- 1 Lore:Aetherial Fragments
Aetherium is an incredibly rare, luminescent blue crystal found deep underground. The crystal has a strong magical aura, but it is alchemically inert and harmonically volatile, and no known conventional process can enchant, smelt, mold, bind, or break it. It was discovered by the Dwemer of Skyrim in their deepest mines some time in the First Era. Based on its name, the crystal may have some connection to Aetherius and the Aetherial Fragments which sometimes fall to Nirn, such as the meteoric glass harnessed by the Ayleids.
Circa 1E 221, the Dwemer uncovered a considerable source of Aetherium, primarily mined in the city of Raldbthar, which connects to Blackreach. Four Dwemer city-states, led by Arkngthamz, formed an alliance to oversee its extraction, processing, and study. An Aetherium Forge was created to smelt the crystal under precisely controlled conditions, far below the settlement of Bthalft in the Rift. The forge harnessed magma and was used to create artifacts of immense power, imbued with powerful enchantments. The alliance between the city-states shattered, with the four cities and their rivals vying for control of the forge. This conflict lasted decades and was known as the Aetherium Wars. This internal fighting weakened the city-states, which allowed for King Gellir's brief conquering of the Dwemer of Skyrim.
None of the city-states were successful in capturing the Aetherium Forge. The Great Lift to the Aetherium Forge was sealed, and the Aetherium Crest required to open it was shattered into four shards. The shards were scattered across Skyrim and guarded by the four city-states: Arkngthamz, Raldbthar, Bthar-zel (colloquially known as Deep Folk Crossing) and Mzulft. Following the disappearance of the Dwemer in 1E 700, scholars exploring their ruined settlements uncovered samples of the crystal, which were regarded as little more than a curiosity when it was proven impossible to work with.
The Nedes revered the constellations as gods, and used stones carved from Aetherium to bring them down to the earth as the Celestials. They also constructed apex stones using knowledge stolen from the Dwemer to bind the celestials to the mortal realm, found throughout Craglorn.
The Nord adventurer Katria researched the Aetherium Wars, although her findings were claimed and published by her apprentice, a Dunmer named Taron Dreth. Katria attempted to take credit for her work by proving the existence of the Aetherium Forge, but she died while exploring Arkngthamz. In 4E 201, her restless spirit helped guide and protect a fellow adventurer in recovering the four shards of pure Aetherium and bringing them to the Ruins of Bthalft. The adventurer used the restored Aetherium Crest to craft an artifact at the forge, and Katria's spirit was put to rest.
The Aetherium is embedded in Gold and Dwarven Metal to create Aetherial artifacts. Other materials such as Malachite, Ebony and Sapphire are also used. Crowns, shields and staffs can all be crafted with Aetherium. The artifacts have unique and powerful enchantments, such as the ability to turn enemies ethereal, summon Dwemer Animunculi, or harness the power of the Standing Stones. An aetheric lodestone is a perfectly round orb that is highly magnetic and threaded with veins of glowing blue Aetherium.
Culanda Stones are luminescent golden crystals used by the Altmer and usually only found on the Summerset Isles. The stones are pieces of cut and enchanted Meteoric Glass, a rare form of Aetherial Fragment. Alongside Malondo Stones, they are an attempt at creating magical crystals similar to the Welkynd Stones and Varla Stones produced by the Ayleids. Culanda Stones provide a bright golden light and are therefore mostly used as a light source. They can also trigger magical effects or store magicka, but are always destroyed upon depletion, similar to Ayleid stones. Some scholars insist that the Culanda Stone improves upon Ayleid methods and can be cultivated like the Welkynd Stones once were, although others believe the Altmer simply discovered a more reliable method of recharging the original Ayleid stones. They are commonly seen on Auridon, in the ruins built by the Ancients. Culanda Lacquer is used to create armor and clothing for the College of Sapiarchs.
Jewel of Fire
Legend has it that the Jewel of Fire is a star fallen from the sky, for it glows with an inner flame. The Jewel was used by Jagar Tharn to store the power of the Staff of Chaos, so that if anyone tried to recreate the staff it would be useless. The Jewel played a large role in the Imperial Simulacrum.
In 3E 389, Jagar Tharn stole the Staff of Chaos from Barenziah's court, and used it to imprison Emperor Uriel Septim VII in the realm of Oblivion, also killing his apprentice Ria Silmane so the Elder Council would not learn of his betrayal. Tharn wanted to make sure no one could release the emperor, so he attempted to destroy the staff. However, since the Staff of Chaos is indestructible, it was instead split into eight pieces, which Tharn then hid in forgotten, dangerous places throughout Tamriel. Tharn then made sure that no one could ever recreate the staff by draining its magical power into the Jewel of Fire, which he kept hidden in the Imperial Palace.
