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DARK BROTHERHOOD – PRIMARY QUESTS
 
To initiate the Dark Brotherhood questline, ask any tavern owner about rumors they’ve heard.  Eventually one of them will mention a troubled boy who fled Riften’s orphanage.  Upon hearing this, your journal will add the miscellaneous objective:  “Find Aventus Aretino.”  You can also get this information by visiting Riften and making inquiries at the orphanage.

To find Aventus, go to the city of WINDHELM. Once there, break into the Aretino Residence and go upstairs to find the young boy performing a black sacrament on the floor.  As soon as he spots you, he’ll assume you’re an assassin sent by the Dark Brotherhood.  Choose to play along or remain silent.  Either way, you’ll trigger the first Dark Brotherhood quest, “Innocence Lost”:
 
I N N O C E N C E   L O S T  

Aventus wants you to assassinate Grelod the Kind, who runs Honorhall Orphanage in RIFTEN.  If you haven’t discovered Riften yet, simply entering the city will trigger the Thieves Guild questline.  The two factions (thieves and assassins) maintain a loose alliance since both specialize in stealth but you’re under no obligation to join.  Explore the city and when you’re ready, sneak inside Honorhall Orphanage.

Hide in the lobby and watch as Grelod the Kind chastises the children – clearly her name is ironic.  With high archery skills, you can kill Grelod with a single arrow to the head while the children’s backs are turned, and dash out the door without ever being noticed.  For those not adept with bows (and you really should be if you want to be a good assassin), just barge in and kill her.  Grelod’s co-worker will freak out, but you will not be arrested for murder.

After killing Grelod, return to Windhelm and speak with Aventus, who gives you an unremarkable platter (ARETINO FAMILY HEIRLOOM) for your trouble.  This ends the quest, however the next one does not start automatically.  A Courier will eventually track you down and deliver a note that simply says: “We know”.  After receiving the cryptic note, sleep in any bed for any length of time.

Note:  If you haven’t met Cicero yet (the crazy jester with the broken wagon), you might want to go to LOREIUS FARM and complete the optional quest, “Delayed Burial”, before sleeping.  The Cicero quest is unavailable after you join the Dark Brotherhood. 

W I T H   F R I E N D S   L I K E   T H E S E  . . .

When you wake up, you’ll be inside an abandoned shack with a woman named Astrid looming over you.  Having interfered with a Dark Brotherhood contract, you now owe her.  To repay the debt, Astrid wants you to murder one of the hostages in the room.  Before taking any action, you have a big choice to make:  Either kill a hostage – or kill Astrid.

If you kill Astrid, you fail the current quest and a new quest “DESTROY THE DARK BROTHERHOOD!” automatically begins.  While this is clearly the more noble choice, killing Astrid prevents you from joining the Dark Brotherhood, therefore being unable to complete any of their quests.  For those that wish to join the assassin’s guild, read on...

Since Astrid won’t tell you why the three hostages are being held here, interview each person to see which one might be the best target.  Truthfully, it doesn’t matter which one you murder – it’s a question of personal preference.  If you’re completely ruthless, go ahead and kill all three. 

After repaying your debt, Astrid gives you the password to Dark Brotherhood headquarters (“Silence, my brother.”) and tells you to go there if you want to join the family.  She marks the location on your map then hands you a key to the Abandoned Shack.  Use the key to let yourself out and you’ll discover you’re in a swamp southeast of Solitude.

Go to the quest marker, which is west of Falkreath.  In a small grove, you’ll find a black door with a handprint.  Touch it and the door will ask, “What is the music of life?”  Give the password Astrid taught you and enter the DARK BROTHERHOOD SANCTUARY.  If you have a follower, they will wait outside.  Move forward to find Astrid.  Speak with her and she’ll hand you several pieces of SHROUDED ARMOR, officially making you a member of the Dark Brotherhood.  Astrid tells you to speak with Nazir and introduce yourself to the rest of the family.  This ends the current quest and begins “Sanctuary”.

S A N C T U A R Y 

Nazir is down below, along with the other members.  Before going there, explore the upper area.  On the shelf near Astrid, you’ll find more Shrouded clothing and an Alteration SKILLBOOK titled “Sithis”.  In the bedroom on the left, there’s an “unusual gem” (STONE OF BARENZIAH), which is associated with the Thieves Guild quest, “No Stone Unturned”.

Walk downstairs to the pool of water where family members are gathered.  Behind them, is a word wall.  Read it to learn a new word in the Dragon Shout “MARKED FOR DEATH”.  There’s a blacksmith’s station on the left and stairs leading to other rooms.  Chat with the family members to learn more about them.  The youngest member, Babette, sells items and is a master Alchemy trainer.  Nazir is a master trainer in Light Armor.  When ready, tell Nazir Astrid sent you and he’ll give you three assassination Contracts:

            Contract:  Kill Beitild
            Contract:  Kill Ennodius Papius
            Contract:  Kill Narfi
 
Receiving these Contracts ends the current quest and adds three new ones to your journal.  Nazir explains that the three targets can be assassinated in any order, and you can wait to turn all of them in or come back to receive your pay one at a time.  The most important thing is to not get caught.  If you are seen performing an assassination, you must kill all witnesses or fail.  To be safe, save your game before each assassination.  As a general rule, learn each target’s routine (when they go to bed, when they take meal breaks, etc.) and pick a time and location with the best odds of success. 

