Lore:Vateshran Hollows

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Vateshran Hollows
Type Settlement
Continent Tamriel
Region The Reach, Deadlands, Coldharbour, Hunting Grounds, Champion's Circle
Appears in ESO
The entrance to the Hollows Threshold circa 2E 582

Vateshran Hollows is a sacred site of the ancient Reachfolk rite of passage trial known as Vateshran Rites,[1] (or Vateshran's Rites).[2] It is located in a set of caverns in the southern parts of the Reach,[3][4] where the veil between the realms of Nirn, Deadlands, Coldharbour, Hunting Grounds, and one more realm known as the Champion's Circle is thin.[2]

The site where the Vateshran's Rites are held is of great significance to the Spiritblood Clan, who are the hosts of the trials. The Vateshran's Rites require participants to traverse through three wings of the arena, defeating enemies associated with different Daedric Princes: Hircine, Mehrunes Dagon, and Molag Bal. After completing all three wings, participants must then face the final challenge in the Champion's Circle in order to earn the prestigious title of Spiritblood Champion and the Vateshran song that lasts for eternity.[2][5][6]


Ancient Past[edit]

Vateshran Aydolan, the creator of the Vateshran's Rites
Rites Matron, as of 2E 582
"The Rites challenge many things—strength, agility, tenacity. But also common sense."

The practice of the Vateshran Rites was started by the first Vateshran of the Spiritblood Clan Aydolan. They were created at some point before 1E 2502, before the times "anyone can remember".[5][1]

After Carinar the Sharp killed his father, the chieftain of the Quicktalon Clan, the group split into two factions - one supporting Carinar and the other loyal to the deceased chieftain. After the split of the Quicktalon Clan, Carinar's followers formed a new group and named themselves the Spiritblood Clan. Aydolan was a supporter of Carinar and joined him as he traveled south. During the journey, Aydolan sang tales of Carinar's strength and triumph, which led to him being given the role and title of the first Vateshran of the new clan. As the newly formed clan's first Vateshran, Aydolan became a person of significant renown among them.[5]

Following his appointment as Vateshran, Aydolan created the trials that would become the hallmark of the Spiritblood Clan. It is unclear when exactly he designed the rites, but it was sometime after his appointment as Vateshran and after the clan had settled in their new home in the southern parts of the Reach.[5]

One of the Spiritblood Champions

The trials were originally designed as a rite of passage for members of the Spiritblood Clan, as well as a test for many chieftains of the clans in the Reach. Aydolan created the trials, passed them himself, obtained the title of the Spiritblood Champion, and oversaw the trial. For generations following Aydolan's death, the practice of the Vateshran's Rites persisted, and he continued to exist as an ancestral spirit on Nirn for over a millennium, overseeing the rites and offering guidance to future generations of the Spiritblood Clan.[5][1][UOL 1]

The trial was primarily intended for members of the Spiritblood Clan, who were considered intimidating even by other Reachfolk. Participation was open to both outsiders and other Reachfolk, although it was rare for foreigners to take part and even rarer for them to successfully complete the trial. The Reachfolk of Spiritblood Clan dedicated their entire lives in preparation for rites, which served as a rite of passage. Upon successfully completing the trials, they earned the status of full-fledged adult members of the community.[2][7][3]

For more than a millennium, this tradition persisted and served to toughen the Spiritbloods, earning them a reputation as formidable and relentless fighters who never surrender.[4] Outsiders, as they had different customs and traditions, did not undergo such extensive training for these trials, and as such they rarely succeed. As of 2E 582, only one foreign participant had emerged alive from the trials in the last five hundred years, highlighting the rarity of outsiders succeeding in the Vateshran's Rites.[2]

