The Gardener of Men is a quest in The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn in which the Dragonborn must learn the final words of the Bend Will shout to defeat Miraak in Apocrypha.

Background[edit | edit source]

With Neloth's help, I gained access to the Black Book in Nchardak. Now to read it and learn more of Miraak's knowledge.

Objectives[edit | edit source]

  1. Read the Black Book
  2. Learn the hidden knowledge of "Epistolary Acumen"
  3. Talk to Storn
  4. Wait for Storn to read the book

Walkthrough[edit | edit source]

This quest begins after retrieving the Black Book: Epistolary Acumen from Nchardak with Neloth in the previous quest "The Path of Knowledge".

Reading the Black Book in the Nchardak Reading Room will bring the Dragonborn into the realm of Apocrypha. Upon reading the book, Neloth parts with "Oh good. Be sure to say hello to Hermaeus Mora for me if you see him."

Once in Apocrypha, activating the scrye will unroll a bridge to an oscillating tunnel. At the other end of the tunnel, the platform against the north wall can be reached. Activating the scrye in that platform causes the bridge leading west to unroll. Stepping back onto the moving tunnel allows the Dragonborn to access the bridge, which leads to a platform on the west edge of the room containing a large book. The book acts as a door to Chapter II.

Chapter II[edit | edit source]

Activating the scrye at the north end of the tunnel unfolds the tunnel to reveal a larger room where seekers and a Lurker will attack. Once they have been defeated or avoided, another scrye on the east side of the room under a Font of Magicka can be activated. It opens the gate across the room on the west side, which leads up steps to Chapter III.

Chapter III[edit | edit source]

The pathway leads around and up the several sets of stairs, with Seekers along the way. Another Font of Magicka is at the top. After stepping into the oscillating tunnel, a scrye is found that, when activated, opens the gate ahead. A Seeker is at the south end, and then the tunnel turns left (east). This end of the tunnel also oscillates, but can be exited via an unrolling bridge with a Lurker at the other side. Continuing north leads to another oscillating tunnel that exits onto a platform with another scrye. Upon activating it, a gate ahead opens to a circular room with a pool in the middle that contains a whipping tentacle. Continuing on to the south, more Seekers can be found. Chapter IV is at the end of the tunnel.

Chapter IV[edit | edit source]

Activating the scrye in the initial platform unfolds a large housing chamber where the Epistolary Acumen is held. After opening the book, Hermaeus Mora himself will appear in front of the Dragonborn as a mass of eyeballs and tentacles, and greets them:

"Well done, my champion. Your journey towards enlightenment has finally led you here, to my realm, as I knew it would."

What do you want of me this time? "You have entered my realm. You have sought out the forbidden knowledge that only one other has obtained. You are Dragonborn, like Miraak before you. A seeker of knowledge and power."

What do you want of me, my lord? "Your progress since obtaining my Oghma Infinium has been rapid. And now, I find you here, following in my servant Miraak's footsteps. You also are Dragonborn. You also seek to learn how to bend the world to your will."

If the quest "Discerning the Transmundane" has not yet been completed, Hermaeus Mora will instead introduce himself:

"All seekers of knowledge come to my realm, sooner or later."

Yes, I came here to learn Miraak's secrets. "All that he knows he learned from me.
I won't serve you, monster. I just want to defeat Miraak. "You will serve me, willing or not. All who seek after the secrets of the world are my servants."
I don't need your help. I'll learn Miraak's secrets on my own. "No. Look around. You have done nothing here on your own. You could spend a hundred lifetimes searching my library, and you will never find what you seek."

So what's your price for the final Word of Power? "Knowledge for knowledge. The Skaal have withheld their secrets from me for many long years. The time has come for this knowledge to be added to my library."
Why do I need this Word of Power to defeat Miraak? "Even dragons submit to Miraak's Voice. Without that power, you cannot face him. So say I, Hermaeus Mora, master of the Tides of fate."
Isn't Miraak your ally? Why help me defeat him? "He has served me long and well. But he grows restless under my guidance. His desire to return to your world will spread my influence more widely. But it will also set him free from my direct control. It may be time to replace him with a more loyal servant. One who still appreciates the gifts I have to offer."

Tell me what you want my lord, and I will bring it to you. "You please me champion. Your loyalty will be richly rewarded. The Skaal have withheld their secrets from me for many long years. The time has come for this knowledge to be added to my library."

I will talk to the Skaal and bring you their secrets. "I know you will. And then I will give you the knowledge that you seek."
I will do as you command, my lord. "Yes, I know. And then Miraak's power will be yours as well."
What if the Skaal refuse to give up their secrets? "My servant Miraak would have found a way to bring me what I want. So will you if you wish to surpass him."
How do I know I can trust you, demon? "My word is as true as fate, as inevitable as destiny. Bring me what I want, and I will give you what you seek."
"I know that you want to use you power as Dragonborn to bend the world to your will. Here is the knowledge you need, although you did not know you needed it. The second Word of Power. Use it to bend the will of mortals to your purpose. But this is not enough. Miraak knows the final Word of Power. Without that, you cannot hope to surpass him. Miraak served me well, and he was rewarded. I can grant you the same power that he wields, but all knowledge has its price. Send the Skaal shaman to me. He holds the secrets that will be mine."

