It cannot be denied, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has had a surprising staying power, so much so that it was even re-released it in HD. With how massive the map is and the number of locations, it just continues to provide something new to find if you look hard enough. The secrets of Skyrim are quite vast and impressive; you just need to know where to start looking. Some of the hidden treasures in Skyrim require a lot of reading and listening carefully to cryptic dialogue. With a game this big, and so steeped in lore, most of your typical players will never dig deep enough to truly understand the world.
If you persist in trying to find those little gems, though, you’ll learn that most of them are actually really dark and creepy, especially if they involve the Daedra. If you dive deep enough into the lore, you’ll find that most of the heroes that you love are actually pretty complex characters. It seems like every single rock in Skyrim has its own backstory, mostly tragic stories. With all of that said, here is a glimpse into the plethora of Skyrim’s most esoteric lore.
20 Mixing It Up: Vampires Created Through...
So, this one is not only a known known, but it is also a known unknown and an unknown unknown (sort of). We are all familiar by now with Serana’s traumatic experience in becoming a pure vampire, especially since she exhibits behaviors which indicate RTS, but who was the first vampire? According to the Volkihar Clan, they would be, but this simply isn’t the case. In fact, the first person to become a vampire was a Nedic woman who Molag Bal, the Prince of Domination, set himself upon. The mixing of blood and Daedric magic caused her to rise from her state of death and seek vengeance upon the whole of the world. This horrendous fact flies in the face of what most people assume to be a choice to suffer.
19 Playing Into The Thalmor's Hands
War never changes, except for the ways you kill people, continents, and universes, but those facts are beside the point. What we all know is that Ulfric Stormcloak is the true High King of Skyrim… right? Well, depends on how you feel after you figure out that Ulfric is just a pawn of the Thalmor and the (Third) Aldmeri Dominion. Once you creep into a particular embassy which needn’t be said, you might discover a dossier which contains some rather disturbing content. Apparently the existence and prolonged civil war in Skyrim serves every little purpose of theirs, and they may have engineered a way to keep it going in the event of Ulfric’s death. The whole thing is just creepy when you really think of the Cold War machinations that must have taken place. Thankfully ending the civil war will hurt the High Elves, and that is just fine with me.
18 Keeping The Draugr In
Any Skyrim fan will have noticed that the simple mechanics for the dragon claw door puzzles are more tedious than fun. What some may have also picked up on would be that the locks are able to be touched from one side of the door; strange ain’t it? Well, considering how intelligent draugr are compared to most enemies in the game, it isn’t that surprising to deduce that they may be able to wander outside of their crypts and cause mayhem. Assuming that they are more similar to their Old Norse counterparts, the draugar, they are at least as intelligent as they were in life and are definitely guarding something which they don’t want you touching. These enemies are less “evil” and are more like undead guard dogs than anything.
17 Vivec: Responsible For Skyrim's Suffering
Remember, Vivec is evil and those who support him are either dupes or knowingly corrupt because he held the people of Morrowind hostage for centuries. The “god-king” of the Dunmer, Vivec, held a giant meteor above the ground in an attempt to force people to love and worship him. After he disappeared, the meteor crashed into Vvardenfell, causing the Red Year, and indirectly helped cause the collapse of imperial rule thanks to his selfishness. Vivec’s hand in the events of the game may seem far flung, but the great exodus of the Dunmer and the deaths of many fish and wildlife helped to spark Skyrim’s civil war. The former god-king’s lack of reverence for the Good Daedra and the ancestors is linked to the erosion of law and order and the rise of the Aldmeri Dominion. If you need proof, look no farther than the Burnt Spriggans.
16 It's More Accepted Than You Think
As you know, there are some rather questionable activities that you can participate in within the Nordic realm, one of those being cannibalism. The strange thing is that there is a sort of closeted societal expectation to partake in it should the climate become too rough, you get stranded, or are a Bosmer; there is even a cannibal cult hidden within the darkest corners of society, and no, I am not talking about the Forsworn, although they engage in it too. The whole of the affair is quite grizzly to think about, especially when you start poking around mage hideouts and find various human remains (which you can eat!). Eating human hearts, human flesh, and all sorts of things allows you to figure out what powers they might possess you should you use them in alchemical formulas. Being rewarded for eating human flesh is kind of creepy, right?
15 Boethiah: The Ultimate Sacrifice
Come one, come all, and bring your family and your friends because you’re going to need them! Most of what you find as you bumble around from place to place is not going to be remarkable, but every now and then, something will catch your eye. From Briar Hearts to Boethiah, there is no shortage of human sacrifice in Skyrim’s wilderness; even in the more civilized places it can be found with relative ease. The full scope of the human sacrifice is something which the developers have kept extremely well hidden from players, even in open sight. Many of Skyrim’s denizens either participate in human sacrifice or they implicitly support it; either way, creepy. You can find a lot out about the people who perform these rituals, but you’ll need to find them. I won’t spoil where to look for these hidden lumps of coal, but happy hunting!
