On the Brotherhood by Ilmion-Edit
A group with a murky origin, the Dark Brotherhood is an order of assassins that has ascended to something of a mythological status amongst the common people, as has their leader, the “Night Mother.” There are a great many legends surrounding its creation, ranging from a civil war within the Morag Tong to dissenters among the Thieves’ Guild. There is no way to know for certain what is true and what is false, and it is doubtful that even the members of the Brotherhood themselves are aware of their own origin, save perhaps for the Night Mother and the Listener who serves her, if indeed the Night Mother is a woman at all. The Night Mother itself is also a center of controversy. The most commonly held belief is that she or he is in all actuality Mephala, and that seems to be the most likely case to this scholar, as a group formed and led by the Webspinner would undoubtedly be shrouded in mystery and deception, just as the Brotherhood is.
One thing well known, however, is the method of contracting the Brotherhood. This method, The Black Sacrament, has been well documented in A Kiss, Sweet Mother, so if you wish further reading on that, I would suggest you attempt to find it. I have heard they have become rare due to being banned in most places, though you can likely find a copy if you know where to look. I will speak no longer on this truly blasphemous and disgusting topic.
The generally held belief is that only a murderer may join the Brotherhood, and even then only if you are selected by them. It is not an organization you can apply to, nor is it like a Guild you can join with a list of qualifications. The Brotherhood chooses you, and it is never the other way around. Assuming you are chosen as worthy by the Brotherhood, you are given a test; if you can pass this test, then you are inducted as a Brother. It should be noted that the term “Brother” is a blanket term given to all members, even those that are female. The organization of the Brotherhood past this point is not well known, since they have either had few traitors, or all of them have been killed before they could speak of their experiences. It is unknown if it is possible to retire from such an organization, or what they do with members that grow too feeble or too injured to continue. Regardless, their secrets are well kept, so all we can do is speculate.
The Brotherhood does have a ranking system, however, this we know for certain. It can be assumed that you move up faster if you succeed in your missions, and also that the better the success, the faster the advancement. The only ranks we have a name for, however, are the Speakers and the Listener. The Night Mother is of course also known, though if you follow the theory that the Night Mother is Mephala, such a title is useless as a rank. There are four Speakers and one Listener, symbolizing the fingers of a hand. The Black Hand, in fact. The Listener is the leader of the Brotherhood in whole, and subservient only to the ever mysterious Night Mother. At the very least, however, we can speculate as to the Night Mother’s identity. Such assumptions cannot be made about the Listener, for it is unlikely that a more well kept secret exists within the Brotherhood. It would probably be fair to say that only the Speakers know his or her identity, and that even that is probably a cover. The Speakers themselves are likely those that do most of the organizational work with the Brotherhood. They send the assassins to their targets and provide much of the effort that keeps the organization running from their homes, the Sanctuaries.
It is generally believed that the Brotherhood has five Sanctuaries, or major centers of operations, within each of the provinces where their influence is strongest, namely Hammerfell, Skyrim, High Rock, Cyrodiil, and Elsweyr, with the ever mysterious Listener being present in Cyrodiil at all times. Aside from the Sanctuary that he surely heads, the other four are each led by a Speaker. Each Sanctuary probably houses somewhere between ten to fifteen Brothers, though the exact number isn’t known. If that can be judged to be accurate, however, the total number of members across all of Tamriel would probably be, at its highest amount, three-hundred and fifty.
Outside of Cyrodiil, the makeup of the Brotherhood becomes less certain. The setup of the other provinces is unknown, but it can be assumed that they have similar ranks that are subservient to the Listener in Cyrodiil. They likely operate in a different manner from their brethren in the Imperial homeland, and it is speculated that the Brotherhood essentially runs itself, with only minimum effort required from the Listener. If this is true, then there is likely a leader for each province that insures things there run smoothly, which would also give a simple reason for any differences seen between the Brotherhood members of different provinces. Different leaders and different methods of organization, along with a minimum of interaction between provinces, would naturally lead to very different looking groups.
The Brotherhood has members with many different skills, and it isn’t uncommon for its more talented members to have a wide range of abilities, from marksmanship with a bow, to talent in the various magical disciplines, to skill with a sword, as can be judged from what assassinations have been documented. Because the Brotherhood takes contracts on many different people, and are required to make their kills in various ways due to the nature of how they receive their requests, this multi-disciplinary outlook is not only encouraged, but also necessary if you wish to advance in the ranks. All assassinations are not subtle, after all.
