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The Staff of Chaos (properly lengthened as the Staff of Unity and Chaos, also known as Balac-thurm or the Rod of Septim[UOL 1]) is an ebony staff of great power. Having been forged from the essence of the land itself, it is nigh-indestructible. It can not be removed from Tamriel without direct consequences to the land itself. The Staff is also said to feature varying abilities such as: to sow seeds of strife and succession (and presumably the opposites as well), to open gateways into other worlds, or to obliterate the entire corporeal form of a living thing.
Passed to the ImperatorEdit
Sometime during his conquests (perhaps during the one of relevance), Tiber allied with himself with a male member of the Ra'athim lineage, who was on the rag-tail end of the family, but he was their kin nonetheless, which is all Tiber needed...
There were several battles in the Septim Empire's conquest of Resdayn. In one of these battles, Almalexia City and its Mournhold district were laid waste. Presumably, Emperor Tiber came himself after the sack to claim the Horn of Summoning, a veritable super weapon he could've used as leverage against the resistant peoples of Resdayn, to force the Dunmer to sue for peace. Emperor Tiber, General Symmachus, and the Ra'athim rag-tail, to have acquired the horn, these three would have had to have Mournhold's mines. Symmachus, having been a miner of the city in another life, was likely invaluable in guiding them to the Horn's hiding place: an ancient shrine dedicated to the old ancestor god Ephen. To the unanimated statue, the Ra'athim by blood would have said the required words to unlock its treasure: noting his bloodline traced back to Ephen and Moraelyn, and that at Resdayn's last need, he requests the guerdon which Ephen guards... The stone came to life and struck an accompanying anvil, releasing the Horn, which Tiber finally claimed.[nb 2]
It was decided that the Staff of Unity and Chaos should be locked away where the Horn had laid.[nb 2] Symmachus was responsible for placing the Staff back within the anvil and resetting the repository statue with the help of the Ra'athim. This Ra'athim was later rewarded for his allegiance during the war, with Ebonheart becoming his own fiefdom.[nb 3] Additionally, Symmachus later became the Prime Minister of Mournhold.
Ebonheart remained jealous that the Staff's safekeeping was assigned to the rulers of Mournhold, and not to his own fief, and claimed that rightful guardianship of the Staff of Chaos should have been entrusted to Ebonheart's house. Mournhold's rulers responded that High King Moraelyn himself had placed the Staff in the keeping of the ancestor god Ephen, and Mournhold was arguably the god's birthplace.
The staff played a central role in the Imperial Simulacrum. In 3E 389, the Imperial Battlemage to Uriel Septim VII, Jagar Tharn, who had stolen the staff from beneath the city of Mournhold, used it to imprison the Emperor and General Warhaft in one of the dark prisons of Mehrunes Dagon somewhere in Oblivion, where the emperor recounted experiencing nothing but inexplicable and haunting nightmares. He then used it to destroy his apprentice, Ria Silmane in order to prevent the Elder Council from learning of his betrayal.
To solidify his grasp over Tamriel and ensure nobody had a chance to rescue the true Emperor, Tharn knew he had to dispose of the staff. Unable to destroy it, he did the next best thing, splitting it into eight fragments and hiding each piece within the most forgotten and dangerous places throughout the provinces.
In the event the staff were reacquired, Tharn planned ahead. He drained the staff of all its magical potential, placing it within the Jewel of Fire underneath the Imperial Palace. If one were to relocate the staff and reassemble it, they would find it to be utterly useless.
When the Eternal Champion reunited the eight pieces of the staff and linked it to the Jewel of Fire, the combined energies of Tharn's lifeforce and the Staff of Chaos were released in a powerful surge of energy, culminating in the destruction of the Battlemage. The release of energy opened a gate to free Uriel Septim VII and Warhaft from their otherworldly prison, and destroyed much of the Palace interior. The pieces of the Staff were theorized to be lost to history after this. However, the Eternal Champion maintained possession over the staff following the defeat of Tharn. It is unknown what he chose to do with the staff and it has never been encountered since.
Two centuries after the end of the Imperial Simulacrum, a descendant of Loreth attempted to recreate the Staff's magic by creating two new staves: the Arm of the Sun and the Arm of the Moon, together known as the Arms of Chaos. These staves harnessed the power of the sun and moon respectively, and recreated the Staff's ability to allow travel to other worlds. This was done through the use of Sigil Stones, the source of the staves' power; an Orange Sigil Stone was embedded in the Arm of the Sun, and a Green Sigil Stone was affixed to the Arm of the Moon. The staves served as powerful weapons in their own right, with the Arm of the Sun bearing powerful fire, frost and shock enchantments, and the Arm of the Moon having the ability to demoralize a target or drive them into a frenzy. Believing the staves to be possessed by some unknown madness, their creator ultimately dismantled the artifacts, leaving them lifeless.
A mage named Ellane subsequently came into possession of the Arms of Chaos at some point in the Fourth Era and became obsessed with restoring them. She successfully identified that Sigil Stones were the source of the staves' power, and seemingly used a Blue Sigil Stone to create a necklace known as the Warlock's Mark which allowed for travel to Oblivion and increased skill at Conjuration. However, the Sigil Stone was later removed from the necklace. After Ellane's death, her research was continued by her apprentice, Hyenril, who similarly became obsessed with restoring the two staves. Hyenril hoped to use the Sovereign Band, Ellane's ring of summoning which grants its wearer increased magicka, to summon three Guardians of the Sigil Stones and obtain the necessary Stones. However, she was killed in 4E 201 while visiting the Skeleton-infested Skytemple Ruins north of the College of Winterhold.
Later that year, the Last Dragonborn came upon Hyenril's corpse and research notes, together with the dismantled Arms of Chaos and Warlock's Mark. After tracking down Ellane's sunken coffin at the bottom of Pilgrim's Trench to obtain the Sovereign Band, the Dragonborn succeeded in summoning and defeating three Dremora to obtain the necessary Sigil Stones and reforge the artifacts.
- The staff is referred to as the "Staff of Unity and Chaos" in The Real Barenziah, which appeared in Daggerfall. However, later versions of the book (which were reviewed by the Tribunal Temple prior to republishing...) refer to it simply as the "Staff of Chaos".
- The Staff of Towers is another similar artifact that was split into eight pieces and scattered across Tamriel. In early drafts of the Main Quest for The Elder Scrolls Online, the Staff of Towers played a key role in the story and was called the Balac, meaning that it was the same artifact as the Staff of Chaos.[UOL 3] Though this story was later scrapped, the Staff of Towers was mentioned in some books and appeared in the Summerset Chapter, now being an entirely separate artifact.
- For game-specific information, see the Arena article on the Staff of Chaos.
- The Real Barenziah — Plitinius Mero
- The Final Lesson — Aegrothius Goth
- The Real Barenziah — Plitinius Mero
- Ria Silmane's dialogue in Arena
- On Morrowind — Erramanwe of Sunhold
- The Real Barenziah, Part VIII — Plitinius Mero
- Battlespire Athenaeum page 180
- A Life of Uriel Septim VII — Rufus Hayn
- Events of Arena
- Hyenril's Journal — Hyenril
- The Imperial Palace quest in Arena
- Arms of Chaos Creation for Skyrim Special Edition
Note: The following references are considered to be unofficial sources. They are included to round off this article and may not be authoritative or conclusive.