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The shiv appears to be a sharpened nail or piece of metal that is about five inches in length, with cloth or thin leather wrapped and tied around one end to serve as a grip on the handle.
The shiv is the fourth-weakest weapon available, behind the fork, the wooden sword, the knife, and the phantom sword. It is classed as a dagger and thus is affected by the Assassin's Blade perk from the Sneak skill tree.
- Most of the prisoners in Cidhna Mine, including Madanach himself, carry a shiv and skooma.
- Grisvar the Unlucky agrees to trade a shiv in exchange for skooma.
- Lisbet at Arnleif and Sons Trading Company sometimes sells shivs.
- Note: Lisbet will only sell Shivs once the quest "No One Escapes Cidhna Mine" is completed.
A shiv is needed in exchange to get the key to Madanach's cell from Borkul the Beast. The shiv is also the only weapon available during the quest and can be used to kill others, specifically Madanach.
- The shiv has the same damage rating as the pickaxe, but swings faster.
- It is possible to obtain four shivs during the quest. Trade skooma to Grisvar the Unlucky for one, and then persuade Borkul to move aside, keeping the shiv. Two are obtained from Grisvar's corpse after being instructed to kill him. During the escape through the Markarth Ruins, one can be pickpocketed from Madanach.
- More shivs can be obtained after the quest. Visit the cave where Madanach and his men hide after the quest. Many of the inhabitants inside carry a shiv, which then can be pickpocketed.
- There is also an exploit to obtain unlimited shivs. Place an enchanted shiv in a dagger rack. The enchanted shiv will remain equipped, and an un-enchanted shiv will be in the rack (tested in Hjerim dagger rack, unlimited shivs with an absorb health enchantment, unconfirmed if any other enchantment works).