Before we begin, I’d like to remind everyone that this is my own understanding of the Towers, and not necessarily the whole truth of the matter. You may have other ideas. If so, I’d love to hear them. Please feel free to leave a comment below, tweet me @aramithius or join the Written in Uncertainty Discord. At any rate, please go through the sources yourself, rather than just taking what I say at face value.
A slight additional disclaimer here, we’ll be delving into some developed texts that some people may not consider canon pretty extensively. I discussed my approach to canon in the first Written in Uncertainty podcast, if you want my take on that.
What are the Towers?
The Towers are Towers with a capital T; they aren’t your usual mage towers where people go and sit and make spells and are just brick and mortar. They are something else; conduits in a way that’s similar to ley lines, although their geographical location at least some of them may not be particularly important, but they do a variety of things to the land and the world around them, and are special for that reason.
The first two Towers that we know of were created by the Aedra when Mundus was created. The first one was “the first spike of unassailable reality”, called Ada-Mantia, or the Adamantine Tower. The second was Red Mountain, or Red Tower, or Red-Heart, which was created when Lorkhan’s heart was plucked from his chest and shot across Nirn by… someone, probably Auri-El, if you go by the most conventional myths, and where it landed, created Red Mountain. Red Mountain then became a Tower.
The rest of them were created in imitation of Ada-Mantia, in imitation of that spike of unassailable reality by the various types of Aldmer. They became emblematic of the schism(s) of the Aldmer as they spread throughout Tamriel. To quote from the text that introduced Towers to us, the Nu-Mantia Intercept, which we got in 2005, before The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was released, posted by Michael Kirkbride on the Bethesda forums:
As they were the most powerful of lesser spirits in the ages after the Convention and eager to emulate what they saw, the Aldmer began construction of their own towers. That they built more than one shows you that they were not of one mind.
Now that brings up some interesting ideas, about what Towers can potentially be, in particular the culmination or an expression of culture. And they were introduced explicitly in the Nu-Mantia Intercept, although there were a few hints that we got in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. For example, the text Before the Ages of Man does things like capitalising the Adamantine Tower and the Crystal Tower, whereas when it talks about the wizard towers of Bal Isra, and those sorts of things, they’re not capitalised, which makes me think that these ideas of the Towers being present in something special, at the very least, was around during Morrowind’s development.
But the first time that we get an actual confirmation of the Towers in the way that they’re referenced in the Nu-Mantia Intercept is in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, where it gets talked about in the Prophecy of the Dragonborn, where the last words of the poem almost at the end of the Book of the Dragonborn is all about the Towers:
When misrule takes its place at the eight corners of the world
When the Brass Tower walks and Time is reshaped
When the thrice-blessed fail and the Red Tower trembles
When the Dragonborn Ruler loses his throne, and the White Tower falls
When the Snow Tower lies sundered, kingless, bleeding
The World-Eater wakes, and the Wheel turns upon the Last Dragonborn.
This links very much to what was talked about in the Nu-Mantia Intercept, but not quite in the names they’re given in the intercept, but in terms of similar enough that you can identify them.
Just so that we can get it clear, I want to lay out what the Towers that we know of so far are:
- The first Tower, the spike of unassailable reality as it’s called in the Intercept, is Ada-Mantia, the Adamantine Tower, which is in High Rock on the island of Balfiera
- Red-Heart or the Red Tower is Red Mountain in Morowind
- Snow-Throat or the Throat of the World is in Skyrim
- Green-Sap or Falenisti is in Valenwood
- Crystal-Like-Law or the Crystal Tower in Summerset
- Walk-Brass or the Numidium is mobile and has been in various places throughout Tarmiel’s history
- The Orichalc Tower was in Yokuda
- White-Gold Tower is in Cyrodiil
We also possibly have some other towers that have attempted to imitate these in the Doomspire in High Rock and the Coral Tower in Thras. But I’ll get those a bit later. They’re not really towers for now.
What do the Towers do?