Before heading off to kill citizens, explore the rest of the Sanctuary.  From the pond room, the left staircase leads to an alchemy lab and arcane enchanter, as well a pet Frostbite Spider.  If you harm the spider (I learned the hard way), all Dark Brotherhood members will attack you.  Although you can’t kill any of them, they won’t stop fighting either.  Reboot your game if this happens.  Past the alchemy room is a dining area where Nazir usually hangs out.  Above it, are the living quarters where you’ll find your bed.  Babette’s stone bedroom (she’s a vampire) contains the Sneak SKILLBOOK, “Sacred Witness”. 

When you’re finished exploring, leave the Sanctuary and take care of the three Contract quests in any order you wish:

C O N T R A C T S :   B E I T I L D  /  E N N O D I U S   P A P I U S  /  N A R F I

Beitild runs a mine in the city of DAWNSTAR.  During the day, she works at Iron-Breaker Mine but is rarely alone.  She returns to her home at midnight and stays there until 8 am.  Your best bet is to assassinate Beitild while she’s in bed.  Her front door has a novice lock so it’s not hard to break in. 

Ennodius can be found at a campsite near ANGA’S MILL, which is west of Windhelm.  He’s a loner so you should have no trouble assassinating him. 

Narfi is a beggar living in IVARSTEAD.   His rundown house is on the river across from the mill.  Narfi rarely comes outside so just sneak over and kill him, poor fellow.  Best to do it at night when the other townsfolk are sleeping.  Killing Narfi, by the way, forfeits his quest (finding his sister).

Return to the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary and report to Nazir.  Before collecting your pay, Nazir tells you to speak with Astrid.  Wait for her to finish arguing with Cicero (the crazed jester) who has just arrived with the contents of his cart.  The next quest begins when you talk to Astrid after completing the three contracts.

M O U R N I N G   N E V E R   C O M E S 

Astrid wants you to find Muiri in MARKARTH to see what she needs done.  Muiri works in the Hag’s Cure during the day.  At night, she hangs out in the Silver Blood Inn.  Go to Markarth and talk to Muiri to learn that she wants an ex-lover, Alain Dufont, killed.  She explains that Dufont used her to get close with the Shatter-Shield family in Windhelm and then fled to Raldbthar.  As an act of revenge, Muiri says she’ll pay extra if you also assassinate Nilsine Shatter-Shield.  She gives you two vials of LOTUS EXTRACT if you exhaust all dialog options.

Although you must agree to assassinate Alain Dufont in Raldbthar, the extra task of killing Nilsine in Windhelm is entirely optional.  Nilsine should not be killed until you’ve started the Windhelm side quest “Blood on the Ice”.  Doing so will make that quest unavailable.

As for the mandatory job, travel to RALDBTHAR, which is located in the mountains west of Windhelm.  When you reach it, kill some bandits patrolling outside then enter the Dwemer ruins.  In the first room, kill another bandit then proceed to an intersection.  Look near the campfire for a Sneak SKILLBOOK titled, “2920, Last Seed, v8” then choose which direction to take.  Both routes lead to the target.  The path straight ahead contains a fire trap and a locked door.  If you choose this route, you can use a ballista to shoot Dufont and/or his bandit cronies.  There’s also an oil slick on the floor that you can torch to make short work of them.

The eastern route provides a better opportunity for ranged sneak attacks.  If you select this route, fight a few bandits and look for treasure as you head through the tunnel.  Climb stairs to reach a balcony that overlooks the room where Alain Dufont and his allies are standing.  Use the Lotus Extracts Muiri gave you to poison arrows and assassinate him easily.  No matter which direction you take, kill all witnesses and loot Dufont’s body to get his AEGISBANE warhammer.  Having completed the main objective, you can return to Muiri, or head to Windhelm for the optional kill. 

If you already completed the Windhelm side quest “Blood on the Ice” just travel to the city and assassinate Nilsine.  If you haven’t started that quest, wait to kill Nilsine after her family’s role in the side quest is done. 

Return to Markarth after assassinating one or both targets, and talk to Muiri to collect your reward.  She’ll give you an extra ring if you opted to kill Nilsine.  Report to Astrid afterwards to complete the quest and begin the next Dark Brotherhood adventure, “Whispers in the Dark”.

W H I S P E R S   I N   T H E   D A R K 

Astrid thinks Cicero is up to something and wants you to spy on him.  In order to do this, you need to hide inside the Night Mother’s coffin.  Pick the coffin’s lock and step inside to trigger a scene.  When it ends, talk to Cicero until Astrid arrives.  While she mulls things over, Astrid wants you to do a couple of jobs for Nazir.  Talk to Nazir to pick up two new assassination Contracts:

            Contract: Kill Lurbuk
            Contract: Kill Hern

After accepting the Contracts, the current quest ends and the new quests are added to your journal.  As before, the two assassinations can be completed in any order and turned in to Nazir separately or together.

C O N T R A C T S :   L U R B U K  /  H E R N

Lurbuk is an Orc bard who rents a room in MORTHAL at the Moorside Inn.  Travel to the city and enter Moorside Inn at night.  Sneak inside Lurbuk’s room and assassinate him while he’s sleeping.  Close the door beforehand so that the innkeeper doesn’t witness the murder. 

Hern is a vampire that runs HALF-MOON MILL with his wife.  Either kill him outside while he’s working, or wait for his wife to leave the house in the morning and kill him inside.  The shack outside provides a good hiding place for bow attacks.  If you allow Hern to get close to you, you may contract the virus that turns you into a vampire.  To rid the effects, drink a “Cure Disease” potion as soon as you show signs of turning.  Of course, you can also remain a vampire if that’s want you want.  If Hern’s wife witnesses the murder, kill her, too.

