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Night Mother
LG-cardart-The Night Mother 02.jpg
The Night Mother's mummified corpse in its coffin (Legends)
Race Unknown Gender Female
Appears in Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, Legends
The Night Mother met Sotha Sil in her salon, lit only by the moon. She was cruelly beautiful dressed in a simple silk black robe, lounging across her divan. With a gesture, she dismissed her red-cloaked guards and offered the sorcerer some wine. "You've only just missed your friend, the Duke," she whispered. "He was very unhappy, but I think we will solve his problem for him." "Did he hire the Morag Tong to assassinate the Emperor?" asked Sotha Sil. "You are straight-forward, aren't you? That's good. I love plain-speaking men: it saves so much time. Of course, I cannot discuss with you what the Duke and I talked about," she smiled. "It would be bad for business."
2920, Sun's Height

At the head of the Dark Brotherhood hierarchy is the Night Mother, an immortal spirit who is revered and worshipped by the Brotherhood. She is only ever met face-to-face in very exceptional circumstances and is seen as a phantom-like form. When a person prays for the death of another, the Night Mother hears and passes on the details of the prayer to her Listener. At this point, the Listener informs a Speaker, who then goes to meet the hiring party in order to draw up a contract. According to Dark Brotherhood beliefs, she is the wife of Sithis and bore five children.[1]

It is unclear who the Night Mother is exactly. In the book Fire and Darkness: The Brotherhoods of Death, the Night Mother is identified as the Daedra Prince Mephala. In another book entitled Sacred Witness, the Night Mother is identified as a former Thieves Guild member. And in the well known 2920 series of books she is seen as head of the Morag Tong, because the Dark Brotherhood only split well into the Second Era. Another woman claimed to be the Night Mother is likely to have lived during the Second Era[2]: although the woman represented by the statue in Bravil lived in the First Era,[3] which suggests the two are not the same person. Furthermore, Severa Magia of the Dark Brotherhood's Morrowind chapter claimed the title of "Night Mother" for herself in the Third Era: although she did not hold the position for long, being killed in the Brotherhood's ongoing feud with the Morag Tong.


Night Mother's TruthEdit

Following the Potentate's assassination by the Morag Tong in 2E 324, the organization was eradicated within the borders of Cyrodiil and the Empire, excluding Morrowind, where the organization was still legal. Sometime after, Sithis would speak with a respectable member of the Morag Tong, a Dark Elf woman whose name was lost to history, and who lived in a small village that would later become the city of Bravil. Sithis would confide with her about how displeased he was with the Morag Tong's lack of success, as he was most displeased with the lack of souls heading to the Void, and that it would be her destiny to set things right. One night, Sithis would visit the woman in her bed chamber, and would beget with her five children. Two years later, the unthinkable happened: following the ultimate plan set forth by Sithis, she would murder her children, sending their souls to the Void to be with their father.[1]

When the people of the village learned of this, they would descend upon her with vengeance, killing her and setting fire to her house. Thirty years later, a man would hear the voice of the Night Mother, who charged him with the task of forming a new guild of assassins. This guild wouldn't be dedicated to Mephala but instead to the Dread Lord Sithis, and it would marry business with death, allowing the Void to swell with souls once more. This would be the origins of the Dark Brotherhood. Later, the new guild would recover the bodies from their original burial site and bury them underneath where the Night Mother's house once stood.[1]

Thieves GuildEdit

Mephala, who some state to be the Night Mother (ESO)

Another story, taken from a purported interview between author Enric Milnes and the Night Mother, says the Dark Brotherhood was an offshoot of the Thieves Guild, not the Morag Tong. Milnes was assassinated shortly after he had it published. This account asserts that, some time in the Second Era, a few members of the Thieves Guild found it efficacious to strangle the occupant of the house when performing a burglary.[4] The woman, who would later become the Night Mother, thought they should formally recognize and allow murder, but the leadership of the Thieves Guild at the time disagreed (and still do[5]), thinking it would be bad for their core business. Undeterred, she founded the murder syndicate which would become the Dark Brotherhood.[4] The connection to the Morag Tong only emerged after the assassination of Potentate Savirien-Chorak in 2E 431, when several Tong assassins quit that struggling organization and joined the upstart syndicate.[4][6] Who murdered the last Potentate has never been clearly established, though some accredit the Brotherhood with the "accounting" of the Akaviri.[2]


