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Skyrim:The Path of Knowledge

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Discover the locations of the Black Books in order to stop Miraak.
Quest Giver: Storn Crag-Strider
Location(s): Tel Mithryn, Nchardak
Prerequisite Quest: The Fate of the Skaal
Next Quest: The Gardener of Men
Concurrent Quest: Cleansing the Stones
Reward: The Black Book Epistolary Acumen
Suggested Level: 25
The Black Book, locked in its protective case

Quick WalkthroughEdit

  1. Talk to Neloth in Tel Mithryn.
  2. Travel with Neloth to Nchardak.
  3. Find all five control cubes.
  4. Activate the steam pumps and retrieve the Black Book.

Detailed WalkthroughEdit

"It seems the ancient Dwemer discovered this book and took it to study. I have found their "reading room" in the ruins of Nchardak."

After suggesting that you cleanse the All-Maker stones to hinder Miraak's plans, the Skaal shaman, Storn Crag-Strider, reveals Neloth visited the Skaal Village some time ago in search of a Black Book. He then suggests you speak to Neloth, as he may have more information about the Black Book that gave Miraak power over dragons.

Once in Tel Mithryn, Neloth can be asked about where to find this Black Book. (Start this conversation with him only if you are prepared to immediately follow him at the end of the conversation, to avoid a bug that stops progress.) He replies: "You refer to the tomes of esoteric knowledge that old Hermaeus Mora has scattered throughout the world? What could you know of them?"

Two or more possible dialogue choices will be presented, however the specific ones that appear are based on certain variables, such as the status of the Daedric quest Discerning the Transmundane:

Your Dialogue Neloth's Reply Condition
The Black Books have something to do with Hermaeus Mora? "You didn't know? Hmm, I thought it was obvious. Hermaeus Mora has always tried to seduce mortals into his service with the lure of forbidden knowledge. Where the Black Books actually came from... no one really knows. Some appear to have been written in the past, others might be from the future. Apparently time is more malleable if you're a Daedric Prince of fate and destiny." Default choice
I found a Black Book. I need to find more. "Found one? Yes, and you read it, too, didn't you? Don't try to deny it, you've got the look. I can see it now. Dangerous knowledge is still knowledge and therefore useful. Usually turns out to be the most useful, in my experience." A Black Book has been found.
I've dealt with Hermaeus Mora before. I've read the Oghma Infinium. Have you? The actual Oghma Infinium? That's... I've searched for it myself for many years without success...Well then, you should know better than anyone that Hermaeus Mora is not to be trifled with. But he is subtler than most of the other Daedric Princes, as you would expect of the prince of knowledge and fate. You seem to have escaped the fate of many who find themselves ensnared forever by the lure of his secrets. Or... perhaps not." Discerning the Transmundane has been completed.
Who is Hermaeus Mora? "If you have to ask that, you'd probably be best leaving his books to wiser heads than yours. Like all Daedric Princes, he's not to be trifled with. But he is subtler than most of his ilk, appropriate for the prince of knowledge and fate. Many scholars and loremasters have been ensnared by the lure of learning the secrets that only Hermaeus Mora possesses. But don't worry. I have no intention of joining them in their endless search through the infinite halls of Apocrypha." Discerning the Transmundane has not been completed

After this, the conversation follows with:

I have to know what Miraak knows if I want to stop him:
"Now that is a dangerous path indeed. Hermaeus Mora gives nothing away for free. You may end up like Miraak, of course. Two power-mad Dragonborn. It could be very interesting."

Next, the conversation moves towards the Black Books where he admits owning one and knows the location of another:

Do you know where I can find another Black Book?:
"Oh yes. They're not hard to locate once you know how to look for them. I have one here that I have been using to locate more."
You have a Black Book?
"Yes I haven't been idle while this fascinating madness engulfed Solstheim. But my book isn't what you're looking for. I'm quite sure it is unconnected with this Miraak. But I do know where to find a Black Book that can help you."

