Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

The Whispering Door is a Daedric quest available in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in which the Dragonborn must investigate the Whispering Lady in Dragonsreach. This quest is only available once the Dragonborn reaches level 20 and the quest "Dragon Rising" has been completed.


Balgruuf the Greater, Jarl of Whiterun, has a troubled child. He's asked me to help the boy.


  1. Ask about Balgruuf's strange children
  2. Find out what's wrong with Nelkir
  3. Listen to the whispering door
  4. Speak to Nelkir
  5. Obtain the key to the whispering door
  6. Open the whispering door
  7. Retrieve the Ebony Blade


"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."
Balgruuf the Greater[src]

Hearing a rumor about the Jarl's children from Hulda at The Bannered Mare begins a miscellaneous quest to "Ask about Balgruuf's strange children". This requires speaking with Balgruuf the Greater. Initially, he is in Dragonsreach, but if the Dragonborn sided with the Stormcloaks in the Civil War, he is in the Blue Palace basement. When asked about his children, he reveals he is having problems with his youngest son, Nelkir, who has taken a sudden dark turn in his personality. This completes the miscellaneous objective and begins the true quest "The Whispering Door."

After a series of disrespectful words and a few dirty secrets of Balgruuf's, Nelkir tells the Dragonborn how the Whispering Lady tells him secrets. He directs the Dragonborn to the locked door in the basement (the "Old Wooden Door" or "The Whispering Door").

(Listen at door) "At last. I've been waiting for someone more fit to carry out my will. The child is spirited, but lacks... agency."

Is there someone behind the door? "Regrettably, I cannot reach your plane so directly. But I forgive you for not knowing who I am. Few hear my whispers anymore. I am Mephala, the Lady of Whispers. I tug at the web of connections between mortals. Love, hatred, loyalty, betrayal. The boy was good at sussing out secrets. You, I expect to take a more active role."
What do you want me to do? "First, you must open this door. A piece of my power has been locked away behind it, and even my eyes cannot see past the seals. I'd much rather it be in the hands of an ambitious and talented person such as yourself."
I don't want to help you. "Suit yourself. But those who listen at doors always wonder what is beyond them. Eventually your curiosity will drive you back to me."
What could the boy not do? "The boy is good at sussing out secrets, but the corruptibility of children is ultimately too limited for my purposes. You, though, I expect will prove far more malleable."
Who are you to expect anything? "I forgive your not knowing my name. Few can hear my whispers anymore. I am Mephala, the Lady of Whispers. I tug at the web of connections between mortals. Love, hatred, loyalty, betrayal."
I'm not so easily molded. "You may think so. But in the end, you mortals will always flit like fire with the winds of your desires and conveniences. And those winds issue from my whispers."
How do I open the door? "The whole of Whiterun is ripe with paranoia and tensions. The Jarl's court is right to fear the power I hold behind this door. The Jarl trusts few, and they will be his undoing. The dark child knows of what I speak. Let him guide your path."

Once there, when the Dragonborn listens at the door, a voice tells them that they are more worthy than Nelkir ("The child is spirited, but lacks... agency"). She reveals herself to be Mephala, and orders the Dragonborn to open the door. When asked how, she says that all of Whiterun is experiencing a severe case of paranoia, and that the boy knows of what she speaks. In order to find who has the keys, it is necessary to talk to Nelkir again. He says only Farengar Secret-Fire and Jarl Balgruuf carry the key, and adds that "nobody will notice if Farengar went missing - I promise you."

At this point, it is necessary to find the Jarl or Farengar. If the Dragonborn sided with the Stormcloaks, then the Jarl is back at the Blue Palace, but Farengar always remains at Dragonsreach regardless of Balgruuf's location.

  • Waiting for either Jarl Balgruuf or Farengar Secret-Fire to go to sleep allows them to be pickpocketed while sneaking without worry.
  • It is also possible to wait for Farengar to go to sleep, then kill him and take the key from his corpse.
  • If the Dragonborn's pickpocket skill is insufficient, a Paralyze spell, or Vampire's Seduction will allow pickpocketing the key with little effort.

