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Lore:Zurin Arctus

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This article is about Zurin Arctus the Underking. For the conflicting lore and general overview on the title, see Underking.

Imperial Battlemage Zurin Arctus
DF-misc-Anniversary Art.jpg
Imperial Battlemage Zurin Arctus as the Underking
Race Breton[UOL 1] Gender Male
Died 2E 896
Previous Ruler Abnur Tharn
Next Ruler Jovron Direnni
Resided in Iliac Bay

Zurin Arctus (also known as the Underking,[1] or by his Breton name Arnand the Fox)[2][UOL 1] was a spellcaster in the late Second Era, and the Imperial Battlemage of Tamriel under Emperor Tiber Septim. By some accounts Arctus was the most powerful mage who ever lived.[3][4] He was responsible for activating Numidium, a powerful construct used by the Emperor in his conquest of Tamriel, by placing his "heart" (life force) into a massive soul gem. Arctus later regretted his actions and destroyed the automaton, but was killed in the process before being able to reclaim his heart. He reappeared later as an undead entity known as the Underking[5][6], though The Arcturian Heresy instead attributed the title to Ysmir Kingmaker[7]. In Cyrodiil, Zurin is sometimes associated with the mage-god Magnus.[1]


"Each Event is preceded by Prophecy. But without the Hero, there is no Event."
Zurin Arctus, the Underking

In Where Were You When the Dragon Broke?, Mannimarco, the King of Worms, claims that Zurin Arctus existed during the Middle Dawn of the First Era under the moniker of Arnand the Fox.[2]


Zurin Arctus was a battlemage and master tactician[8] who served General Talos in the forces of King Cuhlecain during the Tiber War. He is said to have crowned the general as Emperor Tiber Septim after the assassination of Cuhlecain[7] and was instrumental in their victory at the Battle of Five Bridges.[8] Arctus became the first to hold the title of Imperial Battlemage under Tiber Septim,[9] and was one of the Emperor's trusted advisors; it was popularly rumored that Arctus had helped broker the Armistice with Morrowind, in which the Empire received Numidium.[10]

The Totem of Tiber Septim

Numidium was a colossal Dwemer automaton, designed to be powered by the Heart of Lorkhan.[11][7] This was not available, but Arctus was able to devise an alternative power source, the Mantella—a gigantic gem infused with the battlemage's own "heart" (life force).[5] Arctus also crafted the Totem of Tiber Septim, a magical artifact that allowed a bearer of royal lineage to control the golem. At the close of the Second Era, Tiber Septim used Numidium to conquer all of Tamriel.[5]

With the conquest of Tamriel complete, Tiber Septim began using Numidium to crush neutral royal families within the Empire, aiming to enthrone Imperial loyalists in their place. Zurin Arctus was horrified at this abuse of power, and attempted to put a stop to it by reclaiming his heart. However, both Arctus and Numidium were destroyed in the attempt. The Mantella was blown into Aetherius, his heart still trapped within it. Without his heart, the battlemage couldn't truly die. He was left in a semi-slumber in a subterranean vault waiting for an opportunity to reclaim his heart. In this undead incarnation, Zurin Arctus became known as the Underking, and from time to time sent out his forces to search for the Mantella.


Dragonbone Mail

Dragonbone MailEdit

The Dragonbone Mail, or the Dragonbone Cuirass, is thought to be one of the greatest artifacts any collector or hero could own. While many fine pieces of armor have been constructed with real dragon bone, the Dragonbone Mail was enchanted by the first Imperial Battlemage of Tiber Septim, Zurin Arctus, in the early years of the Third Era. It's described as a truly exquisite piece of work, and many have sought to possess it.

The properties of the cuirass allow the wearer to resist fire, and to damage an enemy with a blast of fire. Little is known about the involvement of Zurin Arctus with the enchantment of the cuirass, but an old tale speaks of a debt that he owed to a traveling warrior. Like the warrior, the Dragonbone Mail never stays put for long.



The Mantella was a massive green gem, a "Crux of Transcendence" that contained the "heart", or life force, of the entity known to Tamriel as the Underking. Twice, the Mantella was used to power the gigantic brass golem, Numidium—first by Tiber Septim when he conquered Tamriel, and again during the events of the Warp in the West.

The Mantella was lost after Tiber Septim's conquests. For most of the Third Era, the Mantella was hidden on a plane of Aetherius known as the Mantellan Crux. It was later located by Nulfaga the sorceress and recovered by an agent of the Blades, which led directly to the Miracle of Peace.

See AlsoEdit

  • For more information about the Underking in the late Third Era, see his Lore Page.
  • An alternate version of events is given in The Arcturian Heresy. This account claims that the Underking was really High King Wulfharth of Skyrim, a powerful undead being from the First Era. He was tricked by Tiber Septim and Zurin Arctus, and it was his heart that was trapped within the Mantella. Zurin Arctus was killed in the process, and to prevent political unrest the Emperor claimed that his Battlemage tried to assassinate him.[7]





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.