It is believed by some sources that the Night Mother is in fact the Daedric Prince Mephala. Before the founding of the Dark Brotherhood, Mephala was involved in the founding of the infamous cult/society of the Morag Tong, and they claim to murder for the Daedra's glory. Some scholars also argue that when the Morag Tong was banished from the rest of Tamriel, they were allowed to continue to operate in Morrowind when they replaced their worship of Mephala with that of Vivec. As a reaction to this, the Dark Brotherhood was formed, being led by the mysterious Night Mother. It is said they do not call the Night Mother by her true name, but that she is no doubt the Daedric Prince leading the organization.[2] Prior to the Warp in the West, the branch of the Dark Brotherhood that operated in the Iliac Bay openly worshipped Mephala, where she was known as the Queen of Oblivion.[7] Some within the organization recognize her role, although it has become obscured over time.[8]


Third EraEdit

In 3E 427, the Dark Brotherhood attempted to gain a foothold on the island of Vvardenfell, and allied themselves with the Dagonites, cultists of Mehrunes Dagon who provided shelter for them. Their leader in the province, Severa Magia - who had taken on herself the title of "Night Mother" - had taken up insufficiently-secret residence on the island, and was assassinated by a member of the Morag Tong.[9] Her successor in Morrowind, Dandras Vules, does not seem to have been associated with the Dagon cult, nor any other religious cult, but simply turned the Mournhold branch into assassins for hire: unfortunately, many of them met their match one by one (and later two by two) at the hands of the Nerevarine. Who later infiltrated and wiped out their hideout under Mournhold, only to discover that they were working at the time for none other than King Hlaalu Helseth - under a contract apparently signed "in perpetuity" between Helseth (who feared the Nerevarine as a potential rival) and the Night Mother (almost certainly Magia, before her demise). With typical effrontery, when learning of the death of Vules and most of the Brotherhood under Mournhold, and that the Nerevarine had never intended to challenge him anyway, Helseth immediately dismissed the hiring of the Brotherhood assassins as "a slight inconvenience" and "a regrettable occurrence" and attempted to hire the Nerevarine's services. The Brotherhood were not completely wiped out, though, and mounted an assassination attempt on Queen Barenziah, though when this failed, evidence remained that the Nerevarine (who protected her on this occasion) was once again the true target. Whether Helseth was involved this time, or whether the Brotherhood were seeking private revenge against either him or the Nerevarine, is not clear.

In 3E 433, the Dark Brotherhood in Cyrodiil was betrayed from within. Mathieu Bellamont, a trusted Speaker, was secretly attempting to destroy the Brotherhood and the Night Mother as an act of revenge for the assassination of his mother.[10][11] A new member of the Brotherhood quickly rose in rank and became a Silencer of the Black Hand, purifying the Cheydinhal sanctuary and being deceived by the traitor into assassinating most fellow members of the Black Hand.[10] When the surviving members of the Dark Brotherhood in Cyrodiil went to consult the Night Mother, the traitor would finally be revealed and the Silencer slayed the traitor before he could destroy the Night Mother's remains and finish off the Dark Brotherhood. As a reward for dealing with the traitor, the Night Mother named the Silencer her new listener and unlocked the true potential of the Blade of Woe.[12]

Fourth EraEdit

Listener Alisanne Dupre (Legends)

In 4E 188, the Dark Brotherhood would be infiltrated by a spy: the Forgotten Hero was hired by Listener Alisanne Dupre's father, Uther Nere. He plotted the ultimate destruction of the Dark Brotherhood by killing the Listener, who he claimed slew his wife.[13] Uther would be given reports by the Hero regularly, and he got the information he needed to take down the Dark Brotherhood. After receiving enough information, he would gather an army of mercenaries to lay siege to the Night Mother's crypt within Bravil.[14]

Uther and his men then carried out the siege to the Night Mother's crypt, hoping to ultimately destroy both the Night Mother and kill Uther's daughter. It is unknown if the Forgotten Hero chose to side with the Dark Brotherhood in the end or stayed loyal to Uther. Either way, Alisanne Dupre died defending the Night Mother's corpse, being incinerated by her father and thus slain.[15] During the battle, an assassin named Garnag was able to retrieve the Night Mother's corpse before it could be destroyed. He then brought it to Cheydinhal, where Cicero was given the task of safeguarding the corpse as the Night Mother's Keeper. The surviving Black Hand re-instituted the ancient position to keep the Night Mother's deteriorating corpse intact, so that her spirit could remain in Tamriel and speak to a future Listener.[16]

