|Location||Snow Veil Sanctum
|Primary Skills||Light Armor, Sneak, Archery, One-handed|
|Perks||Critical Shot (rank 1); Custom Fit; Power Shot; Stealth (rank 5)|
|Faction(s)||FavorExcludedFaction; Thieves Guild No Pickpocketing Faction; ThievesGuildFaction (Agent)|
Karliah is a Dunmer thief, and a member of the Nightingales. She is also a former member of Skyrim's Thieves Guild but has spent the last 25 years in exile after allegedly murdering her former Guildmaster, Nightingale, and lover: Gallus. She will eventually become a quest giver and temporary follower after advancing in the Thieves Guild questline.
Karliah's unique outfit consists of her armor, her gloves, her boots and her hood. She also carries around a leveled dagger, leveled arrows and her bow. After the quest Trinity Restored, her outfit changes to a set of Nightingale armor, which includes a pair of Nightingale gloves, a pair of Nightingale boots and a Nightingale hood. She also switches to the Nightingale bow which she subsequently gives to you after the quest Blindsighted.
According to the book The Nightingales Vol.2, Karliah's maternal grandparents are Queen Barenziah and a Nightingale thief by the name of Drayven Indoril. Karliah's mother Dralsi taught her the art of thievery and how to survive in Skyrim living as a rogue, but did not induct Karliah into the Nightingales before her death. Karliah was inducted by Gallus himself.
Thieves Guild Quests
- Hard Answers: Help translate Gallus's journal.
- The Pursuit: Break into Mercer Frey's house and search for clues.
- Trinity Restored: Become one of the Nightingales, Nocturnal's guardians.
- Blindsighted: Stop Mercer Frey.
- Darkness Returns: Walk the Pilgrim's Path and return the Skeleton Key to its rightful place.
Speaking With Silence
When you and Mercer Frey make your way through Snow Veil Sanctum, you will soon approach a puzzle-ring lock. Mercer will be able to open it, but as soon as you enter the chamber, Karliah will shoot you with a poisoned arrow, which causes you to fall to the ground. Mercer will then approach Karliah, and a conversation between the two can be heard:
Mercer: "Did you honestly think your arrow will reach me before my blade finds your heart?"
Karliah: "Give me a reason to try."
Mercer: "You're a clever girl, Karliah. Buying Goldenglow Estate and funding Honningbrew Meadery was inspired."
Karliah: "'To ensure an enemy's defeat, you must first undermine his allies.' It was the first lesson Gallus taught us."
Mercer: "You always were a quick study."
Karliah: "Not quick enough, otherwise Gallus would still be alive."
Mercer: "Gallus had his wealth and he had you. All he had to do was look the other way."
Karliah: "Did you forget the Oath we took as Nightingales? Did you expect him to simply ignore your methods?"
Mercer: "Enough of this mindless banter! Come, Karliah. It's time for you and Gallus to become reunited!"
Karliah: "I'm no fool, Mercer. Crossing blades with you would be a death sentence. But I can promise you the next time we meet, it will be your undoing."
