- "The Blades are sworn to the service of the Emperor, as the mortal representative of the Dragon Blood of the divine Talos." — Jauffre, Grandmaster of the Blades
The Blades, also known as the Imperial Intelligence Service, the Arms of the Throne[UOL 1] and as the Order of Blades, were members of an elite Imperial order dedicated to the protection and service of the Dragonborn emperors of Tamriel. Descended from the Akaviri Dragonguard, who became the personal bodyguard of Emperor Reman I, the Blades have since diversified into many areas of Imperial espionage, military, and diplomacy. Indeed, while a select few were appointed by the emperor to serve openly as diplomats or bodyguards, the majority of Blades agents acted covertly as couriers and spies. Serving as the emperor's eyes and ears, a vast network of Blades have influenced many critical events across Tamriel, such as reassembling the golem Numidium and defeating Dagoth Ur. The Blades were disbanded following the Great War and largely killed off by the Thalmor, but were reformed once again to assume their ancient role as dragon hunters during the return of Alduin.
The history of the Blades stretches back many centuries, to the Akaviri Dragonguard. They relentlessly hunted dragons in Akavir, and in 1E 2703 they invaded Tamriel to continue this crusade. They marched through Morrowind and Skyrim with little resistance until being met by the united forces of Cyrodiil under Reman I at the Pale Pass, in the Jerall Mountains. As soon as they heard Reman's voice at Pale Pass, they knelt before him and proclaimed him Dragonborn, claiming he was what they had come to seek. These new additions to his army did much to enable Reman's conquest and unification of most of Tamriel to found the Second Empire. However, the Dragonguard had not forgotten their original mission, and they continued hunting dragons, particularly in Skyrim, with great success.
In Skyrim, Sky Haven Temple acted as an outpost for the Dragonguard and as a shrine to Reman. However by the late First Era, the Winterhold Rebellion took place in protest to forced conscriptions that were being imposed on the local populace by Emperor Kastav. The Dragonguard stationed at the temple disobeyed Emperor Kastav's orders to suppress the rebellion, on the grounds that it violated their Oath of Allegiance. In their stead, Kastav sent an Akaviri commander named Kalien, who sacked the city in 1E 2805. The sacking resulted in the local Nords laying siege to the temple, as they did not distinguish between Akaviri. The siege was eventually lifted shortly after the accession of Reman II as Emperor in 1E 2806. The new emperor later visited the temple as part of his first visit to Skyrim in 1E 2806, to which the Dragonguard provided the honor guard.
In 1E 2812 Emperor Reman II permitted the construction of Alduin's Wall within Sky Haven Temple. Considered to be a wonder of the ancient world, its purpose was to record the accumulated dragonlore and prophecy that the Dragonguard possessed at the time. Its main focus was a pictorial representation of the Prophecy of the Dragonborn. The prophecy foretold of five key historical events that would preface Alduin's return after his expulsion during the Dragon War. Given that Alduin's return was inevitable, the Dragonguard believed that the wall was their gift to the generations that were to follow. Craftsmen from temples across the Empire were called upon to work on the wall, whilst Grandmaster Jaiv-Yora of the Dragonguard oversaw the construction of the wall, and after six years it was completed. Emperor Reman II returned to the temple in 1E 2818 to officially dedicate the wall. The Blood Seal outside the temple was consecrated in the presence of all Akaviri Dragonguard in Skyrim. This allowed the temple to be sealed, only ever to be opened by a Dragonborn to unlock its knowledge and power. The entrance into the temple, opened by the blood seal, was a giant stone effigy of Reman I.
During Vashu-Pir's time as grandmaster between 1E 2734 - 2758, the Dragonguard worked to subdue Laatvulon, the Black Beast within Elsweyr. Ja'darri was a prominent member of the Dragonguard working in Elsweyr where she formed an unlikely alliance with the red Dragon Nahfahlaar, who grew to respect her enough to give her a Dragon name and grant her a boon in the form of his horn, which was later named after her. Having been tasked by Alkosh to use the Mask of Alkosh to extinguish Laatvulon, Ja’darri petitioned Nahfahlaar to imbue the mask with his power to defeat his ancient foe Laatvulon. In an act he would later regret, he refused, leaving the Dragonguard to fight Laatvulon with limited power. They would ultimately succeed in imprisoning Laatvulon beneath Doomstone Keep, though Ja'darri died in the process. It is said Grandmaster Vashu-Pir was the one who defeated Laatvulon, and bards still sing about this glorious battle between Reman I's Dragonguard and a "great Black Beast" at Doomstone Keep.
Dragons were nearly driven to extinction in the next two centuries, and the Dragonguard operated chapters across Tamriel under the direct command of the Dragonborn emperors.
Unfortunately, as the Dragonguard had not yet evolved into the espionage specialists that were the Blades, they failed to prevent Emperor Reman III's assassination by the Morag Tong in 1E 2920. The Dragonguard was officially disbanded after this ignominious event, with many members becoming mercenaries and later forming the Fighters Guild. Others went on to ensure the martial and mystical arts of old Akavir would survive into the Second Era, and became known as Dragonknights. Unofficially, some were retained by the Akaviri Potentates, now as a covert force rather than an honor guard. Others continued hunting the wary surviving dragons in Skyrim until at least 2E 373. Some members of the disbanded Dragonguard went on to search for the Horn of Ja'darri, searching Scour Temple, Storm Talon Temple, Dark Water Temple. Eventually, they went on to attempt to kill Vahlokzin, the Dragon who was in possession of the horn, but failed.
Following the assassination of Savirien-Chorak, the Dragonguard counted their enemies among those who conspired to cut down Reman and the Potentate. Many Dragonguard met their end by a knife in the dark, forcing the rest to go into hiding.
