In Sermon 11, Vivec gives advice on being a Ruling King to Nerevar. It's easy to assume that this advice is also for the Nerevarine, or even the Players themselves. In short, that advice is: everything falls apart, even your kingdom. But a wise ruler can extend the lifetime of his kingdom by listening to the following guidelines.

In Morrowind, Sermon 11 grants a bonus to the Unarmored skill. It is worth 200 Septims and weighs 3 units. A copy can be found in the Rethandus Ancestral Tomb, the Central Tower of Tel Vos, and in the Hall of Justice Secret Library in Vivec city.

Sermon 29 names this Sermon "The Number of the Master." Its number is 102, which references the word "lead."

The name of the new country formed by the coalition between the Dwemer and the Chimer is called "Resdaynia," and it is led by the newly-formed "First Council" which is, in turn, led by Indoril Nerevar and Dumac Dwarfking. It's interesting to find no mention in the Sermons of the Dwemer clan Rourken, who so strenuously objected to the formation of the First Council of Morrowind that they left their homeland altogether.

Legends tell us that the leader of the Rourken Clan threw his great hammer, "Volendrung," to the West, stating his intention to start their new home wherever the hammer landed. That land eventually became known as "Hammerfell," for obvious reasons.

I'm not sure why Clan Rourken objected so vociferously to the First Council. Bethesda may not have given us the reason, but it could be that I just haven't found that information yet.

Again, Vivec plays down Nerevar's role, plays up hir own, and completely obliterates all record of King Dumac. Not nice, but also not unexpected.

So this Sermon is the first of three lessons Vivec gives to Nerevar about becoming a Ruling King. The rest of these lessons follow in Sermons Thirteen and Fifteen. As mentioned in previous comments, a Ruling King can be interpreted literally, but it is not the most powerful entity a mortal can become, nor is it a necessary step in becoming a God.

So for this and the coming Sermons 13 and 15, keep in mind that these are guidelines that Vivec feels are important to remember when learning to rule over your fellow mortals.

Well, okay. Vivec starts us off with a heavy one. There's no fast way to explain this, but I'll do my best.

As explained in the Introduction, the entire Elder Scrolls universe takes place in the dream of an incomprehensible being called "The Godhead." The waking world, as Vivec puts it, is Mundus, which is itself patterned after Nir, the entity over which Anu and Padhome fought.

Therefore Mundus, the "waking world," is the forgotten memory, or "amnesia," of a dream, Nir.

In this respect, we can say that Nirn is a "motif" of Nir, the conflict of the first primal beings, which conveniently leads us into our next comment.

Vivec points out that all patterns can be destroyed. This is a philosophy central to the chaotic nature of Vivec, hir Dunmeri people, and the Daedric Princes. These patterns (or structures) can be destroyed precisely because they are structural. Their opposites, formless concepts, cannot be destroyed because they lack a form to destroy.

This may seem rather abstract, and it is, but Vivec is bringing us into hir philosophical advice from the top-down. First the broad brush strokes, then the details. For the purposes of comprehension, let's say that Vivec is referring to a country, encompassing its culture, its laws, the whole thing.

Therefore, this is sound advice to anyone who would be a Ruling King. All motifs can be mortally wounded, so do not think your kingdom is perfect, flawless, and impervious to attack or criticism.

Wow. I remember reading these things with a fresh mind when I first played through Morrowind. I was nearly convinced they weren't supposed to make any sense at all.

Anyway, these "themes" of which Vivec speaks are the structures previously mentioned. Once a structure is destroyed, the elements of that structure are re-used, like memory is later recycled into nostalgia.

Using our country metaphor, imagine a dictatorship that is overthrown in a coup. When the next government takes power, it often recycles old laws or customs into its new form. A Ruling King's carefully constructed kingdom will fall and become recycled into building blocks for the victor.

This is the inevitable result of a King who abuses his kingdom. The very structure he created turns against him. The laws he wrote are used to restrain him. The organizations he founded turn their pikes towards him.

And so we see how the structure dissolves into the formless nature from which it was drawn.