Karliah will then turn invisible and disappear from the chamber. Mercer will approach you, stab you, and then walk off, resulting in you being left to die in the sanctum. However, when you regain consciousness, you will find yourself outside of Snow Veil Sanctum. Karliah will then approach you, asking how you're feeling: "Easy, easy. Don't get up so quickly. How are you feeling?" When you exclaim that she shot you, she will reassure you: "No, I saved your life. My arrow was tipped with a unique paralytic poison. It slowed your heart and kept you from bleeding out. Had I intended to kill you, we wouldn't be having this conversation." When you ask Karliah why she saved you, she will explain: "My original intention was to use that arrow on Mercer, but I never had a clear shot. I made a split second decision to get you out of the way and it prevented your death." You can choose to respond in three different ways:
|Your Dialogue||Karliah's Dialogue|
|"Then I'm in your debt."||"More than you'll ever realize. The poison on that arrow took me a year to perfect, I only had enough for a single shot."|
|"Why should I believe you?"||"Without the anitdote I administered, you'd be as still as a statue. I treated your wounds and didn't leave you defenseless. The poison on that arrow took me a year to perfect. I only had enough for a single shot and yet I used it on you. All I had hoped was to capture Mercer alive."|
|"You should have shot Mercer instead."||"I promise you, the thought crossed my mind. The poison on that arrow took me a year to perfect; I only had enough for a single shot."|
She will then go on to say: "All I had hoped was to capture Mercer alive." If you ask her why, she will tell you: "Mercer must be brought to the Guild to answer for what he's done. He needs to pay for Gallus's murder." If you also ask her how she will prove it, she will explain: "My purpose in using Snow Veil Sanctum to ambush Mercer wasn't simply for irony's sake. Before both of you arrived, I recovered a journal from Gallus's remains. I suspect the information we need is written inside." If you ask what the journal says, she will admit: "I wish I knew. The journal is written in some sort of language I've never seen before." At your suggestion that the journal could be translated, Karliah will exclaim: "Enthir... Gallus's friend at the College of Winterhold. Of course... it's [sic] the only outsider Gallus trusted with the knowledge of his Nightingale identity." At your remark that the word "Nightingale" has been mentioned again, she will go on to explain: "There were three of us. Myself, Gallus and Mercer. We were a anonymous splinter of the Thieves Guild in Riften. Perhaps I'll tell you more about it later. Right now, you need to head for Winterhold with the journal and get the translation. Here, take these as well, they may prove useful for your journey." You will receive four doses of a leveled poison and all that remains is to go and speak with Enthir in the Frozen Hearth. If you ask Karliah if she can come with you to Winterhold, she will explain: "I'm afraid not. There are preparations to make and Gallus's remains to lay to rest. I promise to join you there as soon as I can." Once you've traveled to Winterhold and have spoken to Enthir, the quest Hard Answers will begin.
Once you've gained a copy of the translation from Calcelmo's Tower, you are to return to Enthir and Karliah, who can now be found in the cellar of the Frozen Hearth. Once you hand over the translation to Enthir, he will begin to translate the contents of Gallus's journal and a conversation between himself and Karliah will occur:
Enthir: "Hmm. This is intriguing, but highly disturbing. It appears that Gallus had suspicions about Mercer Frey's allegiance to the Guild for months. Gallus had begun to uncover what he calls an "...unduly lavish lifestyle replete with spending vast amounts of gold on personal pleasures.""
Karliah: "Does the journal say where this wealth came from?"
Enthir: "Yes. Gallus seems certain that Mercer had been removing funds from the Guild's treasury without anyone's knowledge."
Karliah: "Anything else, Enthir? Anything about... the Nightingales?"
Enthir: "Hmm. Yes, here it is. The last few pages seem to describe "the failure of the Nightingales" although it doesn't go into great detail. Gallus also repeatedly mentions his strong belief that Mercer desecrated something known as the Twilight Sepulcher."
Karliah: "Shadows preserve us. So it's true..."
Enthir: "I'm not familiar with the Twilight Sepulcher. What is it? What's Mercer Frey done?"
Karliah: "I'm sorry Enthir, I can't say. All that matters is that we deliver your translation to the Guild immediately. Farewell, Enthir... words can't express..."
Enthir: "It's alright Karliah. You don't have to say a word."
After you have spoken to Enthir, you are directed to speak again with Karliah. Approaching her, she will remark: "We must hasten to Riften before Mercer can do any more damage to the Guild."
"Gallus's journal mentioned the "Twilight Sepulcher.""
"You've come this far, so I see no harm in concealing it any longer. The Twilight Sepulcher is the temple to Nocturnal. It's what the Nightingales are sworn to protect with their lives."
"Why does it require that type of protection?"
"Everything that represents Nocturnal's influence is contained within the walls of the Sepulcher. Now it seems Mercer's broken his oath with Nocturnal and defiled the very thing he swore to protect."
"Thieves and temples. It just doesn't add up."
"I felt the same way when Gallus first revealed these things to me. I think given time, you'll understand what I mean."
"I'd understand better if less mystery was involved."
