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"Adamus Phillida is dead! I could feel my heart swell in the Night Mother's love the moment that Imperial pig issued his last breath!"
Ocheeva[src]

Night Mother quote

The Night Mother (also known as the Blood Flower or the Lady Death)[2] is the bride of Sithis, the Dread Father of the Dark Brotherhood. Those who wish to have someone assassinated pray to the Night Mother by performing the Black Sacrament, and she extends their requests to her Listener, who in turn passes the task on to the Speakers. It is debatable whether she was a real person or if she is the Lucky Old Lady of Bravil.

By game

Identity

According to Dark Brotherhood beliefs, she is wife of Sithis, but was told by Sithis to kill her five young children in his name.[1] After the deed was done, Sithis gave her the honor of being his wife and being the head of the Dark Brotherhood.[source?]

Origin

The Night Mother is likely to have lived during the Second Era, as indicated in the in-game book The Brothers of Darkness. In Oblivion, her tomb is located underneath the Lucky Old Lady statue in Bravil. There are skeletal remains of one adult and five children in her tomb. This takes into account her children in Dark Brotherhood beliefs. The Night Mother might also be the same person as the Lucky Old Lady.

One indication of this is that the Lucky Old Lady is surrounded by five children. However, the woman depicted by the statue was said to have lived in the First Era.[3] The Night Mother has also been credited as an incarnation of Daedric Prince Mephala,[2] whereas she is also identified as Severa Magia in Morrowind during the Third Era.[4] Before this, in Daggerfall, the Night Mother is identified simply as an immortal spirit with the likeness of a Redguard woman.[5]

While the Night Mother has certainly had relations to Morag Tong, it is questionable if she has even been the same person all along. The Brothers of Darkness suggests that The Night Mother is merely a title for the leaders of Morag Tong. She has most definitively made business in the first era, as suggested by 2920, vol 07 - Sun's Height, with Sotha Sil, a member of the Psijic Order. Literature of the same year, but in Evening Star, says "the Night Mother stroking her daughter's hair" the daughter being Corda, a Redguard. This suggests the Night Mother was either a Redguard herself, or has had affections with one. 

At one point in history, when working with the Thieves Guild to gain popularity for the Dark Brotherhood, she has been described as "a little old lady with fluffy white hair, cheeks like wrinkled apples that still carried the flush of youth, friendly eyes, blue as the Iliac Bay." by a witness. This suggests a human race, most likely Imperial, Nord, Breton or the like.

It is, however, confirmed that she, the one that sacrificed her children to Sithis, lived some time in the second era and was a Dunmer. This is revealed in The Night Mother's Truth.

Guild affiliation

TESIV Location Lucky Old Lady

The Lucky Old Lady statue in Bravil hides the Night Mother's remains.

According to Sacred Witness, she was a member of the Thieves Guild, around the time when it was just beginning. She was one of many at the time that found it easier to just strangle the occupant of the house, rather than go through the bother of sneaking the entire time.

She suggested the Guild have a special group of those who specialized in such a task, just as there were for pickpocketing, lock-picking, fencing, etc., but they decided encouraging murder would be bad for business and refused. However, realizing the possible profits from killing for hire, the Night Mother began performing assassinations, and left a calling card of two stones, one white and one black, in each eye. The following she developed did not become the Morag Tong, however. It was at this point that the Dark Brotherhood was born.

According to her supposed words, the Morag Tong existed long before her time, and she merely took on those members that split from the group after the murder of the last Potentate, as she was "the only other murder syndicate of any note." According to the editor's note at the end of the book, the book was originally published anonymously, but that anyone can recognize the familiar writing and cadence of Enric Milres. It goes on to say that shortly after the publishing of this book, Milres was found "strangled, and two stones, a black one and a white one, crushed into his eye-sockets. Very brutally."

Ritual

The Black Sacrament

The proper Black Sacrament effigy.

Main article: Black Sacrament

For prospective clients to contact the Dark Brotherhood, they would carry out a ritual called the Black Sacrament. This ritual would inform the Night Mother of their intentions to have someone killed.[6] When the Listener of the Black Hand prays to the Lucky Old Lady statue in Bravil, the Night Mother will inform the Listener about location of those prospective clients. The Listener would then relay this information to Speakers of the Black Hand.[7]

Quoting Black Horse Courier on the Night Mother Rituals!:

As documented in the rare and taboo work "A Kiss, Sweet Mother," the Black Sacrament involves an effigy of the intended victim -- created from actual body parts, including a heart, skeleton and flesh -- within a circle of candles. To proceed with the ritual, one must stab the effigy repeatedly with a dagger rubbed with the petals of a Nightshade plant, while whispering the plea, "Sweet Mother, sweet Mother, send your child unto me, for the sins of the unworthy must be baptized in blood and fear." As gruesome as this ritual may be, even more frightening is its intention -- the summoning of a mysterious assassin (who some witnesses claim is always clad in a black hooded robe) who will then receive money to kill an innocent victim. No remorse. No regret. It is, as the merchant's say, simply business. And that's what worries Adamus Phillida.

