|Emperor Varen Aquilarios|
|Emperor Varen Aquilarios in his prime|
|Next Ruler||Clivia Tharn|
|Appears in||ESO, Legends|
Varen Aquilarios, also known as the Prophet, was the son of a Duke of Colovia before becoming Emperor of the Empire of Cyrodiil when he overthrew Leovic, the last of the so-called Longhouse Emperors, after the latter had decriminalized Daedra worship in the Empire.
Varen led an uprising against Leovic that culminated in the storming of the Imperial City; Varen slew Leovic personally in the Imperial Throne Room. He was then crowned Emperor and wed Leovic's widow, Clivia Tharn, to consolidate his rule.
Varen subsequently led a group called the Five Companions on a two-year quest to recover the lost Amulet of Kings, which they eventually located in the ruins of Sancre Tor. Heeding the advice of Mannimarco, Varen planned to use the Amulet in a ritual to persuade Akatosh to make him a Dragonborn and therefore a legitimately-ordained Emperor. In 2E 579, as the ritual was attempted, Mannimarco altered it and triggered the catastrophe known as the Soulburst. Varen vanished in the chaos, and Clivia assumed the Imperial Throne as Empress Regent in his absence, setting Tamriel on a course for the Alliance War. He spent some time with the Moth Priests following the Soulburst, before being taken to Coldharbour and assisting the Vestige in the latter's quest against Molag Bal.
Varen was born to a Colovian duke in 2E 536,[UOL 1] and later became the Duke of Chorrol. His nephew from an unnamed sibling, Carolus Aquilarios, viewed him as a role model and later become count of Kvatch. When Leovic, third leader of the short-lived Reachman dynasty known as the Longhouse Emperors, assumed the Ruby Throne, he legalized Daedra worship across the Empire. This outraged much of the population, and prompted Varen to spark a rebellion.
Varen left his homefront of the Gold Coast in the hands of his nephew Carolus. He constructed a massive wall spanning around the Gold Coast, later dubbed "Varen's Wall", in order to protect the region in the event of Leovic's forces arriving.
Varen summoned the military forces of the Colovian Highlands. Secretly, he also contacted Elder Council Chancellor Abnur Tharn for assistance to depose the Reachman foreigners from the north. Varen based his rebellion out of the city of Bruma, and subsequently won many victories across Cyrodiil.
In 2E 576, Varen and his army stormed the Imperial City, before breaking into the White-Gold Tower and driving his sword into Leovic's heart at the foot of the Ruby Throne, thus instantly killing him, and immediately declaring himself Emperor. For Abnur's loyalty and assistance in the rebellion, Varen agreed to take Leovic's widow, Clivia Tharn, as his bride. Due to the mass amount of casualties during the uprising, Varen converted the Market District of the Imperial City into the Memorial District, filling it with mass graves.
Forming The Five CompanionsEdit
Varen's rule was largely stable and without problems, but the thought of him being an illegitimate ruler bothered him. Varen Aquilarios was not a "true emperor", as he was not Dragonborn. This fact made him insecure.
Believing that only a Dragonborn can rightfully take the Ruby Throne, in 2E 577, he formed the Five Companions to find the Amulet of Kings after the Altmer sorcerer Mannimarco convinced him that he knew a ritual that would allow Varen to become Dragonborn. After hearing of this, he set out on a two-year quest to find the Amulet with his Five Companions: Varen himself, the half-giant warrior Lyris Titanborn, the sorcerer Mannimarco, Sai Sahan, a Redguard blademaster and the captain of the Emperor's Dragonguard, and Imperial Battlemage Abnur Tharn.
The Five were able to recover the Amulet by 2E 579 prepared to perform the ritual. They gathered at the Temple of the One in the Imperial City and began to perform the ritual. While Tharn held the Amulet, Varen asked Akatosh to rightfully grant his claim as emperor by making him a Dragonborn. At that moment, Mannimarco immobilized everyone present and revealed his true intentions; he was an agent of Molag Bal, and the ritual did not reignite the Dragonfires, instead tricking them into destroying the ancient barriers shielding Mundus from the forces of Oblivion and thus allowing Molag Bal to begin the Planemeld, a forceful attempt to drag Nirn out of Mundus and into his own realm of Coldharbour. This event was known as the Soulburst, and it shook every corner of Tamriel.
