In the quest: "In my Time of Need"

Saadia claims:

  • "I am a noble of House Suda in Hammerfell."
  • "The Alik'r are assassins in the employ of the Aldmeri Dominion."

Kematu claims:

  • Saadia is known for constantly changing her name.
  • Saadia is wanted by the noble houses of Taneth for treason.
  • "She sold the city out to the Aldmeri Dominion. Were it not for her betrayal, Taneth could have held its ground in the war."

Who's telling the truth? How is it possible to confirm their claims?

  • 8
    Go to Hammerfall and ask the House of Suda. Saadia and Kematu will probably have escaped by then so go ahead and kill both to be safe... Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 20:37

11 Answers 11


The purpose of this quest I think is to make you question which is the right option to take.

It is intentionally unclear.

My logic was this:

  • The Alik'r were shunned by Whiterun, that's saying something. Perhaps they have a bad reputation for being dirty mercenaries.
  • It is more likely that an individual spoke out against an organization rather than one individual causing the fall of Taneth.
    • The Aldmeri have always been able to win fights without the assistance of individuals, especially noble women, who may or may not have access to military secrets.
  • If she had caused the downfall of Taneth, why would she hide outside of Aldmeri territory? She could be easily protected elsewhere.

I did see this though:

If you accept Kematu's request and help him capture Saadia, you may encounter a group of Thalmor Justiciars in the wild that carry a Justiciar Execution Order with your race and name. This may indicate that Kematu might have been telling the truth and that Saadia truly was a traitor (source needed, Justiciar Execution Orders are normally issued because of the assault on the Thalmor Embassy in the main questline).

Source: http://elderscrolls.wikia.com/wiki/In_My_Time_of_Need

  • 4
    @Grok Not sure if the Justiciars are related to that choice. They may be related to the quest though. I was attacked by a group of them, and hadn't done the Embassy, and had sided with Saadia. Was wondering why they attacked me at all, since I hadn't done anything obvious against the Thalmor yet. Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 21:13
  • 1
    well if she did help the thalmor and you helped Kematu then it makes sense that the justicars wanted to stop you, but why does justiciars imply that Kematu was lying? The rest of your points make a lot of sense though
    – l I
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 22:20
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    However, you must consider that the Alik'r have curved swords. Curved. Swords.
    – brymck
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 1:45
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    @Andy_Vulhop Using the official means to complete every and any task is stupid for every great empire, especially if it concerns breaking in another Hold to make justice as they understand it. How would you like someone breaking in your house and punishing your children? They can be right but it's disrespectful. On the other hand, were they killed by 'regular' murderers this wouldn't enrage you politically.
    – Renan
    Commented Feb 25, 2012 at 22:35
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    @Andy_Vulhop The Aldmeri never imposed their judicial system to the defeated Holds. Although they are allowed to hunt down worshippers of Talos, they do not hold any authority to enforce local laws or their own in Skyrim. Keep in mind the Aldmeri agreed to sign a peace treaty that is of great advantage but doesn't grant unlimited powers.
    – Renan
    Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 21:41

Kematu might be telling the truth

  1. The first time you talk to Saadia, she pulls a knife on you. While this may seem like an act of desperate defiance, it may hint at a violent and unpredictable personality.
  2. Saadia seems hesitant to explain the full situation, while Kematu elaborates on it fully. Is Saadia's reticence due to her guilt?
  3. The man you can free from jail seems strangely honourable, saying he has shamed his companions and wants to begin anew.
  4. If Kematu really was an assassin, why paralyse her at the end of the quest - why not just stab her and be done with it? He also mentions justice, and taking her into custody, and implies that Saadia will face a trial back in Hammerfell rather than swift execution. All this points to him and his warriors being enforcers rather than assassins.
  5. Kematu's opening line - "We can avoid any more bloodshed." And his closing lines which imply that Saadia is known for her manipulation of people.
  6. The in game book The Great War refers to Alik'r warriors harassing the Aldermi Dominion forces as they retreated. This would make the dominion hiring them most strange. It is then important to consider this: Is hiring Redgaurd assassins the style of the Dominion? They have a certain level of free reign within the Empire. Why would they need to hire human assassins to kill someone? They have the Justiciars doing that for the Thalmor.
  7. Saadia specifically wants you go and kill Kematu. Why does she want that? The Alik'r are not allowed in the city, so for now she is perfectly safe.

