Skyrim:The Whispering Door

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Investigate Nelkir's story of a Whispering Lady behind a locked door.
Quest Giver: Hulda, Jarl Balgruuf the Greater
Location(s): Whiterun, Dragonsreach
Prerequisite Quest: Dragon Rising
Reward: Ebony Blade
ID: DA08
Required Items: Whispering Door Key
Required Level: 20
Difficulty: Easy
You know her, don't you?

Quick Walkthrough[edit]

  1. Talk to the innkeeper of The Bannered Mare in Whiterun.
  2. Ask Jarl Balgruuf the Greater about his children.
  3. Talk to Nelkir.
  4. Investigate the old wooden door in the basement.
  5. Talk to Nelkir again.
  6. Acquire the key from Balgruuf the Greater or Farengar Secret-Fire.
  7. Open the door.
  8. Retrieve the Ebony Blade.

Detailed Walkthrough[edit]

A Disturbed Youth[edit]

Speaking with the publican at The Bannered Mare about rumors can have them reveal to you that there is trouble in the Jarl's family.

Been hearing some strange tales of the Jarl's children. Say the one's turning wicked, and the others have an ill-favored look to them. Best to keep clear."

You can ask the Jarl himself, Balgruuf the Greater, about it. Initially, he is situated within Dragonsreach, but if the player sided with the Stormcloaks in the Civil War, he will be in the Blue Palace basement. He will eventually express concerns that his youngest son, Nelkir, has become exceptionally brooding: "Yes, my youngest son. He's a dark child. I don't know what to do with him. He was always a quiet lad, but lately... something has changed. He's become brooding. Violent. He won't say a word to me, but I don't know how I upset him. If you could speak to him. Draw out the truth. I would be immensely grateful."

Nelkir (who is always in Dragonsreach, regardless of where his father is), will be surprisingly forthcoming if you speak to him.

Your father said to speak to you.
"So the disgusting pig sent you to bother me? One day, I'll tear his face apart so he can leave me alone. My father doesn't know anything about me. But I know about him. And about the war. More than he might think."
What sorts of things?
"I know that he still worships Talos. That he hates the Thalmor almost as much as the Stormcloaks do. That he worries about being chased from Whiterun. That he... that I'm... that I don't have the same mother as my brother and sister."
How do you know these things?
"This castle is old. Lots of places nobody's been in a long while. Places where you can overhear things. See things. And the Whispering Lady."
Who's the Whispering Lady?
"She won't tell me her name. I've gotten good at listening to keyholes. At the door in the basement, I hear her talking to me. I thought I was caught, but she started telling me even more secrets. But I can't open the door."
Where is this door?
"In the basement. Trust me, you'll see it. I bet she'll talk to you, too."

The Whispering Lady[edit]

The Ebony Blade

The door is actually well hidden in plain sight off the main hall of Dragonsreach. In order to find it, go into the kitchen. Proceed down the stairs and open the closet door in the small servant's room. At the back of the closet is a locked door which seems to be covered in blood. Activate the door, and the disembodied voice of the Whispering Lady will begin talking to you.

(Listen at the door)
"At last. I've been waiting for someone more fit to carry out my will. The child is spirited, but lacks... agency.
Is there someone behind the door?
"Regrettably, I cannot reach your plane so directly. But I forgive you for not knowing who I am. Few hear my whispers anymore. I am Mephala, the Lady of Whispers. I tug at the web of connections between mortals. Love, hatred, loyalty, betrayal. The boy was good at sussing out secrets. You, I expect to take a more active role."
What could the boy not do?
"The boy is good at sussing out secrets, but the corruptibility of children is ultimately too limited for my purposes. You, though, I expect will prove far more malleable."

If you had asked her the latter question, there will be another stage of dialogue before the dialogue paths merge together again.

