- We are bound to this land, like a great pine with roots that run as deep as the tree is tall. - Frea, Skaal Shaman
The Skaal are an offshoot tribe of Nords living in a village in northeastern Solstheim. They are known as a trusting and hospitable people, welcoming strangers into their village without any suspicion. Their village is located to the east of the Isild River, along the Felsaad Coast just north of Lake Fjalding. The Skaal are descended from the Nords who served the Dragon Cult on Solstheim, and built tombs to honor the Dragon Priests who ruled over them. They get all that they need from the land around them and do not often accept coin in trade from travelers.
Though they are Nords by race, the Skaal embrace their own culture and religion, based around worship of the All-Maker. They believe when something dies, be it an animal or a person, the spirit of the deceased is returned to the All-Maker, who then reforms it into a new being and returns it to the mortal plane, to live out a new life, in a new body. As such, the Skaal do not view death the same way as other Nords and, as such, have not created the extensive tombs seen throughout most of Skyrim. All life is sacred to the Skaal, and they try to live in harmony with nature, impacting their environment as little as possible. They hunt deer, bear, and horker, only to the extent necessary for survival, never for enjoyment or practice, and gather their firewood from dead trees that have already fallen. The antithesis of the All-Maker is a being known as the Adversary. The Adversary has many aspects, each one of them designed to test the Skaal, to push them so that they do not become lazy and weak. One aspect of the Adversary is Thartaag, the World-Devourer, likely the Skaal's version of Alduin, the World-Eater. Legend says that Thartaag will return at the End of Seasons, and bring an end to all of creation.
Early in the third century of the Third Era, a group of Skaal left the village, hoping to return more to their roots. These Skaal were led by Hrothmund the Red, and founded Thirsk Mead Hall, a settlement on the southern shore of Lake Fjalding (though some local Nords believe the history of the hall dates back to the late Second Era). There, they lived like the Nords of old, hunting and fighting without restraint, with the mightiest warrior rising to leadership.
According to legend, long ago the world was ruled by dragons, who enslaved the race of man and forced them to build fantastic temples in their honor. Directing the slaves in their name were the Dragon Priests, a group of men who worshipped the dragons and were given power in exchange for their devotion. These priests were powerful mages, and had the gift of the Thu'um. One of these dragon priests, known only as the Traitor, was seduced by Herma-Mora, the Skaal's name for the Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora. His plot to overthrow the dragons was discovered by another dragon priest, known as the Guardian. The Guardian confronted the Traitor, and the two fought a terrible battle. So great was their power, Solstheim was sundered from Skyrim. The Guardian proved to be the more powerful, and bested the Traitor. Just as the Guardian was about to land the final blow, Herma-Mora snatched the Traitor away, rescuing him from certain death. As a reward for his loyalty, the Guardian was given Solstheim to rule, where his reign is remembered as peaceful and prosperous, and he is remembered as a wise and just ruler.
In another tale, originating from when the Skaal were a new people, the land was at peace. The sun was warm, and the groups bountiful, and all the Skaal gave thanks to the All-Maker. Over time, however, the Skaal gave less and less thanks, becoming complacent and lazy. They forgot that the Adversary, the antithesis of the All-Maker, is always watching, waiting for a chance to torment the All-Maker and his preferred people. Unlike the All-Maker, the Adversary has many aspects, each one with a specific name and gender. At this time, he was known as the Greedy Man. The Greedy Man lived among the Skaal for some time, until one day the powers of the Skaal suddenly disappeared. The warriors became weak, the shaman could no longer call to the beasts of the forest for aid. The elders of the Skaal thought that the All-Maker had abandoned them, and this is when the Greedy Man spoke. He told them that because of their disregard for the gifts of the All-Maker, he had taken them away. He told them that until one among them could retrieve the gifts of the All-Maker, all of the Skaal would live in misery, and then he disappeared. The Skaal spoke well into the night, and then into the next day, and continued to talk until many days passed. They knew that someone must go, but none of them wanted to bear the responsibility. It was then that a young man named Aevar spoke, and volunteered to go. He traveled into the forest, to each of the All-Maker Stones, meditating at each of them, and learned from the All-Maker how he might retrieve the gifts from the Greedy Man. He traveled across Solstheim, and retrieved all of the gifts from the Greedy Man. He meditated again, and the All-Maker spoke to him, telling them that he was pleased, and that the Greedy Man would not bother the Skaal again for many years to come. With that, Aevar returned to the Skaal, and lived according to the true ways of the Skaal.
Leaders of the Skaal
- Tharsten Heart-Fang, leader of the Skaal, circa 3E 427
- Skaf the Giant, leader of the Skaal before Fanari
- Fanari Strong-Voice, leader of the Skaal circa 4E 201
Skaal Village circa 3E 427
- For game-specific information, see the Bloodmoon article about the Skaal people, and the Bloodmoon and Dragonborn articles about the village.
- Frea's dialogue in Dragonborn.
- Tharstan's dialogue in Dragonborn.
- Children of the All-Maker — Tharstan of Solitude
- The Story of Aevar Stone-Singer
- Thirsk, a History — Bereditte Jastal
- Dialogue of Thirsk residents around 3E 427 claiming Thirsk is over 500 years old.
- Kuvar's dialogue in Dragonborn
- The Guardian and the Traitor — Lucius Gallus