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Aldmeris, also known as the Isle of Aldmeris, the Island of Start,[UOL 1] Lost Aldmeris, Old Aldmeris, and Old Ehlnofey, is the mythical lost continent from which the Mer are said to have originated. The term Aldmeris also refers to the language spoken by the Aldmer.
Virtually nothing is known of the elven homeland. Its location, its environment, its politics, its religion, and even its existence are the stuff of conjecture. By some accounts, Aldmeris was located somewhere in the South Eltheric Ocean. According to Altmeri epic poetry, when the Ancients sailed to the Summerset Isles and landed at the northern tip of Auridon, they lost the means to navigate back to Aldmeris, but had reason to believe their homeland lay in one of three different directions: south, northwest, or northeast.
Little is known of Aldmeris' history apart from the traditional legend from the Early Merethic Era. In the Anuad, a large fragment of the Ehlnofey world landed on Nirn relatively intact, and the Ehlnofey living there were the ancestors of the Mer. These Ehlnofey fortified their borders from the chaos outside, hid their pocket of calm, and attempted to live on as before. Some sources say that to make up for Convention, Auri-El led the original Aldmer against the armies of Lorkhan in mythic times, vanquishing that tyrant and establishing the first kingdoms of the Altmer: Altmora and Old Ehlnofey. The Aldmer were "chased south and east" to Old Ehlnofey after Auriel's forces lost Altmora to the Men, and Lorkhan was close behind. Other Ehlnofey arrived on Nirn scattered amid the confused jumble of the shattered worlds, wandering and finding each other over the years. Eventually, the wandering Ehlnofey found the hidden land of Old Ehlnofey, and were amazed and joyful to find their kin living amid the splendor of ages past. The wandering Ehlnofey expected to be welcomed into the peaceful realm, but the Old Ehlnofey looked on them as degenerates, fallen from their former glory. For whatever reason, war broke out, and raged across the whole of Nirn. The Old Ehlnofey retained their ancient power and knowledge, but the Wanderers were more numerous, and toughened by their long struggle to survive on Nirn. This war reshaped the face of Nirn, sinking much of the land beneath new oceans; the Old Ehlnofey realm, although ruined, became Tamriel.
In more pragmatic records, the continent faced an unspecified threat or crisis, causing the Aldmer to leave in search of a new home across the seas. The Aldmeri refugees then became lost in a storm, and eventually landed in Tamriel, at Nine-Prow Landing on the island of Auridon in the Summerset Isles. These Aldmer were the Ancients, the ancestors of the modern-day Altmer. The Ayleids also trace their roots to Aldmeris, and one of the origin stories for the Bosmer involved them arriving in Valenwood from Aldmeris. What befell Aldmeris after the Aldmer left it is an enduring mystery, theorized to be the result of the elves' fall from Aedric grace. Some claim that the angry gods of the Aldmer sank the land into the sea, others that Aldmeris has left Mundus altogether and will not return until the races of Mer are reunited.
A second legend associated with Aldmeris concerns the rise of the Maormer, the ancient rivals of the Altmer. Translations of tapestries in the Crystal Tower assert that an exceedingly wealthy Aldmer nobleman named Orgnum funded and led a rebellion against the rulers of Aldmeris. The rebellion was quashed, and Orgnum and his followers were banished to Pyandonea behind a wall of impenetrable mists that would forever prevent them from returning to Aldmeris. This exile proved so effective that the followers of Orgnum never again disturbed their former countrymen. The new Aldmeri homeland of Summerset, however, was not so lucky. For their part, the Maormer believe that they are directly descended from the purest strain of Aldmer, and were wrongfully driven out of Aldmeris by the Altmer, whom they deride as a "mongrel race" that stole the Maormer's birthright, the Summerset Isles.
