In almost every fantasy setting there are gods and goddesses, demons and divines, beings that exist beyond the mortal realm and have power over the lives of the world’s inhabitants. In the Elder Scrolls series, these creatures are known as the Aedra and the Daedra, worshipped by mortals and each with its own sphere of influence. This article will examine the enigmatic Daedric Princes.
There are seventeen known Daedric Princes: Azura, Boethiah, Clavicus Vile, Hermaeus Mora, Hircine, Jyggalag, Malacath, Mehrunes Dagon, Mephala, Meridia, Molag Bal, Namira, Nocturnal, Peryite, Sanguine, Sheogorath, and Vaermina. Most of these have shrines scattered across the various provinces of Tamriel, built by their followers, and each has its own plane of Oblivion. The Daedric Princes are usually seen as “evil,” however this is not really the case as they do not differentiate between good and evil. They are simply the lords of the Daedra who did not take part in the creation of Mundus, the realm of existence that encompasses Nirn, the planet on which Tamriel resides. It should be noted, however, that Mehrunes Dagon, Molag Bal, Boethiah and Vaermina are infamous for their association with evil. The “Four Corners of the House of Troubles,” introduced to the Chimer by the teachings of Saint Veloth, consist of Mehrunes Dagon, Molag Bal, Sheogorath and Malacath.
[ Azura ]
Azura is one of the Daedric Princes commonly referred to as female, as her statues and depictions always appear in female form. She is often known as the Queen of Dawn and Dusk. She is also believed to be a “good” Daedric Prince, since she seems to actually care about her mortal subjects, unlike most of the other princes. She is thought to be the enemy of Nocturnal.
Azura dwells in Moonshadow, her plane of Oblivion, in a rose palace and welcomes travellers to her realm. It is apparently very beautiful, so dazzling that anyone visiting the place is half blinded in awe. Moonshadow’s highlights include its city of silver decorated by many flowers and waterfalls, its wind that smells of sweet perfume and its trees of majestic splendour. Azura’s Daedric servants are the Winged Twilights, female humanoids with bat-like wings who act as her messengers. Highly resistant to flame, ice, poison and lightning, they can reflect spells back at their attackers.
Azura’s Daedric Artefact is Azura’s Star, a large soul gem in the shape of a star with eight, wavy arms. Unlike other soul gems, the star can be reused and is never destroyed. The star is typically used as the symbol of Azura.
[ Nocturnal ]
Another of the “female” Daedric Princes, Nocturnal is the Mistress of Shadows, Night Mistress, and the Empress of Murk. While Azura rules the Twilight zones, Nocturnal rules the night. As the patron of Thieves and those who skulk in the shadows, she has a cadre of thieves dedicated to her called the Nightingales. Her ethereal warriors known as the Nightingale Sentinels guard the Twilight Sepulcher, Nocturnal’s temple in Skyrim containing the Ebonmere, a conduit to her Oblivion plane of Evergloam. Little is known about Evergloam, except that it’s a realm of perpetual twilight and shadow.
Rather than having Daedric servants like the other Daedric Princes, Nocturnal has the Nightingales, a secretive and highly skilled group of thieves dedicated to her. Nightingales take the Oath, which is seen as a business arrangement rather than a religious rite, to protect the Skeleton Key, ensuring it remains at the Twilight Sepulcher and protecting the temple even in death. In return, Nightingales are granted special powers by drinking from the Ebonmere. When a Nightingale dies, his or her soul becomes one with the shadows, and can bring luck to thieves.
The Skeleton Key is Nocturnal’s Daedric Artefact, created to unlock and keep open the Ebonmere and maintain Nocturnal’s influence, which ensures the health of the Thieves Guild. It resembles an exotic looking lockpick or key, and can be used to unlock not just locks on doors and chests but also “opportunities.” It is unbreakable and so is extremely useful for thieves; however it apparently cannot be held by any one thief for too long, eventually vanishing from their possession.
[ Molag Bal ]
Molag Bal is the Daedric Prince of Domination and Enslavement, the Harvester of Souls and the King of Rape. He is heralded for the creation of the first vampire, when he raped a Nedic virgin, who then massacred a group of nomads. He has also made pacts with other mortals, turning them into bloodthirsty vampires, such as Lord Harkon of the Volkihar Clan. In addition to creating vampires, he has also created mutant degenerates in Morrowind and in that province he is one of the Four Corners of the House of Troubles, rightfully earning his place with much bloodshed and mayhem. Interestingly, his name in Aldmeris means “Fire Stone” and his arch rival is Boethiah.
Coldharbour is Molag Bal’s Oblivion plane, a mirror image of Nirn except that is it ruined and desolate, a shadowy wasteland in comparison to its mortal equivalent. The sky here is aflame, the air is unnaturally freezing cold and the realm is filled with despair and suffering. During the 2nd Era, Molag Bal attempted to pull Nirn into Coldharbour, there to keep it for all eternity. His vile servants include the monstrous, crocodilian Daedroth.
Molag Bal is infamous for his own Daedric Artefact: a massive, brutally spiked, black iron mace that is capable of slaying all that stand before it, smashing heads and breaking faces, draining victims of their magicka and passing it to the wielder. The Mace of Molag Bal is an incredibly deadly and vicious weapon also known as the Vampire’s Mace, and is the perfect tool for slaughtering wizards.
[ Boethiah ]
Molag Bal’s immortal enemy is Boethiah, the Daedric Prince of Plots and Deceiver of Nations. Though Boethiah is often depicted as male, he is alternately referred to as female as well. Many of the Dark Elves hold Boethiah sacred as their ancestor, with their cultural progress attributed to him. Glorified by the Prophet Veloth, the Chimer, predecessors of the Dunmer, split from the Aldmer and started their new society based on Daedric values, inspired by Boethiah. Despite having a sphere of influence that includes murder, assassination, treason and the unlawful overthrow of authority, he is actually considered by some to be one of the “good” Daedra.
Boethiah’s Oblivion realm is aptly named “The Realm of Boethiah,” though it is also called Snake Mount. Little is known about it, except that it has stormy skies and oceans of lava in which float volcanic islands. The land is one of labyrinthine policy and betrayal with maze-like gardens and twisted towers. The Tournament of Ten Bloods is hosted here. This involves a member of each of the ten races being brought to the realm to take part in fatal one-on-one combats, with the victorious champion being awarded the magical sword and ancient artefact Goldbrand. Boethiah’s prized servants are the Hunger, withered and fragile looking but extremely dangerous Daedra with long, lashing tongues, spines, and sphincter-like mouths.
The Ebony Mail is a black, ebony cuirass and the Daedric artefact of Boethiah. It can be medium or heavy armour, depending on the skill of the wearer, and imbues him or her with resistance to flame and magical attacks, stealthier movement and the power to poison any foes that get too close. In addition, Boethiah also has a second artefact, called Goldbrand. Although not created by him, it contains his power, burning enemies in battle and resembles a golden katana.
Check back in a fortnight to read about more of the mysterious and inscrutable Daedric Princes.
[ Further Reading ]
The Story of Elder Scrolls Online
Races of Tamriel: The Dunmer
10 Reasons Why Elder Scrolls Online Will Rock
Andy Lex Bain is a 31 year old writer who resides in Tasmania. He enjoys writing, reading, writing video game reviews, gaming, writing fiendish campaigns for his roleplaying club "The Blades of Valour", cosplaying, bushwalking and watching movies, DVDs and anime. He aspires to be a full-time published author and basically spends his days slaving away at his computer, ShadowLord.