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SepLnUp Altmer b1&c1

A female and male Altmer in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

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"We Altmer are proud, wise, and beautiful. The Empire is built on the arts, crafts, and sciences of the High Elves. Our pure blood protects us from disease, and makes us superior spellcrafters."
―Generic Dialogue from Altmer[src]

Altmer are the light-skinned and tall Elves of the Summerset Isles. In the Empire, the name "High Elves" is given to the Altmer, with the word "High" being used to describe the Altmer as tall, proud, and culturally snobbish.[1] The Altmer consider themselves the perfect race.[2]

By gameEdit

CultureEdit

The Altmer consider themselves the most civilized culture of Tamriel, a claim which holds some merit. The common tongue of the Third Empire, Tamrielic, is based on their speech and writing. Most of the crafts, arts, and sciences used in the Empire are derived from Altmeri tradition. The clothing, manners, arts, and crafts of the Altmer are refined. While their achievements are admired by the races of Tamriel, their culture is considered less important, as they focus on their glories in martial tradition and their mastery of sorcery and enchantments.[1]

The feudal monarchy in place in Summerset has a long history of conflict and instability, and the Altmer believe themselves to be proud, wise, and beautiful, and believe that their pure blood protects them from disease and makes them superior spellcrafters.[1] Over hundreds of years, the Altmer have formed pure bloodlines. They reproduce as often and as quickly as humans do, but always killed nine out of ten of their newborn in order to keep their bloodlines pure. Uniforms and high speech are also regarded as important in Altmeri culture, and their wildlife and trees have, much like the Altmer themselves, been bred to be as perfect as they can be.[2]

Necromancy and the undeadEdit

In regards to Necromancy, it is legal for some Altmer to practice the art. Those of the most respected noble and scholarly families have permission to study the dead in the open, focusing on research on how to further extend their lives. Non-Altmer caught performing necromancy in the Summerset Isles are punished in some of the worst possible ways.[3]

The Altmer see the undead with the same prejudice as they do wild animals. They acknowledge that certain forms of undead, such as the Lich, Wraith, or Vampire hold power, and mildly admire it. Even so, the Altmer always remains guarded in the presence of such entities, as they always desire something from the living. In order to learn from the undead, an Altmer must maintain certain appearances. They must show humility to the undead and speak to them like they are their elders. They must also show intelligence, to make their undead host know they are not to be trifled with. The third and last appearance that the Altmer must show is discipline. If the undead host is willing to enter in conversation, the Altmer must carefully pick his or her questions, as an undead will only provide knowledge willingly, or not at all.[4]

The Altmer venerate their ancestors by respecting the passage of these beings from this world to the next. Altmer believe it to be cruel and unnatural to keep the spirits of the dead on Nirn. To display body parts of ancestors in ghost fences or ash pits is considered barbaric by the Altmer. Instead, the Altmer inter their dead.[5]

Altmerarchitecture

Altmer architecture.

Architecture and LanguageEdit

Altmeri architecture is high and graceful. Showing curved gables and steeples which are strong and pointed to emphasize height, Altmer architecture tries to contrast its structures from those of the other races. Rather than seeking innovation, the Altmer seek refinement, being hesitant to perform large-scale changes, but are willing to tinker with their arts. As a result, their architecture shows precision, harmony, and orthodox compositions, which are often in repetition.[6]

The Altmer consider language, specifically the written word, of critical importance, as it not only preserves their history, but also captures and defines their lineage, ensuring that every elf knows their place in the hierarchy. Because of this, Altmeri society is one of the most well-structured in Tamriel, which according to the scholar-priests of Summerset is the will of Xarxes himself. These priests are also said to preserve an ancient tongue which was long forgotten by the rest of Tamriel.[7]

SocietyEdit

After the society of the Altmer grew, a hierarchy came into place. In this hierarchy, the people were put in classes, with the higher classes holding the most power. These classes are the following, from highest to lowest: The Wise, teachers and priests, artists, princes, warriors, landowners, merchants, workers, and finally beasts. The social class of the beasts were attributed to those below workers, such as the goblins the Altmer enslave to perform duties which they consider themselves to be too high for.[8]

Altmer were still said to have humanoid slaves during the seventh century of the Second Era,[9] and Summerset and Valenwood alike had abolished the practice long before they were conquered by the Empire[10] in 2E 895.[11]

