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Altmer (aka High elves) are a playable race featured in the Elder Scrolls series. They are a race of elves who dabble in the art of magic.
Altmer are thought to be the most direct, unaltered descendants of the original Aldmer elves, and the transition from one to the other is not very clear. The Altmer seemed to have changed by staying the same. When the Aldmer left their home island of Aldmeris, most if not all of them settled first in the Summerset Isle. Much of their history is lost or hidden, but it is known that many unique ruins and structures, notably the Ceporah Tower, predate the Aldmeri arrival by at least several hundred years. They likely warred with the Sload of Thras and other strange, unknown creatures for control of Summerset in ancient times. At some point they came together and formed the Crystal Tower as a monument to the spirit of their race, and it was the pinnacle of magical learning until the construction of the Arcane University.
ocial clashes amongst the Aldmer would lead to a series of emigrations from Summerset Isle to regions all over Tamriel, notably under the prophet Veloth, which would lead to the great diversification of Elven races, such as the Chimer, Bosmer, Orsimer, Ayleid (exactly when and where the Dwemer and Snow Elves emerged is not clear, but they are believed to all have a common ancestry). Many different, often corroborating legends claim that the changes of each race were the result of differences in their worship of deities.
While mainland Tamriel experienced many problems and sagas during the First and Second Era, the sea insulated the Altmer of Summerset from their problems, though they had their own limited internal conflicts as well as repeated, large-scale invasions from the Sload and Maormer to deal with. Eventually, the Altmer became tired of living under constant threat and in the Second Era formed the Aldmeri Dominion with the Bosmer of Valenwood. However, they could not stand against the forces of Tiber Septim and the Numidium, which crushed the Dominion and finally brought the Summerset Isle into the Imperial fold in 2E 896. Then, in the War of the Isle of 3E 110, the Maormer were on the brink of finally taking Summerset, and the Altmer had to accept assistance from the Empire to survive. The Altmer remember these incidents with shame and horror, and they have likely contributed to recent social unrest amongst their youth.
The Altmer are among the tallest of the humanoid races; taller than most humans and even the other elven races. Their skin maintains a very pale golden hue, not quite the pale white of the northern human races such as Nords or Imperials, but far lighter than the Bosmer. They are slender, with prominently pointed ears and almond-shaped eyes.
On average, Altmer are of smaller build than humans, and thus generally not as strong. Their tall stature also makes them less agile than their Bosmeri cousins. However, Altmer are among the most intelligent and magically-inclined races on Nirn, surpassing even the Bretons in magical aptitude.
The Altmer are one of the oldest races on Tamriel, one of the earliest descendants of the original elf race of Aldmer, and from there, through the Ehlnofey to the divine et'Ada themselves. As a race, they are extremely proud of their Aldmeri heritage and make a concerted effort to maintain their genetic lineage. Their name translates from the Aldmeri language as High Ones or Cultured Ones; a name which is often interpreted to mean "tall", or more often, "snobbish". For their part, the Altmer argue that they are the first true culture on Tamriel and still the most civilized race; an argument that even human scholars find difficult to refute.
The Altmer primarily live in the province of Summerset Isle, a large island off the southwest coast of Tamriel, which shares a border with Valenwood. According to their histories, their Aldmeri ancestors arrived on Summerset Isle due to mysterious reasons from the continent of Aldmeris. From here, splinter groups of Aldmer spread throughout Tamriel, but the Altmer remained on the Isles, acting as the nominal head of the empire of Altmeri nations on Tamriel. For most of the Mythic Era, the other races of elves on Tamriel acknowledged the Altmeri king as their own ruler, a practice which persisted until the founding of the Camoran Dynasty in Valenwood which marked the start of the First Era and the beginning of the decline of Altmer-dominated Tamriel. Their influence is still felt across the continent, however, as their culture forms the basis for the religion, language, and even architecture of the Cyrodilic Empire.
The Altmer also have a very precise culture. From their customs to their buildings, or their appearance to their table manners. If one is to dine at an Altmeri dinner table, they must remember a very precise set of rules:
- Refill the glass of the diner to your left when it is low. Never refill your own glass.
- Never rest utensils on the edge of any vessel.
- Do not eat more than the most prestigious attendee at any function.
- Always allow the head of your table to lead the discussion.
- Never watch another while they chew.
- Using the wrong utensil is considered barbaric. If you do not know which to use, watch other guests and follow their example.
The Altmeri religion forms the basis for most of the other religious practices on the continent, primarily due to its widespread acceptance prior to the advent of human civilization. It is generally assumed that the Altmer pantheon derives directly from the original gods of the Aldmer, and was nearly identical to that of the Ayleids that ruled central Tamriel before the Alessian revolt.
The Altmer pantheon consists of nine of the Aedra that originally cooperated to form Nirn, the mortal plane. They primarily worship those Aedra which removed themselves from the creation process in time to save their divinity, with a few notable exceptions. As with nearly all Tamrielic religions, they revere Akatosh, whom they call Auri-El, as their chief deity, at least in principle. However, Akatosh, along with the Altmer deities Stendarr (whom the Altmer view as an apologist of Man) and Mara, were part of the creation process until its end, and so were severely weakened from their original form. In practice, the Altmer followed the teachings of Trinimac, the champion deity of the elves, who was still able to physically walk the face of Tamriel during the Mythic Era. Other key divines in their pantheon include Magnus, the source of magic on Nirn, and Phynaster, the patron god of the Summerset Isle, whom the Altmer claim taught them to live much longer lives by taking shorter strides.
Although they do not revere him as a god (in fact, quite the opposite), the Altmer do acknowledge the divinity of Lorkhan, the patron god of man. Much of the early Altmer history involves conflicts between Trinimac and his elves, and Lorkhan and his humans. The Altmer cast Lorkhan as a treacherous, shifty character who tricked the Aedra into carrying out his plan for creation. As the elves believe themselves to be direct descendants from Auri-El, they blame Lorkhan for the loss of their divinity. This is the key difference between human and elf theology: humans consider themselves creations of the gods, not descendants of the gods. Unfortunately for the Altmer, Trinimac disappeared near the end of the Mythic Era; according to legend, he was eaten by the Daedric Prince Boethiah and reformed into Malacath. The start of the First Era marked the beginning of a sharp decline in Altmer cultural and religious dominance across Tamriel; in modern times, Altmer outside of Summerset are as likely to worship the Nine Divines as their own traditional gods.
(To Be Added)