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Details of the Dwemer Part 3

  • Member
    July 2, 2014

    Disclaimer: This is an article of our former member, renown Loremaster Vix, acknowledged by Bethesda themselves. It ended up being deleted and I'm merely reposting it.


    Our final section deals with the short history that the Dwemer enjoy as well as speculation on their demise. The biggest problem with the Dwarves was the sudden collapse, a single short span that led to the disappearance of seclusion of the whole of the race which took the better part of two ages for people to concentrate on. Much of their history is lost and must be inferred merely by their relationships with other civilizations. As such the few records we have are piecemeal and incomplete for the most part, subject to bias, or inconsistency thanks to the external nature of the analysis themselves. It is only appropriate that we start with a very pertinent notation as stated by Dwarves, vol.3:


    Despite what certain academic circles would like people to believe, there is so far no evidence that verifies any claim as to the dwarves' particular customs, morals, myths, legends, laws, systems of governance, or involvement in major historical events outside of those few examples that remain indisputable.”



    Merethic Era:

    There is a particular custom which says that the Dwemer are from Aldmeri stock. This is perhaps debatable on several fronts, yet on others it is a perfectly logical conclusion. After all, the basics of their law from what we've seen are point for point derived from the Aldmeri system in places and more over elves were all said to come from the same basic progenitors (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st Edition among others).


    The problem is that the records are conspicuously absent, whether it was exile and lack of records much like the Maormer or something more convoluted really is still up in the air. One of the principle arguments is the relative lack of information from the Summerset Isles regarding legacy. Where as the Chimer can be traced back to dissidents and the prophet Veloth, the Orcs to settlers that worshiped Trinamac, and the Ayleids and Falmer as local Aldmeri derivatives the Dwemer are almost completely absent. The principle languages likewise do not align and require significant translation between Aldmeris and Dwemeris though both stem from Ehlnofex and potentially a proto-Aldmeris common language. At the least this can be used to suggest that there was an early split perhaps around the time of the first settling of Alinor when internal problems of stability likely would overcome needs for accurate record keeping.


    What is at least speculated is given the general number of settlements in Vvardenfell, a place meaning “City of the Strong Shield” (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st Edition) and the early settlement structure of this area the cultural diffusion likely occurred in an east to west scenario. This is further reinforced by evidence from the exile clan moving in this direction, opposite of the Chimer who traveled across the Velothi mountains which in itself suggests a lack of exploration to that point on behalf the part of the Aldmer which supports an early separation and isolated cultural evolution (Dwarves v 3). there is some opposition to this that claims perhaps the Dwemer center is only surface deep on Vvardenfell and a good deal of other Dwemer culture is located elsewhere (Dwemer Inquiries v1).


    Early tales are sketchy at best, they were written by an alleged 'paper-back novel' writer yet have some manner of truth within it too. The story of The Seed is one such true section that related the Dwemer's contact with the Argonians. Generally relationships weren't strained, they kept their own spheres of influence and in the early era was generally civil enough to one another. At least, until the Dwemer discovered the secret to Hist. By cutting down the Hist 'trees' and draining the sap they could derive a pliable and resilient material, resin. These merchants hired woodsmen (from where is not said, speculation could lead us anywhere) but while they cut down trees there was at least a number of which that massacred the Argonians, killing male and female (as relative as that is to Argonains) as well as children. They clearcut forests and the Dwemer settlement ignored the massacre in favor of obtaining the valuable Resin. This tale is often edited with Dunmer instead of Dwemer depending on audience and said to be a southern Argonian slave tale so of course it's difficult to discern where it comes from.. There was at least some outside cultural growth as Antecedents of Dwemer Law seems to suggest a common link but also had the inclusion of Automatons in addition to slaves while adding a passage regarding Khajiit and the Argonians.


    When the Chimer under leadership of Veloth departed from the Summerset isles they sought an area of territory where they could settle. However, the area of the north was populated by the Dwemer and soon friction and conflicts arose. The Chimer coveted the lands and Dwemer arrogance towards Dunmer religion seemed to have contributed to localized Dunmer raids and disputes (Before the Ages of Man).



