This article is about the Bosmeri ritual. For Hircine's ritual, see Great Hunt.
The Wild Hunt, also called the Great Hunt,[nb 1] is a magical trait innate to all Bosmer. It is brought on by a collective ritual performed by many Bosmer, causing them to shapeshift into a horde of feral, eldritch beasts. This transformation cannot be undone. These monsters stampede, changing their form constantly, slaying and devouring all in their path and eventually, when left with no surviving targets, turn upon themselves in a "cannibalistic orgy". This transformation is seen by the Bosmer as a return to the chaos of the Dawn Era they call the Ooze, when they were unable to hold onto one shape for more than a moment. After they made the Green Pact with Y'ffre, he taught the Bosmer how to escape that chaos and retain their form, but also how to return to it by instigating the Wild Hunt.
These shapeshifters are stripped of their flesh from their bone instantaneously, and turn into creatures that "defy all attempts to identify them". Some may not even turn into creatures at all, and instead change into "great writhing tongues, unfettered by lips or teeth", or can take on a gaseous form which makes them impossible to contain without the aid of magic. There's even some suggestion they can take on the form of water, or waves of blood. The forms they take are not static, however, as they may appear like a serpent one moment, and shift into another creature the next moment. When Bosmer invoke the Wild Hunt, it causes a change in wild animals as well. Beasts typically transform into beings that are part plant and part animal.
The purpose of the Wild Hunt varies with each separate Hunt, from an act of vengeance to a tool of war. In either case, the Bosmer are not proud of their ability and are unwilling to discuss the Hunt at great length. One of the rare accounts on the nature of the Wild Hunt states that "every monster in the world that has ever been comes from a previous Hunt". As such, the Bosmer are reluctant to use the Hunt, except as an act of desperation; the change is said to be irreversible.. The monsters that do get created by a Wild Hunt, all former Bosmer, are said to be ferocious and long-lived. Notable examples included Willy the Bitten and King Dead Wolf-Deer, who were created by the end of the fourth century of the First Era and lived at least until the beginning of the Third Era. They went on to plague Silvenar Grove and the Lynpar March respectively. There was also a monstrosity captured by the Reachfolk during the Wild Hunt started to kill High King Borgas in 1E 369 in Skyrim.
Hircine is capable of creating creatures that mimic those that are created from Wild Hunts. He meddled with the nature of wolves, making them susceptible to shapeshifting. This modification is the origin for both Werewolves, and the Wild Hunt Wolf, who as their name suggests, are wolves that have become unraveled because they have forgotten their Y'ffre-taught form, much like creatures that get caught up in the Bosmer’s Wild Hunt ritual. Hircine's Bloodroot Forge is also capable of creating Nirnblooded creatures much like those of the Wild Hunt.
Bosmer can transform to a creature of the Wild Hunt outside the need for the collective ritual. Doing so this way is not condoned by Y'ffre, and is punishable for breaking the Green Pact. Hircine is such a means of tapping into the transformation in this manner.
There have been three documented cases of the Wild Hunt:
- 1E 369, Cyrodiil — A Wild Hunt was invoked in order to kill King Borgas who was a supporter of the Alessian Order and thus against Valenwood. As a result of his death via the Hunt, Skyrim was plunged in a civil war that lasted for more than 50 years.
- Late Second Era, location unknown — The last Wild Hunt to be officially documented until the end of the Third Era.
- 3E 397, Vindisi — A Wild Hunt was invoked in retaliation to a Khajiiti attack on the Bosmer hamlet of Vindisi by its inhabitants during a truce in the Five Year War. According to the Imperial Geographical Society this was the most recent sighting of the Wild Hunt to date.
When the Lunar Champion walked the Moonlit Path to become the new Mane in 2E 582, the Vestige, accompanied by the future Mane, witnessed a vision of the Wild Hunt being invoked due to the fall of the First Aldmeri Dominion. It showed that after the fall of Mane Akkhuz-ri and Speaker Gharesh-ri's subsequent demise, the Khajiit fell away from the Dominion, while on Summerset, the Veiled Heritance led a successful revolt against Queen Ayrenn, leaving Valenwood vulnerable. This led to the Daggerfall Covenant and the Ebonheart Pact launching an assault on Valenwood. After losing hope, the Green Lady Gwaering and the Silvenar Indaenir recited the words and caused the Wild Hunt to transform their people into feral creatures. The two were hunted by their own people, and the province was engulfed in chaos. The Champion interpreted this vision as a possible future to come if she did not succeed in becoming the Mane.
- The Wild Hunt of the Bosmer should not be confused with the Great Hunt periodically conducted by the Daedric Prince Hircine, which is also occasionally called the Wild Hunt.
^Since Skyrim, Hircine's Wild Hunts have been referred to as the Great Hunt. In ESO, books previously mentioning non-Bosmeri Wild Hunts have changed their wording to mention Great Hunts instead, likely to differentiate the two.
- Legate Rikke's dialogue in Skyrim
- Galmar Stone-Fist's dialogue in Skyrim
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Aldmeri Dominion — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- A Dance in Fire, Chapter 4 — Waughin Jarth
- Varieties of Faith... — Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
- Ring of the Wild Hunt codex entries in ESO
- The Binding Stone — the Office of the Canonreeve of Corrections
- Wild Hunt Horse mount description in ESO
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Wilds Remain: Valenwood — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- Kyne's Challenge, High Rock — The Imperial Library
- Wild Hunt Wolf mount description in ESO
- Wild Hunt Crown Crate season description in ESO
- Nirnblooded Bear, Nirnblooded Guar and other creatures in ESO
- Events of Beasts of Falinesti quest in ESO
- A History of Daggerfall — Odiva Gallwood
- Events of The Moonlit Path quest in ESO
- The Posting of the Hunt
- Tal Marog Ker's Researches — Tal Marog Ker