Lorkhan, the Missing God, is the Creator-Trickster-Tester deity present in every Tamrielic mythic tradition. He is known as the Spirit of Nirn, the god of all mortals. His most popular name is the Elven variant Lorkhan, or Doom Drum, which sometimes appears as LKHAN or LHKAN. Names for versions or aspects of Lorkhan include Lorkhaj (the Moon Beast) in Elsweyr, Lorkh, the Spirit of Man, the Mortal Spirit, or the Sower of Flesh to the Reachmen, Sep in Hammerfell, Sheor in High Rock, Shor in Skyrim, and Shezarr in Cyrodiil. He convinced or contrived the Original Spirits (et'Ada) to bring about the creation of the Mundus, upsetting the status quo—much like his (figurative) father Padomay is usually credited for introducing instability, and hence possibility for creation, into the undivided universe (or the Beginning Place).
After the world materialized, myths hold that Lorkhan was killed, mutilated, or at least separated from his divine center, the Heart of Lorkhan (known as Sep's "hunger" to the Redguards and Shor's Heart to the Nords), in an event sometimes called the shattering of Lorkhan. This separation, which purportedly took place in Tamriel, is typically called a punishment, but stories often suggest Lorkhan submitted to it voluntarily. Whatever remained of Lorkhan afterward was exiled to wander through creation. As the impetus for creating the Mundus, Lorkhan is at the center of the great ideological schism between the Elven and human perspectives on the event, which is known as the Sundering to Elves, and thus opinions of him vary dramatically in Tamriel.
Worship and History
The Theory of the Lunar Lorkhan states that the twin moons Masser and Secunda are Lorkhan's "Flesh-Divinity"—his literal corpse. It says that, like the Aedra, he was a planet (or plane) that participated in creation, but his planet split and his divine spark fell to Nirn "to impregnate it with the measure of its existence and a reasonable amount of selfishness". The moons thus represent the "Cloven Duality", or dichotomy of opposites, that is central to the Tamrielic dialogue on Lorkhan. However, the War of Manifest Metaphors contradicts this claim. Additionally, both modern and ancient Khajiiti religion places the two moons as separate entities that existed prior to Lorkhan's punishment at Convention, and only believe that the third moon, the Dark Moon, is his corpse.
Everyone eventually assigns a motivation to Lorkhan and picks a favorite story to believe, but the truth is as elusive as Lorkhan himself. He is associated with trickery regardless. In legends, he is almost always an enemy of the ancient Elves and, therefore, a hero of early Mankind. Some Nordic myths state he vowed the Dwemer would "die by [his] hand" shortly before their disappearance at the climax of the War of the First Council around 1E 700. One even claims that he was briefly reunited with his Heart and mortally wounded Nerevar before being defeated again.
To the Altmer, Lorkhan (who they view as more a limit than a nature) is the most unholy of all higher powers, as they believe he forever broke their connection to the spirit plane. Their stories say Trinimac defeated Lorkhan and tore out his Heart is little consolation, and they still believe sadness is "the best response to the Sundering". Their wish is to return to the spirit realm, but Lorkhan is the demon that hinders their way; to them Nirn is a prison, an illusion to escape.
In contrast, Dunmeri culture, especially under Tribunal rule, has always had a close relationship with the missing god. In Dunmer legend, it is said that Boethiah's 'creation' of the Chimer was acted out with Lorkhan in mind, stating that the Chimer were to pledge themselves to the 'Frame-Maker'. Lorkhan's Heart would become the source of the Tribunal's divinity, with Lorkhan and his motivations becoming a pondered topic in Vivec's own 36 Lessons. The scarab, the symbol for Lorkhan shared by the Dunmer, has been incorporated into the symbols of both House Redoran and The Sixth House. While they similarly think that Nirn is a cruel place full of mental anguish, the Dunmer believe that Lorkhan created the world as the testing ground for transcendence; to them the spirit realm was already a prison, and true escape is now finally possible.
