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Varieties of Faith: The Khajiit

Author: 
Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College

As fits their heterodoxy of form, the Khajiit worship many gods, and few confine themselves to the Imperial Eight.

The Eight:

Alkosh (Dragon King of Cats):
Pre-ri'Datta Dynasty Anequinine deity. A variation on the Altmeri Auri-El, and thus an Akatosh-as-culture-hero for the earliest Khajiit. His worship was co-opted during the establishment of the Riddle'Thar, and he still enjoys immense popularity in Elsweyr's wasteland regions. He is depicted as a fearsome dragon, a creature the Khajiit say "is just a real big cat." He repelled an early Aldmeri pogrom of Pelinal Whitestrake during mythic times.

Riddle'Thar (Two-Moons Dance):
The cosmic order deity of the Khajiit, the Riddle'Thar was revealed to Elsweyr by the prophet Rid-Thar-ri'Datta, the Mane. The Riddle'Thar is more a set of guidelines by which to live than a single entity, but some of his avatars like to appear as humble messengers of the gods. Also known as the Sugar God.

Jone and Jode (Little Moon God and Big Moon God):
Together, the moons represent duality, fate, and luck. In Khajiiti religion, Jone and Jode are aspects of the Lunar Lattice, or ja-Kha'jay.

Mara (Mother Cat):
Nearly universal goddess. Originally a fertility goddess, the Khajiit associate her with Nir of the "Anuad," the female principle of the cosmos. She is the lover of Alkosh.

S'rendarr (The Runt; God of Mercy):
S'rendarr's sphere includes compassion, charity, and justice. In early Aldmeri legends, S'rendarr is the apologist of Men.

Khenarthi (God of Winds):
Khenarthi is the strongest of the Sky spirits. In some legends, he is the first to agree to Lorkhaj's plan to invent the mortal plane, and provides the space for its creation in the void. He is also associated with rain, a phenomenon said not to occur before the removal of Lorkhaj's divine spark.

Baan Dar (The Bandit God):
In most regions, Baan Dar is a marginal deity, a trickster spirit of thieves and beggars. In Elsweyr he is more important, and is regarded as the Pariah. In this aspect, Baan Dar becomes the cleverness or desperate genius of the long-suffering Khajiit, whose last-minute plans always upset the machinations of their (Elven or Human) enemies. He has also lent his name to the Baandari Pedlars, the traveling Khajiiti merchant tribe.

Additional Deities with Significant Khajiiti Cults:

Magrus (Cat's Eye, Sun God):
Khajiiti version of Magnus, the god of the sun and sorcery, popular with Khajiiti magicians (though less so than Azurah).

Rajhin (The Footpad):
Thief and trickster god, the Purring Liar, much beloved of Khajiiti storytellers. Rajhin grew up in the Black Kiergo section of Senchal. The most famous burglar in Elsweyr's history, Rajhin is said to have stolen a tattoo from the neck of Empress Kintyra as she slept.

Azurah (Goddess of Dusk and Dawn):
Patron of Khajiiti magicians, respected rather than feared for her sometime trickery. In myth she is tied into the origins of Khajiiti out of Aldmeri stock.

Sheggorath (Skooma Cat, the Mad God):
The King of Insanity appeals to the darker side of the Cat-Men, who chafe at the strictures of sanity and responsibility.

Hircine (Hungry Cat):
God of hunting and skinchanging, revered for his fierceness and cunning.

Sangiin (Blood Cat):
God of Death and Secret Murder, Sangiin's worship is hidden from Cat's Eye. "For who can control the urges of blood?"

Namiira (The Great Darkness):
An enemy of the living, to be placated rather than worshiped.

Lorkhaj (Moon Beast):
Pre-ri'Datta Dynasty Anequinine deity, easily identified with the Missing God, Lorkhan. This Creator-Trickster-Tester deity is in every Tamrielic mythic tradition. He convinced or contrived the Original Spirits to bring about the creation of the mortal plane, upsetting the status quo—much like his father Padomay had introduced instability into the universe in the Beginning Place. After the world is materialized, Lorkhaj is separated from his divine center, sometimes involuntarily, and wanders the creation of the et'Ada. He and his metaphysical placement in the "scheme of things" is interpreted a variety of ways. In the legends, he is almost always an enemy of the Aldmer and, therefore, a hero of early Mankind.

