of the strongest of these, a barely formed urge that the others call Lorkhan, details a plan to create Mundus, the Mortal Plane." ~ The Monomyth
- "Finally Trinimac, Auriel's greatest knight, knocked Lorkhan down in front of his army and reached in with more than hands to take his Heart. He was undone." ~ The Monomyth
However, losing his heart was not Lorkhan's final act, indeed, he has come time and time again, under the guise of various avatars. These avatars are linked together, through various symbols, the greatest of which is that of the missing heart, a symbol shared by many throughout Tamrielic history, and even shared by Lorkhan's father, Sithis.
- "Lorkhan: He convinced or contrived the Original Spirits to bring about the creation of the mortal plane, upsetting the status quo -- much like his father Padomay." ~ Varities of Faith in The Empire
- "All Tamrielic religions begin the same. Man or mer, things begin with the dualism of Anu and His Other. These twin forces go by many names: Anu-Padomay, Anuiel-Sithis, Ak-El, Satak-Akel, Is-Is Not." ~ The Monomyth
- "So Sithis begat Lorkhan and sent him to destroy the universe." ~ Sithis
As we can see here, in the statue of Sithis in Deepscorn Hollow, Sithis has a hole in his chest, and is missing his heart, just as Lorkhan.
This symbol of the missing heart is also shared by a famous Tamrielic hero, Pelinal Whitestrake. To add to this, Pelinal is also known to be connected to Lorkhan's father, Sithis, who, as shown above, shares the same.
- "Still others, like Fifd of New Teed, say that beneath the Pelinal's star-armor was a chest that gaped open to show no heart, only a red rage shaped diamond-fashion, singing like a mindless dragon, and that this was proof that he was a myth-echo, and that where he trod were shapes of the first urging." ~ The Song of Pelinal, Volume 6: On His Madness
- "And it is said that he emerged into the world like a Padomaic, that is, borne by Sithis and all the forces of change therein." ~ The Song of Pelinal, Volume 6: On His Madness
Note the use of the word myth-echo, which draws attention to how Pelinal mirrors Lorkhan. What's more, it's said when the Nords looked upon Pelinal, they believed Shor, the Nordic version of Lorkhan, had returned.
- "he stood with white hair gone brown with elfblood at the Bridge of Heldon, where Perrif's falconers had sent for the Nords, and they, looking at him, said that Shor had returned" ~ The Song of Pelinal, Volume 4: On His Deeds
- "Shor: Nordic version of Lorkhan" ~ Varities of Faith in The Empire
Pelinal is also noteworthy for the number of names he was called when he was alive, many of which have been seen again throughout history.
- "Also during the Late Merethic Era the legendary immortal hero, warrior, sorcerer, and king variously known as Pelinal Whitestrake, Harrald Hairy Breeks, Ysmir, Hans the Fox, etc.," ~ Before the Ages of Man
Several of these named persons reappear throughout time, the most prominent being Ysmir. Ysmir is a title, meaning Dragon of the North, given to several Dragonborn across history, the most noteable being the nordic king Ysmir Wulfharth.
- "For his zealotry, King Wulfharth was called Shor's Tongue, and Ysmir, Dragon of the North." ~ The Five Songs of King Wulfharth
Ysmir Wulfharth is said to have been brought back to life by Shor, to lead Shor's armies, which turned him into the immortal Underking, who would be blasted to ash and reform several times.
- "Shor gathered an army as he did of old, and then he sucked in the long-strewn ashes of King Wulfharth and remade him, for he needed a good general." ~ The Five Songs of King Wulfharth
- "With his god destroyed, Wulfharth finds it hard to keep his form.... A strong gale picks up, and blows his ashes back to Skyrim... Wulfharth goes underground to wait and strengthen and reform his body anew." ~ The Arcturian Heresy
- "He goes directly to High Hrothgar to hear the Greybeards speak. When they do, Ysmir is blasted to ash again." ~ The Arcturian Heresy
What is interesting to note though is how Wulfharth finally died. Much in the same way that Lorkhan had his heart removed by Triminac, Auri-El's greatest knight, Wulfharth, after reforming again, had his soul taken from him by Zurin Arctus, Tiber Septim's greatest battlemage.
- "The Underking arrives and is ambushed by Imperial guards. As he takes them on, Zurin Arctus uses a soulgem on him. With his last breath, the Underking's Heart roars a hole through the Battlemage's chest. In the end, everyone is dead, the Underking has reverted back to ash" ~ The Arcturian Heresy
Note how his heart is said to have left his body, as Lorkhan's did. What's more, Wulfharth's soul was used to power the Numidium, which was originally designed to be powered by The Heart of Lorkhan.
- "The Numidium, while not the god Tiber Septim and the Dwemer hoped for (the Underking was not exactly Lorkhan, after all), it does the job." ~ The Arcturian Heresy
Tiber Septim's battlemage, Zurin Arctus, himself is another important figure in the tale of Lorkhan. As pointed out above, the heart of Wulfharth blasted a hole into his chest, making Zurin like Lorkhan. Beyond that however, Zurin Arctus is known to have come back to life after this event, with the title and powers of the Underking, previously held by Wulfharth.
