When asked about herself after the Dragonborn joins the Dark Brotherhood, Astrid says that she had an uncle who made "unwanted advances" towards her, so she killed him. It "felt good, really good," so she killed another, unspecified person, and it "felt even better." After an unknown amount of time, she joined the Dark Brotherhood and later married another Brotherhood member, Arnbjorn.
Astrid decrees her unbeatable dictatorship, comparable and "stronger" than The Five Tenets. She tires of the laws and restrictions that limit the Brotherhood, deciding that a sort of family-like unity benefits the members of the Brotherhood better than structure. Upon the arrival of the Night Mother and the discovery that the Dragonborn is the new Listener, Astrid, with her leadership threatened, sold out the Dragonborn to the Penitus Oculatus.
However, when Commander Maro betrayed Astrid by ordering an attack on the Falkreath Sanctuary that slaughtered most of the assassins, Astrid realizes her mistake in thinking she was the sole authority of the Brotherhood by going against the Five Tenets, as "they have guided the Brotherhood for centuries. I was a fool to oppose them," and as well for leading to the deaths of most of the Brotherhood, and before her death pleads forgiveness for her transgressions against the Night Mother and the Dragonborn.
Once the Dragonborn has arrived at the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary just outside of Falkreath, Astrid directs them to speak to Nazir for side contracts the Dark Brotherhood has received until she has an important one for him.
Once the Dragonborn returns from completing one of Nazir's contracts, Astrid tells them to head to Markarth to speak to Muiri about a big job she has requested of the Dark Brotherhood. Once the Dragonborn returns from completing the job, Astrid asks them how it went before assigning them their next quest.
Astrid asks the Dragonborn to spy on Cicero, as she suspects that he is plotting with another member of the sanctuary to destroy the Brotherhood. The Dragonborn obeys, hearing the Night Mother speak and becoming her Listener. Threatened by the Night Mother's choice, Astrid reclaims her authority by sending the Dragonborn on off-handed contracts until she investigates the contract the Night Mother told the Listener.
After the Dragonborn returns from completing another of Nazir's contracts, Astrid decides that since the Night Mother has spoken and revealed a contact for a contract in Amaund Motierre at the Nordic Tombs of Volunruud, she sends the Dragonborn to check it out. Once there, Amaund gives the Dragonborn two items to deliver to Astrid. Once they are delivered, Astrid directs the Dragonborn to speak to Delvin Mallory of the Thieves Guild in The Ragged Flagon in Riften for more info. Once the Dragonborn returns with a Letter of Credit from Delvin for Astrid, she prepares to carry out Amaund's request: The murder of Titus Mede II, Emperor of Tamriel, with the first target being his cousin, currently living in Solitude, Vittoria Vici.
In a bid to carry out Amaund's hit on the Emperor of Cyrodiil, Astrid plans to assassinate the Emperor's cousin, Vittoria Vici, during her wedding to Asgeir Snow-Shod in Solitude, which was part of an intended plan to try and broker peace between the Imperial Legion and the Stormcloaks, and assigns the Dragonborn to carry out the hit on Vittoria. After Vittoria is successfully murdered, if the Dragonborn's cover was blown, Astrid will dispatch Veezara to aid the Dragonborn in escaping the angry crowd of wedding guests, hold guards, and Penitus Oculatus agents and retreat back to the Sanctuary.
With Vittoria dead, and word of the Emperor on his way to Skyrim to oversee the Skyrim Civil War now public knowledge, the next step to assassinating the Emperor was to convince his elite guard, the Penitus Oculatus, that there was no threat to the Emperor's life at the moment, causing them to let their guard down. To do that, the plan was to murder Commander Maro's son, Gaius Maro, and plant an Incriminating Letter on him to make it look like an attempt on the Emperor's life by the Stormcloaks had already been foiled, and Gaius was a traitor, providing the Stormcloaks all the details for the hit in secret. This would distract Maro and thus reduce the chances of being caught performing the hit on the Emperor later.
Since the return of the Night Mother, Astrid has become more uneasy in her trust of Cicero, feeling like his return of the Night Mother's body to the Dark Brotherhood is threatening her leadership. She dispatches the Dragonborn to deal with Cicero, but in the end, the Dragonborn can either kill or spare Cicero, and either lie or tell the truth of his death to Astrid to put her at ease.
With Cicero dealt with and Maro distracted with his belief that his son was a Stormcloak spy, Astrid now assigns the Dragonborn to locate and kill Balagog gro-Nolob, also known as "The Gourmet," a well-known and famous Orc chef, using his fame as a disguise to get into Castle Dour to assassinate the Emperor during his visit by poisoning his meal, but also make certain to hide The Gourmet's body so that no one will suspect that the Dragonborn is impersonating him.
