Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

"The Empire of the 4th era no longer saw the Blades openly protecting it, or the Emperors. That role is now filled by the Penitus Oculatus, a purely Imperial organization."

The Penitus Oculatus, also known as Spectres,[1] are an organization which answers to the Emperor. Their primary task is protecting the Emperor,[2] and as such, are considered elite bodyguards.[3] The Penitus Oculatus uses warriors, archers, and mages in their line of duty.[4]

By game[]


The Penitus Oculatus approaches young and bright people when they go out to recruit, and can be provided with advice by guardsmen in Cyrodiil. New potential recruits are sent an Imperial invitation by the organization, following which they have to perform two tasks. One of these tasks is assassinating someone. These targets are ordered to be killed by the authority of the Emperor, and while recruits are not told why their target had to die, since their duty is not to think but to obey, they are ensured it is for a justified reason. The second task is being able to convince the Intendant that the new recruit is ready for the duties within the Penitus Oculatus.[5] Those who successfully join the Penitus Oculatus can have their training be primarily focused on one specific subject, such as the Thalmor. Agents of the Penitus Oculatus study within the White-Gold Tower,[1] where they have a private library, to which only the Penitus Oculatus, and a select few others, such as the Prime Minister, have access.[6]

Upon being accepted into the Penitus Oculatus, new recruits are provided with their documents by the Intendant of the organization.[5]


A Penitus Oculatus Agent.

"You are an instrument, a utensil of the Empire."
Intendant Marall[src]

Penitus Oculatus Agents serve a number of tasks. They are tasked with discovering spies within the Empire through tact and their mind, but they can also be tasked with stealing, poisoning, stabbing, injuring, or murdering targets.[5] Inspectors are involved with investigating crime scenes, such as when someone related to the Imperial family is kidnapped.[7] They are also able to send out scouts to investigate events or places that might threaten the Empire.[8]

Another part of their duty is ensuring the safety of the Emperor, the prince,[9] and other members related to the Imperial family.[10] Even so, members of the Imperial family can order the Penitus Oculatus to cease their attempts of getting them to safety, to which the Penitus Oculatus must obey.[9]


Following the Oblivion Crisis, the Blades ceased working with the Empire directly,[11] as they were not an arm of the Imperial Government.[12] As such, the Penitus Oculatus was founded to replace the duties of the Blades.[11]

In 4E 28, the Penitus Oculatus was tasked with dealing with Julius Primus, a self-proclaimed new King of Worms, who had been an expert at hiding, and was a nuisance to the Empire. The Penitus Oculatus killed him and hid his body in a hidden enclave underneath the ministery.[6]

Umbriel Crisis[]

During the Umbriel Crisis, the Penitus Oculatus saw some action. Inspector Colin, a relatively new member of the organization, was involved with multiple deeds. His first assignment involved planting false intelligence for the Minister of War and trace it. Through the usage of a Penitus Oculatus agent in a Thalmor nest, it became clear the intelligence arrived there. It was then easily traced back to a mid-level official who was providing the information to a person who turned out to be a Thalmor sympathizer. Rather than arrest or murder the person responsible, however, it was decided to leave the leak in place due to its potential value.[1]

Following the capture of heir Attrebus Mede, a Penitus Oculatus unit, alongside royal guardsmen, were sent out to investigate the site where the prince was last seen. The majority of the bodyguards of the prince had been murdered through the usage of arrows, though other bodies were torn apart. The Penitus Oculatus agents who were sent to the scene were under the command of Inspector Colin. Evidence at the scene pointed to the Natives, a group of insurgents from County Skingrad, being responsible for the attack, as arrows in their style alongside beheadings which the insurgents took part of, being noticed at the site. When the supposed body of the prince was found, however, Inspector Colin became suspicious. The body was beheaded, and largely burned with only scraps of clothing being attached to it, alongside a large ring. Colin considered this too convenient, and expected the prince to still be alive. He thought it'd make sense for the Natives to take the head of the prince, but didn't understand why they would have left his signature ring in place.[7]

