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Wulfharth, also known as Ysmir and Dragon of the North, was an ancient king of Skyrim. He is the subject of several Nordic myths and legends, where he has become known as The Underking. He is said to have died more than three times. The first time was while saving the lives of his people but he was resurrected by Shor as his champion. After being killed at the Battle of Red Mountain, he returned back to life as the Underking. He worked in the shadows in the days of Tiber Septim to exact his vengeance against his old enemies and died for the last time, successfully trying to save the world of the powers of the Numidium during the events of the Warp in the West in the Third Era..
King of SkyrimEdit
Wulfharth was born in Atmora in the First Era. He was chosen ruler of Skyrim in 1E 500 by the Pact of Chieftains after the death of king Hoag Merkiller who was killed in the battle that led to the defeat of the Alessian army at Glenumbria Moors. Wulfharth was a mighty warrior and blessed with the ancient "Way of the Voice." His Thu'um was so powerful that he could not verbally swear into the office, and scribes were used to draw up his oaths.
Nordic PantheonEditImmediately after his crowning the scribes wrote down the first new law of his reign: a fiery restatement of the traditional Nordic pantheon. The Alessian doctrines were outlawed, their priests killed and the churches destroyed, forcing the remnants of Alessian priesthood to seek refuge in the Heartland. For his zealotry, king Wulfharth was called Shor's Tongue, and Ysmir, Dragon of the North.
Wulfharth was a true believer of the old gods and fought for their glory against the eastern Orcs, shouting their chief into Oblivion with his thu'um. He rebuilt the 418th step of High Hrothgar at the Throat of the World, which had been damaged by a dragon. Legend has it he swallowed a thundercloud to keep his army from becoming cold for which the Nords called him the Breath of Kyne.
Orkey, the god of the orcs, always tried to ruin the Nords, even in Atmora where he stole their years. Seeing the strength of king Wulfharth, Orkey summoned the ghost of Alduin Time-Eater. At Orkey's request, the God of Time reduced nearly every Nord to the age of six. Wulfharth, now a child, pleaded to Shor, the dead Chieftain of the Gods, to help his people. Shor's own ghost then fought the Time-Eater on the spirit plane, as he did at the beginning of time, and won. Orkey's followers, the Orcs, were ruined by this act. Wulfharth watched the battle in the sky and learned a new thu'um, which he called What Happens When You Shake the Dragon Just So. He used this new magic to change his people back to normal. But in his haste to save so many, he shook too many years out on himself. He grew older than the Greybeards themselves, and died. The flames of his funeral pyre were said to have reached the hearth of Kyne itself.
Ash KingEditAt some point (likely in 1E 668 or slightly earlier), the Dwemer and Chimer of Morrowind had started to fight again. The Nords of Skyrim hoped to have a chance of reclaiming their ancient holdings there. They planned an attack, but gave up, knowing that they had no strong king to lead them. The Nords were approached by Voryn Dagoth, who swore he came in peace. He told the Nords a wondrous thing: he knew the location of the Heart of Lorkhan, the god the Nords knew as Shor.
Long ago the Chief of the Gods had been killed by Elven giants, and they ripped out Shor's Heart and used it as a standard to strike fear into the Nords. This worked until king Ysgramor of Skyrim fought back. Knowing that they were going to lose eventually, the Elven giants hid the Heart of Shor so that the Nords might never have their God back. The Dwarves and Elves of the eastern kingdom, Morrowind, had the Heart and this was the reason for their recent unrest.
The Nords asked Voryn Dagoth why he betrayed his countrymen. He answered them that the Elves have betrayed each other since the beginning of time. This was true and so the Nords believed him. Mages who practiced the Way of the Voice sung Shor's ghost back into the world and he rebuilt Wulfharth's body from the ashes of the dead king. Shor revived the king by taking possession of his body. The Nords had a leader again, but Voryn Dagoth petitioned to be the leader of the Nordic forces and he pointed out his role as the blessed harbinger of this holy war. Thus, the army had two generals, Wulfharth Ash King and Voryn Dagoth, and marched on to Morrowind with all the Sons of Skyrim.
