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elsweyr

A Sacrament Remains

Author: 
Nazala

Returning to this land has been more difficult than this one imagined. When the Night Mother called Nazala to her service, she had left this place full of disease, death, and fetid waste. Now she returns to complete a contract as old as her absence here. It is possible the target is already dead, but the Sacrament must have an end, and so Nazala must find him.

This one begins her search at the Ashen Scar, one of the many mass burial grounds in Elsweyr. When the flu hit, this one saw them being filled. What many call the Ashen Scar is the first of those. It is strong in spiritual power, even one so base as Nazala can feel it. Her target came here looking for something, but doubtful it was what he found. Undead lurk behind every crumbling ruin, dangerous even for one who walks in shadow as this one does.

This one found no evidence that her target was among those buried here, so she must look further.

Her trail leads south, to a place of stone spires and rickety wooden bridges locals call the Stitches. It was always a place for the less fortunate, the undeserving, and the lawless to find refuge. Nazala first dragged her claws through blood in this place. She remembers a little cub who said he would change things. He would bring hope to this place. Nazala hears that he did for a time, but now he is gone, like the dream he once carried.

This one's target was not here, but she has found those who remember him. He traveled south, alone, with a caravan of nomads trying to escape the flu. Nazala follows.

Cicatrice was once home to a small town along the road from Orcrest to western Elsweyr. Nomads would stop for food and to tell stories. It was a place of rest and warmth and laughter, but the Knahaten Flu destroyed all that. This one has heard rumors that the inhabitants of this place followed an Argonian into an oasis, hoping for help. Nazala found only a cave full of poison and evidence that her quarry left on his own again.

This time he was sick and heading north, to where the scars weep. She knows where that is, but is afraid of what she will find there.

When this one's fur was darker and her claws sharper, she heard tales of the Weeping Scar. There were Khajiit who went down into the dark to feed an addiction of pleasure and blood. Most came back, only to descend once more into the dark. Some, however, stayed.

Nazala's target stayed. She followed him into the dark, where her childish fears manifested into those with fangs and a thirst for blood. They did not attack, though things seemed strained, different. There is a feud going on that this one has no interest in joining. She seeks only her target and these phantoms of her youth provided.

Infected with the flu, he came to the vampires of the Scar and hoped for everlasting life. He wished to destroy one infection with another, and traded the darkness of death for another type of darkness. It did not work, and Nazala's target passed into the Moon's light.

This Khajiit once terrorized a mate and her cub. The skooma and poverty drove him to anger and that anger drove his mate to commit the Sacrament. That cub came here to fulfill her mother's wish, but discovered that her father found his own darkness.

She says goodbye now, the Sacrament satisfied and a daughter left without a need to remain. The Night Mother still softly calls and Nazala answers.

The Frostfall Coup

Author: 
Tandemen

Implications for Elsweyr and the Aldmeri Dominion

By Tandemen, Sapiarch of Foreign Observations

It was in the year 2E 576, four years before the return of Ayrenn and the formation of the Aldmeri Dominion, that Euraxia Tharn murdered the Royal Family of Anequina and illegally claimed the throne of Rimmen. How did this occur and what should the Dominion do about it? Allow me to provide a few pertinent observations.

Earlier that same year, Emperor Leovic legalized the worship of Daedra throughout the Empire of Cyrodiil, which immediately sparked a rebellion. As Varen Aquilarios began his own push to take control of the Empire, Euraxia Tharn was sent on a diplomatic mission to Northern Elsweyr. Taking advantage of the confusion, she hired a massive force of Nibenese mercenaries and marched into Rimmen as a welcomed ally. As part of the Empire, King Hemakar of Rimmen did not think twice about accepting an envoy of the Emperor. That turned out to be a deadly mistake.

Euraxia had King Hemakar and the rest of the Royal Family executed and declared herself Queen of Rimmen. Her mercenaries, now wearing the livery of Euraxians, spread out and quickly conquered all of Northern Elsweyr, claiming the territory from Riverhold to Rimmen. Once in power, Euraxia worked quickly to consolidate her position. She hired additional mercenaries, acquired the services of a cult of necromancers, and established a perimeter of siege weapons to maintain her hold over Rimmen. The Khajiiti people have not fared well under Euraxian rule. In every meaning of the word, her reign has been nothing short of tyrannical.

Once the dust settled and what was happening became clear, the Khajiit formed a militia to combat the Euraxians and attempt to reclaim Anequina. When Queen Ayrenn established the alliance and formed the Dominion, she promised the Khajiiti people that they would have her support in regaining control of Northern Elsweyr. However, before any forces could be mustered in that regard, the Three Banners War broke out. Except for a handful of military advisors and some much-needed gold, the Khajiiti Defense Force has been primarily on its own. Lord Gharesh-ri, Speaker of the Mane, traveled to Anequina to take command of the militia, and under his guidance they are close to liberating the town of Riverhold and most of the territory beyond the walls of Rimmen.

Unfortunately, Rimmen remains a bastion for Euraxia, primarily due to the siege weapons that ring the palace and are aimed directly into the city below. Her threat, which Gharesh-ri has no reason to doubt, is that she will destroy the city if her rule there is challenged in any way. Until those siege weapons are dealt with, I expect Euraxia will maintain hold of the Rimmen throne.

While the Three Banners War rages on, Dominion forces cannot be diverted to deal with the tyrant the Khajiit call the Usurper Queen. We must hope that by providing funds and advisors, the Khajiiti militia can hold out until the alliance conflict comes to an end. Otherwise, the Dominion may wind up facing a threat from within its own borders once the war against the Ebonheart Pact and the Daggerfall Covenant ends. 

Origins of the Khajiiti Martial Tradition

Author: 
Tendwuayne

By Tendwuayne, Sapiarch of Foreign Customs

Despite its status as one of the Elsweyr's most enduring traditions, the origins of Khajiiti martial arts, or "Claw-Dances," remain murky at best. The burning of Corinthe's Grand Archive by Merrunz cultists in 1E 463 destroyed most of the region's Merethic records, making the work of cultural historians like myself very difficult indeed. Luckily, Darloc Brae, the famed conqueror and so-called Golden Beast of Anequina, took great pains to secure what histories remained, placing them in vaults and smaller archives throughout Elsweyr. Gaining access to these archives is no small feat for a High Elf, I can tell you. But years of dogged persistence have borne some meager fruits.

