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Lore Article: The Importance of Talos

Tags: #Phil  #Lore: Historical Figures  #Lore: Metaphysics 
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    December 26, 2015

    After the complete and total defeat of all his opponents, Septim began using Numidium to crush the neutral royal families of Tamriel so that he could enthrone only persons he knew to be loyal. His Imperial Battlemage was furious at this use of his creation, and fought to reclaim the Mantella. In the ensuing battle, both the created and the creator were vanquished: the heart they shared blown out of this reality into the netherworld they call Aetherius. Letter to the player character.

    Septim by Hieronymus7Z

    The year was 2E230 and The last Akaviri Potentate, Savirien-Chorak, had been assassinated by the Dark Brotherhood. This murder marks the end of the Second Empire founded by Reman Cyrodiil and ushers in a period of darkness known as the Interregnum, a time of continuous unrest and "days and nights of blood and venom." Brief history of the Empire." From one end of the continent to the other, war and rebellion struck at the heart of every great tradition of the land" PGE 3Ed.  What was left of the Empire in Cyrodiil was split in half and limped through five hundred years of insurrections, rebellions and failed governance yet refused to die completely and critically for Tamriel the very symbol of the Empire, the Amulet of Kings, was lost. PGE 1Ed.

    The Bretons of High Rock reverted back to their former way of life of fractious kingdoms and fared slightly better than most PGE 3Ed. That is to say they fared better until 2E542 when the Reachmen invasion of Longhouse Emperors under the command of Durcorach, the "Black Drake" led to the formation of the Daggerfall Covenant. This confederate of High Rock, Orsinium and Hammerfell considered itself to be a noble alliance of honorable and chivalrous peoples, representing all the best aspects of the first and second empires and the spiritual successors to the Reman Dynasty Guide to the Daggerfall Covenant.

    Despite their defeat in High Rock the Longhouse Emperors ruled Cyrodiil for a further twenty years. These barbarian warlords were eventually overthrown by Varen Aquilarious of Choral who united the Colovian Estates in a successful rebellion. Valerian's desire to be a true Dragonborn heir eventually led to an event known as the Soulburst which weakened the barriers between Nirn and Oblivion and eventually paved the way for Molag Bal's Planemeld. Chronicles of the Five Companions.

    In 2e572 northeast Tamriel came under attack by an Akaviri force led by Ada'Soom Dir-Kamal and was only repelled by an alliance between the Nords of Skyrim, the Dunmer of Morrowind and the Argonians of Black Marsh The Second Akaviri Invasion.

    Fast forward to 2E580 and the Altmer of the Summersets, led by the wise and charismatic Queen Ayrenn join forces with the Bosmer of Valenwood and the Khajiit of Elsweyr to form the Aldmeri Dominion in an attempt to usher in a new age of peace Firsthold Handbill.

    In 2E582 the three alliances clashed in the Three Banners War as each attempted to overthrow and replace the rule of Empress Clivia Tharn, who had ruled after the disappearance of her husband Varen Auilarious. As each alliance invaded Cyrodiil and their armies clashed, Molag Bal, asssitedby his agent Mannimarco who had his own schemes to pursue, continued his Daedric Invasion of Tamriel.

    The Rise of Tiber Septim

    The aftermath of the Alliance War and the Planemeld left Tamriel bloodied and ruined. The forts and roads which had connected the various races of the Empire through trade and commerce had fallen into disrepair and the Nibenean East and Colovian West of Cyrodiil were more divided than ever. PGE 1Ed

    Into this veritable dark age stride three figures: Hjalti Early-Beard, Ysmir Wulfharth; and Zurin Arctus. At this stage it is worth noting that there are two conflicting accounts of Talos' life, the first being the orthodox history as outlined in PGE 1Ed and the second is detailed in The Arcturian Heresy.

    The events of Skyrim, namely the ghost of Old Hroldan, lead me to believe the heresy to be the more satisfying version so this article is based around that book. The orthodoxy, however, deserves no less than it's own separate discussion. It is also worth bearing in mind that the most prominent theories in Talos lore about his ascension very quickly stray into the few out of game sources we have on the subject. One of those pieces can be found here, an old MK post about Lorkhan and his avatars:

    1.Wulfharth L
    2. Hjalti O
    3. Ysmir R
    4. Talos K
    5. Arctus H
    6. Septim A

    I noticed how he has all the main characters in this story as Shezarrines. To me this is important as it underpins some of the leaps we must make in order to get a sense of what Talos is.

    The year is unknown but sometime in the early 850's of the Second Era King Cuhlecain of Falkreath, which at that time was within Cyrodiil's borders, desired to unite the fractious Colovian Estates, march on The Imperial City and establish himself as Emperor. To do this he needed both allies and a secure northern border so he turned to the Nords of Skyrim for help. At this time the Nords were engaged in a war with the Western Reach and had been for centuries, the latest battles saw the Nordic forces led by a young general named Hjalti Early-Beard.