With everything set to carry out the assassination of Emperor Titus Mede II when he is in Skyrim and staying at Castle Dour in Solitude, Astrid sends the Dragonborn to carry out the murder, disguised as the Gourmet. However, it turns out that Astrid, fearing that her leadership of the Dark Brotherhood was threatened by the Dragonborn being the new Listener for the Night Mother, betrays him and reports the assassination attempt to the Penitus Oculatus and Maro himself, in return for amnesty and protection of the Dark Brotherhood. As a result, the Dragonborn only succeeds with killing a decoy Emperor. Maro, however, reveals he had no intention of upholding his end of the agreement with Astrid and sends his men to attack the sanctuary anyway to make sure that Astrid and the Dark Brotherhood would not threaten the Emperor any further.
Upon the attack on the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary, many of the assassins of the Dark Brotherhood fell, including Astrid. When she is found, her body is charred and burned beyond recognition. She begs the Dragonborn to kill her by performing The Black Sacrament, dubbing the Dragonborn her replacement as leader of the brotherhood and admitting she was wrong for defying the Night Mother and the Dark Brotherhood's Five Tenets. She also explains that she negotiated with the head of the Penitus Oculatus, Commander Maro, into revealing the identity of the Dragonborn in exchange for political immunity. Maro went back on his word, attacking the sanctuary in revenge for his son. She asks to be killed with her Blade of Woe, but she can be killed with any weapon. After Astrid's death, the Dragonborn and the remaining assassins, including Nazir and Babette, move to the Dawnstar Sanctuary, where Cicero fled and can still be found if he was spared.
Should the Dragonborn choose to kill Astrid instead of one of the hostages, her death will need to be reported to a guard as soon as possible. Learning of Astrid's death, the Dragonborn will be directed to report to Commander Maro at the Penitus Oculatus outpost in Dragon Bridge to notify him of Astrid's death. Learning of her death, Maro assigns the Dragonborn to head for their sanctuary in Falkreath to wipe the rest of the group out. Once done, Maro commends the Dragonborn for getting rid of the Dark Brotherhood and will report their success directly to Emperor Titus Mede II, thanking them for saving the Emperor from any threat the Dark Brotherhood may have posed to him.
Who are you?"Who I am really isn't as important as what I am. And what I am is an admirer. Of sorts."
What? Where am I? Who are you?"Does it matter? You're warm, dry... and still very much alive. That's more than can be said for old Grelod. Hmm?"
You know about that?"Half of Skyrim knows. Old hag gets butchered in her own orphanage? Things like that tend to get around. Oh, but don't misunderstand. I'm not criticizing. It was a good kill. Old crone had it coming. And you saved a group of urchins, to boot. Ah, but there is a slight... problem."
I don't think I like where this is going...
"You see, that little Aretino boy was looking for the Dark Brotherhood. For me, and my associates. Grelod the Kind was, by all rights, a Dark Brotherhood contract. A kill... that you stole. A kill you must repay."
You want me to murder someone else? Who?"Well now. Funny you should ask. If you turn around, you'll notice my guests. I've collected them from... well, that's not really important. The here and now. That's what matters. You see, there's a contract out on one of them, and that person can't leave this room alive. But... which one? Go on, see if you can figure it out. Make your choice. Make your kill, I just want to observe... and admire."
I'll have no part of this insanity."Now that is a shame. But what you fail to realize is that you involved yourself in this "insanity" when you took Grelod's life. You made your choice. Now it's time to face the consequences of your actions. You don't leave this shack until someone dies."
All right, I'll do it. I'll kill one of them."See, I knew we could resolve this civilly. A debt owed must be repaid. You understand that. Well, get to it then. Pick your guest, and send the poor fool to the Void. I'll give you the key to this shack, and you'll be on your way."
(Remain silent)"Am I to take your silence as acceptance? Then you know where we stand. Make your kill, and we're square. Repayment of your debt is but a discreet knife thrust away."
If the Dragonborn exits dialogue anytime during this conversation:
"I'll cut right to it. You murdered the old woman in this orphanage. You owe the Dark Brotherhood a kill. I've come to collect. One of these poor sods has a contract out on their life. Which one is it? Any idea? Make your choice. Make your kill. And you get to walk away."
Talking to Astrid before the Dragonborn kills any one of the hostages:
"The anticipation is killing me. Can you figure out who has the contract? Which one will you choose?"
"The conniving Khajiit. Cat like that was sure to have enemies. It's no wonder you chose him."
If both Fultheim and Alea are killed:
"The blubbering barbarian and the tenacious mother. Must have been one of them, right?"
If both Fultheim and Vasha are killed:
"The timid warrior and the sly Khajiit. Must have been one or the other, right?"
If both Alea and Vasha are killed:
"Hmm. The fearless wife and mother, and the underhanded Khajiit. Had to be one of them, right? Interesting choice."
If all three hostages are killed:
"Well, well. Aren't we the overachiever. Three possibilities, three victims. Must have been one of them, right? So why take chances..."
If the Dragonborn chooses to kill Astrid instead:
After killing one or more of the guests:
So who was it? Who had the contract?"Oh. No, no, no. Don't you understand? Guilt, innocence, right, wrong.... Irrelevant. What matters is I ordered you to kill someone, and you obeyed."
You told me to kill, and I killed."Indeed. For you, my friend, seem to understand what's truly important. When I give an order to spill blood, you follow it. No questions. No remorse."
