For other uses, see The Prophet.
Not to be confused with Varen Hloran.
"Once the Prophet was a man of vigor and strength. Some harrowing experience has aged and diminished him, leaving him blind and almost feeble."
The Harborage loading screen[src]

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.[1] He had an unknown sibling whose son, Carolus Aquilarios, in turn being Varen's nephew, viewed him as a role model.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4][5]

The Colovian RevoltEdit

Varen and Mannimarco

Varen seeking council from Mannimarco.

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.[3]

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.[3] 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.[6]

The Five CompanionsEdit

"By the lighting of the Dragonfires, I claim my rightful lineage! By the fires of creation, let me be reborn! By the will of Akatosh, I proclaim myself… Dragonborn!"
―Varen Aquilarios[src]

Varen's rule went mostly without problems, but he was constantly worrying about him being an illegitimate ruler as he was not Dragonborn.

Varen Dragonfires

Varen and Abnur attempt to light the Dragonfires.

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 SoulburstEdit

"Varen Aquilarios, you are no heir to Alessia! You will pay for your sacrilege! The veil between Tamriel and Oblivion tears and splits asunder! ...My master, Molag Bal, is free to claim Tamriel for his own."
Soulburst Mannimarco

Mannimarco immobilizes the Five Companions and causes the Soulburst

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.[7]

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.[7]

Studying the Elder ScrollsEdit

"The Scrolls allowed me to glimpse the very fabric of reality, but each profound insight dimmed my vision and eventually left me permanently blinded to the light of the world."
―Varen Aquilarios[src]

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.

The VestigeEdit

Main article: Vestige

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.


"Our fallen Emperor, in the tattered robes of a Moth Priest, blind as a newborn kitten!"
―Abnur Tharn[src]

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.[7]

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.[7] 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

Soul Shriven in Coldharbour‎ 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.

The Harborage Edit

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.

Daughter of Giants Edit

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.

Chasing Shadows Edit

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.

Castle of the Worm Edit

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.

The Tharn Speaks Edit

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.

Halls of Torment Edit

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 Lyris/Abnur (Name of chosen companion appears here)! 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.

Valley of Blades Edit

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.

Shadow of Sancre Tor Edit

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.

Council of the Five Companions Edit

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.

God of Schemes Edit

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

Long Live the King 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."

What do you want from me? "You must rescue me. And I, in turn, must rescue you. You must escape this cell, take up arms and protect yourself. Then, find Lyris Titanborn."
Lyris Titanborn? Who is that? I don't understand...

"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."

Can we find a way to take her with us? "I wish that were possible. But I promise you, once we escape Coldharbour we will find a way to rescue her together, Vestige."
Vestige? "That is the name I have given you. You are but a trace of your former self. A soulless one. An empty vessel that longs to be filled. It is as the Scrolls foretold, but not exactly as I imagined."
Why does Lyris call you the Prophet? "That is what I have come to be called. My true name is lost―even to me. Years of torment have taken their toll. Quickly now, we must make haste to the Anchor!"
Anchor? "The Anchors are Daedric machines of the darkest magic. Their chains bind our world and pull it towards Coldharbour. I can use one of these Anchors to return us to Tamriel, but you must lead me to it."
All right. Stay close then. "Up the stairs, quickly! We must get to the anchor mooring!"

"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."

A skyshard? "A shard of Aetherial magicka that carries the essence of Nirn. Some link them to Lorkhan, the missing god of creation. If you collect and absorb its power, it should restore your corporeal form. I will summon one of these for you to absorb."
I'm ready. "Shard of Aetherius, fall upon us now and anoint us with your blessing. There. Quickly! Collect the Skyshard."

"As I feared, we arrived in different locations.

Depending on your alliance, Varen's dialogue will vary:

  • Aldmeri Dominion: I am in a city near the sea, in a land land of eternal spring. The air smells of the ocean, and of markets, and gardens.
  • Daggerfall Covenant: I am in a city of industry, where men speak of intrigues and plots beneath layers of innuendo and pleasantry.
  • Ebonheart Pact: I am in a place with the smell of burning ash on a hot wind and the sounds of a distant battle.

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."

How long was I unconscious? "Days? Weeks? I cannot tell. The voyage between worlds disrupted all sense of time and space. I know only that you were deposited into the sea, and some charitable soul fished you out and brought you to dry land."
What should I do now? "I'm afraid you will have to decide that for yourself. I must focus on searching for a way to repay Lyris's [sic] [Do not change this to Lyris'. This misspelled word is how it appears in-game.] bold sacrifice. I cannot simply abandon her to the wrath of Molag Bal."
When will I see you again? "I cannot foresee that. Not yet. But we will meet again. There is still much we need to accomplish."