    To me the story really gets interesting at the gates of Old Hroldan, a settlement in southeast Skyrim. The Reachmen had taken control of this site and Hjalti was going to win it back:

    Hjalti was a shrewd tactician, and his small band of Colovian troops and Nord berserkers broke the Reachman line, forcing them back beyond the gates of Old Hrol'dan. A siege seemed impossible, as Hjalti could expect no reinforcements from Falkreath. That night a storm came and visited Hjalti's camp. It spoke with him in his tent. At dawn, Hjalti went up to the gates, and the storm followed just above his head. Arrows could not penetrate the winds around him. He shouted down the walls of Old Hrol'dan, and his men poured in. After their victory, the Nords called Hjalti Talos, or Stormcrown. The Arcturian Heresy

    This is important because we know from TES V that Hjalti Talos is then called to High Hrothgar and named Dragonborn. Dragonborn should be a familiar concept to most by now but it's worth revisiting here briefly how important this blessing is to Tamriel. The Dragonborn are believed to be blessed by Akatosh with the blood or soul of a dragon. In Skyrim these beings were legendary dragon-slayers of the Merethic era while in Cyrodiil they were the heirs of Alessia responsible for keeping the Dragonfires lit which protected Tamriel from Daedric invasion. These two roles might seem unconnected at first glance but mythically speaking they share similar themes: both protect the citizens of their respective lands from what is culturally considered their greatest threats. In a way Dragonborn are avatars of Akatosh in the same way a Shezarrine is an avatar of Lorkhan.

    Wait, why does Hjalti need Ysmir Wulfharth to help him shout if he's Dragonborn? Again it's down to my interpretation but the primary difference between the Dragonborn of the Nordic myths and the Dragonborn of the Cyrodiils is the absence of dragon souls. If there are no dragons for Hjalti to slay and absorb he needs to learn shouts the hard way - through Wulfharth. In a sense he is taking in both the shout and a little bit of Ysmir with each word he learns.

    The union of Hjalti Stormcrown and Ysmir Wulfharth is very important - one is a Shezarrine (possibly both are if you consider MK's text) and the other is Dragonborn. I took another look at Pelinal Whitestarke, another legendary Shezarrine, and the words recorded in his song:

    O Aka, for our shared madness I do this! I watch you watching me watching back! Umaril dares call us out, for that is how we made him!"

    "... and left you to gather sinew with my other half, who will bring light thereby to that mortal idea that brings [the Gods great joy, that is, freedom, which even the Heavens do not truly know, [which is] why our Father, the... [Text lost]... in those first [days/spirits/swirls] before Convention... that which we echoed in our earthly madness. [Let us] now take you Up. We will [show] our true faces... [which eat] one another in amnesia each Age." The Song of Pelinal

    Pelinal, conscious of being a vessel housing the soul of Lorkhan, is calling out to his twin and drawing the reader's attention to their shared connection. Lorkhan and Akatosh are like mirror images of each other in the same way their super-gradients are connected. Like ying and yang, Aka and Lorkhan are just smaller gradients of Anuiel and Sithis which in turn are sub-gradients of Anu and Padomay.  The Monomyth

    Another book which might aid in understanding this point is et'Ada, Eight Aedra, Eat the Dreamer:

    The Aedroth Aka, who goes by so many names as to perhaps already suggest what I'm about to commit to memospore, is completely insane. His mind broke when his "perch from Eternity allowed the day" and we of all the Aurbis live on through its fragments, ensnared in the temporal writings and erasures of the acausal whim that he begat by saying "I AM". In the aetheric thunder of self-applause that followed (nay, rippled until convention, that is, amnesia), is it any wonder that the Time God would hate the same-twin on the other end of the aurbrilical cord, the Space God? That any Creation would become so utterly dangerous because of that singular fear of a singular word's addition: "I AM NOT"?

    Time and Space as two parts of the same thing, ying and yang, Anuiel and Sithis, Akatosh and Lorkhan, Hjalti and Wulfharth: For the first time since time began on Nirn the two are reunited - the wandering soul of the Missing God and a Dragonborn are united and finally reflect the nature of Aurbis.

    Another interpretation of the relationship between these two will become important when we discuss the Dragon Break later on. At the moment it is sufficient to say that when viewed through the lens of history and myth the actions and deeds of these two beings (and later the third, Zurin) get confused and attributed to one man, Talos.

    When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. The Man who Shot Liberty Valanc

    However, this isn't quite enough for apotheosis. In order for the myth of Aurbis to truly be recreated on Tamriel three more things are needed: a king, a witness and a betrayal. Zurin Arctus will serve as the witness, Wulfarth will be the betrayed and Hjalti, now known as Talos, will be the king. This is known as the enantiomorph. To that end the new Emperor Cuhlecain needed to die.

