TES:The Sermon Zero affair

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Publication date : March 2002

Dramatis Personæ

Character Description Performer
B Altmeri librarian B
Hasphat Antabolis Imperial scholar Kurt Kuhlmann
Affamu Friend of Jobasha Douglas Goodall
Jobasha Khajiiti bookseller and scholar Douglas Goodall
Morag Tal Assassin of the Morag Tong
Morag Sultha Assassin of the Morag Tong
Kier-Jo Chorvak Khajiiti warrior and scholar
Divayth Fyr Telvanni master-wizard Gary Noonan

The Sermon Zero affair

Dear Fellow Guildmembers,

I did not want you to think that I had abandoned you in your scholarly quests. I have enrolled in Altmer Studies (this stems from my interest in The Psijic Order of the Isle of Artaeum). I have been off in The Imperial Library searching for information on the Altmer and their religion. I have found numerous texts that have shed light upon these Elves. During this quest for knowledge, I couldn't help but wander over to the section of the Library which houses my first love: The Psijic Order.

In my combined research of the Psijic Order and the Altmer in general, I have become intrigued with Lorkhan (The Missing God) and his relationship to the High Elves. Basically, I have found that Altmer find him to be "the most unholy of all higher powers, as he forever broke their connection to the spirit plane."

The Dunmer, however, connect Lorkhan to the "Psijiic Endeavor, a process by which mortals are charged with transcending the gods that created them."

Where I become confused is in the Psijic Order, undoubtedly Altmer, and their connection with the Psijic Endeavor. One would assume that the two ideas are intertwined. In fact, a key piece of Psijic literature, The Old Ways, states that, "Any neophyte of Artaeum knows that the spirits are our ancestors, and that, while living, they too were bewildered by the spirits of their ancestors, and so on to the original Acharyai. The daedra and gods the common people turn to are no more than the spirits of superior men and women whose power and passion granted them great influence in the phantom world." I view this as a way for certain people to get back to the spirit plane, despite Lorkhan's efforts, via a "loop hole" so to speak. It continues to say, "...we can easily grasp the necessity of both bringing good men great power and making powerful men good. We recognize the multiple threats that a strong tyrant represents -- he breeds cruelty which feeds the daedra Boethiah and hatred which feeds the daedra Vaernima; if he should he die performing a particularly malevolent act, he may go to rule in Oblivion; worst of all, he inspires other villians to power and other rulers to villiany. Knowing this, we have developed patience in our dealings with such despots. They should be crippled, humiliated, impoverished, imprisoned."

But should not the Psijic Order despise Lorkhan for bringing about the creation of the mortal plane, thus severing their connection to the spirit plane, even if only for awhile? Would the Psijic Order willing want to be associated with "the most unholy of all higher powers?"

Maybe Lorkhan is only associated with "the Psijiic Endeavor" in Morrowind. But why then the name Psijic? Is it possible that the Psijics do not feel as other Altmer do?

Along the same lines, if this "Psijic Endeavor" belief is prevalent in Morrowind, did/will any of the Dark Elf gods ascend to "god-hood" through this process?

These are just some of the questions that I hope to find answers to in my studies of the Altmer.

So you see my brothers and sisters, I have not abandoned you. I only wish to prove myself worthy of my newly chosen title. If you have any information that would be of use to me, do not hesitate to correspond. I must get back to my studies of the Altmer and their ways.

Dear Guildmembers,

By searching through the Library, I think I am starting to put together some of the pieces. In some cases, I have been reading the same texts over and over again in an attempt to understand of all of this.

The whole "Psijic Endeavor" idea seems to stem from the belief that the Elves are related to the divine. Basically, "Humans take the humble path that they were 'created' by the immortal forces, while the Aldmer claim 'descent from them'" (Monomyth).

After Lorkhan "tricked" many of the aspects of the Aurbis into creating a soul (also called Mundus, or the Mortal Plane), the aspects eventually began to die off. Many of them disappeared completely, some escaped, and others married and created children just to last. Each generation was weaker than the one before it, and eventually, the Aldmer (Elves) were born (High Elven Creation Myth).

I later learned where the Psijic Order stands on this from reading The Myth of Aurbis: The Psijiic Compensation, which is a summary of the Elder view. "This was an attempt by Artaeum apologists to explain the basics of Aldmeri religion to Uriel V in the early, glorious part of his reign. It quietly avoided any blame or bias against the Lorkhan-concept" (Monomyth). The Psijic Order seems to ignore the blame part of this whole mess, and tries to work within the natural way of things, so to speak.

