Open main menu

UESPWiki β

Lore:Shadow Magic

< Lore: Magic
Azra Nightwielder, the original Shadowmage
"Shadows are not an absence of light, they are reflections from another world." —Skelos Undriel, Shadowmage

Shadow Magic is an obscure but powerful form of magic believed by some to be related to the schools of Illusion and Mysticism.[1] It was originally harnessed by Azra Nightwielder, who was the first to discover that shadow was not simply an absence of light, but a reflection of possible worlds created by forces in conflict. Shadows can be produced by mundane forces such as light hitting a rock, or by more powerful forces such as nations at war. Shadows are the records of the clash, past, present and future of these forces. Shadow Magic involves the manipulation of shadows to affect the forces creating it.[2] At its strongest, it even has the capabilities of reaching into and affecting the multiverse.[3] Shadow magic has the potential to carry a high price for its usage, for its nature is to turn on their casters, and shadowmages are often distrusted because of this.[4][5] Shadow Magic is common around the Western Reach area, but is only occasionally used elsewhere.[6] It is often harnessed by "Nightblades".[7][8]


A Nightblade's shade

Shadows can be coalesced into shadow-equipment such as the Shadow Stabber blade, armor such as Shadow Gloves, or even jewelry like Shadowrings.[9][10][11][12] They can also be absorbed to strengthen and empower the mind, although this can have physical and mental side-effects, such as out-of-body experiences, distortion of one's senses and the shriveling of skin.[13] In the same vein, shadows can be infused into the body as well, magically improving one's strength, speed or endurance.[14] In both cases, it is possible to feel consciousness fade away as a shadow merges with the shadowmage's own.[10] Despite these boons, Shadow Magic can distort and corrupt living beings, making them into "an echo of what's right".[15] Another usage of Shadow Magic is the creation of decorative objects, such as statues.[16] It is possible to link the shadows of beings together, allowing for telepathic communication over distance, although the process of such is painful. Azra Nightwielder referred to this as an "umbric connection".[17] Nightblades used Shadow Magic to teleport short distances ("stepping through shadows"), or to drain other people's life force.[7][8][18].

Shadow Magic can be used in the creation of Shadow Gates. These are magical barriers often used to protect treasure, and can only be bypassed through the use of arcane relics known as Shadowkeys. Circa 3E 397, only eleven Shadowkeys were known to be in existence. Shadow Gates can have a variety of appearances, from portal-like or door-like to outright invisible.[19] Shadowkeys also have other unique uses, such as one which was used to resurrect Volstok Violet, restoring him to life from a zombified state.[20] Shadowkeys can also be used to "unlock possibilities in the shadows", calling upon shadows to bolster the wielder's mind or body.[13][14]

Shadowmages can use Shadow Magic to visit shadow realms, alternate versions of the world, to aid a different version of themselves. Similarly, shadowmages can summon different versions of themselves to their own world. Death in a shadow realm will break the connection, although it is also possible to escape with light-based magic.[7][21][22] The Sea Sload Z'Maja summoned shadowy reinforcements from shadow realms during her fight with the Undaunted[22]


A Shadowkey

Besides Shadowkeys, there are a number of other relics related to shadow magic. The Shade Sickle is a Daedric weapon created by Bretons. It had the unique ability to split the living from their shadows. Just like some shades, those struck by the blade were slowly and gradually stripped of the ability to think consciously, and turned into hapless beings akin to thralls.[23]. It was associated with Daedric Prince Nocturnal and was a powerful instrument of her will.[24][25] Despite its common appearance, the blade was preternaturally sharp and filled those who gazed at it with a deep sense of foreboding.[26] Z'Maja was given an arcane amulet by Nocturnal, obtaining great power and control over the shadows while in its possession.[27]:146[22][28]

Shadowrend is another Daedric artifact, typically taking the shape of a two-handed ebony axe or claymore. While this weapon has appeared in different places, such as the Shivering Isles or Eastmarch, the method of obtaining it has been typically the same. A would-be wielder must face off against and defeat their own shadow, only then would Shadowrend be claimed. This weapon is known to bear enchantments which either damage health or inflict weakness to magic.[29][30][31][32]

The Onyx Cleaver is a battleaxe said to be made from petrified shadows and was known to drain the stamina of those hit by it.[33]


First EraEdit

In the First Era High King Durac of Craglorn ruled over eight lesser kings, one of which was a shadow mage known as the Shadow King.[34][35][36]

