Elder Scrolls Lore Report - Dragons, Alduin, and Aka Tusk

There was an informal request to do a report on the dragons prior to a report about the Dragon Cult. Fortunately, being that dragons were the focus of a main title game and are an overarching theme throughout the Elder Scrolls franchise, there is quite a bit of relevant information.




Dragons – dov or dovah in their own language, dovahzul, drah-gkon or dov-rah to the ancient nords, and aka in ehlnofex – are a now legendary race of large, reptilian beasts. Rumors attest their native homeland is Akavir – which means dragon land in ehlnofex – though plenty of ancient tales also herald them from Atmora. They are large and scaled creatures, easily several times larger than a man or an elf, with thin bat-like wings and ridges of spikes traveling their backs. Dragons also have three long talons and a one vestigial digit known as a dewclaw on each leg.


Dragons have an almost unmatched affinity for magic, such that the mere act of speaking for a dragon is a release of magicka, most famously known in their ability to breathe magic in the form of shouts, or thu’um. Dragons have no lips, which makes it all the more fascinating that they possess the ability to speak. The dragons, of course, do not care and continue speaking anyway. Also interesting is their ability to fly, despite their wings being too thin – and also too small in general – to support the weight of their huge bodies.


10200530886?profile=RESIZE_710xPeryite whose draconic form is seen as some twisted joke towards Akatosh 


Gifted with remarkable intelligence, they are also proud and sensitive, easily susceptible to feelings of guilt and melancholy, particularly when concerning others of their kind. However, they are also slow to trust and quick to lose it, even of other dragons. Despite this fault, they are naturally social creatures and many succumb to insanity when in isolation.


Creation legend holds that the dragons are the progeny of Akatosh. This is not entirely true, though it isn’t entirely false, either. In a similar manner to the great deity Purusha of Hindu mythology – allowing himself to be dismembered so that creation might unfold – dragons are sentient pieces of Akatosh. If you think this is confusing now, it gets better.


This fundamental relationship between Akatosh and dragons is symmetric to the relationships surrounding the Aka-Tusk, but I’ll save that for later. Let’s go back to Dragons.


Being that Akatosh is the lord of time, it makes sense that the reincarnated pieces of his divine soul, the dragons – the Aka – are immortal. As all dragons are Akatosh, Akatosh is all dragons. Dragons, normally, do not die, allowing Akatosh to live through them for eternity and watch the flow of time, as is his duty.




Despite their impressive longevity, dragons are not truly immortal. Their souls, being a part of Akatosh, are more resilient than the souls of man and mer and beast, often remaining near their bodies even when the vessel is destroyed. However, while the connection between a dragon’s body and its soul is far stronger than all other creatures, other dragons can absorb a dead dragon’s soul. They gain a portion of that dragon’s power as well as all of their knowledge at the expense of completely destroying the other dragon. This ability extends to the Dragonborn, who is a dragon bound to a mortal form. There is also some debate as to the possibility of using powerful soul magic to sever the link between a dragon and its soul. Though this method is more or less confirmed, what happens to the soul is less understood – does it wither away or does it return to Father Akatosh? As for the body, well, it remains to be manipulated like any other corpse.




Skeletal dragons are used by necromancers as undead minions, and there even are some living dragons who are thought to have become undead – such as Durnehviir, who was trapped in the Soul Cairn for so long, he can no longer leave as his soul was bound to the plane. I do want to pause here, though, and specify that Durnehviir is not undead. I do not know why the wiki refers to him this way, he is simply trapped in the Soul Cairn and his rugged appearance is the result of his imprisonment and the stress the Soul Cairn has placed on him. Though no one has ever seen a true vampiric dragon, Illusion Imps are known to sometimes take the form of small vampiric dragons. It is even rumored that the Tosh Raka, leader of the Tiger People of Ka Po’ Tun in Akavir has turned himself into a dragon. Large lizards found in the Iliac Bay area were once considered small dragons, but by the Fourth Era, these “Dragonlings” were revealed as nothing more than just that – large lizards. Their language – Dragonish – bears no known relevance to dovahzul, just as the creatures themselves bear no relation to actual dragons. Even the Daedric Titans created by Molag Bal were, at first, built in imitation of dragons.


Archmage Shalidor once described dragons as “eternal, immortal, unchanging, unyielding. His writings attest they have existed since before time itself in Dawn Era, but were once as wild as everything else. It wasn’t until Alduin created their civilization that they became the wise and social creatures seen in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Nordic legends say it was only dragons who could manipulate magic with their voice, though they only did so in times of “True Need”. Interesting to note is that, despite the fact all dragons were created before time began, some dragons – such as Alduin and Paarthurnax – are considered older and more powerful – Alduin himself actually boasts that he is the oldest dragon.


