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Lore:Forgotten Vale

< Lore: Places: F(Redirected from Lore:Chantry of Auri-El)
Forgotten Vale
Type Region
Continent Tamriel
Province Skyrim
High Rock
Appears in Dawnguard
The Forgotten Vale

The Forgotten Vale is massive and sprawling secluded ice-encrusted land dotted with the remains of Snow Elf architecture.[1] Located in the Druadach Mountains, it is viewed on maps as being within the borders of High Rock and bordering northwestern Skyrim's Haafingar area.[2][3] It is a glacial valley, with icy crevices, forests, a river and a large frozen lake. Its seclusion from the rest of Tamriel has resulted in unique forms of bioluminescent flora and fauna, seemingly adapted for subterranean dwelling.[4]

The vale is difficult to reach, requiring the navigation through the Darkfall Cave systems to enter from the outside world. It was chosen by the ancient Snow Elves as the site of the Chantry of Auri-El, the civilization's center of worship of Auri-El. The elves built a large sanctum into the mountains, overlooking the valley, as well as five Wayshrines of Auri-El. Magical teleportation in the form of portals were used to navigate and link the area. In order to reach enlightenment and "become one with Auri-El",[1] initiates of the Chantry made a pilgrimage to each of the five Wayshrines, navigating the treacherous vale with a ewer of water to gain access to the temple's inner sanctum. Due to the Chantry's isolation, it remained unaffected by the invasion of the Nords, though the Falmer somehow spread to the vale and overwhelmed the Chantry by their sheer numbers, wiping out the final bastion of Snow Elves.[5]

EcosystemEdit

In the centuries of seclusion from the rest of Tamriel has resulted in unique forms of bioluminescent flora and fauna, seemingly adapted for subterranean dwelling. Its animals have grown to be very different than those in Skyrim, home to unique species of sabre cat and deer, though despite their appearance, these creatures have no special resistances or weaknesses.[1] They are called Vale animals, named after a now-lost flora-filled cavern in Skyrim.[6] Hailcinder Vale Elk have a chosen diet of glowing flora and fungi.[7] The rare and mysterious shellbugs have only been documented as being found here, with the more common frost trolls making their homes in dens through the valley, and the insectoid chaurus living among their Falmer handlers.[4] Deep within the Forgotten Vale, some creatures have been transformed into living ice with all the same attributes of their standard counterparts, with the added immunity to frost/weakness to fire and shattering when killed.[1][4]

The only sentient species permanently residing here are the Snow Elves, who were once more common before their slaughter by the Falmer.[5] The rare Frost Giants, a bestial but intelligent species, also have a population spread across the valley dwelling in shallow caves. The Falmer made their home in various parts of the region, setting up a number of villages.[4] The Vale was once home to revered twin dragons, Voslaarum and Naaslaarum, who lived beneath Frozen Lake. They were most likely killed at some point and resurrected by Alduin upon his return,[8] although it is possible that they survived into modernity.

Bar a few rare cases, the Gleamblossom flower and Poison Bloom plant are unique to the region.[4] There are also strange plant-like cave worms that begin to retract when approached, hiding their bioluminescent light.[9][1] Many glowing crystals are also found throughout the caves.


GeographyEdit

The Forgotten Vale is found deep within the Druadach Mountains in between Wrothgar and Haafingar/the Karthald region of the Reach. Due to the many mountains surrounding it, there are no locations immediately nearby, the closest being Castle Thorn to the east, Deep Folk Crossing to the south, Pariah's Pinnacle to the west, and a Nordic arch at the entrance of the inlet to the north. It is described as somewhere beyond Skyrim’s western borders and seemingly in the middle of a giant, rocky pit, placing it within High Rock.[1]

 
The Wayshrine of Resolution

The vale is difficult to reach, requiring the navigation through the Darkfall Cave systems to enter from the outside world. The unassuming crag in the Reach, south of Mor Khazgur and north of Druadach Redoubt, is actually the gateway to a vast network of uncharted caverns and mountain land in the northern climbs of the Reach and Haafingar Hold, protruding from the snow level, above some sloping and uneven ground dotted with trees.[1] The tangled nest of caverns are in all likelihood somehow connected down to Blackreach.[UOL 1]

The lengthy and dangerous "Falmer Fissure", carved by the fast-flowing river is a tight and narrow fissure where the Falmer have made their home.[1] It is a maze of snaking bridgework, with a long subterranean cave leading up to the Wayshrine of Radiance, and a final crossing above the fissure to the Snow Elf Inner Sanctum, where only those pilgrims who have attained enlightenment can enter.[1] The Glacial Crevice was carved by waterflow from the Two Rivers of Wrothgar, and the area (later populated by Falmer in Rock Island) provides a critical path between two of the areas of Forgotten Vale.[1]

