The Merethic Era, colloquially known as the Mythic Era in the Cyrodilic tongue, was the period of time immediately following the Dawn Era, a period during which time followed a nonlinear path and was generally considered to be the era of time during which the Aedra created the realms of Mundus and Aetherius, and the Daedra created the various spheres of Oblivion. The term "Merethic" came from the Nordic language and literally meant "The Era of the Elves." The Merethic Era was thought of by early Nord scholars as a series of years numbered in reverse chronological order (Beginning with ME2500 and counting down with each passing year) from the "beginning of time"—the founding of the Camoran Dynasty in the Bosmer, or Wood Elf, homeland of Valenwood which was recorded as Year Zero of the First Era.
The earliest Merethic date cited by King Harald's Nordic scholars in Skyrim during the First Era was ME 2500—the Nordic reckoning of the first year of linear time as opposed to the largely nonlinear time of the preceding Dawn Era. As such, the Merethic Era extended from ME 2500 in the distant past to ME 1—the year before the founding of the Camoran Dynasty in Valenwood by the Bosmer and the construction and establishment of the White-Gold Tower as an independent city-state in Cyrodiil by the Ayleid.
Early Merethic Era
The first year of the Merethic Era was ME 2500 and was considered the first year of time on Nirn. The Merethic Era was a series of years numbered in reverse chronological order from the founding of the Camoran Dynasty and thus the Merethic Era extended from ME 2500 in the distant past to ME 1—the year before the founding of the Camoran Dynasty. During the early Merethic Era, the aboriginal Betmer, or beast-peoples, of Tamriel—progenitors of the modern Khajiit, the modern Argonian, the modern Sload, the modern Dreugh, and other "beast folk," some gone by the end of the Third Era and some so shy or rare that their presence was seldom detected, lived in preliterate communities throughout Tamriel. Sometime during this Era, or possibly the previous Dawn Era, Cyrodiil's Runestones were built.
Eventually, however, it came to the point where Oblivion first began to trouble the inhabitants of Nirn. For the most part, the Daedric Princes were well pleased with their arrangement, for they always had worshipers and servants and playthings close at hand. But, at the same time, they sometimes looked with envy upon the Mortal Realms, or Mundus, for though they considered mortals foul and feeble and contemptible, their passions and ambitions were also far more surprising and entertaining than the antics of the Lesser Daedra. Thus did the Daedric Princes court and seduce certain amusing specimens of the Mortal Races, especially the passionate and powerful. It gave the Daedric Princes special pleasure to steal away from Lorkhan and the Aedra the greatest and most ambitious mortals.
In the aftermath of the war, the Mer retained their ancient power and knowledge, but the Nedes, or Men, were more numerous and toughened by their long struggle to survive on Nirn. This war had reshaped the face of Nirn as Lorkhan shattered the land into many, sinking much of the land beneath new oceans and leaving the lands as the people of the Third Era knew them: Tamriel, Akavir, Atmora, and Yokuda. The Merish realm, although ruined, became Tamriel.
The Dragon Cult was also formed, with multiple leaders known as Dragon Priests, stationed throughout Skyrim and Solstheim. The cult was made up of the most loyal followers of dragons, who at the time ruled over Skyrim.
The first settlements were distributed at wide intervals on islands along the entire coast of Tamriel. They settled in the Summerset Isles, and they began to spread out eastward. Later, inland settlements were founded primarily in fertile lowlands in southwest and central Tamriel. Early Aldmer society was agricultural and politically egalitarian and employed a system of ancestor worship. Wherever the Betmer encountered the Aldmer, the sophisticated, literate, technologically advanced Aldmer cultures displaced the primitive Betmer into the jungles, marshes, mountains, and wastelands.
Gradually, as the society grew, social stratification increased. A hierarchy of classes began to form, which was still largely enforced in Summerset in the Fourth Era. The religion of the people also changed because of this change in society: no longer did the Aldmer worship their own ancestors, but the ancestors of their "betters." Auri-El, Trinimac, Syrabane, and Phynaster were among the many ancestor spirits who became Gods.
A group of Elders rebelled against this trend, calling themselves the Psijics, the keepers of the old ways of Aldmeris. With their mystical powers, they were able to settle in Artaeum, away from what they considered the corruption of their society. They continued to return to the land to act as advisors, but never again would they call Summerset home. It was about that time that many Aldmer left Summerset to settle the mainland of Tamriel.