The Order believes that the magical beings of Mythic Aurbis, then, having died, became the et’Ada. The et’Ada are the things perceived and revered by the mortals as gods or spirits (Monomyth). I think that the Psijic Order feels that the people on the Mortal Plane are children of the et'Ada, and since the et'Ada are worshipped, then great people should be able to ascend into godhood and eventually be worshipped. It almost seems as if they are saying, "If our ancestors did it, we can do it, too." It is unclear to me if they feel that they are the ones to ascend into godhood, or just identify perspective canidates and help guild them in the process (I am leaning toward the latter of the two).

Unfortunately, this is only my interpretation. So it remains the Psijic Theory, to me, until I find proof that someone in the Mortal Plane (Mundus) has done it. Now the question becomes, how many people have ascended into godhood from the Mortal Plane?

Hasphat Antabolis:
In all my research, I have yet to find evidence of any mortal "ascending to godhood". The Tribunal, well -- if they ever existed at all, which is open to some question but likely considering the extent of their latter-day legend -- but they were certainly no more than Heroes of their time, whose exploits founded a sect which continues to this day. I have no doubt that behind the Tribunal masks lie a line of secretive but mortal Dunmer who have inherited the position and its traditional magicks (as well as a fearsome priestly bureaucracy). Any other interpretation is irresponsible speculation by the humbug-peddlers that seem to be the curse of our modern age.

Just passing on a letter from your friend and mine, Jobasha.

Jobasha must put an end to this imposter. Hasphat Antabolis lives in Balmora and could eaily seek out an Ordinator or Bouyant Armiger or a priest who has seen Vivec in the flesh -- for yes, this is how Vivec appears to his followers. Whether Vivec is truly a god, or was once a man, Jobasha cannot say.

Jobasha will say that whoever keeps abusing Hasphat Antabolis' name is not the same as the old Cyrodiil Jobasha met last week. And Jobasha will say not to believe Hasphat when he says he knows everything about the Dwemer. Jobasha found a Dwemer book. Jobasha then let Hasphat put his bald paws all over it for days before he admitted that he could not read it.

The Tribunal has not been seen often since the last erruption of Red Mountain and the creation of the Great Ghostfence, but they have been seen. The Temple claims that they are busy protecting the Dunmer from Dagoth Ur. The priests claim that even the slightest distraction could destroy all of Morrowind, and even all of Tamriel. Jobasha urges you not to take anyone as humorless as a Dunmer priest too seriously.

If men become gods instead of gods creating men, where did men come from? Jobasha has heard of this "King of Worms" but is he a god? Jobasha does not know. Jobasha has heard the story of Arkay, but Khajiit believe Arkay was born of Ahnurr and Fadomai and was never a man.

As for the Psijic Endeavor, Jobasha has heard much talk. Artaeum is near Summerset Isle, but not all Psijics are Altmer. Most are men, not mer.

By "transcending" the gods, Jobasha does not believe the Psijics wish to give themselves the power of the gods. Of course, Jobasha is no Psijic, so Jobasha cannot say...

Lorkhan's role is the same one he always plays. Lorkhan is how the Mundus came to be. To transcend the Mundus, one must learn the Daedra's trick of how to be part of the Mundus without also accepting its limits. The Dwemer knew this thing. Perhaps the Psijics attempt the same. Perhaps that is why Artaeum disappeared and the Psijics only claim it was intentional instead of an accident...

All mer, Psijic or not, despise Lorkhan, for they believe he ended some sort of Elven Utopia. Khajiit praise him, though not too loudly, for he gave us possibility. We Khajiit are blessed, for our possiblity is guarded by the dead moons, but we can still hear Azura whisper her secrets. Unlike our cousins, the Bosmer, who have too much posisbility and are so blind to Azura's wisdom that they will not acknowledge Khajiit as being in the same litter.

Thank you! I feel forever in your debt for this information. This will be a great help in my research.

I find this piece of text interesting:

"As for the Psijic Endeavor, Jobasha has heard much talk. Artaeum is near Summerset Isle, but not all Psijics are Altmer. Most are men, not mer."

This definitely changes a few of my beliefs. In Fragment: On Artaeum, it stated that, "The Psijics on the Isle consisted of persons, mostly elves, who had disappeared and were presumed dead over the second era." I guess that was inaccurate. A lot of my theory was based on the Psijics being Altmer. Oh well, still good to have the information, though.

Thanks again!

P.S. What race would they most likely be? Or would they be their own race? Hmm, possibly a mix of several human races.

Dear Guild Members,

My research continues despite a major setback. The five little words, "Most are men, not mer," have dealt a significant blow to my previous work. But fear not, it is as I've always said, "One should not ask the question, unless he or she is prepared to hear the answer." Several of my questions have been answered. Now I must reflect upon their meanings.

