7 Frost Fall
So far as my time on Vvardenfell is concerned, today may have been the most important day I have had on the island.
The day began ominously Though there were no faceless intruders in my house, I walked outside at six in the morning to see Ald'ruhn bathed in the pulsating red glow of a Blight storm. Those that were outside already had their faces wrapped up in cloth and their heads down. One woman stopped me while on my way to the Mages Guild, asking if I could chase a "scary man" out of her home. When I suggested she go to the guards instead, she said that they were busy herding people into their homes to escape the storm. I agreed to the task, figuring it was just a confused person taking refuge in the wrong house.
The scary man was a Sixth House cultist who had set up a small shrine in the woman's hearth, muttering his prayers to Dagoth Ur and rubbing his hands together. When I tried to speak to him he identified me as Lord Nerevar, telling me that I had betrayed Dagoth Ur and that his vengeance would be swift and terrible. Unfortunately for him, his bare-handed strikes against my armor was neither swift nor terrible and the battle was piteously one-sided. I dragged the body out of the woman's home and left it on the far side of nearby hill. The wind and dust of the ever-present storms will bury it quickly. The woman, who identified herself as Gindrala, regretted that she had nothing material to offer as a reward, but promised to tell everyone about what I did for her. Given my plans for my future in Morrowind, my reputation may wind up being the most valuable thing of all.
The storm was still raging when I stepped into the Mages Guild and I left a light trail of blood-red grit in my wake as I made my way to the Guild Guide station. I intended to resolve the issue with the slanderer in Balmora as reported by Faral, then visit Ebonheart to take care of some business from yesterday.
I am beginning to think that the retainers of House Hlaalu cause trouble in the hopes of receiving bribes to simply go away. The Hlaalu slanderer, Meril, agreed to a bribe of one hundred Septims in return for formally renouncing whatever claim he was making against House Redoran. I did not ask what it was, nor do I care. I stopped at Nalcarya's shop to purchase more Recall potions, then took the Guild Guide back to Vivec. Faral rewarded my one hundred Septim expense with an enchanted bonemold shield...which I have no use for. She then asked me to go to the Redas ancestral tomb to fetch some items that were willed to the House, but as it is near Molag Mar, I do not see my travels taking me near it in quite some time. I suppose I could pop over to Telasero and get there pretty quickly should I find the time.
The time was not to be found today. Instead, I water-walked from the Foreign Quarters canton to the docks of Ebonheart and spoke with an individual about fishing along the coast.
The shipmaster said she knew a great place to fish, a personal favorite of our mutual friend. She invited me onboard and just like that I was on my way to the Dissident Priests. I had no idea where we were going, of course, and the trip took nine hours, nearly the rest of the day. It was close to eight in the evening when we finally docked against an unmarked wharf.
A monk of Dissident Priest's monastery was waiting for me on the wharf and the entire monastery had been told to expect me by my friend. I was given directions (which could be summarized as "follow the stairs") and told to wait until either dusk or dawn when the magically sealed door to the building would be available. Eight in the evening was close enough to dusk I suppose, for the door was available to me when I approached.
Just inside was a large circular room ringed with altars and dotted with ash pits, looking much like any other temple on Morrowind. There was a sole Dunmer attending to the room and he welcomed me gracefully, pointing out the three stairwells leading away from the room, each of which would lead me to the Dissident Priests' library, the ultimate reason for me to be there in the first place.
I spoke to my rescued friend in the library and she gave me quite a lot of information. I had assumed that the Temple's hostility against the Ashlanders and by extension, the Dissident Priests had stemmed from a lack of tolerance for beliefs veering away from the official dogma. But according to my friend, the Temple persecutes beliefs that go against their teaching due to the Ghostfence pretty much being powered by the peoples' faith in the Temple. The coming of the Empire and cracks in the Temple's armor has weakened the Ghostfence and allowed Dagoth Ur's influence to creep outwards from the Red Mountain.
Curiously, my friend was surprisingly dismissive of the Nerevarine prophecy, stating that the Ashlanders' belief was nothing but silly superstition and they as barbaric savages. She also feels that their belief of the Tribunal being false gods is an insult to the Temple. It seems she is still loyal to the Temple as a belief system, though not as an institution. Whatever may come, I do hope she will be willing to assist me in the future.
The curator of the library, Gilvas Barelo, was more militant than my friend. According to him, all the Dissident Priests have to do is show themselves more capable of fighting the forces of Dagoth Ur and the people of Morrowind will rally behind them, enabling the Priests to supplant the Tribunal Temple under a new unified faith. Hardly a noble goal. He gave me three books, each which give differing accounts of Lord Nerevar and his (or her I suppose) end. The three documents are titled "The Real Nerevar", "Nerevar Moon-and-Star", and "Saint Nerevar".
"The Real Nerevar" spoke of Nerevar's earliest days when he led the people to Morrowind. Seeking to unite the warring tribes, he went to House Dwemer and commissioned a ring he named "Moon-and-Star". The ring was enchanted to increase the wearer's charisma and to kill anyone else who tried to wear it. With the ring Nerevar was able to form the tribes into the First Council, but later religious disputes split the Council, with House Dwemer and House Dagoth on one side and the remaining houses on the other. The Dwemer-Dagoth alliance recruited Orc and Nord clans as allies and the warring sides met at Red Mountain. According to the document the Dwemer race disappeared due to side effects as a result of magic used during the battle and House Dagoth and their mercenary allies were completely slaughtered. Nerevar was said to have been killed, the ring lost, and afterwards the Grand Council and the Tribunal Temple was formed. That was the entire document and not very informative. Notably, nothing of the Ashlander tribes is mentioned.