Who are you to expect anything?
"I forgive your not knowing my name. Few can hear my whispers anymore. I am Mephala, the Lady of Whispers. I tug at the web of connections between mortals. Love, hatred, loyalty, betrayal."
I'm not so easily molded.
"You may think so. But in the end, you mortals will always flit like fire with the winds of your desires and conveniences. And those winds issue from my whispers."

At this point you will either confirm you are willing to help, or refuse to.

What do you want me to do?
"First, you must open this door. A piece of my power has been locked away behind it, and even my eyes cannot see past the seals. I'd much rather it be in the hands of an ambitious and talented person such as yourself."
I don't want to help you.
"Suit yourself. But those who listen at doors always wonder what is beyond them. Eventually your curiosity will drive you back to me."

Regardless of your previous choice, you will now only have one option if you continue to speak to the door.

How do I open the door?
"The whole of Whiterun is ripe with paranoia and tensions. The Jarl's court is right to fear the power I hold behind this door. The Jarl trusts few, and they will be his undoing. The dark child knows of what I speak. Let him guide your path."

Return to Nelkir to learn how you can go about getting the key to the door.

Do you know how to open the Whispering Door?
"I told you, I know everything about this castle. For some reason that door is special. Only two people can open it, Balgruuf and Farengar, the court wizard. How you get it from them is up to you. Nobody would notice if Farengar went missing, I promise you."

Opening the Door[edit]

Nelkir will tell you that only the Jarl and the court mage, Farengar Secret-Fire, possess a key to the Whispering Door, and suggests that Farengar will not be missed should he disappear. You can either track down the Jarl, who is either in his quarters or in the Blue Palace, or his wizard. Farengar will always be situated in Dragonsreach, even if the Jarl is now a prisoner of the Civil War. As for the key itself, you can pickpocket the Whispering Door key off either Farengar or Balgruuf, or you can follow Nelkir's advice to kill Farengar and take it from his corpse. When you have the key, head down to the basement and open the door, which reveals a small room with a sword and a book resting on a table. The book, Admonition Against Ebony, warns you against taking the sword lying next to it; however, to complete the quest, simply ignore the warning and pick up the sword. Mephala will speak to you again.

"Excellent work. Now, I trust you're sharp enough to see that the sword doesn't match the description of the Ebony Blade you may know. It has languished too long outside the winds of alliance and betrayal. To return to its past glory, it must first drink the blood of deceit. To return to its past glory, it must reacquaint itself with the hatred of this world. Your world is admirably steeped in lies and inclinations. My blade is a darling leech that feeds on deceptions, and nourishes its master. Seek out those closest to you. The final pluck of their misguided heartstrings will accompany my blade in the song of your grandeur. The blade will feed on the ire of Tamriel. Bathe in your infamy. Feel the weight of their loathing, and my power will course through it once more."

If you choose to restore the blade, it requires staining with the blood of treachery. However, the blade's restoration is not necessary to complete the quest, simply its retrieval. Also, while you do not receive any further information on Nelkir's condition, if there are any subsequent interactions there seems to be an improvement in disposition. If you do choose to use the blade as Mephala has instructed, she will speak to you again each time you kill a friend.

"Excellent work, child."
"I can feel their heartbreak swelling in my blade."
"Their tears shine the ebony to a sharpest gleam."
"Ah, the blood of deceit is a nourishing flow."

After you perform the final needed kill, Mephala will speak to you a final time to congratulate you.

"At last, my blade is returned to its full glory. Now go forth, child. Continue your tiny subversions against the orders of trust and intimacy."