(Remain silent)"Hmph. When most would speak, you listen. You think. You understand that the only thing that matters is you following my orders. To kill."
So... I'm free to go?"Of course. And you've repaid your debt, in full. Here's the key to the shack. But why stop here? I say we take our relationship to the next level. I would like to officially extend to you an invitation to join my Family. The Dark Brotherhood. In the southwest reaches of Skyrim, in the Pine Forest, you'll find the entrance to our Sanctuary. It's just beneath the road, hidden from view. When questioned by the Black Door, answer with the correct passphrase: "Silence, my brother." Then you're in. And your new life begins. I'll see you at home."
"Remember, the Sanctuary is in the southern Pine Forest. Just beneath the road, and away from prying eyes."
"Ah, at last! I hope you found the place all right."
So what happens now?"Well, what happens now is you start your new life in the Dark Brotherhood. You're part of the Family, after all. This, as you can see, is our Sanctuary. You won't find a safer place in all of Skyrim. So get comfortable."
I am honored to be a part of your Family, Astrid."Our Family, my dearest. Our Family. Together, united as one, the Dark Brotherhood can accomplish anything. But you must be anxious to get to work. I'm arranging a job, but need a bit more time. For now, go see Nazir. He's got several smaller contracts."
When do I get to kill someone?"Soon, my dearest. Soon. I'm arranging a job for you, but I need some more time. For now, go talk to Nazir. He may have some smaller contracts to tide you over."
(Remain silent)"Hmm... Yes, the silence suits you. Gives you an air of mystery. Now, down to business. I'm arranging a job for you. But in the meantime, go talk to Nazir. He may have some smaller contracts to tide you over."
"Soon, the Night Mother will arrive. And things around here are sure to get even more interesting. Ah, but one last thing. A welcome home present. The armor of the Dark Brotherhood. May it serve you well in all your... endeavors."
Are there any rules I should be aware of?"Used to be the Dark Brotherhood was bound by Five Tenets, but we stopped following those years ago. All those rules, all that discipline, and look where the Dark Brotherhood ended up. We're the last of our kind, and we live the way we see fit. Bottom line - respect your Family. Do that, and everything else will fall into place."
Where do the contracts come from?"They used to come from the Night Mother. Potential clients would perform the Black Sacrament, and she would hear their prayers. The Night Mother would communicate this to the Listener, who would then dispatch a Speaker to arrange the contract with the client. But that was a long time ago. There hasn't been a Listener in years, not since Cyrodiil was overrun in the war with the Thalmor. But people don't know that. So they still perform the ritual... and we eventually hear about it. When someone wants us, we find out."
Who is the Night Mother?"The Unholy Matron, the Shrouded Lady, the Mistress of the Void. She goes by many names. Ages past, Sithis gave a woman five children. She killed them to win his favor, thus becoming the Night Mother. If you believe that sort of thing. Today, she's... well, she's a skeleton. An ancient corpse. But, more importantly, a corpse that's being brought to this Sanctuary by her Keeper."
So the Night Mother is being brought here?"Yes. A few months ago I received word from the Night Mother's Keeper that he had arrived in Skyrim from Cyrodiil. The Night Mother's crypt, in Bravil, was destroyed. A result of the chaos caused by the war with the Thalmor. That forced a relocation. I don't know where the Keeper has been these past few months, but I recently received another letter. He's bringing the Night Mother here. Soon."
What if I get caught killing someone?"Try not to? But I do realize it's sometimes not that easy. You may want to make a statement, or a contract may require a public killing. Murder is, obviously, a very serious crime, and a very high bounty will be put on your head in the hold where the act was committed. You can run, obviously, but you'll still have a price on your head. If a guard attacks, you can attempt to yield by sheathing your weapon. If the guard accepts, you can serve your time in a cell, or pay your bounty. We've all gone through it. We do what we must to survive. But, there is another option. Some members of the Thieves Guild in Riften can get their bounties... erased. For a price. Something to think about."
What can you tell me about yourself?"This Sanctuary has been my entire life since I was a young woman. That's when I first discovered my, shall we call it "aptitude," for elimination. I had an uncle, you see. He made certain... unwanted advances. So I killed him. And liked it. Then I killed again. And liked it even more. And so on. I was recruited by the Dark Brotherhood, and have been here ever since. I met my husband Arnbjorn, rose to leadership. And now here we are."
"Be sure and introduce yourself to your new Family members. They're all very eager to meet you."
"Ah, there you are. Good, I was done speaking with that muttering fool anyway. We've got some business to discuss."
Do you have a contract for me?"I do indeed. You must go to the city of Markarth, and speak with the apothecary's assistant. You'll probably find her in The Hag's Cure, when the shop is open. The girl's been running her mouth, wants an ex-lover killed. She's apparently performed the Black Sacrament. Her name is Muiri. I need you to talk to her, set up the contract, and carry it out."
Anything else?"Just do whatever the contact wishes. Be professional, represent us well, and get the job done. Since it's your first contract, I'll let you keep whatever Muiri pays. She'll be generous, I'm sure. They always are."
