The continent of Tamriel is one filled with the most perplexing mysteries. But none more so than in the land of Skyrim. Plagued by civil war and the threat of Alduin, the Dragonborn emerged at a pivotal moment in Skyrim’s history. As you, the Dragonborn, traverse the ancient, snow-capped mountains and rolling hills of Skyrim, you’ll encounter all sorts of things during your adventure. From Draugr-infested tombs to the underground metropolis of the Dwemer, we attempt to reveal and theorise about the top unsolved mysteries in the Skyrim universe.
I’ve played Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim so many times -and added hundreds of mods- I’ve lost count. Its gorgeous landscapes and fantastical creatures drew me in, as well as its in-depth lore and history. But as I played through the dozens of quests and straight through to the two DLCs, there were some burning questions that festered within me.
And so, without further ado, here are the top unsolved mysteries in the Skyrim universe!
1) The Dwemer
Perhaps the absolute, most mind-boggling mystery is that of the Dwemer or Deep Elves. Considered to be Tamriel’s version of dwarves, this technologically advanced race vanished seemingly into thin air. No one knows for certain why or how an entire race of people disappeared, but that’s exactly what happened. At the time, the Dwemer were waging war with both the Chimer and the Falmer, the latter of which they were using as slave labour. The war with the Falmer was known as the War of the Crag, and the Falmer were prepared to face the Dwemer in battle, but victory was unintentionally handed to the former when the Dwemer vanished.
There are many theories as to why the Dwemer disappeared. An old story details how an ancient, wise Dwemer sought to discover if the Daedric Prince Azura’s omniscience had its limits. In the presence of his pupils, he summoned Azura and asked her a question, “What’s in this box?”
To which the Daedric Prince replied that it held a red flower. All stood gobsmacked as the old Dwemer revealed that the box held nothing. In an instant, Azura disappeared in anger, but the old Dwemer kept cackling insanely with the red flower in the folds of his robes. The theory supposes that in tricking and humiliating Azura, the Dwemer paid the ultimate price – their disappearance.
Another theory says that a spell backfired when Kagrenac tried to make the Heart of Lorkhan grant his people immortality. The result? Complete erasure of the Dwemer from the face of Tamriel.
Yet who can say for sure? The disappearance of the Dwemer makes it one of the top unsolved mysteries in the Skyrim universe. Also, if you’re interested in Skyrim lore, check out this awesome YouTube series by ShoddyCast!
2) The Headless Horseman
Did you encounter this spectral figure during your playthrough? Well, I did! Though it spooked me the first (and only) time I saw it, I quickly found out that the Headless Horseman doesn’t really do anything to you. In fact, it just stopped to stare at me before riding off into the darkness. Since this brief meeting, it quickly intrigued me as to who exactly the Headless Horseman was. Also, where was he going?
Apparently, if you’re fast enough you can follow him, where you’ll end up at Hamvir’s Rest. Clearly a graveyard, it’s guarded by a couple of undead skeletons and a Draugr. The most obvious theory is that the Headless Horseman could be one of the undead buried at Hamvir’s Rest. Another theory suggests that the Headless Horseman is Ragnar the Red, from the infamous bard’s tale of the same name you hear in every tavern in Skyrim.
In the song, Ragnar the Red died after he was beheaded by a shieldmaiden. Could this be the Headless Horseman? After all, this is just conjecture. But this ghost continues to haunt all of Skyrim, so something must be wrong that causes him to return.
Maybe he felt humiliated after being defeated by a woman, and so he returns from the afterlife to find her and defeat her once and for all?
Though the identity of this ghost is undeniably puzzling, we may never really know who he was in life. However, the Headless Horseman merits a mention as one of the top unsolved mysteries in the Skyrim universe.
3) The Ideal Masters
The first time the Dragonborn has ever heard of the Ideal Masters was during the Dawnguard DLC. Though we never actually see them in the game, they’re mentioned throughout the DLC. Undoubtedly powerful, the Ideal Masters oversee their own realm of the Soul Cairn, which the Dragonborn and Vampire Princess Serana enter to find the latter’s mother, Valerica.
From what we can tell with the help of Valerica and Durnehviir, the Ideal Masters have a penchant for making twisted deals which entrap their recipients. Take Durnehviir for example. The ancient dragon cut a deal with the Ideal Masters to allow him to obtain an army by using the Soul Cairn’s undead. They agreed, but in exchange, he was to guard their prisoner for as long as she was alive. Durnehviir readily complied. But what he didn’t know was that Valerica was an immortal vampire.
Realising this too late, Durnehviir became a slave for the Ideal Masters forever. Even if he did his part of the deal, he wouldn’t be able to return to Skyrim long enough without fading into oblivion, as his soul was now tied to the Soul Cairn.
Unlike the Daedric Princes or the Nine (or Eight, if you’re into Talos) Divines, there aren’t really many stories about the Ideal Masters. We don’t know what they look like or what their origins are. This makes them worthy of a mention as one of the top unsolved mysteries in the Skyrim universe.
4) Redguard Soldiers In Whiterun
Known as the quest ‘In My Time of Need’, you meet two Redguard Alik’r Warriors during the Dragonborn’s very first visit to Whiterun. You’re given the option of siding with the Alik’r Warriors, or Saadia, the one whom they’re trying to capture. Although the quest seems pretty straightforward, it was never really revealed who was in the right here. Usually, one of the characters in these type of quests is lying but in this case, who’s speaking the truth is entirely up to the player to decide.
Saadia says she’s blameless, her only crime was speaking out against the oppressive Aldmeri Dominion. While Kemantu, the Alik’r Warrior, believes her to be a traitor for betraying her nation. Siding with either still results in the Dragonborn getting paid, but there isn’t really a satisfying conclusion to the quest.
So, who is truly innocent here? I guess the truth will remain one of the top unsolved mysteries in the Skyrim universe!
5) The Great Collapse
The College of Winterhold is an institution meant to teach magic to magically inclined pupils – basically, the Hogwarts of Skyrim. But as you walk the long bridge you’ll notice that parts of it have crumbled away. According to Skyrim history, it was caused by the Great Collapse which destroyed parts of Winterhold city as well. It’s still uncertain who or what caused this catastrophe, but one theory suggests it was a volcanic eruption of the Red Mountain, but the dates just don’t match up.
Another theory says that it was the College’s mages who were responsible. A spell gone wrong? I’m not sure. But one fascinating hypothesis says that maybe the Last Dragonborn himself/herself is to blame. Apparently, the game developers and writers intended for the player to go through some Time-Travel questline in the College where the Dragonborn inadvertently caused the Great Collapse. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to add it in because they were cutting it too close to the deadline. I must admit, the College of Winterhold questlines were kind of lacklustre. If they did have the time to fully flesh it out and add that Time-Travel storyline it would’ve been made it one of the best Skyrim quests!
However, these theories remain unconfirmed but still warrant a mention as one of the top unsolved mysteries in the Skyrim universe.
Thank you for sticking with us here at Gamer’s Waypoint! Do you have another Skyrim mystery you’d like to share? Comment down below!
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