Elder Scrolls Lore: Tribunal – Red Year & The Fall

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…

The fall of the Tribunal was nigh. It didn’t happen all at once. Its progress was slow. Dagoth Ur had awakened from his dark slumber, healed at last his mortal wounds inflicted at the Battle of Red Mountain. He barred the Tribunal from accessing the Heart of Lorkhan, thus cutting off their divine power at its very source. The Tribunal’s might immediately began to diminish as Dagoth Ur’s evil seeped through Red Mountain and across all of Morrowind in the form of withering blight storms, and horrific nightmares of soul sickness that threatened to break the minds every Dark Elf. There were many Dunmer whose infernal dreams drove them to madness and enticed them into making pilgrimage to Red Mountain to swear fealty to the sinister Sixth House of Dagoth. These brainwashed Dark Elves would even venture past the Ghostfence that had been erected by the Tribunal in order to contain Dagoth’s dark and growing evil.

TES Morrowind Ghostfence

The precious few Dark Elves who were seen returning from the other side of the Ghostfence were found to have been twisted by the evil of Dagoth Ur. They were dead eyed acolytes of the Sixth House and messengers of Lord Dagoth himself.

Meanwhile, amidst this chaos, rumors spread far and wide across Morrowind. The Dark Elves whispered of a stranger who was systematically fulfilling the prophecies that heralded the destruction of the Tribunal. The prophecy of a living mortal who was uniting the Five Houses and the Ashlander tribes precisely as had been foretold. Morrowind believed that they had found salvation in this hero, and that this hero was indeed Lord Nerevar reincarnated.

Things went from bad to worse as agents of the Sixth House stole two of the three profane tools of Kagrenac from their grasp. Separated from the Heart of Lorkhan, it became clear that the Tribunal was growing progressively weaker. As their power faded with each passing day, rumors spread about the Tribunal. The dissident priests wrote tomes about the Temple’s teachings, and how the three man-gods of Morrowind had in fact deceived the Dunmer by teaching them false history. The Ashlanders believed the Tribunal truly came to power by deceiving Nerevar and murdering him at The Battle of Red Mountain centuries earlier. This belief obviously stands in sharp contrast to what the Tribunal Temple had been teaching Morrowind’s people. The Dark Elves began whispering about how their Tribunal was indeed the “false” Tribunal. A Tribunal created through lies and deception. Whether or not these rumors are true, the fact that they were allowed to spread at all could be an indication of just how much Morrowind’s people began to lose faith in their leaders.

Dagoth Ur Red Mountain (2)

It was at this time that Vivec summoned the Nerevarine to his palace where he stood vigilant and forever watchful over Morrowind’s people.

There is evidence indicating that this Warrior-Poet and adventurer spoke at length, not only of strategies for defeating the Sixth House, but of love, loss, fear, sacrifice, and regret. In the end, Vivec would declare this adventurer to be the true incarnation of Indoril Nerevar, and after arming him with the gauntlet of Wraithguard, the Nerevarine left Lord Vivec, determined to end the chaos now griping the Dunmer people.

The Hero of Morrowind made pilgrimage to Red Mountain and using Kagrenac’s Tools struck the Heart of Lorkhan one final time. In doing so he shattered Dagoth Ur’s hold on the Dark Elves forevermore.

And it came to pass that when the Nerevarine broke the bonds that bestowed ungodly might upon Dagoth Ur, the link that had given power to the Tribunal fell away as well, and on that day, the three living gods- began to die…

In her madness and sorrow at the thought of mortality after millennia as an immortal deity, Almalexia travelled to Sotha Sil’s Clockwork City and with the help of a manipulated Nerevarine, she slew her old ally. Upon encountering Sotha Sil’s body, it is said the Nerevarine was attacked by Almalexia and he was forced to take her life. Many say it was in that moment, the prophecy of the Nerevarine was fulfilled. The Daedric Prince Azura reveled herself unto the hero- and spoke…

Nerevarine kills Amalexia

“You have done well, mortal. The death of Almalexia is a boon for all of Morrowind, though it may take time for this to be understood. She would have betrayed the Dunmer as surely as she betrayed all those she loved. This was her curse, and this was her undoing.

Weep not for Sotha Sil. He shed his mortality long ago, and I am certain his death was no small relief to him. These gods lived with the burden of a power no mortal was meant to possess.

Your work in Morrowind is not finished, Nerevarine. Vivec still lives, but I believe his time grows short. Protect my people. Defend these lands. The skies of Mournhold are clear once again. Let these people suffer no longer. Now go, mortal. Embrace your destiny, and go with my blessing.

-Azura

Thus was the dark prophecy of Azura, fulfilled.

With the fall of the Tribunal, life in Morrowind underwent a tragically dramatic change that would come to be known as The Red Year. The mad god Sheogorath had once rebelliously flung the gigantic moon Baar Dau at Vivec, who had frozen its plunge over his Temple in the city of Vivec where it served for hundreds of years as the Temple’s inescapable prison. The moon stood as a symbol of Vivec’s might and a threat of what would befall Morrowind should the Dunmer ever cease to love him. With Vivec now gone, the moon once again threatened the lives of the Dark Elves living beneath it. The most powerful mages the Temple could muster were able to stop its fall but only at the terrible price of the many living souls that were fed to fuel the magic machine holding it in place. When the love of a Dark Elf woman led to the destruction of the arcane machine, Baar Dau resumed its plummet and smashed into the Temple City.

The resulting shockwave of planetary bodies colliding triggered the eruption of Red Mountain, which led to the fiery obliteration of many cities surrounding it. The destruction was nearly absolute.

Argonians Red Year

The Dunmer had been decimated, and this presented a rare opportunity for the enraged Argonians of Black Marsh who had lived for thousands of years as slaves to the Dark Elves. As is the destiny with all slaves and their masters, the Argonians broke the bonds of servitude, and slayed every Dark Elf in sight. Morrowind collapsed, becoming but a memory and the Dunmer, who had enjoyed Morrowind’s prosperity for thousands of years were scattered across all Tamriel, from the Imperial City and even so far as Skyrim.

With Almalexia, Vivec and Sotha Sil in power no longer, the Dark Elves began to undergo a theological shift known as “The Reclamations”. Followers of the Dunmer’s original ancestors, the Daedric Princes, had long suffered persecution at the hands of those who revered the Tribunal and denied the sovereignty of Azura, Mephala and Boethiah. They were now free to declare the worship of the Tribunal to be the result of “misguided teachings” and they were quick to praise the Ashlanders, who had remained true to the Daedric Lords even as all others knelt to the Tribunal. Sotha Sil, Amalexia, and Vivec would now be know as the “False” Tribunal. House Indoril, which had during the time of the Tribunal been the most prosperous of all the Great Houses was rendered powerless, and considered just another arm of the New Temple.

House Indoril Dark Elf Lore

Thus ends the tale of the rise and fall of the Tribunal, the moral being to illustrate the dangers of an unquenchable thirst for supremacy. However, the lust for power is eternal within the souls of mortals. It will rise again and again, as it would for the dreaded Wolf Queen of Solitude, whose quest for power led her down the dark path of Necromancy and cost not just her life, but the eternal damnation of her very soul.

But that…is a story for another day.