Tribunal Part 1 – An Elder Scrolls Story

From out of Retirement
Bloodmoon happened a long time ago now. The beautiful, blood-shot-eyed protagonist, Rosai, saved the island of Solthsteim from being the hunting grounds of Hircine and his werewolves by defeating his spirit in battle. Afterwards, she returned to her duties in the town of Raven Rock to live a quiet life away from Vvardenfell. She had learnt a lot about difficulty sliders, always carrying repair hammers, training her armourer skill and how to walk the line between totally cheesing her life with powerful potions and toying with her enemies to keep the fun of adventure alive.

She had also had some meta adventures involving a construction set and files, which resulted in her being unable to unequip her shield at the threat of her existence crashing. Being a one-handed weapon expert anyways, this didn’t really matter, but it did hurt not being able to use the two-handed Umbra to trap people’s souls anymore. She’d ultimately have to enchant another one-handed sword to that end. You see, if she were to equip a two-handed weapon, she’d never be able to reequip her shield to use it to block despite the game still including the shield’s armour value in her overall armour value. And, as stated, attempting to unequip and reequip the shield resulted in existence going blank. Strange stuff.

While other less important characters came into existence to deal with those files as to not ruin her life, Rosai lived peacefully as one can on the frontier of civilisation. That was until she one day went to bed and was awoken by a Dark Brotherhood assassin attempting to kill her. Rosai was paralysed by a dart and struck with a sword many times, but once free she was more than capable of dispatching the thug.

It all came flooding back. The adventures she had used to go on. The thrill, mystery and exploration. Rosai had been dispatched to Vvardenfell by orders of the Emperor to meet a spymaster there. She never met him, instead deciding to join the Temple and live a holy life. Her time in the Temple only revealed how corrupt Vvardenfell was, however, and after ascending to its leadership she struck down the Dunmer God Vivec in open battle. He was less of Morrowind’s protector and more of it’s authoritarian dictator. She’d have liked to have spoken to the other Dunmer Gods, were they on the island. Alas, they were on the mainland. That was some many years ago now for her. She told many what she had done, but none believed her and all she told gravely disliked her. But no one had gone into Vivec’s Palace to check on him – him being a God and all – with the leader of the Tempe (now Rosai) the only one permitted inside to verify if he was alive. So Rosai had lived much of her life knowing she killed the man most of the populace worshipped as an idol.

She had found a rusty gauntlet on Vivec’s body and always carried it around, unsure of its purpose. It was so broken that she couldn’t even wear or repair it, but knew that it meant something to Vivec and thus placed her own importance upon it too. Using her Temple ties, she later joined the Dunmer House Redoran. Although never ascending to leadership, Rosai did reach the council and had a manor constructed on Vvardenfell where others would stay too. Before embarking on her journey to Solthsteim, Rosai had thrown the rusty gauntlet of Vivec into a secure chest in her manor.

Looking down on the body of her assailant, Rosai felt something she had not since her younger years; the call to adventure. Someone wanted her dead. Still, after all this time, and even after retirement, the name Rosai meant something to someone. And they had sent someone to one of the world’s most remote, inhospitable islands to ensure her death, despite her relevancy in the country of Morrowind having all but been forgotten. Something was up.

Raven Rock secured and Solthsteim saved a long time ago, Rosai left it in in the capable hands of her underlings before returning to Vvardenfell for the first time in forever. She caught a boat to Khuul, and then a silt strider to Ald’ruhn, from where she travelled on foot to her manor to dig up that rusty gauntlet she had found in Vivec’s pocket.

The Rusty Gauntlet
Assassins were a problem, yes, and would continue to be so long as she remained in Morrowind and on Vvardenfell. But if Rosai was to dive into an adventurer’s life again, it’d be on her terms. And those terms started with finding out why the only possession of one of Morrowind’s Gods had been a useless old gauntlet.

But who could decipher meaning from the gauntlet of a God? Not Rosai, but she thought of one who might. Divayth Fyr was a Telvani wizard she had dealings with in the past. The wizard was as old as the first age, had cloned female versions of himself to be his daughters and wives, and had committed his life to trying to find a cure for the Blight; a plague set upon Vvardenfell by Dagoth Ur – one of the other Dunmer Gods Rosai would have liked to have had a word with, for his spreading of the deadly disease across Vvardenfell.