During the long Interregnum, in the absence of any true emperor to protect, the Dragonguard protected the Ruby Throne in the Imperial City from the petty warlords who ran rampant in Cyrodiil. They were driven underground by Empress Regent Clivia Tharn during the Planemeld after captain Sai Sahan disappeared, but continued to operate in the province under pseudonyms.
Some would-be emperors formed their own personal 'Dragonguard' to add legitimacy to their rule, although these were only imitations of the Akaviri, not a continuation. Clivia Tharn had her own imitation Dragonguard. Members of the real Dragonguard who went underground took on pseudonyms with the title 'Drake of', and worked to safeguard artifacts and information until a real Dragonborn Emperor took the Ruby Throne. The real Dragonguard also sought out and protected potential Dragonborn individuals, including the future Tiber Septim, in a bid to place one on the throne. Chevalier Renald is a known member of the real Dragonguard who helped Tiber Septim rise to power.
The Drake of Blades was an agent of the Dragonguard who played a large role in protecting the Sublime Brazier and thwarting Molag Bal's invasion of the Imperial City circa 2E 582. She did this by scouting the Imperial City and gathering information from the Three Alliances, and then worked with the Vestige to stop Molag Bal's plot to snuff out the Dragonfires forever. The Drake and the Vestige blew up a mining operation in the Memorial District, saved Father Egnatius, and stole a book about the Sublime Brazier from the Daedra, among other events. The Drake of Blades, Father Egnatius, Captain Caudex, and the Vestige prevented General Malivus from successfully destroying the Sublime Brazier. The Drake of Blades then performed a ritual with Father Egnatius to transform her into the guardian of the Sublime Brazier until another Dragonborn took the throne. The Drake was blessed with power and immortality by Akatosh himself. The Drake of Shields was told by the Drake of Blades to ensure that the Sublime Brazier's existence was known only by the Dragonguard.
Circa 2E 582, a Xivkyn servant of Molag Bal named Molag Kena disguised herself as Empress Regent Clivia Tharn and attempted to ascend the White-Gold Tower in order to recover an Elder Scroll needed to begin the Planemeld Obverse, a process by which Coldharbour would be pulled into Tamriel. While disguised, Molag Kena requisitioned a group of Clivia's imitation Dragonguard warriors to "retake" White-Gold Tower. These three individuals were powerful Dragonknights known as the Elite Guard. With the assistance of a group of Undaunted and the Moth Priestess Terran Arminus, Molag Kena succeeded in recovering the Elder Scroll. She then commanded her Elite Guard to slay the rest of the group, although they were no match for the Undaunted.
The hidden Akaviri shrine of Dov-Vahl in the Scar served as one of the last sanctuaries for the disgraced and disbanded Dragonguard after the assassinations of the Potentates as a place to keep their ancient traditions alive. When the Dragons were released from the Halls of Colossus circa 2E 582, they manipulated Euraxia Tharn to ally with them. As part of their agreement, Euraxia Tharn put out an order for her soldiers to assassinate Dragonguard Orland, the last known member of the order in Elsweyr.
Sai Sahan's DragonguardEdit
With dragons returning during the Interregnum, Sai Sahan sought to reform the Dragonguard with their original purpose: hunting dragons. Hearing rumors of a powerful weapon known as the Horn of Ja'darri, Sai Sahan and the Vestige journeyed to abandoned Dragonguard strongholds, finding grappling bows, books, arms, and armor of the Dragonguard in the process. They soon discovered the Horn was stolen by Vahlokzin and taken to his lair in Pellitine; thus they traveled there to kill him, claiming the Horn. Sahan soon relocated from the Valley of Blades to Senchal after hearing reports of dragon sightings and cult activity in the area.
Once in Senchal, Sai Sahan and the Vestige sought help from General Renmus, leader of the 13th Legion and the Shields of Senchal. Renmus told Sahan that he could not spare soldiers nor ships due to the number of refugees moving into Senchal. Eventually, Sahan and the Vestige managed to procure a ship called the Perfect Ponce that belonged to a pair of Khajiit pirates named Za'ji and Caska. These pirates joined Sahan and the Vestige and traveled to Tideholm, where a red dragon had been spotted. Whilst exploring the island they discovered that the ruins on Tidehold were once a Dragonguard sanctuary. Sahan and the Vestige encountered a red dragon, and Sahan blew the horn—but to no avail. The red Dragon explained that it was his own horn and would not have any effect on him, revealing himself to be Nahfahlaar. Sahan and Nahfahlaar formed an alliance against the dragon Laatvulon, perceiving the destruction of Tamriel to be a threat to them both.
Once the group had gone back to Senchal, Sai explained that they needed to reform the Dragonguard and recruit new members to face Laatvulon and his New Moon Cult. The first recruits for this new Dragonguard were the crew of the Perfect Ponce, and after this more and more members were recruited. These new recruits came from many backgrounds, such as Maormer, Khajiit of all furstocks, Imperials, Bretons, Orcs, Altmer, and Dunmer. One Dunmer member, Darns Gilvio, had been forced to join by his family as his ancestor had fought alongside Hakon One-Eye.
