The Hero is asked to go to the small hamlet of Hackdirt to discover what happened to Dar-Ma, the Argonian daughter of Seed-Neeus, a Chorrol merchant. Upon arrival, the townspeople will act suspicious, and the villager the Hero is sent to says the girl never showed up.
At the Hero's first arrival in Chorrol, Dar-Ma will enter a conversation with them, prompting two options, to send Dar-Ma away, or to be friendly to her. After three days, if the hero leaves town and returns, there will be rumors that she is missing. Wait two more days and then talk to Seed-Neeus, Dar-Ma's mother.
If the hero was friendly to Dar-Ma, Seed-Neeus will have a disposition of over 50 and will plead for help, saying that Dar-Ma went missing while making her delivery to the village of Hackdirt. Seed-Neeus also mentions that Dar-Ma was with her horse, Blossom. If the hero was unfriendly to Dar-Ma, raise Seed-Neeus' disposition or go out and hear more rumors, at which point Seed-Neeus will ask for help.
Travel to Hackdirt, a small ruined town outside Chorrol. After locating Blossom, talk to the townspeople. All of them will be hostile, with their dispositions ranging from zero to five. In conversations with the townsfolk, they only give surly responses. The quest target will point to the inn. Renting a room for 30 from the innkeeper will allow the option to sneak into the room Dar-Ma stayed in. Alternatively, the inn will be empty in the evening, making it possible to just enter then and break into the rooms.
In the room, there is a ransacked dresser, and Dar-Ma's Diary. The diary tells about her sudden disappearance, and characterizes the innkeeper as nasty, as well as giving some of Dar-Ma's backstory. The Hero can then choose to go downstairs and confront the innkeeper, who will be angry saying that Dar-Ma left the diary at the inn. If the diary is taken, it will show as stolen and it cannot be given back to her. If the diary was obtained after breaking into the rooms, it will already be marked as stolen and there will not be an option to mention it to the innkeeper. Even though it is possible to say that she left her belongings in the room, it does not appear to affect the story.
Ask around the town and, eventually, find Jiv Hiriel who will say to meet him in his house after dark. Do so, and he will explain the situation, and provide a key to the caverns beneath the town. He advises entering the caverns through the trapdoor in the inn.
Going this way can avoid all of the enemies, as the girl's cell is right next to the ladder. It is best to do this between 1 AM and 5 AM as all the townsfolk will be occupied in the Gathering. The only people in the caverns are the Hackdirt Brethren. Then all that has to be done is to get her back to Chorrol unharmed, while the entire town turns hostile. She can be helped to get her horse, Blossom, but this is optional.
In the cavern, where Dar-Ma is imprisoned, there are three crates stacked together in the middle of the room. The large crate will contain a random, leveled blunt weapon or bow.
Heading back to ChorrolEdit
Escort Dar-Ma to Chorrol and speak with her mother, but after Dar-Ma retrieves her horse, she will approach to talk. After the conversation, she will head toward home and the Hero is forced to follow her. She tends to walk directly toward any creatures without concern, which makes escorting her difficult. However, if she is never allowed to get close enough to talk, she will continue to walk towards the Hero, allowing her to be lead around enemies. Only let her speak at Chorrol's gates.
Alternatively, once the Hero has talked to her and agreed to take her back to Chorrol, fast travel to Chorrol and she should be there as well.
Once the quest is finished, Dar-Ma's disposition towards the Hero will be 100 and she will give them free mercantile training.
Without knowing anything of the captured girl or her mother in Chorrol, the Hero can pick the lock on any of the trap doors in the village and find the imprisoned girl in the caves, who asks to be taken back to her mother, at which point the quest proceeds as above. This method tends to have a higher body count in terms of generic villagers underground.
|A Shadow over Hackdirt – MS45|
|10||I've agreed to look for Dar-Ma, the daughter of Seed-Neeus of Chorrol. I should go to Hackdirt and speak to Etira Moslin, the owner of the village store. Seed-Neeus also suggested I look for Dar-Ma's favorite horse, Blossom -- if I find the horse, Dar-Ma is likely nearby.|
|20||Vlanhonder Moslin denies knowing anything about Dar-Ma. He says no young Argonian has stayed in his inn recently. His evasive manner leads me to suspect he is lying, however, and I should continue my search of the town for clues to Dar-Ma's whereabouts.|
|21||Etira Moslin says that Dar-Ma never arrived with the scheduled delivery. She seemed to be hiding something, however, and I should investigate the town further.|
|30|| Upon finding Dar-Ma's diary, after talking to Vlanhonder:|
I have found Dar-Ma's diary in the inn in Hackdirt. I should confront the innkeeper with this evidence and see if he changes his story.
| Upon finding Dar-Ma's diary, without talking to Vlanhonder:|
I have found Dar-Ma's diary in the inn in Hackdirt. Now that I know Dar-Ma arrived here safely, I should ask the innkeeper if he knows what happened to her.
|31||Upon finding Dar-Ma's horse, after talking to Etira:|
I have found Dar-Ma's horse behind Moslin's Dry Goods in Hackdirt, although Etira Moslin already told me she never arrived here. I should confront her with this lie and see how she reacts.
|Upon finding Dar-Ma's horse, without talking to Etira:|
I have found Dar-Ma's horse behind Moslin's Dry Goods in Hackdirt. I should ask Etira Moslin if she knows what happened to Dar-Ma.