Do the Towers Stabilise Reality?
The most common theory is that they hold up Mundus. That’s what you’ll hear most people saying that the Towers are the things that keep Munda stable and solid. That’s derived from this particular point of the Nu-Mantia Intercept:
They are magical and physical echoes of the Ur-Tower, Ada-mantia. Ada-mantia was the first spike of unassailable reality in the Dawn, otherwise called the Zero Stone. The powers at Ada-mantia were able to determine through this Stone the spread of creation and their parts in it.
If Ada-Mantia’s defining characteristic is “unassailable reality”, the ability to make things solid and real, and the other Towers are echoes of it, then they’re all acting as spikes of unassailable reality in their own way. So they’re creating little “reality zones” if you like amid the sea of chaos that Mundus would otherwise be. We get from that the idea tha it’s potentially holding up Mundus, although it’s not immediately obvious. It’s stated in the Elder Scrolls novels in somewhat planar terms, although it’s possibly a little vague. In the infernal city. We have this passage from The Infernal City, talking about the White-Gold Tower:
“Well, some think that the White-Gold Tower—and some other towers around Tamriel—help, well, hold the world up, or something like that. Others believe that before the Dragon broke, the tower helped protect us from invasion from Oblivion.”
“It holds up the world?”
“I’m not saying it right,” he replied, realizing he couldn’t actually remember the details of that tutorial. “They help keep Mundus—the World—from dissolving back into Oblivion. Or something like that. Anyway, everyone seems to agree it has power, but no one knows exactly what kind.”
If we go to some other sources when we think about ths Tower, Lady Cinnabar in Subtropical Cyrodiil: A Speculation says that the White-Gold Tower has “reality-affirming properties”.
I think it’s possible that it’s just the first two, that it’s just Ada-Mantia and Red-Heart that potentially stabilise Mundus. This is because if it wasn’t those two, and it needs the other ones, how was the world’s stable enough for the Aldmer to build the other Towers? How was reality stable enough?
Part of that I think is connected to how the world unfolded after Convention. We have this particular passage from Before the Ages of Man:
When Magic (Magnus), architect of the plans for the mortal world, decided to terminate the project, the Gods convened at the Adamantine Tower [Direnni Tower, the oldest known structure in Tamriel] and decided what to do. Most left when Magic did. Others sacrificed themselves into other forms so that they might Stay (the Ehlnofey). Lorkhan was condemned by the Gods to exile in the mortal realms, and his heart was torn out and cast from the Tower. Where it landed, a Volcano formed. With Magic (in the Mythic Sense) gone, the Cosmos stabilized. Elven history, finally linear, began (ME2500).
So we see there that the creation of Red-Heart is the final act of making the cosmos stable and potentially introducing new elements to it. The text itself credits Magnus leaving and magic leaving making the place a bit more stable, so maybe it’s not even the Towers after Ada-Mantia that stabilise reality. The Red Tower may have introduced mortality, or at least the act of creating the Red Tower in the murder of Lorkhan being the act which introduced mortality as a concept into Mundus, which is an interesting little aside, but not directly do the Towers.
Do the Towers express, or hold up, a culture?
The other Towers are built by various kinds of mer. They are Merethic towers, so to speak. And each expresses the various cultural goals and identity of the murder that created them. And again from the Nu-Mantia Intercept we have:
The Aldmer began to split along cultural lines, on how best to spread creation and their parts in it. Each Tower that was built exemplified a separate accordance.
Remember the earlier quote, which talked about building multiple Towers and how they didn’t just build one and were not of one mind? They were saying, well, this is us, this is the ultimate expression of us and who we are now. The building of each new Tower is essentially a divergence of the Aldmer into something else. Aurbic Enigma 4: The Elden Tree backs this up:
The Aldmeri or Merethic Elves were singular of purpose only so long as it took them to realize that other Towers, with their own Stones, could tell different stories, each following rules inscribed by Variorum Architects. And so the Mer self-refracted, each to their own creation, the Chimer following Red-Heart, the Bosmer burgeoning Green-Sap, the Altmer erecting Crystal-Like-Law, et alia.