Nahfahlaar informed the Dragonguard of another Dragon named Yahgrondu that would be willing to help them fight against Laatvulon, but he wasn't sure where his associate was located. Za'ji mentioned that the priests of Khenarthi's Breath Temple may be able to assist in finding Yahgrondu. Clan Mother Tadali of the temple offered her assistance, but first required the Vestige to recover one of her sacred temple bells, which had been stolen years prior. After the bell was retrieved from Moonlit Cove it was cleansed at the temple and Tadali performed a divination ritual. She told the Dragonguard that Yahgrondu was located somewhere with an abundance of limestone, inside a coastal cave. When she was done, Nahfahlaar arrived and informed the Dragonguard members of a limestone quarry south of the temple, which had been overrun by the Order of the New Moon. By the time the Dragonguard arrived at the limestone mine, Laatvulon was already in the depths of the mine, attempting to convince Yahgrondu to join him. Yahgrondu refused, which provoked Laatvulon to attack him. By the time the Dragonguard members had reached Yahgrondu he was already dead. Laatvulon then commanded his dragon priest Ra'khajin to raise Yahgrondu from the dead. Ra'khajin was able to raise Yahgrondu with the power of the aeonstone present throughout the mine, but the Vestige managed to kill the risen Dragon.
After the Vestige informed Sai Sahan of the New Moon Cult's involvement in helping Laatvulon, Sahan asked the Vestige to infiltrate the Cult in order to learn where their base of operations was located, how large a force they commanded, and what they planned to do next. General Renmus gave information on the Cult, stating that they were known to be recruiting in Senchal. The Vestige then proceeded to investigate the cult's recruitment process alongside Caska, with the two having to fight in an underground arena to prove their strength to join the Cult. The Vestige was then offered a place in the Order of the New Moon, and was given a pendant which was to be shown to the guard in front of the cult's fortress in the Tenmar Forest. Once at the fortress, the Vestige underwent trials to prove themselves further. Upon completing the trials, the Vestige gained access to a ceremony that the Cult was about to perform. This ceremony was a ritualistic sacrifice of the new recruits, whose life energy was transferred to the aeonstones in order to help Laatvulon. Caska and the Vestige destroyed some of these aeonstones to order to stop the ceremony. They then escaped the fortress and informed the Dragonguard of how the Order of the New Moon were empowering the Dragons they served, and that an attack on Pridehome was imminent.
The Dragonguard made haste to Pridehome, which they found in ruin. Pridehome's clanmother was gravely wounded, and informed Sahan's Dragonguard of the Mask of Alkosh's existence before passing. Laatvulon's Dragon priest, Ra'khajin, was a member of the Pride of Alkosh before he was seduced by Laatvulon's promise of power. Ra'khajin sought to find the Mask of Alkosh, keeping it out of the hands of those who would oppose his master. With the help of Clan Mother Tadali, the Vestige entered the Halls of the Highmane, where the mask was being held. The Vestige had to pass the trials left in the halls to test those who would seek to become the mask's bearers. They did so, defeated Ra'khajin in the depths of the temple and claimed the mask. Laatvulon was enraged by the Vestige's meddling and attempted to destroy them, but was stopped by Nahfahlaar. Engaged in battle, the Dragons flew off.
The Dragonguard followed the pair to Doomstone Keep, where Nahfahlaar crashed after being wounded by his enemy. The Sai Sahan and the Vestige entered the keep to search for their ally, and learned about Nahfahlaar's past with Ja'darri in the process. They found Nahfahlaar, who offered to imbue the Mask of Alkosh for the Vestige, who he had come to respect. The pair entered a dream-like state and performed the ritual to imbue the mask. The Vestige wore the empowered Mask of Alkosh as the Dragonguard proceeded further into the keep in search of Laatvulon. Laatvulon was slain in Doomstone Keep by the Dragonguard with Nahfahlaar's aid.
After Laatvulon's death, Sai Sahan was contacted by Abnur Tharn, a member of the Five Companions who dealt with a Dragon problem of his own in the past months. Laatvulon was not the Order of the New Moon's true master; that role fell to Kaalgrontiid, a green Dragon who sought to use the aeonstone to gain immense power and become a god. Abnur Tharn and the Vestige entered the New Moon cult's fortress and gained access to Dragonhold, the island where Kaalgrontiid based his operations. The pair learned more about Kaalgrontiid's intentions while there, and managed to destroy the force field surrounding the island. Meanwhile, Sai Sahan rallied the Dragonguard to prepare to face Kaalgrontiid in battle. Tharn remained on the island while the Vestige returned to the Dragonguard's base of operations. The Vestige, Nahfahlaar, Queen Khamira of Anequina, Sai Sahan, and the Dragonguard then invaded Dragonhold in a bid to slay Kaalgrontiid once and for all. They succeeded, but the empowered aeonstone at Kaalgrontiid's seat of power was volatile. Abnur Tharn and Nahfahlaar remained on the island to contain the explosion, and only Nahfahlaar returned to the Dragonguard Sanctum on Tideholm. Nahfahlaar left Elsweyr soon after, and Sai Sahan continued to lead the Dragonguard against any Dragons who sought to lay siege to Elsweyr.
With the ascendance of a new Dragonborn emperor, Tiber Septim, the ancient order emerged from its seclusion and resumed its role serving the new empire. It was under the Septim Dynasty that the organization became known as 'the Blades', as they rose to a greater prominence than the Dragonguard ever had, developing into a continent-spanning intelligence service that worked under the personal direction of the emperor. This network was necessary to accomplish the vital tasks with which the Blades were entrusted, including the recovery of and joining together of the pieces of Numidium ever since it was shattered by the Underking, which took centuries to accomplish and resulted in the Warp in the West. Emperor Uriel Septim VII in particular made heavy use of the Blades, dispatching agents to investigate King Lysandus's death and the Nerevarine prophecies.