Subsequently, Lyris was captured and brought into Coldharbour. Sai Sahan fled with the Amulet and managed to hide it in Sancre Tor before being captured and held in the Halls of Torment. Mannimarco summoned his Worm Cult and turned the Temple of the One into a sacrificial ground where dozens of souls were harvested and brought to Coldharbour, and Abnur joined him in order to gain his trust and spy on him. Varen, however, disappeared, officially declared and believed to be dead following the event.
Time with the Moth PriestsEdit
After the Soulburst, Varen woke up weak and near death at the Abbey of the Moth Priests, suffering from amnesia and no longer remembering his role as Emperor. The Moth priests took pity on him, assuming he was a lost vagabond, and gave him shelter within their establishment.
It was there where he set his eyes on the Elder Scrolls, mysterious artifacts of immense knowledge and power. He began to study and read the scrolls in order to learn the events of Tamriel which have happened and have yet to happen, including his life as Emperor and his destiny with the Vestige. The priests were shocked to discover how quickly he managed to read the scrolls, believing it to be a prophetic sign from the Eight Divines. As a result of continuously reading the scrolls, Varen gradually lost his eyesight. He carved himself a staff which he also used as a walking stick. Though blind, Varen still continued to study the scrolls in his mind's eye, and foresaw the events to come in Tamriel's future.
Word of Varen's prophecies began spreading across the land, eventually reaching the Imperial City. When Mannimarco discovered this, he had the Prophet arrested under the grounds of rumor-mongering and treason. The King of Worms had the abbey and its contents burned to the ground, and transferred Varen into the custody of his Daedric master, Molag Bal. Bal then unleashed the Planemeld upon Nirn, and had Varen imprisoned in The Wailing Prison. Varen was kept in a specialized cell: one that would not release the prisoner held within unless a living soul took their place. During his imprisonment, Molag Bal frequently invaded Varen's mind, causing his captive immense pain. By forcing his way into Varen's head, Molag Bal opened his own thoughts to the prisoner; Varen could see through Molag Bal's eyes if he concentrated hard enough. Molag Bal could feel Varen's presence whenever he did this, and it enraged the Prince.
Rescue From ColdharbourEdit
A hero that would become known as The Vestige was sacrificed to Molag Bal by Mannimarco in 2E 582. Their soul was damned to Coldharbour, where they joined forces with Lyris Titanborn. The pair fought their way through the realm to rescue Varen, who Lyris called "the Prophet". The Vestige was unaware of the Prophet's true identity. Varen could not be released from his cell unless a living mortal took his place, so Lyris gave herself to free him. Varen and the Vestige proceeded to escape Coldharbour through a Dark Anchor.
Varen and the Vestige ended up in different parts of the same province, but eventually regrouped at a sanctuary which the Prophet called the Harborage. There, the Vestige learned of the Soulburst, and the two hatched a plan to free Lyris Titanborn from her imprisonment in Coldharbour. The Daedra moved her to the Foundry of Woe after Varen's escape. There, she was forced to make weapons for Molag Bal's soldiers. The Prophet learned this due to his mental link to Molag Bal, which he exploited to distract the Prince long enough for the Vestige to enter Coldharbour and retrieve Lyris Titanborn from her prison. During the mission, Lyris and the Vestige learned that Sai Sahan was still alive. Lyris and Varen set out to find leads on Sai Sahan's whereabouts. Lyris heard rumors of Worm Cult activity in a nearby settlement, which the Vestige investigated. The Vestige entered a Worm Cultist's hideout and found an orb which the cult used to communicate with none other than Abnur Tharn.
Varen used the orb the Vestige retrieved to communicate with Abnur Tharn, who offered to give the group Sai Sahan's location in exchange for Tharn's extraction from Coldharbour. Tharn was being held in the Castle of the Worm, Mannimarco's stronghold in the realm. Abnur realized he was becoming obsolete to Mannimarco; he would soon be disposed of if he wasn't rescued. Lyris and the Vestige entered Coldharbour and rescued Abnur Tharn, who explained that Mannimarco intended to use the Amulet of Kings to absorb Molag Bal's essence and ascend to godhood. Tharn only revealed that he didn't know where Sai Sahan was being kept after they made it back to the Harborage. It was then that the Prophet revealed his true identity as Varen Aquilarios to the Vestige.
