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Lore:The Reach

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The Reach
Type Region
Continent Tamriel
Province Skyrim
Subregions Karthald
Karth River Canyon
Sundered Hills
Appears in Skyrim, Legends, ESO
The Reach (Skyrim)

The Reach (also known as Karth)[1][2] is a geographic region surrounded by High Rock, Skyrim and Hammerfell. Its territory once extended into High Rock, but that portion was split off to create the Western Reach during the late First Era and has remained separate ever since.[3] The region was historically inhabited by the native, Daedra-worshipping Reachmen.[4][5][6][7] Control of the Reach has changed hands between the Reachmen, Nords, and even the Cyrodilics numerous times over the centuries in various conflicts, and the Reachmen became well-known for resisting foreign rule by using ancient magic and an intimate knowledge of the landscape to their advantage in guerrilla warfare and espionage tactics.[5]

In the Fourth Era, the Reach is the southwestern hold of Skyrim.[8] Near the southwestern corner, the capital Markarth, formerly a Dwemer stronghold, emerges from the living rock of the Druadach Mountains, which transition into the Jerall Mountains near the hold's southeast corner.[9] The Karth River begins in the southern region and drains the mountains, running like a deep gouge through the middle of the hold called the Karth River Canyon.[10]:138 Settlements such as Karthwasten and Old Hroldan can be found along the Karth, with the Sundered Hills bordering Whiterun's Tundra Plateau to the east.[11] The peaks of the Druadach range lie to the west of it, and high bluffs typically rise on the east leading to grassland and tundra. The Reachmen constitute the demographic majority of the Reach and its various settlements, and an Orc stronghold can be found in the steppes of the mountains in the south of the hold.


"Anyone can be a king in the Reach. No one can be a king of the Reach."
Reachman proverb

Long before the conquests of Mer and Nords in the Karth region, human tribes dwelled within the caves in the Druadach Mountains.[12]

At an unknown point in the history between Merethic Era and 1E 221, in the ancient past, the Reach was controlled by the vampires of the Nighthollow Clan, known to the Reachfolk as the Night Lords. Eventually, the influence of the vampires waned and accounts of their terror were reduced to mere bedtime stories.[13][14]

The first to invade it were the earliest Atmoran tribes to settle in Tamriel.[3] High King Olaf One-Eye conquered the Reach for Skyrim at some point during his reign between 1E 420 and 1E 452.[15] The Dwemer of Clan Kragen arrived in the region sometime after 1E 420 and established the city-state of Arkngthamz. Clan Kragen's success at fending off the local Nords inspired other Dwemer clans to expand into Skyrim as well.[16] It is presumably during this period, prior to the Dwemer's disappearance around 1E 700, that the city of Markarth was constructed.

Around 1E 1030, the Reach was ruled by ten warring Reachman kings. Most of them submitted to the invading Imperial forces of Empress Hestra, though many ultimately joined the rebellion led by Red Eagle, the legendary hero of the Reachmen. They could not win this conflict, but in a campaign lasting two or more years, Red Eagle and his followers made the Empire pay dearly for invading their land.[11] Although the Empire was ultimately able to exert control over the Reach, widespread resistance continued long afterward.

After thwarting the Akaviri invasion in 1E 2704, Emperor Reman of the Second Empire turned his attention to the "madmen of the Reach". He divided the geographical Reach between the Imperial provinces of High Rock and Skyrim to reduce the power or incomes of any individual ruler, and the Western Reach has existed as a separate entity ever since. Despite this, the Reach failed to be tamed, and not a decade passed without troops from either Evermore or Solitude marching into the Reach in another vain attempt to bring the Reachmen to heel.[3] Emperor Reman's Dragonguard also built Sky Haven Temple in the mountains of the Reach to support their crusade against dragons.[6][17] The Temple was sealed off by Emperor Reman II after the completion of Alduin's Wall in 1E 2818.[6]

"Aye. Free blood. That's what the Reach is. Freedom."
Arana, Reach witch

Following the Second Empire's collapse in 2E 430, the Reach was left to its own devices. It eventually became an independent kingdom ruled by the Reachmen themselves under the infamous Durcorach the Black Drake, who conquered the Empire of Cyrodiil and installed himself as the first of the Longhouse Emperors.[18] Durcorach met his demise during a failed invasion of High Rock in 2E 542.[19] By 2E 578, even as Durcorach's grandson Leovic reigned over the Empire, control of the Reach had passed to the so-called Despot of Markarth.[3] Amidst the chaos of both the Planemeld and the Three Banners War, numerous Reachman tribes attempted to extend their influence into High Rock and Skyrim, but met fierce resistance.[20] Shortly before 2E 582, Western Skyrim carved a new hold named Karthald from the northern territory of the Reach to use as a bulwark against Reachman incursions into Haafingar and Hjaalmarch.[21]

