Lore:Hermaeus Mora

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An emblem representing Hermaeus Mora, the Golden Eye
Hermaeus Mora in Apocrypha
"I am Hermaeus Mora. I am the guardian of the unseen, and knower of the unknown. I have been watching you, mortal." — Hermaeus Mora[1]

Hermaeus Mora (sometimes spelled "Hoermius", "Hormaius", or "Herma" Mora),[2][3] the Demon of Knowledge,[2] the Master of the Tides of Fate,[1] Gardener of Men,[4][UOL 1] Prince of Fate, Lord of Secrets,[5] the Golden Eye,[6] Ur-Daedra,[7] the Abyssal Cephaliarch,[8] Old Antecedent, Scryer, Inevitable Knower,[7] also known to the ancient Atmorans and Bosmer as Herma-Mora, the Woodland Man,[2][9] to the Ayleids as Hyrma Mora,[10] and to the Khajiit as Hermorah,[11] is a Daedric Prince whose sphere is forbidden knowledge[12] and the "scrying of the tides of Fate, of the past and future as read in the stars and heavens, and in whose dominion are the treasures of knowledge and memory".[13] Mora has been called the wisest of the Daedric Princes, with a mind as old as Tamriel and a body of slime,[12] though he describes himself as "[t]he riddle unsolveable. The door unopenable. The book unreadable. The question unanswerable."[14] Unlike most Princes, Hermaeus Mora does not take on a humanoid form, manifesting instead as varied, grotesque assemblages of eyes, tentacles, and claws, or a featureless purple vortex known as the Wretched Abyss.[15][16]

Apocrypha is Hermaeus Mora's plane of Oblivion, an endless library where all forbidden knowledge can be found. Each book sports a black cover without a title, and the realm is reported to be haunted by ghosts forever searching for knowledge.[6][17] His servants include Daedra such as Seekers and Lurkers, but he is known to have mortal worshipers too.[18] Sailors have referred to "Herm'us Mora" as a being that lurks in the oceans.[19] Similarly, the Khajiiti Hermorah controls the tides and lives in a vast library under the sea.[11]

Hermaeus Mora is tangentially related to the origins of the Morag Tong by association with his sibling, Mephala.[2] Mora's enemies are said to be Ebonarm and Vaermina,[20] and his summoning day is the 5th of First Seed.[21]

Mythology and Worship[edit]

Bosmeri Cults[edit]

To the Bosmer, Herma-Mora is a malicious trickster spirit (one of many). Nevertheless, the Woodland Man commands a large number of devotees. However, Mora cultists in Valenwood insist that their Herma-Mora is different from the Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora.[9] One such group was a Second Era cult, the Wooded Eye, who venerated Mora and served as guardians of the Cradle of Ilmyris—a library of secret knowledge.[22]

Nordic Tales[edit]

In ancient Atmora, Herma-Mora was also known as the Woodland Man (though unlike the Bosmer, the Nords acknowledge his Daedric heritage). Most myths involving Ysgramor are about his escaping the devious schemes of Herma-Mora.[23]

One fable in particular is known: Ysgramor was hunting in the Atmoran Frostwood when he sighted the White Stag of Forelgrim. After losing its trail many times, a Hare appeared, and told Ysgramor where the White Stag had gone. When Ysgramor inquired as to how the Hare knew this, it replied that it could hear it with its long ears, adding that if Ysgramor had long ears he could hear his prey wherever it went.[8]

Ysgramor idly wished his ears were as long as the Hare's; the Hare twitched its nose and Ysgramor's ears became long and pointed. Suddenly, a Fox leapt out and killed the Hare. The Fox then identified itself as Shor and the Hare as Herma-Mora, and chided Ysgramor for nearly allowing himself to be turned into an Elf. Shor then sent Ysgramor on his way, warning him to "eschew the tricks of the Elves, lest ye become one."[8]

"Hermorah, you are the Tides, for who can say whether the moons predict the tides or the tides predict the moons?"
— Fadomai, from Words of Clan Mother Ahnissi

Hermorah[edit]

Hermorah is known to the Khajiit as the Watcher, Spirit of the Tides,[11] and the Tide-King,[24] is the Keeper of the Knowledge of Others.[11] He was born of the second litter of Fadomai.[25] Traditionally, Hermorah records all he sees in his vast submarine library. Azurah is a frequent visitor to his domain, and Hermorah shares all he knows with her. He also helps Azurah maintain the Moons and their Motions.[11]

However, the advent of Riddle'Thar worship brought a change in thinking. Thus, more recent writings caution against Hermorah worship, describing communion with the spirit as "a fate worse than death", that will "tear a mind asunder" and "shred our sense of reality".[24]

History[edit]

Second Era[edit]

