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The Most Terrifying Enemies In Skyrim

A Dragonborn's main concern while battling their way through Skyrim is the massive, fire-breathing, scaley forces of destruction swooping down from the skies. However, dragons are actually few and far between compared to the myriad of foes an adventurer faces while questing around all the different holds. Not only are there bigger, badder versions of seemingly innocuous creatures like Mudcrabs and Cave Bears native to the frozen wastes, but there are also some undead, magical, many-legged horrors hiding in the dark of tombs and the murk of deep forests.

This isn't to say that the Dragonborn isn't equipped to handle anything that is thrown at them by sadistic Bethesda developers. But we'll be honest: there are some seriously ugly mugs that can surprise and terrify even the highest level of barbarian battlers after slaying nothing but dusty Dragur for a couple of hours. The special edition only made the faces looming out of the depths all the more horrifying for the uninitiated. Although Skyrim isn't a horror game, these terrifying enemies make brief moments of gameplay into one seriously scary experience.

Hate centipedes? You'll love chaurus.

When spelunking in the caverns and chasms beneath Skyrim, the Dragonborn should be worrying about practical things: cave-ins and darkness and flash floods, not giant nightmare insects with a taste for blood. But that's not how the game works. If there's a cave, players can be assured that there is something creepy, crawly, and aggressive scuttling around in the dark.

Chaurus get points for having fewer legs than frostbite spiders, but their massive, pinching mandibles make this creature anything but cute. Chaurus have been domesticated by the Falmer, the equally un-cute, twisted elf-like creatures that live in the lightless depths underground. They use them as the creepiest kind of cattle and as companions as they hunt the chaurus' favorite food: people meat. They hunt using their razor sharp pinchers and a caustic poison that they spray as they chitter and click. This can momentarily blind their opponents and the time that it takes them to blink away the acid can be crucial: these things are pretty fast.

They can also get big. Too big. Concept art shows Falmer riding atop these bastardized earwigs, which would make anyone balk in battle. It's not the giant ones that players should worry about, though. When they're relatively small, maybe the size of dogs, chaurus will stick together in packs and gang up on their enemies. Being splattered with poison from multiple enemies can spell a quick end for players without good poison resistance. Beware the chaurus.  

Hagravens don't age well

Magic comes with a price. Usually in Skyrim that price is magicka: relatively cheap and easy to replenish with potions and leveling certain skills. However, it has been recorded that some witches were unsatisfied with the magic that they had and thus sought ways to find more power, willing to give anything in exchange. When a witch trades their humanity in order to gain greater powers, they are transformed into one of the most hideous creatures in all of Skyrim: the Hagraven.

The name is apt. Hagravens are woman and crow combined, and it isn't a pretty amalgam. They have clawed hands and feet, black feathers lining their arms, and an impossibly long, beak-like nose below their beady black eyes. The dark magic they possess in their scraggly bodies is just as ugly. If you get too close to a Hagraven, players may be infected with brain rot, a communicable disease that drains the victim's magicka and can be healed by eating garlic bread, oddly enough.

Hagravens are also significantly terrifying to take on. They can throw fireballs and ice spikes and heal themselves too, which is frustrating for players who are trying to get the fight over with so they don't have to look at the abomination anymore. Hagravens consider people as nothing more than potion ingredients, or in some cases, a food source. They have no qualms with human sacrifice, something to keep in mind when players hear their heavy, rasping breath in the dark woods at night.

Beware the black lagoon, beware the Lurker

Should the Dragonborn dare to venture to a wholly foreign plane of existence, it's safe to assume that the local wildlife might look a little ... strange. The Oblivion plane of Apocrypha is a hostile, hazy green with roiling seas of toxic sludge and grasping black tentacles ready to snatch an unsuspecting visitor. There are also quite a few books lying around that belong to the master of the plane: Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Fate, Knowledge and Memory. These books of forbidden knowledge are guarded by the creature from the Black Lagoon himself: the Lurker.

Fishy and huge, Lurkers look like the unholy child of a giant and an angler fish. They have sharp fins and claws, but mostly throw around their weight to do damage. And they can do some serious damage, stomping around at near-double the height of the player and gurgling their battle cry. Already formidable, Lurkers have another trick down their throats. Keeping with the motif of the plane of Apocrypha, Lurkers will vomit up thrashing, poison tentacles. They also have a ranged acid attack if that wasn't enough to ward off a determined dovahkiin. Lurkers are hard to fight and even harder to kill, so players should be cautious if they spot any Lurkers lurking about.