Malondo Stones are golden crystals used by the Altmer and usually only found on the Summerset Isles. The stones are pieces of cut and enchanted Meteoric Glass, a rare form of Aetherial Fragment. Alongside Culanda Stones, they are an attempt at creating magical crystals similar to the Welkynd Stones and Varla Stones produced by the Ayleids. Unlike the Ayleid stones, which crumble to dust when harnessed by modern mages, Malondo Stones can be recharged and can be tapped by spellcasters as a source of magicka replenishment or to restore charge to enchanted items. Some scholars insist that the Malondo Stone improves upon Ayleid methods and can be cultivated like the Welkynd Stones once were, although others believe the Altmer simply discovered a more reliable method of recharging the original Ayleid stones. Vitrified Malondo is used to create armor and clothing for the Psijic Order.
Meteoric Glass is a variety of Aetherial Fragment. Compared to the more common meteoric iron, it rarely falls to Nirn. The glass is crystalline and comes in various colors. It is prized for being magical in nature and highly enchantable.
The Ayleids, known for harnessing Aetherial Fragments, used the glass to create artifacts like Welkynd Stones and Varla Stones. The crystals were also used as a source of light in Ayleid settlements, likely due to their abhorrence of fire, which they saw as an impure and primal form of light. Skyshards were believed to be shards of Aetherial magicka that carry the essence of Nirn. They are sometimes linked to Lorkhan or Anu.
When properly cultivated, meteoric glass crystals are able to grow and multiply. The Ayleids were only beginning to cultivate the material when they were wiped out by the Alessian Slave Rebellion. Naturally occurring meteoric glass is a common sight in Ayleid ruins, and can often be seen growing on the crumbling limestone walls of these underground structures. Enchanted pieces of meteoric glass, such as Welkynd Stones, can grow in the same way.
Stormhold Crystals and the seven Star Teeth are similar in nature to meteoric glass, but it is unknown if they are made of the material. The origins of the Jewel of Fire also suggest a link to the glass.
Meteoric Iron is a variety of Aetherial Fragment. It is the most common fragment to fall to Nirn. All known samples of the metal are a rusty brown in color. It is prized by armorers and enchanters for its properties in the forging of enchanted weapons and armors. The Ayleids, known for harnessing Aetherial Fragments, incorporated the metal into their architecture. As such, it is a common sight in Ayleid ruins.
Meteoric Iron is the primary component of Ayleid Wells, enchanted artifacts found dotted throughout Cyrodiil. The wells are often located in the wilderness, far away from known Ayleid settlements, although they can sometimes be found outside Ayleid ruins. It is presumed that they harvest magical power from starlight. It is also suggested, without evidence or support, that they are located at the meeting points of ancient lines of magical power; however, modern arcane arts have discovered no perceptible evidence of such lines of power.
Charged wells radiate magical power back into the sky. Some scholars theorize that they are of religious or ritualistic significance, perhaps a means of offering magic back to the heavens. Those with magical talents can draw magicka from the wells to restore and buff their own reserves of power. No ritual or arcane knowledge is necessary, suggesting that the wells were designed to serve unskilled magic users. Drained wells replenish their magicka at midnight. According to legend, the Chim-el Adabal formed from the blood of Lorkhan within such a well.
Skyshards and Sky Prisms are a rare type of meteoric glass. Sometimes called "Shards of Aetherius", skyshards are shards of Aetherial magicka that carry the essence of Nirn. They are sometimes linked to Lorkhan or Anu.
Like other aetherial fragments, Sky Prisms fall to Nirn from Aetherius through the stars, although only during specific lunar alignments. As they fall, the Prisms can be seen splitting into three shards. If three skyshards are subsequently brought together, they reform into a silvery prism and confer the magical energy to any nearby being. As well as allowing mortals to become more powerful through the creation of prisms, absorbing the power of even a single skyshard allows a Soul Shriven to be re-attuned to Anuic magic and thus return to Nirn from Oblivion.
Although usually found outdoors, skyshards are often discovered and brought underground by hoarders. The Ayleids were known to harness skyshards in some way. They can also be summoned through ritual, even in Oblivion. Coldharbour has a significant number of inexplicable fallen skyshards.
Space Cores, also known as Space Spheres or Spheriphem, are moonstone constructs native to the space above Nirn. Similar to Aetherial Fragments, Space Cores occasionally fall to Tamriel, although the experience is apparently unsettling for them. They will therefore attempt to cajole passing adventurers into helping them return to the void. They are seemingly sentient and possess a single eye. Space Cores can be used in Conjuration rituals.
