Elder Scrolls Lore Series: Ch.9 – Dragons of Skyrim & Tamriel

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Emblem I – Before the birth of men, the Dragons ruled all Mundus; Their word was the Voice, and they spoke only for True Needs; For the Voice could blot out the sky and flood the land

Emblem II – Men were born and spread over the face of Mundus; The Dragons presided over the crawling masses; Men were weak then, and had no Voice

Emblem III – The fledgling spirits of Men were strong in Old Times; Unafraid to war with Dragons and their Voices; But the Dragons only shouted them down and broke their hearts

Emblem IV – Kyne called on Paarthurnax, who pitied Man; Together they taught Men to use the Voice; Then Dragon War raged, Dragon against Tongue

Suleyk Los Vahzah, power is truth. The mortals call them dragons, but in their tongue they are Dov, children of fire. They have resided here on Tamriel far longer than the frail groundlings, and their immortal souls will persist long after. While the childish races squabble over their piles of rocks and dirt, the Dov hold dominion over the boundless sky. Although animalistic in appearance, they are known for their intelligence and wisdom as much as their raw, uncontrollable power. A Dov’s drive for ambition and dominance is unparalleled.

Elder Scrolls Skyrim Dragon Dragons

Appearance & Voice

Dragon. The very word conjures nightmare images of shadowed skies, hideous roaring, and endless fire. Indeed, the dragons are a beautiful, and terrifying race. At first encounter an unlucky adventurer hears the dragon’s bone chilling roar that can be heard for miles around. The Dov aren’t subtle creatures, who needs to be subtle when you’ve got bones stronger than steel, talons the length of scimitars, and massive jaws capable of snapping a cartridge in two. With all this brawn one would think such a creature wouldn’t need much else. On the contrary, a Dovah’s greatest weapon is his thum’, his voice.

The Dov possess their own spoken and written language. The mortals call it, the Dragon’s Tongue, and it’s ancient power goes beyond simple comprehension. Understanding a single Rotmulaag, or “Word of Power”, requires years of study. For a Dragon, this comprehension is woven into their very being. Words of Power can be shouted to produce magical effects. The Nords call them Shouts, or Thum’s.  When a Dovah breathes fire, ice, or wind; he is speaking in his native tongue. It is important to note that Dragons make absolutely no distinction between speaking and fighting. Battles between Dov are, in actuality, deadly verbal debates.

Skyrim Lore Dragons Fighting

In the mind of a dragon, being powerful and being right are one in the same. The Dovah with the loudest Voice leads the race as a whole.


The Dov are the immortal children of Akatosh, the Dragon God of time. Thanks to this connection with their father, dragons are especially attuned to the flow of time. They do not see the world as we do. Mortals are here on Nirn for but a moment. As children of Akatosh, the Dragons have a deeper connection with the bones Nirn, and as such, they are believed to bound here for eternity.

This concept of immortals living a mortal life can be confusing. Scholars have had the opportunity to question several dremora, who claim dragons simply “were, and are”: eternal, immortal, unchanging, and unyielding. Their souls endure beyond physical death, and they do not mate or breed as animals do. As such, there are no known examples of dragon eggs or dragonlings. As a matter of fact, Dragons have no real gender, at least not in the mortal sense. Being directly connected to the Aedra, Dov are considered to be “lesser” Aedra. Granted, I wouldn’t want to use the word “lesser” to describe a Dragon, at least not to his face.


Are Dragons immortal? Yes. But can they be killed? There is but one who can truly defeat a Dovah. In their Tongue he is Dovahkiin , Dragonborn.

A true Dragonborn strikes fear into the hearts of Dov. This rare individual may have a mortal’s body, but he has been born with the blood and soul of a Dragon. This rare gift makes a Dovahkiin brother to all dragons. Able to use dragon shouts, the Dragonborn is the most dangerous threat a Dovah can face. He can consume a slain Dragon’s soul and absorb its knowledge. Once a Dragon’s soul has been consumed, the creature is gone from this world, permanently.

Dragonborn Dovakiin

Multiple individuals have been given the name Dragonborn throughout history. Dozens of Emperors have ruled Tamriel through Akatosh’s Divine blessing, but because of this connection with Emperors, the significance of the word Dragonborn has been obscured and largely forgotten. To be born Dragonborn, or born and then blessed as Dragonborn are two very different things.