Each of the Towers becomes the expression of each type of Aldmer, as both as a cause and a consequence of the fracturing of Aldmeris.
There’s also the idea that the Towers each shape their local reality, and acts as a geographic locus, as well as being an expression and stabilisation of the culture. Again from Arabic Enigma:
The spike of Ada-Mantia, and its Zero Stone, dictated the structure of reality in its Aurbic vicinity, defining for the Earth Bones their story or nature within the unfolding of the Dragon’s (timebound) Tale.
So if we follow that idea, it’s saying that Ada-Mantia the tower is defining physics and reality for everything around it. And again, from Subtropical Cyrodiil: A Speculation:
I would posit that, through their collective “possession” of such Towers in their realms, over time the Elves actually amended their local reality to conform to their desires.
So the Towers don’t just express who and what the mer are to themselves and others in a mythic sense, but the Towers affect the reality around them, make it conform to that cultural ideal. Lady Cinnabar goes on to express it a little further:
Thus the Summerset archipelago, in the sphere of the Crystal Tower, is a warm and paradisiacal domain perfectly adapted to the Altmer. And Cyrodiil, in the sphere of the even-more-powerful White-Gold Tower, became a warm and subtropical jungle—which suited the ease-loving Ayleids.
But then the slaves of the Heartland High Elves rose up against their masters, conquered the valley of the Nibenay, and the Ayleids ruled no more. Thereafter, White-Gold Tower was the center of a human empire, peopled by Nedes and Cyro-Nords who originated in cooler, northern climes. And so the Tower of Cyrodiil responded to the desires of its new masters.
So we’re getting the idea that the Towers all exemplifying a specific accordance, to use the Intercept’s terms, and in accordance with that they are doing different things. They’re saying that the Ayleids are not the Aldmer, and that the Altmer on not Ayleids, and that the Chimer are neither. The Towers are of course going to look different. They’re going to project different atmosphere, they’re going to be able to have different capabilities if you like. But again, but core thing is they are an expression of each race’s truth, whatever that may be. And as I mentioned in the cast on CHIM, the idea of imposing your desired reality upon Mundus is what truth is in The Elder Scrolls, it’s saying that you are willing reality to be a particular way and then forcing reality to comply with those desires. And the Towers are absolutely about that. The only unified purpose that the mythic Towers really have is the imitation of Ada-Mantia that that desire for Mundus to still be Mundus, so to speak.
Towers and Stones
We also have from the Intercept the idea that they harvest creatia from Oblivion, which is a function of their Stones, which have come up in a few of the quotes.
First of all, it’s not magic, or it’s something else. It’s discussed in the Loremaster’s Archive: Effects of the Daedric Invasion and text called Chaotic Creatia: The Azure Plasm. It’s the raw stuff of Oblivion from which creation is has emerged. It’s raw potential, which can then be used, bent and shaped in whatever ways. If you think about Mundus being ice, creatia is the water from which it emerged (The Waters of Oblivion, maybe?).
The Towers also have their Stones which are echoes of the Zero Stone of Ada-Mantia, as the other Towers echo Ada-Mantia itself. According to The Nu-Mantia Intercept, Stones
dictate things about the Towers, and they are the source of their power. They are the “on switch” is in several ways, and you can change the Stone of the Tower and you change the Tower itself, as the Ayleids who arrived in Valenwood were trying to change the Perchance Acorn, which is the stone of Green-Sap, hoping to make another White-Gold Tower in so doing. The Stone is the conduit of creatia, and in a way dictating how it is shaped; if we go back to the metaphor of creatia as water, the shape of the stuff that you pour the water into, is dictated by the Tower’s Stone.