Under Tiber SeptimEdit
The Blades were known to have deconstructed Numidium after the annexation of Morrowind, and then transported it to the Halls of Colossus in Elsweyr, which was used as a testing ground for Numidium before Tiber Septim used it to demolish the Second Aldmeri Dominion.[UOL 2]
Tiber Septim was fatally wounded at a battle at Sancre Tor, where he died and ascended to become one of the Nine Divines. The Blades built a shrine in the catacombs of Sancre Tor, on the spot where he had received the blessing of Akatosh. It then served as a place of pilgrimage for the Blades for many years. The old fortress of Sancre Tor was later corrupted by the Underking, prompting it to be sealed shut by the Grandmaster of the Blades in 3E 36. The four mightiest Blades of the time, Alain, Valdemar, Rielus, and Casnar, never returned from the ruins and were cursed to undeath.
Warp in the WestEdit
- Main Article: Warp in the West
Uriel Septim sent a Blades agent to the Iliac Bay region after the death of King Lysandus in order to investigate the death and why Lysandus' ghost was restless. This agent was tasked with investigating Lysandus and why his ghost stalked the streets of Daggerfall and also another minor task of finding and destroying a letter to Queen Mynisera.
Before speaking with Mynisera, the Agent received a letter from a Daggerfall noble, Lady Brisienna. The letter told the Agent to see Brisienna in a village tavern. Once face-to-face with her, Brisienna admitted that she was actually a high-ranking member of the Blades and that her position had been compromised and that she was leaving the Kingdom of Daggerfall. Before leaving she informed the Agent about the major powers of the Bay; Sentinel, Wayrest, and Daggerfall and how they would be good places to start the investigation.
At some point during the investigation, a follower of the Underking gave the Agent a letter wishing to meet them. When the Agent met up with them, the follower explained that Mannimarco and his Worm Cult had stolen an item from the Underking, cursed it, and then gave it to the Blades. The Underking wished for no harm to fall on the Blades and so asked the Agent to enter Castle Llugwych near Ykalon, the headquarters of the Blades in the Iliac Bay region, and remove the cursed item.
During the events of the Warp in the West, a number of Blades agents in the Iliac Bay were caught up in the events of it. One Hammerfell agent known as 'Briarbird' was on assignment in the Alik'r Desert, a few miles south of Bergama on the 9th of Frostfall, where he was smashed by a sandstone that had come out of nowhere, once he reached Bergama, he found it had been invaded by Sentinel, he also discovered his walk from sunrise to sundown had not one day, but two, with it somehow being the 11th day of the month, not the 10th. He had lost a day somewhere, and so apparently had everyone else except the soldiers of Sentinel, who somehow were aware of the correct date. Briarbird concluded that they had received advance warning, and so were better prepared to deal with the strange confusion of time and dates associated with the Warp.
A High Rock Blades agent known as 'Graylady' was undercover as a witch in the Skeffington Coven in Phrygias. In order to give her report, she had volunteered for an expedition to gather supplies, which would have allowed her the freedom to reach her contact in Camlorn. She was traveling north-east along the foothills of the Wrothgarian Mountains, on the 9th of Frostfall, when she felt a great heat behind her, but once she turned around her eyes were burned out of her sockets. she moved north, finally reaching a temple in the wilderness where her wounds were healed, she then later made a report of these events to Ulvius Tero, a Blades archivist.
- Main Article: Nerevarine Prophecy
In 3E 427, Uriel Septim sent a prisoner he believed would fulfill the Nerevarine Prophecies to Vvardenfell. The Blades Spymaster on Vvardenfell, Caius Cosades, was thus tasked with ensuring that the prisoner met the prophecies. After the prisoner was initiated into the Blades by Cosades, he was given many tasks to the end of acquisition of information on the Sixth House and the Nerevarine Prophecies, ranging from bribing informants with artifacts such as a Dwemer Puzzle Box and the skull of Llevule Adrano, to making inquiries with the Ashlanders of Vvardenfell. Cosades then sent the prisoner to clear out a Sixth House base, a task which saw the Nerevarine infected by Corprus disease. The Nerevarine was therefore sent by Cosades to Divayth Fyr to be cured. As the Nerevarine undertook this task, Cosades was recalled to the Imperial City for political reasons. Cosades promoted the Nerevarine upon his return to Operative, making him the highest-ranking member of the Blades in Vvardenfell. Therefore the Blades of Vvardenfell thereafter worked in service of the Nerevarine to the end of fulfilling the Nerevarine Prophecies, the successful completion of which resulted in the death of Dagoth Ur, the end of the Blight and successfully concluded the Blades mission in Vvardenfell.
Blades agents in Vvardenfell were also monitoring and preventing the smuggling of moon sugar, skooma, raw ebony, and Dwemer artifacts along the coast.
The Oblivion CrisisEdit
- Main Article: Oblivion Crisis
In 3E 433, three members of the Blades, Glenroy, Baurus, and Captain Renault were tasked with getting Emperor Uriel Septim VII to safety following assassination attempts on his sons. As part of an escape attempt, they took Uriel through the Imperial Prison where a prisoner was in the cell with the hidden escape route. The Blades told the prisoner to stand back at first, however, Uriel stated that it was the same prisoner that he had prophecized in his dreams and so allowed the prisoner to follow them, although the Blades were suspicious of the prisoner at first and told them to stay at a distance from the Emperor.
Whilst traversing the secret escape route, the Blades, Uriel, and the prisoner were ambushed by assassins of the Mythic Dawn which resulted in the death of Captain Renault. The assassins were successfully fought off but the Blades demanded that the prisoner stay put, they proceeded onwards and locked the door behind them so the prisoner could not follow. The prisoner, however, utilized a side entrance through some caves and met back up with the Blades and Uriel, Glenroy suspected the prisoner of working with the assassins and ordered Baurus to kill them, Uriel stayed their hands as he trusted the prisoner due to his divine visions and told his guards to stand down. The group would continue through the secret passageway, killing assassins along the way, until they came to a dead end. Here, both Glenroy and the Emperor would die at the hands of the assassins, only leaving Baurus and the prisoner.
