Elder Scrolls Lore: Ch.21 – Tribunal – Battle of Red Mountain

You’ve experienced Tamriel in your own way,
but want to learn more about its story. Well, to get to the heart of the story- you have
to go back to the beginning… Sotha Sil…Almalexia…Vivec… powerful,
immortal deities born not of celestial providence, but of flesh and blood and pain.
Much has been written of the Tribunal, and how these three mere mortals dared reach out
and grasp the power of gods with an act so brazen- they transformed the world of Tamriel
forevermore. To understand the Tribunal with perfect fullness,
one name must resonate at the very core of your being. Many know of The Nerevarine, the
prophesied reincarnation of Indoril, who rose to battle the insane man-god Dagoth Ur, crushing
House Dagoth and rescuing Morrowind from the Soul Sickness and the Blight Storms in the
name of most blessed Azura. But few know the man who came before, the very man whose orders
Dagoth Ur claimed to be following; and it is there that the story of the Tribunal truly
begins. The time of Nerevar was one of great conflict;
a time when two races of Mer, the Dwemer and the Chimer waged war based on theological
differences. The Chimer had wandered many years, sustained by the worship of their ancestors
and barbaric traditions of supplication and sacrifice. All accounts indicate they fared
poorly, particularly in relation to the cold and clinical Dwemer, who focused on science
and engineering. The Dwemer had known great prosperity to the Chimer’s displeasure,
yet it was not from there that the strife between the two factions stemmed. The Chimer
were outraged at what they saw as sacrilege from the Dwemer and would engage in raids
intended to punish blasphemers. Only General Nerevar of the Chimer was able
to foster a peace between the two. After he and General Dumac Dwarfking of the Dwemer
joined forces to drive the invading Nords from Morrowind, the two created a truce that
would last hundreds of years. It was a treaty built upon deep friendship, but the harmony
wouldn’t last. Nerevar’s Queen, and his two most trusted advisors all foretold the
failure of the treaty and unavoidable war between the two races.
Their prediction would change the destiny of Nirn. They were respectively, Queen Indoril
Almalexia, Sotha Sil and Lord Vivec the Poet.  
It was Kagrenac! May his wretched name be cursed for all time! High Priest and advisor
to Dumac Dwarf-Orc, he discovered the fabled Heart of Lorkhan within the bowels of Red
Mountain. Kagrenac recognized the fearsome potential in the Heart, and had created means
to use the sacred artifact to create a mechanical god, The Numidium. Kagrenac intended the Dwemer
to bow down before the obscenity, believing worshipping it would lead to a deeper enlightenment
and further prosperity. It also held the capacity to be a powerful weapon. In all, it was an
act of utter defilement, and intensely profane to the fundamentalist Chimer.
The First Council decided to send Nerevar as a representative of the Five Houses of
the Dunmer, at that time known as the Five Hourse of the Chimer. Nerevar was to stop
the Dwemer and their infernal creation; however, he was a calculating man who would not move
against his longtime friend without first hearing the words from Dumac’s own mouth.
He approached the Dwemer commander intending to avert bloodshed, but to no avail. High
Craftlord Kagrenac was haughty and indignant, demanding to know how it was that Nerevar
dared question the actions of the intellectually superior Dwemer. Dumac remained stoic, clearly
weighing his options even as they rapidly dwindled to naught. It is believed that Dumac’s
silence actually masked great shock, for his High Priest’s actions had been unknown even
to the very chieftain of the Dwemer people. Still Nerevar, against all advice, strived
to make peace. He journeyed to the temple of the Daedric Prince Azura. His supplication
to the Goddess revealed a vison; the Dwemer were indeed attempting to create a new god
and Kagrenac himself had crafted tools for the purpose of harnessing the power of the
Heart of Lorkhan. This marked the final breakdown of communication between Dumac and Nerevar…the
War of The First Council did commence.   It was brutal and gruesome. United under the
First Council, all the might of the Chimer, was no match for the metal Dwemer automatons
that had been designed for the sole purpose of rending flesh. The Dwemer creations were
fast, merciless and practically indestructible. They fell upon the Dunmer with hellish clanking
and demonic hissing, and where they passed…no life remained.