We don’t have confirmed stones for all of the towers, but I’ll give the ones we do here:
- The Zero Stone of Ada-Mantia is Convention
- The First Stone of Red-Heart is Lorkhan’s Heart
- The Perchance Acorn of Green-Sap
- The Amulet of Kings of White-Gold
- The crystal Transparent Law of Crystal-Like-Law
The precise nature of the other stones are a matter of deduction and conjecture by the lore community.
I started off talking about the differences for the towers, and I think this is probably the best chance to do that, and then talk about what each of the Stones does, so that you can get a sense of the different Towers, the different Stones, how they interact, and how they’ve evolved.
Ada-Mantia’s Stone is Convention itself, the event of deciding that creation was going to carry on that the gods were going to exist in this reality. We know that there is power in the place that leads to the Zero Stone, called the Aperture in the text Once, but we don’t know a lot more than that. The Direnni elves who lived on Balfiera on High Rock tried to harness its power, but they didn’t really have much success. It was kind of a rite of passage for the big Direnni families that, once in their life, they would go down to the Zero Stone and try and work out how to harness the power that was in there. But none of them really pulled it off.
What is technically the second Tower, but called the First Stone in the Nu-Mantia Intercept (the Zero Stone is the Zero Stone, going zero and then one) is the Heart of Lorkhan that created Red Mountain after it was shot there by Lorkhan or flung there by Akatosh or Trinimac or whoever dealt with it, there’s all sorts of myths. The heart acted as the stone of the Tower and created the Tower where it landed,is the only example we have of the Stone creating the Tower itself. It didn’t really seem to do much until the Dwemer tapped it, trying to use the tones that it produced. Although I think the Cimer and later the Dunmer are possibly a better expression of Lorkhan’s plan; if you look at the Chimer Exodus and the kind of messages that are Boethiah was giving to Veloth, the “Tri-angled truth” and other things, then the Chimer and the Dunmer and expression of Lorkhan’s plan in a way that other cultures really haven’t been. So then being in the same location of Lorkhan’s Heart is very appropriate.
This is a bit of a weird one, because we don’t know who built it. It’s not a Merethic one but it’s not explicitly mentioned as one created by the Aedra either. We don’t know how it started. But given that the Nords consider that they were born there, breathed out by Kyne, it’s possible that Kyne created it, or at least that the closest we can get to a possible creation point for it. There’s been an awful lot more speculation about what Stone of snow throat is, as Skyrim isthe first game that really confirmed the Towers as a thing.
In particular, we’ve got from the Book of the Dragonborn that it “lies sundered, kingless, bleeding” So what does that mean for what the Stone is, if the Stone is the core expression of Tower, what is sundered, kingless and bleeding at the time of The Elder Scrolls 5? It’s not something that we really know that may well be the Nords themselves, if you take it literally is the expression of that most mannish race of men, which is a little weird, given that Towers are most often associated with mer, but that you are. We do have some comments from Michael Kirkbride saying that he intended it to be a cave,and that got very, very heavily speculated about in all sorts of directions. The most obvious one is that it’s Blackreach. I really don’t think so personally, unless you start maybe looking at the Atherium Forge as something to do with it, but quite how that connects to the Throat of the World, and the kind of myth-echoes that we generally associate with towers, I don’t see it myself, but it’s been posited as a possibility.
From there, the community went on the point that the caves are generally metaphorical, you’re talking you Plato’s cave, in the Allegory of the Cave, that that reality is a shadow of a greater reality of reality, which doesn’t feel that much like the Elder Scrolls, unless you squint a bit.
Although that said, there’s the idea that within the story of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, just to give a quick recap, you’ve got people looking at flickering shadows on the wall of cave that’s only got a fire going on. And they’ve seen that those flickering shadow for so long that they think that the shadows are reality. Eventually, someone breaks free and goes outside sees the real world sees that the shadows they’ve been seeing are just pale reflections of the things moving around outside the cave. And that person then goes back tells all the other people about it, who don’t believe him and killed him. If we then look at that, within the context of the Elder Scrolls, you’ve got Lorkhan, seeing the “I” that is the Tower, outlined in Vehk’s Teaching. There’s also another cave that has been used to the metaphor for this the Cave of Carl Jung, which is almost an elaboration of Joseph Campbell’s ideas, I suppose. Or maybe something prior to Campbell, but also referenced in the Jungian sense in The Empire Strikes Back. Jung’s’s cave is a place of transformation, somewhere that you go to undergo an ordeal and emerge as a new and different thing.