From what I can ascertain, life in Merethic Era Elsweyr was a toilsome affair. At that time, the famed sixteen kingdoms of the Khajiit were little more than competing fiefdoms, ruled by a cruel hunter-aristocracy. Severe droughts and periods of famine struck Anequina with pitiless regularity, and the constant feuding of the hunter-nobles resulted in widespread military conscription–robbing peasant communities of youthful labor and prompting still greater famine across the region. The only check placed on the hunt-lords resided in the Temples of Two-Moons Dance. Khajiiti adepts and other Torval clergy wielded significant cultural influence, and occasionally used it to vex or even overthrow particularly vicious hunt-lords. The aristocracy chafed at these intrusions, but knew better than to challenge the adepts directly.

At some point in the high days of the Merethic Era, a particularly ruthless hunt-lord named Takanzin the Striped Death paid a flock of criminals to set fire to the Rawl'kha Temple. The clergy displaced by the blaze immediately fielded a small army of warrior-adepts to punish those responsible. The details of the conflict are lost to the ages, but the resolution was quite clear: Takanzin's forces quashed the priestly uprising and drove the remaining adepts out of the Kingdom of Dune altogether.

Seizing the opportunity to be done with the adepts' meddling once and for all, the other hunt-lords across the northern tier of what is now Elsweyr instituted a policy of weapon confiscation. They cited the violence in Rawl'kha as evidence of the clergy's treasonous intentions and brutally suppressed any religious order that refused to comply.

After an extended period of deep despondency and contemplation, the adepts turned inward–cutting ties with the politics of the age and focusing entirely on self-perfection. Religious meditation was an essential part of that journey.

In many cultures, meditation is a quiet and motionless activity. Not so for Khajiit. Their nervous energy and focus on raw physicality drove them to adopt a lyrical, dance-like form of meditation. It couldn't have taken long for the adepts' dancing to transform into something akin to a martial art. Smooth, meditative dance gave way to swift claw-strikes and daring leaps. This should come as no surprise, given the Khajiits' predatory instincts. People possessing claws and fangs cannot be expected to remain peaceful forever!

After centuries of isolation, the adepts emerged from their cloisters, bristling with martial skill and wisdom. By this point, the hunter-aristocracy was nearing its end. Disparities in wealth and influence had reached a tipping point, paving the way for a long-overdue public uprising. The adepts wasted no time sharing their hard-earned skills with the beleaguered peasantry. Within the span of a few generations, the adepts' martial arts were completely ubiquitous. All the people needed was a spark.

In the latter days of the Merethic Era, feuding hunt-lords from Meirvale and Helkarn drafted thousands of peasants into military service, bringing about one of the worst famines in Elsweyr's history. After three years of futile conflict, the armies of both lords turned on their masters, toppling the aristocracy in a rain of slashing claws, wind-kicks, and bone-breaking punches.

Before long, peasant uprisings broke out in nearby Riverhold, Orcrest, Verkarth, Bruk'ra, and Ne Quin-al. Within a century, the regal hunter caste that had reigned over Elsweyr for thousands of years fell from power.

We know that the glorious dream of a farming utopia never took hold in Elsweyr. Within a few hundred years, a new brand of landed nobility ascended to the thrones of the sixteen kingdoms. But the people have never forgotten the power they wield. Despite the lack of written records, the rich oral traditions of the Khajiiti clan mothers ensure that the Cat-Folk never forget their struggles and triumphs.

I remain an outsider here, but I cannot help but think that we approach a new tipping point in Elsweyr. The Imperial, Euraxia Tharn, is not so very different from the hunt-lords of millennia past. And if she does not learn from her missteps, she may well share their fate. 

On Those Who Know Baan Dar

Author: 
Ak'an

The first truth: Know that Baan Dar is not about the chickens.

Ak'an does not know why so many speak of the chickens. Yes, the Wood Elves make them explode, and they call this foolishness a celebration. Wood Elves also say it is wrong to eat apples, yet apples are delicious, yes? Wood Elves make mead out of rotting meat and bugs. Do not listen to Wood Elves.

The outsiders say Baan Dar is their Bandit God, their Man of a Thousand Faces. Their Pariah. They do not know Baan Dar as the Khajiit know Baan Dar. Wood Elves play games and tricks in Baan Dar's name, Bretons talk of sneak-thieves and living legends, and bards sing of Baan Dar's exploits like he was some worldly robber.

To the outsiders, Baan Dar is a legend, a story, a joke. Baan Dar is not these things. To the true Khajiit, Baan Dar is how we live. All Khajiit who grasp him, from the chained souls toiling on Dres plantations to the sellswords fighting for gold on the blood-stained fields of Cyrodiil, know how we honor Baan Dar.

When ja'khajiit swipes the sweetmeat off your sill to fill her starving belly, she honors Baan Dar. When the slave with blood-matted hair slips her chains and cuts her slaver's throat, she honors Baan Dar. When the nomad gnaws off his foot to escape the trap you left to enslave him, he honors Baan Dar.

Do you leave your valuables where all can see? Baan Dar will take them. Do you wait for others to break the slaver's chains? Baan Dar will slip away while you mew pitifully in the darkness. Baan Dar will not free you or comfort you or save you, but if you listen for him, Baan Dar will guide you as you save yourself.

Across the warm sands, beneath the warm sun, where those Khajiit not coddled by wood and stone and words prowl freely with blade and bow, Baan Dar asks only three things of all who follow him.

Do not let others take it if you wish to keep it.

Do not let others chain you if you wish to live without chains.

Do not let others fool you if you wish not to be fooled.

Baan Dar does not ask you to praise his name. Baan Dar does not ask you to offer him tribute. Baan Dar asks only that you not be stupid, for the warm sands of Elsweyr have no place for stupid Khajiit. 

Guide to Northern Elsweyr

Author: 
Infrasia Mallius

Of all the far-flung provinces of this great Empire, none may be quite as welcoming as Elsweyr. Don't let their beastly countenance fool you. The Khajiit are, by and large, a friendly and gracious people, eager to host visitors and entice travelers with all manner of goods and services. If you wish to vacation in a land of carefree ease, gentle breezes, and plentiful warmth, look no further!

Should you travel there from Cyrodiil, you'll enter the venerable province of Anequina–one of the two major regions that make up the province of Elsweyr–and find the pastoral town of Riverhold waiting to welcome you.