The Moon Cats and their Dance

Author: 
Clan Mother Ahnissi (attributed to)

A hairless scholar came from his desert to ours and said, "I want to know the truth about the Khajiit."

And the Clan Mother said, "Only one? You are not very curious, hairless scholar."

The hairless scholar peered at the Clan Mother through little windows on his nose and said, "I want to know about your different breeds. Is it true that what phase of the moons you are born under determines your physical morphology?"

And the Clan Mother said, "Indeed, hairless scholar. I was born as Jode was waxing and Jone was new, so I am an Omhes-raht. My daughter here was born when Jode was waxing and Jone was full, so she is a Senche-raht. Thus we are nothing alike."

The scholar peered at mother and daughter and said, "You look very much the same to me."

And the Clan Mother said, "I have heard that those with round pupils have poor vision. It is a sadness."

The hairless scholar tapped his chin and said, "I want to know about your so-called Lunar Lattice. Is it true that the phases of the moons regulate every aspect of your lives?"

And the Clan Mother said, "Indeed, hairless scholar. Today is Suthay, when Jode is new and Jone is new, and we never stir the stew winter-shines."

The hairless scholar blinked and said, "You mean withershins, or retrograde? But that is exactly the way you're stirring your soup."

And the Clan Mother said, "But only from above. Perhaps your eyes only let you see things from one direction? That is a sadness."

The hairless scholar adjusted his nose-windows and said, "All right. Fine. Tell me of the Two Moons Dance. Is it true you Khajiit dance at the midnight hour to the light of the moons?"

And the Clan Mother said, "Indeed not. We dance the Two Moons Dance in every hour. It is our delight."

The hairless scholar said, "You're not dancing. You're sitting by the fire. Tell me when you're going to dance, so I can join you."

And the Clan Mother said, "My daughter and I dance to the moons at this moment, but you cannot join us, for you do not have a tail. It is a sadness."

The hairless scholar gnawed his knuckle and said, "Very well then. I hear that you have curious beliefs about the moons. Tell me of them."

And the Clan Mother said, "As you wish. When Lorkhaj made a place for Nirni's children, the darkness in his heart made it also a prison. So his heart was cut out and buried deep in Nirni, and his body was hurled to the moons but could not pass them, for it did not know the First Secret. Thus is his body the Dead Moon in the Lunar Lattice. See it, just there?"

The hairless scholar peered at the sky and said, "I see no moons at all—Masser and Secunda are both new. What do you mean?"

And the Clan Mother said, "Hairless scholar, this one forgot again about your eyes." And she sighed, and her tail danced, and she shrugged. And she said, "It is a sadness."

Moon-Sugar for Glossy Fur? Yes!

Author: 
Rathuni-la Dawnwhisker, Daughter of Azurah

This one brings you good news, my cats and kittens, tigers and tigresses—especially for everyone who loves moon-sugar! And that's all of us, isn't it, my lion-hearts, because admit it: nothing makes our tails twitch like a moon-sugar-glazed sweet roll!

If you're like Rathuni, this one knows you were positively reeling last Sun's Dawn at Abbess Mizzi's song-paper, in which she reported that it's not just the vile drug skooma that's bad for you, but our beloved moon-sugar itself! She declared that over-consumption of the Queen of Sweets is responsible for anxiety, droop-ear, sudden weight gain, and even the panting quivers. Imagine!

Her song-paper spread panic across the kitchens of cat-kind, as we all tried to find substitutes for moon-sugar molasses and granule loaves. Prices of moon-sugar-cane plummeted, while sorghum and sweet-beets suddenly vanished from the markets! Personally, this one was beside herself when she was tapped to provide the sweetcake provender for the Riverhold Mid Year festival. Somehow, the petit-paws just weren't the same. So mortifying!

But I promised you good news, didn't I, litter-mates? And here it is: after simply months of alchemical research, generously sponsored by the Canefield Farmers' Alliance, this one is here to tell you of her complete inability to duplicate Abbess Mizzi's results. (One can only conclude that the abbess—who is getting on in her lives, poor dear—made an error in her calculations somewhere.) My research shows that consumption of moon-sugar in normal moderation does not generate any of the dire effects alleged in that scary Sun's Dawn song-paper.