Regardless, the Brotherhood is a mysterious, secretive bunch, and aside from the facts collected in various works by other authors, which may or may not be true, almost nothing is known about them by the general public. Indeed, I would say that nothing I have said here can necessarily be claimed as true, for if the Night Mother truly is Mephala, as some claim, then all this information I have collected may simply be another piece of the Daedric Prince’s web.
Letter to the Listener, recovered by Loronr Black-Tooth, documented and published by Ilmion-Edit
Before you all begin reading, I feel I should make several comments. Firstly, please take a moment to mourn the life of Loronr Black-Tooth, who recently died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 32. I will not comment on the strange timing of his death, nor will I say a word on how odd it is that he would die so early of what would seem like natural causes. Instead, I would like to tell all of you that did not know him that he was a fine man, and a loving husband and father of three. He was a man that spent his entire life living in a simple lifestyle on a farm. The man was always polite and never offended a soul in his entire life, and I would say he was the epitome of would I would call a “good citizen.”
So said, if I die soon as well of apparently natural causes, I implore all of you to not turn a blind eye to my passing, and to mourn me as I have mourned poor Loronr. As I have dedicated my life to revealing the truth hidden by the spider’s web, so too should you. Though things may not be better when illuminated with truth, they are certainly brighter, and the people of this day and age do not deserve to waste away eternally in the dark.
Greetings, most esteemed Listener. It has come to my attention that you, having never left Cyrodiil through no fault of your own, and are sadly uninformed to the state of Tamriel at present, and also of our own involvement in foreign matters. The former can be described to you by your assistant, who is most assuredly competent in the extreme. The latter is beyond her scope of knowledge, however, so it would fall to me to instruct you in this matter.
There will be no need to speak to you of Cyrodiil, as you are undoubtedly familiar with our workings within this province by this point. The only point you may need clarification on is the status of Leyawiin. You may have heard rumors of what its place is within the Brotherhood. Officially, the Leyawiin Sanctuary is considered under the authority of the Elsewyr Brothers. As we already had five Sanctuaries inside Cyrodiil, within Chorrol, Bruma, Cheydinal, Bravil, and the Imperial City, the Sanctuary in Leyawiin cannot be considered a part of the Cyrodiil, no matter how the borders of the province change. With that matter clarified, let us begin speaking of those provinces where we are at our weakest.
In Morrowind, our authority is and always has been bitterly contested by the Morag Tong. Pay no attention to the false stories given to you of our relationship or lack thereof with them. The entire situation is likely explained in full in the notes given to you by your predecessor.
However, it should be known that the influence of the Tong is beginning to wane. We are ever steadily gaining more influence in the region, although for the moment we are limited to the mainland, and cannot seem to maintain any sort of presence on Vvardenfell on a permanent basis. The locals resist us at every turn, even if the rulers turn a blind eye. As such, despite the fact that the Tong are gradually losing power, we are hardly gaining any, and our path in the region is a most difficult one.
The region is, simply put, not safe for us. Conflicts with the Tong are rare, due to the nature of both of our orders, but they are often bloody in the extreme, and we can hardly afford to lose skilled members to the fools. However, there is simply nothing that can be done on the matter. The Tong are very skilled, and though they are not as skilled as ourselves, it would take more resources than we can bring to bear to find and destroy them at the root.
In Valenwood, our abilities are extremely limited. The region is also not safe to us, although not because there is a specific enemy there that we must face. Rather, the environment itself works against us, as does the nature of the Bosmer and their dwellings. It is a supremely difficult province to navigate, and there is simply no place there that we could establish a Sanctuary, particularly now that it is claimed by the Dominion. As such, any operations we undertake in this region involve members from other provinces. We have no permanent presence anywhere in Valenwood, although we do have members native to the province, and they are almost always those that are sent to deal with contracts there. I would not recommend attempting to expand into this region.
In the Summerset Isles, the situation is rather complicated. Not only is travel through the Isles heavily restricted due to the Dominion, but the Altmer have their own order of assassins as well, and they are frighteningly skilled in the magical arts. I fear any attempt to create a Sanctuary there would be quickly found and disposed of. Like Valenwood, we have no permanent members there, but unlike Valenwood, we have far fewer native Altmeri within the Brotherhood. However, contracts to the Isles are rather rare, so it is not something you should trouble yourself over particularly much.
