Creepiest things found in the Elder Scrolls series

The Elder Scrolls has gifted gamers with two decades of high fantasy adventures that have taken us to almost every corner of the mythical land of Tamriel. Players have faced dragons, yetis, evil kings, and civil wars — the kind of stuff you'd expect from a fantasy experience, but there's a lot more to The Elder Scrolls series than that.

In fact, you could make the argument that part of The Elder Scrolls' success over the years is the way the series crosses genres, from fantasy to science fiction (the Dwemer even had airships!) to horror. Indeed, the stories you'll encounter in these games aren't all about brave knights and powerful kingdoms, but also the things that go bump in the night.

Ghosts, necromancers, witches, zombies, werewolves, and vampires populate the darkest corners of Tamriel, waiting to snatch you up, whether it be in one of Morrowind's many crypts or the most haunted house in Skyrim. You could also bear witness to dark rituals, the desecration of corpses, and even cannibalism. Perhaps you'll take a bite yourself! And there's so much more, too.

These are the creepiest things you'll find in The Elder Scrolls series …

Skyrim's house of horrors

Sure, haunted house stories are pretty par for the course these days, but when you enter a particular house in the city of Markarth in the land of Skyrim, things are anything but conventional. When you're tasked by a Vigilant of Stendarr named Tyranus with investigating the house for Daedric activity, you find that the house is actually possessed by Molag Bal, the Lord of Domination!

The booming disembodied voice of Molag Bal speaks to you and Tyranus, promising you that there's no escape from the house. For entering his abode, Molag Bal demands that you kill Tyranus — and whether you want to or not, that's exactly what you'll do as you falter under the Lord of Domination's spell.

After trapping you in a cafe, Molag Bal orders you to go out and find a priest named Logrolf the Willful, whom has been destroying the evil lord's altars throughout Skyrim, and bring him back to the house in order to kill him. If you succeed, you will get Molag Bal's mighty mace … but at the cost of your humanity …

The Dark Brotherhood's Black Sacrament

Most people in Tamriel would rather steer clear of the Dark Brotherhood, the cult-like order of assassins that worship the Daedric princes of Oblivion. A run-in with a Dark Brotherhood assassin most likely means you're dead. It's wise not to cross them.

But if you wish to do business with the Dark Brotherhood, there's a specific way you must summon the order and it's gross as hell. In order to call the Dark Brotherhood, you must perform the Black Sacrament, a ritual that involves desecrating human remains — bones, flesh, heart, and skull — and arrange them in the shape of the person you wish the Dark Brotherhood to kill. Then you have to stab the makeshift corpse while saying the words: "Sweet Mother, sweet Mother, send your child unto me, for the sins of the unworthy must be baptized in blood and fear."

It's sort of like the real-life Bloody Mary mirror game except that the Dark Brotherhood will actually answer your call and reward it with blood of your enemies.

Benirus Manor

After a long quest, what's better than settling down in your very own home? Better yet, how about your own mansion? Oblivion makes it easy for you to get your very own mansion in the land of Cyrodiil, and for cheap! 

When you meet a man named Velwyn Benirus in the city of Anvil, he offers you quite the deal: for the small price of 5,000 septims, you can own Benirus Manor. It's an absolute steal! Of course, there's a catch …

Benirus Manor is already inhabited by the vengeful spirits of slaves who were experimented on by Velwyn's grandfather, a twisted necromancer named Lorgren. The only way to exorcise the spirits from the house is to right past injustices, which means facing off with an undead Lorgren, who travels back to the realm of the living through a portal in the basement.  

Yeah, Benirus Manor is definitely a fixer upper. 

Arondil the Necromancer

There's no shortage of necromancers in Tamriel. These evil mages can bring the dead back to life for their own twisted means and you'll face a bunch of them throughout the series, usually in the farthest reaches of the land, in the dark places where most don't travel. But if you have the misfortune of facing off with one particular master of the dark arts, you're in for one of the creepiest experiences you can find in The Elder Scrolls series.

Arondil, a high elf necromancer who lives in the outskirts of the city of Dawnstar in the coldest part of Skyrim, is one of the most infamous members of his order because of his particular affinity for female ghosts. He summons and enslaves these spirits for his own disgusting pleasure. In fact, if you discover the third part of his journal inside of his cave lair, Yngvild, you'll discover that Arondil not only enslaves the dead, but also lies with them in bed …

The cannibalistic Coven of Namira

Molag Bal isn't the only fright in Markarth. There are also those who stalk the night in search of human flesh to consume. Soon after you arrive to the city, you may hear of the Hall of the Dead, which has been closed by a priest named Verulus. Upon further investigation, you discover that the priest closed the sacred hall because someone has been defiling the corpses.

