Elder Scrolls Lore Report - The Skaal, Daddy Mora, and Profane Secrets

We all played Dragonborn – if you haven’t, what the heck are you doing here? We know the animosity the Skaal have towards the Daedric Prince of Secrets and that the animosity is equivocally reciprocated. We may even understand some of the finer details as to what begets this animosity – namely, the Skaal have a secret that Hermaeus Mora does not know and he is furious they won’t share it with him. What is that secret? It has yet to be revealed, but we can at least dive into why they hide it from him.


11046948676?profile=RESIZE_710x(a statue of Hermaeus Mora, as seen in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion) 


To understand, we need to delve deep into the Skaal and Herma-Mora himself, but before we do, let us unravel the mystery of Apocrypha, the Prince’s plane of Oblivion, which itself translates to “something doubtful of authority” – a small inside joke from the creative department; apocrypha is derived from latin apocryphus, which means non-canon.



(the endless library of Apocrypha, as seen in The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn)


11046330680?profile=RESIZE_710xAn endless library consisting of unknown books of black covers and yellowed pages, where all the forbidden knowledge of Mundus, Oblivion, and Aetherius may be found. Dotted with spires of learning that mingle with archways that spread confusion and doubt, Apocrypha is haunted by the shades of mortals who desired knowledge and became trapped for eternity. In a fateful twist of irony, the secrets they so yearned for were kept from them as they slowly withered away into nothing. Stacks of books round each corner, forming mazes and the various spires reaching high above the luminescent green sky. Intricate ruins and monstrous carvings can be found in all the scattered within. The entire plane is covered in a sea of toxic ink and spiraled tentacles, with fleshy platforms floating above. Hermaeus Mora is omnipresent throughout. Tomes and torn pages float around, as though pulled by an invisible force.


11045199670?profile=RESIZE_400xThough there are several ways one might enter Apocrypha, the most common is by reading from a Black Book. Scattered throughout Mundus, the Black Books are tomes of forbidden knowledge, displaced from time, and laced with Herma-Mora’s corruption. An apparition of the reader’s consciousness is displaced into Apocrypha while their body remains tethered to Mundus. Most who gain access to the secrets contained within Apocrypha are driven insane by the incessant revelations of truth. This was the fate of Morian Zenas, a famous scholar of the Arcane University and author of On Oblivion. His life’s work was finding a way into Oblivion through various methods, which always failed, until finally he succeeded after meeting with Divayth Fyr. During his exploits, he also accidentally linked his mind to that of his pupil’s, to whom he would recant his travels through Oblivion directly to his pupil’s mind.


However, clever though Zenas had become, his final destination would be Apocrypha. Upon arriving in the cold void that was the realm of Herma-Mora, his mind began to splinter and wither away. His voice became but a whisper before he began to utter naught but nonsense and riddles. Soon, he said nothing at all. His exact date of death is unknown, but it is postulated sometime around 2E 431. It is also believed that Fyr’s aid to Zenas was not out of benevolence; some suggest Fyr was jealous of Zenas gifted mind and so tricked him into a journey from which Fyr knew there was no sane return, if even alive.



(Mora's Whispers, as seen in The Elder Scrolls Online, a mythical shoulder piece that boosts critical hit chance and increases experience gained)




There are plenty of other mortals stupid enough to venture within to Apocrypha, and while most do not return, those that do are blessed with powerful knowledge, though they come at great cost. The laws of the mortal world do not hold within Mora’s realm.



Known as the wisest of the Princes, Hermaeus Mora’s mind is as old as Tamriel itself, he oft describes himself as “…the riddle unsolveable. The door unopenable. The book unreadable. The question unanswerable.” Unlike most of the other Princes, who seem to favor humanoid-esque forms, Mora prefers to manifest as a swirl of black clouds, infested with an assemblage of eyes, tentacles, and claws – though sometimes he appears as a shapeless, purple vortex known as the Wretched Abyss. Within Apocrypha, Mora exists everywhere and nowhere, delighting in tormenting mortals from his realm. In other mythos, he is known as a being that lurks in the oceans – the Khajiiti Hermorah controls the tides from his vast library beneath the waters.



