The Elder Scrolls

Was Ulfric right to kill High King Torygg?

TheElderScrolls2 - Was Ulfric right to kill High King Torygg?
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For me No.

According to Sybille, who was there, Torygg didn’t know that he was going to be challenged. He thought that Ulfric was there to call for a Moot. By the time he realized what Ulfric’s actual objective was, he was in a position where he couldn’t back out. His people would not accept a High King who refused a challenge.

So Ulfric hustled Torygg into a challenge he was not prepared for.

Now, was the fight a fair one?

No.

The two were not evenly matched in terms of weapons. They weren’t using weapons that both were equally good at or that gave both roughly the same handicap. In fact, Ulfric used a weapon that he knew Torygg did not possess and could not use: the Thu’um. Specifically, Unrelenting Force (the only shout Ulfric knows). He did to Torygg what the Dragonborn does to dragons with Dragonrend—he pinned the young man down. However, unlike a ground-bound dragon, Torygg couldn’t fight back with teeth, talons, tail and Thu’ums. He couldn’t move. And And once Torygg was helpless, Ulfric attacked. He took no chances at all.

If Ulfric had used the Thu’um against someone else who possessed the skill, fine. But against someone who doesn’t?

Now, my Khajiit thief-assassin has no problem whatsoever in Yol Tool Shur-ing or Slow Timing any Forsworn who is egotistical enough to attack him. He doesn’t like the Forsworn. They scream about cousins’ cats and turning him into a rug far too often. That said, he isn’t under any illusions. Thu’ums are an unfair advantage against those delusional fools, and he has the uneasy feeling that Arngeir probably wouldn’t approve. (He thinks that Paarthurnaax would likewise disapprove, but would understand.)

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But he doesn’t claim, even to himself, that he’s fighting an honorable duel against a respected opponent. That’s what Ulfric claimed he was doing: following in the path of Nordic tradition by challenging the High King to a fair fight. Yet Ulfric, like my sneaky Khajiit, cut the odds against himself until they were nearly nonexistent.

Cutting the odds and taking unfair advantage? Those are practical tactics when fighting a war. But that’s not how you fight a duel. Torygg had no idea that Ulfric would do either, and he wasn’t prepared to do the same if he wanted to survive.

So this wasn’t an honorable fight or a fair challenge. It was regicide. Planned, deliberate regicide. Which led to a civil war that weakened both Skyrim and the Empire, giving the Thalmor a completely unnecessary advantage. And Ulfric, who had been imprisoned and tortured by the Thalmor in the Great War before becoming a Thalmor asset, should have known who would truly benefit from his actions. Either he didn’t know—though he should have—or he knew and didn’t care.

(I am delighted that on this playthrough, my Khajiit—who, after assassinating Titus Mede II, joined the Legion to stabilize the Empire and stick it to the Thalmor—got to execute Ulfric. The Dismay Thu’um killed him even as the game was telling me that Ulfric was too strong to be affected by it. So, drained of stamina and the ability to run, he died on his knees, an expression of horror on his face as his heart burst from fear.)

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