This bustling border town is a frequent stop for caravanners and travelers passing between Elsweyr and the greater Empire. The spacious town square acts as an open-air market where a wide array of goods are peddled right off the wagon by their enterprising owners, and the offerings vary by the hour as traders depart on their journeys or arrive from them. There's plenty to do other than haggle, of course. The Banished Regrets inn frequently offers a selection of imported libations to ease a parched throat and the quiet atmosphere of the Temple of the Moon's Blessing is sure to give you a moment's peace. There is also a burgeoning House of Histories, which promises to exhibit the long and storied history of the Khajiit upon its completion.

Once you're refreshed and ready to resume your travels, a short caravan ride east of Riverhold will lead you to the capital of Anequina: Rimmen.

On the road to Rimmen, you'll begin to see that the land of Elsweyr is as diverse as the Khajiit themselves. The closer you draw to the flourishing city, the more apparent it becomes that here the arid savannah has been tamed and the dry grassland has given way to lush greenery and flooded steppes of cane paddies. Within Rimmen's high walls, you will see that the misconception that Khajiit have an aversion to water is greatly exaggerated. Here trees and tropical plants thrive along artificial canals that weave throughout the city, supplied by a great aqueduct that spans the entire kingdom. Older than the city itself, it's a wonder constructed in an era long behind us. Lounging along the waterways is a favorite pass-time for residents and visitors alike. Rimmen's year-round warmth and largely clear skies make it a popular destination for vacationers from all around the Empire. Spend one day here and you'll find that Khajiit hospitality is second to none!

If you're feeling adventurous and up for a considerable hike, you can while away your time following the Anequina Aqueduct through the countryside. While you're touring the wonders of Anequina, you simply cannot miss the Scar, quite literally, an expansive canyon carved straight through the middle of the region. The sight of it from above or below is breathtaking in its magnitude and one you won't want to miss. Though you may find the sight of a vast water source that's just out of reach too much to bear in the arid scrub-lands that lie to the west.

Before you endeavor to traverse the winding chasm that is the Scar, it would behoove you to stop by the city of Orcrest. While Riverhold is the gateway to Anequina, and Rimmen the capital, Orcrest is the center of commerce. This ancient, walled city rests along the cliffs of the Scar, outstretching its welcoming arms (its great bridges) to bring the disparate regions of Anequina together. Traders from all over the kingdom, and beyond come here to peddle their goods to their counterparts from neighboring Pellitine, Valenwood, and Cyrodiil. Few things cannot be found for sale here. It's said that Khajiit here will part with their tail for the right price, but I'll admit that my fluency with Ta'agra is not the best.

You may have tired hustle and bustle of city life, there are plenty of quieter places to take in the scenery. Placid moon-sugar farms dot the meadows of Merryvale, where the cane stalks sway along with the songs of cheery harvesters in the cool breeze. Khajiiti temples to the Divines are both numerous and strikingly beautiful. Sunspire in particular dwarfs any cathedral in Kvatch. Though if you want a truly unique Elsweyr experience, spend some time meditating with the monks of one of their adeptoriums and take in the feats of strength, agility, and skill that these dedicated ascetics are capable of.

If my words have brought you this far, I hope you'll take a few steps more and begin your travels to one of the most wondrous provinces in the Empire! 

Anequina and Pellitine: An Introduction

Author: 
Sulema

By Sulema, Initiate Scholar of the Pa'alatiin

With respect to my mentors, who taught me to question everything. May we forever approach lore with raised fur and unsheathed claws.

Much of what scholars take to be true about Elsweyr is filtered through the bias and perceptions of those of Cyrodiil and other non-Khajiit loremasters and scholars. In fact, the geopolitical entities (which were originally Khajiiti clan names) of Ne Quin-al and Pa'alatiin are more commonly known as Anequina and Pellitine, respectively, due to the prevalence of Cyrodilic-based studies, the demotion of importance of native lore by non-Khajiit scholars, and the loss of native-based information. For a people who started out as nomadic clans with static locations only for trade and other social activities, attaching tribal names to locations as if these regions always existed is problematic because it implies ownership over certain terrain when, in fact, the clans originally moved as they needed to across the province now called Elsweyr. Some would note that the names Ne Quin-al and Pa'alatiin are Ta'agra, and while that is an acceptable observation, this one feels it is more accurate to use these names for the people and the Cyrodilic names of Anequina and Pellitine for their respective regions.

Initially, a single Khajiiti Moon-Emperor ruled the region, and he later gave rise to the famous and esteemed Darloc Brae in 1E 461. During these days, sixteen Khajiiti clans roamed the province, and each performed a function. For example, the Ne Quin-al consisted of warriors and trained their members in martial disciplines and battle tactics. Some say that even then these clans belonged to regions or realms, but that is an oversimplification. Khajiit went where they were needed and wanted (or where they wanted to be), more or less. For reference, please examine the lullaby "Hasa Zha'ja" or "The Name Dance," wherein the first known story of how the clans earned their names exists.

As the clans mastered their areas of expertise and as outside pressures started pushing them into roles and more limited geographical areas, the concept of tribal regions coalesced somewhat even within the Khajiiti way of thinking. Thus it becomes more accurate to call both the people and the area Ne Quin-al, but only "more accurate"  not completely accurate. The poem "Zhan Zhab" ("Wind Game"), written by a clanless Khajiit in 1E 2243, shows the transition from clan name to place name as it unfolds, but questions the need for this even as the language shifts within the poem.

Then came the Thrassian Plague in 1E 2260. Due to the sheer number of deaths, tribal function changed lest the Khajiit die out completely due to starvation and other hardships. Sixteen clans became two and separated in ideology as well as into geographical areas. Those of the Ne Quin'al continued to roam and follow tribal customs, and they did so primarily in the arid northern region. Those of the Pa'alatiin stayed in greener, southern region and took on customs from other lands, especially Breton and Cyrodiil, forming political and social structures that closer emulated those peoples.

All of the above provides context for the differences between the Khajiit of Anequina and Pellitine. As those of Anequina continued to follow their tribal traditions in the harsher climes of the north, they looked to the south and saw only laziness, corruption, and weakness. By following the ways of others and abandoning their traditions, the southern Khajiit proved to the north just how weak-minded and feeble-bodied they had become. As for the Pellitine Khajiit, they looked to the north and saw only parched landscapes filled with militaristic barbarians. Rule through might alone was frowned upon by these southerners, and though permanent structures existed in Anequina, the fact that many still followed the paths of homeless nomads only underscored to Pellitine just how unenlightened the northern Khajiit were.

