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five year war

Cherim's Heart

Author: 
Livillus Perus

Interviews With Tapestrists
Volume Eighteen

Cherim's Heart of Anequina
by Livillus Perus, Professor at the Imperial University
 

Contemporary with Maqamat Lusign (interviewed in volume seventeen of this series) is the Khajiti Cherim, whose tapestries have been hailed as masterpieces all over the Empire for nigh on thirty years now. His four factories located throughout Elsweyr make reproductions of his work, but his original tapestries command stellar prices. The Emperor himself owns ten Cherim tapestries, and his representatives are currently negotiating the sale of five more.

The muted use of color contrasted with the luminous skin tones of Cherim's subjects is a marked contrast with the old style of tapestry. The subjects of his work in recent years have been fabulous tales of the ancient past: the Gods meeting to discuss the formation of the world; the Chimer following the Prophet Veloth into Morrowind; the Wild Elves battling Morihaus and his legions at the White Gold Tower. His earliest designs dealt with more contemporary subjects. I had the opportunity to discuss with him one of his first masterpieces, The Heart of Anequina, at his villa in Orcrest.

The Heart of Anequina presents an historic battle of the Five Year War between Elsweyr and Valenwood which raged from 3E 394 (or 3E 395, depending on what one considers to be the beginning of the war) until 3E 399. In most fair accounts, the war lasted 4 years and 9 months, but artistic license from the great epic poets added an additional three months to the ordeal.

The actual details of the battle itself, as interpreted by Cherim, are explicit. The faces of a hundred and twenty Wood Elf archers can be differentiated one from the other, each registering fear at the approach of the Khajiti army. Their hauberks catch the dim light of the sun. The menacing shadows of the Elsweyr battlecats loom on the hills, every muscle strained, ready to pounce in command. It is not surprising that he got all the details right, because Cherim was in the midst of it, as a Khajiti foot soldier.

Every minute part of the Khajiti traditional armor can be seen in the soldiers in the foreground. The embroidered edging and striped patterns on the tunics. Each lacquered plate on loose-fitting leather in the Elsweyr style. The helmets of cloth and fluted silver.

"Cherim does not understand the point of plate mail," said Cherim. "It is hot, for one, like being both burned and buried alive. Cherim wore it at the insistence of our Nord advisors during the Battle of Zelinin, and Cherim couldn't even turn to see what my fellow Khajiit were doing. Cherim did some sketches for a tapestry of the Battle of Zelinin, but Cherim finds that to make it realistic, the figures came out very mechanical, like iron golems or dwemer centurions. Knowing our Khajiti commanders, Cherim would not be surprised if giving up the heavy plate was more aesthetic than practical."

"Elsweyr lost the Battle of Zelinin, didn't she?"

"Yes, but Elsweyr won the war, starting at the next battle, the Heart of Anequina," said Cherim with a smile. "The tide turned as soon as we Khajiit sent our Nordic advisors back to Solitude. We had to get rid of all the heavy armor they brought to us and find enough traditional armor our troops felt comfortable wearing. Obviously, the principle advantage of the traditional armor was that we could move easily in it, as you can see from the natural stances of the soldiers in the tapestry.

"Now if you look at this poor perforated Cathay-raht who just keeps battling on in the bottom background, you see the other advantage. It seems strange to say, but one of the best features of traditional armor is that an arrow will either deflect completely or pass all the way through. An arrow head is like a hook, made to stick where it strikes if it doesn't pass through. A soldier in traditional armor will find himself with a hole in his body and the bolt on the other side. Our healers can fix such a wound easily if it isn't fatal, but if the arrow still remains in the armor, as it does with heavier armor, the wound will be reopened every time the fellow moves. Unless the Khajiit strips off the armor and pulls out the arrow, which is what we had to do at the Battle of Zelinin. A difficult and time-consuming process in the heat of battle, to say the least."

I asked him next, "Is there a self portrait in the battle?"