  • If Hulda and Ysolda both die, you cannot get this quest.
  • The quest is still available if you have completed Battle for Whiterun for the Stormcloaks. Jarl Balgruuf will move from Dragonsreach to the basement of the Blue Palace, but his dialogue will not change and the quest can still be completed normally.
  • Hulda is necessary for this rumor to unlock. Ysolda can take over as publican of The Bannered Mare if Hulda dies, but will not give the rumor.
    • PC Only The Unofficial Skyrim Patch addresses this issue. Mikael will replace Hulda instead of Ysolda, as he has dialogue to give the quest.
    • Speaking to the jarl and asking about his kids will not activate this quest.
    • You must have completed the Dragon Rising quest to receive the rumor from Hulda.
  • Killing followers or friends will increase the blade's drain health effect—see the Ebony Blade page for more detail.
  • Despite Farengar being allegedly aware of the blade, you can sell it to him.
  • Several elements in the Creation Kit seem to indicate that a portion of the quest was omitted from the final game—it appears that Jarl Balgruuf's children were supposed to fall under Mephala's influence one by one, culminating in them killing Balgruuf in an act of patricide. It seems that his brother Hrongar would have replaced him as jarl upon death, given that he has unused dialogue mirroring Balgruuf's for several quests, and some citizens of Whiterun, like Ulfberth War-Bear have unused dialogue referring to Hrongar as jarl.
  • If Farengar dies before the quest starts you can not get the key from his urn in the Whiterun catacombs.
  • If you attempt to enter the room behind the Old Wooden Door using the "Platter Exploit" before you have completed the necessary steps in the quest you will find a floating drawer (labeled "End Table") blocking your entry into the room; this is the source of Mephala's voice before unlocking the door. The sword however can still be seen on top of the table where it usually sits.


  • Hulda may not show any new rumors available after you are level 20. Try talking to her anyway; she may give you an old rumor, then follow up with this one. If this does not work, the console command setstage DA08 10 will initiate the quest and give you a quest marker to speak to Nelkir.
  • There may not be a dialogue option with the jarl after receiving the quest.
  • If you are a vampire at the moment of speaking with Hulda, she won't immediately give you the rumor; instead, she will suggest you visit Falion to cure your vampirism first. However, she will give the rumor after asking for gossip and then rumors once more.

Quest Stages[edit]

Ask about Balgruuf's strange children (DA08RumorPointer)
Stage Finishes Quest Journal Entry
Objective 10: Ask about Balgruuf's strange children
The Whispering Door (DA08)
10 Balgruuf the Greater, Jarl of Whiterun, has a troubled child. He's asked me to help the boy.
Objective 10: Find out what's wrong with Nelkir
Objective 20: Listen to the whispering door
25 Mephala, the Lady of Whispers, has tasked me with releasing the Ebony Blade from its prison.
Objective 25: Speak to Nelkir
Objective 30: Obtain the key to the whispering door
Objective 40: Open the whispering door
Objective 50: Retrieve the Ebony Blade
60 Finishes quest☑ I have received Mephala's Ebony Blade, but it lacks its legendary powers. To restore it, I must use it to slay those who are close to me.
Finishes quest☑ I have received Mephala's Ebony Blade, but it lacks its legendary powers. To restore it, I must achieve great infamy and hatred in this land.
80 I have restored Mephala's Ebony Blade to its full potential.
  • The following empty quest stages were omitted from the table:
    • DA08RumorPointer: 0, 20.
    • DA08: 0, 1, 51.
  • Any text displayed in angle brackets (e.g., <Alias=LocationHold>) is dynamically set by the Radiant Quest system, and will be filled in with the appropriate word(s) when seen in game.
  • Not all Journal Entries may appear in your journal; which entries appear and which entries do not depends on the manner in which the quest is done.
  • Stages are not always in order of progress. This is usually the case with quests that have multiple possible outcomes or quests where certain tasks may be done in any order. Some stages may therefore repeat objectives seen in other stages.
  • If an entry is marked as "Finishes Quest" it means the quest disappears from the Active Quest list, but you may still receive new entries for that quest.
  • On the PC, it is possible to use the console to advance through the quest by entering setstage DA08 stage, where stage is the number of the stage you wish to complete. It is not possible to un-complete (i.e. go back) quest stages, but it is possible to clear all stages of the quest using resetquest DA08.