Loremaster's Archive: Questions for the Moth Sister is part of the Loremaster's Archive series written by Lawrence Schick, the Loremaster of The Elder Scrolls Online. This entry was published on 05/29/2015.
From the Wayrest Temple of the Divines comes the esteemed Augustine Viliane, Sibyl of Dibella, into the Loremaster's Archives. Although she didn't act as a medium for Dibella to answer your questions, her experience and long service to the Lady of Love provided all the wisdom necessary to reply to your letters.
In two weeks the Loremaster's Archive welcomes Haskill himself, Sheogorath's chaimberlain. We are very excited to have him with us, and hope to get some information about the Mad God's strange fondness of cheese. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you may obtain an answer!
THE HIST'S FIREEdit
Many ask us how we find our mates, as though Argonians cannot experience joy the way the mer do.
Though this seems absurd, I myself met my husband in an unusual way. I believe the Hist spoke to both of us, to ensure we would both be where we could not help but meet and fall in love. This despite my innermost belief I'd never marry.
The first stir caught me by surprise. I put away items in the shop, organizing what I could amongst the clutter, when suddenly I heard my own voice in my mind say, "Wait for him."
"For …?" I asked aloud, startled out of my reverie.
My quiet sensibility replaced by confusion, I turned abruptly, knocking over the lamp, which flung an arc of burning oil across the room.
Oil landed everywhere, from the piles of fabric, to the litter of papers, and the straw scattered over the floor. In a single moment, a modest light source turned the crowded room into a fire pit.
Coral tongues licked across the dried herbs hanging from the ceiling, and I realized I'd been standing still, slack-jawed, as smoke and heat and flame swirled around.
The hut had never seemed so large as it did then. Dark with smoke, bright with fire, its air filled with a dull, creaking roar. I squinted against the elements, my hand across my mouth, and staggered toward the ever-receding door.
"Anyone in there? Anyone?"
I reached the door as it burst open, causing the flames to surge upwards and out with an almost celebratory leap. A dark hand grabbed mine, pulling me out and away.
"Are you hurt?"
Coughing, I shook my head. "I'm all right. But the store …."
We both turned to look. The fire, so unruly within the confines of the hut, had met its match with the wet thatch roof.
"Thank you for helping me," I said, turning to face my rescuer at last.
Our eyes locked in recognition. The Hist had chosen us for each other, and neither of us would need to wait any longer.
AUGUSTINE VILIANE ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS:Edit
Sibyl Augustine Viliane says, “So many, many questions! I am honored by your desires for knowledge and advice, but forgive me for being unable to answer every question—for Dancing Day is only a few weeks off, and there is still much to prepare!"
"Dear Augustine Viliane, Esteemed Sibyl of Dibella
I write to you in the hopes that you will guide me in my struggle to win the heart of an elven lad I have laid eyes upon. He is of Altmeri stock and recently arrived from fair Summerset to work at our Mage's Guild librarium. Dear Fellandril seems more friendly and informal than most his kin, and yet my Breton passion and charm do not suffice. There is fire in his eyes, but keeps that typical Altmeri aloofness. I have failed to win him over with our Breton poetry and witful remarks, so I ask you - how does one court the golden-skinned beauties of Summerset? How do I breach that frigid countenance? Yours sincerely, Grand Enchanter Etienne Dumonte, of the Wayrest Mage's Guild"
Sibyl Augustine Viliane says, “The High Elves are famous for their interest in lineage and heritage. If you are one of the Dumontes of Gavaudon, your family is known for having considerable Direnni contributions to your bloodline. You might mention that casually in Fellandril's hearing and see if it piques his interest. Or, as you are in Wayrest, you might stop by the Temple sometime, and we can discuss it personally."
“Most Esteemed Sybil of Dibella,
To put my question bluntly, what is Dibella's stance on more than two lovers in a single relationship? Right now, I am not in any relationship of the sort, nor do I have any inclination to start one.
Until I have my answer, however, my scholarly curiosity shall not be sated.
