Nocturnal is a Daedric Prince, or "Daedric Princess", whose sphere is the night and darkness. She is also known as the Mistress of Shadows, the Unfathomable Mistress of Shadows, the Shadow Thief, the Unfathomable, the Empress of Murk, the Shadow Queen, the Shadowy Hag (while donning her cowl), the Lady of the Twilight the Daughter of Twilight, the Lady of Shadows, the Mistress of Mystery, the Mother of Shadows, Lady Luck, the Night Mistress, and the Saint of Suspicion.
The most prestigious title Nocturnal goes by is the title of Ur-dra, which implies that she is the "eldest and most powerful of the Daedric Princes", and is a title which the Imperial Geographical Society claims nearly all the Royalty of Oblivion recognize.[UOL 1] The title was also used by ancient Khajiit to describe Namiira, the Eldest Spirit. While this belief conflicts with Nocturnal's claim over the title, it does compliment her claim that she is part of the original void,[UOL 1] in that she came from the black blood of the Dark Heart of Lorkhaj, which is a piece of "primal Void". Hermaeus Mora is similarly called an Ur-Daedra who is "elder than Ada".
Nocturnal is associated with, and often depicted alongside, jet-black ravens and crows, which are said to possess the ability to speak. Nocturnal's summoning day is the 3rd of Hearth Fire, although she may be summoned at any time at a shrine dedicated to her. Nocturnal's enemies are Ebonarm, Meridia, Mehrunes Dagon, and Azura
Religion and Culture
A deity known as Noctra exists in ancient Khajiiti mythos. During the cleansing of Lorkhaj's corruption, Azurah observed his Dark Heart beating like a drum, with each throb spewing out black blood that tapped the floor to form a rhythm. Subsequently after the death of Lorkhaj, the spirit Noctra was born of this black blood at the steps of the Void Gate. Boethra battled the spirit until it knew it was not Namiira, and when the fighting subsided, Noctra was brought before Azurah to be judged. Azurah allowed Noctra to live so long as she served Azurah and her chosen people, the Khajiit. However, Noctra is rebellious by nature, so she fled to the Void with a key she stole from Azurah, leading her to send the spirit of Lorkhaj to find Noctra. What resulted from this interaction was Noctra willing to offer aid to the Khajiit when called, and so tribes may ask her for luck, and darkness to hide them and the gift of silent movement. She also protects those who walk in the shadows. Summoning Noctra is dangerous, as she brings the Dark with her, and exposure can inadvertently turn a True Cat into a dro-m'Athra. Noctra is still acknowledged by some Khajiit following the Riddle'Thar Epiphany.
Nocturnal's servants come in a variety of flavors. Some worship her as thieves, and see her as the patron of all thieves. Some such groups include the Nightingales, a trio of mortals bound to protect the Ebonmere within the Twilight Sepulcher.
Nocturnal is seen by the Reachfolk as an ever-watchful spirit that has guarded them since the beginning. She is the spirit of the night. They give her offerings in the hope that she'll send her crows to watch over them.
Some worshipers find Nocturnal mystifying. Though they strive to understand her, Nocturnal's true purpose eludes them, and attempting to understand the Daedric Prince is a futile task. To understand Nocturnal is to negate her, and the Daedric Prince is not simply going to pull back her shroud of darkness to reveal her intentions to anyone. Others are drawn into her service through subtle, but not wholly unkind manipulation. Lonely individuals who are within proximity of Nocturnal's adherents may begin to dream about Evergloam and hear her voice in their head if she notices them. Nocturnal's Earl from the time of the Daedric Triad came to serve her this way. Nocturnal uses mortal emotion to her advantage, using kindness and empathy to draw in the vulnerable. She speaks to select mortals in their dreams, listening to them when they speak and comforting them when they're upset. In the case of Earl Tundilwen in 2E 582, Nocturnal inserted herself into her servant's life as a surrogate mother figure, and granted her power in the Court of Bedlam.
One particularly fervent cultist's accounts of her invasion of the Clockwork City are poetic and obsessive. The account speaks of singing shrikes and grotesque imagery. The author, Romien Garvette, often repeats phrases and claims that they are unable to think of anything but "Her" will. Romien Garvette describes Nocturnal as all-encompassing. Whether or not this experience is universal is unclear. It is obvious that this particular case became very attached to their mistress, but the account gives outsiders some insight to how Nocturnal's influence may affect those who give themselves to her.
Shadow magic is pervasive throughout Evergloam, and is utilized by her worshipers and her Daedric minions. Portals of pure shadow called Gloaming Gates are used to transport cultists and Daedra from Evergloam to select locations on Nirn. Gloaming Gates channel Nocturnal's power, and transport through the Evergloam allows her cultists travel great distance without fear of being detected. Barriers of fluid shadow can be used to prevent access to areas, but these barriers can be negated by shining bright light on them, or by casting spells designed to banish shadows. Nocturnal may transform her followers into Gloam Knights upon their death.