Aldmeri explorers mapped the coasts of Vvardenfell, building the First Era High Elven wizard towers at Ald Redaynia, Bal Fell, Tel Aruhn, and Tel Mora in Morrowind. The mer called Topal the Pilot, the earliest known Aldmer explorer of Tamriel, may have sailed the seas around Tamriel at this time. Furthermore, three ships were assigned to find a passage back to Aldmeris so that the Aldmer now living in Summerset could learn what became of their old homeland. They used three varieties of crystalline balls to attempt this, one that pointed southward, one that pointed northeast, and one that pointed northwest; attuned to particular lines of power.
These were the Waystones, which each of the pilots used to point their craft in the direction they were assigned to go. A ship with a name not mentioned traveled to the northwest, towards Thras and Yokuda. The Pasquiniel took the southern waystone, and must have sailed down towards Pyandonea. Topal and his northeast waystone found the mainland of Tamriel. They were caught in a storm and those who survived found their way to the Summerset Isles, but without their waystones they did not know what direction their homeland was. Only one of the ships returned, and it was not known if either or both of the other two found Aldmeris, or perished at sea or at the hands of the ancient Maormer, Sload, or Redguards.
During this time, genuine celestial minerals were gathered by travelers to Aetherius, presumably by the Sun Birds of Alinor. The untenable expenditures required to reach magic by magicka, Aetherius, brought an end to these ventures.
The Altmer that stayed in the Summerset Isles did their best to advocate "the will of Anuiel" and so embraced the chrysalis of the Convention; though the Adamantine Tower in High Rock was rediscovered and captured by the Direnni Clan, a prominent and powerful Aldmeri clan. As they were the most powerful of the lesser spirits in the ages after the Convention and eager to emulate what they saw, the descendants of the Aldmer began construction of their own towers. That they built more than one showed that they were not of one mind. The Crystal Tower, also known as Crystal-Like-Law, was built in the Summerset Isles.
With various explorations done and the Direnni finding the Adamantine Tower, the Ayleids settled in Cyrodiil. Here the White-Gold Tower was built by the Ayleids, who went to Cyrodiil and harvested castaway creatures from Oblivion by entering a pact with the Daedra. The Tower, a conduit of creatia, was built to bring about a reversal of the congealing spiritual bleed caused by the Convention. In other words, it was a focus-point for re-reaching the divine.
The Ayleid, or Wild Elven, settlements flourished in the forests surrounding White Gold Tower; preserving the Dawn Era magicks and language of the Aldmer. Ostensibly a tribute-land to the High King of Alinor, the Heartland's long lines of communication from the Summerset Isles' sovereignty effectively isolated Cyrodiil from the High Kings at Crystal Tower. Over time, they became a distinct people, crafting a civilization whose ruins continued to puzzle and fascinate Third Era archaeologists and adventurers. It was with the coming of the Ayleid that Cyrodilic history truly began.
Over many years, the Mer of Tamriel, or Aldmer, began to split along cultural lines according to their new environments and on how best to spread creation and their parts in it. Each Tower that was built exemplified a separate accordance. The Elves were dividing and that sundering of purpose is the myth of the "destruction of Aldmeris." At first the dividing was only temperamentally but then they became physically very distinct races separate from one another. The Aldmer would thus become the various merish races: the Dwemer, Falmer, Chimer, Altmer, Bosmer, Maormer, Orsimer and Ayleid.
Other Towers were also built: Orichalc in Yokuda, Green-Sap in Valenwood, Snow Throat, also known as the Throat of the World, in Skyrim, and several others. The Towers were magical and physical echoes of the Ur-Tower, Ada-mantia, just as the Stones are magical and physical echoes of the Zero Stone, by which a Tower might focus its energy to mold creation.
Oftentimes, the Stones borrowed surplus creation from Oblivion, grafting it to the terrestrial domain of its anointed Tower. It was difficult to bypass Oblivion to go directly to creation's source, the Aetherius. It was done though, but not without great expenditure, mundane and otherwise. However, access to Oblivion, the Void that surrounded Mundex Arena, or Mundus, which the inhabitants of Nirn could touch every night, was child's play in comparison. Cultivating creatia that washed into the Void from Aetherius became the rule among Stones.
