The Elder Scrolls

Was Almalexia Evil?

STATEMENT: When Boethiah first led Prophet Veloth to the harsh lands of Morrowind, she/he did so using deceit, as they had taken the form of Trinimac and using their voice to lie to the nomadic mer. They would become the Chimer or Changed Ones. Therein, Boethiah taught central philosophies the Chimer (who would later become the Dunmer) used as centralizing tenants for their civilization. They valued deceit and betrayal but also struggle and distrust, and in the book "The Changed Ones" they would learn "how to build Houses, and what items they needed to bury in the Corners." Essentially, one lie founded a long-lasting race.

Boethiah is the Anticipation of Almalexia but male to her female.

~ The Anticipations

SO, that leads me to the title: was Almalexia wrong in her actions against Sotha Sil and the Nerevar by the Tribunal DLC? Was she truly mad and self-absorbed or was she justified in trying to create a foundational lie for her people?

PREFACE: Consider most of what you learn of Vivec – mainly, knowledge comes through exterior sources. You learn his betrayal by analyzing the Dissident Priests and their treatment at the hands of House Indoril (the Temple Guard). You learn about his confession through coded language hidden throughout the The 36 Lessons of Vivec.

It is a bit like being at once awake and asleep. Awake, I am here with you, thinking and talking. Asleep, I am very, very busy. Perhaps for other gods, the completely immortal ones, it is only like that being asleep. Out of time. Me, I exist at once inside of time and outside of it.

~ Vivec

He embodies contradiction – evident by the meteor that he holds in place as a dualistic meditation on love and fear being prerequisite in religion. More on this specific line and how it relates to Almalexia later. Just know that Morrowind's depiction of Gods is very different than their portrayal in ESO, which took on more of a Bioware approach, where the player would gather their personalities through direct dialogues with each member of the Tribunal. It's a subversive narrative that relies on patience (and an age without fan wikis) and what some might consider esoteric game design today. But the reason why we all remember it is because they were successful — the first and first-middle act imposed a certain set of "false" truths upon the player, until the following acts could pull the wool from our eyes.

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ARGUMENT: ESO's rendition of Almalexia's brooding and eventual heel-turn seems to color a lot of opinions. I contest that while Almalexia is canonically maddened by the loss of divinity, she is sound in her judgement and actions. I use books and references found in the passive storytelling of Morrowind's (and other ES singleplayer games) to justify my claims.

The book "Gods and Worship" explains that:

…theorized that gods do in fact gain strength from such things as worship through praise, sacrifice and deed. It may even be theorized that the number of worshippers a given Deity has may reflect on His overall position among the other Gods. This my own conjecture, garnered from the apparent ability of the larger temples to attain blessings and assistance from their God with greater ease than smaller religious institutions.

Juxtapose this with Vivec's confirmation that the rise in Dissident Priests would've directly challenged the faith of the Dunmer people and you can begin to understand why Almalexia, and the Tribunal for that matter, outright needed justifications for her rule.

Coupled with the rise in the Sixth House, Dagoth Ur's influence on Dreamers, and the religious incursion of the Imperial Cult in Vvardenfell and the mainland, the Dunmer had faced multiple, long-lasting threats by the time the player sets foot in Seyda Neen. By the time you reach the third-act, you as the player get the sense that Morrowind is a decrepid, stagnated version of what it once was decades past and that nothing the Nerevar had done could stop the march of time. A familiar stagnation, as the book "Exodus from Summerset" illustrates:

Veloth the Prophet was scorned by those who were blind to the corruption and spiritual bankruptcy at the heart of their society. Veloth was cast out, cast off, by those with no interest in truth and even less interest in the betterment of all, who sought only to preserve their pride and place by keeping others in poverty, ignorance, and slavery. Veloth was highborn, but he dared to cast off the decadent chains of Aldmeri society.

Veloth the Mystic called out to those whose souls were weary, whose lives were ground out with no hope of improvement in a society founded on ambition, greed, and decadence. To those who hoped for a society that preserved traditions, praised honesty, and rewarded the just, Veloth's voice was as a golden note among a cacophony.

We see now the full-extent of Almalexia's plot: defaming Sotha Sil, stealing his believers, and framing Nerevar as her hero (once murdered) would unify the Dunmer under one, holistic ideology. She even mentions how she would "deal" with Vivec on a later date, and Dagoth Ur had already been taken out of the picture by the player by this time. There were no positions, no entities to truly contest her theocratic dictatorship.

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Narrative is essential for rewriting history and maintaining godhood – this is the perspective of the Tribunal. We can argue on the merits of it – as Daedra are esoteric and boundless while the Et'Ada have been described as both losing their power and yet extremely multifaceted – however, the Tribunal definitely feared the loss of their one-true-source of believers on Morrowind for a reason.

The rise of the New Temple almost completely vindicated the previously persecuted Ashlanders, who had continued to worship the three daedra throughout the Tribunal's rule. The Ashlanders are now lauded as the keepers of the old ways and having "true vision." It is now quite common for many of the Dunmer people to make the arduous pilgrimages into the ash wastes to seek the counsel of the Wise Women.

~ The Reclamations

However, canonically by 4E, they are entirely stripped of their godhood status and reduced to saints. House Indoril, fanatically loyal to the Tribunal in Morrowind, have presumably fused with dissidents they had once persecuted come Skyrim. It could be argued Almalexia foresaw the stagnation of her people, and rather than let the "Good" Daedra and their followers retcon history, she tried to enact the first blow.

This goes further into the purpose behind each member of the Tribunal when you examine the gods through their books. Sotha Sil's teaches through (more or less) truth. Vivec teaches through metaphor. And Almalexia?

And Almalexia revealed herself to the creatures, who gasped in surprise. "Mudcrab," she said, "all of these creatures have offered you help, but you refuse. You are in love with complaining, and you will never be healed." And so Almalexia teaches us that you cannot aid the unwilling.

~ Almalexia and the Mudcrab

She teaches parables through fiction. All her books are in fact fictitious homilies or parables, created for spiritual edification. To teach her people what is moral and what is not. In Almalexia's case, her entire plot is thwarted in the crucial moment where true transition could've occurred. Had she won, we would've seen books praising her much like books on Veloth's pilgrimage praised Boethiath. Her only crime in this scenario is being caught by the champion of another vengeful deity, Azura.

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CLOSING REMARKS: Remember what Vivec said earlier in this post: gods do not simply fade out of existence. They merely fall into inactive states, similar to sleeping. They lose their ability to become aware of their Being and fall into the place that exists outside of time itself. Thus, by 4E it can be assumed that Almalexia, Sotha Sil, and Vivec have retained a "signature" of their godhood.

They still "exist" in the Godhead in some extent but cannot be validated by worshippers, and thus, they cannot take physical form, talk, or help their people. They are reduced to saints come Skyrim. Their history is rewritten. Their people ruined by the Red Mountain, Oblivion Crisis, and the Argonian invasion. and worshipping the original "good" Daedra once more.

Can you imagine being unbounded from reality? Only capable of only seeing small glimpses as to the ruination of your people that you had spent so much time cultivating, if at all? After resisting colonization by grand empires as vast as the Septim, the Reman, and the Akaviri Empire, allowing your people to resist and thrive against foreign influences (to varying degrees)? All of it – completely rewritten as if you didn't even exist in the eras to come.

Is Almalexia evil? Perhaps. But was she somewhat justified in her conspiracy? I would think so.


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