- "Defy me, and you will know what it is to stand against a god." — Vivec
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. Though some aspects of his past are blurred by time and questions surround some of his more controversial choices, Vivec has always represented the spirit and duality of the Dunmer people, which is reflected in his half-Dunmer, half-Chimer appearance. For hundreds if not thousands of years, he mostly resided at the pinnacle of his Palace in Vivec, his capital, which was visited by hundreds of pilgrims and tourists daily. He honorably guided and protected the Dunmer for thousands of years until his loss of divinity and disappearance near the end of the Third Era, a sacrifice he not only accepted, but helped to bring about. Following his disappearance and the collapse of the Tribunal Temple, he was renamed Saint Vivec by the New Temple and declared a member of the False Tribunal.
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 (sometimes called a general) to Lord Indoril Nerevar, the Hortator (the military commander and representative of the united Chimer people), under whom all of the Great Houses and Ashlander Tribes were united. Vivec's fellow councilors were Almalexia, Nerevar's Queen, and Sotha Sil, Nerevar's trusted and wise friend. Nerevar had established a fragile peace with the ruler of the Dwemer, Dumac Dwarfking, during their united stand against a Nordic invasion, and thereby united all the people of the province for the first time in recorded history under what was called the First Council. Vivec and Nerevar's other advisers warned him that the peace could not last, a warning that unfortunately proved well-justified.
After learning of a Dwemer plan to construct a giant mechanical god powered by their discovery, the Heart of Lorkhan, and a subsequent falling out between Nerevar and his friend Dumac, Nerevar led the Chimer people to war against the Dwemer, a war which culminated in the Battle of Red Mountain around 1E 700. The several conflicting accounts on the events surrounding the battle paint Vivec in drastically different lights: he is usually seen as a loyal soldier and servant, and sometimes accused of being a murderer and traitor. Vivec's own account is in between: he certainly didn't murder Nerevar or betray him in life, but later, his ambition and drive to help the Chimer would lead him to break a most sacred oath. What is agreed is that while Vivec and the other generals commanded the attack on Dwemeri forces outside the mountain, Nerevar took a small party in to the mountain, where they fought Dumac and his guard, driving Kagrenac, the Chief Architect who had first unlocked the mysteries of the Heart, to desperately attempt to use his Tools on it, a grave mistake that caused the Dwemer on Nirn to disappear.
Shortly after the Battle of Red Mountain, the Tribunal convinced Nerevar that Kagrenac's Tools should be preserved for study in case the Dwemer returned, which he agreed to upon one condition: that they all swear a "solemn oath upon Azura that the tools would never be used in the profane manner that the Dwemer had intended" (i.e., to steal divine power from the Heart of Lorkhan).
The Tribunal took the oath, then accompanied Nerevar to the Red Mountain, where he had left the Tools under the protection of Voryn Dagoth, the High Councilor of House Dagoth. Unfortunately, Voryn had been left with the tools for too long: unbeknownst to them at the time, he had already experimented with the Tools and the Heart, likely becoming deranged by the experience. He refused to relinquish the Tools, and he and his guards fought with Nerevar and his guards (this treason was ostensibly the reason why House Dagoth was eradicated immediately thereafter). Dagoth Ur, as Voryn began calling himself, was driven off and presumed to be dead, but Nerevar was mortally wounded in the attack. With his dying wish, Nerevar bade his friends to follow their own advice and never use the Tools.
All accounts generally agree on the outcome of the so-called War of the First Council: the Dwemer were not only defeated, but disappeared entirely, House Dagoth was dismantled and absorbed by the other Great Houses of Morrowind, and Lord Nerevar was slain. But as tremendous as these changes were, the most significant results were yet to come.
 Achieving Divinity and Azura's Curse
With Nerevar gone, the Tribunal came to power among the Chimer. Several years later, Sotha Sil approached Vivec and Almalexia with startling news: he had learned how to safely use the Tools to take divine power from the Heart, and he wished the three of them to do so. At first, Vivec had misgivings, but a stirring, idealistic speech from Sotha convinced both him and Almalexia that together they could be the gods Resdayn deserved. Convinced, the three defied Nerevar's dying wish and used the Tools of Kagrenac on the Heart, drawing its power for themselves.
