“Homily of the Pilgrim” was first spawned in Everquest 2, to be shared at an ingame storytelling event from the perspective of a Dark Elf character. In that version of the story, the pilgrim was instead cast as a foolish Thexian traitor whom the listener was supposed to ridicule.
The story’s since been passed around in a few different settings, before landing in Tamriel Rebuilt as a homily of the Tribunal Temple. Instead of an object of ridicule, the pilgrim serves as a warning to those Dunmer who don’t process their pain in a healthy fashion. This is closer to the original intent of the story, and so I feel the below is the most faithful rendition of my work.Author’s Note
A pilgrim was walking down a rough dirt road. Rocks poked out of the road at irregular intervals, and the pilgrim, tired from his long journey, finally stumbled and stubbed his toes on one.
His toes hurt very badly from being stubbed thus, and the pilgrim came upon a thought. “If I did not have toes, I would not have toes to stub.” He looked down at the offending toes. “I am sorry, but you are causing me pain, and therefore you must go, so I will no longer be troubled by you.” And the pilgrim took out his hunting knife and cut off his toes.
The pilgrim continued on his journey, but without his toes he found it harder to keep his balance. Soon he stumbled again and fell to the ground. He flung out a hand to catch himself, and the hand was cut on one of the sharp rocks. Wincing, he looked at the blood welling up from his palm.
“If I did not have a hand, it could not be cut and bleed,” thought the pilgrim. “I am sorry, but you are causing me pain, and therefore, you must go.” So the pilgrim cut off his hand and continued on his way.
The pilgrim continued to walk down the road, which was getting rougher, and he had to slow down to almost a crawl to keep from tripping again. He turned a corner in the road and came upon his wife.
The wife began to rail at him in the way wives do–why do we no longer walk together in the mushroom groves? Why were you late for the meetings with the Heads of House? And why, by the gods, are you bleeding!
She ranted and raved so much that the pilgrim closed his eyes in pain. “Wife,” he finally said, “you are causing me too much pain, and therefore you will have to go.” So he killed his wife, cutting her out of his life, and continued on his way.
As he continued his walk, he found that the combined pain from the missing toes, hand, and wife was becoming unbearable. He could not understand why such things were paining him if they were no longer a part of him.
“It is my heart that feels this pain,” he said to himself. “If I did not have a heart, I would no longer feel pain.”
“I am sorry, heart,” said the pilgrim, looking down at his chest, “but you are causing me pain, and therefore you must go.”
And so the pilgrim cut out his heart, and with his lifeblood spilling out, he soon collapsed and died. Too late did the pilgrim learn that pain was a necessary part of life, and that he would have been wiser to suffer with patience and humility.