Return to Nazir after completing the Contracts.  On your way to meet him, Astrid stops you.  She’s decided to allow you to go along with the Night Mother’s demands.  This begins the next Dark Brotherhood quest, “The Silence Has Been Broken”.  Wrap up the previous quests by collecting your Contract payments from Nazir.
 
T H E   S I L E N C E   H A S   B E E N   B R O K E N 

Astrid tells you to meet Amaund Motierre in VOLUNRUUD.  The tomb is north of Whiterun and southeast of Morthal.  Upon entering Volunruud, you’ll see a skeleton sitting on a throne to the left.  Approaching the throne awakens the skeleton and it will attack.  After killing it, look down to find HEDDIC’S VOLUNRUUD NOTES.  Reading them triggers the independent side quest, “Silenced Tongues”.  You don’t need to complete that quest to find Amaund Motierre, but feel free to do it since you’re already here. 

To continue the Dark Brotherhood quest, enter the room up ahead.  Of the three paths inside, take the left one.  Loot dead Draugr as you pass through and open the door at the end.  Inside, Amaund will be waiting with this bodyguard.  Speak with Amaund to learn who his main target is.  When the conversation ends, his bodyguard hands you two items: a JEWELED AMULET and AMAUND MOTIERRE’S SEALED LETTER to give to Astrid.

Leave Volunruud when ready.  Return to the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary and report to Astrid.  After reading the letter, she asks you to bring the Amulet to Delvin Mallory in Riften.  If you are a Thieves Guild member, you can take the “shadowmark” shortcut into headquarters.  Non-members need to go through the city’s Ratway to reach the Ragged Flagon.

If this is your first time in the Ratway, follow the lower walkway around to a recessed gate and sneak inside.  You’ll overhear two shady characters talking about harassing anyone that tries to pass.  Either kill them or wait for the conversation to end and sneak by.  There’s a raised bridge up ahead but since you cannot lower it from this side, hop down off the ledge and kill the skeever below.  To the left is a door with an expert lock that leads directly to the Ragged Flagon.  Pick it if you’re in a hurry; otherwise explore the rest of tunnel system. 

The path on the right leads to a trapped door.  Disarm the cable at its base to safely enter.  Collect any items of interest as you navigate through the rooms and you’ll eventually reach a door facing south.  Inside, fight a brawler named Gian the Fist, while avoiding several bear traps on the floor.  Loot his body afterwards to receive GLOVES OF THE PUGILIST, a unique item that fortifies unarmed attacks.  Use the alchemy lab on the left if you wish.

Moving forward you’ll come to a small staircase with a pressure plate that, if stepped on, releases a battering ram.  Carefully ascend and unlock a gate leading into a small circular garden.  Gather ingredients (plus an axe embedded in a tree stump) then continue through to the next room where you’ll encounter a Lowlife.  Kill the enemy then read “Beggar”, a Pickpocket SKILLBOOK on the table.  There are two tunnels in this room – one leading to a lever that drops the bridge you saw earlier and the other, leading to the Ragged Flagon, home of the Thieves Guild.

You’ll find Delvin Mallory near the bar.  Give him the Jeweled Amulet in exchange for a LETTER OF CREDIT.  Return to Astrid afterwards and you’ll receive your next assignment:  Assassinating the Emperor’s cousin, Vittoria Vici, on her wedding day.  This ends the current quest and begins “Bound Until Death”.  Completing this quest also unlocks new optional Contracts from Nazir (read the Dark Brotherhood Miscellaneous Quests section for details). 

            Contract: Kill Anoriath
            Contract: Kill Ma’randru-jo
            Contract: Kill Deekus

B O U N D   U N T I L   D E A T H 

Astrid explains that Vittoria Vici and her fiancée, Asgeir Snow-Shod, are hosting a public wedding reception at the Temple of the Divines in SOLITUDE.  If you kill the bride while she is addressing the crowd, Astrid will give you a bonus.  Since it’s a public event, you must plan the assassination carefully.  Before leaving the Sanctuary, speak with Gabriella.  She has scouted the site and has left something for you on a parapet overlooking the Temple’s balcony.  She also mentions that a loose gargoyle statue can be used to do the deed.

When ready, travel to Solitude and go to the Temple of the Divines.  The reception is being held outside, very close to Castle Dour’s training yard.  The bride will be seated at the beginning of the event, but eventually moves to the balcony where she will give her speech.  There are several ways to complete the assassination without getting caught.  No matter what method you choose, get the items Gabriella left for you on the parapet: An enchanted bow called FIRLNIEL’S END, elven arrows, and a Potion of True Shot.

Using that bow (or any bow), you can snipe Vittoria from the parapet while she’s giving her speech then fast-travel out of Solitude before anyone sees you.  Or you can drop the loose gargoyle on her while she’s giving her speech then fast-travel out of Solitude as she’s dying.  This brings her body along so that you can loot it wherever you fast-travel to.  To reach the gargoyle, enter the Temple and stick to the right to get to the door leading outside.  Another option is to climb up to the roof and take her out from there.

If you are spotted after killing her, a Dark Brotherhood ally (Veezara) will show up and distract the crowd, giving you time to escape.  It goes without saying that whatever method you choose, remain in sneak mode and get out as fast as possible once the job is done.  You could also drink an Invisibility potion after the fatal shot to avoid detection. 

Return to Astrid afterwards and she’ll teach you a unique spell, “SUMMON ASSASSIN”, which summons Lucien Lachance as a temporary follower once per day.  If the bride died during her speech, Astrid also gives you a large amount of gold.  After getting your reward, she tells you to speak with Gabriella.  This ends the current quest and begins “Breaching Security”.  

