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Daedra are a race featured in the Elder Scrolls series. They are powerful supernatural entities that inhabit the planes of Oblivion. Although they are generally not bound to the physical world, they were capable of manifesting within the mortal plane of Mundus. They were well-known to the inhabitants of Tamriel, where they are feared by some and worshipped by others.
According to the creation theory espoused by the majority of religious scholars in Tamriel, the Daedra were a product of the battle between the primordial deities Anu and Padomay. The combined blood of Padomay and Anu has formed the Aedra, while Padomay's pure blood formed into the Daedra. Just as Padomay had despised the mortal world, these Daedra were totally alien beings, with no connection to Mundus. According to the book Sithis, Anu isn't a deity of any kind, but is rather a static force without consciousness, personality, intent or will, being immutable static light. Something cannot be created without changing the creator, and Anu is static, and does not change.
It is Sithis, according to this book, that created all things. Sithis sundered the Eternal Anu to create new ideas. Unfortunately, some of these ideas became manifest and desired to be as eternal as Anu.
This created Aetherius and the Aedra. Sithis then created Lorkhan to destroy these false creations, but rather Lorkhan was killed by Trinimac, who became Malacath. Lorkhan was neither Aedra nor Daedra.
Malacath was once Trinimac. It is also said that Meridia used to be an Aedra. However, all Aedra come from the thoughts of Sithis which seek their own permanence, and all the Daedra come from the blood of Sithis.
During the Second Era, in the Alliances war, Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of Domination tried to invade Nirn with his Dark Anchors, but the Vestige defeated him using the Amulet of Kings.
During the Third Era, Mehrunes Dagon, one of the Daedric Princes, attempted to enter Tamriel, during which he came in his true and terrible form. He had his armies invade the continent in a swift and militaristic attack, during the events known as the Oblivion Crisis. The forces of Mehrunes Dagon were repelled when Martin Septim gave his life as a direct avatar of Akatosh, resulting in his death but also closing the gates of Oblivion formerly sealed by the Amulet of Kings. This has ended the Septim bloodline.
Daedra are physically very diverse, ranging in form from humanoid to beast-like to other forms such as an orb of brilliant light and energy, and may be bound by soul to weapons or armor. Although they can be defeated, they are considered immortal, as their soul or animus is sent back to Oblivion in the event that their body is destroyed. When a Daedra's physical form is destroyed, weapons and other items may be taken, but not their armor, as it is bound to Oblivion. After being killed, a Daedra's soul will wander Oblivion and eventually re-constitute its original form; this tortuous period can last centuries.
Daedra appear in many different forms. The most important are the Daedric Princes, powerful spirits who can shape-shift. There are also "lesser Daedra" beings known to be in league with these greater powers. Whether all of these constitute actual Daedra or if some are simply equivalents of the mortal realm's tame animal is as yet unstated.
Daedra generally seem to view mortals as little more than minor amusements, giving some applause whenever a mortal being exceeds their expectations. They do, however, take interest in their worshipers, sometimes considering them foolish, but some Daedra thinking them valued servants. The Daedra see themselves as a superior form of life and feel generally no need for any alliance or truce with any of the mortal races of Tamriel.
Some Daedra may be summoned however. There is a popular notion that the summoned Daedra will then give the summoner a quest or task to fulfill and that the quest's completion will see its participant richly rewarded. Often, these tasks are merely for the entertainment of the Daedra. This is not always so, as Morian Zenas, author of On Oblivion, claims that he was able to successfully summon and speak with Daedra without ever being asked to complete a task or a quest.
Scholars are quick to point out that the characterization of Daedra as "evil" is a gross oversimplification. Whereas the Aedra represent stasis, the Daedra represent fluidity, change and chaos; this causes many Daedra to be seen as destructive. However, mortal concepts of good and evil cannot be easily applied to them, and to the extent that these concepts do apply, Daedra exist at both ends of the spectrum. Amongst the majority of Tamriel's populace, the Daedra are seen as naturally evil, as many concepts of evil are directly relative to the mortal world; for example, most Daedra cause disorder and chaos, which are generally not beneficial to mortal affairs. In many provinces where the human population dominates, (such as Cyrodiil), Daedra are considered outright evil, and Daedra worship is outlawed. This has not stopped cults of Daedra worship from popping up across Tamriel, and in some locations their worship is accepted, or at least tolerated. In particular, the Dunmer of Morrowind align themselves much more closely with the Daedric Princes, especially Azura, than with any of the Nine Divines.
An interesting fact that may explain Mehrunes Dagon's ambitions to conquer Tamriel is that, according to lore in the Elder Scrolls, Daedric spirits never really die. Simply put, Dagon cannot perform the acts that are his namesake, "The Prince of Destruction". As described in "Spirit of the Daedra", the destruction of Oblivion by Dagon is in vain, as it is always reconstructed. On the other hand, Tamriel can be fully destroyed because men are mortal.