    Cuhlecain, with his new invincible general, unifies West Cyrodiil in under a year. No one can stand before Hjalti's storms. The Underking knows that if Hjalti is to become Emperor of Tamriel, he must first capture the Eastern Heartland. Hjalti uses them both. He needs Cuhlecain in the Colovian Estates, where foreigners are mistrusted. It is obvious why he needs Ysmir. They march on the East, the battlemages surrender before their armies, and they take the Citadel. Before Cuhlecain can be crowned, Hjalti secretly murders him and his loyalist contingent. These assassinations are blamed on the enemies of Cuhlecain, which, for political reasons, are still the Western Reach. Zurin Arctus, the Grand Battlemage (not the Underking), then crowns Hjalti as Tiber Septim, new Emperor of All Cyrodiil. After he captures the Imperial Throne, Septim finds the initial administration of a fully united Cyrodiil a time-consuming task. He sends the Underking to deal with Imperial expansion into Skyrim and High Rock. Ysmir, mindful that it might seem as if Tiber Septim is in two places at once, works behind the scenes. This period of levelheaded statesmanship and diplomacy, this sudden silence, heretofore unknown in the roaring tales of Talosian conquest, are explained away later. (The assassination story is embroidered -- now it is popularly Talos' own throat that was cut.) The Arcturian Heresy

    In order to achieve those goals it took more than just military might. Talos needed both Wulfharth and Cuhlecain. The former because of the power Ysmir confers and the latter to gain the respect of a group suspicious of their new Nord and Breton allies. We can see that recurring theme again here that sometimes the myths and stories of Talos' life cannot all be attributed to one man. Yet myths are important in Tamriel and shape reality in a very real way. So if the myths treat these things as the actions of one man, so will reality when time reasserts itself following the impending Dragon Break.

    Moving on, with Cyrodiil and Skyrim working together at last, Talos can finally become the Emperor he was prophesied to be. Talos secretly murders Cuhlecain and blames the Western Reachmen for the deed. Politically speaking this ensures the continuation of the pacification of Skyrim's enemies and allows Talos to start ruling Cyrodiil after being crowned by the Imperial Battlemage Zurin Arctus. Wulfharth is dispatched to Skyrim and High Rock to ensure a smooth transition to Imperial Rule but with Ysmir gone Talos needs to explain the sudden silence of the heretofore thunderous Shouting conquests. This is the start of the myth that Talos' own throat was slit in the assassination of Culecain.

    Emperor Tiber Septim

    The human kingdoms are conquered, even Hammerfell, whose capture was figured to be an arduous task. The Underking wants a complete invasion, a chance to battle their foreign wind spirits himself, but Tiber Septim refutes him. He has already made a better plan, one that will seem to legitimize his rule. Cyrodiil supports the losing side of a civil war and are invited in. The Arcturian Heresy

    The conquest of Hammerfell is the result of The Battle Of Hunding Bay and is less a victory through military might than it is an exercise in diplomacy. The Crowns and Forebears of Hammerfell had always been on opposing sides as one factions stood for traditional and nationalistic values like the nobility of old Yokuda, while the other had a more accepting view of the wider world reflecting the culture of the warriors and sailors who played a key role in the Yokudans expansion across the seas.

    These two factions clashed in a civil war. After the death of High King Thassad II the Forebear army recaptured the city of Sentinel by force. Crown Prince A'tor then sailed from Stros M'kai to avenge his father and presided over one of the bloodiest massacres in Tamriel's history. The Forebears turned to Tiber Septim for help. PGE 1Ed

    The events of TES Redguard tell the full story but to summarise the Imperials, with the help of the dragon Nafaalilargus and a soul gem, sign a treaty which gives them full control over Hammerfell. Cyrus, the hero of TES Redguard, changes this state of affairs in his adventures and by his actions the Crowns come out on victorious over the Imperial-sponsored Forebears.  Critically the Imperials were forced to sign a new treaty more favourable to Hammerfell, rendering it a province of equal status rather than a subject-state.

    With Hammerfell, the last human land to be incorporated into the Empire as a province equal to all the others, Talos turns his attention to the Elven lands. The theme we see repeating here is that in each instance the conquest and invasion of the lands outside of the empire tend to result not in subjugated nations but provinces with equal status.

    Finally, the Empire can turn its eyes onto the Elves. The Underking continues to press on Tiber Septim the need to conquer Morrowind. The Emperor is not sure that it is a wise idea. He has heard of the Tribunal's power. The Underking wants his vengeance, and reminds Tiber Septim that he is fated to conquer the Elves, even the Tribunal. Arctus advises against the move but Septim covets the Ebony in Morrowind, as he sorely needs a source of capital to rebuild Cyrodiil after 400 years of war. The Underking tells him that, with the Tribunal dead, Septim might steal the Tribunal's power and use it against the High Elves (certainly the oldest enemies of Lorkhan, predating even the Tribunal). Summerest Isle is the farthest thing from Tiber Septim's mind. Even then, he was planning to send Zurin arctus to the King of Alinor to make peace. The Ebony need wins out in the end. The Empire invades Morrowind, and the Tribunal give up. The Arcturian Heresy

    To me this is a very interesting passage because we can see Talos, or Tiber Septim as he is now known as, being pushed and pulled by both advisors, his warmongering Nordic counterpart Wulfharth and the Imperial battlemage Arctus. The valuable Ebony ore from Morrowind would go along way towards rebuilding the Empire. On top of that, Ysmir urges Tiber to use the Tribunal's power against the Altmer, This also goes against Septim's more peaceful plans. Yet the need for cash outweighs all other concerns and the might of the Imperial Army turns east towards the lands of the Dunmer.