The Vestige is known to have transacted with Hermaeus Mora several times around 2E 582. In Craglorn, they assisted a former Star-Gazer in reaching Hermaeus Mora's shrine deep within the Seeker's Archive.[26] Hermaeus Mora offered them knowledge of the Celestials in exchange for hidden knowledge.[27] The Vestige also assisted Hermaeus Mora restore order in his temple at Rootwater Grove in exchange for knowledge of the Veiled Heritance's plans to defile the Heart of Valenwood at Hectahame.[28] The Primeval Seekers of Bisnensel petitioned the Vestige for assistance in 2E 582, but it is unclear whether they received aid or not.[29]

The Vestige also recovered the Oghma Infinium from a rebellious servant for the Prince, though Mora denied the hero access to the tome.[30][31]

Third Era[edit]

Around 3E 405, an agent of the Blades summoned Hermaeus Mora in the Iliac Bay region. The agent assassinated a "scrofulous patrician" who had displeased the Prince, and received the Oghma Infinium in return.[12]

The Champion of Cyrodiil travelled to Mora's shrine in the Jerall Mountains of Cyrodiil in 3E 433. Mora explained that his followers needed a soul from each of the ten major races of Tamriel for a divination ritual. In return for collecting these souls, the Champion was also given the Oghma Infinium.[32]

Fourth Era[edit]

In 4E 201, the Last Dragonborn encountered Hermaeus Mora in Skyrim. A quest for the College of Winterhold led the Dragonborn to Septimus Signus, a former mage of the College whose mind had suffered damage, he claimed, from reading an Elder Scroll. Signus was attempting to unlock a mysterious Dwemer lockbox which he believed held the Heart of Lorkhan. But he was unable to figure out how, and requested the Dragonborn find an Elder Scroll and record its insights into the matter using ancient Dwemer technology.[33]

The Dragonborn completed the task and returned to Septimus Signus, who then requested a sample of blood from each of the Elven races. Signus needed the samples in order to recreate the equivalent of Dwemer blood, which was the key to opening the lockbox. Additionally, the mage revealed that it was Hermaeus Mora who had led him to the lockbox, but his patron had stopped short of granting the insight to open it. Hermaeus Mora then confronted the Dragonborn directly, stating Septimus was becoming "increasingly obsolete" and offering to make the hero his champion upon fulfilling Signus' request.[33]

Ultimately, the Dragonborn returned with the Elven blood as requested, and Signus was able to open the Dwemer lockbox. However, it did not contain the Heart of Lorkhan, but a book. Before he could inspect the book, however, Signus was destroyed by Hermaeus Mora, having outlived his usefulness to the Prince. The Dragonborn retrieved the tome, and discovered it to be the Oghma Infinium. Mora then appeared one last time, granting use of the Oghma and naming the Dragonborn his new emissary (though whether or not the Dragonborn accepted this title remains unclear).[33]

It was later revealed that Miraak, the First Dragonborn, had learned his secret powers from Hermaeus Mora in exchange for a life of servitude in Apocrypha. By the time the dragons returned to Skyrim, however, Miraak had largely abandoned his master and decided to return to Tamriel by way of Solstheim. After raising an army of cultists and attempting to kill the recently revealed Last Dragonborn, Miraak bewitched much of the populace of Solstheim and forced them to build otherworldly structures around the All-Maker Stones on the island, which would be used to increase his power and provide a conduit to return to Tamriel. The Last Dragonborn tracked Miraak's activity to his temple and inside found a Black Book, an artifact of Hermaeus Mora.[18]

The Last Dragonborn destroyed Miraak's influence on the island and entered Apocrypha through the Black Books, meeting Hermaeus Mora himself. Mora told the Dragonborn that he was growing tired of using Miraak as a servant, and offered the same dragon shout he provided to Miraak in exchange for an important piece of knowledge. This knowledge was the ancient religious traditions and powers of the Skaal, who had faithfully kept it from Mora for generations. The Dragonborn had to convince the spiritual leader of the Skaal, Storn Crag-Strider, to give up the knowledge, which killed him as it was removed from his body. With one end of the bargain fulfilled, the Dragonborn gained the new shout from Mora and returned to Apocrypha to face Miraak. The First Dragonborn was defeated, and Mora appeared again to express his disappointment with Miraak, and declared the Last Dragonborn to be his new champion.[18]

Artifacts[edit]

The front cover of the Oghma Infinium

Oghma Infinium[edit]

The Oghma Infinium, also known as the Tome of Power and the Librum of Knowledge, is an ancient tome of knowledge, and an artifact of great power. It was written by Xarxes, the scribe of Auri-El, who had been granted the knowledge within by Hermaeus Mora. The name of the tome comes from Oghma, the wife of Xarxes, whom he created from his favorite moments in history. The knowledge within the tome grants the reader access to the artifact's energy, which can be manipulated to achieve near demi-god abilities. The Paths of Steel, Shadow and Spirit are the three main sections of the tome. Once the Oghma Infinium is used, it disappears from its owner's possession. Through the reading of Black Books, individuals can obtain much more power than that gained from the Oghma Infinium alone.

