Players of the Bloodmoon expansion game to Morrowind will likely have made their way to a remote Skaal village, and may be familiar with these people… or the literary-minded may have encountered rare texts on them in the later Elder Scrolls games.
Is there a clue as to the world of Skyrim that we’re due to visit in what we know of these people, and does their own particular lore and beliefs tie in with the plotline of Skyrim that we know of so far?
The Skaal follow a peculiar branch of Nordic religion, following and venetaring nature – including the trees, the sun and moons and the winds. This drives their shamanic magics, granted to them by the All-Maker (generally believed to be analagous to Alduin elsewhere in Tamriel).
However, they are also conscious of the Adversary, enemy of man, and his sinister right-hand man The Greedy Man. Evidence of this can be found in tomes such as The Story of Aevar Stone-Singer, findable if you go rooting about the townspeoples houses in Temple District, in the Imperial City at the time of Oblivion. An exceprt is reproduced here:
In a time before now, long before now, when the Skaal were new, there was peace in the Land. The sun was hot and the crops grew long, and the people were happy in the peace that the All-Maker provided. But, the Skaal grew complacent and lazy, and they took for granted the Lands and all the gifts the All-Maker had given them. They forgot, or chose not to remember, that the Adversary is always watching, and that he delights in tormenting the All-Maker and his chosen people. And so it was that the Adversary came to be among the Skaal.
The Adversary has many aspects. He appears in the unholy beasts and the incurable plague. At the End of Seasons, we will know him as Thartaag the World-Devourer. But in these ages he came to be known as the Greedy Man.
The Greedy Man (that is what we call him, for to speak his name would certainly bring ruin on the people) lived among the Skaal for many months. Perhaps he was once just a man, but when the Adversary entered into him, he became the Greedy Man, and that is how he is remembered.
(Find the book in the game to read the full account!)
This places the All-Maker and the Adversary in conflict – and the Adversary is also known, if one reads the material available to strip away the strength of the people… a direct parallel to the ability of the World-Eater Alduin to “eat away the years of men” perhaps?
So perhaps the Skaal are on to something – the story of Skyrim, perhaps, is foretold in the Skaals beliefs of the threat of the Adversary?
… and if so, who is the Greedy Man? Might he have a part to play in the main questline in Skyrim?