14 Lovecraftian Plots
H. P. Lovecraft is one of the most beloved and influential authors of the last century, so it is only right that references to his work show up in the Elder Scrolls games. Out of the many references to his work, only the Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora is blatant, but, all you need to do is explore cities with major mining operations nearby to find more references. Throughout those lands are references to Dagon, Cthulhu, and many more Great Old Ones and Outer Gods. Most of these can be found through dialogue and books and have pretty cool rewards at the end of their unmarked quests. Just remember that when you go adventuring into the wilds, that you are being watched and that strange things stalk in the depths of Nirn.
13 Sanguine's Kind-Of Slaves
Up until now, most of what you’ve thought of the Daedra has been fun and games and maybe the attempted destruction of the world a few times, but who’s counting? Whenever you think of “bad” Daedra, you think Molag Bal, Mephala, Boethiah, etc., however, one of those Princes we should find the most evil is Sanguine. Sanguine looks like he is the life of the party (and he is) but what is the cost? Let me tell you, those men and women and mer are not at all happy to be in the eternal circus of debauchery which is the Misty Grove. If you pay close attention you’ll notice that the Prince of Revelry and Debauchery owns them and forces them to party day in and day out without rest, even to his more depraved pleasures.
12 Stealing Spouses And Girlfriends
One of the best parts of any Bethesda game is that you can do some of the most morally questionable stuff while still being a hero, Skyrim is no different. In the case of Skyrim, you are able to take the lovers of males and females across the races for your own. This may not seem like much, but it really adds up once you factor in the disgust that specific NPCs will hold for you. There are a number of tales within the lore of great heroes stealing the spouses of others and being praised for it. Even the Daedra like to get in on this sport from time to time, especially the Daedric Princes Sanguine and Molag Bal. Since there seems to be a rough egalitarianism among the sexes, it might be an exercise of agency? Not really sure, but it is just unusual to think about.
11 Aedra "Gone Bad"
Let’s talk about Meridia, one of the most popular of the Daedric Princes. Meridia’s origins are quite obscure, much more so than her other Et’ada counterparts. If you pay attention to a bit of dialogue and several works within the universe, you’ll find that this particular “Prince” is tied with several concepts relating to the Aedra; her nature is more in line with the Magna Ge who were formerly Aedra. It is said in a couple of books within the game, that Meridia was banished from the Magna Ge after consulting with darker spirits (assumed to be Daedra) and thus formed her own realm of Oblivion as an extension of her very being. Her origins as an Aedra are quite unique among the Daedric Princes, especially since she first ceased to be an Aedra after discovering what Lorkhan truly wanted in his creation.
10 Order Defeated By Chaos (Sort Of)
This is kind of a weird one, especially when you think about how the world is doomed to die someday, but that really isn’t the point of this blurb. If you pay close enough attention to the events of Skyrim, you’ll see that the uncertainty in the aftermath of the civil war has only just begun to set in and that another, more terrible war is coming. Even if you don’t consider that to be chaos, you know that Alduin was not really defeated, just that his mission in destiny has been temporarily pushed back. The Elder Scrolls may hold many secrets, but there are some points where even they are blank, which is the scary part. Let’s hope that Jyggalag returns to bring a little regularity back to things.
9 Malacath: Born From The Aedra
Okay, so this one isn’t strictly bound to Skyrim, but it was just too awesome to leave out. So, as many of you know Malacath is the patron deity of the Orsimer (Orcs), what some of you may know is that Malacath was originally Trinimac, an Aedra. The whole reason that Malacath came to exist is because Boethiah ate Trinimac and excreted his remains. This particular exercise in the disgusting only fueled the wrath that is Malacath. This Aedra turned Daedra is quite unusual because he retains the basic functions of his previous form, albeit channeling his energies into guiding his followers. The Aedric nature of this particular “divine being” is part of the reason why most other Daedra refuse to have much dealing with him, truly making him the god of the scorned.
8 Mephala: Creating The Most Feared Assassins
Mephala, the Webspinner, the goddess of lies, secrets, and murder. She is the founder of the Morag Tong and, unsurprisingly, responsible for the rise of the Dark Brotherhood for she is the Night Mother. According to the in game book Fire and Darkness, Mephala established the Dark Brotherhood to fulfill some of her more depraved wants. If you read the text, it gives further explanation that she was bored of her previous creation, the Morag Tong, for being bound by the Tribunal. Obviously, for a Daedric Prince, such constraints as the Tribunal would be a great annoyance. In her guise as the Night Mother, she carefully crafted many of the events which unfolded for the Dragonborn. She was able to have a major impact on what may be the second more important period of Nirn’s history.