"Excellent work. Now, I trust you're sharp enouh to see that the sword doesn't match the description of the Ebony Blade you may know. It has languished too long outside the winds of alliance and betrayal. To return to its past glory, it must first drink the blood of deceit. Your world is admirably seeped in lies and inclinations. My blade is a darling leech that feeds on deceptions, and nourishes its master. Seek out those closest to you. The final pluck of their misguided heartstrings will accompany my blade in the songs of your grandeur."

After acquiring the key and unlocking the door, Mephala instructs the Dragonborn to take the Ebony Blade, which is next to a book warning of its corrupting evil.

Mephala now says the Ebony Blade does not match its legendary description, and has fallen to a lesser form due to its aging without use. In order to restore its former strength, it must taste the "blood of deceit". For the blade to do this, the Dragonborn must kill someone who trusts them: a person for whom a quest was done, or a follower. Collecting the weapon completes the quest, although the blade still needs "charging."

People who trust the Dragonborn can be identified based on what they say. They may say something like "It is a fine day with you around", or "You've been a good friend to me. That means something." However, it is far easier to simply use a follower. Considering this, it may be easiest to use the Ebony Blade in the quests "Boethiah's Calling," "The Taste of Death," or "Lights Out!."

  • On the PC version of Skyrim, it is possible to resurrect killed followers or friends using console commands, allowing them to be killed repeatedly while reaching the Ebony Blade's full power.
  • One way is to find a beggar, give them a coin, receive the Gift of Charity, then kill them. You can raise them as a zombie then kill them again which will count as two characters.
  • Alternatively, after completing all thane tasks and receiving all of the housecarls, they can be killed throughout the Dragonborn's households.
  • Another, simpler way is to acquire the Dead Thrall spell tome (random loot or purchased from Phinis Gestor), or activate the Ritual Stone, gather a follower and take them to an isolated spot, then kill and raise them repeatedly. This should minimize collateral damage and still raise the blade's powers.
  • One may wish to make full use of Dark Brotherhood's main quests. Four of the marked targets has their own quests/whose disposition can be raised. These includes Narfi, Nenya, Beitild and Vampire's wife near Falkreath. Assassinating them with Ebony Blade after gaining their affinity counts towards both quests.


Ask about Balgruuf's strange children – DA08RumorPointer
ID 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.
  • Quest complete
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.
  • Quest complete
80 I have restored Mephala's Ebony Blade to its full potential.


  • When inspecting the quest "The Whispering Door" more thoroughly with help of the Creation Kit, it is revealed that the quest was intended to be far more dark and elaborate. Unused scripts and packages hold references to all of Balgruuf's children having been intended to fall under the manipulation of Mephala.
  • One unused script named SF_DA08 Frothar Kills Horse Scene, shows that Frothar was meant to kill a black horse at the stables named Karinda (currently an unused horse NPC). An accompanying script is named SF_DA08 Frothar Listens To Ebony B, referencing to Frothar falling under the control of Mephala much like Nelkir has, meant to occur at one point during the quest, with Ebony B standing for the Ebony Blade through which Mephala makes her voice heard.
  • Another script is titled SF_DA08 Children Kill The Jarl Scene, where Balgruuf's children were meant to gather at an undefined waypoint in secret, to commit patricide (possibly with the Dragonborn's aid as the script calls for removing Balgruuf's essential state). An accompanying interaction package is named DA08 Balgruuf Wait To Die In Scene where Balgruuf is present at an undefined place as to be murdered.
  • Upon Balgruuf's death, Hrongar was meant to replace Balgruuf as Jarl. Attached to his character is a lot of unused dialogue parallel to that of Balgruuf, meant to be used in the civil war quests and main quests. The dialogue varies from that of Balgruuf in that Hrongar takes a more aggressive approach towards the problems at hand.
  • If the quest is started and left alone, and then the "Battle for Whiterun" quest completed for the Stormcloaks, Balgruuf will no longer be Jarl. He will instead reside at the Blue Palace with his children, and the quest can be continued by talking to them there.
  • If the blade is obtained beforehand by glitching through the wall and picking up the sword when doing the quest, the objective "retrieve the Ebony Blade" cannot be completed as the sword cannot be dropped and picked up again.
    • The blade can be placed on a weapon rack. Doing so enables the Dragonborn to "retrieve the Ebony Blade," thus completing the quest.
  • The keys to The Whispering Door do not spawn until after speaking to Nelkir the second time.
  • Despite Farengar being allegedly aware of the blade, it can be sold to him.
  • A conversation between Proventus and Jarl Balgruuf can be overheard about Nelkir's behavior. This can happen before the quest, although it does not start it, and the characters will not talk to the player about it.
  • If the console command unlock is used on the whispering door, there is a cupboard behind the door that cannot be opened, and it blocks entrance to the room without further usage of the developer console. The cupboard serves as a placeholder for the Lady's voice.