Keep in mind this lesson, and remember that the kingdom-motif is constructed with patterns and structures that are vulnerable by their own nature. They are, to be plain, the spokes that form the shape of a wheel.

When these solid forms become formless, Vivec encourages us to note the passing, but not to mourn it. Remember Sermon Five: "Say no elegies for the melting stone." The center cannot hold, so we should not mourn those inevitable events.

A manipulation of a quote by William Morris in his lecture on the Beauty of Life:

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

This recommendation comes in the wake of a warning about kingdoms that dissolve under stress. The reference to a House is not an accident: as we learned in the previous Sermon, Houses are structures that divide us amongst ourselves, and a Kingdom is entirely just such a structure.

Therefore Vivec reminds us to keep our Kingdom-Houses free from detritus, our gardens free from weeds. If it is not useful or at least beautiful, remove it. To do otherwise is to stress a structure that is predisposed to collapse.

I was first introduced to Elder Scrolls lore by a blog many people are already familiar with, The Metaphysics of Morrowind. In those articles the author suggests that Vivec is encouraging us, through the 36 Lessons, to use whatever means are at our disposal to beat the game. There is no such thing as "cheating," the author proposes, in the pursuit of winning against insurmountable odds.

From an in-universe perspective, the lesson does not change in most ways. Vivec encourages the Hortator to face his challenges in all ways possible. Restrictions, as the argument goes, are self-inflicted and self-defeating.

At first glance, this is an easy one. Vivec allocates the generous gift of "all of earth," or everything on and below the ground, to Nerevar the Hortator. As Gods, Almalexia, Sotha Sil, and Vivec are mostly unconcerned with the comings and goings of mortals.

The word "temporal" is conspicuous. This is likely because Vivec acknowledges at least one of two things:

  1. Nerevar is mortal, and therefore must inevitably pass his command on to his successor in the event of his inevitable death.
  2. The Lessons of these Sermons are not intended to help Nerevar become a God. But might they not hold some secret to divinity for Nerevar's reincarnation?

This is the Heart of Lorkhan, a "bone" because it is like the Gift-Limbs of the Aedra, a component piece in the structure of Mundus. Though it cannot be broken, this does not invalidate the end of Morrowind's main quest. Instead, think of the Heart's fate as one of a perceptual shift. It changed in physical nature from a state that can be interacted with to one that is no longer perceivable by mortal means.

Like the Aedra, the elements of Lorkhan cannot be destroyed any more than the laws of nature can be rewritten. But they can be moved, and they often are.

Geeze, Vivec. Spoiler much?

Of course, this is a hint that Vivec is fully cognizant of future events, including the death of Nerevar and his rebirth as the Nerevarine. But the specifics may not be entirely available to hir.

When I mentioned previously that all the specifics of Nerevar's lifetimes may not be available or clear to Vivec, this was the line that led me in that direction. It seems to me that Vivec knows that the first encounter with the Heart of Lorkhan will provide power, but ze may not yet be aware that it will also result in Nerevar's death.

Alternatively, maybe Vivec just doesn't yet want to give away the whole secret. This could be the first element in the construction of a great trap. Maybe ze's playing the long game, lulling Nerevar into a false sense of security?

It's important to remember that the center of a wheel cannot be entirely comprehended. There is no "true symbolism," therefore it cannot be represented with symbols, like words or writing. "Mastery" of the center will not involve subjugation or clinical exploration.

This relates to the shifting and temporal nature of CHIM, as well. The very symbol for CHIM changes and fades, refusing to reveal a single fixed form, and the state of consciousness has similar properties. The process of attaining CHIM cannot be explained because the state itself does not conform to a static existence. And in a similar sense, any Buddhist will tell you that no one will ever be able to describe enlightenment in any way that is ultimately useful for someone else.

As we are all infinite and unique, so too is the method of our apotheosis.

Vivec is speaking about Dagoth Ur's state as a Dreamer, a state very similar to CHIM in many ways, but flawed in at least one major aspect. Dagoth Ur believes that Morrowind, Tamriel, and possibly all of Mundus is his dream, or perhaps a dream under his own control. But there is no true symbolism of the center, and no one will ever be able to truly control their own reality in this Aurbis or the next. Not while they exist inside the dream of another.

