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"Every culture on Tamriel remembers the Dragon Break in some fashion; to most it is a spiritual anguish that they cannot account for. Several texts survive this timeless period, all (unsurprisingly) conflicting with each other regarding events, people, and regions: wars are mentioned in some that never happen in another, the sun changes color depending on the witness, and the gods either walk among the mortals or they don't. Even the 'one thousand and eight years,' a number (some say arbitrarily) chosen by the Elder Council, is an unreliable measure."
Where were you when the Dragon Broke? (Kirkbride)

A Dragon Break, sometimes referred to as an un-time,[1] is a temporal phenomenon that involves a splitting of the natural timeline which results in branching parallel realities where the same events occur differently, or not at all. This results in a return to the non-linear timeline of the Dawn Era. At the end of a Dragon Break, the timeline reconnects making all possibilities and outcomes truth, though contradictory to each other. The "Dragon" that is mentioned is in reference towards Akatosh, the Dragon God of Time.[2][UL 1]

Dragon Breaks are utterly incomprehensible to all people they affect, save for a select few supernatural individuals such as the Tribunal or the Shezarrines. After being affected by a break, most people are prone to forget the event ever even occurred, dismissing it off as nonsensical, despite intense feelings of spiritual anguish they cannot account for.[UL 1] More recent records note entire days being lost without anyone taking notice.[3] It is known, in some extreme cases, that even the Elder Scrolls were incapable of looking back on the events of the break.[2] The Blue Star Mnemoli is often associated with un-time events and, according to some sources, could be seen brightly in the daytime sky during the Middle Dawn.[1][UL 2] It is also known that every time the Brass God, Numidium, is activated, a Dragon Break ensues.[2][3][UL 3] Despite the believed effects Dragon Breaks have had on history, many scholars have been known to dismiss the Dragon Break phenomenon as a falsehood.[4][UL 4]

Occurrences[edit | edit source]

The Time-Wound[edit | edit source]

Felldir uses an Elder Scroll to banish Alduin from Nirn.

Whether or not the Time-Wound should actually be considered a Dragon Break is arguable; due to the event being described as shattered time, it is normally speculated to have been a break of smaller proportion.[5] The Time-Wound was formed in the later years of the Merethic Era, during the legendary Dragon War. At the peak of the Throat of the World, the first of the Nordic Tongues attempted to slay the Dragon-God, Alduin, with the help of the mortal-made shout known as "Dragonrend." The three tongues were unable to defeat Alduin and instead turned to other means to end the World-Eater's reign of terror. The eldest of the three, Felldir the Old, had brought an Elder Scroll with him, and he utilized its mysterious powers alongside the Thu'um to banish Alduin. The actions of Felldir created a small wound in time in the location where Alduin vanished, where it would remain until the present.[6][7] This event has altered the Throat of the World in such a way that it has been said that its peak is no longer fully present within the world.[UL 5] It is possible that if the Time-Wound was indeed a Dragon Break, it may have been responsible for the lack of knowledge regarding the period in which the Dragon War took place.

The Red Moment[edit | edit source]

The Red Moment was a possible Dragon Break that occurred sometime near the year 1E 668,[8][9][UL 6] during the Battle of Red Mountain. The Red Moment is believed to be the first Dragon Break to be caused by the Numidium, being the accepted date of the Brass God's first activation.[10] Evidence of this Break's existence can be seen in the multiple conflicting accounts of what actually occurred during the time period in which the War of the First Council took place. Most historical contradictions surrounding the event revolve around the people most involved in the war, such as Nerevar, the Tribunal, Voryn Dagoth, and Dumac Dwarfking. Notable questionable events with inconsistent outcomes can be observed, such as: whether or not House Dagoth was loyal to the Chimer,[11][12] the Nords,[13] or the Dwemer, during the battle.[14] By whom was Dagoth Ur slain or dispelled, the Tribunal,[12] or Nerevar.[11][13][15] By whom was Dumac killed, Nerevar,[16] Wulfharth, or Dagoth Ur.[13] Was it the actions of Kagrenac,[11] Dagoth Ur,[12] Wulfharth,[13] or the Tribunal, that caused the Dwemer's disappearance.[10] Did Nerevar die of his wounds or was he murdered by the Tribunal.[12][13] Were the Nords and Orcs fighting for their own reasons,[13][17] or were they aiding the Dwemer.[10][14] Nordic accounts even seem to imply that the Dwemer and Chimer were working together,[13] while others imply the Nords were never there to begin with.[11][12] Due to the Dragon Break, not one account of what happened at Red Mountain holds more truth than the other.[UL 6]

