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Welcome! This blog is devoted to considerations of morality in the The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by Bethesda. Rather than a fansite, review, or walkthrough, it is a serious attempt to examine the game through a moral lens. Please note that the purpose of this blog is to discuss morality within the context of the game, not to determine whether playing the game is immoral in and of itself; the latter type of "discussion" tends toward tedium and inhibits, rather than promotes, a meaningful conversation.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

The Dark Brotherhood, Part 6 (Side Contracts:Kill Deekus/Ma'randru-jo/Anoriath) (Katnys)

The news of Motierre's scheme, combined with the new reality of living as a vampire, provided quite a full plate for Katnys.  Anxious as she was to get started on the road that would put her face-to-face with the embodiment of the Empire that killed her sister, Katnys had to admit to some relief when she learned that the wedding was still a few days away.  She decided to speak to Nazir to see if there were any side contracts available on which she could sharpen her skills for the momentous tasks ahead.

Nazir, for his part, was delighted to give Katnys three new targets: Deekus, Ma'randru-jo, and Anoriath.  Deekus, who was camping alone on an island north of Dawnstar, was the easiest kill of the three.  Ma'randru-jo proved to be a greater challenge; because his caravan had camped just outside of Whiterun's main gate, Katnys had to crouch in the brush for what seemed like hours before the Khajit moved out of the sight of the guards, the folks at the stable, and, of course, his companions.  Anoriath was by far the most difficult target.  While waiting for the Bosmer to go hunting would have been the ideal strategy, Katnys needed to move things along in time for her appointment in Solitude.  Therefore, she decided to sneak into the Drunken Huntsman and kill him in his sleep.  Complicating her plan was the fact that Elrindir never seemed to move from the counter.  Fortunately, Katnys had learned how to use her Embrace of Shadows in order to get past the watchful proprietor, so killing the slumbering Anoriath was just a matter a closing the bedroom door before firing a point-blank arrow into his back.

After she sneaked back out into the crisp air of the Whiterun night and rejoined Jenassa (whom she has asked to stand watch outside the back door), Katnys readied herself to make the journey to Solitude...but something felt amiss.  She looked into Jenassa's face -- the face she had seen for the first time inside the Drunken Huntsman -- and realized how much they both had changed since the day they met.  Katnys had just murdered three people -- not out of fear or revenge, but as preparation for another murder.  And this last one, Anoriath...what would Elrindir do when he discovered his brother's body?  Elrindir -- in whose establishment Katnys had found not only the gear she depended on, but also the woman whose love and loyalty was vast enough to accept even assassination and vampirism -- would he now mourn his brother the way Katnys mourned her beloved Prym?  Would he seek vengeance?  Would it be justice if he did?  After all, Katnys murdered Anoriath with full malice of forethought; the Legionnaire who killed Prym wasn't even aiming at her.  Prym was collateral damage in a war the Evyrdene sisters had no part in.

And that was the thought that brought her back to Vittoria Vici's wedding: the Empire.  Yes, Katnys had become an assassin, but every drop of blood she spilled served a purpose.  First, each of these people was a target of a contract; in other words, someone wanted them dead badly enough to perform the Black Sacrament.  Katnys had no way of knowing why most of the time, but that was none of her concern anyway.  All that mattered was that the Brotherhood, her adopted family, needed these people dead.  Furthermore, if she had to kill a thousand "innocent" people to settle the score with an Empire so corrupt, incompetent, and arrogant that it could slaughter her sister without even knowing or caring what it had done, then so be it.  And if Elrindir found out that Katnys was responsible to his loss and wanted vengeance of his own, that was his business -- so long as he waited until Motierre's contract was done.  Otherwise...well, Katnys wasn't going to let a grieving fletcher stand between her and her date with Titus Mede II.

No -- the Emperor would know Prym's name.  It would be last word he'd hear.


  1. While I think her behaviour stopped being justifiable long ago, I think this is the point where I've stopped believing Katnys's main reason for her actions is anything other than an excuse. I would've thought that if anything would make her spare a life, it would be the idea of someone potentially going through what she did. Yet she really doesn't seem to care, because she did it anyway, and attempted to justify it after the fact by jumping through all these mental hoops.

    Now, I'm forced to interpret her actions not as working towards any kind of goal, but merely something she must enjoy in itself. She can't be standing against the Empire on principle, because she betrayed that principle, if she ever truly held it in the first place. In short, whatever she might've been before, right now she's just a bloodthirsty maniac.

    I kind of wonder just how far she'll fall before this is over.

  2. Well, in-game the killing of Anoriath isn't optional, afaik, and there isn't any way to play though the questline with a character who isn't a bloodthirsty maniac with a penchant for rationalization or complete amorality, unless you don't take the setting seriously at all.

    Inside the narrative, Prym seemed to be a Morality Chain for Katnyss - once she's out of the game, everything's pretty much fine, if you do the least amount of rationalizations.

  3. In addition, I think that Todd Rooney does quite a good job of rationalizing the stuff, considering that a large part of DB the questline is "kill random people lol".

  4. BTW, I've just remembered that a popular 3dnpc mod for Skyrim does feature two sympathetic Brotherhood members, but one of them is not a member anymore, but a renegade who refused to carry out a contract when he failed to rationalize it, and the second one is a Broken Bird-type whom we never see killing anyone on screen (even though we know that she did off-screen).

  5. Glad you are updating these again! Katnys seems to be beyond the moral event horizon at this point, but I'm anxious to see what you do with her character!

  6. I'm really enjoying these morality playthroughs, and I"m curious: have you considered playing through the other elder scrolls games with using a similar moral perspective? I think it'd be fascinating seeing how a moral character plays through oblivion or morrowind's quest lines.

  7. Yeah, by this point, Kat has jumped right off the slippery slope and taken a dive into the Dark Side. She's rationalizing heinous acts, because to not do so would be to admit that she's become exactly what she hates. She's in too deep, and it's easier now to just stay the course than try to change it.