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Skyrim:Discerning the Transmundane

< Skyrim: Quests: Daedric
Uncover the secrets of the mysterious Dwemer lockbox.
Quest Giver: Septimus Signus or read Ruminations on the Elder Scrolls
Location(s): Septimus Signus's Outpost, Alftand, Blackreach, Tower of Mzark
Concurrent Quest: Elder Knowledge, Seeking DisclosureDG, Chasing EchoesDG, Beyond DeathDG
Reward: Oghma Infinium
ID: DA04
Suggested Level: 18
A Dwemer lockbox (bigger on the inside)

Quick WalkthroughEdit

  1. Find the Elder Scroll.
  2. Fill the Blank Lexicon.
  3. Give the Lexicon to Septimus Signus.
  4. Harvest blood from a High Elf, Wood Elf, Dark Elf, Falmer, and Orc.
  5. Give the collected blood samples to Septimus Signus.
  6. Retrieve the book from within the Cube.

Detailed WalkthroughEdit

Signus's GestureEdit

Far north of Winterhold, there is a small cave called Septimus Signus's Outpost. Inside, a strange Dwemer cube is being studied by Septimus Signus. He claims the "heart of a God," "heart of you and me," is located inside.

He asks you to help him see through the cube. To do so, he plans to use the power of an Elder Scroll. However, he does not possess the knowledge to use the Elder Scroll. To help him, you must travel to the Dwemer ruin Alftand and charge the Lexicon.

He gives you two items:


Be prepared: Alftand is an extensive Dwemer ruin occupied by Falmer and Dwemer constructs, including Centurions. Once there, travel through the ruin, following your destination marker, until you reach Blackreach, a massive underground cavern below Alftand. Alternatively, if you do not feel your level or equipment are sufficient to penetrate Alftand, it is actually unnecessary to do so; Mzinchaleft and Raldbthar both access Blackreach as long as the player has an Attunement Sphere, and both are faster and easier than Alftand. A more complete walkthrough can be found on the Alftand and Blackreach pages.

At this point you will have access to a Dwemer lift for quick travel between Blackreach and the surface, in case you want to make a trip back to town before delving further underground. When you are ready, follow the quest marker through Blackreach until you reach your destination, The Tower of Mzark. Inside, you will find the Oculory, a large Dwemer machine that occupies the last room of the Tower. Go up the curving stairs along either wall to find a control panel with a stand that has a slot for the Lexicon. Place the Lexicon atop the stand to activate the machine's control panel.

To decipher the code, press the second button from the right four times, pausing between each pressing to allow the Oculory to complete its realignment. This will cause the Lexicon to open and the third button from the right be revealed. Now press the third button twice, which will align the lenses such that they direct shafts of light onto the round, green windows of the Oculory, and also uncover the far left button. Finally, press the far left button once and watch as the Oculory reaches its correct alignment, revealing the Elder Scroll. Take the now-completed Runed Lexicon from the stand, then go to the center of the Oculory and retrieve the Elder Scroll from its cradle for the concurrent quest Elder Knowledge. Once you have both the Elder Scroll and the Lexicon, return to Septimus Signus at his outpost.

Daedric Prince of the UnknownEdit

To continue past this point, you must be level 15 or higher. If you aren't level 15 yet, giving Septimus the Lexicon will result in him dismissing you; then, you must wait until a courier delivers a letter from him to continue.

Once you have returned to the outpost, talk to Septimus again. He'll read the Lexicon and tell you he searched for it with the help of the Daedric Prince of Knowledge, Hermaeus Mora. He tells you to harvest the blood of the mer races in Tamriel. Head for the outside of the cave. You will see a Wretched Abyss that has the talk option. Talk to the abyss, and you will learn that the voice coming from the abyss is that of Hermaeus Mora. He claims that Septimus is a good follower, but after he discovers how to unlock the Dwemer box he will have outlived his usefulness. He will then tell you that you should take Septimus's place, which you can agree to or disagree. Neither choice will affect the outcome of the quest. Hermaeus Mora wishes for you to speak with him again after you have completed Septimus's task.

