The Dark Brotherhood is an infamous faction of assassins that are spread across all of Tamriel. Working as both a business and a cult, the Brotherhood was feared across Tamriel. Many knew of its existence, and those who did chose to tolerate it, in fear of meeting their own demise.
- 1 By game
- 2 History
- 3 Culture
- 4 Regulations
- 5 Known sanctuaries
- 6 Similar organizations
- 7 Trivia
- 8 Appearances
- 9 Sources
- 10 References
- Dark Brotherhood (Arena)
- Dark Brotherhood (Daggerfall)
- Dark Brotherhood (Tribunal)
- Dark Brotherhood (Oblivion)
- Dark Brotherhood (Skyrim)
- Dark Brotherhood (Online Faction)
The Dark Brotherhood originally sprung from a religious order called the Morag Tong, who worshipped the Daedric Prince Mephala. Mephala encouraged the Morag Tong to commit ritual murders. At this time, the Order was discarded as obscure cultists due to the lack of a leader in their group. This was all to change with the coming of the Night Mother.
The Night Mother was the supposed lover and partner of Sithis. It was widely believed that the Night Mother was the source of the doctrine dictating how the Morag Tong (and eventually the Dark Brotherhood) worked as a group. Some actually thought the Night Mother was the Daedric Prince Mephala, in the form of a mortal Dunmer woman.
Some time after 2E 324, the last living Night Mother resided in Bravil. The Night Mother bore Sithis five children, whom she then killed so that their souls could go to the Dread Father. The act was considered too cruel by the people of her village, who then killed her and burned her house down. Thirty years later, an unnamed man heard voices in his head, not from Sithis, but the Night Mother herself. He became the first of many Listeners to come.
The first known mention of the Dark Brotherhood was the journal of Blood Queen Arlimahera of Hegathe, written in 2E 412. Arlimahera wrote that her family had employed the Brotherhood since her grandfather's time.
During the events of Warp in the West, the Dark Brotherhood was active across Tamriel. Their existence was accepted and widely ignored. During this time, the Dark Brotherhood worshiped the Daedric Prince Mephala as their leader, not Sithis. This was probably caused by the then-recent split from the Morag Tong.
During the late Third Era, the Morrowind Dark Brotherhood headquarters were located not far from the city of Mournhold. Their local leader, an Imperial known as Severa Magia, called herself a Night Mother. She lived in Ald Sotha.
During the Oblivion Crisis, the Dark Brotherhood was infamous and very well-known throughout Cyrodiil and the rest of Tamriel. Within Cyrodiil, the Brotherhood was situated in Cheydinhal, specifically the Cheydinhal Sanctuary.
During this time, the Listener, the highest-ranking member of the Dark Brotherhood aside from the Night Mother herself, was Ungolim, a Wood Elf who lived in the town of Bravil. The Listener heard the words of the Night Mother and, from her lips, the Listener received assassination requests in the form of prayers, named the Black Sacrament, by potential employers, marking how contracts were initiated and fulfilled. Each night he would visit the statue of the Lucky Lady. Unknown to all but the Listener and select members of the Black Hand, the statue of the Lucky Lady was actually the entrance to the Night Mother's Crypt.
On the 27th of Sun's Height in 4E 188, the city of Wayrest was lost to corsairs, and by the 5th of Last Seed of the same year, the Wayrest Sanctuary was raided and destroyed by corsairs. There were no survivors. On the same day, the Black Hand ordered the Corinthe Sanctuary closed, and its members sent to the Cheydinhal Sanctuary in Cyrodiil.
By the 27th of Hearthfire in 4E 188, the situation in Bravil grew ever more threatening. The city had erupted in violence, due to a war of control waged by Cyrodiil's two largest skooma traffickers. By the 1st of Sun's Dusk of the same year, the statue of the Lucky Old Lady was destroyed, and Alisanne Dupre, the Listener, left her private residence to guard the Crypt of the Night Mother. Rasha, the Speaker, sent Garnag and Adronica to aid in the crypts defense, but on the 21st of Sun's Dusk, Garnag returned alone with the stone coffin of the Night Mother. The Crypt of the Night Mother had been raided, with Adronica cut to pieces and Alisanne Dupre burned alive in a storm of mage fire.
On the 4th of Evening Star in 4E 189, Rasha declared himself the Listener, claiming the Night Mother had spoken to him. He could not, however, name the Binding Words, so Cicero killed him. By the 10th of Sun's Dawn in 4E 190, there were only three people left in the Cheydinhal Sanctuary: Cicero, Garnag and Pontius. On the 16th of Rain's Hand in 4E 191, Pontius was killed, and on the 29th of Last Seed of the same year, Garnag was presumably killed.
