General: New Life Festival Interview
This interview, which is split into two parts, was conducted in December 2016 by Benefactor for Tamriel Foundry and IceFireWarden with Lawrence Schick to commemorate the New Life Festival event in Elder Scrolls Online. Benefactor assumes the role of Gilfre Venegas, IceFireWarden takes on the role of Eis Vuur Warden, and Loremaster Lawrence Schick plays Countess Aurorelle Edrald, Marwig Yeomcroft, Priestess Phaziyya, and Mochtuinne Eye-Tooth.
Location: The Cloudy Dregs Inn, Wayrest, Stormhaven
Interviewer: Gilfre Venegas, a Breton writer who reads a ton and writes for one of Wayrest's many publications, the Post and Courier. She is currently headed to The Cloudy Dregs Inn on assignment to interview an ambassador of the King and a Mages Guild scholar for a feature on the New Life Festival Special Edition.
King Emeric's Ambassador
Countess Aurorelle Edrald arrives at the inn in the polite, but rushed manner typical of the busy Wayrest court nobility. Her eyes darted around the room before landing on Gilfre, forming a friendly smile that betrayed only a bit of weariness; weariness undoubtedly from her role in the festival preparations, the young reporter assumed.
Gilfre: "I have heard that all three alliances have sent ambassadors to meet at Skywatch on Auridon during the New Life Festival. Why was this location chosen for the meeting and just what do the ambassadors hope to accomplish? How do you expect them to break the tension that is sure to emanate during this meeting?"
Countess Aurorelle Edrald smiled nodding, "New Life marks the solstice and the return of Magnus, and is celebrated by cultures across all of Tamriel. As such it is a perfect time to reflect on what unites us rather than what separates us, and to look ahead toward the possibilities of the new year. Even in a time of conflict opponents have common concerns that affect the welfare of their peoples, and although formal treaties may be out of reach at such a time, tacit agreement can still be established on matters of mutual best interest, such as piracy on the high seas or the spread of the perfidious practice of necromancy. It's essential to keep diplomatic channels open, because negotiation is even more important between enemies than it is between allies. And I'm sure the world-famous Auridon wines will help keep the gathering amiable."
Gilfre: "There has been a heap of murders recently in the Gold Coast region. Even the Primate of Akatosh was slain in the Kvatch chapel. With the New Year coming up what does the criminal culture look like during this time of year and what steps have been taken to protect our citizens?"
Countess Aurorelle Edrald paused pensively for a moment. "The erosion of civil society and the rule of law in the Gold Coast are just the latest examples of the ongoing collapse of the once-great culture of Cyrodiil, and cogent reminders of why the Daggerfall Covenant's intervention in the heartland is so necessary. This is why King Emeric has pledged our blood and treasure to the succor of our co-religionists in Nibenay and Colovia, in a long-term bid to re-establish the Empire of Cyrodiil in emulation of the ideals of the exalted Reman the First. His Majesty is a student of Imperial history, and knows that crime is at its ebb when the institutions of a peaceful and strong civil society are at their height."
Gilfre: "This year for the New Life Festival Alcaire will be holding a very lavish festival rumored to be paid for straight from the king's coffers. What kind of entertainment and refreshments will be served this year? Should residents of Wayrest worry about extra taxation next year to replenish gold back into the king's coffer?"
Countess Aurorelle Edrald gave Gilfre a slightly oblique expression before answering, "After the unfolding of the recent tragic events in the Duchy of Alcaire, nobility and common people both look forward to putting that tragedy behind them and looking forward to an end to suspicion and mystery. Therefore we think it right and appropriate that Alcaire should host a New Life Festival that will be remembered for a generation—and that is being partially funded, not-so-incidentally, by Duke Nathaniel's brother-in-law King Fahara'jad. King Emeric urges all comers to celebrate New Life together in joy without anxiety or care about fiscal shortfall. All hail the return of Magnus!"
The Cloaked Stranger
Gilfre arrives at her second meeting with a Mages Guild adept about to discuss the more arcane features of the New Life Festival. By mistake, she instead engages with an older, wrinkled gentleman wearing a grey cloak and an air of mystery, believing him to be her Mages Guild contact when he sits precisely where the adept was supposed to meet her.
Gilfre: "I have always been fascinated with goblins since reading a copy of a supposed goblin oral tale called "This many Goblins Left the Cave." Do goblin tribes celebrate their own New Life Festival and is it uniform or does each tribe differ?"
