The Greybeards, masters of the Voice.

Tongues are individuals who have a natural ability to speak the language of Dragons—known as the "Storm Voice,"[1] or simply the "Voice."

Tongues are typically Nordic in origin and those who demonstrate a talent usually require a great deal of study and training to develop their power. Nords consider themselves to be the children of the sky, and the breath and the voice of a Nord was his vital essence. Through the use of the Voice, the vital essence of a Nord could be articulated into a Thu'um, or shout.[2]

Certain individuals possess the natural ability to speak the language of the Dragons. Such a person can learn Words of Power almost instantly, due to their ability to absorb a Dragon soul and its knowledge, without long-term study and practice.[3] These people are known as Dragonborn.

Abilities and powers[edit | edit source]

Shouts could be used to sharpen blades or to strike enemies at a distance. Masters of the Voice could call to specific people over hundreds of miles, and could move by casting a shout, appearing where it lands. The most powerful of Tongues could not speak without causing great destruction. They had to be gagged, and communicated through a sign language and through scribing runes.[2][4]

Origins[edit | edit source]

Paarthurnaax taught mankind in the ways of the Voice.

The first Tongues can be dated back to the Dragon War in the Merethic Era.[5] Before the war, Dragons were worshipped as gods by mankind. That soon changed when the dragon priests, the subordinates of the Dragons, began to rule over man with an iron fist making slaves of the population.[6]

Mankind eventually rebelled and the Dragon War began. Alduin's response was swift and brutal. At first, humans were woefully outmatched and were shouted down effortlessly by the Dragons and their Voice.[7] Nordic legends relate that Kyne herself took pity on mankind, causing the Goddess to intervene by granting mortals the ability to Shout as the Dragons could, and by appealing to Paarthurnax to teach them how to use their new found power.[7] At the behest of Kyne, the Dragon Paarthurnax, who originally was the lieutenant of Alduin, betrayed his master and thus instructed Men into using the Thu'um.[8] Becoming masters of the Voice, the ancient Nord heroes succeeded in developing a unique Shout independent of Paarthunax's teachings, which they used to defeat Alduin and banish him from the world, so ending the legendary Dragon War.

Notable Tongues[edit | edit source]

Jurgen Windcaller

Miraak[edit | edit source]

Miraak was the Dragon Priest ruling over the island of Solstheim during the time when Dragons ruled over mortals. At some point, Miraak came into possession of a Black Book, and then came into servitude under Hermaeus Mora, who taught him a great power. With this knowledge, Miraak turned on his Dragon masters and started a revolution against them. However, his revolution failed and was restrained to Solstheim, during which his temple was razed to the ground by the Dragons.[9][10]

Ancient Nord Heroes[edit | edit source]

Notable Ancient Nord Tongues include Hakon One-Eye, Felldir the Old and Gormlaith Golden-Hilt. They were the first Nords who learned the power of the Voice and were instrumental in Alduin's suspension in time at the summit of the Throat of the World.

The Great Nord War Chiefs[edit | edit source]

Around the founding of the Ysgramor Dynasty in the early First Era, Three great Nordic war chiefs were famous practitioners of the Voice. Derek the Tall, Jorg Helmbolg, Hoag Merkiller used the Thu'um to great effect in various military campaigns to expand the empire.

It was said that when they attacked a city, they needed no siege engines, rather they would form up in a wedge in front of the gatehouse, and draw in breath. When the leader let out in a thu'um, the doors were blown in, and the axemen rushed into the city.[2]

Kvenel The Tongue[edit | edit source]

Kvenel the Tongue was an ancient the leader of a group of powerful warriors capable of using Dragon Shouts.

Kvenel wanted a new weapon of excellent quality, to match his beloved sword, Eduj. For his next adventure, Kvenel wanted a hand axe crafted by the legendary blacksmith Haman Forgefire, who was known as the greatest blacksmith. Haman began to work on his most spectacular piece ever, the handaxe Okin. Haman was later murdered by his jealous rival, Gerhild. However, Coldheart and Kvenel brought the murderer to justice.

Wulfharth[edit | edit source]

Wulfharth was born in Atmora in the First Era. He was chosen to be the High King of Skyrim in 1E 500 by the Pact of Chieftains after the death of High King Hoag Merkiller, who was killed in the battle that led to the defeat of the Alessian army at Glenumbria Moors.[11][12] Wulfharth was a mighty warrior blessed with the ancient "Way of the Voice". His Thu'um was so powerful that he could not verbally swear into the office, and scribes were used to draw up his oaths. Wulfharth was a true believer of the old gods and fought for their glory against the eastern Orcs, shouting their chief into Oblivion with his Thu'um.

Jurgen Windcaller[edit | edit source]

Jurgen Windcaller was said to be the mightiest of all the Tongues. He led a campaign to Morrowind, but after a disastrous battle at Red Mountain where his army was annihilated, he spent seven years pondering the meaning of his defeat.[7][13]

He finally came to the conclusion that the gods had punished the Nords for their arrogant and blasphemous misuse of the Thu'um. Following this revelation, Jurgen developed a pacifist creed called the Way of the Voice that preached the Thu'um should only be used for the worship and glory of the gods rather than martial exploits.[14][3] After he converted to pacifism, he became known as Jurgen the Calm.[14]

The Greybeards[edit | edit source]

The Greybeards are a monastic order who live on the highest mountain peak in all of Tamriel, at High Hrothgar. They follow the Way of the Voice, the pacifist philosophy developed by Jurgen Windcaller that is based largely on their veneration of the Wind as the personification of Kyne, the Nordic aspect of Kynareth. As such, they live in absolute silence in order to better attune themselves to the Voice.[3]

When they speak, storms brew above High Hrothgar, and people are forced to evacuate due to the imminent danger of avalanches. When High King Wulfharth traveled to meet with them believing he was a figure of prophecy, he was blasted to ash.[15] Such is their power, the last time that they spoke was when they announced the destiny of a young Tiber Septim. When they spoke his name, the world shook.[4]

Tiber Septim[edit | edit source]

Tiber Septim

Hjalti Early-Beard, better known as Tiber Septim or General Talos, was a true master of the Voice. He had studied the Voice in Skyrim, and it was said he could rout entire armies with his battle-cry and shout lesser men off their feet.[4] As a general under Emperor Cuhlecain, he led the invasion of Old Hrol'dan and took it back from the Reachmen of High Rock by shouting down the walls.[4][15]

He also endowed an Imperial College of the Voice in Markarth, dedicated to returning the Way of the Voice to the ancient and honorable art of war.

The Last Dragonborn[edit | edit source]

Main article: Last Dragonborn

Ulfric Stormcloak[edit | edit source]

Ulfric Stormcloak—best known for his rebellion against the Third Empire—is a notable Jarl of Skyrim who used The Voice to kill the High King during a duel.[16]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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