Vivec already understands that attaining CHIM only provides a temporary state of perfection, and receding from that state causes no end of mental and emotional anguish. Vivec, and probably Almalexia and Sotha Sil, still yearn for that moment of power and perfection. The Triune themselves spend great effort in returning to Red Mountain every year to "recharge" themselves with the Heart of Lorkhan.

Dagoth Ur grows closer to re-awakening in the 882nd year of the Second Era. And the act of awakening from such a powerful dream is like the act of birth; there is a reason why newborn babies cry.

Vivec hirself is not guiltless. Reaching the center and returning to Morrowind may have seemed like a boon, the gift of a newborn God to the mortals of Mundus. Certainly it may have been intended that way. But unleashing a being of such unimaginable power into a chaotic world beyond any control is a formula for suffering.

We've already covered how the symbolic, the defined and limited, cannot support creation. In this respect it is barren, and incapable of bearing fruit.

Of course this is a wink to the Nerevarine, who will spend most of the game being hunted by the Tribunal Temple for heresy and rejected by House Dunmer for madness.

This is related to the earlier comments on the shifting nature of reality and the flaws of inflexible or poorly-utilized laws. The attention of the Ruling King's people will never be permanently fixed to a single constant. It will waver and they will change their focus to another point, a cycle that endlessly repeats. Art, music, and fashion all wax and wane in popularity. Sometimes they are recycled, as nostalgia, but they never repeat.

These objects of obsession are the "fixation points" Vivec mentions in this paragraph. A Ruling King needs to keep in mind that the moods of his people will change over time, and the only way to properly anticipate this is to understand their moods. And that of course leads us to the next comment.

I'm sure many of you read this and thought "this is probably way more ominous sounding than it actually is." Well, I'd suggest that it is every bit as ominous as you suspected.

In the metaphorical sense, a Ruling King has to learn, by direct interaction, what his people are interested in and then ensure its availability by embracing it, by "marrying" it. If the people want gladiator fights, marry that bloodlust by building an arena in Vivec City. If they want skooma, marry their addiction by loosening legal restrictions and trade embargos. If they want Redoran glassware pots, marry their obsession by releasing Limited Edition Ruling King Engraved Glassware Pots ™.

But in order to continue the cycle of mutating obsession, you must also have these things murdered. Murder your arena by introducing a fixing scandal. Murder the skooma trade by introducing a new, more powerful drug into the black market. Murder those pots by dropping prices until the exclusivity is neutralized.

This may seem exploitive, and perhaps it is. But it ensures that the Ruling King's people have a constant flow of Fresh! New! Things! to keep them occupied. Religion may be the opiate of the masses, but religion takes many forms, and one of them is politics.

That doesn't sound too ominous, right?

What if the people are fixated on a single leader? What about the Hortator, Nerevar himself? He who approached the center stage with such gravity that he could enthral not only his own people, but the Dwemer as well.

Follow the advice of Vivec, Almalexia. Marry Nerevar, and then silently have him murdered.

Eventually the attention of the people will slide away to fixate on another point. Surely the Ruling King is better off controlling when and how their attentions slide?

Really, there's nothing super complicated about this. A Ruling King is an individual, and if more than one individual lays claim over the same kingdom than neither individual is a ruler. This could be a direct comment about Nerevar's, or even the Nerevarine's relationship to Dagoth Ur, but we'll get to that in a moment.

These are repetitions of a motif we've already seen in Sermon 6. And we'll see it again, the contrasting nature of the Sword and the Word.

This is the term Vivec sometimes uses for the "throne" of a leader. It's something like being the "judge" of a kingdom; the personage that observes, interacts, and influences all that it sees. Vivec aligns this concept with the Sword metaphor because the ruler in the Mercy Seat must "cut" or transform the kingdom in order to keep the kingdom strong.

As we discussed previously in Sermon 6, the Sword is a metaphor for all things Anuic, which in the context of this chapter are things that are structural. But as we'll discuss in later sermons, the Sword is, when properly used, an instrument of kindness that improves the things it cuts.