Before Uriel's death, he handed the Amulet of Kings to the prisoner and ordered them to find Grandmaster Jauffre. Baurus provided the prisoner with directions and trusted them to deliver the Amulet, since the Emperor had trusted them.
When Grandmaster Jauffre was given the Amulet of Kings he tasked the prisoner with finding the Emperor's illegitimate last son, Martin Septim. Martin was a priest at the Chapel of Akatosh in Kvatch, which had been overrun by Daedra. Martin, however, refused to leave the ruined city until the Oblivion Gate outside of the city had been dealt with. After successfully dealing with the Daedric threat, Martin agreed to follow the Hero to Weynon Priory. The Priory, however, was under attack by the Mythic Dawn, who had come to steal the Amulet of Kings. After Jauffre and the now Hero of Kvatch had taken care of the assassins, the Amulet was discovered to have been stolen. Due to this attack, it was decided that Martin would not be safe at Weynon Priory, and was instead taken to Cloud Ruler Temple.
When Martin arrived at Cloud Ruler Temple, the Blades there swore their allegiance to him as he was Dragonborn and vowed to protect him, the Hero of Kvatch was also initiated into the Blades by Jauffre. In the Imperial City, Baurus had discovered that the Mythic Dawn were behind the assassination of the Emperor and that he was in danger himself. The Hero of Kvatch foiled an assassination attempt on the Blades agent, with the assassin carrying a copy of the first book of the Mythic Dawn Commentaries. Tar-Meena of the Mages Guild then assisted the Blades in investigating the mysterious book, with the Hero and Baurus managing to uncover information regarding the recruiting process of the Mythic Dawn. The Blades used this information to infiltrate a recruitment process by the Mythic Dawn to obtain the Fourth Volume of the Commentaries.
By having all four commentaries, the Blades and the Hero of Kvatch were able to discover the main hideout of the Mythic Dawn, which were a set of caverns near Lake Arrius. This hideout was infiltrated by the Hero of Kvatch in order to obtain the Amulet of Kings, while the Hero of Kvatch failed to recover the Amulet, they did obtain the Mysterium Xarxes. The Mysterium Xarxes was given to Martin, who began to study it in hopes of discovering a means of creating a portal to Mankar Camoran's Paradise. Meanwhile, Jauffre had learned of Mythic Dawn spies in Bruma and so the Hero of Kvatch was sent to deal with them. The Hero found the two spies of the Mythic Dawn that were operating out of Bruma and dispatched of them. The Hero also found a set of orders from Ruma Camoran that gave the Blades the knowledge that the Mythic Dawn knew that Martin Septim was at Cloud Ruler Temple and that the Mythic Dawn intended to open a Great Gate outside Bruma in order to destroy Bruma and then Cloud Ruler Temple.
With this new information, Martin Septim sent off the Hero to obtain a set of items to open a portal to Paradise, with the items being a daedric artifact, the blood of a Divine, a great welkynd stone, and a great sigil stone. To obtain the blood of a Divine, the Hero visited Sancre Tor in order to recover the Armor of Tiber Septim, unsealing the ruins with the approval of the Blades. After freeing the four ancient Blades from undeath, their spirits aided the Champion in entering the Reman crypt and recovering the armor. To obtain the great sigil stone, however, a Great Gate was required to be opened outside of Bruma. As such, aid was gathered from around Cyrodiil's cities in order to defend the city, with the Blades fighting alongside the new soldiers. The Hero of Kvatch entered the Great Gate and obtained its Sigil Stone, providing Martin with the final required ingredient.
With all four ingredients, Martin created a portal to Paradise. Here, the Hero of Kvatch fought their way through Daedra until they arrived at Mankar Camoran himself. The Hero of Kvatch was successful in killing Mankar and his children and retrieved the Amulet of Kings. Back in Tamriel, Martin was provided with the Amulet, and an attempt at relighting the Dragonfires in order to turn the tides was planned. However, before Martin could be crowned Emperor and reach the Temple of the One, Mehrunes Dagon himself had entered Tamriel, Martin decided to smash the Amulet, turning into an avatar of Akatosh himself and thus defeated Dagon in combat. After this, the Blades awaited the return of a new Dragonborn to serve.
With the Septim Dynasty sundered, the Blades withdrew to their temples to await the coming of a worthy Dragonborn. Eventually, Titus Mede became the first Emperor of a new dynasty, but he was no Dragonborn and so the Blades did not truly serve him. Rather, the Blades foresaw the threat to the Empire posed by the Thalmor of the Aldmeri Dominion. In 4E 22, the Thalmor overthrew the Altmeri monarchy and seized control of the Summerset Isles, renaming them Alinor. Valenwood fell to Thalmor's control in 4E 29, beginning the third Aldmeri Dominion, and Elsweyr—as the ancient kingdoms of Anequina and Pellitine—in 4E 115.
The Blades thus worked covertly to combat their counterparts in the Aldmeri Dominion, whose focus was breaking up the Empire to ensure Elven Supremacy on Tamriel. Some examples of these actions against the Thalmor were the Falinesti Incident and the breach of the Blue River Prison. Without support, however, these efforts could not last forever, and in 4E 171 on the 30th of Frostfall, an Aldmeri ambassador delivered to Titus Mede II the severed head of every Blades agent in Summerset and Valenwood, sparking the Great War.
During the war, Cloud Ruler Temple was besieged and its centuries-old archives mostly destroyed. The sole survivor, a blade named Acilius Bolar, fled to Skyrim, where he fought a last stand against his Thalmor pursuers.
