Lore:Hircine

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Hircine (Blades)
"You've done well, hunter. And found my favor. That skin will serve you well, child. Look more closely at it. My glories shall protect you from all this world's grievances. Good hunting."
Hircine

Hircine, known as the Huntsman, the Father of Manbeasts, Lord of the Hunt,[1]:293 Master of the Great Hunt,[2] Master of Beasts,[3] Master of the Chase,[4] and Half the Conscience of Man,[5] is a Daedric Prince whose sphere is the Hunt, the Sport of Daedra,[2] the Greatest Game, the Chase and Sacrifice of Mortals.[6] His realm of Oblivion is the Hunting Grounds,[7] an endless forest where the Prince and his Huntsmen hunt great beasts, people, and even other Daedra.[3] Hircine is a sportsman who thrills in the hunt, regardless of the prey,[5] though his worshippers enjoy giving their prey a chance for victory, however small.[8] He is typically portrayed with a great spear and either the head or skull of an elk,[9][10] said to belong to Y'ffer's champion, the Graht-Elk.[11]

As Hircine is the Father of werebeasts,[5] lycanthropes are often referred to as his "children".[12][13] The Huntsman is a guardian to those he has "blessed" with the ability to change forms.[14] (though most may see these creatures as "cursed" abominations).[15] Indeed, one of the Prince's artifacts is said to help lycanthropes control their powers.[16][17] However, Hircine is quite prideful of lycanthropy. He resents those whom received his gift willingly but have come to regret it, and thus may task people with slaying his unappreciative children to put them out of their misery.[18] The Sixteen Accords of Madness tells of a wager Hircine made with Sheogorath, where they devised a duel between champions. Hircine imbued a Daedroth with lycanthropy, making it his most deadly hunter. Sheogorath's champion was a bird that was unaware of the situation, and inadvertently caused the monster to commit suicide as it tried to pluck it off its face. With his pride greatly wounded, Hircine burned the corpse of his creation, cursed the peaks in Skyrim where the duel happened, and returned to his realm humiliated.[19] Regardless of whether they worshiped him or not, Hircine will typically claim the souls of werewolves, and they will spend eternity in the Hunting Grounds.[20]

Hircine is one of the more widely worshipped Daedric Princes in Tamriel, despite never actively seeking worship or reverence. Hircine's appeal is due to how his sphere encompasses the thrill of the hunt, and how he often seeks out people, tests them, and rewards hunters that have proven themselves worthy with a boon.[21][20] Hircine is a huge advocate for sportsmanship, as his Law of Fair Hunt prohibits cheating the Hare of a genuine chance of escaping.[4] He respects Hares that turn the chase inside out, such as by turning the hunters into the hunted.[22]

There is some belief that Hircine may be allied with Mehrunes Dagon, and shrines to the Huntsman have been erected in places dedicated to Dagon.[23][nb 1] Hircine has Daedra Lords that manage some of his sub-spheres and report to him, among one of these Daedra Lords is the Lord of Fishing who is said to have a distinctive aroma.[UOL 1] He may also be associated with the Daedra Lord Hollowjack.[24] Ebonarm is said to be an enemy to Hircine.[25] His summoning day is the 5th of Mid Year.[26]

Aspects[edit]

An emblem representing Hircine

The Reachfolk believe that there are only five aspects of Hircine, with each worthy of reverence.[12][27] There may be more than five, however, as the Glenmoril Wyrd worship an additional owl aspect.[UOL 2] Worshippers of Hircine are known to style their weapons and armor in honor of the aspects of Hircine.[28][29]

Alrabeg (the Hunter / Aspect of Guile)
Alrabeg is the hunter aspect who bears the Spear of Bitter Mercy when he manifests.[12] On occasion, he wields the Spear of the Hunter.[30] He comes to Nirn to hunt new prey, or to bring with him prey native to the Hunting Grounds. It is said that if he arrives without prey, then he has come to select a Hare in his next hunt.[12] Worshippers may invoke the name of Alrabeg when praying for a bountiful hunt.[4]

Storihbeg (the Manbeast / Skinchanger / King of Wolves / Wolf Aspect of Hircine / Wolf with the Daedric Howl / Aspect of Speed)
Storihbeg is the wolf aspect who wears the Wolf Skull Totem. Storihbeg introduced the gift of skinshifting to mortals to remind them that they can be predators, not prey.[31] He is known to come to Nirn to hunt with these skinshifters, or to "adopt new children and turn them pelt-side-out". His howl is capable of freezing his prey's innards,[12] which when combined with his speed, makes it difficult for prey to flee from him.[32] An account of Storihbegs in the Druadach Mountains tells of his physical appearance being that of a wraithlike wolf composed of extreme storm and fog, and his arrival being proceeded by this type of weather. The account tells of him stealing the unwary during the night, and then vanishing. His terrifying daedric howl was what remained within the survivor's minds, which was described as mournful, brazen, and unrelenting.[33]

The Great Dark Stag (ESO)

Uricanbeg (the Great Dark Stag / Great Stag)
Uricanbeg is the stag aspect which comes to mate with hinds, and may transform a mortal woman into one for the same purpose. He may also arrive to cull the herd of the weak. His hooves drum the Blood Summons that lure prey into his herd, which are then led into the Hunting Grounds where they meet their end.[12] Some of his offspring have granted some people the honor to use them as mounts.[34]

Gulibeg (the Quick Fox)
Gulibeg is the fox aspect who shares characteristics with some of the various interpretations of Lorkh. Like some cultural takes on Lorkhan, Gulibeg is a trickster. At his worst, Gulibeg will deceive mortals into meeting their own demise, or will use his swift bite to weaken his prey.[35] He also shows some parallels with Shor, the Nordic interpretation of Lorkhan,[36] whose totem is the fox,[37] and has been seen donning their form.[38] Gulibeg's symbol is the Wand of Bone, which was fashioned from a shard from Lorkh's ribs, and has the ability to confound any mortal.[27] In one tale, a medallion associated with Gulibeg makes less conventional forms of communication understandable.[39] Gulibeg is said to reward those he finds clever by teaching them tricks and secrets,[12] which the Reachmen claim helped them survive the fall of Lorkh.[27]

