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Lore:Nisswo

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"No comfort will they offer you
No gentle truths to placate fear
But listen closely to their words
Look upon their nothing eyes."
Speakers of Nothing

A Nisswo (literally "Nothing-Speaker" in Jel) is a priest of a caste dedicated to Sithis. They are native to Black Marsh, and their ranks consist primarily of Argonians.

Nisswo have served two very different roles in Argonian society over the years, shifting from a ruling class in the pre-Duskfall era of Black Marsh to a priest class.[1] In the modern day, Nisswo priests are collectively known as the 'Clutch of Nisswo', and share the goal of spreading the many truths of Sithis, no matter how contradictory they might be.[2]

The Nisswo KingsEdit

 
A statue of Sithis inside the Xith-Izkul Xanmeer

Prior to Duskfall, Nisswo were the ruling class of Black Marsh. In modern times, Nisswo of this era are sometimes referred to as "Nisswo-Kings". The Nisswo priest-kings would make sacrifices in Sithis's name at the city of Xul-Thuxis in the Deepmire.[3]

The old Nisswo worshipped Sithis solely as an entity that brings destruction.[1] They believed Sithis is always watching, waiting to destroy the world and return existence to the Void. The priests appeased Sithis in the hopes they would be spared from destruction. Their most infamous gifts to the Void were live blood sacrifices.[1] Ceremonial altars and staves were created for that specific purpose.[4][5] There were also more consistent physical depictions of Sithis in pre-Duskfall times. Statues of Sithis were carved in important temples,[6] and symbols of Sithis were woven into armor and clothing.[5] The largest temple to Sithis in Murkmire is the Teeth of Sithis, where many sacrifices took place. It continues to be cared for by the Nisswo, as it is still sacred, despite not serving its original purpose.[1]

These beliefs were characterized by later generations as "shunatei", a state of dwelling on the past.[7][8] Modern Argonians believe that many of the old practices derived from this mindset of fearing Sithis, and have sought to distance themselves from it.[3] For example, ancient Argonians built structures out of permanent materials like stone,[3] most notably the monumental xanmeers.[1] Modern Argonians contrast themselves from their ancestors by rejecting this shunatei and building structures that are specifically designed not to last.[3]

Though Duskfall has long since come to pass, some Nisswo-Kings have managed to persist though other means, such as vampirism. One example is the High Priestess of the Teeth, Xulneihavu Shuxaltsei, who in 2E 582 was revived after millennia of dormancy by the Bloodshed caused by the Blackguards. Though she briefly retook control of the Teeth of Sithis from the Clutch of Nisswo, she was expelled again with the help of the Soulless One.[1][9]

The Clutch of NisswoEdit

Eventually, the old priesthood was succeeded by a loose coalition of Sithis preachers known collectively as the Clutch of Nisswo. The Clutch of Nisswo recognizes that Sithis is a creator as well as a destroyer.[1] New members are inducted to the Clutch by apprenticing under a full-fledged nisswo, during which time they are known as voh-vastei.[2][10]

Core BeliefsEdit

 
A shrine to Raj-Sithis in Bright-Throat Village

The Clutch of Nisswo worships Sithis not just as a force of destruction, but a catalyst of creation and change.[11] This version of Sithis is referred to as "Raj-Sithis," and the Clutch of Nisswo name him both First Creator and Final Destroyer,[12] contrasting it with Sithis the Destroyer of old.[1] They believe that the version of Sithis the Dark Brotherhood and the pre-Duskfall Argonians worship either no longer exists, or never existed to begin with.[13]

The Clutch of Nisswo held that their ancestor's fear of Sithis was misplaced and that their attempts to resist change were not only futile, but may have accelerated their decline.[2][14] Argonian culture as a whole had shifted to accepting and overcoming shunatei as opposed to fighting against the current and living in the past. For example, buildings are constructed out of materials that can be easily replaced as opposed to stone. The Argonians recognize that their structures will be destroyed in time, no matter what they do to try to stop it. These structures will need to be rebuilt, hence the use of easily replaceable materials.[3][8]