If approached again:
"Go, take care of the Muiri contract. There will be plenty more, I promise you."
What will change, now that the Night Mother is here?"Very little. You have my word on that. The Night Mother represents a chapter in the Dark Brotherhood's history that has long since been closed. Today we live by our own rules. We're the last Sanctuary in all of Tamriel, and only by forgoing the old ways have we survived for so long. My only worry is her "Keeper." I'm not sure what Cicero expects to gain by bringing the Night Mother here, but he'll soon learn this is my Sanctuary."
Can you offer me any advice on the contracts?"Just be yourself. Eliminate the targets any way you see fit. Quiet, loud, quick, slow - whatever you feel is best. Occasionally I'll give you a contract with certain parameters. Stay within them, and you'll earn yourself a bonus."
What's your preferred method of assassination, Astrid?"Me? I like to talk to my targets before the kill. Taunt them, scare them... even challenge them. That can have interesting results. Some victims may flee, others may cower in fear. If you can goad a target into attacking you first, you may even find any local guards coming to your aid."
Is Cicero dangerous?"Well, he's quite obviously mad. Whether or not that makes him dangerous is another question entirely. Do I trust him? Not in the slightest."
"You go speak to Muiri. I've got to deal with the Night Mother and her little... clown."
Talking to her after finishing the contract:
"Ah, you're back. So, how went your first real contract? A bit more exciting than what Nazir's been offering, I'd wager."
I did what had to be done. Nothing more."Of course, dear. Of course. And, from what my little ravens tell me, you handled yourself quite well. Now, I need your assistance with a matter of a more... personal nature."
I live only to serve. Hail Sithis!"Oh, very good. Very good indeed. You, my dear, are going to fit in here quite nicely... Now, I need your assistance with a matter of a more... personal nature."
(Remain silent)"Very well. I respect your discretion. Now, I need your assistance with a matter of a more... personal nature."
Is something wrong?"It's Cicero. Ever since he arrived, his behavior's been... Well, erratic would be an understatement. I do believe he is truly mad. But it's worse than that. He's taken to locking himself in the Night Mother's chamber, and talking. To someone. In hushed, but frantic tones. Who is he speaking with? What are they planning? I fear treachery."
Astrid, you're being a bit... paranoid."Maybe so, but healthy paranoia has saved this Sanctuary before, and my gut's telling me that demented little fool is up to something."
By Sithis, we must stop them!"So you understand my fear. If Cicero's planning something, and conspiring with one of our own, it would be disastrous."
(Remain silent)"You must understand. If Cicero is turning the others against me... against us... Our Family would not survive such division."
What do you want me to do?"Dear brother (or "sister"), I need you to steal into that chamber, and eavesdrop on their meeting. It'll be no use clinging to the shadows. They'll see you for sure. No, you need a hiding place. Somewhere they'd never think to look. Like inside the Night Mother's coffin."
But that seems so... disrespectful."Be that as it may, we have no other choice. You need to remain unseen! Now go! Before they meet. And report back to me with whatever you learn."
Yes, the coffin. It's perfect."They'll never think to check it. Who in their right mind would hide inside? Now go. Before they meet. And report back to me with whatever you learn."
(Remain silent)"No objections, then? Good. Go now. Before they meet. And report back to me with whatever you learn."
"Go. Quickly. Hide in the coffin before Cicero and the traitor meet."
"Why are you still standing here? Hurry, before the meeting begins."
Any idea who would conspire with Cicero?"That's the real question, isn't it? The jester enters, seals the door, and the conversation begins. So someone must be waiting for him inside. Any one of us could enter that chamber silently. Unnoticed. But who amongst us would dare conspire against the Sanctuary? The very thought breaks my heart."
What do you think Cicero is planning?"Isn't it obvious? As the Night Mother's Keeper, he believes he's entitled to the rule of this Sanctuary. Cicero will cite our independence as the need to revert to the Old Ways. He'll claim we're undisciplined, unruly. Heretical, even. Ironically, the Night Mother could prove to be just as much a victim. The queen in a fool's twisted game of chess."
Is there anything else I should know?"I don't believe so. But I'll be able to instruct you further after you've returned from the chamber. It depends on what you learn. And make haste! You must be in place before Cicero and his... ally arrive! They could be planning another meeting at any time!"
After listening to the Night Mother's request:
"When I heard Cicero screaming, I knew you'd been discovered. I feared the worst. Are you all right?"
Yes, I'm fine."Then what in Sithis' name is going on? Cicero spoke to the Night Mother, but she spoke to you? Is this just more of the fool's rambling?"
I... I don't know. It happened so fast."Okay, let's all take a deep breath. Cicero said he spoke to the Night Mother, but she spoke to you? Please tell me this is some kind of sick joke."
(Remain silent)"You look like you've just seen a ghost. Please tell me you haven't. Cicero said he spoke to the Night Mother... but she spoke to you?"
It's true. The Night Mother spoke to me. She said I was "the one.""What? So Cicero wasn't talking to anyone else. Just... the Night Mother's body? And the Night Mother, who, according to everything we know, will only speak to the person chosen as Listener... just spoke. Right now... ...to you?"