Hrokkibeg (the Mighty Bear / Aspect of Strength)
Hrokkibeg is the bear aspect which embodies strength and the Totem of Claw and Fang. He comes to seek solitude, peace from labors, and renewal of the Burning Spirit Within. He may bless those that make offerings of mead with the power of the Bear-Heart. However, he will attack those who disturb his peace. While he is slow, he makes up for it with his strength,[40] and tears his prey apart if he catches up to them.[12]

Worship and Culture[edit]

Hircine overseeing a Great Hunt within the Hunting Grounds

Afterlife[edit]

Followers of Hircine are promised an afterlife within the Hunting Grounds, a savage land that provides to its dwellers. Here, one can indulge in spectacular hunts, as well as experience an endless cycle of violence as well as death and rebirth. Its inhabitants reside in the many hunting lodges dotting the landscape. The forests of the Hunting Grounds are teeming with powerful beasts, which allow Hircine's followers to engage in the most spectacular hunts. For the devoted, it is a paradise.[21]

Mortals are sometimes allowed into the Hunting Grounds to participate in the Great Hunt, a spectacular event that typically pits various participants of Hircine's choosing against each other for his amusement.[20] Great Hunts are a constant occurrence within the Hunting Grounds,[20] but outside of the Huntsman's realm, they are rare and are rumored to happen once per era.[41] Hircine may call upon a Great Hunt in Nirn for his own amusement,[42] or to punish those that defy him.[21][43][22]

When a Great Hunt is hosted on Nirn, Secunda turns red, becoming the Bloodmoon, and the hunt proceeds until it goes away.[41] The Bloodmoon is said to symbolize the blood of the Hunter's Prey, and those wishing to join a Great Hunt craft rounded bone pendants that are stained with blood to symbolize it.[41][44] Should one emerge victorious from a Great Hunt, they may ask for a grand boon from Hircine.[20]

Bosmer[edit]

Bosmeri perception of Hircine the Hunter varies. While the Huntsman's name may be invoked for luck in a hunt, going further can can lead to cruel or violent extremes.[45] The only shapeshifting allowed by the Wood Elves' culture is the Wild Hunt, which is only invoked in an act of vengeance or desperation.[46]

In the Dawn Era, before Y'ffre stabilized the forms of most creatures, life was stuck in a chaotic, ever shapeshifting state called the Ooze. From this Ooze, Y'ffre gave shape to the Bosmer, but through the Green Pact forbid them from ever changing that shape. The souls of those who violate the Green Pact would be condemned to return to the Ooze.[46] The Bosmer believe that Hircine wishes to return to this chaotic state. As in other cultures, his cultists see shapeshifting as a gift, and view being culturally mandated to a single form as "tyranny".[UOL 3]

Glenmoril Wyrd[edit]

The Glenmoril Wyrd covens are known for worshipping Hircine in varying ways. Some within the coven, such as the Hagfeather Coven, the Rimerock Wyrd, and the Markarth Sisters, worship his more feral aspects, while the Ilessan and Viridian Wyrd worship his less feral side, and are known to provide services to cure Lycanthropy.[47] In the Iliac Bay region, the Glenmoril Coven of the Ilessan Hills of High Rock are the only group for whom Hircine will answer a summons.[48]

Khajiit[edit]

Khajiiti altar to Hircine

Hircine, the Hungry Cat[49], Father of the Hunt, and Spirit of Pursuit and Purposeful Change,[11] is one of the many prominent spirits worshipped by cultists in Khajiiti culture.[50] His sphere is hunting and skinchanging, and he is renowned for his cunning and ferocity.[50] He was born of the second litter of Ahnurr and Fadomai, from which sprang many spirits known in other cultures as the Daedric Princes.[49]

Ancient texts predating the Riddle'Thar Epiphany state that Hircine was once in love with Nirni, but she instead chose Y'ffer to be her mate after he created the first flower for her. A heartbroken Hircine slew the Graht-Elk, champion of Y'ffer, and took to wearing its head as a trophy. The pair made many children together, but eventually Y'ffer became corrupted by Namiira, then struck and killed Nirni. Hircine, along with Azurah and Khenarthi, slew Y'ffer and made a cairn out of his bones for their beloved sister.[11]

The Hungry Cat is said to be fond of Nirni's children (mortals), and frequently walks among them. Some Khajiit believe Hircine to be the father of Nirni's first litter, who were "as changeable as the Moons".[11] This litter would later have their form stabilized by Azurah, who bound their forms to the Ja-Kha'jay.[51] Khajiit pray to Hircine when they have "strayed from the Path", and believe he will guide them back upon it.[11] However, lycanthropy is frowned upon, and seen as a "parody" of Khajiiti faith.[52]

Nedes[edit]

Bloodroot Forge

The Nedic tribe known as the Keptu from the Craglorn region of Hammerfell, were known to worship Hircine.[53] The Huntsman Prince aided them in the creation of the Bloodroot Forge, which was built for the purpose of harvesting Nirncrux, and it was said to rival the ingenuity of the Ayleids and the Dwemer.[54] The forge would later be abandoned, and would be shunned by the neighboring Nords as a place of evil, one where the Nedes worshipped dark and forgotten gods.[55] The forge was known to call to all that resided near its boundaries to turn to Hircine's sphere of primal influence, causing them dwell with a feral bloodlust.[56][57]

Nords[edit]

To the Nords, Hircine is seen as a potential obstacle to reaching Sovngarde, as contracting Lycanthropy will result in the infected's soul being prevented from entering. It is said that a great wolf will instead pull them to the Hunting Grounds, where "Hircine laughs with welcoming arms."[15][58] A notable example of Nords worshiping Hircine were the Jurgald thanes and their families that ruled the area around the lower Yorgrim River for centuries, whom openly embraced Hircine's curse. [59] The area around the Yogrim River notably had one of the earliest sightings of Hircine himself who was accompanied with his hounds.[14]

