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||Starting Location: Any Zone
|Starting NPC: None
|Possible Reward(s): Mehrunes Razor
After installing Bethesda Softworks' official Mehrunes Razor plug-in
, you'll receive a journal entry describing a lost Ayleid city called Varsa Baalim where a powerful daedric artifact called Mehrunes Razor lies hidden (this entry pops up immediately if you've loaded a game in progress or just after entering the Imperial City sewers if you've started a new game). The entry goes on to suggest exploring Sundercliff Watch for clues to where the Ayleid city might reside. If you've already completed any of the Daedric Quests
, then you'll be familiar with such daedric artifacts and how powerful they are. It really isn't surprising that Mehrunes Dagon didn't give you this quest himself, as he's obviously busy invading Tamriel (unless you've already stopped him, in which case communication with Cyrodiil might be difficult for him). It should be noted that the artifact you're seeking in this quest cannot be given to Martin for the Blood of the Daedra
quest, so look elsewhere if you're currently working on that particular quest.
You can't fast-travel to Sundercliff Watch (on the eastern edge of Cyrodiil along Lake Canulus), so you'll have to journey to a previously mapped location somewhere nearby and then cover the remaining distance on foot or horseback. The way there was fairly uneventful for me, aside from a couple of random encounters with Cyrodiil's wildlife. There's no resistance outside the keep itself, so just head into its depths through the old wooden door once you arrive. Once inside, you'll find that the caves are inhabited by Dark Elf soldiers called "Drothmeri." Slay the first guard you come across, then head down the sloping passageway near the fallen statue to reach a large wooden door. If you try to get past the door, you'll be prompted to answer "Who gathers stormclouds over Nirn?" by someone behind the door. You don't even have a guess as to what the answer might be, but luckily someone left their diary in the abandoned knapsack near the door. Grabbing the diary prompts a journal entry that sums up the book's contents (that someone named Drothan is amassing an army here and that you should seek out the journal in his cabin to learn why). If you check page 3 of the diary, you'll also find that the password to move past the door is "Chimer."
More Drothmeri await you past the door, including a Drothmeri Steward. When you've shown them the error of their ways, check the Drothmeri Steward's corpse for a note from "Arch-Mage Frathen Drothan" and then search the small table nearby to find a handful of gold and a Steward's Registry
that confirms the diary's claim of an army being amassed here. Continue moving further into the keep, killing the Drothmeri that await you as you move down two flights of stairs, a sloping tunnel, and then down yet another flight of stairs into a larger space with a bonfire in the center. A Drothmeri Veteran offers one final battle before you reach the door leading into Sundercliff Village.
Sundercliff Village is crawling with Drothmeri, so be prepared for several fights. Directly to the north of where you enter is the jail, where you'll discover a Morag Tong Assassin being held in a cell there. If you're able to get through the locked cell door, you can watch as the assassin simply sneaks out of the jail (and eventually attacks Drothmeri Commander Telani Adrethi, which aids your cause) or you can strike him down. If you choose to silence the assassin, you'll find some very nice armor on his corpse (Morag Tong Boots
, Morag Tong Cowl
, Morag Tong Cuirass
, Morag Tong Gloves
, and Morag Tong Greaves
) as well as a Soiled Writ of Assassination
explaining his mission for the Morag Tong Guild. If you search the table in the adjacent room, you'll find a Jailor's Letter
speculating as to where the assassin may have hidden the assassination writ on his person. Considering that the writ was "soiled", you may want to nonchalantly drop the writ before anyone realizes where you uncovered it...
The canteen to the east of the entrance is more-or-less empty, save for a Drothmeri or two and some average loot. In the private attic farther to the east you'll be assaulted by a Khajiit worker, who is probably just defending the gems resting on a plate in the attic's rafters (use the crate in the corner to get up to retrieve them). The soldier lodgings and recruit barracks on the north side of the bridge may provide you with more Drothmeri to do battle with, though there isn't a whole lot of loot to be had when you're finished with them. Once you've ransacked the village, you can either proceed into the Sundercliff Forge to the east or into the Sundercliff Commune via two different exits (one upper, one lower) on the west side. Since you have to hit the Sundercliff Forge sooner or later anyway, you might as well head there first.