Nocturnal was a part of a Daedric Triad consisting of herself, Mephala and Clavicus Vile up until 2E 582. Nocturnal's forces invaded the Clockwork City that year. Using the Skeleton Key, Nocturnal stole a secret from Sotha Sil. The Clockwork God developed a technique for using life energy as a source of power, which Nocturnal coveted. She drained Meridia of her power to keep her from interfering, and betrayed the other members of the Triad by taking the Heart of Transparent Law for herself. Using the technique she stole from Sotha Sil, Nocturnal planned to use the life energy of Nirn, and then the energy of the other Daedric Princes afterwards, to restore the Heart of Transparent Law, sow her influence within it and make herself master of the Crystal Tower. Her ultimate goal was to rewrite reality and become an infinite being. Nocturnal was stopped at the Crystal Tower's apex by the Vestige.
Nocturnal may have had some minor involvement in the Sea Sload sorceress Z'Maja's conquest of Cloudrest that occurred in 2E 582. Z'Maja possessed an amulet that granted her powerful shadow magic, which allowed her to kill countless citizens and make shadowy clones of Summerset's protectors, the gryphon-riding Welkynars.
The Gray Cowl of Nocturnal
The Gray Cowl of Nocturnal is a daedric artifact that once belonged to Nocturnal. It takes the form of a dark leather cowl, which obscures the face of the wearer. Nocturnal is revered as a god by thieves across Tamriel. Her reputation as the Mistress of Shadows has sometimes led thieves to attempt to steal an item from her to prove their greatness. As Nocturnal is usually depicted wearing a cloak and a cowl, it is around these two items that legends have arisen. The story of the theft of Nocturnal's cloak is probably fiction, as is at least one story of the theft of the cowl, but the cowl is known to have left her possession. It appears to have been stolen by a thief named Emer Dareloth, the first guildmaster of the Thieves Guild, although a curse bestowed upon the cowl by Nocturnal meant that the name of cowl's owner is lost to mortal memory. "Whosoever wears it shall be lost in the shadows. His true nature shall be unknown to all who meet him. His identity shall be struck from all records and histories. Memory will hide in the shadows, refusing to record the name of the owner to any who meet him. He shall be known by the cowl and only by the cowl." This curse was broken when history was rewritten through the use of an Elder Scroll.
The Skeleton Key
In appearance, the Skeleton Key doesn't always take the form of a key, and sometimes manifests as a lockpick instead. In its key form, it can be used to unlock any lock. As a lockpick, it is nigh unbreakable and can get past even the toughest locks. The two limitations placed on the Key by wizards who sought to protect their storehouses were that the Key could only be used once a day and it would never be the property of one thief for too long, eventually disappearing.
The artifact functions as a tool for "unlocking" all things, including portals, hidden potential, and other unknown possibilities. Its ultimate function, however, is to unlock and hold open the Ebonmere, a portal to Nocturnal's realm, Evergloam, located in the Twilight Sepulcher of Skyrim. The Nightingales are tasked with guarding the Sepulcher and retrieving the Key should it be stolen. Unfortunately, the Prince is said to allow the Skeleton Key to be stolen or lost periodically, whether by purpose or apathy.
The Bow of Shadows
The Bow of Shadows is a Daedric artifact that, according to legend, was forged by the Daedric Prince Nocturnal. The legendary ranger, Raerlas Ghile, was granted the Bow for a secret mission that failed. The Bow was lost, though Raerlas is said to have used it to take scores of his foes down with him. The Bow is said to grant the user invisibility and increased speed.
The Eye of Nocturnal
Another item of note which is associated with Nocturnal is the Eye of Nocturnal. Little is known of the item’s origin or abilities other than it was stolen by two bandits in 3E 433 and subsequently returned to the Prince in exchange for the Skeleton Key. Nocturnal described herself as being able to "see" from the Eye, stating that the thieves who stole it were "seen" by the artifact.
The Evergloam is a realm of Oblivion, created and ruled over by Nocturnal, the Daedric Prince of Shadow. It is a realm of perpetual twilight, and the "cradle of shadow". The Evergloam consists of a primary plane and several pocket realms, including the Shade Perilous and the Crow's Wood. These realms are thought to be constantly shifting, and perceived differently by different mortals.
The Ebonmere is a portal linked to the Evergloam, which acts as Nocturnal's conduit on Tamriel. It is located in the Twilight Sepulcher, an ancient temple in Skyrim. The Ebonmere is held open by the Skeleton Key, although the artifact has often been stolen from the Sepulcher by mortals. The Nightingales are a secretive subgroup of the Thieves Guild, who pledge their souls to Nocturnal and guard both the Ebonmere and the Skeleton Key. When a Nightingale dies, it is believed that their soul becomes one with the shadows. As long as the Ebonmere remains open, the souls of dead Nightingales can "walk with the shadows" and bring luck to thieves. As Agents of Nocturnal, Nightingales are permitted to "drink" from the Ebonmere and obtain powerful abilities.
