The Ehlnofey (sometimes spelled Elhnofey) of the Dawn Era are a group of et'Ada who, along with the Hist, decided not to abandon Mundus, and remained on the mortal realm to instead keep it viable. They are depicted as vaguely Elven in shape, but featureless, similar to how they live on in fading memory. The language or languages of the Ehlnofey became known as Ehlnofex. The term Ehlnofey in this language means Earthbones, but the word Earthbones is typically used to describe the Ehlnofey that followed the example of Y'ffre and sacrificed themselves to form the rules of nature.[UOL 1] Indeed, these followers of Y'ffre are known as the Earth Bones (or Earthbones), and it's been found that these "Earth Bones" can be manipulated to some extent. Those that did not sacrifice themselves to become the laws of nature are typically referred to as the Ehlnofey.[UOL 1] These spirits instead populated the mortal plane, becoming the progenitors of the mortal races. Perhaps because of their association with the land itself, "Old Ehlnofey" became another name for Aldmeris, the mystical homeland of the elves.
When Magnus the architect decided to flee Mundus, the et'Ada split. Most followed Magnus, but the Ehlnofey are those that, as described above, "sacrificed themselves into other forms so that they might stay" in Mundus. It is believed Nirn is an amalgamation of twelve worlds, and a large chunk of one world, the Ehlnofey world, was left relatively intact. The Ehlnofey who lived there were the ancestors of the Mer, and their solidarity allowed them to retain more of their ancient knowledge and power. The other Ehlnofey, who were left scattered around Nirn, had a harder time adapting, and were dubbed the "Wanderers". For whatever reason, a war eventually broke out between Old Ehlnofey and the Wanderers. The Old Ehlnofey were more powerful individually, but the Wanderers were more numerous, and had been toughened by the hardships of Nirn. It is believed this war reshaped the face of Nirn, creating the first oceans, and what was left of Old Ehlnofey purportedly became Tamriel. When this war occurred is not clear, but the Aldmer are said to have left their doomed and ruined continent and colonized southwest Tamriel in the Middle Merethic Era, only to spend many centuries fruitlessly searching for their old homeland.
We were the Y'ffre. Then we became the Ehlnofey, the Earth Bones. … "
—Guardian of the Earth
The fracturing of the Aldmer along cultural and racial lines is called the Sundering of Aldmeris. The Old Ehlnofey, or the proto-mer known as Aldmer became the Dwemer (Deep Ones), the Chimer (Changed Ones), the Bosmer (Green or Forest Ones), the Falmer (Snow Ones), the Maormer (Sea or Tropical Ones) of Pyandonea, the Altmer (Elder or High Ones), and the Sinistral Mer (Left-handed Ones) of Yokuda. The Wanderers (Wandering Ehlnofey) became the races of men, eventually splitting into many different racial groups, including the Nedes, the Atmorans of Atmora, the Yokudans of Yokuda, and possibly the Tsaesci of Akavir, and other aboriginal groups (Proto-Bretons).
Though the protean race is apparently gone, the Ehlnofey are not entirely forgotten. They are thought to have taken on students before they disappeared, passing their knowledge on to emerging races. Knowledge of most individuals has been lost to time, but many prominent Ehlnofey appear in some form in the pantheons of the various races. The Ayleids of Cyrodiil preserved the Ehlnofey's Dawn Era magics and language. The theories of the Dwemer High Craftlord Kagrenac involved using sacred tones on the Heart of Lorkhan and bending the Earth Bones, commanding the "obedience" of the Ehlnofey.
In the Second Era, what seem to be lingering Ehlnofey spirits were still present in the Bone Orchard of southern Grahtwood. Some of these spirits would inhabit elven skeletons to move around, while others prefered to stay resting in their own massive and monstrous appearing bones. Some of them claimed to have once been gigantic beings that roamed the land before they were trapped there.
The Beldama Wyrd are a witch coven attuned to nature. They venerate the Breton interpretation of Y'ffre, Jephre. They are guided by elemental spirits known as the Guardians, which are among the extinct Ehlnofey who claim they were once Y'ffre.
Bosmer are known to worship Y'ffre. A vital part of the Bosmeri pantheon, Y'ffre's Ehlnofey, or "Earthbones," were created from his corporeal form to establish safety and the laws of nature. These laws took the shape of stories, and there is great debate between tribes competing to interpret Y'ffre's ways and knowledge of the times of chaos, before Y'ffre arrived on the mortal plane. Some legends claim that the Boiche Elves, made from the Earthbones that followed Jephre, grew the first great Graht-oak the out of the Perchance Acorn, which would become Tower of Green-Sap. Due to the nature of the Acorn being, perchance, elsewhere, many different Green-Saps sprung in many different forms, forming the walking Graht-Oak forests of the Valenwood. Each one told its own stories of the Green, the forest home of the "Boiche-become-Bosmer". Some of the Bosmeri Spinners are connected to the Earthbones, although the exact nature of this connection is unknown.
Ancient Aldmer were known to utilize magic associated with Ehlnofey in their arcane craftsmanship. According to the legend of the Viridian Sentinel, long ago the Direnni forged a covenant with the Earth Bones to protect their settlements from the wild. The Bretons, who displaced the Direnni, had no such arrangement, and as a result, their farms in Bangkorai were gradually overrun by the wilderness. The people were pushed to the brink of starvation, causing a young boy Greenward to pray to Stendarr for salvation. Stendarr taught him to forge a new pact with the forest, giving him the power to restrain the natural creatures within. He thus became the first Viridian Sentinel.
Reachfolk venerate many different spirits of varied nature. Although their faith is primarily related to the Daedra, certain clans also venerate minor nature spirits of springs or sacred animals. Their shamans occasionally utilize calming spirits that may inhabit their staves.
- The war between the Ehlnofey described in The Annotated Anuad bears many striking parallels with the war between Lorkhan and Auriel described in The Monomyth, and the texts are likely summarizing the same events from different historiographical perspectives.
- The Annotated Anuad — Early religious book providing a simplified version of The Anuad creation myth from the Mythic Era
- Before the Ages of Man by Aicantar of — Chronicles the major events of the Dawn and Merethic Eras
- The Monomyth — A theological book containing the common creation myths
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Skyrim — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- Elusive Ehlnofey Statuette
- The Monomyth
- Varieties of Faith... — Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
- Baladas Demnevanni's dialogue in Morrowind.
- Before the Ages of Man — Aicantar of
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Blessed Isle: Alinor and the Summersets — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: All the Eras of Man, A Comprehensive History of our History — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- The Annotated Anuad
- Father Of The Niben — Florin Jaliil
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Hammerfell — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- Dringoth's dialogue in ESO
- Events of Keeper of Bones in ESO
- Witch Cults of Northern High Rock — Wafimeles Masteret (Lorekeeper)
- Wyress Ileana's dialogue in ESO
- Guardian of the Earth's dialogue in ESO
- The Improved Emperor's Guide to Tamriel: Valenwood — Flaccus Terentius, 2E 581
- Aurbic Enigma 4: The Elden Tree — Beredalmo the Signifier
- Earthbone Spinner in Legends
- Pearls of Ehlnofey's antiquity codex entries in ESO
- The Viridian Sentinel
- Great Spirits of the Reach: Volume 2 — Vashu gra-Morga, Chief Daedrotheologist at the University of Gwylim
- Staff of the Spirit Within
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.