Altmer who engage in dialogue and disagree with their opposition, prefer to settle the affairs through talking. Long conversations and thinking, combined with wine and fellowship often have the result of settling the affair. In the event where talk does not have a satisfying outcome, matters are put to an end by means of a duel. The rules of such duels are the following:

  1. Both combatants are only allowed to arm themselves with a traditional Altmer dueling foil, banning the usage of long swords, axes, flails and other such weapons. The foil must be washed in mineral water, thoroughly dried, and well-polished.
  2. Before the start of the duel, both combatants must recite the full name of their opponent, alongside calling upon certain bad deeds of their opponent where appropriate. If one stumbles or mispronounces the name of their opponent, they must stop and recite the name in full twice more.
  3. Both parties must ensure a witness is present during the duel, who are honor-bound to intervene in the combat should one of the parties commit an honor-infraction, such as fleeing the field, casting dirt in the eyes of their opponent, or harassing their opponent.[12]

Whoever comes out victorious must engage with their opponent in a humble and courteous fashion, providing them with physicians, aid, and other services to heal their wounds. The defeat is required to admit error, and request forgiveness. This way, both parties finish the conflict with their honor intact, a good thing, as the Altmer consider honor the most important thing on Nirn.[12]

ReligionEdit

CreationEdit

The Altmer believe that Anu encompasses all thing, and created Anuiel so he might know himself, as Anuiel was his soul and the soul of all things. Anuiel had self-reflection, and as such, he had to differentiate between his forms, attributes, and intellects. As such, Sithis was born, the sum of all of Anuiel's limitations. Because of this, Anuiel became a variety of things, and this interplay is known as the Aurbis.[13]

Originally the Aurbis was confusing and turbulent, as Anuiel had to adapt to his role. In order for Anuiel to know himself, he created Auriel, which was the soul of his soul. Auriel went through the Aurbis in a form known as time. With the creation of time, other aspects began to understand their limitations and natures, taking names. One of these was more of a limit than nature, and was known as Lorkhan.[13]

Lorkhan entered every aspect of Anuiel, and planted an idea which was based on limitation. Outlining a plan to create a soul for the Aurbis, a place where the aspects of aspects would be able to self-reflect. Because of his words, he gained many followers, including Auriel, who was told by Lorkhan he would become the king of this new world. As such, they created Mundus, where their aspects would live and became the et'Ada. However, Lorkhan had tricked the spirits. The world held many limitations, because of which it hardly belonged to Anu. Mundus was the House of Sithis. Many of the et'Ada vanished as their aspects began to die off, while some attempted to escape, like Magnus, which is the reason why magic has no limitations. Other et'Ada, like Y'ffre, became the Ehlnofey, so the world would not die. Deities had to marry and make children in order to survive, with each generation being weaker than the one before. The Aldmer believe to be descendants from this line. Lorkhan made armies out of the weakest souls and created Men.[13]

With the world being created, Auriel pleaded to Anu to take them back, but Anu refused. His soul granted Auriel his Bow and Shield, so that Auriel might be able to save the Aldmer from Men. Some of the Aldmer had already fallen, such as the Chimer, who listened to the et'Ada who were tainted, or the Bosmer, who had taken Mannish wives. Auriel did not have the means to save Atmora, and it was lost to men. The Elves of Atmora were chased south and east to Aldmeris, with Lorkhan being close behind them, shattering the land. Trinimac eventually knocked down Lorkhan in front of his army, and took out his heart. The armies of Men took the body of Lorkhan and swore blood vengeance on elvenkind for all time. When Trinimac and Auriel attempted to destroy the heart they were unable to do so. So Auriel fastened the heart to an arrow and shot it across Tamriel.[13]

PantheonEdit

A large number of the Altmer living on Summerset worship Auri-El, the soul of Anui-El, who in turn is the soul of Anu. The majority of the Altmer, in reality, believe that Auri-El is Akatosh, just with a different name, and with different aspects because of their own cultural beliefs.[14]

Before the Altmer came to worship their pantheon, they worshipped their ancestors. This would change as their society grew and advanced. A number of the elders of Altmer society opposed this change and formed the Psijics, the keepers of the Old Ways of Aldmeris. These Psijics moved to the Isle of Artaeum, separated from what they considered the corruption of Altmer society. Often times they would return to the land as advisors, but Summerset was no longer considered by them to be their home.[8]

