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The ‘In My Time of Need’ quest is one of the first side quests the player can acquire in Skyrim. It involves a group of Alik’r warriors hunting for a runaway Redgaurd woman. This woman is either innocent or guilty of her accused crimes, and it is up to the player whether to help her or not.
One of the key tenants to any good RPG experience is the moral and ethical decisions one has to make along the way. The choices the player gets to make which seem to have a real effect on the world around them. Games such as Fallout New Vegas and the Mass Effect series are probably the best examples of such a system done right to the player’s benefit, increasing the game’s replayability in the process.
However, we should not forget that Skyrim, while not the best in class when it comes to ethical approaches to an in-game universe, still has some moments throughout its near countless quests wherein the player is placed in quite difficult positions, positions which you might not know what the right thing to do is.
Some of these decisions will have real-world consequences for the player and the world around them, allowing them to learn from their choices by demonstrating how their choice was either good or bad. However, the best of these quests do not always tell the player whether their actions were the right or wrong thing to do. These quests leave answers such as this ambiguous and therefore up to the player to find for themselves.
The ‘ In My Time in Need ‘ quest is the best quest for placing the player in a predicament like this. This relatively unimportant side quest sees the player determine the fate of a young Redgaurd woman and the men who have traveled from their homeland of Hammerfell looking for her.
This quest, when properly examined, allows the player to fall on either side of the aisle in terms of who they believe. Therefore, a quintessential Skyrim experience for any new and returning player out there.
With this in mind, this guide will show the player everything there is to know about the quest, hopefully helping you make the right decision the next time you come across these Redgaurds. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get going!
Quest Details Up Front
- This quest will begin at random after the ‘Dragon Rising’ quest is completed.
- The quest is given to the player just inside the front gate of Whiterun. The player needs only talk to one of the Alik’r Warriors stationed there.
- This quest is relatively easy as it is designed for lower-level players to complete.
- The player can either receive 500 gold or 1000 gold by the end of this quest depending on their choices.
Some Useful Context
After the player completes the ‘Dragon Rising’ quest, the game will randomly spawn two Alik’r warriors at the mouth of the Whiterun gate, right beside the player’s home should they have already purchased it.
These two warriors will tell the player that they have come all the way from Hammerfell in order to locate a fugitive and bring her back with them to face punishment. Therefore, these soldiers task the player to find and bring the fugitive back to them.
Before the player can make any moral decisions, the first thing they must do is actually find this Redgaurd woman. Not an easy feat in a town as vast and populated as Whiterun, let me tell you, especially when there is no actual quest marker that will lead you to the fugitive in questions location or general area of operation.
However, should the player make an educated guess or simply exhaust all other options and head-on into The Bannered Mare, they will come across a woman named Saadia who is working and living there as a Barmaid.
Once confronted about her identity, Saadia will bring the Dragonborn into her private room, and after some mild threats, she will begin to tell the player her side of the story, thus forcing the player to make a choice as to whom they should believe.
- This quest will begin randomly just inside Whiterun’s main gate after the completion of the ‘Dragon Rising’ quest.
- Saadia can either be found serving guests in The Bannered Mare or walking around Whiterun.
- After the player confronts Saadia, she will bring them into her private room and brandish a knife in their face. Then, shortly after, she will tell the player her side of the story.
Two Conflicting Stories
As mentioned, the Alik’r warriors and Saadia will give the player two confounding stories and details as to why the Dragonborn should believe them, taking their side of the story to shut down the operation of the other. Therefore, to be able to make a real, educated decision in this context, we must understand both of the stories proffered to the player during this quest. First off, we hear from Saadia:
Saadia’s Version of Events
When the player initially interacts with the Redgaurd solider and asks why they are there and why they are after some random Redgaurd women, they will answer the prayer by saying, “it is none of your concern. All you need to know is that we’re paying for information. If that doesn’t interest you, feel free to walk away.” Because of this, the player is basically forced to speak with Saadia first and therefore acquire her version of events.
Once she has brought you into her private rooms, she will tell begin to tell the player her side of events, starting with the fact that her real name is Iman and that she is a member of the noble House Suda. Apparently, this is an important family in Hammerfell and therefore places value on the blood that runs through her veins.
The Redgaurd woman continues to tell the player that these Alik’r soldiers want nothing noble from her or her capture. Instead, they are mere agents of the Aldmeri Dominion, seeking to find high-born Redgaurds scattered across Tamriel in order to sell them on for some easy gold.