"As a Nightingale, I've been sworn to secrecy regarding the Sepulcher. I know the Guild doesn't do much to foster faith, but I'm going to have to ask that you continue to trust me."
"Very well, we do it your way for now."
"I'll make for Riften and scout the situation; see if I can discover what Mercer's up to. When you're ready, meet me at the Ragged Flagon. In the meantime, I wanted you to have this. It belonged to Gallus, but given the circumstances I think he'd approve."
"I'll put it to good use."
"If the Guild isn't willing to listen to reason, you might have to."
Karliah will then hand you a Nightingale Blade. If you approach her before heading off to Riften, you are able to talk to her about several topics:
|Your Dialogue||Karliah's Reply|
|Topic 1: Gallus|
|"Tell me about Gallus."||"He was a scholar, a master thief and a natural leader. Everyone respected him and followed him without question. It was Gallus who inducted me into the Nightingales and honed my skills to a razor sharp point. I owe everything to him. We were... very close."|
|"You were lovers?||"Gallus once said he felt comfortable around me; able to let his guard down. I can't help but think that I'm responsible for what happened to him."|
|Topic 2: Mercer Frey|
|"Why didn't you kill Mercer?"||"Mercer lied to the Guild, branded me a murderer and slandered my name across his network of contacts. For twenty-five years I ran, never sleeping in the same place twice and carefully covering my tracks. Mercer doesn't need to die... he needs to feel the cold sting of fate as his life crumbles in front of him and he's hunted by the Guild."|
|"Might not have a choice next time."||"I can promise you if it comes to that, and my back's to the wall, I won't hesitate."|
During the quest The Pursuit, you will be approached by Karliah as you enter the Ragged Flagon: "I'm glad you're here. I think some of these people are beginning to suspect who I am. Are you ready to face the Guild?" You can answer with any of the three following dialogue options:
|Your Dialogue||Karliah's Dialogue|
|"I'm ready. Let's go."||"Keep your eyes open. I'm not sure what to expect when we enter the cistern."
|"What if Mercer's there?"||"Then we show them Gallus's journal and hope for the best. Remember, we have proof and all he's got is his word."|
|"No, I'm not."||"Time is of the essence here, please hurry back."|
Once you finally decide that you're ready to enter the Cistern, both you and Karliah will make your way there through the Ragged Flagon. When you enter the Cistern, you will be immediately confronted by a hostile Brynjolf, Delvin, and Vex. Brynjolf will initiate the conversation first by making accusations towards Karliah:
Brynjolf: "You better have a damn good reason to be here with that murderer."
Karliah: "Please, lower your weapons so we can speak. I have proof that you've all been misled!"
Brynjolf: "No tricks, Karliah or I'll cut you down where you stand. Now what's this so-called proof you speak of?"
Karliah: "I have Gallus's journal. I think you'll find its contents disturbing."
Brynjolf: "Let me see. No, it... can't be. This can't be true. I've known Mercer too long..."
Karliah: "It's true, Brynjolf. Every word. Mercer's been stealing from the Guild for years, right under your noses."
Brynjolf: "There's only one way to find out if what the lass says is true. Delvin, I'll need you to open the Vault [sic]."
At this point, all four thieves will start to make their way towards the guild's vault to confirm what was written in Gallus' journal:
Delvin: "Wait just a blessed moment, Bryn. What's in that book? What did it say?"
Brynjolf: "It says Mercer's been stealing from our vault for years. Gallus was looking into it before he was murdered."
Delvin: "How can Mercer open up a vault that needs two keys? It's impossible. Could he pick his way in?"
Vex: "That door has the best puzzle locks money can buy. There's no way it can be picked open."
Karliah: "He didn't need to pick the lock."
Delvin: "What is she on about?"
Brynjolf: "Use your key on the vault, Delvin. We'll open it up and find out the truth."
Delvin: "I've used my key, but the vault's still locked up tighter than a drum. Now use yours."
Brynjolf: "By the Eight! It's gone, everything's gone! Get in here, all of you!"
Delvin: "The gold, the jewels... it's all gone."
Vex: "That son-of-a-bitch! I'll kill him!"
