Lightning in the hand
My point bites deep
I end the chase
Even the mightiest are unmade by my touch.
—Spear of Bitter Mercy Inscription
The Spear of Bitter Mercy is one of the more mysterious artifacts in Tamrielic lore. Little to nothing is known about the Spear, but it is believed to be of Daedric origin and is usually referred to in a singular sense. In reality, multiple spears exist and were said to be forged by the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon, but at least one has become the signature weapon of his "ally" Hircine, who has become the Daedric Prince that is most closely associated with the artifact. One of his titles given to him by the Reachfolk, the Spear with Five Points, is reflective of this. A Spear was once in Sheogorath's possession, but his association with it and how he came to obtain it is unknown. He has notably stolen artifacts from his fellow Princes in the past for his own amusement.
The Spears of Bitter Mercy were said to be forged by and imbued with Mehrunes Dagon's power for use in the Ritual of the Innocent Quarry, the Great Hunt that takes place within the Chimera of Desolation. As the Spears of Bitter Mercy are weapons of great power, those intended for use in a Great Hunt are cursed by maleficent energies, and are forbidden from being removed from the site of the hunt. Thus, they cannot be wielded by any mortals or immortals, except those sanctified to the Hunt and bound to its rules. Because Dagon twisted his pact with Chimere Graegyn, an unsanctioned wearer of the Armor of the Savior's Hide can bear Dagon's spears; the armor's enchantment offers protection from the energies of the oathbreaker.
According to a Reachman myth, Hircine wields his Spear of Bitter Mercy when he takes on the aspect of Alrabeg the Hunter. It is one of the Symbols of the Five Aspects, the other four being the Totems of Hircine (composed of three artifacts), and the Totem of Claw and Fang. This Spear grants its wielder a magical shield as well as the ability to summon storm atronachs. In appearance it is a metallic spear, usually with two or four protruding prongs surrounding the central spearhead. It is sometimes emblazoned with Daedric Hekem sigils, representing the letter H. Much like other artifacts associated with Hircine, it rejects a user who is unworthy of wielding it.
Legends speak of a Nord known as Thane Icehammer, who sometime in the mid-late fifth century of the First Era, unknowingly killed several were-creatures during a hunting trip in the Yorgrim River basin. Angered by the death of his kin, Hircine thrust his Spear of Bitter Mercy into Icehammer's side, whereupon the tip broke off and remained lodged inside him. Thane returned wounded to his home of Cragwallow, but slowly, the magic of Hircine's Spear corrupted his mind, eventually resulting in him becoming mad, and ultimately causing him to murder an acolyte of Kyne in a fit of rage. Matron Icehammer was appalled by her husband's actions, and ordered the guards to subdue Thane, but he fled into an ancient Nordic burial ruin in the mountains northeast of Cragwallow, whereupon he was sealed alive within as punishment. The ruins would become known as Icehammer's Vault, and would become a source of infamy, as Thane Icehammer was rumored to still stalk its halls as a Draugr, his undeath and rage fueled by the magics of the Spear of Bitter Mercy, until 2E 582, when he was finally slain.
Staves made in imitation of the Spear existed circa 2E 582. That same year, the Gray Host expanded into the Karth Valley, causing many Reach clans to flee to the safety of Markarth's walls. The Shrine of the Hunt-Father was erected within the city, and the Symbols of the Five Aspects were successfully recovered and placed in the shrine for safety, the real Spear of Bitter Mercy among them.
Multiple Spears of Bitter Mercy resurfaced near the end of the Imperial Simulacrum (3E 398), when Mehrunes Dagon's forces attacked and seized control of the Battlespire with the blessing of Imperial Battlemage Jagar Tharn, who was impersonating Emperor Uriel Septim VII. With the portal back to Tamriel blocked, an apprentice trapped within the Battlespire made it to the Chimera of Desolation and became the Hare in a Great Hunt instigated by Dagon's Herne minions. However, the apprentice was then aided by Chimere Graegyn, an inhabitant of the Chimera of Desolation and someone who had previously defied Dagon.
