Mystery surrounds the reclusive vampire Lady Thorn, hidden away within her castle atop the mountains of Western Skyrim. Discover the secrets of this ancient noble in our latest Meet the Character!
A Summary and a Warning
By Fennorian of House Ravenwatch
First, please accept my apologies for the delayed response to your inquiry, dear Gwendis. I know that in the past we may not have always seen eye to eye on our responsibilities to House Ravenwatch, but please believe that I would never intentionally slight or disrespect you. Even when our arguments become heated, I never forget that you are my sister. Our mutual dedication to Lord Verandis’s cause transcends any minor bickering between the two of us.
Speaking of our house’s mission, the reason for my delay is related. Your letter requesting information on Lady Thorn arrived just after I set out to Bangkorai. Rumors of a previously unknown ancient gravesite reached my ears and I decided it worthy of investigation. I must tell you of the incredible adventure I had within—I met a woman there who reminded me of you in many ways—but that can wait for a future conversation. Suffice it to say, I may now understand your attraction to and excitement for field research.
Upon returning to Ravenwatch Castle, I immediately set to work digging up any references to Lady Thorn that I could find. Your ignorance of her is well justified. Very little regarding that name appears in the Vampiric Index that Verandis established. A surprise, considering her title of “Lady” implies a connection to aristocracy. I began to wonder if she were merely a tale the rural Nords tell each other while waiting for hunks of horker meat to boil. She would not be the first phantom we chased after.
But then I recalled your description of her castle on Skyrim’s western border near the Reach. In your letter, you wrote that its design appeared vampiric. Or, as you put it, “it has all those awful pointy bits that our people like to put on things.” Although I agree with you about the tediousness of vampiric architecture, it did provide a clue to learning more about Lady Thorn’s past.
You see, I don’t believe that Lady Thorn was the original occupant of that castle. Records from Solitude indicate that a clan of vampires appropriately calling themselves the Snowbrood constructed the castle sometime around the seventh century of the First Era. I cannot pinpoint the exact date because, as you know, the Nords do not practice fastidious record keeping. However, they do mention the Snowbrood built the castle using local slave labor. They frequently raided local villages at night, capturing people strong enough for labor. Apparently, the clan would work them to near death, then drain them of blood and return the corpse to their home village, sometimes propping the body up at a dinner table or bed in a grim mockery of life.
You might agree that this type of flashy evil does not align with what we know of Lady Thorn. Her reclusiveness is the one trait that we have any certainty about. But I found more. After the Snowbrood completed the castle, the raids slowed but did not cease. The locals would not hear from the vampires for years, sometimes decades, and then another attack would come. They describe the raids as purposeless—viciousness for its own sake. Afterward, the Snowbrood would once again go quiet.
Then, in 1E 1030, an Altmer woman arrived in the area. The stories describe her as dignified, refined, and slightly snobbish. One Nord writes, “Just as the last beam of light fell under the horizon, this Elf woman appears on horseback. She was pretty, as far as Elves go. I don’t know that I’d ever seen clothing as fine as hers, nor may I ever again. She wasn’t dressed for the cold, that’s for sure. But I never saw it bother her.”
“As she came up to the night-fire of my guard post, I heard her call out and request a meeting with our jarl. Her tone sounded like a demand, despite her polite words. I had me a bit of a chuckle and replied that our little village hadn’t quite earned a jarl yet. She huffed a bit then asked for whoever runs the town. Well, obviously I can’t just go fetch him for any old passerby, so I asked her business. That’s when she tells us that she can wipe out the Snowbrood. You can bet for sure I ran and grabbed Thornir then.”
I reviewed several accounts from the handful of small villages that surrounded what’s now called Castle Thorn, and they all roughly match in the details. This mysterious Altmer arrives at sundown and requests a meeting with the leading decision-makers. In those meetings, she claims the ability to wipe out the Snowbrood and end the raids. In exchange she requests ownership of the castle in perpetuity. Since the Nords want nothing to do with the accursed place, they all agree to her terms. Afterward, she tells the villagers that once smoke rises from the castle, the may feel safe. The Snowbrood would be no more.
Only one report exists of the last time someone saw her outside the castle. I include it in full below:
“I watched the Elf woman on her horse head toward the gate that blocks the pass up the mountain. The others told me to leave her alone, but I’d never seen an Elf before and she acted so strange. I followed behind her at a distance, hoping she didn’t see me. As we got closer to the castle, she stopped and looked directly at me. No idea how she knew I was there—I’m known as the best creeper in the village. But when I saw her face, something had changed. Her eyes turned black and her skin gray. All she said to me was, ‘Your curiosity satisfied is not worth your life, little one.’ Then she rode off up the hill.”
“I stayed there catching my breath for a bit. I mean, she just looked so scary. That’s when I heard the screams from the castle. They’d rise up through the air, and then cut off suddenly. From where I stood, I could tell the screaming came from different parts of the castle. Like she was moving through it room by room. After a while it went silent. Then the smoke appeared, just as she said it would. But she didn’t mention that it would smell. It reminded me of when the hunters bring back a mammoth and we gather around the cook pit and eat as much as we can. Anyway, I ran home and never saw the Elf lady again.”
Gwendis, if this story is genuinely about Lady Thorn, I believe it should cause you great concern. This vampire eliminated an entire clan of vicious horrors entirely by herself. The strength she must wield could overwhelm the entire House Ravenwatch, let alone just one member. Perhaps we should take her reticence for social interaction as a sign to leave her alone.
I can imagine your eye roll. I would never ask that you not pursue an investigation. However, please heed my warning. I couldn’t bear to lose one of our family.
With sincerity and devotion,
Your brother, Fennorian
You’ll have a chance to meet Lady Thorn for yourself in Castle Thorn, one of the two new dungeons coming soon with the Stonethorn DLC. Let us know if you’re excited to encounter this ancient and dangerous Vampire face to face via @TESOnline, Instagram, and Facebook—you’ve been warned!
Part of the Dark Heart of Skyrim year-long adventure, the Stonethorn DLC game pack is coming soon for PC/Mac, Xbox One, PlayStation®4, and Stadia. This new DLC game pack arrives in tandem with Update 27, a free base-game update for all ESO players.