Many years ago, Malyn Varen was exiled from the College of Winterhold for pursuing questionable research with soul gems. Malyn was trying to find a way to prolong his spirit, and he believed that storing his soul inside the Daedric artifact, Azura's Star, would prevent him from dying. Unfortunately for him, one of the properties of the Star was that black souls—the souls of sapient, mortal beings—could not enter it. As such, he began experiments to modify the Star's properties so that it would accept black souls.
The further Malyn progressed toward this goal, the more Azura tormented him. The artifact slowly drove Malyn insane, causing him to hear voices and see people that were not there, and eventually murder one of his students. After this, he was exiled from the college, collected a band of followers, and continued his research at Ilinalta's Deep, an abandoned Imperial outpost that had mostly collapsed into the adjacent lake. There, he continued his work, eventually succeeding in capturing his own soul inside the modified Azura's Star and achieving a state of immortality.
To receive this quest, the Dragonborn must first talk with Aranea Ienith at the Shrine of Azura, south of Winterhold. She will say that Azura has chosen the Dragonborn as her champion, and that they must find "an elven mage who can turn the brightest star to the darkest night."
Head to Winterhold. Once there, there are a few options to gain the identity of the "elven mage":
- If a member of the College of Winterhold, ask Faralda about this, and she will reply that Nelacar, an Altmer mage who specializes in soul gems, lives in The Frozen Hearth, and is the one they are looking for.
- Ask Dagur, the barkeep of The Frozen Hearth, about "an elven mage who studies stars," and he will initially point the Dragonborn to the College, but then later states that "old Nelacar" may know what they are talking about, and that he owns a room within the inn.
- Go to Nelacar directly, and ask if he knows about the elven mage.
When talking to Nelacar, he will not give up the information readily, so one must intimidate, persuade, or bribe the necessary information out of him. He will say that his mentor, Malyn Varen, was experimenting with Azura's Star, and that the last known location of Malyn was Ilinalta's Deep.
After entering, the Dragonborn should go past the shackled skeleton and enter a flooded room with a partially open doorway on the left. They must go through the doorway and down the subsequent hallway. Following the hallway is a small room containing a skeleton and the first of many conjurers (necromancers at higher levels) found throughout the dungeon. In the next room are two more conjurers, and a skeleton lurks in the room on the left, which contains some Food and a potion of waterbreathing.
The door on the right leads to the next area, with a conjurer, a skeleton, and a wolf. The underwater passage behind the waterfall on the left leads to a hidden room with a chest and the Alteration skill book, Breathing Water, floating near the ceiling.
The right-hand passage in the next room leads to two conjurers and a skeleton. There is a small sleeping quarters to the left, as well as an arcane enchanter, an alchemy lab, and several useful pieces of loot. The door on the right has an apprentice lock, with a chest and some potions on the other side.
At the end of the next passage is a high-level conjurer, on the far side of a flooded depression that cuts across the room. There is a partially submerged stairway on the far right side of the depression that can be used to approach the conjurer from the safety of the water. Under the water near the stairs is a door with an adept lock. Loot on the other side includes a chest containing a spell tome, potions, and .
Back in the partially flooded area, there is an altar with a leveled soul gem on the right and a pull chain on the left that raises the bridge across the water that was just crossed. A door on the left leads to a passage containing a cupboard and an apprentice-locked door on the right that opens onto a small room with a couple of potions and alchemical ingredients. Up the stairs on the far side of the room is a barred door. The protagonist must activate the bar to move it and go through the door to come onto a small landing area overlooking the first room of the dungeon. Following the landing to the right and through another door leads to the final section of the dungeon, Ilinalta's Deluge.
The Dragonborn should then follow the path down to reach an area with two conjurers. There is a chest, and quite a few potions and soul gems scattered throughout this room and the smaller one to the right. The passage to the left leads down a path, through another door, and into a room occupied by a conjurer and a skeleton, with cages along both walls. Through the door at the end of the room is a set of stairs opening onto a medium-sized room with a high-level conjurer and four skeletons. There is no loot in here, so the Dragonborn should continue straight up the stairs to the left.
In the room at the top of the stairs, Malyn Varen's skeleton sits peacefully in a chair, with the Broken Azura's Star at its feet, his grimoire on the floor next to his chair. Also in the room is a chest with a leveled amount of loot. With the Broken Azura's Star in hand, the dungeon can be exited via the ladder that leads to the ceiling.
