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The Dark Brotherhood Questline

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Walkthrough and Guide

by Chris Boots-Faubert  

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The Dark Brotherhood Questline

Summoning the Brotherhood

This Faction Questline is started by completing the Miscellaneous Quest "Talk to Aventus Aretino."

You will find the young boy Aventus in his home trying to cast the Black Sacrament as he is seeking an Assassin from the Dark Brotherhood?!

He wants you to accept a contract -- he was orphaned you see, and he was placed in an orphanage -- and he wants you to kill the woman running the orphanage, Grelad the Kind.  Concluding the conversation results in flagging the Side Quest Innocence Lost.

You can scroll down this page of the guide to find all the quests in section or use the links below to jump to the specific quest you are interested in.

Innocence Lost
With Friends Like These
The First Three Assassination Contracts
Mourning Never Comes
Whispers in the Dark
The Second Contracts
The Silence Has Been Broken
Bound Until Death
Breaching Security
The Cure for Madness
Recipe for Disaster
To Kill an Empire
Death Incarnate
Hail Sithis

Innocence Lost

She Needed Killing

Basically the woman is a total wanker -- no socially redeeming qualities whatsoever.  When you kill her no one will report it...  If you do it in front of the children they cheer -- though to be honest I did it when she was asleep in her bed, I just felt better about it that way...

Once you have dispatched the shrew report that news to your "Client" in Windhelm, and then find an Inn and rent a room.  Go to sleep and you will be paid a visit by the Dark Brotherhood!


With Friends Like These

A Visit from the Brotherhood

After you rent your Inn room and go to bed the Dark Brotherhood will pay you a visit -- because that is what they do...  The problem is you took a contract that was really theirs, and you completed it, which means you owe them a killing...

Astrid has three people hooded in the shack -- one has a contract on their life and you are told to figure out which one it is and kill them.  It really does not matter which one you kill, the point is that you kill one, so just pick the one that irritates you the most and kill them.  Simple as that.

After you do the deed Astrid invites you to join the Brotherhood, gives you the key, and instructions on how to find the headquarters.  All you have to do is show up!  Go ahead and go to the Sanctuary now, approach the door, give the code, and enter...  You have to in order to complete the quest you know...

Talk to Astrid to get the skinny -- she has a job coming up for you but for now she tells you to talk to  Nazir to get smaller jobs now.  You now unlock the Achievement "With Friends Like These" (10 GS) for your efforts!  You can continue to ask her questions if you like, and she will give you useful information.

Ideally you will be completing these contracts without being caught -- but if you are caught you can pay the fine or try to talk your way out of it, right?


The First Three Assassination Contracts

-- Contract: Kill Narfi

A beggar living in ruins outside of Ivarstead.  He is a very easy target to do a sneak attack on at night because he likes to walk by the river after dark.

-- Contract: Kill Ennodius Papius

Previously the Village Miller, this paranoid recluse believes that someone has it in for him -- and they do.  Considering that he lives in a tent outside of town this should not pose a problem for you at all,  just wait for dark, and use your favorite dagger!

-- Contract: Kill Beitild

The woman left her husband and started a competing mining operation near Dawnstar -- and now she needs to be dealt with.  Head over to Dawnstar and look her up.  Note that she walks around alone at night and that may well be a good time to do her in!


Mourning Never Comes

Talk to Astrid to learn that there is a contract in Markarth -- we need to speak Muiri to get the job details on who she wants dead.

When you arrive you learn that there are two people that she wants dead, not one, but the second one is optional.  The primary target is a bandit named Alain Dufont, who is hiding out in the Dwarven Ruins.  The optional target is Nilsine Shatter-Shield, who can be found in Windhelm.

The bandit is easy enough -- wipe him and his entire crew out, loot their loot, and be done with it.  Nilsine on the other hand, well, that is more complicated, because she seems like a nice enough girl and she is a solid citizen who will be missed.  Sad she has to die...


Whispers in the Dark

Astrid needs you to deal with a member of the family -- Cicero -- the caretaker of the Nightmother.  She thinks he might be turning others against her -- and she wants you to listen in on his conversations by hiding inside the Nightmother's coffin.  Eww.  But yeah, whatever.

He is quite mad you know... Or so I thought, until the Nightmother started talking!  Actually is she talking to us?  Err... I think she is!  You pop out and confront Cicero and tell him that you are the chosen one!

Astrid bursts in and Cicero spills the beans -- and Astrid is a bit freaked -- you ask if you should talk to the man that the Nightmother asked you to talk to, and she says no.  She sends you to Nazir to do more small jobs.