Most of the Daedric Princes view the mortal races as little more than a curiosity, and occasionally as sources of entertainment. Sheogorath and Sanguine, for example, can often be found tormenting mortals for their own amusement, but not with the express intent of causing harm. Azura's dealings with mortals, especially her "chosen" Chimer/Dunmer, are almost entirely beneficial, making her the most "benevolent" of the Daedric Princes. Likewise, Meridia is regarded as benevolent due to her hatred of undead, and Nocturnal lends her aid to thieves. Of course, there are a few Princes, such as Mehrunes Dagon, Molag Bal and Boethiah, who do take pleasure from causing harm to mortals, and as such, would fit the common definition of "evil". Even Daedric Lords who appear to represent something "good", such as the Daedric Prince of Order, Jyggalag, can cause severe harm in the mortal world when that aspect is taken to its utmost extreme.
The behavior of the lesser Daedra tend to gravitate towards that of their chosen Lord; Mehrunes Dagon's Dremora have a deep-rooted hatred of men and mer, while the Golden Saints of Sheogorath's realm interact with them as not-quite-equals. Any natural tendencies of a summoned Daedric creature are supplanted by the will of the conjurer, as can be seen by the Tribunal's frequent use of Dremora as guards and protectors. It should be noted, however, that a Daedra will often turn on its summoner should it be inadvertently released from their will.
Daedric Princes are the most powerful of the Daedra, and thus the ones most commonly worshiped as gods. Each has a particular sphere (plane of oblivion as described in detail in The Doors of Oblivion), which it is said to govern. Although Daedric Princes may assume the form of a female or male, they have no inherent gender, and are all referred to as "Princes".
There are a total of seventeen known Daedric Princes and each one has a plane of Oblivion. The most commonly known princes are Azura and Mehrunes Dagon.
Daedra were widely worshiped in the realms of Tamriel with many shrines located throughout the land. Those who worshiped Daedra saw them as gods, their conceptions of their respective Daedric gods varying widely. Mainstream religious authorities such as the Church of the Nine Divines disapproved of the practice. Thus, worshipers were often driven away from various localities in processes resembling of witchhunts, though during the process many participants were often surprised at the sane, down to earth nature of many of the Daedric worshipers (save Mehrunes Dagon's and Sheogorath's) possess, which contrasted greatly with the common perception of blood-drinking baby-eaters.
Historically, Orsimer and Dunmer were commonly Daedra worshipers, but that has changed recently; The Orcs (Orsimer) who lived in Orsinium mostly worship Trinimac, the former Aedric incarnation of Malacath from before the Velothi exodus, while Imperial missions into Morrowind have won converts to the Church of the Nine Divines.
Towards the end of the Third Era Daedra worship became increasingly more prevalent across Tamriel, with several new shrines being established in Cyrodiil and beyond. The popularity of such worship has created some speculation and rumor amongst citizens of Cyrodiil, some expressing alarm and fear, others curiosity. It is possible for one curious of the practice of worship to visit several Daedra shrines in Cyrodiil (or any other province of Tamriel).
Daedra worshipers often related that they felt "called" to worship the Daedra, and thus worshiped by choice. Most times a worshiper followed a Daedra that most closely parallels their own conscience. For example, a follower of Nocturnal, the Daedric Prince of Night, might feel a kinship with the darkness, whereas a follower of Mehrunes Dagon may have a great hunger for power.
While the Daedric princes in Skyrim do have their own shrines, most of them don't have a particular blessing that can be gained from activating these statues and the like, being reserved for their actual quests and nothing else. The exception is Nocturnal, who gets a shrine to her places in the Ragged Flagon after completing Darkness Returns.
Daedra have amongst their ranks some reptilian creatures, most of which serve Mehrunes Dagon or Molag Bal. The Daedroth resembles a large, bipedal crocodile, with sharp claws and teeth. The teeth of the Daedroth can be used in potions, and are worth a fair amount to merchants. These Daedra breathe fire, and are capable of inflicting much damage in combat.
Another reptilian Daedra is the Clannfear, a bipedal creature with a beaked mouth, bony crest and small arms with extremely sharp claws, their skin is heavily scaled, with small spikes cresting their face and forehead. If slain, a Clannfear's claws can be sold for a fair price in stores. There is also a weaker version of the Clannfear: Clannfear Runts. They are visibly smaller, and have a much lower attack strength than their larger brethren. Even though Clannfear are smaller, they can be more dangerous than Daedroth due to their ability to reflect damage, a high defense and very quick attacks.
See the Atronach page for more information.
- Golden saint/Aureal
- Dark seducer/Mazken
- Knight of Order
- Winged Twilight
- Spider daedra
Trivia & NotesEdit
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