Elder Scrolls Lore Report - Undead, Werebeasts, Shades


A hunter sits at camp, watching the embers of his fire burn to ash. The clouds clear away as the full moon blazes in the sky. His skin shivers as he hears a low howl. There are no wolves nearby.




A tavern wench is cleaning tables late into the night when the door swings open quietly, the cool winter breeze tickling her uncovered skin. Goosebumps, but not from the cold, prickle her as she feels thin and bony fingers travel up her arm before feeling a pinprick at her neck and breast.




The town drunk stumbles through the streets in the darkness. He swears he could see shapes, but when morning arrives, he can see no more.




Werewolves. Vampires. Shades. We’ve all heard tell of these most foul and most profane terrors of the twilight, but at least we can take small comfort in the fact they have never tried to work together. Or have they?





Early in the First Era, a council of vampires and lycanthropes came together in the ancient city of Verkarth, an unholy city somewhere in the vast wastes of Hammerfell. Not much more than a network of connected tunnels and caves before expanding to the surface, these damned creatures came together deep beneath the soil. No one really knows what happened during the next one hundred years, but the Pyre Watch describes it as the City of Verkarth and the Gray Host appearing out of nowhere. Nestled in central Hammerfell, the Grey Host quickly conquered all of Hammerfell. So, who was the Gray Host? What made them so dangerous and so powerful?




Archibald Laurent, the Lordly Explorer, writes about the Gray Host and their sudden appearance, though he writes some thousand years after the fact. They supposedly appeared out of nowhere in their City of the Damned, casting a shadow over Ska’vyn – one of the eight major cities of Hammerfell. They say the new city at first promised peace with its neighbors, but that quickly changed. Whether a pretense from the beginning or something shifted in the moons, no one knows. What is certain is that it did change and all of Hammerfell had a fear of the undead and other nightly terrors driven deep into their souls.




Sometime during the early First Era, the subterranean city of Verkarth was founded by a host of vampires, lycanthropes, and other undead, who rallied others of their kind together before using profane magic to raise the city to the surface – the origin of the magic is unclear, but Laurent writes of finding ancient scrolls written in Daedric during his expedition to Verkarth. The Gray Host itself refers to the army that came out of Verkarth and washed across Hammerfell. They were led in battle by the Vampire King Styriche, known infamously as the Vampire of Verkarth, who struck a deal with Molag Bal to gain power – it is unknown if this power was his becoming a vampire or if he already was a vampire before selling himself to the Lord of Domination. Though Styriche was their commander, he did not hold absolute power among the Gray Host, which was instead governed by the Gray Council, made up of the most powerful vampires and lycanthropes within the Gray Host’s hierarchy. The highest ranking members of the Gray Council were known as Exarchs. Though very little is known about Styriche and the other Exarchs, what little we do know comes from Rada al-Saran and his time as the Second-in-Command of the Gray Host armies, under Styriche himself. When Styriche made his deal with Molag Bal, it inevitably doomed the majority of the Gray Host’s fate to Coldharbour. It is believed Rada was one of the few members of the Gray Council to survive. Sometime in the Second Era, he plots their resurrection. He even wrote a list of the fallen Exarchs.



(Vampire King of Verkarth Styriche as he appears in The Elder Scrolls: Online)


Eeze of the Creeping Dusk, my crown, my glory, our first and greatest. She appears in The Elder Scrolls: Online

Tzinghalis, my brain, ever turning, puzzling out the riddles of our restoration. He was known for his vast intellect and sadism. He appears in The Elder Scrolls: Online

Gazes-Red, my right eye, staring longingly at past wrongs. An Argonian Vampire. He appears in The Elder Scrolls: Online

Serevur Rouillac, my left eye, looking proudly to the future. He appears in The Elder Scrolls: Online

Braxhard, my tongue, whispering my truths to the outside world. He appears in The Elder Scrolls: Online

Ulfra Redclaw, my backbone, standing tall against all misfortune. A behemoth Werewolf, she appears in The Elder Scrolls: Online

Kraglen, my right hand, braced to ward away my foes. A behemoth Werewolf and first boss of the Stone Garden, he appears in The Elder Scrolls: Online

Uls Grimlantern, my left hand, raised to wreak terrible and swift justice. He has an insatiable thirst for blood. He appears in The Elder Scrolls: Online

