A Dragonborn, (Dovahzul: Dovahkiin, which can mean both "dragon-born" and "dragonkind-hunter-born"), is a rare individual who has been born with the blood and soul of a dragon, but the body of a mortal. They can naturally learn and speak the ancient and powerful tongue of the Dov, called the Thu'um.
Dragonborn scarcely exist, and it is rare for more than one to appear at the same time. They can belong to any race or gender, and the dragon blood (transliterated from to Dovah Sos) is a gift bestowed to certain mortals favored by Akatosh. Despite their divine souls, Dragonborn possess a mortal free will and may serve as champions for either the Nine Divines or the Daedric Princes. It is unknown if the Daedra claim the souls of their Dragonborn champions as they do with their other servants. Their mortal bodies also subject them to mortal vulnerabilities; old age, death, and disease all affect Dragonborn as they do common mortals.
Some Dragonborn individuals have knowledge of the Thu'um and can consume a slain dragon's soul and absorb its knowledge directly, allowing them to learn Words of Power instantaneously, and then use the power of a slain dragon's soul to unlock that Shout. It is said that the Blades have always guided, protected, and served the Dragonborn, whom they consider "The Ultimate Dragon Slayer." The Greybeards, however, see the Blades as ambitious assassins who seek to mold the Dragonborn into a weapon for their own ends.
Dragonborn in history
The first Dragonborn in history was Miraak, a Dragon Priest from the Merethic Era. Instead of using his Voice to fight Alduin, Miraak decided to serve the Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora, making himself an enemy of the Dragon Cult he once served. He was eventually defeated by the dragons and hid in Apocrypha. He was later encountered in the Fourth Era and did battle with the Last Dragonborn before being destroyed by Hermaeus Mora.
The next Dragonborn was purportedly Saint Alessia, the Nedic slave-queen who was blessed by Akatosh and given the Amulet of Kings to seal the covenant between them. This began the tradition of all legitimate rulers of the Cyrodilic Empire referred to as Dragonborn, as only they could wear the Amulet of Kings and light the Dragonfires in the Temple of the One.
Tiber Septim, founder of the Septim Dynasty of Tamriel, was the next individual to be recognized as Dragonborn. His heirs continued the tradition and were all considered Dragonborn Emperors. This lineage ended with the death of Martin Septim during the Oblivion Crisis.
The Last Dragonborn, otherwise known as the Laat Dovahkiin, appeared during the Fourth Era to fulfill the Prophecy of the Dragonborn. Their purpose was to prevent Alduin the World-Eater from consuming all of Mundus and the souls of Sovngarde when the dragon appeared from a temporal warp known as the Time Wound, after having been sent into the future during the Dragon War. The Last Dragonborn also later defeated the first Dragonborn, Miraak, in Apocrypha after dealing with Hermaeus Mora in order to weaken Mora's disruptive champion.
- Miraak – Former Dragon Priest dating back to the Merethic Era and purportedly the first Dragonborn individual.
- Alessia – Slave-queen of Cyrodiil in the First Era who made a covenant with Akatosh to create peace in Tamriel.
- Reman Cyrodiil – Famed ruler of Cyrodiil who thwarted the Akaviri Invasion during the First Era.
- Tiber Septim – Legendary ruler and general who united Tamriel under his banner in the Second Era.
- Septim Bloodline – The lineage of Tiber Septim's successors. These include Martin Septim and Uriel Septim VII.
- Last Dragonborn – Legendary hero of prophecy who appeared in Tamriel during the Fourth Era. Also known as the Dovahkiin, and the last recorded individual to be granted the dragon blood. Renowned for defeating Alduin, as well as Harkon and Miraak.
- Mankar Camoran – Altmer leader of the Mythic Dawn. In the first volume of his Commentaries, Mankar is said to be able to "speak with another tongue" and "speak fire." This, coupled with the fact that he could wear the Amulet of Kings on Tamriel, could imply that he was Dragonborn.
- Wulfharth – High King of Skyrim, known as "Ysmir, the Dragon of the North" (a title also bestowed upon Tiber Septim and the Last Dragonborn by the The Greybeards). Alleged to have had a Thu'um so powerful he could not take his oath of office verbally, with many other legendary feats ascribed to his mastery of Shouts. Although often identified as a manifestation of the Shezarrine, he is believed to have been a Dragonborn by Jarl Balgruuf the Greater.
- To address the confusion that arose from the existence of a Dragonborn predating Alessia, Michael Kirkbride, former writer at Bethesda, stated "Alessia didn't have the power to absorb dragon souls. Hers was a much more nuanced power: to dream of liberty and give it a name and on her deathbed make Covenant with the Aka-Tusk."[UL 1]
- The Nerevarine was referred to as "Dragon-born" in The Lost Prophecy, but the explanatory notes of this text claim this means they were part of the Empire, which is usually represented by a dragon.