For these reasons I almost always end up siding with Kematu.

  • 9
    I side with Kematu, because I probably can't take on 20 assassins with curved swords.
    – Marcelo
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 13:24
  • 2
    I tend to believe Kematu as well, mostly for the reasons you outlined. The primary thing that reinforced my belief was that he paralyzed her and took her back, rather than simply killing her on sight. Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 16:29
  • 1) Saadia is on her own, hiding and being hunted. Pulling a knife is what anyone would do. 2) Same 3-4) Kematu doesn't have to know he's lying. He might just be hired and loyal to who hired him. 5) Of course he'd prefer no bloodshed. They're already not liked in Whiterun. You catch more flies with honey. 7) There's no guarantee the Alik'r won't ever be allowed in, or be able to force their way in. Not saying you're wrong, only that there's a secondary explanation for everything, even if only so as to get you convinced to take their side.
    – Flater
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 10:25
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    @Flater re. #5, note that Kematu clearly has the apparent advantage in numbers when he makes the proposal, and he's taking a risk that you double-cross him by pretending to accept the proposal and then help Saadia escape (or kill Kematu at the exchange, which you can actually do).
    – Arkku
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 7:54
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    An additional point in favour of Kematu is that if you kill Saadia at the exchange, he laments the wasted effort, so clearly he wasn't just planning on murdering her once they're out of your sight. Meanwhile Saadia's burial urn, which appears in Whiterun afterwards, could have been sent back for whatever reason (e.g., they didn't want the traitor buried in her ancestral home).
    – Arkku
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 7:57

Facts point to Saadia lying about Alik'r cooperating with the Aldmeri Dominion...

I will base this claim not on what Kematu or Saadia has said or done as a person (which might be subjective) but on hard facts.

My assumptions:

  • Kematu is an Alik'r warrior.
  • "The Great War" chronicle accurately depicts the events that unfolded during the war between the empire and the Aldmeri dominion.

Having those assumptions out of the way here are some history facts from "The Great War":

  • Skyrim begins at 4E 201
  • In 4E 174 (27 years prior to Skyrim)

    General Decianus was preparing to drive the Aldmeri back from Skaven when he was ordered to march for Cyrodiil. Unwilling to abandon Hammerfell completely, he allowed a great number of "invalids" to be discharged from the Legions before they marched east. These veterans formed the core of the army that eventually drove Lady Arannelya's forces back across the Alik'r late in 174, taking heavy losses on their retreat from harassing attacks by the Alik'r warriors.

We learn that General Decianus left some troops behind referred to in the book as "Alik'r warriors" who kept battling the Aldmeri Dominion when Decianus had to heed the call of emperor Titus Mede II to march to Cyrodiil.

  • In 4E 175 (26 years prior to Skyrim)

    The Emperor encouraged [The Aldmeri Dominion] in their belief that he was preparing to surrender; meanwhile, he gathered his forces to retake the Imperial City. [...] One army, with the legions from Hammerfell under General Decianus, was hidden in the Colovian Highlands near Chorrol.

We learn that General Decianus was directly involved in the retaking of the Imperial City during the Battle of the Red Ring.

  • In 4E 175 at the end of the war

    In the end, the main Aldmeri army in Cyrodiil was completely destroyed. The Emperor's decision to withdraw from the Imperial City in 4E 174 was bloodily vindicated. Lord Naarifin was kept alive for thirty-three days, hanging from the White-Gold tower. It is not recorded where his body was buried, if it was buried at all. One source claims he was carried off by winged daedra on the thirty-fourth day.

We learn that Lord Naarifin a general of the Aldmeri Dominion was gibbeted at the end of the retaking of the Imperial City.

  • In 4E 175 the White-Gold Concordat is signed.

    Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion signed the White-Gold Concordat, ending the Great War. [...] Hammerfell, however, refused to accept the White-Gold Concordat, being unwilling to concede defeat and the loss of so much of their territory. Titus II was forced to officially renounce Hammerfell as an Imperial province in order to preserve the hard-won peace treaty. The Redguards, understandably, looked on this as a betrayal.

We learn that the Redguards refuse to accept the treaty (and are expelled from the empire) and continue to wage war with the Aldmeri Dominion.

