There once was an race called the Chimer (who would later be turned into the Dunmers by the Daedric goddess Azura) that originated on the Summerset Isles. They soon took allegiance to the Daedric god Boethiah who convinced them to reject the ways of the Aldmer race and flee to modern day Morrowind where they set up a new civilization based on Daedric principles and worship. It is here that they gained many enemies including the great king Reman. It is Reman who conquered all of Tamriel (minus Morrwind) and the man that created the Amulet of the Kings.Knowing that their race was no match for the armies of Reman the Chimer's created the Morag Tong, a guild dedicated to violence and evil. The idea was to use this guild of assassins to kill the enemies of the race without widespread bloodshed. At the end of the first era the Morag Tong was successful in murdering Emperor Reman III and his heir, ushering in the rule of Versidue-Shaie. Versidue-Shaie would declare martial law in Cyrodill and use his armies to try and take over all of Tamriel but was unable to complete his conquest since he too was murdered by the Morag Tong in 2E 324. It was soon after these events that the first record of the Dark Brotherhood come into existence.
War with the Morag Tong
A note describing the war between the Morag Tong and its offspring, The Dark Brotherhood, was first found in 2E 358. One can assume the brotherhood was around before this date but as no records have yet to be uncovered it is here that their formation is recorded. It is believed that after the outlaw of the Morag Tong and their abandenment of Mephala for the god Vivec that a select few of the guild's members quit to form their own
guild. The Dark Brotherhood would no longer solely worship the Daedra Lord Mephala (also known as the Night Mother) but would worship the serpent god Sithis as well. According to his worshipers, Sithis was the huge black nothingness that existed before creation. This small splinter cell would soon spread throughout Tamriel, leaving the Morag Tong to rule in Morrowind. As time went on the Dunmers would start to reject Daedric worship leaving only a handful of Dunmers left to uphold the traditions of the Morag Tong. Any Morag Tong agent discovered by the Dark Brotherhood is hunted and murdered regardless of where in Tamriel he/she may be.
Another explanation for the split is given by Enric Milres in his novel Sacred Witness. According to the Night Mother the Dark Brotherhood has its roots in the Thieves Guild. When she was younger the Night Mother had found it easier to kill the victims in the home she was robbing, yet the just forming Thieves Guild disagreed with this practice. She set out to form her own guild and was able to recruit disgruntled members of the Morag Tong into the ranks of The Dark Brotherhood. The Night Mother also claimed that her calling card was to place two stones, one black and one white, one the eyes of her victims. After the publication of Sacred Witness Enric Milres was found murdered with two stones, one black and one white, over his eyes; the killer was never found.
The first recorded use of the Dark Brotherhood's services are by the Blood Queen Arlimahera of Hegathe (located in Hammerfall) in 2E 412. She states that her family, dating back to her grandfather, have enlisted the services of the Dark Brotherhood. Later the Dark Brotherhood would bring the to an end by murdering Savirien-Chorak and all of his heirs. The next Emperor to fall victim to the Dark Brotherhood's assassins would be Emperor Pelagius Septim, son of the the famed Tiber Septim.
In 3E 421 a member of the guild, Greywyn, clams that Sithis has ordered all non-vampires to be kicked out of the brotherhood. He forms the Crimson Scars with plans to cleanse to brotherhood but they do not last long; all Crimson Scars members are swiftly killed by the Black Hand. Greywyn was able to escape to Deepscorn Hollow where he cleansed himself of vampirism. His fate past this point is unknown.
Shadowscales are special members of the Brotherhood. In the Black Marsh any person born under the sign of the Shadow is taken at birth by the guild to be trained in the skills of stealth and assassination. These youth are then accepted into the ranks of the Brotherhood. Ocheeva, head of the Cheydinhal Sanctuary is a Shadowscale. Any Shadowscale that murders another Shadowscale is automatically labeled as a traitor and murdered.