As soon as they did so, Azura appeared, the Daedric patron of the Chimer, and cursed them, saying that "her champion, Nerevar, true to his oath, would return to punish [the Tribunal and] make sure such profane knowledge might never again be used to mock and defy the will of the gods". When Sotha Sil dismissed her "chiding", all of the Chimer were changed into Dunmer, including the Tribunal. Azura assured them that this was the fate they chose, and all their kind would share in their fate "from now to the end of time".
 The Golden Age of the Tribunal
The Dunmer were, of course, startled to see how their skin had changed from the color of pale gold into a dark ashen grey, and how their eyes had become red, but Sotha Sil assured them it was a blessing. Few knew or understood what had happened to them or the transformation of these new living gods, but most came to accept them and worship them as their new deities. They incorporated the existing worship of Daedra and ancestors into a new Tribunal Temple, and each founded large cities bearing their own names, to act as their personal capitals (Vivec's was on the southern coast of Vvardenfell, and was the largest on the whole island). As the Tribunal harnessed their powers, they apparently learned, among a great many other things, how to remove the appearance of the curse upon themselves. Vivec chose to appear as both Chimer and Dunmer. But one group never accepted the Tribunal: the Ashlanders. The contention that the Tribunal murdered Nerevar is derived from Ashlander oral tradition, and was flatly contradicted by all orthodox Tribunal Temple traditions. Nonetheless, the tale became firmly established in the Dunmer imagination, as if to say, "Of course Vivec would never have conspired to murder Lord Nerevar, but it happened so long ago... who can know the truth?" Vivec denied it if asked, and attributed the story to Alandro Sul, a disgruntled Ashlander who served as Nerevar's shield-companion.
From their inception as deities around 1E 700 to the latter half of the Second Era, the Tribunal flourished and exhibited great heroism with their divinity, but it was Vivec who exhibited the greatest heroism and who became the most popular with the people. Vivec distinguished himself as an unstoppable force and shrewd commander in the Four-Score War, which started in 1E 2840 and lasted until the end of the First Era in 2920, which he helped finally bring to an end with a de facto victory for the Dunmer using his diplomatic prowess. He saved the Dunmer people from certain death on numerous occasions, such as when he taught them how to breathe water so that he could flood Morrowind and kill Akaviri invaders around 2E 572 (in fact, the Tribunal repelled at least two Akaviri invasions from Morrowind). Possessed with an unmatched, unique perspective on the course of history, Vivec was able to foresee the meteoric rise of General Talos to heavenly and earthly prominence, eventually leading him to cease hostile resistance and ally himself with Cyrodiil (though he and the other Tribunes ensured Morrowind maintained its autonomy).
He was one of the more active members of the Tribunal, prolific both in poetry and in the writing of his own versions of history and philosophy. As well as playing a role as a political leader (to this end he created the Buoyant Armigers, a personal military order who exemplify his best traits), he was and is still considered a final authority on many esoteric and metaphysical concepts, such as the means of attaining divinity - the Walking Ways.
Conventional teachings of the Tribunal Temple held that the Tribunal "achieved divine substance through superhuman discipline and virtue and supernatural wisdom and insight. Like loving ancestors, they guard and counsel their followers". Obviously, this account conflicts greatly with the truth, so the truth was suppressed within Morrowind and dissidents persecuted, at times with Vivec's direct involvement, though the knowledge was never fully extinguished. The Temple preached that each Tribune was "anticipated" by a "Good Daedra", one of the Daedra who acknowledged and accepted the Tribunal as the protectors of the Dunmer people (thereby satisfying theological concerns regarding the Tribunal's non-existence before their mortal lives), who became known as the Anticipations. In the case of Vivec, he was anticipated by Mephala.
