Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls
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For the quest in Oblivion, see Nocturnal (Quest).

Nocturnal (in Daedric script, Daedric N.svgDaedric O.svgDaedric C.svgDaedric T.svgDaedric U.svgDaedric R.svgDaedric N.svgDaedric A.svgDaedric L.svg) is the Daedric Prince whose sphere is the night and darkness. She is also known as the Night Mistress[1] and Lady Luck.[2] The Cyrodiilic Thieves Guild leader, the Gray Fox, has the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal, which truly represents the sphere's darkness quality; it permanently removes the wearer's specific identity from all history. Regardless, the Cyrodiilic Thieves Guild venerates Nocturnal by ending talks with the saying "Shadow hide you." The summoning date of Nocturnal is 3rd of Hearthfire.[3]

Nocturnal and Azura have been referred to as sisters, though whether in the literal or the metaphorical sense is unknown.[3] Nocturnal is sometimes referred to as Ur-Dra,[4][note 1] referencing her claim as part of the original Void[5][6] She is thought to be the "eldest and most powerful of the Daedric Princes."[1] The Khajiit know her as Noctra, who can bring shadows and luck when called upon.[7]

By Game

Appearance and personality

"I strove to understand her labyrinthine philosophy, the source of her mysterious pain. Everything about her was dark and shrouded, even the way she spoke and the acts she required of me. It took years for me to understand the simple fact that I could never understand Nocturnal. Her mystery was as essential to her as savagery was to Boethiah or treachery was to Molag Bal. To understand Nocturnal is to negate her, to pull back the curtains cloaking her realm of darkness. As much as I loved her, I recognized the futility of unraveling her enigmas."
Sigillah Parate[src]

Nocturnal, as she appears in The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall.

Physical descriptions of Nocturnal are difficult to come by, as she is usually described as being hidden by darkness and shadow. Depictions of the Daedric Prince usually take the form of a nondescript human woman, draped in a hooded cloak that hides most of her features and body. She is depicted with both arms outstretched, and a pair of Nightingales (or similar bird) perched on each wrist.

The statue of Nocturnal, as seen in Skyrim's loading screen.

Nocturnal claims to be an aspect of the void of Oblivion itself, and takes such titles as Mother of Night or Night Mistress. Her very nature is such that humans cannot understand her, as she is the embodiment of the unfathomable and enigmatic. Worshipers of Nocturnal consist primarily of those who operate in darkness and night, such as thieves and spies. However, Nocturnal's deception is not usually meant to be harmful or violent in the manner of Boethiah. Rather, the unknowable nature of Nocturnal is the core of her being, and serves no real ulterior purposes beyond being mysterious. Thus, while thieves may consider Nocturnal their patron, assassins will typically lean towards a more violent deity, such as Molag Bal or Mephala.

Of Nocturnal, Karliah says she is, "like a scolding mother who pushes her child to do better," meaning she appears to care about mortals, unlike some other Daedric Princes.


A statue of Nocturnal with a Soul Gem as an offering.

Although Nocturnal has arguably one of the largest followings of all the Daedric Princes, she has no form of organized clergy. There are a few who call themselves priests of Nocturnal, though the Night Mistress does not herself seem to show them any particular favor. Indeed, Nocturnal seems to have no real interest in worship. A temple of Nocturnal does exist called the Twilight Sepulcher, located in Skyrim, though this was built around the portal known as the Ebonmere, the portal to Nocturnal's plane of Oblivion known as Evergloam. Supposedly, Nocturnal is the source of a thief's luck, which flows from the Ebonmere and plays a heavy role in the lives of any who use the shadows to do their work, though none know what price is paid in return.


Though Nocturnal has no truly organized clergy, she has three mortal servants upon Nirn who are known as the Nightingales. The Nightingales serve Nocturnal directly, granted the power over shadow, subterfuge and strife in exchange for their service. Once a Nightingale enters into their contract with Nocturnal, they are bound for life and beyond to serve the Night Mistress in guarding the Twilight Sepulcher and in Nocturnal's realm Evergloam until Nocturnal feels the Nightingale's contract with her has been fulfilled.


Like most Daedric Princes, Nocturnal has female, magic-using worshipers known as witches. In Purloined Shadows, a coven dedicated to Nocturnal is seen worshipping her. Nocturnal seems to enjoy the praise they give her, smiling as they sang of her great mystery.