She had met Divayth when trying to rescue a kidnapped woman from his tower, but found him to be a somewhat agreeable person despite her reasoning for being there. Unfortunately, he knew nothing of the Rusty Gauntlet. Not wanting to have wasted her visit, however, Divayth invited her to plunder his dungeon. A hobby of his; invite thieves to his house to plunder his dangerous dungeon. Little loot was found there by Rosai, but a Dwemmer named Yagrum Bagarn. Rosai thought the Dwemer had disappeared ages ago, but Yagrum explained that he had been out of this realm when the disappearance occurred and returned to find himself now the last living member of his race on Tamriel.

Yagrum noticed the rusty gauntlet Rosai carried and named it Wraithguard; an artefact used by the ancient Kagrenac to build and activate a God – this action being what caused the disappearance of the Dwemmer in the first place. So that was what Vivec had in his back pocket; a broken God-building tool. She asked if Yagrum could activate it and he agreed, if she could find him Kagrenac’s old writings. He knew nowhere specific to search, only that the Dwemmer ruins of Vvardenfell would surely turn them up if one’s eyes were keen enough.

And there was her newest quest; to find the writings of Kagrenac and use them to reactivate the ancient Wraithguard.

Kagrenac’s Writings
When the Dwemmer had disappeared it had been at Red Mountain, the heart of Kagrenac’s operations and now those of Dagoth Ur’s. It seemed sane to Rosai that this would be the place to start searching. She travelled to Sadith Mora, from there to Ebonheart, Vivec, Balmora, Ald’ruhn and then on foot of Ghost Gate. The Tribunal – those Dunmer Gods – had erected a magical wall to keep Dagoth Ur’s Blight and creatures locked within Red Mountain. Ghost Gate was the way through.

Rosai had passed through the Ghost Gate once before when she was younger on a pilgrimage for the Temple. She learnt the hard way that she would have to carry cure blight potions with her, lest the disease eat away at her and one day turn her into one of Dagoth Ur’s mindless zombies.

After passing through she headed north but split to the west, eventually, not wanting to get too close to the volcanic heart of the region where Dagoth Ur himself resided. If Vivec had the tool used to make a race disappear and had been keeping it from Dagoth Ur, who resided in the place that race’s disappearance was caused within, she dared not get too near. Over the red storm of ash, dust and particles of disease she saw the silhouette of a Dwemmer ruin named Endusal and went inside. It was littered with Daedra and Dagoth Ur’s ash creatures. She slew them all with surprisingly much more ease than she had the assassin that had infiltrated her home on Solthsteim. After checking every nook and cranny, she found the journal of Kagrenac there, by chance, in the very first ruin she had explored. Although the contents of it were written in a language she could not understand, she was confident about the lettering on the front.

Yagrum Bagarn had insisted there were more writings than just his journal that she would need to find, so she was not happy to return to him yet. She’d have to explore the blighted region more yet. She did so, and predictably contracted blight not from a Daedra or minion of a God, but from an infected rat who had snuck up on her. Having bought three cures with her, she was happy to drink one as soon as it was slain.

With no Dwemmer ruins in sight, she was forced to march up the mountain some more, drawing nearer and nearer to the lair of Dagoth Ur. She saw the towers of his lair, and the pit of lava they sat above. But she dare not go near. True as it may have been that she had slain Vivec, another God, she had only done so by the skin of her teeth and when she was much younger, in her prime. Even then, everyone silently knew Dagoth Ur’s power surpassed Vivec’s own, or else Vivec would have slain him and been rid of the Blight long before it became a sticking point on Vvardenfell. So no, Rosai wasn’t feeling as adventurous as to delve into the lair of the most powerful thing on the island… Yet.

She veered east from the towers and found another Dwemmer ruin called Odrosal. Inside was a similar amount of little resistance to someone of her adventuring prowess. And yet she found a powerful tool – a dagger called Keening. It enhanced her health and magika when worn, but also sapped her of life. After holding it for just a few seconds she was almost killed by the absorption of her. She dropped it and stored it in one of her many, many pockets.

Rosai was no fool though. Keening was an item crafted by Kagrenac; she had read so on one of Vivec’s plans to kill Dagoth Ur many years ago, that involved using the tool to separate him from his powers. But she was unable to hold it, and thus could not even think of paying the God in the volcano a visit. Mighty as it was to have found Keening, it was not one of Kagrenac’s writings and so she steered herself north over rough terrain and beyond the peak of Dagoth Ur’s lair to the Dwemmer ruin of Tureynulal.

