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Morrowind - Interview with a Dunmer
15 February 2011
During a recent visit to a local tavern I encountered a most rate happenstance,
a Dunmer, or Dark Elf! This was only the 3rd time I'd actually seen one in my
travels and the only time it wasn't trying to kill me. Taking a chance (and
gripping my sword a little tighter) I approached to see if he would offer any
conversation. Although not entirely sociable, I did manage to learn quite a
bit about his homeland of Morrowind and his people.
Alvur Relds [Legionary Veteran; expatriate; landowner; living in Colovia]
- I've heard of the volcano which shares your land and was wondering how much
danger it poses? I can't imagine an actice volcano in your backyard to be
that safe you know.
- Alvur Relds: You're right, sir, but I reckon a body'd get used to anything if you lived
there long enough. Vvardenfell, now, she ain't safe, but my kind's had a goodly shank of history
to deal with her. We have ways of building our homes to shed her ash and ways of watching the
wind to know a big blowup. She hasn't rumbled in a while, and only the northern wilds get any
of the shakes any more. Tell you the truth, sir, most of us would forget she's there 'ceptin
her outline sits on the horizon like your mother's mother.
- One of my friends says that the volcano would send any precious metals and gems
from deep in the earth to the surface where they would concentrate. Any truth
in his musings? Are there any metals or gems that are unique to Morrowind because
of the volcano or otherwise?
- Alvur Relds: You're lucky enough to be wearin some, sir. That ebony mail I see twinklin
under your cape, that's Godsblood from our Volcano. Lotta you Westers wearing it now that the
Empire's shown us the fine ways of commerce. Mind if I ast where you got it? Legends say my
ancestors learned to forge the blood of God in Boethiah's day, so it's right holy if you take
my meaning. It's a shame. Just export goods, nowadays, I guess. Still, I've not seen glass
armor out here yet, and that's more than a tad stronger than ebony.
- I've heard a few tales of the strange creatures that wander your lands. What
sort of dangerous beasts would an adventure face in Morrowind?
- Alvur Relds: A what? Adventurer? You West Folk got strange trades, that's for sure. Still,
there's beasts in the Morrowind I'm glad to be rid of. Like the Skylamps fer one, big gas bags
with spears for feet; you'll not see them in High Rock. And nix-hounds, they're a mess unless
you have a shaman around to train 'em well. And you haven't seen an Orc unless you seen a
Malahk-Orc, which run screaming around the northern hills. They make the Orsinium lads look
like sissies. Ach! And the scribs! I still get itchy barracks-side thinking about the scribs, sir.
- Do your people celebrate any festivities along with the rest of Tamriel (such
as Jester's Day, Second Planting, etc...)? In either case, what sort of
celebrations might I witness if I were to visit a Dunmer town?
- Alvur Relds: Well, sir, you won't see any carrying on like you West folk. Not in public,
and not much in private either, sir. Cutting up the fool like you West folk, drinking and
carrying on... well, beggin your pardon, sir, but it just doesn't seem proper. And I think
it's the merchants mostly that worship at your cult festivals, if you don't mind my saying
so. We take our holy days very seriously. Triune -- what you folk celebrate as New Life --
we sit all day at Temple listening to the lay fellows reading lessons from the lives of the
saints. Holidays are more a duty than a frolic. Ancestor's Day is a pleasant reunion around
the clan hearth -- comfortable with friends and family, quiet, and respectful of the hearth
spirits -- good foods and small gifts. That's Tales and Tallows for you folk, and all your
superstitious nonsense about evil spirits and ghosts.
- Because of the volcano and all its ash, do your dwellings and villages have to
be constructed any differently?
- Alvur Relds: Like I said, sir, we mastered the sloped-roof hut a long time ago. And the
craftsmen have perfected the resin mesh for windows and such. Got bull netch tarps for when
they're expectin a real big fall-- drape those on your dome for the night and jest pull it
all down in the morning or the next day. Big cities, like Vivec, they have the Sweeps, a
guild of broom-handlers who make good money cleaning up after the ash. Still, I'm no expert
on Dunmeri architecture, though I studied it in Temple. The priests would tell you all the
pointy roofs or slanted walls come from working in responsible religious themes (like the
Triangle, see) rather than, um, ecological necessity. What was the question again?
- I've heard that wood is rare in Morrowind because of the reduced sunlight due to
ash from the volcano. Any truth to this or has the vegetation adapted enough to
supply enough wood for buildings, construction, fuel, etc...?
- Alvur Relds: Wood's not really that rare anymore since the Empire's come. We got
lumber in the Velothis, and there's good grove down south way. But most of us still
stick to cork-bulb wood, which grows jest about anywhere you got ash in the soil (a
common enough occurrence, be sure).
- How did Morrowind fare with Tiber Septim when he conquered and united the
- Alvur Relds: Well, sir, of course, having served with the legions for twenty years, and
having carried the Emperor's standard, I'd like to say he was universally loved and respected.
But we aren't much in furriner-loving line like you Westers, and we don't thank you for
interfering. I've gotten to know some catmen and even lizards in the Service, and some of
them are not bad folk. But a people should keep to their own, if you take my meaning. And
that's not the Empire's way. I look around, I don't see much benefit from uniting the provinces,
unless you're a fatcat merchant, or maybe a soldier.
- What sort of profession is the average Dark Elf involved in? I've heard vaguely
of dust merchants and beetle farmers...are these the most common types of work?
- Alvur Relds: By "professions," sir, I'd think we're talking about gentlemen, educated-like.
Gentlemen are housemen and retainers, and brothers in the Temple. There's also tradesmen and
crafters in town, just like you, and farmers out in the countryside, just like you. But I
reckon you're getting at the Ashlander nomads, who herd giant insects. Guess that's what
foreigners think when they think of Morrowind... but there aren't many Ashlanders, and
most Dunmer would rather live in the sea than in the Ashlands.
- I've always been curious about the lifespan of elves. We all know they live much
longer than all other races, is this true for the Dunmer as well? How many years
would it take for you to be considered 'old'?
- Alvur Relds: Well, I'm fifty, done my twenty years in the Service, and I'm in the prime
of life. I expect another fifty good years, and then I'll be old, and slow, chatting with
gaffers around the hearth for another twenty, thirty years. I've known mer still mind-sharp
in their late hundreds, and heard of folk 200 and older. My family usually makes it to 120-130,
providing we don't get sick or poked in the eye.
- Have your people developed any unique magicks or are your mages no different than
those in my land?
- Alvur Relds: Again, sir, don't think we have wizard shops on every corner, like you Westers.
Of course, these days you find guilds in most of the large towns, but that's you Westers setting
up in Morrowind -- not the Dunmer way. Any magic not Temple magic is thought a bit funny, at best,
and black and evil at worst. All the houses have their mages, of course, and each village will
have a hedgewizard or two, but not respectable-like. And conjurers and necromancers and such,
well, we put them right up on poles where they belong. Of course, now, the Telvanni wizards,
they're different -- like the Altmeri sorcerors, private in their towers and private in their
affairs. Don't know much about them, and don't want to, sir. You don't want to meddle with them.
That's all I know.
And now, sir, I think that's my dinner the lady's bringin', so, if you'll excuse me?
Though I'd have asked questions all night, I'd plainly been dismissed. Although short, it was
a most curious and not-unpleasant experience speaking with the fellow. Perhaps, if a business
opportunity presents itself in the East, I should consider a visit to that land.
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