The Second Contracts

Nazir the Assassin Assigner

With Astrid on edge maybe it would be an idea to get out of the Sanctuary for a while, and Nazir has some jobs for you...

- Contract: Kill Lurbuk

A really bad bard who has annoyed so many people that he just needs to be put down.  You may have to wait around to do him discretely -- as in lots of hours -- or you could just outright kill him and pay the fine...  Quicker that way really.

- Contract: Kill Hern.

A vampire who is passing as human and needs killing.  Based out of the Half-Moon Mill, this is an easy in-and-out job!  Just pick the lock, go in, take him out (and her if necessary) and then leave!

When you arrive back at the Sanctuary you will need to talk to Astrid when you arrive, before you can turn in these hits.  She will flag the next quest, then you can talk to Nazir.


The Silence Has Been Broken

Amound Montierre is in the Crypt at Volunruud -- head there and chat him up to learn that he did the Black Rite to call for the Brotherhood, and he wants several people killed.  He wants the Emporer of Tomriel Assassinated.  He gives you an amulet and a letter to take to Astrid, and that ends the conversation.

When you show the letter and amulet to her Astrid's reaction is to take the job!  She thinks that if everything lines up it will be good for the Brotherhood; but she wants you to show the amulet to the fence Delvin Mallory first to find out what can be found out about it.  You are to take it to him.

Mallory ID's it as one of the rare amulets custom made for the councilors of the Emperor's Elder Council -- he buys it, providing a letter of credit to be taken to Astrid -- but the implications could not be more clear... 

Astrid interprets the facts and decides that the operation will move forward -- specifically that WE will move it forward...  But for now this part of the story is complete, and the quest is done.


Bound Until Death

Vittoria Vici is getting married in Solitude -- and as cousin of the Empreror she is a good leverage point to use to draw the Emperor in it seems.  Astrid wants her murdered in a very public way, in the hopes that the murder will be mistaken for a military move. 

Basically you need to head to Solitude, crash the wedding reception, and kill the girl -- while she is actually talking to her guests (not practicing her speech mind you).  If you do it in front of the crowd you get a bonus, if you do not, then no bonus but you still get paid.

Death by Gargoyle

There are several ways that this can be done, use a bow or a blade -- but both of those will get the guards after you.  There is a better way -- an accidental way.  Above the balcony that the happy couple will stand on in order for Vittoria to make her public address there is a loose gargoyle.  If you position yourself hidden behind it you can then push it on to them when she is talking!   Assassination by Gargoyle!

And best of all, you do not have to run -- all you have to do is stay hidden behind the block that the Gargoyle was on and then fast travel as soon as the game will let you ( around 20 seconds after the murder if you are not detected) and voila!  No bounty, no ID, no hoo hoo!

When you get back to the Sanctuary a very happy Astrid chortles over your success, confident that you are on track to restore the reputation of the Brotherhood to heights it has not seen in hundreds of years.

That wraps up the quest!


Breaching Security

Astrid tells you to go speak with Gabriella, who has been working with her on the planning of the operation.  Gabriella briefs you on the security of the Emperor.  You are to do a strategic assassination and then plant damning evidence on the body in order to discredit the man who is handing security for the Emperor.  To earn your bonus you cannot kill the target in Dragons Bridge or on the road.  Evidently you need to do the deed in a town. 

That Target and His Father the Mark

The target is Gaius Maro, son of Commander Maro -- you do not have his schedule for travel, so optionally you can steal his schedule.  When we arrive in Dragon Bridge we see the son and father parting company, with Dad giving Son some good advice.

Inside the nearby Command Post is the Son's schedule sitting on the table - just ease in and take it when no one is looking.

Once you have it simply fast travel to Whiterun, wait in the Bannered Mare for him to show up and, when he goes to his room, give him time to fall asleep then go in, shut the door to you will not be disturbed, and kill him! Plant the incriminating letter.

Now return to the Sanctuary for your rewards.


The Cure for Madness

When we arrived and turned in the last mission Gabriella told us that Astrid has decided something has to be done about Cicero -- there was an "incident" it seems -- so we talk to Astrid and she tells us that she wants us to kill Cicero, but first we have to find her husband, who disappeared when he chased after Cicero.

Our first step is to search his room -- read his journal then head back to chat with Astrid and share what you know.  It seems that Astrid herself may be the catalyst that set off the explosion, and she is not interested in making peace.

Alas, Poor Cicero

Cicero is headed for the Dawnstar Sanctuary -- she tells you to take her horse and go!  So you go!