What's creepier than a Lurker? The tentacled Seeker

Apocrypha is essentially a vast, Lovecraftian library with an infinite amount of books, scrolls, and tablets for Hermaeus Mora to peruse. Whereas Lurkers are the guardians of the realm, Seekers could be called the librarians of the Apocrypha. The design of Seekers is clearly inspired from our dark lord Cthulhu himself: the creature's head is all tentacles and eyes. Seekers float just off the ground, even more tentacles dragging along as they wander between stacks of books. Players should keep their ears primed for the sound of slithering.

If their undulating tentacle beards are too much to bear, then no worries: when Seekers get pulled into battle they may turn into a mass of black mist, their speed increasing tremendously as they move to catch their prey off guard. Seekers drain the life and magicka of their victims, relying on magic, seeing as their skinny arms are not too intimidating. Players would do well not to underestimate them, however, because even when near death Seekers are persistent: they are known to summon clones of themselves to aid in their onslaught.

Super sneaky Dragonborn might be able to glimpse Seekers in their natural environment, idly reading books that they summon into existence and allow to float before them. This sight might not be worth it once the Seekers turn their many eyes onto the player, however.

Dragon Priests are lich kings

Dragur can be annoying at worst, scary at best. After a while, these undead warriors become more of a nuisance than anything. But discerning Dragonborn need not worry, because Skyrim has much more powerful undead in store for players, waiting in sarcophagi for the right moment.

The Dragon Priests once ruled over all of Skyrim, indeed all of Tamriel. So godlike were their powers that they were believed to be children of Akatosh, the chief deity among all the divines. The Dragon Priests bowed to no one, save the dragon overlords that they served. Dragons, being dragons, were satisfied with the respect they were given as rulers of the world, but didn't want to bother with the actual ruling. That's where the Dragon Priests came in. By the time the Dragonborn is exploring tombs by torchlight, however, the Dragon Priests have shriveled down to shadows of their former selves.

They entombed themselves with their followers, whose lifeforce would sustain them as they awaited the day that Alduin would cast his shadow upon the land and resurrect the faithful. Thus, Dragon Priests still pack a heck of a punch if a player is unlucky enough to wake one. These lich-like nightmares have names like "horrible" and "vengeance" which speaks to their nature just as their command of the dead does.

Don't go into the light, the wispmother is waiting there

The Dragonborn would take care not to follow any strange lights that they spot in the snow. Hard enough to see as they are white-on-white, wisps can be harmless, but are more often than not a herald of a much more dangerous creature lurking in the snowdrifts. Wisps are like bees: they can sting and are awfully hard to hit with an arrow. Wispmothers then are the queen bee, angry and with a whole swarm of stinging, jingling wisps at her disposal. Not to mention her startling appearance.

Wispmothers appear to be made out of ice and fog. They are covered in icy wrappings that do nothing to protect their insubstantial body from the cold. Rather, wispmothers command the cold, using a blizzard of frost spells should they spot a victim alongside their strange, ghostly children. They have clawed hands and fangs, but their pointed ears seem to indicate one theory about their unknown origins.

According to one book in the game, wispmothers are known to put travelers in peril and steal children, and that her wisps are the souls of these doomed victims. There is some scholarly disagreement as to what wispmothers actually are, though. One theory contests that they are ghosts of sorceresses who traded their mortal lives for power, similar to Hagravens. Another theory persists that they are the last remnants of the Snow Elves, who once blanketed Skyrim. Regardless, all authorities agree that these ghostly, frozen women are predators waiting to strike.

Mechanical monsters waiting to wake: Dwarven centurions

There is one enemy in Skyrim that players will struggle to make bleed, because this foe is nothing but nuts and bolts. Dwarven centurions are weapons of war left long-forgotten in ancient Dwemer ruins, but layers of dust and cobwebs won't stop these mechanical men from springing to life as soon as they spot the player, which can be quite starling after nothing but dead quiet for thousands of years.

Bethesda took a page from it's own book in constructing the centurions. They're like Fallout's own power armor: slow, but deadly. Really, speed is the only weakness that centurions have. They're huge, sturdy, and steamy. Literally steamy: their one ranged attack is spraying scalding steam at the player. Should the player dare to get close to these absolute juggernauts, then they are in for a nasty surprise. Of course the Dwemer, an advanced race of technological geniuses who disappeared under mysterious circumstances, outfit their centurions with not one, but two weapons. Centurions are inherently dual-wielding with one arm an axe and the other a hammer, with which they are more than happy to bash their opponent around with, all the while looking on with their expressionless, bronze face. These things were built to take and give damage and can make for an unfortunate surprise in otherwise abandoned caverns.

Forsworn Briarheart: foul work of the Hagravens

If you think it's safe to say whatever a Hagraven is working on is some unholy abomination caught somewhere in the purgatory between life and death, then you'd be right. Horrifying, unholy, and terrifying are all good words to describe a Forsworn Briarheart.

