‘…an abomination abomination of woman and creature fused together.’
With the production of Forbidden Love coming underway, we must delve into the historic path of Skyrim’s Forsworn, an infamous group of people in the land of Skyrim, inhabiting The Reach. Forbidden Love centers around the young Forsworn Chieftain, Cael, which undoubtedly will include interactions with Hagravens.
So…What are Hagravens?
Hagravens were originally witches, witches as in lonely ladies using dark magic for evil deeds and their lust for ultimate power. How do normal humans turn into Hagravens? Basically witches give in to their primal urges and forsake their own humanity, and in return they gain greater control of powerful spells and better resistance to magic. One of the most infamous abilities of the Hagravens is the ability to curse a person to become a werewolf as shown in the quest “Blood’s Honor”, this results in the theories that Hagravens are followers of Hircine, which also makes sense if Hircine, Daedric Prince of Hunters, aids in the ritual of turning witches into Hagravens; though it was never fully confirmed by Bethesda, many strong theories supports this argument.
Hagravens were designed to look like a hybrid between ravens and very old women, evident in game. In Herbane’s Bestiary Hagraven edition, he recalls a vivid image of a Hagraven he encountered as ‘…dull, glass eyes … visage of an old crone sat atop the body of a contorted, misshapen human body adorned with black feathers.’ The book emphasises on the transformation of a witch to the beast, once describing its initial host as ‘a beautiful young woman’ into ‘repulsive creature’.
In the quest: Repentance, we are given more insight to the ritual that takes place as to how one becomes one of these vile beasts. One will need a skeever which must be dismembered, a soul gem, and finally a sacrifice. As previously mentioned, there may or may not be any daedric interferences, as our witch was attacked before the ritual is begun. Finding Hagravens in the witches coven supports that their methods proved successful in the transformation of a Hagraven.
The relationship between the Forsworn and Hagraven’s is dependent on their social structure, in which Hagraven’s are spiritual leaders, greater than Shamans, that give the Forsworn their desired power to win their crusade. The Forsworn revere them, believing they are descendants of the Old Gods (though we know otherwise), the bravest and strongest offer their hearts to the creatures and in return they are rebirthed into Briarhearts, who are much stronger than their former self. Their relationship is much clearer during the short side quest where a Hagraven–known as Melka–asks you to assist her in getting revenge against her sister who took over her tower with a clan of Forsworn. Before you reach Hagraven, Petra, you first encounter simple low level Forsworns; at the end of the dungeon you are attacked by Forsworn of varying types (depending on your character level), keen on protecting their descendant of the Old Gods.
Despite the lack of comment Bethesda ever made about Hagravens–probably because not a lot of people are interested in the beasts–Hagravens are one of the most developed creatures in Skyrim, next to the Giants. We can see from the concept art released by the game studio that they were intended to be horrendous looking, with some designs leaning more towards the bird physicality than that of human. Given the designs and their role in the game, much credit towards Skyrim’s design team is overdue as they have successfully created a mysterious creature in the land of Tamriel that is meant to recreate the same curiosity and fear as that of our modern day Baba Yaga.
With so much content, Bethesda has given to us in a single installation of The Elders Scrolls, the simple yet recurring details gets overlooked and we forget how good of a game and world Skyrim really is. The deep history of multiple factions and families in Tamriel easily forgotten, what with the Harbinger of the End looms around the corner and the Civil war, it is almost as if the history of Skyrim disappearing at the very moment and being rewritten through the eyes of the Imperial and the Aldmeri Dominion. How long will the rich history of Forsworn, Hagravens, and Giants last?
Post written by Arakhiin and edited by Archangel
Images from Skyrim’s original concept art – Artist Adam Adamowicz
Tribute to Adam Adamowicz
Featured Image by Eboni