Daedra that are known to serve Nocturnal include Nocturnal Shrikes also simply called Nocturnals or Shrikes for short, Grievous Twilights, Gloam Knights, Wraiths-of-Crows creatures made of shadow and Crow Daedra.
Intelligent shadow creatures such as Gloam Hags can cooperate with Shrikes to cast scrying spells to spy on other Daedric cults and Nocturnal's enemies. When they see a journal or a document of interest, they may cast a Duplication spell to create a copy.
One Daedra Lord in the form of a hagraven, known as the Crow Mother, describes herself as a "Nether-Niece" of Nocturnal. She rules over the pocket realm of Crow's Wood, populated by intelligent crows.
- A Sky of Dusk by Romien Garvette of the Whispering Shadows — A Nocturnal cultist's notes on Evergloam
- Crafting Motif 57: Ebonshadow Style by Romien Garvette of the Whispering Shadows — A guide to crafting armor and weapons in the Ebonshadow style
- Eyes of Nothing by Romien Garvette of the Whispering Shadows — A Nocturnal cultist's notes on the Wraith-of-Crows
- Shadows and Whispers by Romien Garvette of the Whispering Shadows — A Nocturnal cultist's notes on the invasion of the Clockwork City
- Nocturnal may be related to Noctyr-a from the story of Ghraewaj, the fabled origin of harpies in the Iliac Bay.
- Purloined Shadows — Waughin Jarth
- The Book of Daedra
- The Requisite Book of Daedra
- Hiding with the Shadow
- Aios's dialogue in ESO: Clockwork City
- The Dark Spirits — Amun-dro, the Silent Priest
- Invocation of Azura — Sigillah Parate
- The Nightingales Vol. 1 — Gallus Desidenius
- Sotha Sil's dialogue during Where Shadows Lie in ESO: Clockwork City
- Song of Hrormir
- Speech Notes
- Veya's Private Thoughts, Part 3 — Veya Releth
- Gallus Desidenius' dialogue in Skyrim
- Armand Christophe's dialogue in Oblivion
- Lilatha's dialogue in ESO
- The Favored Daughter of Fadomai — Amun-dro, the Silent Priest
- Count Verandis Ravenwatch's dialogue in ESO
- Secrets Overheard in Apocrypha — Morian Zenas
- Fragmentae Abyssum Hermaeus Morus
- A Child's Tamriel Bestiary — Shane gro-Orath (Clever, no? Ha, ha!)
- The Gray Fox's dialogue during the Oblivion Crisis
- Oblivion Faction data in Daggerfall
- Events of The Dreaming Cave in ESO: Summerset
- Letters for the Battlespire Hero — Vatasha Trenelle or Josian Kaid
- J'darji's dialogue in ESO: Elsweyr
- Markarth Outlaws Refuge's dialogue in ESO
- Apprentice Fialyn's dialogue in ESO
- Veya's Private Thoughts, Part 4 — Veya Releth
- Shadows and Whispers — Romien Garvette of the Whispering Shadows
- Crafting Motif 57: Ebonshadow Style — Romien Garvette of the Whispering Shadows
- The Shadow of Sotha Sil's abilities in ESO: Clockwork City
- Chancellor Gascone Dusant's dialogue during Unto the Dark in ESO: Clockwork City (if you killed him during Deepening Shadows)
- Proctor Luciana Pullo's dialogue during Where Shadows Lie in ESO: Clockwork City
- Proctor Luciana Pullo's dialogue during Unto the Dark in ESO: Clockwork City
- Proctor Luciana Pullo dispelling the shadow barrier with light during Unto the Dark in ESO: Clockwork City
- Veya's transformation into a Gloam Knight during The Crystal Tower in ESO: Summerset
- in ESO: Clockwork City
- Sotha Sil's dialogue during A Necessary Alliance in ESO: Summerset
- Events of The Crystal Tower in ESO: Summerset
- Z'Maja's dialogue and abilities in ESO: Summerset
- Events of Woe of the Welkynars in ESO: Summerset
- Nocturnal’s Quest from Oblivion
- Events of Battlespire
- The Shrikes' allegiance in ESO: Clockwork City
- Grievous Twilight Lord allegiance and appearance in ESO: Clockwork City
- Wraith-of-Crows allegiance in ESO: Clockwork City
- Eyes of Nothing — Romien Garvette of the Whispering Shadows
- Gloam Wolf and Gloam Hags serving Nocturnal in the Shadow Cleft in ESO: Clockwork City
- The Blackfeather Court and the Exarchs of Dross's appearance and allegiance in ESO: Clockwork City
- Razum-dar's Journal, Chapter 5 — Razum-dar
- Crow Mother's dialogue in ESO
Note: the following references are not from official sources. They are included to provide a rounder background to this article, but may not reflect established lore.
- Imperial Census of Daedra Lords — Imperial Geographic Survey