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Bosmer Part 3: On Valenwood

  • Member
    July 2, 2014

    Disclaimer: This is an article of our former member, renown Loremaster Vix, acknowledged by Bethesda themselves. It ended up being deleted and I'm merely reposting it.


    On Valenwood

    Having looked at both the religion and the culture of the inhabitants of the land, we'll look at the geography that has shaped the Bosmer themselves. In this we do have a section about their Economics to show how the Bosmer survive with the land they've taken as their own.



    Much like any other realm, Valenwood has many topographical and geopolitical zones that help distinguish areas from each other. Looking on a typical map we don't see some of the complexities but we have some indication of it from the various Lore books. While it is true that the Bosmer are generally seen as diverse independent barbarians (Morrowind description) they do have different tendencies based on locales.

    To the North at the river Strid is called the Strident coast. Typically this northern section is one of the better known by outsiders and it has a great number of diverse cultures and peoples other than Bosmer. It is a flatter expanse of land in comparison to the other sections of the realm. The old custom is that the Colovians had a fairly good relationship with the northern Bosmer tribes, providing annual caravans . Though this same tradition collapsed in the second era, we are told that, for ease of trade and transport, the Cyrodiilic Empire had built many road networks of stone that fell into disrepair during the interregnum. The Altmer subsequently expanded these and used them effectively in their tenures as part of the joint Thalmor government (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition). Despite the relative population diversity up north, most of the realm is still said to be pockets of dispersed and isolated people (Provinces of Tamriel). Clans tend to live in timber long-houses (Provinces of Tamriel), but there are also mentions of Cyrodiilic manor homes with attached estates (The Black Arrow, Niruin), as well as more primitive dwellings made of piled rocks and leather tents which comprise many of the rural settlements (A Dance in Fire). Construction using masonry is rare and most of the Bosmeri structures are built either based on organic designs, or simply in natural locations for shelter.

    Most of the central portion of the realm is made up of both heavy rainforests as well as thick mangrove swamps interspersed with a small number of glades and grasslands to the south (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1stedition). Most of the interior roads that connect Bosmer communities are trails and footpaths with the dilapidated road network being only used for foreigners in larger groups (A Dance in Fire, Provinces of Tamriel). Passage from the east is always dangerous given the constant border clashes between the Bosmer and Khajiit which have become quite normal.


    Elden Root and the Big Trees:

    The eastern graht-oak forests tend to be one of the prizes taken by the Khajiit and its timbers were used to build the Mane's palace in Torval. However, it seems these Graht-oaks, some of the very first trees spawned at the beginning of time, likely originate farther inland at Elden Root. This spot might have been more famous for being the site of the Thalmor government During the Aldmeri Dominion days, however, there is a more famous legend attached to it according to Ria Silmane. Elden Root, containing Elden Grove, is said to be the site of the sacred First Tree which gave life to all the other forests on Tamriel at the earliest Dawn era (Arena in game). This can be easily substantiated to some degree by Khajiiti legends which say the forests originated in Valenwood (Words of Clan Mother Ahnissi).

    The trees of Valenwood are already noted for being very large and incorporating several major features. Being considered 'modest' at 50 feet in height and growing exponentially from there we can see that it is quite typical of rainforests foliage. Valenwood is rich in game and resources though the later typically goes untapped by the native Bosmer (A Dance in Fire). But a far more famous tree is commonly found north or south in Valenwood.


    Falinesti: The Migrating Capitol

    The Camoran traditional capitol of Falinesti is an enormous graht-oak with astounding dimensions. At a mile high and a half mile wide, it is by all accounts the largest tree in Tamriel and likely all of Nirn. It sports a great crown of gold and green foliage and is known for most of its history, up until the late third age, of having a great swarming root system that keeps it moving north in the winter time and south in the summer. As such the tree itself physically moves at a rather swift rate. It was said to travel along the verdant Xylo river and as such we can estimate some of the later gains of Khajiiti expansion into Valenwood.