Basically, I made the mistake of trying to project the Altmeri belief upon the Psijic Order, in an attempt to decipher their motives. Instead, I should have analyzed the Order as a group in and of themselves with no direct connection to any specific race and/or belief other than their own. They are, in reality, their own group, separate from others; practitioners of the Old Ways or Elder Ways.

Now for the task at hand, proof of ascension. On this matter, I found Jobasha's letter to be extremely enlightening. I would agree with the questioning of Arkay, but for different reasons. Based upon Arkay the God, Arkay seemed to live in relative obscurity. He kept to himself and was finally granted godhood by Mara. Not quite the proof for which I am looking.

As far as the King of Worms, I too, have yet to see proof of his "godhood." However, even if he has become a god, it would be the result of the Mantella granting him his power in the phantom world. This would not satisfy my requirements as proof of the "Psijic Endeavor" due to the fact that the Mantella was used.

I must take leave, for now. I wish to further examine the letter that was presented earlier today. There are still more secrets to be examined.

From laundry-day, insomnia, and very tiring negotiations with one of the neglected parts of my brain, I bring you the latest from Jobasha:

Jobasha is very sorry for not being more clear. The Psijics prior to the disappearance of Artaeum were mostly Altmer. Since the island's return, more men than mer, primarily Bretons and Imperials, have joined the order. From the scents on the wind, Jobasha believes the Psijics have little to do with the Elven lie.

Jobasha is very sorry for using such an Elven phrase as "dead moons." Perhaps Jobasha has lived in Vivec City too long, for the unknown scribbler in the margins of the "Pocket Guide" is correct: all divine endure. Jodenjone sacrificed themselves for duty, for love, for "significant form" as Cherim says. They, even more than Nirni or Azura, are the Khajiti creators and protectors. The Lattice guards Nirni as well, even when the foundations and the children are at war. They are Ehlnofey...

But Jobasha knows you would bore of dreary, clan-mother teachings, so Jobasha speaks of something else.

Jobasha has read all the sermons of Vivec right under the Ordinator's noses in the Hall of Justice. There are so many of these "Sermons" these days... Poor Jobasha cannot even tell you who wrote them or when.

Jobasha found this sermon in an unusual place. Jobasha cannot say anything about the truth of this sermon. Jobasha is no priest or Psijic. Jobasha only shares what Jobasha finds.

Sermon Zero of the Thirty-and-Six-and-Nine Sermons of Vivec
This is the truth of Sermon Zero, which is neither one.
He was born a poor Netchiman, but rich in his Wife and in Wisdom. Eternal are their names, mother and father of Vehk, Berahzic and Irdri.
Generous silver chalice, sword in the clouds, dying-radiant lady-star. He entered the Temple, passed the seven veils, beheld his wife, Berahzic. O: the word, the deed, the end inevitable: O!
She asked of him truths beyond words, and he answered without words, but added in completion:
"There is nothing beyond bliss, after death comes the void. Only then are we free to love. Figuring father Peryite would stamp it and catalogue it. And Mephala mother, embracing black hands, would smother it. Gods such as us must be gentle with all our children, both flesh and spirit, a seed-apple potpourri."
On that night Berahzic named her children but did not know their sum.
Dreams of peasants, a Netchiman's dream. IRDRI HLAFEM VEHK HYKRO.
Silence is the command of the Aedra, the howling horror in the cavern of the heart, the laughter of Berahzic. Nocturnal's Black Skies, Peryite's Golden Order, Meridia's Green Generations, Mehrunes' Red Rage, the Sighs of Berahzic. O, her diamonds and crescents a crimson dawn over armies arrayed for battle, her dark and silent eyes the blinding snows of Solitude.
Many thousand millions are the visions of aminreaV. A, awake, the first and last, the King of I.
Netchiman Irdri on the next day took his wife and newfound treasure to meet the Dwarf-King at the end of Bthuangthuv.
There Kagrenac gave him the thrice-secret word:
Here the true key lies. Vivec is the lesser or false key.
For in the beginning was the Word: Spoken by a Great Ape.
For in the beginning was the Word: Three by Seventy-two.
For in the beginning was the Word: ALMSIVI.

Hasphat Antabolis:
Ah me! You should be the Duke's jester, Jobasha (or perhaps you already are?). You still know how to make an old man laugh. Leaving aside the vague native-Khajiit-straight-from-the-Deep mumbo-jumbo, the only point I need address out of your ramblings is the absurd notion that using the testimony of a Temple official to determine the existence of a god is like asking a thief as you pass him on your threshold whether he stole anything. I think the true scholars among us will understand when I ask for better evidence than that to prove the existence of the Tribunal as living entities stretching back into the First Era.

