Skyrim: Discerning The Transmundane Quest Walkthrough

For all the importance of the Elder Scrolls (the series even takes their name!), we actually see very little of them in our adventures through Skyrim. However, in this quest, Discerning the Transmundane, we actually get to see an Elder Scroll! It’s one of the few quests that works as part of Elder Knowledge, which is a more central main quest that tasks you with learning a ton about these strange relics called the Elder Scrolls.

If you’re looking to complete this quest and progress your journey through the main story of Skyrim, here’s everything you’ll need to know to complete it.

Activate the Quest

This quest can be started regardless of your level, but you won’t be able to complete it unless you are level 15, so it’s recommended that you wait until then to begin. You’ll begin by speaking to Urag at the College of Winterhold, who will send you to see Septimus Signus, a scholar who studies the Elder Scrolls and has gone a bit mad in the process. In order to find him, you’ll have to find his outpost, north of Winterhold.

He’ll tell you that there’s a box in the outpost that contains the “heart of a god.” Signus believes the box contains the Heart of Lorkhan — more on that later. He’ll give you an Attunement Sphere and a Blank Lexicon and tell you to head to the Tower of Mzark, where you’ll need to find a mechanism that will inscribe the lexicon.

To Alftand!

In order to access the Tower of Mzark, you’ll need to find Blackreach. This huge underground cavern can be accessed by heading through Alftand. To the southwest of Winterhold, you’ll find this Dwemer ruin in the mountains. There are a series of buildings here, which can contain some loot and other things to see, but they can be ignored if you wish.

Make your way across the terrifying bridges and through the landscape until you find the Alftand Glacial Ruins. Once inside, beware of Dwemer Spiders and eventually, a person named J’darr. This guy will be very hostile immediately, and you’ll need to deal with him however you see fit. Be wary, as up ahead, you’ll find a Dwarven Sphere, which can do a good amount of damage if you’re not careful.

There are some rooms around here with chests, including one where you need to pick the lock. These are optional, though. Continue making your way through the ruins, opening gates and taking down enemies, until you reach the Alftand Animonculory.

Inside, you’ll need to be ready to deal with another Dwemer Sphere and some Spiders. Continue making your way through here, dispatching enemies in your way, including the Falmer that will begin showing up, and watching out for nasty traps.

After some time, you’ll come to the Alftand Cathedral. You’ll find a mini-boss here after a bit, called the Dwarven Centurion. This enemy will put up quite a bit of a fight, so be careful. On its remains, you’ll find the Key to Alftand Lift.

Head through the next gate, where you’ll find two people, Umana and Sulla Trebatius, fighting. If you intervene, they’ll both attack you, so let one defeat the other and take on the survivor. Then, head into the center of the room to find and activate the Dwarven Mechanism.


Head down the stairs from this past room and open the gate. Welcome to Blackreach, one of the coolest areas in all of Skyrim. This large, underground cavern can take up hours of your time as you explore every bit of it. However, we have a job to do, so let’s get to it.

Head toward the spot marked on your map, making your way across the huge cavern and avoiding or fighting the enemies you find along the way. In the southwest corner of Blackreach, you’ll find the Tower of Mzark.

Head inside and up the stairs you find here. Toward the top, you’ll find the mechanism you’re looking for. Find the Lexicon Receptacle and place the Blank Lexicon inside. This will initiate a puzzle that you’ll have to solve. Here’s the solution for those who don’t want to figure it out: Press the button second from the right four times.

This will activate the receptacle and the button second from the left, which you need to press twice. The first button will open and you need to press it just once.

The Elder Scroll will appear and be transcribed on the Lexicon, turning it into the Runed Lexicon. Grab the Elder Scroll before you leave, too, or you’ll have to come back for it later when you continue the main storyline.

Hermaeus Mora and the Mer People

Now, you’ll need to head back to Signus. Luckily, there’s a lift in the tower you can use instead of heading through Blackreach the long way. It was blocked from the inside, so pull the lever to unlock it.

Once you’ve returned to the Outpost, the game will require you to be level 15. If you’re not, Signus will dismiss you and, when you reach level 15, you’ll receive a letter from a messenger.

Once level 15, speak with Signus, who will tell you he needs blood from five different species, giving you the Essence Extractor to collect it with.

On your way out to begin this process, you’ll be stopped by the “Wretched Abyss.” This is actually the Daedric Prince, Hermaeus Mora. He’ll tell you that Signus will soon outlive his purpose, and offers you the chance to replace him. It doesn’t matter what you decide here — it won’t change anything in the quest.

It’s time to harvest the blood that Signus needs. You’ll need some from each of the five Mer races: Altmer, Bosmer, Dunmer, Falmer, and Orsimer. places like Alftand, Liar’s Retreat, Nightcaller Temple, Rannveig’s Fast, and Silverdrift Lair contain multiple of the blood types, each missing one or two. Here are some other places where they can be found, though:

Altmer can be found in Northwatch Keep, Halted Stream Camp, Shrine of Talos Massacre, Thalmor Embassy, and Uttering Hills Cave.

Bosmer can be found in Bthadamz and Autumnshade Clearing.

Dunmer are found at Drelas’ Cottage, Evergreen Grove, Knifepoint Mine during “Beothiah’s Calling,” Halted Stream Camp, Reeking Cave, and Stonehills.

Falmer are found in almost any Dwemer ruins or the Frostflow Lighthouse.

Orsimer, also known as Orcs, can be found in Cracked Tusk Keep or Halted Stream Camp.

Once you find each of them, you can extract the cample into the Essence Extractor, then return to Signus at the Outpost. He’ll open a new passage into the next room.

The Oghma Infinium

Inside this room, the mage will find that he’s been wrong the whole time. The Heart of Lorkhan is actually not contained within, but rather, a strange book sits on the pedestal.

However, he doesn’t have much time to sort it out, as Hermaeus Mora decides he no longer needs him. He then disintegrates Signus. Head up to the pedestal with the book to find it’s called the Oghma Infinium.

You’ll be rewarded for finding the book, and given a choice between four options, three of which will level up a series of skills: The Path of Might, The Path of Shadow, and The Path of Magic, as well as the option to not read it at all. There are no side effects to reading the book, so definitely read it!

If you choose Might, you’ll gain +5 in warrior skills: Smithing, Heavy Armor, Block, Two-Handed, One-Handed, and Archery.

If you choose Shadow, you’ll gain +5 in thief skills: Light Armor, Sneak, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, Speech, and Alchemy.

Finally, choose Magic, and you’ll receive +5 in each of the mage skills: Conjuration, Restoration, Alteration, Enchanting, Illusion, and Destruction.

When you try to leave, you’ll be confronted by the Wretched Abyss again. You can agree to be his champion or refuse. Neither of these choices has any real effect, so it’s up to you. After this conversation, the quest ends.

Next: Skyrim: The 10 Best Quests You Can Do (Without Killing Anyone)

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Michael is a journalist with several years of experience writing about video games, television, and social issues. He loves indie platformers, Pokémon, and Hack ‘n Slashers.

Currently playing: Animal Crossing New Horizons, Spyro Reignited Trilogy, and Stardew Valley.

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