First go speak with Enthir at The Frozen Hearth in Winterhold. Note there is a bug that dictates you cannot talk to Enthir if you have started, but not completed the quest The Staff of Magnus, as Enthir believes Winterhold to be in danger and will continually repeat "This is going to be terrible for business." After speaking with Enthir, you'll be directed to the wizard, Calcelmo, at Understone Keep in Markarth.
Calcelmo, the Wizard
Despite reputedly being an expert in the Falmer language, Calcelmo won't give you what you're looking for, so you will have to steal it. From here you have several options:
- You can go straight to the museum if you wish to pick the lock.
- Using this method causes the guards in the museum to be hostile, and as they are city guards you will incur a bounty if you kill them.
- You can simply steal his key, which should be right next to him on the table.
- This option will cause the guards to be hostile, unless you are successfully hidden.
- If you ask to visit the archaeological site, you will be asked to kill Nimhe (a giant frostbite spider). After you have done this task you will be given the key to the museum, and can walk past the city guards without sneaking.
- Solving Calcelmo's love problems during The Book of Love will add additional dialog where he will hand over the key to the museum, and allow you passage (the guard at the door will still tell you you can't enter, but the guards inside won't bother you).
- If you have a high speech skill, you can persuade him. He will give you the key to the museum, but not to his laboratory. (The museum key opens the laboratory.)
|Even after slaying your troublesome spider?||I've already provided you a key to the museum. You should consider it an honor. Few are allowed to browse my collection. I'm sorry, but that's as far as my generosity extends.||No progress|
|Even after everything I did for you and Faleen?||Well, I'm not blind to the fact that you've been instrumental in improving my affairs of the heart. If you wish, you may enter my tower to view the museum section, but I'm afraid the laboratories are still off limits. That's the best I can offer.||No progress|
|But I'm a great admirer of your work. (Persuade)||Passed: What kind of a mentor would I be if I denied a potential student a glimpse at his master's ingenuity! Here, this key will provide access to my museum. Feel free to browse for as long as you wish. However, I must insist that my laboratory remains strictly off limits.
Failed: While I appreciate the sentiment, I still have to decline. Being an admirer, I'm sure you can appreciate the need to keep my research a secret.
|Passed: Get the key
|What will it cost to change your mind? (Bribe)||Failed: I'm not certain how many scholars you're accustomed to dealing with, but I can assure you that personal wealth is our lowest priority.||Failed: Nothing|
|Grant me access or you'll regret it. (Intimidate)||Failed: Do you realize that at a snap of my fingers I can bring the entire Markarth city guard to my defense? You best rethink this course of action or you may find yourself on the executioner's block.||Failed: Nothing|
|Forget it. Maybe I'll come back later.||Very well. Perhaps when my research is complete, I'll feel more comfortable discussing my findings with you.||Nothing|
Enter the Museum
There is a gate on the south side of the Museum. On a table to your right as you enter the first room on the left is an unusual gem. Continue past the guards and enter Calcelmo's Laboratory. In the room to the left as you enter the Laboratory you will find the Spider Control Rod. There are two types of guards here: Markarth city guards and Calcelmo's personal guards. Markarth city guards here will not be hostile, but Calcelmo's personal guards will. They will not give you a bounty if they are harmed. It is possible to sneak past all the guards, if you desire to do so. If you don't, employing the various traps around the lab using levers and valves will make this section far easier. Beware the hall with the poison gas; your health will drain rapidly until you exit, and it is not possible to eliminate the damage with poison resistances, even with items such as Hevnoraak's eponymous mask. Putting 40 pounds of weight (either a Dwarven armor or the body of a nearby dead Markarth guard) on the pressure plate at either end of the poison gas hall will depress the plate and stop the gas from spreading, allowing you to comfortably loot the corpses. You can also Become Ethereal and not suffer the poison for the duration of the shout. Activating the valve at the other end of the hallway will also activate the dwemer blade trap, making short work of the guards patrolling the area. For safe passage, activate it again and the blades will retract. Activating the trap will send Aicantar into a panic and he and any guards you may have snuck past will make a run for it, though the guards will be unlikely to escape due to the nasty thresher trap that is activated.
The shortest route to Calcelmo's quarters is barred from the other side, so you have to go through the lab, out onto the Wizard's Balcony (just before the door to exit to the balcony you can find a Dwemer Puzzle Cube for The Litany of Larceny quest), and up the stairs to the right into Calcelmo's Tower. Move down a short hall, turn left, and go up the stairs to a room which contains charcoal and rolls of paper, which you will need to copy the Guide; a massive stone tablet that cannot be moved.
Return to Enthir
After copying the text, two guards, the city captain, and Calcelmo's nephew enter to hunt you down. You may fight them if you wish, but can simply sneak past them after they split up (distracting the remaining guard with an arrow is a good way to go). If you look towards the exit, you should see a slight ledge on both sides of the wall. Jump onto the little chimney in front of you then onto the ledge and proceed to the door. A waypoint will indicate an exit route: hugging the right edge of the balcony will lead you into a small hole to the waterfall. If you carefully fall into the waterfall (or use Become Ethereal) you will take no damage, and can then just fast travel to Winterhold. Alternatively, just look left and down when you reach the waterfall and there will be a path of sorts where you can make very small drops to multiple rocks and basically walk back to the entrance of Understone Keep. You can also just retrace your steps back through the museum, avoiding any guards you didn't kill earlier.
