Elsweyr (pronounced "ELSE-where") is a region of the continent of Tamriel featured in the game series The Elder Scrolls. It is home to the Khajiit, a playable bestial race in all of the main series of The Elder Scrolls so far. It incorporates a desert like badlands to the north, fairly similar to that of Hammerfell, whilst in the south is a variety of dense jungles and woodland. This generally small nation is bordered by both Valenwood & Cyrodiil.
The Khajiit are ruled by the Mane, a spiritual leader of the Khajiit, who, in ancient times, remained neutral in conflicts. The Mane is different from other Khajiit, although he is not of a different breed. The Mane is born during the alignment of Masser and Secunda (the two moons), and when another rarely seen moon is visible. It is said that there can only be one Mane at any one time, although whether this is magical, or the result of the Mane eliminating competition is unknown. Alternatively, it could be due to the very specific lunar conditions that are present at his birth. The manifestation of such a scenario may only occur once in a lifetime; however, there is no lore regarding its frequency.
According to Khajiiti version of the Monomyth, Khajiit were first envisioned by the ancestral mother, the first cat Fadomai. Fadomai selected her favored daughter Azurah to take one of the already existing races, and refashion them, that they might be the "fastest, cleverest, most beautiful people," and that they should be called Khajiit. Azurah came down to Nirn, took a forest people torn between man and beast, called them Khajiit, and placed them in the best deserts and forests on Nirn. There she made them of many shapes, and taught them the value of secrets. This account would seem to imply that the Khajiit arose from another race through divine intervention. This race has been linked in other sources to the ancestral Altmeri stock. However, some early Aldmeri accounts record the ancient Khajiit existing in Tamriel since the early Merethic Era.
Nothing much is known of the Khajiit in between their settlement of the deserts and forests of Elsweyr and their foundation of a common confederacy. Prior to 2E 309, Elsweyr was almost continuously mired in internal conflict and strife between its tribal factions. Due to its tribal strife, it was incapable of presenting a common force to external enemies, and, in the words of the Pocket Guide to The Empire, "the nearly constant insurrection and tribal warfare among the catmen rarely troubled the stage of history." What is known is that Khajiit have some knowledge of the events at Red Mountain and the War of the First Council, as they have their own name for the eruption at Vvardenfell Mountain, "Sun's Death." Some sources even state that the Khajiit fought alongside Wulfharth at the Battle of Red Mountain.
Elsweyr established central government in 2E 309, under the guidance of Keirgo of Anequina and Eshita of Pellitine. The agreement between the two Khajiit leaders, combined their holdings into one kingdom. The name 'Elsweyr' arose from an old Khajiiti proverb that went along the lines of "perfect society is always elsewhere."[OOG 1] The resultant state caused a great deal of discord amongst the members of the former feudal aristocracy, who, feeling betrayed, chose to rise up in arms against the united state. Keirgo fruitlessly petitioned the Empire of Cyrodiil for aid and was met with failure, for the Cyrodiilic Empire was experiencing its own internal issues. The former capital of Anequia, Ne Quin-al, fell to the rebels. A ceasefire was achieved when the normally nonpartisan spiritual leader Mane Rid-T'har-ri'Datta stepped in to broker talks. A lasting peace ensued, as the tribes and the urbanized elite established terms whereby control of Elsweyr shifted according to the phases of the moons Masser and Secunda. The two parties to the deal experience only nominal control of Elsweyr, and that true power lies in the Mane, whose government is "secretive".
Potentate Versidue-Shaie, a Tsaesci of Akavir,  who began the Second Era of Tamrielic history by assassinating the last of the Reman dynasty of Emperors and took up the throne of Cyrodiil, established his palace in the Elsweyr kingdom of Senechal. He was murdered there in 2E 340 by assassins, members of the Morag Tong, a religious order from Morrowind.
A seized portion of Elsweyr, an area near Rimmen, was the chosen assemblage site of the Dwemer artifact known as the Numidium.[OOG 2] The land was taken by a contingent of the Emperor's elite guard, the Blades, and forcibly cleared of its native Khajiit population. Upon that land the Halls of Colossus were built.[OOG 2] Imperial Engineers under the Battlemage Zurin Arctus then assembled the machine. Native Khajiiti inhabitants record that a Dragon Break occurred during the assemblage process, which led to continuing health issues for generations onward.[OOG 2] After the Numidium was destroyed, The Empire seemingly had obfuscated the story surrounding the Numidium, creating an alternate history for the halls, wherein they were built by giants. Despite this, some inhabitants of Elsweyr know the truth of the Halls of Colossus, as the area is still unihabitable due to Numidium's construction poisoning the area. Many Khajiit still loathe the Empire for there actions at Rimmen.[OOG 2]
Following the tumultuous history of the Numidium, which only touches on Elsweyr briefly, surviving literature records no event in Elsweyr until 3E 394, when the Five Year War began. The war began following an event the Khajiit call the "Slaughter of Torval." The Khajiit claim that over a thousand Khajiti citizens were killed by an invading Bosmeri force from Valenwood without provocation, while the Bosmer claim that the attack was in retaliation for the disruption in trade resultant from Khajiti raids on Valenwood's wood caravans. The war ended in 3E399, with a Khajiti victory, following tactical and strategic moves by Khajiit tribesmen that were seen as impressive both by foreign commentators and the tribesmen themselves.