(Hermaeus Mora appears to the Last Dragonborn as the Wretched Abyss, as seen in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)


11046759256?profile=RESIZE_584xHermaeus Mora claims to be one of the oldest Princes, formed from the discarded ideas during the creation of Mundus. Considering that some of the Black Books appear to have been written in the past and others in the future, it seems to verify that his influence on fate and time is unfeigned which implies he might be directly connected to Akatosh, the primordial spirit whose appearance led to the formation of the world. Thus, it is plausible Mora may be telling the truth, to some degree. With his degree of influence on fate and time, he often lures mortals, promising savory secrets and forbidden knowledge, things only he knows. Those afflicted by Mora’s corruption are incited to madness, loss of self-awareness, and eyes consumed by black. Despite his scope of understanding, it is known he is not omniscient, as he still needs mortal worshippers to collect secrets for him and there are things he doesn’t know.


This brings us to his relationship with the Skaal, the focus of this report. Though there is nothing to indicate what exactly caused the Skaal to hate Hermaeus Mora as much as they do – his status as a Daedric Prince notwithstanding – nor what degree of secrets the Skaal have kept from Herma-Mora, inciting his anger, we do know they desired to keep something from Mora and, from what we know of Mora, that alone is enough to draw his attention. Though Neloth’s dialogue in The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn suggests the secret is more than likely mundane – specifically, a new way to skin a horker; which, ironically, he did sort of skin Miraak in Apocrypha – the truth is, it doesn’t matter. For some reason, there was something the Skaal knew that no one else did and that seems to royally piss of Mora, to the extent he seduced Miraak, a Dragon Priest on Solstheim, as part of an attempt to get to the Skaal – among many other reasons for seducing Miraak.



11046869287?profile=RESIZE_710xThe battle between Miraak and Vahlok sundered Solstheim, splitting it from Skyrim, and many secrets were thought lost. One such secret is believed to have been how the Skaal connect to the All-Maker. Dotted across Solstheim are standing stones – Earth, Beast, Wind, Sun, Tree, and Water – and the Skaal can commune with these All-Maker Stones and draw upon the power of the world itself, something, it seems, no one else in Mundus can do, at least not to the same breadth. Considering much of the questline involving the Skaal has to do with rescuing, purifying, and reactivating the Stones, wresting them from Miraak’s control, it is possible this secret was what the Skaal guarded so fiercely from Mora. And we already know why Mora would hate that. The only thing we do not know is why the Skaal guarded it so closely – whatever secret it was.


The theory is that they knew that, someday, Mora and Miraak would return to Solstheim and they needed a bargaining chip. Storn Crag-Strider, the Skaal Shaman in Dragonborn, somewhat supports this with his dialogue “…as shaman, it is my duty to guard these secrets, but also to decide when it is necessary to give them up.” They likely knew Mora would be up to something in the future, perhaps not necessarily with Miraak, and that the one secret they had over Mora would be the only thing protecting them from his inevitable wrath. The only thing they lacked was a worthy champion to combat Mora – and Miraak – which is where the Last Dragonborn comes into play.



(Herma-Mora finally gets his hands on whatever secrets the Skaal had kept from them, be they new smithing techniques, a new way to skin a horker, or perhaps how to connect to the All-Maker)


Whatever the case, the Skaal held a secret that Mora desired, and they used his desire to their advantage, a twist of irony considering his role as the Keeper of Knowledge.


11047141070?profile=RESIZE_710x(bonus of Storn Crag-Strider)

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Fimvul is the current master of the Skyforge Library. Interested in the Elder Scrolls from a young age, he has been diving headfirst into the richer aspects of the lore of the series for over a decade. With years of experience and research under his belt, he hopes to enlighten his readers with the wondrous mystery that surrounds the Elder Scrolls universe.

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