As the Dragon Cult died out and faded away, dragons themselves went into isolation for survival, hiding at the peaks of mountains or within deep caves where they would be safe from thieves and aggressors. However, the account of King Edward of Daggerfall in the First Era suggests dragons were openly living in and around isolated mountain villages, directly in contrast to the belief that the dragons were hiding for survival.




During the Merethic Era, the Dragon Cult and its Priests kept the population enthralled to the dragons by the means of dragon-worship. Many of the people in this era eventually becomes the Draugr that now inhabit the ancient Nordic tombs in Skyrim, Solstheim, Atmora, and wherever else the Dragon Cult was. Nordic legends hold that Alduin led his brethren and their minions to terrorize and subjugate the mortal races, eventually leading to rebellion which eventually became outright war. Forsaking his duties, Alduin led his fellow dragons on a mission to conquer the mortals – whether that meant forcing them to serve him or killing them, I don’t think they particularly cared. During the Dragon War, it was said Akatosh and Kyne took pity on the mortals. Kyne bestowed upon them the power of dragons and sent them Paarthurnax – Alduin’s second in command, the second born, so to speak – to teach them how to use their new gifts while Akatosh himself had some of the dragons turn against each other. With the blessing of Kyne, the Nordic Tongues – masters of the Voice – used their new power to turn the tide and eventually shouted Alduin out of the world. This marked the end of the Dragon War as the mortals began to hunt down and kill all of the dragons that were left.




Also in the Merethic Era, when Elsweyr was still comprised of sixteen kingdoms, Kaalgrontiid arrived looking to absorb the lunar power of the Moons and become the Dark Aeon and ascend to become a third moon, hoping to rival Akatosh. Kaalgrontiid – whose name translates to Champion Bound to Time – was also known as the emerald sovereign of wrath. It is believed Kaalgrontiid was instilled by the rage of dragons from Father Akatosh and split off from Skyrim and Atmora to sate his own ambitions. The Khajiiti hero Khunzar-ri recruited four companions – Nurarion the Perfect, Flinthild Demon-Hunter, Anequina Sharp-Tongue, and Cadwell the Betrayer. Though they couldn’t fight the dragons, they managed to deceive Kaalgrontiid and the others that they were a willing part of the plans and would help Kaalgrontiid absorb the moons’ lunar powers. However, instead, the five companions absorbed the lunar power and sealed away Kaalgrontiid and his draconic followers. Overtime, these dragons became called “demons” and eventually faded further, becoming the “Demon Weapon” whose power was desired by many.


10200536275?profile=RESIZE_180x180Kaalgrontiid as seen in The Elder Scrolls Online 


Kaalgrontiid would return in the Second Era after Abnur Tharn accidentally freed them from their imprisonment within the Halls of the Colossus when the battlemage retrieved the Wrathstone – and ancient tablet that Khunzar-ri wrote on in Ta’agra, detailing the cartographic location of the Demon Weapon –  in 2E 582. Euraxia Tharn, Queen of Rimmen, thought she could control them, but they quickly turned on her when she was no longer of use to them, leaving her alone to battle the forces of the Elswery Defense Force who were, at the time, allied with the Vestige. This led to her death and Rimmen returned to Khajiiti control. Euraxia’s forces, now leaderless, returned to the dragons out of fear. Kaalgrontiid forced his way to the Plane of Jode – Jode being another name for Masser, one of the two moons of Nirn – and began to devour Jode’s Core, through which he believed this would instill him with the lunar power he coveted, but before he could succeed, Anequina’s descendant, Khamira, and the Vestige were able to, once again, banish Kaalgrontiid from the moon.


Eventually, Kaalgrontiid was able to find himself a new ally when Ra’khajin became Laatvulon’s – Kaalgrontiid’s lieutenant – Dragon Priest under the New Moon Cult. Ra’khajin promised he would lead the cult to whatever end the dragons desired so long as he could become the Mane, the spiritual leader of the Khajiit. However, Ra’khajin and his cult ultimately fail, leading Kaalgrontiid to take command after he finally recuperated from his defeat on Masser. He managed to begin collecting the Aeonstones, hoping to empower himself and gather them on the island of Dragonhold. Through them, he believed he could siphon the energy he had stolen from Jode’s Core and ascend to godhood, fulfilling the New Moon Prophecy, which meant becoming the Dark Aeon and becoming the third moon. It was believed that this would threaten to unravel the flow of time itself.


