Quest Information
Starting Location: Vaermina's Shrine
Starting NPC: Aymar Douar
Possible Reward(s): Skull of Corruption

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This particular Daedric quest requires you to be at least level 5 to begin it. Once you meet that requirement, pay a visit to Vaermina's Shrine located to the southwest of Cheydinhal near the beach of Lake Poppad. The Dark Elf Aymar Douar is the one you need to speak with here, and he tells you that you need a very rare item to speak with the Daedra Lord Vaermina - a Black Soul Gem. A couple of these gems can be found during the Cheydinhal Recommendation quest, but you won't be able to use them if you want to pursue the Mages Guild quest line. However, if you do pursue the Mages Guild quest line, you'll eventually reach the Necromancer's Moon quest. During that particular quest, you'll find an altar capable of creating Black Soul Gems. Of course, you can also find such gems on the bodies of Necromancers you've slain, but they're fairly rare as loot.

When you finally track down such a gem, present it to Vermina's Shrine as an offering. The Daedra Lord will ask you to serve her by retrieving an orb that has been stolen by a wizard named Arkved. The wizard has taken the orb to his tower, and Vaermina warns that "in my orb he has found more than he bargained for." Leave the House of Shadow and make the trek to Arkved's Tower to the southwest (it sits on top of the first "e" in "The Nibenay Basin").

Even though it's called "Arkved's Tower", I was disappointed to find that you don't actually ascend a towering structure to retrieve the orb. Instead, you must enter the dungeon below the tower. The first level is short and you'll only have to do battle with a couple of Daedric creatures to reach the next level, called "Arked's Void." Believe it or not, this level is even more barren than the last. Traverse the large stone bridges until you reach another door leading into "Arkved's Lost Halls."

This third level is where you'll start running into some consistent opposition. Hack your way through the Daedric creatures until you reach yet another door leading to "Arkved's Hall of Changes". Don't enter either of the doorways leading to "Arkved's Oasis" or you'll reach a very strange level that places you outside the tower surrounded by an Oblivion landscape and the Plane's hot lava-like liquid. Two Daedric creatures await you in the entrance chamber in the Hall of Changes, as well as a trapped stone that will launch bolts of frost at you every few seconds. Spend as little time in this room as you can, and don't take either of the side passages - the left one is a deadend, and the right one just leads to a skeleton with little loot. The door on the opposite wall is the one you want. When you reach the room with Headless Zombies lying on stone slabs, take the door on your right to enter a hallway leading to the southeast. This brings you to another guarded and trapped room, where a door off to your left leads to a trap door in the floor. Head into the trap door to reach "Arkved's Rending Halls".

The Rending Halls are heavily guarded by Daedric creatures, so be very careful. Keep moving until you reach a stone stairway littered with zombie bodies. Ascend the stairs and you'll find a ladder leading to the tower's final level, "Arkved's Death Quarters". You've finally reached Arkved, but you won't be doing battle with him. He lies in a bed completely unconscious. Instead, search his desk in the corner to find the Orb of Vaermina and some rare texts. Arkved's handwritten note even offers some explanation to what actually happened with the tower and why it's all in a dream-like state. Once you have the orb, use the opposite door to reach the Nibenay Basin and then fast-travel back to Vaermina's Shrine.

Her orb returned, Vaermina presents you with the Skull of Corruption as a reward. This nifty little staff allows you to create a temporary clone of the creature you strike with it. The recipient and the clone will always hate one another, providing you with a powerful ally during any such battle.