My brother and I were different than most high elves in more than a few ways. Our parents were diplomats and agents of the Thalmor, and were often away on assignment. They did not have an active role in our youth. We only saw them for brief periods, which didn’t leave us much time to bond. We never felt very close to either of them. As children, we longed for their attention, as children separated from their parents do. However, once they returned to our lives, we felt smothered.
We were raised in Cyrodiil by a wood elf. We were instilled with most of Anariel’s values. Instead of superiority and domination, we were taught peace and harmony. She was a priestess of Akatosh, but we never really knew much about her past. Everyone around us was always shrouded in mystery and secret, it seemed.
How Anariel came to be the caretaker of two Thalmor children was…odd. A wood elf being a priestess of Akatosh was unusual enough – most wood elves revered Kyne. Wood elves had no loyalties to the Thalmor after the massacre at Valenwood. There was no love between my parents and her. The few meetings we witnessed between them was short and business-like. We got the feeling there was some sort of deal. It was not unsual for high elves to have Bosmer servants, but the type of position Anariel held was not typical. From what I know about my parents, Anariel must have held a very powerful card.
Our parents were stationed in the Imperial City shortly after the signing of the White-Gold Concordat, and that was where we were born. Anariel somehow became part of my parents’ household, and managed their children and their estate in their absence. Given the Thalmor’s doctrine of Aldmer superiority, it was a rather odd assignment to be handed to a Bosmer.
She didn’t care much for politics, and Cyrodiil is full of politics. She kept us insulated from most of it, especially when the new Arcane University insisted that we should enroll. The old university was destroyed and dismantled during the war. I don’t know how the Arcane University used to be, but it is currently more about political maneuvering than it is about the study of magic. My father was not yet a full ambassador at the time, but he was moving up the ranks quickly. The new Archmage was trying to get his bets in early by offering to teach my brother and I.
Anariel tried to teach us magic, but as a wood elf, we quickly outpaced her. What she did excel at was showing us was a more zen like approach to magic rather than domination. Great power must be tempered with great restraint. Powerful magic can change the direction of the winds, so be purposeful in deciding which way to make it blow. We must find our balance with nature, power, and magic.
Obviously these were teachings completely the opposite of the Thalmor. My brother and I didn’t know that for most of our lives. Because of our parents position, everyone treated us with a certain type of deference. Because of Anariel’s shielding, we didn’t understand the world we lived in.
My brother and I spent most of our time in study, introspect, and philosophical debate. Not so different than our high elven relatives, except we also developed a type of empathy to go along with it. It was here that I developed my love of botany and plants. What Anariel lacked in innate magic ability, she made up for with a vast knowledge of plants and how to make potions. Dragon’s Tongue were my favorite flowers, but we had to travel near Bravil to collect them.
Our favorite stories as children were about the Champion of Cyrodiil, Martin Septim, and the Knights of the Nine. Since we lived in Cyrodiil, we were well acquainted with the legend. The Champion was a high elven mage, from whom I was named. In addition to closing the Oblivion gates, and assisting Martin Septim defeat Mehrunes Dagon, she also restored the Priory of the Nine.
However, shortly thereafter she disappeared. No one knows where she went, if or where she died. That was well over 200 years ago. Since she was a high elf, it was not entirely inconceivable she was still alive, though unlikely. Anariel said she heard stories among her kind that the Champion desired a quiet life, and settled anonymously in Valenwood. That was most likely romanticism by the wood elves, we thought. On the off hand it was true, she may well have been killed along with the wood elves during the ‘purge’ that the Thalmor claimed never happened.
Unfortunately, the empire and the world she and Martin tried to save slowly fell apart. The order of the Knights included. Without her, they faded into forgotten legend once again.
Anariel told us that Azeriah, the Champion of Cyrodiil, was of pure heart, for she could not have reestablished the Priory otherwise. The relics of the Nine were known to reject those of tainted souls. She used her magic to save Tamriel, but to be successful, she had to be very powerful. Thus, being powerful and being good are not mutually exclusive.
There is enough evil in the world to become very powerful opposing it, she said.
And thus she set our moral compass. It would become the definition of who we were.