Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

To Kill an Empire is a quest available in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. In the final act of a grand plot to assassinate Emperor Titus Mede II, the Dragonborn is sent to impersonate the chief chef, the Gourmet, and serve him a "meal to die for."


Using the Writ of Passage issued to the chef known as "The Gourmet," I must enter Castle Dour and play the part of the culinary master, who is scheduled to prepare a feast. This will be my opportunity to assassinate the Emperor, using any tools at my disposal.


  1. Report to Astrid
  2. Report to Commander Maro
  3. Report to Gianna
  4. Report to Gianna while wearing a chef's hat
  5. Make the Potage le Magnifique
  6. Follow Gianna to the dining room
  7. Kill the Emperor
  8. Escape the Tower!
  9. Return to the Sanctuary


"You worry too much. The Emperor's never been safer. You think assassination attempts are planned overnight. We discovered the plot. End of threat."
Penitus Oculatus Agent[src]


Astrid managing the contracts including the Emperor's assassination.

With all the pieces finally in place, Astrid prepares the Dragonborn for the honor of assassinating the Emperor. She says to head to Castle Dour in Solitude and present the Gourmet's Writ of Passage to the officer in charge, Commander Maro. The Dragonborn is to prepare a special meal for the Emperor using a secret ingredient: jarrin root, which is a deadly poison.

Impersonating the chef[]

Note: to avoid unwanted complications, it may be best to leave any follower behind before heading to Solitude. Otherwise, it will be difficult to find them later.

The main quest begins at Castle Dour, where Commander Maro can be found. He will be waiting by the Emperor's Tower entrance, with two of his Penitus Oculatus Agents standing guard to either side of the entrance after a short conversation regarding the two Imperial Legionnaires standing watch by the door to where General Tullius can be found. Once he is shown the Gourmet's Writ of Passage, he says that the Dragonborn must speak to the castle chef, Gianna, and the door behind him can then be entered.

Once inside, the Dragonborn should find Gianna. She will accept the Dragonborn's claim to being the Gourmet, but will not allow them to cook without a chef's hat, which can be found on a shelf nearby (to the left when facing Gianna). She has already prepared the broth, and will ask what ingredients to add. The ingredients suggested do not matter. Eventually, there will be an option to give her the Jarrin Root to be added to the stew. Whether added or not, Gianna will finish the dish and carry it up to the Emperor.

The Emperor's last meal[]

Gianna, a chef at Castle Dour, prepares the Potage le Magnifique.

"I'm sure the emperor and his guests are dying to meet you."

If the root was added, the Emperor will drop dead shortly after tasting the meal. The Penitus Oculatus Agents standing guard will immediately suspect the cooks of poisoning him, and will become hostile. With a high enough Sneak skill, hiding as the Emperor is eating the meal can prevent detection by the guards. There is no need to watch the event as it happens, so the Dragonborn can go into the next room and start sneaking there. Once the Emperor is dead, escape through the back door as instructed.

If the root was not added, the Emperor will suffer no ill effects. The Dragonborn must then kill the Emperor to complete the quest. It is much more difficult to remain undetected using this method, as the Emperor is in a very crowded room, with few safe vantage points for ranged attacks and even fewer for melee. Alternatively, since the Emperor is completely unarmed and unprotected, he is extremely easy to kill. This will turn the guards hostile, but will not in itself add a bounty

With the Poisoned perk in the Pickpocket tree, an easy way to kill the Emperor without being detected is to give him a frenzy poison. This will cause the guards to attack the Emperor, during which time the Dragonborn can hide in the next room. It may take two to three frenzy poisons to do this, however, as the Emperor will attempt to flee the room once given the poison.


While crossing the bridge, the Dragonborn will be stopped by three Penitus Oculatus agents, along with Maro. He will explain that the man who was just assassinated was a decoy. He goes on to explain that someone within the Dark Brotherhood made a deal to let him capture the Dragonborn, and in return, he would retract all aggression against the Dark Brotherhood. However, he intends to break the deal, which means killing the Dragonborn and assaulting the sanctuary, out of revenge for the murder of his son.

Regardless of how the decoy Emperor was killed or whether the Dragonborn was detected, a 1500 Gold (or 750 if the Thieves Guild has influence in Solitude) bounty will be placed on the Dragonborn once Maro finishes his speech, and the soldiers will attack. Either way, the quest continues back at the Sanctuary. It may be easier to escape Solitude by continuing down the spiral staircase past the first landing, since it leads directly outside of Solitude, to a footpath just east of the East Empire Company Warehouse. Fast travel, however, may be impossible while near Solitude with such a high bounty. Also, fast travel directly to the Sanctuary is not possible because the map location is inactive with only a quest marker in its stead, so it is necessary to travel somewhere close and walk/run there. Also, if the Dragonborn has a follower who was left behind somewhere in Solitude (so as to avoid questions while impersonating the Gourmet), they should be retrieved before leaving Solitude for good.