Vem the Dirge, my breath, bringing life to every part of me. Partner of Serevur Rouillac, she appears in The Elder Scrolls: Online

Grand Nezbi, my sinew, knitting together all my beloved. A Khajiiti vampire who uses light magic to trick and entertain Ritia Longstep. She appears in The Elder Scrolls: Online

Caia Avernico Sanctus, my bones, the bedrock of my strength. She appears in The Elder Scrolls: Online

Ritia Longstep, my stride, bringing me ever closer to my aim. A Bosmeri vampire, entertained by Grand Nezbi’s magic. She appears in The Elder Scrolls: Online


And he also writes of how even thinking of how he betrayed the Host brings him anger, that he, Rada, seeks him, his thirteenth sibling, not for freedom – but for reckoning, but we go too far.



(Vampire Lord Rada al-Saran as he appears in The Elder Scrolls: Online)


During the early days of the Gray Host, as they began to conquer Hammerfell, Empress Hestra took notice of this horde of undead and other terrible creatures. She heard of this dreaded army of vampires, werewolves, and zombies mounted on skeletal wolves, burning and killing across the Fallen Wastes as they marched. Soon, Styriche claimed dominion as far east as Elinhir and as far west as Thorstad Place.


(Elinhir as it appears in The Elder Scrolls: Online)


In 1st Era 1029, Hestra finally took action, arriving on her steed Fiery Ursula, leading her legions against Vampire King Styriche and the Gray Host, harrowing him into western Hammerfell. The Gray Host was driven all the way to the Bangkorai Pass in the south, crashing upon the garrison and slaying hundreds, if not thousands, and draining the blood before casting them across the wall as naught but pale and empty husks. So the battle drew to a humble Chapel of Stendarr, where St. Pelin, who had been tending the soldiers, ran out among the fighting to find his friend Sergeant Clancie fighting off the horde alone. Hearing the horde would soon burst through and knowing only blood could slow them down, St. Pelin cast himself into the mass and sacrificed his own blood, praying to Stendarr to fill him with an ocean of blood, that he might sate the demons a moment longer. Stendarr decided to bless this miniscule priest and a divine gout of holy blood erupted from St. Pelin, showering every vampire in the horde as it turned into a feeding mound before the gates – and yet, they could not drain him dry. Claimed by his sacrifice, the soldiers of the Garrison rallied to the gates and collapsed a battlement, killing most of the vampires in a feeding frenzy. Before reinforcements of the Gray Host could arrive, the legions of Empress Hestra finally caught up and killed or captured the remaining survivors of the Gray Host, which spelled their end. Impressed by their battle prowess, Empress Hestra extended a formal invitation for High Rock to join the First Empire.

10910298900?profile=RESIZE_400x10910299873?profile=RESIZE_400x 10910300887?profile=RESIZE_710x







(A Gray Host Vampire Lord, Werewolf Behemoth, and Harrowing Shade/Reaper)


It is not known if the details surrounding St. Pelin’s sacrifice are true – indeed, it is unlikely they are – but all accounts credit that the combined might of the Bangkorai Pass Garrison and the legion of the Alessian Empire, as well as some degree of unknown magic, was what finally brought an end to the Gray Host.



(The Garrison at Bangkorai Pass)


The bodies were burned with holy fire until nothing but ash remained, and the ash was interred in the Unhallowed Grave, which has been left unmarked on purpose. Only the Pyre Watch Guardians knew its exact location, and it was something they closely guarded as secret. The Gray Host would never return.


Or so they thought.


10910303276?profile=RESIZE_710x (Though Satakal has no place in the Gray Host, it is said their new leader, Rada al-Saran, a former Ansei Swordsinger, once challenged Satakal to a duel just to test himself)


During the Planemeld in 2nd Era 582, Styriche, doomed to Coldharbour, served as a general for Molag Bal, alongside his companions Fangaril of Cyrodiil and Zayzahad the Bat, leading legions of Daedra and undead, imprisoned members of the Gray Host at Dark Anchors. Not much later, grave robbers hired by Vampire Lord Rada al-Saran located and raided the Unhallowed Grave, taking many of the urns holding ashes of the Gray Host, which were moved to Skyrim. Rada attempted to kidnap Jorunn the Skald-King in a move to turn him into a sleeper vampire agent, but his plans were foiled by the Vestige and Lyris Titanborn. Fleeing to western Skyrim, Rada instead offered great power to High King Svargrim of Solitude, who easily accepted the offer to prove his worth against his bitter rival – ironically, his rival was Jorunn, whom Rada had failed to turn.