The Heart of Lorkhan was in Morrowind, as Voryn Dagoth had promised. Wulfharth's army approached the westernmost bank of the Inner Sea, they stared across at Red Mountain, where the Dwemeri armies had gathered. What happened during the battle is rather obscure, since there are many sources that clash with each other. Some sources imply that during the battle, Indoril Nerevar and Voryn Dagoth led a small platoon of troops into Red Mountain while the battle outside acted as a diversion. It is then said that Nerevar and Voryn Dagoth encountered Dumac Dwarfking and his vassal Kagrenac within the mountain and a bloody duel broke out with Nerevar slaying Dumac and Voryn Dagoth killing Kagrenac. It is implied that after the duel, Nerevar and Voryn Dagoth used the Heart of Lorkhan to destroy the Dwemer race; this explains why the Dwemer disappeared. But what is certain is the fact that Wulfharth was betrayed by Voryn Dagoth. Wulfharth had somehow obtained the Heart, and before Shor could gain his long lost power, the Nordic King was killed by Dagoth and Nerevar. Nerevar carried Keening, a dagger made of the sound of the shadow of the moons. Voryn Dagoth carried a hammer of divine mass, called Sunder. And Alandro Sul, who was the immortal son of Azura, wore the Wraith Mail. The Heart had been made solid by Sunder's tuning blow and Keening could now cut it out. And so it was cut out and Shor was defeated. With the god destroyed, Wulfharth found it hard to keep his form. He staggered out of Red Mountain and into the battlefield beyond, where became dust again. A strong wind blew his ashes back to Skyrim.
YsmirEditWulfharth does not perish, however. The fact that he was Shor's avatar for all that time surely had something to do with it. In honor of his memory, the Nords added him to their religion's pantheon as Ysmir the Grey Wind, the Storm of Kyne. They weren't far from the truth as Wulfharth became a divine being.
As Ysmir, all known aspects of Wulfharth were lost; being Shor's avatar had erased those things. The sole remaining vestige of his former life was his hatred for his enemies. All he wanted to accomplish was his vengeance against the Tribunal. As Ysmir the Grey Wind, he raised a storm, but he was driven back by Tribunal forces. The Dunmer were too strong at the time. Ysmir subsequently went underground in Red Mountain to wait, to strengthen and to reform his body anew. Oddly enough, it was Almalexia who disturbed his rest, summoning Ysmir to fight alongside the Tribunal against Ada'Soom Dir-Kamal, the Akaviri demon. Ysmir disappeared after Ada'Soom was defeated.
ProphecyEditThree hundred years later, the rumbling of the Greybeards awakened him. Though the Empire had crumbled, there were rumours that a Chosen One would come to restore it. This new Emperor would defeat the Elves and rule a united Tamriel. His power and the destruction of his enemies in mind, Ysmir thought he was the chosen one of the prophecy. He went directly to High Hrothgar to hear the Greybeards speak. When they did, Wulfharth was blasted to ash for the third time. Their words said that he was not the chosen one, for it would be a warrior youth from High Rock. As the Grey Wind went to find this boy, he heard the Greybeards' final warning: remember the colour of betrayal, king Wulfharth.
The Western Reach was at war. Cuhlecain, the king of Falkreath in western Skyrim, once part of Cyrodiil for a very short time, was in a bad situation. To make any bid at unifying the Colovian Estates, he needed to secure his northern border, where the Nords and Reachmen had been fighting for centuries. He allied with Skyrim at the Battle of Old Hrol'dan. Leading his forces was Hjalti Early-Beard. Hjalti was from the island kingdom of Alcaire, in High Rock, and Wulfharth discovered he would become the First Emperor of Tamriel.
Hjalti was a shrewd tactician, and his small band of Colovian troops and Nord berserkers broke the Reachman line, forcing them back beyond the gates of Old Hrol'dan. A siege seemed impossible, as Hjalti could expect no reinforcements from Falkreath. That night Wulfharth appeared to Hjalti as Ysmir the Grey Wind. He spoke with him in his tent. At dawn, Hjalti went up to the gates, and Ysmir followed just above his head. Arrows could not penetrate the winds around him. He shouted down the walls of Old Hrol'dan, and his men poured in. After their victory, the Nords called Hjalti Talos, or Stormcrown.