The Altmer Pantheon consists of the following deities:

Auri-El, King of the Aldmer

Auri-El is the Elven version of Akatosh, serving as the chief of most Aldmeri Pantheons. Altmer and Bosmer alike claim to be direct descendants of the god. The Altmer consider his only moment of weakness to be the time he aided Lorkhan in creating the Mortal plane, which removed the Altmer from the spirit worlds. To compensate, Auri-El commanded the Aldmer against the armies of Lorkhan, defeating him and establishing the first kingdoms of elvenkind, Atmora and Old Ehlnofey,[15] also known as Aldmeris.[16]

Magnus, Magus

Magnus is the god of sorcery in the Pantheon of the Altmer. He withdrew from the creation of the world at the last moment, which cost him dearly. What remained of his power in the world is known and controlled by mortals as magic. One story states that it was Magnus who created the schematics and diagrams required to construct the mortal plane, while it was Lorkhan's idea. He is most commonly represented by a staff, but also by a telescope, or an astrolabe.[15]

Trinimac

Trinimac was a deity worshipped by the first Aldmer, and was, in some places, more popular than Auri-El. Serving as a warrior spirit, he originally led the armies of Elves against Men. His shape has been taken over by Boethiah, which resulted in a number of Aldmer listening to the Daedra. Trinimac vanished after this, and was replaced by Malacath, which the Altmer portray as the dangers of the influence of the Dunmer.[15]

Y'ffre, God of the Forest

Y'ffre is revered as the spirit of "the now." After the creation of the world, the Elves believed everything to have been in chaos, with mortals shifting constantly between the forms of plants, animals, and then mortals again. Y'ffre became the first of the Earth Bones, and established the laws of nature, which provided the mortals with safety.[15]

Xarxes

The god of ancestry and secret knowledge. Originally he served as a scribe to Auri-El, keeping track of every Aldmeri accomplishment, regardless of their size, since the beginning of time. He is said to have created his wife, Oghma, from his favorite moments.[15]

Mara, the Goddess of Love

Mara is one of the deities worshipped across almost all Tamriel. The goddess found her origins during the Mythic times as a goddess of fertility. The Altmer consider her the wife of Auri-El.[15]

Stendarr, the God of Mercy

Stendarr is the god of compassion and righteous rule. Early Altmeri legends depict Stendarr as the apologist of Men.[15]

Syrabane, the Walrock's God

Syrabane is considered an Aldmeri god-ancestor of magic. He aided Bendu Olo during the fall of the Sload. Through using his magical ring, Syrabane was able to save many from the Thrassian Plague. He was also known as the Apprentices' God, when the Mages Guild still existed, as he was a favorite for its younger members.[15]

CultsEdit

The Altmer also have Cults for a number of deities. These are the following:

Phynaster

Phynaster is a hero-god of the Summerset Isles, and taught the Altmer how to live another hundred years.[15]

Lorkhan, the Missing God

Also known as the Doom Drum, he convinced the Original Spirits to create the mortal plane. After the world was created, Lorkhan was separated from his divine center. His place in the creation of the world has a variety of interpretations, but the Altmer believe he is the most unholy of the gods, as he broke their connection to the spirit plane. He is almost always considered an enemy of the Aldmer, and a hero of early Mankind.[15]

MilitaryEdit

Battlereeve of Dusk card art

A Battlereeve of Dusk commanding Altmeri forces.

Altmeri weapons and armor strive for simple elegance, with flowing lines reflecting forms from the natural world, such as patterns in the shapes of abstract birds, flowers, and seashells. Armor often being embossed in order to represent scales or feather, with even cuirasses and helmets being stylized with wings or beaks.[17] The weapons used by the Altmer are often thin and made from exotic ores and minerals as part of the forging process, which can be as advanced as Altmeri speech is. The Altmer of every social class has an open disdain for the usage of iron, steel, and any other material commonly used by the races of the mainland of Tamriel. The armor and weapons of the Altmer have a sturdy elegance. Fanciful materials are common on Summerset, glass is considered the most impressive when used for swords or axes. Items crafted with glass are surprisingly robust, and always alluring. The weapons are light, and milky green in color, though the blades require constant and careful sharpening.[18] The Altmer also train goblins in the ways of war in order to reinforce their main armies.[19]