Time passed, and the division between the northern and southern Khajiit grew. It took an act of marriage to start healing this rift. In 2E 309, rulers Keirgo of Anequina and Eshita of Pellitine married, creating the current province of Elsweyr. Though both peoples felt betrayed at this alliance, railing at the fact that they were now tied to the fortunes of those who seemingly did not share their values, the breach began to mend somewhat at first. Then, the first blows to the province struck: the assassination of Potentate Versidue-Shaie in Senchal in 2E 324, then the sacking of Ne Quin-al and the resulting slaughter of most of the royal dynasty in 2E 326 by Khajiiti rebels. Both these events weakened the fabric of Elsweyr's political structure, creating an opening for further instability to come. See, for further reference, the transcribed oral history of the period entitled "Zha'javan Ka'achin" or "The Dance of Dual Lands."

Perhaps the inherent nature of the Khajiit prevented an immediate collapse of the government. Both those in Anequina and those in Pellitine tend toward independent thinking and adaptability, which makes it harder to completely prevail over them for any amount of time.

But, illness comes to us all, and when the Knahaten Flu struck 2E 565, it further damaged the shaky structure that was the Elsweyr government, creating an opening for the takeover of the city-state of Rimmen and the events that followed. 

The Sixteen Kingdoms

Author: 
Senior Scholastic Hilo Sylla

[A traditional Khajiiti children's chant as collected by Senior Scholastic Hilo Sylla]

The Queen and Her Court come down the road
The Monarch of Ne-Quin-Al
The nomad clans who follow the herds
The people of Ne-Quin-Al

The King and His Court come down the road
The haughty King of Rimmen
The motley traders of the Rim
The fractious folk of Rimmen

The Queen and Her Court come down the road
The Queen of Riverhold
The doughty farmers of the north
Planters of Riverhold

The King and His Court come down the road
The Moon Bishop of Dune
The priests and scholars of the past
The dusty sages of Dune

The Queen and Her Court come down the road
The Sovereign of Orcrest
The desert cats of the baking sand
The windblown rogues of Orcrest

The King and His Court come down the road
The Warrior King of Verkarth
Fierce wielders of the sword and bow
The swift-marching soldiers of Verkarth

The Queen and Her Court come down the road
The Rum-Potentate of Meirvale
The brewers and distillers bold
The joyous fermenters of Meirvale

The King and His Court come down the road
The Livestock Lord of Helkarn
Wary and sharp-eyed shepherd folk
The herding cats of Helkarn

The Queen and Her Court come down the road
Bard-Queen of Alabaster
The learned poets of the coast
Dramatists of Alabaster

The King and His Court come down the road
The Merchant Prince of Bruk'ra
The river-traders sharp and savvy
The traffickers of Bruk'ra

The Queen and Her Court come down the road
The Carpenter Queen of Corinthe
The lumber cats of the upland woods
The carvers and joiners of Corinthe

The King and His Court come down the road
The Pious Prince of Pa'alatiin
The arcane adepts of oracular oaths
The prayerful priests of Pa'alatiin

The Queen and Her Court come down the road
The Jungle Queen of Tenmar
The forest folk of leaf and branch
Tree-dwelling furstocks of Tenmar

The King and His Court come down the road
The Sacred Mane of Torval
Servants of hirsute majesty
The loyal guards of Torval

The Queen and Her Court come down the road
The Countess of Khenarthia
Sugar planters and fishing cats
The wind-kissed folk of Khenarthia

The King and His Court come down the road
The Harbor-Duke of Senchal
Sailors and stevedores of the ports
The nautical knaves of Senchal 

Response To Citizen Inquiries

Author: 
Aicantar of Shimmerene, Sapiarch of Indoctrination

Esteemed Citizen of the Aldmeri Dominion,

Thank you for expressing your interest in the critical functions performed by the Presidium of Aldmeri Cultural Illumination and Dissemination to further solidify the inter-cultural bonds of our magnificent alliance. We strive to give our ear to any citizen with suggestions, questions, or concerns relating to our tireless efforts to provide the Dominion with education to promote cooperation and understanding between Altmer, Bosmer, and Khajiit.

Your two (2) requests and one (1) inquiry have been received and processed, and it is our sincere hope that you find the determinations reached by the Presidium satisfactory. Please note that any additional queries related to your submission, which has been assigned the Citizen Inquiry Identifier 3278B-P, must be accompanied by a completed Additional Inquiry Form approved by your district’s Thalmor Representative of Civil Concerns.

Request One (1)

Regarding the inclusion of a broader survey of Khajiiti heroes in a new edition of “Combined History of the Aldmeri Dominion, Vol. 4, Historical Persons of Note”:  Your opinion is valued and important. Though we must limit the number of highlighted historical figures described in this already-significant tome by necessity, your feedback will be taken into consideration. We have noted your observation about the preponderance of Altmeri individuals in the book, and will take it under advisement in the event that a new edition is issued.

Request Two (2)

Regarding celebration of the Khajiiti Festival of Sugar-Singing: Our greatest ambition is to be sensitive to the needs and desires of all citizens. It is, therefore, with the utmost regret that we must inform you that the Sugar-Singing will continue to be prohibited in most major cities due to the disruption of business and domestic peace that has been reported in municipalities where the festival has been provisionally allowed. As with any Thalmor ruling, you may continue to raise specific concerns by visiting your local representative (accompanied, of course, by the proper forms, which may vary depending on the nature of the additional request or complaint).

Inquiry One (1)

Regarding becoming more involved in your local governing body: The Thalmor is always pleased to accommodate and encourage citizens who wish to become more active in promoting cooperation and understanding throughout the Dominion. All Thalmor positions and offices are confirmed by the Illustrious Queen Ayrenn’s own hand, ensuring only individuals with true dedication to the goals of a productive, prosperous, and victorious Dominion reach any office. By undertaking every possible effort to be an outstanding citizen, even you may one day be recognized by Her Majesty!

The Presidium of Aldmeri Cultural Illumination and Dissemination thanks you again for your interest. If you find any of our carefully considered responses to be inadequate, do not hesitate to submit an approved Additional Inquiry Form.