Blood HarvestEdit

In order to harvest blood, you need to search the corpse of someone of the appropriate race while the Essence Extractor is in your inventory. The five races whose blood you need to harvest are Altmer, Bosmer, Dunmer, Falmer, and Orsimer. You don't necessarily have to go slaughtering elves to satisfy the quest as there are many corpses of each race to be found around Skyrim; the pages detailing locations for each race are High Elf, Dark Elf, Wood Elf, and Orc, while a list of Falmer infested locations can be found here. There is also a list of dead bandits of all races to be considered. A select few locations are listed below as they contain the corpses of more than two races:

  • Altmer, Bosmer, Falmer, and Orc bodies can be found in Alftand, although if you've followed the suggested route through Alftand to get to Blackreach, you'll need to return quickly or many of the bodies will have been cleared out.
  • Bosmer, Dunmer, Falmer, and Orc bodies can be found in Liar's Retreat.
  • Bosmer, Dunmer, and Orc bodies can be found in Rannveig's Fast.
  • Bosmer, Dunmer, and Orc bodies can be found in Silverdrift Lair.
  • Altmer are also part of the Thalmor and can be found at the Thalmor Embassy.
Altmer (High Elf) Halted Stream Camp, Northwatch Keep, Shrine of Talos Massacre, Thalmor Embassy, Uttering Hills Cave, Abandoned LodgeDB, Northshore LandingDB, Hob's Fall Cave, Yngvild
Bosmer (Wood Elf) Bthardamz, Liar's Retreat, Autumnshade Clearing, Redwater DenDG, Pinepeak Cavern, Darkshade
Dunmer (Dark Elf) Drelas' Cottage, Evergreen Grove, Knifepoint Mine, Reeking Cave, Liar's Retreat, Halted Stream Camp, Hob's Fall Cave, Yngvild
Falmer Dwemer ruins on Skyrim (Solstheim has no Falmer), Falmer hives, Liar's Retreat, Frostflow Lighthouse, Forgotten ValeDG, Darkfall CaveDG, Blackreach
Orsimer (Orc) Cracked Tusk Keep, Halted Stream Camp, Nightcaller Temple, Liar's Retreat, Rift Watchtower, bandit encampments

Returning to SeptimusEdit

The Oghma Infinium

Upon acquiring different blood samples, you will be prompted to return to Septimus Signus's Outpost. Give the blood samples to Septimus and wait for him to open the cube. Following him inside will reveal, much to the surprise of the delusional quest giver, that it was not the "Heart of a God" that was stored inside the cube, but rather a book. His surprise is cut short as his usefulness to Hermaeus Mora has been outlived and he is promptly disposed of in a flash of light.

It is revealed that the book on a pedestal is actually the Oghma Infinium. Hermaeus Mora will greet you again, calling you his champion. You can reply with "What now?" or "I am not your champion, monster." Again, there are no consequences to the completion of this quest with either choice. Through conversation with the Daedric prince, you learn that it was sealed here for a reason, so that no more of its dangerous knowledge could be shared with the world of mortals—something that Hermaeus Mora wishes undone.

At this point, the quest is complete. Reading the book will reveal some of the knowledge hidden within. Specifically, you can choose from three different paths: magic, shadow, or might, and receive +5 permanent points in the following skills, depending on the choice:

The Path of Might: Archery, Block, Heavy Armor, One-handed, Smithing, Two-handed
The Path of Shadow: Alchemy, Light Armor, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, Sneak, Speech
The Path of Magic: Alteration, Conjuration, Destruction, Enchanting, Illusion, Restoration