The crews of the Airships believed them to be fire gods from the night sky. The Teeth were artifacts of light, in some way associated with the stars; the Ayleids believed starlight to be the purest form of the element. The Star Teeth had the ability to counteract powerful Shadow Magic. The descent of the Star Teeth matches the description of "shooting stars", Aetherial Fragments falling to Nirn from Aetherius; this would imply that they are made of Meteoric Glass. The Star Teeth appear structurally similar to Welkynd Stones, but without the capability to store magicka. Although apparently impossible to control, the Teeth emit sporadic bursts of light. The true nature of their light magic remains unknown, but their potency is seemingly lessened by shade or darkness.
The seven Star Teeth were traditionally held in the Vault of the Heavens in the Agea Relle, later known as the Crypt of Hearts. Placed on the pedestals there, they provided a powerful magical enhancement which could be used to fight creatures of shadow. The Ayleids later abandoned the Agea Relle, and in the early Second Era a school for adventurers was established in the ruins by two Altmer, Nerien'eth and Alanwe. Alanwe discovered the crystals on their pedestals, and named them Star Teeth due to their similarity to a row of teeth. After researching the Teeth, she attempted to weaponize their light by emulating their enchantment with a Welkynd Stone as a base. She hoped that their light magic could be used against Daedra and all manner of undead, or at least as reusable torches or paperweights should her experiments prove unsuccessful. Alanwe's plans were never realised, as her husband Nerien'eth fell under the influence of Mephala and killed her after claiming the Ebony Blade.
In time, the Star Teeth left the vault and were scattered across Tamriel. By 2E 582, only five of the Star Teeth remained within the Crypt of Hearts, and shards of the Star Teeth had begun to be circulated throughout Tamriel. By 3E 397, only five were known of, the other two having faded from memory. During the War of the Bend'r-mahk, the shadowmage Skelos Undriel tasked an unknown hero, the Soul of Conflict, with retrieving the five known Star Teeth, which he needed to fight the Umbra' Keth, a Shadow of Conflict created by the ongoing war. The Star Teeth had come into the possession of several influential figures in the area:
- The Witch Tree, a sentient tree located in Ghast's Pass in Hammerfell, had grown around a Star Tooth
- Porliss Caith, an Argonian agent of Hammerfell in the ongoing war
- Tanyin Aldwyr, a Redguard agent of Skyrim in the ongoing war
- Lakvan, a Skyrim bandit working with Jagar Tharn
- Perosius, an assassin hiding out in Hammerfell
- Azra Nightwielder, the first shadowmage, who had disappeared many years prior
- The Chieftain of the ice tribe of Glacier Crawl
Azra Nightwielder, who was discovered and awoken by the hero, revealed that there were in fact seven Star Teeth, and five wouldn't be enough to defeat the Umbra' Keth. Azra warned Skelos Undriel that he would perish if he attempted it, but it is unknown if Undriel heeded his advice. The hero recovered all seven Star Teeth and encountered the spirit of Captain Nym in Glacier Crawl. Nym was a captain of one of the Airships which had originally captured the Teeth; his Airship crashed into the glacier long ago. Nym feared the plans of Jagar Tharn and Pergan Asuul, who both wanted to control the Umbra' Keth. Pleased with the hero's efforts to thwart their plots, Nym gifted the hero with the Star Coif, a very valuable lightweight helmet. Armed with the seven Star Teeth, the hero descended into the Crypt of Hearts and lured the Umbra' Keth into the Vault of the Heavens. This allowed the hero to defeat the Umbra' Keth, whose shadows were then shredded by sparks from the Teeth.
The Star Teeth Greaves are a piece of valuable medium armor, but their relation to the Teeth is unknown. Similar crystals include Varla Stones, Welkynd Stones, Culanda Stones, Malondo Stones, Vakka Stones, and Stormhold Crystals.
Stormhold Crystal is a magical type of crystal found in the tunnels beneath the Black Marsh city of Stormhold. There are two types of Stormhold Crystals: Filled Crystals and Hollow Crystals. Filled Crystals have many different enchantments, such as healing, magical buffs or teleportation; some crystals can also be used for offensive purposes, killing opponents instantly. Hollow Crystals are used to store evil and corruption. The Storm Crystal is a large crystal which glows with distilled power and has the ability to hold vast amounts of corruption.
The origin of the crystals is a mystery. They were created by the priests of a nearly forgotten religion. Given Stormhold's origins as an Ayleid city, the priests were likely Ayleids, a race known for harnessing Meteoric Glass to create magical crystals. Similar crystals include Welkynd Stones, Varla Stones and Star Teeth.