In fact—and here's the best part, though I fear the title of my song-paper has spoiled the surprise, hasn't it?—regular consumption of non-distilled moon-sugar derivatives is actually what gives a Khajiit the gloss in her fur! Yes, my lion-hearts: we can have the sweets we love, as well as shiny, split-end-free coats. (And no wonder my pelt was looking so dull lately!)

So there you have it, kitten darlings! Isn't it Rathuni-la who always brings you the catnip? You know it is, leopard-loves. This one will just leave you with a quick recipe for my clan mother's Moon-Sugar Biscuits. Here it is—and enjoy!

— 3 mugs moon-sugar
— mug of water
— 1 pat suet
— shifted flour
— red wheat flour

Mix the dry ingredients together. Next slowly add the dry mix to the moon-sugar, mixing constantly. Scoop out dough with a spoon and place on a hot rock or in a cooling oven until golden brown. Serves three (… or maybe just you!).

Litter-Mates of Darkness

Author: 
Moon-Bishop Hunal

NEW:
To speak of the dark gambol of the dro-m'Athra.

 

WAX:
When true cats die, their souls are lifted by Khenarthi and flown to the Sands Behind the Stars, to play and prey until the Next Pounce.

When bent cats die, their souls are dragged down by Namiira into the Dark Behind the World, to serve the Heart of Lorkhaj until their tails are straight.

 

FULL:
These, then, become the Dancers in the Darks, where they whirl to no music but the beating of the Heart. Sometimes these dancers seep up through the cracks in Nirni to the moonlit world, and walk among us as if made of moonless night. Then we call them dro-m'Athra. And this is a name of fear.

For a true cat to see a dro-m'Athra do the Bent Dance is to feel his tail twitch in time, and feel the pull of the Darks. As each twitch pulls the true cat further from the moons-light, the cat's shadow grows longer and more bent. And if the tide of the Darks grows greater than the tide of the Lights, the true cat is lost, and becomes a bent cat.

Then comes the true peril, for a dro-m'Athra can twist out a bent cat's soul, and send it through the cracks to the Darks. Once it hears the beating of the Heart it, too, will dance bent.

It is hard to stop. One night all the villagers of Lohrn were found dancing the Bent Dance. Now we do not go there.

 

WANE:
To banish the dro-m'Athra, there are two ways: the Way of Jone and the Way of Jode.

Warriors use the Way of Jone, which is to unsheathe the claws and strike the darkness until it is no more. And this way is a good way, for everyone who is strong of heart and claw can use it.

Priests use the Way of Jode, which is to bathe the moonless dark in bright lunar light. And this way is a better way, for bent spirits thus banished do not return.

Threat of the Baandari Pedlars

Author: 
Zuladr, High Priest of Satakalaam

This week, O faithful ones, my sermon is not a homily or a parable, but a warning: a warning to all true Redguards to beware the wiles of the devilish cat-people, those thieves and heretics who infest the fields outside our gates and call themselves Baandari Pedlars.

Long have we known that these itinerant beast-people use the mask of merchant to hide their true trades of theft, fraud, and chicanery. Why, then, do the magistrates continue to allow them to set up camp before the gates of our towns? Why are they not driven from our lands and never allowed to return?

Clearly other powers are at work here, infidel powers of sacrilege and evil. How else to explain the folly of those who patronize these creatures, and the blindness of those in authority who tolerate their open pandering and vice?

"But how do you know this, O Zuladr?" you may ask. "How has this truth been revealed unto you?"

And I ask you: what do we say when someone sneezes? We say, "Tu'whacca bless you"—do we not? And why do we say this? Because, as the ancient writings tell us, a sneeze is a sign of the presence of an evil spirit.
And what happens to many of the faithful, myself very much included, when in the presence of one of these cat-people? We sneeze. We sneeze, our very eyes water, and we sneeze again.

Heed, I say hearken to the warning of Tu'whacca. These Baandari are evil spirits incarnate. Abjure their company, avoid their camp, suffer not their tainted wares to be brought into your abode.

