Chapter Two: On Conjuration
Conjuration, despite being one of the most popular forms of magic for study, is one of the most reviled schools in Tamriel. This is mostly in part to the inherent fear of the Daedra and their associates within most religions across the continent. However, this fear, at least in relation to the field of Conjuration, is entirely unfounded, as surprisingly little interaction with Daedra takes place.
Conjuration Magic is defined by the College of Winterhold as the act of calling souls or entities to the caster’s side through the use of Magicka. As such, the blood rituals and sacrifices used to summon the Daedric Princes are, strictly speaking, not Conjuration Magic, although the processes are related.
Typically, when performing Conjuration Magic, the caster will call a lesser Daedroth into Mundus, whilst also subjugating the entity to their will. These Lesser Daedra consist of Incorporeal Vestiges, shaped by the Conjurer into animals or weapons and non-sapient Daedra, such as Clannfears, Hungers, Daedroths, Hernes and Scamps, which are controlled by the thoughts of the Conjurer. All Conjuration Runic Matrices feature the Daedric Runes Oht (O), Moht (M) or Ayem (A), signifying where the creature is being summoned from.
The conjuring of the stronger, sapient Daedra is reserved for those much more well versed in the art and is a much more complicated and involved process.
Part I: Lesser Daedra
As mentioned previously, most Conjuration involves the calling of a lesser Daedra to Mundus. Typically, these Daedra are non-sapient, and thus easier for the Conjurer to control through the mental link established by the Conjuration Runic Matrix used to open the Gate. Most of these Daedra have their own forms, although some are incorporeal.
The Corporeal Lesser Daedra are often used as guard animals by their Conjurers, or as scouts. They can be incredibly dangerous but will not attack unless either ordered to by their Conjurer, in an act of self-defense, or if their subjugation is broken by an outside force. These creatures can only be summoned for a few hours at a time, except by the most powerful of Conjurers, and the death of the Conjurer will banish the creature back to Oblivion. They are also susceptible to spells designed to Banish Daedra, which sever the connection between Conjurer and Daedroth, forcing them out of the mortal realm.
Incorporeal Vestiges are used slightly differently to Corporeal Lesser Daedra, due to their different forms. While these Daedra can be forced into the shape of an animal such as a wolf or bear by the Conjurer, it is far more common for the Conjurer to force the Vestige into the shape of a weapon or piece of armour. The shape of the conjured Vestige is dictated by the Matrix. These Vestiges can only be conjured for a short period of time, but this is often a non-issue, as they can be conjured quickly and easily when required, unlike Corporeal Daedra, which take far longer to conjure.
Part II: Necromancy
While many would consider Necromancy to be the most abhorrent form of magic known to the mortal races, its use is actually allowed under the rules of the College of Winterhold for several reasons. One is that the form of Necromancy taught by the College does not involve the use of the souls of the dead, instead simply reanimating the corpses of those deceased. After all, and while I realise it may sound rather odd for a Dunmer to be saying this, given our culture of ancestor worship, the soul is not the same as the flesh and bone. The second is that one cannot be prepared to combat something without understanding it. Thus, we at the College of Winterhold cannot ensure the safety of the people of Skyrim from those that would use Necromancy to harm them without understanding the process. The third and final reason is that Necromancy, provided it is not the sort that deals with the manipulation of sentient souls, is harmless to the user, despite common belief.
The form of Necromancy taught by the College of Winterhold is much more akin to the conjuring of Daedra. Rather than call the soul of a dead individual back from their eternal rest, or binding souls to the mortal realm, an Incorporeal Vestige is conjured and bound to a corpse, enabling it to be used in much the same way as a Corporeal Lesser Daedra. The binding of the Vestige to the body does damage it, however, and the raised being will only last for a few minutes before the body crumbles to dust and the Vestige is forced back into Oblivion. Stronger Vestiges will survive within the body for longer, but all will eventually turn to dust.