    When certain conditions of the Armistice include not only a policy of noninterference with the Tribunal, but also, in the Underking's eyes, a validation of their religious beliefs, Ysmir is furious. He abandons the Empire completely. This was the betrayal the Greybeards spoke of. Or so he thinks. The Arcturian Heresy

    As the Imperial Army massed on Morrowind's borders several skirmishes broke out. It wasn't until the proud city of Mournhold was sacked by Tiber's force that the dark elves signed a treaty and peace is restored. This is why the the city of Mournhold changed it's name and became the city of Almalexia. Perhaps the most important term of this Armistice in regards to Talos' rise to divinity is the acquisition of the giant Dwemer golem, NumidiumBiography of Barenziah

    Nothing is known of the circumstances of the personal meeting between Septim and Vivec, or where it took place, or the preliminaries which must have preceded the treaty. The public reason was to protect the identities of the agents involved. In the West, speculation has centered around the role of Zurin Arctus in brokering the agreement; in the East, rumors suggest that Vivec offered Numidium to aid in the conquest of the Altmer and Sumerset Isle in return for significant concessions to preserve self-rule, house traditions, and religious practices in Morrowind. On Morrowind

    With Morrowind absorbed into the empire and the powerful Numidium in his control, Septim now had to confront the prospect of ruling without Wulfharth.

    Without the Underking's power, all ideas of conquering Tamriel vanish. Would've been nice, Septim thinks, but let's just worry about Cyrodiil and the human nations. Already there is a rebellion in Hammerfell.

    Pieces of Numidium trickle in, though. Tiber Septim, always fascinated by the Dwarves, has Zurin Arctus research this grand artifact. In doing so, Arctus stumbles upon some of the stories of the war at Red Mountain. He discovers the reason the Numidium was made and some of it's [sic] potential. Most importantly, he learns the Underking's place in the War. But Zurin Arctus was working from incomplete plans. He thinks it is the heart of Lorkhan's body that is needed to power the Numidium. The Arcturian Heresy

    In the process of studying the Numidium, Zurin Arctus discovers that Wulfharth led the Nord and Orsimer armies against the Dunmer during The War of the First Council. To me this is relevant because during that battle both General Wulfharth and his forces knew the significance of the moment:

    And the Ash King, Wulfharth, hoary Ysmir, went and made peace with the Orcs in spite of his Nordic blood, and they brought many warriors but no wizards at all. Many Nords could not bring themselves to ally with their traditional enemies, even in the face of Red Mountain. They were close to desertion. Then Wulfharth said: “Don't you see where you really are? Don't you know who Shor really is? Don't you know what this war is?” And they looked from the King to the God to the Devils and Orcs, and some knew, really knew, and they are the ones that stayed. The Five Songs of King Wulharth

    This I interpreted to mean that they were aware they were standing inside a Dragon Break and that the myths of Convention were being re-enacted. Although the players changed slightly it remained similar thematically and mythically. MK AMA


    Preaching to the Converted by Insanity Squirrel

    The Enantiomorph

    Zurin Arctus now knows enough to figure out a way of powering Numidium without the Heart of Lorkhan:

    While Zurin Arctus is raving about his discovery, the prophecy finally becomes clear to Tiber Septim. This Numidium is what he needs to conquer the world. It is his destiny to have it. He contacts the Underking and says he was right all along. They should kill the Tribunal, and they need to get together and make a plan. While the Underking was away he realized the true danger of Dagoth-Ur. Something must to be done. But he needs an army, and his old one is available again. The trap is set.

    The Underking arrives and is ambushed by Imperial guards. As he takes them on, Zurin Arctus uses a soulgem on him. With his last breath, the Underking's Heart roars a hole through the Battlemage's chest. In the end, everyone is dead, the Underking has reverted back to ash, and Tiber Septim strolls in to take the soulgem. The Arcturian Heresy 

    This is the enantiomorphic event, a recreation of the mythical theme which repeats like a musical riff down through the gradients. This theory has been around longer than I and can be read in more detail in the oog source The Rebel's Return. There are many variations to this theory but the basics are as follows and is called mantling, the Fourth Walking Way:

    Mantling and incarnation are separate roads; do not mistake this. The latter is built from the cobbles of drawn-bone destiny. The former: walk like them until they must walk like you. Nu-Hata of the Sphinxmoth Inquiry Tree