Completing this quest also unlocks new optional Contracts from Nazir (read the Dark Brotherhood Miscellaneous Quests section for details): 

            Contract: Kill Agnis
            Contract: Kill Maluril
            Contract: Kill Helvard
            Contract: Kill Safia

B R E A C H I N G   S E C U R I T Y 

Talk to Gabriella to get your next assignment.  A Commander and his son, Gaius Maro, are scouting locations in advance of the Emperor’s visit to Skyrim.  Gabriella wants you kill Gaius and plant false evidence on his body to weaken the Emperor’s sense of security.  Gabriella gives you the INCRIMINATING LETTER to plant and says you’ll receive a bonus if you kill Gaius in a major city.  The security force will start off at Dragon Bridge where you’ll have the option of stealing Gaius’ travel schedule.

When ready, travel to DRAGON BRIDGE, which is southwest of Solitude.  If you acquired “Treasure Map VIII” during your travels, you’ll find the master-locked chest it refers to in the water below the bridge (under a banana tree).  If you have trouble picking the lock, get a key from the backpack resting against a tree near the top of the bridge.

Once inside the village, sneak over to the Pentius Oculatus Outpost and spy on the Maro family until they part ways.  After Gaius leaves, sneak inside the Outpost and steal GAIUS MARO’S SCHEDULE off the bedside table on the right.  If you wait until nightfall, you can avoid being caught by the security agents inside.  Read the schedule to learn what city Gaius will be traveling to next.  The easiest place to kill him is on the road, but you’ll forfeit the bonus if you do so.  It takes Gaius one week to tour all of the major cities, and then he’ll repeat the rounds – so just travel to the city of your choice and wait for him to arrive. 

Stay a safe distance away while tracking Gaius’ movements.  If he sees you, he’ll alter his route.  If you choose to confront Gaius, do it near a guard and let him attack you first to avoid a bounty.  Killing Gaius at night when he’s asleep is a good choice for non-archers.  Eliminate any witnesses and remember to plant the Incriminating Letter on Gaius’ body after killing him.

Return to Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary afterwards and Gabriella will approach, telling you to speak with Astrid, which automatically starts the next quest.  For completing this quest, you get leveled gold.  If you assassinated Gaius in a city, you also receive OLAVA’S TOKEN as a bonus.  (Refer to“Locate the Assassin of Old” misc. quest for details.)

T H E   C U R E   F O R   M A D N E S S 

Speak with Astrid to learn that Cicero went on a mad rampage while you were out.  She asks you to search his bedroom for clues on where he’s gone.  Go to Cicero’s bedroom and collect five JOURNALS.  The final volume provides details on where he’s gone, and a password for getting inside.  Share what you’ve found with Astrid and she’ll direct you to kill Cicero in the DAWNSTAR SANCTUARY.  To get to the location quickly, Astrid offers the use of her horse, SHADOWMERE.  Shadowmere spawns from the pool outside and can fast-travel around Skyrim with you.  You don’t need to ride the horse to reach Cicero; it’s entirely optional.

When ready, head towards Dawnstar, with or without the horse.  Just north of the city, you’ll find Astrid’s husband, Arnbjorn, sitting outside Dawnstar Sanctuary’s entrance.  Talk to the injured man and he’ll tell you that he fought with Cicero, who was also wounded.  Tell Arnbjorn to go home then approach the black door, which asks, “What is life’s greatest illusion?”  Answer with the password, “Innocence, my brother” to enter.

Inside, you’ll hear Cicero babbling about the Listener’s arrival.  Pick up the JESTER CLOTHES he left behind and start following the blood trail.  Prepare to fight many Sanctuary Guardians along the way.  Start by opening the door and sneaking across the spear-trapped bridge patrolled by two spectral enemies, one of them an archer.  Go downstairs and defeat two more Guardians. On the desk, you’ll find two SKILLBOOKS: “The Marksmanship Lesson” (Archery) and “Fire and Darkness” (One-Handed). 

De-activate a tripwire before entering the large circular room to avoid the firetrap.  Take the displayed weapons inside if you wish then sneak upstairs.  After killing more Guardians, enter an ice cave filled with bear traps.  Up ahead, you’ll face a strong variety of troll called Udefrykte.  You cannot avoid fighting the troll so take advantage of the cave’s size and use the ramp for ranged attacks.  Proceed through the wooden door and over to a spear gate.  Pull the chain on the right to lower the spears and head inside the crypt.

Moving forward, fight more Guardians and look for a master-locked chest at the end of the southern passage.  Climb the stairs at the end and retract another spear gate by pulling the chain on the right.  Follow the hallway to a door that can be unbarred.  To the right, is a door leading to Cicero.  Save your game before entering.  Speak with Cicero, who is lying on the ground faking an injury.  Here, you must make a choice:  Spare Cicero or kill him.

If you spare Cicero, he can be recruited as a follower.  If you kill him, you can loot his body to get some rare items but may have to pay a fine to Nazir upon your return to Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary (see “Honor Thy Family”).  Either way, report to Astrid.  To show her gratitude, she lets you keep Shadowmere.  This ends the current quest and automatically begins the next one, “Recipe For Disaster”.

R E C I P E   F O R   D I S A S T E R 

Astrid tells you to speak with Festus Krex to get your next assignment.  Talk with Festus to learn that you must kill a gourmet chef that has been hired to serve the Emperor.  To identify the Gourmet, you first need to go to Markarth and coerce the Jarl’s chef into giving you the name.  Talk to Gabriella before leaving.  She promises a bonus if you dump the Gourmet’s body in water.