  • In 4E 180 (21 years before Skyrim)

    In the end, the heroic Redguards fought the Aldmeri Dominion to a standstill, [...] to allow the eventually Second Treaty of Stros M'kai in 4E 180 and the withdrawal of Aldmeri forces from Hammerfell.

We learn that the Aldmeri Dominion were eventually forced to widthdraw from Hammerfell as the war lead to a standstill. Although not explicitly mentioned, judging by the White-Gold Concordat I doubt that the treaty of Stros M'kai left the Aldmeri Dominion empty handed (which might explain Kematu saying that the resistance in Hammerfell is still ongoing).

My Conclusions - Feel free to make your own based on the given facts

  • I doubt that 21 year is enough to clear up all the bad blood between the altmer and the redguards especially with the redguards being involved in gibbeting one of their more famous generals.

  • Even though the Aldmeri Dominion could have control over part of Hammerfell after the treaty, I doubt that they would be able to employ Alik'r who were part of the Hammerfell military during the war just a few decades ago.

  • Since Aldmeri Dominion justiciar parties are freely roaming throughout Skyrim (prisoners in tow), hiring a third party to do the same job seems questionable.

  • It makes sense that Alik'r warriors are turned away everywhere because they are seen as a military unit of Hammerfell which is no longer part of the empire, having a non-empire military unit march through a city could be seen as potentially dangerous, provocative and bearing heavy implications politically.

  • Kematu asks you to meet him in Rorikstead. Rorik himself is an old war dog who fought in the Great War. Since he himself has most likely fought alongside redguards from Hammerfell, he might have allowed them to stay in his town as fellow veterans of war. I doubt that Rorik (having fought against the Aldmeri Dominion) would let them stay in his town if he had any suspicions about them making deals with the Thalmor.


I've done this quest both ways.. and I am now convinced the Alik'r are lying.. I just happened to visit the hall of the dead in white run, after helping the Alik'r and what do I find Saadia's burial Urn. She was supposed to be taken alive back to Hammerfell.

  • 1
    Punishment for treason is death, so it proves nothing.
    – omikron
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 19:21
  • 3
    @omikron yes, but then why would her burial urn be in Whiterun? Why not in Hammerfell?
    – user79446
    Commented Aug 16, 2015 at 13:23
  • If she was executed as a traitor, her (noble?) family might not want her buried in her ancestral home.
    – Arkku
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 9:49
  • @Arkku Why, after an execution in Hammerfell, would they send her ashes back to Skyrim?
    – Angelos
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 21:34
  • 1
    @Nothingatall "To let the player in Skyrim know it has happened." =) Well, maybe one could argue that her family does not want a convicted traitor's ashes there, but they still care about her and want to her remains placed in some known place, so why not Skyrim where she was living.
    – Arkku
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 22:21

The game doesn't tell us who is right here, so we're stuck with the dilemma people face in real life: we have to make the best choice with the information we have.

Ultimately, my decision is to side against the Alik'r (note that is not the same thing as siding with Saadia):

  • they have been causing trouble in Whiterun, to the point of getting thrown out and/or arrested
  • the Alik'r out searching refuse to give any reasons for hunting Saadia
  • they don't have any sort of official documentation of their hunt
  • they have been harassing Redguard women who are travelling throughout Skyrim
  • they are operating from a bandit hideout

All of the hard evidence is against the Alik'r acting in an acceptable or legitimate fashion, with only Kematu's honeyed words suggesting otherwise. Furthermore, they have already been instructed to cease their activities. As Thane of Whiterun, it is the dragonborn's duty to eliminate the Alik'r for their continued activities against Whiterun hold.

  • If the Alik'r were mean-intended assassins (as Saadia claims) they would just kill these Redguard women they are harassing, not spare them once they recognize it's not her. But the most logical reason why the Alik'r must be correct is that Hammerfell is independent and opposes the Dominion, so you don't get hunted just because you "publicly speak out against the Dominion". Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 11:45

There is no way to verify one or the other as it currently stands in the game.. But here is my take on it for judging the character

  • Saadia actually puts the weapon away when you ask her to
  • The Alik'r pretty much are going to kill you unless you give them Saadia.
  • The Alik'r are also ousted from entering Whiterun.. for some reason I would imagine?

