- "I am Hermaeus Mora. I am the guardian of the unseen, and knower of the unknown. I have been watching you, mortal." — Hermaeus Mora
Hermaeus Mora (or Herma-Mora, among others[nb 1]) is the Daedric Prince whose sphere is the scrying of the tides of Fate, of the past and future as read in the stars and heavens, and in whose dominion are the treasures of knowledge and memory. He describes himself as "The riddle unsolveable. The door unopenable. The book unreadable. The question unanswerable." He is vaguely related to the cult origins of the Morag Tong if only by association with his sibling, Mephala. Apocrypha is Hermaeus Mora's plane of Oblivion, an endless library where all forbidden knowledge can be found. The books all have black covers with no titles, and the library is haunted by ghosts forever searching for knowledge. Unlike most Princes, Hermaeus Mora does not take on a humanoid form at all, manifesting instead as grotesque assemblages of eyes, tentacles, and claws, or a featureless purple vortex known as the Wretched Abyss. His servants include Seekers and Lurkers.
Herma-Mora was an ancient Atmoran demon who, at one time, nearly seduced the Nords into becoming Aldmer. In Atmoran myth he is known as the "Woodland Man" who catches villagers lost in the woods; the secondary set of his name, Mora, is one word for "wood", "woodland" or "tree(s)" in Elvish. Most Ysgramor myths are about escaping the wiles of old Herma-Mora. His enemies are Ebonarm and Vaermina and his summoning day is 5th First Seed. The Hero of Daggerfall quested for the Oghma Infinium by summoning Hermaeus Mora.
Hermaeus Mora's shrine in Cyrodiil is located deep within the mighty Jerall Mountains, where he is said to speak only to the most worthy of mortals in a deep, frightening and almost convoluted way. He once asked the Champion of Cyrodiil to bring one soul of each race to him so his followers could use them in rituals to explore the realms of reality as well as space and time, once again offering the Oghma Infinium as a reward.
During the adventures of the Last Dragonborn, Hermaeus Mora was encountered on a quest for the College of Winterhold, where they met a servant of Hermaeus Mora, Septimus Signus. Septimus requested that the Last Dragonborn bring him a sample of the blood of each of the elven races, in order to recreate the equivalent of Dwemer blood and thereby unlock the Dwemer lockbox upon which he was working. Hermaeus Mora then confronted the Last Dragonborn directly, saying that if they fulfilled Septimus's request, they would take his place as the daedra's champion, and be well-rewarded. The Last Dragonborn did as requested, and was granted the knowledge of the Oghma Infinium, which was contained in the lockbox. Another champion would be replaced, but for Hermaeus Mora, the Oghma Infinium would be just the beginning.
It was later revealed that Miraak, the First Dragonborn, had learned his secret powers from Hermaeus Mora in exchange for a life of servitude in Apocrypha. By the return of the dragons, however, Miraak had largely abandoned his master and decided to return to Tamriel by way of Solstheim. After raising an army of cultists and attempting to kill the recently revealed Last Dragonborn, Miraak bewitched much of the populace of Solstheim and forced them to build otherworldly structures around the All-Maker Stones on the island, which would be used to increase his power and provide a conduit to return to Tamriel. The Last Dragonborn tracked Miraak's activity to his temple and inside found a Black Book, an artifact of Hermaeus Mora. The Last Dragonborn destroyed Miraak's influence on the island and entered Apocrypha through the Black Books, meeting Hermaeus Mora himself.
Mora told the Last Dragonborn that he was growing tired of using Miraak as a servant, and offered off the dragon shout he provided to Miraak, in exchange for an important piece of knowledge. This knowledge was the ancient religious traditions and powers of the Skaal, who had faithfully kept it from Mora for generations. The Last Dragonborn had to convince the spiritual leader of the Skaal, Storn Crag-Strider, to give up the knowledge, which killed him as it was removed from his body. Their end of the bargain fulfilled, the Last Dragonborn gained the new shout from Mora and went back into Apocrypha to face Miraak. Upon defeating him, Mora appeared again and expressed his disappointment with Miraak, declaring the Last Dragonborn to be his new champion.