The Daedric realms had been formed on much the same principle as the Towers built on the Mundus. Since the lands around them congealed in the absence of the gods they were unable to match the capriciousness of the Daedra.
Late Merethic Era
The Late Merethic Era was the period of the High Velothi Culture. The earliest Dwemer Freehold colonies date from this period. The Dwemer, also known as Dwarves, a free-thinking, reclusive Aldmer clan devoted to the secrets of science, engineering, and alchemy, established underground cities and communities in the mountain range, that would later become known as the Velothi Mountains, separating Skyrim and Morrowind.
Other merish races like the Chimer, ancestors of the Third Era Dunmer, or Dark Elves, refuted all orderings and aedric measures. The Chimer were dynamic, ambitious, long-lived Aldmer clans devoted to fundamentalist ancestor worship. They followed the Prophet Veloth out of the ancestral Aldmer homelands, all under Boethiah's guidance. Some Chimer orphaned themselves from the Velothi Exodites and remained Chimer in the Third Era. Trinimac, for a very long time, fooled the Aldmeri into thinking that tears were the best response to the Sundering.
Trinimac and his followers attempted to halt the Velothi dissident movement, or the Chimer, so Boethiah tricked Trinimac to go into his mouth, ate him, and voided him. Boethiah talked like Trinimac for a while, and gathered enough people to listen to him. Boethiah showed them the lies of the et'Ada, the Aedra, and told them that Trinimac was the biggest liar of them all, saying all of this with Trinimac's voice. Boethiah told the masses before him the Tri-Angled Truth. He showed them, with Mephala, the rules of Psijic Endeavor. He taught them how to build houses, and what items to bury in the corners. He demonstrated a different way to wear their skin. He performed the way to walk to achieve an exodus. Then Boethiah relieved himself of Trinimac right there on the ground before them to prove all the things he said were the truth; the Orsimer, or Orcs, were created at that time; Altmer warped by the destruction of their leader Trinimac.
When Trinimac was eaten by Boethiah and transformed in his insides, the followers of Trinimac were transferred into the Orcs. The ancient name for the Orcs was "Orsimer", which meant "The Pariah Folk." They then followed the Daedric Prince Malacath, the remains of Trinimac. Despised by everyone, especially the inviolate Auri-El, they quickly fled to the northern wastes, near Saarthal. They fought the Nords and the Chimer for a place in the world, but did not get much.
After this, Saint Veloth, prophet and mystic, continued on to lead the Chimer out of the Summerset Isles and into the northwest to settle in the lands known as Resdaynia, or Morrowind. Through this the rule of the Dwemer was contested by another group of Mer, the Chimer. Despising the secular culture and profane practices of the Dwemer, the Chimer also coveted the lands and resources of the Dwemer, and for centuries provoked them with minor raids and territorial disputes.
The remnants of the Men were left divided on the other three continents: the Nords of Atmora, the Redguards of Yokuda, and the Akaviri of Akavir; with Human settlements in Hammerfell, High Rock, and Cyrodiil as early as ME 800-ME 1000. The Hist were bystanders in the Aldmeris war, but most of their realm was destroyed as the war passed over it. A small corner of it survived to become Black Marsh in Tamriel, but most of their realm was sunk beneath the sea.
To form the Khajiit, Azura made it pass the Lunar Lattice and took the forest people who were torn between man and beast, and she placed them in the best deserts and forests on Tamriel, and named them Khajiit. The Moons shone down on the marshes and their light became sugar, but the deserts became hot and the sands biting, the forests became wet and filled with poisons. Also, Y'ffre took and made some of the forest people into Elves and named them Bosmer. They took Mannish wives and resided in Valenwood, swearing never to kill, injure, or eat any of the vegetation of their new home.
The Late Merethic Era marks the precipitous decline of Velothi culture. Some Velothi settled in villages near declining and abandoned, ancient Velothi towers. During this period, Velothi high culture disappeared on Vvardenfell Island. Degenerate Velothi devolved into tribal cultures which, in time, evolved into the Third Era Great Houses of Morrowind, or persisted as the barbarian Ashlander tribes. The only traces of that tribal culture to survive into the Third Era were scattered Velothi towers and the Ashlander nomads on Vvardenfell Island. The original First Era High Elven wizard towers along the coasts of Tamriel were also abandoned about this time.