While certainly distasteful, Necromancy is just like any other form of Conjuration Magic – harmless in itself, but dependent on the desires of the user. Soul-based Necromancy, however, is far more dangerous, and thus illegal, as interfering with the souls of others can damage one’s own.
Part III: Intelligent Daedra
The conjuring of intelligent daedra is, by its very nature, far more dangerous than the other forms described thus far. This is because the mental connection between summoned Daedra and the Conjurer runs two ways, and if the conjurer is not sufficiently prepared, their mind can be shattered, or worse, controlled by the very being they summoned.
The most common form of intelligent Daedra to be summoned are Atronachs, Daedra tied to elemental forces. Typically, Flame, Frost and Storm Atronachs are the most common to be summoned, while Earth, Flesh, Iron and Shadow Atronachs are also common. The summoning of one of these atronachs can be recognised through the Matrix used to call them to the mortal realm – all Atronach Matrices bear the word Atronach in Daedric Runes on the outermost edge (ATRONACH), and are accompanied by a similar rune detailing the elemental alignment of the Daedra – F for Flame, S for Frost, L for Storm, M for Flesh (Muscle), I for Iron, E for Earth, etc. While strictly speaking Flesh Atronachs are technically artificial products of Necromancy, they are rarely created by mortals, rather being formed by the denizens of Oblivion.
However, some Conjurers prefer to summon the Aligned Daedra – forms of Daedra typically tied to one of the Princes. Dremora, Winged Twilights, Aurorans and Xivilai are common, as are Dark Seducers and Golden Saints. It is harder to recognise when one of these Daedra is being conjured, as the circles used to do so are far less formulaic. They are, generally, far larger in size and more complex than other Matrices, as the Conjurer has to temporarily break the bond between the Daedra and their Prince in order to control them.
Part IV: Other Conjurings
While most Conjurers draw their forces from the Waters and Planes of Oblivion, marking their Runic Matrices with the Oht (O) of Oblivion, some prefer to look elsewhere for their servants.
Creatures summoned from other parts of Mundus are a reasonably common form of alternate conjuration, and typically consist of wild animals, such as wolves and bears, or nature spirits, like Nereids and Spriggans. Due to their mortal realm origins, these creatures have an inherent resistance to the mental subjugation effects built into the Matrices for Conjuration. As such, they are generally considered to be too risky to summon regularly, and tend to be less useful than those from Oblivion and are most often used by those with enough knowledge of Conjuration to know how to call the soul of a being to them, but not enough knowledge to penetrate the barriers to Oblivion. The Matrices for these forms of Conjuration are all marked with a Moht (M), as the point of origin for these creatures is Mundus.
Aetherial Conjuration is by far the rarest form, as it requires the most Magicka and effort to perform. This is both due to the incredible distance between Mundus and Aetherius, and the creature’s inherent resistance to Magika’s effects due to their home being the source of it. The most common creatures to be called from Aetherius are the Magical Anomalies, and their larger cousins, the Magical Constructs, Abominations and Avatars.
nfortunately, the field of Aetherial Conjuration is understudied and largely unresearched, so many of the potential residents of the realm remain unknown to us. All Aetherial Runic Matrices are marked with the Ayem (A) of Aetherius.
With the dissolution of the school of Mysticism, and the subsequent recategorization of the spells it contained, the Soul Trap spells were added to the repertoire of Conjuration. This is because, like most Conjuration spells, they manipulate the soul – or at least part of it. The soul is divided into two parts – the AE and the Animus. What is captured and stored within Soul Gems is the Animus, the energy contained within the body at the moment of death. With White Souls, the Animus and AE are easily separated, but with those of sentient beings, so-called Black Souls, the two halves are more closely tied. As such, the use of Soul Trap spells on sentient beings is highly illegal, with the only crime under our laws receiving a harsher punishment being the use of a Black Soul for Enchanting, which condemns the soul within to an eternity within the Soul Cairn.This article is part of a series. To see the other sections, please use the links below.
Chapter 1: Destruction
Chapter 3: Illusion
“it’s killin’ their desire” | Illustration by kitty-snake, DeviantArt