    The role of the Observer or Witness within the enantiomorph changes from character to character and is only finally defined when an action is taken. This reinforces the idea that the three principle characters in Tiber Septim's story can often be seen as interchangeable or even the same being. In the case of Talos' apotheosis Zurin takes the form of the witness when the Imperial Guards attack Wulfharth and Arctus uses a Soul gem on him. This act marks Ysmir as the King in the enantiomorph and thus makes Talos the Rebel. One of the key aspects of the Oserver's role is that they must be maimed in the process. In this instance it is Wulfharth's heart which kills Arctus. Although it isn't explicitly stated my interpretation of Wulfharth's final act is that the soul trap spell also captures Zurin Arctus. It could very well be that the heart of Ysmir burning a hole through Arctus' chest is symbolic in the same way blood is often uses interchangeably with soul and therefore the heart is seen as the home of the soul. Whatever the reason, inside the soulgem there is now one shared soul.

    As the last man standing, the Rebel Talos is now the inheritor of the position of King. This itself might be enough for him to ascend but I think there is a final step needed.

    Skyrim-Shrine of Talos by MichalKus

    The Dragon Break and the Apotheosis of Tiber Septim

    With the soulgem filled with Wulfharth's soul in his possession (called the Mantella), Talos can activate and control the Numidium. After all, the soulgem containing a Shezarrine's soul is functionally close enough to the Heart of Lorkhan that the Brass Tower can be used.

    The Brass Tower is the term used for Numidium in the Prophecy of the Last Dragonborn:

    When the Brass Tower walks and time is reshaped.

    The Towers are a particularly complex area of lore but in the simplest explanation they act as amplifiers of reality and can change their surrounding environment to suit the cultures they represent. Subtropical Cyrodiil. The part about reshaping time in the prophecy is normally referring to the Warp in the West but we know from an out of game source from MK that Tiber's activation of the Numidium also resulted in a Dragon Break:

    Numidium's Siege of Alinor:

    It's not the Brass God that wrecks everything so much as it is all the plane(t)s and timelines that orbit it, singing world-refusals.

    The Surrender of Alinor happened in one hour, but Numidium's siege lasted from the Mythic Era until long into the Fifth. Some Mirror Logicians of the Altmer fight it still in chrysalis shells that phase in and out of Tamrielic Prime, and their brethren know nothing of their purpose unless they stare too long and break their own possipoints.

    That the Numidium causes a Dragon Break every time it is activated makes sense. The same thing happened when the Dwemer used it during the events of The War of the First Council and the same thing happened later in 3E417 when the Numidium was rebuilt. It stands to reason the same thing would occur when Talos uses it.

    All these pieces of the puzzle fit together to give me an interpretation about how Talos became a god. The mythic recreation of Convention played by three Shezarrines identifies Talos as the role of a King, while the activation of Nunmidium causes a dragon break which allows Talos to reshape time, while the fact that the Numidium is a Tower allows these realities to solidify. Like the Tribunal at Red Mountain, many timelines are now created when the Time Dragon reassembles.

    To bring this full-circle, I said earlier that the fact that each of the characters could well be Shezarrines is important in understanding Talos. Even though two of their mortal forms die in the enantiomorph, their souls fuse due to the mythical interchangeability of each character. Further, the Missing god Lorkhan, represented by Wulfharth the Shezarrine is finally reunited with his heart when time is reshaped during the Dragon Break. In the eyes of myth and history, he becomes indistinguishable from Lorkhan.

    Talos, then, is the Oversoul of Hjalti, Wulfharth and Zurin Arctus and ascends to divinity to take Lorkhan's vacant place.

    There is a precedent for this in The Thirty-Six Lessons of Vivec:, Sermon 36. It is called  the Sixth Walking Way and it appears to be the concept of an Oversoul, the three independent gods of the Dunmer becoming one:

    Each of the aspects of the ALMSIVI then rose up together, combining as one, and showed the world the sixth path.

    I'm getting ahead of myself. Before any of this can happen Talos needs to die and the shared soul of the Wulfharth and Arctus needs to be released and this doesn't happen until the Altmer of the Summerest Isles confront the might of Numidium. Much has been made of the short passage contained in the Pocket Guide to the Empire about the subjugation of Alinor. Depending on who you ask it is a brutal and bloody conflict or an almost bloodless demonstration of Imperial power:

    The conquest and assimilation of Summerset into the Empire is remembered by many a living Altmer with horror only partially diminished by time. Certainly, the pride of the people has never recovered. PGE3Ed

    According to the oog source I linked to above about Numidium's Siege of Alinor the battle lasted only one hour. As far as I can tell this is the extent of our knowledge about the details of this conflict. This isn't unprecedented as it seems our understanding of Tiber's conquest of Elsweyr and Black Marsh are equally limited, confined as they are to a small biography of Attrebus. Nevertheless, the aftermath of Septim's conquest of the Summersets had a major impact on the high elves. Hstory of the High Elves.

    With the absorption of the Altmeri lands into the Empire, Tiber Septim's conquest of Tamriel was complete. He achieved in a few years that which no other had ever managed in the entirety of Tamrielic history and united every land on the continent under one banner. Depending on who you ask this conflict was brutal and bloody or diplomatic and mostly peaceful. However, the subject still remains controversial, as does Talos himself, to this day.