Battle of Sancre TorEdit
Cuhlecain traveled with Talos as his general back to Cyrodiil. It was his ambition to secure the Colovian Estates and he saw his opportunity in the invincible warrior. But before he could act, allied Nord and Breton forces crossed the borders into Cyrodiil and occupied the major passes and settlements in the Jerall Mountains in 2E 852. Making their headquarters for the winter at the citadel of Sancre Tor, the Nord-Breton allies dared king Cuhlecain's new general to assault them. In response, Talos amassed an army and marched to Sancre Tor. The Cyrodilic army was small, poorly trained and outfitted, short on rations, and unprepared for winter campaigning. Sancre Tor was protected by an unscalable cliff in front and unscalable heights in their rear, but the entrance to the citadel was also magically concealed under the appearance of a large mountain lake in the basin beneath the heights. Faced with an impossible task, Talos received a divine vision of the Amulet of Kings in the Tomb of Reman III. The young general was inspired by his belief that he was fated to recover this ancient sacred symbol of the Covenant.
Accordingly, the Nord-Breton allies left on a small force to defend the citadel, descending through lower passages to attack and overwhelm the cold, hungry Cyrodilic forces before them. However, Talos was approached by a treacherous Breton sorcerer who revealed the existence of a mountain trail down the heights behind the citadel. Talos left a weak force in the lowlands to draw out the defenders, while he and the rest of the army approached the citadel of Sancre Tor from the rear, descending the unscalable heights behind the citadel. There the Breton traitor told the secret of the hidden citadel entrance. While the Cyrodilic army in the lowlands fought a desperate defense against the invasion force, Talos and his men entered the citadel, swept aside the small defense and captured the Nord-Breton nobles and generals. Thus, he compelled them to surrender the citadel and their armies. The Skyrim army quickly deserted the alliance and swore loyalty to Talos. The leaders of the Bretons were executed and the captive soldiers imprisoned or sold into slavery. During the Sack of Sancre Tor, general Talos recovered the Amulet of Kings from the tomb of Reman III.
Cuhlecain's trust in Talos was rewarded because the general unified West Cyrodiil in one year. No one could stand before Talos' Thu'um. They marched east and the enemy's battlemages surrendered before the army. In order to realise his liege's ambitions, Talos conquered Cyrodiil and fought against the last forces of the Akaviri Potentate. In 2E 854 they conquered the Imperial City and thus gained the full control over Cyrodiil.
Cuhlecain's intent was to crown himself emperor. But Talos was still haunted by the prophecy delivered to him by the Greybeards. Before Cuhlecain could be crowned, Talos secretly murders him and his loyalist contingent with the help of a High Rock nightblade. The Imperial Palace was burnt to the ground during the event (probably to destroy evidence) and Talos slit his own throat to take the suspicion off of him. Though he lived, his Voice failed him. The assassination was blamed on the enemies of Cuhlecain, which, for political reasons, are still the Western Reach. To prevent Cyrodiil from falling apart again, Zurin Arctus, the Grand Battlemage, crowned Talos as Tiber Septim, new Emperor of Cyrodiil.
Emperor Tiber SeptimEdit
After ascending the Imperial Throne, Tiber finds the initial administration of a fully united Cyrodiil a time-consuming task. He sends his old ally, Ysmir, to deal with Imperial expansion into Skyrim and High Rock. Ysmir, mindful that it might seem as if Tiber Septim is in two places at once, works behind the scenes. One after another, the human kingdoms are conquered. Hammerfell's annexation could prove much easier than the others that were conquered by supporting a local warring dissident faction. Ysmir wanted a complete invasion, a chance to battle their foreign wind spirits himself, but Tiber refuted him. The Emperor had already made a better plan, one that would seem to legitimize his rule. Cyrodiil supported the losing side of a raging civil war and were invited into the rule of Hammerfell. Finally, the Empire could turn its eyes to the Elves.