Every participant was overseen by the Rites Matron who provided them with instructions. In addition to overseeing every entrant into the Vatshran's Rites, the Rites Matron was also responsible for ensuring that the oldest traditions of the Spiritblood clan were followed.[7][2] Together with her sisters, Binder in the Dark, and Lamenter of the Slain they observed and maintained the trials for a very long time, at least five centuries, as of 2E 582. The three sisters who maintained Vateshran Hollows served as one, and it was impossible to remove a sister without upsetting the balance. Binder in the Dark was responsible for summoning the spirits and maintaining the realms, while Lamenter of the Slain was tasked with maintaining the memorial of the champions who had completed the trials.[8][9][2]

Void Lich Intrusion[edit]

Aydolan inspecting the voidstuff
Maebroogha the Void Lich
"Void stuff enters our sacred Hollows. Spreading faster than we can heal the wounds."
—Rites Matron[2]

The tradition endured without any apparent interruption, despite the long and violent history of the region, until 2E 582 when an outsider of unknown origin decided to participate in the trials. As of that time representatives of the clan could be found outside the walls of Markarth, urging and challenging non-clan members to take part in the trials.[3][10]

Shortly before their arrival, an aberrant magic activity was occurring within the Hollows. The trials had been behaving strangely for a few days. Despite this, the outsider managed to conquer all three wings. However, as they progressed through the Hollows, voidstuff began to leak into the Choosing, polluting the Hollows and causing void spots to appear. The sacred Hollows were contaminated with voidstuff, spreading faster than it could be healed. Although the sisters attempted to control it, a presence interfered. This incursion of the Void into the Hollows concerned the sisters greatly. The Rites Matron requested the challenger to go to the Champions Circle as soon as possible so that they could focus on the threat at hand.[5][2][6]

Upon the outsider's arrival at the Champion's Circle, they witnessed Maebroogha the Void Lich consuming Aydolan's spirit, enabling her entry into the realm. With potent void magic and the ability to command shade minions, Maebroogha engaged in combat with the outsider, but was ultimately defeated and banished.[11] Aydolan's spirit was destroyed permanently, putting an end to his role as the spiritual guide in the Vateshran Hollows. Ultimately, the sisters were able to keep the void infection at bay after the defeat of the Void Lich, and the outsider completed their trial.[2][6][12]

The Future[edit]

Lamenter of the Slain, as of 2E 582
Binder in the Dark, as of 2E 582
"The Voidmother consumed his spirit. Our first vateshran is unmade.
Although he created these Rites, we sisters shall keep it alive. And the Spiritblood clan will sing his song for eternity"

—Rites Matron[2]

After successfully completing the trials and defeating the void lich, the outsider gained the respect of the Spiritblood clan. They earned their eternal song as the clan promised to remember their accomplishment for all time. Despite not permitting outsiders to join their ranks, the clan acknowledged the outsider's achievement. Their victory song would resound through time, and the outsider was deserving of having their tale told among the Spiritblood clan. The Rites Matron vowed to uphold the tradition even without Aydolan, and that his memory would be preserved forever.[6][2]

The fate of Vateshran Hollows during the later years of the Second and Third Eras is unknown. As of 4E 201, the main entrance to the Hollows Threshold was no longer accessible.[13]

Layout & Geography[edit]

Hollows Threshold[edit]

Hollows Threshold
One of the Totems of the Brave in the Vateshran Hollows
The vale leading to the inner Hollows Threshold

The Hollows Threshold is the entrance to the Vateshran Hollows. Historically controlled by the members of the Spiritblood Clan it served as the location where the Vateshran's Rites commence. The Threshold was comprised of a sprawling valley adorned with a variety of flora typical for the region, including birch, aspen, mahogany, and pine trees, as well as a network of interconnected caverns. The vale was adorned with Reachfolk totems and pergolas and additionally further reinforced with their wooden structures. On the west side of the valley, there was a waterfall supplying the Spiritblood with fresh water and forming the stream, which flowed across the vale and exited on the east side.[14]