7 Alduin Is Pretty Weak, Much Weaker Than His Peers
This is likely one of the least controversial parts of this list, but it needs mention. The fight with Alduin is one of the most underwhelming fights you ever fight, but, that is not the point. If you get into the game’s configuration, you’ll find that Alduin’s base health is actually lower than the Legendary Dragons which you will face should you get to a certain level. This might seem crazy at first, but Alduin does not level the same way that other enemies do; he has a relatively low cap. A result of this cap, Alduin is much weaker than other dragons. You could explain this as part of him being transported through time, but that’s up to you. A number of mods exist which try to rectify this and most of them do a pretty decent job at it.
6 Despicably Proactive Adoption Mechanics
Do you want kids? Have you ever wanted to feel like a complete and utter dirt bag? If so, look no further because all you need to do to get the kid of your choice is murder their parents! Okay, that came out wrong, but I think you get the point. Skyrim’s adoption mechanics do not take into account that you can adopt any child and profit from your crimes in killing their parents. Regardless of whether it was intentionally overlooked, it is absolutely creepy and immoral that you can put your children through such trauma, only to then raise them as your own. This makes me think of a number of German fairy tales where a wicked parental figure just abuses their children until one day they get their revenge.
5 Akavir "Stole" The Nerevarine
The mysterious continent of Akavir is one of the most intriguing aspects of the whole of the Elder Scrolls series, especially in how they have invaded Tamriel twice and wrecked the Septim Empire in their own attempted invasion of the continent. As some Elder Scrolls lore-hounds will have noted, the Nerevarine set off for the continent of beasts and snakes with nothing else being heard of. This sense of adventure is integral to the character, but if we look at the history of heroes leaving for the continent of Akavir, it has never ended well. The siren’s call that is the mysterious land that is Akavir draws many a hero to their doom, which means that the trend is likely to continue. It isn’t weird to think about your favorite characters dying, but to know that they likely met their doom across somewhere we’ve never seen.
4 Soul Cairn's Dark Secret
Being the epitome of doom, gloom, and static undeath, the Soul Cairn is the place of nightmares, especially if you are familiar with the motives of the Ideal Masters in making their own plain of Oblivion. Much like many villains in any piece of art, the Ideal Masters sought to free the mortals from their binds by creating the Soul Cairn, unfortunately their definitions of free don’t line up with anyone else’s (this includes the Daedra). The Soul Cairn is more like a fish tank that keeps getting new fish without removing the old fish or even bothering to clean the tank. The malevolent attempts to establish some sort of new order to sustain themselves not only turned the Ideal Masters into slavers, but also caused them to hoard treasure on a greater level than any dragon in the game.
3 No Realm Of Oblivion Is Safe
This is something which is alluded to across the games, but it bares mentioning here. Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince that looks like he belongs to the Shokan from Mortal Kombat, is hell-bent on causing pain, destruction, death, and change throughout Nirn. What some fans will also note is that he likes to invade random places in Oblivion to expand his realm. Whenever he picks a place to invade, he does it solely to establish a waypoint between his many realms and Nirn. His most destructive and important invasion outside of Nirn is that of the Soul Cairn. The Soul Cairn is apparently the “closest” realm of Oblivion to Mundus and so he thought that would be the best choice. If you pay close attention to various details in the vanilla Skyrim and the Dawnguard DLC, you’ll find the scars of this invasion still linger.
2 Daedra Gone AWOL
So this is possibly one of the most disappointing parts of Skyrim, simply because we don’t get all the coolness that the Daedra present in the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion had to offer. The most striking difference is how Mehrunes Dagon doesn’t directly have influence in Tamriel, anymore; his shrine even has indirect action from him from his present and ancient guardsmen. That, however, is not as bad as the lack of Jyggalag. Come on, try and say that it is fair that the coolest and most unique being of its kind was completely abandoned for this release. The Daedric Prince of Order would have fit perfectly in Skyrim, but he’s been off doing his own thing. Whatever the reasoning for excluding him was, it was a missed opportunity.
1 The Mythic Dawn Are Somewhat Alive And Not So Well
Everyone who plays Skyrim knows that the one remaining member of the Mythic Dawn cult is Silus Vesuius, who claims to be a descendant of the one who killed Emperor Uriel VII. What you may not notice is that there is lingering support for the Mythic Dawn among the population (mostly elves). This is evident if you pay attention to dialogue between Dawnstar’s Court Mage, Madena and Silus. When you take into account that the Aldmeri Dominion want to destroy the world so that they can recapture their divine nature, we can see that there is an implicit support for the Mythic Dawn who wanted to take it down a similar path, but with Mehrunes Dagon. Once the quest Pieces of the Past is completed, you become the successor to the Mythic Dawn by default.