Especially in these troubled times, it seems that people would seek companionship with as many as they can, and what stronger bond is there between people than that of love?
Perhaps I am being arrogant in my speculation, but it seems to me that a trio or quad of lovers would be even more content than a pair.
After all, more people means more love, right?
I beg your forgiveness if I am displaying the ignorance of a brute.
Nevertheless, I am curious as to what Dibella's judgement is on this.
Thank you for your time.
Divines be with you, Theophilus Drafonius
PS The first letter of each sentence is not mere coincidence. We know where it is, and how to get it."
Sibyl Augustine Viliane says, “Ah, but the Passion Dancer bids us remember that quality of love is of the essence, not quantity. If the dance transports us, what matter the number of dancers?
“As to the other matter: see me Fredas night, after the service."
“Most Venerable Augustine Viliane, Sibyl of Dibella at the Wayrest Temple,
I am a loyal follower of the ancient traditions of my people, but I respect those of yours. I love my homeland, but I wish Morwha would have one more hand to comfort my grief.
I know Dibella says: Open your heart to the noble secrets of art and love. Treasure the gifts of friendship. Seek joy and inspiration in the mysteries of love. But I wonder if those noble secrets of love are open to men as they are open to women. I wonder if the Eight Divines are different enough for me to change.
I fell in love with him when I was fourteen. We were friends since we were five. Since I first saw him in that way, I have never told him anything about it. We share the food, the steel and the blood, but I fear to share my feelings. I have killed and I have bled for him. But we are nobles and our families cannot waste a profitable marriage. So, I ask you and I ask Dibella: Could I seek joy and inspiration in the body of my beloved companion? Could such a strange love be acceptable to Dibella's eyes? Could I open my heart to him freely as I wish without fear? Could he love me?
Respectful regards, Baron Yashu al-Aydin of Herne"
“Dear Madame Viliane, may this letter finds you healthy and lighthearted.
As an Argonian hatched and raised in Daggerfall, I have a fairly good understanding of how most see intimate relationships with those that are deemed uncivilized. Being newly matured in such a place has been... er... lonely; until recently that is, but now I find myself on the other side of the debate.
Four months ago I was exploring just off the shores of Glenumbra looking for any sunken item that I could sell, when i overheard the loud cries of a harpy; I came ashore to help. To my surprise I did not find some astray tourist under attack by a flock, but the reverse. A single harpy Matron -the ones with dark feathers and jewelry- was being robbed by three Redguards not just of her finery, BUT OF HER EGGS! As a male Argonian this sent me into a rage. After driving off the trio, the Matron had rewarded me... quite affectionately. I have been visiting her each week and each time I leave she seems even sadder to see me go.
I have made up my mind to make this relationship permanent; while I know how others will see it; i'll willingly take their insults, but my greatest concern is that the Goddess of Affection will see our love as blasphemous or tainted. Am I over-reacting or must I live in fear of the Divine?
Sibyl Augustine Viliane says, “The heart seeks what it desires, noble Baron and lusty Argonian, regardless of the chest it beats within. If your affection is pure and untainted by coercion, it is blessed in the eyes of Dibella. For has she not said, 'No matter the seed, if the shoot is nurtured with love, will not the flower be beautiful?'"
“Hail Augustine Viliane,
I am Alaesir Morellian, a humble Breton Apprentice within the Camlorn Mages' Guild, and I beg for your aid. I am besotted by the beauty of two of my Masters: one an Altmer with the most noble bearing and countenance; the other a Dunmer whose red eyes and grey, ashen skin deeply intrigue me for their exotic beauty. I think on them every night hoping for inspiration from Dibella as to how to win their favour, but this has only resulted in complaints from the Guildhouse servants that I ought to wash my own bedclothes from now on...
How should I court the noble Estirdalin given that Altmer, generally, view Men as inferior and are allegedly so concerned about purity of bloodline?
I have turned to my fellow Apprentices for advice but they have no more idea of how to court and win the affections of these Mer than they do about casting a competent healing spell. They tell me that High Elves must surely be “stuffy and pompous" within the bedchamber and that I ought to focus on Brelayne Hllervu given the reputation of Dark Elves. Is there any truth in that?