In the Second Era one of the chambers of the cavern network served as a trading hub for prospective participants in the trials, offering them an opportunity to acquire useful supplies and items that could potentially aid them during the trials.[15] The clan was known to keep their beehives, as well ample provisions and foodstuffs. It connected to the Choosing, and to two other chambers. Basic structures of wood and whalebone were utilized to reinforce the tunnels.[14]

The chamber to the west was a solemn and reverential space, serving as the memorial. Numerous Totems of the Brave stood tall and proud, erected in honor of those who fell defending the ways of the Spiritblood Clan It served as a testament to those who died during the trials of the Vateshran Hollows and the champions who had emerged victorious from the trials. They were seen as the greatest among the clan. Names of those fallen warriors endured beyond the constraints of time, transcending the mortality and becoming songs and stories that resonate through the ages. The memorial was maintained by the Lamenter of the Slain, one of the clan Hags.[14][8]

Another Hag of the Spiritblood Clan, Binder in the Dark oversaw the shrine to the east. She held the responsibility of maintaining balance and ensuring the safety of the clan from the monsters that emerged from Oblivion, operating from this chamber. She monitored the caverns for any indications of emerging monsters, carried out the summoning rituals of the Daedra for trials, and was responsible for banishing them if their numbers became too large. The shrine was made up of three altars, each adorned with banners that represented a different Daedric Prince - Hircine, Molag Bal and Mehrunes Dagon. When standing in front of the altars, one could see a blue, green, or red light radiating from each of them. Binder in the Dark was also responsible for the offerings in the form of bones from slain beasts.[14][9]

The Choosing[edit]

The Choosing
The Choosing

The Choosing served as the initial phase of the Vateshran Hollows trial. Here, the contender were known to select which wing of the arena they would venture through first: The Wounding, The Brimstone Den or Hunter's Grotto. Spirit of Aydolan, the first Vateshran of the Spiritblood Clan, used to await potential champions in this area, but this practice was discontinued following the destruction of his spirit in 2E 582. Portals leading to the different areas of the trial were present in this chamber. Once the challenger had completed the first three sections of the arena, the central circle of the room was transforming into a glowing portal, providing access to the Champion's Circle, the location of the final challenge.[16]

The Wounding[edit]

A portal to the Wounding in the Choosing
The Wounding

Described as a playground for daedric fiends, the Wounding is a region of the Coldharbour, the realm of Molag Bal, which leaks into the Reach. Minions of Molag Bal such as banekins, ogrims, watchers, winged twilights, Xivkyn, Harvesters, as well as undead Flesh Collosi reside there.[17]

The landscape is barren, with an ashen blue appearance, and is adorned with chains, unusual black machines, Coldharbour Sentinels which observe the travellers, and torture devices. The area also features numerous bridges above the chasms. Some are created from floating rubble, other covered by crawling pools of electricity. The realm of Wounding is also dotted with several Wounding Portals that facilitate movement through this desolate land.[17][5] Many wished to test their mettle against the monstrosities of the Wounding, such as the Xivkyn necromancers Zakuryn the Sculptor,[18] and Xobutar of His Deep Graces.[19] The final stage of this wing of the Vateshran's Rites involved facing off against Iozuzzunth, the powerful Daedric Titan.[17] However, the Daedric Tidans were not always part of the Rites, as they were first unleashed long after the establishment of the trials and the passing of Aydolan.[5][20]

The name of the Wounding dates back to the first visit of the Vateshran Aydolan. It got its name from the injury he sustained during his initial exploration, where a banekin attacked him with a spear, wounding him in the thigh. He never walked properly after that, Despite his permanent injury, he enacted his vengenace and began collecting banekin ears to make necklaces.[5]

Certain areas within the Wounding with the Wounding Portals are specifically designed to evaluate the speed and agility of the challengers.[5]

The Brimstone Den[edit]

