The Earth Bones, or Ehlnofey, are beings dating from the time of creation that almost all scholars have heard of. Even as young ones, many of us have come across the word in the Children's Anuad which details how they split into two groups that eventually became the man and mer we know today. Most who read the Anuad or any version of it simply takes this story as the true and complete account, not seeking to ask any further questions. But what are these Ehlnofey? What were they before they became the races of Nirn, and can we still find any in their original forms around us?
The Aldmeri word 'Aedra,' often used to describe the gods of the Imperial Cult, means 'Our Ancestors.' These are typically nine entities, the Nine Divines represented by the nine planets. However, there were not always only nine. The Ehlnofey too were once among the Aedra. While 'Aedra' is a broad term referring to any spirit that partook in the creation of Mundus, it is the Ehlnofey who are our true ancestors. They were the Aedra too weak to return to Aetherius after having used their power for creation, and thus became a part of our world. The Divines on the other hand managed to do so, and should more accurately be referred to as 'creators' rather than 'ancestors,' though they do share an undeniable connection with their brethren who could not return with them.
Do the Ehlnofrey still exist among us? The simple answer is no. They have long since lost their original forms, becoming either the mortal races or aspects of the world. That second form is the reason they are referred to also as 'Earth Bones.' Trying to explain what exactly these Ehlnofey have become is difficult because they are not physical. Think of them simply as the laws of Mundus. They are the forces that govern the winds, the forces that pull you down when you jump, and the forces of life and of growth. We are descendants of the Ehlnofey, everything around us is the Ehlnofey, Mundus is Ehlnofey. Only the Hist trees of Black Marsh are not Ehlnofey as they have existed alongside the Ehlnofey all the way since creation. Because of this many believe that Argonians are not descended from Ehlnofey due to their connection with the Hist.
There have been rumours of those who encountered ancient spirits claiming to be pure, or relatively pure Ehlnofey. Understandably, it is difficult enough to verify that any such tale is not false, let alone confirm what the spirits involved really are. I believe it is safe to say that at the time of writing this book, pure Ehlnofey are by all accounts, extinct.
In my research though I came across an abstract piece by an Altmer scholar, unpublished anywhere else save for in Alinor. This piece was extremely difficult to obtain, but after long hours of negotiations and seeking out old contacts I managed to secure a viewing of a copy. It was a republishing of an even older piece from the First Era; unfortunately the modern version only contains five hundred of the original one thousand and two hundred pages. Nonetheless, this was enough to shed light on the creation of the Bretons, or at least one scholar's ideas. Apparently, this mer thought that a specific mix of man and elvish blood could be a key to restore the Ehlnofey spirit, along with some other magic rituals and conditions. Contrary to what many Altmer believe today, this author thought of Bretons as the most 'pure' and 'superior' race rather than his own kind, and it is easy to see why this piece is kept highly guarded by the current governing body of Alinor.
That is not all, however. My travels also took me to the Temple of the Ancestor Moths, where I spoke with the Moth Priests who devote their lives to gaining knowledge from the mysterious Elder Scrolls. While they could not tell me anything else on the origins of the Ehlnofey that I could not find elsewhere, their ability to read information on the future from the scrolls is unique and legendary. I was given the following prophecy which I have recorded word for word:
Eons ago our ancestors became divided,
To their home among the stars a few returned,
On the land of their creation others resided,
Unable to live immortal lives like they yearned.
Some transformed into elements of the world,
Others between themselves they fought.
Upon one another they relentlessly hurled,
Further and further from what they sought.
One day when brothers and sisters reunite,
There shall be born one of pure soul,
Who will be blessed with a god's divine light,
To guide their people to their goal.
A spirit reborn among mer and men,
Yet shall live with their brethren in the wild,
The Chosen of Kyne,
The Creation's Child.
This prophecy seems to match the ancient theory surprisingly well concerning the conjoining of man and mer, but like all the prophecies of the Elder Scrolls, they are a vision of a possible future that may or may not come to pass. It is possible that this has already come to pass, as it suggests a god born of mer and man. Tiber Septim, or the Divine Talos as he is now known, is an Aedra who ascended from a mortal form whom some sources claim to be manmer, or Breton. However, the specific mention of Kyne, the Nordic aspect of Kynareth, is curious as in life Tiber Septim was more closely associated with the Dragon Akatosh. Perhaps it has to do with Tiber's ability to use the Voice, a legendary Nord power given to the mortal races by Kyne to fight the dragons in ancient times.
Will a pure spirit walk among us once more? Have they already? Only the Elder Scrolls know...