Lore: Lorkhan’s Tears
In ESO’s Alchemy system, plants you harvest can be mixed with waters (“solvents”) to create potions. The kind of water determines the level of the potion: “Natural Water” makes lvl 3 pots, and the highest level of water for CP pots is called “Lorkhan’s Tears”.
A while back someone in guild chat asked: “Who is this Lorkhan dude, and why is he crying?” My first response was “The answer to that question is the plot of Morrowind” because for me all roads lead back to Morrowind. But there’s a longer, better answer, deeply rooted in Elder Scrolls mythology, and I’ve had requests for lore posts, so we’ll start here. Turns out Zellur’ra is a bit of a bard, and she’s going to tell us a story of Lorkhan.
Caveat: “A” story of Lorkhan, because each of the races has their own mythology and interpretation of cosmic events, and there is much contradiction in the lore. Lorkhan’s myths are particularly confusing to follow through in-game books, b/c depending on the race’s perspective, some see him as a savior/creator deity, yet some see him as an evil figure, the cause of mortality itself, and therefore, the instigator of all mortal suffering. To deepen the confusion, each race calls him by a different name – to the Khajiit he is Lorkhaj, (as in “the Maw of”), but the Nords call him Shor. Zellur’ra is Khajiit, but this is not the Khajiit myth; this version most closely follows the Imperial tale, though the Imperials call him Shezzar.
And now that I’ve thoroughly confused everyone, Zellur’ra can take over…
Come closer, gather in, and Zellur’ra will tell you a story. Yes, just so, make yourselves comfortable – are your glasses full? The Oasis bar has a magnificent Orsinium ale on tap, and just this morning we received a case of Dunmeri black wine delivered all the way from Mournhold! It is said the wine was blessed by Almalexia herself; you must try some.
All settled then? Good, let us begin.
This is a Creation story, and like all Creation stories, it begins with darkness.
In the beginning there was only the Void, and the shapeless twins Anu and Padomay floated in that Void. Anu was an expression of Order and Padomay, Chaos. As opposed contrasts, they fought, and from their spilled blood were born an infinite legion of nameless, shapeless spirits we call the et’Ada.
Of the endless et’Ada, it was Akatosh who first manifested himself physically, thus creating Time, and this helped the others assume form as well. Eventually the spirit Lorkhan sought to create a plane of existence – Mundus – that he could fill with life, and he convinced the other spirits to assist in the effort. They poured their power into this act of Creation, and from the shapeless, eternal Aetherius came finite Mundus in all its glorious and terrible beauty. There was Life, yes, and – for the very first time – Death.
Most humans (the Ra Gada people are the exception) see the creation of Mundus and mortal life as an act of divine grace. Most elves (though not the Dunmeri) see Mundus as a disgrace, for they believe Lorkhan sundered our connection to the divine source and doomed us all to short lives of pain and death. Many wars have already been fought over these interpretations, and Zellur’ra, with much sadness, believes many more will be fought in the future.
Regardless, as Mundus neared completion, the spirits involved realized they were becoming weakened. They were forming Mundus from themselves, and as it grew, their divine power was diminished. It became clear to them that they would soon no longer be strong enough to ever leave and would become permanently bound to Mundus. Many of them – most of them – left immediately, as fast as they could. Look up, look at the night; what we call stars are holes punched through the skin of the sky by the fleeing spirits. It is the ebb and flow of Aetherius itself you see twinkling beyond.
Not all the spirits fled, however; some chose to stay and finish their creation. But they were enraged with Lorkhan, for they believed he had tricked them and stolen their power. Whether that was his intention or not, this one cannot say, and no mortal will ever truly know. We do know, however, that they judged him guilty, and in retribution they tore him limb from limb and threw the pieces far and wide. He is called ‘the Missing God’, but his bones are in the mountain ranges, his breath is in the air, and his tears are in the water; he is missing, yet he is everywhere, in all things. Zellur’ra imagines his heart lies somewhere deep and dark, broken and betrayed, yet still beating.
You have heard the story of Lorkhan’s death before, for the bards sing of it in taverns:
When Akatosh slew Lorkhan
He ripped his heart right out
Hurled it across Tamriel
The laughing heart spilled blood afar
Magicka fused the Lorkhan blood
To crystal red and strong
Then Wild Elves cut and polished it down
To Chim-el Adabal
The spirits who stayed to finish Mundus were, by that point, too weakened to ever be able to leave. They remained here, and are with us still, forever bound to this plane. The Imperials call the bound ones “the Divines”, and they are our primary protectors against those who wish to see Lorkhan’s creation, and us, destroyed. The ancient elves called the bound ones Aedra – their word for ancestors – for they believe they are the direct descendants of those original spirits. We also continue to use their word for the other spirits who did not stay: “Daedra”, which means, loosely, “not ancestors”.
Not all the Daedric Princes wish to see Nirn destroyed; Azura, for instance, loves Lorkhan’s creation, even though she fled the fate of being forever bound to us. While she cannot be trusted in all matters, she – like Meridia – can be an ally to us in the battle to protect Mundus from the destroyers.
But for the most part, our protection lies with the Divines who call Mundus home, as we do. The Red Diamond, fused blood of Lorkhan, was part of a pact made between St. Alessia and the Divines, and its power maintains a ward which shields Mundus from Daedric intrusion. This is part of why the Daedra who wish to come to Nirn must now rely upon mortals to open portals for them.
Alessia’s tale will have to wait for another day, however, for my story time is at an end. Travel on warm sands, friend.
Zells: But wait! There are footnotes! (I am nothing if not an academic.)
From YouTube, a 10-minute primer on TES metaphysics – Skyrim Lore: Daedric Secrets
Also YouTube, this is a quick over-view of daedra – Skyrim: 100 Daedra Secrets
The Imperial Library website collects all TES books and written documents, this link is to their landing page.
Imperial Library – book: The Monomyth – this book collects Tamriel’s most common creation myths as told by the various races; it’s an excellent way to compare/contrast.
Imperial Library – genesis collection page: not a book text, but an analysis of the common elements of the Creation myth, with quotes from many different books used to illustrate each element. Well done and useful for reconciling all the conflicting information.
I will probably focus the next Lore posts on Morrowind-related history/mythology. Let me know if there’s a particular bit of lore you would like to see covered. Meanwhile, happy hunting!