Lore:Bird Men

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Map of the Eight Islands, site of the Imperial City

The Bird Men (also known as Cyrodilic bird-people)[1] were a race of beastfolk who supposedly inhabited what became the City Isle in Cyrodiil during the Early-to-Middle Merethic Era.[2][3]


During the early Merethic Era, the aboriginal beastpeoples of Tamriel lived in preliterate communities.[4] The name they gave themselves, if any, is lost to history. Only oral histories and the fragmented ballad of Topal the Pilot, an epic Aldmeri poem called Udhendra Nibenu (translated as Father of the Niben by Florin Jaliil, who thought it might not be entirely factual), offer glimpses of the ancient beast races that inhabited the land of Cyrod, but they are "shadowy, mist-drawn portraits of time before reckoning".[2] The ballad describes the adventures of the legendary Aldmer explorer Topal the Pilot, who charted the coasts of Tamriel and discovered the Niben River and Topal Bay. In the poem, while Topal and his crew strove to return home to Firsthold, they traveled up the Niben River and the Niben Valley to Lake Rumare, where they encountered "brilliant flightful creatures of glorious colors" with "taloned feet". At first the "feathered men" were speaking Aldmeri, but the crew soon figured out they were only repeating what they had heard, not understanding the meaning to any of the words. Topal's crew taught the Bird Men their language as well as how to write with their feet, and in return the Bird Men made Topal their lord and granted him the "eight islands" that would later make up City Isle.[3] Other histories say he purchased the Eight Islands from the beastfolk natives in exchange for the secret of literacy, rather than being given as a gift.[5]

After Topal's departure, the "extraordinary bird creatures" are never mentioned again in recorded history. There are varying accounts of what happened to them: based on Topal's poem, Florin Jaliil believed that the bird creatures met their extinction at the hands of the "cat demons" (likely the ancient Khajiit) long before the Ayleids migrated to Cyrodiil.[3] However, it is also said that their newfound skills of reading and writing were in vain, as it soon made them better slaves to the Ayleids.[5] There are also records of "savage beast peoples" who learned the crafts of war and magic from their Ayleid masters,[6] but it is vague as to which betmeri this refers to. The Antiquarian Circle allegedly came into possession of a bird-person skull circa 2E 582, though its veracity was disputed by claims that it was in fact a terror bird skull.[1]


  • The Bird Men are not to be confused with harpies, an all-female species of birdlike women which were created sometime after 1E 808 in the city of Lainlyn.[7][8]