However, she also says that she spoke out against the Aldmeri Dominion and is therefore on their hitlist, thus provoking the Alik’r soldiers to come and find her.
Due to this threat to her life, she will subsequently ask the player to turn on the Alik’r soldiers who initially hired them, helping her remain free. To do this, she suggests killing the man who leads them, Kematu.
The Alik’r Version of Events
The version of events given to the player by the Alik’r is rather straightforward. Instead of being some innocent woman on the run from these brutal soldiers, Saadia is instead a runaway criminal who must be brought to justice.
Apparently, back in Hammerfell, this Redgaurd woman betrayed her fellow citizens to the Aldmeri Dominion and therefore let the Altmer supremacists into their lands and helped them to defeat and take the city of Taneth.
Therefore, due to their hatred for her betrayal, the noble houses of Hammerfell have apparently sent these Alik’r warriors in order to bring her back for her punishment. Kematu further bolsters this motive by stating that whilst Hammerfell and her people are still at war with the Aldmeri Dominion, a healthy resistance still beats within the lands of Hammerfell, and therefore they want retribution.
We learn more if we locate the Alik’r warriors before making our decision. Stationed in a cave aptly named Swindlers Den, the leader of these warriors, Kematu is more than willing to discuss Saadia and her betrayal with the player.
Within this conversation, we, as the player character, learn just how long Kematu has been on the hunt for Saadia. He speaks of her known aliases and how he imagines she got us on her side up until this point. These things help show the player that Kematu, a clearly experienced and well-tested warrior, has been constantly given the slip by this woman.
The same woman claims to simply be a poor, protesting hero from a noble house back in Hammerfell. A bit strange if you ask me, but we move on.
- Saadia states that she spoke out against the Aldmeri Dominion during their take over of her homeland of Hammerfell; thus, they have sent the Alik’r to bring her back.
- The Alik’r state that she was, in fact, an Aldmeri Dominion spy, thus aiding them in their sacking of the great Hammerfell city of Taneth.
- The player is not provided, at any point, with a definitive answer as to who is telling the truth here.
- The player can find the Alik’r soldiers hiding out in Swindlers Den. Located in the middle of Skyrim, west of Whiterun, and south of Morthal.
Now that the player has both sides of the story in their hands, the Dragonborn must make a decision whether or not they should side with the Alik’r or Saadia.
Siding With Saadia
Should the player decide to believe Saadia, they will simply have to find where the crew is located (should they not have already discovered Swindlers Den). You can do this by helping one of the Alik’r warriors out of Whiterun’s prison by paying off his bounty, and doing this will allow him to tell the player the soldier’s location.
After you have this location, is it a pretty simple journey into the den, culminating in the Dragonborn using their legendary powers to slay through a collection of six hardened Redgaurd warriors. This, therefore, allows the player to return to Saadia and tell her the good news, completing the quest and leaving Saadia to continue her life in Whiterun.
Siding With the Alik’r
Should the player believe the Alik’r warriors over Saadia, Kematu will tell the Dragonborn to go back to Whiterun and convince the fugitive that your attempt to take out the Alik’r warriors had failed, thus requiring her to flee for her life.
Therefore, doing this will bring you and Saadia to the Whiterun stables, where Kematu and his men will be waiting to take Saadia prisoner. This will spell the end of the quest and see the player receive 500 gold from Kematu as a reward.
Playing Both Sides
There is also an option to play both sides in this quest, ensuring you will always come out on top. The player can either become a double agent in the interest of Saadia by luring her into the trap at Whiterun’s stables but then killing Kematu before he can take her. This will result in the player both receiving the gold from Saadia for helping her and the lootable gold off of Kematu’s corpse.
However, there is also an option to slay all involved and take all of the gold for yourself, netting the player a rather hefty sum of 1000 gold. An amount that shouldn’t be looked over considering how early in the game one can complete this quest. Now, this version of the quest is rather exploitative of the game’s mechanics and, therefore, will not be for the more honest players amongst us.
This is because, in order to acquire all 1000 gold, the player must give Saadia to Kematu and wait for her to be immobilized, thus receiving your 500 gold from the warrior. The player must then kill Kematu and wait for Saadia to wake up, and she will awake enraged, forcing the player to use the Calm spell on her.
This will allow you to engage her in dialogue, informing her that the Alik’r have been dealt with, thus getting you the other 500 gold.
However, not everything is happy and calm for long because after your spell wears off, Saadia will once again become hostile towards the player. Forcing the Dragonborn to kill her also, and this will therefore complete the quest.