At the beginning of the Dragon Crisis in 4E 201, the Dark Brotherhood was led by Astrid. Under her leadership the Five Tenets were discarded, breaking with the traditions and culture of the previous two eras when the Brotherhood was operated as a cult as well as a business. The Dark Brotherhood in Skyrim was reduced to a single sanctuary, located just outside of Falkreath.
Rumors of a child who ran away from Honorhall Orphanage were quickly spread throughout Skyrim. The child was rumored to be Aventus Aretino. Curious of the rumors, the Dragonborn traveled to the Aretino Residence in Windhelm and found Aventus performing the Black Sacrament. Thus, a contract was now made to kill Grelod the Kind, the hated owner of Honorhall Orphanage. The Dragonborn traveled to Riften and entered the orphanage, killing Grelod, to which the orphans cheered. Aventus rewarded the Dragonborn with the Aretino Family Heirloom.
After some days, the Dragonborn received a mysterious note with an imprint of a black hand and the words "We Know" written beneath it. Sometime after receiving the note, the Dragonborn slept. Shortly later, the Dragonborn woke up in an abandoned shack, located in the marshes of Morthal. A Dark Brotherhood assassin, Astrid, was in the cabin as well. She revealed that the Dark Brotherhood was aware of the murdering of Grelod and were pleased with it, but since Aventus Aretino performed the Black Sacrament, the contract for killing Grelod the Kind was for the Dark Brotherhood, and the Dragonborn stole that contract. Astrid demanded that a debt had to be paid for the kill that was stolen from them. She kidnapped three other people and brought them to the shack, along with the Dragonborn. Astrid told the Dragonborn that there was a contract out on one of them, and that the Dragonborn had to figure out who to kill. The Last Dragonborn either killed one, two, or all three of the people, and then Astrid made an invitation for the Dragonborn: to come to the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary in Falkreath and become a member of the Dark Brotherhood.
Destruction of the Falkreath Sanctuary
After poisoning and killing Emperor Titus Mede II, Commander Maro intercepts the Dragonborn's escape and reveals the slain Emperor was just a double, and that a traitor within the Brotherhood have informed him of the hit in exchange for their safety. Maro goes back on his words, however, and proceeds to send his men to destroy the Falkreath sanctuary. Fighting through the destruction, the Dragonborn survives the onslaught by hiding in the Night Mother's coffin. Being rescued by Babette and Nazir, the Dragonborn then discovers that Astrid herself is the traitor, who then apologizes for double-crossing them and pleads that the Dragonborn kills her. The Dragonborn becomes the leader of the Brotherhood after Astrid's death.
The remaining members of the Brotherhood are relocated to the Dawnstar Sanctuary, after the sanctuary was acquired in The Cure for Madness. The only survivors of the Falkreath sanctuary onslaught are Babette, Nazir, Cicero (if he is spared) and the Dragonborn, now the Listener and leader of the Brotherhood. After the new hideout is furnished by Delvin Mallory, several generic Dark Brotherhood Initiates will appear as followers. Radiant contracts can be acquired from the Night Mother.
The Dark Brotherhood had always been an organization with the purpose of assassination and professional killing. They were the harbingers of death and executors of silent, covert assassinations. Besides working in the field of assassinations, the organization itself was a clandestine operations group. The Brotherhood's divine purpose was to serve The Dread Lord and follow his desires, which they achieved through the word of the Night Mother.
The Order's leaders and assassins would sometimes take several concise, lengthy steps to complete an assassination attempt. For example, during the Fourth Era, when the Dark Brotherhood attempted the assassination of Emperor Titus Mede II, they went through many phases in order to complete the assignment, including the assassination of Vittoria Vici, Gaius Maro, and even the Emperor's personal chef, the Gourmet.
With multiple sanctuaries across Tamriel full of trained, hardened assassins, the Brotherhood had influence in every province on every level. Their ongoing feud with the Morag Tong and territorial dispute over Morrowind led the two factions to wage war on each other.
By the events of Dragon Crisis, the Brotherhood's influence had dropped dramatically; their influence on Tamriel was all but non-existent after Corsairs conducted multiple raids on their sanctuaries on the 5th of Last Seed in 4E 188. It was unknown how many sanctuaries outside Skyrim, if any, survived the raids, be they destroyed or ordered closed by the Black Hand. It was thought that during the Fourth Era, the Dark Brotherhood's influence was on the rise again, with guidance from their Night Mother, in the far north of Skyrim.
Aside from Sithis, all members of the Brotherhood revered their unholy matron, the Night Mother, who served as their source of contracts. Listeners and Keepers were intimately connected to the matron and would defend her with their lives (as in the cases of Cicero and Alisanne Dupre).