Brynjolf: "Vex! Put it away... right now. We can't afford to lose our heads... we need to calm down and focus."
Delvin: "Do what he says, Vex. This isn't helpin' right now."
Vex: "Fine. We do it your way. For now."
Brynjolf: "Delvin, Vex... watch the Flagon. If you see Mercer, come tell me right away."
Afterwards, all four thieves will depart from the vault. If you approach Karliah, you can ask her how Mercer could have gotten into the vault. She will answer very vaguely to your question: "All I can tell you for now is that he's abused his authority as a Nightingale." When you argue about her vague answer about the Nightingales, she will continue to tell you: "As a Nightingale, I took an oath and was sworn to secrecy. Be patient and your time will come."
After you have shown Mercer's plans to Brynjolf, you will be told that Karliah has requested to speak to both of you. At this point, the quest Trinity Restored will begin.
When you meet Karliah in the center of the Cistern, she will begin the conversation with Brynjolf regarding Mercer Frey and the future of the Thieves Guild:
Karliah: "Brynjolf, the time has come to decide Mercer's fate. Until a new Guild Master is chosen, the decision falls to you."
You are now directed to meet both Karliah and Brynjolf near the standing stone. Once you arrive outside, Karliah will approach you:
"I'm glad you're here."
At this point, before you enter the Nightingale Hall, you may choose to discuss multiple topics (outlined in the table below) with Karliah:
Once you have entered the Nightingale Hall, a conversation between Brynjolf and Karliah will occur as you make your way through:
Brynjolf: "So this is Nightingale Hall. I heard about this place when I joined the Guild, but I never believed it existed."
After you have made your way into the armory room and equipped your armor consisting of Nightingale armor, boots, gloves, and a hood, continue following Karliah down the corridor until Brynjolf confronts her:
Brynjolf: "Okay, lass. We've got these getups on... now what?"
At this point, Karliah will turn to you and ask: "What about you? Are you ready to transact the Oath with Nocturnal?" If you respond by saying you don't understand the terms, she will go on to explain: "By transacting the Oath with Nocturnal, you're entering into a business deal. You'll be provided all of the power and knowledge befitting a Nightingale. You're free to use those powers as you see fit to further your own goals or the goals of the Thieves Guild." Asking what will be required in return, she will tell you: "In return, you'll be required to defend the Twilight Sepulcher and everything within when the need arises. More importantly, upon your death, your spirit will be bound to the Twilight Sepulcher as one of its guardians." Also asking if there's no going back, she will confirm: "Once the Oath has been struck, the terms are binding. Knowing this, are you ready to undergo the ceremony?" Once you agree, she will say: "Good. After I open the gate, please stand on the western circle." You are now directed to stand on the vacant floor glyph.
When all three of you are in position, Karliah will summon Nocturnal herself and shortly afterwards Nocturnal will appear within the chamber:
Karliah: "I call upon you Lady Nocturnal, Queen of Murk and Empress of Shadow... hear my voice!"
Nocturnal will now disappear from the chamber, and you are directed to speak again with Karliah. She will initiate the conversation by saying: "Now that you've transacted the Oath, it's time to reveal the final piece of the puzzle to you; Mercer's true crime." Exclaiming at the possibility of him doing any more damage, she will continue: "Mercer was able to unlock the Guild's vault without two keys because of what he stole from the Twilight Sepulcher... the Skeleton Key. By doing this, he's compromised our ties to Nocturnal and in essence, caused our luck to run dry." Asking if the Key unlocks any door, she will tell you: "Well, yes. But the Key isn't only restricted to physical barriers. All of us possess untapped abilities; the potential to wield great power, securely sealed within our minds. Once you realize the Key can access these traits, the potential becomes limitless." From this, you are able to choose from up to three different ways to respond:
Regardless of what choice you made, Karliah will then go on to tell you: "If the Key isn't returned to its lock in the Twilight Sepulcher, things will never be the same for the Guild. As time passed, our luck would diminish to the point of non-existence. And whether you know it or not, our uncanny luck defines our trade." Remarking that it's the first time you've set out to return something, she will agree with your statement: "Very true. In our line of work, it's quite rare we set out to return a stolen item to its rightful owner." She will also hold you back by telling you: "Before we depart, Brynjolf has some business to discuss. I suggest you listen to him." After you have spoken to Brynjolf, you are now directed to meet up alongside Karliah outside the ruins of Irkngthand. At this point, the quest Blindsighted will now begin. If you choose to approach Karliah again remarking how you don't feel stronger, she will tell you: "With the Skeleton Key missing from the Twilight Sepulcher, I'm afraid Mercer's seen to it that none of us can benefit from Nocturnal's gifts."
