Woe be those who dare venture into Selene’s Web. Learn about the powerful shape-changing forest spirit in our latest Meet the Character!
From the Annals of Vanus Galerion,
I am rarely surprised. Where a less developed intellect encounters the unexpected, I find only the improbable. And yet, there have been moments during my tenure as Arch-Mage that remind me not to let my meritorious status go to my head. My encounter with the Changeling, Selene, ranks high among them. It was at a time when the Mages Guild was still young, relatively speaking, when my order had finally struck out from the Summerset Isles and began to move into continental Tamriel.
I petitioned the Silvenar to allow us entry into the Wood Elf domain. To establish a guildhall within the capitol, no less. To say that Valenwood was resistant to any more outside forces meddling in their affairs would be an understatement, but I was granted an opportunity to prove the value of the guild. Our first contract, as it were: explore the uncharted fen east of Silvenar. It was the only part of the Green that the Wood Elves knew little of, because those who entered the quagmire never returned. While it was obvious that the Silvenar meant to be rid of me, this manner of challenge was exactly what I founded the Mages Guild for.
The region had acquired the moniker “the Web,” both for its overwhelmingly dense vine growth and the belief that those who enter become irrevocably ensnared within. This analogy would prove to be more apt than they could have imagined, for within this morass my expedition became mired in more than mud. I can’t recall how long we spent wading through that lightless forest, but I can tell you now that we never spent a moment of it alone. The eyes of every creature we saw watched us intently, and there wasn’t a sound beyond our own clumsy slogging. It seemed as if everything had stopped to listen to our trespass.
Despite our best efforts navigating the overgrowth, the expedition became lost and separated at every turn until I found myself groping, alone in the dark. Then the world itself turned upside down after something tugged at my leg, ensnaring it. The blood rushed into my ears. Quickly, I conjured a light to identify what had me and was greeted by the glistening fangs of a spider four times my size a hair’s breadth from my face. I will not record the sound I made for posterity, but I admit that it was undignified. The creature bound my arms before I could conjure a spell in response and leaned in toward my neck, but instead of sinking its fangs into my throat it whispered in my ear.
Selene, as I came to know her, demanded to know why we intruded on her domain. Clearly, she was displeased by our visitation, but I noted a sense of curiosity behind her menace that I seized upon. This being was obviously as uncertain of what I was as I was of her. There was much about my expedition that she had never seen from the isolation of her woods. Eventually she let me down and took my form, or rather, that of an Altmer woman sharing my features. I believe she did this as an effort to ease tensions, yet she did not realize how unsettling a gesture it was. Still, we spoke for a long time. From the way Selene spoke of the world, it was apparent that she was a not a being for which time held much meaning.
The Wood Elves hold the belief that Mundus was a teaming mass of chaos when it was first established, and Y’ffre was the first to give order to the world, establishing the laws of nature. Others followed, and Nirn took form. I believe that Selene is not far removed from the time when the Ehlnofey formed the bones of the earth. In fact, I’ll be so bold as to claim that the Changeling was among the earliest creatures on Nirn, and I attribute her formlessness to that. My hypothesis is that she is a remnant of that original chaos taught to control her fluidity. The way that she spoke of her Goddess, Shagrath, leads me to believe that this being was responsible for showing her how to take form. Whether this entity was lost to time or still exists in some form remains a mystery, though I can think of only one being from the birth of the world who possesses an affinity for spiders and that’s concerning.
I eventually persuaded Selene to release me and my subordinates, whom she had cocooned, under the agreement that we never intrude uninvited again, and that we would bargain on her behalf with the Wood Elves who encroach on her territory. Much can be learned from a creature like Selene, and preserving her habitat and good will is paramount to both. When I returned to the capital, I brought these findings before the Silvenar and Green Lady. Both were unsettled by the presence of a Changeling in their forest. A creature that can change its form freely flies in the face of their belief that everything in the Green was given the shape Y’ffre intended, but the possibility that she might well have walked the world alongside the Divine was enough to convince them to respect the boundaries of her domain. So impressed was the Silvenar by my guild’s handling of the situation that he granted me our first charter in Valenwood. I still regard the accord between the Mages Guild, the Elves of the Green, and Selene among the greatest of my successes as Arch-Mage.