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Interview With Three Booksellers

Author: 
Various
Librarian Comment: 

Interview with three booksellers of Vvardenfell, conducted by Qwerty. 

This interview appears here courtesy of Douglas "AFFA MU" Goodall, currently employed by Bethesda Softworks, with some additions from Todd Howard and Ken Rolston. All answers © 2001 by Bethesda Softworks.

If you want to publish, translate or somehow reproduce this text, please contact me first. 


 

Whenever I visit Vivec City, I always make sure to stop by Jobasha's Rare Books in the Foreign Quarter. Apart from browsing the many books and scrolls that the store has to offer, I enjoy talking with Jobasha. He's a young Khajiit with brown fur, and he clips his jowls into a kind of drooping mustache. Jobasha is always ready to talk and usually willing to answer my questions about the Khajiit.

On my most recent visit, Jobasha had invited two other booksellers over. The first was an older Cyrodiil with sparse white hair who introduced himself as Codus Callonus. The other was a Dark Elf lady by the name of Dorisa Darvel. I am not good at telling the age of Dunmer, but Dorisa looked rather young despite her gray hair, which could have been its natural color.

When the three of them were finished with their professional talk (something about prices and inventory), I took the opportunity to get some bits of information from them.

If you don't mind me asking, my Ta'agra is not particularly good, what exactly does your name mean?

Jobasha:
Jobasha's name was chosen for the sound, not for any meaning. Some Khajiit go by nicknames that have meaning in the Ta'agra.

But surely there is some meaning to some Khajiit names?

Jobasha:
Khajiti names have patterns of meaning.

"Jo" in Jobasha's name means "wizard." But Jobasha is no wizard, just a humble bookseller.

"Dar" in a Khajiti name means "thief," but this should not alarm you. "Dar" is like the Nordic "Clever Hudvar" or the Breton "Arnand the Fox." A Khajiit with "Dar" in his name is clever, and maybe clever with his hands, but not always a thief by your odd Imperial property customs.

"Do" in a Khajiti name means warrior. "Do" is rarely used by modern Khajiit, except for the Mane's guards. And masters of Goutfang, Whispering Claw, and Rawlith Khaj, of course.

Goutfang, Whispering Claw and Rawlith Khaj - what are these?

Jobasha:
They are among the many Khajiti arts of claw and tail. Jobasha learned Rawlith Khaj before traveling to Vvardenfell. The name means "rain of sand," and the art has many styles such as Rain, Sand, Wind, Sun, Storm, and Two-Moons-Dance.

Don't Khajiti names also reflect their status?

Jobasha:
Khajiti men show their status in life with their names, unless they choose a nickname. In Jobasha's case, as a "scholar," Jobasha uses "Jo" alone, not "S'basha-Jo," for using two titles shows great ignorance or great pride.

"M" or "Ma" means "child" or "apprentice" or, in the vernacular, "virgin." As an apprentice can be of any age, this leads to misunderstandings and jokes Jobasha cannot translate.

"J," Ji," or "Ja" means a bachelor or young adult. In the vernacular, it means one who is young and lacks experience.

"S" is the most common, and means simply an adult.

"Ra" and "Ri" show high status. "Ri" is the highest status among the Khajiit, used by leaders of cities or tribes.

"Dro" means "grandfather" and shows respect.

When conversing with Khajiit, are there any words I should avoid using?

Jobasha:
Using the wrong name for a Khajiit is insulting. For instance, calling Jobasha "M'basha" would be unwise. Khajiit respect men and mer, but we do not wish to be compared to you. Calling a Khajiit, even an Ohmes-Khajiit, "bald" or "unclawed," is a deadly insult.

In my travels across Tamriel I've seen numerous Khajiit; some looked almost like Elves, some were totally feline. Can you enlighten me about the details of your peculiar biology?

Jobasha:
Ah, you are wiser than most, for the only Khajiit most men notice are the Ohmes-raht and Suthay-raht.

Khajiit are bound to the Lunar Lattice, the ja'Kha'jay. The phases of Masser and Secunda at birth determine the form a Khajiit takes in life. Khajiti newborns look very similar to one another, with their form becoming clear over several weeks. We are smaller than you humans when we are born, but we grow faster.

When Masser is new and Secunda is full, the Ohmes is born. They are like the Bosmer, but sometimes shorter. Many Ohmes tattoo their faces to show they are Khajiit.

When Masser is new and Secunda is waxing, the Ohmes-raht is born. They have light fur and a tail, but they walk on their heels like men, and can be mistaken for men at a distance.

When Masser and Secunda are new, the Suthay is born. They look similar to Jobasha, but smaller.

When Masser is new and Secunda is waning, the Suthay-raht is born. Jobasha is a Suthay-raht, as are nearly all Khajiit in Morrowind. Other races call the Suthay-raht "Ja'Khajiit," but Jobasha knows not why. "Ja'Khajiit" is one of our words for Mehrunes Dagon.

When Masser is waxing and Secunda is full, the Cathay is born. They are larger than Jobasha, and stronger.

