Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

"We've been saddled with some researchers who can't go four steps without examining something and they fight about as well as you'd think... probably worse."

The Lost Expedition is a quest available in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in which the Dragonborn must find the missing researchers inside the excavation site of the Dwemer ruins of Nchuand-Zel.


I should try and find the researchers Alethius mentioned in his note.


  1. Recover Stromm's Diary
  2. Recover Erj's Notes
  3. Recover Krag's Journal
  4. Recover Staubin's Diary
  5. Re-activate Nchuand-Zel's automated defences
  6. Find someone who knows about the expedition


The Lost Expedition is a quest to restore the ancient power of the city of Nchuand-Zel and discover what happened to the expedition party that went exploring within the city's depths. The quest is obtained by reading Alethius's Notes (found next to his dead body in the Nchuand-Zel Excavation Site). The player can start this quest by reading the note after killing the frostbite spider Nimhe during Calcelmo's miscellaneous quest "Nimhe, the Poisoned One" or during the Thieves Guild quest "Hard Answers." Also, Calcelmo will ask the Dragonborn to kill the spider if asked to see the ruins. The note is found right up the stairs from where Nimhe is confronted.

The Dragonborn can begin the quest by reading Alethius's Notes, which can be found at the end of the Nchuand-Zel Excavation Site and close to the entrance to Nchuand-Zel, next to Alethius's corpse. After obtaining the quest, the Dragonborn must cut through a spider web to get into Nchuand-Zel. The Dragonborn must follow the quest marker to the Nchuand-Zel Quarters, with Falmer and traps being encountered along the way. Go down the first set of stairs and follow the path until reaching the dead body of Stromm by a tree. After reading Stromm's journal the Dragonborn is now tasked with finding the three other journals of the missing expeditioners, belonging to Erj, Krag and Staubin. Falmer and Dwarven mechanisms will be encountered throughout the ruin. 

The quest marker will guide the player back into Nchuand-Zel. From there, the Dragonborn must go to the bottom level and swim to the door across the water to enter the Nchuand-Zel Armory. (When crossing the main hall Whirlwind Sprint could be used as a shortcut to get to the door of the armory.) Once inside, the path to the left will lead to a locked gate. Once unlocking the gate, the Dragonborn will climb a flight of stairs and find Erj's dead body and his journal, and a chest with leveled loot. After reading his journal, the Dragonborn must continue following the path and quest marker until reaching a door and exit back out to Nchuand-Zel.

After exiting, straight ahead will be Krag's dead body and his journal at a makeshift campsite. At the campsite there are many bloodstains on the floor and the bodies of two dead guards who were overseeing the expedition, indicating an ambush and slaughter by (most likely) Falmer. To the left, on a bench, is the Alteration skill book, Sithis (Book). After reading Krag's journal, the path to the left will lead up to the door to Nchuand-Zel Control. After following this path, the Dragonborn will eventually find Staubin's dead body and journal.

The Dragonborn is now tasked with re-activating Nchuand-Zel's automated defenses, which is done by activating the lever at the end of the path, by Staubin's corpse (activating this will start a battle between any Falmer in the ruin and the re-activated Dwemer defenses). After re-activating the defenses and exiting the control room, the Dragonborn should exit the ruin and head back to Understone Keep.

Strangely, at this point, the quest marker will lead the Dragonborn around the dungeon again. This can be bypassed by ignoring the quest marker and heading out of the ruins. When the Dragonborn enters the great hall, they will be at the bottom level. Falmer will begin fighting with the defenses around the great hall. To get out of Nchuand-Zel, the Dragonborn should swim across the cavern and take the pathway back upwards.

To complete the quest, the Dragonborn must speak to Calcelmo in Markarth Keep. Calcelmo will talk about warning the expeditioners against going, and then he will give the Dragonborn the sum of money he would have given to the expeditioners (if they had survived). 


A large number of Dwarven metal pieces can be found throughout the ruin and smelted to obtain Dwarven Metal Ingots. Leveled loot can be found in the chest next to Erj's corpse in the Nchuand-Zel Armory. Lastly, Calcelmo will give a leveled amount of gold for completing this quest.


The Lost Expedition – dunNchuandZelQst
ID Journal Entry
10 I should try and find the researchers Alethius mentioned in his note.
  • Objective 10: Recover Stromm's journal
20 I've discovered Stromm's corpse. Maybe if I venture deeper into Nchuand-Zel I can find the rest of the group. Hopefully they're still alive.
  • Objective 20: Recover Erj's journal
  • Objective 30: Recover Krag's journal
  • Objective 40: Recover Staubs' [sic] [Do not change this to Staubin's. This misspelled word is how it appears in-game.] journal
50 It appears the entire party was wiped out trying to reactivate the city's defences. I need to find the lever Staubs [sic] [Do not change this to Staubin. This misspelled word is how it appears in-game.] mentioned and activate it.
  • Objective 50: Re-activate Nchuand-Zel's automated defences
100 I've successfully activated the city's remaining automatons. They should be more then [sic] [Do not change this to than. This misspelled word is how it appears in-game.] capable of driving the remaining Falmer out. I should see if anyone is looking for the expedition.
  • Objective 100: Find someone who knows about the expedition.

I've informed Calcelmo about the journal and received some gold for my efforts.

  • Quest completed
  • Quest failed


This section contains bugs related to The Lost Expedition. 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  /  PS5  ,  XS  , 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.
  • It is possible to skip through most of the quest if the Dragonborn has a Do Not Delete Box. When the Dragonborn reaches the first bridge, look right and find a walkway leading down. Jump and place the Do Not Delete Box below the Dragonborn and jump on it to get onto the walkway, which puts the Dragonborn at the Control Room.
  • If any journal is collected before Stromm's journal is obtained, the prompt for getting those journals will not appear. But the quest can still be completed.
  • If the Dragonborn opens any journal, it will add one copy to their inventory. If the Dragonborn reopens it, it will add one more and so on.
  • When the Dragonborn loots one of the expedition members' bodies, a copy of their journal will automatically open and be placed into the Dragonborn's inventory. Taking the copy from their body gives a second copy.
  • If a journal that the Dragonborn already has in the inventory does not complete the objective, drop it and pick it up again to complete that objective.
  • After the defenses have been activated, some of the Falmer may become mini versions of themselves, albeit still deadly (Confirmed PS3 and 360, Version 1.5).
  • If Alethius' journal is picked up without starting the quest until later, the web wall will become impassible without loading a save game prior to reading Alethius's journal.
  • If a sword does not get through the web wall then try a bow instead. One arrow will open the wall. Destruction magic will also work.
  • If the Dragonborn ran past the Dwarven Centurion on the bridge it will just stand there. This makes it very easy to exploit it for sneak and archery leveling by shooting it from a different bridge.
  • After activating the lever bringing all the Dwemer Machines to life, the quest marker may lead back to the armory instead of the Understone Keep. It will keep pointing to go from the main room to the armory to go find someone. Just ignore it and go back to Understone Keep.
  • When returning, running back past the spider Nimhe through the tunnel can sink you under the map. Fixes itself.
  • If a follower is present when leaving Nchuand-Zel and are exiting the ruins by the ramp along the mountainside, the follower may not take the shortcut.
  • When the quest is finished, the items stored next to Calcelmo are no longer labelled with "stealing", but taking them still gives a bounty.