So based on that, I usually go with Saadia if I am being a relatively 'good' person... or if I just want all the Alik'r gear to dress up manikins with :)

  • Do the Alik'r actually go after you if you take too long to lure Saadia to the stables?
    – Renan
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 20:40
  • 2
    @Renan In my experience no. Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 20:44
  • 1
    1) You are obviously far more than she can handle, so it's in her best interests to yield. 2) They stand down and parlay if you start attacking their outpost. They are hardly savage bandits. 3) Racism mixed with a bunch of armed dudes searching your town for a single person. Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 16:31
  • @Andy_Vulhop 1) This logic doesnt hold up with any other AI in the game. 2) Yeah after you wipe out all the bandits ofcourse they want to talk, I never said they were savage or stupid.. or even bandits, they just hide in their cave :). 3) I walk around in a full suit of armor made from the scales of a dragon with daedric weapons.... Perspective?
    – James
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 18:01
  • @James If your counter to my first argument is that the same logic has never applied in the in-game AI, then you can't suggest that killing a large portion of a group convinced them to parlay, as that never happens with in-game AI. I don't understand how your armor has anything to do with the Nords' inherent racism made them inclined to toss the Alik'r out of town. Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 21:20

Okay, here's the facts: Whiterun kicked out Kematu's boys and imprisoned one of their members. In addition one of the bandits at the beginning of the cave say he doesn't like the Alik'r around, while his friend says something like don't complain unless you want a knife in the back. That's pretty compelling evidence against them in my book.

Then, after you slaughter them, Kematu tries his hand at smooth talking, and constantly calls Saadia a liar. Anyone that bases their point solely on another person being a liar, well that's just very dodgy straight off the bat.

As Slade said here, her urn is in Whiterun, if you side with Kematu, meaning that while she might be taken back alive, she gets an execution at some point. And as stated, the Thalmor don't have the right to just kidnap people in Skyrim, they would have to hire someone else to capture her. This is why I believe Saadia.

So to break it down, Kematu's Alik'r are mercenaries that made 2 groups feel threatened, they were most likely hired by the Thalmor to capture Saadia and bring her back, and Kematu lies to you out of desperation in the cave, after you've destroyed his forces. Side with the Alik'r and Saadia will be executed.

I'm going with Saadia, she's not hanging out in a damn cave, even that is pretty friggin suspicious!


I thought this was pretty black and white at first, and sided with Kematu, but as someone previously stated, you find Saadia's burial urn in the hall of the dead in Whiterun. She was supposed to be taken back alive for a trial. One thing that also bothered me was that to find out where Kematu is, you have to visit the Whiterun prison to talk to a captured Alik'r. He never really tells you why he was captured, he just says he has shamed the Alik'r for being captured, they are supposed to be "the best of the best" he says. Best at what? Wishing I hadn't turned her over, but oh well, I don't know if I could have beaten that many Alik'r warriors anyway. Just looking at what they were packing - they had curved swords. Curved. Swords.

  • I never saw Saadia's urn in Whiterun. If you're opposed to the Dominion, you did the right thing by handing Saadia over to them. See my comment to an above answer. Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 11:49

Yeah, I'm on Saadia's side, the other thing that made me want to believe her is that if she helped the Aldmeri Dominion she could be fine under their protection, they're pretty freaking strong that and the fact she was a noble and became a tavern wench to live in hiding rather than staying a noble gives some credibility to her defense. Kematu just threatens you with his band of assassins and hopes you'll lead him to her because he knows that you know where she is at that point.


I'll say Kematu is the one to trust. He didn't kill her but she wants you to kill them. Makes sense to me. That she is guilty of something. When Kematu came to Whiterun in search for her, he didn't use force or made a scene.

  • It's not unusual for kings to legitimize political persecution with legal shenanigans. She could have a trial under a partial judge.
    – Renan
    Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 20:09

I was going to side with the Lovely Saadia, sure she brings out a knife, wouldn't you if you knew people were hunting you? Plus I tend to side with the smaller party in almost all cases.

However after reading this I realised, if she has an Urn, with her name on it, it means she was officially/publically killed. No way would somebody slyly murder somebody and then just give her name freely and also pay for her remains to be put in an urn...

As others have stated in comments:

If she was executed as a traitor, her (noble?) family might not want her buried in her ancestral home. – Arkku Nov 30 '15 at 9:49

For example. DON'T SIDE A SPY!!! :)

  • 2
    I've never seen Saadia's urn in the hall of the dead, after delivering her to Kematu. Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 11:52

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