As one of the best loved and most epic games in modern history, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has a plethora of content for fans to dig into. The title boasts more quests, stories, enemies, allies, factions, and adventures than any player could ever hope to experience in a single playthrough. From the high reaches of Solitude to the depths of Dwemer ruins, Skyrim is full to bursting with things to do and people to meet.
However, some of the characters you encounter over the course of your journey through this northern province are more than they appear. The NPCs of Skyrim hide secrets that even some of the more hardcore players may not know about. Here are 10 NPCs you'll meet that are keeping some things to themselves.
Ysolda is a character you'll meet in Whiterun, typically around the merchant stalls. She is a trader herself, and hopes to one day earn enough coin to purchase the local inn. A minor side quest sees you retrieving a mammoth tusk for her so that she can build relations with a Khajiit caravan passing through.
However, Ysolda does not just deal in tusks. Exploring the map will lead you to Sleeping Tree Camp, where a note from her to a deceased business partner can be found, referencing the collection of tree sap used in the production of the drug skooma. This reveals that Ysolda is not just an ordinary merchant, but is involved in the production and distribution of this dangerous hallucinogen.
Anise is a reclusive old woman living nearby Riverwood, the game's tutorial town. She is typically ambivalent towards visitors, although she will sometimes remark that it can be very lonely on her own in the forest. For all intents and purposes, Anise appears to be just an elderly woman who wishes to live in seclusion.
The reason for her isolation, however, can be discovered upon finding her basement. There, the player will see a variety of magical items, including an alchemy stand and an enchanting station. This also causes Anise to turn hostile and begin flinging spells at players as she tries to keep her magic a secret from the world.
Jouane Manette can be found in the village of Rorikstead, west of Whiterun. He settled here with his friend Rorik, whom he saved during a battle against the Aldmeri Dominion. Milling about the village and listening to some of the conversations will reveal that Jouane has not be idle in his old age, however.
Jouane is providing magical tutelage to Sissel, a young girl who lives in the village. These lessons are being kept secret, as Jouane tells Sissel that they can't let any of the others find out as no one would understand. He appears to be teaching her many spells, including the ability to extinguish candles and the power to breath underwater.
Lisbet is one of the many, many vendors players can find throughout Skyrim. She runs the Arnleif and Sons Trading Company based out of Markarth, having taken over for her husband Arnleif after his death. She offers a minor quest to players that involves retrieving a statue, but other than that has a fairly minor role over the course of the game.
It is only later, during the Daedric quest "The Taste of Death," that her secret is revealed. We discover from this story that Lisbet is in fact part of a group of cannibals who feast on human flesh. Interacting with her prompts some dialogue that implies she not only killed her husband, but ate him as well.
Fultheim is an old drunk who spends his time in the Nightgate Inn, located between Dawnstar and Windhelm. At first glance he appears to be nothing more than a sad, miserable man who never leaves the tavern. This is not the case, however, as there is more to his story.
Talking to the innkeep leads to some dialogue that states Fultheim drinks to forget bad memories, of which he has many. In addition to this, closely examining the weapon Fultheim carries reveals it to be a Blades sword, meaning that he was once part of the elite group of warriors that guarded the emperor. This group has been hunted to near extinction now, and Fultheim remains as one who has clearly seen more than his fair share of death and tragedy because of it.
Drifa plays a very small part in Skyrim, as there aren't really all that many interactions the player can take with her. She is the wife of Bersi Honey-Hand, and together they run a small shop in Riften called The Pawned Prawn. On the outside, their relationship seems stable and solid, despite the financial troubles of their shop.
Closer inspection, however, reveals that Drifa is most likely embezzling money from the shop to fuel a skooma habit. Some of the illicit substance can be found underneath her bed, and a conversation with her husband seems to indicate that she's been stealing money as he points out some suspicious transactions in their ledger.
Addvar is yet another merchant with dark secrets, although these secrets are a bit more obscured than some of the others on this list. Our first encounter with the fishmonger comes when first entering Solitude, where he is trying to prevent his daughter from witnessing the execution of his brother-in-law, Roggvir. Other than this, he doesn't play much of a role in the story, besides a few comments after the execution.
However, if players kill the proprietor of a competing market stall, they can receive a note from Addvar expressing gratitude. Some coin also accompanies this message, implying that Addvar has a much more grim outlook on how to deal with his business rivals than he lets on.
Anuriel is a bosmer, or a wood elf, and holds the position of stewardess to the Jarl of Riften, Laila Law-Giver. She can be overheard giving advice to the Jarl, recommending courses of action and providing reassurances as necessary. However, she is not as loyal as she appears, and some investigation reveals her split allegiances.
In her chambers are several letters from Maven Black-Briar, the local crime lord of Riften. These letters give Anuriel directions, instructing her several matters, including the imprisonment of Maven's own son. In addition to this, she has several conversations with Laila where she smooths over and obscures Maven's criminal nature, which show that her loyalty is not necessarily to Riften, but to Maven.
Sybille Stentor is the court mage at Solitude, serving under Jarl Elisif. This is not, in and of itself, unusual. All the courts in Skyrim tend to have a mage working within them. But Sybille has been involved in Skyim politics for much longer than ordinary, due to her secret.
Sybille is, in actuality, a vampire who has been alive longer than any of the ordinary humans she deals with on a day to day basis. She served not only High King Torygg, but his father before him as well. She sustains her vampiric nature by feeding on the prisoners in the Solitude dungeons, and although she never openly admits to her vampirism, she makes coy hints and suggestions that lead players to conclude she is not entirely human.
Finally, we take a look at Ulfric Stormcloak, Jarl of Winterhold, leader of the Stormcloak Rebellion, and one of the major players in Skyrim's main story campaign. As one of the most significant NPCs in the game, it's not surprising that he'd be keeping a few secrets. What is surprising is that his entire rebellion may well be a calculated ploy, unbeknownst to everyone - including Ulfric himself.
After infiltrating the Thalmor Embassy, certain documents can be found that details a time when Ulfric was captured during the war with the Aldmeri Dominion. These notes outline how Ulfric can be manipulated and how the Dominion actually considers him an asset and is acting to encourage his rebellion in secret in order to tear Tamriel apart. This secret completely changes how the Stormcloak Rebellion is viewed, and shifts the entire narrative of Skyrim's Civil War.