How should I go about winning her favour? She doesn't seem to like any other races very much, persisting in calling out “N'Wah" and “S'wit" at anyone who wanders past her study.
Kind regards, Alaesir Morellian."
Sibyl Augustine Viliane says, “A dilemma indeed! Regarding the High Elf, see my answer to Enchanter Dumonte above—perhaps you can intrigue your fair Altmer with something along those lines. As for the Dark Elf, I can confirm their reputation for an appetite for amorous dalliance from personal experience. If she wears her neck-scarf with the point on the left, toward her heart, this may be taken as a signal that she is open to approach. But if it points to the right, beware.
“More to the point, as it were, is where YOUR true feelings lie, young Alaesir. Consult your own heart on this matter—and don't be too shy to speak to our Camlorn Sibyl, Lady Siquine."
"Hello Sibyl, I have a question for you:
After reading various nordic narratives from our libraries, it seems that the old Nords were practicing the polygamy, notably in the famous recital of the Five Hundred Companions during the Feast of the Dead, where the Companions are cited with their numerous husbands and/or wives.
But I fail to find any modern reference about it. I wondering; what's happenned to this practice? Is the polygamy still a thing among the Nords?" – Iszara the Restless, Singer of the Scenarist Guild
Sibyl Augustine Viliane says, “I'm afraid that you have fallen into a common misconception about the early Nords, one based on their use of the term 'War-Wives.' This phrase is used interchangeably with 'Shield-Sisters,' and refers to the Nords' women warriors, rather than to wedded wives. Though a War-Wife might be married to a Shield-Brother, or even to a non-warrior, such relationships were (mostly) monogamous."
"Ah, dearest Sybil of our Blessed Lady. It's nice to converse with somebody local for a change, especially one so venerated as yourself. My question for you pertains less to courtship rituals and more towards the perception of the Lady herself in High Rock. Recently, I took a trip to Daggerfall to visit the various alchemy and enchanting shops in that fair city, and stopped by the Chapel of the Divines to listen to a sermon while I was there. I was shocked and dismayed to hear the priest tell his flock to "beware" the "charms of Dibella" or some such. He had spoken so highly of the other seven Divines, and I found it odd that the Lady of Love, Beauty, Art and Music would be vilified in such a fashion. Is she not one of the blessed Eight? Did Akatosh not choose the others to serve at His side? What should I tell people who imply that the Lady is somehow craven or unworthy of our praise? I feel particularly strongly about this, as it was the cult of Dibella which brought me into the faith of the Divines in the first place. I want people to understand how kind and benevolent she is. Will you help me to find the words, O Sybil?" – Legate Cyclenophus of the Bretonic Imperial Restoration Society
Sibyl Augustine Viliane says, “By Her Lips! You've been listening to the sermons of Father Pitof of the Daggerfall Cathedral, haven't you? The pious father is devoted to theology, but as I have reason to know, he is not passionate only about our duty to worship the Eight. But it doesn't do, after one night of worship to Dibella, to get all proprietary about one's ardor-partner. I fear I spoke more sternly than he liked, and may have sent him back to Daggerfall with a grudge against Our Lady and those who serve her. Hopefully, with time, he will find his way back to joy."
“Faithful Sibyl, with the Kothringi people all but gone from this world, a great cultural gap has appeared in the depopulated mangroves of their native Argonia. As a direct link to Dibella, surely you must feel the goddess's pain from the loss of some of her most devout worshippers. We know that the Lady of Love was held in high regard by the Kothringi, but historians regretfully know very little of their courtship traditions. Can you speak on their behalf, that we might honour their memory?" – Legoless, Doyen of the United Explorers of Scholarly Pursuits
Sibyl Augustine Viliane says, “The Kothringi, though tragically extinct, have not been gone for long, and are well-remembered by their former neighbors. Many of the Lustrous Folk lived in the vicinity of Gideon in the region known as Murkmire. It is my understanding that, due to recent trade agreements, the road between Gideon and Leyawiin will soon be reopened, and traffic with the old Kothringi homelands will then resume. When that occurs, I will forward your interesting question to my Sister Sibyl in Gideon—though if your curiosity is so great, you might even choose to make the journey yourself."
