Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

"Surprised? So was I, when a member of your "Family" came to me with the plan. We worked out a deal, you see. An exchange. [...] But you know what? I've changed my mind. How about this? I kill you, and butcher each and every one of your miserable little friends?"
Commander Maro[src]

Death Incarnate is a quest available in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. After what was supposed to be the Dark Brotherhood's greatest contract in centuries, the Dragonborn learns that it was all a setup so that Commander Maro could attack the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary. As Listener, the Dragonborn must rescue any surviving members and ensure that the Brotherhood lives on. The quest begins once the quest "To Kill an Empire" has been completed.


I have returned to the Sanctuary in the midst of the Penitus Occulatus' assault. I must assist my fellow Family members any way I can.


  1. Enter the Sanctuary
  2. Search for survivors
  3. Kill the Legion soldiers inside the Sanctuary
  4. Kill Nazir's attacker!
  5. Speak with Nazir
  6. Escape the Sanctuary
  7. Embrace the Night Mother
  8. Talk to Astrid
  9. Kill Astrid
  10. Retrieve the Blade of Woe (optional)
  11. Return to the Night Mother


Commander Maro's men have located the Sanctuary and are currently raiding it. When the Dragonborn arrives, several Penitus Oculatus agents will be encountered at the entrance. Festus can be found dead, pinned to a tree by a barrage of arrows outside the door. Kill the agents and enter the Black Door.

Festus Krex killed outside the Sanctuary.

Sanctuary Assault[]

Inside the Sanctuary, explosions can be heard from deeper within. Where Astrid would normally be located, there are two Penitus Oculatus Agents. Eavesdropping on their conversation reveals that the Sanctuary is being set alight and an agent named Arcturus has led some other men deeper into the Sanctuary. The Dragonborn should kill the agents and move on. Fire magic works well in this area due to the large amounts of oil on the ground. The body of Veezara can be found on the ground here.

After proceeding deeper into the Sanctuary, the death of Arnbjorn will be witnessed; he attacks a group of agents in Beast Form before being slain. His death is scripted, so nothing can be done to save him. When proceeding forward, the dead bodies of Gabriella and Lis will be found. In the dining hall, Nazir will be seen battling several agents, along with their leader, Arcturus. After defeating Arcturus and any other agents nearby, the Dragonborn should talk to Nazir and follow him, killing any more agents that are encountered.

Embrace the Night Mother[]

"Listener. I am your only salvation. Come. Embrace me. Sleep."
―The Night Mother[src]

Nazir will run into the Night Mother's room, only to discover that it's a dead end. The Night Mother communicates to the Dragonborn, telling them to embrace her, as it is the only way to survive. Open her sarcophagus and step inside. The screen will go black, and she will tell the Dragonborn to sleep. Nazir and Babette will free the Dragonborn some time later, after the fires have died. Just before the coffin doors open, the Night Mother will tell the Dragonborn to speak to Astrid, somewhere inside the Sanctuary.

The Dread Lord Beckons[]

"You must speak with Astrid. Here, in the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary."
―The Night Mother[src]

Outside the coffin, head out of the grotto and up the stone stairs to Astrid's usual location. Continue into the room on the right, and into a new room beyond that. Astrid is there, burned beyond recognition, lying in the center of a ring of candles in the configuration of the Black Sacrament.

She explains that she betrayed the Dragonborn to the Penitus Oculatus in return for their promise to spare the Dark Brotherhood. She says that her action was unforgivable and that Sithis will judge her accordingly. She asks the Dragonborn to rebuild the Dark Brotherhood, and gives the Dragonborn her Blade of Woe and demands that she be killed, as she has enacted the Black Sacrament on herself.

"Astrid is dead. It is as it should be. May she find redemption in the Void. But while you live, the Dark Brotherhood lives. We must fulfill our contract. Emperor Titus Mede II must be eliminated. Speak with Amaund Motierre at the Bannered Mare in Whiterun. He will know the true Emperor's location. But first, inform Nazir of your plans. For you are the Listener, and must bind this Family together."
―The Night Mother[src]

After Astrid is killed, the quest log indicates that the Dragonborn should return to the Night Mother. She says that the contract to assassinate the true Emperor, Titus Mede II, must still be carried out. She commands the Dragonborn to speak to Amaund Motierre in Whiterun, as he will know the true Emperor's real location. This completes the quest and begins the next quest, "Hail Sithis!"


