Upon meeting with Brynjolf and Karliah in the center of The Ragged Flagon - Cistern, a discussion ensues about executing Mercer for his betrayal to the Guild. However, Karliah warns the Dragonborn that, since Mercer was a Nightingale, he is very dangerous. Karliah wants to prepare the Dragonborn to slay Mercer and suggests meeting her at a standing stone just outside the southwest gate of Riften.
As the Dragonborn makes their way into Nightingale hall with Brynjolf and Karliah, they begin discussing the Nightingales and the myth behind them. Brynjolf believes that the Nightingales are a religious group, but Karliah explains that it is all about business. Once arriving at the hall, Karliah requests that the Dragonborn go and don the new Nightingale armor to begin the ceremony.
Once making it across the wooden bridge and into a room, there will be a stone off to the left with the Nightingale symbol on it. Upon activating it, a full set of Nightingale Armor is added to the Dragonborn's inventory.
Karliah tells the Dragonborn of some tests that need to be completed in order to become a Nightingale, while Brynjolf displays negative feelings towards this. Karliah explains that the only way to defeat Mercer Frey is to have Nocturnal on their side. Karliah explains that in order to use the Nightingale abilities whenever possible, the test must be completed for a guardian of the Twilight Sepulcher serves both in life and death. Karliah asks if the Dragonborn is ready for the test and once conceding, the test can begin.
Note: Unlike other quests, the option of saying no does not appear at what should be a point of no return. At this stage of the quest, the only dialogue option there will be is to either say "yes" or drop the conversation. However, this effectively stalls the entire quest line.
Karliah opens a gate into a room with three glyphs. All three characters take their place on one of the glyphs, and Karliah calls upon Nocturnal, who then appears. Karliah offers to have Brynjolf and the Dragonborn take the oath to serve Nocturnal in order to gain the strength to take down Mercer Frey. Nocturnal accepts the offer and the three characters become the new Nightingales.
Now that the Dragonborn is a Nightingale, Karliah reveals the true crime of Mercer. Mercer has stolen a Skeleton Key from the Twilight Sepulcher which not only unlocks physical locks but also the ability to tap into the potential that everyone possesses. This is the reason that the Thieves' Guild is down on its luck. If the key is not returned then its luck would go down to the point of non-existence. Returning the key would mean that Nocturnal would align itself with the Guild once again and luck would be restored.
Brynjolf then realizes that, because the Guild is leaderless, the Dragonborn will need to take over as leader of the Thieves Guild after Mercer has been dealt with. He then mentions that they should head to Irkngthand where Mercer is likely to be, stealing the Eyes of the Falmer.
Before intercepting Mercer Frey, Karliah wishes to speak to both Brynjolf and myself.
Objective: Listen to Karliah
Karliah has indicated Brynjolf and I are to meet her at an old standing stone just outside the Southwest Gate of Riften. Her motivations for doing so are mysterious, but I suspect it has something to do with the Nightingales.
Objective: Meet Karliah at the standing stone
Karliah has informed Brynjolf and I that we're to join the ranks of the Nightingales and assist in reforming the trinity that was disrupted over twenty-five years ago when Mercer Frey murdered Gallus.
Objective: Don the Nightingale Armor
Objective: Follow Karliah
I've undertaken the Oath and I'm now a Nightingale, guardian of the Twilight Sepulcher and a dedicated sentinel of the goddess, Nocturnal.
If the Dragonborn has acquired the Ice Formshout, after completing the ceremony they can use it to freeze Brynjolf and Karliah and pickpocket them for items with no repercussions. After unfreezing and traveling to Irkngthand the quests will continue as though nothing had happened.
It is possible to take off the Nightingale armor upon making it to the room where Nocturnal comes. There, any armor can be worn without stopping progress in the quest.
If Serana is a follower, she may constantly interact with the pull chain, but the gate will not open.
Always add 360 , PS3 , or PC to clarify which system the bug appears on.
Click to reveal Bugs
PC Karliah may not be waiting at the stone at the beginning of the quest. This may happen if the Nightingale stone is discovered before this quest.
PC Solution: use the console command at the quest marker "player.placeatme 0001B07F."