Many in the Empire will tell you that Saint Alessia was the first mortal in recorded history to bear the name Dragonborn. This is true, Saint Alessia was blessed by Akatosh with dragon’s blood, and with that blessing she ushered in the Alessian Empire; however, there is no record of Saint Alessia being born with the soul of a Dragon. That honor would go to Reman Cyrodiil, who really was born with the soul of a Dragon, and easily wielded Dragon shouts, which enabled him to usher in his own Empire. Later in Tamriel’s history rumors would surface that an ancient Dragon Priest turned traitor was indeed the first Dragonborn, but this also proved to be false, since this priest was not BORN with the soul of a dragon, but instead was granted his power through dark influences.

Know this, true Dragonborn scarcely exist, and it is rare for more than one to appear within an era. Physically, they can belong to any race or gender, but at their core they are Dovahkiin; driven with an ambition to rule. Each time a true Dovahkiin has appeared in history, it is often to rule over Men.

A Brief History

The self-proclaimed “first-born of Akatosh,” is believed to be the first dragon to have come into existence. His name, Alduin. The precise origin of Alduin and his kin is unknown to us, but we can draw that the Dov are indigenous to the continent of Akavir, whose culture and society has been heavily influenced by these powerful beings.

From Akavir, the Dov spread their wings to Tamriel. Much later, when the humans of Atmora arrived in Skyrim, they bowed down and worshipped the mighty dragons. Naturally, the Dov embraced this worship without question. In their eyes, they were clearly superior to the tiny, frail, and short-lived groundlings that worshiped them. To a Dovah, power equals truth, and their power over men was absolute. In exchange for their obedience the Dov granted small amounts of power to their chosen priests, and gave them magical masks. In time, the chosen dragon priests ruled over men, wielding authority equal to that of kings.

Nord Dragon Priest Skyrim

In Atmora, where Ysgramor and his people originally came from, the dragon priests simply demanded tribute and created laws which kept the peace between dragon and man; but, in Tamriel, their rule was quite different. The dragon priests of Skyrim ruled with an iron fist, making slaves out of the rest of the population. And as is the fate of all slaves and their masters, the population soon rebelled against them.

The Great Dragon War was one of the bloodiest and most single-sided conflicts ever waged on Tamrielic soil. The Men in this ancient time were brave, but bravery alone does not slay dragons. For a time, they fought the Dov and died by the thousands.

The race of Men were being wiped off the face of Tamriel, and just as hope for survival seemed to be lost, the Aedra turned their divine gaze on Man, and took pity him. The Nordic goddess, Kyne, sought out Alduin’s right hand, a Dovah by the name of Paarthurnax. Kyne commended Alduin’s lieutenant to deliver Man from his demise, and so it was on that day Paarthurnax taught the power of the Voice to mankind.

paarthanax way of the voice

And so it was Man prevailed, shouting Alduin out of the world; Proving for all that their Voice too was strong.

With their leader, Alduin, banished by a group of Nord heroes, the few dragons that survived the war fled to live in remote places away from Men. The once dominant race of immortals were no more, yet strangely enough the Dragon cult itself survived. The remaining cultists built the great dragon mounds that can be found dotting the landscape of Skyrim. Within them, the dormant bones of the dragons. The cultists believed that one day the dragons would rise again and reward the faithful.

Killing Alduin Soverngaurd

For the rest of Tamriel, that day would seem to never come. With the Dragons gone Men were free to forge their own destinies, and soon founded Empires of their own. One such Empire would dare to do the impossible, and bring all of Tamriel under their banner. There sigil of dominance? A Dragon. But that, is a story for another day…


  1. Rob June 23, 2013 5:08 am 

    Love the series but this one was a waste in my opinion. There really isn’t much lore with dragons they were just introduced with skyrim. Other lores seemed more appropriate.

  2. Rob June 23, 2013 5:11 am 

    Excited for imperials though keep up the good work and maybe get rid of the bi-weekly and do weekly. I know, greedy and inconsiderate of your time but I refresh all day every other Saturday waiting for the series to continue.

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