Cyrodiil - Setting - Elder Scrolls

Elder Scrolls

The actual Elder Scrolls play a very limited role in the storyline of the series, serving only as framing plot device (i.e., " were foretold in the Elder Scrolls..."). The Elder Scrolls themselves are rarely referred to in-game, or even in the in-game literature. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion marked the first actual appearance of the scrolls, as a MacGuffin in the final quest of the Thieves Guild questline. The scroll itself appears as an incomprehensible chart, containing luminous glyphs.

Information about The Elder Scrolls is sparse, and often contradictory. They are thought to be relics from the Aedra (legendary beings similar to Daedra that sacrificed their immortality to create the world). Also, the scrolls do not exist but they have always existed. Attempting to read the scrolls also proves difficult as the scrolls are protected by several layers of magical safeguards, this includes the blinding light that emanates from the scroll's text. Another safeguard exists independent of the light that makes the writing on the scrolls indecipherable. However, there exist a sect of monks, the Order of the Ancestor Moths, who devote their lives to the reading and interpreting of the Elder Scrolls. Bypassing the scrolls' safeguards, however, takes a huge toll on the monks' vision. Senior members who read the scrolls wear blindfolds at all times when they are not divining the scrolls' content and retired Moth Priests are always completely blind. Attempting to read the Elder Scrolls without training always results in failure and immediate blindness. However, cosmically important individuals, or individuals that are the subject of prophecy, have been able to see the unencrypted writing on the Elder Scrolls without the associated rituals or resulting blindness. A book entitled "Lost Histories of Tamriel" provides further insight on the Elder Scrolls, stating that when any event has actually occurred, it sets itself unchangeably into the scrolls, and no action, magical or otherwise, can alter this.

In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the scrolls are described as "fragments of creation" (a reference to the creation-myth associated with the Aedra), and play a vital role in the main questline. They are said to be very descriptive works of writing and without vast knowledge of the arts, one may go insane trying to decipher them. The player is tasked with retrieving an Elder Scroll from an expansive Dwemer ruin known as Blackreach, located underground. During gameplay, if the player tries to read the Elder Scroll they will go temporarily blind. It is discovered that the Elder Scroll was used by the ancient Nords to battle Alduin, the ancient Dragon prophesied to destroy the world, inadvertently sending him forward in time. The player character uses the Scroll to travel back in time to gain the knowledge of how the Nords were able to combat Alduin. It is also described that the number of the Scrolls is unknown not because of their immense quantity, but because the number itself is unknowable, as the Scrolls "do not exist in countable form". The actual number and placement of elder scrolls fluctuates constantly as it is said that they technically exist and do not exist at the same time. This makes their predictions difficult to cite authoritatively because entire scrolls or entries can change or vanish as events transpire. This unpredictability has caused other ascetic groups, such as the Greybeards from Skyrim, to find the existence of the Elder Scrolls a blasphemy.

In Dawnguard, Lord Harkon attempts to use the Elder Scrolls to blot out the sun so the vampires can overwhelm Tamriel. Whether the player joins the vampires or the Dawnguard they will find a Moth Priest to read the scrolls that are collected. Once collected, the Moth Priest reveals that he is blind, not having prepared himself properly in his hurry to read the first scroll. So he tells the player of a ritual allowing the player to read the scrolls. The ritual involves harvesting bark from a special Canticle Tree and using it to bring Ancestor Moths to a shaft of light and reading all three scrolls to find Auriel's Bow. The Moth Priest Dexion tells that Ancestor Moths can give a person the extra sense needed to truly read the scrolls.

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