Lore: Moth Sister Terran Arminus Answers Your Questions
"The only certainty regarding Elder Scrolls I have ever heard is that they hold great power and are often used for prophecy. Yet I cannot help but wonder... have there ever been any events that have contradicted an Elder Scroll without having been foretold in another Elder Scroll? If so, how did such a phenomenon occur? Was it brought on by mortal intervention? Divine intervention? If such an event has never happened, do you believe there is any such thing as true freedom? Or are we all slaves to fate?" - Drafo
Sister Terran Arminus says, "This is a good question with which to start, for answering it enables me to address some misconceptions about the Elder Scrolls that are common among the … er … commoners. The Scrolls are often described as tools of prophecy—indeed, 'the Aedric Prophecies' is another name for them in some quarters—but the fact that the Scrolls speak of future events is merely a side-effect of their intrinsic nature. The Scrolls tell of our future because they are woven into that future—as well the present, and the past, and every other aspect of this reality we call the Mundus. It is a mistake to think that events prophesized in the Scrolls are fixed and unchangeable; again and again we in the Order of the Ancestor Moth have seen the prophecies alter as the future changes in response to the acts of mortals. Future events foretold in the Scrolls may be deemed likely to occur, so likely as to seem almost certain—but no event is fixed in the Scrolls until it actually happens."
"Firstly Sister, I hope you are well. I understand that the strain of being a Moth Cultist is tough. As a linguist, I have studied the language of Oblivion. I have taken charcoal rubbings from dolmens themselves. So naturally something has bothered me: Has anyone in your order attempted to transcribe the Elder Scrolls?" -D'arht-si, daughter of Ra Gada.
Sister Terran Arminus says, "D'arht-si, your handwriting is quite small, and hard for these cloudy eyes to see clearly. Perhaps if I hold it up to the taper just so: what's this? 'Stain of being a Moth Cultist'? Is membership in the Order now considered shameful? We have never received due respect, but this, this is too much!
"Oh. Wait. 'STRAIN of being a Moth Cultist.' I must apologize, Daughter of Hammerfell. In fact, we are under a great deal of strain these days, and it can manifest in a certain irritability. I shall try to answer your question as best I can."
"In fact, though every Novice of the Order is warned that attempts to transcribe the Scrolls are useless, every one of us tries it at some point, only to discover upon reading what we have carefully copied out that it is gibberish, utter nonsense of no meaning to anyone. The words of the Elder Scrolls must be graven upon one's soul and spirit, for they are comprehended through affinity and rapport, not calculation or cognition."
"To the esteemed Terran Arminus,
It seems that not even the Elder Scrolls are safe from this accursed conflict, as each faction tries to lay claim to them by conquest. The brutish legions claim that possession of the scrolls grants them various boons in combat. Surely, this can be attributed purely to the good morale these soldiers find in desecrating our great bastion of knowledge, can it not? I dare not imagine that the very scrolls would deign to lend aid to the profiteers that soil our land." -Scholar-in-Exile, Querulus Praeco
First let me express my condolences over the loss of several members of the Order, who I have heard were killed during invasions of the Temple by troops from the three Alliances, who then proceeded to abscond with a number of Elder Scrolls. Following this abhorrent act of larceny, I have heard soldiers in passing mention feeling more powerful, or more resistant to damage, thanks to the benefits of the Scrolls. But how do the Scrolls confer such specific bonuses, particularly if only members of the Order are able to understand their contents?" - Enodoc Dumnonii, Savant of the United Explorers of Scholarly Pursuits
Sister Terran Arminus says, "I shall answer the two preceding questions together, as they are really but two sides of the same drake. However, it will be a test of my temper, as nothing has ever been so vexing as the Alliance militaries' recent appropriations of the Elder Scrolls! So infuriating … some days I just want to kill all their housecats. You know, to show them. Soldiers!