A portal to the Brimstone Den in the Choosing
The Brimstone Den

The Brimstone Den is a region of the Deadlands, the realm of Mehrunes Dagon, which leaks into the Reach. It is a cavernous volcanic area inhabited by Mehrunes Dagon's minions. It is an inhospitable for mortal life, with lava streams and scattered Daedric ruins. Dremora guards can be seen patrolling the battlements and scaffolding, while Scamps dance and rave amidst the ruins, and Daedroths roar from above. It is also inhabited by other daedric creatures such as clannfears, flame and iron atronachs It is also home to nixads, and undead Bone Colossi. These ominous creatures remind the visitors that they are insignificant in the face of the powerful Daedric forces that dominate the area.[21]

The challengers face prominent opponents such as Magma Queen, a powerful fire nixad, and Mynar Metron, an Iron Atronach during their trials.[22][23] The final stage of this wing of the Vateshran's Rites involves facing off against the Pyrelord, a powerful Dremora.[21][24][5]

Hunter's Grotto[edit]

A portal to Hunter's Grotto in the Choosing
Hunter's Grotto

Hunter's Grotto is a region of the Hunting Grounds, the realm of Hircine, which leaks into the Reach. One of its major features is a lava tube featuring a clash of lush vegetation and magma within its cavernous depths. It is inhabited by numerous animal species such as alits, fire shalks, fetcherflies, cliff striders, dire wolves, salamanders, terror birds, haj mota, and bristlebacks. It is also inhabited by Ogres, Trolls, and nature spirits such as spriggans, and lurchers.[25]

It is a dangerous and challenging hunting ground where challengers represent both hunter and prey, and only the finest spirits of the Master of Beasts live there. Despite its dangers, Hunter's Grotto is a place of great natural beauty and embodies the qualities of life in the Reach. Challengers use a crossbow grappling hook to aid them in traversing through the perilous terrain of the realm. This tool is given to them by the spirit Aydolan after they defeat their first notable opponent, the Shade of the Grove.[5]

Shade of the Grove is the first major obstacle that challengers face in their path. They are referred to as the first champion of Hircine within the trial. Shade of the Grove is a formless entity embodying life itself, and engages in combat by bestowing blessings upon the plants, animals, and nature spirits. Upon their defeat, the Shade of the Grove does not truly perish, and claims that the death is merely a continuation of the great cycle of life.[5][26] A formidable nix-ox known as Leptfire Keeper is one of the major adversaries met during the trials. The final stage of this wing of the Vateshran's Rites is overseen by a group of Reachfolk spirits,[27][28][29] and involves a combat against a large Minotaur Rahdgarak.[25][5][30]

As of 2E 582, the plant life in Hunter's Grotto has become increasingly aggressive, adding an extra layer of danger to the already perilous realm.[5]

Champion's Circle[edit]

An active portal to the Champion's Circle
Champion's Circle

The Champion Circle is a small cavernous area situated in an unknown Oblivion realm. It was traditionally used as the location for the final stage of the trials and was accessible only by those challengers who completed the previous three wings. There, they battled against their last opponent, the spirit of Vateshran Aydolan himself.[5][31]

In 2E 582, during the trial of an outsider, the geography of the region was altered when the Void Lich Maebroogha consumed Aydolan's spirit to enter the realm. The explosion that ensued revealed that the Champion's Circle's realm was merged with the previous three wings, with prominent elements of geography from those realms visible on the sides. It was also revealed that the cavernous space floated above the abyss, surrounded by several smaller islands.[5][31][11]

Previously, Aydolan would serve as the final adversary.[5] The format of this challenge following the destruction of Vateshran Aydolan's spirit by Maebroogha is unknown. However, it is known that the Rites Matron, along with her sisters, continued this tradition.[6][12][2]

See Also[edit]

For game-specific information, see the Elder Scrolls OnlineMarkarth article.


Note: The following references are considered to be unofficial sources. They are included to round off this article and may not be authoritative or conclusive.

  1. ^ Developer comments on Vateshran Hollows (33:25) on ESO Dark Heart of Skyrim Year-End Preview: ESO Live Special