    After its work on Summerset Isle a new threat appears -- a rotting undead wizard who controls the skies. He blows the Numidium apart. But it pounds him into the ground with its last flailings, leaving only a black splotch. The Mantella falls into the sea, seemingly forever. The Arcturian Heresy

    ...In the ensuing battle, both the created and the creator were vanquished: the heart they shared blown out of this reality into the netherworld they call Aetherius. Letter to the player character.

    The release of the shared soul of Zurin and Wulfarth is implied in those two sources. Although The Underking will return as an avatar of Lorkhan in subsequent centuries.

    The beginning of the Third Era was proclaimed by Tiber Septim in the year 2E 896 and was a golden age of peace and rebuilding after the darkness of the Interegnum during the Second Era. When Talos finally dies his soul joins that of Wulfharth and Zurin Arctus,finally compelting the Talos oversoul and the apotheosis of Tiber Septim.

    For thirty-eight years, the Emperor Tiber reigned supreme. It was a lawful, pious, and glorious age, when justice was known to one and all, from serf to sovereign. On Tiber's death, it rained for an entire fortnight as if the land of Tamriel itself was weeping. Brief History of the Empire.


    CHIM and Talos the Tower of Man

    At some point either before he fully ascended or after he joined the ranks of the Divines depending on one's own interpretation, Talos achieved a state of enlightenment known as CHIM. CHIM is inextricably tied to Tower Lore and fundamental in discovering the impetus behind Lorkhan's plan for Mundus.In the Commentaries of the Mysterium Xarxes Mankar Cameron makes reference to Talos and CHIM:

    CHIM. Those who know it can reshape the land. Witness the home of the Red King Once Jungled.

    This quote about the Red King Once Jungled is a reference to the oog book (which, confusingly, is quoted by Heimskr in TES V) called From The Many-Headed Talos:

    "And after the throne of Alinor did finally break at the feet of Men, and news of it came to the Dragon Emperor in Cyrodiil, he gathered his captains and spoke to them, saying:

    "'You have suffered for me to win this throne, and I see how you hate jungle. Let me show you the power of Talos Stormcrown, born of the North, where my breath is long winter. I breathe now, in royalty, and reshape this land which is mine. I do this for you, Red Legions, for I love you.'"

    This is the clue that links Talos with CHIM: "I breathe now in royalty and reshape this land which is mine." Talos now has the power to transform the world around him and shape it to his will. This is very similar to what the Towers actually do and gives us another clue as to why Talos is important. Heimskr goes on quite the rant about love after he is done quoting from the book. To understand the concept of love and how it fits in with CHIM a visit to Rotten Deadtite's New Whirling School and supplimentary essays helped me see the concept from another perspective. The use of the word royalty is key here too as explained in the 36 Lessons:

    'I told you,' Vivec said, 'I am meant to be the teacher of the king of the earth. AE ALTADOON GHARTOK PADHOME.'

    With these magic words, the King of Rape added another: 'CHIM,' which is the secret syllable of royalty.

    However, to attain a more complete understanding what CHIM is a look at another out of game source is needed. Vehk's Teaching is probably the most important source in terms of understanding the concepts of The Tower, CHIM and the possible explanation for Lorkhan's grand scheme.

    What is the Psijic Endeavor?

    The basis for the teachings of the Prophet Veloth, founder of present day Morrowind and father of Dunmeri culture. Veloth describes the Psijic Endeavor as a process of glorious apotheosis, where time itself is bent inward and outward into 'a shape that is always new'. Those who can attain this state, called chim, experience an ineffable sense of the godhead, and escape the strictures of the world-egg.

    What is "chim"?

    From the Ehlnofex: an ancient sigil connoting 'royalty', 'starlight', and 'high splendor'. As with most characters of that dangerous language, the sigil CHIM constantly distorts itself. Those scholars that can perceive its shape regard it as a Crowned Tower that threatens to break apart at the slightest break in concentration.

    Representations of the chim, and by extension the Psijic Endeavor, are always protean values, such as the anumidi models renowned by the Dwemer, the Scarab of contemporary astrolothurges, and the Striking ("exact egg-cracking") of old Argonia. All of these representations possess an innate and constant aspect of transformation.

    What is the purpose of the Psijic Endeavor?

    To transcend mortal boundaries set in place by immortal rulers. At its simplest, the state of chim provides an escape from all known laws of the divine worlds and the corruptions of the black sea of Oblivion. It is a return to the first brush of Anu-Padomay, where stasis and change created possibility. Moreso, it the essence needed to hold that 'dawning' together without disaster. One that knows CHIM observes the Tower without fear. Moreso: he resides within.