Role in history

Cyrodiil

Night Mother's Crypt

Inside the Night Mother's crypt.

During the Third Era, the Night Mother appears to the Black Hand in ethereal form after the Brotherhood was desecrated by one its Speakers. Mathieu Bellamont attempted to attack her, to no avail, during this quest. The Hero of Kvatch might have been present during the event, serving as Silencer to Lucien Lachance up until his death and being the sole agent behind the systematic murder of the other Silencers, and the Listener, Ungolim.

Although the Hero may have been responsible for the death of so many guild members, the Night Mother knew the Hero's loyalty lay with her and forgave them, allowing them to remove whatever treasures they wanted from her tomb.

Great War

In 4E188, the Bravil Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary was raided. Listener Alisanne Dupre and the Speakers were burned to death, though the Night Mother's corpse remained intact, and was taken to the Cheydinhal Sanctuary. The fate of her children's bodies is unknown.[8]

Skyrim

TESV The Night Mother

During the Dragon Crisis, the Night Mother is delivered to the sanctuary by Cicero, the Keeper and self-made enthusiastic jester who can be helped before joining the Dark Brotherhood. Years after the death of the last Listener, Cicero brought the Night Mother to Falkreath, where Astrid's Dark Brotherhood existed.

If the Dragonborn became a member of the Brotherhood, they were spoken to by the Night Mother when eavesdropping on Cicero, thus becoming her new Listener. Although sad that he was not named as Listener, Cicero remains faithful to the Night Mother and the new Listener.

Threatened by both the Night Mother's authority and the new Listener, Astrid discourages the Dragonborn from fulfilling a contract imparted on them by the Night Mother. Later, Cicero attacked Astrid for defying the Night Mother's wishes and fled to the Dawnstar Sanctuary.

While the Dragonborn was attempting to kill the Emperor, Astrid contacted Commander Maro, to restore her order, by informing him that the Dragonborn would be attempting to kill the Emperor, where Maro set a trap to kill the Listener.

After the failed assassination, the Listener flees back to the Sanctuary, where most of the Brotherhood's members have been killed in an attack by the Penitus Oculatus. Although Nazir was saved, there was no way out of the exploding Sanctuary, so the Night Mother asks her Listener to "embrace" her, as this was the only way they would be able to survive.

After the destruction of the Falkreath Sanctuary, Nazir pulls the Night Mother's coffin from the lake in the destroyed Sanctuary, and the Night Mother tells the Listener to go find Astrid, who is still within the Sanctuary. After being found, Astrid confesses that she is the one to blame for everything that has happened, and for the Listener to kill her, as she made herself the Black Sacrament.

Afterwards, the Night Mother speaks to her Listener again, telling them that the contract must still be fulfilled. As the Listener tracks down and kills the real Emperor, Nazir and Babette, who also survived the attack on the Sanctuary, move with the Night Mother to the Dawnstar Sanctuary, where the Dark Brotherhood was started anew.

Attributes by game

Night Mother Oblivion

The Night Mother in Oblivion.

Morrowind

Oblivion

Dialogue

Oblivion

Show: Honor Thy Mother
In the Crypt of the Night Mother:

"So, at last we meet. I have been following your strange journey through the Dark Brotherhood, young one. Your killing of the old man Baenlin... the execution of Adamus Phillida... the way you stalked and murdered each member of the Draconis family... Your purification of the Cheydinhal Sanctuary. You, a mere underling, even managed to single-handedly eliminate half of my Black Hand!"

I live only to serve the Black Hand. "I know, dear child. I know. You carried out your orders to the letter, in the name of the Black Hand. How could I be anything but happy with you? No, my anger lies with the rest of my children. You see, I have known of Mathieu Bellamont's intentions since he was just a boy."
Ha! I reveled in their slaughter. "So you did, my child. So you did! Ha ha ha ha ha! You obeyed your orders and showed no mercy or remorse. How could I ask for a better servant? If only my other children had served me so well! You see, I have known of Mathieu Bellamont's intentions since he was just a boy."
[Say nothing.] "Ah, you choose to play the stoic, hmm? You remain silent even when faced with my terrible countenance? Your silent obedience is to be commended. If only my other children had offered such reverence. You see, I have known of Mathieu Bellamont's intentions since he was just a boy."
"I knew of his thirst for vengeance. I could have informed my Listener. But I refused! Refused to reward such incompetence! Ungolim was weak. Indeed, I allowed Mathieu Bellamont to proceed on his destructive course. Just as I allowed you to intercept him."
But... but why, honored Night Mother? "Don't you see? Our Dread Father foresaw your defeat of the traitor, here in this very crypt! You have been chosen! You are to be my new Listener!"
Then our destinies were...interwoven? "Yes, dear child! Yes! The Dread Father foresaw it all! You were meant to kill the traitor! You were meant to be named Listener of the Black Hand!"
[Say nothing.] "Our Dread Father foresaw your defeat of the traitor, here in this very crypt! You have been chosen! You are to be my new Listener!"
"You possess strength, and cunning, and a heart as black as midnight. You were marked by Sithis the moment you emerged from your mother's womb."
So what happens now, Unholy Matron? "Go. Take a few moments to collect yourself. Meditate upon all that has transpired. Help yourself to any treasures this crypt may offer."
Finally, the authority I deserve! "You will get what you desire. But first, meditate upon all that has transpired. Perhaps you covet treasure? Take all my crypt has to offer!"
[Say nothing.] "Silent even as Listener? Good. For now is the time to meditate upon all that has transpired. And please, help yourself to this crypt's treasures."