Marwig Yeomcroft grinned impishly, "Was just talking about the local Goblin tribes with that young feller, Nellic Sterone. He says the Goblins have no word for 'lamination'—can you imagine that? How can the ugly beggars talk to each other about affixing materials in multiple layers when they don't even have a word for it? It makes you think, I tell you what. As to whether Golbins celebrate New Life, I have no idea—they sure as Shezarr don't celebrate New Lamination, I'll warrant you that! But any creature that appreciates the warmth of sunlight on their old bones is bound to appreciate the turning of the year and the return of Magnus, even if their celebration is just eating stewed skeever and donning new rat-skin hats."
Gilfre: "Argonians in Shadowfen have a tradition called the "Fish Boon Feast" where those who are able fish do so for those who are not. Are there any other New Life Festivals that Argonians participate in in the other parts of Black Marsh? In particular I would love to know about the dynamic between Argonians and the Hist during this time of year and if it has anything to do with the king's jewel of Black Marsh I've heard rumors about, the so called Eye of Argonia."
Marwig Yeomcroft eyes flashed wickedly, and he shook his head slowly before responding: "You don't fool me. I won't say it, and you can't trick me into saying it. I may be old, but I still have my wits about me, and I'll wager I could still out-dance you in the Koeglin Hornpipe! Go try your monkey tricks on someone else. Anyway, I don't know what they do in them marshes clear t'other side of Tamriel, but I've seen them lizard-folk when they're celebrating whatever it is they celebrate, and they're as quick to quaff a carafe of nut-brown ale as real people, and I'm even including Orcs in that. Meanwhile, have you ever thought about the fact that you can't spell 'Sithis' without 'Hist'? Or 'this is,' for that matter? It makes you think, I tell you what."
Gilfre: "My final question is in regards to the Dwemer. I have read an old tale referring to "The Scarab that transforms into the new man" in regards to an old Dwemer puzzle. This brought to mind the New Life Festival and how the Dwemer must have had some tradition dealing with this time of year. What can you tell us about the Dwemer's traditions and celebrations?"
Marwig Yeomcroft inclined his head, donning a broad, wolfish smile: "What can I tell you about the Dwemer? Why, just everything, that's all! I'll tell you something, youngster, if you promise not to tell nobody else. How old do you think I am? Never mind, don't bother answering, because you wouldn't answer right and there's no way you could. I am older than you can possibly imagine. I have abided for eons and seen wonders untold because I am … the Last Living Dwarf. Yes! Oh, I see you doubt me. I see you don't believe it. But I'm working on a device that will prove it to everyone—I just need a few more parts, a soul gem or two, maybe a tonal inverter, and then it will be finished: my Scaraliminofexamidium! Then I'll show you a Dwarven celebration or two—then I'll show you a 'new man,' you jumped-up nixad! Ha ha! I'll make you think, I tell you what."
Location: The Temple of the Divines, Ska'vyn
Interviewer: Eis Vuur Warden - An Argonian vampire and wayward & contract scholar who is an old acquaintance of Abnur Tharn and a former member of the Imperial Geographical Society. He has been down on his luck for a while and is a bit put off with the festive mood of the season, and is interested in uncovering the more divine and occult roots of the Festival.
Interviewee 1: Priestess Phaziyya - A young woman who grew up in the temple and is well-versed in its history of the Divines and their legends, but who is a bit disgruntled/amused by the fact Eis is a tad intoxicated and is fine with answering his questions.
Eis Vuur: Greetings, mam. I erect the spine of somewhat-pleasant salutations. (Burp) I've heard tales that the New Life Festival was originally celebrated as a holiday to give thanks for all of the good the gods did during the year and to pray for even more positive tidings for the coming one. (Hiccup) Is this true? How do the Divines and their temples celebrate the season? And do you have any insights into how the other faiths of Tamriel view the Festival?
Priestess Phaziyya says, "The celebration of the winter solstice widely known as the New Life Festival is common to every culture of Tamriel, except perhaps for that of the Argonians of Black Marsh. But it could just be that I'm ignorant of their customs in this regard, and perhaps you would know more about that than I. All respect Magnus, who, though he did not donate his essence to the creation of the world, nonetheless gave us in his departure the life-giving sun, whose return we celebrate in the New Life festivities. So though New Life isn't a holiday that honors the Aedra, we in the priesthood of the Eight give it our blessing nonetheless."
Eis Vuur: The New Year always makes me think of the holiday of Saturalia, which is often incorporated into the New Life Festival. I have always wondered about the legend of the "red-stained and snow-haired" knight that flies through the sky on a sleigh flown by reindeer (hiccup)...or was it winged bulls? Had to be bulls, I reckon. This fellow - Nikholas, I think his name was - has been described as one of the Saints of the Aedra and he brings gifts to all of good heart during this time of the year. Can you tell me more about this interesting figure?