The Moth Priest Kellen told of another Blade, the knight brother Tyr, who assisted the Forgotten Hero during the Great War. Tyr and the Hero escaped the Dremora Reive, learning of a "Culling" planned by the Thalmor general Naarifin. Tyr and the Hero sought out Laaneth, a sorceress friend of Tyr's well versed in Daedric matters. They were stopped by Thalmor soldiers hunting for Tyr; these Thalmor were dispatched and the duo continued their journey. Eventually they reached Laaneth's house, but discovered that Boethiah cultists associated with Naarifin had already kidnapped her. Tyr and the Hero attempted to steal a ship to reach her, but the Argonian smuggler Swims-at-Night was still aboard. Though Tyr and the Hero initially fought Swims-at-Night for the ship, the arrival of Dominion guards led the smuggler to join with Tyr and the Hero to flee the Dominion. Braving dangers such as Spriggans, pirates, and goblins, the group eventually rescued Laaneth from captivity. She had learned that the cult was secretly led by Lord Naarifin. Having captured the Imperial City, he intended to sacrifice all of its inhabitants to bring about the prophecy of the Culling.
Seeking to warn the Emperor, the group met up with Legate Cassia to reach him. The emperor was horrified to hear of Lord Naarifin's plan; but, because the Dominion was able to predict the Empire's every move, knew an attack on the Imperial City was futile. The Forgotten Hero volunteered to infiltrate the city to discover the source of this ability. The group decided to pose as gladiators to enter the City. Thus the Hero, Tyr, and Cassia fought in the Arena, proceeding to sneak into the White-Gold Tower via tunnels after the conclusion of their match. The three reached Lord Naarifin's study and discovered that the Orb of Vaermina, which Naarifin was using to track the Legion's every move. However, Reive managed to sneak up on Tyr and it is unknown whether Tyr survived. Due to Tyr's assistance, the Hero was able to destroy the Orb of Vaermina and thus the Battle of the Red Ring was an Imperial victory and prevented the Culling.
When the war finally ended with the White-Gold Concordat in 4E 175, the Blades were formally disbanded and worship of Talos outlawed. This gave the Thalmor free rein to hunt down Blades agents wherever they were found. Their role as Imperial bodyguards and spies was taken over by the new-founded Penitus Oculatus, who were too constrained by Imperial policy and diplomacy to take the kind of offensive action against the Thalmor the Blades had taken before the Great War.
After the disbanding of the Blades, there were plenty of Blades that went into hiding and managed to evade the Thalmor hunting them. Two such Blades were The Warrior and Henrik Seven-Swords. The Warrior managed to evade the Thalmor and return to their hometown of Rivercrest circa 4E 180, only to find it ablaze and reduced to rubble. The destruction of the town's Elder Statue caused an undead Ayleid Sorcerer-King named Celemaril Light-Bringer to be released from his ancient bindings in the Ayleid ruins beneath town, and the Warrior set out to rebuild the town and save all of Tamriel from the reawakened Ayleid Lich.
During the investigation of what had caused the fire in the first place, members of the Thalmor lead by Justiciar Aranande arrived in town, where they stated they were investigating for Blades agents. Henrik and the Warrior worked to hide their identities by leading the Thalmor on suicide missions and giving them false leads, with creatures such as bears and undead Ayleids killing Thalmor soldiers as they fell for these tricks. The Thalmor were also tipped off on the location of a temple of Talos and intended to kill the worshippers there, however, the Warrior discovered the location of the Talos worshippers and warned them before the Thalmor could get to them. After this, the Warrior also managed to kill a Thalmor messenger before they could rely information on who the hidden Blades were. Eventually the Thalmor discovered the identity of Henrik and had him killed, but the Warrior avenged him by killing Justiciar Aranande.
Azzin, another Blades member, met up with the Warrior in Rivercrest and had a duel in the local arena. Azzin noticed the similarity of the Warrior's fighting style to his own and revealed himself to also be a Blade. He explained that he had decided to return to the roots of the Blades, taking after the Dragonguard by hunting down any remaining dragons. He had a vivid dream that he was in Akavir, fighting a dragon, with the dragon killing him and then flying off to the camp where the real dragon was asleep, and laid down. When he awoke, Azzin felt an irresistible pull to the North. This dream proved true and he encountered the Dragon in a cave in Hammerfell. Azzin then attacked the dragon, but it flew off to the Bloodfall kingdom, where he had managed to track it. The Warrior and Azzin then worked together in tracking the dragon down.
When dragons began reappearing in Skyrim in 4E 201, a few surviving Blades took action, working with the Last Dragonborn to bring the order back from extinction. One of these Blades was Delphine who during the Great War, had evaded three attempts on her life by the Thalmor, in one case killing an entire assassination team. Delphine went into hiding thereafter, avoiding contact with other fugitive Blades for her own security, proving to be extremely alert to Thalmor surveillance. She retired as the innkeeper of the Sleeping Giant Inn in the quaint town of Riverwood, evading the Thalmor for decades.
When the dragon Alduin returned, Delphine worked with Farengar Secret-Fire to uncover the Dragonstone from Bleak Falls Barrow and use it to locate the dragon burial mounds across Skyrim. When the Last Dragonborn retrieved it, Delphine acquired it from Farengar and created a map of the burial mounds. Upon hearing of the Dragonborn, Delphine stole the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller to lure them to Riverwood and see who they truly were, revealing the operation she had in the basement of her inn. Delphine and the Dragonborn traveled to Kynesgrove in an attempt to prevent Alduin from resurrecting another dragon, Sahloknir. The Dragonborn slew Sahloknir and absorbed their soul, proving to Delphine that they were truly Dragonborn. Delphine then tasked the Dragonborn with infiltrating the Thalmor Embassy, as she was convinced the Thalmor were related to the return of the Dragons, however, it would turn out the Thalmor knew nothing about the return of the Dragons but that they were searching for Esbern, a Blades loremaster who was an expert in the dragonlore of the Blades.