Hagravens summon their foul work back to life with the chant, "Heart of thorn ... bones of the wild ... in life, Forsworn ... rise from death, Blood of our Blood." Then a seemingly dead warrior arises once more, with a significant alteration: rather than a heart of muscle, these warriors are now made stronger by the dark magic of their briar heart. Shoddily stitched into their chests is a plant, unbeating but somehow keeping them alive and more bloodthirsty than ever.

These creatures were powerful to begin with; only the best of the once-human Forsworn are chosen for the privilege of having their hearts ripped out. Their headdress of antlers and fur show little of their face, making them appear to have antlers protruding from their eyes as they charge at their prey. They are usually level with the Dragonborn and are hard to take down, unless the player has been leveling their sneak skill tree and are willing to get their hands dirty.

It is possible to pickpocket the briar heart straight from the chest of a Forsworn Briarheart. This will make them drop dead instantly, a hole where their heart once was.

Walking (floating) nightmare

Skyrim has once again made an improvement upon an otherwise boring enemy in order to make it a walking nightmare (even if it doesn't have legs). Skeletons are pretty basic and not really all that scary. Add in some glowing eyes, ghostly fog, and the most bone-chilling clicking noise that will follow you to the end of your days? Now that's a terrifying enemy. 

We're talking, of course, about corrupted shades. These skeletons are made up of ancient evil and blackened bones. They float just off the ground and make for one of the most formidable undead foes in the game. Necromancer Malkoran takes on this hideous shape once the Dragonborn defeats him, making him one of the few bosses in the game that the player has to kill twice over. This conjurer was intent on using the Daedric artifact known as Dawnbreaker to create an army of corrupted shades. Daedric Prince Meridia, from whom the sword was stolen, didn't like that. And so the Dragonborn was asked to dispatch the corrupted shades and their master.

Ice cold and bloodthirsty vampires

Vampires have become romanticized by the media: they're just misunderstood, brooding creatures who only wish to find love and be accepted. Skyrim does us all a favor and portrays vampires in much more classic fashion as opposed to their contemporary counterparts. Skyrim vampires are dark creatures that are out for blood, rather than romance. Though they can blend in with society, minus a telling pun here and there and an aversion to sunlight, others are left to become feral in the wilderness.

Volkihar vampires are desperate, hissing creatures who seek out blood where they can find it before returning to their underground dens. It is said that they live under the frozen lakes of Skyrim, and can reach through the ice to close their clawed hands around the ankle of an unsuspecting hiker without even breaking the surface. The idea of looking through the ice and seeing a red-eyed apparition beneath would make anyone shiver.

Volkihar vampires are mages, who use magic and undead thralls in battle. They can even attack in broad daylight, because although the sunlight weakens them, they will not burst into flames. Unless the player lobs a fireball at them, because vampires are fairly flammable. But the Dragonborn should note that they are also mean, hungry creatures that are not to be trifled with.

Frostbite spiders are the creepiest crawlies

The worst thing an arachnophobe could possibly do is play Skyrim in VR. Besides being able to frolic in the frozen fields and talk face to face with Whiterun Guards about sweet rolls, players will eventually have to battle one of the most basic enemies in the game: the frostbite spider. True to fantasy form, there are somehow giant spiders crawling around Skyrim in spite of the cold.

Frostbite spiders are like regular spiders: too many legs, too many eyes, but with the added bonus of being the size of a horse. They can and will eat people with their gnashing mandibles, snatching victims up with surprising speed as they skitter over the ground. They're the most loathed creature in Skyrim for good reason. They're hostile to all things and even if players manage to outrun these fearsome creepy crawlies, they might get caught up in their webs. Or get a face full of acid for their trouble.

Spiders suck. Frostbite spiders are worse, especially if their hideous faces are leering at you from the inside of a PlayStation VR headset. Their spiky legs and beady black eyes are nightmare fuel for anyone who has struggled with a spider crawling across their ceiling.

Fearsome and frustrating frost trolls

Like their internet prankster counterparts, trolls are just plain ugly. These creatures are absolutely monstrous with long arms (the better to bash you with), a mouth full of fangs (the better to gnash bones with), and a never-back-down attitude that means a harrowing battle in store for players.

Frost trolls are even more resilient than their more common cousin. Their natural habitat is wherever snow can be found, although their white fur doesn't do much to hide their warts, horns, and glaring third eye. Players may fondly remember that one of the most difficult battles early in the game involves a frost troll. On the way up to High Hrothgar, this wicked creature awaits. Because of how hearty and angry frost trolls are, this is one fight that the newly minted Dragonborn might not be able to win the first time around. Frustratingly, frost trolls can regenerate their health, meaning a battle might go long (and in the troll's favor).

One good tactic against frost trolls is running, far away and fast.