Return to Winterhold, where Karliah and Enthir are waiting in the cellar of the Frozen Hearth. Enthir will use the copy of Calcelmo's tablet to translate Gallus' journal, confirming that Mercer used the Guild's funds and violated the Twilight Sepulcher, the secret shrine to Nocturnal that the Nightingales are sworn to protect. Karliah will also give you the Nightingale Blade as a token of appreciation, and invite you to meet her in the Ragged Flagon. After talking with Enthir and Karliah, the quest ends and The Pursuit begins.
The trinket in this quest is the Dwemer Puzzle Cube. It can be found in the Calcelmo's Laboratory zone, in the room where Aicantar is reading. The Cube is on a table to the right, after going past Aicantar's table but before the door to the balcony. Once you've collected the trinket, it can be returned to Delvin Mallory for some leveled gold.
- Picking up the museum key after the quest has finished restarts the quest.
- This bug is fixed by version 1.5 of the Official Skyrim Patch.
- The quest item flag on Gallus's Encoded Journal is not cleared on completion of the quest, leaving it permanently stuck in your inventory.
- Enthir may be stuck saying "This is going to be terrible for business" if the quests The Staff of Magnus or The Eye of Magnus are active. Both of these quests may have to be completed in order to talk to him..
- Another possible solution is to leave and wait for normal store hours and Enthir becoming open for business.
- Sometimes leaving the building and reentering will get his correct dialogue running. His dialogue changing to a store (fence) shows his script has been completed and he is out of the picture for this quest.
- In Calcelmo's Lab, there might be a Markarth city guard who gives you a bounty regardless of your standing towards the Reach faction. All talk options except going to prison or fighting fail. The only way you will be able to get rid of this bounty is by gaining another bounty in another city and going to jail.
- A possible workaround is to sneak into the room with the guard and use a bow to kill him. Even if he is running towards you, it seems if you can kill him before he starts his formal dialogue, the bounty is not added and you can play on as normal.
- Karliah sometimes returns to Snow Veil Sanctum without giving you the following quest.
- This bug is fixed by version 1.0 of the Unofficial Skyrim Patch.
- This seems to have to do with having Mercer's plans in your inventory. This is an important quest item for the next quest and the quest fails to load as long as this item is in inventory. You should drop the plans somewhere, and retrieve them when you want to finish The Pursuit. Use command Startquest TG07 then Set stage TG07 0 to start and add the quest to the journal while keeping Mercer's plan, when they're "quest items" and it doesn't allow you to get rid of them.
- Calcelmo's stone rubbing appears on the ground in the College of Winterhold after completing this quest. When you pick it up, it's marked as a quest item and you cannot remove it from your inventory. Upon entering the Dwemer museum again, the quest starts again and you have to copy the inscription on the stone again. If you go to Enthir afterwards, you can give him the stone rubbing and receive another Nightingale Blade.
- Do not complete this quest a second time. Doing so will break the end of the "Darkness Returns" quest; Karliah will not let you out of the last room and will only say "Yes, fellow Nightingale?" when spoken to. You will be stuck in that room permanently. The only fix for this is to reload a save from before you started this quest a second time. If you do this after Darkness Returns, you will be able to keep both Nightingale Blades.[verification needed]
|Hard Answers (TG06)|
|Stage||Finishes Quest||Journal Entry|
|10||Karliah believes the only proof that could expose Mercer's treachery can be found within the pages of Gallus's journal which she recovered from Snow Veil Sanctum. Unfortunately, the journal is written in some sort of code that needs to be deciphered. Our only hope is Enthir, one of Karliah and Gallus's former acquaintances who is a wizard at the College of Winterhold.
Objective 10: Speak with Enthir
|20||Enthir has informed me that Gallus's Journal is written in Falmer. He's directed me to seek out Calcelmo, the Court Wizard in Markarth who is the foremost authority on them in hopes of obtaining a translation.
Objective 20: Speak with Calcelmo
Objective 25: Gain entry to Calcelmo's Museum
Objective 27: (Optional) Obtain the key to Calcelmo's Museum
|30||Calcelmo has proven to be extremely stubborn and refuses to allow me access to his materials regarding the Falmer language. I'm left with little choice other than taking matters into my own hands and stealing his notes.
Objective 30: Obtain Calcelmo's Falmer Translating Guide
|40||Calcelmo's "notes" on the Falmer language are actually derived from a massive stone slab in his tower! It will be impossible to bring this item to Enthir to have him translate Gallus's Journal. I'll have to discover a way to make the information more portable.
Objective 40: Duplicate the writing on Calcelmo's Stone
Objective 50: Return to Enthir
Objective 60: Speak to Enthir
Objective 70: Speak to Karliah
|200||Finishes quest||After Enthir successfully translated Gallus's journal, I've discovered that Mercer's motivations transcended simple greed or murder. As a member of the Nightingales, Mercer was tasked with guarding a place called The Twilight Sepulcher, the Temple of Nocturnal. According to Gallus, he defiled the temple and betrayed the Thieves Guild. Karliah insists we bring this information to Brynjolf immediately.|
- The following empty quest stages were omitted from the table: 0, 27, 55.
|Prev: Speaking With Silence||Up: Thieves Guild||Next: The Pursuit|