Another batch of disposable minions later and Rosai finds it inside a heavy Dwemmer desk; Kagrenac’s Planbook. It is surely his, but the inside contents are unintelligible to her. Satisfied with what she’s found, she heads back out of Red Mountain and to the Divayth Fyr’s dungeons.

Using the plans and journal, Yagrum Bagarn was able to activate Wraithguard for her. The once rusty gauntlet transformed into a shining object that emitted a powerful shield around her that would resist many physical and elemental attacks, as well as deflect magic back at anyone using it against her. With Yagrum Bagarn’s help, she realised she could also wield the dagger known as Keening without fear of death so long as she had Wraithguard equipped.

For but a second she felt satisfied that she had completed her quest… But had she really? She had certainly reignited her love of adventure, but she was still being pursued by assassins. Even on the slopes of Red Mountain, in a deadly blight swarm and surrounded by the minions of a God, assassins had pursued her into and out of the various Dwemmer ruins she had explored. Every one of them proved a greater challenge than the monsters found in the region. Who wanted her dead, and why now? It was a question she needed answers to if she ever wanted to live peacefully again.

And yet she realised there was one thing she must do first…

After saying goodbye to Yagrum she returned to the Palace of Vivec, where she had struck down the Dunmer God long ago. His body was gone, faded into some immortal plane no doubt. But everything else remained, confirming still none but her knew of his demise. She took the notes she had found so long ago; Vivec’s plans to defeat Dagoth Ur. She would have to destroy the source of his Godhood, the Heart of Lorkhan, inside of the weapon he was building in the Red Mountain. Akulakhan was an enormous slave to his will, and would wipe civilisations out of being he so desired. Now with Wraithguard and Keening in her position, she realised she was just one step away from being able to slay another God and, in doing so, put an end to the blight and quarantine of Vvardenfell. Having read the note, she realised she was only missing one item required to defeat Dagoth Ur; Sunder. It was yet another tool crafted by Kagrenac ages ago, and would be necessary for her to defeat the God.

So, it seemed she was to return to Red Mountain and slay a God…

Slaying Dagoth Ur
Sunder was just as easy to locate as the other materials Rosai had needed for this quest. She found it in the second ruin she had discovered, a place called Vemynal, in the possession of an Ash Vampire called Dagoth Vemyn. He was probably the most difficult of the Dagoth Ur’s minions to defeat but not by much. He just took a hit or two more to take down, and Rosai had to block an attack or two of his. Like Keening, the hammer called Sunder would kill Rosai unless she had Wraithguard equipped while holding it. She would need both tools when fighting Dagoth Ur to destroy the Heart of Lorkhan, as they were the only things capable of doing damage to it.

And so it was finally time for her to trek to the top of the volcano and enter the lair of the evil God…

Dagoth Ur knew that Rosai had stepped into his lair at the heart of Red Mountain. ‘Come, Nerevar, friend or traitor come’. He spoke almost as a friend, devilish as his voice was. But he called her Nerevar.

Nerevar had been a Dunmer Saint long ago who was betrayed by Tribunal Gods – it was finding out about this betrayal and Vivec’s lies bout it that led Rosai to reject the Temple’s teachings she had for so long followed, and to slay Vivec in the first place; the event that kicked off this whole adventurous ordeal. There were rumours of Nerevar being reincarnated, and Rosai had slain many who claimed to be his new incarnation when she had been indoctrinated into the Temple’s beliefs. But now Dagoth Ur spoke as though SHE was Nerevar? What did he know that she didn’t, if anything at all? Perhaps his perceived knowledge that she was Nerevar was just his subjective belief. Or perhaps it was the rambling of a mad God who had lived alone in the heart of a volcano for centuries, wishing for the return of his old friend.

Many ash monsters littered the way to Dagoth Ur, all of whom feel too easily at Rosai’s feet. Along the way many dead adventurers were found in the highest quality of gear, which Rosai of course looted for monetary gain. They would not need it. But then Rosai wondered if Dagoth Ur had given them the same speech he was now giving her? ‘Bring Wraithguard,’ he said ‘I have need of it‘. It then occurred to Rosai she had perhaps made a horrible mistake. If she failed to kill Dagoth Ur, she would be leaving him with Kagrenac’s tools, the very things Dagoth Ur needed to prolong and enhance his divinity and assert himself over Morrowind. That could not happen.

