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…
“You have chosen your fate, and the fate of your people, and all the Dunmer shall share your fate, from now to the end of time. You think yourselves gods but you are blind, and all is darkness.” -Azura
The War of the First Council was over.
The Dwemer stronghold at Red Mountain had fallen. The Dwemer had been obliterated. Their mechanical abominations stood lifeless, still and dark. All across Morrowind there was much rejoicing and honoring of those who had fallen in glorious battle.
Though Almalexia mourned the loss of her husband Nerevar with her every breath, she found comfort in Vivec and Sotha Sil, and the three of them established the Grand Council, which benevolently governed over Morrowind for many years. Unknown to Queen Almalexia and Lord Vivec, Sotha Sil had continued to study the profane mysteries of the Tools of Kagrenac, the very instruments which caused the War of the First Council and the disappearance of the entire Dwemer race. The tools had been contaminated by a dark taint when they had been used on the Heart of Lorkhan, and many suspect it was the tools that drove Dagoth to betray his people. Possessed by visions of an all-powerful Chimer empire, Sotha Sil persuaded the other two members of the Tribunal that they could become immortals…they themselves could be as gods.
All they needed do…was renounce the sacred oaths they had sworn to the Daedric Prince Azura. To break the oath that forbade them to use the unholy Tools of Kagrenac.
Beneath Red Mountain each member of the Tribunal struck the Heart of Lorkhan with Kagrenac’s Tools, and in that moment it transformed them, and rendered them immortal.
Once the act was complete, they reveled in their newfound powers and envisioned a world of peace, honor, nobility and justice. That was until an enraged Azura appeared before them. The Daedric Lord was monstrous in her wrath, as terrifying and furious a sight as has ever been, yet the three man-gods stood resolute. Sotha Sil in his foolish pride, went so far as to mock Azura, and question her authority and her right to preside over the lives of the Elves.
In her righteous anger, the forsaken deity pronounced judgment upon the three rulers, and all Chimer on the face of Nirn would bear the mark of her rage. “This is not my act,” said Azura. “But your act.” and her radiance faded, leaving the Tribunal in utter darkness and with a vague, unknowable dread.
They did not yet know that in that instant, the flesh of every Chimer had turned the color of darkest ash, and each had eyes that suddenly glowed red with a hellish flame. Upon the discovery of their new appearances The Chimer hid their changed faces in anguish and bitterly wept. In their minds Azura had turned her face from them, even as they knew not why. That day the Chimer were forever transformed. For now and forever they would be called “Dark” Elves, the Dunmer of Morrowind.
Upon returning to mainland Morrowind Sotha Sil, Lord Vivec , and Queen Almalexia addressed all of the Dunmer at once, imploring them to take heart and be proud of their changed appearance. Sotha Sil spoke of the new Dunmer regime, a society of intellectual and spiritual advancement where the only limits were that of their imaginations. He challenged every Dark Elf to embrace their new appearance and to know that from that day forward, the Chimer were no more and that now and forever they were Dunmer.
It has been said that upon their speech, the very ground beneath everyone’s feet trembled. The Dunmer immediately kneeled and made worship in the name of the Tribunal.
Over time, a new civilization of honor flourished and thrived here, based less on Daedric worship and more on benevolent rule. The Dark Elves knew prosperity and happiness unlike any before them, and for centuries beyond measure the immortal Tribunal looked across the land at what they had created- and were pleased. The Five Great Houses of the Dunmer grew in wealth and influence under the watchful authority of the Tribunal, and Morrowind became a place of great contentment.
Sotha Sil, Vivec, and Queen Amalexia went on to achieve the highest elevation of the three virtues of the Dunmer.
Almalexia was as unto the Daedric Lord Boethiah for her infinite Mercy; from her Temple in Mournhold she was worshipped as the incarnation of Compassion and Love. Her selfless nature was sharply contrasted when Mehrunes Dagon was summoned by a vengeful witch and attacked Morrowind. With Sotha Sil by her side, it was Amalexia who battled the Daedric Prince and banished him back the realm of Oblivion to protect her beloved city of Mournhold. Even the Daedric Princes were made to pause before the might of the Tribunal.
Sotha Sil was known as the Anticipation of most blessed Azura, representing the Mystery of the Dunmer. He devoted his time and energies to teaching the secretive Psijic Order, and to establishing his Clockwork City. It was from the Clockwork City that the brooding deity attempted to reshape the physical world and even the nature of life itself. He might have been born Chimer, but Sotha Sil was Dwemer through and through.
And as for Vivec? The Warrior-Poet? He was considered the avatar of the Daedric Prince Mephala, and was renowned for his Mastery of words as he sat in contemplation at his Temple in the city named after him. It was Vivec who would wage war repeatedly against the invading Akaviri legions. First by allying Morrowind with the forces of the Reman Dynasty, thus enabling rise of the Second Empire of Men. Then again, when he taught his people the secret of breathing water before flooding Morrowind and drowning the Akavir occupiers as they invaded yet again.
The Dark Elves of Morrowind knew a Golden Age of prosperity under the Tribunal, but it could not last. Before leaving the Tribunal in darkness at the heart of Red Mountain, Azura had assured them that the spirit of Nerevar himself would come again to punish the Tribunal for their forsaken oaths, and to strip them of their stolen power and false godhood. He would come to do what they had failed to do, and their doom would follow close behind him.
The decline of the Tribunal’s power began with Prince Julek of the Reman Dynasty. Disregarding former alliances, Julek himself invaded Morrowind in a conflict that came to be known as the Four Score War. Ultimately it was Morrowind that fell. Vivec and by association, the Tribunal was forced to surrender Morrowind to the Empire for the good of her people. First Morrowind had to answer to Prince Julek, and later they would answer to the famed Tiber Septim.
While the Tribunal did control Morrowind, it had quickly come to be considered another part of the rapidly growing Cyrodilic Empire of Men. In tribute, Vivec bestowed upon Tiber Septim the Numidium, the very thing that had helped trigger the War of The First Council, although Vivec would not teach the Emperor how to actually use it. No one really knew why the power of the divine Tribunal had begun to slowly diminish; only that it had.
None, not even the Tribunal themselves knew the frightening truth.
After thousands of years and from a place very dark and very deep, Dagoth- now known as Dagoth Ur, had begun to rise. Once he stirred, a vile darkness cast itself over Red Mountain causing Blight Storms, and a terrible Soul Sickness that crept its way into the minds of the citizens of Morrowind. Rumors of the coming of the Nerevarine; and the fulfillment of Azura’s prophecy, began to spread despite the best efforts of the Temple to quell them. Red Year drew ever closer, and the world of Nirn trembled to its foundations, for it meant the end of the Rulers of Morrowind, and life for the Dunmer would never be the same.
But that…is a story for another day.