Glory to the Dominion!

These responses endorsed by:

Aicantar of Shimmerene, Sapiarch of Indoctrination

Elsweyr

Author: 
Anonymous

Khajiit of the Aldmeri Dominion

I wept as the ferry passed my home of Bravil, but I could not risk returning there and bringing my curse to the ones I love. Now ensconced in the realm of the cat, my thoughts turned not to their wiles and ways but to the minions of Mannimarco who flit along the periphery of my vision each and every day.

Riverhold's market was particularly crowded. Overladen caravans were readying for Rimmen and Dune, filled with spices, weapons, and drapery. Khajiiti nomads had their herds of guar and goats for trade. Shouts and whistles and the smells of sweetmeats would have coaxed me farther into this bustle, but all I saw were the shaded alleys and shadowy recesses where the black-robed thugs could plan my long and drawn-out death.

Was that one of them? There, by the gemsmith? I hastily searched out a suitably robust Khajiiti specimen who ran the caravan to Dune. I explained my predicament and my finer qualities to him.

"I, Ma'rashirr, welcome such a dignitary to our humble traveling cavalcade."

"Thank--" I started to say.

"Your unclawed nature, ruddy cheeks, and profuse sweaty fragrance is an attraction to the caravan I hadn't bargained for. What a treat to greet the walkers when we arrive at Dune."

As my father told me, "a blow to your pride is easier to take than a blow to your head."

Between the Imperial Niben Valley and Valenwood, the southern sands of Elsweyr are the burial sites for many ancient civilizations, or so the whispered myths would have you believe. Just as the deep red soil relentlessly shifts, so, too, do the transient beastfolk who claim this land as their own -- the wandering Khajiit. It seems they have more of a right than most, as stories tell of cat people dwelling here even before the time of Man and Mer; however, others think of the Khajiit as being simply another descendant of the original Aldmeri settlers. Still others believe the Khajiit's ancestors once walked on four paws but were raised to stand on two feet and become the leading predator of Tamriel's wastes.

The Khajiit homeland was subdivided into a fractious collection of sixteen realms specializing in farming, trade, or fighting; all were interwoven with the waxing and waning of the moons. Passing Alessian and Bosmeri invaders chose to further increase the animosity between these realms, but the Thrassian Plague in 1E 2260 ravaged the cat-folk more than any intruder. Consternation turned to distrust and violence as the wealthy southern state of Pellitine clashed with northern warrior clans of Anequina. The ruin this brought continued until 2E 309, when the marriage of the two states' rulers -- Eshita of Pellitine and Kiergo of Anequina -- finally brought peace to the land, now named Elsweyr after the sardonic Khajiiti proverb "A perfect society is always found elsewhere." [This "joke" has got to go.]

For a race living in the oppressively hot climate of Elsweyr, it is impractical in most cases for them to wear heavy clothing and armor, and the Khajiit's naturally lithe frames and dexterity favor more lightweight protection. The Khajiit abhor restraint and encumbrance, and their craftsfolk are diligent about providing armor to augment their prowling forms. At its lightest, Khajiiti armor is often mistaken for well-appointed (but flamboyant) clothing. Quilted or padded cloth adorns the midriff and vital areas. This is augmented with vivid patterns of color and accented with a loose shawl, ribbons, or trinkets -- an outfit that would result in mocking insults if worn by a race less decadent and hedonistic.

For battles where the Khajiit expect punishment, they favor cloth and leather greaves, gauntlets, and a light helmet; this allows for supremely agile movement without sacrificing speed (or fashion). For this race of acrobats, even the heaviest Khajiiti armor is loose-fitting but actually has lacquered metal plates laced together with leather, under which is an embroidered tunic, completed with a helmet of fluted silver and durable linen. It is only under the most harrowing of conditions that the Khajiit will don full battle armor.

As for weaponry, curved scimitars, sabers and knives, or punch daggers serve as an elongation of the Khajiit's own slashing, clawed hands. Occasionally these claw shapes extend to ritual tridents and the savage points on their longbow arrows or javelins.

I attempted to prove my merit to Ma'rashirr by showing him this sketch of the savanna-land here in northern Elsweyr. The trees are speckled far apart from one another, their branches fanning out wide to capture every drop of moisture. Watering holes, low rock outcrops, and laconic Cat-Men herders are also infrequent sights. The caravan clattered across the most rudimentary of roads. When Ma'rashirr and his kin do meet another Khajiiti traveler or tent, they are greeted with quick throaty shouts in their own tongue, and yapping laughter is directed in my general direction.

The merchants continued plodding across the western savanna, with Dune at least two days away. My attempts to cultivate the caravan's guards (so I may mingle with veteran warriors who may protect me from my fears) had been a middling success. Ra'tassa, a particularly well-built Khajiit, seemed to be in charge of this crew. Early on the second morning, I asked to walk with him.

"You're the beet-faced Imperial Ma'rashirr the Five-Clawed saddled us with, yes?" His brethren smirked as I prepared to test my wits.

"I prefer to think of my complexion as sanguine, as is my disposition," I replied.

Ra'tassa's striped ears perked up and he smiled. "Ra'tassa wonders why you perspire when the sun has hardly crept out of bed. Your Nord clothing pelts smell like a Dungman's hindquarters."

"Ah, but I can take off my fur when the heat becomes uncomfortable. Can you? Although I'd pay good coin to see you shaved."

Had my wordplay become a tad too mocking? Not according to the whoops of approval and derisive laughter of Ra'tassa's gang.

We heard an odd, wheezing horn, along with grim shouts in a primal language. Khajiiti fur rose as a small force of Goblin raiders harried the caravan, charging out from a cluster of red rocks. I counted at least ten of the green-skinned marauders -- and a warchief the size of a Nord -- from my shrewd position behind the guards.

"Muskarse! Ra'tassa will make kebabs of your liver!" His gang was already engaging the Goblins, effortlessly cutting them down with ferocious double-slicing from frighteningly sharp sabers. Ra'tassa had deftly catapulted past enemy bowmen, leaped onto the leader, and drove his twin punch-daggers deep into the warchief's neck. The fellow gurgled and fell to the ground, spurting blood and yellow bile.