The Skaal are an offshoot of Nords who view Hircine negatively. He is seen as a demon god whose coming is predicted by the Bloodmoon Prophecy, which foretells when he will host the Hunter's Game on Nirn. During this, he walks the lands with his Hounds and chooses which men shall become a hare in his hunt.[41]

Reachmen[edit]

A Reachmen with a Briarheart

Hircine is the most widely worshiped deity within the Reachfolks' pantheon, and is known by many names, which include Spirit of the Hunt,[60][61] Great Beast,[62] Hunt-Father,[27] Hunt-King, Beast Father, Old Elk-Eye, Skinshaper, the Spear with Five Points,[63], the Horned-Lord,[64] the Wolf-Charmer,[65] the Master of the Chase,[66] and the Huntsman of the Princes.[67] The Reachmen creation story speaks of Hircine's rise to prominence after Lorkh made a deal with Namira, who ruled the realm of spirit. Lorkh convinced Namira to grant him a place in the infinite void to create a realm for wayward spirits, but it was not without a cost. Lorkh sacrificed himself to create a harsh realm, one that is unforgiving and intended to teach through suffering.[68] Sometime after, Hircine became the Lord of the Arena[69] from taking the mantle of Lorkh's creation, becoming the sovereign of the realm of flesh.[70]

The Reach, a gift from Hircine

The Reachfolk believe that Hircine gifted them the homeland of the Reach,[71] and their geographical proximity to enemies on all sides pulls them to follow the Prince's doctrine of living in the "now". Hircine engenders a sense of urgency as there may be another threat above the horizon, the unease needed to keep the people of the Reach safe. Thus Hircine has reason to be cruel in his lessons, and taught the Reachfolk himself how to hunt, fight, and survive,[72] all in an effort to make them swifter, stronger, and more cunning.[63] The briarheart ritual is reflective of this need to become better, and involves communing with Hircine to ritualistically replace the heart a skilled Reachfolk warrior with poisoned briars.[71] This ritual is representative of Lorkh's immortal sacrifice,[68] which is reflected by the sacrifice of ones' own life; the end result is a warrior being resurrected[73] as a living weapon with great strength and endurance known as a Briarheart.[74] These unnatural beings will bear the suffering of constant pain[75] to use their transformation's benefit to protect their clan.[74] Due to their reverence for Hircine, it is not uncommon to see lycanthropes within the Reachmen's ranks.[71] In a similar vein to Briarhearts, lycanthropy is viewed by most Reachfolk as self-sacrifice, for it is seen as more of a useful condition rather than a gift, one which one suffers with so they can better benefit their clan.[63] Some Reach Clans however have proven to be zealous about the gift, as conflicts between them and the Viridian Wyrd coven have been reported due to them offering a cure to Lycanthropy.[47][76]

Hircine is known as the overseer of pacts between Reach clans, who confirms whether their goals are justified, and thus if a union is worth committing to. The ritual to call upon him to confirm the pact involves using a briar-heart seed, the eye of a Hagraven, and a handful of bright river-shale. If the pact is blessed, the Huntsman may send a sign which can vary in nature, and the parties are bound by blood and spirit. And should one dare to break a pact, they will find no peace in the wilds, for nature will turn against them.[65]

A White Stag

A tale of tragedy told by Reachfolk storytellers involves Hircine. The story teaches Reachfolk to challenge themselves, and touts humility as an essential trait. The legend of Chieftain Fiasof tells of a hunter whose great skill meant that he never struggled in his hunts. His mastery of the chase initially brought Hircine joy, but Fiasof's pride and content with these hunts he made trivial angered him, and so he sent him a new type of game to punish him. Hircine cursed the chieftain's entire tribe, turning them to white deer, and instructed the chieftain to hunt them. Fiasof complied and rained a hail of arrows upon them, easily turning their white hides to red. It was when Fiasof went to dress the game that he realized what he had committed, and broke his bow over his knee and asked for forgiveness, which the prince then provided.[77] Outside of the tale of Fiasof, white deer are interpreted as omens sent by Hircine,[78] and his association with them can be seen in other cultures.[22]

Hircine is said to have a child, the Demiprince Dearola, who is also known as the Daughter of Hircine. The Song of Gwyna tells us that she intermingled with Reachfolk, and one of her descendants was Chief Rowolan of the Horn-stride clan, who had his mythical prowess attributed to his lineage to her. The song however has different versions which all lead to Rowolan's bloodline being killed.[78]

Reachmen believe that during the New Life Festival, two of Hircine's aspects come to conflict with each other. New Life marks the start of the winter solstice, where Magnus the Sun begins his return, and thus when days start to grow longer. Due to this, Storihbeg the Man-Beast pursues the sun in an attempt to eat it, all in an effort to keep the nights longer. And so to prevent this, Reachmen summon Hrokkibeg the Mighty Bear to challenge Storihbeg.[UOL 4]

The Reachfolk state that at the "end of all days", Hircine will fight alongside them.[27]

Other[edit]

Some Minotaurs have been seen within the service of Hircine, the most notable being Domihaus the Bloody-Horned, who along with other minotaurs, allied themselves with the Reachmen Dreadhorn Clan.[64] Domihaus himself was believed to be the favored champion of Hircine.[79]

Even Goblins can earn Hircine's favor, as a hunter named Gogh was seemingly blessed by Hircine as he was in possession of the Spear of Bitter Mercy. Gogh was fiercely protective of the weapon, which rejected anyone else that tried to claim it.[80]

History[edit]

Merethic Era[edit]

Earliest Interactions[edit]

Two of Hircine's children, a werewolf and a wereboar

Due to there being a lack of written accounts in the Merethic Era, there is a lacuna of information on Hircine. However, Hircine is rumored to have unleashed the curse of Lycanthropy upon Nirn early in history, with the earliest accounts being in the early Merethic Era.[81] The early few that were personally blessed by Hircine himself are known as the First Turned, and are comparable to Molag Bal's Daughters of Coldharbour. These individuals would pass down their gift, and their chosen would follow suit, leading the condition to spread throughout Tamriel.[UOL 5]

First Era[edit]