While the Dragonborn was searching for Esbern in Riften the Thalmor dispatched units in order to find and capture Esbern, as well as kill the Dragonborn. When the Dragonborn found Esbern he was initially paranoid due to the threat of the Thalmor, however, the Dragonborn eventually convinced Esbern that they were the Dragonborn of prophecy, and Esbern followed them to Delphine. As the two left the sewers of Riften, they were attacked by Thalmor agents but the two managed to dispatch them.
Once Esbern and Delphine and the Last Dragonborn met up, Esbern shared his knowledge regarding Sky Haven Temple and Alduin's Wall, with him hoping that Alduin's Wall would provide the Dragonborn with the required knowledge to defeat Alduin. At the Wall, it would be discovered that a shout was needed to defeat Alduin. Due to the Blades not knowing which Shout was needed, the Last Dragonborn went to the Greybeards to learn it. The Dragonborn learned that the Greybeards didn't know the shout either and that they had to find an Elder Scroll in order to learn the shout that was used. With the knowledge of this shout, the Dragonborn defeated Alduin atop the Throat of the World, but Alduin fled to Sovngarde after being defeated to regain his strength. After this, Esbern proposed the usage of Dragonsreach in order to capture a Dragon to bring the Dragonborn to Sovngarde. Jarl Balgruuf of Whiterun agreed to this after a temporary truce was put in place between the Imperial Legion and the Stormcloaks. The plan to trap a dragon in Dragonsreach was a success and the Last Dragonborn managed to reach Sovngarde where they defeated Alduin.
After the defeat of Alduin, the Blades set to work on rebuilding the Order in Skyrim, with Delphine recruiting new members from across Skyrim with them reoccupying Sky Haven Temple, reforming the order of the Blades to their original purpose as dragonslayers. However, some dragons still remained, and so the Blades continue the ancient Dragonguard's task.
The arms, armor, architecture, and customs of the Blades reflect their Akaviri heritage, most famously their distinctive Akaviri katanas and ceremonial armor. The swords of each Blades member are treated with respect and honor, with members of the Blades in Cyrodiil having their swords hung in Cloud Ruler Temple if they were slain.
The Blades are also closely linked with the Order of Talos, with many members of the Order also being members of the Blades. Chapterhouses of the Order, like Weynon Priory, provide safehouses for travelling Blades as well as their more public religious functions. Blades who are too old for active service often join the Order as lay brothers.
Some Blades members are known to have a scar above or on their right eye to denote their alignment with the Blades.
Organization and EquipmentEdit
While a few elite warriors and diplomats served openly in royal courts, the majority of Blades agents were distributed across Tamriel to conduct their covert business. The only people who knew all the activities of the organization were the Grandmaster, the supreme leader of the Blades, and the Chronicler, who was tasked with knowing, but never revealing, to ensure the Blades' knowledge would never be lost. Each regional temple was led by a Master, and staffed with Archivists who maintained the lore of the order, with works in the archives stretching back to the days of the Dragonguard. Field agents were supervised by Spymasters assigned to each province of the Empire, and lived incognito among the citizens to perform their work. The Watchers were Blades agents specializing in undercover operations who gathered intelligence by observing, wearing their own distinctive armor when called to combat and rumored to be present in all the major capitals of Tamriel.[UOL 3] Agents were of every race and they were of various backgrounds such as merchants, thieves, craftsman, mages, and warriors.
The order operates a number of secret strongholds across Tamriel which serve as headquarters and sanctuaries, the most well-known being Cloud Ruler Temple in Cyrodiil. Other known strongholds include Castle Llugwych and Storm Talon Temple in High Rock, Sky Haven Temple and Dark Water Temple in Skyrim, Wind Scour Temple in Hammerfell, as well as Tideholm and Dov-Vahl Hall in Elsweyr.
The Dragonguard and Blades' equipment reflected their elite status with them having equipment such as grappling hooks for traversing high up places, ballista for attacking dragons and Dragonhorns for grounding dragons. The Order also made good use of the Dragons they killed, with them making armor and arms out of their bones and scales. Alchemical ingredients such as dragon blood, bile, rheum, and scales were also used to create potions that aided in killing dragons.
Throughout the group's long history, various grandmasters have served as captains of the Dragonguard and Blades:
- Second Era Incarnations
Other notable members also include:
- The Blades was originally the name of a gladiatorial team in Dune which was to be featured in The Elder Scrolls: Arena. However, the gladiatorial concept was scrapped in development, and the name repurposed.[UOL 4]
- Divayth Fyr was quite acquainted with the Blades, with them guarding him to the Morrowind border after he had met with Uriel Septim VII, with him forming a friendship with the two Blades that had accompanied him and him wishing them luck on their careers.[UOL 1] He also received a letter from a Master Blades member that had spoken to Baurus, explaining the situation after Uriel had been killed by the Mythic Dawn, and requested that Fyr come to Cyrodiil to assist however he could, however the Elder Council overruled this requesting that Fyr stay in Morrowind to help prevent any unrest that might occur.[UOL 5]
- For game-specific information, see the Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, ESO Dragonguard and ESO Elite Guard, and Blades articles.
