The Dragonborn can encounter several lost souls in Soul Cairn during the quest "Beyond Death" in Dawnguard. Typically, they only speak a few lines of dialogue, either giving some insight into how they came to be trapped in the Soul Cairn or some plea or cry for help.
This quest can be started by interacting with the frantic soul, or by picking up Arvak's Skull in The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard. Upon finding the skull, the soul will teach the Dragonborn how to summon Arvak.
- Jiub – The famed slayer of the cliff racers of Morrowind.
- Morven Stroud – A merchant who offers his limited services.
- Arvak's master – A soul looking for his undead horse, Arvak. Returning Arvak's Skull to his owner grants the ability to summon Arvak both in the Soul Cairn and back in Tamriel.
Souls provide power to the various sentient races of Tamriel, the races of Men, Mer, and Beastfolk, and the creatures of Tamriel and Oblivion. The souls of the sentient races are considered "Black Souls", and can only be soul trapped in Black Soul Gems. If a Soul Gem is not filled with a soul of its respective size, the caster's soul can leak into the Soul Gem while touching it. White Souls are considered safer for use than Black Souls. When a creature dies, its soul remains in the body for a time, preventing effective necromancy until the soul has departed, and only the body remains. It is said that when one begins working on the art of necromancy, their soul gets corrupted. When a soul has departed, it is possible, through the use of magic, to make the soul control an object, such as what happened with the soul of A'Tor, which powered the Soul Sword. It is said that Argonians get their soul from the Hist shortly after birth, and that upon death, their soul returns to the Hist.
The Daedra do not have a "soul" in the direct manner. Rather, when a Daedra is slain, its vestige returns to its realm of Oblivion to be reformed into a new body, following which they live again. The Daedra are born in Azure Plasm, a lightblue liquid found in the realms of Oblivion. Conjured Dremora can free themselves from their master by soul trapping them. During the Planemeld, Molag Bal held Soul Shriven in Coldharbour. After Varen Aquilarios attempted to become a Dragonborn, the Soulburst took place. The Soulburst resulted in the souls which originally meant to go to the Soul Cairn went to Coldharbour instead. Soul Shriven have strong feelings of emptiness, hunger, and desire. Soul Shriven also had great endurance, being capable of doing tasks for far longer, and sustain more injury, than a mortal could. When a Soul Shriven died, its body was entirely annihilated, which in turn, gave power to Molag Bal.
"You must help me find my Arvak. He doesn't deserve to be in a place like this!"
- Calm down. Who's Arvak? "Arvak. My horse. We came to this horrible place together. We were attacked by monsters, so I told him to run. Please, he's such a loyal creature, and he's been running for so long. You have to save him! A place like this will change you..."
- How can I help him? "Arvak! Arvak, where are you? Arvak, please come back! Come back!"
After finding Arvak's skull:
"Arvak...You saved him! His soul is free, I can feel it! He's such a loyal beast. Here, I'll teach you how to call him to you. He'll help you get around this wretched place, but I'm sure he'd be much happier someplace sunnier. Goodbye, hero! Take good care of Arvak for me! Such a good horse..."
- "How dare they cast me from the Battlespire! I will make them pay dearly."
- "All I said to Potema was I thought she looked a little portly in that gown. How was I supposed to know?"
- "I wonder if the fires are still burning in the Imperial City..."
- "I must return to the frontline Alessian headquarters at once... lives are hanging in the balance!"
- "Want my advice? Never welch on a bargain with the Ideal Masters...they don't take it very well."
- "That's the last time I argue with a dremora."
- "How could they trick me like this? I was one of Reman's court wizards."
- "Stay away from the Oblivion Gate I told them. Did they listen? Of course not."
- "Madness. It was madness to attack a coven of witches! Why didn't they listen to me?"
- "Just step into the painting" he said. Yeah sure... like it's that simple" (This is a reference to a quest in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion)
- "One moment I'm raising a sword against that necromancer, the next moment I found myself here. What happened?"
- "My ship... what happened to my ship? Where am I?"
- "A soul gem... that's what it was. Then... I must be... Oh, no."
- "Damn that Akaviri Shaman. How was I supposed to know he would trap my soul."
- "Beware the dragon Durnehviir, destroyer of souls and harbinger of the fallen."
- "Stay away from the crystals or you may find yourself becoming one of us"
- "I can't remember how long I've been here. Has it been a day or a century?
- "What day is it? What year? What era even?"
- "Are you alive? I must be imagining this"
- "Must stay away from the Keepers... must stay away from the Keepers."
- "Look at the sky. What kind of place is this?"
- "That sky... it feels like I'm being watched. Can't stand it anymore!"
- "The clouds, the sky... it's all wrong. Everything's wrong"
- "I wonder if my family misses me? I wonder if they're still alive. How much time has passed?"
- "I yearn to see the great dunes of Hammerfell once again."
- "Did you know I visited Elsweyr once? What a strange and wondrous place."
- "I miss the warm sunshine. Green grass. Blue skies. I miss being alive."
- "I no longer hunger, grow weary or feel anything but loneliness"
- "This place tears at me as though I'm still alive and being drawn and quartered. I... can't stand it anymore."
- "No one ever escapes. There is no escape. Why would you even try?"
- "Emptiness consumes me."
- "So this is what it's like on the other side."
- "What am I doing here? I don't belong in a place like this!"
- "I thought death was a release, not an eternity of torment"
- "This accursed place is nothing but a prison without walls."
- "The screams... They pierce my mind. I can't stand it!"
- "Why can't I just die? I fear I'm cursed to walk this desolate land forever"
- "At least the pain is gone..."
- "Get out while you can.'"
- "Leave me be."
- "Is there no end to this nightmare?"
- "One thousand steps and a thousand more..."
- "Please...end this misery."
- "What a horrible place."
- "This is no place for you."
- "I live in a dark world, where no light shines through. I carry this burden with every step I take." [note 1]
- "Only those who have suffered long can find the light within the shadows."[note 2]
- "Death is but a door. Time is but a window. I'll be back"[note 3]