Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

"With the Emperor's arrival in Skyrim now a certainty, his security service, the Penitus Oculatus, will need to begin its preparations immediately. Security is being handled by a Commander Maro. Astrid and I have devised a plan to break the man, and in doing so, cripple the Emperor's protection."

Breaching Security is a quest available in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in which the Dragonborn must assassinate the son of the commanding officer of the Penitus Oculatus in Skyrim, Gaius Maro, as a means of weakening the morale and effectiveness of the Emperor's security during his visit, so as to allow for his assassination.


I must kill Gaius Maro, an agent of the Emperor's security force. Once he's dead, I must plant a letter on his body that will incriminate him in a plot to kill the Emperor. If I wish to earn a bonus, I must not kill him in Dragon Bridge, or on the road, but in one of the cities he visits.


  1. Speak with Gabriella
  2. Steal Gaius Maro's travel schedule (optional)
  3. Kill Gaius Maro
  4. Plant the Incriminating Letter on Gaius Maro's body
  5. Report back to Gabriella


The first step of the quest is for the Dragonborn to speak to Gabriella in the Sanctuary. She says that Commander Maro will be in charge of the Emperor's security when he comes to Skyrim, and that the Dark Brotherhood wants Maro distracted during the Emperor's visit. The way to achieve this is to kill Commander Maro's son, Gaius Maro, and plant false evidence on his body of a plot to assassinate the Emperor. Not only will this cause Commander Maro to be distracted, it will also give the Emperor a false sense of security: since he will believe that an assassination plot has already been foiled, he will not be expecting another one. Gabriella also says that if the deed is done in a major city, Astrid has authorized her to give the Dragonborn a token to give to Olava the Feeble, a friend to the Dark Brotherhood that will enable her to tell the Dragonborn's future. An Incriminating Letter will be added to the inventory.

If she is asked about his schedule, she will say that there is a written copy in the Penitus Oculatus Outpost in Dragon Bridge that can be stolen.

Dragon Bridge[]

The Dragonborn must go to Dragon Bridge for Maro to start his travels, but killing him there will prevent the bonus from being received. He can be observed in front of the Penitus Oculatus Outpost, saying goodbye to his father. After he leaves, the Dragonborn can steal Gaius Maro's Schedule by sneaking inside the outpost and waiting for the guard inside to move away from the table with the schedule.

Note: Gaius Maro will not leave Dragon Bridge until after he is heard talking to his father and wife. He will only appear in another town if the Dragonborn waits to steal his schedule, after he begins walking. He moves slower than the Dragonborn, so care is needed to avoid getting too close and alerting him that he is being followed. It is much easier to fast travel to one of his destinations and lay in wait.

Places and methods for killing Maro[]

As Maro is inspecting Skyrim to assess the security of the Emperor during his visit, he will be in several of the capital cities of Skyrim as well as the roads in between. There are various methods of assassination that can be employed at various points in his journey.


Should it be Morndas as per Gaius' schedule stolen from the Penitus Oculatus Outpost, he will be in Solitude overlooking Castle Dour's courtyard and the Emperor's Tower during the day. By evening, he will retire to the barracks below where General Tullius and Legate Rikke are normally found. This is a good spot to attempt to stealth kill him as he normally sits at the table just around the corner from the stairs. The Hold Guards will be asleep, and therefore, unaware of any attempt on Gaius, unless it is around 8:00 AM or 8:00 PM. Both these times are when the changing of the guard normally occurs, and the area will be full of Hold Guards retiring for some sleep while their relief gets up to head out on patrol. It is especially risky if Captain Aldis is himself coming in for the night, which could cause him to see the murder and trigger a bounty. This is especially so if sitting with Gaius when he is killed. A bow or crossbow may be the best option here by hiding in the shadows near the barrels in the kitchen area.

A good opening is when Aldis stands up to walk to the far end of the beds. With his back turned, an opening is made to stealth kill Gaius. Even if Aldis or the Hold Guards hear it, with a high enough Sneak, the Dragonborn should remain undetected. However, if Gaius is spoken to and made hostile, the Hold Guards will awaken and come to the Dragonborn's aid, as they will see Gaius as the criminal due to attacking the Dragonborn first. In this case, the Dragonborn will need to deliver the final blow before Gaius becomes non-hostile again, risking a bounty should he remain alive and regain his health.