  • You will automatically start this quest during the course of Elder Knowledge or Scroll ScoutingDG if you have not already started it, as the Elder Scroll is required for both the main questline and for the Dawnguard core questline. This quest does not have to be completed in order to complete either questline, however.
  • If you choose to leave Septimus Signus's Outpost without picking up the Oghma Infinium, the Dwemer puzzle door that was unlocked by blood will be closed permanently.
  • You don't have to access Blackreach through Alftand, as it's also possible to reach it through the two other linked Dwemer ruins, Raldbthar and Mzinchaleft, by using the sphere given by Septimus on the apparatus at the end of these dungeons.
  • The "Heart of a God" to which Septimus refers is actually the Heart of Lorkhan. However, there is no Heart inside the chamber.
  • The retrieved Elder Scroll can be sold to Urag gro-Shub in the College of Winterhold's Arcanaeum for 2000 gold. However, do not do so until you have completed Alduin's Bane, as it is essential to the main quest. If Dawnguard is installed, the Elder Scroll is also needed to complete its main questline, though you can buy it back from Urag if you have already sold it to him.
  • If you give the lexicon to Septimus before reaching level 15, it may be necessary to wait for a letter from him to arrive via courier. Simply returning to him when you reach that level will not work.
  • Corpses fed on while in Beast Form or with the Ring of Namira cannot be harvested for blood. Avoid feeding on the named elven corpses inside Alftand as you will have to find samples in other, potentially far apart, locations. However, if Dawnguard is installed, you may be able to harvest corpses while in Beast Form, as long as you have advanced far enough in the quest to have been given the extractor.
  • You can keep the Oghma Infinium after use by dropping it before exiting the inventory upon its initial use, however, it will only be a book, and will not grant the bonuses again. Otherwise it will disappear after you use it.
  • If Dragonborn is installed, Hermaeus Mora will not be represented as a large purple shape. Instead, he is shown as the tentacled form seen during the quests of the DLC. If you have completed the Dragonborn quest line before speaking to Mora in this quest, he will use unique dialogue referring to the events of Dragonborn.
  • You can't harvest your own blood even if your character is elven.
    • You also can't harvest the blood of any of the Snow Elves encountered in the Dawnguard quest line.


  • It is possible to loot the body of Septimus Signus and get the Runed Lexicon and Extractor back. Once in your inventory, however, both the Runed Lexicon and the Extractor will be considered quest items and cannot be sold or removed.
    •   You can remove the Runed Lexicon from your inventory using the console command player.removeitem 3a3dd 1.
  • If you kill Septimus Signus right after he gives you the stage to harvest blood, you will fail the quest, but the game will still prompt you with the "Harvest blood" option every time you loot the corpses of Orcs or elves.
  • You may not have the "Harvest blood" option despite having the Essence Extractor in your inventory.
    •   Use the console command player.addperk 79af5.
  • Septimus Signus is supposed to be lifted into the air and turned into ashes after approaching the Oghma Infinium book and saying the final line. However, there is a bug where the event is sometimes not triggered due to a bad animation registration event which then makes the quest impossible to complete.
    • The most reliable solution to this problem is to kill Septimus. Once the quest has progressed to where he should be dead killing him does not count as a crime.
    • Alternatively, reload an earlier save (before giving the blood to Septimus). If inside, exit the cave and wait for an hour while outside before re-entering. This can fix the event to trigger normally.
  • If you remove the Elder Scroll before the Blank Lexicon is transcribed, you may be unable to proceed with the quest.
    • Also, it is possible that if you remove the scroll without retrieving the lexicon, you will not "discover" the Tower of Mzark, and you will not be able to fast travel there. This can be remedied by fast travel to Fort Dunstad and following the trail SSW. The gates will still be open to the Tower of Mzark, and you can retrieve the lexicon.
  • There is a second Attunement Sphere on the ground in Sinderion's Field Laboratory; picking this sphere up will leave both permanently stuck in your inventory.
  •  You can use player.removeitem 3532c 2 in the console to fix this however doing so may prevent you from opening more paths to Blackreach.
  • If you are finding the Elder Scroll for a Dawnguard quest, the journal entry will still say "Find the Elder Scroll for Paarthurnax" even if you have never met him.
  • After Septimus is killed, picking up the Oghma Infinium may not trigger the next stage of the quest and Hermaeus Mora may not appear in the passageway. ?
  •  The console command setstage DA04 60 can be used to make Hermaeus Mora appear, if not, continue with next line.
  •  The console command setstage DA04 100 can be used to advance the quest manually.
  • Despite having the blank lexicon in inventory, you might not be able to activate the stand.[1] This blocks progress on this quest and Elder Knowledge, and is caused by the game forgetting the reference to the quest item. ?
  •   Add the Runed Lexicon to your inventory using the console command player.additem 3a3dd 1, and remove the blank with player.removeitem 3a3d2 1.
  • Attempting to leave Septimus Signus's Outpost before speaking to the Wretched Abyss may cause it to persist but not continue the dialogue, making the quest unable to be completed. ?