- Tiber Septim is succeeded by his grandson, Pelagius I. Pelagius is just not of the same caliber. In truth, he's a little nervous with all these provinces. Then an advisor shows up. "I was friends with your grandfather," the Underking says, "He sent me to help you run the Empire." ~ The Arcturian Heresy
It's possible that, when Zurin was killed by Wulfharth, in the manner that he was, Wulfharth transferred his mythic role onto Zurin, a claim supported by Zurin's insistence that it is his soul in the Mantella, despite it being the soul of Wulfharth, along with how, as previously mentioned, Zurin obtained the powers and title of the Underking, which Wulfharth had before him.
- "The secret of Numidiums's power lies in its heart, carried within the Mantella. It is the heart of Tiber Septim's battlemage. It is my heart. It is my Mantella." ~ Letter from the Underking
Furthermore, Zurin Arctus is also known to have had other names, one of which may be familiar to you.
- "Mannimarco, God of Worms, the Necromancers: “The Three Thieves of Morrowind could tell you where they were. So could the High King of Alinor, who was the one who broke it in the first place. There are others on this earth that could, too: Ysmir, Pelinal, Arnand the Fox or should I say Arctus?" ~ Where were you when the Dragon Broke?
Note how Mannimacro calls Arctus by the name Arnand the Fox, similar to Hans the Fox, another name for Pelinal, while at the same time listing Pelinal and Ysmir, both names for the same person. What's more, to bring us back to the beginning of all this, it's said that Pelinal was gong to reincarnate as a fox.
- "You are blood-made-glorious, uncle, and will come again, as fox animal or light." ~ The Adabal-a
Now we have an established loop of Pelinal, Ysmir, and Zurin the Fox, and we have connected them to each other, and to Lorkhan/Shor/Sithis.
Now, what do we get when we add all of these things together?
- Lorkhan's missing heart/hole in chest.
- Sithis's missing heart/hole in chest, and his connection to Lorkhan.
- Pelinal's missing heart/hole in chest, and his connections to Sithis, and Shor/Lorkhan.
- Ysmir's stolen soul and heart, and his connection to Shor/Lorkhan.
- Zurin's hole in chest, and his taking of The Underking's powers/title.
- Pelinal, Ysmir, and Zurin, aka the Fox, being the names of the same person.
There is a rather staggering series of names and symbols all connecting these various figures, could they be coincidental? Possibly, but I find it unlikely.
As for one final note to leave you on
- "It is a solid truth that Morihaus was the son of Kyne, but whether or not Pelinal was indeed the Shezarrine is best left unsaid (for once Plontinu, who favored the short sword, said it, and that night he was smothered by moths). It is famous, though, that the two talked of each other as family, with Morihaus as the lesser, and that Pelinal loved him and called him nephew, but these could be merely the fancies of immortals." ~The Song of Pelinal, volume 5: On His Love of Morihaus
- "Shezarr (God of Man): Cyrodilic version of Lorkhan" ~ Varieties of Faith in the Empire
Why exactly was it so dangerous to call Pelinal the Shezarrine? Why was someone killed for speaking it? And why was Morihaus his lesser?
But lets move onto a different subject now, while there are many people who have been blessed with Lorkhan's power, there have been several who have taken it by force, and this too is reflected in history.
The most noticeable example is, of course, the Dunmeri Tribunal of Vivec, Sotha Sil, and Almalexia, who took Lorkhan's power via the use of his heart, and the dwemer's tools.
- "The Tribunal found the tools he had been guarding and, through study of Kagrenac's methods, turned themselves into gods." ~ Nerevar at Red Mountain
- "And at last he came to us with a vision of a new world of peace, with justice and honor for nobles, and health and prosperity for the commoners, with the Tribunal as immortal patrons and guides. And dedicating ourselves to this vision of a better world, we made a pilgrimage to Red Mountain and transformed ourselves with the power of Kagrenac's tools." ~ The Battle of Red Mountain
This taking of Lorkhan's power is reflected by Vivec, in his own city, with a statue in the Temple canton, depicting him standing atop a giant scarab, the dunmer's symbol for Lorkhan, while using a spear to keep it down, as seen here.
A similar scene is depicted in Skyrim. Across the landscape of Skyrim one can find many statues of the god Talos, showing him standing upon a giant snake, one the ancient Nordic animal totems, the one likely belonging to Lorkhan, who is often known as a snake in other cultures as well. This statue can be seen here.
- "In the Merethic Era, when Ysgramor first set foot on Tamriel, his people brought with them a faith that worshipped animal gods. Certain scholars believe these primitive people actually worshipped the divines as we know them, just in the form of these totem animals. They deified the hawk, wolf, snake, moth, owl, whale, bear, fox, and the dragon." ~ The Dragon War
- "Sep (The Snake): Yokudan version of Lorkhan" ~ Varieties of Faith in the Empire
This is important because of how Talos came to be emperor of all Tamriel. It was Tiber Septim's use of the Dwemeri golem-god Numidium that allowed him to finally conquer the Altmer, and bring the entirety of Tamriel under his heel. And whose soul did he use to power the Numidium? That of Ysmir Wulfharth's, the same Ysmir who is suspected to be an avatar of Lorkhan.