    CHIM, then, is the representation of a concept analogous to the Psijic Endeavor which is a means of spiritual transcendence. It means following in the footsteps of Lorkhan and seeing the "I" of the Tower while still retaining one's own identity despite experiencing "an ineffable sense of the godhead." It is not easy and is extremely rare but at its simplest, CHIM allows one to experience the contradicting cries of Time's I AM and Space's I Am Not which represent the dual reality of the dream of Anu. Talos managed this and so is able understand himself as both a part of Anu's dream while still retaining his identity and sense of self. As such he has a lot more control over the dream and can, to some extent, reshape reality. This process, as well as a warning to those who would attempt it, is described in Sermon 11:

    'The waking world is the amnesia of dream. All motifs can be mortally wounded. Once slain, themes turn into the structure of future nostalgia. Do not abuse your powers or they will lead you astray. They will leave you like rebellious daughters. They will lose their virtue. They will become lost and resentful and finally become pregnant with the seed of folly. Soon you will be the grandparent of a broken state. You will be mocked. It will fall apart like a stone that recalls that it is really water."

    With that warning we are reminded that achieving the state of CHIM is not so much a super power but more of a meditation or sense of enlightenment and as such requires tremendous focus. Yet if used correctly, as Talos did, this Fith Walking Way can allow one a tremendous amount of freedom that not even the Aedra have.

    Talos, now the Ninth Divine is also more than that because unlike the other Divines he is awake inside the dream of Anu. Of all the gods of men and mer, Talos is the one with greatest amount of  freedom to act against the powers that would threaten Lorkhan's - his own - Mundus. This is the true importance of Talos for without him acting as the Towers do, there may very well be no Mundus at all.

    ESO Concept Art by Rayph


    Metaphysically the importance of Talos can be subtle and hard to define, requiring as it does a grasp of complicated subjects in TES lore. The things he achieved both in life and in death mirror the acts of Lorkhan who, depending on which myths you are reading, either tricked or convinced the other gods into creating the mortal plane, while mythic violence of the Ehlnofey Wars of the Dawn Era seem to be echoed in Talos' conquest of Tamriel. In a very real sense, Tiber Septim finally fulfils all the promise and potential of Lorkhan's design by achieving CHIM - something Lorkhan himself failed to do - and uniting all the races of Tamriel into one identity, however briefly it lasted. It is fitting, then, that he should take that Missing God's place in the pantheons of men and mer and act as Mundus' guardian while the very Towers themselves fall.

    Yet on a more mundane level the importance of Talos cannot be overstated. For the first time since the fall of the Second Empire a Dragonborn Emperor sat on the Ruby Throne, relit the Dragonfires and acted as Tamriel's guardian against the forces of Oblivion, ensuring that an event like Molag Bal's Planemeld could never happen again. His rule lasted eighty one years and ushered in a golden age for Tamriel. The old saying "what have the Romans ever done for us?" can be equally applied to the inauguration of the Septim Dynasty as this period of rebuilding and trade connected every province in the Empire. Talos' imperial legacy lasted for four hundred and thirty-three years until the last Septim, Martin, thwarted the plans of another Daedric Prince.

    However, Talos remains a divisive figure and his life and deeds are open to interpretation, everything written above just being one of many possible interpretations. How do you view Talos? Of all the conflicting accounts of his life, mirroring to some degree the conflicting accounts of Vivec and the rise of the Tribunal - as such things do when Dragon Breaks occur - whichversion do you believe? Is there any truth to the claim that Tiber used Numidium to crush the neutral royal families of Tamriel so that he could enthrone only persons he knew to be loyal? Is there any possible justification or precedent for such an act? Is the fact that the multiple claims about Talos' mortal race an indicator of the spirit of the Empire he would later found?

    I'd like to thank Lissette for proof reading and insisting on incorporating a section about CHIM, her assistance was invaluable. Also, the people who took the time to like and comment on this while it was being built in the workshop deserve my thanks - their interest and comments encouraged me to make this the best I could possibly make it.

    Last but not least, thank you for reading

  • Member
    December 26, 2015

    Awesome work Phil. Personally, while I think Talos is more or less an OK guy...him using a time-bucking steampunk mechagod (That idea sounds kind of awesome) created by the Dwemer to crush a CIVILIAN POPULATED city, could be considered a war crime, and an act of mass murder. If they had all been soldiers or spies, then that could fall under casulaties in war, but well....

  • Member
    December 26, 2015

    Thanks for the video and comment Chris  Apart from Mr Rhexx's word and one small sentence in the PGE, what is the actual evidence to back up the claim that Tiber's siege of Alinor was an act of mass murder? I posit that this concept exists entirely in the mind based on popular interpretation.

  • December 26, 2015

    LOL, I get to like this all over again. 

  • December 27, 2015

    This is a magnificent article, as it explains a lot of things abou Talos that otherwise people would have to search all through the Internet.

    But I still think that worship of Talos has to be banned.

    And now I wonder, if Talos replaced Lorkhan, does that mean that there will be no more Shezzarines?