One of the earliest known encounters with Hircine is told in the tale of a Nord known as Thane Icehammer, who sometime in the mid-late fifth century of the First Era, unknowingly killed several were-creatures during a hunting trip in the Yorgrim River basin. Angered by the death of his kin, Hircine thrust the Spear of Bitter Mercy into Icehammer's side, where upon the tip broke off and remained lodged inside him. Thane returned wounded to his home of Cragwallow, but slowly, the magic of Hircine's Spear corrupted his mind, eventually resulting in him becoming mad, and ultimately causing him to murder an acolyte of Kyne in a fit of rage. Matron Icehammer was appalled by her husband's actions, and ordered the guards to subdue Thane, but he fled into an ancient Nordic burial ruin in the mountains northeast of Cragwallow, where upon he was sealed alive within as punishment, and the ruins would become known as Icehammer's Vault. The effects of Hircine's vengeance reached further, as the Icehammer clan would fall onto hard times, and their name would die out by the end of the First Era.[82] Icehammer's Vault would become a source of infamy, as Thane Icehammer was rumored to still stalk the halls of the ruins as a Draugr, his undeath and rage fueled by the magics of the Hircine's spear[14] until 2E 582, when he was finally slain.[83]

In response to the destruction of Gilverdale at the hands of Molag Bal, the Tribunal god Sotha Sil sought out eight of the most influential Daedric Princes. Hircine was among them, and between the 3rd and 5th of Rain's Hand in 1E 2920, a deal was made which would be known as the Coldharbour Compact.[84] Little is known about the Compact, but it is theorized that it prevents the Princes from directly manifesting on Nirn. It is also speculated that, in order to secure the agreement of the Princes, Sotha Sil either made a credible threat to them or presented a significant offer in exchange.[85][86]

Second Era[edit]

Hircine and the Hound[edit]

Ulthorn the Hound

Hircine had sought the Bosmer's Green Lady as a trophy for generations, for reasons that remained ambiguous. One theory as to why was that she represents the strongest of the Bosmer, who are said to be among the greatest hunters of Nirn.[5] After the Bosmer Gwaering was chosen as the Green Lady, she was obligated to marry the new Silvenar for the good of the Bosmeri people. Due to this, her former lover Ulthorn became bitter, and Hircine took advantage of his passion, forging him into his cultist, the Hound. In 2E 582, Hircine launched his plot, using Ulthorn the Hound to usurp the Silvenar's role so he could be bonded to the Green Lady through the handfast. He and his hounds took the city of Silvenar hostage, but the Vestige succeeded in freeing both the city and the Green Lady from Hircine's control. Had the Vestige failed, Hircine's influence would have spread through throughout Valenwood, reverting the behavior of the Bosmer back to their primordial nature.[87]

Trouble in Bangkorai[edit]

At an unknown time long ago, a man with seven sons and daughters made their home in the region of Bangkorai, and gave their thanks to Hircine by erecting a shrine in a grotto in his honor as thanks for the plentiful game in the area. Upon summoning him, Hircine asked them to prove their devotion, and ordered the father to give up his children to be used as his hares until he is satisfied. The father refused, and as punishment Hircine let out a wail, collapsing the grotto and allowing trolls to enter. Hircine finally stated "You were not worthy of becoming beasts... but I shall hunt you anyway."[88] The grotto is now known as the Fallen Grotto, and the shrine has since then been attended by the Glenumbra Wyrd. In 2E 582, the coven was attacked by Reachmen, who took over the Grotto, and due to the Wyrd falling prey to the Reachmen, their favor was lost and instead granted to the Reachman. Hircine refused to grant an audience to the disgraced coven and instead spoke to an adventurer who offered to restore their honor. The leader of the Reachmen was defeated, and his briarheart was ripped and offered to Hircine as tribute, winning over Hircine's favor for the coven. Hircine finally said to the adventurer, "I'll be watching you, mortal. A larger hunt looms in your future, one I'll watch with great interest."[89]

Around this time, Hircine took interest in a Vestige that had contacted Lycanthropy, as they were tainted by the Molag Bal and sought to be elevated. They were invited into the Hunting Grounds to participate in an ancient ritual by Hircine's appointed packmaster. The Vestige was to present a tribute to Hircine and his pack, and after a successful hunt, they were inducted into Hircine's own pack of werewolves, and were given greater mastery over their form.[90]

Vykosa the Ascendant[edit]

The Moon Hunter Pack among the Great Hunt's participants

Later that year, the larger hunt Hircine hinted at would come to fruition, as he would host a Great Hunt within the March of Sacrifices region in his Hunting Grounds, inviting even mortal beings from Tamriel to participate. During this time, one of Hircine's First Turned, the Werewolf Lord Vykosa, amassed the largest werewolf pack that Tamriel has ever seen.[91] She plotted to use this Moon Hunter Pack to take over Nirn and exact revenge on Hircine for forcing her and other werewolves into the role of his prey.[92][93] Vykosa sent her lieutenant Balorgh along with a reconnaissance squad to infiltrate the Hunting Grounds, though he and his pack would instead opt to participate in the Hunt and seek Hircine's Boon.[94][95] Unfortunately for Balorgh, Hircine would ultimately grant his boon to the true winners of the Great Hunt, the Undaunted.[96]

Meanwhile, a group of Undaunted would also invade Moon Hunter Keep, a fortress of the Silver Dawn that had been taken over by Vykosa and her pack, and defeated the Werewolf Lord before she could enact her plan.[97]

Third Era[edit]

An Ungrateful Child[edit]

Around 3E 405, an agent of the Blades paid the Glenmoril Coven of High Rock to summon Hircine. The Huntsman told of a contrite wereboar in the area, and requested he be "taught a lesson". After impressing the Prince by putting the creature out of its "obvious misery", the agent (rumored to also be a werewolf or wereboar) was rewarded with Hircine's Ring.[18]

The Hunter's Game[edit]

Skaal legend speaks of the Bloodmoon Prophecy, which foretells the coming of a Great Hunt to the island of Solstheim. According to the Prophecy, a "demon god", the Hunter, will appear on Solstheim with his "Hounds", and initiate the Hunter's Game. The Hunter's arrival would be preceded by three signs: Fire From the Eye of Glass, the Tide of Woe, and the Bloodmoon.[41] When the Nerevarine visited the isle in 3E 427, the Prophecy came to pass.[42]