Due to the bounty of rare and primarily crystalline minerals on Summerset, a variety of the crafted arms of the Altmer are enchanted, such as weaponry being embedded in glass details, with golden pommels, and with eagle wings and heads. The Altmer also use winged bows, though the Altmer do not use the leather of wild animals, instead preferring to use the most pliable leather from specifically bred guar. Altmer favor weapons which match themselves, elongated, barbed, and coated in gold.[18] For a long time, the way to craft this kind of armor was a closely guarded secret, until the method was made public by a Dunmer slave.[9]

The Altmer are famous for their prowess at sea.[20] Due to Maormer invasions during the First and Second Era, the Altmer were forced to build a strong fleet to keep the invaders at bay. The Altmer are known to excell at their skill at naval warfare. Despite this long history of naval prowess, during the War of the Isle Altmeri naval prowess had decreased, which forced them to call upon the aid of the Psijic Order and the Empire in order to prevent the Maormer from taking over.[8] The ships of the Altmer are said to be thin and swan-necked.[18]

HistoryEdit

The Altmer believe their history starts after Nirn was created. They believe that the Ehlnofey, who landed on Nirn, were the ancestors of the Elven people. These Ehlnofey were divided in two kinds, the Old Ehlnofey and the Wandering Ehlnofey, and would engage in war with one another, a war that reshaped Nirn. When the war had concluded, the continents of Tamriel were formed, and the Ehlnofey turned into the elven races.[21] The Aldmer afterwards moved in on Tamriel, with the predecessors of the Altmer settling on Summerset and building the Crystal Tower, and originally held close relations with the Ayleids of Cyrodiil.[22] The isles of Summerset are considered to be the birthplace of civilization and magic.[8]

Altmer society in its beginning was centered around agriculture and was politically egalitarian. Their religious beliefs had remained the same as they had been in Aldmeris, as they continued to worship their ancestors. The elves would eventually form up and create the Crystal Tower as a monument to the spirits, both living and dead, of all elven peoples. The tower housed a number of graves of the original elven settlers.[8]

As exploration of mainland Tamriel advanced, many Aldmer would leave Summerset. Especially those among the worker class sought to settle the rest of the continent, believing they could live as kings instead of their low classes on Summerset itself. Saint Veloth was one of these migrants.[8]

Second EraEdit

During the Alliance War of the Second Era, the First Aldmeri Dominion was founded. During this time, many an Altmer felt like the Dominion did not stand for the ideals of the Altmer, and as such, opposed it.[23][24] As such, many joined the Veiled Heritance, a group of Altmer nationalists which sought to end the Dominion.

The Altmer would later form the Second Aldmeri Dominion around the time of Tiber Septim. The Thalmor had aided Bosmer factions in uniting Summerset and Valenwood in one union to oppose the rise of the Third Empire.[2] The Dominion would eventually be conquered by Tiber Septim, through usage of the Numidium.[25]

Third EraEdit

After being conquered by, and assimilated into, the Empire, Altmer would survive and continue to live in horror for over 300 years after his passing. Their pride had been heavily damaged as a result of Septim's conquest.[8]

During the War of the Isle in 3E 110, the Maormer attempted to conquer Summerset, and came close to achieving victory. The Altmer had to resort to asking the Empire and the Psijics for aid in order to defeat their enemy. During the Imperial Simulacrum, the Altmer invaded Valenwood in what is known as the War of the Blue Divide. The Altmer were only successful in conquering a small part of the coastline of Valenwood. This reduced strength in Altmer society had caused many Altmer, the young in particular, to rethink what it means to be a High Elf.[8]

As of 3E 432, the Altmer had been at peace with the other peoples of Tamriel for a few years. Their society was strongly divided, and this division finds its origins in the Tiber Wars, when Tiber Septim conquered the province, which shook Altmer society. For eras, the Altmer believed in Altmer supremacy over the other races, and cultures, of Tamriel. While for a long time this thinking was justified, after the province was conquered by the Third Empire, Altmer began to doubt this belief system. Especially among the young Altmer took a critical view of the ancient hierarchy of Altmer society, while also being critical of the strong xenophonia present among the Altmer. While dissidents had always existed, they were always exiled in the past. This time, however, a significant portion of the Altmer had become dissidents, and desired social change.[8]