If Gaius is inspecting this particular city on Middas, the alleyway to the left provides an opportunity (the lock on the gate may need to be picked). As Maro leaves (around 1:00 A.M.), shooting him with an arrow will avoid detection and any bounty. If the archery skill is at a low level or the player does not have the necessary perks (especially the sneak perk allowing 3x damage with stealth arrows), he may not die with one sneak attack, so there may be a fight. Another option is to wait in the corner of Riften Castle's courtyard, behind the small grouping of trees, and wait for him to exit (he exits that side every time at around 11:30 A.M., although the actual times may vary). He will be alone and far enough away from any guards to allow him to be killed without any worry about a bounty.

Palace of the Kings (or other guard barracks)[]

Gaius Maro will sleep in the barracks with the guards in Windhelm while there for his rounds on Tirdas. This can be one of the hardest places to get him without being detected. Around 10:00 P.M., in the corner by the sleeping guard, he can be shot with a bow (preferably after having coated the arrows with poison). Each time he is shot, he will get up and look around the room. He can be shot multiple times without being discovered. The guards in the beds will sometimes get up and look as well, but with a high Sneak skill, they will not see the Dragonborn. After Maro is dead, it is possible to creep over to his body and plant the Incriminating Letter when the guards ignore the Dragonborn. Sneaking back to the corner, then jumping over the beds with the guards in them until the doorway is reached, allows the Dragonborn to sneak out to freedom. Of course, if Gaius is made hostile by speaking to him, the Hold Guards will awaken and support the Dragonborn since Gaius just made himself a criminal in their eyes by attacking the Dragonborn first.

The Bannered Mare[]

In Whiterun when he is there on Turdas, it is extremely easy to sneak into his bedroom in The Bannered Mare, as it seems to be the only time he is not bunking in a castle or in barracks. He can be killed in his sleep with the door shut, and then the letter planted. This does not result in a bounty.

However, there is a high chance that Maro might fall behind on his itinerary schedule and therefore only make a brief stop at The Bannered Mare, for some drinks, before continuing on to Markarth. In this case he normally arrives alone on Turdas evening (10:00–11:00 P.M.) and heads straight to the hearth in the middle of the inn for a drink, whilst enjoying the bard's performances.

Employing a high level of Sneak and the Ebony Mail, while sneaking he can be shot using a ranged weapon from the balcony of the room overlooking the hearth (it is the same room rented from Hulda). The player can also use offensive spells such as Frost to drain his stamina, and then Flames. Since this balcony is full of shadowy spots it is possible to hide in one of those and wait for Gaius to charge upstairs looking for his assailant. Once he has touched the shadowy tendrils of poison emitted by the Ebony Mail, it is just a matter of waiting for him to fall lifeless. Then the Incriminating Letter can be planted and the scene left with no alarm raised.

Obviously, this technique can also be used in other dark locations as well. A word of caution though: killing him in public usually leads to collateral damage, so there will be some bodies on the way out of the inn. 

Sometimes, he can be killed in full view of guards and citizens. The guards will do their normal "What was that?" routine, but will not see him actually being slaughtered, even though the Dragonborn is plainly in their vision range. Citizens, however, will scold and sometimes turn hostile when they see Gaius Maro killed.

Direct provocation[]

Another alternative method is for the Dragonborn to approach Maro and use the option of telling him how he will be killed, and then the Emperor. After this, Gaius will begin to attack. Letting him strike the first blow, then fighting back and killing him will not cause a bounty. This method can be used in any major city in order to receive the bonus. If using this method, it is best to confront him in view of a guard – so that it is seen that Gaius attacks first, and the Hold Guards come to the Dragonborn's defense. However, if a guard wanders into view of the fight as it is proceeding and the first blow he sees is struck by the Dragonborn, a bounty will be earned.

If the Dragonborn is a member of the Thieves Guild and happens to encounter Maro in Riften, he can be provoked, and fellow Thieves Guild members (and even Maven Black-Briar herself) will come to the Dragonborn's defense. They will finish him off. Similarly, should the Dovahkiin be a Companion and Maro is seen in Whiterun, he can also be talked into attacking, thus the warriors will slay him. More generally, if Maro is attacked in a town or city where friends are present, they will help to kill him. If he happens to enter the Dragonborn's house or homestead,HF the housecarls and stewards can also be immensely valuable, since they will fight him off too. The same will apply to essential followers.