Eventually Men returned to Tamriel. The pre-literate Humans, the so-called "Nedic Peoples," from the continent of Atmora, also Altmora or the Elder Wood in Aldmeris, migrated and settled in northern Tamriel. They colonized the northern coast of Tamriel before recorded history. It was not a single invasion, but a series of them over hundreds of years, creating many different Nedic cultures. These so-called "Nedic Peoples" including the proto-Cyrodilics, the ancestors of the Bretons, a mix between the Nedes and Aldmer, the aboriginals of Hammerfell, and perhaps a now vanished Human population of Morrowind.
A main colonization effort was led by the legendary Ysgramor who was credited with developing a runic transcription of Nordic speech based on Elven principles. Ysgramor was following a long tradition of migration from Atmora; Tamriel had served as a "safety valve" for Atmora for centuries before Ysgramor's arrival. Malcontents, dissidents, rebels, landless younger sons, all made the difficult crossing from Atmora to the "New World" of Tamriel. He and his family first landed in Tamriel at Hsaarik Head, at the extreme northern tip of Skyrim's Broken Cape. These first settlers named the land "Mereth", after the Elves that roamed the untamed wilderness which then covered the whole of Tamriel.
For a time, relations between the Atmorans and the resident Mer of Skyrim, the Snow Elves were harmonious, and the humans thrived in their new land, bringing more of their kin from the north to build the city of Saarthal. The Nedic peoples flourished and expanded over the last centuries of the Merethic Era, latered bolstered by the founding of the First Empire by Ysgramor.
Although relations between the new human settlers and the Snow Elves were peaceful, the Snow Elves were alarmed by how fast the short-lived (by Elven standards) race reproduced. Regarding them as little more than beasts, the Snow Elves felt no shame when they attacked and destroyed the Atmoran settlement of Saarthal, in an event that has come to be known as the Night of Tears. The survivors of the attack, Ysgramor and his sons Yngol and Ylgar, fled to Atmora and returned with Ysgramor's Five Hundred Companions, beginning a genocidal slaughter of almost every Snow Elf living in Skyrim.
Some early Nedic peoples stumbled into High Rock and upon the highly sophisticated culture of the Direnni, and were quickly overwhelmed and absorbed. One of the earliest tales of Khosey described a Nord raiding party attacking a group of what they presumed to be Aldmer, but who were, on closer inspection, a mongrel race between Elf and Human, the remnants of the earlier lost Nedic tribe. They were somewhat awkwardly called "Manmeri," but they were known in the Third Era as the Bretons.
It is said that the Atmoran Dragon Cult was destroyed along with the priests (except for Rahgot).
Also during the Late Merethic Era, the legendary immortal hero, warrior, sorcerer and king variously known as Pelinal Whitestrake, Harrald Hairy Breeks, Ysmir, Hans the Fox, etcetera, wandered Tamriel, gathering armies, conquering lands, ruling, then abandoning his kingdoms to wander again. The Camoran Dynasty was founded by King Eplear Camoran, recorded as Year Zero of the First Era and the scholars of Tamriel began to count time forward.
End of the Era
The event that marked the end of the Mythic Era also represented the official end to Altmeri dominance on Tamriel. For the bulk of the Mythic Era, all of the elven communities on Tamriel pled at least token fealty to the king on Summerset. By the end of the era, however, the provinces had mostly split off, and generally ignored events from other regions.
The situation came to a permanent conclusion in the last year of the Mythic Era, when a Bosmer in Valenwood, Eplear, declared himself the first king of the Camoran Dynasty. Valenwood officially declared itself independent from Summerset. With a buffer between themselves and the island kingdom, the Ayleid of Cyrodiil also declared themselves independent city states, and the Mythic Era officially ended.
- Before the Ages of Man
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition
- The Annotated Anuad
- The Wild Elves
- Lives of the Saints
- A Short History of Morrowind
- The Anticipations
- Frontier, Conquest
- Sovngarde, a Reexamination
- The Changed Ones
- The True Nature of Orcs
- Father of the Niben
- Nu-Mantia Intercept
- Template:Arena (Mentioned only)
- Template:Redguard (Mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall (Mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (Mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Mentioned only)