The Dark Brotherhood was also known to have worshiped Daedric Prince Mephala during the earlier periods of their existence. This was most likely because of their relation to the Morag Tong, a religious order from Morrowind who committed assassinations and murders in the name of Mephala. The Brotherhood split from them some time in the Second Era.
The Five Tenets
The Five Tenets are the rules and morals the Brotherhood followed up to and during the Oblivion Crisis. If a member broke or neglected to follow one of the Tenets, they were threatened with expulsion from the Brotherhood or worse.
There are five tenets in all, and they are as follows:
The Dark Brotherhood was an organized guild of assassins; they were composed of a governing body, along with several smaller sections and groups.
The Black Hand
The Listener telepathically listened to and received commands from the Night Mother, relaying them to the four Speakers. The Speakers would then issue the commands and initiate the contracts to be completed by the Brotherhood's assassins. Each Speaker had their own personal assistants called Silencers, which were the "nails" of the Black Hand.
Silencers could be deployed to complete contracts and eliminate any target(s) that they saw fit. The Silencers qualified as members of the Black Hand, but their existence was kept secret from the rest of the Dark Brotherhood.
As the Dark Brotherhood was a shadowy, mysterious organization of assassins spread out over most of Tamriel, the identities of its members were generally unknown by the organization as a whole. The Brotherhood's methods of recruiting were shadowy in nature and clouded in mystery. However, it was known that the Brotherhood did not just blindly accept new recruits and members; a person who wished to join the Dark Brotherhood had to first be noticed by the Brotherhood and demonstrate his or her skills in sneaking and assassination.
When a person committed murder, a Speaker would approach the killer and ask them to join the Dark Brotherhood, and if the offer was accepted, the killer would be given a formal, organized contract with a specific target to kill.
Contacting the Brotherhood to order an assassination involved performing the Black Sacrament. This ritual included creating an effigy of the intended victim out of actual human body parts and continuously stabbing it with a dagger rubbed with the petals of the Nightshade flower.
The following plea must be whispered while stabbing the effigy:
"Sweet Mother, sweet Mother, send your child unto me, for the sins of the unworthy must be baptized in blood and fear."
The Night Mother then relayed the plea to a Listener, who in turn informed a Speaker to send an assassin to the client. Once the ritual was complete, the one who performed it would be met by the Brotherhood representative.
The Cheydinhal Sanctuary was the primary headquarters of the Dark Brotherhood in Cyrodiil. Situated in the basement of an abandoned house beneath the surface in eastern Cheydinhal, the Sanctuary could be accessed through a trap door in the well behind the house.
The Dark Brotherhood had a sanctuary in Bruma. It was destroyed sometime before 4E 186, and everyone within the sanctuary aside from Cicero was killed. Cicero escaped and relocated to the Cheydinhal Sanctuary.
The Gold Coast sanctuary was located north of the cities of Anvil and Kvatch, and south of Sutch, at the foothold of the then-structure Varen's Wall. It was managed by Speaker Terenus and Astara Caerellius around 2E 582. The location was discovered by defected member The Black Dragon and was planned to be attacked by the Order of the Hour, but after the Vestige killed their leader, Primate Artorius, the threat had ended. By 3E 433, no trace of the sanctuary remained.
The Falkreath Sanctuary was the Brotherhood's Skyrim headquarters at the beginning of the Fourth Era. It was also the location of the Night Mother's Crypt for the earlier part of the Fourth Era.
The Dawnstar Sanctuary was one of the Dark Brotherhood sanctuaries in Skyrim; it was said to be one of the oldest of the Brotherhood's sanctuaries in Skyrim. By the Fourth Era, the sanctuary had been abandoned and had not been occupied for over a century.
After the destruction of the Falkreath Sanctuary, the Dawnstar sanctuary became the headquarters for the Dark Brotherhood in Skyrim. The sanctuary was then renovated and once again put to use. Delvin Mallory of the Thieves Guild helped in the restoration process. A torture chamber was added to the sanctuary, as was the Night Mother's Crypt.
The Brotherhood held one sanctuary in the province of High Rock, which was in Wayrest. On the 27th of Sun's Height in 4E 188, Corsairs besieged Wayrest, and the city was lost. On the 5th of Last Seed in 4E 188, the news that the Wayrest Sanctuary was destroyed by the corsairs reached Cicero at Cheydinhal Sanctuary. The destruction of Wayrest sanctuary left only three active sanctuaries: Cheydinhal, Falkreath and Corinth.
The Xith-Izkul Sanctuary in Black Marsh was located between the swamps between Blackwood and Murkmire. It was run by Speaker Arawen, though it was purified by the Black Hand as they sent Silencer Lyra Viria to execute the inhabitants. Green-Venom-Tongue and the Vestige later visited a number of years after the purification in 2E 582, though only found Dark Guardians and lost spirits. Using a unique resin, they witnessed Lyra assassinate all the members and report to Speaker Arawen at the shrine of Sithis.