Second EraEdit

The Psijic Order's records on the original shadowmage, Azra Nightwielder, are unreliable as they have been tampered with shadow magic.[1] However, according to them, around 2E 230,[37][1] Azra attempted to manipulate his own shadow to such an extent that he would meld all possible versions of himself, crossing over from a singular existence to all the existences in shadow. He seemingly met his end after a battle with Redguard soldiers, so his experiment never came to fruition.[5] During his absence, other shadowmages strove to take his place and continue researching the science of shadow, including Pergan Asuul and Skelos Undriel.[5]

The Shadow Wood

Circa 2E 582, the Veiled Heritance returned Prince Naemon from the dead as the Shade of Naemon. The Shade began the process of creating the Shadow Wood, a mirror realm of Valenwood inhabited by shades and corrupted spirits.[38][39] Naemon intended to corrupt and replace Valenwood with his shadowy realm, but was killed by the Vestige and their allies, destroying the Shadow Wood in the process.[40] In the same year, the Spider Cult took over Fungal Grotto in western Stonefalls. Here, worshipers of Mephala enthralled travelers with shadows, turning them into beings of darkness loyal only to the Cult. This was possible via the usage of an artifact of Mephala known as the Obsidian Husk. With the aid of the Undaunted, Defender Two-Blades of the Fighters Guild destroyed the Husk and ended the Cult.[41]

Defender Two-Blades with the Obsidian Husk
A shadowy figure summoned by Lord Faleria

In the Gold Coast, the ruins of Lord Faleria's complex were discovered and excavated by researchers. Unbeknownst to them, a long time ago Lord Faleria had performed a dark ritual on the fortress, consuming the entire castle in eternal darkness. Shadows rose like smoke from the earth, dissolving architecture, men, and mer. Some formed man-like shapes and attacked any foes in sight. Others opened up like rifts, and the world vanished inside them.[42] These same shadows rose up again, attacking the excavation team and the mercenaries hired to put an end to them. Lord Faleria himself rose again, possessing the body of a colossal minotaur lord named Limenauruus. Ultimately, both the minotaur and the Lord were defeated, allowing the excavations to continue.[43] During this time, a powerful shadow mage and former Dark Brotherhood Silencer known as the Black Dragon was hunting down and executing members of the Brotherhood. She eventually confronted The Vestige, sending out multiple shadows with different tactics to attack and kill the Hero.[44]

Nocturnal takes over the Crystal Tower

Later on, the Daedric Prince Nocturnal tried to take control of the Clockwork City. Using her shadow magic, she gave Sotha Sil's Shadow sentience, which then replaced him as ruler of the Clockwork City. Meanwhile, one of the Clockwork Apostles, Chancellor Gascone Dusant, sought to deliver the Skeleton Key, which had been accidentally found by a Factotum beneath the Brass Fortress, to Clavicus Vile, only for the Key to be stolen by the Blackfeather Court. The Vestige, assisted by Divayth Fyr and the Clockwork Apostles, unveiled the plot, but were unable to reclaim the Skeleton Key before it was taken by Sotha Sil's Shadow. Using the key, Nocturnal and the Shadow attempted to seize control of the Clockwork City, but were stopped by the Vestige, Divayth Fyr, and Proctor Luciana Pullo, who rescued Sotha Sil by defeating his Shadow. Sotha Sil then gave the Skeleton Key to Divayth Fyr for safekeeping.[45]

Nocturnal subsequently took control of the Crystal Tower. With a technique she stole from Sotha Sil involving utilizing life energy as a power source, she planned to use the life energy of Nirn, and then the energy of the other Daedric Princes afterwards, to amplify the Crystal tower and make her shadows limitless. If she succeeded, she would have spread her influence across the multiverse, and would have been unstoppable. Nocturnal's plan was foiled by the Psijic Order and the Vestige, with the assistance of the two betrayed Princes (Mephala and Clavicus Vile) and the champion of Meridia known as the Golden Knight. The divine power of Meridia's Dawnbreaker was then used to restore the tower's stone, Transparent Law. Sotha Sil then made negotiations with both Mephala and Clavicus Vile and the two have agreed to a compact to put an end to their direct meddling.[3]

