“…and that you not speak that which must not be spoken openly. Act as a dutiful priest should, in accordance with your vows of obedience to the canons and archcanons, and all will be forgiven. Defy me, and you will know what it is to stand against a god.” — Vivec, The Battle of Red Mountain, and the Rise and Fall of the Tribunal
Introduction (skip if you’d like)
I had decided a bit ago that I would start with more basic aspects of the Elder Scrolls lore, and work to more complex things from there. I had also decided that I’d do a subseries on the gods of the Elder Scrolls world. So, I’m starting with my favorite, the Tribunal. This episode WILL contain heavy spoilers for TES III: Morrowind. Be advised. Spoilers for the Tribunal expansion will also be marked separately.
Chimer and Dwemer
Before Dunmer — the dark elves — became what they are today, they were Chimer (or Velothi). They were led, at least in the era we’re looking at, by Indoril Nerevar. The Dunmer and Chimer peoples were united in this time, and had been for hundreds of years — at least until the Chimer checked Yahoo News and discovered that the Dwemer held something called “the Heart of Lorehan”.
The Heart of Lorkhan itself, is pretty self-explanatory. It is the heart of Lorkhan, the god who sold the ancient beings on the idea of constructing Nirn. The et’Ada who helped in its construction were drained of their own power, however, and thus in a sense bound to Nirn.
The Dwemer were planning on building a massive mech, essentially, called the Numidium — the very same that was later used by Tiber Septim to go all HAWKEN on the Aldmeri Dominion and unite Tamriel under the Empire. They were going to use the Heart of Lorkhan to power it — and create a godlike mechanized war machine.
Lord Dagoth was the one who had discovered this plot, and it was confirmed by the Daedric Prince Azura.
The Battle of Red Mountain
After failing to reconcile with Dumac, the Dwemeri leader, Nerevar brought the Chimer in their entirety to arms against the Dwemer. The great houses had lost a series of skirmish battles, and thus relinquished command of their forces over to Nerevar. The Dwemer, however, also had allies in the Nords and Orcs who fought in the war.
Lord Nerevar planned to confront the Dwemer at the fortress in the heart of Red Mountain itself. He used the main Chimer forces to coax the Dwemer forces out of their citadel and hold them in engagement in the fields outside. According to an account by Vivec, Nerevar and Dagoth brought a small unit around and inside the fortress at Red Mountain, and as they gained the upper hand against Dumac and his forces inside, the great Dwemer engineer Kagrenac used his mystical tools (the same ones used by the Nerevarine in the Third Era) to tap the power of the Heart and vanish the Dwemer peoples. Dagoth insisted that these tools be destroyed, looking at what they did to the Dwemeri. (Whether or not the Dwemer were actually destroyed or just sent somewhere else is of debate) A differing account from the Ashlander tribes holds that the Tribunal were not initially inside Red Mountain, but were on the field with the armies, at least until the Dwemer vanished.
Nerevar however sought council with the Tribunal; he brought Almalexia, his lover and Queen of the Chimer, and his councilors Sotha Sil and Vivec to Red Mountain. They decided to preserve the tools, but when they met with Dagoth Ur, he still insisted that the tools could not be entrusted to anyone else. Whether he had encountered the power of the tools and the Heart, or whether he was actually the most level-headed and loyal of Nerevar’s council, is as well of debate.
Divinity of the Tribunal
What happened after is held in wildly varying accounts. Nerevar either died from wounds, or as some accounts recall, the Tribunal poisoned Nerevar and used the tools to give themselves divinity using the power of the Heart of Lorkhan, Either way, they did absorb the powers of the Heart, becoming as gods themselves.
Azura came to them, and cursed all of the Chimer race for the crime of power hunger that the Tribunal had committed. The appearance of the Chimeri was changed to be like it is in more relatable times: dark skin with red, burning eyes. This was Azura’s mark on the Chimer-now-Dunmer for the sin(s) committed by who were supposed to be Nerevar’s most trusted allies. She stated, essentially, that “you dun !@#$ed it up” and that Nerevar would return to pay them with vengeance.
With their newfound Super Magic God-being Oodle Powahz, they convinced the Dunmer peoples to worship them as gods. They began shaping Dunmer civilization, the three of them: Vivec, the Warrior-Poet; Almalexia, Mother of Morrowind; Sotha Sil, the secretive engineer-mystic-wizard.
Throughout the Eras
Over the course of three eras, the Tribunal stood as the god-figures of the Dunmer. A city named after Almalexia was constructed around the temple citadel of Mournhold. Sotha Sil spent time on the island of Artaeum, teaching the youth of the Psijic Order. He also made a pact with the eight well-known Daedric princes, so that they would not answer summons by amatuers during a war that Morrowind was in with Cyrodiil.