Using the power of the Aeonstones, Kaalgrontiid constructed a massive aegis to ward and defend Dragonhold. This power ran rampant and corrupted those around Dragonhold, turning them into crystals. Nahfahlaar – Fury-For-Water – who had often allied with mortals for his own protections, gathered with the reformed Dragonguard and the forces of Queen Khamira, and, together, they managed to finally slay Kaalgrontiid and his rage of dragons was totally defeated, though it did come at the death of Abnur Tharn.


After the Dragon War, the dragons slowly became more elusive after their loss of power and their numbers began to dwindle for various reasons: their population in Akavir was wiped out by the Tsaesci, the Akaviri Dragonguard and their successors, the Blades, made sport of hunting dragons. Tiber Septim tried to offer those who remained protection in return for fealty, but despite this, almost all known wild dragons were killed or disappeared from Tamriel. Some sources actually claim Tiber Septim himself devoured the last of the dragons during his ascension.




Many believed the dragons to be extinct, but this was simply not true. Word of them even into the Third and Fourth Eras was present. Nomads in the Alik’r Desert frequently spoke of “Great Wyrms” within its vast wastes. The Akatosh Chantry supposedly kept tamed dragons in their “sacred grove”. Brarilu Theran wrote in Twin Secrets that “…Dragons are said to be gone from this world. Yet I found one. Sheltered in the smoking ruins of Vvardenfell, I came upon it…”.


And, of course, in the Fourth Era, Alduin returns and revives the dead dragons.


Before I begin to dive into the deeper facets of truth with the nature of Alduin, Akatosh, and the Aka-Tusk Oversoul, I want to briefly go over some of the finer details of Alduin first. Well, one thing in particular.


Alduin, whose name means “Destroyer-Devour-Master” is most commonly known to pretty much everyone as the Doom of Time, the World-Eater. He is known famously in the Nordic pantheon for being a heraldic end to the old world so a new one can begin, a duty he forsakes to rule over mortals. But did you know the ancient nords called Alduin the god of time? In the same way that Akatosh is the Cyrodiilic name for our beloved time-god, that Alkosh is his name to the Khajiit, that Auri-El is his name to the Aldmer, Alduin was his name to the Ancient Nords.


Yes, you read that right. Alduin is Akatosh. Well, sort of, also not. Let’s ignore that for a moment and get to the Aka-Tusk, the Aka-Tusk Oversoul, sometimes just called the Tusks of Aka.


Recall a previous report when I spoke of Anu and Padomay and their strife, shattering Creation and themselves, how Anu shaped the pieces of Creation into Nirn, pulling his brother and himself outside of time, and reforming his broken body into Anu’iel, who eventually became Auri-El? Another part of this breaking was a powerful spirit known as Aka – the Time Dragon; recall Aka means dragon in Ehlnofex. The crystallization of time itself split this oversoul of the Time Dragon into several pieces – notably, Alduin, Alkosh, Auri-El, and so on. Akatosh himself doesn’t exist. He is a direct representation of the sum of all of his pieces. Remember how I said earlier that all dragons are Akatosh and Akatosh is all dragons.




Think of the Tusks of Aka, the Time Dragon Oversoul, as a pane of glass. Whole, it is Aka. When you break the glass, each piece is still the same, but also different, making up the whole. These are Alduin, Alkosh, Auri-El, et cetera. Alduin is the Nordic version. Much the same that each broken shard is different from all others yet still an equal part of the whole, Alduin is quite different from his cousins. Alduin is the aspect of time that represents end. Akatosh is the Cyrodiilic aspect that represents stasis – much like Anu himself once did. Mortals prescribed different names to the same entity for each piece of the Oversoul that it represents. Akatosh is unchanging and eternal while Alduin is everchanging and always ending.


Another piece of the puzzle that really throws a monkey wrench into everything that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim tried to tell us was actually in the same game. The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn introduces Miraak as the first Dragonborn. Skyrim has already told us Alduin was the first dragon and was born from Akatosh, but in Miraak’s time, though Alduin existed, Akatosh did not. Akatosh was still Auri-El, an entirely different aspect of the Time Dragon. And here we come around to the truth: there are two Akatosh – the one from the Imperial Pantheon that we know, and the one incorrectly used by the game as the Time God itself. In truth, what Alduin meant was “…I am Alduin, first shed from Aka…”



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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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