The effects of the Great War of the 4th Era on Elsweyr are unrecorded, though it is known that the Elsweyr confederacy joined the Aldmeri Dominion after they stopped an event known as the Void Nights. The Mane was supposedly assassinated by the Thalmor during this time.[OOG 3]
The Khajiit religion, while quite different from that of the men or mer, is still clearly derived from the old Aldmeri pantheon. The Khajiit creation myth includes references to powerful ancestor cats with strikingly familiar names. Their legends start with the original litter mates, Ahnurr and Fadomai (Anu and Padomai). These two gave birth to all of the great spiritual children, including Alkosh the first cat (Akatosh), Khenarthi (Kynareth), Magrus (Magnus), Mara, and S'rendarr (Stendarr). A second litter of children soon followed, including Merrunz (Mehrunes Dagon), Mafala (Mephala), and Sangiin (Sanguine), among others. Ahnurr did not want further children, but Fadomai was presuaded by her elder children to birth one more litter, this final group containing Azurah, Nirni, and the moons. At this, Ahnurr became angry at Fadomai, who fled to the void, and birthed one last child, Lorkhaj. Fadomai knew she was dying, her life having been drained by her birth, but she gave to Nirni a gift, that she would birth children of her own.
Nirni went to Lorkhaj, asking him to form a dwelling place for her children. This he did, but he tricked his siblings, forming the mortal plane and trapping many of them there with him. Most of Fadomai's first litter were trapped, while her second litter saw the danger and fled. Into this dwelling, Nirni birthed many children, the various human and mer races of Tamriel. However, one of Fadomai's children, Azurah, had also been given a gift by their mother. She was given permission to take one of Nirni's children, and reshape them to her own liking, so long as she made them the fastest, cleverest, and most beautiful of all creatures. Azurah chose a group of forest dwellers among Nirni's children, and from them, she formed the Khajiit. Nirni was furious at this, and ask her sibling Y'ffer to punish the Khajiit. He did this by turning their grasslands into a dry desert, and their forests into poisonous marshes. The Khajiit, however, were protected by Azurah, who taught them the secret of the moons (the Lunar Lattice in Khajiiti terms), and how to change their shapes to survive. Those forest dwellers who stayed true to their mother, Nirni, were turned into the Bosmer, and given the lush forests of Valenwood as their home.
Elsweyr's location has been fixed since the first entry in the series, Arena, where it was found in the southern half of the continent, bordering Cyrodiil to the north and northeast, Valenwood to the west, and the Topal Sea to the southeast. Elsweyr is primarily a province of "harsh badlands and dry plains," with fertile growing regions covered in jungle and rainforest to the south. Elsweyr's society is divided along these lines, with a stratified plantation aristocracy centered on production of the hallucinogenic 'Moon Sugar' occupying the southern groves, and a society of nomadic desert tribesmen occupying the badlands and desert. Elsweyr was explorable in Arena, but has not been accessible since until The Elder Scrolls Online. Small elements of Khajiit culture recur in each game. Skooma, a drug processed from Moon Sugar, figures in various plotlines and accompanying lore..
The herb and alchemical ingredient Nightshade is native to Elsweyr, and is reputed to be quite poisonous. Despite that, the Khajiit cherish the Nightshade, attributing magical powers to it and hiding it in "their armor to increase their abilities to skulk, hide and become invisible." The plant is also to be found in Western Cyrodiil, surrounding Skingrad, but also in lesser quantities around Bravil in the Nibenay Basin and Cheydinhal in the Northeast. In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Nightshade, properly processed, damages health and luck, burdens, and fortifies magicka. As no further effects are registered, it could be presumed that the Khajiit habit remains a bit of superstition.
Moon sugar grows here, which the Khajiit process in order to create skooma, which is a popular drug amongst the Khajiit. Skooma is addictive and illegal in most provinces. It's smuggled at sea by pirates to all shores and can be found in skooma dens.
- Specific care should be taken with what is meant by Azurah. Karkuxor's "Varieties of Faith," it is written that the Khajiti Azurah "is nearly a wholly separate entity," from the other races' Azura. Something of the nature of the relationship could be determined from a recent document, contemporary with the Third Edition of the Pocket Guide to The Empire, the Imperial Census of Daedra Lords. The document finds Azura the lord of Moonshadow, whose primary visitors are "Dunmer of eastern Morrowind and the catfolk of Elsweyr", who "both hold a great affection for the mother of immanence, though by separate roads."[OOG 4]
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition/Elsweyr Confederacy
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Words of Clan Mother Ahnissi
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Varieties of Faith in the Empire
- ↑ Father of The Niben
- ↑ Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition: Morrowind
- ↑ The Tale of Dro'Zina
- ↑ Mysterious Akavir
- ↑ 2920, vol 12 - Evening Star
- ↑ The Brothers of Darkness
- ↑ Dialogue of Ria Silmane
- ↑ Where Were You When the Dragon Broke?
- ↑ Mixed Unit Tactics
- ↑ Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition: Elsweyr
- ↑ The Great War
- ↑ Confessions of a Dunmer Skooma Eater
- ↑ On Lycanthropy
- ↑ Special Flora of Tamriel