Even though it's been six years since Skyrim's first release, the frozen mountains and forested valleys of Tamriel's northern realm are still unveiling new secrets and mysteries to this day, some of which even the most learned scribes can’t solve. The IGN team has logged anywhere from zero to 200+ hours of exploration time - here are seven of our favorite unanswered questions in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Where'd These Sweet Weapons Come From?
If you’ve got the Hearthfire DLC - included in the Switch and Special Editions - there's a special set of flatware you can find and equip to use as weapons. You can pick these up no problem by buying a house in Riften. Add a porch to your new home and you can grab them off the table on the back deck. Open your inventory and you’ll be able to equip them - they both count as one-handed weapons, but they only do a measly 1pt of damage each, so we wouldn’t recommend using them in any important fights.
The real mystery, however, is that you can also pick up a set way up towards the Throat of the World, down a ravine on the path from High Hrothgar. When you reach this wooden bridge after leaving the courtyard, make your way down the rocky slope to find a fork and knife sitting on a rock below.
You can’t interact with them at first, since they seem to be glued to the mountain's texture map, but you can knock them loose with a well-aimed blast of Unrelenting Force. Be very cautious, however, it’s all too easy to send them flying off the mountain or, worse yet, clipping into the rock face. Either way, there’s a good chance you’ll overdo it on the first try, so consider dropping a quicksave here if you want to pick up this set.
This may just be a strange easter egg the developers added, but considering that almost every other easter egg also has a bit of Elder Scrolls lore attached to it, we’re inclined to wonder what they're doing here. There’s no body nearby, so nobody froze to death on a picnic, and I think it’s unlikely that any of the goats or ice wraiths along this path have much use for them. Still, as weird a find as it is, they make for a good bit of fun.
Who wanted to kill Narfi?
One of the first contracts you acquire when joining The Dark Brotherhood is to eliminate a villager in Ivarstead named Narfi. What's odd is that we never receive any details about why Narfi is a target - something that's fairly customary for all your other assassinations. However, if before accepting the contract on him, you visit Ivarstead yourself, you can talk to Narfi and, while he may seem ... off ... you'll learn that his sister Reyda is missing. This starts the side quest The Straw That Broke, and while you ultimately discover Reyda's fate, we never find out what actually killed her. It wasn't any of the creatures on the island, as the innkeeper suggested, and it seems like her death may not have been an accident since her remains are just beneath the stone bridge into town with two iron arrows floating nearby.
However, as nefarious as the details of her death may seem, there's no definitive answer to the question. While Wilhem's bizarre reaction to seeing Reyda's necklace suggests he may have had a hand in some sort of foul play, no murder weapon is found and nobody around town can offer any motive - for Wilhelm, Narfi or anyone. Also, who performed the Black Sacrament to place the contract on Narfi? Was it Reyda's murderer, trying to keep Narfi from learning the truth? Wilhelm, perhaps considering it a mercy killing to end Narfi's madness? Or was it perhaps Narfi himself? Having possibly murdered his sister and going mad with guilt, he needed someone to exact justice that he couldn't? We'll likely never know...
Who - or what - is the Ebony Warrior?
Once you reach level 80, you may find yourself challenged by a mighty warrior clad all in black. He seeks to enter Sovengarde, but must meet his end in battle with a mighty warrior to prove his worth - and there's no greater warrior than the Dragonborn.
We know that this warrior is a Redguard, and while he claims to have bested all foes and completed all quests, we know next to nothing about him other than that. There's no record of his adventures to be found, and nothing to indicate who he may be under his helm. He can perform a couple of Shouts, but he's not another Dragonborn... some have suggested he may be one of the ancient Sword Singers of Yokuda, but there hasn't been known sword singers since the 2nd Era almost 700 years before Skyrim takes place. It doesn't seem fair that such an impressive warrior receive so little recognition before meeting his end, but not all is fair in Tamriel, is it?
Who's our pen pal?
Throughout your game, and depending on your actions, you'll occasionally be tracked down by a courier bearing messages for you. Some of these messages will be from people seeking an audience with you - such as a Jarl asking for help or offering you property - but there's one missive you receive that's simply signed "A Friend."
The most likely suspect is probably one of the Greybeards, or even Parthanax himself, but it's just as likely one of the many other players around Skyrim - perhaps Farengar or even the Ebony Warrior offering praise from afar; or perhaps, like Fallout's Mysterious Stranger, this is simply a fan of the Dovakhin who's too shy to say hello.
Who Keeps Sending Assassins After Me?
At certain points early on in your adventure (early being a loose term here), you'll occasionally be tracked down by an assassin from the Dark Brotherhood. Depending on how long it takes you to look into this shadowy guild, you may end up having to dispatch a bunch of them before deciding to wreck up their operation or join in on the action (which would at least explain why they're looking for new recruits), but you never find out who sent those first assassins after you.
Was it the Empire? Ulfric? Maybe the city watch decided they couldn't take you on themselves, or perhaps it's someone from Falkreath looking to avenge the death of their prized chickens. We'll likely never know, but we'd very much like to...
What's the deal with Rune of the Thieves Guild?
Upon choosing to join the Thieves Guild, you can meet a young Imperial named Rune at their headquarters beneath Riften. Upon introducing himself, you can ask about his unique name and heritage, but he’ll tell you that he has no idea.
He washed up on shore after a shipwreck near Solitude, and that the farmer who found and raised him named him after the strange illegible symbols carved on a stone that Rune had with him from the wreck.
Even though you have the option to offer assistance, there is no actual quest to be started and the only other information you can find on Rune’s background is a note saying that there’s nothing to find out about Rune’s background. Odds are that this was a quest intended to be added as DLC, but instead it just left a big fat loose thread dangling in the sewers beneath Rifted.
Who Is the Headless Horseman?
We all know that Ghosts are totally real in Tamriel, whether its a cave full of ghastly mercenaries, or a bard who keeps hanging around the waterfall he died on, but there's one ghost that we still don't know much about.
Sometimes, in the night, you can find a headless horseman galloping along the road to Hamvir’s Rest. This is a clear reference to Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but it’s unlikely that the same ghost who terrorized a 19th-century teacher ended up in a medieval fantasy realm. So that begs the question, who is he? Well, it’s a fairly common theory that the Horseman is none other than the decapitated ghost of Ragnar the Red - the famed hero who’s sung about in the various taverns around Skyrim. For those who aren’t familiar, the tune goes something like this:
So, based on the song, we know that Ragnar met a violent end somewhere along his journey from Rorikstead to Whiterun - a route which just so happens to pass by Hamvir’s Rest, where the Horseman’s nightly ride meets its end. In the graveyard of this sleepy little town, you can find a large casket with a skull nearby, as well as a large axe that resembles the one that the Horseman carries.
Actually, that seems to pretty much seal the deal - so I guess this was six of Skyrim’s best unanswered questions and one question that did get answered. Sort of.
JR is an editor at IGN. While not riding horses up mountains, he's working on our wikis or futzing about on Twitter.