When Masser and Secunda are waxing, the Cathay-raht is born. They are even larger and stronger than the Cathay.

When Masser is waxing and Secunda is new, the Tojay is born.

When Masser is waxing and Secunda is waning, the Tojay-raht is born.

When Masser is waning and Secunda is full, the Alfiq is born. The Alfiq is like what you would call a "housecat." Jobasha does not advise calling an Alfiq a "housecat," for while they are not made to speak your language, they do understand it.

When Masser is waning and Secunda is waxing, the Alfiq-raht is born.

When Masser is waning and Secunda is new, the Dagi is born.

When Masser and Secunda are waning, the Dagi-raht is born.

When Masser and Secunda are full, the Senche is born. The Senche is very large, but similar to the Pahmar-raht. They stand as tall as an Altmer, and can weigh as much as twenty Altmer. Other Khajiit ride them.

When Masser is full and Secunda is waxing, the Senche-raht is born. The Senche-raht is much larger and slower than the Senche. Their legs are straighter and their body is not as long. They stand as tall as two Altmer and can weigh more than fifty Altmer. These are also ridden, especially in battle. Imperials call them "Battlecats," but again, Jobasha does not suggest calling a Senche-raht a "Battlecat."

When Masser is full and Secunda is new, the Pahmar is born. They are like what you would call a "tiger."

When Masser is full and Secunda is waning, the Pahmar-raht is born. They are like the Pahmar, but larger and more dangerous.

What are the Tojay and Dagi like?

Jobasha:
They live in the south. In the Tenmar forest and the southern jungles and marshes.

Is that all you can tell me about them?

Jobasha:
That is all Jobasha will say.

How could someone tell an Alfiq from an ordinary housecat? Or an Ohmes from a Bosmer?

Jobasha:
Jobasha does not answer this question.

Would a Senche or Senche-raht let another race ride them?

Jobasha:
You may ask one next time you see one. If you are not afraid. Jobasha has never seen such a thing.

I assume that the remarkable likeness between Ohmes Khajiit and Wood Elves is no coincidence. Do you know of any legends that would suggest a connection?

Jobasha:
Jobasha does not answer this question. [After a pause, Jobasha rummaged about in a chest of books and handed me a scroll.] The words on this scroll are rare outside of Elsweyr and rarer still in unclawed hands. They are the words of a Clan Mother to her Favored Daughter. Perhaps they will answer your questions.

I've heard that, despite this similarity, the borderline between Elsweyr and Valenwood has not been quiet recently...

Jobasha:
Are borders ever quiet? Bosmer and Khajiit share too much to leave each other alone.

So in the end, who's in charge of Elsweyr? The Mane or the Emperor of Cyrodiils?

Jobasha:
Khajiit are all loyal citizens and we all love the Emperor very, very much. The Mane seems powerful in Elsweyr, but you forget the city governments, the chiefs of the tribes, the Clan Mothers. The truth... Jobasha cannot say.

Just like here in Vivec, where the Tribunal Temple wields some considerable power despite the Imperial presence. I wonder if the Temple has its own, so to say, enforcement agency...

Jobasha:
You have not met an Ordinator? Did you not pass the Palace and the High Fane when you came into Vivec?

I've noticed that when I was touching the matters of politics and power in Elsweyr, Codus Callonus somewhat scoffed and shrugged his shoulders. Naturally, I turned to him.

I asked Jobasha about the power structure in Elsweyr. Is there anything you could add to that?

Codus:
When I was stationed at the Sphinxmoth Legion Fort in Dune during the Five Years War, I recalled the advice my father gave me about power. "Follow the money," he said. This advice has proven useful among all the races of Tamriel -- except the Bosmer and Khajiit who do understand neither the nature nor value of wealth. Even the so-called "kings" the cats set up in their cities in mockery of the Emperor waste the taxes as soon as they collect them. "Follow the sugar" might get you somewhere... The Clan Mothers, and they're a shifty and elusive bunch, control the sugar and let no one near to see how it's refined. The Khajiit are not loyal to the Emperor, but then no one is these days. It's not like it was when I first signed up for the Legions, let me tell you.

How do you Cyrodiils get along with the Dunmer? Don't they, well, somewhat hate you and your kind?

Codus:
It's hard to say. Take these Redorans in Ald'ruhn where I keep my store. With some of them, especially the other Legionnaires, I get along just fine. But some Redorans think they know better than the Emperor what's right and wrong if you take my meaning. I've heard it said that the Hlaalu adopted Imperial culture, but I've never seen such a lazy, selfish, backstabbing lot in my life. As for the Telvanni, well, they're wizards, and I don't like wizards.

Were there any armed clashes recently?

Codus:
Not since the Imperial Simulacrum. That's when I was in the Legions, and though I was stationed in Dune most of that time, I certainly saw my share of fighting. Not like the young pups in the Legions now... They've got it soft, but not for much longer, I reckon. Here in Vvardenfell, the Dunmer fight each other more than the Empire, and they all blame us when they do. That's what happens when you try to bring law and justice to Elves.

When I see a Dunmer, how do I know what clan he belongs to?

