The Dark Brotherhood is an infamous group of stealthy assassins that spend their lives killing people for great rewards. While the exact going-ons of the group is shrouded in mystery for most citizens of Tamriel, a select few adventurers are hand-picked to join the group. Many people pray to the Night Mother for assistance in killing particular people, but only a few are employed to carry out the taboo missions. To become a member of the Dark Brotherhood of Skyrim, you must show tenacity for killing that many lack, and an invitation for this group comes at a more difficult price than in other areas of Tamriel.
The Dark Brotherhood of Skyrim is a great place for Stealth characters to begin their adventures, along with the Thieves Guild which you can do at the same time. The quests within the Dark Brotherhood rely on Sneak and often require you to move around and kill your contracts without being seen. Leveling your one-handed skill tree is important if you wish to kill your prey with the close-quarters method, but a long-range assassin would do well with Archery. Level these skills until damage multipliers are heightened while in sneak mode. It isn’t recommended to use spells in these quests, since it is often difficult to cast and land a spell without being seen, forfeiting your secrecy and upping your bounty if you are spotted. These quests are unlike the Thieves Guild, however, since complete stealth is often unneeded to collect the full bounty from your quest-giver.
It is important to note the great things that come out of completing the Dark Brotherhood questline:
After beginning the Dark Brotherhood Quest – The Cure for Madness, you receive the demon steed Shadowmere as a permanent horse to ride. While this Shadowmere is slightly different from previous incarnations, he is basically immortal sans a suicidal jump from a high mountain. It is rumored that Shadowmere will actually reincarnate approximately 15 days after his death in the area that he met his demise, but it is highly unlikely you will kill him inadvertently in the first place. He can be used in a number of ways, but his role in skill leveling is one of the most important. He is also much faster than many horses in Skyrim and will often assist you in battles of all kinds, giving you much needed breathing room for epic battles with nasty enemies. Not to mention he looks really cool.
When you complete the entire questline, you gain the ability to speak with the Night Mother and take quests to kill randomized NPCs. These quests are often easy and wield decent money for the time spent. The NPCs that appear in these quests are completely unimportant to the story, so don’t worry about killing any of these characters for fear of messing up future quests. It becomes like clockwork to kill these contracts, and within a short time you can rack up a good amount of gold.
Like many of the other questlines, the Dark Brotherhood gives you a place to hang your hat, even if it is stained with the blood of the innocent. Although you have to spend some money to outfit the area with the various torture chambers and creepy bedroom furniture, it is a great place for beginners to set up house when the more expensive properties are out of reach. However, the location is slightly poor since Dawnstar is not known for its bustling merchant life. See Dark Brotherhood Radiant Quest – Where You Hang Your Enemy’s Head… for more information on how to decorate your home in the Sanctuary.
In the Dawnstar Sanctuary after the Dark Brotherhood Quest – Hail Sithis!, you can recruit initiates to follow you at any point, as well as Cicero if you decline to kill him during the questline. Initiates are infinite and can be used for whatever purpose you choose, even as a sacrifice in the Daedric Quest – Boethiah’s Calling. While they don’t have many outstanding qualities, they can still be very useful if you aren’t careful in battle and are known for killing your followers. There are other members of the Dark Brotherhood that you can recruit as followers, so see our section here for any extra information you may need.
Here is a list of all available quests with the Dark Brotherhood. If you want a well-rounded adventure, start from the beginning and work your way through. You can also use this guide to pinpoint trouble areas or locations of people or items.
Delayed Burial (OPTIONAL)
With Friends like These…
Sentenced to Death
Whispers in the Dark
The Silence Has Been Broken
Bound until Death
The Cure for Madness
Recipe for Disaster
To Kill an Empire
Destroy the Dark Brotherhood (OPTIONAL)
Honor Thy Family
The Feeble Fortune
Where You Hang Your Enemy’s Head…
Welcome to the Brotherhood
The Dark Brotherhood Forever
The Torturer’s Treasure
Convince Loreius to Fix the Wheel
Convince Loreius OR Report Cicero
Talk to Cicero OR Talk to Loreius
Before visiting the Aventus Aretino and beginning the questline, travel north of Whiterun on the road. Eventually, you will come across a broken-down cart and you’ll find a weird little guy in a jester’s outfit named Cicero. Speak with him to find out that the cart is carrying his departed mother (who you will come to know well), and he needs your help to fix the cart and bring her to her new resting place. Tell him you will help and he will recommend you visit Vantus Loreius.
