In Sermon Nine, Vivec and Nerevar battle against five generals from Skyrim as they work with the Dwemer to force the Nords back into their own territory.

In Morrowind, Sermon Nine grants a bonus to the Blunt Weapon skill. It is worth 200 Septims and weighs 3 units. A copy can be found in the Temple at Molag Mar, and another in the Temple at Ald'ruhn.

Sermon 29 names this Sermon "The Missing." Its number is 11, which references the word "did."

Now Vivec and Nerevar face their oppressors. By this point, in (probably) 1E416, Morrowind had been occupied by the Nords for over a century. Their alliance with the Dwemer allowed Morrowind to throw off the shackles of Nordic dominance, and this Sermon appears to describe the deciding battles, or at least the five strongest Nord leaders.

A lot of history has been bent and spun in the 36 Lessons, most dramatically the behavior of Nerevar and the nature of his relationship with Vivec. But I think this is actually quite plausible. Nerevar may well have required Vivec's advice during his negotiations with the Dwemer. Vivec's "third sight" be undoubtedly useful, but the nature of the negotiations would almost certainly have been "swift and tricky" by necessity, and that puts them within the sphere of the Thief.

Of course, the 36 Lessons are written with a Dunmer point of view. So it's understandable that they would (quite literally) demonize their enemies. This tendency to dehumanize the enemy is frequently found in real world propaganda as well, so we can understand why Kirkbride, in an effort to lend a sense of historical realism to the 36 Lessons, did so here.

You might think that the Velothi system of Daedra worship might endear them to demons, but that is probably not the case. I suspect practitioners of traditional Velothi rites are fully aware of the dangerous and evil nature of their Gods. Thematically, this works well with their tendency to live in dangerous and inhospitable climates: by choosing to expose themselves to dangerous trials and hardship they grow tougher and more powerful with each passing test.

Even under the guidance of Ysmir, a Dragonborn, Skyrim was likely still a collection of tribes and cities, never a traditional Empire like Cyrodiil.

Or perhaps it was, and this was simply how the Velothi perceived their oppressors. At this point in history, the last king of the first Nordic Empire, King Borgas, has been dead for a little over thirty years, so it might not be unreasonable to say that the Nords were fairly unorganized at this point.

The Nords would not regain their sense of national stability until four years from now, in 1E420, when Olaf One-Eye, the Jarl of Whiterun, becomes King. That's the same Olaf One-Eye who imprisoned Numinex in Dragonsreach. He shows up again in the Bard's College quests as a Draugr, in 4E201, when the Last Dragonborn punches him until loot falls out.

Though it is likely that the Chimer considered the Nord chieftains to be unholy, and not the number five itself, it's arguable that the number five, the Corners of the World, could be considered an "evil" number by some.

For example, consider the mystical point of view of Velothi culture. The Aedra (as they learned from Boethiah's inhabitation of Trinimac) are liars, and the Daedra are predatory. The world itself was constructed by these very forces. Surely a number that represents Nirn itself could be considered "evil?"

This character appears to be referenced elsewhere as "King Hoag Merkiller." The 36 Lessons insinuate that Hoag had some ability to resurrect his fallen soldiers, but I haven't found any reference outside the Lessons to back that up.

That Hoag eats soil in order to bring his fallen soldiers back to life may seem odd, but it works. Earth (the substance, not the planet) in the Elder Scrolls is associated mystically with the forces of potential with which life can be created. A seed is planted, water falls into the soil, and plant life grows from this interaction.

This system is closely related to sexual reproduction in early real-life cultures. The soil is considered symbolic of a woman's womb, and water a symbol of sperm.

So when Hoag eats soil and fills his fallen soldiers with them, he's essentially refilling the building blocks of life (wet earth) into now lifeless bodies.

That he does it by "eating" mud probably connects this process to Thu'um. But it also lends the reanimation process a personal element. By consuming the mud, Hoag's reanimation involves an act of "gifting" something from inside himself, something he's ingested. Like a mother bird feeding her young, Mother-General Hoag "feeds" his undead children.

Secret (or True) Names are often found in mystical documentation, and is related to the concept of a Sacred Language. In short, when a language itself has magical power, a person or entity's true name is a direct link to their very essence or nature. That the Dunmer considered these Nords to be demons is probably relevant, here.

Knowledge of a Demon's True Name can often be leveraged against the Demon by a magician. Your mileage may vary.