Next, two dialogue choices are presented:

  • So you know where to find this Black Book? The one connected with Miraak?: "Yes I do. I haven't been able to get it, though. But maybe together we can unlock the secrets the Dwemer left behind."
  • The Dwemer? What do they have to do with this?: "Forbidden knowledge was somewhat a specialty of the dwarves, eh? You don't think they would just leave it alone, do you? It seems the ancient Dwemer discovered this book and took it to study. I have found their "reading room" in the ruins of Nchardak. The book is there, but it's sealed in a protective case which I wasn't able to open. But perhaps the two of us together will be able to get the book. To Nchardak, then. Follow me."
  • Just tell me where the book is and I'll go get it: "I'm afraid it isn't that simple. If it was, I would have the book already."
  • Why won't the book you have here help me?: "Oh, it clearly is not associated with the same power that has overtaken the island. And I'm not talking about Hermaeus Mora. These Black Books are all his, of course. No, what you're looking for is a specific book. Presumably because Miraak's power derives from it."

This ends the conversation and Neloth heads off to the ruins of Nchardak, located just north of Tel Mithryn, along the coast.

City of a Hundred TowersEdit

"Nchardak, The 'City of a Hundred Towers'. In its day it was the largest of the great Dwemer Archives and perhaps the most advanced."
"The Dwemer certainly knew how to build for the ages. These towers have outlasted their creators by millenia [sic]."

Once you reach the outskirts of Nchardak with Neloth, he will remark: "The Dwemer certainly knew how to build for the ages. These towers have outlasted their creators by millenia [sic]. The book is housed inside that dome. I'll need to unlock the door for us. Let's get on with it.". If Frea accompanies you, she will comment: "The Skaal have always avoided ruins such as these. Nothing of the All-Maker is to be found within.".

There will be a band of reavers camped outside of the ruins that must be defeated first. Upon spotting them, Neloth cries: "I had to clean out the riff-raff last time I was here, too. Where do they come from?". Once they are dealt with head up to the main door. Neloth remarks: "Maybe now we can finally begin what we came here for.". He then walks up to the main door and reveals that he sealed the ruins on his last visit: "The Dwemer of Nchardak appear to have been fond of these control pedestals. Luckily I found a cube to operate it inside on my last visit. I sealed the door when I left to keep out ignorant meddlers. Let me unlock it."

Nchardak Reading RoomEdit

Once inside, follow Neloth towards a large gold ring in the center of the room where the Black Book is held. He explains: "You can see the book right there. So tantalizingly close...But trust me, no magic will open that. I'd have had the book already if I could. No, we'll have to do this the hard way. If we can restore the steam supply to this room, I'm certain I can open it. As you'll see, that's easier said than done. This way to the boilers."

Next, Neloth uses his control cube to open another door where an elevator leading to the Nchardak Great Chamber is located. Follow him down the elevator into the next area.

Nchardak Great ChamberEdit

"There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of these Dwemer contraptions."

Upon entering, Neloth reveals: "The last time I was here, I only explored a small part of the ruins. I was here alone then, and I find an assistant is absolutely essential for this kind of dirty, dangerous work." as he walks down the stairs. When you get to a fork, Neloth will go to the left, but to the right there's a hole that you can drop into to find a chest.

Upon reaching the main chamber, Neloth exclaims: "Nchardak, The 'City of a Hundred Towers'. In its day it was the largest of the great Dwemer Archives and perhaps the most advanced. In the old stories, when the Nords came to conquer it, it's said the Dwemer sumberged the entire city beneath the sea until the invaders gave up. I have my doubts. But the city was a marvel of Dwemer engineering. Now... reduced to this." If you have brought Frea with you, she'll remark: "Amazing to think that they built this so long ago, and it still survives."

Follow Neloth to a control pedestal overlooking a large flooded area where he activates the pumps with his cube. As the water begins to drains, he reveals: "The pumps only operate when a cube is in the pedestal. And unfortunately, I have only one cube. These four boilers provide steam to the room upstairs. They're shut down, but they still respond to the control cubes. So, if we can find four more cubes, we can turn these boilers back on and restore steam power to the room upstairs. Then I should be able to open the book's protective case. Bring that cube. We'll need it."

