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Skyrim:The White Phial (quest)

< Skyrim: Quests: Side Quests
Retrieve a legendary artifact to fulfill an old alchemist's wish in Windhelm.
Quest Giver: Nurelion in The White Phial
Location(s): Windhelm, Forsaken Cave
Next Quest: Repairing the Phial
Reward: 5 gold, followed by 500 gold
ID: MS12
Suggested Level: 6
The White Phial on a pedestal in a secret room

Quick WalkthroughEdit

  1. Talk to Nurelion in his Windhelm store.
  2. Retrieve the White Phial from Forsaken Cave.
  3. Return the Phial to Nurelion.
  4. Talk to his assistant, Quintus Navale, for your final reward.

Detailed WalkthroughEdit

His Last HopeEdit

The only Alchemy shop in Windhelm is called The White Phial and is located in the market district, right next to Aval Atheron's stall. When you enter you will witness a very sick and elderly proprietor, Nurelion, trying to convince his assistant that he is able to make some kind of journey. The assistant, Quintus Navale, is quite skeptical and with good reasons, as his master coughs constantly in between words:

"Master, you're far too old for this sort of journey."

Nurelion: "I'll be fine."
Quintus: "Master, you're far too old for this sort of journey. We don't know what's inside..."
Nurelion: "I'll... I can... just..."
Quintus: "You see, you're not well! Have a seat and I'll fetch you some tonic."
Nurelion: "Bah. If there was a tonic that could help me, I would have found it by now..."

After the discussion, Nurelion will take his place behind the counter and Quintus will walk away. Ask Nurelion what the argument was about and he will explain: "Just a man's life work, is all. I've finally derived the location of the White Phial, but this doting busybody won't let me get it." He is obviously referring to Quintus, but offer to help him find whatever he is looking for and he will provide some background information: "It's buried with its maker, Curalmil, in a long forsaken cave to the west of here. Curalmil was a crafty one, even in death. You would need the skills of a master alchemist to reach his resting place. Luckily for you, I've already made the mixture." He will then hand you his mixture and add a marker to your map. He will then explain that the White Phial is a legendary bottle, forged in the days when Skyrim was just starting its turn to ice. He then tells you he spent his entire life searching for it, in libraries and small villages, researching its location, and will explain the name of his store: "I even named my shop after it, hoping that it might attract anyone who had heard of it. And now it's within my grasp... but the Eight, it seems, have chosen me for their amusement.... for in my current condition, I'll never be able to lay my hands on it."

The ForsakenEdit

The map marker leads to Forsaken Cave, a cave west of Windhelm, straight south of Alftand. Enter the premises and head down the icy slope to the east. Kill the leveled wolves, frost trolls, or snow bears as you go along and open the door to the west, leading to a cave inhabited by draugr enemies. A tempting chest will be visible in a tunnel as you go along, but beware of the pressure plate triggering a dart trap above the chest. After a while, the surroundings will change into catacombs and more draugr will be revived and attack. Fight your way through the many tunnels and keep an eye out for a copy of the quest-related skill book The Mirror near a locked door leading to a chest with minor loot. The large northwestern room has three flame sprout traps and a hidden chest just before the next tunnel. Beware of yet another pressure plate triggering a battering ram and pick up some useful potions and ingots from the shelves before entering Forsaken Crypt.

You enter the crypt to the sight of a large room in two levels, with an overhanging bridge above. A draugr will be patrolling a path next to another still resting just around the corner. A ranged attack can dispose of it without disturbing the other. On the second floor another draugr will be found in its sarcophagus just to the right of the bridge.

Locate the narrow tunnel to the northeast and make your way upstairs. After dispatching a patrolling draugr, a pair of Ancient Nordic Boots and a hide helmet can be found on a table at the end of a passage. Around the next corner, four burial urns can be found cemented into the ground. Two more urns can be found on the ground to the right of the opening just before you reach the bridge which overlooks the room you passed through before entering the tunnel.

As you cross the bridge dispatch the leveled draugr which will emerge from its sarcophagus on the right end of the platform, then claim the contents of the chest and shelves on the other side. Turn right and cross another bridge into the next room, where you will encounter two draugr and a huge ceiling spike trap located in the center. An expert locked door will be located on the western wall leading to an unlocked chest with some minor loot. The room features two burial urns on the northern wall, and a portcullis leading to a caved in tunnel.

