Atmorans were an ancient race of Men who originated from the continent Atmora, located north of Skyrim. They are considered the progenitors of the Nords and subsequently of the Imperials, the Bretons, and possibly the Nedes, after a large group of them settled in northern Tamriel and founded the earliest known human city of Saarthal.
The first expeditions made by the Atmorans to Tamriel occurred during the Merethic Era. Centuries later, the warrior-hero Ysgramor would organize a great colonizing fleet to Skyrim and Solstheim in the middle of a civil war in Atmora. Ysgramor's fleet crossed the Sea of Ghosts and landed at Hsaarik Head at the northern tip of Skyrim's Broken Cape, and then moved inland. There the Atmorans built the legendary city of Saarthal, the earliest known settlement founded by Men on Tamriel, and established a connection with the native Snow Elves, and the two groups would live in relative peace.
Eventually, the Snow Elves assaulted Saarthal, and killed off the entire Atmoran populace living there, with the exception of Ysgramor and his sons, Yngol and Ylgar, and an Atmoran man who came to be known as Ahzidal. Ysgramor and his sons fled the city, and returned to Atmora soon after.
This untimely event would soon be known as the Night of Tears. Several theories had been proposed to attempt to explain the Snow Elves' fateful attack on Saarthal. One theory was that they noticed the comparatively faster growth of the Atmoran population, and so the Snow Elves attacked them with the intent of bringing the new settlers' proliferation under control, as Mer had long been accustomed of doing with Nede populations of Men. Another theory was that the Atmorans had discovered a mysterious artifact known as the Eye of Magnus deep below the foundations of Saarthal, and so the Snow Elves attacked the Atmoran settlement to secure the object for themselves.
When Ysgramor and his sons returned to Atmora, they brought stories of Elven treachery and the slaughter of Saarthal's citizens to their kin. This moved the bravest men and fiercest women of Atmora to band together into a large companionship, with the aim of avenging their fallen and permanently claim Skyrim from the Mer.
Ysgramor took command of the elite group of warriors and hunters, who in time would become known as the legendary Five Hundred Companions, and the war band's fleet set sail from the Atmoran city of Jylkurfyk to invade Tamriel on the Day of Final Passage. Soon after the Five Hundred made landfall in Skyrim they overran and retook Saarthal, and in their wrathful onslaught began to pursue the scattering and fleeing Snow Elves relentlessly across the width and breadth of the land. This unprecedented conquest of Mer lands by Men made the ascendancy of humans possible for the first time on the continent of Tamriel, and would eventually lead to the establishment of the First Empire by Men. These momentous events, known to Tamrielic historians as "The Return", became enshrined in legend in Nordic and later in Imperial culture, and continues to profoundly shape the relationships between Men and Mer, even thousands of years later.
The Settling of SkyrimEdit
As the crews of the Five Hundred Companions parted ways with Ysgramor after reclaiming Sarthaal and established the Circle of Captains, they would venture out into the new land and gradually interbred with the Nedic populations of Skyrim, whom they inadvertently liberated from the dominion of Mer through their campaigns of conquest against the Snow Elves. Through this, the Companions gave rise to the modern-day bloodline of the Nords. Those settlers of Atmora who came after and ventured west into High Rock intermingled with the Aldmer living there, becoming the progenitors of the Breton people. Others who moved southward were captured and enslaved by the Ayleids, and interbred with the Nedic humans of Cyrodiil during their captivity. Their offspring would eventually overthrow the Ayleids under leadership of the Nede slave queen Alessia, and begin the bloodline that would lead to the modern-day Imperials.
As the crews of the Five Hundred roamed Skyrim and Solstheim during these years, many of them continued to raid Elvish settlements and stalk Mer stragglers up until the moment of Ysgramor's death, after which they laid down their weapons in a terrible grief and in homage to their legendary harbinger. The last two ships from Atmora pulled into a harbor with more than half their crews dead. Atmora eventually became a frozen wasteland, and the Atmorans who remained there are likely to have perished.
The Atmorans were known to venerate nine animal avatars, believed by scholars to have been the totemic representations of several prominent Et'Ada. When they migrated to Skyrim and Solstheim, they brought this belief system with them and it became a part of the fledgling Nordic culture. For reasons lost to history, the Atmoran shamans venerating the Dragon grew far more influential in this new society than the shamans who represented the other animal avatars, and began to wield power equal to the kings. Henceforth, these Dragon Priests ruled over the Atmoran and burgeoning Nord populations at the behest of their Dragon overlords, establishing the Dragon Cult as Skyrim's dominant religion in the Merethic Era.