If this quest was used as a means to attain the "Master Criminal" and "Wanted" achievements after earning a bounty in the other holds, it might be best to pay the bounties off so travel through the holds is unrestricted and the Dragonborn is not confronted by Hold Guards should they be spoken to while a bounty is still active.

Sanctuary Under Siege[]

By the time the Dragonborn arrives, the Sanctuary is already under attack by Maro's men. This quest will then be completed, and the next quest, "Death Incarnate," will begin.


To Kill an Empire – DB09
ID Journal Entry
5 It would appear all the contracts leading up to the Emperor's assassination have been completed. I must now speak with Astrid, and receive further instructions.
  • Objective 5: Report to Astrid
10 Using the Writ of Passage issued to the chef known as "The Gourmet," I must enter Castle Dour and play the part of the culinary master, who is scheduled to prepare a feast. This will be my opportunity to assassinate the Emperor, using any tools at my disposal.
  • Objective 10: Report to Commander Maro
  • Objective 20: Report to Gianna
  • Objective 25: Report to Gianna while wearing a chef's hat
  • Objective 30: Make the Potage le Magnifique
  • Objective 40: Follow Gianna to the dining room
  • Objective 50: Kill the Emperor
  • Objective 60: Escape the Tower!
70 It was a trap! The Emperor was actually Titus Mede II's double, and Commander Maro said I had been betrayed by someone within the Dark Brotherhood. Despite his deal, Maro has sent troops to destroy the Sanctuary. I must return there and help my Family!
  • Objective 70: Return to the Sanctuary
200 After learning the Emperor was actually Titus Mede's double, and being confronted by Commander Maro, I learned Maro had betrayed the betrayer, and sent troops to destroy the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary. I returned there, to lend aid to my fellow Family members.
  • Quest complete


  • The stew's name, Potage Le Magnifique, is French for "the magnificent soup."
  • If one looks inside the stew pot while Gianna is carrying it, they will see that it is empty.
  • Commander Maro will make a different remark after being shown the Writ depending on the Dragonborn's outfit; if wearing a chef's hat and chef's tunic, he will say that he should have known who they were by the outfit. Otherwise, he says that they are not dressed as he expected. Ironically, this happens even if the Dragonborn has taken the Gourmet's actual clothes.
  • When first met, Gianna says something different depending on the Dragonborn's race:
    • If Bosmer, she expresses delight in "guessing right." 
    • If Breton, she says that it seems "too obvious" due to the strong history of Breton chefs.
    • If Khajiit, she says that she never expected a Khajiit because "all the fur getting into the food" might be a problem.
    • If Altmer, she is surprised as most of the Gourmet's recipes are aimed towards "commonfolk."
    • If Dunmer, she is baffled and refuses to believe that the Gourmet learned to cook in Morrowind, demonstrating a disgust for Dunmer cuisine.
    • If any other race, especially Orsimer, she is surprised and disappointed. This is ironic, considering the real Gourmet was Orsimer. 
  • Before being confronted by Maro on the bridge, using the Whirlwind Sprint shout just before he appears allows the Dragonborn to move freely while he talks. Attacking the guards before they turn hostile normally will cause Maro to vanish, and the guards will attack as normal. Note that all three words must be used, otherwise, the player will freeze in place like normal, and be forced to listen to Maro's speech.
  • After the conversation with Maro, the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary will disappear from the map as a fast travel destination, although there will be a quest arrow there assuming the quest is active. It will be re-added when the Dragonborn approaches it again.
  • After escaping from Maro's men and exiting the tower, while battling Penitus Oculatus agents outside, a Solitude guard may approach the Dragonborn and demand they either pay their 1,500 Gold bounty or go to prison. If prison is chosen, by the time the Dragonborn is released, the Penitus Oculatus will have disappeared from Solitude. This prevents the Dragonborn from being killed, and also avoids paying the bounty, at the cost of the time in prison with its negative effect on experience. Alternatively, one can pay the bounty, which will allow free escape from the city, though any followers (including thralls, such as Frost Thralls and Dead Thralls) may still attack the guards if they were attacked first, though this will not cause any hostilities to the Dragonborn.
  • If one waits before going into the Emperor's Tower, they can overhear a conversation between two Penitus Oculatus agents:

Penitus Oculatus Agent 1 "The city is crawling with Imperial Legion, and you know what? I'm still nervous."
Penitus Oculatus Agent 2 "Lazy and useless, the lot of them. They can't even keep the Stormcloaks in line. No way I trust them with the Emperor's life."
Penitus Oculatus Agent 1 "You worry too much. The Emperor's never been safer. You think assassination attempts are planned overnight? We discovered the plot. End of story."
Penitus Oculatus Agent 2 "I suppose. But what about the old man? Son killed, family name ruined...and he acts as if nothing even happened. Think's he's even fit for duty?"
Penitus Oculatus Agent 1 "I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that. Commander Maro is the best that the Penitus Oculatus ever produced. You should be half the man he is."
Penitus Oculatus Agent 2 "You misunderstand. Its just...I feel for him, is all. To carry a weight like that. It's got to take its toll. That happened to me, I'd be a wreck."

  • The room in the tower that Maro walks out from is completely empty, and does not even contain stairs or any other means of leaving it. He just appears before he speaks to the Dragonborn, and disappears when he leaves behind the wall.


This section contains bugs related to To Kill an Empire. 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   The three Penitus Oculatus agents may respawn after being killed, and will be hostile, but cannot move or attack. They will prevent waiting and fast traveling, but killing them has no penalties.
  •  PC   360   PS3   PS4   XB1   NX   PS5   XS   After killing the Emperor, going through the door will position the Dragonborn underneath Solitude with the ability to fast travel without characters becoming hostile. However, the Dragonborn will be stuck on the "Escape the Tower" objective and cannot reenter the tower as the door will be locked.
  •  PC   After preparing the poisoned stew and giving it to the Emperor, he may not die.
  •  360   PS3   No matter how far the Dragonborn runs from Solitude, attempting to fast travel always gives the message, "You can't fast travel when guards are pursuing you." Reloading does not fix this. This can happen if attempting to flee without killing any of the guards or Penitus Oculatus, or killing them all.
    • This can be fixed by entering a cave and leaving. Guards will appear at the entrance and the "Pay your fines or go to jail" routine will begin.
    • Another way to fix it is to kill a guard in any town and "Pay your fines or go to jail."
    • Approaching a Solitude guard and getting arrested will remove the bounty, and the guards will stop pursuing the Dragonborn.
    • Sleeping also fixes it.
  •  360   PS3   XB1   After killing the Emperor, the backdoor used to escape may be locked and require a key, making it impossible to exit that way.
  •  360   PS3   Sometimes, when the Dragonborn does not follow Gianna after making the stew, the Emperor will become stuck in dialog; Gianna will repeat the words "I'm so nervous" and the Emperor will not die. The Dragonborn will be forced to kill him directly.
  •  PC   PS3   If a follower is told to wait outside the sanctuary, they will not be there when the Dragonborn returns after killing the Emperor.
  •  360   If the Dragonborn transforms into a Vampire Lord during the Maro confrontation, the game may freeze.
  •  PC   360   When approaching Gianna and talking to her, she may stop the conversation at "It's just..." This may be caused by the Dragonborn being a vampire (in which case it can be fixed by curing the disease). This is because Gianna makes a specific comment at this point about the Dragonborn's race, and the vampire "race" has no dialog, preventing the conversation from continuing. The command "SetStage DB09 30" will skip this conversation on the PC.
  •  360   Gianna may say that she expected the Gourmet to be a Wood Elf, even if the Dragonborn is indeed a Bosmer.
  •  PS3   After exiting Solitude, the bodies of dead thralls killed by guards may disappear. 
  •  PC   After finishing the stew, Gianna will walk toward the Emperor, but when the Dragonborn walks up the steps, the game may shut down.
  •  360   There is a very rare chance that Shadowmere may disappear after fast travelling to a close location and initiating the next quest.
  •  PS4   Astrid may fail to give the jarrin root to the Dragonborn. Astrid's inventory may not list it at all, thus preventing the Dragonborn from pickpocketing the root. (One will have to kill the Emperor in a more mundane fashion, though he will love the stew.)
  •  NX  If the Dragonborn turns into a werewolf or vampire to kill the emperor, and then tries to escape while still in beast form, they will automatically revert to their default character when accosted by Commander Maro on the bridge.
  • Gianna may stop and stare at the Dragonborn for several seconds when walking to the Emperor's location. This can happen multiple times.