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Main Quest: Beyond Death

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Background

You'll receive this quest when you enter the Soul Cairn (at Exit A) at the conclusion of the quest Chasing Echoes.


Walkthrough

The Soul Cairn is a large outdoor area. As you explore it, you'll encounter many interesting things, including:
  • Bonemen, mistmen and wrathmen. These enemies will drop soul gems and more when they die.

  • Souls. Most of these souls won't say or do much, but three of them (#1, #4, and #7) will give you quests or tasks to complete.

  • Soul Fissures. Harvesting these will fill your most powerful empty soul gems with a soul.
In a few places you'll also find closed gates with two glowing blue lights (usually in standing stones) nearby. To open the gates, you'll need to shoot something (either an arrow or spell) through the lights.

The first thing you'll need to do in this quest is track down Serana's mother Valerica. You'll find her in a prison to the northeast (#10). When you get close enough to her, Serana and Valerica will start up a conversation, and you'll learn that Serana's blood is required for Harkon's prophecy, which Valerica will refer to as the Tyranny of the Sun. Initially, Valerica won't appreciate that you freed Serana, thus putting her in danger, but eventually you and Serana will wear her down, and she'll agree to hand over the Elder Scroll (Blood) to you.

To breach Valerica's prison, you'll need to kill three Boneyard Keepers. They'll be at three of the structures inside the Soul Cairn (#9). The Keepers are big and tough for skeletons, but that's not saying much, and you shouldn't have too much trouble with them. Once the three Keepers have been defeated, the barriers of the prison will lower, allowing you to reach Valerica.

When you return to Valerica (#10), she'll lead you into the Boneyard (Exit B) so she can give you the elder scroll. However, once inside you'll get attacked by the cursed dragon Durnehviir. He'll split his time between summoning bonemen to fight you, and landing in the center of the yard so he can attack you himself. Serana and Valerica will help you with this battle, so you should be able to muddle through it even if you're not a high enough level to comfortably take on dragons.

After "killing" Durnehviir, when you return to Valerica, she'll lead you to the Elder Scroll (Blood), which you'll need to take out of its case. Then when you talk to Valerica again, she'll ask you to keep her daughter safe, and she'll send you on your way. To complete the quest, you'll then just need to exit the Soul Cairn (via Exit A).

Note: When you leave the Boneyard, you'll be stopped by Durnehviir. He'll name you Vanquisher for your prowess in battle, and he'll ask you for a favor. He'll tell you that he is stuck in the Soul Cairn for as long as Valerica lives -- that is, forever -- but that you can summon him from time to time while you're in Skyrim. He'll then teach you the words to his name, which will allow you to call him. If you call Durnehviir while you're in Skyrim, then he'll fly around and possibly attack things for a couple of minutes, and then return to the Soul Cairn. He'll also teach you the three Words of Power to the "Soul Tear" shout (one word each time you call him).

Another Note: If you chose to become partially soul trapped in order to enter the Soul Cairn, then at the end of the quest Valerica will mention that your soul was stored in a gem, and that all you'll need to do is touch the gem to get your soul back (and remove the Weakened Soul active effect). You'll find your Soul Essence Gem (Full) inside one of the chests beneath the draining crystals (#3). Picking up the gem will extract the soul and leave you with a Black Soul Gem.


1 - Soul / Arvak's Skull

When you approach the soul here (#1), he'll stop you and ask you to find the skull of his horse Arvak. You'll find Arvak's Skull located on a pedestal a ways to the northeast (#1a). It'll be guarded by a few mistmen. When you grab the skull and deliver it to the soul (he'll now be slightly east of where you found the skull), he'll teach you the Summon Arvak power (found under Conjuration), which will allow you to summon Arvak in the Soul Cairn or in Skyrim.


2 - Lightning Attractors

If you place an empty Grand Soul Gem or Greater Soul Gem one of these attractors (the game will automatically take the least powerful one in your inventory), then the gem will transform into a Black Soul Gem, and three bonemen / mistmen / wrathmen will attack you. You can repeat this as many times as you'd like.


3 - Draining Crystals

These large purple crystals (#3) will drain your health when you're near them. Consuming a Soul Husk or a Soul Husk Extract will protect you from this effect for a brief amount of time. Under each of the crystals you'll find a treasure chest with random loot inside. In three of the chests (#3a) you're guaranteed to find a Reaper Gem Fragment.


4 - Morven Stroud

Next to the cart here you'll meet a soul named Morven Stroud. He'll tell you that he used to be a trader, and he'll make you a deal. If you bring him 25 Soul Husks, then he'll let you have something from his cart. You can ask him for a sword, a battleaxe, light armor, heavy armor, or a spell tome. The item you get will be random, but you'll be able to make multiple purchases.


5 - Spell Tome

On the pedestal here, you'll find a Spell Tome: Conjure Wrathman.


6 - Reaper's Lair

Inside the lair, you'll find a Reaper Shard Receptacle. When you place three Reaper Gem Fragments (found at #3a) into the receptacle, you'll summon the Reaper and a few bonemen. The Reaper will drop three Black Soul Gems and a Daedra Heart when it dies.


7 - Jiub

At this spot you'll meet the soul of Jiub. He'll give you the quest Impatience of a Saint.


8 - Spell Tome

On top of the pedestal on the raised platform here, you'll find a Spell Tome: Conjure Mistman.


9 - Boneyard Keeper


10 - Valerica's Prison


11 - Spell Tome

On the altar here you'll find a Spell Tome: Conjure Boneman.


Exits:
  1. Portal back to Valerica's study in the Volkihar Ruins.
  2. Entrance to the Boneyard.