- Talk to the innkeeper of The Bannered Mare in Whiterun.
- Ask Jarl Balgruuf the Greater about his children.
- Talk to Nelkir.
- Investigate the old wooden door in the basement.
- Talk to Nelkir again.
- Acquire the key from the Balgruuf the Greater or Farengar Secret-Fire.
- Open the door.
- Retrieve the Ebony Blade.
A Disturbed YouthEdit
After hearing rumors from the publican at The Bannered Mare about one of the Jarl's children acting strangely, you can ask the Jarl himself, Balgruuf the Greater, about it. Initially, he is situated within Dragonsreach, but if the player sided with the Stormcloaks in the Civil War, he will be in the Blue Palace basement. He will eventually express concerns that his youngest son, Nelkir, has become exceptionally brooding: "Yes, my youngest son. He's a dark child. I don't know what to do with him. He was always a quiet lad, but lately... something has changed. He's become brooding. Violent. He won't say a word to me, but I don't know how I upset him. If you could speak to him. Draw out the truth. I would be immensely grateful." When you talk to Nelkir (who is always in Dragonsreach, regardless of where his father is), he will be surprisingly forthcoming about numerous family secrets, stating that his father hates the Thalmor, worships Talos, and that Nelkir himself has a different mother than his siblings. He will also mention that a door in the basement of the castle is whispering to him and helping him learn how to sneak around the castle. He suggests that the door might talk to you too.
The Whispering LadyEdit
The door is actually well hidden in plain sight off the main hall of Dragonsreach. In order to find it, go into the kitchen. Proceed down the stairs and open the closet door in the small servant's room. At the back of the closet is a locked door which seems to be covered in blood. Activate the door, and the disembodied voice of the Whispering Lady will begin talking to you. She reveals herself to be the Daedric prince Mephala, and tells you that some of her power is locked behind the door and that she needs you to release it. She had been corrupting Nelkir, but found limits to what she could accomplish with a child. You, though, have promise. She will tell you to ask Nelkir how you can go about getting the key to the door.
Opening the DoorEdit
Nelkir will tell you that only the jarl and the court mage, Farengar Secret-Fire, possess a key to the Whispering Door, and suggests that Farengar will not be missed should he disappear. You can either track down the Jarl, who is either in his quarters or in the Blue Palace, or his wizard. The latter will always be situated in Dragonsreach, even if his master is now a prisoner of the Civil War. As for the key itself, you can pickpocket the Whispering Door key off either Farengar or Balgruuf, or you can follow the child's dark advice to kill Farengar and take it from his corpse. When you have the key, head down to the basement and open the door, which reveals a small room with a sword and a book resting on a table. The book, Admonition Against Ebony, warns you against taking the sword lying next to it; however, to complete the quest, simply ignore the warning and pick up the sword. Mephala will tell you that it is the Ebony Blade, but that its power has been locked away for too long. If you choose to restore the blade, it requires staining with the blood of treachery. However, the blade's restoration is not necessary to complete the quest, simply its retrieval. Also, while you do not receive any further information on Nelkir's condition, if there are any subsequent interactions there seems to be an improvement in disposition.
- If Hulda and Ysolda both die, you cannot get this quest.
- The quest is still available if you have completed Battle for Whiterun for the Stormcloaks. Jarl Balgruuf will move from Dragonsreach to the basement of the Blue Palace, but his dialogue will not change and the quest can still be completed normally.
- Hulda is necessary for this rumor to unlock. Ysolda can take over as publican of The Bannered Mare if Hulda dies, but will not give the rumor.
- This issue has been addressed by the Unofficial Skyrim Patch; Mikael will replace Hulda instead of Ysolda, as he has dialogue to give the quest.
- Speaking to the jarl and asking about his kids will not activate this quest.
- You must have completed the Dragon Rising quest to receive the rumor from Hulda.
- Killing followers or friends will increase the blade's drain health effect—see the Ebony Blade page for more detail.
- Despite Farengar being allegedly aware of the blade, you can sell it to him.
- Several elements in the Creation Kit seem to indicate that a portion of the quest was omitted from the final game—it appears that Jarl Balgruuf's children were supposed to fall under Mephala's influence one by one, culminating in them killing Balgruuf in an act of patricide. It seems that his brother Hrongar would have replaced him as jarl upon death, given that he has unused dialogue mirroring Balgruuf's for several quests, and some citizens of Whiterun, like Ulfberth War-Bear have unused dialogue referring to Hrongar as jarl.
- If Farengar dies before the quest starts you can not get the key from his urn in the Whiterun catacombs.
- If you attempt to enter the room behind the Old Wooden Door using the "Platter Exploit" before you have completed the necessary steps in the quest you will find a floating drawer (labeled "End Table") blocking your entry into the room; this is the source of Mephala's voice before unlocking the door. The sword however can still be seen on top of the table where it usually sits.
- Hulda may not show any new rumors available after you are level 20. Try talking to her anyway; she may give you an old rumor, then follow up with this one. If this does not work, the console command
setstage DA08 10will initiate the quest and give you a quest marker to speak to Nelkir.
- There may not be a dialogue option with the jarl after receiving the quest.
- If you are a vampire at the moment of speaking with Hulda, she won't immediately give you the rumor; instead, she will suggest you visit Falion to cure your vampirism first. However, she will give the rumor after asking for gossip and then rumors once more.
|Ask about Balgruuf's strange children (DA08RumorPointer)|
|Stage||Finishes Quest||Journal Entry|
Objective 10: Ask about Balgruuf's strange children
|The Whispering Door (DA08)|
|10||Balgruuf the Greater, Jarl of Whiterun, has a troubled child. He's asked me to help the boy.
Objective 10: Find out what's wrong with Nelkir
Objective 20: Listen to the whispering door
|25||Mephala, the Lady of Whispers, has tasked me with releasing the Ebony Blade from its prison.
Objective 25: Speak to Nelkir
Objective 30: Obtain the key to the whispering door
Objective 40: Open the whispering door
Objective 50: Retrieve the Ebony Blade
|60||I have received Mephala's Ebony Blade, but it lacks its legendary powers. To restore it, I must use it to slay those who are close to me.|
|I have received Mephala's Ebony Blade, but it lacks its legendary powers. To restore it, I must achieve great infamy and hatred in this land.|
|80||I have restored Mephala's Ebony Blade to its full potential.|
- The following empty quest stages were omitted from the table:
- DA08RumorPointer: 0, 20.
- DA08: 0, 1, 51.