"Yes," Cherim said with another grin. "You see the small figure of the Khajiit stealing the rings off the dead Wood Elf? His back is facing you, but he has a brown and orange striped tail like Cherim's. Cherim does not say that all stereotypes about the Khajiit are fair, but Cherim must sometimes acknowledge them."

A self-deprecating style in self-portraiture is also evident in the tapestries of Ranulf Hook, the next artist interviewed in volume nineteen of this series.

Sugar and Blood: The Cats of the South

Author: 
Imperial Geographical Society

Map of Elsweyr

It is said that a hundred civilizations are buried beneath the sands of Elsweyr, and it may be unwise to assume our current Empire will forever stand above the shifting sands of the desert province. The Khajiit who occupy the southern land between Black Marsh and Valenwood have always been a restless people, and prove regularly that nothing in Tamriel is immortal.

History

Khajiit are commonly considered one of the beast folks, one of the few survivors of the original inhabitants of Tamriel before the coming of mer and man, and Elsweyr is their home. This tradition is not, of course, accepted by one and all. Alternate theories abound that their origin, based mainly around the fact that one of the breeds of Khajiit, the Ohmes-Raht, so closely resembles the elven folk that they could be cousins. Some believe that the Khajiit are simply descendant of the original Aldmer settlers in Tamriel, who evolved, like the Altmer, Bosmer, Dunmer, and Orsimer, because of circumstance, ito the cat-like race that walks the dunes of Elsweyr. If so, they are just one more of the alien, sentient species who have made themselves so much a part of Tamriel to be confused for natives.

Khajiit RaceThe more commonly held belief, however, is that they were not foreign intelligent creatures who became cats to survive the hostile, arid land of Elsweyr, but they were indigenous cats whose knack for change allowed them to survive while other native creatures declined and disappeared. It is strange to think that so inhospitable a land, of blistering heat and crop destroying wind, would have been the fecund womb for one of the original predators of Tamriel, but that seems to be the unlikely likelihood.

Topal the Pilot in his peregrinations around Tamriel encountered the Khajiit not in Elsweyr, but far up the Niben River, close to the Imperial City, where they preyed on the native creatures, and caused his crew much distress as they stalked the river banks. We have records too from the Merethic Bosmer that certain parts of Valenwood were to be avoided for fear of the great jungle cat men. It may be comfortably surmised that the Khajiit, though most at home in the deserts, reigned as the dominant culture across southern Tamriel in ancient days.

The Khajiit kingdoms were simply a fact when historian began to put quill to paper and record life for posterity. When the early human settlers in Tamriel were only just beginning to understand what plants grew where under what circumstance, there were already mercantile caravans in modern day Rimmen; when the transplanted natives of Atmora and Aldemeris were vying for dominance in the north, the Khajiit had already developed a sophisticated culture in the south.

In the early First Era, there were sixteen independent realms in Elsweyr. Unlike typical human and elvish kingdoms, these regions did not compete with one another for land and power. Earlier versions of this Guide spoke of tribal conflict, but the truth was quite the opposite in the earliest Khajiit society. Recognizing their own idiosyncratic characters and strengths, each territory specialized in one specific duty, supplying its neighbors with its bounty in exchange for equal measure. Ne Quin-al, where great warriors were born and trained - its Temple of Two-Moons Dance is famous even in our day - might trade its warriors to Torval in exchange for fish and other bounties of the sea. The dominance of each region was checked by the moons. It was said that when both moons were full, Ne Quin-al was in dominance; when both moons were half, Torval; when both moons were new, Senchal. The other regions too had their days of power and influence.

For thousand years this delicate astronomic and political dance was equal to facing every threat posed against the Khajiit. The Alessian Empire chose not to extend its borders too far south, and Bosmer of Valenwood likewise knew how far eastward they dared to extend their kingdom. But the terrible Thrassian Plague of 1E 2260 finally upset this balance forever. Traveling down the trade routes into the heart of Elsweyr, the plague decimated the Khajiit, forcing the survivors into roles they did not choose. Thus was the province turned from sixteen states to only two: Pa'alatiin and Ne Quin-al, more commonly known by their Cyrodilic names of Pellitine and Anequina.

