The Elder Scrolls

Martin Septim is the best Elder Scrolls character (to me)

The Elder Scrolls universe had an absolutely vast variety of characters; living gods, demonic princes, world destroying dragons. Yet much rarer than that in the Elder Scrolls universe are heroes.

Outside of the player characters, true heroes are few and far between. Murderous assassins like the Dark Brotherhood and Morag Tong are rife, as well as petty villains like Maven-Black Briar. Even the supposedly ‘good’ characters, like the Tribunal, gained their powers through betrayal (and one of them turns into an evil monster anyway). The very few characters who do turn out to be any good, such as Paarthnax and the Greybeards, tend to spend their whole lives away from conflict, only interfering to nudge the player character in the right direction.

Then Martin comes in. He does not want to be a great hero. He knows he has an imperfect past, being a worshipper of Sanguine in his youth before joining the temple to repent. Yet when he realises that Tamriel is in danger, even with no desire nor knowledge of his new role, he accepts immediately. He is not a skilled warrior, he knows nothing of political games, and yet he accepts his role as head of the Blades because he knows that Tamriel depends on it. He remains humble and kind, even after the entirety of the Blades all pledge their service to him, an act which would enlarge the ego of nearly anyone. As he has little to no battle capabilities, he has to instead stay behind and work out exactly how to make a portal to Mankar’s Paradise in order to stop Cameron releasing Mehrunes Dagon, and it is the Champion of Cyrodiil who recovers the artefacts. And Martin, rather than look at the Champion as some kind of grunt, talks to him with respect, as his friend.

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Then, in the final moments of the Crisis, when it looks like Dagon has won, Martin knows what he has to do. It is here that Martin must sacrifice his life to stop Dagon from destroying the world. And what are Martin’s last words before the end? Alone, with only his best friend as witness, he could have said many things. He could have cursed the Champion for leading him into these events, or he could have, in this case quite fairly and justifiably, gone down the path of Vyrthur, cursing the gods for putting him in this situation. Yet instead, he says this

“I do what I must do. I cannot stay to rebuild Tamriel; that task falls to others. Farewell, you’ve been a good friend in the time that I’ve known you, but now I must go. The Dragon awaits.”

This, to me, makes Martin Septim the greatest hero and the best character in Tamriel. In a world so filled with morally dark characters, where the best are often morally grey and the worst downright evil, to have Martin Septim as this person who is a hero, not because they’re a prophesied Daedric Prince’s champion, or because they can absorb Dragon Souls, but because they do the right thing and face their own death by comforting their best friend and sacrificing themselves, makes Martin a one of a kind figure, eclipsing even the main protagonists of each games. He was only Emperor for five minutes, yet he did more with those five minutes than any other Emperor had done with their entire careers, Tiber Septim included.

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To quote Sheogorath’s speech to Emperor Pelagius III “You’re the best Emperor Tamriel’s ever had…well except for that Martin fellow. But he turned into a dragon god, and that’s hardly sporting!”

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