Finally, Rosai reached the mad God in his golden mask, and he addressed her, ‘Welcome to this place where destiny is made.’

He spoke of history and the grandeur of Nerevar’s return to Red Mountain where both of them had been betrayed by the Tribunal and where they must both now fight for the destiny of Morrowind. But first he had for her a series of questions…

His first question to Rosai was ‘are you really Nerevar reborn?’ It was obvious in his tone that he wanted it to be true. And part of Rosai thought it could be after the many godly feats she, a mortal, had performed. But she could not answer that she was in good faith. She told Dagoth Ur that she was a self-willed adventurer. To her surprise, he praised her for this and approved of her breaking free of being a puppet to the Gods.

His second question was ‘if you win, what do you plan to do with the power from the Heart? Will you make yourself a god, and establish a thearchy? Or will you complete Akulakhan, and dispute control of Tamriel with the Septims? Or will you share the Heart with your followers, as I have, and breed a new race of divine immortals?‘ Rosai only sought to destroy the heart, but did not want to make the diplomatic Dagoth Ur turn on her so soon. She told him she would share the heart as he had, spreading the blight in the hope of getting on his good side… If he had one. Dagoth Ur honoured her goal and even called her noble of spirit for this response.

His final question was ‘If I had offered to let you join me, would you have surrendered Wraithguard, Sunder, and Keening to me to seal your oath?’ The answer was simple, and even after trying to appease the God, even Rosai could not resist outright defying him. She told him that she would never surrender the tools. To this Dagoth Ur pointed out that she had not said she would not have joined him if he had offered, but he was glad not to have bargained with her.

He offered Rosai the chance to ask questions of him. She declined and he said to her went the first blow of battle. So it did. If a flew swings of Sunder, Dagoth Ur collapsed and faded from existence.

But within the heart chamber, where the Heart of Lorkhan sat within the chest the enormous Akulakhan, Dagoth Ur reappeared. He boasted of his Godhood and mocked Rosai’s naivety. Fireballs were hurled at her and Dremora were summoned upon him. When their mana was spent they exchanged blows, but the war of attrition could not be won by Rosai even with her stack of divine potions. So long as he was linked to the heart, Dagoth Ur was invincible. It really highlighted to her just how weak Vivec had been when she defeated him so long ago, separated from his source of power.

If Rosai was to survive she would need to get to the heart and destroy it during battle. She summoned everything she could. Scamps, ghosts and Deadra via spells, enchantments and scrolls. They swarmed Dagoth Ur and pinned him down for but a moment. In this time, Rosai restored her magika and levitated down to the Heart of Lorkhan. She did as Vivec’s plans had read; strike with Sunder and then Keening. As she did so, Dagoth Ur pleaded from above for her to stop. But it was too late and the heart was destroyed by the time he reached her. He swung wildly with his weapons, inflicting heavy damage on Rosai’s armour. But he was now as mortal as Vivec had been when he had died to a much weaker Rosai. In no time at all, as the Akulakhan collapsed around her and the lake of lava below boiled furiously, Dagoth Ur’s bones were crushed to dust by the might of Sunder and his flesh pulled apart by the flashing speed of Keening. And when the dust settled there was no body, just as there was no body of Vivec. The God, if he had ever truly been one, had vanished and all that was left was silence.

Silence and Azura. An unpronounced Azura; Daedric patron to the Dunmer who did not worship the Tribunal. She spoke briefly to Rosai of the importance of her actions, of fulfilling prophecies and saving the world. But it meant very little. Dagoth Ur had just been another villain in a long line of bastards to try and defeat her. And the blight was just another scheme to be thwarted. She was called Nerevarine by Azura, a title given to he or she who is Nerevar incarnate. But Rosai cared not whether she was Nerevar or not. The only truth she did know was that she was Rosai, and that her achievements were her own. She declined Azura’s gift of an enchanted ring and returned to the exterior of Red Mountain where the blight storm was fading and the ash creatures dying.

And as she rested, a familiar thing happened. Assassins launched an attack on her life. Fruitlessly, of course. And it occurred to Rosai that she still had not put to rest the very thing that bought her out of retirement; the damnable Dark Brotherhood.

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