In the Five Hundred Mighty Companions, Chemua is among the twenty-two Thunder Shield Women, and is said to hold secret shield-songs that were not yet needed. She was apparently teaching other members of the 500 Companions, such as Kfalta Lakesdotter, who was unable to marry until her tutelage was complete. One might assume Chemua's unneeded shield-songs were the ones demonstrated during this lesson.

Note that all these Nordic "demons" are described as having "appeared as" something, as though their appearances are not reflective or dependent on their true natures. This tends to be a trend with demons, in both real-life mysticism and in other fictional settings: they appear in whatever form they choose. This could be another attempt by Vivec or the Tribunal priests to dehumanize their enemies.

I don't know much about this character, other than that he (?) was a member of House Dres, a primarily agricultural House that is noteworthy for its massive slave holdings. The name "Khizumet" does remind me somewhat of the Yiddish word "Kismet," which means "fate."

CHEMUA "eats" Khizumet-e, but that doesn't necessarily mean CHEMUA devoured the Dunmeri hero. I'll discuss this concept in greater detail in later sermons, but Kirkbride uses the term "eat" to symbolize the absorption of something, a concept, a person, anything.

The definition can get quite broad. For example, Mankar Camoran is said to have "eaten" his rebellious daughter in order to persuade her to join his cause. While this could well be some kind of cannibalistic act of murder, it could also symbolize a transitioning of nature. Camoran could well have simply cast a spell on his daughter, or sat her down for a good talk.

Or he ate her. I don't know, whatever blows your hair back.

Similarly, Boethiah "ate" Trinimac, and then spoke to the soon-to-be Velothi with Trinimac's voice. While the nature of Daedric Princes leads me to believe this is probably a more literal consumption of the Altmer God, it's possible to interpret it as a temporary conversion of nature, a corruption, or even a cleansing, depending on your point of view.

With that in mind, it's possible CHEMUA simply converted Dres Khizumet-e over to the Nords, and convinced him to assassinate Nerevar.

So perhaps this connects CHEMUA to the Ash Storms, which in Morrowind carry the Blight, Dagoth Ur's "disease." We'll discuss the nature of that "disease" later, in Sermon 15. And yes, we'll talk about why I keep putting that word in quotes.

But in the meantime, consider that CHEMUA's blight converts Dres Khizumet-e over to his side. How is this similar to Dagoth Ur's Blight?

Of the Northern Demons, CHEMUA is the only one who is slain. The rest appear to have survived the war. BHAG, for example, "falls" in combat, but that's somewhat ambiguous.

The 500 Companions mention two Nords named "Bhag," both of which would later become "undone by invisible deeds."

That Nord kings had beards is to be expected. But consider that the Dwemer were also often depicted as wearing beards. Is this a connection between the two principal enemies of the Dunmer?

BHAG's modus operandi appears to somewhat resemble a thief's system, one of sure bets and disguise. He ran small raids, and on easy targets.

That BHAG's debate led to his death is interesting. Anyone who's played Skyrim knows the assertion that Dragons "argue" with Thu'um, and that those battles can result in death. Whether that death is the result of a stronger position or a well-constructed argument rather than sheer muscle is unknown, and honestly may not even be relevant (or interesting).

Of course, Vivec's nature as the Warrior Poet and hir Mastery of Words allowed hir to understand BHAG's double-speech.

I'm a little unsure about how to address this. It seems to me that this could mean that Vivec alone was capable of dealing with BHAG, since ze is the Warrior Poet, and by extension capable of utilizing and withstanding words used in war.

Sotha Sil and Almalexia, on the other hand, would not have quite so capably handled the contradiction, I suppose.

Another Nordic hero who doesn't appear in any other game, apparently. However, the 500 Companions mention her father, "Fokbar," and that his daughter would one day "trouble the East."

I think it's pretty obvious that "planes" probably refers to the plane of battle and not the mode of transportation. However, is she the "Maid," or the "Maiden" of Planes?

I'm pretty sure this is about her weapon. It doesn't happen often in the 36 Lessons, but sometimes a spear is just a spear.

Considering BARFOK's appearance: is it possible that she visually resembles a Valkyrie? In many operas, a Valkyrie (or similar) character often appears at the end of battles to deliver a verse or two about the results of the on-stage chaos, just in case the audience wasn't trying too hard to follow the plot. I'd suggest that there's a connection here between the operatic valkyrie who declares the victor and the legendary valkyries who chooses who will die during the battle.

This is a considerable power. In theory, no battle should go un-won when BARFOK is in command.

By the way, have you noticed the trend in these Northern Demons? Every one of them use something speech or mouth-related, a reference to Thu'um. While the technique is never named specifically, it's obvious all five of these Nords were trained in Shouting.