|35||I've found a trap door that seems to lead to caverns beneath Hackdirt. I should enter these caverns and search for Dar-Ma.|
|40||After talking to Etira, with Dar-Ma's diary:|
Etira Moslin still denies that Dar-Ma ever came to Hackdirt, although it is obvious that Dar-Ma did ... and that she likely never left. I will have to search the town thoroughly for more clues.
|After talking to Etira, without Dar-Ma's diary:|
Etira Moslin still denies that Dar-Ma ever came to Hackdirt. She is obviously lying, but I doubt she will tell me anything useful. I should continue to search the town for clues.
|41||Vlanhonder Moslin admits that Dar-Ma arrived in Hackdirt, but still denies knowing anything about her disappearance. I am now sure that foul play was involved, and will continue my search of the town for any sign of her.|
|50||Jiv Hiriel, one of the Hackdirt villagers, seems to know something about Dar-Ma. He was afraid to talk openly, but asked me to meet him in his house tonight after dark.|
|55||After meeting Jiv Hiriel in his house:|
Jiv Hiriel told me that Dar-Ma is being held in caverns beneath the town, apparently for some kind of ritual sacrifice. He gave me a key that will open the trapdoors in any of the houses. The villagers gather for worship in the caverns every night, so that will be the best time to slip into the caverns unnoticed and rescue Dar-Ma.
|After learning that the trapdoor in Moslin's Inn is the best way to the caverns:|
Jiv Hiriel suggested that the trapdoor in Moslin's Inn offers the best way into the caverns, as it is nearest where Dar-Ma is being held prisoner. I should sneak into the caverns and try to find her.
|60||I have found Dar-Ma held captive in caves beneath Hackdirt. Now to free her and escape.|
|61||I have found a young Argonian named Dar-Ma held captive in caves beneath Hackdirt. She has asked me to help her escape.|
|80||I have freed Dar-Ma from the clutches of the foul creatures that infest Hackdirt. Now to escape and deliver her safely back to Seed-Neeus in Chorrol.|
|90||Dar-Ma has perished. I should at least inform Seed-Neeus of the bad news.|
|100||If Dar-Ma dies:|
I delivered the news of Dar-Ma's death. Seed-Neeus was devastated, but thanked me for my brave attempt to save her daughter.
|If Dar-Ma survives:|
Seed-Neeus was overjoyed to see her daughter again. They both thanked me profusely and swore their eternal gratitude, and Seed-Neeus gave me free Mercantile training.
- First, purchase The Argonian Account, Book I, which increases the athletics skill, from the Moslin Dry Goods in Hackdirt, as after this quest has been completed, the whole town will be hostile.
- The "Bible of the Deep Ones" is in the village church, though this seems to serve no purpose other than indicating that something strange is going on in the village, and taking it counts as stealing.
- When the Bible of the Deep Ones is translated to English from the Daedric alphabet, it almost exactly resembles the text of the book N'Gasta! Kvata! Kvakis! — this suggests that the Sload race might be in some way associated with the Deep Ones, though nothing has been confirmed canonically.
- The quest shares similarities with the H.P. Lovecraft short story "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," and a video game adaptation of the same story, titled "Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth", that was also published by Bethesda Softworks.
- Most of the houses of Hackdirt have a trapdoor in the cellar. This trapdoor is unlocked, so it is possible to sneak into a basement and use the trapdoor to get into the Hackdirt Caverns. Most of the Hackdirt Brethren in the caverns have a key to Dar-Ma's cage in their inventory, so they can be killed or pickpocketed to get one.
- Under normal circumstances, nearly all of the town will become hostile towards at the end of this quest. However, if avoiding a fight is desired, maximize every villager's disposition beforehand. If this is done, they will act as if nothing has happened.
- If listening closely while in the caverns, a strange footstep-like sound that lasts for a few seconds can be heard as well some dampened roaring behind a collapsed part of the tunnel in the great chamber, the only indication of the existence of the Deep Ones.
This section contains bugs related to A Shadow over Hackdirt. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:
- It is possible that, instead of getting the mercantile skill bonus, the mercantile skill may appear locked at whatever level it was at when the quest was finished. However, the mercantile skill may actually not be locked, but instead just appears like it does not move. The mercantile skill must still be raised through buying and selling those five points in order for mercantile to continue to raise normally. So for while those five levels are being raised while the bar does not move.
- Fast traveling after rescuing Dar-Ma may cause the quest to hang. Dar-Ma headed off on Blossom towards home. Now her mother thinks the quest is over, Dar-ma thanks the hero for saving her, but the quest is still active, waiting for them to be reunited.
- If the hero runs on ahead of Dar-Ma to her mother's shop after fast traveling to Chorrol, when she enters she may stop moving and both her and her mother act like the quest is over and Dar-Ma's disposition remain unchanged. (May be due to rescuing her with the Gray Fox Cowl on.) The quest does not end and the bonus is not received.
- The two bugs above can be fixed by talking to her mother about "missing daughter," which remains grayed. Once asked, she will ask if she is safe, at which time a yes answer gets the reward.
- Once Dar-Ma gets on her horse and gets a little outside Hackdirt, do not speak to her, go directly to her mother or the quest may not be able to be completed.