The quest marker will bring you west of Loreius farm, where Vantus Loreius is hanging out with his wife. He seems very hesitant to help, since Cicero is such an odd fellow. You can choose two different routes here: convince Vantus to help, or report Cicero to the authorities. It takes just a few moments to convince Vantus to help, or head over to the road and find a guard. If you help Cicero by convincing Vantus to help the seemingly innocent man, head back to his cart to find everything fixed. If you turn in Cicero to the guard, return to Vantus. Both endings give you the same outcome: 50 gold and the murder of the Loreius family by an unknown assailant. Or so you think….
Dark Brotherhood Quest – Innocence Lost
Talk to Aventus Aretino
Kill Grelod the Kind
Tell Aventus Aretino that Grelod is Dead
To start into the questline for the Dark Brotherhood, there are a number of ways to point you in the right direction. You can simply visit Windhelm and speak with the nearest guard, who will point you to something odd going on in a house. You can also ask around in various inns around Skyrim, leading to a miscellaneous quest marker straight to the boy. Lastly, you can visit the Honorhall Orphanage if you are in the Riften area and talk to any of the young children. Samuel, Hroar, Francois Beaufort, or Runa Fair-Shield will all point you to an escaped orphan who was planning some devious things.
Once you are pointed in the right direction, you have to pick the Novice Lock to get into the creepy house in Windhelm. Inside, you will find your first connection to the Dark Brotherhood: Aventus Aretino. He is chanting the Black Sacrament, the evil chant to contact the Night Mother and the Dark Brotherhood in order to kill someone. Even though you “just stumbled upon” him in his home praying to the Night Mother, he believes that you are an assassin sent by the organization to kill his contract, the head of the Orphanage in Riften from where he escaped. Head to Riften and find this evil woman (with an ironic name), Grelod the Kind cruelly yelling at all her children that they will never leave and must treat her gratefully for all she does for them. After her little banter, stick a weapon in the evil broad’s chest and watch as the children celebrate. If anyone actually sees you doing this, you will gain a bounty on your head, but if you wait for Grelod to go to bed, a sneak attack will more than suffice.
Head back to Aventus and tell him that you killed the woman and he will give you the Arentino Family Heirloom in gratitude. When your current quest is done, you will receive a shady message from a courier as soon as you visit another town in Skyrim, or go to sleep to be visited by an ominous assassin. Thus starts the next quest….
Kill One of the Captives
Enter the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary
Going to sleep after completing the Dark Brotherhood Quest – Innocence Lost will result in awakening in a small shack that you don’t recognize. Welcome to your first test as an initiate into the deadly world of the Dark Brotherhood.
You don’t have much choice to start, so speak with the masked person sitting on top of some crates. She will introduce herself as Astrid, an initiating member of the Dark Brotherhood. If you haven’t already noticed the bound and blindfolded people in the center of the room, she will inform you that you must kill one of them to make up for the target you stole from the assassin group. She explains that one of them has a contract on their heads, and you must find out who it is and kill them to even the score. You can speak to all three and make your best judgment on the matter, while completing some Intimidate and Persuasion checks for your speech skill.
(You have an alternate choice here, if you don’t want to become a cold-hearted assassin. Instead of choosing to kill one of the targets, turn your weapon on Astrid. She is a difficult opponent at lower levels, so sneak attacks are wise whenever possible. If you kill Astrid, you can escape from the Abandoned Shack with the key on her corpse, along with the Blade of Woe. Refer to Dark Brotherhood Radiant Quest – Destroy the Dark Brotherhood for more information. Be warned: if you kill Astrid and partake on the next quest, all the future quests with the Dark Brotherhood will be inaccessible from then out. That means no Shadowmere or future contracts.)