In the Middle Merethic Era, the Aldmer of Summerset organized the earliest known expedition to relocate Aldmeris and learn its fate. Three ships, the Niben, the Pasquiniel, and a third whose name is lost to history, were each given a crystalline ball called a waystone and directed to search in the direction to which their waystone was attuned. The Pasquiniel went south, the unnamed ship went northwest, and the Niben, captained by the famed Topal the Pilot, went northeast and discovered mainland Tamriel. Only the Niben returned to Summerset after an inadvertently lengthy tour of Tamriel's coasts and rivers; the other two ships were never heard from again. Although the expedition failed in its goal to find Aldmeris, it is assumed that the Aldmer had a compelling reason to believe their former homeland lay in one of those three directions.
A triptych titled "Echoes of Aldmeris", preserved by a fixative spell and recovered by archeologists in the middle Second Era, depicts Aldmeris in distinctive style with proud spires, floating obelisks, and wispy, concentric clouds. The accuracy of the portrayal is doubtful, though one Altmer scholar stated that it "stirs up a feeling in me ... like entering my father's house after a long journey abroad".
The politics, religion, and culture of Aldmeris are mysteries. Translations of ancient tapestries and texts preserved in the Crystal Tower vaguely describe a beautiful yet alien land. Notably, representations of Aldmeris always depict it as devoid of all forms of plant and animal life with the exception of the Aldmer themselves. The land is shown as an endless city, built upon itself over and over again until no trace of nature remained. It is said that should the burgeoning sister cities of Sunhold and Alinor ever merge, an eventuality prevented by the mountain range between them, they would form a metropolis on a scale not seen since Lost Aldmeris. Despite the belief that it was devoid of vegetation some Altmer of the times of Interregnum were known to exclaim "by the shining trees of Aldmeris".
The Altmer believe that they are all that remains of Old Ehlnofey, keeping their heritage pure and civilization unspoiled to be in line with was once practiced in Aldmeris. Some scholars assert that Altmeri traditions are closer to pre-First Era society than any other race's, and although Altmeri culture has still deviated and ramified in many ways, studying it provides insight into its ancient origins. According to legend, the highest towers of Aldmeris were reserved for interring the dead, and this tradition is still practiced among the Altmer of Summerset.
- In an out-of-game text by Michael Kirkbride, when discussing portentions of the coming Oblivion Crisis with the Elder Council, the Moth Priest Nu-Hatta contends that Aldmeris never was a physical homeland, but rather a collection of mental images left over from the chaos of the Dawn Era.[UOL 1] The text claims all elven peoples shared this tapestry of racial memory and as they diverged along cultural lines, their images of Aldmeris changed as well, and the figurative heritage was sundered, represented by the Towers that now dot Tamriel.[UOL 1]
- The Ubiquitous Sinking Isle — Lailfin, Steward of Histories at the
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: Other Lands — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- Toothmaul Gully and Ilayas Ruins Loading Screens
- Before the Ages of Man — Aicantar of
- House Tamrith Official Seal antiquity codex entries in ESO: Greymoor
- Seat of the Snow Prince Antiquities Codexes from ESO
- The Lay of Firsthold
- Father Of The Niben — Florin Jaliil
- The Annotated Anuad
- Varieties of Faith... — Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
- The Monomyth
- Ode to Auridon
- Auridon Explored — Fenlil the Wayfarer
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Seat of Sundered Kings: Cyrodiil — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- The Song of Pelinal
- The Green Singing
- The Maormer of Pyandonea — Imperial Geographical Society
- The Chosen People of Aldmeris — Sealord Malleroth Of Pyandonea
- Echoes of Aldmeris codex entries in ESO
- Our Blessed Isles: A Guide — Runilstir the Surveyor
- Gladiator Andulalion's dialogue in ESO
- Corruption of the Blood — A True Son of Aldmeris
- Crafting Motif 1: High Elf Style — Doctor Alfidia Lupus
Note: The following references are considered to be unofficial sources. They are included to round off this article and may not be authoritative or conclusive.