The Bloodmoon, the Final Sign

While investigating a werewolf attack on the Imperial Legion and the disappearance of Captain Falx Carius from Fort Frostmoth, the Nerevarine had to earn the trust of the Skaal.[98] Before long, the signs appeared; a pillar of fire erupted from Lake Fjalding,[99] the shores became littered with dead horkers,[100] and finally, the Bloodmoon appeared.[42] During this time, a pack of werewolves attacked the Skaal Village, and the Nerevarine was infected with Sanies Lupinus—the disease which leads to lycanthropy. However, it is unclear if the Nerevarine cured the disease in time or became a werewolf.[101]

Ultimately, the Nerevarine was taken by Hircine to the Mortrag Glacier, where the Hunter's Game was getting underway.[42] The Prince had chosen four mortals—the missing Captain Carius, Skaal leader Tharsten Heart-Fang, Karstaag the frost giant, and the Nerevarine—for the "honor" of being in his Hunt, as he deemed them worthy hunters[102]. The four mortals were required to navigate a maze within the glacier, fighting off Hircine's Hounds (werewolves) and each other, with the survivor earning the "glory" of the Hunting Grounds to challenge Hircine.[42][102]

The Nerevarine entered the maze and encountered Captain Carius; the two teamed up against the werewolves, and when it came time to venture deeper into the glacier, Carius volunteered to stay behind. Tharsten Heart-Fang was in the next section and revealed himself to be a werewolf as well before being slain by the Nerevarine. At the heart of the glacier the Nerevarine slew the giant Karstaag, and was met by Hircine.[42] The Huntsman then bestowed the "greatest honor" he could give a mortal—the Nerevarine would be his prey. The Huntsman allowed the Nerevarine to choose one of his aspects to battle, to give his prey a sporting chance.[102]

With the Bloodmoon setting, the battle was joined. And when it had set, the Nerevarine stood victorious.[42] Hircine was surprised, but vowed to one day return to Solstheim, to hunt once again under the Bloodmoon.[102] The Nerevarine escaped through a magic portal as the Mortrag Glacier collapsed, ending the Hunter's Game until the next era.[42]

The Last Unicorn[edit]

The Last Unicorn

In 3E 433, the Champion of Cyrodiil summoned Hircine at a shrine in Cyrodiil's Great Forest. The Prince tasked the Champion with slaying a unicorn in Harcane Grove that was protected by fearsome minotaurs. After offering the unicorn's horn to the Prince's shrine, the Champion was rewarded with the Savior's Hide.[103] Although unicorns are native to the Hunting Grounds, this hunt is believed to have resulted in the extinction of them at least on Nirn, but they would remain a favorite subjects for poets and artists.[104] It wasn't until 4E 201 that a Unicorn would be spotted in Nirn again, with one theory being that the Psijic Order had transported one of the very last unicorns into the future, to prevent their utter extinction.[105]

Fourth Era[edit]

Umbriel Crisis[edit]

During the Umbriel Crisis, Hircine impeded the journey of Attrebus Mede and his companions as they were passing through his Hunting Grounds to reach their destination. As eternal hunts are the norm within the realm, Mede and his companions became unwilling prey that were slowly being bottled in by drivers until the night time where Hircine would arrive with his pack of werewolves. Nighttime came, two horns blared, and a deep and primal voice was heard upstream that was capable of leading one to a mindless terror. At a glance, they saw an enormous silhouette of a man with the horns of a stag and they knew Hircine had arrived. To ward off Hircine and his pack, the members of the Khajiiti F’aashe clan that accompanied Mede stayed behind to stall them, allowing Mede and his companions to escape the Hunting Grounds.[106]

The Companions[edit]

Freed from Hircine's grasp

Long ago, a Harbinger named Terrfyg of the Companions accepted Lycanthropy from Hircine as payment owed to them by the Glenmoril Wyrd for services rendered, but The Circle was deceived into believing it would not be a permanent affliction.[107][108] Around 4E 201, some members of the Circle, led by Harbinger Kodlak Whitemane, would eventually conclude it was not a gift, but a curse with serious spiritual implications that would threaten their souls' opportunity to reach Sovngarde, and worked to eliminate it from the Companions.[109] The heads of the Glenmoril witches who cursed the Companions' Inner Circle were required to cure them. Before he could be cured, Harbinger Kodlak Whitemane was killed by a group of werewolf hunters called the Silver Hand.[110] The Companions destroyed the Silver Hand, then used the severed heads of the Glenmoril witches to cleanse their dead Harbinger and themselves of lycanthropy. Kodlak Whitemane's Wolf Spirit was killed by the Companions, allowing his soul to find rest in Sovngarde.[111]

Kodlak Whiteman was grateful for the chance to join his ancestors in Sovngarde.[112] However, he hoped that someday, he and other honored warriors could invade the Hunting Grounds and rescue the souls of the Companions who did not have the chance to free themselves from Hircine's grasp before death. This battle that could potentially occur in the future he called "The Harrowing of the Hunting Grounds",[112] but whether or not it is possible to posthumously wrench a werewolf's soul free from the Hunting Grounds through battle is unclear.

