Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse…
That’s a poem called Chaos: A Poem, by G. Nolst Trenité. It was written in 1920. I used to torture my English learning students with it. Some of them loved it and some of them hated it. You can read the rest of it here if you’re interested. I won’t torture y’all with it because it’s long! It is the second thing that sprung to mind when I saw the prompt though. The first thing was these guys:
Ugly little buggers, aren’t they? They’re called Falmer, and they’re from Skyrim. They roam under certain dwellings around Tamriel (called Dwemer ruins) and they’re pretty nasty. They come in several strengths, as do all enemies in Skyrim. I believe this is the lowest of them. They’re blind, but for some reason the archers are deadly accurate. The story I’ve gathered is that they were once a race of Elves — called Snow Elves — who made a deal with the another race of Elves — called the Dwemer to take refuge with them because they were being driven out by the Nords (the people who now occupy Skyrim and call it home). But the Dwemer asked a terrible price for their help — the eyes of the Snow Elves. I’m not sure how that made subsequent generations of the Snow Elves blind, but there you go. The Dwemer have long since disappeared and the Snow Elves turned into the Falmer who scuttle around underneath the abandoned ruins of the Dwemer.
The second “creature” that came to mind were these guys:
This, dear reader, is a Draugr. The Draugr, are (of course) also denizens of Skyrim. They either wander or rest in the ruins of the ancient Nords where they once resided. Some people say they are there to protect the treasures and burial grounds of the ancient Dragon Priests and others say that they were turned into draugr because they worshiped with the ancient dragon priests. Just as some say the traps are there to keep the treasure hunters out, and others say that they are there to keep the Draugr (and aforementioned Dragon Priests) in. The traps are actually very easy to see and go around (unless you’re an NPC, or new to the game, then they can just as easily kill you), and the puzzles are sometimes laughably straightforward to solve. I mean, the keys to the puzzle are almost always right there in front of one’s nose. One doesn’t even have to look very hard for them. Okay, I’ll admit that when I first started the game, it took me a minute to figure them out, but once you figure them out, it’s insanely simple. I lean heavily on the side of the people who say that the traps and locks are for keeping what’s on the other side of the doors in rather than the other way around. But I digress.
So why did these two things come to mind when I saw this daily prompt? Well there’s a magical effect in Skyrim called a “soul trap” which the player character can either cast or enchant on a weapon, wherein a person or creature’s soul will become trapped in a gem (called a soul gem) when they are killed. The soul gems come in various “sizes” thusly:
…with petty being the lowest and black being the biggest. Bunnies, foxes and smaller animals would go into petty to common soul gems (depending on their level) and larger creatures like giants, and mammoths will be captured in the greater and grand soul gems. Humans will be captured in a black soul gems. The souls will then be used to power magical enchantments on weapons and armor. It’s a pretty sick setup when you think about it. I mean, even stealing an animal’s soul to power your magical weapon is kinda mean. But hey we eat their flesh and use their skin, why not their souls? I don’t know what happens to the souls after they’re used for the enchantments. But, because energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only transferred, I’m guessing it goes somewhere else. Again, I digress. The thing that confused me, and why I thought of them for this prompt, was that Falmer and Draugr go into common soul gems, and I never understood why.
I mean, Falmer were once Snow Elves and Draugr were once Nords, but now they’re considered basically no more than foxes? That just doesn’t make sense. Okay, the Draugr are the walking dead, but they still have their souls (obviously or the soul trap wouldn’t work at all). Does the fact that they’ve been dead since “ancient” times mean that their souls have somehow degraded? I guess that kind of makes sense. Maybe.
But the Falmer are still coherent enough to work magic, build weapons and armor, have a basic — very basic– society. I mean, they live in shelter, build fire, and farm the Chaurus (the ugly bastard pictured to the right) for food, clothing and shelter. They’re obviously not mindless savages like the Draugr. They often raid nearby towns for prisoners, and I believe they’re cannibals, but that doesn’t make them mindless. Just savage. They still have a human-like quality to them, even if it is buried under their misshapen faces. Don’t get me wrong, the Falmer are not sympathetic. They will kill any other person that’s not Falmer. I think part of their lore is that they want to wipe out every other race. They have been known to dig out from under their tunnels and slaughter or carry off anyone they met (to eat later). This doesn’t make them less human. it just makes them… barbaric. Though there is a “town” of Falmer that has human slaves, so instead of eating their prisoners, they enslaved them. So progress? I guess.
There’s one point in the game where the Falmer have dug into a tavern filled with bandits and a fight ensues. You can read about it here if you’re interested. The player character will come in to the scene at the end of the fight and this is the quandary you face. Do you help the bandits against the Falmer? Bandits who would probably kill you in any other circumstances? My first instinct, of course, is to “help my fellow man” against the savage beasts that are slaughtering them. But these are bandits who would kill me without a second thought if the Falmer weren’t busy making mincemeat of them. I mean, the enemy of my enemy is my friend I guess. And I often, when playing this game, try to react as I would in real life. I mean, maybe if they’re saved from being eaten by the Falmer they’ll give up their bandit ways and go straight. You never know. ^_^ Of course, the bandits never stood a chance, so the choice was taken out of my hands. But still. I tried. I also have mods that spawn extra bandits, so my experiences were different than the vanilla you read about if you read the link… So there’s that.
Anyway, back to the point. The point is that Falmer and Draugr are considered lesser creatures in Skyrim, and I don’t know why. It kind of makes sense with the Draugr (but not really) and it doesn’t make any sense at all with the Falmer. I do used soul gems in my games because I figure that once the soul’s energy has been used up, it’s released into the ether, just as if the soul had died. So I’m good. ^_^ Anyway, that’s what came to mind when I saw the prompt… creatures in Skyrim, and what defines a creature rather than a mer (elf) or man.