The Dark Brotherhood's sanctuary in Elsweyr was in the city of Corinthe. On the 5th of Last Seed in 4E 188, as the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuaries across Tamriel were being destroyed and/or abandoned, as the Dark Brotherhood was collapsing and their entire world was crumbling all around them, the Black Hand ordered the closing of the Corinthe Sanctuary.
A number of Dark Brotherhood assassins attempted to set up base at the ruin of Ald Sotha in 3E 427, though were stopped by the Morag Tong. The same year, more Dark Brotherhood members resided in the ruins of Old Mournhold, though were also exterminated.
The Dark Brotherhood was formed as the result of a split from the Morag Tong, a religious order that dealt in some of the customs that the Brotherhood is infamous for. This split happened some time in the Second Era.
The Morag Tong were worshipers of Daedra, specifically Mephala. In the early years of the Morag Tong, the faction was disorganized, and thus never committed murders or assassinations of high-value targets or people of importance. However, their ways of spreading influence changed with the rise of the Night Mother.
Murders would be committed by the group because it was believed that with every murder, Mephala would become stronger. The murders of important people and powerful men were seen as what strengthened Mephala the most. This belief is said to have originated in 2E 324. In this year, the Potentate Versidue Shaie was murdered in his palace, in the present-day kingdom of Senchal in Elsweyr. The Night Mother wrote the words "MORAG TONG" on the wall with the victim's blood.
Unlike the Morag Tong, which was strictly a religious cult, the Brotherhood served as both a cult and a business.
In Black Marsh, the homeland of the Argonian race, there lived a group called the Shadowscales. They were highly trained assassins trained in the arts of stealth and assassination from birth. One had to be born under the sign of the Shadow to become a Shadowscale.
The Dark Brotherhood had a strong connection with the Thieves Guild, and despite their differences in purpose, ethics and ideas and policies, the Dark Brotherhood and the Thieves Guild have always had a good connection between each other. This is especially true with the Dark Brotherhood and the Thieves Guild in Skyrim. Delvin Mallory of the Thieves Guild and Astrid of the Dark Brotherhood in Skyrim have had a good relationship with each other in friendship and in business.
- Due to their scandalous yet unique type of work and purpose, the Dark Brotherhood was not included in and did not participate in the passing of the Guilds Act in 2E 321.
- In the most of The Elder Scrolls series of games, ranks within the Dark Brotherhood have changed with each entry in the series. However, to note, each game has taken place in a different nation on Tamriel, so the Dark Brotherhood may have had a different organization depending on their main location.
- The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
- The Elder Scrolls III: Tribunal
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- The Elder Scrolls Online (mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls: Legends
- Fire and Darkness
- Night Mother Rituals!
- Greywyn's Journal
- Journal of Claudius Arcadia
- Traitor's Diary
- Brothers of Darkness
- Sacred Witness
- The Night Mother's Truth
- Dialogue during "Joining the Dark Brotherhood"
- Events of "Execute Severa Magia"
- Cicero's Journal - Volume 2
- Dialogue with Lucien Lachance
- Events of "Honor Thy Mother"
- Dialogue with Astrid
- Events of the Dark Brotherhood questline in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Cicero's Journal, Volume II
- Cicero's Journal, Volume IV
- Dialogue with Aventus Aretino
- Events of "Innocence Lost"
- Events of "With Friends Like These..."
- Events of "Death Incarnate"
- Events following "Death Incarnate"
- Events of "The Dark Brotherhood Forever"
- Dialogue with Ravyn Imyan
- Events of "Bound Until Death"
- Events of "Breaching Security"
- Events of "Recipe for Disaster"
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- Fire and Darkness – Ynir Gorming
- Cicero's Journal, Volume II
- Events of "Hail Sithis!"
- Dialogue with Cicero during the events of "Sanctuary"
- Cicero's Journal, Volume IV
- The Five Tenets
- Loading Screens (Skyrim)
- Events of "A Knife in the Dark"
- Dialogue with Teinaava
- A Kiss, Sweet Mother
- Cicero's Journal, Volume I
- Events of "Delayed Burial"
- Events of The Elder Scrolls Online: Dark Brotherhood[source?]
- Events of "Death Incarnate"
- Dialogue with Delvin Mallory
- Events of "Where You Hang Your Enemy's Head"
- Dialogue with Royal Guard
- Events of "Hunt the Dark Brotherhood"
- Dialogue with Teinaava
- Dialogue with Veezara
- Events of "The Cure for Madness"
- Events of "The Silence Has Been Broken"
- Letter of Credit
- History of the Fighters Guild