Over the course of the quests you meet three Shadowscales. Teinaava is a male Argonian Assassin, and brother of Ocheeva. Ocheeva is Teinaava's sister and an Executioner in the guild. Ocheeva provides you with missions after Vicente Valtieri has no more for you. You must kill both Ocheeva and Teinaava during the Purification. The third Shadowscale, Scar-Tail, is an old friend of Ocheeva and Teinaava who hid from the guild after a failed assassination. Scar-Tail identifies you as a Dark Brotherhood assailant immediately if you talk to him, and you have the choice to either leave him alive or kill him.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion the Dark Brotherhood is an assassin's guild with bases of operation throughout Cyrodiil. The only base accessible is the Cheydinhal Sanctuary, founded more than 200 years ago according to Lucien Lachance. At the time of joining the leader of the Cheydinhal "family" is Ocheeva, but new members report to the executioner Vicente Valtieri for early missions. Ocheeva receives missions from Lucien Lachance, a Speaker. Lucien Lachance receives missions from the Listener, and the Listener receives instructions directly from the Night Mother herself who manifests herself in the Lucky Old Lady Statue in Bravil every night.
The player comes into contact with the Dark Brotherhood by murdering someone with nobody around. Once this is done the message "Your killing has been observed" appears notifying the player that the Dark Brotherhood is interested in them. The next time the player falls asleep a Speaker of the Black Hand, Lucien Lachance, appears, offering the player enlistment into the Dark Brotherhood. If they agree, they are given the Blade of Woe and their first target, an elderly man by the name of Rufio who is staying at the Inn of Ill Omen. When Rufio is killed, Lucien will appear to the player again and hand them the Brotherhood vestments and the password which allows entry into the Cheydinhal Sanctuary.
The Black Hand
The Black Hand is the council led by the Listener, Ungolim, who receives direct instructions from the Night Mother. The known members of the Black Hand are the Silencers - Shaleez and Havi lstein Hoar-Blood - the Speakers - Lucien Lachance, J'Ghasta, Alval Uvani, Arquen, Belisarius Arius, Banus Alor, and Mathieau Bellamont - and the Listener, Ungolim. These Black Hand members are spread all over Cyrodiil.
The events of the Dark Brotherhood questine eventually lead to the Brotherhood being leaderless, with all members of the Black Hand dead except for Arquen and the player, who becomes the new Listener. The Listener visits the statue in Bravil and prays to the Night Mother regularly to receive payment from contracts. The Listener never receives missions, but instead receives a list of people who have prayed to the Night Mother for murder, and passes down the orders to the Speaker who then arranges the contract. The Listener in turn receives payment from the person requesting the murder.
The Purification is a ritual in which all members of a sanctuary are systematically killed by a fellow Dark Brotherhood member. The player is asked to perform The Purification on the Cheydinhal Sanctuary when news of a traitor in the sanctuary was spreading.
The traitor who tricks the player into killing off all other members of the Black Hand in hopes of the Speakers left having to summon the Night Mother. Mathieau would then kill the Night Mother and bring an end to the Dark Brotherhood. With the player's help his plans are thwarted, but not without the loss of most of the Dark Brotherhood's members, including Lucien Lachance.
Mathieau had a deep-seeded hatred for the Dark Brotherhood after he watched Lucien Lachance, who at the time was not a Speaker, kill his mother in front of him. The Brotherhood then offered him admission into the guild, which he accepted and began to plan his revenge. Mathieau worked his way through the guild for years, eventually reaching the rank of Speaker for the city of Anvil. Mathieau made his home at the bottom of the Anvil lighthouse where he kept a diary of his progress through the guild, and a shrine to his mother, which at the time of you seeing it is the rotting head of his mother.
When news of the player's quick advancement through the guild reaches Mathieau he decides the time to strike against the guild was soon. As a Silencer, Lucien Lachance gave orders directly in the form of dead drops, or notes with the locations of the targets, and the targets' names. Mathieau had tracked the courier carrying the dead drops and replaced them to have new orders which contained the names of Black Hand members. By the time Lucien reaches the player, they had killed the Listener, Ungolim, the final target. Just before Lucien kills the player where they stand he sees that they were both tricked, and learns the other Speakers would assume he was the traitor and come to kill him. Lucien has the player come to a farm outside of Bruma to discuss plans to take down the traitor.