Once you make your way into Irkngthand, both Karliah and Brynjolf will be there to greet you in the Irkngthand Grand Cavern. Karliah will begin the conversation by telling you: "Mercer's been here, I hope we aren't too late." Mentioning the dead bandits from the first zone, she will continue: "Brynjolf and I found them like that. Mercer's doing. We have to catch up to him before it's too late." Once you tell Karliah that you're ready, she will reply with: "We should tread carefully. I wouldn't be surprised if he's left behind a few surprises for us." At this point, both Brynjolf and herself will become temporary followers. As soon as you approach the overhead platform, Karliah will notice something further down in the chamber:
Karliah: "Wait a moment... what's that? It's Mercer! Look... down there!"
Pushing forward into the next chamber, Brynjolf will comment on the surroundings to Karliah:
Brynjolf: "Look at the size of this place. Have you ever seen anything like it in your life, lass?"
As you make your way through to the next chamber, a nearby tower will collapse. As you approach it, a conversation will begin between Brynjolf and Karliah:
Brynjolf: "So this is what we heard. The entire tower collapsed."
Continuing on, the next main chamber will house a Dwarven Centurion. Once again, a short conversation between Karliah and Brynjolf will commence:
Brynjolf: "Shor's Bones! Look at that monstrosity."
Once you've made your way through the chamber and entered the next zone, the Irkngthand Slave Pens, another short conversation will occur:
Brynjolf: "The stench... this place reeks of Falmer."
Shortly afterwards, Karliah will comment on the surroundings by saying: "Even the Falmer don't deserve the pain these implements must have inflicted. The dwarves were a cruel race." As you continue, she will warn you about the Falmer: "There's a mass of Falmer in this chamber. We can sneak through or take them down... I don't care. As long as we get to Mercer." Brynjolf will also agree with Karliah's statement. As your progress forwards, Karliah will also make a comment as you move along the tunnels: "I can hear water rushing through these pipes. We must be beneath a lake." Before you enter the next zone, Irkngthand Sanctuary, Karliah will begin a short conversation:
Karliah: "He's close. I'm certain of it. We must prepare ourselves."
As you enter the Irkngthand Sanctuary, you will see Mercer trying to pry the Eyes of the Falmer from the statue. A conversation will then occur:
Karliah: "He's here and he hasn't seen us yet. Brynjolf, watch the door."
At that point, the ledge will break off and Mercer will engage in conversation with you. When the conversation ends, Mercer will initiate combat with you, and will say aloud: "Karliah, I'll deal with you after I rid myself of your irksome companions. In the meantime, perhaps you and Brynjolf should get better acquainted." Brynjolf is now being controlled by Mercer to attack Karliah:
Brynjolf: "What's... what's happening... I can't stop myself."
Once you've defeated Mercer, the chamber will begin to overflow with water. Karliah will urge you to hurry and grab the Skeleton Key and the Eyes of the Falmer:
Karliah: "Damn! This place is coming down! Quick, get the Skeleton Key and the Eye and lets [sic] get out of here!"
When yourself, Brynjolf, and Karliah manage to escape, Karliah will approach you, exclaiming: "I can't believe it's over. Twenty-five years in exile and just like that, it's done. All that remains is to ensure the safe return of the Skeleton Key."