Death Incarnate – DB10
ID Journal Entry
10 I have returned to the Sanctuary in the midst of the Penitus Oculatus' assault. I must assist my fellow Family members any way I can.
  • Objective 10: Enter the Sanctuary
  • Objective 15: Search for survivors
  • Objective 20: Kill the Legion soldiers inside the Sanctuary (<Global=DB10LegionAttackerDeadCount>/5)
  • Objective 30: Kill Nazir's attacker!
  • Objective 35: Speak with Nazir
  • Objective 40: Escape the Sanctuary
  • Objective 50: Embrace the Night Mother
  • Objective 60: Talk to Astrid
  • Objective 70: Kill Astrid
  • Objective 81: (Optional) Retrieve the Blade of Woe
  • Objective 80: Return to the Night Mother
200 Not only have the Penitius Oculatus killed most of the Family members and burned the Sanctuary, Astrid also revealed herself to be the one who betrayed me. But there is still hope - the Emperor is still in Skyrim, and I have a chance to fulfill my contract with Amaund Motierre.
  • Quest completed


  • Astrid cannot be killed with attacks to her head, as they will not connect. Attacks to any other area of the body will work.
  • Items placed in chests or cupboards near the beds will be lost when this quest begins.
  • Using Dead Thrall, it is possible to reanimate Astrid.
  • In all versions of the game, attempting the spell Healing Hands upon Astrid will sometimes kill her.
  • If the player reanimates Astrid, when she dies, she says "Thank you" again as if the player was killing her in the Sanctuary during the quest.
  • Most of the Sanctuary becomes inaccessible after this quest.
  • The burnt bodies of former Imperials contain random amounts of gold that are independent of whether those same bodies were looted before the fire.
  • The Blade of Woe can be removed from Astrid's body prior to talking to her and she will still tell the Dragonborn to take it. This does not result in two Blades of Woe.


This section contains bugs related to Death Incarnate. 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.
Click to show
  •  PC   360   PS3   When the screen fades to black after embracing the Night Mother, the game may lag for several minutes, or freeze entirely. It is recommended to save the game before entering.
    • Clicking the back button at the black screen and waiting for an hour or two might allow the quest to continue.
    •  360   Solution: pressing the Xbox Guide button to open up the Xbox Guide a few times upon entering the casket will move things forward. The guide should be opened and closed until some movement and talking can be heard, which means it worked. If this does not work, disconnecting the controller power supply and reconnecting it, then pressing the "Xbox" button, may work.
    •  360   If the Xbox Guide button is pressed and the "open" sound is heard but no guide shows up, it means that the game is loading and is not frozen. The guide will appear when the loading is done.
  • Sometimes upon entering the Sanctuary, the guards will not be doing anything but standing still. They will act hostile if the player approaches, but will not attack. Scripted events such as Arnbjorn being killed by the guards will not happen.
  • Sometimes when the Dragonborn kills the agent fighting Nazir, Nazir disappears. It is best to save before engaging the agent in combat, since once fighting with him starts, there is no way out of the Sanctuary. (Bug confirmed and fixed on PC.)
  • Nazir's attacker may not appear, and the quest marker may show that he is inside one of the walls. The command killall will not solve the problem.
    •  PC   Solution: in the console, type player.placeatme 0004D6CA. Then he can be killed.
  • Sometimes Nazir's attacker is immune to any kind of damage.
  • After the fight with Nazir's attacker, if the Dragonborn is carrying too much to run, the Night Mother may not start her conversation.
    • Solution: The Dragonborn should drop some equipment and run back to the hall where the fight with Nazir's attacker took place. When opening the door, the Night Mother conversation will start. After this, the equipment can be picked up again.
  •  360   When entering the Night Mother's coffin, it is possible that the she will not talk at all.
    • Solution: Reloading a save is the only known solution.
  •  360   Upon exiting the Night Mother's coffin, Nazir may remain silent even though he forces the dialogue mode. With enough presses of the B button, the dialogue can be exited, but neither Babette nor Nazir will speak. Astrid is also not in the Sanctuary, despite the quest icon pointing to where she should be. Attempting to exit the Sanctuary, view the map, or rearrange equipped items causes the game to freeze. This bug appears to occur after having become a Vampire Lord.
  • After talking with Astrid, it is possible to pickpocket her. Doing so and failing will make her stand up and turn hostile. Nazir may then attack her.
  • Sometimes, Astrid is found standing up.
  • Shadowmere might wander away from the entrance to the Sanctuary or even disappear from the game if left near the Sanctuary during this quest.
    •  PS3   Shadowmere may also attack upon leaving the Sanctuary.
  •  360  Penitus Oculatus agents will continue to spawn outside of the Sanctuary after this quest, usually one or two spawning at a time. This can be exploited to gather an endless amount of Penitus Oculatus Armor.
  •  PC   During the attack inside the sanctuary, there are two Astrids, Arnbjorns, and Veezaras. Each one of them has their scripted versions or dead body as well as their "usual" versions (as they were before the attack). Their "usual" NPCs are helping to fight enemies, and after the attack they remain inside the sanctuary alive. Astrid will observe the map, Arnbjorn will train against air where the dummy was previously, and Veezara will sit on the floor. Interacting with them will give the dialogue, "What can you tell me about yourself?"