This is exactly what you think it is. Vivec's solution to stop BARFOK's Thu'um was to sexually assault her with hir penis.

Sexual assault in mythology is far from commonplace, but at least in most well-documented cases, such as Greek myth, quite a few instances of assault are used to explain real-world phenomenon, such as the abduction of Europa as an explanation for the amalgamation of gods and legends during cultural exchange.

It's easy to hand-wave this kind of violence off as a product of the times. Perhaps (probably) the ancient Greeks held different emotions towards rape than we do, now. Considering the overwhelmingly violent behavior of prominent Gods like Zeus, rape almost becomes a trope, an often used cliche that almost becomes part of the "tone" of the genre.

Nearly all of those legends have some sort of explanation that lies beneath the violence. Sometimes it is used to create a debt that is owed from one entity to another, or to explain the offspring of two otherwise unassociated creatures. So why does sexual assault show up in the 36 Lessons of Vivec?

Key to this concept is Vivec's anticipation by Mephala, the Daedric Prince of sex and murder. To Mephala, there is no difference between the two acts of sex and murder. Similarly, it is possible to suggest that Vivec may not be capable or willing to distinguish between the two. This is important, since Vivec's concept of Love Under Will aligns closely with Mephala's unification of Sex and Murder, as outlined in my essay Mephala and the Destruction of Terror and Theory.

Vivec will continue to utilize this alignment of concepts throughout the 36 Lessons, and I'll analyze those when we get to them.

But as we've already discussed, Vivec's past as a prostitute, and hir nature as possibly the only intersexed person in all of Tamriel would have certainly had an effect on most mortals. Even hir powers of mystic vision and what seems to be a strangely unique personality may not have kept hir from producing a very dysfunctional opinion of hir sexuality and hir place in the world.

While I'm certainly suggesting that all these incidents of sexual violence are thematically appropriate, I'm also suggesting that they might be the product of Vivec's emotionally damaging mortal life. To be perfectly honest, I don't see how they couldn't be.

All these events, and Vivec's behavior in the whole of the Lessons, seem to clearly reveal an undercurrent of severe emotional trauma and obsession. A God Vivec may be, but hir hands are certainly forever stained by the horrors of hir youth.

Get up out of your seats, people. This is the Big Dog, the reason why Sermon 29 calls this Sermon "The Missing."

Ysmir, also known as Wulfharth, Dragon of the North, the Grey Wind, the Storm of Kyne, the Kingmaker, and the Ash-King. Oh, but also possibly General Talos, Hjalti Early-Beard, the Dragonborn, and Tiber Septim. A mortal Man-become-God if there ever was one, though not at this stage of the story.

The exact identity of Tiber Septim is relatively uncertain, a circumstance made difficult by conflicting stories and his nature as a reincarnation of Shezarr the Missing. It's not until after the events of Red Mountain, in Sermon 36, that Ysmir binds his soul to the Dwemer God Anumidium to become Talos. However, it's easy to argue that he is the most successful military leader in the history of Mankind, and certainly the most highly regarded. At this point he is a formidable opponent. Nerevar and Vivec will have to bring their A-game for this one.

Against a fearsome creature such as Ysmir, regular weapons and standard tactics would have been disastrous.

So the solution is to utilize Ysmir's shouts against him, creating a helmet out of ebony that redirects Ysmir's shouts back at him, like a sort of Thu'um feedback effect.

Kirkbride has suggested in a few threads on various forums that this could also be an example of Vivec using hir vagina for sexual assault, demonstrating a willingness to weaponize both of hir genitals.

Vivec is speaking of the nature of war, but in a very metaphysical sense ze is discussing the nature of the universe in general. The "coming forth" and the "driving away" signifies the ebb and flow of diametric forces, of creation (coming forth) and destruction (driving away). Eventually, enough interplay between forces "brings all things around," which is to say that all of time will eventually pass, or that all conflicts will be resolved. The knowledge that is required to observe this ebb and flow is important to what Vivec says next.

This Ehlnofex is hyphenated, and I think this means that the concepts referenced are more closely related than standard grammar might indicate. "HERMA-MORA" easily leads us to think of Hermaeus Mora, a Daedric Prince who values knowledge and memory. "ALTADOON" is Ehlnofex for "weapon," or "a useful tool," and it's fairly easy to see where the two concepts align, if you squint.

It's also interesting to note that Hermaus Mora and the Nords have a very interesting history together. The Daedric Prince is referenced in the myths of ancient Atmora (the homeland of the Nords) as "the Woodland Man," a demon who captured villagers lost in the woods. Could Vivec's invocation of this Prince's name be an appeal to this ancient Nordic enemy?