ElsweyrThe two kingdoms, of course, represented the moons at their extremes, but also radically different interpretarions of Khajiit culture, which they adopted from the tribes each had absorbed. The people of Pellitine considered their neighbors in Anequina to be uncouth barbarians, while the Anequinians looked to the south, and saw only decadence and depravity. For many more centuries, the two lands fought, neither gaining appreciable ground. The South had the wealth and could hire mercenaries and withstand sieges, but the North had a warrior culture, and could never be dominated.

When the two united in 309th year of the 2nd Era with the marriage of Kiergo of Anequina and Eshita of Pellitine, the two rulers fully recognized how historic their pact was, and renamed their land accordingly, to Elsweyr. The derivation of this unusual name has perplexed scholars. One commonly held rationale hinges on a particular Khajiit proverb that "a perfect society is always found elsewhere," suggesting that the new King and Queen had that aim, and that sense of humor. Another is that it is reference to Llesw'er, a paradise promised to the Khajiit by the Riddle'Thar. Either possibility points to an optimism which was not to be matched by reality.

The following centuries into and including the Third Era have been times of intermittent strife among the Khajiit of Elsweyr. Successive spiritual leaders, known as Manes, occasionally brought tenuous peace to the land, but never for long. The Khajiit have found security in being absorbed into the Cyrodilic and then the Septim Empires, only to rebel against both. They have sought solace in their rich literary tradition, finding the tales of Rajhin the Thief to speak to their people, but they have stopped the flow of books into their land, for fear of Imperial propaganda. They have tried to enrich their pockets with drug-trafficking, only to enslave their minds to moonsugar. They have engaged in wars with Valenwood on grounds that have constantly shifted, like the sands of Elsweyr itself.

It may be fair to say that Elsweyr is in crisis. And it may further be accurate to say that such chaos is home.

Current Events

The Five Year War with Valenwood shifted the borders of Elsweyr slightly west, taking both banks of the Xylo River. At the end of the Imperial Simulacrum, a diplomatic attempt was made to return the land to Valenwood, but the Khajiit settlers who had already claimed the land refused to move. The Empire eventually found that it was best to leave the situation as it was, possibly persuaded by legal proof that the land rightly belonged to the Khajiit by ancient treaty, and to keep a dangerous situation from getting worse.

Elsweyr's overall territory, however, has not increased, due to a border arrangement which was not it that nation's favor. In the east, the long disputed border with the Cyrodilic County Leyawiin was recently resolved in Cyrodiil's favor, after an agreement between the current Mane and the Count of Leyawiin. But a group of Khajiit bandits known as the Renrijra Krin has taken up the cause of returning the land to Elsweyr, and the West Niben remains a trouble spot.

The harbor city of Senchal, long considered one of the most dangerous slums in Tamriel, has had a remarkable renaissance, from principle port of the drug trade, to coastal resort for wealthy, powerful Khajiit. That glimmer of good news belies the fact that the moonsugar trade in Elsweyr has increased multifold in the last twenty years. Ya'Tirrje, the Gold Cat, is rumored to even have a luxurious villa in Senchal, and helps pay for the abundant security that keeps the city safe and crime-free, all the while continuing his drug-smuggling business in Torval, Corinthe, and Rimmen.

Interviews With Tapestrists

Author: 
Livillus Perus, Professor at the Imperial University

Volume Eighteen
Cherim's Heart of Anequina

Contemporary with Maqamat Lusign (interviewed in volume seventeen of this series) is the Khajiti Cherim, whose tapestries have been hailed as masterpieces all over the Empire for nigh on thirty years now. His four factories located throughout Elsweyr make reproductions of his work, but his original tapestries command stellar prices. The Emperor himself owns ten Cherim tapestries, and his representatives are currently negotiating the sale of five more.