The first known person said to recognize and acknowledge that the Battle of Red Mountain was taking place during a Dragon Break was the Ash-King Wulfharth.[13][UL 7] During this Break, Vivec utilized the Hurling Disk to legitimize the Tribunal's divinity through Mantling the Three Good Daedra. Vivec states that he purposely kept the two main contradictory accounts of what happened at Red Mountain, that of the Ashlanders and the Tribunal Temple, for the Nerevarine to make their own conclusion.[UL 8]

The Middle Dawn[edit | edit source]

The Middle Dawn was the longest Dragon Break in all of Tamrielic history, lasting 1008 years from its beginning in 1E 1200 till its end in 1E 2208.[2] The Dragon Break began after a fanatical sect of the Alessian Order known as the Marukhati Selective attempted to remove specific aspects of Akatosh they did not approve of, most notably the god's connection to the Elven Time-God, Auri-El. The Arch-Prelate of the Selective, Fervidius Tharn, and his subordinates, used the prophet Marukh's teachings and the previously assembled Staff of Towers to reach a state of "monothought" and recognize that the Wheel sideways is a Tower. They proceeded to dance upon the White-Gold Tower until time was made unstable and created the Dragon Break known as Middle Dawn, which broke the Staff of Towers into eight pieces again.[18][19][20][UL 1]

The Middle Dawn was a much more extreme occurrence than any other Dragon Break. The world slept through the disaster. Had it not been for the Emperor souls held within the Amulet of Kings, the entire event may have been forgotten, as even the Elder Scrolls were unable to look back at the time period in which the Middle Dawn took place.[2] Most stories and texts that survived the Middle Dawn vary quite heavily on the events of what actually transpired during the Middle Dawn, normally conflicting on regards to certain people, regions, and wars. More unorthodox accounts make claims that the sun had changed color, that people birthed their own parents, that gods walked amongst mortals, that the Empire spread its reaches into the stars, and even stating that Cyrodiil became an egg. Of all the texts collected by the Elder Council there are no concurrences, save for one point. Every account from across Tamriel coincides on the fall of eight stars, and this constant was used to keep track of time. However, some Khajiit claim that they kept track of their days by looking upon the constant moons, which the other races did not have the 'sugar' to see. Members of the Tribunal Temple claim that Morrowind was protected from the effects of the break by the Daedra and Tribunal, believing the eight stars represented each iniquity Lorkhan made clear to the world.[2][UL 1] Mnemoli was said to have burned so bright during the Middle Dawn, that she could be seen even in the daylight sky; this could possibly mean that Mnemoli was the reason for the reported changes in the sun's color.[1]

Many dispute the Middle Dawn's existence, crediting it as a result of the rise of eschatological Lorkhanic Cults during the Third Era that were obsessed with the concept of "Numidiumism."[4] However, the existence of multiple primary sources, predating the Third Era, that note the events surrounding the Dragon Break seem to prove otherwise, as well as the inability of the Elder Scrolls to look back to that time period.[2][19][18] Other debatable instance involving the Middle Dawn was whether or not it actually lasted the 1008 years that the Elder Council claims it did, a number some believe to be an arbitrary and unreliable. The Khajiit claim the same duration as recorded from the moons, but also seem to believe the Elder Council stole the "1008 years" from them to begin with.[UL 1]

While it is normally accepted that the reason the Selectives created the break was to remove the aspects of Akatosh they viewed to not complement the newly founded Cyrodilic Pantheon, some people, most notably the King of Worms, believe that the Selectives may have had greater ulterior motives in creating the break. The King of Worms is quoted as saying, "The Maruhkati Selectives showed us all the glories of the Dawn so that we might learn, simply: as above, so below." Whether or not the Selectives were successful in their main goal is unknown, as almost all records regarding their existence were destroyed in the War of Righteousness.[UL 1] Some Thalmor members of the First Aldmeri Dominion claim that they were responsible for ending the Middle Dawn; whether or not this is true is not certain.[21]

The Tiber Wars[edit | edit source]

The Halls of Colossus.