In short summation, the two phrases translate roughly to "Knowledge is a weapon. I am that weapon." To call these phrases "painful to record" relates to their nature as spells, since all Ehlnofex words are also spells.

Additionally, I suspect these particular words in this particular formation may introduce an added difficulty. Language and Knowledge are not the same thing, and we will explore that in detail later, but one is immobile while the other is mutable, and to constrict the latter into the former probably takes significant effort.

I should mention that an alternative interpretation would be that Hermaeus Mora, as the "Woodland Man," might be considered the devil or arch-enemy of the Nords. If that's the case, does this line of Ehlnofex translate as "The Enemy of the Nords is a Weapon, and I am that Weapon?" Is Vivec insinuating that he has become or utilized the embodiment of Nordic terror?

In this Sermon, at the very beginning, Nerevar strikes a deal with the Dwemer so that the Chimer and the Dwemer can join together to repel the Nords of Skyrim. Unfortunately, this is just glanced over in Sermon 09, but surely it must have been a massive undertaking. Not only did Nerevar unite the Great Houses (of which there were quite a few, more than the three we interact with in Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind), but he also persuaded the Dwemer. Granted, Skyrim's invasion was a significant threat to all of Morrowind, and no doubt Ysmir's shouting assault served to grease the wheels, but I think Nerevar certainly earned his title as Hortator during these times.

All this adds up to an impressive resume for Nerevar, our mortal hero. And it should. As much as Vivec's Sermons might try to put a spin on things, it is Nerevar who is the Hortator, the shepherd of Houses. Not Vivec.

Vivec's Sermons lead us to believe that Nerevar was guided by Vivec into uniting the two races, but historical documents and other testimonies lead me to believe that it was more Nerevar's own efforts than Vivec's, although Vivec (who was the mortal Vehk at the time) certainly served as an advisor of some type.

So are we seeing Vivec's personality again? Is this narrative reduction of Nerevar's duties a sign that Vivec was jealous of hir dear Hortator? Or is ze just overemphasizing hir own role in the events as part of some fantasy or wish fulfillment?

Lesson Nine

Synopsis | Narration

Then came the war with the northern men, where Vivec did guide the Hortator into swift and tricky union with the Dwemer. The greatest demon chieftains of the frigid west were those listed below, five in unholy number.

HOAGA, the Mouth of Mud, who appeared as a great bearded king, had the powers of Marshalling and breathing the earth. On the battlefields, this demon would often be seen on the sidelines, eating the soil voraciously. When his men fell, Hoaga would fill their bodies back with it, whereupon they would rise again and fight, albeit slower. He had a Secret Name, Fenja, and destroyed seventeen Chimeri villages and two Dwemeri strongholds before being turned away.

CHEMUA, the Running Hunger, who appeared as a mounted soldier with full helm, had the powers of Heart Roaring and of sky sickening. He ate the Chimeri hero, Dres Khizumet-e, sending the spirit back to the Hortator as an assassin. Sometimes called First Blighter, Chemua could give clouds stomach aches and turn the rain of Veloth into bile. He destroyed six Chimeri villages before he was slain by Vivec and the Hortator.

BHAG, the Two-Tongued, who appeared as a great bearded king, had the powers of Surety and Form Change. His raiders were small in number, but ran amok in the west hinterlands, killing many Velothi trappers and scouts. He fell in a great debate with Vivec, for the warrior-poet alone could understand the northern man's two-layered speech, though ALMSIVI had to remain invisible during the argument.

BARFOK, Maid of Planes, who appeared as a winged human with lick-encrusted spear, had the powers of Event Denouement. Battles fought against her would always end in victory for Barfok, because she could shape outcomes by singing. Four Chimeri villages and two more Dwemeri strongholds were destroyed by her decision enforcement. Vivec had to stuff her mouth with his milk finger to keep her from singing Veloth into ruin.

YSMIR, the Dragon of the North, who always appears as a great bearded king, had powers innumerable and echoing. He was grim and dark and the most silent of the invading chieftains, though when he spoke villages were uplifted and thrown into the sea. The Hortator fought him unarmed, grabbing the Dragon's roars by hand until Ysmir's power throat bled. These roars were given to Vivec to bind into an ebony listening frame, which the warrior-poet placed on Ysmir's face and ears to drive him mad and drive him away.

'The coming forth and the driving away brings all things around. What I shall say next is unpleasant to record: HERMA-MORA-ALTADOON! AE ALTADOON!'

The ending of the words is ALMSIVI.