Take your pick of victim by whatever means you choose. Regardless of your reasoning (or lack thereof), kill your choice and return to Astrid. She will congratulate you on your cold-blooded nature and tell you that it didn’t matter who was the real contract, because all of them were innocent. Instead of leaving you and your unique talents in the crappy shack, she invites you to become a member of the elite organization. Collect the Abandoned Shack Key and learn the phrase to enter the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary, then leave the other innocent victims behind. Someone will take care of them, or they’ll starve. It hardly matters to a relentless assassin like you now.
Find the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary with your quest marker and give the newly available option “Silence, my Brother” to the door-keeper. You are greeted by Astrid inside with the Shrouded Armor set, and she tells you that much needs to be done to prepare for the arrival of the Night Mother. Explore the dank living area of the Dark Brotherhood and visit Nazir to continue with your quest. You are encouraged to equip some, if not all, of the Shrouded Armor for its great enchantments and cool appearance.
Speak with Nazir
Receive the First Set of Contracts from Nazir
Speak with Nazir in order to begin your test to become an official assassin of the Dark Brotherhood. He will give you some contracts to fulfill, so refer to the Dark Brotherhood Contracts to find information on any assignments that he gives you. Once you have completed a couple of killings for Nazir, return to him to collect any rewards and to see if your important visitor has arrived, which will begin your next major quest…
Talk to Muiri
Kill Alain Dufont
Kill Nilsine Shatter-Shield (OPTIONAL)
Talk to Muiri
Report Back to Astrid
When you return to the Sanctuary after completing your first assassination for Nazir, the crazed jester Cicero will have arrived with his mother in haul. You will recognize this character if you helped him outside Whiterun during the Dark Brotherhood Quest – Delayed Burial, but if not, things will still play out as usual. Listen to some pleasant conversation and speak to Astrid about a possible contract. She informs you that a potential client has invoked the Black Sacrament in Markarth and you must go carry out the assassination. If you want any extra information about any current quests, speak with some of the members in the Sanctuary. They will often give you very helpful information if you take the time to ask.
Find Muiri wandering about Markarth, heading towards the Hag’s Cure, or in the local Silver-Blood Inn. She’ll tell you some extra information about your mark, who is involved in an issue with others in town. After she gives you your mark of Alain Dufont, she also informs you that she will be very grateful if you destroy the family by killing Alain’s sister as well. You will find Alain Dufont at the Raldbthar Consortum, guarded by some bandits you must kill. Once you find Alain inside, kill him and take the Aegisbane to prove he is dead.
If you wish to kill Nilsine Shatter-Shield, travel to Windhelm in the market area. Since this is a well-populated area during the day, you must time your assassination attempt well. Use the Lotus Extract from Muiri if you don’t feel confident in your weapon abilities, and flee the scene or reload if you are spotted. The guard can be overwhelming if you aren’t careful.
Return to Muiri after you have fulfilled your contract(s), and she will reward you 50 gold pieces for the death of Alain Dufont and Muiri’s Ring for the death of Nilsine Shatter-Shield. Report to Astrid to let her know of your success, but she will be preoccupied with another matter.
Dark Brotherhood Quest – Whispers in the Dark
Hide in the Night Mother’s Coffin
Talk to Cicero
Talk to Astrid
Receive a Side Contract from Nazir
Astrid is suspicious of Cicero, probably because he is a suspicious character. She will ask you to spy on him to see what he is up to, so head over to the Night Mother’s coffin and hide inside. After hearing some random babble from Cicero, the Night Mother will begin speaking to you herself! You are the listener that Cicero was refering to. The coffin opens, much to the dismay of Cicero, and some trouble goes down before he finds out what has happened. All the excitement has caught the attention of Astrid, and she asks what is going on as well. You let them both know of the Night Mother’s wishes: a visit to Amaund Motierre in Volunruud. Even though the Night Mother is the chief deity of the group, Astrid insists that you speak with Nazir about another contract before you fulfill the Night Mother’s request. By now, you need to complete the first three contract kills for Narfi, Ennodius Papius, and Beitild and then complete the kills of Hern and Lurbuk before Astrid will speak to you again about the matter.
Dark Brotherhood Quest – The Silence Has Been Broken
Speak with Amaund Motierre
Talk to Rexus
Deliver the Letter and Amulet to Astrid
Show the Amulet to Delvin Mallory
Report Back to Astrid
After completing the first five contracts from Nazir, return to the Sanctuary and Astrid will stop you. She has considered what happened with the Night Mother and she wants you to follow her command. Speak with any extra characters for supplementary information and make the trek towards Volunruud.