- "The Numidium, while not the god Tiber Septim and the Dwemer hoped for (the Underking was not exactly Lorkhan, after all), it does the job. After its work on Summerset Isle..." ~ The Arcturian Heresy
The symbolic mimicry of Vivec's statue, and that of Talos's, and how it relates to taking Lorkhan's power, should not be ignored. There is however another meaning behind Talos's statue as well, but that's another topic for another time.
While Lorkhan has likely manifested in a myriad of avatars, and many have stolen his power through force, there are others who share a connection to him, yet don't exactly fit into either category.
One of the more prominant is the Daedric lord Sheogorath who is said to be born from Lorkhan's death, and is also called the Sithis shaped hole in the world, a refrence to the previously mentioned hole Sithis bares in him.
- "Sheogorath (The Mad God): Contemporary sources indicate that his roots are in Aldmeri creation stories; therein, he is 'born' when Lorkhan's divine spark is removed. One crucial myth calls him the 'Sithis-shaped hole' of the world." ~ Varieties of Faith in The Empire
The other more prominent figure to bear a Lorkhanic connection is, interestingly enough, tied to Sheogorath himself. I speak of Arden-Sul, the figure who is worshiped in the Shivering Isles as their god.
- When one approaches the walls of New Sheoth, the eyes are unavoidably drawn to a magnificent sight: a mystical flame rises from a simple tower that juts from a circular building... It is the epicenter of a most interesting conflict; two sides of the same coin vying for the favor of their God... It is the Sacellum Arden-Sul. ~ The Prophet Arden-Sul
Arden-Sul's connection to Lorkhan is based in the stories of his life and death, which the Maniac and Demented peoples of the Shivering Isles are conflicted over, and parallel the debated life of Lorkhan.
- Although the Sacellum itself predates Arden-Sul's life, both the Manics and the Demented contest the history of the Sacellum heavily. The Manics believe that on that very spot before New Sheoth existed, Arden-Sul was first afflicted with the Grand Enlightenment and became blinded. The Demented postulate that the Sacellum was the location where Arden-Sul endured the Hundred Day Torture. ~ The Prophet Arden-Sul
The events surrounding the location of sacellum mirror that Lorkhan in how some stories say Lorkhan was either enlightened, or went mad, after witnessing what is know as The Tower, or The Eternal I, the event that drove him to make Mundus in the first place.
The death of Arden-Sul also mirrors that of Lorkhan's, due to its conflicting nature.
- The Manics story of Arden-Sul's death begins with a night of superlative revelry in the Sacellum....one by one, Arden-Sul's followers began to drop to the ground--their lifeblood draining from their bodies... The excesses of their hedonism had taken its toll and had caused their very hearts to explode... it was said Arden-Sul was the last to die with the look of pure bliss upon his face. ~ The Prophet Arden-Sul
- The Demented have a radically different story... Fearing that one of his followers would one day turn traitor... Arden-Sul sought a method to see deep into a man's soul and reveal his true feelings... one by one, Arden-Sul cut out the still-beating hearts of his followers... After removing all 213 hearts, he still hadn't located the traitor. Furious, he reached into his chest and tore out his own heart. Before the light faded from his eyes, Arden-Sul was reported to have realized the ironic truth; he was the traitor, destined to kill himself. ~ The Prophet Arden-Sul
Both of these stories mirror the Man and Mer view of Lorkhan's death. The Maniac's story mirrors that of Man's, and how they believe Lorkhan and the Aedra died in joy of their creation of Mundus, whereas the demented version mirrors that of the Merish viewpoint, that Lorkhan died as a traitor to his own kind after killing them when creating Mundus.(see The Monomyth for all the stories)
Truly, the life and death of Arden-Sul, and the disputed nature of those events, is eerily similar to that of Lorkhan. More so, when you take into account that Arden-Sul is said to be the mortal from of Sheogorath, who is himself said to be born of Lorkhan and Sithis.
- "They believe Arden-Sul, Who Reads the Winds in Our Entrails, was the mortal aspect of Lord Sheogorath, and will come again to cleanse the Realm." ~ Zealotry
This connection goes further when we draw parallels between the Greymarch, the war between Sheogorath and Jyggalag, and the battles between Akatosh and Lorkhan, Anuiel and Sithis, Anu and Padomay, Stasis and Change. Just as Sithis is said to have upset the statue quo by creating the grey maybe, Lorkhan is said to have done the same via the creation of Mundus.
This is paralleled to how Jyggalag upsets the status quo via The Greymarch, destroying the normally chaotic realm of the Shivering Isles by bringing order to it. What is necessary to take note of however is that the roles are switched, where normally stasis rules and chaos bring change in the mortal realm, in the Daedric realm it is chaos that rules and stasis that brings change, an interesting reversal.
Or perhaps it isn't?
- Speak not of the Duelists
- Speak only of the Duel
- Speak not of the combatant
- Speak only of the combat
- ~Liturgy of the Duelists