    The Wars (1E 122- ~ 1E 416):

    One of the first notable conflicts we're aware of is the Dwemer-Chimer war starting in 1E 122. The hostilities between the Chimer and the Dunmer had been long lasting and the war itself was a considerably aggressive one. The Chimer skills with magic and blade were formidable but the more martial oriented Dwemer legions eventually gained the upper hand. These armies fought pitched battles above ground, Dwemer seemed to have gained the advantage through the might of their heavy infantry armor and exceptional materials, not to mention with a great amount of help from their golems. Chimer resorted to less organized affairs, such as ambushes and pre-dawn attacks, yet couldn't stave off the eventual loss (Chimarvamidium).


    It seemed that the Dwarves were by far the more imposing force despite two effectual wars occurring at the same time; the Dwemer-Chimer war had either just ended or was winding down in 1E 140 which left the Nords a pair of severely weakened foes (Pocket Guide 1st edition, Chimarvamidium, Nerevar at Red Mountain). The vicious wars and disputes caused a significant rift between the Chimer and the Dwemer, weakening both and lending itself to the two hundred year domination of the Nords over Morrowind. It is also likely by this time that the Falmer were defeated in Skyrim which could have explained the Dwemer need for servants as well as the whole question of racial paranoia regarding other elves.


    In Falmer: A Study, the Dwarves took in the Falmer and quickly turned on their guests. The Falmer were poisoned by toxic fungi which blinded them and made them chemically dependent on fungi as a food. These allowed them to be readily subjugated as a work force and servant cast by the Dwemer. Thus in this time ended the civilized Snow Elves and began many generations of slavery.


    One of the main consequences of this war was that it drove the Dwemer below ground, thus solidifying their under-ground empire rather than a sprawling two pronged surface and subterranean realm. The treaty lead the groundwork for an eventual alliance which was forged between the Dwemer king Dumac Dwarf-Orc and Indoril Nerevar led to an eventual war which forced the Nords out in 1E 416 and led to the First Council and organization of the Dwemer Dwemereth and Chimer Dunmereth lands into the realm of Resdayn. The second major aspect of this is the eventual collapse of the Dwemer militarily by splitting their armies above and below ground in the ensuing Falmer rebellion.



    Separation: (1E 417-687)

    This combination realm of Resdayn did not resonate with all Dwemer, and there were dissident factions. One of note was the Rourkan clan which opposed any solidarity with the Chimer. When Dumac agreed to the treaty the Rourkan clan leader threw his symbol of office, Volendrung, and it landed far across Tamriel in Stros M'Kai where they elected to settle (Dwemer Inquiries v1). As such this promotes the East-west settlement pattern of the Dwemer themselves. This seems to indicate a degree of independence amongst the various kingdoms. This may have been simple reorganization or it could have also pointed to the beginning of one other important event of this time.


    The War of the Crag occurred following the Falmer Slave Rebellion. What is known is that the Falmer eventually wrested control away from the Dwemer and turned on them, retreating deeper into the underground vaults and realms they existed in a defacto state of war with the Dwemer that would dog the Dwarves until the end of their civilized existence. In fact, it seems a great number of the Dwemer were occupied with this generations long War of the Crag that lasted through the inter-war years as a secretive conflict sapping Dwemer resources. The War of the Crag ended with a Falmer assault that found the Dwarves had simply vanished.


    House Dagoth had been a neutral party trusted by both Dwemer and Chimer. As such they were the first to come across the “profane and secret power of the Dwemer” (Nerevar at Red Mountain). This seemed to be the finding and work upon the Heart of Lorkhan by High Priest Kagrenac which sparked renewed division between Dwemer and Chimer. Though both Dumac and the Nerevar wanted to keep the peace and it seemed to endure for a time, mostly due to an apparent plot by Kagrenac to keep the secrets of the experiments with the New God from king Dumac. The Tribunal urged for war, the Nerevar relented, and soon the War of the First council began.