Find the entrance in the mound to the east and defeat the Draugr warriors that attack. Head down the stairs and turn left to a small chamber with more dead Draugr. Head into the next room to find Amaund Motierre, who has an incredible plan to assassinate the emperor. He hands over a Sealed Letter and a Jeweled Amulet, both for Astrid as payment to the Dark Brotherhood. Explore the ruins of Volunruud if you desire, then return to Astrid.
Astrid wants to sell the Jeweled Amulet, but she believes there is something very particular about it. She wants to sell it to one of her contacts in the Thieves Guild, Delvin Mallory, and you must be the one to inquire about it. If this is your first time in Riften or the Thieves Guild Ratway, follow your quest-marker through the tunnels to find Delvin in the Ragged Flagon. He will hand over some materials for Astrid, so return to her with the new information you have. You can open the Letter of Credit if you are that curious, but Astrid will not be happy.
Note: At this point, you may want to begin the Thieves Guild questline if you haven’t already. See our complete walkthrough section here.
After the news, Astrid informs you that you need to put on your best attire, because you have a wedding to go to. She doesn’t give you a reward except the knowledge that you are going to carry out something huge.
Kill Vittoria Vici
Report Back to Astrid
For the first target in the plan to kill the Emperor, you must assassinate Vittoria Vici. She is known for her connection with the Empire and is going to marry a member of the Stormcloaks. Despite the fact that the Emperor will not be at the wedding, you are still going to kill her because of her family connection and also because her death will spark an involvement with the current civil war, something that the Emperor has avoided thus far.
This assassination is going to be a public one, and for good reason. After speaking to Babette and Gabriella who give you different means to execution, travel to Solitude and find the courtyard next to the Temple of the Divines. Make your rounds with the party guests if you want, but remember that your mission is to kill Vittoria Vici in the most public way possible.
To do this, you can use a few different methods. Note that Astrid will give you extra gold if you kill Vittoria while she is addressing the wedding-goers on her platform.
One (Gabriella’s Advice): Go through the door in the courtyard to take your place directly across from the platform that Vittoria and her fiancé use to address the wedding-goers. There is a special bow and arrows already waiting for you, so aim your shot well and make a fast escape.
Two (Babette’s Advice): Find one of the side doors by the speech area to find a statue you can push onto Vittoria’s head while she is speaking to the public.
Three: Find a good spot from a distance and fire a shot at her from your bow. If successful, you will take her down with one shot and have a small amount of time to retreat without much conflict.
Four: Take the bloody route and take her out with a close-combat weapon. This is the least sneaky method and it will make it the most difficult to escape without much bloodshed.
After killing Vittoria, now you need to escape. Veezara from the Dark Brotherhood has your back and will help hold off any enemies, so try not to kill him. Make your way out of the courtyard and find a road that leads you out of the city, then make your way as far out of town as you need in order to fast-travel back to the Sanctuary. Visit Astrid and she will reward you with the spell Summon Spectral Assassin and any gold you may have earned by killing Vittoria while she addressed the crowd. Summon Spectral Assassin is a powerful spell that summons Lucien LaChance, the speaker of the Dark Brotherhood in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. You can use it once a day to have him assist you in difficult battles, or even as someone to talk to. He is a powerful spectral being and can hold his own against very nasty enemies.
Dark Brotherhood Quest – Breaching Security
Speak with Gabriella
Kill Gaius Maro
Steal Gaius Maro’s Travel Schedule (OPTIONAL)
Plant the Incriminating Letter on Gaius Mara’s Body
Report Back to Gabriella
After getting your reward from Astrid, it’s time to make a visit to Gabriella for some new action. Apparently, the next target is a man named Gaius Maro, a member of the elite group of security for the Emperor called the Penitus Oculatus. Gaius is on a mission to check each of the major cities in Skyrim, and it is your mission to kill him and plant a letter on his dead body. You also need to look for any information on the Gourmet, the secretive master chef who will be cooking for the Emperor at a private dinner coming up soon.