There isn't anything of note in this floor of the Sundercliff Forge other than the fact that it leads to the Sundercliff Mines. Simply make your way through the curving tunnels (striking down the Drothmeri that oppose you) until you reach the door in the southeast corner leading into mines. Move through the door and begin dispatching the many Drothmeri Soldiers and laborers waiting to defend the lower section of the mine. Continue moving in a southeast direction until you reach a single tunnel heading east that curves around and brings you to the top portion of the mine. Travel toward the northeast and confront the Drothmeri in the small camp, then move through the east tunnel to reach a door leading down into the lower section of Sundercliff Forge. Continuing through the door, you'll be confronted by a Weapons Apprentice and a single laborer. Demonstrate the proper use of weapons on their soon-to-be carcasses, then read the Apprentice's note to the Forgemaster if you wish (trying to get another Apprentice in trouble) and travel through the tunnel to the north. The Armor Apprentice and another laborer await you here, though you shouldn't have any more trouble with them than you did with the previous Apprentice. A love letter lying on the nearby table reveals the Apprentice's true ambitions, as well as the "good laughs" he and the other Apprentice share at the expense of the Forgemaster (the same laughs the other Apprentice happens to be ratting him out for).
The Forgemaster himself lies directly to your west and is usually accompanied by two other laborers, making this particular fight much more difficult than the last two. When you've bested them all, loot the Forgemaster's Amulet
and Forgemaster's Smock
from the Forgemaster's body, then make your way through the canvas door leading into the Forgemaster's tent. Along with a nice pile of gold and some gems, you'll find an Enchanted Bezoar
. You'll need two of these to reach Varsa Baalim, so pack it away for later. Luckily, you don't have to backtrack all the way through the past three levels. Across from the Forgemaster's tent is another tunnel leading up to a rope that can be pulled to lower a rock and open a passageway to the door leading back to Sundercliff Village.
You may find that more Drothmeri resistance is waiting for you in the village (even if you previously cleared it), so be careful. To appease your compass, you can jump down into the lower area of the village and use the western tunnel to reach the northwest door leading into Sundercliff Commune. A Drothmeri Veteran guards this door, so you'll have to deal with him first before continuing on. If you don't care about the direction your compass points you, take the upper level door leading into Sundercliff Commune as it brings you closer to your next objective.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter which entrance you take into Sundercliff Commune. You'll still face plenty of Drothmeri opposition on either floor, though if you are on the lower level you'll have to climb the ramps to reach the upper floor where you'll find Frathen Drothan's Quarters in the northeast corner. The Arch-Mage isn't home at the moment, but he did leave a journal on his desk revealing that he has entered Varsa Baalim in search of something called the "Nefarivigum." Apparently this unknown title reflects that which protects Mehrunes Razor. Furthermore, Frathen's journal mentions that he has sealed the entrance to the Ayleid city behind him and that only someone possessing two Enchanted Bezoars
can dispel his enchantment and follow him into Varsa Baalim. If you've been following this walkthrough, you already have one such artifact from the lower level of Sundercliff Forge. Before you leave the Arch-Mage's abode, grab some of the Scrolls of Transmutation
lying around. You can use these to turn any Iron Ore you've collected into Silver Nuggets, any Silver Nuggets you've collected into Gold Nuggets, and any Gold Nuggets you've collected into Gold Coins. This is obviously how Drothan has been funding his pursuit to amass an army.
When you're finished with Frathen Drothan's Quarters, head west and enter the Commander's Quarters next door. Unfortunately, the Drothmeri Commander is home, so you have a serious fight on your hands (though the Morag Ton Assassin may have already taken care of him, if you released him and let him live). Use whatever tactics are necessary to put an end to the Drothmeri Commander's life, then head upstairs and pluck the second Enchanted Bezoar
off a nightstand next to the commander's bed. Loot the jewelry box and nearby chest as well, then head outside with both Enchanted Bezoars in hand. Drop down to the lower floor of Sundercliff Commune, then proceed west until you reach a Drothmeri Veteran guarding the entrance to Varsa Baalim. Make him wish he had never joined the pathetic Drothmeri army, then place the Enchanted Bezoars on the two pedestals that flank the entrance into the Ayleid city. With the barrier dispelled, you can now enter the Excavated Ruin.