When ready, travel to Markarth and enter Understone Keep.  At the top of the stairs, head left to find Anton Virane in his kitchen.  Intimidate the chef into giving you the name of the Gourmet by mentioning the Dark Brotherhood.  When he asks to be spared, either lie or remain silent.  Virane ultimately tells you the Gourmet is an Orc named Balagog gro-Nolob who is staying at Nightgate Inn.  After Virane hands you the Orc’s cookbook “UNCOMMON TASTE – SIGNED”, he resumes his normal routine.  Eliminate Virane once his workers have left the kitchen or wait until he retires for the night. 

Leave Markarth afterwards and travel to NIGHTGATE INN, which is in the hills west of Windhelm.   To get the bonus, hide in the trees and wait for the Orc to take his daily stroll.  He usually does this around noon but only stays outside for an hour.  Follow him down to the lake (the dock area doesn’t count), kill him, and loot his body to get the WRIT OF PASSAGE.  Press X to drag his body into the water and you’re done.

If you don’t care about the bonus, sneak inside the Inn at night and kill Balagog in his basement bedroom.  In this scenario, there are many places to hide his body (in a hay pile, behind barrels, under the bed, or in a wine cask).  Loot his body to get the Writ and remove everything else to make him lighter to hoist.  Whether you kill Balagog inside or outside, explore the basement to obtain the Sneak SKILLBOOK, “Legend of Krately House”.

Return to Festus and collect your reward.  If you met the bonus criteria, he’ll also give you the NIGHTWEAVER’S BAND, a ring that increases Sneak and decreases the cost of Destruction magic.  Having completed this quest, the next one begins: "To Kill an Empire". 

T O   K I L L   A N   E M P I R E 

Now that all pieces are in place, the contract to kill the Emperor can be fulfilled.  Speak with Astrid to learn that you’ll be impersonating the Gourmet at the Emperor’s upcoming dinner party.  She gives you JARRIN ROOT to poison his meal and sends you off to Castle Dour in Solitude.  Needless to say, don’t bring any followers with you on this mission.

Travel to Solitude and present the Writ of Passage to Commander Maro at the Emperor’s Tower entrance.  He tells you to report to the castle’s chef, Gianna.  Enter the tower and loot it before talking to the chef.  Upstairs, you’ll find an Enchanting SKILLBOOK titled, “Catalogue of Weapon Enchantments” near a locked door.

When ready, go to the kitchen and speak with Gianna, who tells you that you’ll need a CHEF’S HAT before being allowed to cook.  Grab one off the shelf and put it on.  Talk to Gianna again and she’ll ask for ingredients to add to her broth.  Add the Jarrin Root and any others.  When Gianna leaves to serve the dish to the Emperor, hide in the adjacent room and wait for the Emperor to perish.  Once he’s dead, a quest arrow directs you to escape through the back door.

After you cross the bridge, you’ll be stopped by Commander Maro and his Agents.  Maro reveals that the person you just killed was a decoy; someone within the Dark Brotherhood struck a deal to save Sanctuary at your expense.  Regardless of promises made, Maro intends to destroy Sanctuary and all its members, starting with you.

As Maro leaves, the three Agents attack and an automatic 1500 gold bounty is placed on you.  Kill all three then continue down the spiral staircase past the first landing.  Once outside, guards will continue to chase you, making it impossible to flee Haafingar hold until the bounty is lifted.  To do this, kill all hostile guards (plus any witnesses) until you can fast-travel again.

You cannot fast-travel directly to Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary while it’s under attack, so pick a location that’s close by and run the rest of way there.  As you approach, you’ll see a corpse pinned to a tree and four Agents guarding the entrance.  Kill them then approach the Black Door to finish this quest and start the next one: "Death Incarnate".

D E A T H   I N C A R N A T E  

Enter the Sanctuary and protect your fellow members from Maro’s men.  Kill any that get in your way as you head down to the burning cave.  Help Arnbjorn (in his beast form) fight off enemies until he falls.  No matter what you do, you cannot save him.  Follow the only path not blocked by flames and help Nazir battle the Agent’s leader, Arcturus.  Once defeated, talk to Nazir, who will be happy to see you.  Follow him up to the Night Mother’s room.

Once free from combat, do as the Night Mother says and step inside her coffin.  Listen as the explosions slowly dissipate.  After Nazir and Babette free you, locate Astrid.  Climb the stone steps to her usual location and you’ll discover a new room.  Go inside to find Astrid surrounded by candles.  Listen to her story then take the BLADE OF WOE and end her misery. 

Return to the Night Mother afterwards to learn that the contract to kill the Emperor must still be fulfilled.  She asks you to find Amaund Motierre in Whiterun, as he will know how to locate the actual Emperor, but wants you to discuss your plans with Nazir first.  This ends the current quest and begins “Hail Sithis!”  Talk to Nazir about relocating the Dark Brotherhood to Dawnstar Sanctuary and take anything of value before leaving.

H A I L   S I T H I S ! 

Go to Whiterun and speak with Amaund Motierre in the Bannered Mare.  Amaund tells you that the real Emperor is on his ship, the Katariah, anchored near Solitude.  Ask Amaund about Maro to get the optional objective: “Kill Commander Maro.”  His location is near The Katariah so why not seek a little revenge on your way there?

To kill Commander Maro, go to the East Empire Company Warehouse just south of Solitude.  Maro will be standing on the dock.  Simply approach him and he’ll be enraged that you’re still alive.  Wait for him to attack first then kill him in self-defense.  The guards may even help you.