I will not rise to your blatant provocation in the matter of the Dwemer. I believe my publications speak for themselves on that score. And you Jobasha? I would guess that gulling tourists from Cyrodiil and High Rock with your tales has fulfilled the height of your scholarly ambitions.

Morag Sulthra:
I bear the mark of Jobasha under 30 day law. Let none hinder on pain of sharing.

Morag Sultha

Morag Tal:

You prate about that which you do not understand. Take these words to heart:

"There is a fourth kind of philosophy that uses nothing but disbelief.
For by the sword I mean the sensible.
For by the word I mean the dead."

Morag Tal

Morag Sulthra:
A curse on the Khajiti House:

"PSJJJJ daughter of Satakel and from her male sons and [forbidden] I have heard and the voice of the weak [forbidden] of the men who are fighting [forbidden] of raging women who curse and afflict and cause pain they have descended against them Aedra, Etadachiel and Padachiel, The Dagonites the great and The Unnamed Baron and Sahtiel and seized them and by the tufts of hair and the tresses of their heads and broke the horns which were high and tied them by the tufts of hair of their heads and said to them "remove that which you have cursed" and they said to him "from the pain of our heart we cursed and from the bitterness of our palate we resolved to curse" I have made you swear and adjure you in the name of Aedra and Etadachiel and Padachiel and The Dagonites the great and The Unnamed Baron and Anuiel that you release and free [forbidden] PSJJJJ daughter of Satakel and [forbidden] male and female from [forbidden] all the curses [forbidden] cursed and from the curses of [forbidden] and the mother and from the curse of the prostitute [forbidden] and the fetus and from the curse of the employee and employer who stole the wage and from the curse of the brothers who did not divide truthfully among themselves and from the curses of all people who curse in the name of idol demons and their surrenderings you are the healer you are the healer who heals sicknesses with words you are the healer who turns away the sicknesses and the curses of those who cursed PSJJJJ daughter of Satakel in the name of the Aedra and Etadachiel and Padachiel and The Dagonites and The Unnamed Baron and heal and annul the curses of those who curse PSJJJJ daughter of Satakel. And upon a stone which is unsplit I sat [forbidden] and I wrote all of the curses upon a new bowl of clay and I sent back the curses of those who cursed PSJJJJ daughter of Satakel to their masters until they release and bless in the name of Sariel the angel and Barakiel the angel and in the name of Sariel and Barakiel you release from the curses of those who curse PSJJJJ daughter of Satakel as a man as a man is freed from the house of bondage and from the house of weapons ALMSIVI ALMSIVI AL SEHT [forbidden] may there be health and sealing [forbidden] and to the house of PSJJJJ daughter of Satakel and to the male sons [forbidden]."

Learn true Scripture as I stuff your mouth with birds.

Morag Sultha

Morag Tal:
Take heed, friend Hasphat. Those who mock, whether in ignorance or malice, may be called to partake of the mystery of PSJJJJ.

Morag Tal

My Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

I hope this letter finds you well. After you read the words that I have scribed on this parchment, I would not blame you if you were to question my sanity. But let me assure you, I am quite capable of translating these pages without "babbling idiotically over the text for days before catching fire."

With that being said, I must inform you that I am being watched. Every book I examine, every page that I turn does not go unnoticed. Unfortunately, I cannot prove it. For every time I turn around, there is no one there. I must compliment my observers on their training.

My words be of warning: Be ever vigilant!

Who would have thought that dealing in a commodity such as information would have such "Occupational Hazards?" One "person" in particular has sent words of enlightenment, only to have his life threatened. At the moment, I feel no direct danger to my life, but my turn could come at any moment. Therefore, I must be cautious in what I write.

But I digress...

As I was saying, Jobasha has sent me a bit of information that I find to be useful in another matter or should I say, an associate's matter. The Khajiit writes, "The Psijics prior to the disappearance of Artaeum were mostly Altmer. Since the island's return, more men than mer, primarily Bretons and Imperials, have joined the order. From the scents on the wind, Jobasha believes the Psijics have little to do with the Elven lie."

While some my not care for the wording, the meaning cannot be ignored. Could it be that the Order has fallen! Have they lost their true Ways? It might be as my associate had suspected. I hope Jobasha is mistaken.

However, if it is true, all hope is not lost, there are others in Tamriel that will continue the Ways. For the associate that I spoke of earlier, is a Guardian of the Elder Way. He always told me, "The weakest souls, called Men, will bring Sithis into every quarter." I try to overlook those words being one myself. It appears that he might be right in the case of the Psijic Order.