"But I digress. When the generals and legates first came among us demanding custody of the Elder Scrolls, we refused, stating it was absurd to believe that possession of the Scrolls would grant them any benefit, tangible or temporal. They took them anyway, and soon began to attribute their military fortunes, good or ill, to loss or acquisition of Scrolls on the battlefield. Most of us scoffed, but one priest, Brother Euclidius Bonum, decided to investigate for himself. He subjected one month's history of Cyrodilic warfare to a rigorous analysis—battles won and lost, Scrolls captured and recaptured—and he found that there was a small, but significant and definite, correlation between military success and Elder Scroll possession on the part of the Alliance militaries.
"How are we to account for this? My cat has no idea. It seems impossible that the Scrolls could actually be conferring military aid upon their possessors—they are mighty artifacts, perhaps the mightiest of all, but their power is passive and descriptive, not active or prescriptive. Brother Euclidius, who it must be admitted is an original thinker, theorizes that the soldiers in an army possessing an Elder Scroll are open, on some unconscious level, to a collective osmotic absorption of the prophecies therein—and that insofar as the soldiers' goals all align toward triumph over their enemies, they therefore tend to collectively make choices that align with the prophecies foretold in the Scroll. By swimming with the flow of history, as it were, an army with a Scroll is therefore somewhat more likely to make decisions that coincide with the probability of events, which leads to a preponderance of victories.
"That said, Brother Euclidius' calculations were based upon a rather small statistical sample, so it would be premature to give them the imprimatur of proof. The good brother feels that with enough data—say, thirty or forty more years of warfare—he should be able to arrive at some fairly reliable conclusions. I cannot say that I hope the war will last long enough to give him this data. But perhaps I am selfish."
"Moth Sister Arminus, it has been said that the Elder Scrolls can pierce the veil of Time, that they contain the prophecies of every major event on Nirn. To my knowledge, there must also be a hero to meet each of those events. I wonder, then, as someone who has studied the Scrolls, do you know if the hero—or their soul—is bound to the Elder Scrolls? Is this hero as constant as the events and prophecies foretold by the Scrolls?" - Alessandra of Cyrodiil
Sister Terran Arminus says, "Though the great events of history garner the most attention, think not that the Scrolls solely commemorate acts of lasting significance. The Elder Scrolls are bound by threads of time to the warp and weft of the entire Mundus, and every soul, 'great' or otherwise, has a place therein. Many speak of 'heroes' as if they were born great and the key roles of history were fated to be enacted by them. But is that so? A careful study of the Scrolls leads me to believe that no mortal is 'born great,' but that a person becomes a Hero by making choices and taking actions other mortals refuse. The Scrolls do not select such people, but they do record and reflect their actions, and note the difference made thereby."
"To be given into the care of Moth Sister Terran Arminus:
I've heard the Elder Scrolls can move on their own. To what extent are they aware of their surroundings? Respectful regards, Rohais of "
Sister Terran Arminus says, "Though we in the Order who deal with the Scrolls sometimes jocularly personalize them, it's a mistake to think of them as cats. As I learned in my first days in the Order, when I served as Scroll Drudge to Librarian Strombus, if a priest wants to study an Elder Scroll, someone has to bring it to him."
"Greetings, Sister Terran! I haven't held conversation with a member of your order in centuries, not since that one incident with the…er, never mind that, it was probably before your time anyways, my dear. My question today for you is one detailing the strange glyphs that dot the Elder Scrolls, like and unlike Mage Script. These esoteric symbols seem to be associated with the constellations at one moment, with the planets at other moments, the Daedric Princes in even more moments, and – which is the strangest in my opinion – all of the above at once! As we both know, these glyphs have a habit of swirling, disappearing, and outright readjusting themselves, which makes jotting them down to better understand them an extremely hard task. Is there any insight you can give me into this mystical and perhaps outright unknowable language, Sister?" – Eis Vuur Warden, Wayward and Contract Scholar
Sister Terran Arminus says, "Your description of the strange and even commingled runes and alphabets that comprise an Elder Scroll's text is accurate, but only for the experience of the beginning or novice reader. The more a Priest of the Ancestor Moth communes with the Scrolls, the more legible they become, even as our vision fails and the letters grow more obscure. In fact, the symbols and characters of a Scroll's text gradually take on the character of whichever language is most familiar to the reader. This makes the decay of our eyesight all the more mournful, as the loss of the ability to read the Scrolls feels like the death of a close friend."