In the days immediately following the Chimer’s exodus from the Summerset Isles, the elves were under constant threat from the elements, bandits and rogue marauders. Azura had taught them to be shadowy and mysterious while Boethiah had shown them the finer points of architecture, philosophy and politics. But there was one who would teach the Chimer to evade their enemies, to conspire against them, and to kill them silently. It was unknowable, enigmatic Mephala, she who is called Webspinner…the Spider God.
True to her namesake, the spheres of Mephala’s influence are hidden from the perceptions of mortals, but she has been called the Daedric Prince of murder, sex and secrets. Considered to be among the three “good” Daedra, along with Boethia and Azura, Mephala was seen as an aspect of Tribunal god Vivec, the beautiful, blood stained warrior poet, who is considered to be at once male and female. Much like Vivec, Mephala’s nature is often contradictory, simultaneously subtle and excessive; a scream engulfed by a whisper.
The only constant characteristic of Mephala’s persona is an inclination to interfere in the affairs of mortals for her own amusement. Mephala sees these human dramas as threads in a gigantic weave. Tug at the proper series of threads, and the entire web unravels. This entertains the Daedric Lord to no end. Such is the tale of the two unfortunate families of the settlement of Bleaker’s Way, who literally tore each other to pieces as a result of Mephala’s manipulations.
It is believed that the assassins known as the Morag Tong came to be as a result of Mephala’s teaching the Chimer the art of secret murder. After Mephala helped Boethiah to establish the clan system that would ultimately become the Great Houses of the Dunmer, the Morag Tong became a natural extension of the principles the political system was based upon. Over the years, the Morag Tong would develop into a legally recognized organization of killers for hire. When no other course of action was suitable to resolve a conflict, the Chimer would use the Morag Tong, offering money for an honorable execution. With strict laws of governing, the Morag Tong’s intent is to prevent bloodshed with calculated killings and is considered a Guild much like the societies devoted to Fighters and Mages. There are many who see no difference between the dutiful Morag Tong and the murderous and bloodthirsty Dark Brotherhood. In fact, there are those who believe that the Dark Brotherhood’s Night Mother is really Mephala in disguise.
Many scholars cite inferences to the Twenty-seven Threads of the Webspinner, which were enchanted items created by the Daedric Lord Sanguine for Mephala to bestow upon her Morag Tong followers. These accounts say that these tokens were stolen by the Dark Brotherhood on the orders of the Night Mother. Mephala responded by arranging to have the items retrieved and the entire Dark Brotherhood killed, including the mysterious Night Mother. If true, this legend would confirm that the two groups of assassins are not only vastly removed from one another, but also disproves the theory that Lord Mephala and the Night Mother are one and the same.
Mephala’s servants are known as Spider Daedra, and are fearsome even by Daedric standards. These monstrous human-spider hybrids are notoriously erratic and difficult to control, making them unsuitable for any magic user, even the very strongest of conjurers. Even great Mephala herself has had difficulties commanding these vicious, nightmare creatures that are not only strong and fast, but extremely violent as well. There are unconfirmed rumors that the Spider Daedra were more easily bound and conjured before the Oblivion Crisis. Bound Spider Daedra are particularly lethal due to their ability to create Spiderlings, or small versions of themselves that are capable of causing paralysis in their targets.
Easily as terrible as the dread Spider Daedra is the artifact Mephala has unleashed upon the world. The Ebony Blade has been called both “The Vampire” and “The Leech”, and the names are most appropriate. This evil weapon literally drains the life force of its target, transferring that life energy to the wielder of the sword. The Ebony Blade has had several incarnations over the years, appearing as a one or two handed katana with a variety of enchantments in addition to its horrific life draining properties. It has been known to enhance the wielder’s skill with the weapon, or to silence any spell casters struck with it. As with all artifacts of true evil, the Ebony Blade ultimately devours the soul of its user, and consigns it Oblivion. One of the most recent, undocumented theories to surface suggests the Ebony Blade deposits these souls directly into Mephala’s realm, but this is purest conjecture and because of the inpenetrable nature of the Webspinner’s sphere, it is impossible to confirm.
So seductive is the pull of this weapon that it can corrupt and pervert the motivations of even the most decent of people. The grim blade is never more powerful than when used to murder those closest to the one who wields it before damning their betrayed souls to Oblivion. It is said a powerful wizard once cast a spell upon the Ebony Blade that caused it to change owners, sometimes of its own accord. If the legend is true, this is a blessing, as the Ebony Blade will eventually drive the one who wields it utterly insane. Mephala of course, revels in the downfall of anyone foolish enough to raise the vile weapon as well as the destruction it brings to the lives of those closest to the wielder of the Ebony Blade.
The other artifact associated with Mephala is the Ring of Khajiit. The Ring was stolen from Mephala’s person by Rahjin, a master thief of such skill the Khajiit would later name him the “Thief God”. Using the Ring of Khajiit, Rahjin was invisible, silent, and could literally move like the wind. With the Ring’s assistance, Rahjin was so stealthy he is rumored to have stolen a tattoo from the neck of the Empress Kintyra Septim as she slept. With his natural skills and the enchantments of the Ring of Khajiit, Rahjin became the greatest thief Elsweyr had ever known. While his eventual fate is unknown, some believe that after grossly overusing the Ring, it abandoned Rahjin when he most needed it and left him helpless before his enemies. There is another Khajiit legend that implies the ring was simply returned to Mephala by Rahjin. In either case, the Ring ultimately found its way back to Mephala, as she has been known to reward those who do her bidding with it.
Mephala rejoices in the seduction of mortals; their schemes, their lusts and their inevitable downfall and ruin. Secreted away like a spider within its web, she plucks at threads from the myriad strands of mortal weakness and folly, and laughs as the connections that bind lives together fall away, until the entire web collapses and comes apart. She lurks wherever conspiracy rears its head and whispers into the minds of those who scheme in secret and kill when none are looking.
If Mephala is the Daedric Prince of sex, secrets and murder who orchestrates contention amongst mortals, weaving her influence like vine tendrils, her sibling is he who records these events both great and small, writing them upon the scrolls of Eternity, having known their outcome before the very first steps were conceived. He is the Daedric Prince of Fate and Knowledge, and scribes the forbidden secrets of all existence in the pages of his Black Books. Many have sought the knowledge this Daedric Prince holds, their quests changing the course of history and bringing madness and death in their wake.
But that- is a story for another day…