One asked, “Master, why do we train only with the sword, when weapons come in so many shapes?” The Master replied, “The sword is our soul. Mighty Onsi showed our people in ancient days the way to lengthen blades, and we have known their blessed virtue in our victories since. Focus on it alone, and you will defeat every weapon—you will outreach daggers, roll from under heavy hammer blows, and deflect the arrows of your foe. If you are distracted from the blade’s way, you will only be confused and the path to mastery will disappear beneath your feet.”
—Sword-Wisdom of Saikhalar
Vivec, or Vehk, Warrior-Poet deity of the Dunmer and “vi” in the Almsivi, was the Guardian God-King of the holy land of Vvardenfell, and ever-vigilant protector from the dark gods of the Red Mountain, the gate to hell. Vivec was one of the three immortal god-kings of Morrowind alongside Sotha Sil and Almalexia. A Pillar of the Tribunal Temple and the patron of artists and rogues, Vivec is also known as the anticipation of Daedric Prince Mephala.
Vivec is worshipped by the Dunmer as a symbol of “Mastery”, as well as “duality” given his Chimer/Dunmer complexion, hermaphroditic appearance, and sinister nature hidden behind his benevolence due to her relations to Mephala.
Much of Vivec’s early life is muddled by suppositions, metaphor, and time, but it can be assumed he grew up in Resdayn, now called Morrowind, during the First Era. Eventually, he would become the junior councilor to Lord Indoril Nerevar, the Hortator, under whom all of the Great Houses and Ashlander Tribes were united. However, after the Battle of Red Mountain Vivec murdered Nerevar, and the Tribunal gained their divine status.
Vivec disappeared from Morrowind mysteriously during the late Third Era. In his absence a group of Dunmer mages were able to keep Baar Dau suspended (though it eventually destroyed Vivec City in 4E 5), and House Redoran was able to protect the province from the Daedra.
After the disappearance of Vivec and the reinstatement of the worship of the old Dunmeri pantheon,Azura, Boethia, and Mephala, by the New Temple, Vivec was hence forth known as “Saint Vivec”.
Drawing by Michael Kirkbride, Coloring by Little-Vehk
Something to consider, however, is that there are multiple stories of how Vivec gained his divinity. I’m one of those who believe that Vivec did not kill Nerevar, but did break his promise to him. Before he died, Nerevar made Vivec, along with Almalexia and Sotha Sil, promise not to use the Dwemer tools to obtain divinity. But they decided their divinity was necessary, and threw away that promise. This is why the Chimer are now the Dunmer; Azura punished the Tribunal and all its race for their mistake.
Azura is the Daedric Prince whose sphere is dusk and dawn, the magic in-between realms of twilight. Azura is always depicted as a female, and is also known as “Mother of the Rose,” “Queen of the Night Sky,” and the Anticipation of Sotha Sil. Azura is usually represented by her artifact, Azura’s Star, a reusable soul gem that can be found in Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim. Azura is one of the few Daedra who might be considered “good” by mortal standards, due to her concern for her followers’ well-being. Azura’s plane is known as Moonshadow, a realm said to be too beautiful for mortals to comprehend.
It was Azura who told Nerevar that Dagoth Ur’s knowledge of the Heart of Lorkhan was accurate. This caused a war with the Dwemer (whose king denied knowledge of the Heart, although Azura only denied it due to lack of her own personal knowledge of the subject), from which Nerevar emerged the victor, and the Dwemer did not emerge at all. Later, when the Tribunal of Vivec, Almalexia and Sotha Sil used the power of the Heart of Lorkhan to make themselves gods (and thus breaking their oath to Azura), Azura cursed the Chimer (which caused their skin to turn a dark greyish color and their eyes to turn red, thus making them Dunmer, or Dark Elves) and claimed that she would cause Nerevar to be reborn and that she would make things right again. Later, Azura aided the Nerevarine in defeating Dagoth Ur and toppling the Tribunal Temple (due to the differing accounts, told by various factions and individuals in Morrowind, this should be taken with a grain of salt). Azura is also credited for making the Khajiit from Bosmer stock in Elsweyr. She is also thought to be the sister of Nocturnal, but whether this is true or not is yet to be known.
House Dres and House Indoril
House Dres is one of the Great Houses of Morrowind, with presence only on the mainland. It governed the Dres District of south-eastern Morrowind from the city of Tear. The district included the fertile Deshaan plain, and bordered Indoril District and the swamps and marshes of Black Marsh.
House Indoril is another one of these Great Houses. The great Chimer hero Nerevar was the head of this House during the early First Era. House Indoril is a staunch supporter of the Tribunal Temple, many of the Temple Ordinators and other Temple heroes are members of this House. This connection has given it a big influence on all political decisions in Morrowind.