To find Gaius, you have two methods. You can refer to the list below of his locations depending on the day of the week and kill him anywhere you can locate him, or you can find the travel schedule and stalk him into a town in order to receive a bonus. To receive said bonus, you must kill Gaius in one of his city locations and not in Dragon Bridge or any of the connecting roads he travels on. You forfeit your bonus (a measly 100 gold and the important Olava’s Token for the Dark Brotherhood Radiant Quest – The Feeble Fortune) if you kill him anywhere outside a city, meaning that even if he runs outside the limits, which he is very likely to do, you will not receive anything. The travel schedule is found on a table at the Penitus Oculatus Outpost, and you must find it in order to receive your bonus.
Here is the travel schedule regardless of if you pick it up or not.
Mordas: The Emperor’s Tower in Solitude
Mordas (evening): Castle Door in Solitude
Tirdas: The Palace of the Kings in Windhelm
Tirdas (evening): Barracks in Windhelm
Middas: Mistveil Keep in Riften
Turdas: Dragonsreach in Whiterun
Turdas (evening): The Bannered Mare in Whiterun
Fredas: Understone Keep in Markarth
Fredas (evening): Guard Tower in Markarth
Loredas and Sundas: The Bee and Barb in Riften
If you take the option of tracking Gaius down instead of killing him at Dragon Bridge, you should probably stay in one place and wait until he shows up there. Fast traveling to his current location on the map generally results in him moving to a different area, and running him down can be a long journey. Get ahead of him by a couple days and go to the location he is expected (preferably a place that he sleeps), then use your wait function.
After you kill him by whatever means you want, make sure to plant the Incriminating Letter on the body. When you return to Gabriella at the Sanctuary, she will have already learned of your actions and will reward you if you killed Gaius within a city outside of Dragon Bridge. However, something more pressing requires your attention, so head over to Astrid to begin your next quest.
If you received the bonus for killing Gaius correctly, see Dark Brotherhood Radiant Quest – The Feeble Fortune to cash in on Olava’s token. DO NOT sell the token, especially if you don’t have the updates for the consoles. Once it is gone, there is a chance you will never be able to complete the quest.
Dark Brotherhood Quest – The Cure for Madness
Talk to Astrid
Search Cicero’s Room
Talk to Astrid
Talk to Arnbjorn
Enter the Dawnstar Sanctuary
Kill Cicero OR Leave the Sanctuary
Report Back to Astrid
While you were away, Cicero went off the deep end and tried to attack Astrid, then fled after stabbing Veezara. Astrid’s husband Arnbjorn ran after him, but no one has seen him or Cicero since. It’s up to you to figure out where he went and get revenge. Astrid suggests you explore Cicero’s chambers to find any new information.
Look for Cicero’s journal on top of a barrel in his chambers. Inside, you will find out about another Sanctuary outside Dawnstar and the passphrase to get inside. Give this new information to Astrid and she will tell you to hurry to the Sanctuary. To get there quickly she summons Shadowmere for you, a demon horse with extreme power and speed. Make sure to hop on him and make your way to the Black Door outside Dawnstar in the cliffs by the beach. You’ll find Arnbjorn with a wound inflicted by Cicero, but also a blood trail into the Sanctuary from Cicero himself. Tell Arnbjorn to return to Astrid and approach the door, answering with “Innocence, my Brother” from Cicero’s journal (you must read the journal to know the phrase).
Make your way through the Sanctuary while Cicero taunts you from farther in. Be careful of the Sanctuary Guardians and the traps (spear, oil, and bear), and then the Udefrykte in the ice area. Once you find the last room, remove the spears by using the pull-chains nearby, then speak with Cicero at the far end of the Torture Chamber.
You have a choice here: kill Cicero or listen to him and his reasoning for attacking Astrid. Cicero makes for a tough opponent if you do decide to kill him. If you don’t, simply leave the Dawnstar Sanctuary and return to Astrid. Cicero can be a great follower after you complete the questline, being very adept in sneak combat, but he is a bit annoying and crazy at times. Either let Astrid know that you killed him for real, or lie to her and tell her you killed him when you actually didn’t. Regardless, there are new targets to assassinate in your original attempt on the Emperor.
By now, there are more side contracts to take. It is recommended you do as many of these as you can before taking on the next main quest, since all available contracts have a limited window.