Ma'rashirr sat back on his haunches, grinning. His cat-folk had received only minor nicks to their fur while their foes lay lacerated, many in multiple pieces. Ra'tassa took the last Goblin by the nape of the neck and picked it up, shaking it violently. He threw it to a fellow Khajiit, who scraped his claws across the Goblin's sagging form before throwing it back to Ra'tassa. "Spotless!" he shouted, beating it about the face before snapping the Goblin's neck.

I didn't care for this toying spectacle of cruelty.

Imagine the loathsome aspects of the Orc (and there are many). Now believe a scrawny and devious subspecies shares these traits, but with even more base desires and dense stupidity. Little wonder, then, that the Goblin has no aspiration other than barbaric tribal territory squabbles with others of its lot. As they're incapable of mastering the Tamrielic tongue, there is little to say to a Goblin, save to yell in violent joy as you cleave one with your blade. The finest of their pathetic accomplishments is mastery of shamanistic magic and the domestication of their hunting pet, the durzog.

While Ra'tassa and the gang picked through the spoils and clutter, I chose three of the most intact Goblin corpses to paint and inspect (I did not show their numerous savage wounds). Of greater interest is the equipment they carry: It is primarily constructed of wood, bronze, and wrought iron. More fascinating still are the swords, shields, and cleaving weapons stolen from other cultures and remade roughly but effectively.

Ma'rashirr was tucking into a serving of dried sugarmeat with his cohorts. I declined and instead studied the heavy armor a few of the Goblin troops were wearing. I noted scraps of chain mail and iron plates bolted in, with accents of bone, horns, and skulls. The leather was efficiently tanned, but crude. Impressive craftsmanship for such a low and worthless creature.

I accompanied Ra'tassa and a couple of his ilk as they tracked the Goblins back to a small camp in a rocky dell several hundred paces away. The Khajiiti stalkers were expecting trouble but were greeted by pathetic moans and slumped bodies gasping and shriveled in pain. Many green-skins had turned an unhealthy shade of yellow, with buboes blistering around the mouth. I made some quick sketches of this wretched camp and totem, as the Khajiit retreated with haste, leaving the Goblins to succumb to the sun and what was undoubtedly the Knahaten Flu.

I suggested to Ra'tassa that perhaps the Goblin raiding party that was so conclusively defeated was also beginning to succumb to the Knahaten Flu.

"This explains why the raiders were such pushovers," I said, watching Ra'tassa's brow furrow.

"The unclawed one speaks!" he proclaimed, hissing back at me. "But of matters he hasn't the competency to lecture about, yes?"

Undeterred, I continued: "I studied the discharge from the warchief's wounds and mouth. It looked like the flu to me."

Ra'tassa stopped me, placing a muscular claw on my shoulder. "Ra'tassa believes in our own prowess. Flaccus should hold his tongue, lest a Cat get it."

As the Redguard scribes have noted (in sometimes mind-withering detail), when the first of their kind came to claim Hammerfell, they were confronted by an immense Goblin horde, baying and praying to Malooc the Horde King. It is currently felt that this lesser deity may be entwined somehow with the similarly boorish Mauloch (also known as Malacath) of the Orcs. Malooc certainly shares the more graceless aspects, but further research if requested to confirm such speculation.

I seemed to have rubbed Ra'tassa's fur the wrong way and spent the remaining hours in silence until our arrival in Dune, entrenched in the northwestern grasslands where the Baandari Pedlars roam. While the merchants paid their tariffs and excises, I bade a swift farewell and sketched two samples of the faintly exotic Khajiiti architecture. Being in northern Elsweyr, I wasn't expecting the imposing structures of marble or stone found in the south, where Khajiiti culture builds with more permanence. Here in Dune, buildings are less substantial, made from wood, and many have fallen into disrepair. Perhaps this is due to the northern Khajiit favoring a nomadic life, where only tents are necessary.

Expect chaos to greet the Imperial soldier who ventures into the disorderly scrublands of northern Elsweyr. No domain has been ravaged so ruthlessly by the Knahaten Flu, and the downtrodden Cat-Man must seek favor with the superior races to escape the terror that has befallen them.

Even though the Elsweyr Confederacy has been ratified, the gambits of the Nibenese of Rimmen and the Colovians of Skingrad and Arenthia are still unchanged, as the Khajiiti territories continue to squabble. However, it has done some good; the factions have fallen into line under the leadership of the Mane, who holds spiritual sway over the common beasts.

The Khajiit are no strangers to vexation, and from the taint of disease and strife there has emerged a valiant leader, Gharesh-ri, Lord of Torval. He professes to speak for the Mane, with quick wits and quicker claws. He seeks council with the Higher Elves of Summerset, determined to tame the insurrection within his homeland. This is troubling, as a downtrodden Cat on our doorstep is preferable to a dominion with Elvenkind in your back garden.

[What an appalling mixture of metaphors. I shall have to rewrite this section.]

My nerves calmed, I inspected a gift Ma'rashirr handed me as we parted company -- a Zwinthodurrarr, or yellow writing stick. I used it to sketch the bright, elegant entrance, and the decorative doors of Dune, finding my new implement -- and Khajiiti architecture -- most pleasing. While Cat-Men are certainly partial to bright colors, it borders on tasteful rather than garish, with flourishes of creative artisanship.

I walked the streets of Dune in the early afternoon. The painted pavilions and sculptures were intertwined with carvings of glinting golds, reds, and blacks, all beckoning you to take in their beauty and touch. The sandy thoroughfare I strolled upon was mostly dung-free, despite drovers passing, expertly wrangling their herds of cattle and horses.

I slowed as I passed hawkers sweetmeats and stopped to barter for a bag of caramelized goat nibbles. Delicious! There were no menacing shadows lurking at doorways. Instead, the heady aromas of freshly-made nectar bread loafs and honey pudding made my nostrils twitch. I gladly partook of a sample of Tenmar apricot liqueur. Delectable!

Amid the rabble of scurrying couriers, shouting peddlers, and well-to-do robed beast-men reclining in shaded tents and gazing out at the rumpus (the first time I'd witnessed a Khajiit without a task or purpose), I heard the skirling music pipes from the taverns. Intriguing... The Khajiit are sensualists and live to enjoy themselves.

