On the twelfth of Hearth Fire every year,
the people of the Hammerfell township and barony of Lainlyn
celebrate Riglametha. Riglametha in the Banthan dialect of
the ancient Redguard tongue means "grateful-offering"
and is a festival of the graces the gods have granted the
people of Lainlyn over the centuries. Tradition dictates the
performance of a number of plays about the great moments from
Lainlyn's past, and one of the most popular is Ghraewaj, which
may be translated as "The Crows Who Were Punished"
or "The Crows Who Punish." Old Redguard is somewhat
vague with its objective case.
The story of Ghraewaj, as any Lainlyn child
will tell you, is of the wicked sisterhood of daedra worshippers
who craft lies, curses, murders, and suicides to hurt the
people of Lainlyn. Most of all, they use their beauty as a
weapon to drive men to mayhem. Their leader, the temptress
Noctyr-a, seduces the unnamed baron of Lainlyn and is about
to force him to commit suicide to prove his love, when the
baroness arrives. The baroness tricks Noctyr-a into wearing
a beautiful white robe from the baroness' closet: "See
how the robe glows with the lumniscience of pearl, but the
inside is soft, feathered with down." Noctyr-a puts on
the robe and the trap is sprung: the robe is magical and transforms
Noctyr-a into an giant black bird. The baron, no longer enchanted,
slays the great bird and calls in his cook.
The sisterhood has, by this time, taken over
Lainlyn castle and turned it into a orgy-filled den of decadence.
At the height of their frenzied debauch, the cook arrives
with an enormous roast to keep their energy high. They dig
into the deliciously prepared meal, and at the crescendo of
their gorging, the baron and baroness appear to tell them
all that they have just devoured their leader, Noctyr-a. The
women scream and caw and suddenly they too are transformed
by the magic of the robe, into harpies, vicious half-bird
The interesting thing about Ghraewaj from
a scholarly perspective is how much the story has changed
and continues to change over the years. In some versions of
the story, Noctyr-a is an innocent peasant seamstress and
it is the baroness who is the cruel and wicked leader of the
harpies. Noctyr-a prays to Dibella and is given the charm
to make the magical robe, and she and the baron live happily
ever after once the harpies have feasted on the tranformed
baroness. During the long reign of the virgin baroness of
Lainlyn, Viana the Pure (2E 120 - 2E 148), the baron was portrayed
as a willing conspirator of Noctyr-a. The harpies thus have
two birds to dine on.
It is unlikely that trying to find the truth
in the story is profitable research. Harpies are indeed a
common nuisance in the Iliac Bay, particularly around Lainlyn.
They do have their own tongue, and the few who have mastered
it and not been devoured by their interviewees suggest that
the harpies have no more idea about their origins than we
do. In a different vein, one of the best known of the Daedra
Princes is named Nocturnal, who is often portrayed as a beautiful
dark woman holding two black crows. It is not a difficult
etymologic trick to derive the name Noctyr-a from Nocturnal,
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