Hitting the Books is a quest available in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The quest serves as the third quest in the College of Winterhold's questline. To unearth important information about Saarthal, Urag gro-Shub asks that three books hidden within Fellglow Keep be recovered. The books, Night of Tears, The Last King of the Ayleids and Fragment: On Artaeum, were stolen by Orthorn, who is being held prisoner there by the Caller.
- Speak with Mirabelle Ervine
- Speak with Urag gro-Shub
- Find the stolen books
- Free Orthorn (optional)
- Return the books
To begin, speak with Urag gro-Shub about any documents that might explain the connection between Saarthal and the Psijic Order. Urag sits at his desk inside the Arcanaeum. Urag confesses that the needed documents were recently stolen by an apprentice by the name of Orthorn, who took the books and ran off to Fellglow Keep to join up with a group of mages who left the College. He suggests "speaking" with Orthorn about the books. Before this happens, the Dragonborn may be found by Faralda, who warns them that Ancano was looking for them and she believes he is a spy for the Thalmor, using his advisory position to gather intel for them. Ancano will then confront the Dragonborn after they speak with Urag, regarding the news they delivered to Arch-Mage Savos Aren regarding what they found in Saarthal. Once Ancano has his chat with the Dragonborn, he'll excuse them to resume their mission from Urag.
Fellglow Keep exterior
The Fortress grounds are guarded by two leveled mages and a flame atronach. The best way to kill them is to get atop the tower and sneak and shoot them with a bow. Once they are killed, the main entrance is found to be locked and can only be opened with a key. There is, however, another entry point through the dungeons. In the base of one of the ruined towers, there are steps down to the Fellglow Keep dungeons.
Fellglow Keep dungeons
The dungeons contain several rooms with water covering the floor. In the second of these rooms, there is an ice mage and two frostbite spiders. A table at the top of the stairs holds several Soul Gems. A set of stairs leads down to the southeast to a poison dart trap, where a set of stairs leads further down to the northeast, and another leads up to the southeast. The latter stairs lead to a dead end, with a wooden door that has an apprentice-locked chest behind it. Back at the junction, the stairs to the northeast lead down to an exploding rune trap. Beyond this is a prison with several leveled vampires in the cages and a leveled conjurer sitting at a table. The vampires, if released from their cages, will attack any enemy mages. Depending on their level at the time of entering the dungeon, the victors could be either of them.
Through the wooden door to the southeast is a torture chamber with several enemy magic users and several dead vampires, Khajiit, and Nords on tables or in cages. A door to the northeast leads to stairs down to another prison, where Orthorn can be found, along with a necromancer, who will release the wolves from their cages if given the chance. Orthorn, when asked about the books, says the Caller has them. After this conversation, Orthorn can be released by using the middle of the three levers. He can then be a temporary follower for the remainder of quest, or he can be left in the cage until the dungeon is cleared, or told to get out of there, in which case he will retreat all the way back to The Frozen Hearth in Winterhold for the remainder of the quest.
- Note: It is easier if Orthorn is freed and following, as the final battle is quite challenging. Also, an option to make an arrangement with the Caller is only available if he is present.
From the prison, an adept-locked door to the west leads to a room with an apprentice-locked chest and some weapons on a table. A set of stairs to the northwest leads to a door to Fellglow Keep that requires a key. A door to the southeast leads to stairs that go down to a room where there are three other magicians practicing their skills. It is recommended you have snowberries and a potion of resist cold. Sneaking here is very effective. Otherwise, the best defense is to attack.
The next steps to the northwest lead to a room with several Necromancers and some skeletons. The summoned undead will disappear as soon as all Necromancers are dead, so the Necromancers should be targeted first. At the end of the corridor is a Raise Zombie spell tome on a pedestal. To the left (northwest) is a door which leads to the main portion of Fellglow Keep.
In the next area, there are a conjurer and a mage. If Orthorn is in the party, it is best to attack whomever he chooses. There are bits of treasure throughout the room. Upon the pedestal directly across from the room's entrance is the Conjuration skill book, The Doors of Oblivion. Through the door to the east is a dining room, where a Novice Necromancer lies in wait. An adjacent room leads to a hallway with a key-locked door to the north that returns to the dungeons, plus a doorway to the east that leads to a common room with an atronach of some kind, as well as a mage, though at lower levels, it will be a familiar instead. The bottom floor also has a key-locked door on the north wall that leads outside, plus a door to the east that leads to a room where a mage and necromancer are resting.
Up the stairs are open doorways to the right and left, plus a closed door leading forward (south) that is barred from the other side. To the right is a room with an Arcane Enchanter, an Alchemy Lab, an anvil and a workbench. On the desk next to the alchemy lab is an Unusual Gem, while on the bookshelf next to the workbench are three Quicksilver Ingots. Back at the top of the stairs, to the left and up another flight of steps, there is a room with a mage and conjurer inside an inner circle of shelves. The skill book A Hypothetical Treachery, which boosts destruction skill, is on a table nearby.
