Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls
Not to be confused with Arctus.

Zurin Arctus, sometimes referred to as Master Arctus,[1] was the first Imperial Battlemage and Grand Vizier of the Septim Empire during the late Second[2] and early Third Era,[3] as well as a former overseer of the Imperial City until the throne was taken by Talos Stormcrown.[4] It has been said that the Morag Tong assassin Dram was an apprentice of Zurin Arctus.[UL 1]

Zurin Arctus was known to be an astounding tactician as well as an accomplished diplomat and intellectual.[1][4] His magical skill was unmatched by any other mage of his time, which may be attributed to his believed connections to Magnus, the god of magic.[5] Zurin Arctus is typically regarded as the Underking, though his identity is sometimes contested with Ysmir Wulfharth.[4][6]


"Each Event is preceded by Prophecy. But without the Hero, there is no Event."
―Zurin Arctus/the Underking[src]

Zurin Arctus' prominent role in Tamrielic history doesn't truly begin until the ending of the Interregnum and the beginning of the Septim Empire. Originally acting as a protector of the Imperial City, Zurin Arctus would later become Tiber Septim's head Battlemage and one of his most trusted advisers.[4][1] After Talos took the Imperial City and was crowned the Emperor by Zurin himself, he successfully conquered all the Kingdoms of Man. The Underking Wulfharth, who was believed to be one of Tiber's head military consultants, implored Tiber to wage war against the Tribunal of Morrowind as revenge for what they did to Shor at Red Mountain ages ago.[4][7] While Zurin advised against the manner, Tiber was persuaded by Wulfharth's promise of large sums of Ebony to be found in Morrowind. The Underking also promised Tiber that by stealing the Tribunal's power, they could wage war against Second Aldmeri Dominion. A war with the Altmer was, at the time, the farthest thing from the Emperor's mind, who had already sent Zurin to begin peace talks with the King of Alinor.[2][4] With the rising threat of Dagoth Ur in Morrowind, both sides quickly agreed to end the fighting before any significant amount of damage could be done.[8] Zurin Arctus was believed to have secretly met with Vivec to broker this treaty. The terms of peace made Morrowind subject to the Empire, but also allowed the Tribunal to rule Morrowind with near complete autonomy and hold onto all traditional practices. General belief holds that Vivec offered the Emperor the remains of Numidium to uphold their compromise.[4][9] Wulfharth was furious that Tiber would allow the Tribunal to keep their power and decided to abandon Tiber and his Empire.[4]

After the war with Morrowind, Tiber Septim gave Zurin the task of unraveling the mystery of the Numidium,[4] a device which some people incorrectly assume was built by Zurin himself.[10] While studying the history of the grand artifact, Zurin Arctus discovered the stories surrounding the Battle of Red Mountain and the Numidium's true purpose. Zurin would eventually learn that the massive construct was designed to harness the energy of Lorkhan's Heart, and that a similar power source could be used to activate it. While Zurin raved over his discovery, the Emperor realized that the Numidium could be his key to conquering the whole of Tamriel. Reconstructing the Numidium became Tiber Septim's top priority.[4] The Emperor gave the Blades orders to annex the Khajiit territory of Rimmen and remove the populace from the area to create a secret build-site for the Numidium. Zurin was put in charge of reconstructing the Numidium and would be responsible for formulating the controlling device of the Numidium, known as the Totem of Tiber Septim.[11][12][UL 2] Zurin created the Mantella from his own heart and imbued it with his life force to power the Numidium.[11][13] A message was then secretly sent to the Underking Wulfharth, pleading for his aid in destroying Dagoth Ur, but upon his arrival at the Imperial Palace he was ambushed and his life force was captured within the Mantella. In the confrontation, Zurin was killed by the last breath of Wulfharth's heart, roaring a hole in his chest. When the Elder Council arrives, Tiber Septim explained away the event by claiming that Zurin had attempted to assassinate him and usurp his place as Emperor.[4] Tiber Septim reactivated the Numidium with the Mantella and used it to conquer his enemies and later crush all the neutral royal families of Tamriel so that he might replace them with people he knew to be loyal. However, through unknown means, Zurin Arctus is resurrected as The Underking. Sickened by the Emperor's profane use of the great titan, Zurin fought the Numidium to reclaim the Mantella, but in the ensuing fight both were vanquished and the Mantella was blasted into Aetherius. With his life force gone, Zurin fell into a semi-slumber state, relying on the employment of various agents to help him locate his heart.[11][4]


Zurin Arctus was a very intelligent man, often being assigned to study and artifacts such as Numidium and giving crucial advice to Tiber Septim that has won several battles. Zurin was known to prefer diplomacy to warfare and attempted to avoid wars and battles when possible, being quoted as saying "Victory without battle is the acme of skill", and would often try to make it appear to the enemy that they could not win and thus avoid battle. Zurin preferred to use skillful tactics to his advantage rather than overwhelming force to demonstrate his skill as a battlemage, and would purposefully make his armies appear unorganized to make his victories in battle seem more proficient.[4][1]

Zurin strongly believed that in battle, arcane and mundane tactics must be in balance to ensure superiority over the opposing army and that, for a battlemage to show true skill, they should always make sure that a battle can be won before it starts. Zurin was a very illusive tactician on the battlefield and would often trick the enemy into thinking they've won the battle by conserving his armies' power, and then striking the opposing army when they were vulnerable. This tactic was known to have worked extremely well at the Battle of Five Bridges in which he and Tiber routed an army twice their size. Zurin liked to look at war as if it were a tree, writing in his book, The Art of War Magic, "The battle is only a leaf on the tree; if a leaf falls, does the tree die? But when a branch is lopped off, the tree is weakened; when the trunk is girdled, the tree is doomed".[1]

More information[]

Zurin Arctus is believed by many to have possessed some form of supernatural affinity.[11] The King of Worms, a long-lived nemesis of the Underking, expressed with certainty that Zurin Arctus was an incarnation of the early immortal spirit variously known as Arnand or Hans "the Fox".[12][14][UL 3] Many associate him with the god Magnus, believing that the deity inhabited his body and imbued him with divine magical power.[5] Some also state that Zurin Arctus may have been a mortal avatar of Lorkhan,[UL 4] which can be seen through the connections often drawn between Shezarr and the foundation of the Imperial Battlemages.[5] Some sources inconsistently refer to the Mantella as either the heart of Tiber Septim or the heart of Zurin Arctus,[4] no doubt due to the Mantella's obscure origins. Esoteric theories hold that upon the meeting between General Talos and Zurin Arctus, the two unified as the Enantiomorph "Tiber Septim" in order to unite the land and people under a singular ruler. This healing of the schism gave birth to the Mantella, the supposed heart of Tiber Septim.[15][UL 5] Vivec depicts the Emperor in an adjacent manner, that of a "two-headed" Ruling King with no equivalent.[16][17]



Notice: The following are unlicensed references. They are not copyrighted by a ZeniMax Media company, but can still be considered part of The Elder Scrolls lore and are included for completeness.
Imperial Battlemage to the Emperor
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