With that out of the way, locate THE KATARIAH, which is moored in an inlet to the north.  Enter the ship by swimming underwater.  Once aboard, you’ll see that security has been relaxed a bit.  Either sneak past or kill any Agents you come across, along with regular sailors.  Before dealing with the Emperor, explore the rest of the ship.  On the upper deck, you’ll find more guards but also a unique sword, the WINDSHEAR, near the bow.  Look for a Two-Handed SKILLBOOK, “King”, on the other end, next to the raised throne.  Below deck, are doors leading to the private cabins of Captain Avidus and Lieutenant Salvarus.  Loot their bodies to get the KATARIAH MASTER KEY and grab anything else of value.  When ready, use the key to unlock the door to the Emperor’s Quarters. 

Upon entering, the Emperor greets you knowing that he cannot avoid his fate.  He asks if you are willing to let him speak before carrying out your orders.  Either way, the Emperor will not put up a fight.  If you allow him to speak, the Emperor asks you to consider killing whoever put the contract out on his life and an optional objective is added: “Kill Amaund Matierre.”  Dispatch your target and loot his body to acquire GILDED WRISTGUARDS, EMPEROR’S ROBES, and a key to the back door.  Take other valuable items from the room (gems, jewelry, etc.) then take the shortcut out to Skyrim.

Return to Whiterun and speak with Amaund, who tells you that your reward is back in Volunruud.  Either close the door and kill him or just leave the inn.  Travel to Volunruud when ready.  Go to the chamber where you first met Amaund.  Open the chest inside and look for an urn containing 20,000 gold.

Go to Dawnstar Sanctuary and speak with Nazir.  When he asks how much gold you received, tell him the truth or lie.  Either way, you get to keep all of it.  Nazir recommends using the gold to upgrade the new Sanctuary and suggests talking to Delvin Mallory about it.  This ends the current quest and begins “Where You Hand Your Enemy’s Head”.  Talk to the Night Mother when she summons you to begin the concurrent (optional) quest, “The Dark Brotherhood Forever”. 

T H E   D A R K   B R O T H E R H O O D   F O R E V E R 

Speak with the Night Mother to receive a random Contract then go to the place marked on your map to find the target.  When you return to collect your reward, the Night Mother automatically offers another random Contract.  Since the quest is radiant, you can accept and complete an unlimited amount of Contracts offered by the Night Mother.

W H E R E   Y O U   H A N G   Y O U R   E N E M Y ' S   H E A D 

Go to the Ragged Flagon in Riften and speak with Delvin Mallory about upgrading Dawnstar Sanctuary.  He’s more than happy to sell you any or all of the following upgrades:

            1000 gold = New banners x22
            3000 gold = Master Bedroom (adds a chest, weapon rack, armor mannequin, etc.)
            5000 gold = Poisoner’s Nook (adds an alchemy lab and garden)
            5000 gold = Torture Chamber (adds four victims with hidden treasure)
            5000 gold = Secret Entrance (provides access to the other side of Dawnstar)

Speak with Delvin again to officially end the quest.  If you purchased the Torture Chamber upgrade, return to Dawnstar Sanctuary and interrogate the four hostages.  Each will divulge the location of a hidden chest containing gold:

            Treasure #1:  In a hollow tree stump north of Fort Snowhawk
            Treasure #2:  In a hollow tree stump northeast of Riften
            Treasure #3:  In a hollow rock south of Pelagia Farm
            Treasure #4:  In a hollow rock north of Windhelm

Also present in your upgraded Sanctuary are two new DARK BROTHERHOOD INITIATES – one male and one female.  Either one can join you on your travels, even if you already have another follower, and they can never be killed.  This ends the primary Dark Brotherhood questline. Congratulations!


DARK BROTHERHOOD - MISCELLANEOUS QUESTS 

Below, is an alphabetical list of all optional quests related to the Dark Brotherhood:

C O N T R A C T :  K I L L    A G N I S

  • Quest Giver:  Nazir
  • Conditions:  Complete “Bound Until Death”

Agnis is an elderly maid who resides in FORT GREYMOOR, which is west of Whiterun.  If you have no allegiance in the Civil War, bandits will inhabit the fort.  If you participated in the Civil War, the fort will be populated by the faction you supported (Imperials or Stormcloaks).  If this is the case, sneak into Agnis’ bedroom at night and kill her while she’s sleeping to avoid detection.  Explore the rest of the fort to obtain valuable items, including the Light Armor SKILLBOOK, “Rislav the Righteous", which you’ll find on a podium upstairs.  When ready, return to Nazir to get your reward.

C O N T R A C T :  K I L L   A N O R I A T H

  • Quest Giver:  Nazir
  • Conditions:  Complete “The Silence Has Been Broken”

Anoriath owns a food stall in Whiterun’s marketplace.  Using a bow, there are several buildings you can hide behind to kill Anoriath at his stall.  You can also threaten Anoriath and wait for him to attack you in full view of the guards.  At night, he sleeps in the Drunken Huntsman, which is owned by his brother, Elrindir.  Upon entering the Drunken Huntsman, Elrindir becomes suspicious and will follow you around, making it difficult to pull off a silent kill (unless your Sneak skill is very high).  Check behind Elrindir’s counter to read the Archery SKILLBOOK, “The Black Arrow, Book II”.  After the assassination, return to Nazir to collect your reward.