Objectives: Report to Festus Krex
Question Anton Virane
Kill Anton Virane
Kill Balagog gro-Nolob
Drag Balagog’s Body to a Hiding Place (OPTIONAL)
Report Back to Festus Krex
Remember the talk of the Gourmet before the last incident with Cicero? Your next objective is to find him, kill him, then find a way to take the chef’s place at the next dinner for the Emperor. However, the Dark Brotherhood has been unsuccessful in finding out the true identity of the Gourmet, so it is up to you to figure it out. Astrid suggests you speak with Festus Krex, who gives you information about a signed cookbook owned by a man named Anton Virane in Markarth. Anton must be killed after you get any relevant information to prevent any problems for the objective, so bring any necessary equipment or items.
You’ll find Anton in Understone Keep in Markarth in the west side of the castle. Speak with him and pry out the information you seek by intimidation. Make sure you don’t kill him before you get the information you need (you will be prompted to “Kill Anton Virane” when you can actually slay him). When he tells you the Gourmet is an Orc named Balagog gro-Nolob staying at Nightingale Inn west of Windhelm, kill him and flee the scene. You will get a bounty from this blatant murder unless you do it while unseen, so a quick retreat or enough money to pay the bounty is key unless your Sneak is high.
Now you need to find Balagog gro-Nolob in the Cellar of the Nightingale Inn. There is a door on the floor of the Inn, locate it to enter the Cellar to find your target. You can chat with him if you are interested, but your objective is to kill him. It isn’t necessary to sneak, since you are the only ones in the Cellar; kill him however you deem fit. You can also find him outside and kill him there on occasion. After he is dead, take the Writ of Passage off his body. To earn the Bonus (the Nightweaver Band) from Festus Krex, drag the body to a hiding place. If you killed him in the Cellar, drag his body to any of the available hiding spots, such as behind a barrel or in a small hole. If you killed him outside, the lake works for that.
Return to Festus Krex and he will give you the appropriate reward. At the very least, you receive 300 gold coins for killing your targets. If you hid Balagog gro-Nolob’s body, you receive the Nightweaver Band as well. When you are done with Festus, speak with Astrid to begin your next quest.
Report to Astrid
Report to Commander Maro
Report to Gianna
Report to Gianna while Wearing a Chef’s Hat
Make the Potage le Magnifique
Follow Gianna to the Dining Room
Kill the Emperor Escape the Tower!
Return to the Sanctuary
All your work has prepared you for the quest at hand: to kill the Emperor at a private dinner party. Astrid tells you that you will act as the Gourmet and use the Jarrin Root as a deadly ingredient in the main course for the party. If you want to test how deadly, save your game and eat it. Astrid wasn’t kidding.
Head to Castle Dour in Solitude and show the Writ of Passage to Commander Maro. He tells you to find Gianna inside, who will act as your assistant in preparing the meal. You may overhear some guards talking about one of your other targets, Gaius Maro. Your plan for him worked out perfectly. Let’s hope your luck doesn’t run dry before you can get to the Emperor.
When inside the tower, head east then south to find the kitchen. Gianna requires you to wear a chef’s hat before you can continue, so pick one up from a shelf and put it on in your inventory. Return to Gianna and begin cooking the signature dish of the Gourmet: the Potage le Magnifique. Gianna will add ingredients as you tell her what you want (or remain silent to make her do it), but these don’t matter in the long run. When she wants to know if the soup is done, tell her to add one more special ingredient, the Jarrin Root. You can choose not to add it, but the responsibility of killing the Emperor still lies in your hands.
Follow Gianna into the dining room and watch as the Emperor takes a bite of the soup. If it is poisoned, he will drop dead quickly. Your bounty will jump and Gianna will be attacked first. Run quickly out of the room and avoid/fight your way through the guards to find Commander Maro waiting for you. He informs you that your actions have been in vain and that you have been betrayed by a member of the Dark Brotherhood family. He and his brigade attack you, but your objective is to run with your tail between your legs back to the Sanctuary.
Find the lower exit to Skyrim and check your world map. Unfortunately, you can’t fast-travel to the Sanctuary because it is oddly gone, so fast-travel to the closest destination you can and walk (or ride Shadowmere) the rest of the way. You can come in with weapons blazing or take the sneak approach, but your objective is to find the hidden entrance to begin the next quest.