    Falinesti is also home to a very sizable and diverse population. While the Bosmer comprise a numerical majority it is said to be a slim one compared to its second most populous resident, Orcs. A third substantial group is the centaurs. As such they, and many others including a great number of Imaga, are all part of the local culture which is seen as a metropolis of sorts.

    Passage onto and off Falinesti was achieved through 'ferries' which are platforms on pulleys pulled by ferrymen to bring people quickly to the various sections of the living city. These individuals, by their occupation, are said to be extremely strong. The city itself has many nooks, crannies, and smaller communities within the foliage which comprise many spots internally and externally. This makes up various plazas which have full platforms as well as establishments including homes as well as businesses and taverns. Construction may be natural or created from web like moss roofs that produce alleyways and a typical city pattern.

    Each community contains its own name and own danger or events. For examples, Havel Slump is known for drinking and feasting once a week on Morndas (monday) and is also known for infestations of Horval ticks the size of a calf that will eat people that stay out after dark including the drunks . The lowest sections and mid sections are both seen as somewhat 'mundane' and even pedestrian while the upper boughs contains the Imperial palace at the highest crux, and the more expensive establishments such as the elaborate Aysia Hall. (A Dance in Fire).

    The trunk is said to be slick with sap which also may give rise to a more profound purpose as 'the green-sap tower', one of the great 8 towers of Tamriel as discussed in the article The Tower and it's Stones. Falinesti stopped moving in the later part of the third era, settling in the north of Valenwood and not moving since (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition). It seems that later on Falinesti fell to a number of disasters, both during the time of Haymon Camoran as well as during the second Thalmor take over in which it seems there were a number of fires and purges (Thalmor Dossiers, The Refugees).


    The Other Cities:

    While not as much information is known or given about the other various communities, we known that the Treethane exist in Falinesti, as well as Silvenar, Haven, Archen, Eldenroot, and Woodhearth.

    Of these the one that we have information on is Silvenar. While we know the Silvenar is a person, it is also the name of the location in mid Valenwood. Silvenar is seen as a cultural city and a very elaborate one quite different from the typical picture. It takes many organic elements but on an enormous scale. The palace is said to be a single large crystal blossom, it has amber bridges crossing the gaps over streams, as well as communities made up of petrified wood. A single other notable location is the tavern Prithala Hall. It is constructed of geometrical slightly translucent metallic crystals.

    The palace itself is noteworthy, being the size of a town and hundreds of feet high. In itself it has no rooms or doors, merely a single winding corridor and cloisters here and there. To get to the throne room one would have to talk the rest of the building as it is at the very middle of the linear pathway. It has petal like bridges and no privacy (A Dance in Fire).

    The Other Races:

    The North is most noted for incorporating a great many of various races and cultures from the dawn of time right through to present. Originally Northern Valenwood was home to a vast myriad of creatures including centaurs, the hipogriffs, the satyrs, the minotaurs, the giants, the basilisks, the fairies, and hydras. These all had their own unique cultures and civilizations. The Orcs comprise another significant majority in at least parts of Valenwood.

    The Imaga are another notable addition to Valenwood's society. They are called 'The Great Apes' and are native inhabitants of Valenwood. However, while they are quite at home with the Bosmer, they revere the Altmer as their lords and paint Altmeri culture and civilization as the highest ideal. Many emulate the Altmer, practicing with dueling swords, wearing cloaks, and speaking with perfect enunciation in imitation of the elves. They have deep gravely voices. Imaga adopt titles, often far above a reasonable station including Barons, Duke, Earls, and use it to address members of the Thalmor government. Given that no Imaga seems to own land the titles are somewhat peculiar. Some shave their bodies and powder their skin white to appear like the Altmer. They see humans as contemptible, and find their smell offensive, holding a cape to their noses (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition).


