The Truth About the Green Pact

Author: Scholar Sloozgub of Skingrad
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By Scholar Sloozgub of Skingrad

The Green Pact has long been a source of intrigue for those outside Bosmer culture. It is a mysterious covenant, binding the Wood Elves to their God of Song and Forest, Y’ffre. Through its edicts, the Bosmer have adapted and integrated into the forests where they reside, creating a mutually beneficial relationship between “the Green” and themselves.

Despite its benign influences, the Green Pact has been maligned by outsiders to the culture—from bedtime tales of Wood Elves devouring unruly children, to baseless rumors of cannibalism circulated in academic spheres. After much time in the field among Wood Elf clans, this humble Orc believes she has grasped the complexities of the Green Pact. The purpose of this text is to dispel some of these salacious myths and provide the reader with facts for better understanding the Green Pact.

Let us begin with the Green itself. This term refers to all living plants in Valenwood and beyond—from ancient trees to the softest moss. The Bosmer believe the Green is a gift from their primary deity, Y’ffre.

According to Wood Elf legend, Y’ffre breathed life into them shortly after creating the Green. By taking the Green Pact, the Bosmer swore never to harm the Green in any way—in exchange, they could shape the forest to their needs. Whether or not the deity Y’ffre literally existed and bestowed such power on the Wood Elves is not the focus of this text. But it is true that their communities are grown out of living trees and the Bosmer possess an uncanny connection to the forest. They do not work with wood and their villages are never hewn from lumber. Instead, their homes are shaped from the Green itself, a living piece of the forest.

As a rule, Wood Elves do not participate in woodworking, carpentry, or whittling of any kind. It is a defilement of the Green. However, in some progressive Bosmer clans, there has been a shift toward the use of deadwood, such as branches and logs that have naturally fallen from a living plant. As these materials have already been shed by the vegetation, it cannot be harmed by their use. This is an ongoing development in the culture, and one that divides even the most progressive communities. It certainly warrants further study.

Although Bosmer culture holds all plant life in high regard, even the most diligent Wood Elf occasionally tramples a flower or accidentally treads on new growth. It is simply to be expected when living in densely forested areas. Outside rumors suggest the penalty for such a transgression is swift and brutal punishment, often lethal. This is simply not the case. This author has observed the typical reaction is mild embarrassment from the transgressor, and gentle chiding from an elder to be more careful where they step. Only repeat offenders receive any harsher retribution, and then it is often community service to the clan and mandated meditation to reconnect with the Green.

The astute reader may have surmised that since the Bosmer have sworn not to harm the Green, they cannot use plants as food. This is true. Wood Elves patently do not farm, including the sowing, reaping, harvesting, or gathering of any fruits or vegetables. Instead, they follow the “Meat Mandate,” subsisting on a diet almost entirely made up of animal products, including meat, dairy, honey, eggs, and insects.

Because of this, Wood Elves are excellent hunters. They are easily able to meet the needs of the clan with these resources and have devised clever recipes for everything from meat-based alcoholic beverages to “tarts” made of bone flour and fermented pig’s milk.

What may surprise readers is that many Wood Elves have actually consumed fruits and vegetables. While they never pick live fruit from a tree, fallen fruit is considered an acceptable meal. Similar to the deadwood issue, fallen fruit is no longer part of the living plant, so its consumption does not violate the Green Pact. (It should be noted that the use of deadwood is a more contentious issue than eating fallen fruit.) Only a small number of conservative Bosmer clans would consider this practice taboo.

This brings us to the most outlandish rumor of all: the practice of cannibalism.

It is true that in the early history of the Green Pact, ritual cannibalism was practiced. The Green Pact rejects the waste of meat, including the bodies of fallen enemies. In the past, warring clans consumed their defeated foes to ensure no meat was wasted. Though shocking, this practice was pragmatic, allowing the clan to survive and make the most of the lost lives.

However, this custom has almost entirely fallen out of practice. This scholar has spoken to numerous Wood Elves who have no living memory of any clan participating in this ritual. However, it cannot be ruled out. It is possible that some extremely isolated or traditional clans may still hold to the practice, but in general it is a bygone edict only circulated to scare children or liven up dry lectures.

As a whole, the Green Pact is a fascinating code of conduct that uniquely binds all Wood Elves together Unless one is of Bosmeri descent or has spent an inordinate amount of time among them, outside observations can only go but so far toward understanding this phenomenon. This author hopes the reader has found something of use in this text and will use it as a starting point for further inquiries into this rich culture.

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