Khajiiti Arms and Armor

Author: 
Anonymous

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 Cat-Folk's naturally lithe frame and dexterity favors more lightweight protection. The Khajiiti abhor restraint and encumbrance, and their craftsfolk are diligent about providing armor to augment their prowling form. 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 expects 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 their own slashing, clawed hands. Occasionally these claw shapes extend to ritual tridents and the savage points on their longbow arrows or javelins

Moon Worship among the Cat-Men

Author: 
Cirantille

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-Man deems the Divines as preeminent (and their sanctuary offers prayers to bastardizations of our own Eight), they believe 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-Man by ingestion of moon sugar, a sacred ingredient that can also be refined into a hallucinatory contraband. Although used for both culinary and ritualistic purposes, it can be easily distilled to form skooma, 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 is resolved by the Mane himself.

The absolute rulers of the Lunar Lattice, Manes are the most powerful of the Khajiit outside the clan-chiefs and king of Elsweyr. They may be a key official to bribe, corrupt, or remove should forthcoming hostilities occur to 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 text describes as an epic and dangerous quest to the surface of 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.

Thalmor Handbill

Author: 
Aicantar of Shimmerene, Sapiarch of Indoctrination

Loyal citizen of the Isles, heed the statement of the Thalmor. Bear witness to these words about our new allies, the Khajiit and the Wood Elves.

Integration with our new Wood Elf and Khajiiti allies continues apace. To promote Alliance harmony, loyal Thalmor agents have drawn together this short list of helpful notices. Follow this mandatory guidance with cheer, and our new allies will look on you with favor.

— Do not refer to Khajiit as "cats," "kitties," "fuzzies," or any other derogatory feline-based term.

— Khajiiti delicacies are often very sweet, or spiced with the exotic substance known as moon-sugar. Diners beware.

— Do not touch a Khajiit's tail without permission.

— Our Khajiiti allies have a unique dialect. Mocking their speech, or imitating it, is considered quite rude and non-Aldmeri.

— When inviting a Wood Elf to dine, know that the resources of the forest are sacred to them. Serve venison, but no salads.

— Do not refer to Wood Elves as "shorties," "runties," or any other derogatory height-based terms.

— Have a care when imbibing Wood Elf brews, as their beverages are very different than our own.

— Do not imply to Wood Elves that they are cannibals, or ask them about how they dispose of their dead.

Eagles, Unite!

Racial Motifs 7: The Khajiit

Author: 
Doctor Alfidia Lupus

When I went to the professor's townhouse this morning, my first priority was to apologize to Divayth, but Seif-ij told me he was out—he'd gone somewhere from the portal chamber, using an incantation and leaving nothing behind but a burnt smell. Onward, I told myself: work will take your mind off it. So I went looking for Morian.

I found the old dear at breakfast, just finishing his sweet roll and chal. When I entered the kitchen, he nearly knocked over his mug in his haste to stand up and bow! I told him I wanted to make some notes on the Khajiit and asked him if he knew any of the Cat-Folk, as I did not. He said he knew exactly the person I needed and would be delighted to help me, since "that irascible Telvanni" had taken the day off.

I had often passed the seasonal camp of the Baandari Pedlars outside the Market Gate but had never gone in—residual caution from my father's warnings keeping me out, I suppose, as well as the pungent scent. Besides, I've always been a dog person. But Morian plunged right in without hesitation and led me to a pavilion adorned with colorful prayer-flags. I followed Morian into the tent, where he introduced me to Madame Shizahi-jo, whom he said was a Khajiiti sorceress devoted to Azurah and Magrus. Though sitting in lotus position, she bowed politely—the Cat-Folk are lissome—gestured to a pair of seat cushions, and asked how "this one" could be of service.

We had a long and lovely chat. There are superficial similarities between the motifs and designs of the Khajiit and the Redguards, perhaps because they both inhabit hot, arid environments, but where the Redguards favor long, flowing curves, the Cat-Folk are devoted to circular and crescentiform moon-shapes. The shapes of Masser and Secunda in all their phases appear everywhere on Khajiiti clothing and ornaments. The falcate sliver of the crescent moon also brings to mind the Khajiiti claws that spring from pads in their hands and feet, a subtle but ever-present threat to softer folk.