The Oghma Infinium is an ancient tome of knowledge, and an artifact of great power. It was written by Xarxes, the scribe of Auri-El, who had been granted the knowledge within by Hermaeus Mora. The name of the tome comes from Oghma, the wife of Xarxes, whom he created from his favorite moments in history. The knowledge within the tome grants the reader access to the artifact's energy, which can be manipulated to achieve near demi-god abilities. The Paths of Steel, Shadow and Spirit are the three main sections of the tome. Once the Oghma Infinium is used, it disappears from its owner's possession. Through the reading of Black Books, individuals can obtain much more power than that gained from the Oghma Infinium alone.
After the fall of their empire in the early First Era, many Ayleid tribes fled Cyrodiil to resettle in Valenwood. One such Ayleid settlement was located just across the border, on the southern banks of the Strid River in the Northern Woods of Valenwood, west of modern Arenthia. These worshippers of Auri-El had come into possession of two dangerous tomes of knowledge: the Oghma Infinium and the Book of the Frozen Legion. They attempted to learn the secrets contained within, but instead their city was swallowed by the earth. Following the gradual absorption of Ayleids into Bosmer society, the Bosmer descendants of the lost city attempted to rebuild. This new settlement was in existence until 2E 582, when Javad Tharn and his Colovian forces invaded Reaper's March. One of his generals, an Imperial named Graccus, commandeered a large invasion force and burned the Bosmer city to the ground, building a mansion over the ruins. This mansion, which came to be known as the Vile Manse, was used by Graccus as a staging ground for exploring the subterranean tunnels in search of the Oghma Infinium.
Upon finding the tome, Graccus managed to survive the "cosmic ululation", while also summoning powerful Daedra to guard the ruins. The Book of the Frozen Legion also summoned several Frost Atronachs, freezing many Bosmer and transforming some into icy undead. Graccus was determined to use the Oghma Infinium to aid the invasion and allow the Empire to crush the Aldmeri Dominion. However, Javad withdrew military support once he learned of Graccus' apparent inactivity, and Hermaeus Mora decided that he was not worthy to continue possessing the tome. The Soulless One then entered the Vile Manse, and Mora promised the Oghma Infinium as a reward for defeating Graccus. However, the Prince was not willing to risk the Soulless One against the tome's secrets, and snatched it away upon Graccus' death. It was duly returned it to its home in Apocrypha, and the Discourse Amaranthine was offered in its stead.
The tome was uncovered during the Imperial Simulacrum by the Eternal Champion, although conflicting reports place its discovery in either Skyrim or Elsweyr. Just before the events of the Warp in the West, an unknown agent of the Blades in the Iliac Bay area was sent by Hermaeus Mora to assassinate a noble who had displeased the Prince. In return, Mora promised the Oghma Infinium, which was in the possession of one of his worshippers. The agent succeeded, and the tome passed hands. In 3E 433, Mora again offered the tome as a reward, this time to the Champion of Cyrodiil. Mora summoned the Champion to his shrine in the Jerall Mountains, on the border with Skyrim, after seeing how capable the Champion was with dealing with the other Daedric Princes. Mora had the Champion collect souls from the ten main races of Tamriel, which were needed by his followers to perform a divination. The Champion succeeded and was given the tome.