Return to Solstheim[edit | edit source]

With his parting line, Hermaeus Mora will disappear, and three glowing orbs will appear from the Epistolary Acumen. Activating any of these orbs will present the choice to choose an ability:

Once a reward has been selected, read the book again to return to Nchardak. Neloth will approach and ask:

"What happened? What did you see? Different people have very different experiences when reading these books."

I talked to Hermaeus Mora. "You're still acting surprisingly sane, too. What did he have to say? He must have wanted something from you."
I learned the second Word of the Bend Will shout. "No wonder the Dwemer were so interested in that book. It was indeed one that Miraak used to advance his power as Dragonborn. But I assume there's some bad news? It would be unlike Hermaeus Mora to allow anyone to gain such knowledge without exacting a price."

He wants the "secrets of the Skaal" in exchange for teaching me the third word. "Hmph. What secrets could they have worth keeping from old Mora? Sounds like a bargain to me. Hermaeus Mora learns some fascinating new ways to skin a horker and you become the second most powerful Dragonborn that ever lived. Well that gives me a lot to think about. I need to get back to Tel Mithryn. I have some ideas about how to locate more of these Black Books..."

Alternatively, should the Dragonborn die within Apocrypha before interacting with Hermaeus Mora, this option is presented instead:

I found myself in another place. "That's a fairly common experience, at least for those who remain coherent enough to report what they've seen. You were in Apocrypha. Or at least your consciousness was - your body remained here of course. You should read the book again until you reach what appears to be the "end" - then you will have fully understood the knowledge it contains."

Miraak's Ambush[edit | edit source]

Upon exiting Nchardak, Miraak has sent a Dragon named Krosulhah to attack. He hovers above the ruins and bellows: "Miraak has commanded your death. So it shall be." before attacking. After he is defeated, it is possible that, instead of the Dragonborn absorbing the Dragon Soul, a spectral image of Miraak appears. He says, "Did you ever think of the pain? Of having your soul ripped like that?", then absorbs the soul himself before leaving. The quest continues at the Skaal Village by speaking to Storn Crag-Strider.

Secrets of the Skaal[edit | edit source]

Storn can be found meditating outside his hut. If "Cleansing the Stones" has not been completed, Storn will ask the Dragonborn to cleanse Solstheim while he thinks on his course of action. Otherwise, he can be asked about the secrets of the Skaal.

I spoke to Hermaeus Mora. He asked for the "secrets of the Skaal." "Hermaeus Mora... old Herma-Mora himself. So he is the source of Miraak's power. Of course. We have many tales of Herma-Mora trying to trick us into giving up our secrets to him. And now he comes again for what we have long kept from him."
He said it's the only way he'll teach me the final Word of Miraak's Shout. "So it falls to me to be the one to give up the secrets to our ancient enemy. I do not know if I have the strength to face him. The Tree Stone is still corrupted... the land is still out of balance. But with the other five restored... it may be enough. It will have to be.
You mean you'll give him what he wants? "Yes. The Skaal also tell of the day when we must finally give up our secrets. When Herma-Mora finally wins. As shaman, it is my duty to guard these secrets, but also to decide when it is necessary to give them up. I believe that time is now. If I am wrong, may my ancestors forgive me. Give me the book. I will read it and speak to old Herma-Mora himself. I will make sure he lives up to his part of the bargain."
I hope you know what you're doing. "That is my hope as well. I am trusting you will make this sacrifice worthwhile."

He can also be asked exactly what these secrets are. He replies by explaining they are ancient lore, handed down from shaman to shaman since ancient times. They are how the Skaal "talk to the wind" and "listen to the earth".

He explains the only reason Hermaeus Mora wants this knowledge is because it is in his nature to hoard secrets to himself. Their value to him is of no consequence to him, and the fact that the Skaal have kept knowledge from him has only increased his desire to have it.

After a discussion of the secrets of the Skaal, Storn will take the Black Book. Frea will plea with him not to go ahead.

Frea: "Father, you must not do this. That book is... wrong. Evil. Against everything that you have taught me my whole life."
Storn: "I must, Frea. It is the only way to free Solstheim forever from Miraak's shadow. There comes a time when everything must change. Nothing that lives remains the same forever. Do not fear for me my daughter. This is the destiny that the All-Maker has laid out for me."
Frea: "I stand beside you, father, as always."
Storn: "I am ready for whatever their foul master of this book has in store for me."

