The Dragons (drah-gkon and dov-rha to the ancient Nords, or dov in their native language) are a rarely-seen race of large reptilian beasts. They are rumored to be from Akavir (which literally means "Dragon Land"), though there are ancient tales of dragons also coming from Atmora. They are large, scaled creatures, easily several times larger than a human or elf. They have long, slender extremities, with thin bat-like wings and ridges of spikes along their back. Dragons have three sharp talons and one vestigial digit known as a dewclaw on each of their legs, as evidenced by their alphabet.
Dragons are well-known for their affinity for magic which, among other things, grants them the abilities to speak and fly despite their lack of lips or aerodynamic frame. There are several varieties of dragon that come in a range of colors. Blessed with remarkable intelligence, they are nonetheless susceptible to feelings of pride and melancholy. They are distrustful creatures, even of each other. Despite this, they are also somewhat social, and can be driven mad by captivity and isolation. As the immortal children of Akatosh, they are specially attuned to the flow of time, and they feel an innate urge to dominate others that is difficult to overcome. In the mind of a dragon, being powerful and being right are the same, thus they make no distinction between speaking and fighting; battles between them are actually deadly verbal debates.
It is rumored that Tosh Raka, leader of the Tiger people of Ka Po' Tun in Akavir, has succeeded in transforming himself into a dragon. So-called "Dragonlings" found around the Iliac Bay area are actually over-sized lizards unrelated to the progeny of Akatosh, who are larger, smarter, and much more deadly. Daedric Titans were first created by Molag Bal in imitation of the dragons.
According to the writings of Archmage Shalidor, dragons had existed since the advent of time, but were initially as wild as anything else. It was Alduin, Firstborn of Akatosh, who created their civilization. Nordic legend says that, in these early years, the dragons were the only creatures who could harness the power of their voice for great feats of magic, though they only did so in times of "True Need".
Dragons are believed to have lived in and around isolated mountain villages. The villages were purportedly situated in areas that allowed flight free of obstructions as well as flats for raising cattle. There is even some indication they practice smithing. Dragons are also thought to prefer solitary mountain lairs safe from thieves and aggressors.
The avatar of Akatosh is a flaming dragon; he is said to be the father of dragons, whom he made in his image. Some stories tell of a dragon named Akatosh co-mingling with and organizing groups of dragons, although this representation may be entirely fictional. Peryite also takes the form of a dragon, but this may only be as some primordial jest to Akatosh.[UOL 1]
During the Merethic Era, Dragon Priests kept the population enthralled and obedient by means of a widespread dragon-worshipping cult, and many people of this era became the undead draugr that still prowl the crypts of Skyrim, Solstheim, Atmora, and anywhere else the dragon priests "kept peace between dragons and men". The center of power in Skyrim of this dragon empire is thought to have been Bromjunaar, where dragon priests decided matters of their law.
Nordic legend holds that Alduin led his brethren and their once-benevolent minions to terrorize and subjugate the mortal races, triggering a rebellion. The dragons began indiscriminately slaughtering them under the orders of Alduin, who had chosen to forsake his proper duties and conquer the land.
During this Dragon War, mortals found ways to kill the dragons, who were previously thought undefeatable. Some people, notably priests of the Nine Divines, claim that Akatosh intervened against the dragons to help end the war, and that some dragons fought against their own kind. The dragon Paarthurnax took pity on the Nords (purportedly at the request of Kyne), and instructed several in the ways of the thu'um so that they could channel the power of their own voices using the tongue of the dragons. These first Tongues (masters of the Voice) used their new power to turn the tide of the war, and they eventually "shout[ed] Alduin out of the world". The remaining dragons were hunted and killed until they were nearly extinct, clearing the way for the many empires which have risen and fallen since.
Khunzar-ri and the Demons
In the Merethic Era, when Elsweyr was composed of sixteen kingdoms, Kaalgrontiid and his horde of dragons came to dominate the land, seeking to consume the Moons' lunar power. To stop them, the Khajiit hero Khunzar-ri recruited four companions, Nurarion the Perfect, Flinthild Demon-Hunter, Anequina Sharp-Tongue, and Sir Cadwell. When fighting them proved to be futile, Cadwell suggested that it may be best to convince the dragons that they were willing to aid them in their plans. In preparation, Anequina attuned to Shadow Dance Temple, making the moons align to form an eclipse, allowing the Moon Gate of Anequina to open a portal the Plane of Jode, where the object the dragons desired, Jode's Core, rested. The dragon's ambitions would be their undoing; when the dragons accessed the Plane of Jode, Khunzar-ri convinced them to not simply absorb the power of the core like they originally intended, but instead store their energy within it in the guise that they would combine the lunar power with their own. The gamble worked, and the dragons were weakened enough for them to retreat back into the wilderness. To finish the job, Khunzar-ri once again convinced the dragons to play a part of his scheme. He managed to lure them into the Halls of Colossus, where he managed to seal them away. In the aftermath, Khunzar-ri wrote on the legendary Wrathstone in an ancient Ta'agra dialect, writings detailing the cartography of the location of the Demon Weapon. The Wrathstone itself is however much older than the Ta'agra writings. The Dragons would be obscured as "demons" in legends, and become the fabled "Demon Weapon". Their power would be coveted by many people.
A Rage of Dragons
After the retrieval of the fabled Wrathstone around 2E 582, the Imperial battlemage Abnur Tharn inadvertently unleashed the Dragons from their containment from the Halls of Colossus, thus causing them to continue in their quest for the Moon's Lunar Power. The Dragons allied themselves with the forces of the Queen of Rimmen, Euraxia Tharn, who were lead to believe that the dragons were to be used as tools. The Dragons were quick to cross Euraxia when she was no longer a use to them, and was left without their aid against the forces of Elsweyr Defense Force as well as the Soulless One. The turn of events resulted in her death and the return of Rimmen to Khajiit control. With Euraxia's forces now without a leader, they in fear of the Dragons' wrath allied themselves with them. The Dragons were finally stopped when the Soulless One stepped into the Plane of Jode and defeated Kaalgrontiid and his kin, preventing the lunar power from being absorbed.