The muted use of color contrasted with the luminous skin tones of Cherim's subjects is a marked contrast with the old style of tapestry. The subjects of his work in recent years have been fabulous tales of the ancient past: the Gods meeting to discuss the formation of the world; the Chimer following the Prophet Veloth into Morrowind; the Wild Elves battling Morihaus and his legions at the White Gold Tower. His earliest designs dealt with more contemporary subjects. I had the opportunity to discuss with him one of his first masterpieces, The Heart of Anequina, at his villa in Orcrest.

The Heart of Anequina presents an historic battle of the Five Year War between Elsweyr and Valenwood which raged from 3E 394 (or 3E 395, depending on what one considers to be the beginning of the war) until 3E 399. In most fair accounts, the war lasted 4 years and 9 months, but artistic license from the great epic poets added an additional three months to the ordeal.

The actual details of the battle itself, as interpreted by Cherim, are explicit. The faces of a hundred and twenty Wood Elf archers can be differentiated one from the other, each registering fear at the approach of the Khajiti army. Their hauberks catch the dim light of the sun. The menacing shadows of the Elsweyr battlecats loom on the hills, every muscle strained, ready to pounce in command. It is not surprising that he got all the details right, because Cherim was in the midst of it, as a Khajiti foot soldier.

Every minute part of the Khajiti traditional armor can be seen in the soldiers in the foreground. The embroidered edging and striped patterns on the tunics. Each lacquered plate on loose-fitting leather in the Elsweyr style. The helmets of cloth and fluted silver.

"Cherim does not understand the point of plate mail," said Cherim. "It is hot, for one, like being both burned and buried alive. Cherim wore it at the insistence of our Nord advisors during the Battle of Zelinin, and Cherim couldn't even turn to see what my fellow Khajiit were doing. Cherim did some sketches for a tapestry of the Battle of Zelinin, but Cherim finds that to make it realistic, the figures came out very mechanical, like iron golems or dwemer centurions. Knowing our Khajiti commanders, Cherim would not be surprised if giving up the heavy plate was more aesthetic than practical."

"Elsweyr lost the Battle of Zelinin, didn't she?"

"Yes, but Elsweyr won the war, starting at the next battle, the Heart of Anequina," said Cherim with a smile. "The tide turned as soon as we Khajiit sent our Nordic advisors back to Solitude. We had to get rid of all the heavy armor they brought to us and find enough traditional armor our troops felt comfortable wearing. Obviously, the principle advantage of the traditional armor was that we could move easily in it, as you can see from the natural stances of the soldiers in the tapestry.

"Now if you look at this poor perforated Cathay-raht who just keeps battling on in the bottom background, you see the other advantage. It seems strange to say, but one of the best features of traditional armor is that an arrow will either deflect completely or pass all the way through. An arrow head is like a hook, made to stick where it strikes if it doesn't pass through. A soldier in traditional armor will find himself with a hole in his body and the bolt on the other side. Our healers can fix such a wound easily if it isn't fatal, but if the arrow still remains in the armor, as it does with heavier armor, the wound will be reopened every time the fellow moves. Unless the Khajiit strips off the armor and pulls out the arrow, which is what we had to do at the Battle of Zelinin. A difficult and time-consuming process in the heat of battle, to say the least."

I asked him next, "Is there a self portrait in the battle?"

"Yes," Cherim said with another grin. "You see the small figure of the Khajiit stealing the rings off the dead Wood Elf? His back is facing you, but he has a brown and orange striped tail like Cherim's. Cherim does not say that all stereotypes about the Khajiit are fair, but Cherim must sometimes acknowledge them."

A self-deprecating style in self-portraiture is also evident in the tapestries of Ranulf Hook, the next artist interviewed in volume nineteen of this series.