Some time after the extinction of the Ayleids, the Empire set up a prison in the old ruins beneath Stormhold. Warden Varus learned of the Storm Crystal and used the prisoners as slave labor, forcing them to dig in the tunnels. Varus made a large profit extracting the Stormhold Crystal, and planned to locate the Storm Crystal and use it to store all the evil in the Empire, titling himself the Slayer of Evil. The prisoners who dug in the tunnels, nicknamed "tunnel rats", kept some of the crystals for themselves, for use in smuggling or exploring the dangerous undead-infested tunnels. Varus overlooked this theft as long as tunnel rats were not greedy.
Over time, prisoners and their overseers began to go mad, fleeing into the tunnels and attacking workers clearing the ruins. Digging in the tunnels caused corruption to infect the workers, which led to madness and lizard-like deformities over time. Varus attempted to cure this by removing evil from one man to place into another using the Hollow Crystals. Varus afflicted far too many, and the prison camp's healer, Helga, was unable to cure all of them. This resulted in the earth itself oozing corruption. Many of the overseers began to show horrific deformities, and prisoners weren't expected to survive long.
Varus, driven insane in his search for the Storm Crystal, continued to open new tunnels and eventually tracked down the Crystal. A prisoner nicknamed the "master tunnel rat", with the help of Helga and several other prisoners, gathered enough equipment from the ruins to defeat the overseers and confront Varus. The two fought for the Storm Crystal, and the prisoner was victorious. Although the Crystal was unable to hold the evil of the Empire, the prisoner was able to use it to clear the prison camp of corruption, letting the inmates go free.
A Varla Stone (Aldmeris for "star stone") is an enchanted shard of cut Meteoric Glass, a rare type of Aetherial Fragment. The stones were created by the Ayleids. The luminescent white crystals are remarkably powerful, enabling untrained users to restore magical energy to any number of enchanted items. Because of their great value and utility, many of these artifacts were looted from Ayleid ruins after the disappearance of their creators. As such, intact Varla Stones are also extremely rare, but since they are small and easily concealed, diligent explorers may still occasionally come across them.
When used, a Varla Stone will crumble to dust; there is no known way of recharging or preserving the stone, although scholars believe that their magical power may have originally been maintained by the Great Welkynd Stone of an Ayleid city. Varla Stones are usually found atop pedestals in Ayleid ruins, sometimes protected behind a remotely-opened cage. Flawed Varla Stones can also be used to recharge an enchantment, although to a much lesser extent, roughly equivalent to that of a common soul gem.
Welkynd Stones (Aldmeris for "sky stone/heaven stone"; literally, "sky child") are luminescent aquamarine crystals created by the Ayleids. The stones are pieces of cut and enchanted Meteoric Glass, a rare form of Aetherial Fragment. The stones contain the concentrated power of Mundus and were used as a means of storing magicka. Magically talented individuals can draw the power from the stone to restore their own magicka. The means of restoring power to a drained stone was lost with the death of the Ayleids; without this knowledge, the stones simply crumble to dust after being used. Welkynd Stones are prized by mages, and many remain to be looted from Ayleid ruins, where they are often placed atop pedestals for illumination.
Great Welkynd Stones are exceptionally large pieces of enchanted meteoric glass. A Great Stone was once located at the heart of each Ayleid city and acted as the source of the settlement's magical enchantments. Scholars speculate that the Great Stones were linked to the lesser stones, restoring and maintaining their power. Great Welkynd Stones were highly sought by mages following the downfall of the Ayleids; in time, all of the stones were plundered from their cities. The last Great Welkynd Stone was taken from the Ayleid city of Miscarcand in 3E 433, to be used by Martin Septim in a ritual to create a portal to Gaiar Alata. The stone acted as the polar opposite of a Great Sigil Stone and was destroyed in the ritual.
Like other types of meteoric glass, Welkynd Stones have the ability to grow and multiply if correctly cultivated. The Ayleids mastered the art of creating the crystalline structures and were beginning to cultivate them outside of their underground communities when they disappeared from history. Uncut Welkynd Stone crystals can occasionally be seen growing on the stone walls of subterranean Ayleid ruins. Lithnilian, an Altmer scholar, was the first to discover the crystals growing in a natural cave. Bramblepoint Cave was located in the Nibenay Basin. The discovery proved that, with the proper materials, magic, and research, the Welkynd Stone could adapt to any environment.
Dark Welkynd Stones were used by the Ayleids for security. The dark black crystals glow with red light, and cast powerful elemental destruction magic at trespassers who get too close. Many of these ancient traps continue to function, presenting a dangerous obstacle to adventurers exploring the ruins. Some Dark Welkynd Stones will power down if the intruder stops moving, although this method is unreliable.