Enter the Sanctuary
Search for Survivors
Kill Nazir’s Attacker!
Speak with Nazir
Escape the Sanctuary
Embrace the Night Mother
Talk to Astrid
Retrieve the Blade of Woe (OPTIONAL)
Return to the Night Mother
It appears as though everything has gone horribly wrong very quickly, and the traitor has not only betrayed you but the rest of the family as well. Sneak or fight your way down and kill the guards (without fire since the place is covered in oil) until you find Nazir in the dining hall. Help him kill the attacking guards and talk with him quickly about the betrayal. There’s little time since the place is going up in flames very soon, so begin your retreat out with Nazir. Before you can get too far, the Night Mother tells you to come to her, since she is the only one who can save you. Enter her coffin and watch as you and Nazir are both able to barely escape the fiery inferno.
When you wake up, you are told to speak with Astrid by the Night Mother. Let her vent her wrong-doings and find out that you are to lead the family, now that it has been basically destroyed. Do as she says to complete the ritual and return to the Night Mother.
Talk to Nazir
Talk to Amaund Motierre
Board the Katariah
Kill Commander Mara (OPTIONAL)
Kill the Emperor
Report Back to Amaund Motierre
Retrieve the Payment
Kill Amaund Motierre (OPTIONAL)
Report to Nazir
Now that everything has calmed down, you realize that Babette and Nazir are the only ones left, and your home is wrecked. Tell Nazir that the Night Mother has told you that your objective is still the Emperor, but this time it needs to be for real this time. While Nazir moves the Sanctuary to its new home in Dawnstar, you are to visit Amaund Motierre again. He is in the Bannered Mare in Whiterun now, so give him a visit to learn where the Emperor is hiding. He also tells you there is a reward still in it, and if you pry enough, you can receive a quest to kill Commander Maro as well.
You will find the Emperor on the Katariah outside Solitude, but Commander Maro is outside the East Empire Company Warehouse in Solitude. If you choose to kill Maro, try to do it without being seen. If you can’t, run or pay your way out of trouble before heading to the Katariah. The ship will not move from here on out, so you can always return if you don’t get enough treasure hunting done the first time through.
Getting through the Katariah can be done completely in sneak, although it can be difficult. You do have the option of cutting through anyone who gets in your way as well, but it is likely that you will be overrun with enemies if you don’t attempt any stealth at all. The best way through is to sneak attack your way through the rooms as much as possible and use Aura Whisper if you have it. As long as you attempt to stay unseen, you will have an easier time than going in with weapons blazing.
Your first target is the jail by way of the lower deck to the south and through the dining hall. Here is your first necessary opponent, since he has the Katariah Master Key. (You do have the option of lockpicking all the doors in the ship, but many of the important ones are nearly impossible unless you have a very high skill level.) After defeating Captain Avidius, take the key and head north to the locked gold door. Kill anyone who gets in your way and continue north, until you can climb more steps. Inside the door you will find the Emperor’s Quarters with the Emperor inside.
The Emperor has accepted his fate and isn’t surprised to see you, since the Dark Brotherhood is incredibly powerful and cunning. You can kill him outright, but it may be interesting to hear his plea to kill the person who caused the treachery against the Emperor, but it is unnecessary to the questline to do so. When you’ve heard enough, strike down the Emperor and take anything you want from his quarters.
You can now exit through the door to the northwest and return to Whiterun. Speak with Amaund Motierre to learn where your reward is hidden, as well as a rude goodbye. If you want to honor the wishes of the Emperor, inform Amaund of your intentions and strike him down. Make sure to take the loot from his body, you will probably need it to pay off your bounty. Otherwise, locate Volunruud on your map and find where you met him the first time. The urn inside holds your payment of 20000 gold pieces!
Return to the new Sanctuary in Dawnstar and speak with Nazir. Tell him about the money received, either lie or tell him the truth, and he will tell you to visit Delvin Mallory in Riften. Delvin is going to help you decorate the new home to make it fit to return the Dark Brotherhood to its former status. The current questline is over, but your new Dark Brotherhood Radiant Quest – Where You Hang Your Enemy’s Head… begins.