Spirit of the Hunt[edit]

The Bloodmoon reappears

That same year, a murder occurred in Skyrim, the victim being a young girl from Falkreath.[22] The Last Dragonborn visited the imprisoned culprit, Sinding, who revealed he was a werewolf.[22] Sinding had taken the Ring of Hircine to help control his condition—this evidently upset the Prince, who cursed the ring to cause the wearer to transform at random. The girl was merely an innocent bystander.[113]

Sinding had come to Falkreath to hunt the majestic White Stag, as Hircine would commune with anyone who slayed it, and wished to beg the Prince's forgiveness.[113] The Dragonborn offered to take the ring to Hircine in Sinding's place, and the werewolf gratefully accepted before escaping his cell. The Dragonborn tracked down and slew the White Stag, and an Aspect of Hircine appeared. The Huntsman agreed to "consider" lifting the ring's curse, but initiated a Great Hunt as he demanded an offering—Sinding's hide. The werewolf was holed up within Bloated Man's Grotto; the Bloodmoon had appeared, and by the time the Dragonborn arrived one group of hunters had already been slain. Sinding made one last plea, asking the Dragonborn to defy Hircine and fight alongside him. It is not known what decision the Dragonborn made, but Sinding never appeared in civilized areas again.[22]

Artifacts[edit]

Ring of Hircine[edit]

The Ring of Hircine (Skyrim)

The Ring of Hircine (also known as Hircine's Ring, or The Hircine Ring) is a Daedric artifact created by the Daedric Prince Hircine. In appearance, it is usually an engraved metallic ring showing the head of a wolf, although it has also been known to appear as a spiked leather buckler. The ring can temporarily give the gift of Lycanthropy to the wearer, and allows lycanthropes to control their transformations. Lycanthropes who possess the ring are not affected by the moons or by bloodlust, and can change form at will. Hircine punishes those that did not legitimately earn the ring, stripping the ring of its ability to control transformations and instead making transformations unpredictable. For non-lycanthropes, the ring is often useless, although it has been known to extend the wearer's life and allow for transformation into a werewolf. The ring is known to affect werewolves and wereboars, and likely works on other lycanthropes as well.

Savior's Hide[edit]

Savior's Hide, also known as Scourge of the Oathbreaker, and Hircine's Hide, is a Daedric artifact commonly associated with Hircine. Savior's Hide once referred to a full set of armor, known as the Armor of the Savior's Hide (boots, cuirass, gauntlets, greaves, helmet, and pauldrons). Over time, the term Savior's Hide would become predominately used to refer to the Cuirass of the Savior's Hide, as the rest of the armor set have not been seen since 3E 399. The Cuirass makes the wearer resistant to magic.

There are three creation stories to the Hide, with two crediting Hircine and the third crediting Malacath. The more widely known tale involving Hircine holds that the Daedric Prince rewarded the first mortal to escape his Hunting Grounds with his peeled Hide. The mortal then had the Hide tailored into the Cuirass for use in their adventures. This version of the story also claims that the Cuirass gave the wearer a resistance to magic. Another version claims that it was Hircine himself who sewed the Savior’s hide from the hide of a werewolf.

The third tradition which credits Malacath is lesser known and contains an inaccuracy, stating that it made the wearer vulnerable to magic. Despite the conflict between the stories, they agree on the points that the Hide would protect from the blows of an oathbreaker, and would protect the wearer from the sting of the Spear of Bitter Mercy.

Spear of Bitter Mercy[edit]

Spear of Bitter Mercy (Morrowind)

The Spear of Bitter Mercy is one of the more mysterious artifacts in Tamrielic lore. Little to nothing is known about the Spear, but it is believed to be of Daedric origin and is usually referred to in a singular sense. In reality, multiple spears exist and were said to be forged by the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon, but at least one has become the signature weapon of his ally Hircine, whom has become the Daedric Prince that is most closely associated with the artifact. One of his titles given to him by the Reachfolk, the Spear with Five Points, is reflective of this. A Spear has also been in the possession of Sheogorath, but his association with it and how he came to obtain it is unknown, though he has notably stolen the artifacts of his Daedric siblings in the past for his own amusement.

The Spears of Bitter Mercy were said to be forged by and imbued with Mehrunes Dagon's power for use in the Ritual of the Innocent Quarry, the Great Hunt that takes place within the Chimera of Desolation. As the Spears of Bitter Mercy are weapons of great power, those intended for use in a Great Hunt are cursed by maleficent energies, and are forbidden from being removed from the site of the hunt. Thus, they cannot be wielded by any mortals or immortals, except those sanctified to the Hunt and bound to its rules. Due to Dagon twisting his pact with Chimere Graegyn, an unsanctified wearer of the Armor of the Savior's Hide can bear Dagon's spears, as the armor's enchantments offers protection from the energies of the oathbreaker.

According to Reachmen myth, Hircine is said to wield his Spear of Bitter Mercy when he takes on the aspect of Alrabeg the Hunter. It is one of the Symbols of the Five Aspects, the other four being the Totems of Hircine (composed of three artifacts), and the Totem of Claw and Fang. This Spear grants its wielder a magical shield as well as the ability to summon storm atronachs. In appearance it is a metallic spear, usually with two or four protruding prongs surrounding the central spearhead. It is sometimes emblazoned with Daedric Hekem sigils, representing the letter H. Much like other artifacts associated with Hircine, it rejects a user who is unworthy of wielding it.

Spear of the Hunter[edit]

The Spear of the Hunter is an artifact associated and often wielded by the Daedric Prince Hircine. It has a floral pattern adorned on its spear head, which has a crosspiece that curves downward on one end. Like another spear associated with Hircine, the Spear of Bitter Mercy, little is known of it, and is one of the more mysterious artifacts in Tamrielic lore.

Totems of Hircine[edit]

The Totems of Hircine (Skyrim)

The Totems of Hircine are ancient artifacts of Hircine, predating mens' ability to write, speak, and properly think. They are just three of the Symbols of the Five Aspects, the other two being the Spear of Bitter Mercy and the Totem of Claw and Fang.

The Wolf Skull Totem, also known as the Totem of Fear, is an engraved and feathered wolf skull that is said to have been used by shamans in blood ceremonies to create Lycanthropes. It augment's a werewolf's presence, making people cower in fear save for those that have caught a glimpse of Hircine's face. It is said to be worn by Storihbeg the Manbeast, the wolf aspect of Hircine, whom similar to his Wolf Skull totem, is credited among the Reachfolk with introducing the gift of skinshifting to mortals to remind them that they can be predators, not prey.

Uricanbeg is the Stag aspect of Hircine whose hooves beat the Blood Summons that lure prey into his herd, which are then led into the Hunting Grounds where they meet their end. And so Uricanbeg is represented through the Totem of the Brotherhood, a mundane drum whose beating does the blood call which allows the summoning of pack members, or the calling of prey to hunt.