Pick up the control cube from the pedestal and follow Neloth over to a display panel that he begins to study. He reveals: "Yes... here we are. This device shows the location of four more cubes in this section of the city. It looks like most of the cubes were moved to the lower levels, perhaps to try to control the flooding before the city was abandoned. Interesting. That would suggest that the city must have originally sunk during the first cataclysm of Red Mountain. Or that the Dwemer's servitors continued to try to preserve the city after their creators' disappearance."

Before entering the Nchardak Workshop, he remarks "Three of the cubes are through here. This seems like a sensible place to start. You should be able to unseal this door with the control cube I gave you." Once you place the cube in the control switch, the large brass seal that covers the door retracts and Neloth heads into the workshop. If you neglected to pick up the cube, he'll mention: "You'll need a cube to unlock this door. I hope you remembered to pick up the cube I placed in the pedestal."

At this point it's possible to ask him to explain the details again, via two dialogue options. These are:

How do we get the book out of its case?: "It won't be easy. The whole lower part of the city is flooded, which has shut down the boilers which supply steam to the reading room. If we can restore the steam supply, I'm certain I can open the book's protective case."
Why do we need these cubes?: "I thought I made myself clear the first time. The boilers in the Great Hall provide steam to the reading room upstairs, which we need in order to open the book's protective case. We need a total of five cubes - one to operate the pumps in the Great Hall, the other four to activate the boilers."

Nchardak WorkshopEdit

"Much of the Dwemer army at the Battle of Red Mountain must have come from here."
"These must be the "Great Workshops of Nchardak".

Upon entering, follow Neloth over to a nearby control switch that contains a cube. He remarks: "I hope the rest of the cubes are this easy to find. Although knowing the Dwemer, I rather doubt it.". The cube also controls the jets of fire in the next hallway. If Frea is present, she'll tell you "It would be madness to go through there.". If you continue without taking the cube, Neloth will note: "Wouldn't it be easier just to turn off the trap? Like so?" and take the cube. Then follow Neloth down to the next area.

Dwarven spiders will be found down here; once they have been dealt with head over to a bridge stretching over another flooded area. Several Dwarven centurions can be seen lining the walls of this chamber. Follow Neloth as he remarks: "These must be the "Great Workshops of Nchardak". Impressive even in ruins. In the city's days of glory, it was reputed to be able to assemble a complete automaton in a single day. Much of the Dwemer army at the Battle of Red Mountain must have come from here.". Even Frea will admit: "It is rather impressive."

Walk over the bridge to reach two control pedestals. Neloth remarks: "It looks like we'll need to lower the water level to make any more progress." Place a cube in either pedestal to lower the water level; however this also results in a few Dwarven automatons appearing. Once they have been defeated, proceed down to the ground level and place a cube in the control switch to expand a set of stone stairs. Next, head up and around the walkway to the small brass bridge and place the cube in a second control switch to raise the bridge. Next, walk up the stairs and head left at the intersection to reach a brass gate. Open the gate and take the control cube that can be found behind it. Picking up the cube will result in the water level rising again, and Neloth will start to make a comment about how unfortunate this is. However, taking the cube also causes some Dwarven spiders to appear nearby, so Neloth's statement will almost certainly be cut short. Defeat the spiders and make your way back to the top of the room.

Pick up the cube you left on a pedestal, which will result in the water level rising much higher than it was originally. Then proceed to the door on the southern side of the room. Neloth will remark, "Let's see where this leads", as he follows you through the door and into a narrow corridor which descends into a shallow, collapsed obstruction. If the first cube on the bridge was not collected, Neloth will state "There's a passage up there. We could reach it if the water level was higher." Otherwise, he will say: "With the water level this high, we can swim across the collapsed part of the passage and reach the other side.". Swim through and defeat any Dwarven spiders and Dwarven ballistae that appear in this section. At the end of the hall the fourth cube can be found on a pedestal. Taking this cube will result in the water level rising yet again, and a Dwarven centurion awakening from its gantry. Once it's been dealt with, walk up the small staircase near the Centurion and activate the control switch, lowering a bridge which leads back toward the Great Chamber.

