Lore:The Gray Fox
|The Gray Fox|
|Corvus Umbranox as the Gray Fox circa 3E 433|
|Appears in||Oblivion, Skyrim, Legends|
The Gray Fox is more accurately described as an identity rather than a person. Although some doubt his existence, the general populace of Tamriel that believes in him sees the persona as one mysterious master thief, who had been the leader of the Thieves Guild in Cyrodiil for three hundred years by the time of the Oblivion Crisis. In reality a series of different people had actually held the title throughout the years. The persona of the Gray Fox is created by the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal, which was originally stolen from Nocturnal by Emer Dareloth, the first Gray Fox. Nocturnal cursed the cowl to steal the identity of the wearer. Once a person dons the cowl, the curse transforms them into the Gray Fox and their original identity is lost. The cowl had been passed from one guildmaster to the next, preventing the guildmaster from appearing in public due to the infamous reputation of the Gray Fox.
In 3E 433, Hieronymus Lex, a Watch Captain of the Imperial Guard, began a personal vendetta to bring the Gray Fox to justice, although the Thieves Guild eventually conspired to put an end to his hunt. The current Gray Fox, previously Count Corvus Umbranox of Anvil, had spent 11 years attempting to break Nocturnal's curse, and eventually succeeded. His best thief stole an Elder Scroll from the Imperial Palace, and used its power to re-write history. Without the curse, the Thieves Guild had flourished, and the Cowl's power to hide one's identity could be fully manipulated. The persona of the Gray Fox continued to lead the guild, with the Cowl being passed down from the redeemed Count Umbranox to the master thief who aided him.
At an unknown time, the Gray Cowl made its way into Skyrim, and so did the mantle of the Gray Fox to a Nord by the name of Pjofr Ice-Blade. Instead of becoming the head of the Ice-Blade clan, he left it, pursuing his own interests out of greed, and as a result the clan declined.  Scoundrels then targeted the Ice-Blade clan, attempting to steal their wealth. Erikur, the Thane of Solitude along with other conspirators plotted to kill Pjofr’s sister, leaving her son, Smaref, as easy pickings. By 4E 201, They succeeded in making her cause of death look like it was due to an illness. Smaref was left an orphan and last of the Ice-Blades, and the scoundrels began manipulating him. They obtained the boy’s consent to transfer his family’s lands over to them, and sent him to Riften.  After hearing of the passing of his sister, Pjofr wanted to step into Smaref’s life and take the role of his guardian. He investigated from the sidelines, he heard of Smaref’s adoption by one of Riften’s wealthy. He saw that while his new father figure was caring, his wife considered the child nothing but a street urchin. He was let into their household for dinner one day, and saw that the wife wasn’t good for Smaref. She revealed that Bolli was asked to take in the child for adoption by Solitude’s Jarl. Pjofr investigated further into this and discovered the plot to strip the Ice-Blades of their wealth.
Pjofr decided that the person that deserved to inherit the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal was the person who was willing to help him get back at Erikur, and faked the death of the Gray Fox. A stranger investigated the grave of the Gray Fox, and discovered a note that it was a fabrication, and took up the task to gain the Cowl. Following Pjofr’s instructions, the adventurer swiped various important documents with fabrications, ruining the scoundrel’s claims to the Ice-Blade clan’s lands. Finally, the adventurer delved into the Nordic ruin of Silverdrift Lair, and took The ancestral Sword of Clan Ice–Blade, so that Pjofr could prove his ancestry. With the tasks done, the adventurer returned to the Gray Fox’s grave, and Pjofr came in-person to grant the Cowl to them, passing on the Gray Fox’s mantle.