The Dunmer in general did not envision Lord Vivec as a creature of murder, sex, and secrets. Rather, they conceived of Lord Vivec as benevolent king, guardian warrior, poet-artist. But unconsciously, they accepted the notion of darker, hidden currents beneath Vivec's benevolent aspects, as suggested by his association with the ruthless Mephala. Nevertheless, the teachings of the Temple and the teachings of Vivec himself can be summarized as follows: "Your fourfold duties are to: Faith, Family, Masters, and all that is good. Perform holy quests and bring luster to the Temple. Never transgress against your brothers or sisters, and never dishonor your house or your ancestors. Serve and protect the poor and weak, and honor your elders and clan".
Vivec sought to preserve Tribunal authority and legitimacy, especially his own. In Sermon Four of his Lessons (discussed more below), he is confronted by a group who believed in coincidence above all else, and he "knew that to retain his divinity that he must make a strong argument against luck", evidencing his need to advance his legitimacy as a deity at all times.
 The Return of Dagoth Ur
The Tribunal visited the Red Mountain annually to perform a ritual bath replenishing their divine power. As they approached the slopes of the mountain to do so in 2E 882, they finally discovered the oversight that would end the world as they knew it: Dagoth Ur was still alive, even more powerful than them, and he was awake. He and his minions ambushed them and drove them away, decisively cutting off their access to the Heart of Lorkhan. For over four hundred years, Dagoth Ur's forces gained more territory and he spread his influence, only barely kept in check by the Ghostfence the Tribunal erected and maintained in an attempt to bottle him and his demons inside the Red Mountain region. As the Tribunal's influence and power weakened, Morrowind's society became more fragile; for instance, a simple slave revolt went unchecked and became the Arnesian War.
Vivec was the last of the Tribunal to stand against the Sharmat (as he sometimes referred to Dagoth Ur). He took the burden of substantially maintaining the Ghostfence on himself after 3E 417, when Sotha Sil and Almalexia lost two of Kagrenac's Tools to Dagoth Ur's forces. They were even captured, though Vivec heroically rescued them. Even so, he could not recover the Tools, and the impact of the loss on their campaign, and perhaps the humiliation of losing them, caused Vivec's companions to apparently lose hope: Vivec was alone, facing an enemy he knew he could merely stall and never defeat. In these dark days, with no hope of winning, Vivec set his sights on a slightly different goal: not losing.
So, even while the Temple persecuted the dissidents for their questions and ideas, he wrote the 36 Lessons, primarily to act as a guide for the Nerevarine, whose exact identity was a mystery but whose coming he realized was a necessity for Dagoth Ur's defeat. The writings are very cryptic, likely both to mask this ulterior motive and to indulge Vivec's love of prose. Many of the tales involve Muatra, Vivec's legendary but mysterious spear. Since the Lessons are open to an incredible amount of speculation and conjecture, interpreting them is best left to individuals. But in these writings, Vivec helped engineer the loss of his godhood, and they demonstrated that he planned from early on to support the Nerevarine as much as he could, though the strain of trying to maintain the Ghostfence would hamper his ability to assist the Nerevarine's campaign.
 The End of the Tribunal
The return of Azura's Champion heralded the end of Vivec's divinity: when the Nerevarine destroyed the Heart of Lorkhan in the Red Mountain, all those who had stolen power from it lost their divine spark. The Nerevarine, finally able to put an end to Dagoth Ur, promptly did so. Vivec's fellow Tribunes also fell. Almalexia secretly went mad and murdered Sotha Sil, then used his creations to attack her own people. The Nerevarine killed her after she laid an ambush in Sotha Sil's Clockwork City.
To the world at large, each Tribune was considered dead or disappeared, including Vivec. Baar Dau, unsupported by his magic, finally fell in 4E 5, destroying the city of Vivec and triggering a chain reaction of natural disasters, notably the eruption of the Red Mountain. The relief effort brought the Dunmer together as a people, but it also weakened them, and it wasn't long before the Argonian Invasion of mainland Morrowind forced much of the surviving Dunmer population to flee to Skyrim, the small island of Solstheim, and dozens of settlements elsewhere. And so, Vivec orchestrated an end to the worship of himself: the general devastation the fall of Baar Dau brought to the Dunmer created a wave of disillusionment, and it was the death-knell for the worship of the Tribunal.