Karliah will then hand you her Nightingale Bow, and the quest Darkness Returns will now begin, which will direct you to return the Key. If you choose to speak to Karliah before you depart for the Twilight Sepulcher, you may talk to her about several more topics:
After you have returned the Skeleton Key to the Ebonmere and have spoken with Nocturnal, you are now directed to speak with Karliah, who has now appeared inside the Sepulcher: "I'm glad you were able to bring the Key back safely. Nocturnal seemed quite pleased with your efforts."
Now you are able to select either of the three Agents of Nocturnal, but if you talk to Karliah before choosing, she will explain the differences:
If you choose to ask Karliah further as to why you cannot be all three Agents, she will respond by saying: "This is Nocturnal's way of maintaining balance. If you ever feel the need to change your abilities, you can return to the Sepulcher and step onto a different circle. Be warned that once you've chosen, you can't reselect for at least a day."
Before you leave the Twilight Sepulcher, there is also a short cutscene where Gallus appears and speaks to Karliah, before entering the Evergloam:
Approaching Karliah again, she will initiate the conversation: "Gallus's Oath has been paid. His actions have satisfied the terms. Now his spirit becomes one with the Evergloam... the realm of perpetual twilight and the cradle of shadow."
When you depart the Twilight Sepulcher, Karliah can be found at anytime in the Nightingale Hall. Due to a bug she may however return to the chamber where Gallus' body can be found in Snow Veil Sanctum.
|Taunting an enemy||"Your death will be swift!"|
|Attacking with a blade||"I'll bury my blade in your heart!"|
|Engaging an enemy||"Your fate is sealed!"||"Nocturnal, guide my hand!"|
|"Dodge this!"||"Darkness consume you!"|
|"Shadows take you!"||"Your life is forfeit!"|
|"Come, taste darkness's embrace!"||"The burden of death approaches!"|
|"By Nocturnal's grace, I will defeat you!"||"I bring death from the shadows!"|
|"The shadows will be your undoing!"||"I claim your soul for Nocturnal!"|
|Losing sight of an enemy||"Hiding only prolongs the inevitable."||"A bold but foolish move."|
|"I know you're here. Show yourself."|
|When searching for the enemy||"Wait, I hear something..."||"I know you're here. Show yourself."|
|"What was that?"|
|After reacquiring the enemy||"Come coward, now we fight!"||"Enough games, let's end this!"|
|Defeating an enemy||"I send you to your rest."||"You were no match for a Nightingale."|
|"Shadows consume you."||"The afterlife will bring you darkness."|
|"Bless you, Lady of Shadows... I live another day."|
- She is voiced by Moira Quirk.
- Sometimes when leaving Snow Veil Sanctum a frost troll will have wandered near Karliah's camp. She can become stuck in her conversation because of this. Reloading an earlier save and killing the troll before she progresses through her dialogue solves the problem.
- Karliah carries a wide variety of arrows which can be pickpocketed. Her inventory respawns with each new encounter, making her a great source of arrows.
- Karliah is mentioned in the in-game book, The Nightingales Vol.2.
- She is the only Dunmer in the game with purple eyes instead of the standard Dark Elf red eyes.
- You may not be able to find Karliah in Nightingale Hall at the end of the Thieves Guild quest line. This is most likely caused by not completing enough sidequests for Vex or Delvin. If this is the case, you will instead find her at the very end of the Snow Veil Sanctum, the place where she shot you. The actual bug is apparently caused by the quest Under New Management never starting.
- It might be possible to fix this issue using the
setstage TGLeadership 50console command.
- On occasions, she may be found wandering Riften upon trying to return to the Nightingale Hall after the completion of Under New Management.
- It might be possible to fix this issue using the
- Karliah may also be found stuck in a wait package in the cellar of The Frozen Hearth in Winterhold.
- One way to fix this issue is to redo the previous quest (get the rubbing and return to the cellar of The Frozen Hearth) and she will be unstuck. Go through the dialogue, then wait 24 hours before meeting her at The Ragged Flagon.
- Skyrim-Female NPCs
- Skyrim-Leveled NPCs
- Skyrim-Essential NPCs
- Skyrim-No Crime
- Skyrim-Factions-Thieves Guild No Pickpocketing Faction
- Skyrim-Confirmed Bugs