When the Emperor Tiber Septim formed his peace treaty with Vivec during the ending years of the Second Era,[22] one of the conditions of the treaty was that the remains of the Numidium were to be put into the possession of the Empire. Tiber Septim gave his battlemage, Zurin Arctus, the task of studying the Numidium, learning whatever he could from the massive automaton. In doing so, Zurin discovered the reason why the Dwemer had built the construct in the first place and of the great power it potentially held as a weapon.[23] Tiber Septim tasked the Blades to annex and remove the population of a wide area of land near Rimmen and then begin to build a secret testing warehouse/laboratory. The massive warehouse, named The Halls of Colossus, was used by a group of battlemages led by Zurin Arctus to rebuild and test the Numidium.[UL 3] Zurin crafted an item known as the Totem of Tiber Septim in order to control the Numidium.[24] When the Numidium was first activated by utilizing the trapped soul of the Underking held in the Mantella,[23] it caused a Dragon Break that would result with large portions of the region becoming inhospitable, being heavily contaminated with what was only called "poisoned glow-rock," much to the spite of the native population. During the Break, Tiber Septim utilized the power of the Numidium to conquer the rest of Tamriel and purge all the royal families who did not vehemently support Tiber's reign. Due to the memory altering effects of a Dragon Break, this event is remembered by the inhabitants of Tamriel only in obscure legend.[2][UL 3][UL 9][UL 10] How long this break lasted is not known exactly, but it most likely lasted throughout the entire period Numidium was active, ending only when the Underking temporarily destroyed the great golem.[23] According to some sources, another heavily hit area by the Break was the Altmeri city of Alinor, which was subject to a siege by Numidium, resulting in the city surrendering within an hour of the attack, but a battle that lasted from the Merethic Era until long into the Fifth Era, due to the Numidium's time-wrecking capabilities.[UL 11]

The Warp in the West[edit | edit source]

The Numidium

The Warp in the West, sometimes referred to as the Miracle of Peace,[3] or the "Second Numidium Effect,"[UL 12] was the most recent and well known of the Dragon Breaks. The break's origins trace back to the events of 3E 405, when an unknown affiliate of the Blades acquired the Totem of Tiber Septim and was given the choice as to who the totem would be delivered to. After the reassembled Numidium was reunited with the Mantella and walked again,[25] a Dragon Break was created, centering around the Blades agent's choice and splitting the Iliac Bay region into six,[UL 3] seven,[3] or possibly eight separate timelines,[UL 9] all occurring simultaneously. While the actions of the Blades agent are believed to have taken place in 3E 405, the actual break apparently did not occur until twelve years later in 3E 417, more specifically the 10th of Frostfall, a day completely unknown and lost to all those who did not participate in the Numidium's battles.[3][26] Despite some claims that the Warp only lasted a day, other sources seem to imply that it may have subtly lasted much longer than it is said to have.[UL 13] When the break began, six Numidiums were created as well as six Totems, each being gifted to different kingdoms or individuals;[UL 3] each of the four great warring-kingdoms of the Iliac Bay, Sentinel, Wayrest, Daggerfall, and Orsinium were gifted Totems and waged war on each other with their respective Numidiums creating battles of incomprehensibly epic proportions.[3] The Empire also gained control of the Numidium, using it to subjugate the Bay-Kings. Both the Underking and the King of Worms gained possession of the Totem and Mantella; the Underking using them to grant himself death, and the King of Worms using it to make himself into a god. Some sources state that the Blades agent, in which the Warp centered around, may have been killed by the Numidium,[27] however, the true fate of the agent is completely unknown.[3]

The Underking dies.

The Break probably ended after the six Numidiums were either demolished by each other or the Underking, and resulted with the region being heavily transformed. The area which had once been made up of over forty-four petty kingdoms, now encompassed only four equal-footed and well organized kingdoms, with Wayrest controlling the eastern coast of the Iliac Bay, Orsinium controlling the Wrothgarian Mountains, Sentinel controlling the Southern coast, and Daggerfall controlling the west. The Bay-Kingdoms remained part of the Empire, and stability was brought to the Iliac Bay.[3][27] While the King of Worms did temporarily become a god, this aspect of the Dragon Break was eventually fixed by the Jills of Akatosh and the God of Worms was returned to his mortal state.[UL 14] Some claim that the Warp in the West heralded the fall of the Empire,[UL 13] and certain sources even seem to imply that in a separate timeline, the Septim Dynasty may have even collapsed during the Warp.[4][Note 1]