The ambrosial aroma of the Sweet Plethora teahouse drew me in. Amid the finery, intricately woven tapestries of the moons' paths, and the cross-legged Khajiit, I sat down to paint and sample the various syrupy infusions being brewed. The pot of treacle tea was a little too sickly sweet for my palate, so I nibbled on a candied beet and waited for my jar of sorghum sweetmilk. That left a metallic taste in my mouth. I ordered a cup of myrrh-tansy and was enjoying it immensely when I noticed I was being watched.

Across the room, an Imperial woman was staring intently at me. Perhaps and agent wanting the preliminary sketches for my guide? No, she bore no insignia. She dipped her hand below the table and made a gesture I found most unnerving. The clasp of the fingers and spreading of the palm. This was a signal I am certain the Worm Cult used. But she hadn't the robed attire. What, now I couldn't trust anyone? I gulped down my tea and left by the rear door.

She followed. I panicked and ran.

I felt a foot blister burst as I sprinted down exactly the type of alley I'd sworn never to run down again. I turned several corners, weaving away from my pursuer, until I heard the faint sounds of a crowd chattering in the distance. Rushing through a double gate toward the throng, I stumbled and fell headlong into the arms of a tall and angular Khajiit with scars across his arms and face. I looked up, gasping for the breath to let him now my quandary.

"I, Jobasha-do, welcome you to your death."

Handled inappropriately by large paws, I was thrust into a large, sand-covered area where I stumbled about in a tizzy. Circled on all sides by high walls and a baying crowd and stripped of all possessions save a strewn scimitar I'd been thrown, I realized my predicament. A young female Khajiit was running at me. Instinctively, I dropped my weapon to surrender and backed up.

"Zara thinks you may be outmatched in the Thizzrini Arena, Imperial!" she shouted, tossing me back my blade.

The backwoods of Cyrodiil, and indeed any stretch of rarely-traversed common land across Tamriel, may be home to one of Tamriel's basest aberrations, the Ogre. Peek into a den of sticks or the shallow cave of a rocky hillock, and you may not meet a troll or a wolf but a small community of these primitive creatures. Often it is best to leave their hunting land fallow, as they tend to shy away from our thresholds and keep other marauders in check. If an Ogre is presenting you with some difficulty, you are obliged to contact the nearest town guard. For a nominal fee, a raiding party can easily dispatch such a foe.

Ogres have not the intelligence to argue a point and take a primal enjoyment when mashing den intruders into malformed corpses. The hunt for food and gather necessities, and enjoy life on Nirn no more than that, with the exception of when employing their considerable strength to wrench apart foes or lob large rocks at them. Fortunately, the Ogres' ponderous nature enables nimble opponents to avoid such attacks. AS for their coloration, Phrastus of Elinhir's speculation that their blue-gray skin camouflages their tall silhouetted forms against the sky has been conclusively controverted by Lady Cinnabar of Taneth, so we are no closer to solving that riddle: one cannot simply walk up to an Ogre and ask.

"I'm not a pit fighter!" I yelled back, catching the weapon by the correct end.

"Try to pretend, yes?" she replied, motioning to an open gate, out of which bounded a young senche-tiger. I scrabbled in the dirt for a crescent-shaped shield and stood my ground.

The tiger leapt for me. Clutching the handle, I braced as the animal clanged off the shield and onto Zara's impaling spear.

"Flaccus may have some combative boldness, like his brother!" I yelled at Zara with a manic grin. Then I wondered why I'd started to mimic Khajiiti verbal mannerisms.

"Ogre!" Zara shouted, pointing to a second gate. Something huge and blue-gray lumbered out of the cages, tore a section of masonry from the gate arch, and lobbed it across the arena. It thudded inches away from me. I babbled a prayer to Arkay as my bravery left me.

I recall being slightly annoyed at the crowd pelting me with spoiled fruit as I abstained completely from combat. My chest-brand and heart were both burning as I slowed. My vigor spent, I could run no more. With the cobalt beast bearing down on me, I cowered as it raised a massive first for a deathly pummel.

The Ogre bellowed as both its hamstrings were severed by Zara's swift cuts. Blood flew from its knees as it swayed and lurched. Then a Cat was on the Ogre's hunched back, cutting its throat with an expert dissection. The Ogre was dead before it crashed to the ground.

What a team we made.

Stride through any Khajiiti settlement, whether a ramshackle northern encampment or an austere southern town, and you will notice the Two-Moons Temple -- always the most expansive structure. Built to last and utilizing the finest local materials, this place of worship is central to Khajiiti society. Although the Cat-Men deem the Divines as preeminent (and their sanctuary offers prayers to bastardizations of our own Eight), they believe in the Lunar Lattice -- or the movement of Masser and Secunda -- influences all matters of luck, destiny, and happenstance, a belief Venustinius Perquitienus has termed a "hybrid heresy."

Khajiiti dogma reveres the moons as divine, furnishing life into the bodies of the Cat-Men by ingestion of moon-sugar, a sacred ingredient that can also be refined into a hallucinatory contraband. [[Why be coy? Everyone knows it's called Skooma.]] Although used both for culinary and ritualistic purposes, it can be easily blended to form a wretched and illegal narcotic. Such wanton delirium seems to be kept in check by a hierarchy of Moon-Bishops who regulate these ingestions, which play a small part in Khajiiti ceremonies. The clergy mainly concerns itself with conducting services, rounding up fallen followers, and ruling on theological matters. If an impasse is reached, the issue isresolved by the Mane himself.

The absolute rulers of the Lunar Lattice, Manes are the most powerful of the Khajiit outside the clan-chiefs and kings of Elsweyr. They may be a key official to bribe, corrupt, or remove should forthcoming hostilities occur on our southern border. Of further interest is the succession ritual for the Mane; when one expires, a sacred ritual determines his successor. A Moon Herald is appointed to shepherd the potential aspirants on what Khajiiti texts describes as an epic and dangerous quest to the Two Moons themselves, with the sole returning candidate declared the new Mane.

The assumption that the lay Cat travels astrally to our moons is preposterous; Venustinius Perquitienus has termed it "nauseous balderdash," and rightly so.

After profuse apologies by the arena attendant for my panic and inadvertent exposure to the deadlier side of Khajiiti culture, I limped out of the Thizzrini Arena and waited for Zara to collect her winnings. She offered me some coin, which I thought inappropriately gracious of her. I refused, but confessed to my jeopardy and the relentlessness of my enemies, the Daedric cultists. Mercifully, Zara suggested she accompany me.