This section contains bugs related to The Whispering Door. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:

  1. Please reload an old save to confirm if the bug is still happening.
  2. If the bug is still occurring, please post the bug report with the appropriate system template  360  /  XB1  ,  PS3  /  PS4  ,  PC  /  MAC  ,  NX  /  PS5  ,  XS  , depending on which platform(s) the bug has been encountered on.
  3. Be descriptive when listing the bug and fixes, but avoid having conversations in the description and/or using first-person anecdotes: such discussions belong on the appropriate forum board.
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  • If the Ebony Blade is upgraded at a Grindstone after making it eat a soul, the damage will be lowered and it will be unable to receive additional upgrades.
  • If the quest "The Fallen" has been started and Jarl Balgruuf has been asked to be prepared, he cannot be questioned until that quest is done.
  •  PC   PS3   If Hulda is dead, her innkeeper function goes to Ysolda. Ysolda cannot be asked for rumors, making the quest impossible to start. Resurrecting Hulda will not help; if the player asks her for rumors after resurrecting her, she will simply say the Companions are accepting new members (even if the Companions quest line is completed). Additionally, even if Hulda is not dead, she will not have a rumors option in her dialog choices, making it impossible to start the quest.
    • Fix: Get two platters, then go to the locked door and place a platter up against the door. Use the Whirlwind Sprint shout to go through the door. Take the Ebony Blade, then place the second platter in the corner between the door and the Whispering Lady (represented as a floating end table). Use the Whirlwind Sprint shout to go back through the door.
    •  PC (Fix)   The TCL console command can be used to toggle collision and noclip through. The blade may not charge because the quest has not started.
    •  PC (Fix)   This bug can also be fixed by using the console command setstage DA08RumorPointer 10. This console command will start the quest.
  • After speaking to the innkeeper at The Bannered Mare and receiving the quest to speak to Jarl Balgruuf the Greater, the Dragonborn may sometimes not receive a dialogue option to discuss his son.
  •  PS3   Starting the quest, finishing the quest, or picking up the Ebony Blade may cause the game file to become corrupted to the point where any subsequent saves will never re-load. Because of this and because there does not seem to be any known solution, it is advisable to make several separate game saves: one before starting the quest, one before opening the door at the end of the quest, and one before picking up the blade itself.
  • Placing the Ebony Blade on a weapons rack can cause it to disappear, losing it forever.
  • It is possible to open the door the Whispering Lady is behind without console commands. Simply get Whiterun Guards to chase after the Dragonborn and stand close to the door. They may open it, but it is impossible to enter, as the Whispering Lady (which the model for is simply a box) is floating in mid-air, blocking the way.
  •  PC   Sometimes the door will not open, even if the Dragonborn has the key (it will still say the key is required), making it impossible to finish the quest.
    •  PC (Fix)   On the PC, open the console using the "~" key, type in TCL, which toggles collision, or ability to be stopped by tangible objects, and simply walk through the door.
  • Sometimes the blade's base damage can change randomly from 13–21.
  •  360   If Fear is used on a resident of Dragonsreach, they may run down to the Whispering Door and open it, trying to escape. When the door is opened, a small dresser can be seen floating in mid-air, while the Ebony Blade can be seen on a table in the background.
  •  NX   In Skyrim Anniversary Edition, Creation Club content can supersede the rumor that starts "The Whispering Door," causing Hulda to not start the quest because the dialogue is unavailable.