Mankind has a similarly divisive relationship with Lorkhan. Nords revere him as the heroic Shor, the trickster god who wielded his clever magic to bring about the current world, even though he was forced to sacrifice his own life in the process. He is known as the Fox in their totemic pantheon. His widow is the warrior goddess Kyne, the purported creator of mankind and chief of the Nordic Pantheon. While Imperials have adopted a similarly favorable view of their variation of Shor, also known in Nibenay as Shezarr, the Bretons of High Rock view Shor, who they call Sheor, with utter contempt. They see Sheor as the Bad Man and claim him to be responsible for all the world's strife. They associate him with many of their woes, particularly crop failure.
Redguard legends also paint Lorkhan to be adversarial. Their version, Sep, was driven mad by the Hunger of Satakal, and convinced the other gods to create a 'shortcut' to the Walkabout, resulting in the creation of the mortal world. Though punished for his actions by Tall Papa, Sep continues to exist as a shadow of his former self, attempting to prevent mortal souls from reaching the Far Shores after death.
The Khajiit and Reachmen both credit Namira with having some influence in his actions in creating Nirn. Ancient Khajiit texts that predate the Riddle'Thar Epiphany speak of Lorkhaj surviving the event known as the Convention where his heart was torn out , allowing him to flee to Azurah with the hole in his chest. Azurah saw Namiira was dwelling within his wound, keeping him alive and corrupting him by imitating his heart. Azurah cleansed Lorkhaj of the corruption and flung his Dark Heart into the Void, and Lorkhaj perished within Azurah's embrace. From the Dark Heart came the twisted shade of Lorkhaj known as the Moon Beast, first of the dro-m'Athra. And so Lorkhaj represents the duality of Khajiiti souls and their susceptibility towards the spiritual corruption of the Bent Dance.
The Reachfolk creation story speaks of Lorkh having an epiphany when he visited the darkness; that what is perceived as nothingness is ripe for possibility. And so, Lorkh approached Namira and convinced her 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. What happened after is shrouded in the allegory, though following Nirn's creation, darkness was emitted from Lorkh's heart as a result of his sundering. And so to the Reachmen, Lorkh serves as an example to fight against the darkness in their hearts.
Legend holds that at Convention, Akatosh slew Lorkhan at the apex of the Adamantine Tower. When the Doom Drum's Heart proved indestructible, Auri-El attached it to an arrow and launched it across the world. As it passed over the Heartlands of Cyrodiil, Lorkhan's crystallized blood fell to the ground, and the Ayleids found and used it to fashion the Chim-el Adabal. The Heart fell to the ground in modern-day Morrowind, forming a volcano, Red Mountain. The Dwemer eventually found and tried to exploit it, leading to the disappearance of their race from the face of Nirn.
According to Orc and Chimer creation myths, Boethiah took exception to the lies being spread by the Elven gods about Lorkhan, most especially those espoused by Trinimac. He defeated Trinimac and took on his form to spread "the truth of Lorkhan's test", the Tri-Angled Truth, and persuaded the followers of Boethiah and Trinimac to abandon Altmeri society. Boethiah and Mephala showed them the rules of Psijic Endeavor, a process championed by Saint Veloth and Vivec by which mortals may equal or surpass the gods that created them (the stated purpose of the Mundus), which may be the "truth of Lorkhan's test" referred to in legend. He is still associated with the Psijic Endeavor in Morrowind.
Lorkhan has obscure relationships with other deities. He and Akatosh are the only deities who seem to be present in every tradition. Some legends say that Kynareth was the first to agree to his idea for a mortal realm. Mara is sometimes considered his wife or concubine, as is Kynareth (or Kyne). Sheogorath is said to have been created when Lorkhan's divine spark was removed from the world. While Lorkhan is the god of all mortals, Arkay is known as the Mortals' God. Lorkhan is sometimes associated with Sithis, "the Void", who is worshipped by members of the Dark Brotherhood. It is thought that Lorkhan may still act in Mundus through the being called the Shezarrine.