No one really knows Vivec's fate, though some have gone so far as to claim that he was "taken" by the Daedra during the Oblivion Crisis, and others that he was killed by the Nerevarine. He expected that the Tribunal would no longer be honored as gods by the Dunmer, but as saints and heroes, and that the Temple would return to the original Dunmer faith: the worship of their ancestors and the three good daedra, Azura, Mephala and Boethiah. The New Temple would prove him right by re-adopting the worship of the daedra, who came to be called the Reclamations, and, likely as a political gesture to ease the transition, "Saint Vivec" is still venerated as a great ancestor of the Dunmer.
 See Also
- 2920, The Last Year of the First Era by Carlovac Townway — An historical series of books about Vivec and the Empire
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec by Vivec — Words of wisdom relating to Vivec
- The Anticipations by Anonymous — Overview of the members of and the relationship between the Tribunal and the Daedra
- The Battle of Red Mountain by Vivec — The story of the Battle of Red Mountain and the Nerevarine Prophecies from Vivec's perspective
- Dagoth Ur's Plans by Tribunal Temple
- Fellowship of the Temple by Archcanon Tholer Saryoni — Evangelical and documentative orthodox work of the Tribunal Temple
- Five Songs of King Wulfharth — A summary of five epic songs of King Wulfharth, plus an apocryphal song of the Tribunal, Dagoth-Ur, and Indoril Nerevar
- Homilies of Blessed Almalexia by Almalexia — A series of children's fables, each with its own moral
- Kagrenac's Tools by Gilvas Barelo — Concerning the use of Wraithguard, Keening, and Sunder at Red Mountain
- Nerevar at Red Mountain by Tribunal Temple — A scholarly description of the events surrounding the Battle at Red Mountain and its aftermath
- The Pilgrim's Path by Tribunal Temple — A book describing each of the Temple's shrines
- Plan to Defeat Dagoth Ur by Vivec — A detailed plan to defeat the enemy of the Tribunal
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Morrowind — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Temple: Morrowind — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- The Reclamations by Thara of Rihad — An account of changes in the Dunmer religion following the end of the Tribunal.
- Vivec and Mephala — Informational book about ALMSIVI and Mephala
- The War of the First Council by Agrippa Fundilius — A brief account of a First Age religious conflict
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j Vivec and Mephala
- ^ Guide to Vivec
- ^ a b Guide to Vvardenfell
- ^ a b c d The Plan to Defeat Dagoth Ur — Vivec
- ^ a b c d e The Reclamations: The Fall of the Tribunal and the Rise of the New Temple — Thara of Rihad
- ^ Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Morrowind — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- ^ a b c d The Thirty-Six Lessons of Vivec — Vivec
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s The Battle of Red Mountain, and the Rise and Fall of the Tribunal — Vivec
- ^ a b c d e f Nerevar at Red Mountain — Tribunal Temple
- ^ a b c d e f g h i Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Temple: Morrowind — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- ^ Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Hammerfell — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- ^ Message from Dagoth Ur — Dagoth Ur
- ^ The War of the First Council — Agrippa Fundilius
- ^ Kagrenac's Tools — Gilvas Barelo
- ^ a b c d e f Dagoth Ur's Plans — Tribunal Temple
- ^ 2920, The Last Year of the First Era — Carlovac Townway
- ^ a b Fellowship of the Temple — Archcanon Tholer Saryoni
- ^ The Anticipations — Anonymous
- ^ Saryoni's Sermons — Archcanon Tholer Saryoni
- ^ Lives of the Saints — Tribunal Temple
- ^ The Pilgrim's Path — Tribunal Temple
- ^ The Consolations of Prayer
- ^ a b Vivec's dialogue in Morrowind.
- ^ The events of Morrowind.
- ^ The events of Tribunal.
- ^ a b The Red Year — Melis Ravel
- ^ The Infernal City — Greg Keyes
- ^ Scourge of the Gray Quarter — Frilgeth Horse-Breaker
- ^ a b To Milore from Nilara — Nilara
- ^ Rumors heard during the Oblivion Crisis.