The Nords reclaimed the Reach as the ninth hold of Skyrim in 2E 852, when the future Emperor Tiber Septim besieged and defeated Reachmen forces at Old Hroldan with an army of Colovian troops and Nord berserkers.[22] Markarth and the Reach were subsequently occupied by the Nords,[23] while Imperial propaganda branded the Reachmen as rebellious and lawless mongrels.[4] Historians circa 2E 864 described the Reach as the most cosmopolitan of Skyrim's Holds. Others stated "the Reach could be mistaken for one of the petty kingdoms of High Rock; it is full of Bretons, Redguards, Cyrodiils, elves of all stripes, and even a few misplaced Khajiit."[4][10]:498

Nationalistic Reachmen passively resisted Nord rule for centuries until finding the perfect opportunity to strike in 4E 174, while the forces of the Empire were committed to fighting the Aldmeri Dominion in the Great War. The Reachmen rose up, seizing Markarth and most of the hold, ruling the Reach as an independent kingdom for two years. The government of Skyrim, growing desperate, enlisted a militia led by Ulfric Stormcloak which retook the Reach in 4E 176. The survivors of the revolt were scattered into the wilderness, becoming the Forsworn.[24]

Known RulersEdit

Notable PlacesEdit

The city of Markarth, founded by the Dwemer
A Dwarven ruin located high in the southern hills of the Reach.
A Dwarven ruin located east of the Druadach Pass.
A Dwarven ruin located in the northern Reach.
Druadach Redoubt
A Reachfolk bastion located in the Druadach Mountains.
Dushnikh Yal
An Orc stronghold located southeast of Markarth.
Faolan's Ire
An ancient Reachfolk battlefield.
Four Skull Lookout
A Nordic ruin associated with destruction magic.
A mountain at the head of the valley of the Karth River.
A mountain in the center of the region, and a site of Sky Haven Temple, and Rebel's Retreat.
Capital of the Reach built into Karthmad mountain.
Mor Khazgur
An Orc stronghold on the border with Haafingar.
A Dwarven complex found beneath Markarth.
Old Hroldan
A historic settlement located in the southern river valley of the Reach.
Rebel's Cairn
The tomb of Faolan, the Reachfolk king.
Red Eagle Redoubt and Sundered Towers
The ancient fortress of Faolan.
A fortified settlement located on the Tundra Plain, near the board with Whiterun Hold.
A lost Dwarven ruin that houses a dangerous weather witch.
Sky Haven Temple
An Akaviri fortress built atop Karthspire mountain.
Vateshran Hollows
A sacred site where the veil between Nirn and Oblivion is thin.


See AlsoEdit


  1. ^ Lost Valley Redoubt loading screen text in ESO: Markarth
  2. ^ Reach Loyalist's LetterReach Warrior
  3. ^ a b c d The Improved Emperor's Guide to Tamriel: Northern Bangkorai and the MountainsFlaccus Terentius, 2E 581
  4. ^ a b c Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st EditionImperial Geographical Society and 'YR', 2E 864
  5. ^ a b The "Madmen" of the ReachArrianus Arius, Imperial Scholar
  6. ^ a b c d Annals of the DragonguardBrother Annulus
  7. ^ Holdings of Jarl GjalundSlafknir the Scribe
  8. ^ The Holds of Skyrim
  9. ^ The City of StoneAmanda Alleia
  10. ^ a b The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Prima Official Game Guide — David Hodgson
  11. ^ a b c d e The Legend of Red EagleTredayn Dren
  12. ^ Lost Valley Redoubt's loading screen in ESO
  13. ^ Reach Bedtime StoriesIsa Truiand, Teller of Tales
  14. ^ Vampiric Stained Glass antiquity codex entry in ESO
  15. ^ The plaque commemorating Olaf outside the Palace of the Kings in Windhelm
  16. ^ Arkngthamz-PhngNeramo
  17. ^ Atlas of DragonsBrother Mathnan
  18. ^ Chronicles of the Five Companions 4Abnur Tharn
  19. ^ Travails and Triumphs of a Monarch — His Majesty King Emeric
  20. ^ Events of ESO
  21. ^ Guide to Western Skyrim: KarthaldImperial Surveyor Buntara Gravius
  22. ^ The Arcturian HeresyThe Underking, Ysmir Kingmaker
  23. ^ Kibell's dialogue in Skyrim
  24. ^ a b c The Bear of MarkarthArrianus Arius, Imperial Scholar
  25. ^ The Translated Works of Tosmorn, IIIXandier Edette
    Edited by Vanesse Aurilie
  26. ^ a b Spear Tip of the Reach King antiquity codex entry
  27. ^ a b History of Markarth: A Story in StoneConsul Cardea, the Ard's Administrator
  28. ^ Ard Caddach's dialogue in ESO: Markarth
  29. ^ Markarth Side location and rumors in Arena
  30. ^ a b c Raerek's dialogue in Skyrim
  31. ^ Nepos the Nose's dialgoue in Skyrim
  32. ^ a b Igmund's dialogue in Skyrim