Ysmir continued to press on to Tiber Septim the need to conquer Morrowind. The Emperor was not sure that it was a wise idea, hearing word of the Tribunal's power. Ysmir reminded Tiber Septim that he was fated to conquer the Elves, even the Tribunal. Tiber's battlemage Arctus advised against the move but the Emperor wanted the ebony in Morrowind, because he needed a source of capital to rebuild Cyrodiil after 400 years of war. Ysmir came up with the idea that, with the Tribunal dead, Septim might steal the Tribunal's power and use it against the High Elves. Summerset Isle was however the farthest thing from Tiber's mind. Even then, he was planning to send Arctus to the King of Alinor to make peace. In the end, the need for ebony decided. But instead of a war, Tiber Septim struck a deal with the Tribunal of Vvardenfell. In order to be spared an invasion that would be costly for both sides, Morrowind would peacefully join Tiber's empire and would be granted a degree of sovereignty in exchange for Numidium.
When certain conditions of the Armistice included not only a policy of noninterference with the Tribunal, but also a validation of their religious beliefs. Ysmir, furious about the mercy for his old enemies, abandoned the Empire.
Tiber Septim was always fascinated by the Dwarves. After their victory in Morrowind he ordered Zurin Arctus to research the Numidium, the grand artifact of the Dwarves Tiber received from Morrowind. In doing so, Arctus stumbles upon some of the stories of the war at Red Mountain. He discovers the reason the Numidium was made and some of its potential. Most importantly, he learns Ysmir's place in that war of long ago. Arctus believed he could activate the artifact, but he was working from incomplete plans, thinking it was the heart of Lorkhan's body that was needed to power the Numidium.
While Arctus reported about his discovery, the prophecy from the Greybeards finally became clear to Tiber Septim. The Numidium was all he needed to conquer the world. It was his destiny to possess it. The heart of Lorkhan was lost to their cause, but there was another source who could make the Numidium work, Ysmir, the avatar of Lorkhan or Shor. The Emperor contacted Ysmir, saying he was right all along about Morrowind. They should slay the Tribunal, but regroup in order to make a plan beforehand.
Ysmir arrived, but he was ambushed by Imperial guards. As he fights, Zurin Arctus used a soulgem, the Mantella, on him. With his last breath, Ysmir's Heart tears a hole through the Battlemage's chest. With everyone dead, Ysmir has gone to ash for the last time. Tiber Septim walked in to take the soulgem. When the Elder Council arrived, he told them about the second attempt on his life, this time by his trusted battlemage, Zurin Arctus, who was attempting a coup. He had the dead guards celebrated as heroes. Following this event, Tiber warned Cyrodiil about the dangers within, but he says that he has a solution to the dangers without. The Numidium, while not the god Tiber Septim and the Dwarves hoped for, could be activated by Ysmir's soul whom was not unlike Lorkhan after all, which helped Tiber conquer Tamriel. But Ysmir wasn't dead as Tiber thought. In the struggle with Arctus in which both were killed, his spirit left the ashes of his fallen body and took possession of the body of Arctus. He lived on as the Underking.
The Underking would proceed to cause problems for Septim for the remainder of his rule. His first major act was the destruction of the Numidium itself. By this time, according to some sources, Septim had been abusing the power of the Numidium against harmless, politically neutral parties. The Underking took offense at this, and smashed the golem to pieces, with the Totem being lost at the bottom of Illiac Bay, and the Mantella being sent to another plane of Aetherius for safe keeping. Because of this the body of the joined spirits became undead.
Tiber Septim was succeeded by his grandson, Pelagius I. Pelagius was just not of the same caliber. In truth, he was a little nervous with all these provinces. Then an adviser shows up. The Underking claims to have been a friend of Tiber Septim, and that he was sent to help Pelagius run the Empire.
- Jarl Balgruuf the Greater believes Wulfharth to have been Dragonborn; when asked, "What's it mean to be Dragonborn?" he may reply, "Wulfharth was Dragonborn. Talos, too - the founder of the Empire, back in the good old days."