PC 360 PS3 Both Karliah and Brynjolf may not be waiting at the stone at the beginning of the quest. This may happen regardless of whether the Nightingale stone was found before. Even approaching the stone and seeing both characters standing there, but not going near enough to trigger the conversation, upon returning later, they might be gone. Brynjolf can then be found in the Ragged Flagon Cistern while Karliah is in Winterhold's inn's basement. The quest marker is fixed on the Nightingale stone and completing the quest is impossible.
The only solution is to immediately enter the Nightingale Hall with them.
Karliah is supposed to open the gate. Instead of doing so, Karliah may walk back to Riften. She is considered 'Busy', and so is Brynjolf when spoken to.
This can be solved by pushing Brynjolf into the room with runes in it.
This can also be solved by standing closer to the gate while Karliah is speaking and asks the Dragonborn to accept the oath. Standing on the steps and waiting for her to come to the Dragonborn is the simplest way to prevent her from wandering off.
PC Solution: use either of the "resetAI" and "setstage TG08A 57" commands. If the "setstage" command is used, the Nocturnal cut-scene will be skipped, and the chamber may not open for later.
PC Another solution: going to the chain and typing prid 00058F1A in the console, then moveto player. Closing console then opens the gate. She's there. Then, typing setstage TG08A 52 stops her from walking away. Furthermore, it is not necessary to skip the Nocturnal cutscene. She and Brynjolf start walking into the bars instead. Then the bars can be disabled by opening the console, targeting the bars, and typing disable. Then, they both walk to their places.
PC Karliah may pull the gate chain too many times, causing the gate to remain closed.
This can be fixed when she stops to have the final chat, in the chamber with the eight fires. The Dragonborn stands with their back to the barred ritual chamber, face pointing to the stones where the armor is obtained. She will start walking in the good direction, towards the barred door. The game MUST be saved at this point. When she reaches the barred door, she will use the chain one time too many and the bars will drop and then raise again. When that happens, bumping into her will cause her to open the door and not close it again. If all is well, she will resume her walk across the ritual room. Note: This requires a bit of precise timing. It is necessary to block her path to the chain until she is pathed towards her destination.
An easier way to get around Karliah pulling the chain too many times (instead of trying to 'bump into her' at precisely the right time), is to just wait until she has pulled the chain once, and then quickly use Unrelenting Force to blast her into the next room. Once she picks herself up, the rest of the quest will continue normally.
Another way is to keep getting Karliah to ask if the Dragonborn is ready to take the oath. Instead of answering, by backing out of the conversation and taking a few steps backwards, Karliah will take a few steps towards the Dragonborn and ask again if they are ready. This can be repeated until she is just on the bottom of the stairs in the hallway leading to the barred door. Once this is done, answering the question will cause her to continue to walk to the chain and open the gate.
PC An Imperial or Stormcloak courier may appear in Nightingale Hall and run towards the Dragonborn, then turn around running towards the exit.
360 Karliah may fall through the floor or disappear while walking to the armor stones. Scripted events continue as if she is still present.
360 Upon reaching the room with the armor stones and Karliah has had her discussion with Brynjolf, instead of opening the gate she will just stand there repeating, "It appears you are ready to take the oath."
PC If Karliah starts to walk toward the entrance in Nightingale Hall after the Dragonborn has had the forced conversation accepting the terms to become a Nightingale, the console command 'setstage TG08A 52' will turn Karliah the right way round and she should immediately walk toward the steps and down the path toward the gate. However, she will not open the gate.
This can be fixed via the console. With the console open, clicking on the gate should show the code '000C698A'. Now entering the command disable will hide the gate so that it will no longer be an obstruction.
PS3 Karliah might go the wrong way after the Dragonborn says that they want to undergo the oath, and the gate might not open.
This can be resolved by reloading from the last save point.
PS3 If a follower is present on the altar when ready to take the oath, the process of the oath may freeze. The Dragonborn can still look around, and the follower may wander around, but Karliah just stands there not speaking with arms raised, with the scene not progressing.
This can be resolved by reloading a previous save, then telling the follower to wait in the room where the Nightingale armor is obtained before taking the oath.