By the time the player reaches the farm it is too late. The three remaining Speakers had killed, skinned, and hung Lucien Lachance, and were planning to consult the Night Mother on who would be the new leader. At this time the player is awarded the rank of Speaker. Mathieu attempts to kill the Night Mother but is taken down swiftly.
The Five Tenets
The Five Tenets are five rules that all guild members must follow. Disobeying a tenet will result in the immediate expulsion of a Dark Brotherhood member. The Wrath of Sithis, a powerful wraith, is sent to kill those who break the Tenets. If the Wrath of Sithis is defeated the person is readmitted into the Brotherhood.
- Tenet 1: Never dishonor the Night Mother. To do so is to invoke the Wrath of Sithis.
- Tenet 2: Never betray the Dark Brotherhood or its secrets. To do so is to invoke the Wrath of Sithis.
- Tenet 3: Never disobey or refuse to carry out an order from a Dark Brotherhood superior. To do so is to invoke the Wrath of Sithis.
- Tenet 4: Never steal the possessions of a Dark Brother or Dark Sister. To do so is to invoke the Wrath of Sithis.
- Tenet 5: Never kill a Dark Brother or Dark Sister. To do so is to invoke the Wrath of Sithis.
- Blade of Woe: Given before A Knife in the Dark
- Shrouded Armor and Shrouded Hood: Received after A Knife in the Dark
- Black Band: Received after A Watery Grave
- Sufferthorn Dagger: Received after Accidents Happen
- Scales of Pitiless Justice: Received after Scheduled for Execution
- Cruelty's Heart: Received after The Assassinated Man
- Shadowhunt: Received after The Lonely Heart
- The Deceiver's Finery: Received after Bad Medicine
- Boots of Bloody Bounding: Received after The Renegade Shadowscale
- The black horse Shadowmere: Received after The Purification
- The Blade of Woe becomes a powerful enchanted weapon after Honor Thy Mother
- Dark Brotherhood Murderers will follow you after Honor Thy Mother
- Black Hand Robes and Black Hand Hood: Received after Honor Thy Mother
On top of the rewards given for missions there are also rare items that can only bought from the merchant in the Dark Brotherhood's hideout including Poisonous Apples and rare Spell Scrolls.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
In Skyrim, the Dark Brotherhood maintains a presence and carries out contracts for people who perform the Black Sacrament. At this point in time, there is no longer a Listener who delivers contracts. In fact, the Dark Brotherhood in Skyrim no longer reveres the Night Mother. Furthermore, the organization no longer uses the Five Tenants to dictate the behavior of its members, instead relying on respect for one another to keep things running smoothly. The sanctuary in which they reside is the last one in Tamriel.
Joining the Dark Brotherhood in Skyrim is done a bit differently, though it still involves murder. As the player visits towns, they'll hear rumors about someone named Aventus Aretino in Windhelm trying to summon the Dark Brotherhood through the Black Sacrament. When the player goes to investigate, they discover that Aventus is a child. He's performing the Black Sacrament with the hopes that the Dark Brotherhood will respond and kill Grelod the Kind, an evil woman who runs the orphanage in Riften where Aventus used to live. Grelod the Kind beats the children in the orphanage and constantly tells them that they will never be adopted. Aventus had a terrible time there and wants her killed.
Sometime after killing Grelod the Kind, the player is delivered a note by a courier. The note has a black hand on it and the words "We Know" at the bottom. The next time the player sleeps, they are abducted by the Dark Brotherhood and taken to an abandoned shack where the leader of the organization, Astrid, tells them to kill one of the three prisoners in the shack. One of them has a contract assigned to them, but she doesn't tell the player who it is. After killing a prisoner, the player is invited to join the Dark Brotherhood.
The Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary in Skyrim has a forge and a dragon wall where the player can obtain a new shout.
- Blind Thrall
- White Thrall
- Exalted Master