After looting the crypt:

"You've returned. I trust you've weighed the importance of your new position. For you will soon hear words that will change lives, alter destinies. And I hope you've taken everything you desire from my crypt. Once you leave, you will be unable to return. Now, are you ready to begin your new life?"

No. I'll return when I'm ready. "Very well. Take your time. Enjoy the hospitalities of my... home. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!"
I'm ready. Send me to the Sanctuary. "Very good! Now begins your true journey! We will soon become very intimate, you and I! Ha ha ha ha ha! Before I sent you away, however, I would like to present you with a rather special reward. I see you still possess the Blade of Woe, the weapon given to you by Lucien Lachance when you first met. Allow me now to unlock its true power! Yes, you will now find the Blade of Woe a bit more... potent than it was. Now go. Leave this crypt, and serve our Dread Father til your dying breath!"

Conversations

Oblivion

Show: Honor Thy Mother
In the Crypt of the Night Mother:

Night Mother: "What is the meaning of this desecration? Who has disturbed my ancient slumber?"
Arquen: "Dearest Night Mother! Most Unholy Maiden! Please, we beg your mercy in this, our time of need! The Black Hand seeks your guidance!"
Night Mother: "Ah, yes, I have been expecting you. The Listener now kneels by Sithis, as does his successor. There is a traitor amongst you."
Arquen: "The traitor is dead, dear Mother. We have come now to ask your blessing. Anoint one of us your Listener, so we can restore the Black Hand!"
Night Mother: "Foolish little girl. Lucien Lachance served Sithis til his dying breath. The Black Hand remains tainted by betrayal. Restoration is impossible."
Mathieu Bellamont: "Enough! Enough of this! You will all suffer for the pain you have caused me! I will destroy your Night Mother, and the Dark Brotherhood will fall!"
Arquen: "What treachery? The traitor still lives! It is Mathieu Bellamont! Do not let him harm the Night Mother! Kill him!"

Trivia

  • As noted in a quest for the Morag Tong in Vvardenfell, Grandmaster Eno Hlaalu refers to a target named "Severa Magia" as the "Night Mother" of the Dark Brotherhood. It is unknown if this is the same Night Mother, or whether it was simply a title given to the head of the Brotherhood family in Vvardenfell.
  • The Night Mother appears in Oblivion and Skyrim. However, in Morrowind, Severa Magia is the local Night Mother of the Dark Brotherhood. Despite this, the Night Mother in Oblivion identifies herself as the only Night Mother.
  • When hitting the corpse of the Night Mother in Skyrim with a weapon, blood may burst out similar to other NPCs.
  • If the Night Mother's metal coffin (but not the corpse) is shot with a bow enchanted with Soul Trap, the coffin will give off a purple glow likewise as if you had successfully hit any other living entity with the Soul Trap spell.
  • In Skyrim, the Night Mother is voiced by Lani Minella. Minella also voices Nocturnal and several female Dunmer.
  • Despite her being known as a Dunmer, her preserved corpse, mostly her ears and skin color, appear completely human.
  • In Skyrim, it appears that the Night Mother has a degree of control over her coffin, as both times when the player enters the coffin, the doors shut behind them, and the coffin is too small for the player to turn around to close the doors themselves.
  • When inside the Night Mother's coffin during Whispers In The Dark, the Night Mother will state that the player is sharing her "iron tomb," indicating that her coffin is made out of iron. However, Cicero writes in his journal that the Night Mother's coffin is made of stone, which contradicts the Night Mother's statement.
  • It appears that the body of the Night Mother is not just a channel for her spirit to speak through; she will mention during "Whispers In The Dark" that the player character's body "warms my ancient bones," which could mean that she can perceive temperatures.
  • During "Death Incarnate," the Night Mother asks the player to "embrace" her, and closes the tomb doors behind them. However, when submerged in the Sanctuary's pond, the player does not drown (regardless if Argonian or not), pointing to the Night Mother's coffin as both water-proof and air-tight.

Footnotes

  1. Using the Console command "GetIsRace" in conjunction with the RaceID for Dunmers (000191C1), the results return as "1," meaning she is listed as a Dunmer in the game files for Oblivion.

References

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