    War of the First Council: (1E 688- ~700)

    Dumac in control since at least 1E 416 and was still on control of the Dwemer at the start of the War of the First Council in 1E 688. As a preliminary note this does indicate a long life for Dwemer which was quite apart from the life extending magics (Battle of Red Mountain). The book contents that the war of the First council was strictly initiated over the Heart of Lorkhan due to Dagoth Ur's information regarding it. The war seemed to quickly pit sides that are not traditionally seen. The Dwemer were aided by several secular Chimer houses backed by mercenary Orcs and Nords . This was opposed by the Chimer Orthodox houses including ashlanders as well as a number of mercenary troops. It should be noted that the War of the Crag is still occurring and as such it is a very serious two front war for the Dwemer. Even so, the initial battles went well for the Dwemer who pushed the Chimer back into the southern reaches, occupying the northern reaches (The War of the First Council).


    As the war dragged on the Nerevar eventually was able to outmaneuver the Dwemer campaigning armies which culminated in 1E 700 at the battle of Red Mountain. Here the records are muddied and there is a great amount of speculation over the actions, yet the results were clear. The battle of Red Mountain was a decisive victory for the Chimer over the Dwemer, the fortress was said to be breached and the king as well as High Priest Kagrenac were both slain. But more importantly, whatever happened there seems to be several basic agreements; King Dumac was slain, the Dwemer disappeared, and the Chimer were changed to the Dunmer.



    The Disappearance of the Dwemer:

    Scholars are not entirely sure what caused the Dwemer to vanish, in fact, the last surviving Dwarf doesn't seem to know except that he avoided it by being in the 'Outer Realm'. In a great many places in both Skyrim and Morrowind there are Dwemer settlements and cities where piles of ash and debris can be seen. This has been speculated upon to be what is left of the Dwemer after another such calamity.


    Several sources agree that the Dwemer may be more like the Ayleids in that they did not suddenly disappear but their culture collapsed and they melded with other groups following a cataclysmic defeat. Their fear of Azura may have been pivotal in their understanding of the defeat and as such 'gave up' being Dwemer. They adopted the manners and dress of the Chimer and became 'local Altmer' where they dispersed and blended in with the local Mer population in an attempt to escape a curse placed on them by Azura (Azura in the Box, the Dowry, Dwemer Inquiries 1).


    The constant recurring theory and perhaps the best supporting one is the Kagrenac theory. It states that High Priest of Magecraft, Kagrenac, was alerted to an odd archeological find prior to the war of the First Council. Beneath Red Mountain was found an immense magical stone which radiated magical energy. He determined that it was the heart of Lorkhan who had created Nirn after being torn apart and his heart thrown to the inert world. Kagrenac wanted to create a single god for the Dwemer and forged a set of tools specifically to accomplish the crafting of their Iron God (Kagrenac's Tools). Kagrenac's machinations backfired, and in his attempt to build a super weapon the whole of the race was scoured from existence aside from whoever lingered in the Outer Realms. Vivec seems to agree with this calling it the 'Divine Sin' and confirmed that the Dwarves entirely and completely disappeared, yet he also claims that they had found a way to become immortal which factors into our next theory (the Battle of Red Mountain).


    The last theory is that of The Calling. It maintains that the Dwarves have an intrinsic bond with each other in a form of minor telepathy (Chimarvamidium). This allowed Kagrenac to 'call' to all the other Dwarves over a great area and the Heart of Lorkhan as well as the artifacts called Kagrenac's tools seemed to function, allowing them to transcend the mortal plane which was perhaps ironically the very goal of the Altmer culture as a whole. The oddity is that such a feat is actually displayed by the Psijic order, thus the magical communication seems to be quite similar which facilitated this great Calling (Chimarvimidium).





    Most of this is speculation, it has to be. That's one of the key archeological problems when dealing with the Dwemer is the basis of historical fact with regional folklore. Every single people and group is going to have something different to say and even what may seem like clear insight and a closed case can be refuted by equally sound plausible events from another source. It gives the Dwemer and the mystery surrounding them a legitimate depth that is as frustrating as it is annoyingly reasonable.


    I don't doubt there's a lot of other little pieces of information out there either, there was more than two dozen sources so if there's alternate theories either for the origin of the Dwemer or their demise I'd love to hear it (with a reference is even better).


    But for now I'll end on the note of a recurring poem included in the Dwemer Inquiries:


    In the Deep Halls, far from Men

    Forsaken Red Mountain, Twisted Kin

    Hail the Mind, Hail the Stone

    Dwarven Pride, Stronger than bone.


    <- Part 1: Culture <- Part 2: Artifacts