Shizahi-jo made us some tea—sticky sweet, like all Khajiiti food and drink—then asked to see the leaves in the bottom of my cup. She stirred them with her pinky-claw, and said now she saw the object of my concern: I'd let my fear cloud my longing and darken my heart. I blurted something about how Divayth had tried to kiss me, and Morian dropped his cup, splattering poor Shizahi.

I thought he was going to explode in rage, but instead this sad look came over him, and then he began pouring out his heart about his feelings for me. It was so sweet of him. I was really quite moved. The Khajiiti mage made a discreet exit, and we stayed on her cushions, talking, for what seemed like hours.

Mixed Unit Tactics

Author: 
Codus Callonus

Mixed Unit Tactics
in the Five Years War
Volume One

By
Codus Callonus

The Legions could learn from the unconventional tactics used by the Khajiit in the Five Years War against Valenwood. I was stationed at the Sphinxmoth Legion Fort on the border near Dune and witnessed many of the northern skirmishes firsthand.

The war started with the so-called "Slaughter of Torval." The Khajiit claim that the Bosmer invaded the city without provocation and killed over a thousand citizens before being driven off by reinforcements from a nearby jungle tribe. The Bosmer claim that the attack was in retaliation for Khajiti bandits who were attacking wood caravans headed for Valenwood.

In the spring of 3E 396 the war moved closer to Fort Sphinxmoth. I was posted on lookout and saw parts of the conflict. I later spoke with both Khajiit and Bosmer who fought in the battle, and it will serve as an excellent example of how the Khajiit used a mixture of ground and tree units to win the war.

The Khajiit began the fight in an unusual way by sending tree-cutting teams of Cathay-raht and the fearsome Senche-raht or "Battlecats" into the outskirts of Valenwood's forests. When word reached the Bosmer that trees were being felled (allegedly a crime in the strange Bosmeri religion), a unit of archers were dispatched from larger conflicts in the south. The Bosmer were thus goaded into splitting their forces into smaller groups.

The Bosmer archers took up positions in the remaining trees whose branches were now twenty or more feet apart, allowing some light into the forest floor. The Bosmer bent the remaining trees with their magics into small fortifications from which to fire their bows.

When the tree-cutters arrived the next morning, a half dozen Khajiit fell to the Bosmer arrows in the first volley. After that the Khajiit took large wooden shields from the backs of the Senche-raht and made a crude shelter. The Khajiit, even the enormous Senche-raht, were able to hide between this shelter and one of the larger trees. When it became apparent that the Khajiit would not leave their shelter, some Bosmer chose to descend and engage the Khajiit sword-to-claw.

When the Bosmer were nearly upon the shelter, one of the Khajiit began playing on a native instrument of plucked metal bars. This was a signal of some kind, and a small group of the man-like Ohmes and Ohmes-raht emerged from covered holes on the forest floor. Although outnumbered, they were attacking from behind by surprise and won the ground quickly.

The Bosmer archers in the trees would have still won the battle were they not having troubles of their own. A group of Dagi and Dagi-raht, two of the less common forms of Khajiit who live in the trees of the Tenmar forest, jumped from one tree to another under a magical cover of silence. They took up positions in the higher branches that could not hold a Bosmer's weight. When the signal came, they used their claws and either torches or spells of fire (accounts from the two survivors I spoke with vary on this point) to distract the archers while the battle on the ground took place. A few of the archers were able to flee, but most were killed.

Apparently the Dagi and Dagi-raht have more magical ability than is widely believed if they were able to keep themselves magically silenced for so long. One of the surviving Bosmer told me that he saw a few ordinary cats among the Dagi and even claimed that these ordinary cats are known as 'Alfiq' and that they were the spellcasters, but Bosmer are almost as unreliable as the Khajiit when it comes to the truth, and I cannot believe that a housecat can cast spells.

At the end of the day the Khajiit lost perhaps a half-dozen fighters out a force of no more than four dozen, while the Bosmer lost nearly an entire company of archers. The survivors were unable to report back before a second company of archers arrived and this strategy was repeated again, with similar results. Finally, a much larger force was sent and the Bosmer won that battle with the help of the native animals of Valenwood. That third skirmish and the Khajiti response I will discuss in the second volume of this series.