"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."

Where should I go? "You must find your own path. But perhaps there is a reason for the place in which you find yourself. Explore. Search for a cause to lend your hand. Join with others. You might even seek out those who rescued you from the sea. The choice is yours."
You think there are many who need my help? "Indeed. And I sense that even now there are good people near you who face grave danger. They need your assistance should you be willing to give it. To thwart the will of Molag Bal, we must skirmish with evil wherever it rears its head."
Who would I join up with/And there are others who would join me in this? "We do not face these troubled times alone. Many shall rise up to fight this tide of darkness. Wherever you go, you will encounter others who share your courage and valor. Help them if you can, and enlist their aid if you have need of it."
How do I find whoever rescued me from the sea?
    • Aldmeri Dominion: [?]
    • Daggerfall Covenant: [?]
    • Ebonheart Pact: "I know only that you washed up on a cold beach on a remote island. You have since been transported to a large city. Head toward the city docks. There, you will find someone who knows the island from whence you came and how you might return there."
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."

Where is this safe harbor?
  • Aldmeri Dominion: "I awoke upon a sandy shore―a stretch of beach outside a bustling city of Elves. Vulkhel Guard. The Harborage is in a seaside cave, outside the city. It is there that you will find me."
  • Daggerfall Covenant: [?]
  • Ebonheart Pact: "I awoke to choking ash in the air and the sounds of strife. I am in Morrowind, home of the Dark Elves, in a city called Davon's Watch. The Harborage is a ruin in the cliffs, west of the city."
I'll find you 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. "Indeed. Abnur Tharn and I have been meditating, scrying, and poring over Mannimarco's notes. And at long last we've discovered the location of the Halls of Torment."

How long has Sai Sahan been a prisoner there? "Our friend has suffered unimaginable and unending torment for nearly two years. Far longer than any mortal man should endure. But Sai Sahan is something more than mortal man. He's a descendant of Leki, the Yokudan Sword-Saint. I've seen it."
Then we must find him, and quickly. "We have been able to determine the precise area of the Halls where Sai is being held. This is why we were so long about the task. I shall open a portal for you."
Am I going alone? "Lyris and Abnur have both agreed to accompany you, but I fear their mutual enmity will complicate your task. Speak with them and hear what they offer, but you must choose one or the other."
"The portal will deliver you into the Halls of Torment. Find Sai Sahan and bring him out. He is our last, best hope if we are to locate the Amulet of Kings." (New greeting.)

"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."

What's our next move? "We must recover the Amulet of Kings, but only when Sai Sahan has had time to recover. He is a man of great strength, but he will need to rest after such an ordeal."
Where is the Amulet of Kings? "Sai locked the amulet away in the ruins of Sancre Tor and entrusted the key to one of his close associates. But he can tell you himself. Speak with him. He's eager to meet his liberator. I'll contact you when we're ready to move forward."
"Sai Sahan wishes to speak with you, Vestige. Be brief. He needs to rest." (New greeting.)

"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."

I understand. "Come quickly. Mannimarco is undoubtedly conducting his own search for the Amulet of Kings. We must not allow him to get there first."
I will leave at once.
Show: Long Live the King

"Greetings, Vestige. Though, I can hardly call you that anymore, can I? Let us say, Meridia's Champion, the Hero of Coldharbour, the Savior of Tamriel."

Varen? But, I saw you die! "So you did. And I have gone on to the next great adventure."

Why have you returned? "I bring you a warning, Champion. Oblivion stirs. Great and terrible machinations have begun. Once again, Tamriel is in danger. You have a part to play in the events to come."
What events? "A great war is coming. A war between the forces of Oblivion. The Daedric Princes are choosing sides. The great deceiver (Likely Boethiah), the sewer of discord (Likely Mephala), and the patron of darkness (Likely Nocturnal) plot a great deception."
What must I do? "Be ready. Watch for signs. The war shall begin when the gates of Sotha Sil's lost city are re-opened. So the scrolls portend. So shall it be."
Will you help me? "I cannot aid you in the coming battle. My time in this world is at an end. I must take my place in the Immortal Plane. Farewell, old friend. We will not speak again."
Wait! I don't understand!



  • 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.



Notice: The following are out-of-game references. They are not found in any in-game books, but can still be considered part of The Elder Scrolls lore and are included for completeness.
  1. Special ZOS Loremaster Interview with Lawrence Schick ― ESO-RP Podcast, OP-Cast
Emperor of Cyrodiil
Leovic 2E 576 - 2E 579 Clivia Tharn