- The player can side with Saadia, the Alik’r, or themselves in this quest. Strategically killing all involved giving the player 1000 gold.
- Both the Alik’r and Saadia will reward the player with 500 gold.
- There is no correct decision in this quest, and it is left up to the player’s judgment.
Who Should We Believe?
To preface this, there is no actual correct answer built into the lore of Skyrim; it seems the developers wanted to leave this one up to the players and the message boards. However, I think the Dragonborn should help the Alik’r warriors in their capture of Saadia. And here is why:
Saadia’s Story Doesn’t Match Up
As mentioned earlier, when you confront Saadia, she will bring the player into her private room. Soon after this, she will brandish a knife in the player’s face. This is all to be expected if someone runs for her life. However, at this moment, the player may notice she has some menacing-looking scars on her face.
Of course, these scars could have been acquired whilst fighting for her life when she was escaping Hammerfell and the Aldmeri Dominion. However, I would like to point out that Kematu states later in the quest that she has evaded him at all turns, forcing him to always be one step behind her, never mentioning any conflict.
This, therefore, brings up an interesting question, how would a high-born noble lady from a powerful house acquire scars like these? Simple answer is that she wouldn’t.
When you first meet Saadia, she will inform you that the men hunting her are assassins sent by the Aldmeri Dominion and therefore are not to be trusted. On the surface, this tale seems plausible. However, should you do some thinking of your own, the holes in this stroy start to become evident.
First of all, these men appear to be full-blooded Redgaurds. They even appear to be fully adopting of the Alik’r religion, given their dress and face markings. Not only would this dress sense make them the worse assassins in history, standing out wherever they go. But the fact that there are a great number of them in the same uniforms also rules out the possibility of them being assassins.
Also, as they appear to be full-blooded Redgaurds and thus loyal to Hammerfell and her people, there is really no reason such men would do the bidding of the Aldmeri Dominion. After all, their kinfolk are currently dying by the hundreds fighting this brutal regime.
Saadia will also tell the player that she ran away from her homeland due to the danger posed to her by the Aldmeri Dominion. Plausible at first, unless you know anything about what is going on in Skyrim at that given moment.
You see, Skyrim is a vassal state under the control of the Empire. This Empire was recently at war with the Aldmeri Dominion until the signing of the White-Gold Concord. This peace declaration basically placed the Empire, and therefore Skyrim, under the thumb of the Aldmeri Dominion, allowing the Altmer to place their agents throughout Skyrim and basically control the state.
Due to all of this, there is an increased Thalmor presence in Skyrim, making the land one of the worst places one could go to in order to flee the Dominion. Even if you look at a map of Tamriel, which you will see below, one can see how the choice to flee the west of Hammerfell into Skyrim, makes no logical sense for Saadia. Therefore, I would state that she is lying.
I Rest My Case
When the player, therefore, considers all of this, it is pretty clear that one of the parties involved in this quest is quite heavily lying to the player. Saadia tells the player character things which quite frankly, do not make any logical sense. However, the Alik’r warriors and their leader, Kematu, seemingly tell the truth at every step of this quest.
This, therefore, makes the Alik’r appear much more trustworthy in my eyes, thus forcing me to always side with them when I play this quest. As I said before, we can never be certain in this quest, and however, I do know who I believe.
- Saadia tells the player many things which do not make sense during her explanation of events. The most telling of which is that she fled the Aldmeri Dominion into Skyrim, a state-controlled by the Dominion in all but name.
- The Alik’r, on the other hand, seem to be telling the truth. Their logic and reasoning for being in Skyrim is sound with no obvious holes.
- The scars or Saadia’s face could have come innocently. However, I believe the game designers put them in there as some sort of red herring.
So, there you have it, a complete guide to the ‘In My Time of Need’ quest from Skyrim. This quest has it all, mystery, intrigue, and a good bunch of swashbuckling sword fighting, forcing the player to make moral decisions along the way.
This quest is certainly one of my favorites, not only because it was one of the first I managed to play through when the game was released all those years ago, but because it is different. It is different because it does not hold the player’s hand, and it forces you to make your own decision based on your own moral compass and investigative skills.
In essence, then, whenever an RPG quest makes me think properly about a decision I’m going to make, I think the writers have done a good job.
With this being said, it is pretty evident from this guide that I think Saadia is lying, and thus you should side with the Alik’r. However, I have been wrong before and certainly will be again, so please, give the quest a go for yourself and see how you feel about the mysterious Redgaurd women. Hopefully, this guide will then be of some help. Good luck out there!