Codus:
Each of the Great Houses has their own uniform. Not everyone wears it, of course.

At this point I've noticed that Dorisa Darvel was getting bored. For the fear of appearing rude, I've directed my attention towards her.

Dorisa, where did you buy those earrings?

Dorisa:
Oh, these? I did not buy them myself. They were a gift...

These Dwemeri books - do they come with pictures? Do you have a picture with an actual Dwemer on it?

Dorisa:
I have seen Dwemer books with sketches in them, but never one of a Dwemer. The pictures are usually of those mechanical things the Dwemer were so fond of.

Have you ever heard about a Dunmeri noble lady called Barenziah? I recall she was somehow related to the ruling family from Mounrnhold...

Dorisa:
Muthsera Barenziah was once the ruler of Almalexia, what you call Mournhold, along with her first husband, Symmachus. She renounced her claims to the throne when she married King Eadwyre, but she returned here after Eadwyre's death. The King Hlaalu Athyn Llethan is her uncle.

I believe Barenziah was born into the House R'Aathim? Is this true? Does this House have any influence here in Vivec?

Dorisa:
Barenziah was born into the R'Aathim, that is true. So were the King Hlaalu Athyn Llethan and the Empress Katiarah. The R'Aathim are a clan, or perhaps "family" is a better word. They were once part of House Mora, but they were adopted into House Hlaalu. House Mora is no more.

The great volcano, Red Mountain, fascinates me. Did anyone ever climb all the way to the top and explore it there?

Dorisa:
Of course, but no one goes there anymore except the Ordinators. The Ghostfence keeps us safe, and keeps the foolish out.

This Ghostfence, how exactly does it work? If a person tries climbing, does he encounter a magical wall of force at some point or what?

Dorisa:
The Tribunal made the Ghostfence to protect us. A priest might know how it works. I grew up in what you would call Blacklight and moved to Balmora, what you would call Stone Forest, to open my own shop. I've never seen the Ghostfence.

In Vivec City, I've seen a strange object - a big round building, floating up in the sky as if weightless. What is it and how did it end up there?

Dorisa:
The Ministry of Truth? Again, I'm not a priest... I remember only part of the story. I think a Daedra, maybe Sheogorath or Mehrunes Dagon, threw a mountain at the city and Vivec stopped it and left it where you see it now.

Amazing. Never before have I seen a God intervening directly like this. Did Vivec appear in corporeal form? Does he still?

Dorisa:
[Laughs] Are you sure you don't want to talk to a priest? I have never seen Vivec myself, but I have felt his presence. I know that he loves his people and protects us. He is no far-away idea like your uncaring Imperial gods, but flesh and blood.

I believe one has to be pretty important to see Vivec in person. What kinds of people have this privilege?

Dorisa:
It is no privilege... Vivec cares for priest and pauper alike. Certainly the priests, Ordinators, and Buoyant Armigers meet with Vivec more often than others, but he is not aloof. Vivec cares deeply for all his people. Many Imperials who come here want to see Vivec, but he is not a circus or spectacle.

Do you carry any books that deal with the ancient time, like before the Tribunal came, when everyone looked different?

Dorisa:
If I didn't know you were an outlander... You must never speak of that.

I understand that you're something of an expert on the Dwarves...

Dorisa:
Hardly! I have a few Dwemer books, but that's all.

What do you think happened to the Dwarves?

Dorisa:
They vanished. I have heard many stories, but all I know is that they are gone. Some of their steam-machines still work, but no one knows what they were used for. A friend of mine, Senilias Cadiusus, let me visit his excavation at Nchuleftingth. Even though this ruin had already been looted, it looked as if the Dwemer were just eating or working on their machines. There are tools lying on the ground next to the machines and there are plates and goblets on the tables. I didn't like it... It felt as if they were still there. I guess I should stick to my books. Fieldwork's not for me.

I've seen a strange scene on the streets recently. A merchant and his big servants were beating up a Khajiit who was caught stealing. Suddenly, a Dark Elf who was a Hlaalu came up, exchanged a few words with them, and they let the thief go.

Jobasha:
Some Hlaalu almost understand the Khajiit. Some Hlaalu... No, Jobasha cannot say.

Codus:
Was the Hlaalu a guard? No? Well, I thought maybe the Khajiit bribed him. The Hlaalu don't care about the law if you've got the drakes. Maybe the Khajiit was a slave and the Hlaalu was the owner. They still have slavery here in Morrowind, you know.

Dorisa:
I don't know. If I knew the people involved, or if I saw with my own eyes, maybe I could explain it to you.

Master Jobasha, will you please explain our readers how to get to your store?

Jobasha:
Jobasha's Rare Books is Waistworks West-Two in the Foreign Quarter, sometimes called the Market Canton. From the south, go to the northernmost Canton, climb to the Waistworks level and enter the south door. Go through the halls to your left, but not down the stairs. Jobasha's Rare Books is the door on the left. The door to your right would go to Andilo's shop, an alchemist if Jobasha is not mistaken.

Thank you all very much, Jobasha, Codus and Dorisa!