Nocturnal has at least one cult dedicated to her, the Whispering Shadows. They operated throughout the Clockwork City in the Second Era. In Summerset she has only one known human follower, known as Earl Tundilwen.


"Night among strangers. Secrets in the dark. Nocturnal is here."

Bow of Shadows

The Bow of Shadows was forged by Nocturnal and granted to the ranger Raerlas Ghile for a sacred mission during which, scores of Raerlas' foes were taken down by him, with the aid of the bow. The mission ultimately failed and the Bow was lost. The Bow was also used by the Dunmer assassin Dram during the Second Era. The Bow of Shadows grants its wielder increased speed and invisibility.[8]

Eye of Nocturnal

The Eye of Nocturnal is an artifact through which Nocturnal can see into the world of Nirn.[9] The Eye was stolen from Nocturnal during the Oblivion Crisis, and was later retrieved by her champion.[10]

Gray Cowl of Nocturnal

The Gray Cowl of Nocturnal

The most famous feature of Nocturnal is the enchanted cowl she created. This headpiece possessed the ability to completely hide its wearer's identity from mortal knowledge, including magical forms of scrying and identification. The cowl's power was so great that people would be incapable of even remembering the name of whomever possessed the cowl, even while the cowl was not being worn. No one would be able to retain any long term memory of interacting with the cowl's wearer, and even removing the cowl in plain sight of others would not break its spell.

The cowl was reportedly stolen by the head of the Thieves Guild (Emer Dareloth) during the Third Era, promptly removing any memory of the person in question from history. Henceforth, according to legend, the bearer of the cowl was known only as "Gray Fox," though it was not commonly known that the cowl was responsible for his infamy.

The cowl was also told stolen in a song called "Song of Hrormir." Nocturnal was tricked by Hrormir in order to save his old companion Darfang. She traded Darfang's soul for the service (by keeping his soul) of Hrormir, so that he would assist her followers dividing the kingdom of Aelfendor, but in the end the kingdom was left intact while Nocturnal's followers were divided. And the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal was also taken by Hrormir. To get the cowl back, Nocturnal was forced to release Hrormir's soul and left with nothing to gain.

Skeleton Key

The Skeleton Key as it appears in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

The Skeleton Key was reportedly owned by a mortal for the first time by an obscured person named Arrovan. Many years later, the Eternal Champion during the Imperial Simulacrum found a map in a dungeon in Valenwood that pointed to the location of the Skeleton Key somewhere in Summerset Isle. Using the map, the Eternal Champion found and claimed the key. Then sometime in 3E 397, the Hero of Azra's Crossing found the Skeleton Key in one of the chests in the Citadel of Broken Wing. Indeed, the artifact travels between heroes and locations, as the legend says, it would never be the property of one thief for too long.

In Skyrim, the Skeleton Key was given a new level of importance and power. In the Thieves Guild story-line, the Dragonborn discovers that not only can the Key unlock physical barriers, but also metaphysical ones. As demonstrated by Mercer Frey in the "Blindsighted" quest, the Skeleton Key also unlocks human potential.

Shrine of Nocturnal in Cyrodiil.

Frey's theft of the Skeleton Key from the Twilight Sepulcher's Inner Sanctum in the Fourth Era is said to be the reason for the hard times that have fallen on the Guild in Skyrim, since the Ebonmere, the gate to Nocturnal's plane of Oblivion, was kept open by the Skeleton Key, allowing luck to grace the actions of thieves throughout Nirn. It also allows the owner to pick any lock without the Skeleton Key breaking.

In Clockwork City, Nocturnal attempts to steal the Skeleton Key from Sotha Sil in order to take over the Clockwork City, hoping to potentially remake reality. She is stopped and cast out. Sotha Sil gives the key to Divayth Fyr for safekeeping.

For the reasons aforementioned the Skeleton Key might very well be the most powerful, if underestimated, Daedric artifact known. The ability to overcome any obstacle regardless of it being physical or otherwise by its user. Plainly seen as it has no trouble opening a doorway to a plane of Oblivion.


See also



  1. According to the Khajiiti pantheon, Namira is referred to as the Ur-Dra.