"Nerevar Moon-and-Star" was a great deal more interesting. The document originates from Imperial scholars studying the Ashlander legends and presents a very different take on what occurred The document completely skips the arrival of the Dunmer to Morrowind and Nerevar's acquisition of the the ring, simply stating that he already had it, only the legend calls it "One-Clan-Under-Moon-and-Star". Having promised the tribes to uphold their ancient ways, the Ashlander tribes united with the military forces of the Great Houses and marched with them to Red Mountain. Curiously, the enemy at Red Mountain was not a Dwemer-Dagoth alliance in the Ashlander legend, but only the Dwemer, who were defeated along with the outlander mercenaries. This document differs from "The Real Nerevar" in that it proposes that the leaders of the Great Houses (Dagoth included?) assassinated Nerevar after the battle and set themselves up as gods, creating the Tribunal Temple. The Temple neglected the promises Nerevar made to the tribes and the Ashlanders as they are today were therefore born. But if the document is to be believed, House Dagoth was on the winning side and as such would have been party to the assassination plot. Yet nothing is mentioned of his involvement, of lack thereof, in the formation of the Tribunal Temple, nor how he came to be stuck in Red Mountain.
"Saint Nerevar" is actually an official Temple document distributed for Westerners. In this telling, the united Houses marched against the Dwemer-Dagoth alliance, but the Tribunal (Vivec, Almalexia, and Sotha Sil) are said to have united the tribes alongside Nerevar with the power of "One-Clan-Under-Moon-and-Star". During the battle at Red Mountain, Nerevar is mortally wounded in battle against Dagoth Ur, but died only after witnessing the birth of the Tribunal Temple and blessing the unity of the Dunmer into the care of the Tribunal Gods. Quite a different telling from the first two, which at least seem to agree that the Tribunal was only present after the battle of Red Mountain.
When I asked Gilvas of the lost prophecies, he produced even more documents: "The Lost Prophecy", "The Seven Curses", and "Kagrenac's Tools". The "Lost Prophecy" was not as impressive as I imagined it to be. Only seven lines, it spoke of who would become the Nerevarine, describing the individual as "dragon-born and far-star-marked".
"The Seven Curses" was vague, but Gilvas's notes made them a little clearer. The curses are said to be of: Fire, Ash, Flesh, Ghosts, Seed, Despair, and Dreams. Fire and Ash are obviously the Blight storms from Red Mountain and Flesh the corpus disease. Dreams is likely the haunting influence of Dagoth Ur at night, but Ghosts, Seed, and Despair are a mystery to me and Gilvas, who only remarked that they represent a threat as of yet unseen.
"Kagrenac's Tools" is the most valuable document Gilvas provided me. While the scroll concentrates on the tools the Dwemer master craftsman fashioned, it provides far more background on Dagoth Ur than any other document.
Beneath Red Mountain, the heart of the god Lorkhan was discovered by the Dwemer long ago. Seeking to use the heart's power, Lord Kagrenac created three tools: Wraithguard, an enchanted gauntlet to protect the wearer during the release of the heart's power, Sunder, a hammer designed to release the heart's power, and Keening, a blade to focus the released power.
Lord Kagrenac used the tools during the battle at Red Mountain and the disappearance of the Dwemer people was the result. According to the document, Lord Nerevar and Lord Dagoth found the tools after the battle, but were unsure as to what to do with them. Leaving Lord Dagoth to guard them, Lord Nerevar consulted with Vivec, Almalexia, and Sotha Sil, the three described as "councilors" in the document. With Nerevar gone, Lord Dagoth apparently succumbed to temptation and refused to give the tools to the four when they returned to Red Mountain. A battle ensured and Lord Dagoth, thought mortally wounded, was driven away. The scroll does not go into what happened to Lord Nerevar or if he was killed by Lord Dagoth, but it does say that after Nerevar's death, the three former councilors broke their oath to Nerevar and used the tools, granting themselves god-like power.
Lord Dagoth, of course, was not actually killed and returned as Dagoth Ur, a powerful version of himself maddened by his connection to the God-heart and presumably immortal. The Tribunal used the tools more carefully and have not been driven mad, but Gilvas speculates that they have been corrupted as well, only more subtly. I suppose it is possible.
Gilvas closes the document stating that the Tribunal are persecuting the Nerevarine cult out of shame for what they did, for breaking the promise they made to Nerevar long ago. He points out that in the coming battle against Dagoth Ur, the Tribunal Temple should be welcoming the Ashlander tribes and Dissident Priests as valuable allies, but instead waste time and resources hunting them down. Gilvas's last sentence is a caution to view the tools not as salvation, but of curses and doom, for it does appear that everyone who has come into contact with them ultimately meets a sorrowful fate.
I have to admit: I have no idea what to think. At face value, the final document is pretty damning against the Tribunal Temple, but what is ultimately the point? If the Tribunal is at fault and did murder Nerevar, it is at best a cautionary tale for myself. Nothing I can say or do will right that wrong and I don't see how it really impacts the struggle against Dagoth Ur today. It is good to know where the conflict originated from and what I may be dealing with, but I just don't see how the history is going to help me now. Perhaps I need to read them again and think on it when I have more time at home.
After reading all of the material and speaking briefly with the priests, I elected to drink a Recall potion rather than take the boat all the way back to Ebonheart. Doing so, I arrived in my home at eight in the evening, more than enough time to write all this down and think on my future plans. The ring, "One-Clan-Under-Moon-and-Star" seems a requirement to be the Nerevarine, but I have no idea where that might be or even if it is acquirable any longer.
The wisewoman of the Urshilaku will have a better idea what to do with these than I do.