You soon meet the person responsible: Eola, a member of the Coven of Namira, a cannibalistic cult that worships the Daedric Lady of Decay. If you allow her to live once she reveals the truth, Eola makes you an offer: lure Verulus to the coven's lair in Reachcliff Cave and sacrifice him to Namira. Assuming you're sick and follow through with Eola's plan, you're gifted a most stomach-churning reward: the first bite of Verulus' flesh, the main course of a celebratory feast.

It's possible to kill Eola and the other members of her coven at any time, of course, but something inside you might push you to see just how far you're willing to go to complete another quest …

The Circle of werewolves

Within Skyrim warrior guild The Companions is the Circle, comprised of the organization's senior members. To be a part of the Circle is to be at the top echelon of guild. It also means that you will come to know the faction's darkest secret. You see, the Circle is made up of werewolves.

The Circle didn't start out as a group of werewolves, but after making a deal with witches in exchange for great power, the members were infected with lycanthropy, turning them into vicious beasts. Over time, the Circle learned to cope with their mutation, although some held onto the hope that they would one day be cured.

Upon meeting the Circle, you have the choice to prove yourself worthy of joining the group. It's not until completing some quests with the Circle that you learn their true nature, at which point you're offered to join them and become a werewolf, too!

This is a good example of why you should always read the fine print.

The Gatekeeper of the Shivering Isles

Of all the terrors of Cyrodiil, the Gatekeeper might be the most grotesque of all. This scarred monstrosity can be found guarding the gate to the Shivering Isles, better known as the Realm of Madness.

The Gatekeeper is made up of a patchwork of flesh, sewn together from the remains of those adventurers who have tried to cross the gate to the Shivering Isles and failed. His face is deformed beyond recognition, while one of his arms has been replaced by a giant blade with which to make quick work of those who would dare approach him.

Sewn into the Gatekeeper's skin are the keys to the two regions of the Shivering Isles, which means that you'll have to bring this giant (yeah, he's massive) down if you want to adventure through the Realm of Madness. Leave it to Bethesda to make an even more frightening version of Frankenstein's monster.

Mathieu Bellamon's mother

When the Dark Brotherhood is involved, things are bound to get weird, and probably a bit gory. Indeed, your search for a traitor within the Dark Brotherhood's ranks in Oblivion will lead you down a rabbit hole from which you might not return with your sanity.

Someone inside the organization is plotting to eradicate the Black Hand, the ruling body of the Dark Brotherhood, and it's up to you to find out who is behind it and why. Your investigation takes you to a cellar inside the lighthouse in the city of Anvil, the grisly secret lair of the unidentified culprit. It's a truly gruesome scene filled with the corpses of Dark Brotherhood members and a stinking shrine with a woman's severed head.

You discover from reading the traitor's diary that the head belongs to the murderer's mother. The traitor has hatched his plan in order to avenge the death of his mother, who was killed by a Dark Brotherhood assassin hired by his own father.

We won't spoil the ending of this quest, but let's just say that fans of Psycho and Friday the 13th will be very pleased.

The whispering dead

Few things are as unnerving as hearing the voices of the dead while exploring a cave, dungeon, or tomb. If you're brave enough to visit the ancestral tombs of the Dunmer, better known as Dark Elves, in Morrowind, you're in for quite the scare. These tombs are unsurprisingly haunted by the spirits of those whose remains lie buried in them.

While you might find some conventional ghouls in these tombs, including the vampires or Daedra who sometimes call these morbid places home, other times the scares waiting for you in these crypts are beyond the usual monsters. Sometimes, you can hear the dead inside your head.

As you approach certain tombs, you'll begin to hear a soft murmur. At first, it's nothing more than a low hum, but as you get closer to the ancient graves, you realize that the sound is actually made up of several voices, all speaking to you. Unless you really want whatever loot can be found in these tombs, it's probably a good idea to turn around and go about your business and let the dead rest.

The vampire dreams in Oblivion

The sweet taste of blood isn't the only thing that will keep you up at night if you suffer the misfortune of being infected with vampirism. (Who are we kidding, being a vampire in The Elder Scrolls is awesome!) After encountering vampires and becoming infected in Oblivion, your character will begin suffering from terrible nightmares that feature some of the most macabre and grotesque writing ever showcased in the series.

While you never actually experience the dreams on screen,text prompts in the morning inform you of the visions from the night before. Here's a sampling of what might haunt your character:

"In your dream, you see a beautiful young woman holding an infant to her breast. It is only as you draw near that you realize that the woman is a desiccated corpse and the child is purple and bloated, dying of plague. As mother and child crumble to dust, you awaken."

"You lay on your back, with a blissful feeling of peace swirling through your brain. Your every muscle is relaxed. There is no tension in any part of your body. You feel completely at ease. As your vision comes into focus, you notice others standing around you. As a man leans towards you, you recognize the robes of the Necromancer, and you see a glint of light from his scalpel as it begins to cut through your flesh."

Yeah, nightmare fuel.