Yes."By Sithis. And... what did she say?"
I must speak to someone named Amaund Motierre, in Volunruud."Amaund Motierre? I have no idea who that is. But Volunruud... that I have heard of. And I know where it is."
He's in some place called Volunruud."Volunruud? Well, that is interesting. I know this place..."
So I should go to Volunruud? I should talk to this man?"Hmm? No. No! Listen, I don't know what's going on here, but you take your orders from me. Are we clear on that? The Night Mother may have spoken to you, but I am still the leader of this Family. I will not have my authority so easily dismissed. I... I need time to think about all this. Go see Nazir - do some work for him. I'll find you when I'm ready to discuss the matter further."
If approached again:
"This is all just too much, too fast. Go get some work from Nazir. I need time to... to think..."
Has the time come? Will I now serve the Night Mother?
"Look. Something is happening here. I'm not sure entirely what that something is, but... Well, we need to find out. If the Night Mother really did give you an order to talk to a contact, we'd be mad to ignore it. And I think we'd both agree, Cicero's brought quite enough madness to this Sanctuary. So go. Go to Volunruud. It's a crypt, pretty far to the northeast. Talk to this Amaund Motierre. And let's see where all this leads. Hmm?"
After speaking to Amaund Motierre:
"You're back. Good. All right, so? Did you meet this Motierre? What did he want?"
Motierre wants us... to kill the Emperor."You're joking."
(Show Astrid the amulet and sealed letter)"What's this?"
The letter explains it all. The amulet is for expenses."By Sithis, you're not joking. To kill the Emperor of Tamriel... The Dark Brotherhood hasn't done such a thing since the assassination of Pelagius. As a matter of fact, no one has dared assassinate an Emperor of Tamriel since the murder of Uriel Septim, and that was two hundred years ago..."
Surely the Night Mother wouldn't misdirect us..."No, she certainly wouldn't. And... for whatever reason, she chose to relay Motierre's information to you. I don't know exactly what's going on here, if you're the Listener, or this is some fluke, or what. But what we now have before us..."
So we'll accept the contract?"You're damn right we'll accept it. If we pull this off, the Dark Brotherhood will know a fear and respect we haven't seen in centuries. You think I'd abandon an opportunity to lead my Family to glory? But this is all so much to take in. I need time to read the letter, and figure out where we go from here. And this amulet. Hmmm..."
What are you thinking?"I'm thinking we need that amulet appraised. I want to know where it came from, how much it's worth, and if we can actually get away with selling it. And, there's only one man who can give us what we need - Delvin Mallory. He's a fence, a private operator. Works out of the Ratway, in Riften. Give me the letter. Bring Mallory the amulet. Find out everything you can, and sell it if he's willing. He'll offer a letter of credit - that's fine. Delvin Mallory and the Dark Brotherhood have... history. He can be trusted."
"Good, you're back. Well, what did Mallory have to say? Is the amulet authentic?"
Yes, and specially made for members of the Elder Council."The Elder Council... Oh, now that explains quite a bit. Motierre, you naughty, naughty boy. Hiring the Dark Brotherhood to help you rise beyond your station. Delicious. Was Mallory willing to buy the amulet?"
He was. Here's a letter of credit."Splendid. Then we're ready to begin. Or, more specifically, you're ready to begin. After all, you're the one the Night Mother spoke to. Now then. I hope you have something nice to wear. Because you're going to a wedding."
A wedding?"Well, more like the public reception. It should be a lovely affair. You'll mingle with the guests, eat some cake... stab the bride. Oh yes. You've got to kill the bride. At her wedding. And they say romance is dead."
Who's the target?"Her name is Vittoria Vici. She oversees the East Empire Company's business holdings in Solitude. The wedding is being held in that city, at the Temple of the Divines. Her death will cause an uproar, which is exactly what we want. Vici is likely to address her guests frequently, as is the wedding custom. Kill her when she does that, and I promise you a significant bonus. Now go. And give my best to the bride."
Enough talk. Just tell me who to kill."Very well. The target's name is Vittoria Vici. She oversees the East Empire Company's business holdings in Solitude. The wedding is being held in that city, at the Temple of the Divines. Her death will cause an uproar, which is exactly what we want. Remember, we want people to notice. Kill Vici while she's addressing her guests, as is the custom, and I can promise a bonus. Now go. And give the bride a special kiss, from me."
(Remain silent)"Your target's name is Vittoria Vici. She oversees the East Empire Company's business holdings in Solitude. The wedding is being held in that city, at the Temple of the Divines. Her death will cause an uproar, which is exactly what we want. Vici is likely to address her guests frequently, as is the wedding custom. Kill her when she does that, and I promise you a significant bonus. Now go. And give the city of Solitude a celebration they're not likely to forget."
Can you provide any more details on the contract?"This is a public kill. How you do it is entirely up to you. Arrow to the throat? Knife in the belly? Your choice, so long as it's loud and messy. Because of the current political climate, people are going to assume the murder is related to the bad blood between the Legion and Stormcloaks. In any event, when Vici dies, it's going to be complete pandemonium. Best have your escape route planned out in advance."