An easy way to kill Gaius without good combat skills is when he is in Dragonsreach, in Whiterun. He can be approached and provoked. Once he attacks, the entire court of Whiterun will retaliate against him. However, they will not kill him, but lower his health down to the point as to when he falls to one knee. This allows the player to slaughter him with an extra blow or two.


With a high enough Pickpocket skill, it is possible to plant the Incriminating Letter on Gaius before killing him. This allows him to be killed at range and in the open, and the quest completed without physically approaching his body. With the pickpocket perk Poisoned, poison can also be placed in his pocket along with the note. The Lotus Extract poison from the mission "Mourning Never Comes" is ideal for this.

Immediate hostility[]

Gaius can be attacked while outside a major city but not killed, by running away and losing him. Once he has entered a major hold, he will attack the Dragonborn on sight. Since he attacked first, he can be killed with impunity. The guards will either help the Dragonborn or not do anything.


At some point while in town on Fredas, Gaius will go to the guard tower in Markarth. Once he is back out of the tower, Unrelenting Force (preferably all three words) will launch him off of the high point that the guard tower is on. The player can augment this with Force Without Effort or Dragonborn Force to enhance its effects. After following him down, Gaius will attack once he is back on his feet, causing the guards to see this as a crime and attack him until he yields. He can then be simply finished off, and the Incriminating Letter planted.

Schedule changes[]

Whenever Gaius sees the Dragonborn he begins taking an alternate route. This can make the quest quite hard as he will turn away from a city if he sees the Dragonborn anywhere near it. If this happens, waiting in a tavern in a city on his route will allow him to eventually resume his normal journey.

After assassinating Maro[]

Upon returning to the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary, Gabriella will approach, initiating dialogue and congratulating the Dragonborn on completing the mission. She then gives all due rewards. This completes "Breaching Security" and automatically starts "The Cure for Madness," in which something has gone wrong in the Sanctuary. Also, if the bonus (Olava's Token) was earned, the miscellaneous quest "Receive a reading from Olava the Feeble" is started.

Maro's schedule[]

  • Morndas – Solitude, the Emperor's Tower
  • Morndas Evening – Solitude, Castle Dour (food and sleep)
  • Tirdas – Windhelm, the Palace of the Kings
  • Tirdas Evening – Windhelm Barracks (food and sleep)
  • Middas – Riften, Mistveil Keep
  • Turdas – Whiterun, Dragonsreach
  • Turdas Evening – Whiterun, The Bannered Mare (food and sleep)
  • Fredas – Markarth, Understone Keep
  • Fredas Evening – Markarth, guard tower (food and sleep)
  • Loredas & Sundas – Unknown (at Maro's personal discretion)
  • Repeat


Breaching Security – DB06
ID Journal Entry
5 Astrid informed me that I should speak to Gabriella about my next contract, which has something to do with the Emperor's security.
  • Objective 5: Speak with Gabriella
10 I must kill Gaius Maro, an agent of the Emperor's security force. Once he's dead, I must plant a letter on his body that will incriminate him in a plot to kill the Emperor. If I wish to earn a bonus, I must not kill him in Dragon Bridge, or on the road, but in one of the cities he visits.
  • Objective 10: Kill Gaius Maro
  • Objective 8: (Optional) Steal Gaius Maro's travel schedule
  • Objective 30: Report back to Gabriella
  • Objective 20: Plant the Incriminating Letter on Gaius Maro's body
200 I have killed Gaius Maro, and planted the Incriminating Letter on his body. This will surely disrupt the security plan for the Emperor's visit, ruin Commander Maro emotionally, and make the Emperor believe that the only plot to kill him has been foiled.
  • Quest complete


  • The bonus can also be received just outside a city. If a dragon attacks just outside a city, he can be killed while the guards are fighting the dragon, resulting in no bounty. The bonus will still be counted.
  • Gaius can be murdered using Beast Form or if the player is a Vampire Lord, and the bonus still counted, as long as the Dragonborn reverts to their normal appearance in a place where they cannot be seen.
  • It is possible to plant the Incriminating Letter on Gaius first, even as early as him leaving Dragon Bridge.
  • Oddly, Commander Maro informed Windhelm (the Stormcloak Headquarters) of his son's arrival, when the Letter to be placed on Gaius is about him plotting with the Stormcloaks.
  • This quest is an easy way to level Sneak, especially with the Thief Stone active, as remaining hidden while following behind him on his route will continually raise Sneak.