So with those sorts of things in mind, are we looking at Snow-Throat as a reflection of reality as a whole? I don’t think so. Jung’s cave as a place of transformation, Snow-Throat and the men as a vessel through which to transform reality as a whole, that idea I could get behind. It’s quite a nice fit for the mythic role of men, if you like, think we possibly got to leave that idea there because I’m not thought it through that much.
The Tower of Green-Sap, also called Falinesti, has as its Stone the Perchance Acorn. Green-Sap has been called called “manifold and several” because it could have been different things. And because it could have been different things, it was lots of different things. This is quite a bit like the Bosmer race in that they took forever to find a definite form, and they can also be a lot of different shapes, have antlers, all sorts of bestial features, transform into a formless mass as part of the Wild Hunt and so on. The Perchance Acorn being the stone is something that has been pretty much confirmed in the text Aurbic Enigma 4: The Elden Tree. But when we discussed Bosmer culture on the Selectives Lorecast recently the idea was put up that the Stone of Green-Sap was the sap of the trees, and that idea of kind of flowing and changing and being an expression of the whole ecosystem itself feels quite a nice fit. But I’ve got precisely nothing outside of tinfoil hat speculation to support that idea.
The Crystal Tower the apex of Altmer civilsation for an awfully long time. The stone was revealed to be Transparent Law, a crystal, thanks to The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset. It was claimed by Michael Kirkbride to be a person before that Elder Scrolls Online solved this (if you want to see it that way) in a really nice way. The head of the Psijic Order, Ritemaster Iachesis, he had Transparent Law hidden in his chest. which feels very much like a nod to Kirkbride comment that it was a person, because at one point it was in a person.
There’s a text called The Crystal of the Tower that talks about Transparent Law being an expression of the perfection of the Altmer:
Obviously, theories concerning the Transparent Law and its significance to the Crystal Tower abound within the College of Sapiarchs. I like to believe that the crystal absorbs the drive for perfection that marks the Altmer and reflects it back, driving away any imperfections that would weaken or endanger the island. Not everyone agrees with me, but I see a correlation between the pride and admiration our people feel for the Crystal Tower and the feeling of security and safety that it, in turn, projects across the land. It is a symbiotic relationship.
Or, it could just be ancient Aldmer magic. Who can really say?
So we have that idea of Crystal-Like-Law and its Stone being an expression of that perfection, and to an extent the very notion of a crystal as a perfectly formed thing, with its very, very precisely aligned molecules and particular geological conditions for the formation of a crystal, crystals almost require perfection as an idea anyway.
One of the other things that the Elder Scrolls Online has brought up with regard to the Crystal Tower is that he is able to exist in all places at once. We have this dialogue from Sotha Sil in The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset:
“The Crystal Tower exists on multiple planes of reality simultaneously and possesses capabilities we do not fully understand.”
“The tower straddles every reality. Its true purpose remains lost to time, but I theorize it was created as a watchtower of sorts. A doorway to everywhere.
It stands to reason, then, that the tower is the key to omnipresence.”
Now we don’t quite know what omnipresence means. There’s a sense that we have there from multiple planes of reality that it could potentially also exist in Oblivion or in all the different realms of Oblivion as well as Mundus, as well as Atherius. Or it could given that
Sotha Sil also talks about the Crystal Tower, giving Nocturnal infinite options in places to be and straddling every reality, with Oblivion as part of the same reality that is the Aurbis, then the Crystal Tower, could, in theory, cover different timelines, maybe allow you to dimension-hop in a way that we haven’t really seen before in The Elder Scrolls. The word multiverse is used here, which also hints that that particular interpretation. What that precisely means for what the Crystal Tower is, it’s projecting a spike of unassailable reality, defined by the Altmer everywhere. It is making sure that there is reality everywhere. Which is a very loud metaphysical announcement of the way that things should be. It again echoes that driving for perfection, which the other towers don’t, in that reality is going to be this way everywhere, which is a really interesting idea, the idea of something being so present and perfect.
