The Elder Scrolls:
The Elder Scrolls, also known as the Aedric Prophecies, contain information based on past, present, and future events. The Elder Scrolls will show the reader all possible pasts, presents, and futures, even some that may not even happen. Elder Scrolls will show possible outcomes based on the actions, some may happen, some may not. As influential as Elder Scrolls are on Tamriel, there is very little information on them that is of any practical value to the common person. Vast fonts of knowledge and prophecies, those are the Elder Scrolls.
Here is an excerpt from “An Accounting of the Scrolls” by Quintus Nerevelus:
“I had thought you meant there were too many to be counted.”
“There are, but that is not the least of their complexities. Turn to the repository behind you, and tell me how many Scrolls are locked therein.”
I ran my fingers over the metal casings, tallying each rounded edge that they encountered. I turned back — “Fourteen,” I said.
“Hand me the eighth one,” he said, reaching out his hand.
I guided the cylinder into his palm, and he gave a slight nod to acknowledge it. “Now, count again.”
Humoring him, I again passed my hands over the Scrolls, but could not believe what I was feeling.
“Now… now there are eighteen!” I gasped.
The old monk chuckled, his cheeks pushing up his blindfold until it folded over itself. “And in fact,” he said, “there always were.”
No one knows exactly how many Elder Scrolls there are because they do not exist..yet they do exist. There is no set number of number Elder Scrolls on Nirn because they where created by the Aedra outside of the fabric of time itself. They do not exist, yet they always existed. Confusing huh? However at one point in time in the Imperial Library, the Hall of Records and in the Elder Library there was a collection of Elder Scrolls. Rumors of an Elder Scroll being stolen from the Imperial Library caused an Imperial Librarian to then take inventory on the remaining scrolls. But each time he counted…there was a different number of scrolls. The efforts would prove fruitless to count the scrolls anyway because in year 4E 175 the Elder Scrolls vanished from the Imperial Libraries halls and became scattered across all of Tamriel.
Now who would want to take the job of reading a scroll and then going blind? Simple, the Cult of the Ancestor Moth. Quite literally these people actually wore silk clothes made from the silk of ancestor-moths. Higher ranking members of the Cult would enchant their clothes so they could actually attract ancestor-moths by chanting an inaudible mantra. The moths would then stay on the monk and the monk would be literally wearing clothes made almost all of ancestor-moths. It is ancient tradition on Tamriel that the only people allowed to read the Elder Scrolls are members of the Cult of the Ancestor Moth or Moth Priests. They have sanctuaries scattered all throughout Tamriel but prefer to remain hidden and reclusive from the rest of the world. The elder of the Moth Priests almost always loose their sight due to the reading of Elder Scrolls and the junior members of the cult have to assist them and help them around.
A section of “Diving the Elder Scolls”: – Oddly enough in game the text is also misspelled from Scroll to Scoll
“…of night. The Elder Scolls themselves can pierce the veil. They offer a view of the flux of Time itself. The prophet who reads the scroll sees one version of what might be. Another prophet might have a different vision with equal veracity. The price for insight is the reader’s sight. He is struck blind and… “
Although a long time ago when the Dwemer where a dominant race on Tamriel they had actually devised a way a to read the Elder Scrolls without the loss of sight. The Dwemer created complex machines that would interact with the scrolls and take its information, it would then inscribe information from the scroll to a Lexicon. The Dwemer where the most technologically advanced race on all of Tamriel, of course they could devise a way to read an Elder Scroll without such dangers of sight loss. However there is no way to tell how many scrolls the ancient Dwemer has inscribed into Lexicons, the Dwemer’s cities and tunnels spread far beneath Tamriel and could be anywhere.
And there is a very brief history of the Elder Scrolls themselves. No one knows what its in each scroll because it always changes. The interpreter of the scroll becomes the prophet of the information he sees. Would you take the risk to read an Elder Scroll to see a possible past,present or future event at the cost of your sight?
The player in the Elder Scrolls games encounters four scrolls. The Elder Scroll from Oblivion involving the Thieves Guild and three Elder Scrolls (Dragon and Sun Scrolls) from Skyrim involving the main story and the Dawnguard DLC (Blood Scroll). You might be wondering to yourself, why have I never been able to read them? Why does the reader go blind? It’s very simple, there is only a select group of people in Tamriel who will read the scrolls and have the gift to be able to interpret them. When a scroll is opened and is being interpreted the reader slowly looses his sight, the more he reads the more sight he looses. However, the more the readers sight is lost during the reading, the more they can see from within the scroll.
Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages (http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Main_Page)
Elder Scrolls Wiki (http://elderscrolls.wikia.com/wiki/The_Elder_Scrolls_Wiki)