Gulibeg's symbol is the Wand of Bone, also known as the Totem of the Hunt, which was fashioned from a shard from Lorkh's ribs, and has the ability to confound any mortal. It was used as a medicinal wand in an ancient brotherhood, and is believed to heighten a lycanthrope's sight and smell, making it hard for a prey to flee.

Totem of Claw and Fang[edit]

The Totem of Claw and Fang is a religious artifact sacred to the Reachfolk and the Skaal, and is a necklace that is decorated with the claws and fang of a great bear. The Reach clans believe it is the symbol of Hrokkibeg, Hircine's bear aspect. It is one of the Symbols of the Five Aspects, the other four being the Spear of Bitter Mercy, and the Totems of Hircine. (composed of three artifacts). The Skaal associate it with the Spirit Bear, which they summon by invoking powerful nature magic with the totem, which is then tracked down and killed by the Skaal to please the All-Maker during the Ristaag.


The Hunting Grounds[edit]

The Hunting Grounds

The Hunting Grounds, also known as The Great Hunt, is a realm of Oblivion created and ruled over by Hircine, the Daedric Prince of the Hunt. It has been described as a realm of dense woodland and vast grasslands populated by werebears, wild cattle and unicorns. It is a savage land inhabited by vicious creatures such as bears, wolves, werecreatures, and Daedra. These creatures are generally much larger than their counterparts in the mortal realm. The Hunting Grounds are also populated with the spirits of small animals that may be hunted. All whom die within the Hunting Grounds are doomed to remain within the realm after death.

Followers of Hircine are promised an afterlife within the Hunting Grounds, where they can indulge in spectacular hunts, as well as experience an endless cycle of violence as well as death and rebirth. Its inhabitants reside in the many hunting lodges dotting the landscape. The forests of the Hunting Grounds are teeming with powerful beasts, which allow Hircine's followers to engage in the most spectacular hunts. For the devoted, it is a paradise. The souls of lycanthropes are claimed by Hircine and spend eternity experiencing the thrill of the hunt in his Hunting Grounds. However, it is possible for a soul to transfer to the proper afterlife (such as Sovngarde) if their lycanthropy is cured posthumously. During the daylight hours, werebears and fierce Nords stalk the land in their continual Hunt. When the sun sinks below the horizon, Hircine announces himself with a pack of werewolves to take his turn in the cycle.

Servants and Creatures[edit]

Among some of Hircine's most revered servants are the Huntsman, mysterious humanoid servants from the Hunting Grounds that have daedric hearts. Indeed, it is not uncommon for worshippers of Hircine to emulate the clothing of a Huntsman as a proxy of worship to Hircine. [29] The typical Lycanthrope is also likely to serve Hircine, who is the progenitor of their divine disease.

Hircine is the creator of the legendary Unicorn, which he occasionally brings from his Hunting Grounds and into Nirn to hunt.[12] He has also been associated with some legendary pale and white creatures, such as the Pale Senche and the White Stag. The hunting of such creatures has resulted in him granting his favor upon their deaths.[114][22]

See Also[edit]

Books[edit]

Notes[edit]

  • ^  Developer Gary Noonan described an early idea of Hircince as: "[...] a great Hunter. The Hunter of Mortal Souls and a favored high ranking General of Mehrunes Dagon, the Prince of Destruction. Clavicus Vile may perhaps even be of some blood relation to Hircine."[UOL 6]
  • Hernes which were seen in service to Mehrunes Dagon, were originally planned to be a favored daedra of Hircine in ESO.

Gallery[edit]

Humanoid[edit]

Wolf[edit]

Deer[edit]

Bear[edit]