He will then open the book and begin to read it. Suddenly the book will begin to float and tentacles will appear from the pages and impale Storn. Hermaeus Mora appears as a mass of floating tentacles and gloats:

Hermaeus Mora: "At last, the Skaal yield up their secrets to me."
Storn: "You... liar... gah! ... I won't... not... for you..."
Frea: "Do something!"
Hermaeus Mora: "Dragonborn, you have delievered me the gift I requested. In return, I keep my promise, as befits a Prince of Oblivion: I give you the Word of Power that you need to challenge Miraak. You will be either a worthy opponent or his successor, as the tides of fate decree."
Storn: "Nooo..."

As Storn is killed, the final word of Bend Will is learned. This quest is completed, and the next, "At the Summit of Apocrypha", begins. Frea will rush to her father's corpse and cry out:

Frea: "Father! What have you done! Go. My father sacrificed himself so that you could destroy Miraak and lift his master's shadow from the land. Go, then. Kill Miraak. Do not fail."

The whole village will then one by one walk over to the corpse of Storn and say a few final words:

Fanari Strong-Voice: "Goodbye, old friend. We will miss you, but do not worry. Frea will guide us well, thanks to you."
Edla: "We won't forget what you did for us, Storn Crag-Strider. Walk with the All-Maker."
Deor: "Frea... I'm sorry."
Aeta: "It can't be... please, All-Maker, send him back to us..."
Baldor: "I... uh... you'll be missed, old man."
Finna: "May the All-Maker guide your soul to the next life."
Niklaus: "Frea...what happened? What was that thing? I thought the village was safe now."
Wulf: "Return to the All-Maker, old one. The Skaal will never forget your sacrifice."
Morwen: "I don't really understand what you did, but I trust you did it for the good of the village. So... thank you."
Tharstan: "By the gods... I've never seen anything like it...I, uh... I don't think this will go in my book."

Journal[edit | edit source]

The Gardener of Men – DLC2MQ05
ID Journal Entry
10 With Neloth's help, I gained access to the Black Book in Nchardak. Now to read it and learn more of Miraak's knowledge.
  • Objective 10: Read the Black Book
  • Objective 20: Learn the hidden knowledge of "Epistolary Acumen"
340 With Neloth's help, I gained access to the Black Book in Nchardak. I read it and was transported to Hermaeus Mora's realm of Apocrypha, where I found the book's counterpart. Hermaeus Mora himself appeared and taught me the second Word of "Bend Will". He has promised to teach me the third Word but only in return for "the secrets of the Skaal."
  • Objective 30: Talk to Storn
  • Objective 40: Wait for Storn to read the book
1000 With Neloth's help, I gained access to the Black Book in Nchardak. I read it and was transported to Hermaeus Mora's realm of Apocrypha, where I found the book's counterpart. Hermaeus Mora himself appeared and taught me the second Word of "Bend Will". He has promised to teach me the third Word but only if in return for "the secrets of the Skaal." The Skaal shaman Storn agreed to give Hermaeus Mora what he wanted, but when Storn read the book, Hermaeus Mora killed him while teaching me the promised Word of Power.
  • Quest complete

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The name of this quest is taken from the Hermaeus Mora section of a Michael Kirkbride text called the Imperial Census of Daedra Lords.
  • If Frea is a follower, she will leave after the Dragonborn returns from Apocrypha but still take up the follower spot. To avoid this, she can either be dismissed before reading the Black Book; or right after returning to Solstheim, the Dragonborn can go to Skaal Village (where she runs to) and dismiss her before speaking with Storn. Otherwise the Dragonborn will be without a follower until the Dragonborn main questline is completed.

Bugs[edit | edit source]

This section contains bugs related to The Gardener of Men. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:

  1. Please reload an old save to confirm if the bug is still happening.
  2. If the bug is still occurring, please post the bug report with the appropriate system template  360  / XB1  ,  PS3  / PS4  ,  PC  / MAC  ,  NX  , depending on which platform(s) the bug has been encountered on.
  3. Be descriptive when listing the bug and fixes, but avoid having conversations in the description and/or using first-person anecdotes: such discussions belong on the appropriate forum board.
  •  PC   360   The Dragonborn may have to stand on the Black Book in order to activate the perk selection.
  •  PC   360   After presenting Storn with the black book, the objective may change to "Wait for Storn to read the book", but he doesn't read it.
    •  PC(Fix)   Typing the command Setstage DLC2MQ05 700, then "750" and then "1000", into the command console, will finish the quest. All the animation and cutscenes regarding Mora and Storn will be missed, but progress in the quest is now possible. To be specific, 700 is the shout that needs to be learned, 750 is Storn's death and 1000 is the Quest Complete. The numbers must be entered in that order - if only the 1000 command is entered, the shout needed to progress further will not be available.
  •  360   When entering Apocrypha, the chapters may all glitch together making all the chapters combine as one.confirmation needed
  •  360   If the Dragonborn is killed by a Lurker and thrown into the air, they may be stuck in the ground when traveling back to Solstheim from Apocrypha. No amount of going back and forth by reading the Epistolary Acumen can fix this.
  •  PC   When trying to get through the tunnel after reading the Black Book, the Dragonborn may fall through walls of the moving tunnel and die in the liquid.

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