“Dear Augustine Viliane, Sybil of Dibella
I have a question of a rather unnatural,perhaps to some even disgusting, nature. No, I'm not trying to court a Daedra. A certain young Bosmer girl caught my eye a couple of weeks ago, mainly because she managed to drink half of the Nords in the Horker's Tusk tavern under the table without passing out. I was instantly smitten, but she kept ignoring my advances. Then one day, as I left the inn I saw her take someone along in an alley. She had a strange air about her, so I followed them. Moments later I saw her, bent over a hapless victim, piercing red eyes and skin white as moonlight. Ysmir's beard! I'd been trying to flirt with a vampire! And yet, even though I know what she is, it doesn't change my feelings for her. Would Dibella shun me for my abnormal affection, or does she believe in love for all, regardless of form? How should does someone court a vampire without getting killed?" – Jonnlur the Willful, Nord
Sibyl Augustine Viliane says, “Alas, Jonnlur, such a path is perilous, and if you choose to follow it, you are more likely to need the advice of a Priest of Arkay than of a Sibyl of Dibella. For Undeath is corruption, and one who willingly remains a vampire and feeds on others is impure of spirit. I have spoken to Father Rangouze, the leading Priest of Arkay here in Wayrest, and he says that the pull you feel toward this Wood Elf is not love, nor even joyous lust, but a darker urge that you must try to put behind you. Be not willful, but rather strong, and turn away, for you are in danger, both body and soul."
My Lady Sybil,
I write to you, in hope of clarity on a matter of faith and, perhaps, guidance as I seek to find my partner in life.
I am blessed with two loving parents, thank Mara. I was raised by my mother in the traditional Altmeri way and on the whole my Nordic father accepted this. Unfortunately, this concord broke down whenever the subject of Dibella was raised. As you'll know, Dibella is missing from the Altmeri pantheon. Yet Father would insist Dibella's patronage was required when seeking love. I'm told he was a patron of the Dibellan Arts but the less spoken of this, the better.
When I asked Mother about this apparent courtship requirement, she would say, “Jephre is the god of natural beauty. He told the tale of Creation that all may know their role and form. He blessed the Altmer and the Summerset Isles with beauty unsurpassed. He taught the birds to sing and inspired even the stars with his songs. Dibella is a poorly understood song-echo of Jephre, misinterpreted by foolish Nords who care only for the pleasures of the body and nothing of the soul. Seek Jephre's blessing and you'll find your soulmate".
Meanwhile, father would say, “Jephre? Shor's bones! A pale imitation of the full-figured Dibella, fit only for milk-drinkers! The prudish elves are so found of blathering about the loftiness of their gods because their heads are in the clouds. Seek Dibella's counsel to satisfy your urges."
My own suspicion is that both gods are aspects of the same deity. Whether one is an aspect of the other or a 'more accurate' Aedric interpretation seems pure semantics. I say Auri-El, you say Akatosh. Of course, I take nothing for granted so I invoke both whenever pursuing any creative endeavour or partaking in any courtship ritual. Yet, despite this careful piety, I remain single!
Tell me, dear Sybil, am I going about this the right way? Or am I doomed to an eternity alone because I hedge my bets? Who can understand the will of the Aedra? What do they WANT from us? The panic is literally spewing from me! I can't take it anymore! Must… find… smelling salts…
Lady Aereda, Author of “Lamentations of Phynaster: A Study in the Grief Symbolism of Hawks"
Sibyl Augustine Viliane says, “My Lady Aereda, you are an academic, and I fear you have fallen into the scholar's trap of thinking too hard about a matter where thinking is of little value. 'Careful piety' may have its uses (though I admit, none come to mind at the moment), but it is standing between you and finding your heart's desire. Seek beauty that gives you joy, and don't concern yourself with its theological origins."