Sometime later, Colin had to report to the Emperor himself. During this conversation, Colin made clear that he believed the prince was still alive, and that the Natives were not involved in the massacre. The Emperor was suspicious at first since the Natives were vicious, as well as both funded and supplied by the Thalmor. Colin countered this argument by stating he did not believe the murder of the prince advanced the aims of the Thalmor. Administrator Vel of the Penitus Oculatus questioned Colin's claims, since he had only been on employ for a month, but Colin responded by pointing out the focus of his training was the Thalmor. The two held a short discussion in which the goal of the Thalmor was made clear by Colin; the pacification and purification of Tamriel, and why he did not see the connection to the murder of the prince in it. The Emperor would eventually agree with Colin that the body was not the one belonging to Attrebus, before he left the area,[1] but due to Colin's aggressive response against Administrator Vel, he would end up being reassigned. Still, Colin continued to work on the Attrebus case, and chased the person who last spoke to Gulan,[13] the member of Attrebus Mede's personal guard who was tasked with reporting back to the Emperor.[14] The person was an assistant to the minister, and was known as Letine Arese. Attrebus would chase her through the Imperial City via the shadows, and eavesdrop on a conversation she held with a mercenary assigned to murder Attrebus. Here it became clear that the prince was still alive, as a courier had been seen by Letine reporting to the Emperor regarding the matter. Shortly afterwards, Letine accused the mercenary of being little more than a thug, following which the men of the mercenary entered the room, and a loud shrieking noise began. Colin escaped, now with the knowledge that the core of the Empire was rotten and only he seemed to care. The Inspector left the scene, wondering if Letine was working on her own, or if she was part of a bigger group.[13]

Colin would then one day wake up and get captured by an Argonian and Bosmer under the employ of Letine, as she had become aware that Colin was spying on her. She made Colin aware that the ambush on Prince Attrebus was planned by minister Hierem, of who she was the assistant at the command of the Emperor himself, as Letine was part of the Emperor's inner circle. Letine believed Colin and herself shared a common goal; discovering why Hierem wanted Prince Attrebus dead, and so the two agreed to collaborate.[15] While this unofficial assignment was ongoing, however, the Penitus Oculatus had become aware of the Flying City of Umbriel, and assumed it was somehow linked to the Thalmor as they must have been up to something. Colin did not see a connection between Umbriel and the Thalmor, but did agree the Thalmor was trying to harm the Empire in other ways, actively harassing refugee comunnities in Sentinel and on the Isle of Balfiera, with the former being often struck by murders which were presumed to have been performed by Thalmor agents, as all of the victims were either of mixed blood or had certain connections which the Dominion disproved of. Within Valenwood the situation was even worse, as the local rebellions which were supplied by the Penitus Oculatus no longer reliably received said supplies. Sixty rebels, alongside four Penitus Oculatus agents were executed, and a leak was presumed to have been the cause. At the same time, Penitus Oculatus scouts confirmed the common rumors regarding the Flying City being from Oblivion, inhabited by strange creatures, which destroyed everything it passed and was followed by an army of the dead. The scouts would also discover that, while the track of the Flying City was from Lilmoth to Vvardenfell, both the cities of Gideon and Stormhold had also been overrun by the undead, despite neither being on the track between Lilmoth and Vvardenfell. This made the organization aware that the undead army of Umbriel could go far away from its creator, and with a reported army of undead having entered eastern Cyrodiil, some suspicion was made regarding the Thalmor. Intendant Marall elaborated on this by pointing out how, while Cyrodiil is busy fighting an undead army in the east, the Dominion would have the perfect chance to strike from the west or up the Niben. Colin still pointed out he had not encountered anything suggesting the Thalmor were aware of these events, to which Marall elaborated again. Both The Synod and The College of Whispers had agreed that Umbriel had arrived on Tamriel through the aid of some power on Tamriel itself. Because of this magical connection, the Thalmor were accused. Colin agreed somewhat to this notion, but still believed that, rather than attack the Empire, the Dominion would sooner use the Umbriel Crisis as a means to consolidate their hold over Valenwood, as he was aware the Dominion had a plan laid out over decades. As such, Colin suggested the An-Xileel might have information on the event, as Umbriel first appeared in Black Marsh. While the reports of the Synod and College of Whispers, as well as those made on foot in Argonia, were largely centered around the size of Umbriel, alongside the massacre at Gideon and Stormhold, Colin decided to look into what little the Penitus Oculatus knew of the An-Xileel itself, and discovered some interesting information, namely, nearly every report regarding Black Marsh had been censored by Minister Hierem's office.[8]