This links to ideas that were happening in the 18th century in terms of how people thought about philosophical arguments for the existence of God. Leibniz in particular, put forward an argument that because the idea of perfection and the idea of God was present at all, which meant that there was a God, and if God was actually perfect, he must exist, because existence is more perfect than non-existence. If you think about Transparent Law in that way, being something that transcends planes that transcends particular realms of existence, that potentially be a reason for why if you’re looking for a central anchor point, the central ambition to strive towards perfection in whatever form, in whatever place, is possibly where they were going with the idea of Transparent Law and the Crystal Tower being everywhere at once.
Walk-Brass, the Numidium, was made by the Dwemer in an attempt to make themselves into a new god and transcend back up the creation of gradients and make themselves level with the other original spirits. If you want to hear more about that, please go back and listen to my podcast on what happened to the Dwemer, I go into quite a bit of detail about what I think the medium is and how it works. I’m only going to cover things in a little bit in brief here.
The stone of walk brass was originally potentially the Heart of Lorkhan because that’s how it was designed, but it was never activated in that way. So there’s been a fan consensus that considers the Mantella, the big soul gem that was created by Tiber Septim specifically to power the Numidium as being it’s Stone.
Now, this implies that the Stones of a Tower can be changed can be switched around and messed with in various ways, which almost feels like it shouldn’t be able to be done, that Towers and Stones are inassailable reality that once they are set in place, they are rock solid, never be shaken (until they fall maybe). But we do have some senses that things like this can be altered. If we go back to the Aurbic Enigma text, it tells about how the Ayleids in Valenwood were trying to change Green-Sap into another version of White-Gold, and in doing so altering the Stone, playing around with the Perchance Acorn. So it’s possible from that, that you can switch out one Stone for another and thereby maybe change what a particular Tower is about. So that might be an explanation as to why the Numidium was used in the way was. It potentially wasn’t a tool for conquest, but it was used in that way by Tiber Septim to conquer Tamriel and helped him to rule. It could also be why things go a little haywire. If you then look at what happens with Numidium in C0DA; it comes back and destroys the whole world. It’s that expression to conquer to dominate, that could possibly be part of it. And then you’ve also got various other bits that link into the Dwemer’s philosophy of negation and world refusal and saying nothing is real or kind of playing into what the Numidium becomes. There’s an awful lot of know “You shall not exist!” and it is so in how the new medium is portrayed in C0DA that we don’t really know enough about the original structure and purpose of the Numidium to be able to say that for sure, it’s just the way things seem at the moment.
The Amulet of Kings has been specifically called out in several places as Stone of the White-Gold Tower, and it was designed to ape the structure of Mundus and thereby control it. If we think about the way the Aurbis is structured. The way that is most commonly put across is that it’s as a wheel that Mundus is the hub of the wheel, the eight Aedra, the Gift Limbs, that stabilise it are the spokes of the wheel, and then everything that surrounds it is the rim. The White-Gold Tower is presented like this in the Intercept:
Though the Ayleids gave theirs a central Spire as the imago of Ada-mantia, the whole of the polydox resembled the Wheel, with eight lesser towers forming a ring around their primus. To dismiss this mythitecture as being a mockery of the Aurbis is to ignore an important point: this same “jest” gave White-Gold Tower a power over creatia unalike any on this plane(t). It was a triumph of sympathetic megafetish, and the Start of the [Threat! To! Empire!] that brings me to this Council.
If the Ayleids made their own Wheel within the Wheel, were-web aad semblio, what would happen if they plucked its strings?