What's Vici's connection to the Emperor?"An excellent question. Vittoria Vici is the first cousin to our dear Emperor, Titus Mede II. Vici has obvious Imperial connections. Her husband has ties to the Stormcloaks. Their union is a step toward reconciliation. So if there's a murder at the wedding... Not only will it stall the peace process - it will send shockwaves throughout the entire Empire. The Emperor's hand will be forced. He'll have to travel to Skyrim to deal with the aftermath... and he'll find the Dark Brotherhood waiting."
Why isn't the Emperor attending the wedding?"Hmph. He had a trip to Skyrim planned for months, and canceled at the last minute. Much to his cousin's dismay. Seems the Emperor realized his presence would necessitate a more direct role in the ongoing hostilities. A role he was, obviously, unwilling to take. All that will change with his cousin's murder. Everyone will think it was motivated by the conflict between the Imperial Legion and Stormcloaks. And the Emperor will be forced to come clean up the mess."
"Off to Solitude with you. Time to give the Emperor some real motivation to visit Skyrim."
When does the wedding start?"Soon. I'm not exactly sure when. But not to worry - the ceremony itself is being followed up by a public banquet that will last for several days. Both Vittoria and her husband will be there for the duration, and everyone in Solitude is invited to attend. You'll have plenty of opportunity."
If the Dragonborn has opened the sealed letter before talking to her, Astrid will respond with the following when she is given the letter:
"Splendid. Then we're ready to begin. Or, more specifically, you're ready to begin. After all, you're the one the Night Mother spoke to. But by Sithis, I hope I'm making the right choice here. You may be an effective killer, but your command of guile leaves much to be desired. The sealed letter you delivered to me was mysteriously unsealed upon its arrival. I can only assume you've read its contents. Sloppy... But moving on to business. As you probably already know from reading the letter... you're going to a wedding."
Returning after killing Vittoria Vici:
"Ha ha! The news is everywhere! Vittoria Vici, the Emperor's cousin, butchered at her own wedding! Well done! Let's see his eminence try to ignore this."
She bled like a stuck pig.
Yes, the blushing bride now serves Sithis in the Void.
"With Vici's murder, you've started us down a path the Dark Brotherhood hasn't traveled in centuries. The assassination of an Emperor. And now, your reward. A unique spell to summon a legend of the Dark Brotherhood. His soul serves us now in death, as his body once did in life. Ah, and of course, a bonus, for killing Vici while she addressed her guests, as instructed. Gold... simple and pure. Spend it as you will. Now then. Time to proceed to the next stage of the plan. Go and speak with Gabriella. She's been helping me arrange your next contract."
If the special conditions, was not met:
"Ha ha! The news is everywhere! Vittoria Vici, the Emperor's cousin, butchered at her own wedding! Well done! Let's see his eminence try to ignore this."
She bled like a stuck pig.
Yes, the blushing bride now serves Sithis in the Void.
"With Vici's murder, you've started us down a path the Dark Brotherhood hasn't traveled in centuries. The assassination of an Emperor. And now, your reward. A unique spell to summon a legend of the Dark Brotherhood. His soul serves us now in death, as his body once did in life. Unfortunately, in your zeal, you failed to eliminate Vici while she addressed her guests, as directed. I'm sorry, but your bonus is forfeit. Now then. Time to proceed to the next stage of the plan. Go and speak with Gabriella. She's been helping me arrange your next contract."
Give me the details."With the Emperor's arrival in Skyrim now a certainty, the Imperial Legion will need to begin its preparations immediately. Security is being handled by a man named Voltus Agallon. His job is to travel throughout Skyrim, and ensure each city is prepared for Mede's visit. You must find and kill Voltus Agallon. Doing so will disrupt security sufficiently that we will be able to, eventually, get to to the Emperor."
What else do I need to know?"Agallon is an efficient man, and will certainly already have begun his tour of Skyrim. Unfortunately, we don't have his schedule. So, you've got two options. Try to find Agallon yourself, somewhere on his route between the major cities. Or... find and steal his schedule. You'll find that in his office, in the Legion stronghold of Dragon Bridge. It's your choice. Now go, and may Sithis speed you."
"As I said, go speak with Gabriella. She's been assisting me with your next contract. This Emperor business, well... it does involve everyone."
After talking to Gabriella:
Any advice on my current contract?"I've taken the liberty of visiting the cities, and spreading some nasty rumors about Gaius Maro. To make his treachery that much more believable."
"You're back. Good. You'll want to hear this."or"Maro is dead, I know. But we've got bigger problems right now!"
Gabriella mentioned something about Cicero..."The fool went absolutely berserk! He wounded Veezara, tried to kill me, and then he fled. I knew that lunatic couldn't be trusted. Look, we've got to deal with this situation. You've got to deal with this situation."