Colin would share this information with Letine, who was not surprised, as Hierem had made a secret trip to Black Marsh the previous year with the excuse of negotiating with the An-Xileel leaders, following which he would have had anything that suggested his presence there be removed. What did surprise her, however, was the fact that Hierem had also ordered the censorship of recent report regarding the Flying City, and Colin presumed it was connected to the attempted murder on Prince Attrebus. Because of this, Colin assumed that it had also been Hierem who summoned Umbriel to Tamriel, through some bargain with the lord of the Flying City. Letine Arese pointed out that it would be difficult to obtain the uncensored reports as those would be kept in Hierem's private quarters, if they were kept at all. Because of this, Colin asked if anyone joined Hierem during his journey to Black Marsh the previous year, which was the case. Delia Huerc was the person who had come with Hierem to Black Marsh, but had died following their return. The official report stated it was due to an illness, but due to recent discoveries, both Letine and Colin doubted the official report.[8]

Because of this, Colin would locate and infiltrate the house of Delia. Here, after dealing with a ghost-like opponent, Colin discovered the journal of the Redguard. The journal would explain that Delia had been led to believe that Hierem wanted to make a deal with the An-Xileel against the Thalmor, and that Hierem would become involved with a ritual at the City Tree of Lilmoth. The An-Xileel were chanting to the tree, and Hierem would eventually add his voice to theirs, while at the same time performing some minor sorcery and repeating the name "Umbriel" many times. Delia would die the following day following food poisoning. While Colin was reading this information, he was also keeping an eye on the house of Letine, noticed a Dark Brotherhood assassin was waiting outside of it, and decided to break in to confront the threat. Within the house, another assassin was found, the former being killed by Colin, while the latter was slain by an atrnoach of Delia. This attempted assassination was evidence that someone, possibly Hierem himself, wanted Delia dead.[16] Colin would later report the new information to the Emperor directly, and be tasked with the Emperor to find evidence that the Elder Council could not argue with. Due to the Emperor's own suspicions regarding Hierem, he provided Colin with the key to his office to continue his research.[17]

New research would be done in the library of the Penitus Oculatus, where Colin worked alongside Altmer coleague Professor Aronil. Aronil had asked Colin why he was researching into topics unrelated to his current assignment, to which Colin replied by explaining the story. Aronil provided Colin with a book which detailed the spirit which had attacked Colin while obtaining the journal of Delia, and elaborated that the last person to touch the book had been minister Hierem. Armed with this knowledge, Colin decided to hide Arese in a hidden enclave underneath the ministery.[6] With Arese hidden, Colin went to the office of Hierem to look for information on Black Marsh. Hierem's room was not unusual, excluding the four cells that were present and runes in an unknown language. Colin could not find anything related to the Black Marsh incident, but did find a scroll with a crypted message, where he could find the word "Umbriel". Seeing this as a breakthrough, Colin copied the scroll and brought it to Arese, where it was discovered that the message was written in a secret language used by the Synod. Arese would go and discover what the scroll said, while Colin continued with his job.[18]

Five days later, the Flying City itself would come closer to the Imperial City, however, and when it was two days removed from the capital, the Imperial Legion, alongside the Synod, had attempted an attack on the city under General Takar. This attempted failed, however, providing the Penitus Oculatus with knowledge on what didn't work against the forces of Umbriel, while leaving them with little time to discover what would. At the same time, rumor among the Penitus Oculatus had been that Attrebus Mede had been found in the Waterfront District of the Imperial City, though they were lacking a source. Arese had also returned with newfound knowledge, and had learned that the prince was being held captive by Hierem himself. Colin and Arese both decided to find their way to the prime minister's office to confront Hierem.[9]