The Falmer Temple refers to the entrance hall called the Inner Sanctum and the main chamber called Auriel's Chapel. The entrance hall contains the Sanctum Of The Betrayed, Hidden Antechamber, corridors, and an Ice Tunnel leading out.[1] Auriel's Chapel contains the Chapel Passage leading to the ceremonial doors in the northern wall winding through the corridor to an icy hole in the northwest corner as the corridor’s structural integrity increasingly weakens. The icy passage drops into frozen ruins and a very narrow corridor that steps into the Great Chapel containing the Arch-Curate's throne. Behind the icy barrier Vyrthur created to seal himself, a door to the Temple Balcony overlooking the vistas of the Vale was found outside, containing a Wayshrine portal.[1]

CommunionEdit

 
The Arch-Curate, ruler of the entire Vale in ancient times

Thousands of years before the Fourth Era, this valley was the nexus of the Snow Elves' religious practices, which centered around the worship of Auri-El (also known as Auriel, or Akatosh among men). They called this place "the Great Chantry of Auri-El." It was here that the Snow Elves believed one could reach such a level of enlightenment they could "become one with Auri-El." The vale featured a mighty temple dedicated to their god and was dotted with small structures known as Wayshrines, which pilgrims would visit during their search for enlightenment. Gelebor explains that this Wayshrine was used for meditation and transport long ago, when the Chantry was a place of enlightenment. The entire vale was ruled by the Arch-Curate Vyrthur, assisted by his Prelates and Paladins.[1]

Many of the most dedicated snow elves once committed themselves to a tireless journey through the Chantry to the Inner Sanctum.[10] They carried with them the paramount desire to reach enlightenment and become one with their god, Auri-El,[10][1] Initiates of the Chantry made a pilgrimage to each of the five Wayshrines, navigating the treacherous vale with a ewer of water to gain access to the temple's inner sanctum.[5] A rocky promontory with a Snow Elf arch leads to a skeleton of a person known only as "Auriel's Lookout" who was once of some stature, as evidenced by the remains of a crown with three valuable gems.[1]

 
The statue of Auri-El, foremost of the gods

Prospective pilgrims and those seeking enlightenment began their journey by being given an empty ornate vessel called the Initiate's Ewer and told to visit a shrine, learn the mantras, and then add some of the pure water from the shrine's font to that vessel, the basin, which was used by initiates once their mantras were spoken. They dipped a ceremonial ewer into the basin at each Wayshrine before proceeding to the next. Upon reaching the sanctum, the initiates could present their ewer, filled with the water of all the Wayshrines, allowing them to enter the temple and gain an audience with the Arch-Curate himself. Once the vessel was full, it was carried to the temple, and the initiate would pour the water into a basin, representing that they had reached a level of enlightenment worthy enough to enter.[1] Though all set out with the determination to prove their worth, few were prepared for the trials that lay ahead. For the path to Auri-El was not without its tribulations. The pilgrims struggled not only against the natural elements of the treacherous vale, but with a myriad of tests upon their faith and loyalty. It is told that many simply could not continue on the path for long before turning back. Some argue that the rebuke they endured upon their return was crueler than any punishment that may have lay ahead of them along the path. In their failed attempt, they were forced to live in the shadow of those who did continue on to achieve the great glory and honor of ascension into the light. Forever after, their faith and loyalty in Auri-El would be scrutinized and their remaining days filled with shame and regret.[10]

 
Gelebor opening the Great Chantry Of Auri-El

Tales of those who reached the Inner Sanctum are not without their share of woes. It is said upon their arrival that many were mere shells of the person they had once been. Some were quite mad from sleeplessness and starved to the point of frailty. By the end of their journey, the marvel that they had strength yet to carry their vessel and ascend the stairs of the temple was the last true testament of their loyalty. Regardless of each individual's tale, the final words remain eerily similar. It is said that every pilgrim ascended, bathed in light, a look of relief and contentment on their face.[10] The imposing Snow Elf Inner Sanctum is a marvel of Snow Elf construction. Through the grand arch, initiates are greeted by a towering statue of the great Auriel. To enter the Sanctum, ascending the steps and pouring the water collected from the five Wayshrines into the receptacle opens the door, and there are no other ways to pry it open.[1] Across the bridge, which is still mostly intact, an ornate courtyard is found. While in decay, the place still holds a sense of grandeur, in part due to the statue of Auriel that dominates the temple grounds. At the curved steps behind the statue, the ewer is emptied into the water basin. The ceremonial water runs down three channels, to Auriel's crest, and a faintly green light shines forth, unlocking the Sanctum’s entrance.[1] Gifts were offered to the shrine to Auriel inside, believed to be one of two shrines of Auriel to now exist in the whole of Skyrim, the other shrine being at the Great Chantry Of Auri-El in Darkfall Cave.[1]