But if this "throne" is called the "Mercy" seat, shouldn't it be occupied by Almalexia, who is "Mercy" to Vivec's "Mastery" and Sotha Sil's "Mystery?"

Language, and words, are "dead," in that they are immobile, and lack movement. The Word is the potential, but not the act of creation itself. Remember: creation is the goal. Neither the Sword nor the Word can create by themselves. They must work together, like water and soil, like seed and womb.

In a more literal sense, Language has a flaw in that it is an attempt to form structure around abstract concepts. If you like, consider that the word "chair" is only a symbol we have collectively agreed to use to represent the abstract concept of a shape used for sitting. The word "chair" itself has nothing to do with the object, but the connection is made by us in the social contract of language; when I say or print the word "chair," we all understand that I mean a chair, and not an orangutang.

The philosophical study of this relationship between language and meaning is called Semiotics and it's worth reading into.

I've written before about Vivec's Fire and this line is a poetic way of visualizing the importance of "divine" or "true" knowledge to a Ruling King. Such a person has nothing to fear, for he is protected by this perfect knowledge like armor. And like armor, it displays his right to power.

The most interesting part of this "Ruling King" concept is that the Ruling King is in all ways flawless. The results of his deeds are the redemptions of his actions. This is not a case of "the ends justify the means," but rather that a perfect being does not need to be concerned with "guilt" because he is incapable of acting irresponsibly.

If this starts to sound like an echo of Nietzsche's Ubermensch, I think that might not be an accident. I definitely get the impression that the Ruling King is intended to be a person of infinite knowledge and flawless action.

I'm not sure how this illustrates the method, but it's pretty clear that we're intended to believe that a Ruling King can retrace his steps back from death, allowing him to come back to life, I think.

I'm not entirely sure what this means. For the moment I think it might have something to do with dreaming, which might be called a "second sleep," as in it's a sleep you do while sleeping. That seems a little weak, though.

But if we consider the possibility that Vivec might be insisting that the Ruling King practice the attaining of CHIM, this sentence is a lot easier to understand. After all, CHIM is another "way" of sleeping, of becoming aware of one's own dream.

A sort of theme or trope that gets bandied about a lot in fiction is the idea that the audience doesn't perceive a hero as particularly impressive unless his enemy is at least equally capable as the hero. And in this case, it is inferred that Dagoth Ur is not just a challenge for the Hortator, but his equivalent. No matter how powerful the Hortator becomes, his nemesis will always match him, blow for blow.

There's a philosophy that a person who has not fully embraced himself, who does not love himself, will hate other people when he sees aspects of himself reflected back. Truly the Sharmat must hate the perfect mirror of himself.

So we return once again to the idea that a Ruling King who sees in another his equivalent rules nothing. Nerevar or the Nerevarine can become as powerful as they like, but as long as the Sharmat remains, they will never be a Ruling King.

And how will the victor be decided between evenly matched opponents? For that you will need Vivec.

Sermon 29 labels the number one as "The Tower," and if you consider the possibility that the Ruling King should attain CHIM, it makes some amount of sense why the Hortator could be represented by this most basic of numbers.

Both occupy a tower, but clearly not the same one, since these metaphorical towers are built from the paradigm concept theories upon which the rebellious denials are made. While the Nerevarine might attain CHIM by standing on the Tower and denying the will of the dream, the Sharmat thinks he is the dream.

This is not a boast. Vivec is capable of differentiating between the Sharmat and the Hortator not because ze is a god, or even extremely powerful. Vivec can discriminate between them because ze acts as the bridging entity between two equal but opposite chiral forces. Just as Almalexia is the "active force," Sotha Sil is the "passive force." But metaphysically the two are so equal, so equivalent, that they are indistinguishable from each other.

Consider this same principle and apply it to the two primal dividing forces, Anu and Padomay. Were a mortal being to observe the two, it is difficult to say whether they would appear dissimilar. Neither black, nor white its opposite, but rather the blending of the two into gray.