Almalexia and Sotha sil fought off Mehrunes Dagon, after he was summoned by an amateur mage. The city of Mournhold was destroyed, later to be rebuilt (possibly many times over, each time on top of the ruins of the last incarnation)
Almalexia was seen as someone akin to a mother-figure. She performed healing on the sick and injured, and wrote light-hearted stories for the masses to enjoy. She fought during an Akaviri in 2E 572, and pushed the Great Houses to join the Ebonheart Pact. Vivec, the Warrior-Poet, lead the Dunmer with spiritual guidance and philosophy.
Plot Twists and Ruin
Dagoth Ur, formerly presumed dead inside of Red Mountain, awakes and begins reforming the House of Dagoth. He had as well absorbed the power of the Heart, as it had sustained him while he lay in a coma for thousands of years (that’s a long-arse respawn timer)
As the Tribunal return to Red Mountain to renew their powers, he oogah-boogah ambushes them and drives them away. The Tribunal fought with him for centuries — Dagoth gaining the upper hand — and during this time was the rise of Tiber Septim. It is thought that because of this, Vivec agreed to make peace with Cyrodiil by allowing Morrowind to become part of the Empire, in a treaty known as the Armistice.
The Tribunal had actually successfully raided Red Mountain and slayed Dagoth Ur several times, but his connection to the Heart repeatedly resurrected him. So next, they built the ghost fence — It is presumed by many scholars that they got the resources from this from Lowes — in 3E 417.
Almalexia by this time had started going bonkerpants from being deprived of the power of the Heart. Don’t even get me started on her Twitter page.
It had long been prophesied that Nerevar would be reincarnated as a new person, named the Nerevarine. Many people tried to pass the trials that would tell who was the true reincarnation of Indoril Nerevar. None of them succeeded, until a person sent to Vvardenfell by order of the Emperor arrives in Morrowind. Essentially what we learn from this is that Dunmeri have a Battlefield respawn-timer, because they just don’t die.
This is where TES III: Morrowind takes place, so I’ll skip the main storyline here a bit.
[MAJOR SPOILERS for TES III: Morrowind] The Nerevarine slays Dagoth Ur and destroys the Heart of Lorkhan, after regaining the Tools of Kagrenac from Dagoth’s forces. Dagoth Ur had also planned on building a second Numidium, essentially, and this was destroyed along with the Heart.
[MAJOR SPOILERS for Tribunal (expansion)] Almalexia has gone mad, being deprived of her powers, now that the Heart is gone and with no hope of rejuvenation, she stages an elaborate ploy to make the Dunmer people believe she saved them from an apocalypse just one last time. She slays Sotha Sil in his Clockwork City, who at this time had been hugely secretive and not seen in public for a long time.
[MAJOR SPOILERS for Tribunal (expansion)] She unleashes his mechanized minions on Mournhold, and tricks the Nerevarine into travelling into the Clockwork City. There, the Nerevarine finds Sotha Sil hanging as a corpse, and Almalexia spills the beans to the Nerevarine that essentially “I love you, but you’re going to die now honeybear”. Remember that the Nerevarine is the reincarnation of her late lover.
[MAJOR SPOILERS for Tribunal (expansion)] Almalexia falls in this battle, and if you were me, the Nerevarine soul-trapped her soul in Azura’s Star using the greatsword Umbra. I believe it was worth seven million gold. This leaves Vivec the only member of the Tribunal still alive.
Dark Times for Dark Elves
Over time, he too fades away, and by the time of the Oblivion Crisis he no longer has the power to hold the Ministry of Truth — an asteroid suspended in time above the city of Vivec — afloat, it crashes with its entire original momentum into the city, going (as I said in the previous Lorekhan) “WUTDAFU– BOOOOOOOOOOOOM” causing an apocalyptic event that ignites Red Mountain and razes all of Vvardenfell and much of the coastline of mainland Morrowind.
The Temple eventually reverts to the worship of the three “good” Daedric princes:: Azura, Mephala and Boethiah.
After this, the Dunmer peoples start losing grasp of their homeland as the Argonians invade. What remains to come of Dunmer civilization remains to be seen. It would seem that the Great Houses are still active, with — namely Redoran — having had some success in fighting off the Argonians.
Thanks for reading! This one took me an extra long time to write, but I thank you for coming to read it. Consider following (via WordPress) or subscribing (via email) to show your support, and leave a Like and some comments! Oh and return next week!
I will also be adding quotes from TES lore to the starts of the existing Lorekhan episodes.