Astrid's horse is actually a magical shadow horse -- but having a horse really does not help us -- fast travel on the other hand does!  When we arrive in Dawnstar we find Arnbjorn outside and he is injured.  He tells you that they tangled and he gave as good as he got.  You convince him to head back home, promising you will go in and take care of Cicero.

The pass-phrase is Innocence My Brother...  And inside is the madman.  There are also two Skill Books on a table downstairs so be sure to read them, right?  When you reach him he appears to by nearly dead -- he argues that you should let him live; tell Astrid that you killed him.  Lie, because he wants to live.

Kill him or don't, it is up to you -- either way ride home and report in, completing the quest.  Astrid rewards you by letting you keep her horse for a while...


Recipe for Disaster

Before you hit the emperor there is one more target -- The Gourmet -- we need to kill him, assume his role, and be the Master Chef!  Report to Festus for your orders!  Festus is not a fan it seems -- he reviews the plan, and then tells you he had a copy of the Gourmet's Cookbook.  Festus things that Anton Virane knows who the Gourmet is and you are to interrogate and then kill him.  Then you kill the Gourmet, hide the body, and become them!

This is pretty simple really -- you cannot interrogate or kill him during the daytime as there are people around, so wait until he is in bed, then go in and interrogate him.  Once you learn what he knows, make him think that was all you wanted so he goes back to bed, then kill him in bed from hiding so as not to wake the house -- or rather the Understone Keep, since that is where he is the chef.

What he reveals is a little unexpected -- the Gourmet is an Orc!  He is staying at the Nightgate Inn.  Good!  After you lie to him and he goes to sleep, sneak and one-hit kill him nice and quiet so you can leave the Keep without being chased.  Outside fast travel to the Inn for your appointment with the Orc!

Be Sure to Hide the Body

--== Nightgate Inn ==--

His name is Balagog gto-Nolob, and he sleeps in the basement, so go at night, dispatch him and drag his body behind some crates or barrels to hide it (drag holding the A button).  Make certain you loot him if only to get his pass, and make sure you read the Skill Book in his room.

Now head back and report your success to Festus to get rewarded and end the quest!


To Kill an Empire

Report to Astrid to learn you will be playing the role of the Gourmet.  Meet with Commander Maro and show him your pass, gaining access to the secure area so that you can poison the Emperor's meal.  Yeah sounds a bit out there even to me!

Astrid gives you the poison -- Jarrin Root -- Astrid has arranged your escape route so all you have to do is, well, all the risky work!  Well we have it to do so we may as well get started, right?  Fast Travel to Solitude and show the Commander your pass, the follow the marker to the kitchen where you will be told to speak with Gianna.

Before you report to the Castle Chef you may want to look around for anything you might like to make your own -- and there is a Skill Book upstairs too.

After you introduce yourself she gushes all over you, and then she insists you wear the chef's hat on the shelf.  Put it on and then start picking the ingredients for our dish -- it really doesn't matter what you say, she will accept it.  Once it is done give her the poison and she adds it to the soup.

She is going to serve it now -- and you need to follow her into the dining room -- when you enter move to the door opposite the one you entered from so that you are good and close when it comes time to run...  And when the alarm sounds bail through that door -- right into a trap!  Yeah, you have been ratted out...

Well, it is time to fight -- there is no way you are getting out of here without a bounty on your head but that is no reason to let them kill you!  Take out the agents then escape the town and run like hell into the wilderness -- as soon as you can fast travel as close as you can get to the Sanctuary and help them defend it!  You may have to kill a few guards to escape but hey, you can afford the fines, right?

Escaping ends this very epic fail of a quest...


Death Incarnate

Saving Nazir

Once you have taken out the agents outside you flag this quest, so head into the Sanctuary and you will find more agents to kill as you search for survivors.  You find Nazir and talk to him, learning that he might have thought ill of you earlier, but saving him changed his mind.

As you are trying to have your escape the Night Mother calls to you -- she orders you to embrace her so head to her coffin and climb inside and you get saved.  Icky, but saved.  After a brief period of blackness the Night Mother tells you to speak with Astrid, and then you are released.

Astrid is dying -- but she tells you that she is sorry and that she allowed the betrayal.  She betrayed you because of the Night Mother.  Everything has gone off the rails for the Brotherhood it seems, but she wants you to start over and rebuild the Brotherhood. 

After you put Astrid out of her misery return to the Night Mother and get your assignment.  That ends this quest.


Hail Sithis

Basically the Night Mother wants the contract to be completed -- the real Emperor must die for that to happen.  She makes that as plain to you as she can -- so your next move is to talk to Nazir and relate what she said.  Nazir agrees to move the Night Mother and Babette to the Dawnstar Sactuary -- you know Babette is the little girl vampire from the Anne Rice books, right?