The front cover of one of Mora's Black Books

Black Books[edit]

Black Books are Daedric artifacts created by Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Fate and Knowledge. Each book contains some manner of forbidden knowledge. Some books are from the ancient past; some are from the future. The thick tomes are bound in black covers, with a symbol representing Mora on the front, and emit a black mist. They are comparable to the Oghma Infinium, another tome of knowledge created by Mora; however, through the reading of the Black Books, individuals can obtain much more power than that gained from the Oghma Infinium alone. The books were spread across Tamriel by Mora, and are usually located in the depths of ancient dungeons.

Through reading a Black Book, the reader will enter Apocrypha, the realm of Oblivion created and ruled over by Hermaeus Mora. Tentacles will emerge from the tome and envelop the reader. An apparition of the reader's body remains in Mundus, tethering their life force. Most mortals who read a Black Book are driven insane, but those who successfully journey through Apocrypha are known to discover powerful knowledge. Dying in Apocrypha while reading a Black Book simply banishes the reader back to Tamriel. Rereading a book will return the reader to the same area of Apocrypha, allowing them to attempt Mora's gauntlets again or harness the power of a different piece of knowledge. Copies of the contents of Black Books can be made without entering Apocrypha.

Apocrypha[edit]

Apocrypha is a realm of Oblivion created and ruled over by Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Knowledge and Fate. It is an endless library consisting of untitled books with black covers, where all forbidden knowledge can be found. The realm is haunted by the ghosts of mortals forever searching for knowledge. Stacks of books form mazes and spiraling pillars that can reach as high as the illuminating green sky. Intricate ruins and monstrous carvings can be found among the stacks. The plane is covered in a sea of ink and roiling tentacles, while Hermaeus Mora is omnipresent over all. Some areas of the realm are consumed by darkness which can kill any who enter it. Discarded pages and floating tomes fill the air.

Apocrypha is inhabited by the frightening Daedric servants of Mora. Seekers guard forbidden knowledge, banishing foes with sound attacks. Lurkers dwell within the inky tide, arising from the depths to attack invaders. Disembodied tentacles hide in the waters and hang from the sky, whipping at any who pass.

Apart from magical teleportation, Apocrypha is most easily entered by mortals through the reading of Black Books, tomes of forbidden knowledge displaced from time and scattered across Tamriel. An apparition of the reader's body remains in Mundus, tethering their life force. Most mortals who gain access to the secrets within Apocrypha are driven insane by unending revelations. Such was the fate of the mage Morian Zenas, who famously disappeared in Apocrypha during his voyages through Oblivion. However those who successfully journey through Apocrypha are known to discover powerful knowledge.

See Also[edit]

Books[edit]

Notes[edit]

  • The second part of the Prince's name, "Mora", means "forest" or "wood" in Aldmeris. This may be related to Hermaeus Mora's sobriquet, the "Woodland Man".

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Hermaeus Mora's dialogue in Dragonborn
  2. ^ a b c d Varieties of Faith...Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
  3. ^ On OblivionMorian Zenas
  4. ^ Events of Dragonborn
  5. ^ Ibrula's dialogue in ESO
  6. ^ a b Apocrypha, Apocrypha
  7. ^ a b Secrets Overheard in ApocryphaMorian Zenas
  8. ^ a b c Fragmentae Abyssum Hermaeus Morus
  9. ^ a b Varieties of Faith: The Wood ElvesBrother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
  10. ^ Bisnensel: Our Ancient RootsScholasticus Incognitus
  11. ^ a b c d e The Worldly SpiritsAmun-dro, the Silent Priest
  12. ^ a b c Events of Hermaeus Mora's quest in Daggerfall
  13. ^ The Book of Daedra
  14. ^ Events of ESO
  15. ^ Hermaeus Mora's appearance in Daggerfall
  16. ^ Hermaeus Mora's appearance in Skyrim
  17. ^ The Doors of OblivionSeif-ij Hidja
  18. ^ a b c Events of Dragonborn
  19. ^ Cap'n Dugal's Journal, Part 2Captain Torradan ap Dugal
  20. ^ Factions in Daggerfall
  21. ^ Holidays in Daggerfall
  22. ^ Orthenir's dialogue in ESO
  23. ^ Varieties of Faith: The NordsBrother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
  24. ^ a b Epistle on the Spirits of Amun-dro Vol 2 — Thava-ko
  25. ^ Words of Clan Mother AhnissiClan Mother Ahnissi
  26. ^ Events of The Seeker's Archive in ESO, and Hermaeus Mora's dialogue during the quest
  27. ^ Events of Gem of the Stars, Message Unknown and Strange Lexicon in ESO, and Hermaeus Mora's dialogue during those quests
  28. ^ Hermaeus Mora's dialogue during The Flooded Grove in ESO
  29. ^ Events of Sunken Knowledge in ESO
  30. ^ Events of The Waking Dreamer in ESO
  31. ^ Hermaeus Mora's dialogue during and after The Waking Dreamer
  32. ^ Events of Hermaeus Moras's quest in Oblivion
  33. ^ a b c Events of the Discerning the Transmundane quest in Skyrim

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. ^ The Imperial Census of Daedra Lords at The Imperial Library