This is why the eventual equal distribution of Anuic and Padomaic forces resulted in Mundus, the Gray Maybe. There will never be an end to the Anuic and Padomaic conflicts. The Aedra will never find peace with the Daedra. Nirn is The Arena in which their conflict is distilled. And it is worth mentioning that for all their terrible primal power neither the chiral Anu nor Padomay are capable of comprehending a scenario where they are both equal, both blended, both as one.

Therefore it is only a logical progression that the true creators of peace in the universe would have to be the products of this Gray Maybe: mortals, the only beings in the Aurbis who are capable of perceiving two diametrically opposed entities as one harmonious force.

I don't really have anything to add to this paragraph other than what I've already written in my essay titled "Mephala and the Destruction of Terror and Theory." But to bring this paragraph back into perspective, concerning the themes and lessons of this particular Sermon, Mephala teaches in her Codes that all things can, will, and must be destroyed. All desire is destroyed in Mephala's hands, and this complete obliteration turns her hands black. In turn, this reflects the transitory nature of all structures and art. All things must fall apart, and Mephala aids in the transformation, anticipating Vivec.

That nothing lasts forever is certainly a motif that resonates throughout the 36 Lessons. All things are temporal in nature, and therefore everything that has a beginning must have an end. Vivec City is destroyed by Baar Dau, even Morrowind and Veloth itself is abandoned, eventually. Vivec suggests that this is not an excuse for irresponsible behavior, however. The Ruling King's first responsibility is to the people he rules. And the nature of time and entropy can be anticipated by a Ruling King to his advantage.

I would suggest that if you ever find yourself grasping for what Vivec's motivations might have been for any of hir actions, consider that ze might have felt that those actions were for the eventual benefit of the Dunmer, hir people, hir Kingdom.

Lesson Eleven

Synopsis | Narration

These were the days of Resdaynia, when Chimer and Dwemer lived under the wise and benevolent rule of the AMLSIVI and their champion the Hortator. When the gods of Veloth would retreat unto their own, to mold the cosmos and other matters, the Hortator would at times become confused. Vivec would always be there to advise him, and this is the first of the three lessons of ruling kings:

'The waking world is the amnesia of dream. All motifs can be mortally wounded. Once slain, themes turn into the structure of future nostalgia. Do not abuse your powers or they will lead you astray. They will leave you like rebellious daughters. They will lose their virtue. They will become lost and resentful and finally become pregnant with the seed of folly. Soon you will be the grandparent of a broken state. You will be mocked. It will fall apart like a stone that recalls that it is really water.

"Keep nothing in your house that is neither needed or beautiful.

"Ordeals you should face unimpeded by the world of restriction. The splendor of stars is Ayem's domain. The selfishness of the sea is Seht's. I rule the middle air. All else is earth and under your temporal command. There is no bone that cannot be broken, except for the heart bone. You will see it twice in your lifetimes. Take what you can the first time and let us do the rest.

"There is no true symbolism of the center. The Sharmat will believe there is. He will feel that he can cause years of exuberance from sitting in the sacred, when really no one can leave that state and cause anything more but strife.

"There is once more the case of the symbolic and barren. The true prince that is cursed and demonized will be adored at last with full hearts. According to the Codes of Mephala there can be no official art, only fixation points of complexity that will erase from the awe of the people given enough time. This is a secret that hides another. An impersonal survival is not the way of the ruling king. Embrace the art of the people and marry it and by that I mean secretly have it murdered.

"The ruling king that sees in another his equivalent rules nothing.

"The secret of weapons is this: they are the mercy seat.

"The secret of language is this: it is immobile.

"The ruling king is armored head to toe in brilliant flame. He is redeemed by each act he undertakes. His death is only a diagram back to the waking world. He sleeps the second way. The Sharmat is his double, and therefore you wonder if you rule nothing.

"Hortator and Sharmat, one and one, eleven, an inelegant number. Which of the ones is the more important? Could you ever tell if they switched places? I can and that is why you will need me.

"According to the Codes of Mephala, there is no difference between the theorist and the terrorist. Even the most cherished desire disappears in their hands. This is why Mephala has black hands. Bring both of yours to every argument. The one-handed king finds no remedy. When you approach God, however, cut both of them off. God has no need of theory and he is armored head to toe in terror."

The ending of the words is ALMSIVI.