With the Listener Alisanne Dupre dead and no new Listener chosen by the Night Mother, the Dark Brotherhood was forced to rely on word-of-mouth to gather new contracts. During that time the Night Mother still did not speak, demoralizing the surviving membership in Cheydinhal, and the Black Sacraments went unheard. Eventually Rasha, the leader of the Cheydinhal Sanctuary and only remaining member of the Black Hand, proclaimed that he was the Listener. However, when he failed to confirm the words that the Night Mother taught to all Listeners and confirmed by all Keepers, he was killed.[16]

By 4E 201, only the Falkreath Sanctuary of Skyrim remained active, so Cicero took the Night Mother there. It is unknown whether Cicero reached the Sanctuary before its destruction with the Night Mother's corpse. Some reports out of Skyrim claim the Brotherhood was wiped out. Conflicting reports assert that the Brotherhood not only survived and regrown in Dawnstar, but that the Night Mother had picked a new Listener who would then go about assassinating the reigning Emperor, Titus Mede II.[17]

The Black SacramentEdit

Count Carolus Aquilarios performing the Black Sacrament (ESO)

For prospective clients to contact the Dark Brotherhood, they would carry out a ritual called the Night Mother Ritual or Black Sacrament. This ritual would inform the Night Mother of their intentions. When the Listener of the Black Hand prays to the Lucky Old Lady Statue in Bravil, the Night Mother will inform the Listener about the location of those prospective clients. The Listener would then relay this information to Speakers of the Black Hand.

As documented in the rare and taboo work A Kiss, Sweet Mother, the Black Sacrament involves an effigy of the intended victim -- created from actual body parts, including a heart, skull, bones and flesh -- within a circle of candles. To proceed with the ritual, one must stab the effigy repeatedly with a dagger rubbed with the petals of a Nightshade plant, while whispering the plea, "Sweet Mother, sweet Mother, send your child unto me, for the sins of the unworthy must be baptized in blood and fear." As gruesome as this ritual may be, even more frightening is its intention: the summoning of a mysterious assassin (who some witnesses claim is always clad in a black hooded robe) who will then receive money to kill an innocent victim.[18]

Known ListenersEdit

Only the Listener can hear the Night Mother's words. Through them, she guides the Black Hand. A list of known Listeners:


The Blade of Woe, also known as the Night Mother's Kiss, is a ritualistic dagger associated with Sithis and the Dark Brotherhood. Anyone who is slain with the dagger has their soul sent straight to the Void. Its name is directly associated with the dagger the Night Mother used to slay her own children.[20] It takes the form of an Ebony dagger and can, at its most lethal, instantly kill its target and can shroud the wielder from view. It is also known to damage or drain health, deplete magicka and willpower, and demoralize anyone struck by it. The blood spilled by the blade may become tainted, and it has also been known to completely incinerate targets marked for ritual execution.[21]

The Fangs of Sithis are a set of pre-Duskfall weapons, taking the form of either two large eggs,[22] or a set of dual daggers.[23] They are one of the only known artifacts of Sithis. The Fangs were gifted to the Night Mother by Sithis, the Dark Husband, who in turn gifted them to the Shadowscales.[24][25] It is said that a single Shadowscale wielding the Fangs could lay waste to entire cities not just via mass killings, but also by causing crop-failures and famine. However, most are unable to safely wield the Fangs, as they feed upon the wielder's mind and soul, causing the weak-minded either to go mad, or become mindless agents of Sithis who are devoid of free will.[26]


See AlsoEdit


  • In Oblivion, her ghost has the appearance of a Dunmer. Additionally, the book The Night Mother's Truth outright states she was a Dark Elf.
  • It is not known if the Last Dragonborn chose to become a member of the Dark Brotherhood, or if they decided to destroy it.[17]
  • The Night Mother allegedly regards fictional stories about herself and the Brotherhood as being amusing and good for business.[4]
  • Skyrim's official Tarot Deck and Guidebook features The Wheel of Fortune, a card depicting Olava the Feeble, with a description stating the Last Dragonborn sided with the Brotherhood. However, Tori Schafer, the books author, confirmed the book's descriptions are only of possible outcomes.