This section contains bugs related to Breaching Security. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:

  1. Please reload an old save to confirm if the bug is still happening.
  2. If the bug is still occurring, please post the bug report with the appropriate system template  360  /  XB1  ,  PS3  /  PS4  ,  PC  /  MAC  ,  NX  /  PS5  ,  XS  , depending on which platform(s) the bug has been encountered on.
  3. Be descriptive when listing the bug and fixes, but avoid having conversations in the description and/or using first-person anecdotes: such discussions belong on the appropriate forum board.
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  •  PC   360   PS3   Gaius Maro and his companion might attack instantly when the Dragonborn enters Dragon Bridge. This means that he cannot be followed to a city, and thus the bonus is lost. Currently there is no patch. Reloading an earlier save prior to starting the quest has been known to work. With a high Sneak skill or muffle boots, it is possible to sneak near where he is, usually at the front door of the Oculus outpost, talking to his father. No one must see the Dragonborn, which is not too hard since the town is not very populated. A way to obtain the bonus is to let Gaius and his father see you, then lure them to a city – Solitude is closest – and fight and kill Gaius there, while avoiding his father. If you let Gaius attack you once, no bounty will be incurred. Plant the letter, escape the city and hide until you lose Commander Maro, then fast travel back to the Sanctuary. The letter will have been placed on Gaius in a city, and the bonus will be given.
  •  360   PS3   If the Dragonborn fast travels to Dragon Bridge, a dragon may appear upon arrival which disrupts Gaius Maro's conversation with his father and wife that is intended to be overheard. After the dragon is killed, rather than finish his conversation, Gaius may wander (and swim) aimlessly for days, never arriving at a major city, which prevents the quest bonus from being obtained. If this problem occurs, waiting for around 2 hours or more should allow him to get back on track. Alternatively, loading a previously saved game, resting or performing other quests for a day or two, then timing the Dragonborn's arrival at Dragon Bridge for night, will prevent the dragon from spawning and the quest can be completed with the bonus.
  •  PC   360   PS3   The Incriminating Letter might not be received at all. No known fix so far. Sometimes doing other quests helps, and the Incriminating Letter appears in inventory.
    •  PC   A workaround for this is forcing the quest to advance via console. Using setstage DB06 200 will end the quest; however, it would render the reward unobtainable. The next quest will have to be triggered as well via setstage DB07 10
  •  PC   The dialogue option to turn in this quest occasionally does not show up. Instead, Gabriella says "Gaius Maro still lives. I assumed you were more competent."
    • Solution: Gaius Maro can be spawned outside the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary using player.placeatme 44050 1. Then he can be killed. Talking to Gabriella again finishes the quest.
  • Possible bug: If the Stormcloak quest line is completed before performing this quest, Stormcloak guards in Dragon Bridge will attack the Maros and stay hostile after killing them, thus making it impossible to continue the quest. This appears to have been fixed on version 1.3.10.
  •  PS3   If Gaius Maro is killed on the streets of Whiterun as he is leaving The Bannered Mare, even while invisible and undetected (no bounty), the next guards seen will attack and offer no dialogue options.
  •  PC   PS3   If fast traveling is done to Whiterun, while waiting at The Bannered Mare until about midnight, Gaius might not show up. He may instead be taking a swim in the Dragonsreach moat under the bridge entrance. To solve this, approach him, and he will swim out.
  • There is a rare bug where, if Gaius is followed from Dragon Bridge, he will stop in the middle of the road just past Solitude. The walking animation will still continue, but he will not move. Killing him will result in no bounty, and no bonus to be given.
  •  360   Gaius Maro may not move at all, even though the conversation was overheard. If the bonus is not desired, simply kill him in Dragon Bridge. However, if the bonus is desired, the "usual" approaches (waiting, fast traveling to another location and coming back, reloading saves, etc.,) do not work; he remains standing in the same spot in the town. To get him to move, talk to him and select the dialogue option to make him hostile (killing him and then the Emperor) and then walk to Solitude while he attacks you. Make sure to heal periodically to avoid getting killed. Getting too far ahead will make him lose you, and he will then remain in that spot forever. When at Solitude's gates, enter and Gaius will follow, and then kill him and plant the letter on the body, thus earning the bonus for the quest.