The Disappearance of the Dragons
Dragons became more elusive after losing their grip on power. Their numbers dwindled over the years due to many causes: their population in Akavir was wiped out by the Tsaesci, who also brought their onslaught to Tamriel, and the dragons in Vvardenfell were overrun by invading cliff racers. The Akaviri Dragonguard and its successor, the Blades, along with other heroes, hunted dragons and their followers throughout the eras until dragons were nearly extinct. Tiber Septim offered those who remained protection in return for their fealty. Despite his pledge, almost all known wild dragons were killed or driven off, disappearing from sight in Tamriel.
Some sources claim that all dragons disappeared at once, being devoured by a dragon king or absorbed by Tiber Septim when he ascended to godhood. Many held the belief that the dragons were extinct. This was not true, as live dragons continued to exist throughout the Third and early Fourth Era. Nomads in the Alik'r Desert frequently spoke of "Great Wyrms" inhabiting its vast wastes, although these claims were never independently confirmed. The Akatosh Chantry hold dragons as their holy symbol, and keep tamed dragons in their "sacred grove". Many ancient legends tell of dragons making deals with other races to protect themselves. According to Brarilu Theran, at least one dragon is known to have laired in the smoking ruins of Vvardenfell after the Red Year, long after the cliff racers were driven off by Saint Jiub.
The World-Eater Wakes
After being largely absent from the affairs of Tamriel for hundreds of years, dragons reappeared en masse in Skyrim and Morrowind in 4E 201 thanks to the return of Alduin. The Firstborn of Akatosh, who had been transported through time by the ancient Nords, was able to resurrect many of his fallen brethren, as only the dragons and Dragonborn have the power to permanently kill a dragon by absorbing its soul. The Last Dragonborn of prophecy emerged to defeat Alduin and absorb the souls of many of the dragons he unleashed. The fate of the remaining dragons is unknown.
- Alduin - First-Born of Akatosh, bringer of the end times.
- Boziikkodstrun - A dragon who was transformed into the first Daedric Titan by Molag Bal.
- Dragonne Papré - A dragon who lived in the Battlespire.
- Durnehviir - An undead dragon who guards the Soul Cairn.
- Nafaalilargus - A soldier of Tiber Septim. Slain by Cyrus the Redguard.
- Numinex - A legendary dragon who was imprisoned for many years by King Olaf One-Eye.
- Odahviing - A red dragon who allied himself with the Last Dragonborn.
- Paarthurnax - Younger sibling to Alduin, and the one responsible for teaching the Nords how to use the thu'um.
- Skakmat - Nulfaga's familiar, who created the dense fog at the Battle of Cryngaine Field.
- Tosh Raka - The king of the Ka Po' Tun, who, according to popular myth, was transformed into a dragon.
- The French translation of the book A Child's Tamriel Bestiary mentions Jills, which have been defined in certain developer texts as female dragons responsible for repairing linear Time after a Dragon Break.[UOL 2][UOL 3]
- Atlas of Dragons by Brother Mathnan — A glossary of Skyrim's dragons
- The Dragon War by Torhal Bjorik — A religious text describing the primordial war between men and dragons
- King Edward — The story of the life of a long ago king
- Meet the Character - Mulaamnir by Centurion Jagus — Extracts from an Imperial's journal detailing his interactions with a group of dragons
- There Be Dragons by Torhal Bjorik — A report on the nature of dragons
- The Dragon War — Torhal Bjorik
- There Be Dragons — Torhal Bjorik
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: Other Lands — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- Mysterious Akavir
- Events of Skyrim
- Dragon Language: Myth no More — Hela Thrice-Versed
- King Edward, Part XII
- Paarthurnax's dialogue in Skyrim.
- Loadings screens in Skyrim.
- Arngeir's dialogue in Skyrim.
- Daedra Dossier: The Titans — Denogorath the Dread Archivist
- Shalidor's Insights — Shalidor
- The Etched Tablets of High Hrothgar.
- King Edward
- Famed Artifacts of Tamriel — Yagrum Bagarn
- Olaf and the Dragon — Adonato Leotelli
- Events during the Oblivion Crisis.
- Varieties of Faith... — Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
- Amongst the Draugr — Bernadette Bantien, College of Winterhold
- A Minor Maze
- The Alduin/Akatosh Dichotomy — Alexandre Simon, High Priest of the Akatosh Chantry, Wayrest
- Atlas of Dragons — Brother Mathnan
- Abnur Tharn's dialogue in ESO
- Khunzar-ri and the Demons
- Cadwell's dialogue in ESO: Elsweyr
- Khamira's dialogue in ESO: Elsweyr
- Tharayya's dialogue in ESO: Wrathstone
- Annals of the Dragonguard — Brother Annulus
- The Book of the Dragonborn — Prior Emelene Madrine
- Daggerfall User's Guide
- Events of Daggerfall
- Twin Secrets — Brarilu Theran
- Daggerfall's Glory Road - The Complete Walkthrough, The Daggerfall Chronicles — Ronald Wartow
- Dragonborn guard dialogue
- Alduin is Real — Thromgar Iron-Head
Note: the following references are not from official sources. They are included to provide a rounder background to this article, but may not reflect established lore.
- Imperial Census of Daedra Lords
- French translation of A Child's Tamriel Bestiary
- Michael Kirkbride on Jills