Being quite devout, Zara was determined to visit the Two-Moons Temple to make an offering. Anxious to see evidence of Khajiiti culture that didn't involve slaughter, I agreed and we made our way to an impressive sanctuary which I was delighted to sketch. Zara donned a ceremonial budi -- or shirt -- fastened with braids down the right side, which does not permit the torso fur to be uncovered, for such is believed to be highly indecorous. She told me she always heads here after a fight to give thanks to Jone, Jode, and Alkosh.

Soon, the hallways echoed with her oaths to partly heretical deities: "Roar of Alkosh!"

I wish I had the fur and whiskers to fully appreciate such a cathedral of the Cat. Although the outer chambers had sustained damage over the centuries (most recently from skirmishes with marauding Khajiiti refugees from the corrupt Senchal region), the inner basilica held a wealth of meticulously carved masonry, including stone idols to minor deities I had no previous knowledge of.

Zara was deep in purring prayer to Alkosh, and I was seated in the cloisters outlining a drawing of an inner pulpit, when I was approached by an older Cat-Man in a ceremonial budi. I got up to leave but was quietly motioned to stay by Moon-Bishop Hunal.

"You run with some speed and dexterity, Shaveskin. You would be formidable if your play with blade matched your genius at evasion. Still, your display in the arena was spotless, I think."

By now, the sly disparagement was starting to grate slightly. But this was no caravan roustabout I was speaking with: I offered a fawning reply and unrolled my Imperial credentials. He waved them back into my satchel.

"We recognize your bona fides, Flaccus Terentius. Judging by your paunch, you enjoy eating? To make amends over your recent discomfort in our arena, you are to dine with myself and Telenger the Artificer, a High Elf envoy from Summerset. You would be honored to accept, I'm sure. We would be accepting of you and your warrior friend's agreement, yes?"

Zara had arrived by my side. It was odd to see her so circumspect -- I'd never seen a Khajiit blush before -- but I took her to one side, mentioned my worries about the Worm Anchorites, and prevailed on her to join me.

Dried sugarmeat for the visitors and jumping rodent morsels for the Khajiit at the table. I requested a dram of two-moon cordial. Than the introductions were made. I was particularly delighted to make the acquaintance of the High Elf Telenger, who, despite his stretched and pinched frame and a predisposition to talk down to everyone at the feast, was my connection to visiting the insular Summerset. After chitchat about the ongoing concord with the Cats, I plucked up the effrontery to ask for an escort to the Isles.

He pulled back his draped hood to reveal a pair of piercing blue eyes and looked me up and down.

"My Swan Ship sails to the Isles on the morrow, Imperial. Leave your protector with her own people. I can guarantee you safe passage."

I accepted most gracefully, although Zara seemed to stare sorrowfully into her plum brandy for a while.

Deities venerated by the Khajiit are almost as numerous as the Eight Divines. Rajhin the Purring Liar is a favorite among storytellers. Magrus the Sun God and Azurah the Goddess of Dusk and Dawn appeal to magicians. Sheggorath the Mad Skooma Cat appears to those soft in the head. Hircine the Skinchanger is worshiped by hunters. Sangiin the God of Death and Secret Murder is prayed to in hushed tones and in forbidden shrines. Namiira the Great Darkness is appeased by
the jealous, angered, and maligned. Lorkhaj the Missing God is reviled, as he trapped them in mortal form; his image is spat upon, not revered.

Perceptive scholars of the Daedra may recognize that these lower spirits have easily identifiable aspects or counterparts in the realms of man, though even the most pious Khajiiti spiritualist would have only a vague notion of the difference between Aedra and Daedra. To a Khajiit, it is only after they seek the power of the Moons that they placate or implore other entities, almost on a whim.

[This agrees with what I saw of the worshipers at Two-Moons Temple.]

 

Sugarbelly

Author: 
Azmu-ra

A Walker's Guide to Happy Senche-Tigers

by Azmu-ra

The mind of the senche-tiger is like its tail, weaving impossible shapes before pouncing on its prey. If you are that prey, too bad for you! But grab hold of the tail and the senche-tiger does exactly as you want, so long as your grip remains firm.

In theory one could lead a senche-tiger about by its tail forever, but Azmu-ra does not recommend it. Senches are quite fast, very strong, and entirely capable of holding a grudge! Much better to sieze the mind, but how to do this?

First understand that, like Khajiit, the senche-tigers have a powerful sweet tooth. They also have fine noses and will track moon-sugar down wherever it hides. In pockets, through walls, in the bellies of close friends—anywhere.

Fortunately, the senche-tiger's appetite for sugar is only so great. By keeping your senche-tiger on a steady diet, you can manage its more aggressive desires with more useful pursuits, like rat-catching. You need only know how much moon-sugar is enough moon-sugar.

This is where it gets tricky. The senche sweet tooth waxes and wanes with the moons, starting with the phase under which it was born and ending with its lunar opposites. Size is a factor, also, as larger senche require more moon-sugar!

Some trainers can determine a senche-tiger's appetite for moon-sugar by consulting the local Two Moons, but Azmu-ra does not recommend this. A priestess is not always on hand, and keeping both the temple and your senche supplied with moon-sugar is an expensive proposition!

Also, senche-tigers grow swiftly. Unless fully grown, their appetites will change. Many would-be trainers have little time to regret a low stock of moon-sugar! The resulting carnage is never pretty.

Better to keep a stockpile of moon-sugar on hand. The senche eats until sated, and what is left can be used to ice the sweet roll, spice the pudding, or make delectable moon candy.

Once full of moon-sugar, a senche-tiger wants only two things: meat to fill its belly and a sunny place to bask. This makes them suited to guarding fields and hunting game, but this is about all they can do without years of training. Even then, training can only go so far.

For example, motivating senches to pull farming equipment is not recommended. If your senche-tiger should deign to endure the harness, it will still be inclined to chase anything larger than a field mouse that it spots across the fields. Save yourself the trouble of collecting scattered plows!

While other trainers have had some success with watch-senche and battle-senche, Azmu-ra would strongly discourage training them to eat people unless you are strong and good at fighting. Even then, this one would not recommend it. A senche-tiger's loyalty reaches only so far as its belly, yes?

Hopefully this guide helped you avoid being eaten by your favorite senche-tiger. If not, well … Azmu-ra made no promises!