Carefully make your way around the spike trap and pass through the iron door on the other side. Cross the gated bridge which overlooks the two lower levels you passed previously. A patrolling draugr can be sniped with a ranged weapon as it passes the corner at the end of the tunnel. Another sleeping draugr will be standing just round the corner to the right of the fire pit as you enter the room. The same situation will occur with the next corner. A final draugr wight will be sleeping in a standing position to the left hand side of the iron door way, which opens into a swinging blades trap on the other side.

As you pass through the blades, the draugr boss Curalmil will burst out of his sarcophagus and attack, along with several leveled draugr enemies. Dispose of them all and find the word wall for a word related to the Marked for Death shout and a boss-leveled chest. Find the tunnel leading west behind the sarcophagus and place Nurelion's mixture in the ancient bowl at the end. This lowers the stone wall in front of you and you will have free access to the final chamber which contains a variety of different alchemy ingredients, the alchemy skill book A Game at Dinner, and the Cracked White Phial. Go back to the chamber with the word wall and turn right, where you will find an open set of iron doors leading to a staircase which will return you to Forsaken Cave. As you enter the next room, activate the lever which will open the cavern wall and continue forward until you reach the tunnel leading back to Skyrim.

The Crack in the PlanEdit

Time is running out...

Back in The White Phial, Nurelion's poor health has taken yet another turn for the worse, forcing the old proprietor to sit in a chair around the clock with Quintus Navale in charge of the merchant services. Enter the private quarters upstairs and show Nurelion the cracked Phial. Understandably, this will make him quite upset: "This... it matches every description of the Phial that I've found in lore. But if it can't hold liquid, there's no way of knowing. How did you manage to damage it, then? This is what I get for not retrieving it myself." When you tell him that it was broken to begin with, he will become disparaging: "Figures—I doubt you have sufficient knowledge to harm the Phial even if you wanted to. Either way, this is the end of it. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm not quite in the mood to entertain guests. I trust you can show yourself out. Here's for your trouble." He then hands you a rather lousy reward of five gold, and then goes directly to bed, where he will stay 24 hours a day, obviously dying from his terminal illness.

Leave him and head downstairs where Quintus will be eager to talk to you: "I want to thank you for your help. I know my master can be a bit short at times." He will then make up for his master's cheapness and hand you an additional five hundred gold, then go to watch over his master upstairs. However, there's still hope. A few days later, you will receive a letter from Quintus, starting the quest Repairing the Phial.


  • If you don't enter the White Phial the first time that you enter Windhelm, it may be possible that Nurelion will be already dying in his bed when you visit him later. The quest cannot be started and his apprentice will not be available as merchant.
  • If you have a Numbers Job (Thieves Guild) for the White Phial active, complete it (return to Delvin Mallory) before completing the White Phial quest, or Nurelion's death will count as killing the target and failing the quest.


  • The Phial can disappear if you leave the dungeon without taking it.
  • At the completion of the quest, even when "asleep and dying" on his bed, you can still hear Nurelion continuing his standard dialogue about not liking loiterers and those who gawk at his goods.
  • It is possible to receive double the amount that Quintus gives you as a reward from 500 to 1000 gold. Often when you finish the initial dialogue with Nurelion too quickly (without exiting during middle of the dialogue), he will repeat the same dialogue if you do not exit the second dialogue, which would result in a duplication of the 500 gold rewarded.
  • Quintus may not talk to Nurelion, making it impossible to start the next quest.

Quest StagesEdit

The White Phial (MS12)
Stage Finishes Quest Journal Entry
10 The alchemist of Windhelm, Nurelion, has asked me to find the legendary White Phial for him.
Objective 10: Retrieve the White Phial
Objective 20: Bring the Phial to Nurelion
Objective 21: Speak to Quintus
100 Finishes quest  I retrieved the White Phial for Nurelion, but it was damaged beyond repair. His assistant, Quintus, still paid me my reward, though.
  • The following empty quest stages were omitted from the table: 0.
  • 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 MS12 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 MS12.