The Listener is the "leader" of the Black Hand, the inner circle comprised by the best assassins in the Dark Brotherhood. A Listener visits the Night Mother, who telepathically translates to them murder contracts offered by invokers of the Black Sacrament. The Listener then informs a Speaker about the contracts and an operative is sent to meet with the invoker. According to Astrid and Cicero, the relationship between the Night Mother and Listener is incredibly intimate.
Attainment of Position and Authority
A Listener is found when the Night Mother communicates with them telepathically and tells them the Binding Words, to which they must tell to the Keeper in order to affirm their status a new Listener.
Listeners are the sole authority of the guild, functioning only beneath the Night Mother herself. Listeners command the Dark Brotherhood and the Black Hand; they choose who to promote, who to recruit, and how. It is presumed that each branch of the Brotherhood has its own Listener to complete more contracts.
After the death of the previous listener, the Hero of Kvatch may have become the Listener of the Black Hand had they helped Arquen eradicate the traitor in their ranks. After becoming the Listener, the Hero would have taken orders from the Night Mother weekly and brought the information to Arquen, earning 200. Brothers and sisters of the Dark Brotherhood will accompany the hero if asked.
The Dragonborn might have become the Night Mother's Listener during the period known as the Dragon Crisis, after her Keeper, Cicero, brought her remains to the Falkreath Sanctuary. Although disappointed that he was not made Listener, Cicero is elated and congratulates the Dragonborn, mentioning that the Night Mother has gone without a Listener for a very long time.
The act of claiming to be a Listener and being later found false is proven to be an affront to loyal members of the Brotherhood. A Speaker named Rasha claimed to be the Listener following Alisanne's death, but his treachery was discovered when he could not say the Binding Words. Cicero subsequently has Garnag kill Rasha.
- The relationship between the Night Mother and the Listener appears to not entirely be for finding contracts, as seen in Skyrim, where the Night Mother will speak to the Dragonborn about Cicero during "Whispers in the Dark" and about their safety during "Death Incarnate," as well as Astrid's fate after her death and the rebirth of the Brotherhood in the Dawnstar Sanctuary.