Now there’s a few bits there to unpack. The first being the phrase sympathetic megafetish. This is not just jargon that’s been smashed together. Although I think it’s possibly a bit tautological. Sympathetic is used here in the sense of one thing being like, or feeling like, or expressing something similar to, something else. It’s the idea of “as above, so below,” which is a cornerstone in hermetic philosophy and theosophy. This is why alchemists in this world strive to turn lead into gold; it’s a reflection of transforming their souls into something else. It’s why voodoo dolls are used: you make something that looks like the other person and do things to that doll with the expectation that the person will then feel those effects. That’s what a fetish is, it’s also called a poppet in some traditions.
Slight divergence here, the term fetish originally got it sexual meaning from the works of Sigmund Freud, it was the observation that some people got sexual pleasure not from the act of sex itself, but from something else which stood in for sex, they would do something with or to a particular object, which they had fetishised, which they had associated with sex on some level, which then gave them their sexual pleasure, they made a fetish for sex out of something else. They were doing something to something in the expectation of sexual pleasure happening, that’s where the word gets, it’s more modern usage, but it still has this older meaning of doing something to something in the expectation that it happens to something else. That’s that’s the basic idea of a sympathetic megafetish. The Ayleids made a model of the entire Aurbis, and so by modifying the structure of that Tower, doing whatever they they were doing to it, they would adjust the Aurbis itself.
I think this is probably a good point to bring up an artefact that was also constructed by an Ayleid in the imitation of the Towers to alter the structure of Mundus. The Staff of Towers was made by Anumaril, with segments and parts that were either made from the towers or made in imitation of the towers. It’s not entirely clear what from the sources but it was made to help the Ayleids control wherever they were doing things to Mundus. It was broken apart pretty much as soon as it was constructed, and there’s a big part in Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset about making sure that the staff towers is once again in pieces and it can never be used again.
It was used at one point in history to alter the fundamental structure of Mundus, we have the Marukhati Selectives using it, which was I think, in this world chronologically, the first time the Staff of Towers was mentioned. They assembled i out of eight pieces, and used it as part of their ritual to break the Dragon in the First Era, and reassemble the bits of Akatosh. So even these imitations of Towers built in this particular way can be used to shape reality.
There’s also a comment that got made by my Kirkbride which possibly apes this sort of idea I can’t remember where it is, I’ve looked for it, I can’t find it. But it was the idea of the Thalmor potentially using the White-Gold Tower to shoot Talos out of heaven. And if you do that by plucking on the strings of the White-Gold Tower, so to speak, by adjusting the Wheel by doing something to it, then you have a power over reality in the same way that several magic traditions in this world have suggested for quite a while.
the final tower is the one we know the least about really the Orichalc Tower of Yokuda. Kirkbride has stated it is “a sword”, but we don’t know more than that. And no one really wants to talk about it that much. Although it may well be there’s some link between Orichalcum the metal. it seems that way as when the Redguards first developed or found Orichalcum, they attached a Promethean type story to it. One of the gods, Diagna if I remember rightly, found Orichalcum, and brought it to them as part of a way of ending their war with the Left-Handed Elves. So it’s possible that the finding and production of Orichalcum itself is in some way connected to the Orichalc Tower, that the use of Orichalcum is in some way an expression of the Regard people and their culture. But again, I don’t honestly know.
Are there Fake Towers?
That’s all the examples that we have of Towers that are definitely Towers, but we have two examples of possible Towers, the Doomspire or Doomcrag in High Rock, and the Coral Tower of Thras.
it’s said in one of the loading screens for the Elder Scrolls Online by Phrastus of Ehlnir:
Morachellis speculated that the Ayleids who built the great spire above Erokii were attempting to create a metaphysical structure that would be a focus of Aurbic power, much as the Adamantine Tower is said to be. I have no idea what that means.