When the two arrived in the office, however, Hierem was gone, and both Attrebus and Sul were found in the cells within the room. After freeing both the Prince and his companion, Colin proposed the Prince return to his father, but due to conflicting opinions, all four remained within the office until Hierem returned, taking positions near the sigil which Hierem used to travel to Umbriel from the Imperial City.[9]

When Hierem had returned, Attrebus and Sul left for Umbriel.[19] Colin struck the prime minister with his dagger, but did not kill him, arguing with Arese that they needed him alive. After a fight, Hierem was killed, and both Colin and Arese had been weakened. When Colin tried to help Arese up again, she stabbed him with a knife, and moved out of the office, claiming Hierem owed her something.[20] It would turn out that Arese was planning on trying to absorb the power of Umbriel through the arcane arts, but she was killed by Colin before her plan could come to pass, and shortly after, Umbriel disappeared, as Attrebus and Sul had successfully destroyed the Flying City.[21]

4E 201[]

The Penitus Oculatus Outpost in Skyrim.

During the Dragon Crisis, the Penitus Oculatus held an outpost in the village of Dragon Bridge,[4] where they served under Commander Maro.[22] The Penitus Oculatus had also become aware of the identity of the leader of the Dark Brotherhood, Astrid, and knew the phrase required to enter their last settled Sanctuary in Falkreath Hold. The Agents were waiting for the time to strike,[23] and the Falkreath Sanctuary would eventually be raided at the command of Commander Maro.[24][25] Even so, corrupt agents within the Penitus Oculatus also existed, and used the Dark Brotherhood to deal with their own problems.[26]


Commander Maro, the Commander of the Penitus Oculatus during 4E 201.

  • Inspector[5] – Inspectors are, as their rank suggests, involved with inspecting crime scenes related to the Imperial family.[7]
  • Intendant[5] – Intendants are tasked with recruiting new members into the Penitus Oculatus,[5] and inform them while on duty.[1] They are the ones in charge of the Inspectors of the Penitus Oculatus.[9]
  • Professors[6] – Professors of the Penitus Oculatus have the duty of maintaining the library of the Penitus Oculatus. To prevent abuse of the knowledge within the library, Professors are privy to any investigation of the Penitus Oculatus. Professors have access to a spell which enables them to discover if a book was touched, and if so, by who.[6]
  • Administrator[1] – The Administrator is tasked with providing assignments to the ranks of the Penitus Oculatus, and also handles reassignments.[1]
  • Commander of the Penitus Oculatus – The Commander of the Penitus Oculatus is directly involved with ensuring the safety of the Emperor.[22]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 An Elder Scrolls Novel: The Infernal City, Part 2, Chapter 7
  2. Loading Screen in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  3. Dialogue with Amaund Motierre during "Hail Sithis!"
  4. 4.0 4.1 Events of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 An Elder Scrolls Novel: The Infernal City, Part 1, Chapter 2
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls, Part 2, Chapter 6
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 An Elder Scrolls Novel: The Infernal City, Part 2, Chapter 5
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls, Part 1, Chapter 3
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls, Part 3, Chapter 5
  10. Dialogue with the Penitus Oculatus Agent during "Bound Until Death"
  11. 11.0 11.1 The Rise and Fall of the Blades
  12. Dialogue with Jauffre during "Find the Heir"
  13. 13.0 13.1 An Elder Scrolls Novel: The Infernal City, Part 3, Chapter 10
  14. An Elder Scrolls Novel: The Infernal City, Part 3, Chapter 7
  15. An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls, Part 1, Chapter 1
  16. An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls, Part 1, Chapter 5
  17. An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls, Part 1, Chapter 9
  18. An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls, Part 2, Chapter 11
  19. An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls, Part 3, Chapter 6
  20. An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls, Part 3, Chapter 7
  21. An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls, Part 3, Chapter 9
  22. 22.0 22.1 Conversation between Commander Maro and a Penitus Oculatus Agent in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  23. Dialogue with Commander Maro during "Destroy the Dark Brotherhood!"
  24. Events of "Destroy the Dark Brotherhood!"
  25. Events of "Death Incarnate"
  26. Events of "The Dark Brotherhood Forever"