A makeshift altar of skeletal remains created by the Betrayed could be found in Darkfall Passage.[1]

HistoryEdit

 
Vyrthur destroying Auriel's Chapel

A glacial crevice formed during tens of thousands of years of water flow from the high peaks of the Haafingar Mountains, carving the Glacial Crevice portion of what would become known as the Forgotten Vale. The original inhabitants of Skyrim, the Snow Elves, discovered it at thousands of years before the Fourth Era[1] and built the Chantry of Auriel, the grandest of their five temples. The Chantry was constructed near the beginning of the First Era to provide a retreat for Snow Elves that wished to reach enlightenment.[5]

During the Snow Elf Genocide, some refugees fled to the Forgotten Vale. Due to the Chantry's isolation, it remained unaffected by the invasion of the Nords in the Merethic Era. As such, the Snow Elves of the Forgotten Vale had no need of the protection of the Dwarves, who demanded the blinding of the race. Their remaining kin, "the Betrayed", degenerated over the ages into the modern Falmer. Following the disappearance of the Dwarves in 1E 700, the Falmer somehow spread to the vale and began attacking the Chantry. The Chantry was overwhelmed by their sheer numbers, and the final bastion of Snow Elves was wiped out.[5]

Arch-Curate Vyrthur, leader of the Chantry, had been abandoned by Auri-El after becoming infected with vampirism. Embittered, he created a prophecy which would see the darkening of the sun by corrupting Auriel's Bow in order to spite the god.[11] He allied himself with the Falmer and retreated to the inner sanctum, where he awaited his prophecy to come to fruition. His brother, Knight-Paladin Gelebor, was the only other Snow Elf to survive, and retreated into the caves as he has vowed never to leave the Wayshrines unguarded. The Falmer and their tamed chaurus then proceeded to spread throughout the vale unhindered.

In 4E 201, the Forgotten Vale was visited by Serana and the Last Dragonborn, who had been guided there by the Elder Scrolls to fulfill Vyrthur's prophecy. Through the Darkfall Cave, the skeletons of many snow elves were found in the caves, and they encountered Gelebor tending to the shrine that led to Darkfall Passage. They made a pilgrimage to the five Wayshrines to gain access to the inner sanctum in order to save Vyrthur from the Falmer at the request of the mistaken Gelebor. Instead, the two discovered Vyrthur's affliction and betrayal, and killed him. In return, Gelebor gifted them with Auriel's Bow as foretold by the prophecy. The Dragonborn also defeated the dragons Voslaarum and Naaslaarum, and recovered Auriel's Shield from the Falmer.[4]

Notable PlacesEdit

 
Temple Balcony of Auriel's Chapel
 
The Word Wall at Frozen Lake
Auriel's Chapel
The most sacred temple of the Snow Elves, the Inner Sanctum is now reduced to a ruin and the lair of Arch-Curate Vyrthur.[1]
Darkfall Cave
Home to the Great Chantry Of Auri-El, a Snow Elf Sanctuary believed to contain one of two shrines of Auriel to exist in the whole of Skyrim.[1]
Darkfall Grotto
Home to the Wayshrine Of Illumination.
Forgotten Vale Cave
A small cavern home to rare shellbugs
Forgotten Vale Forest
A sacred and sealed glade of thick woodland unknown to many,[1] with sloping ground to the northwest that leads to a frost troll den.
Frozen Lake
The upper lake is sometimes quiet and serene. Perched on the edge of a lake is a carved rock with a single Word of Power seared into the stone.[1]
Paragon Portal Platform
An arch connected to the five portal platforms across the Vale
Pilgrim’s Path
After centuries of neglect, only a few fragments of Snow Elf masonry remains, forming a faint path northwest through the Vale.[1]
Sharpslope Cave
A small cavern home to rare shellbugs
Snow Lake
The lower lake that has more free-flowing water; to the north is a shallow cave close to the rushing river above the waterfall. At the southern end of the lake, it plunges into a terrifying maw called Forgotten Vale Overlook.[1]

GalleryEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Prima Official Game Guide — David Hodgson
  2. ^ Skyrim MapNataly Dravarol
  3. ^ Dragonhome loading screen in ESO
  4. ^ a b c d e f Events of Dawnguard
  5. ^ a b c d e Knight-Paladin Gelebor's dialogue in Dawnguard
  6. ^ Orchidfall Vale Fawn pet description in ESO
  7. ^ Hailcinder Vale Elk mount description
  8. ^ Based on the dragons not being present before the Dragon Rising quest
  9. ^ Cave Worms in Skyrim
  10. ^ a b c d Touching the SkyParmion Saldor
  11. ^ Arch-Curate Vyrthur's dialogue in Dawnguard

Note: The following references are considered to be unofficial sources. They are included to round off this article and may not be authoritative or conclusive.