The Races of TESO: Khajiit
by Merari, Contributor — Category: Lore Articles
With The Elder Scrolls Online approximately one year away from release, TESOF has decided to educate fans of the game on the playable races in TESO, so you can have a good idea of their backgrounds before you dive into the game. Today we'll be continuing with the Khajiit.
Keep an eye peeled on the Articles section for more articles related to the races of TESO!
The Khajiit are a beastfolk living in the south-eastern desert province of Tamriel, Elsweyr.
Their origins are debated among scholars. Some hold that they are originally of elven stock, mainly because a sub-species of Khajiit, the Ohmes-Raht, strongly resembles an elf.
However the epic poem Father of the Niben, about the voyages of the early Aldmeri explorer Topal the Pilot, mentions 'cat-demons' when describing Elsweyr.
"The cat demons of four legs and two ran the river's
Length, always keeping the boat in their
Green-eyed sight, hissing, and spitting, and
Roaring with rage.
But the sailors never had to brave the shores, for
Fruit trees welcomed them, dropping their
Arms down to the river's edge as if to
Embrace the mer, and the men took the
Fruit quickly before the cats could pounce."
This would indicate a different origin, as Topal lived in the Middle Merethic era, before any elven exodus. He also does not recognise them as mer.
The Khajiit themselves tell that they were forest-people 'torn between man and beast' that were told the secrets of the moons by the godess Azura, which gave them their current forms.
Khajiit are intelligent, limber and agile and have a cat-like disposition towards other peoples property. This makes them excellent thieves, though a Khajiit would say he would do what comes to him naturally.
There is great variation between subtypes of Khajiit. Their form is determined not by ancestry but by the lunar lattice, the stages of the moons.
Depending on the phases of Masser and Secunda at time of birth a newborn pup can grow up to be one of sixteen subtypes, though they all start much the same.
Notable are the Alfiq, who look much like a housecat, but are as intelligent as any other Khajiit and able spellcasters.
The Senche and Senche-Raht are huge and commonly used as steeds and beasts of burden, they are also formidable in war.
A Mane is very rare and can only be born during a peculiar allignment of the two moons when legend holds a third moon appears in the sky. The Mane is the undisputed spiritual and worldly leader of all Khajiit.
In ancient times Khajiit would shave off their manes in respect to him. These hairs were braided and incorporated into the mane of the Mane. In later times as population grew this became impractical.
Khajiit still remove their manes though.
The subtypes of Khajiit commonly seen in the Elder Scrolls games are assumed to be Ohmes, Ohmes-Raht, Suthay, or Suthay-raht who have the most human or elven-like appearance.
History of Elsweyr
The Khajiit have one of the oldest cultures on Tamriel.
The Aldmer knew of them and when the human settlers returned to Tamriel from Atmora Khajiit society was already well developed in the lands that became Elsweyr.
Early Elsweyr was divided into sixteen seperate realms, each territory with its own specialisation, who's products were evenly distributed among the nation.
For instance, Ne Quin-al specialised in the art of war and produced great warriors and the Khajiit of Torval were fishermen. Each territory had its time of dominance, depending on the lunar cycle.
Moon Sugar, as seen in TESV: Skyrim
Until the devastation wrecked on Tamriel by the Thrassian Plague of 1E2260 the Khajiit were able to repel any outside invasion and neither the Alessian Empire to the north nor the Bosmer of Valenwood dared send their troops too far into the kingdoms.
The plague inflicted heavy losses on the Khajiit population and the survivors were forced into roles they did not choose to keep their society from crumbling. The region was changed from consisting of sixteen kingdoms to only two, Pa'alatiin and Ne Quin-al, more commonly known under their Cyrodiilic names Pelletine and Anequina. These two kingdoms represent the lunar lattice at its extremes but also housed very different interpretations of Kahjiiti culture. Those in Pelletine saw the other kingdom as a barbarian one while the Khajiit of Anequina viewed their neighbours in Pelletine as decadent and soft.
Skirmishes broke out between the two kingdoms and for two centuries their involvement with each other was one of war and distrust.
The marriage between Keirgo, ruler of Annequina and Eshita, ruler of Pellitine in 2E209 finally united the two kingdoms again. To commemorate this historic event the province was given its current name, Elsweyr, much to the puzzlement of scholars of other races.
Some scholars hold that it is a reference to the common Khajiit proverb: "A perfect society is always found elsewhere", others speculate that it is in memory of the paradise promised to them by the Riddle´Thar or sugar god.
Just before the events of TESO another great plague, the Knahaten Flu, ravaged Elsweyr and the rest of Tamriel. The Altmer came to the aid of the Khajiit and saved many lives. The Khajiit take this debt very seriously and see the Altmer as Tamriel´s best hope of stability and peace. As such the Khajiit take pride in their new role as the military backbone of the fledgling Aldmeri Dominion.
Religion and culture
Khajiit culture seems outlandish to many scholars. The tales told by Khajiit are often attributed to hallucinations due to the intake of Moon Sugar, though the Khajiit seem to react differently to the drug than other races. It is also undeniable that the mystic bond they claim with the moons does indeed exist, as the lunar lattice determines a Khajiit's adult form.
Moon Sugar and its use are integral to Khajiit religious practices.
The Khajiit tell Moon Sugar is crystallised moonlight caught in the waters of the Topal Bay and absorbed by their native sugar cane.
By using Moon Sugar the Khajiit believe they absorb a fragment of the souls of their gods.
When a Khajiit talks about a legendary hero performing an astounding feat they will say he succeeded 'because he had the sugar'.
Notable is the tale of the Khajiiti who had the sugar to stand on each others shoulders and climb all the way to the moons.
Azura, or Azurah as she is known to the Khajiit, is a prime deity in their pantheon. According to legend she showed them the secrets of the moons, which bound them to the lunar lattice. These secrets and the rituals and practices that come from them also prevent the planet of Nirn from dissolving into Oblivion.
Located in the south-east of Tamriel, the desert province of Elsweyr is bordered by Valenwood to the west and Cyrodiil to the north. East of the city of Senchal, across the ocean, lies Black Marsh.
The south of the land by the ocean is dominated by the Tenmar forest, a verdant sub-tropical jungle while the deserts of the north border Cyrodiil. The sands of these deserts are ever-shifting and the Khajiit one of the first civilised races of Tamriel. It is said that under the dunes whole cities lie, swallowed by sand and time.
A main export of Elsweyr is the drug Moon Sugar that holds an important role in Khajiit culture and religion. Non Khajiit are often more succeptible to the addictive properties of Moon Sugar and it is illegal in many other provinces. This does not hinder extensive trade of the valuable substance as it is readily sold via pirates and smugglers and finds its way on to the black market. The Dunmer of Morrowind use Moon Sugar as an ingredient to create the far more dangerous drug Skooma.
The wealth and trade from the export of Moon Sugar has made Senchal the largest port in Tamriel, though recently the town suffered heavily from the Knahaten Flu.
2012, written by Merari with thanks to Tecca and Deveron for editing and images
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