(Rada al-Saran, now an Ashen Lord, sits on his throne in Grayhaven)


10910304479?profile=RESIZE_710xGiven free reign across Western Skyrim, Rada and his followers used Harrowstorms, supernatural storms created by the Icereach Coven – witches who served the Longhouse Emperors – and focused by the ashes of the Gray Host, to pull their souls out of Coldharbour and into Stone Husks, where their bodies and powers were slowly reconstituted. Tzinghalis in particular was vital to the Gray Host, as the genius of the Gray Host solved puzzles in days that Rada had spent centuries trying to figure out. Ultimately, Rada wanted to unleash a devastatingly massive Harrowstorm in Solitude and pull the remaining souls out of Coldharbour in one, fell swoop. However, his plans were foiled once again by the Vestige who, with the help of Lyris Titanborn, an Altmer vampire Fennorian, who was a member of House Ravenwatch, and Svargrim’s own daughter Svana, exposed the High King for his treachery and permanently deposed him.


Rada and his Gray Host fled into the Reach, slaughtering any of the Reach clans who stood against him. Lady Belain made a pact with the Gray Host to revive the Nighthollow Clan, who had already served him once before. She was planted as advisor to Ard Caddach – one of a few rulers of the Reach – and convinced him to rally the fearful Reachmen clans to take refuge into Markarth. This was, however, a ploy to gather mortals together to revitalize the Dark Heart. Rada desired to bind the Gray Host to the Dark Heart and use its power to pull the remaining members of the Gray Host out of Coldharbour, ending their contract with Molag Bal.



When she was discovered, Belain rallied the Ghostsong Clan of the Reach to begin the Prophecy of the Dark Heart. A few members fled and were killed, while the others sacrificed themselves to the Dark Heart. However, Arana, a dissident of the Ghostsong, aided the Unnamed Hero into discovering their hideout, where they discovered that Nathari, Leader of the Ghostsong Clan, had primed the Heart already. As she summoned Dark Shades from the Heart, she transformed into a Voidmother and was slain by the Dark Heart, which gained temporary stasis.



(the Dark Heart achieves temporary stasis, as seen in The Elder Scrolls: Online)


Nighthollow Keep was then discovered in Blackreach by House Ravenwatch. They descended quickly upon the Dark Heart, but as it was too late to stop the ritual, the Dark Heart awoke before them and pulled the souls of the slain towards itself, resurrecting the Nighthollow Clan from its ashes. Belain unsealed the doors of Nchuand-Zel, catching those in Understone Keep off-guard, almost resulting in the death of Ard Caddach. The Vestige followed Arana in Nchuand-Zel and recovered a keystone to gain access to the Orrery of Arkthzand, which Rada needed for the Dark Heart to reach its full potential. Belain teleported to the Dark Heart and drank in its nefarious power, but Namira chose to intervene and blessed Arana, giving her the strength to keep going. Alongside the Vestige, they managed to slay Lady Belain, dealing another staggering blow to Rada al-Saran. Arana would later succumb to her wounds.


Having been foiled, yet again, in his attempt to fully awaken the Dark Heart, Rada al-Saran opened a gateway to Grayhaven, using the Dark Heart as a power source. Grayhaven, a piece of land “stuck in the void between Mundus and Oblivion” would be his final stand, where he would set Dark Anchors to latch onto the Gray Host in one final attempt to pull them out of Coldharbour. In this way, they would become anchored to Grayhaven like their own plane of Oblivion and death would be but a minor inconvenience for them.



the Darkstorm is formed over Grayhaven, threatening to destroy all of the Reach and possibly most of Mundus)


As the Vestige, Lyris Titanborn, and House Ravenwatch descended upon Grayhaven, Rada al-Saran conjured an apocalyptic Harrowstorm known as the Darkstorm that would swallow every soul in the Reach, fully power the Dark Heart, and transform Grayhaven into Rada’s own piece of Oblivion. However, before the Darkstorm reached its full power, the combined might of the Vestige, Lyris Titanborn, and Verandis finally slew Rada al-Saran and saved Mundus from the Gray Host.


I can’t even begin to imagine what Tamriel – nay, what Nirn – would be if the Gray Host had become as unyielding as lesser Daedra.

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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