Once I confirm this information as truth, I will send word to him. He will, undoubtedly, be saddened if this information turns out to be true. Then, having sent word, it will have fulfilled a debt, and I will be free to investigate the other information that Jobasha has sent.

I dare not say more at the moment. I fear that I have already said too much. I know that others will have read my words before they reach your hands. I will write when I have found something new.

Pretender Hasphat, you are showing your true stripes with this straw-pell. Jobasha does not believe the testimony of one priest, but the testimonies of hundreds of Dunmer. Short-tempered slavers and bullies they may be, but they are not completely ignorant. Perhaps you should walk across the street and have a few words with Jobasha's good friend Dorisa.

Jobasha has no "scholarly ambitions." Jobasha is just a poor bookseller. All your troubles start from your own ambitions, but you will not listen to Jobasha. Your Dwemer books are as hopelessly inaccurate as that First-Era fraud Gor Felim, better known as "Marobar Sul," that you rant and rave so much against.

Jobasha thinks you want to impress the Dunmer, not to teach them, but to serve them. Jobasha asks that you remember how they treat their servants.

Jobasha doubts you even scented the true meaning of this "Sermon Zero." Perhaps the Sweeps or Temple Climbers are more suited to your talents.

Learn the true Scripture as I stuff your mouth with birds.— Morag Sulthra

Such mild threats. Jobasha almost believes the Empire might civilize you after all.

Neither Eno Hlaalu nor any Exalted Master would issue a Writ on poor Jobasha, not even a Grey Writ. Jobasha knows many secrets, and Jobasha knows the the Duke's daughter's secrets. Jobasha is well guarded against the lower, less enlightened ranks of the Tong.

To the letter B,

The Psijics still have much influence and mystery. Jobasha does not believe their teachings, whatever they may be, have been diminished by the "nemer" who have joined them.

Kier-jo thinks it is very much like a thing an Elder Way-warder would say.

"The Weakest Souls, called Men, will bring Sithis into every Quarter."

"The Worshippers of the Unnamed Lord, know as 'Argonians' on Nirni, are the Descendents of Boethiah and the Serpent-men."

"The Khajiit, created as Servants by the Aldmer, Rebelled against the Natural Order and Conspired with the Doom Drum to End the Merethic Era."

Kier-jo hears it all before.

Tiber Septim was seen in more than one part of Tamriel at the same time and you are content.
Stormcrown was a Breton, no a Nord, no an Atmoran, and you sit and play in the sand.
Anumidium rises in the West and does Eight Things for the Psijics and you do not question.
Your monkeys dance on the Tower and the stars change and you do not remember.
You read the words of the Sermon, but you are blind to the truths between them.
The darkness is reborn, crowned and conquering, and you pull the covers tighter and sleep.

When will you realize what happened to the Dwarves?

When will you Wake from the Elven Lie that all Men believe?


To the letter B,
The Psijics still have much influence and mystery. Jobasha does not believe their teachings, whatever they may be, have been diminished by the "nemer" who have joined them.
— Jobasha


I appreciate this new information concerning the Psijic Order. I know that my "associate" will be pleased to hear this. In fact, I am sure that he will visit your shop frequently.

Also, I must thank you for your continued patience with me. I have been analyzing so many texts that I have overanalyzed several of your replies regarding the Order. It took a while for it to "sink in."


Divayth Fyr:
Ah! The "Great Houses" smell hints of truth, or perhaps ideas on the horizon! Just like them to place contracts on those who think abroad. They must surely fear something that my dear friend Jobasha shares in his wisdom. To share knowlege from ledger, whether it be true or not; is this the fear? As I have stated throughout the past 600 years, the Tribunal is losing it's hold on the Dunmer. A contract on the head of my brother Jobasha, a simple merchant in the area of paper and words. The Tribunal fears this? I laugh in the face fearful.

I will not touch the subject of Sermon Zero. Nor shall I pry the Psijic beliefs and disbeliefs. Mortal ascension to Godhood is not a subject for mortal thought. I AM an old and eagerly sought after mortal myself. I have witnessed more than most mortals can even comprehend. I say little to those who actually gain audience with me concerning Sermon Zero. That said, I will leave the inquiring minds with this: Sermon Zero is NOT to be understood. It is incomprehensible and is made thus. It is my belief that it was NOT for the the eye of a mortal. How do I know this? I personally have gained audience with a "witness" to the bewildered. The accounts learned tell me that the WAY of the Sermon is the way, and demise of the Dwemer. Go cautious my friends. Tread not in murky waters without knowing the dangers. Ley this be warning to those who venture.