    Monsters and Other Concerns:

    Valenwood, like all the other Tamrielic regions, has its fair share of problems with animals and monsters as well as a diverse wildlife. While Valenwood is dense in game animals, and the parasite tick horvers in Falinesti, it also has the Mimic flies. Compared to a lot of the dangerous animals out there the mimic flies are purely harmless albeit annoying. They can repeat what passerbys say and while it's doubtful they are sentient at all, they are smart enough to understand emotions, and likewise will swamp and 'chatter' with visitors for quite some time, following them and surrounding them with an endless stream of babble. They are several inches long, have six wings and no other limbs, are gold and silver in color, possess red eyes on stalks, and a distended thorax (A Dance in Fire). Aside from these there are the typical fantasy creatures of rats and giant spiders (Words and Philosophy).

    Of course, on the other hand Valenwood is known to be home of two kinds of Lycanthropes, both the typical werewolves, but also the unique werevultures. The later of which are known to be extremely aggressive and as of the 4th era, seem to be expanding outwards from Valenwood to Cyrodiil (On Lycanthropy, Lycanthropes of Skyrim)

    Opposite to the Lycanthropes, Valenwood is home of several strains of vampires as well. Immortal Blood, the quintessential guide on the topic, mentions that most of the vampires in Valenwood are located in the north of the region. The Bonsamu were indistinguishable from Bosmer except in candlelight, the Keerilth disintegrate into mist but can't go far, the Yekef can swallow men whole, and the Telboth prey on children and take their place to infiltrate families and murder them all as 'sleeper agents' when their guard is down which may take years.

    There are several notable guilds in Valenwood. The mages guild existed at least up until the 4th era separation, the Fighters guild also existed but dissolved during Jager Tharn's reign in 3E 391 (Words and Philosophy). There is also a Theives guild known as the Silver Crescents that operated in the 4th era at least (Nuirin).



    The last point of the Bosmeri culture deals with their economic situation. As mentioned before the Green Pact is a limiting factor when it comes to Valenwood's ability to export a great amount of raw materials but are artificially limited by constraints. This may have been less of a problem in the primal Merethic era, but became limiting by the closing of the first era. Despite the usual assumptions that being in greater harmony with nature is enough, the Bosmer are chronically short of supplies and require a great deal of imports to sustain them in any major capacity. They were not self sufficient during the later part of the first era, and grew even more dependent during the second and third (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition) and into the third. Sustenance comes strictly from meat as the Bosmer are carnivores, but they lack most advanced crafting equipment and even their timber homes (Provinces of Tamriel) needs to be supplied by external sources. In fact, the Five Year War was allegedly started by the Bosmer because of Khajiiti bandits sapping the Timber trade to Valenwood from outside the province (Mixed Unit Tactics). The Bosmer lack wood to create many large sustainable metropolitan structures, and this has, in turn partially limited urban growth and industry. Most typical trade routes are unused and merely remnants of older times with foreigners intervening.

    Unlike Argonian which thrives with the lack of external intervention, Valenwood seems to require it in order to properly advance and maintain a good standard for its people. One of the first major external agreements was an economic trade treaty between the Bosmeri King and the Alessian Emperor in 1E 340 (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition). Foreign sailors and merchants had been in contact early with Valenwood merchants from as far away as Argonia in the first era, and were almost entirely dependent on the Colovian annual trade caravans known as the Strident caravans (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition). Typically Bosmer will trade for essential supplies, giving things like river pearls, hides, their wares and crafts, as well as stranger things such as magically charged talismans made out of the finger bones of dead wizards (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition). Given the notably arrogant and unreliable source in the Imperial ambassador Eric of Guis, it's difficult to tell if this is true given it contradicts the earlier statements condemning necromancy, though that may also have come into effect after Camoran the Usurper's acts.


    Now that we see how Valenwood is oriented religiously, politically, socially, and geographically, we can take a look at their lengthy history.

    ← Part 2: Culture and Identity Part 4: History of the Garden Realm →