The Clutch of Nisswo sees it as their duty to educate the public about the cycle of change and how to let go of loss. Members are traveling priests, each with their own method of teaching the masses. One such technique is to make works of art that are then intentionally destroyed.[2] Another is to steal things from someone but leave clues so that the items might be recovered. [15] Other, more traditional techniques such as sermons, writing, and meditation are also employed.[16][17]

PracticesEdit

The Clutch of Nisswo is a loose fellowship with no central governance and no consistent interpretation of Sithis. Rather, the Clutch accepts these contradictions as a representation of the many paths of Sithis. One of the reasons Nisswo travel so often, in fact, is to ensure each village has the opportunity to hear the many different interpretations of Sithis and gain a better understanding of its entire truth.[2][18] The Nisswo look down on dogmatic organizations like the Dark Brotherhood for espousing a 'single untruth' which humanizes Sithis. [13] For their part, the Dark Brotherhood tend to leave Nisswo alone, and have been known to deny writs should the target be protected by the Nisswo.[19]

Each Nisswo may differ in how they teach the word of Sithis. This includes what kind of offerings they make, and who should be responsible for making them. Some nisswo leave personal offerings, often in the form of art or writing. Others may ask for voluntary sacrifices from their followers, up to and including blood sacrifice.[2]

 
Nisswo art, soon to be destroyed as an offering to Sithis

Some nisswo carry large pieces of black onyx for use in various meditation practices.[20]

Role in SocietyEdit

In Argonian culture, nisswo are widely recognized as ku-vastei, or bringers of necessary change.[21][22] The Clutch of Nisswo are welcome in almost all of the villages of Black Marsh, including notoriously insular tribes such as the Naga-Kur.[23] However, their preaching isn't always heeded; villages with strong traditions may ignore their teachings, and some individuals are skeptical of their beliefs.[24][25]

The Nisswo hold great respect for the Shadowscales, whom both they and Argonian culture at large see as fellow ku-vastei.[22] Nisswo believe that the Shadowscales' training by the Dark Brotherhood is a necessary evil, but urge them to turn away from Brotherhood ideology when their training is complete.[26]

Outside of Black Marsh, Nisswo are viewed with suspicion. Even in academic institutions such as the University of Gwylym, Nisswo are commonly associated with blood sacrifice and other pre-Duskfall rituals. Some scholars even falsely believed that Nisswo as a whole disappeared post-Duskfall.[4]

GalleryEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Nisswo Xode's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
  2. ^ a b c d e f Nisswo Uaxal in ESO: Murkmire
  3. ^ a b c d e Xukas's dialogue in Xul-Thuxis during The Swamp and the Serpent in ESO: Murkmire
  4. ^ a b Nisswo's Soul Tender Antiquity Codex Entries in ESO
  5. ^ a b Crafting Motif 70: Elder Argonian StyleConcordia Mercius
  6. ^ Presence of the statue of Sithis in the sacrificial chamber of Xul-Thuxis in ESO: Murkmire
  7. ^ Jekka-Wass Vozei's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
  8. ^ a b Talen-Jush's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
  9. ^ She Who Eats the Light in ESO: Murkmire
  10. ^ Nisswo Paraxeeh's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
  11. ^ Nisswo Uaxal's dialogue during Art of the Nisswo in ESO: Murkmire
  12. ^ Waku-Mat's dialogue during Unsuitable Suitors in ESO: Murkmire
  13. ^ a b Lies of the Dread-FatherNisswo Xeewulm
  14. ^ That of VoidNisswo Xeewulm
  15. ^ Events of Ritual of Change in ESO: Murkmire
  16. ^ Nisswo Kahei's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
  17. ^ Nisswo Ajul-Jas's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
  18. ^ Speakers of NothingNisswo Xeewulm
  19. ^ Nisswo Nedhellas's dialogue during She Who Eats the Light in ESO: Murkmire
  20. ^ Shards of Nothing item description in ESO
  21. ^ Ku-Vastei: The Needed ChangeLights-the-Way, Mystic of the Mages Guild
  22. ^ a b Ku-Vastei bardic performance in ESO: Murkmire
  23. ^ Presence of Nisswo Uaxal's House at Dead-Water Village in ESO: Murkmire
  24. ^ Nisswo Uaxal's dialogue during By River and Root in ESO: Murkmire
  25. ^ Ajim-Jaa's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
  26. ^ Scales of ShadowNisswo Xeewulm