Return to the Great ChamberEdit

Upon arrival in the Great Chamber, Neloth will walk over to the large flooded section and explain that the last cube is through the northern door, however the water must be completely drained in order to proceed. Place two cubes on the pedestals on the upper area to drain the water. Dispatch the automatons triggered by the cube placement, and follow Neloth down the curved pathway towards the northern passage. Two Dwarven ballista are guarding the northern door; once they are dealt with ascend the short staircase activate the control switch on the left side of the doorway, then open the large brass seal and head into the Nchardak Aqueduct.

Nchardak AqueductEdit

"I'd guess that must be the pump activator up there. But how to reach it?"

Follow Neloth until he spots several raised bridges and remarks: "Looks like we'll need those bridges down in order to get the pumps in here working." As he walks deeper into the chamber, he adds: "The last cube is somewhere in here. I hope it won't require more swimming around in this filth.", which is answered by Frea with "You should leave slogging around in the muck to us youngsters." if she is present. Eventually, Neloth spots a small alcove on the upper floor and says: "I'd guess that must be the pump activator up there. But how to reach it? We'll need to get all three of these bridges down in order to reach the pump control."

Turn around and walk up the ramp to an upper platform with three control switches overlooking the aqueduct. The sequence to lower all three bridges is the right switch, then the left switch. Once the correct combination is entered, and all three bridges lowered, Frea will congratulate you with "I think you did it.", and Neloth will snap: "That's it! Don't touch anything else. Quickly now." before running across the bridges. To the south of the control switches is an apprentice locked chest and a dwarven warhammer to loot.

Cross the bridges and defeat the Dwarven automatons that appear. The control pedestal is located on the upper platform on the eastern side of the room. Activating it with a cube will drain the water, allowing access to the last chamber. As the water begins to lower, Neloth comes up with a plan for the final cube: "I have an idea. I'll wait here and retrieve this cube once you find the last one we need. Good luck!". If Frea is around, she will comment: "Finally. We will not have to listen to his complaining."

Head down to floor level and find the control pedestal on the left side of a large bronze doorway on the western side of the room, on the opposite wall from the platform you used to lower the water level. Insert the cube to open the brass seal, then through the tunnels to reach a small room lined with traps. The first trap is a pressure plate activated set of iron bars that slam shut near the entrance. Next are two spinning blades in front of the gate that holds the final cube. Use Whirlwind Sprint to dart across them and place a cube in the control pedestal on the right hand side of the gates to turn off the blades and open the doors. Be careful here as there is yet another pressure plate which activates poisoned darts just before the pedestal. Taking the last cube will raise the water level. Swim back to the aqueduct chamber, where Neloth will be waiting.

Once he sees the final cube has been obtained, he will greet you with "Do you have the cube? Good, good! Then I'll take this cube and we can be on our way." and remove the control cube from the pump activator. He then will warn you: "Watch out, the water's rising even higher with both pumps shut down.", which Frea responds to with sarcasm: "Thanks for the warning.". Neloth will then say, "That was easier than I expected. I'm glad you were here to do all the hard work. With the cubes I retrieved, we should now have a total of five. I hope you haven't left more scattered about. With the cube I retrieved from the pumping pedestal, we should now have five cubes - exactly what we need. Now we can finally see about getting those boilers started.". Frea will then again express her skepticism toward Neloth: "Now we will see if he knows what he is talking about." Before leaving, swim and climb to the northeast chamber of the Aqueduct, just north of where Neloth was waiting by the pump control pedestal. A Dwarven Ballista guards the chamber. There is a table in the room with the Kagrumez resonance gem, a weapon, a piece of armor, and some Dwemer scrap laying on it. There is also a chest on the table with loot. There is more Dwemer scrap under the table, and on a shelf on the south side of the room. The resonance gem might fall to the ground during the battle with the Ballista. Be sure to check before abandoning the room if it isn't on the table with the chest as it is very small and easy to miss. Return to the southern door and pass through to meet Neloth in the Nchardak Great Chamber.