Cults devoted to Lorkhan (or his aspects) have long existed in Tamriel. One cult may have predicted the rise of Tiber Septim. These cults proliferated in the late Third Era, and they are associated with spreading the understanding of the Dragon Break phenomenon (though their work is looked down upon in some scholarly circles). Mankar Camoran claimed that Lorkhan is a Daedra whose Daedric plane is "Dawn's Beauty ... misnamed Tamriel by deluded mortals".
Ebony is an extremely hard, durable, black glass-like substance. It is said to be the crystallized blood of a god or gods, Lorkhan in particular. Skyshards and Sky Prisms are a rare type of meteoric glass. Sometimes called "Shards of Aetherius", skyshards are shards of Aetherial magicka that carry the essence of Nirn. They are sometimes linked to Lorkhan.
- The Arcturian Heresy by The Underking, Ysmir Kingmaker — A brief, undated, early historical document covering the Underking and Tiber Septim
- Five Songs of King Wulfharth — A summary of five epic songs of King Wulfharth, plus an apocryphal song of the Tribunal, Dagoth-Ur, and Indoril Nerevar
- The Lunar Lorkhan by Fal Droon — A theory about the moons Masser and Secunda
- The Monomyth — A theological book containing the common creation myths
- Sithis — Text detailing an apparent connection between Sithis and Lorkhan
- Spirit of Nirn, God of Mortals — Opinions of the god Lorkhan and the origin of creation
- Varieties of Faith... by Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College — An expansive list of the pantheons and associated divine spirits of Tamriel's dominant cultures
- Varieties of Faith in Tamriel by Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College — Description of the pantheons of gods in Tamriel
- The Monomyth
- Spirit of Nirn, God of Mortals
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec — Vivec
- Great Spirits of the Reach: Volume 5 — Vashu gra-Morga, Chief Daedrotheologist at the University of Gwylim
- Words of Clan Mother Ahnissi — Clan Mother Ahnissi
- Varieties of Faith... — Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
- Five Songs of King Wulfharth
- Before the Ages of Man — Aicantar of
- Songs of the Return, Vol 7
- Mysterious Akavir
- Plan to Defeat Dagoth Ur — Vivec
- Aedra and Daedra
- The Lunar Lorkhan — Fal Droon
- Den of Lorkhaj loading screen text in ESO
- Moon Bishop Hunal Answers Your Questions — Moon Bishop Hunal
- The Moon Cats and their Dance — Clan Mother Ahnissi
- Shazah's dialogue in ESO
- The Arcturian Heresy — The Underking, Ysmir Kingmaker
- The Changed Ones
- 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon 10 — Vivec
- The Crest of House Redoran and House Dagoth
- The Road to Sovngarde
- Divines and the Nords — High Priest Ingurt
- Ebony Fox Totem Antiquity codex entries in ESO: Greymoor
- Shezarr and the Divines — Faustillus Junius
- The Favored Daughter of Fadomai — Amun-dro, the Silent Priest
- The Sky Spirits — Amun-dro, the Silent Priest
- The Dark Spirits — Amun-dro, the Silent Priest
- The Dark Descent's loading screen in ESO
- Nchuand-Zel's loading screen in ESO
- Ardanir's dialogue in ESO
- Tower of Adamant — Hrerm House-builder, Bards College, Solitude
- Aurbic Enigma 4: The Elden Tree — Beredalmo the Signifier
- The Battle of Red Mountain — Vivec
- The Anticipations — Anonymous
- Where Were You ... Dragon Broke — Various
- The Song of Pelinal
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Morrowind — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- The Dragon Break Re-Examined — Fal Droon
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Throat of the World: Skyrim — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- The Seed — Marobar Sul
- Events of Oblivion
- Morrowind dialogue
- Hrorvild Blackrock, Nord weaponsmith — Hrorvild Blackrock
- Crafting Motif 22: Trinimac Style — the Venerable Uugus, Priest of Trinimac
- Soul Shriven in Coldharbour quest in ESO