In Argonia, the matter is much more favorable. We have little presence there, however all members within the province are Argonian Shadowscales. You have likely met several of them already, and as such you should know that they are uniquely suited to assassinations in that region. So much so that there is no need for any interference within the province. Everything runs smoothly with very few problems, and even I know only a small amount about the workings of that place. There is simply nothing to report from that province but success, and so any oddness about the Brothers there can be easily overlooked.
In Elsweyr, although we have a strong presence, our Brothers in the province have been mostly ignored by the previous Listeners. As such, our status there has degenerated significantly, and it has now reached the point where the Brotherhood of Elsweyr, with the exception of our Brothers in Leyawiin, is made up of little more than common street thugs. The opportunities in this province are tremendous, and with the region being as unstable as it currently is, we now have a great chance to capitalize on the situation. Something must be done with the Sanctuaries there, however. They are disorganized with not even the semblance of discipline, and are filled with petty criminals. A general purge, followed by intense recruitment and a period of stabilizing our presence in the region is what I recommend. Our authority will be contested, however, as Elsweyr is a hive of misdeeds and crime like nowhere else in Tamriel. However, there are no organizations there that could ever pose the threat to us that the Tong once did, and so it is my opinion that much of your attention, at least for the moment, should be directed there.
In Hammerfell, we have a strong presence that is essentially uncontested by any other group. However, there are several notable differences between the Brothers there, and those you may be more familiar with. To begin, they use an entirely different ranking system, and though they too venerate Sithis, their methods otherwise would seem unusual to us. For the sake of being diplomatic, I will provide you with a list of rankings for the Hammerfell branch. They are, from most to least important: The Void Serpent, The Forsaken, The Chosen, the Chaptermaster, the Adherent, the Shadow of Sithis, the Brother of Darkness, the Child of Sithis, and the Spawn of Sithis. The Void Serpent is your equivalent in the province, but remember that he is still your servant. In all likelihood, you will never meet him, however. The leader of the Hammerfell Brothers is always almost as mysterious as the holders of your own post. His identity is not even known to me, though if you demanded it of him, he would be forced to tell you. All members are subservient to you, just as you are to the Night Mother. The Forsaken are the equivalent of Speakers, and the Chosen would be equivalent to Silencers, and so on. It is important you remember these titles, as the Hammerfell branch has been troublesome in the past, and they are best quelled through courtesy.
Nevertheless, in case some conflict should arise in the future, it will be necessary to inform you of their disposition. Our brothers in that province are extremely violent, to begin. As assassins, violence is in our blood, but those in Hammerfell take the matter far more seriously than we ever had. To them, killing is not merely a means of gaining coin, or a service to the Night Mother, but also a means of attaining ecstasy in death. They fully believe in the veneration of Sithis. They make regular sacrifices to him, and also do many barbaric rituals for the purpose of “appeasing” him. They are an extreme sect of the Brotherhood, and should be watched carefully for signs of further deviancy. Many of them are extremely skilled however, so I would not recommend a purge unless it becomes absolutely necessary, and at that point it must be done with all due haste.
In High Rock, the situation is just the opposite. The Brotherhood is likewise firmly in control in that province, but very few of the members there are truly loyal to either the Night Mother or to Sithis. They are loyal to you, my Listener, or at least they claim to be, but many act more like common mercenaries, heading the calls of the nobility like pet dogs. They play a purpose almost exclusively in the politics of the region, and while they are more coherent than our brethren in Elsweyr, it is not by much. Nevertheless, they would be more easily brought to heel than those in Hammerfell, which is why they are so close to the bottom of my list.
Finally, in Skyrim, the situation is most favorable. Our Nordic Brothers have very similar beliefs to our own, and while their methods tend to be somewhat cruder, they never reach the level of barbarity that those from Hammerfell are capable of. The skill level of the Brothers there is not particularly great, but that lack of ability can always be improved, and what is important is that they are all devout and loyal. I see no need for any changes to take place within that province, and in fact, it may be a wise idea to begin sending more contracts to that region in order to give the Brothers there more experience. Perhaps routing some of the most important contracts away from Hammerfell and to Skyrim will serve the dual purpose of training the Skyrim Brothers, while also showing those is Hammerfell that they are not above our commands.
That is a basic summary of the current situation. If you wish for more details, send a letter in return to me. Please, do not ever come to visit me in person. Several of your predecessors have made the mistake of venturing out into public places, and paid dearly for it. We cannot afford to lose another Listener within such a short period of time. The chaos it could cause is unthinkable.
Your servant, Matthias, Speaker of Chorrol