What do you want me to do?"I want you to find that miserable little fool and end his life! But first... find my husband. Make sure he's all right. After the attack, Arnbjorn flew into a rage. When Cicero left... Arnbjorn went after him. They disappeared into the wild. Search Cicero's room. Maybe there's something in there that sheds some light on where he might have gone. Let me know the minute you find something. I've got to see to Veezara, and calm everyone down."
If approached again:
"That twisted jester will pay for what he's done..."
Isn't there any way to work this out?"Look, the Dark Brotherhood is a family. This Sanctuary is a family. And, we've always welcomed those... shunned by society. Werewolves, wizards, eternal ten year-old vampires... what does it matter? In truth, I've rarely met a lunatic I haven't liked. Cicero's problem isn't his madness. It's an adherence to an ancient, outmoded way of life. The Night Mother's ways... simply are not our ways. He just couldn't accept that. And now he'll pay the price."
Did something set Cicero off?"No, nothing. At least nothing I'm aware of. Well... If I'm being honest, I haven't exactly been discreet lately in expressing my frustration with this whole situation. Obeying the Night Mother. You being the Listener. It's ridiculous. No offense. Cicero may have overheard me talking to one of the others about the Night Mother. It's possible I was... not entirely respectful. But to go this far. To attempt to murder the leader of a Sanctuary. Cicero must pay with his life. There is no other option."
"I took that prancing fool into my home, and this is how he repays me?"
Yes, Cicero's journal."Good, good. Does it say where he may be headed?"
Yes, an abandoned Sanctuary in Dawnstar. I have the passphrase."The Dawnstar Sanctuary? Whatever for? Never mind, it doesn't matter. You need to leave. Now. Every moment counts, so I want you to take my horse. His name is Shadowmere. You'll find him outside, by the pool. Let's just say he's... one of us. Find Arnbjorn. Make sure my husband's all right. And then, send that jester's twisted little soul to the Void, in as many pieces as possible."
What do we know about the Dawnstar Sanctuary?"Oh, it's ancient. Apparently one of the first Sanctuaries in Skyrim. It hasn't been used by the Brotherhood in close to a hundred years. If you say Cicero has gone there, it stands to reason that he's familiar with the place. That means you'll be fighting him on his own ground. Tread carefully."
Returning to Astrid after confronting Cicero:
"Arnbjorn is safe, and for that you have my thanks. But what of the fool? Is Cicero dead?"
Yes, Cicero is dead.
Yes, Cicero is dead. (Lie)
"Excellent. Once again, you've proven yourself a born assassin. Tell you what. Why don't you hold onto Shadowmere a while longer? He's a fine steed, and hasn't been ridden nearly as much as he should lately. And now that this Cicero mess has been mopped up, we can get back to the matter at hand, hmm?"
Right. So what's my next task?"There's just one more target before we strike out at the Emperor. Have you by chance heard of the "Gourmet"? Read his cookbook? It's become quite a phenomenon. The Gourmet is scheduled to cook for the Emperor at a special dinner. You'll kill him, steal his Writ of Passage, and assume the roll of master chef. Festus has been spearheading this part of the assassination plan. He's close to uncovering the identity of the Gourmet. You should report to him."
"So it's done. You've killed the Gourmet. And now Titus Mede II is as good as dead."
So it's time? We're ready to assassinate the Emperor?"Oh yes. And I've decided you will have the honor."
I won't disappoint you, Astrid. Or the Dark Brotherhood."Oh, I have the utmost faith in your success, believe me. So let's begin."
The Emperor will die! For Sithis and the Night Mother!"Yes. For Sithis... and the Night Mother. You are the Listener after all, hmm? So let's not waste any more time."
(Remain silent)"Hmph. Look at you. So calm. So confident. I do believe you were born for this task. So let's begin."
"Go now to Castle Dour in Solitude. Present the Gourmet's Writ of Passage to the officer in charge, Commander Maro. I'm sure you remember him. You'll gain unrestricted access to the kitchens, and then the Emperor. You're posing as a chef, so you'll be able to poison his meal rather easily."
Which poison I should use?"Here, take this - it's called Jarrin Root. All it takes is one taste, and the effects are quite immediate. The Emperor will be serving Sithis before he even knows he's dead. Once Mede has been killed, escape through the upper door, and across the bridge. I've "arranged" for it to be unguarded once the alarm is sounded. Now go, my friend. Go, and fulfill your destiny as Listener."
What else can you tell me about jarrin root?"It's a rare plant, found only on the island of Stros M'Kai. It can be served like any vegetable - cut up, put in a salad, perhaps boiled in a stew. One taste will lead to nearly instant death, so don't even think about it."
Anything else before I set off?"It took all the favors, bribes, and blackmails I could muster, but I've secured your exit out of the keep. Just follow my instructions, and the Dark Brotherhood will be back on top. All thanks to you... Listener."
Astrid..."Ssshhh.... Please. There is much... I have to say. And... not much time... I'm sorry. So very sorry. The Penitus Oculatus... Maro... He said that by giving you to them, he would leave the Dark Brotherhood alone. Forever. By Sithis, I was such a fool. All of this... it's all my fault. You are the best of us, and I nearly killed you... as I've killed everyone else..."