Misc[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Prima Official Game Guide — David Hodgson
  2. ^ a b The Book of Daedra
  3. ^ a b The Hunting Grounds loading screen in ESO
  4. ^ a b c Invocation of Hircine
  5. ^ a b c d Shade of Ulthorn's dialogue in ESO
  6. ^ The Requisite Book of Daedra
  7. ^ Meet the Character - HanuMistress Dratha
  8. ^ Varieties of Faith: The Wood ElvesBrother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
  9. ^ Hircine's appearance in Daggerfall
  10. ^ Hircine's appearance in Bloodmoon
  11. ^ a b c d e The Worldly SpiritsAmun-dro, the Silent Priest
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i Aspects of Lord HircineJuno Procillus, Academy of Chorrol
  13. ^ The Glory of the HuntWyress Strigidae
  14. ^ a b c Legend of Thane Icehammer
  15. ^ a b An Accounting of WerewolvesSage Svari of Fallowstone Hall
  16. ^ The Hircine Ring item description in Daggerfall
  17. ^ Ring of Hircine item in Skyrim
  18. ^ a b Events of Hircine's quest in Daggerfall
  19. ^ 16 Accords of Madness, v. VI
  20. ^ a b c d e Hanu's dialogue in ESO: Wolfhunter
  21. ^ a b c The Huntsman PrinceHanu of the Zainab Tribe
  22. ^ a b c d e f g Events of Ill Met By Moonlight in Skyrim
  23. ^ Statue of Hircine in Ularra in ESO
  24. ^ Hollowjack card back description in Legends
  25. ^ Factions in Daggerfall
  26. ^ Holidays in Daggerfall
  27. ^ a b c d e High Shaman Glynroch's dialogue in ESO
  28. ^ Crafting Motif 31: Skinchanger StyleUraccanach the Witchman
  29. ^ a b Crafting Motif 65: Huntsman StyleUraccanach the Witchman (as transcribed by Juno Procillus, Academy of Chorrol)
  30. ^ Hircine's Aspect of Guile's appearance, abilities and drops in Bloodmoon
  31. ^ Apprentice Orla's dialogue in ESO
  32. ^ Hircine's Aspect of Speed's appearance and abilities in Bloodmoon
  33. ^ Scary Tales of the Druadach, Book 1Cassia Volcatia, Traveling Scribe
  34. ^ Great Dark Stag mount description in ESO
  35. ^ The Symbol of Gulibeg quest in ESO
  36. ^ Varieties of Faith...Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
  37. ^ Ebony Fox Totem furnishing from ESO
  38. ^ Fragmentae Abyssum Hermaeus Morus
  39. ^ The Silver WerewolfHildegard
  40. ^ Hircine's Aspect of Strength appearance in Bloodmoon
  41. ^ a b c d e Korst Wind-Eye's dialogue in Bloodmoon
  42. ^ a b c d e f g h Events of Hircine's Hunt in Bloodmoon
  43. ^ Hircine Loading Screen description in Skyrim
  44. ^ Bloodmoon Pendant item description in ESO
  45. ^ Gwaering Answers Your QuestionsGwaering
  46. ^ a b The Ooze: A Fable
  47. ^ a b The Glenmoril WyrdLady Cinnabar of Taneth
  48. ^ Daedra summoning in Daggerfall
  49. ^ a b Words of Clan Mother AhnissiClan Mother Ahnissi
  50. ^ a b Varieties of Faith: The KhajiitBrother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
  51. ^ The Sky SpiritsAmun-dro, the Silent Priest
  52. ^ Moon Bishop Hunal Answers Your QuestionsMoon Bishop Hunal
  53. ^ Horns of the Reach and Update 15 Preview on the official ESO website
  54. ^ Nicolard's Notes on the ForgeNicolard Lia
  55. ^ Bloodroot Forge in ESO
  56. ^ Filand's dialogue in ESO
  57. ^ Rena Hammerhands's dialogue in ESO
  58. ^ Kodlak's JournalKodlak Whitemane
  59. ^ Wolf-head Brooch codex from ESO
  60. ^ Spirit of the Hunt's appearance in ESO
  61. ^ Apprentice Fialyn's dialogue in Online
  62. ^ Reach Witch Chant — Varana Tappo, Imperial Scribe serving the Longhouse Emperors
  63. ^ a b c Great Spirits of the Reach: Volume 2 — Vashu gra-Morga, Chief Daedrotheologist at the University of Gwylim
  64. ^ a b Meet the Character - Domihaus the Bloody-HornedGherig Bullblood
  65. ^ a b Arana's dialogue in ESO
  66. ^ On the Clans of the Reach — Theopho Harvian, Imperial Scribe
  67. ^ Gherig Bullblood's dialogue in ESO
  68. ^ a b Great Spirits of the Reach: Volume 5 — Vashu gra-Morga, Chief Daedrotheologist at the University of Gwylim
  69. ^ Letter to Apprentice GwerinaHigh Shaman Glynroch
  70. ^ Great Spirits of the Reach: Volume 3 — Vashu gra-Morga, Chief Daedrotheologist at the University of Gwylim
  71. ^ a b c The Improved Emperor's Guide to Tamriel: Northern Bangkorai and the MountainsFlaccus Terentius, 2E 581
  72. ^ Ardanir's dialogue in ESO
  73. ^ Faorin's dialogue in ESO
  74. ^ a b Medone's dialogue in ESO
  75. ^ Kyrtos's dialogue in ESO
  76. ^ The Heart of the Beast quest in ESO
  77. ^ Vateshran Calbokh's dialogue in ESO
  78. ^ a b The Translated Works of Tosmorn, III — Xandier Edette
    Edited by Vanesse Aurilie
  79. ^ Crafting Motif 55, Dreadhorn
  80. ^ Goblins Creation for Skyrim Special Edition
  81. ^ Sage Svari Answers Your QuestionsSage Svari
  82. ^ Icehammer's Vault description that mentions Hoag Merkiller
  83. ^ Thane Icehammer's death needed for the Icehammer's Vault Explorer achievement in ESO
  84. ^ 2920, Rain's HandCarlovac Townway
  85. ^ The Coldharbour Compact
  86. ^ Sotha Sil's dialogue in ESO: Clockwork City
  87. ^ Gwaering's dialogue during the quest Restore the Silvenar in ESO
  88. ^ The Legend of Fallen Grotto
  89. ^ Events of the The Heart of the Beast quest in ESO
  90. ^ Thoreki, Songamdir, and Hircine's dialogue during the quest Hircine's Gift
  91. ^ Rolea's Journal — Rolea
  92. ^ The Hungry Cat's CurseVykosa the Ascendant
  93. ^ Letter to MylenneVykosa
  94. ^ Letter to BalorghVykosa
  95. ^ Balorgh's PlanRonela
  96. ^ The Great Hunt questline in ESO
  97. ^ Events of Moonlight Ascent in ESO
  98. ^ Events of The Disappearance of Captain Carius in Bloodmoon
  99. ^ Events of The Skaal Test of Strength in Bloodmoon
  100. ^ Events of The Castle Karstaag in Bloodmoon
  101. ^ Events of The Siege of the Skaal Village in Bloodmoon
  102. ^ a b c d Hircine's dialogue in Bloodmoon
  103. ^ Events of Hircine's quest in Oblivion
  104. ^ Ice Unicorn description in Blades
  105. ^ Soran's JournalSoran Hariksen, Wildlife Scholar
  106. ^ The Infernal City — Gregory Keyes
  107. ^ Great HarbingersSwyk the Long-Sighted
  108. ^ Lycanthropic Legends of SkyrimLentulus Inventius, Order of the Horn
  109. ^ Kodlak Whitemane's dialogue during Blood's Honor in Skyrim
  110. ^ Events of Blood's Honor in Skyrim
  111. ^ Events of Glory of the Dead in Skyrim
  112. ^ a b Kodlak Whitemane's dialogue after killing his Wolf Spirit during Glory of the Dead in Skyrim
  113. ^ a b Sinding's dialogue in Skyrim
  114. ^ The Senche quest in ESO

Note: the following references are not from official sources. They are included to provide a rounder background to this article, but may not reflect established lore.

  1. ^ Lawrence Schick on Daedra Lords (58:29-58:55) on ESO Live
  2. ^ Developer comments on Wyress Strigidae (32:30) on ESO Live
  3. ^ The Blessings of Hircine removed book in ESO
  4. ^ New Life Festival Interview
  5. ^ Twitch Stream of The Elder Scrolls Online: Wolfhunter First Look, time stamp 16:34-17:02
  6. ^ GT Noonan's Posts at The Imperial Library