Nerevar was rewarded for his masterful strategies and ferocity in battle with full command over
the massed forces of the Great Houses and the savage Ashlanders. He had successfully
driven the Dwemer back on more than one occasion using the desert barbarians in two pronged
assaults that left Dumac’s forces cut off, broken and in disarray. He led them all the
way to Red Mountain, on the island of Vvardenfell, and lay siege upon Dumac’s Citadel, attacking
the Dwemer stronghold with the bulk of his forces and led by his generals. Simultaneously,
Nerevar himself led his most elite warriors through a narrow and virtually unknown passage
that went almost directly to the chamber where the Heart of Lorkhan lay, and where Nerevar
knew Dumac would be. With Lord Voryn Dagoth at his side, Nerevar
confronted Dumac Dwarfking and Kagrenac. Whatever final words were spoken between those
two men has been lost to Time. No record at all remains. What is believed is that on that
dark and terrible day two old friends slew each other and that upon the death of his
master Dumac, the fool Kagrenac in his grief and fear and rage did attempt to use the profane
Tools he had created. Wielding the tools, Kagrenac struck the Heart of Lorkhan and at
that very instant, every Dwemer on Nirn…vanished. No Dwemer was ever seen or heard from again.
Nerevar lay mortally wounded, yet conscious. Furious, Lord Dagoth seized the Tools of Kagrenac
and demanded they be destroyed immediately by hurling them into the molten core of the
Red Mountain. But Nerevar would hear counsel from his Queen, Sotha Sil and Vivec before
deciding what to do with the diabolical instruments. After being carried back to the surface and
meeting with his counselors, he decided the Tools would be preserved, in secret, should
the Dwemer return to wage war against the Five Houses again. Further, they all swore
before Azura to never use the Tools for any purpose akin to what the Dwemer had intended.
Nerevar was quickly dying, and would have all involved take the oath, including Dagoth.
But when Nerevar and the Tribunal returned to the chamber that housed the Heart of Lorkhan,
where Dagoth was standing guard, Dagoth was frenzied, wild eyed and rambling about how
only he could wield the Tools and that only House Dagoth could house them.
It was clear that whatever madness had gripped Kagrenac now infected Dagoth. With the last
of his strength Nerevar dealt Dagoth a grievous injury and then expired at the site of his
greatest victory. Nerevar’s attack weakened the traitorous noble enough so that Nerevar’s
forces could take control of the Tools from Dagoth, who hastily made his escape.
With Nerevar dead, his advisors ascended to the highest ranks of the First Council, renaming
it the Grand Council. For many years Vivec and Almalexia mourned Nerevar, and leaned
on one another for support. Sotha Sil however, unbeknownst to the other members of the Council
continued to explore the secrets of Kagrenac’s Tools. Ultimately, Sotha Sil approached Almalexia
who bitterly grieved her Lord. Sotha Sil knew of Almalexia’s anguish, and swayed her with
visions of a Chimer Empire, with themselves as benevolent deities who would usher in the
greatest era of prosperity ever known. Almalexia, in her emotional vulnerability, followed Sotha
Sil, who had, it is assumed, succumbed to the very evil that had led the entire Dwemer
race to extinction, and Dagoth to madness. Sotha Sil seduced Almalexia that day, and
she in turn persuaded Vivec that they should renounce their oaths to Nerevar and to Azura.
That day they committed sacrilege far greater than that of the Dwemer. Making pilgrimage
to Red Mountain, the three did take up the Tools of Kagrenac and each in turn struck
Lorkhan’s Heart. And thus, the great and powerful Tribunal
came to be. The new man-gods had broken their vows to divine Azura, and her rage was boundless.
She was furious at their betrayal, and it was the Dunmer who would bear the mark of
her wrath. But that…is a story for another day.

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