Activate the BoilersEdit

Head up the ramp to the main control pedestals. Pick up one of the original cubes already in the pedestals and head down to the lower platform. Place the remaining four cubes in the boiler pedestals to start the boiler. As the boilers are activated, Neloth comments: "That seems to have done it. Good. It took longer than I'd hoped, but at least it's finally done. " but then cries out "Look out! Another Steam Centurion!" as a Dwarven centurion awakens from its station at the far side of the great chamber bridge. Once it has been dealt with, he remarks: "I'm going to head back upstairs and see if the reading room has steam. If so, it should be a simple matter to release the book."

Before heading back to the Nchardak Reading Room, you may wish to head over the bridge to the centurion's holding cage, where a boss-level chest can be found.

  • Note: leave the activation cubes in the control pedestals.

The Black BookEdit

"At last. I hope it was worth it. Please... be my guest. You deserve the first look."
"Aren't you going to read it? I thought that was the whole reason you dragged me out here."

Upon reaching the reading room, Neloth will be waiting by the control pedestal, where he remarks: "Now that the boilers are working, it should be simple to release the book from it's [sic] protective case."

Press the button on the pedestal to cause four beams of light to shine up from the floor and focus on a large crystal above. This also causes the room to rumble and the Black Book to rise up from the floor. Neloth remarks: "At last. I hope it was worth it. Please... be my guest. You deserve the first look. Besides, it could be very dangerous. These books are known to drive many people insane."

The Black Book is revealed to be Epistolary Acumen. As you begin to read the book and enter the realm of Apocrypha, Neloth jokingly parts with: "Oh good. Be sure to say hello to Hermaeus Mora for me if you see him.". This begins the next quest: The Gardener of Men.


Once the quest is completed, the Black Book Epistolary Acumen will be accessible. The book grants one of three abilities once Apocrypha has been traversed: Dragonborn Force, Dragonborn Flame, or Dragonborn Frost.


One achievement is unlocked when you complete this quest:

  •   The Path of Knowledge (20 points/Bronze)


  • Progressing far enough into the quest Unearthed and acquiring Ahzidal's Boots of Waterwalking makes going through the rising water of the dungeon less of a hassle, although it is advisable to take them off before grabbing the final cube.
  • If Frea is a follower, she will frequently comment on Neloth's instructions and plans.
  • There are some areas in Nchardak that you do not have to visit to complete this quest, such as the southeast room in the Aqueduct and the floor of the Great Chamber. However, these areas are only easy to reach during, or shortly after, this quest. See Nchardak for details.
  • You can use Whirlwind Sprint or the Vampire Lord's Bats ability to short-circuit the bridges in the Aqueduct. Simply jump over the gap on the eastern side, then back again. If you only have one word of Whirlwind Sprint, stand on the rocks to gain a little extra height before the first jump. You won't be able to cross back the other way, but if you jump on top of the light, you can then jump onto the ledge and take the roof up to the pedestal from there. You can get Neloth past the bridges by simply waiting an hour. You'll still have to deal with most of the area's enemies, but bypassing the bridges gives you early access to the eastern rooms so you don't have to come back again later.