Now that the main concerns of the Brotherhood have been dealt with or are being dealt with by Nazir, we need to head over and have  a chat with Amound Motierre now, and since he is in the Bannered Mare in Whiterun we can stop by the house and drop some stuff off...  Oh and speaking of cities, it would be a REALLY good idea for you to be sure that you pay off your bounty before you start this mission...

At the Inn you find Amound who happily tells you where the Emperor is!  Ask about the Commander to get an optional addition to the mission -- remember I said go pay off your bounty?  This is why.

Basically this is not as complex a mission as it may seem -- but the first order of business is to deal with that bastard Commander Maro -- so head down to the docks in Solitude and let him see you -- hell!  Talk to him!  He will attack YOU and once he does can be killed in self-defense without earning you a bounty! 

Actually there is another way to do this optional bit -- talk to him on the docks, let him attack you and then do not resist.  The Guards will kill him for you and you can just sit there and watch as he gets his.  That is what I did ;)

Once you have done that little chore, it is time to do the big job!

The Emperor's Ship Awaits

The Emperor's ship is in the harbor near the palace -- simply swim out to it and climb up using the anchor chains.  You can then deal with the crew and guards however you like -- kill them, sneak past them, buy them sweetrolls, it is your call!

You know this ship has no rudder?  How do they steer it??  Seriously I swam under and checked!  But it does have anchor chains we can use to get on board, and once we are on board, it has a crew to be killed and an Emperor to talk with -- and kill!

Once the deed has been done it is time to return to Amound and have a chat -- I did not kill him because a deal is a deal -- and get the location of the payment -- 20,000 gold baby!

Now that we have that it is time to head back to the Brotherhood and talk to Nazir, who has relocated the crew to the new sanctuary.

This unlocks the Achievement "Hail Sithis!" and completes the main Faction Questline.  Three are still a few minor quests left to do but nothing like what we have just completed.  Do them, don't do them, it is your call.

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Comments for The Dark Brotherhood Questline

10 comments, latest first.
Oct 28th 2015 Guest
When astrid is dying my game freezes every time help please my mane goul for sky rims is to be the leader of the dark brotherhood๐Ÿ˜“๐Ÿ˜“๐Ÿ˜“๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿ˜ก
ID #620497
Nov 24th 2012 Guest
What happens to the payment delvin mallory gives you for the amulet. you should be able to use it for repairing the sanctuary in dawnstar.

ID #211836
Jul 30th 2012 Guest
had no idea you could kill the princess by push the gargoyle on her. I just put an arrow through her head.
ID #170123
May 1st 2012 Guest
i killed montiere afterwards Smile if you do he has a bunch of gems and flawless gems on him if you stand at the foot of his bed against the wall in sneak he won't notice you so you get sneak bonus with weapon to kill him instantly with no bounty
ID #138643
Apr 7th 2012 Guest
for whatever reason, when i wear the shrouded armor EVERYONE TRIES TO KILL ME! i don't have a bounty or anything.even Shadowmere my horse tried to kill me.HELP ME PLEASE!!!!!!
ID #130653
Feb 20th 2012 Guest
This is so cool!!! I'm more of a thief but assasins are really epic too! So Right now I'm on my sister's profile I'm doing 'The silence has been broken quest' but while in the tomb thing it gave me a quest... that I had to defeat Kvenel the tongue that was insainly hard! But it ended up I didn't have to do that grrr... -_- But the whole reason I joined it fo her is bcause she's 5 and kept killing her horses (every little kids nightmare) but now I'm in it on mine... It's amazing but difficult.

ID #116865
Feb 18th 2012 Guest
Het unregistered person if you speech skill is high enough the you can get away with it
ID #116111
Jan 25th 2012 Guest
Question: if you lie to Nazir about the money you have does he send thugs or assassins to kill you. or can you pocket the money with no problems
ID #109171
Jan 24th 2012 Guest

You'll have to approach a guard so they can try to arrest you. If you're with the Thieves Guild, they may offer you the choice to bride them for "x" amount of gold. If not, you'll have to pay your bounty (which is what I did) or take the jail time. WARNING: At this point, any stolen goods on your person will be removed! Doing this will allow you to approach Maro without him trying to kill you.
ID #108901
Jan 20th 2012 Mrhaddock
I've got bounty for comander Maro's squad, so when i talk to him trying to show him the gourmet's letter he tries to kill me =( HELP!
ID #107550