  • Member
    December 27, 2015

    True, I mean, we've never seen what actually went down in Alinor at that point in history with our own eyes. Perhaps the Aldmeri government at the time were preparing to lay siege to a nearby fiefdom, maybe Aryenne was plotting something, who knows? It could have been Spicy Taco Night in Alinor, and the sheer stench acted like some smelly chemical weapon for all we know?

  • December 27, 2015

    Time for Lissette's randomness and musings to make you all laugh or roll your eyes. And also, I read the article on Ulfric, great stuff, Phil. Love the tie in with Balgruuf. 

    Was thinking about a conversation you and I had some months back, on reenactments of books and legends in the game. You thought of the reenactment of the events of Immortal Blood through the Dawnguard dlc.

    You think the whole scenario with Hjalti Early-Beard, Cuhlecain, Wulfharth and Zurin Arctus is being reenacted in miniature with the events of Skyrim? 

    Cuhlecain - High King Torygg. Ulfric is initially one of his Jarls, a military presence that the High King relies on, which mimics Hjalti and Cuhlecain's relationship. 

    Hjalti Early-Beard - Ulfric Stormcloak (The Rebel) -has the thu'um, but not the power... He kills the High King, and his voice is affected. He doesn't lose it, but people don't see what he did it in the same way, some think his actions dubious. He loses his connection to the Greybeards which represent the Way of the Voice, so something is lost. 

    Zurin Artus - not sure on this yet, could be the Imperial presence in Skyrim so Tullius (The Witness). Is brought in. Or the potential witnesses, the darn dragons. Since Artus did give up his soul. 

    Ysmir Wulfharth - the last Dragonborn (The King). Possesses the ability and the power. Something Ulfric may like. Though weird that the Ghost of old Hroldan calls the Last Dragonborn Hjalti. This can be significant in that now the roles are now potentially reversed. Rebel from before becomes the King. 

    Not that it would have the same outcome, cause Talos is already ascended, right? Right? Except we have that darn pesky ghost calling you Hjalti again and Shor ain't at Sovngarde. Uh oh... Though Talos was recently brought down by the terms of the White-Gold Concordat, so technically his worship is illegal and he is technically no longer considered a divine, so missing again in miniature, perhaps? Wandering amidst conflict, only visible to pesky ghosts and unable to partake of the pleasures of wherever it is that he/she/it roams in Aetherius. See, I acknowledge the sex-changing Gods. 

    I noticed these juicy little parallels. The throat of the World is a representation of a Tower, called the Snow Throat in the article Phil references above. In my narrative, there is also an errant Stone from another tower running about, and maybe something more (No spoilers, bad Lissette!), but regardless, we do have a tower without that. The Snow Throat's Stone is thought to be a cave. Trying to think of significant caves in the game, but the two that really jump at me are... The cave leading into the Forgotten Vale where you find the weapon that shot Lorkhan's heart and Blackreach, where you find an Elderscroll, though it's Septimus' outpost, a sort of frozen cave, where you get the information to find the scroll (Oh Lissette, you just had to slap Hermeus mora into this mess too, didn't you?). Also Karthspire for its connections to past Dragonborns. LOL, lots of caves in Skyrim. 

    Things become juicy, if the Last Dragonborn becomes a Stormcloak and Ulfric's dialogue at the end of the Civil War points in the direction of the Elves, implying an invasion. Do you think subconsciously Ulfric could have these aspirations? Especially if we believe the events of the Heresy, that it was a Breton who achieved this CHIM and not a Nord.  Would that irk Ulfric to no end?  Would he be aware of the Arcturian Heresy? Could he have it in him to try to do this?  What would be interesting is turning these little parallels on their head if the Last Dragonborn sides with the Imperials in the conflict and they then defeat the Rebel, killing him. This miniature reenactment then cannot happen and Talos is then truly dead, at least figuratively. I find this fascinating. Damn, just to say another word besides interesting. 

    Probably all, all wrong, but I just found it cool because I am familiar with the Tower Lore and thinking about this got my Lore brain juices thinking again. Nice after that whole, OMGERD Syrabane is a woman thing!  That drained my strength last night. It was too much. 

    Hehe random musings over. Thanks for letting me indulge. 

  • December 27, 2015

    I always had a feeling that Ulfric (subcounsciously or not) wants to become something like Talos. And here you are writing this!

    Though I'd think that it's Balgruuf who is the Witness rather than Tullius.

    The Stone of the Snow Tower is a cave???!!! Where is it from?

  • Member
    December 27, 2015

    Interesting points Lissete. Though, with Shor being dead, would that mean the DB MIGHT be a Shezzarine, an incarnate of Shor? 

  • December 27, 2015

    Balgruuf could perhaps fit that role as well and he does give up something too, his power if the Rebel wins. Tullius loses a bit more, his actual life. The dragons are interesting notions for their soul being absorbed. 

    Snow Throat, or the Snow Tower,[19] is represented in the Throat of the World. Its apex is said to be only "half here".[OOG 2] Its Stone is thought to be a cave.[

    The above is OOG stuff though, mebbe you no likey.