Cleansing the Star
There are now two options to fix the Broken Azura's Star:
- Give it to Aranea Ienith at the Shrine of Azura, and recieve Azura's Star
- Give it to Nelacar in the Frozen Hearth Inn in Winterhold, and receive the Black Star
Speaking to the desired person, with the Broken Azura's Star in hand, will begin this final step. Whichever option is chosen, the Dragonborn must enter the Star to cleanse it of Malyn Varen's soul. The former is warped out of the Star several seconds after defeating the latter's soul inside, regardless of the status of Malyn's three Dremora henchmen.
Once Malyn's soul has been defeated, the Dragonborn is pulled out of the Star, thanked, and given either a working Azura's Star by Aranea Ienith, or the Black Star by Nelacar. The former can trap only white souls (those of non-sapient creatures) while the latter, according to Nelacar, can trap only black souls (the souls of sapient beings). In reality, however, The Black Star can hold either white or black souls, just like a black soul gem.
Additionally, bringing the Star to Aranea makes her available as a follower. While giving the Star to Nelacar does not provide a companion option, The Black Star has the advantage of a much more abundant source of grand souls, as all black souls are of the grand level. Meanwhile, only white souls from exceptionally powerful monsters such as the mammoth, are grand souls. Giving the Star to Nelacar also opens up another merchant, as he will afterwards sell Mage Robes, spell tomes, soul gems, and the occasional staff.
|Aranea, a priestess of Azura, says I am destined to find "an elven man, who can turn the brightest star as black as night." She believes he is in Winterhold.
|Nelacar has told me that his old mentor, Varen, was experimenting on Azura's Star. Malyn's last known location is Ilinalta's Deep.
|I have Azura's Star, but it's been corrupted by Malyn Varen's magic. I could take the Star to either Aranea or Nelacar to have it repaired.
|I am inside Azura's Star and must defeat Malyn Varen's soul in order for Azura to purify the Star and bring me out.
|I have cleansed Azura's Star, the infinite Soul Gem. It is mine to do with as I see fit.
|I am inside Azura's Star and must defeat Malyn Varen's soul in order for Nelacar to bring me out and complete the Black Star.
|I have completed the Black Star, an infinite Black Soul Gem. It is now mine to do with as I please.
- Malyn's skeleton in Ilinalta's Deluge can be reanimated with an apprentice-level reanimation spell.
- Defeating Malyn's Dremora is an effective way to collect Daedra Hearts. Loot the Dremora's bodies before being warped out of the Star.
- Trying to pickpocket Malyn will prompt the message "This person has already caught you."
- If Malyn is killed, a necromancer or two may attack his killer somewhere in Skyrim. See A Scrawled Note for more details.
- If Ilinalta's Deep and Deluge were cleared before starting this quest, new opponents will be present there when for the quest, even though Ilinalta's Deep will still be marked as "cleared" on the Skyrim map.
- Aranea Lenith speaks of "a fort threatened by water, but not yet touched by it." She thinks this description applies to the College of Winterhold, but it also partly applies to Ilinalta's Deep, since it is also a fort threatened by water. However, Illinalta's Deep has obviously been damaged and, thus, touched by water indicating that Aranea spoke of the College of Winterhold.
- Completing the quest with Nelacar counts as helping a citizen for the quest "Thane of Winterhold".
- If choosing the Black Star over Azura's Star and then returning to Aranea, she will respond by calling the Dragonborn a blasphemer and telling then to leave before she kills them for defiling Azura's artifact. However, she will not attack.
- Alternatively, if Azura's Star is chosen over the Black Star, Nelacar will also be angry towards the Dragonborn.
- Both the Black Star and Azura's Star count as a Daedric Artifact, and both count toward the Oblivion Walker and Daedric Influence achievements/trophies.
- The wall behind Malyn's skeleton casts two humanoid shadows flanking his corpse.
- If the Broken Azura's Star is obtained by cheating before starting the quest, it can only be given to Nelacar, not Aranea Ienith.
- Azura pronounces Malyn's name as "MAY-len," while Nelacar pronounces it as "MAH-len."
- The Dremora inside the Star can be reanimated with Dead Thrall, but will disappear upon exiting the Star. The Dremora may find its way back to the Dragonborn after a certain period of time.
This section contains bugs related to The Black Star (Quest). Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:
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