Neither of these Houses have a large presence on Vvardenfell at all. One might occasionally find a Dres Slave Trader in a Telvanni port, or meet an Ordinator who is also a member of House Indoril, but apart from these small rarities Dres and Indoril stick to the Mainland of Morrowind.
Neither House appreciate Imperial Rule, both opposed it in fact, and both have struggled under it. House Dres’ economy largely relies on agriculture which in turn relies on slave labor (usually by Argonians). Slavery is illegal in the Empire, and thusly House Dres has been largely persecuted even though Morrowind special laws under the Empire allow slavery within its borders.
When Septim incorporated Morrowind into his Empire, House Indoril refused to submit to Imperial rule. At the time the Lord High Councilor of the Grand Council, a council comprised of the heads of the Great Houses, was an Indoril and would not accept the treaty or step down, so he was assassinated and replaced with a member of House Hlaalu. Still unwilling to accept membership within the Empire, many Indoril nobles committed suicide, weakening the House.
Both Houses are known to still be part of the Grand Council, the ruling body of Morrowind.
(Because so little is known about these two houses I condensed the important information about them into one post, if anyone would like a separate longer post for one of or both houses I will do that thing.)
Dwemer society consisted of free-thinking yet reclusive clans devoted to the secrets of science, engineering, and the arcane until they mysteriously disappeared around 1E 700.
The Dwemer inexplicably disappeared during the Battle of Red Mountain, the biggest and final battle of the War of the First Council. Lord Kagrenac of the Dwemer constructed Kagrenac’s Tools to harness the powers of the Heart of Lorkhan, the heart of a god which the Dwemer had discovered beneath Red Mountain after it was thrown there by the old Elven Gods. When the Chimer found out, they considered this aim blasphemous and sought to stop it. Kagrenac’s goal remains unclear, but it is believed he sought to heighten his race to Anumidum, essentially to divinity. The disappearance of a whole race in an instant sparked many theories, but is generally thought to have followed this attempt to use the tools on the Heart and simply coincided with the war. It appears that the Dwemer were conflicted on their use of the Heart. Some opposed its use, warning that massive side effects were likely, while the majority of the Tonal Architects, including Kagrenac wished to proceed.
It appears all members of the Dwemer race were simply removed from the world. When the previously untouched Dwemer ruins of Bamz-Amschend in Mournhold were rediscovered, numerous piles of ashes were present next to weapons and armor, on chairs, and in beds, suggesting the Dwemer’s bodies were suddenly reduced to ash in some way. In 4E 201, Arniel Gane, a researcher at the College of Winterhold in Skyrim, attempted to recreate the circumstances of the Dwemer’s disappearance after obtaining Keening, one of Kagrenac’s Tools, but vanished suddenly in the process, strengthening the theory that Kagrenac’s use of the tools was the cause of the disappearance. Some scholars still resist the notion that the Dwemer disappeared all at once.
A theory also exists that their sudden extinction was caused by their reversal of the usual processes involved in the Earth Bones, the laws of nature. Vivec, the warrior-poet god of the Dunmer, similarly believed that the disappearance of the Dwemer is in some way owed to their “divine sin”—attempting to create a god for their own purposes from the remains of the god Lorkhan. It is possible he was referring to the wrath of a Daedra, most likely Azura.
Arch-Mage Shalidor was an immensely powerful wizard in the First Era who had an understanding of magic few have ever matched, and his numerous but scattered writings are highly sought after.
Shalidor was the most prominent advocate in a movement to keep magic out of the hands of the common people and instead enact higher standards amongst mages. These beliefs are often credited with bringing forth the creation of magic academies.
There are many legends surrounding Shalidor’s life, such as how he built the city of Winterhold with a whispered spell, how he stole the secret of life from Akatosh, and how he single-handedly fought against the Dwemer legions of clan Rourken at the Battle of Rourken-Shalidor (in which the Spell Breaker is said to have been used). He is even sometimes credited with the founding of the schools of magic.
Most of these are however believed to either be complete fabrications or at least exaggerations
However this is not to say Shalidor was not a highly accomplished Mage, we do know that he founded and built the College of Winterhold, that he was able to resurrect Dragons from the dead, that he had an almost godlike understanding of magic, and that he had an unnaturally long life
Most of the research and writings that Shalidor wrote while in Labyrinthian were lost to the ages, but some of what he wrote is still out there, and would be extremely valuable to any and all arcane universities. Many of these arcane colleges such as the The College of Winterhold attempt to seek out more of Shalidor’s writings to expand the The Arcaneum, improve the arcane skills of the members there and to help the college expand and improve as a whole..