One of the Huntsmen was a Herne named Egahirn; it was his first Hunt, and he was given the honor of making the Kill. However, in order to assure his victory, he kept one of the six gatekeys needed for the Hare to escape on his person. This was a direct violation of the Law of the Hunt, and it did not sit well with many of the other participants (as Egahirn was protected against all weapons and magics). It also presented an opportunity; when he tricked Mehrunes Dagon, Chimere wore the Armor of the Savior's Hide, which protected the wearer from attacks by oathbreakers—which Egahirn was by his actions. The apprentice retrieved the Savior's Hide, which enabled them to bear a Spear of Bitter Mercy. With both artifacts, the apprentice defeated Egahirn and escape the realm.
In 3E 427, Sheogorath tasked the Nerevarine with retrieving the Fork of Horripilation from Big Head, a mad Argonian hermit and a worshipper of Sheogorath who lived in a small shack on an island in the Sheogorad region of Morrowind. Sheogorath instructed the Nerevarine with an odd task, to kill a giant Bull Netch with the fork. Big Head willingly gave the fork to the Nerevarine, who then killed the Bull Netch and returned the fork to Sheogorath, and was rewarded with a Spear of Bitter Mercy. The Nerevarine later sold the Spear to Torasa Aram, who put it on display in the Mournhold Museum of Artifacts.
Circa 4E 201, a tribe of goblins migrated out of Cyrodiil using subterranean tunnels beneath the Jerall Mountains. They emerged into the Rift and took up occupation of a cave known as Gromm's Pass. The hunter of this group, a goblin named Gogh, was seemingly blessed by Hircine or Malacath as he was in possession of a Spear of Bitter Mercy. Gogh was fiercely protective of the weapon, which rejected anyone else that tried to claim it. The tribe subsequently encountered a helpless Orc from the nearby stronghold of Largashbur, who happened to be stained blue by the Steel Blue Entoloma mushrooms which grow in abundance within Gromm's Pass. Believing him to be the Blue God, as aspect of Malacath worshipped by goblins, the tribe quickly made him their shaman and began to obey him as their god. However, the tunnel to Cyrodiil collapsed soon after, cutting the tribe off from any reinforcements. Gogh then spotted the Orcish shaman applying blue dye to maintain his appearance and was thus sentenced to death, but was fortuitously saved by the Last Dragonborn, who killed the Orc and his remaining goblin followers. Gogh thereafter entered into the Dragonborn's service, and continued to wield the Spear and its powers in battle.
- In An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire, the Spear of Bitter Mercy is referred to in both a singular and plural fashion. It is referred to in plural form by Old Man Chimere, Hernes, and in conversation between the player and Herne Egahirn.
- The Spear of Bitter Mercy is one of two known spears that are associated with Hircine. The other is the Spear of the Hunter.
- Chimere's Notes about the Armor of the Savior's Hide by Chimere Graegyn
- Spear of Bitter Mercy Inscription — A short inscription about the Spear of Bitter Mercy
- The Posting of the Hunt — A document announcing a ritualistic hunting of a mortal by Daedra
- Tal Marog Ker's Researches by Tal Marog Ker — On the exploits and studies of Chimere Graegyn
- Tamrielic Lore — Yagrum Bagarn
- Old Man Chimere's dialogue in Battlespire
- Elder Scrolls Artifact: Spear of Bitter Mercy bundle description in ESO
- Great Spirits of the Reach: Volume 2 — Vashu gra-Morga, Chief Daedrotheologist at the University of Gwylim
- Sheogorath's Quest in Morrowind
- Sheogorath's dialogue in the quest Chaos Magic in ESO
- The Posting of the Hunt
- Battlespire Athenaeum page 151
- Tal Marog Ker's Researches — Tal Marog Ker
- Aspects of Lord Hircine — Juno Procillus, Academy of Chorrol
- High Shaman Glynroch's questline in ESO
- Effects in Morrowind
- Effects in Skyrim
- Appearances in various games
- Blue God's Journal — Blue God
- Icehammer's Vault description that mentions Hoag Merkiller
- Legend of Thane Icehammer
- Thane Icehammer's death needed for the Icehammer's Vault Explorer achievement in ESO
- Herne's dialogue in Battlespire
- Paxti Bittor's dialogue in Battlespire
- Events of Level 5 in Battlespire
- Letter from Balaherne — Balaherne
- Events of The Museum quest in Tribunal
- Goblins Creation for Skyrim Special Edition