Quest StagesEdit

Discerning the Transmundane (DA04)
Stage Finishes Quest Journal Entry
5 I've been given a book of bizarre ramblings about Elder Scrolls, written by Septimus Signus. He claims to have spent time at the Winterhold Arcanaeum.
Objective 5: Ask Urag about the insane book
10 I've learned that Septimus Signus, a preeminent scholar of the Elder Scrolls, is currently living in the far north, studying a dwarven artifact. He might know where I can find an Elder Scroll for Paarthurnax.
Objective 10: Find Septimus Signus
20 I met Septimus Signus, a brilliant but mad scholar living in the northern ice fields. He's directed me to a dwarven observatory that supposedly houses an Elder Scroll. He doesn't care about the Scroll itself, but wants me to use some kind of machine there to inscribe a dwarven lexicon with the Scroll's knowledge and bring it to him.
Objective 20: Transcribe the Lexicon
Objective 30: Give the Lexicon to Septimus
35 I met Septimus Signus and brought him a dwarven lexicon containing the distilled knowledge of an Elder Scroll. With it, he believes he can open the lockbox he's been studying. He will contact me when he has the secret.
40 I met Septimus Signus and brought him a dwarven lexicon containing the distilled knowledge of an Elder Scroll. With it, he believes he can open the lockbox he's been studying by creating a mixture of blood that will resemble dwarven. I need to collect blood from several different races if I want to help him.
Objective 41: Harvest High Elf blood
Objective 42: Harvest Wood Elf blood
Objective 43: Harvest Dark Elf blood
Objective 44: Harvest Falmer blood
Objective 45: Harvest Orc blood
Objective 50: Bring blood to Septimus
Objective 55: Take the Oghma Infinium
100 Finishes quest  I met a strange hermit named Septimus Signus, who needed the knowledge of an Elder Scroll and a collection of blood to open a dwarven lockbox he had studied for years. I helped him open it. It did not contain what he had expected, but instead a book of great knowledge, the Oghma Infinium.
105 Fails quest  I met and killed a strange hermit named Septimus Signus, who needed the knowledge of an Elder Scroll and a collection of blood to open a dwarven lockbox he had studied for years.
Objective 35: Return to Septimus
  • The following empty quest stages were omitted from the table: 1, 60, 200.
  • Any text displayed in angle brackets (e.g., <Alias=LocationHold>) is dynamically set by the Radiant Quest system, and will be filled in with the appropriate word(s) when seen in game.
  • Not all Journal Entries may appear in your journal; which entries appear and which entries do not depends on the manner in which the quest is done.
  • Stages are not always in order of progress. This is usually the case with quests that have multiple possible outcomes or quests where certain tasks may be done in any order. Some stages may therefore repeat objectives seen in other stages.
  • If an entry is marked as "Finishes Quest" it means the quest disappears from the Active Quest list, but you may still receive new entries for that quest.
  • On the PC, it is possible to use the console to advance through the quest by entering setstage DA04 stage, where stage is the number of the stage you wish to complete. It is not possible to un-complete (i.e. go back) quest stages, but it is possible to clear all stages of the quest using resetquest DA04.