- Annals of the Dragonguard by Brother Annulus — Chronicles of the Dragonguard in the late First Era
- Remanada — Fragmented, mythical recounting of the conception of Reman and the return of the Chim-el Adabal with the people of Tamriel
- The Rise and Fall of the Blades by Anonymous — On the Blades' origins and their fate
- The Warp in the West A Report Compiled By Ulvius Tero — Reports from Imperial Blades concerning the effects of the Dragon Break on the Iliac Bay region
- Crafting Motif 76: Dragonguard Style by Sidura, Navigator of the Perfect Pounce — A guide to crafting armor and weapons in the Dragonguard style
- Public notice in Morrowind
- Note from the Archcanon — Dileno Lloran, Priest of Vivec
- The Rise and Fall of the Blades — Anonymous
- Savant dialogue in Morrowind
- Jauffre's dialogue in Oblivion
- Events of Morrowind
- Alduin's Wall quest in Skyrim
- The Book of the Dragonborn — Prior Emelene Madrine
- Legacy of the Dragonguard — Kiasa-Veda, the Chronicler of Blades
- Annals of the Dragonguard — Brother Annulus
- Baurus' dialogue in Oblivion
- Grandmaster Vashu-Pir (1E 2734 - 2758)
- Events of The Dragonguard quest in ESO: Dragonhold
- Grandmaster Vashu-Pir Effigy quest item description in ESO
- Doomstone Keep's loading screen text in ESO: Dragonhold
- Atlas of Dragons — Brother Mathnan
- Searching for the Horn of Ja'darri — Commander Oholin of the Dragonguard
- Dialogue with Chevalier Renald
- Drake of Blades' dialogue in ESO: Imperial City
- Chronicles of the Five Companions 7 — Sai Sahan
- Dialogue with Kasura
- Main Quest of ESO: Imperial City
- Planemeld Obverse quest in ESO
- Dov-Vahl Shrine loading screen
- Main Questline of ESO: Elsweyr
- The Dragonguard's Legacy and The Horn of Ja'darri quests in ESO
- The Dragon's Lair quest in ESO
- Reformation quest in ESO
- Darns Gilvio's dialogue in ESO
- Clan Mother Tadali's dialogue in ESO
- Uneasy Alliances quest in ESO
- Order of the New Moon quest in ESO
- Trial Master Zayri's dialogue in ESO
- Events of The Pride of Alkosh in ESO: Dragonhold
- Events of The Dark Aeon in ESO: Dragonhold
- Events of New Moon Rising in ESO: Dragonhold
- Events of The Pride of Elsweyr
- Shared Blades dialogue in Oblivion
- The Daggerfall Chronicles - Narrative
- Events of Daggerfall
- Jauffre's dialogue in Oblivion
- Sancre Tor door inscription in Oblivion
- Instructions from the Empire quest in Daggerfall
- The Ancient Watcher quest in Daggerfall
- The Warp in the West — Ulvius Tero
- Report to Caius Cosades quest in Morrowind
- Antabolis Informant quest in Morrowind
- Gra-Muzgob Informant quest in Morrowind
- Zainsubani Informant quest in Morrowind
- Sixth House Base quest in Morrowind
- Corprus Cure quest in Morrowind
- Mehra Milo and the Lost Prophecies quest in Morrowind
- Sjorvar Horse-Mouth's dialogue in Morrowind
- Tutorial quest in Oblivion
- Uriel Septim VII's dialogue in Oblivion
- Glenroy's dialogue in Oblivion
- Deliver the Amulet quest in Oblivion
- Breaking the Siege of Kvatch quest in Oblivion
- Weynon Priory quest in Oblivion
- The Path of Dawn quest in Oblivion
- Dagon Shrine quest in Oblivion
- Jearl's Orders — Ruma Camoran
- Spies quest in Oblivion
- Defense of Bruma quest in Oblivion
- Great Gate quest in Oblivion
- Paradise quest in Oblivion
- Light the Dragonfires quest in Oblivion
- Thalmor Dossier: Esbern
- The Great War — Legate Justianus Quintius
- Bolar's Writ
- Fugitives quest in Legends
- Swims-at-Night quest in Legends
- The Troll Trap quest in Blades
- The Haunted Grove quest in Blades
- The Freedom to Believe quest in Blades
- The Messenger quest in Blades
- A Friend in Need quest in Blades
- Azzin's dialogue in Blades
- The Hunt, part 1 quest in Blades
- Thalmor Dossier: Delphine
- Diplomatic Immunity quest in Skyrim
- A Cornered Rat quest in Skyrim
- Alduin's Wall quest in Skyrim
- The Throat of the World quest in Skyrim
- Elder Knowledge quest in Skyrim
- Alduin's Bane quest in Skyrim
- The Fallen quest in Skyrim
- Sovngarde quest in Skyrim
- Brother Piner's dialogue in Oblivion
- Staff of Magnus on The Imperial Library
- Combat message in Arena
- Watcher's Helm and Blade descriptions
- Dark Water Temple in ESO
- Abnur Tharn's dialogue in ESO: Elsweyr
- Blades Lookout card art in Legends
- Dahfnar's dialogue in ESO
- The Good Bits — Dahfnar
- Dragon Research quest in Skyrim
- Grandmaster Ghelin-Brol (1E 2703 - 2734)
- Grandmaster Jaiv-Yora (1E 2808 - 2835)
- Grandmaster Ettiene Volusus (1E 2879 - 2902)
- The Great Knight NPC in Daggerfall
Note: The following references are deemed to be unofficial sources. They are referenced to round off the information in this article and may not consist of definitive lore.
- Return of a Fellow Scholar — Divayth Fyr
- Skeleton Man's Interview with Denizens of Tamriel at The Imperial Library
- The Elder Scrolls: Blades Cut Content - Cutting Room Floor
- Go Blades! at The Imperial Library
- The Dragon's Chilled Blood — Divayth Fyr