Scholarly interpretations[edit | edit source]

The Dragon Break is a controversial subject amongst the scholars of Tamriel. Opponents to the theory, most notably the author Fal Droon, attribute the creation of the Dragon Break to the varying cults and sects that cultivated throughout the Third Era, all centralizing their religious ferment around Tiber Septim's rise to power. The Dragon Break is therefore explained away as an excessive rise in eschatology surrounding Tiber Septim's mysterious Numidium, aided by academic error and continued through tradition and scholarly inertia.[4]

Fal Droon points to the famed Encyclopedia Tamrielica of 3E 12 as the foundation of the creation of the "Dragon Break," citing the supposed "one thousand and eight" year reign of the Alessian Order, recorded within the book, as the main rationale behind the phenomenon. The Alessian's fanatical dogma and zeal led them to purge practically every historical text of the time that their order did not approve of, and with the War of Righteousness, nearly the entirety of their own historical accounts were destroyed as well. This caused the presumed millennia long governance of the Alessian Order to become a complete historical gap that no one could account for. According to scholarly critics, this mystery in how such a prolonged Dark Age could ever exist went unexplained until the Lorkhan Cults of the Third Era began spreading the concept of the Dragon Break as the focal cause. Fal Droon states that the thousand and eight-year reign of the Order is, itself, inherently flawed, and that the scholars of the time were completely unaware of the "Alessian year," that the Order recorded its years by the duration of their High Priestess' long vision trances. By Droon's calculations, the Alessian Order could not have lasted longer than 150 years rather than the 1008 stated in the Encyclopedia Tamrielica.[4] However, Fal Droon fails to realize that the "1008 years" is associated specifically with the Middle Dawn and the Alessian Order actually lasted as long as 1970 years, outlasting even the Dragon Break period.[2][28][29][30]

Arielle Woodhouse, a proponent for the Dragon Break, argued using various sketches of tapestries and paintings dating back to the later First Era, that depicted the stars and constellations in different locations than they normally appear. However, others questioned the authenticity of the sketches given the extremely minuscule amount of paintings and tapestries that survived that period, and the claim that many were based off from copies of original works. Other arguments against the theory state that old Dwemer metal plates found in Orreries, dating long before the Dragon Break, depict the stars in roughly the same location as they are seen in the present, strongly suggesting the stars do not move. It is also proposed that the people of the time were merely ignorant of astronomy or used artistic freedoms when depicting the stars.[UL 4]

The Hurling Disk[edit | edit source]

"In this world and others EIGHTEEN less one (the victor) is the magical disk, hurled to reach heaven by violence."
36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon 18

The Hurling Disk is a conceptual state of the Aurbis, while in a Dragon Break, which mortals can utilize to manipulate Aurbical entities or apotheosize, said to be "hurled to reach heaven by violence."[31][UL 1] The concept relies on the representation of the Aurbis as a "wheel" which is held together by eight equally split spokes of chaos solidified by time, the stated gifts of the Aedra.[32] When said spokes are removed, the Wheel becomes an unstable void,[33] returning the Aurbis to the turbulent and timeless Dawn Era.[18][UL 1] The Wheel therefore becomes an axis for the original spirits of the Dawn, creating a strange mingling of magic from the solar and lunar spheres of the Aurbis.[UL 2] From this point, the Aurbis becomes indefinite and uncongealed, which in certain circumstances can allow for the now malleable universe to be re-shaped as desired. If such actions are taken, a whole new universe will materialize to legitimize said desires, while the old universe warps itself to accept them. As time sees fit to heal itself, the break will eventually come to an end with the Aurbis reformed into a universe that contains the amendments.[UL 8]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • When The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall was in development, Bethesda wanted to give the player the option for multiple endings. Rather than choose one specific ending as "canon," Bethesda canonized all the endings and made them all truth by introducing the concept of the Dragon Break.
  • In The Elder Scrolls: Blades, an error pop-up exists which mentions the Dragon Break as an easter egg.

Annotation[edit | edit source]

  1. The book The Dragon Break Reexamined, which was released with The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, denies the existence of the Dragon Break yet ironically mentions that the Septim Dynasty had fallen before the events of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, implying it was written within a different timeline, or possibly from the future.

References[edit | edit source]

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