That again, would fit with the story that we have in Aurbic Enigma, and that the Ayleids once they were displaced from Cyrodiil and fled to Valenwood. They were attempting to rebuild their civilisation rebuild their culture by constructing another White-Gold Tower, or just another Tower to try and re establish themselves as a cultural power, as something that has influence over the areas that they find themselves in. We don’t have much more apart from that loading screen to go off unfortunately. It really feels like it should be the case that that’s what they were trying to do, but we don’t know that much else about it.
The Coral Tower of Thras, connected to the Sload is another potential Tower; it may be an imitation, and if we draw parallels to other Crystal-Like-Law, there’s a version of the Coral Tower in Coldharbor as well as on Nirn. However, this is explicitly being called out as not something that is very short in the Elder Scrolls Online Loremaster’s archive it’s left very much as an open question so these things that might be Towers, but they might not be.
What happens when the Towers are destroyed?
We’ve gone through all the Towers and possible Towers we can now think about what happens when stuff is done to them there’s a lot of talk in the community about destroying the stone and deactivating towers. We do have this particular pattern that seems to be emerging within the Elder Scrolls games, there’s the idea of if you destroy the Stone you destroy the conduit through which the Tower harnesses creatia and renders it pretty much useless.
The Destruction of Cultures?
There is a pattern with emerging when the Elder Scrolls games that
there’s been a stone destroyed or a tower destroyed in each Elder Scrolls game.
- In The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, the Mantella is lost and the Numidium destroyed. This is partly where we get the link to the Mantella potentially being the Numidium’s Stone.
- The Heart of Lorkhan “freed”, or unbound, or possibly destroyed in Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.
- There is the destruction of the Amulet of Kings at the end of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a bit trickier. The Prophecy of the Last Dragonborn states that Snow-Troat “lies sundered King listen bleeding”, but that doesn’t sound like deactivated to me. There’s some possibility that what what the Last Dragonborn does to Alduin, in some way deactivates the Stone, it’s possible that through the resolution of the time wound atop of the Throat of the World that the Stone is destroyed there, or deactivated at least but again, that’s the least certain of the ones that we have.
Thinking further about the destruction of the stones, Val_Ritz’s thread highlighted earlier points out that each culture has had serious problems once the Tower they’ve attached to has been tampered with. In brief, the Dunmer had the Red Year after the Nerevarine did stuff to the heart. The Cyrodiils had the end of the Septim dynasty after the Amulet was destroyed. The old Altmer royalty is deposed, and the Thalmor rise up after the Crystal-Like-Law is destroyed during the Oblivion Crisis. There is a suggestion that the trees of Valenwood have already been altered; the Ayleids meddling with Green-Sap is given as a reason for the trees of Valenwood don’t move anymore.
The Destruction of the World?
There’s also the idea that if you destroy all the Towers, if you remove all the Stones, Mundus will be destroyed. I think that’s possibly half right. If you take away all the spikes of unassailable reality, it then gets you back to an “assailable reality”, back to things that can be but don’t have to be. It brings you back to a state of impermanence, which is pretty much the way that the Dawn Era was.
So you’ve got events happening all at once. You’ve got nothing lasting, everything and nothing all at once. This is in line with the prevalent theory that the Towers are holding up reality, if you remove all unassailable reality. But I only think that would happen if Ada-Mantia were destroyed or deactivated in some way. I don’t think the other towers are really relevant in that particular matter because they were built while Mundus was stable, and so Mundus does not need them to be stable.
There’s another question that keeps on getting asked in relation to the towers is do the Thalmor or want to topple the Towers? Do the Thalmor want to unmake Mundus? I want to discuss that in a bit more detail in the next episode, but for now the short answer for me is: probably not.
That’s pretty much it for this episode, our quick run through of the towers what they do and examples from each of them. Next time we’re going to be talking about the man schism or do the thermal want to end the world? In the meantime, please do subscribe to this podcast on your favourite podcast catcher and join the discussion on the Written in Uncertainty Discord, or leave a comment on this blog.
Until next time, this podcast remains a letter written in uncertainty.
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