The Excavated Ruin has nothing to offer aside from a couple of gems lying on a ledge in the northernmost tunnel. Weave your way through until you reach the door that will finally take you into the lost Ayleid city of Varsa Baalim. A journal entry suggests that you should be on guard here, and that's good advice. The entire city is overrun with every type of vampire you can imagine - warriors, assassins, spellswords, sorcerers, monks, etc. - as well as a handful of Drothmeri soldiers that followed Drothan into the ruins. Luckily, though, the vampires and Drothmeri are already locked in battle when you arrive, so you'll find more than few opportunities to let them fight it out before joining the fray. One such opportunity presents itself right away as you descend toward the southwest onto a large stone platform. Keep your distance and let the vampires win (as they usually will), then move in to finish them off and loot all of the corpses (including the Drothmeri ones). Continue traveling toward the southwest until you reach the door leading down into Cava Beldameld. This small level is home to a single vampire, so dispatch the undead creature and then move through the door on the opposite side leading back up to Varsa Baalim.
You'll now be on the southwest side of the previously unsurpassable stonework. Don't move once you've zoned in as a small group of vampires and Drothmeri are locked in battle. Once one of the two sides have claimed victory, move in and finish them off. A couple of containers can be looted to the southeast, but you'll need to travel in a northwest direction to move further into the city. Just past a fallen Drothmeri Veteran, you'll find an area where you can slide down and begin moving in a northeast direction. You'll eventually reach a door leading into Cava Marspanga, where you'll encounter another battle between Drothmeri and vampires. Play this out as you've done before, then head through the door on the opposite side of the small level to reach another previously inaccessible area of Varsa Baalim. Use the broken stonework to climb up to the northeast, then proceed in an eastern direction until you reach a spiraling staircase leading down to The Nefarivigum. Unless you've been moving with stealth, you'll probably have to deal with a Vampire Matriarch before you can enter its depths, though.
Once inside The Nefarivigum, you'll discover that a significant battle between the Drothmeri and vampires recently took place here. Bodies line the stairways, so feel free to loot them as you make your way beneath the Ayleid city. After descending several flights of stairs, you'll reach a larger chamber where you'll finally come face-to-face with Arch-Mage Frathen Drothan. If you're employing a stealthy approach, you can actually get a solid sneak attack in on him since he has his back turned to you as you enter. If your character doesn't have enough sneak, prepare yourself for a tough battle and rush in for a surprise attack. When Drothan falls, a journal entry will tell you that you've ended any threat the Drothmeri army posed to the Empire. Loot the Bladeturn Hood
, Spellturn Cloak
, and Drothan's Key
from his corpse, then focus on the daedric artifact behind the gate to the south.
You can try forcing the gate open, though this will cause Msirae Faythung to animate and attack. If you have a very high Strength attribute (90+), the gate will actually open and you can grab Mehrunes Razor
and head through the door behind it before the champion can close in for a swing of his axe. If you don't have a high enough Strength, then you'll just have to fight Dagon's champion. When he falls, the gate opens by itself and you're free to grab Mehrunes Razor
. If you don't have enough Strength and don't want to have to fight the champion, walk over and read Frathen's Field Journal by the bedroll. His notes indicate that eating the heart of Dagon's champion will allow you to retrieve the dagger, providing you with yet another option. If you'd like to attempt this route, simply walk up to Msirae and pluck the Beating Heart
from his chest. Eating it triggers a "Cannibal Consumption" effect, which raises your infamy and afflicts you with both Porphyric Hemophilia (vampirism) and Cannibal's Prion disease. After the heart is consumed, the champion will animate and attack, though his life won't last long without a heart. Simply keep your distance and he will die without a single point of damage.
Whichever route you take, you'll find yourself wielding a fine blade. The daedric dagger has an effect called "Daedric Banishing", which your journal claims has a chance to "instantly destroy an opponent." When the dagger is in your hands, a door leading into the Forgotten Tunnels is revealed behind it. These tunnels lead to an underwater exit beneath Lake Canulus, providing you with a quick means to escape the Ayleid city. Congratulations on finishing Mehrunes Razor!