Priestess Phaziyya says, "I'm unfamiliar with this delightful legend, but of course Saturalia is a Breton holiday, and not celebrated here in central Hammerfell. Though we Forebears worship most of the same Divines as the Bretons and Imperials, every culture has its own saints with only occasional overlap, such as Saint Pelin in nearby Bangkorai. Specific New Life customs vary from culture to culture in the same way. I've heard that in Elinhir the youth of the gentry give each other licentious presents that are intended to dare the recipients into lascivious behavior, though the giver's name is never revealed—it's up to each recipient to guess who their 'Secret Sanguine' was. We'd never do that here, of course—the local Crowns are too prudish!"
Eis Vuur: I have heard...oops, I'm sorry. Didn't mean to knock over that urn there, it seems like I'm losing my balance, ha ha. But as I was saying (belch), I have heard that during the New Life Festival the temples will resurrect the dead free of charge for citizens so they may celebrate the season with their loved ones? Is this true, or just a rumor? Why would priests and priestesses perform such miracles in the first place?
Priestess Phaziyya says, "Your jest, while perhaps quite amusing in Gideon or Helstrom, is in terrible taste here in Hammerfell, where we revere our honored dead and abominate all necromancy. If you persist, I shall have to ask you to leave the Basilica."
Eis Vuur: I think I'm going to be sick (hiccup)...but I have one more question, milady. The New (belch) Life Festival is often described as being the day the "sun returns to the world"? What does (hiccup) that actually mean? Is there a mythical reference to Magnus the Great Abandoner hidden in that statement (has paled considerably)?
Priestess Phaziyya says, "Perhaps for the denizens of tropical Argonia, where the change of the seasons barely registers, the solstice whence the days begin once again to get longer has no special meaning or significance, but to those of us who live close enough to Atmora to have a distinct winter season, this question is easily answered. All mortals save undead abominations welcome the sunshine, including—and perhaps even especially—you lizard-folk. …Hello? Did you doze off? Pesky boot!"
Location: The Screeching Echkin Tavern, Ska'vyn
Interviewee 2: Mochtuinne Eye-Tooth - An elderly woman, clearly a nomad and ambiguously a Witchmen shaman.
After being forcibly removed from the Temple grounds and recovering a slight bit, Eis goes to the local tavern in order to order more drinks to drown his sorrow and catches the attention of a mysterious elderly Breton lady, who has been following him and has heard about his questioning at the Basilica, wishing to speak to him about more darker subjects....
Eis Vuur: I erect the spine of woozy greetings, elder. I see the festive mood bothers you too. (Burp) I wonder, do you know of any of the more darker sides and history of the New Life Festival? You seem quite knowledgeable in the subject.
Mochtuinne Eye-Tooth says, "If wisdom be your object I can answer questions three. First shall I speak of Old Life and its dark festivity. Before new year is welcomed must we cast old year aside. Then come the live to witches bearing husks of those who died. To summon sun's return all know we must dance with the dead. So animate the corpses and into a jig be led!"
Eis Vuur: (Burp) I often wonder if the denizens of the Second Void, Oblivion, participate in the New Life Festival to some extent. How do the Princes, their subjects, and their worshippers interact with the Mundus during this time? Are there certain rituals and occult practices reserved for this time of the year? Does Molag Bal celebrate with slaughter, while Peryite ushers in a new plague?
Mochtuinne Eye-Tooth says, "In vale of Karth as autumn wanes the wolf pursues the sun. For Storihbeg would eat the orb and New Life would be none. So summon we great Hrokkibeg to interpose his might. That Manbeast might be driven off and shorten thus the night. Hircine abides in aspects five as all the witchmen know. And shaman knows which guise shall come and which must perforce go."
Eis Vuur: I'm...starting to feel a little tired now (hiccup). Too much to drink, I bet. But I have one more question, elder. Do you know how werewolves, vampires, and undead celebrate the New Life Festival? Do they have their own unique practices that vary from clan and type?
Mochtuinne Eye-Tooth says, "To those who hate the sunlight New Life is a time to dread. For turn of year means longer days and hardship keeping fed. Blood-folk, undead, and skinchanger dance rites to no avail. To hinder Magnus' slow return, entreaties doomed to fail. But try they must, they hate the sun, its burning rays they fear. And so they dance in darkness deep at turning of the year."