Venture Though Tamriel
The Labyrinthian is an ancient Nordic ruin located in Hjaalmarch, Skyrim. The labyrinth for which the ruin gets is name was built sometime in the First Era, but the ruins themselves are much older, having been the city of Bromjunaar, thought to have once been the capital of the Dragon Cult. Trading caravans occasionally pass through the ruins, although they often prefer safer, longer routes. The ruins of Lost Valkygg are located within the abandoned city. The ruins were originally built by the ancient Nords during the Mythic Era as a temple to the dragons who ruled Skyrim at the time. It grew into the great city of Bromjunaar, and became the capital of Skyrim during the height of the Dragon Cult’s power. The highest ranking Dragon Priests met there to discuss matters of ruling. The mask Konahrik was stored there, and it could only be accessed if all eight of the lesser masks were placed on their respective pedestals within its sanctuary. With the defeat of the Dragon Cult, the city of Bromjunaar crumbled and was left abandoned.
In the First Era, the Archmage Shalidor built the Labyrinth deep in the ruins of Bromjunaar. Some say Shalidor’s Maze was built to hide Glamorill, or the “Secret of Life”, which he supposedly stole from Akatosh. However, Shalidor began to use the labyrinth to test potential archmages. If they survived navigating the ruins and making it through the labyrinth, they passed. Eventually, the Labyrinthian ceased to be used, and the test is considered brutal by modern standards.
The labyrinth is actually divided into two sections, both of which must be navigated to complete Shalidor’s test. Several gates bar the path, and can only be opened by casting a spell from the specific school of magic. How to navigate the labyrinth is not common knowledge, as all the archmages who passed were very secretive. Sometime after after the abandonment of the Labyrinthian, two brothers – Kanen the Elder and Magrus the Dim – ventured into the maze in search of the Secret of Life, despite being warned against it. The brothers were ensnared by the riddles contained within the labyrinth, and their ghosts were made to guard the ruins. Magrus guarded the diamond key, and Kanan guarded the sapphire key. Both keys were needed to get to the centre of the maze. The ruins were made famous when Jagar Tharn hid a piece of The Staff of Chaos within the Labyrinthian during the Imperial Simulacrum. The Eternal Champion recovered the piece and freed the brothers’ spirits. The ruins are occasionally visited by Loyalist pilgrims re-tracing the steps of the Champion. Sometime after 3E 427, the Staff of Magnus came into the possession of Morokei, an undead Dragon Priest who dwelled deep within the ruins of Labyrinthian, who was also the bearer of one of the magical masks (also named Morokei). A group of students from the College of Winterhold, led by Savos Aren, discovered this and attempted to retrieve the staff. The group was no match for the denizens of the Labyrinthian, and only Aren escaped alive, having to sacrifice two of his peers to contain Morokei. Aren sealed the ruins to prevent anyone from freeing Morokei from his imprisonment. The building containing Konahrik had long since fallen into ruin, and the eight lesser masks scattered throughout Skyrim, buried with their respective owners. A scholar discovered a ceremonial wooden mask similar to the lesser masks. When worn in the dilapidated sanctuary, it would transport the wearer back in time, to before the city was abandoned. Unfortunately, the mercenaries he had hired for protection murdered and robbed the scholar, leaving his corpse and the wooden mask, which they believed worthless, behind.