The result of this new thinking was taken into some use in Summerset. New cultures and races were accepted into Summerset, and these peoples were also permitted to take positions which had been forbidden for them a century prior, such as the positions of Queens and Kings.[8]

An extremist movement would also take form, however. Known as the Beautiful, they originated with the idea that Summerset had to let go of the past in order to advance as a society. This group would eventually turn radical, and became dedicated to destroying the monuments of the Altmer, such as the Crystal Tower. While attempts had been made by this gang to destroy the Tower, all had failed. Other attempts at vandalizing historical sites were more successful, however. Approaches on the living Altmer also grew, as the Beautiful murdered the daughter of the King of Shimmerene.[8]

In contrast to the Beautiful, some Altmer youths opposed moving forward, and wanted to embrace their heritage. The young of Summerset considered the Psijic Order to be popular, with more members having joined the order in two years time than had joined in the past thousand years.[8]

Oblivion CrisisEdit

In 3E 433 the Oblivion Crisis, known as the Great Anguish by the Altmer, broke out. Oblivion Gates appeared all over Tamriel, including Summerset. Many Altmer tried to escape by boat, but the sea caused many ships to sink.[26] In order to better fight back the hordes of Oblivion, the Crystal Tower was forced to give the Thalmor more authority and power. The Thalmor had always been a powerful faction within the Isles, though always a minority of the population. As a province, the Summerset Isles were more successful against the forces of Oblivion than Cyrodiil was, and the Thalmor played a major role in the survival of Summerset.[27] The Thalmor consider themselves the "saviors of Mer" because of this.[28]

Near the end of the Crisis, many Altmer refugees sought shelter at the Crystal Tower. Altmer wizards fought back the Daedric hordes here, but the Tower would ultimately end up being destroyed by the Daedra of Mehrunes Dagon, while the defenders of the Tower fought until its collapse.[26] When Martin Septim put a stop the Daedric Hordes by defeating Mehrunes Dagon in the Imperial City,[29] the Altmer were eagerly looking for people to thank for putting an end to the crisis. Being unaware of the deeds of the Hero of Kvatch and Martin, the Altmer were quickly convinced by the Thalmor to believe they were the ones who ended the crisis. The Thalmor claimed they ended the crisis through the usage of subtle magicks, and were praised by the Altmer. With this new fame the Thalmor had, those who doubted their role in ending the crisis were quickly removed from Summerset, such as Rynandor the Bold, one of the few surviving defenders of the Crystal Tower.[30]

Fourth EraEdit

After the Thalmor had Potentate Ocato assassinated, the Stormcrown Interregnum broke out. In this time period, the Thalmor took full control over Summerset,[31] and declared its independence in 4E 22, renaming it to Alinor, a name from before the ages of Man.[27] While doing so, the Thalmor also overthrew the Kings and Queens of the Altmer, with large support from the people of the Isles. Shortly after this, the Thalmor began killing all of those who were not of "the blood of the Aldmer", while also using this rule as an excuse to kill dissidents in the land. Shortly after Titus Mede became Emperor, the Thalmor and their Bosmer sympathizers organized a coup in Valenwood, and reformed the Aldmeri Dominion.[31] They would then end all ties with the Empire, and remain silent for 70 years. During the Void Nights, the Dominion obtained Anequina and Pelletine as client states, further increasing their power.[27]

Great WarEdit

Power of Naarafin card art

Thalmor general Lord Naarifin casting spells against forces of the Imperial Legion.

In 4E 171, the Great War broke out between the Aldmeri Dominion and the Empire. The Empire's military forces were greatly weakened even before the war broke out, and as such, the Dominion achieved many victories during their campaigns in Hammerfell and Cyrodiil. In 4E 175, the war came to an end with the signing of the White-Gold Concordat, which created peace between the Empire and the Dominion. The Emperor Titus Mede II considered this peace to be necessary in order to ensure the Legions could recover.[27]

The Redguards of Hammerfell, however, were unwilling to sign the Concordat. One of its terms was that a large section of Hammerfell would be given to the Dominion, and this the Redguards did not tolerate. As such, the war continued for five more years in Hammerfell, ending in 4E 180, and left southern Hammerfell devastated. A bitter hatred has formed between the Empire and the Redguards because of this.[27] Support for the Thalmor in Summerset at this point of time is said to be decreasing. Many Altmer have disagreed with the Thalmor, though only few dared to speak up.[32]

AppearancesEdit

References

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