Sometime after the events of the Third Era, the tome was sealed inside an ancient Dwemer lockbox so that no more of its dangerous knowledge could be shared with mortals. This displeased Hermaeus Mora. The lockbox, located in a small cave out on the ice sheets off the coast of northeast Skyrim, was massive in size and seemingly bigger on the inside than physically possible. It could only be opened by those of Dwarven blood. A follower of Hermaeus Mora, Septimus Signus, was manipulated by the god and tasked with opening the lockbox. Signus believed the lockbox contained the Heart of Lorkhan. Signus was told by Mora that he would need the knowledge of an Elder Scroll to divine the way to open the lockbox. Signus was an expert on Elder Scrolls, and when the Last Dragonborn came looking for one in 4E 201, Signus pointed them towards Blackreach. The Last Dragonborn found the Elder Scroll within the Tower of Mzark, taking it and inscribing its knowledge onto a blank Dwemer lexicon. Signus used the knowledge to discover how to open the lockbox. As the Dwemer were all but extinct, Signus theorized that he could inject himself with the blood of all surviving elves to trick the lock. Mora then appeared to the Dragonborn in the form of a Wretched Abyss and revealed that Signus was no longer of use to him due to his broken mind. The Dragonborn retrieved samples of blood from Altmer, Bosmer, Dunmer, Falmer and Orcs. Signus succeeded in opening the lock, only to discover that it contained the Oghma Infinium. He was turned to dust attempting to read it. The Last Dragonborn took the tome and was contacted by Mora, who was pleased that his knowledge would again be put to use.
Black Books are Daedric artifacts created by Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Fate and Knowledge. Each book contains some manner of forbidden knowledge. Some books are from the ancient past; some are from the future. The thick tomes are bound in black covers, with a symbol representing Mora on the front, and emit a black mist. They are comparable to the Oghma Infinium, another tome of knowledge created by Mora; however, through the reading of the Black Books, individuals can obtain much more power than that gained from the Oghma Infinium alone. The books were spread across Tamriel by Mora, and are usually located in the depths of ancient dungeons.
Through reading a Black Book, the reader will enter Apocrypha, the realm of Oblivion created and ruled over by Hermaeus Mora. Tentacles will emerge from the tome and envelop the reader. An apparition of the reader's body remains in Mundus, tethering their life force. Most mortals who read a Black Book are driven insane, but those who successfully journey through Apocrypha are known to discover powerful knowledge. Dying in Apocrypha while reading a Black Book simply banishes the reader back to Tamriel. Rereading a book will return the reader to the same area of Apocrypha, allowing them to attempt Mora's gauntlets again or harness the power of a different piece of knowledge. Copies of the contents of Black Books can be made without entering Apocrypha.
Apocrypha is a realm of Oblivion created and ruled over by Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Knowledge and Fate. It is an endless library consisting of untitled books with black covers, where all forbidden knowledge can be found. The realm is haunted by the ghosts of mortals forever searching for knowledge. Stacks of books form mazes and spiraling pillars that can reach as high as the illuminating green sky. Intricate ruins and monstrous carvings can be found among the stacks. The plane is covered in a sea of acidic, murky waters and roiling tentacles, while Hermaeus Mora is omnipresent over all. Some areas of the realm are consumed by darkness which can kill any who enter it. Discarded pages and floating tomes fill the air.
Apocrypha is inhabited by the frightening Daedric servants of Mora. Seekers guard forbidden knowledge, banishing foes with sound attacks. Lurkers dwell within the acidic waters, arising from the depths to attack invaders. Disembodied tentacles hide in the waters and hang from the sky, whipping at any who pass.
Apart from magical teleportation, Apocrypha is most easily entered by mortals through the reading of Black Books, tomes of forbidden knowledge displaced from time and scattered across Tamriel. An apparition of the reader's body remains in Mundus, tethering their life force. Most mortals who gain access to the secrets within Apocrypha are driven insane by unending revelations. Such was the fate of the mage Morian Zenas, who famously disappeared in Apocrypha during his voyages through Oblivion. However those who successfully journey through Apocrypha are known to discover powerful knowledge.
- Hermaeus Mora's dialogue in Dragonborn.
- The Book of Daedra
- Events of ESO
- Varieties of Faith in the Empire — Brother Mikhael Karkuxor
- Fragmentae Abyssum Hermaeus Morus
- Apocrypha, Apocrypha
- Events of Dragonborn
- Secrets Overheard in Apocrypha — Morian Zenas
Note: the following references are not found in-game. They are included to provide a rounder background to this article, but may not reflect established lore.