On the opposite side (south) of the room entrance is a pathway leading to stairs up to another hallway. There are bedrooms on the left wall, and an atronach at the other end of the hall. The second bedroom on the left contains a sleeping mage who holds the Fellglow Keep key. A good strategy, if wanting to keep Orthorn alive until confronting the Caller, is to leave him in his cell until killing the mage with the key, as it will unlock the keep's main entrance and the door that leads directly to the dungeon, providing a shortcut to get back to the Caller's location without having Orthorn be killed by one of the various mages on the way up. Through the door at the other end is an adept-locked door that can be opened with the Keep key. Inside is a shrine of Julianos, which temporarily increases magicka by 25 points for several in-game hours. Another door in that room leads to a room with an adept-locked chest.
Back in the hallway where the atronach was, there is a wooden door leading to a grand staircase, curving west-northwest, to the top. At the top is the door to the Fellglow Keep ritual chamber. Inside is the Caller. The Dragonborn can either fight against the sorceress or come to an arrangement with her. Note that the game auto-saves at this point, regardless of the settings the player set for auto-saving, before entering the Caller's chamber.
- Arrangement: If Orthorn is with the party, an arrangement is possible. Otherwise, she will say that the Dragonborn has nothing to trade. In the course of the conversation she offers to trade, requiring a team as a replacement for the mages and the books. She responds and waits. The bargain is completed by talking to the witch again. She must be talked to again to make the trade. If the books are taken before talking to her again she will attack. The three books should be taken and the room must be left quickly. Note that opening the exit door after leaving is not possible.
- Fight: In a fight, she summons two level-dependent Atronachs (which can be looted for frost, fire, or void salts when defeated, as they are not the result of a Conjuration spell), which appear in the rooms behind her. She primarily uses frost and lightning Destruction spells, but also uses Restoration spells and periodically teleports around the room. Note that if she is killed before the Atronachs, they disappear.
- Persuade: She can be persuaded to not fight, allowing the Dragonborn to take the books and leave unhindered (requires 50 Speech).
- Assassinate: After speaking with her, if she is still neutral, it is easy to sneak behind her and kill her in one blow.
- One Hit Kill: If you have a high enough sneak and archery skill, you can one shot her before she summons the atronachs, avoiding damage altogether.
If an arrangement was made, the door behind the Caller cannot be used. In that case, the Dragonborn can just leave through the entrance door. If not previously dealt with, a Novice Storm Mage will be there to fight at the bottom of the stairs. She can be killed, and the Fellglow Keep key will be on her body. After backtracking to the room where the Apprentice Ice Mage was, the key-locked door to the outside can be used to leave the keep.
If a battle was fought, the three books (located on pedestals, but they may fall onto the floor during the fighting) can be taken, and the Fellglow Keep key can be looted from the Caller. The door directly behind the middle pedestal leads to a lot of loot and a trap door exit, which leads through the barred door and back to Skyrim.
- 2920, vol 09 - Hearth Fire (Conjuration skill book)
- Catalogue of Weapon Enchantments (Enchanting skill book)
- Daughter of the Niben (Alteration skill book)
- Notes on Racial Phylogeny (Restoration skill book)
- Response to Bero's Speech (Destruction skill book)
- The Black Arts On Trial (Illusion skill book)
|Hitting the Books – MG03|
|10||With Tolfdir still occupied in Saarthal, I need to speak to Mirabelle Ervine to find out about researching the discovery in Saarthal.
|20||Since Tolfdir is not available, I've been asked by Mirabelle Ervine to look into information on the object we found in Saarthal by talking to Urag gro-Shub in the Arcanaeum.
|30||I've been asked to find more information on the object found in Saarthal. Urag suggested that useful books may have been stolen from the Arcanaeum by , a former Apprentice at the College. His last known location was Fellglow Keep.
|50||In attempting to track down books that may have information about Saarthal, I've been exploring Fellglow Keep and have located Orthorn, the former apprentice who stole the books in the first place. He's now a prisoner, and has begged me to free him.
|55||I've freed Orthorn from Fellglow Keep, and he has offered to help me find the books I'm looking for.|
|60||I was asked to find books that may have information about the object discovered in Saarthal, and traveled to Fellglow Keep to retrieve them from Orthorn, a former Apprentice at the College. I've found the books and now need to see them returned to the College.
|200||I've returned to the College with the books from Fellglow Keep. One of the books, "Night of Tears," has some information about Saarthal that Urag found very interesting.
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|College of Winterhold Quests|
|Main Quest||First Lessons • Under Saarthal • Hitting the Books • Good Intentions|
Revealing the Unseen • Containment • The Staff of Magnus • The Eye of Magnus
|Side Quests||Arniel's Endeavor • J'zargo's Experiment • Brelyna's Practice|
Onmund's Request • Out of Balance • Rejoining the College
|Master Spell Quests||Alteration Ritual Spell • Destruction Ritual Spell • Conjuration Ritual Spell|
Illusion Ritual Spell • Restoration Ritual Spell
|Radiant Quests||Aftershock • Tolfdir the Absent-Minded • Fetch Me That Book!|
Shalidor's Insights • Enchanting Pick-Up • Restocking Soul Gems
|Other Quests||The Missing Apprentices • Forgotten Names|