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Possible spoilers: To start this quest I don't think there is a level requirement. Go to the inn in winterrun and ask the inn keeper about any rumors. (I had to ask more than once). She will mention the Jarl's son. Go to the Jarl and speak to him about it, he will ask you to talk to his son for him. Speak to the Jarls son and he will mention a whispering lady behind a door in the keep. Go to the door as indicated on you map. Listen to it and the whispering lady will ask you to open the door. You need to get the key from the Jarl or the Court wizard. I strongly suggest pick pocketing one of them instead of murder. Once you have the key go back to the door and open it. The ebony blade will be there. Quest completed. My experiment with the sword consisted of me going on a rampage on winterrun. (saved my game before this) after killing a few dozen guards and citizens the whispering lady would make comments about the sword becoming more powerful. I'd also like to add that this sword is awesome, you absorb their health as you attack them. The sword is two-handed btw.
Well... I just got it and tried it out on allies using resurrect as well as numerous other allies afterwards. After like 20 kills or so she stops whispering and the last thing she says is that it is back to it's former glory, etc but the weapon did not change at all. I did see a picture of it with a different description (people don't treat attacks as assaults) so I'm not sure if it is supposed to turn into that weapon but the damage was still low.
I'm also not sure what determines it's starting damage because I got it at 15 damage and it went to 16 right after I picked it up. My level is 39 with 84 in 2h. I've seen other people with LOWER 2h skill with higher damage but they were further in the game. So I suspect the damage is upped by your game/quest completion? I will check it's damage as I get further in the and see what actually determines it. Either way it's a novelty weapon because it makes you neigh invincible in melee since it drains so much health but it doesn't do much damage. I gave it to Farkas to make him tankier.