The Sea Sload sorceress, Z'Maja

Around the same time, the Welkynars, under the command of Relequen captured a Sea Sload named Z'Maja—a necromancer who was a member of a group called the Abyssal Cabal, consisting of several Sea Sload that sought to sink all of Summerset. The Welkynar took Z'Maja to the Cloudrest Aerie, much to the dismay of the city's inhabitants. This proved to be their downfall when Z'Maja utilized dark magic to trap all of Cloudrest in a dense shroud of mist. The mist drained the life of the people, leaving the lower district completely intoxicated. The Divine Prosecution was forced to barricade the city until Z'Maja was dealt with, while Olorime of the Welkynar was able to keep all of the people safe in the upper district. Olorime enlisted the help of the Undaunted to defeat Z'Maja. Each of the Welkynars that had been corrupted by Z'Maja's shadow magic was defeated, and the Sea Sload was slain. According to some reports, Olorime was the sole surviving Welkynar and was forced to recruit new initiates into the order. Other accounts mention that the Welkynars escaped the corruption of Z'Maja's shadow magic and survived.[22]

Third EraEdit

Depiction of the War of the Bend'r-mahk
Umbra' Keth

Shadow Magic played a central part of the War of the Bend'r-mahk in the Third Era. The large amount of conflict caused by the war manifested itself as a powerful entity known as the Umbra' Keth, or "Shadow of Conflict". Jagar Tharn and Pergan Asuul competed to gain control of the monster for their own use. The Soul of Conflict, a questing hero under the guidance of Skelos Undriel and a returned Azra Nightwielder, used the power of the Star Teeth to destroy the creature.[6]


See AlsoEdit




  1. ^ a b c Loremaster's Archive - Tamriel's DungeonsDhulef
  2. ^ First Scroll of Shadow
  3. ^ a b Events of ESO: Summerset
  4. ^ Brown ScrollJagar Tharn
  5. ^ a b c Second Scroll of Shadow
  6. ^ a b Events of Shadowkey
  7. ^ a b c Nightblades in ESO
  8. ^ a b Shadow Draining: A Hypothesisthe Glimmering Foxbat
  9. ^ Shadow Stabber in Shadowkey
  10. ^ a b Loth' Na Caverns Shadowgate in Shadowkey
  11. ^ Shadow Gloves in Shadowkey
  12. ^ Shadowring in Shadowkey
  13. ^ a b Dragonstar East Shadowgate in Shadowkey
  14. ^ a b Dragonstar West Shadowgate in Shadowkey
  15. ^ Delfran's Hideout Shadowgate in Shadowkey
  16. ^ Twilight Temple Shadowgate in Shadowkey
  17. ^ Azra Nightwielder's dialogue in Shadowkey
  18. ^ Stepping through Shadowsthe Glimmering Foxbat
  19. ^ Shadow Gates in Shadowkey
  20. ^ Events of Volstok Violet Resurrection in Shadowkey
  21. ^ Shadowkey multiplayer
  22. ^ a b c d Events of Woe of the Welkynars in ESO
  23. ^ Necromancer's DiaryTumma-Maxath
  24. ^ Events of Shrine of Nocturnal in ESO: Blackwood
  25. ^ Nocturnal's dialogue during Shrine of Nocturnal in ESO: Blackwood
  26. ^ Shade Sickle item description in ESO: Blackwood
  27. ^ The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset Collector's Edition Strategy Guide — Garitt Rocha, David S.J Hodgson
  28. ^ Observation Note 154: Z'Maja's Capture
  29. ^ Events of the Shivering Isles
  30. ^ Item enchantment effects
  31. ^ Symbols of Office quest in Shivering Isles
  32. ^ Events of the Shadowrend Creation for Skyrim Special Edition
  33. ^ Onyx Cleaver
  34. ^ Skyreach ExplorerReginus Buca, Historian, University of Gwylim
  35. ^ Events of Souls of the Betrayed in ESO
  36. ^ The Shadow King's appearance during Souls of the Betrayed in ESO
  37. ^ Mages Guild Charter
  38. ^ Indaenir's dialogue in ESO
  39. ^ Retaking the Pass quest in ESO
  40. ^ Striking at the Heart quest in ESO
  41. ^ Events of Lighting the Shadows in ESO
  42. ^ The Lost Fort Faleria
  43. ^ Looming Shadows quest in ESO
  44. ^ Events of ESO's Dark Brotherhood DLC
  45. ^ Events of ESO: Clockwork City

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.