You... sent me to die? Traitor!"Yes. I set you up. I wanted you dead. I betrayed you, the Night Mother, and everything I hold dear. And now Maro has betrayed me. I just wanted things... to stay the way they were. Before Cicero, before the Night Mother. Before... you. I thought I could save us. I was wrong. But you're alive! So there's still a chance. A chance to start over, rebuild. That's why I did... this. Don't you see? I prayed to the Night Mother! I am the Black Sacrament."
You will be judged by Sithis in the Void. I pity you."No! Don't pity me. I deserve whatever fate the Dread Lord has in store. I betrayed you... and now Maro has betrayed me. Fitting... I just wanted things... to stay the way they were. Before Cicero, before the Night Mother. Before... you. I thought I could save us. I was wrong. But you're alive! So there's still a chance. A chance to start over, rebuild. That's why I did... this. Don't you see? I prayed to the Night Mother! I am the Black Sacrament."
(Remain silent)"Don't you see? It was me. I set you up, wanted you dead. I betrayed you, the Night Mother... everything I hold dear. And now Maro has betrayed me. I just wanted things... to stay the way they were. Before Cicero, before the Night Mother. Before... you. I thought I could save us. I was wrong. But you're alive! So there's still a chance. A chance to start over, rebuild. That's why I did... this. Don't you see? I prayed to the Night Mother! I am the Black Sacrament."
What are you saying?"I'm saying you were right. The Night Mother was right. The old ways... they guided the Dark Brotherhood for centuries. I was a fool to oppose them. And to prove my... sincerity, I have prayed for a contract. You lead this Family now. I give you the Blade of Woe, so that you can see it through. You must kill... Me."
If approached again:
"You have no choice. You must complete your contract. You must kill me." "Please, Listener. Release my soul, and let Sithis be the judge." "Do it, Listener. Kill me."
Arriving in the Sanctuary
Cicero: "But the Night Mother is mother to all! It is her voice we follow! Her will! Would you dare risk disobedience? And surely... punishment?" Arnbjorn: "Keep talking, little man, and we'll see who gets "punished."" Festus Krex: "Oh, be quiet you great lumbering lapdog. The man has had a long journey. You can at least be civil. Mister Cicero, I for one am delighted you and the Night Mother have arrived. Your presence here signals a welcome return to tradition." Cicero: "Oh, what a kind and wise wizard you are. Sure to earn our Lady's favor." Astrid: "You and the Night Mother are of course welcome here, Cicero. And you will be afforded the respect deserving of your position as Keeper. Understood... husband?" Arnbjorn: "Hmph." Cicero: "Oh, yes yes yes! Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Astrid: "But make no mistake. I am the leader of this Sanctuary. My word is law. Are we clear on that point?" Cicero: "Oh yes, mistress. Perfectly! You're the boss."
Astrid: "By Sithis, this ends now! Back away, fool! Whatever you've been planning is over! Are you all right? I heard the commotion. Who was Cicero talking to? Where's the accomplice? Reveal yourself, traitor!" Cicero: "I spoke only to the Night Mother! I spoke to the Night Mother, but she didn't speak to me. Oh no. She spoke only to him/her! To the listener!" Astrid: "What? The Listener? What are you going on about? What is this lunacy?" Cicero: "It's true, it's true! The Night Mother has spoken! The silence has been broken! The Listener has been chosen!"
The Cure for Madness
Babette: "Just try to relax, Veezara. Let the elixir do its work. You'll feel better, shortly." Veezara: "Achh... Thank you, dear. You are most kind. The jester's cut feels as bad as it looks, I'm afraid." Astrid: "Damn it, this never should have happened! We knew better. We knew better, and still we let our guards down. Agh!" Festus Krex: "I'll admit, even I'm having a hard time disagreeing with you..."
[After the Dragonborn speaks to Astrid] Festus Krex: "It's true, I'm afraid, Cicero was a little whirlwind, slashing this way and all that. It would have been funny, if he weren't trying to murder us all." Nazir: "Don't forget the ranting and raving. About the Night Mother, how she was the true leader of the Dark Brotherhood, and Astrid was just a "pretender.""
[After the Dragonborn speaks to Astrid again] Veezara: "Bested by a fool. Who's the fool now, hmm?" Babette: "Hush, Veezara. You were very brave. Astrid may well be dead if not for you." Astrid: "She's right. I'll be forever in your debt, dearest brother. Now be quiet. Just... just rest."
The quests "With Friends Like These..." and "Death Incarnate" are the only times that Astrid can be killed. Otherwise, she is flagged as an essential character and cannot be killed. Because of this, she can be exploited for fast skill leveling.
If she is killed in "With Friends Like These..." she says to the Dragonborn, "Well done," as her last words.
Astrid can be reanimated as a dead thrall after killing her, and she keeps her original dialogue; however, she only retains one point of health.
During the beginning of "With Friends Like These..." is the only time Astrid wears a cowl.
When on her deathbed, Astrid says that she deserves whatever punishment Sithis has planned for her in the Void, though the Night Mother says the exact opposite; that Astrid "may find redemption in the Void."
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