by Bradyn, Master Librarian of Vivec City
Ancestral tombs occupy a prominent place in the culture and society of the Great Houses of the Dark Elves. The old, established families, specifically those with the most wealth and influence, constructed tombs in which to inter and honor their dead. These tombs, scattered throughout Vvardenfell, provide a place of sanctuary for the physical remains of the departed, as well as a place of contemplation, reverence, and meditation for the descendants of their interred ancestors.
Inside the tombs, burial urns hold the cremated remains of the dead, while ritual altars and items of significance to the departed decorate the interior spaces, including beloved tomes, sacred scrolls, and mementos of well-lived lives, such as jewelry, armor, weapons, household goods, and even gold. Tombs range from large, spacious vaults with multiple chambers to small vaults with a single burial chamber.
Some ancestral tombs are sealed for any number of reasons, but the usual justification boils down to one of two situations: Either the tomb in question has reached its capacity, or the family has decided to seal the tomb to protect the contents. In the case of the latter, the seal will be broken and the tomb opened the next time a member of the family dies. Then it gets resealed after the interment is complete.
The ancestral tombs that remain open often see activity on a regular basis. Many families regularly visit to pay respects to their ancestors, to meditate, or to perform important rites connected to the aspects of ancestor worship that remain integral to Dark Elf culture. If the families responsible for these tombs must occasionally petition the Tribunal or hire mercenaries to clear out a vampire nest or stray Daedric creature, such is the cost of maintaining an ancestral tomb.