Abnur and Varen continued the search for Sai Sahan, and Tharn found a lead at a Daedric lair in an undisclosed ruin. There, Mannimarco kept his most valuable documents. Tharn and the Vestige traveled together and learned that Sai Sahan was being kept at the Halls of Torment, where Mannimarco had him tortured in an attempt to extract the location of the Amulet of Kings. Sai's torturer was the Duchess of Anguish, one of Molag Bal's most skilled torturers. With this information, Varen opened a portal to the prison, enabling the Vestige (accompanied by either Tharn or Titanborn) to rescue Sai Sahan. Sai Sahan hid the Amulet of Kings after he fled the Imperial City, and revealed that it was hidden in a sacred location and protected by magic wards. He needed to retrieve the key to bring down the ward protecting the artifact from the Valley of Blades, a hidden refuge in the Dragontail Mountains where an old friend of his trained skilled swordsmen. Varen sent Abnur, Lyris, Sai and the Vestige to the Valley. The group encountered Mannimarco, retrieved the Ring of Stendarr's Mercy and the sword of Sai's father, then returned to the Harborage.
The Vestige, Sai Sahan, Lyris Titanborn and Abnur Tharn soon set out to Sancre Tor to retrieve the Amulet of Kings. Varen Aquilarios opened a portal to get them there, and waited at the Harborage for their safe return. The group returned with the Amulet of Kings and news of Mannimarco's demise at the Vestige's hand. Mannimarco who was dragged to Coldharbour by Molag Bal to face an eternity of torment for his treachery. Molag Bal forced visions of Mannimarco's torture upon Varen; a portent for the fate of Nirn should he and the Companions fail to stop the Daedric Prince.
Varen called the Vestige to the Harborage once more, as Sai wished to reforge the Five Companions. At the meeting, the group discussed how the Vestige was to retrieve their soul—after the Planemeld was stopped, the Vestige was to use the Amulet of Kings to imbue themselves with Divine power enough to defeat Molag Bal. However, this would require a willing mortal sacrifice: one of the Five Companions would have to give their life so the ritual could be performed. Abnur Tharn was the only one capable of performing the ritual; Varen, Sai or Lyris would have to sacrifice themselves for the good of Tamriel.
The Mages and Fighters Guilds staged an invasion of Coldharbour in a bid to stop the Planemeld once and for all. The Vestige joined the invasion and was instrumental in its success. The Planemeld was ultimately stopped with the aid of Molag Bal's enemy, the Daedric Prince Meridia. However, Molag Bal still held the Vestige's soul and immense power; he would have recovered if the Companions stalled, so they entered his fortress to confront the God of Schemes. One of the Five was sacrificed to allow the Vestige to be imbued with the righteous fury of Akatosh, which the Hero used to vanquish Molag Bal, forcing the Prince to relinquish his grasp on their soul. Regardless of whether or not he was sacrificed, Varen Aquilarios met his end soon after the Planemeld was stopped.
- Chronicles of the Five Companions 1 — Lyris Titanborn
- Lyris Titanborn's dialogue during Soul Shriven in Coldharbour in ESO
- The Wolf and the Dragon — Midara Salviticus, Historian, University of Gwylim
- Eulogy for Emperor Varen — Lord Abnur Tharn, Chancellor of the Elder Council
- Varen's Wall — Midara Salviticus, Historian, University of Gwylim
- Eyewitness to the Wall
- Groundskeeper's Letter
- Events of The Harborage quest in ESO
- The Chorrol Crier
- The Prophet's dialogue during Daughter of Giants in ESO
- Events of Soul Shriven in Coldharbour in ESO
- Events of Daughter of Giants in ESO
- Events of Chasing Shadows in ESO
- Events of Castle of the Worm in ESO
- Varen Aquilarios's dialogue during Castle of the Worm in ESO
- Abnur Tharn's dialogue during The Tharn Speaks in ESO
- Events of The Tharn Speaks in ESO
- Events of Halls of Torment in ESO
- Events of Valley of Blades in ESO
- Events of Shadow of Sancre Tor in ESO
- Varen Aquilarios's dialogue during Council of the Five Companions in ESO
- Events of Council of the Five Companions in ESO
- Events of The Weight of Three Crowns in ESO
- The Groundskeeper's dialogue during The Hollow City in ESO
- Events of The Final Assault in ESO
- Events of God of Schemes in ESO
- Varen Aquilarios's dialogue after Long Live the King in ESO: Orsinium
Note: the following references are not from official sources. They are included to provide a rounder background to this article, but may not reflect established lore.