C O N T R A C T :  K I L L   D E E K U S

  • Quest Giver:  Nazir
  • Conditions:  Complete “The Silence Has Been Broken”

Deekus camps out near the sunken ship, HELA’S FOLLY, which is northeast of Dawnstar.  Sneak up on him before he has a chance to jump into the ocean.  Since he’s an Argonian, Deekus can stay underwater indefinitely.  If he does, used ranged weapons or magic spells to take him out.  After the assassination, unlock a chest near his camp and explore the sunken ship to find another one.  Return to Nazir to get your reward.

C O N T R A C T :  K I L L   H E L V A R D

  • Quest Giver:  Nazir
  • Conditions:  Complete “Bound Until Death”

Helvard is the housecarl of FALKREATH and can be found in the Jarl’s Longhouse.  During the day, mention the Dark Brotherhood and wait for Helvard to attack you to avoid incurring a bounty.  At night, you can sneak upstairs to his bedroom and kill him in his sleep.  After the assassination, explore the Longhouse to find two SKILLBOOKS: “Death Blow of Abernait” (Block) and “Guide to Better Thieving” (Pickpocket).  The latter copy is in a locked display case in the Jarl’s bedroom.  When ready, return to Nazir to get your reward.

C O N T R A C T :  K I L L   M A L U R I L

  • Quest Giver:  Nazir
  • Conditions:  Complete “Bound Until Death”

Maluril is a mage that resides in MZINCHALEFT, which is southwest of Dawnstar.  Bandits have taken over the large Dwemer ruin, along with Dwarven Spiders and Spheres.  Feel free to kill all of them on your way through.  One of the bandits holds a key to Maluril’s room, so loot bodies as you go, or just pick the lock once you get there.  After assassinating Maluril, loot his chest and read the Speech SKILLBOOK “A Dance in Fire, v7” on his table. 

Once the job is done, feel free to stick around and explore the rest of Mzinchaleft.  There is much treasure to be found in the ruins, but also powerful Falmers the deeper you go.  When ready, return to Nazir to get your reward.

C O N T R A C T :  K I L L   M A ‘ R A N D R U – J O

  • Quest Giver:  Nazir
  • Conditions:  Complete “The Silence Has Been Broken”

Ma’randru-jo travels with the Khajiit caravans around Skyrim.  They set up camps outside major cities and stay for a couple of days before walking to the next city.  Fast-travel to the city closest to the quest marker then go the rest of the way on foot.  If the caravan has already left, repeat the process until you catch up with Ma’randru-jo.  Threaten him so that he attacks first to avoid a bounty.  Do not kill the other Khajiit caravan members as some are associated with other quests.  After the assassination, return to Nazir to get your reward.

C O N T R A C T :  K I L L   S A F I A

  • Quest Giver:  Nazir
  • Conditions:  Complete “Bound Until Death” and all other Contracts

Safia is the captain of the pirate ship, RED WAVE, which is docked at the East Empire Company Warehouse near Solitude.  If it’s not there, wait a few days for the ship to return.  Board the vessel at night when nobody’s on deck and enter the interior.  The regular sailors will not be hostile unless you attack them or they catch you looting.  Sneak down to the lower deck to find Safia with one of her guards.  She often sits in isolated places, ideal for stealthy attacks.  Kill her and any witnesses then loot the bodies afterwards.  Note that you cannot kill two shipmates (Dorian and Sabine Nyette) since they are needed for other quests.  After assassinating Safia, return to Nazir to get your reward.  This is the final Contract he offers.

D E L A Y E D   B U R I A L 

  • Quest Giver:  Cicero
  • Conditions:  Locate Loreius Farm before joining the Dark Brotherhood

You can initiate this quest anytime before meeting Astrid.  It disappears once you have started “With Friends Like These...”  To trigger the quest, go to LOREIUS FARM (north of Whiterun) and talk to the jester with the broken wagon.  Cicero wants you to convince the farm’s owner to fix his wagon.  Go up to the farm and speak with Vantus Loreius.  When given a dialog choice, either persuade Vantus Loreius to fix the cart, or agree to have Cicero arrested.

If you persuaded Vantus to help, return to Cicero for a reward.  If you sided with Vantus, talk to the Whiterun Guard patrolling nearby.  Persuade the guard to arrest Cicero any way that you can.  After Cicero is arrested, return to Vantus for a reward.  Either way, you’ll meet Cicero again once you’ve joined the Dark Brotherhood.  Return to Loreius Farm after joining to see the results of your decision.

D E S T R O Y   T H E   D A R K   B R O T H E R H O O D ! 

  • Quest Giver:  N/A
  • Conditions:  Kill Astrid during “With Friends Like These...”

Choosing to kill Astrid instead of the hostages during the quest “With Friends Like These...” replaces all Dark Brotherhood quests with this single mission.  After killing Astrid, loot her body to get the BLADE OF WOE, as well as a key to the Abandoned Shack. You can free the three hostages if you wish, or just use the key to exit.  Once outside, speak with any city guard and tell them what you’ve done.  All guards will say the same thing:  Report to Commander Maro at Dragon Bridge.

Go to DRAGON BRIDGE, which is south of Solitude, and enter the Penitus Oculatus Outpost.  Speak with Commander Maro, who is thrilled to hear you’ve killed the Dark Brotherhood’s leader.  He wants you to infiltrate headquarters using the password, “Silence, my brother”, and slay every assassin inside. 