  • The "float up" function in Tel Mithryn may not work upon visiting the tower for the first time during this quest. ?
    •   Use the tcl console command to reach his room. You should be able to "float down" normally.
  • If you move away from Neloth before he opens the front gate at Nchardak, he will enter without you, thus locking the gate and disallowing you any further progress.
    • Using the wait function for an hour or so right outside the door may remedy the problem.
  • When you go from the Reading Room to the start of the ruins, instead of speaking and continuing onward, Neloth may stand silently at the top of the stairs, thus disallowing any further progress.
  • Sometimes the control cube will vanish making further progression into the ruins impossible.
    • Loading an older save file may cause the cube to reappear; however, this will not always work.
  • You may be unable to follow Neloth into the Aqueduct, even though he enters without any problems. ?
    • To rectify this, just reload a previous save.
  • You may be unable to place any cubes in the control switches, even though you have them.
    • Double-check that you actually have a control cube in your inventory. The red control pedestal in the main part of the Aqueduct doesn't show its "Activate" option unless you have a cube available. For reference, there should be two in the top-most blue pedestals in the Great Chamber and one in the blue pedestal in this chamber.
    •   Use the console to select the bugged pedestal, then use "placeatme 04028110" to get a new working pedestal. Then without selecting anything else, using "disable" to remove the bugged pedestal, and you will be able to click the new non-bugged one. You may also need to do the same to the object that it was supposed to activate "placeatme 040173b7" using "disable" to remove the bugged stairs. The object will be spawned already activated if you have used the new un-bugged pedestal
    •   If this happens on the door leading to the last cube, using console command movetoqt then the quest id will relocate your character to the quest arrows on the map. Do this repeatedly and recollect the 3 cubes you've used (2 in main area, 1 in aqueduct area next to Neloth). Use the command again and it will take you to the one behind the bugged door. Collect it and use the command one last time and it will take you back out to the main area where you just grabbed the 2. Put them back and head back toward the aqueduct area. Neloth will be coming out and the quest will continue properly from there.
    •   Sometimes, leaving the area, fast travelling anywhere and then returning may also fix the problem.
  • You may retrieve the first four cubes, but will only have three in your inventory. If this happens, all the previous rooms will flood. You must have four cubes to proceed. ?
    • Reload a previous save.
    • A Control Cube can be removed from one of the two that lowered the water level. The scavenged cube can be used to start the steam engines (objective 40, stage 230) before the water level raises again.
  • Neloth may linger outside of Nchardak, not moving with you or toward the entrance. ?
    •   Killing and resurrecting him through the console will cause him to continue following you.
  • You may not be able to lower the three bridges in the aqueduct room.
  • Fast traveling with this quest active may cause crashes ?
  • after you have all five cubes and when you return to the room where Neloth is waiting, he will end up swimming and end up trapped there, as if he has stopped moving, like he is lost like he doesn't know which way to go, he is just floating in the water. ?
    • one solution is to try to lead him the way back to the entrance on the same path you've walked before the room is flooded.

Quest StagesEdit

The Path of Knowledge (DLC2MQ04)
Stage Finishes Quest Journal Entry
10 In order to defeat Miraak, I need to find more of the Black Books, the source of his knowledge and power. Storn suggested that the wizard Neloth may know the location of the Black Books that I need.
Objective 10: Talk to Neloth
50 In order to defeat Miraak, I need to find more of Hermaeus Mora's Black Books, the source of his knowledge and power. The Telvanni wizard Neloth found one of these books in the Dwarven ruin of Nchardak, but it is locked inside some kind of protective mechanism. Maybe together we can find a way to get at this Black Book.
Objective 20: Travel to Nchardak with Neloth
Objective 40: Restore the steam supply to the Dwemer reading room
Objective 50: Release the book from the Dwemer contraption
550 Finishes quest  With the help of the Telvanni wizard Neloth, I found another of Hermaeus Mora's Black Books in the Dwarven ruin of Nchardak.
  • The following empty quest stages were omitted from the table: 0, 1, 20, 55, 60, 70, 100, 110, 120, 150, 200, 210, 250, 255, 260, 265, 270, 280, 300, 320, 325, 330, 340, 350, 355, 360, 370, 375, 380, 390, 400, 410, 420, 430, 435, 440, 445, 450, 460, 510, 520, 530, 600.
  • 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 DLC2MQ04 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 DLC2MQ04.

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