Go to the location marked on your map, which is west of Falkreath, to discover DARK BROTHERHOOD SANCTUARY.  Approach the Black Door and use the password Maro gave you to enter.  Once inside, kill everyone you come across, including the pet Frostbite Spider.  Collectively, the Dark Brotherhood assassins are powerful, so sneak up on them one at a time to avoid being slaughtered.  Heal as necessary and loot rooms as you go.  Notable items include SHROUDED ARMOR, a Sneak SKILLBOOK (“Sacred Witness”), an Alteration SKILLBOOK (“Hail Sithis!”), an “unusual gem” (for the Thieves Guild quest, “No Stone Unturned”), and a word wall that relates to the Dragon Shout, “MARKED FOR DEATH”.  There are also some footlockers in the bedrooms and lots of alchemy ingredients to collect.  Remember to loot all of the bodies, too.

After killing all of the assassins and thoroughly exploring their Sanctuary, return to Commander Maro.  He gives you 3000 gold and says he’ll inform the Emperor of your good deed.  Babette, Cicero, and the Night Mother will not appear in the game, nor will any assassins attack you on the road after this.  Congratulations!  You’ve single-handedly wiped out the Dark Brotherhood. 

H O N O R   T H Y   F A M I L Y

  • Quest Giver:  N/A
  • Conditions:  Get banished from the Dark Brotherhood

This quest triggers automatically if you pickpocket, kill, or feed off any Dark Brotherhood members, including non-human members such as Lis (the pet frostbite spider), Shadowmere (the horse), and the Spectral Assassin.  You can also get kicked out if Initiate followers incur too much damage.  While banished, all active Dark Brotherhood quests are put on hold and any Initiate following you will leave your company.  To get reinstated, speak with Nazir and pay a fine.  Upon rejoining, all quests resume as normal.

L O C A T E   T H E   A S S A S S I N   O F   O L D 

  • Quest Giver:  Olava the Feeble
  • Conditions:  Complete bonus conditions during “Breaching Security”

If you killed Gaius Maro in a city during the “Breaching Security” quest, Gabriella will hand you a TOKEN to bring to Olava the Feeble in Whiterun.  After giving the token to Olava, she’ll give you a reading, during which your journal adds the objective: “Locate the assassin of old.”

To find the old assassin, go to DEEPWOOD REDOUBT, which is in the mountains just west of Dragon Bridge.  Be prepared to fight loads of Forsworn enemies once you get there.  After clearing the Forsworn outside, enter the ruins.  The interior is filled with traps as well as enemies so stay sharp.  There’s a dart trap near the first crypt and the chest near the stairs is also trapped. Head south through the tunnel and wait for an enemy to activate the swinging blade trap up ahead if you can.  Dash through and proceed to a room filled with rune traps.

Use magic spells to explode the runes before stepping on them.  Follow the path on the right towards two rooms.  One contains a Forsworn mage and the other, an arcane enchanter.  Loot the mage to acquire the DEEPWOOD REDOUBT KEY then backtrack to the rune room.  Use the key to unlock the southeastern door.  Avoid a pressure plate that swings a spiked wall and kill another Forsworn as you head towards the iron door.  Exit to the Deepwood Vale.

Sneak down the path to a bridge, killing any Forsworn that come your way.  Look for an apprentice-locked chest under the waterfall (near a nirnroot) then fight through the Forsworn camp.  Search the tents for loose items, including a Sneak SKILLBOOK titled, “Sacred Witness”.  You’ll encounter at least one Forsworn Briarheart while passing through that will be tougher to defeat.  Explore the side towers and look for a hidden area on top of the waterfall that contains an expert-locked chest along with rare PREDATOR’S GRACE boots.  Moving forward, you’ll discover the entrance to Hag’s End.  Sneak inside when ready.

Upon entering, you’ll encounter several witches and a hagraven Hag.  Try to kill the Hag and she’ll teleport out of the room.  Defeat the others then enter the room on the left.  Along with an alchemy lab you’ll find a Scroll of Firebolt inside.  Watch out for traps in the tunnel ahead and another at the top of the stairs.  Loot the nearby chest then enter the room on the right. 

If you didn’t kill the Hag earlier, she’ll be in this room along with another witch.  Try to kill her and if she disappears again, don’t worry.  Read an Illusion SKILLBOOK titled, “Mystery of Talara, Part 4" then locate a handle on the wall behind the throne that reveals a hidden room.  Inside you’ll find the dead “assassin of old”.  Loot his corpse to get an entire set of unique ANCIENT SHROUDED ARMOR and open the nearby chest.  Although the quest is technically done, there’s more to explore.  Pull the lever to lower a bridge and go across.

Sneak inside the room on the left and kill a Frostbite Spider along with a witch.  Take the HAG’S END KEY off a shelf near the fireplace, and read “The Legend of Red Eagle” to initiate that side quest if you haven’t already.  Use the key to unlock the gate up ahead.  Inside, is a locked chest with a fire trap, so be careful when opening it.   Pull the chain on the right to raise three gates that shoot spikes out of the wall.  Wait for them to retract then pass through.

The Hag reappears in the next room, accompanied by some witches.  Torch oil on the floor to dispose of the witches and battle the Hag until she vanishes again.  Use your key to open various doors here and after looting, pull the chain in the middle to close the path behind you.  Go through the gate that opened and proceed to a word wall.  Read it to learn a new word in the Dragon Shout “SLOW TIME”.  Your final encounter with the Hag lies beyond the door. 

Pass through to find yourself back outside at the very top of the Vale.  If you killed the Hag earlier, her corpse will appear here and no additional enemies will attack.  If you didn’t kill her, she’ll attack along with two summoned creatures.  Be careful while fighting here, as the ledge is small and steep.  After finally defeating the hagraven, loot the makeshift altar to claim the BLOODTHORN (a unique dagger) and open the nearby boss chest.  Fast-travel to any location afterwards.

 

 

 

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