Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

"Hermaeus Mora has always tried to seduce mortals into his service with the lure of forbidden knowledge. Where the Black Books actually came from...no one really knows. Some appear to have been written far in the past, others might be from the future."

The Path of Knowledge is a quest in The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn in which the Dragonborn must recover the Black Book Epistolary Acumen in order to learn how to defeat Miraak.


In order to defeat Miraak, I need to find more of the Black Books, the source of his knowledge and power. Storn suggested that the wizard Neloth may know the location of the Black Books that I need.


  1. Talk to Neloth
  2. Travel to Nchardak with Neloth
  3. Restore the steam supply to the Dwemer reading room
  4. Release the book from the Dwemer contraption


Consulting Neloth[]

Storn Crag-Strider suggests heading to Tel Mithryn to ask Master Neloth about where to find the Black Books. After entering the door at the base, a magic elevator allows the Dragonborn to float up to the top, where Neloth is. He reveals that the books are artifacts of Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of fate and knowledge:

I hear you know where to find Black Books. "You refer to the tomes of esoteric knowledge that old Hermaeus Mora has scattered throughout the world? What could you know of them?"

I found a Black Book. I need to find more. "Found one? Yes, and you read it, too, didn't you? Don't try to deny it, you've got the look. I can see it now. Dangerous knowledge is still knowledge and therefore useful. Usually turns out to be the most useful, in my experience."
The Black Books have something to do with Hermaeus Mora? "You didn't know? Hmm, I thought it was obvious. Hermaeus Mora has always tried to seduce mortals into his service with the lure of forbidden knowledge. Where the Black Books actually came from...no one really knows. Some appear to have been written far in the past, others might be from the future. Apparently time is more malleable if you're the Daedric Prince of fate and destiny."

In addition to the above option, one of two specific options are available, depending upon the status of Hermaeus Mora's Daedric quest "Discerning the Transmundane".

If "Discerning the Transmundane" has been completed:

I've dealt with Hermaeus Mora before. I've read the Oghma Infinium. "Have you? The actual Oghma Infinium? That's... I've searched for it myself for many years without success...Well then, you should know better than anyone that Hermaeus Mora is not to be trifled with. But he is subtler than most of the other Daedric Princes, as you would expect of the prince of knowledge and fate. You seem to have escaped the fate of many who find themselves ensnared forever by the lure of his secrets. Or... perhaps not."

If "Discerning the Transmundane" has not been completed:

Who is Hermaeus Mora? "If you have to ask that, you'd probably be best leaving his books to wiser heads than yours. Like all Daedric Princes, he's not to be trifled with. But he is subtler than most of his ilk, appropriate for the prince of knowledge and fate. Many scholars and loremasters have been ensnared by the lure of learning the secrets that only Hermaeus Mora possesses. But don't worry. I have no intention of joining them in their endless search throughout the infinite halls of Apocrypha."

Next the conversation follows with:

I have to know what Miraak knows if I want to stop him. "Miraak? The one all the townsfolk are always chanting about?"

Yes. You may have noticed he's trying to return to Solstheim. "Well, I knew something connected with Hermaeus Mora was spreading its influence across the island. I wasn't sure that it was in fact the same entity as this legendary namesake of the central temple. Although the villagers seem quite convinced."

Alternatively, Neloth may reply to the initial option with: "Now that is a dangerous path indeed. Hermaeus Mora gives nothing away for free. You may end up like Miraak, of course. Two power-mad Dragonborn. It could be very interesting."

Next the conversation moves towards the Black Books again. He admits to owning one, and knowing the location of another:

Do you know where I can find another Black Book? "Oh yes. They're not hard to locate once you know how to look for them. I have one here that I have been using to locate more."

You have a Black Book? "Yes I haven't been idle while this fascinating madness engulfed Solstheim. But my book isn't what you're looking for. I'm quite sure it is unconnected with this Miraak. But I do know where to find a Black Book that can help you."
So you know where to find this Black Book? The one connected with Miraak? "Yes I do. I haven't been able to get it, though. But maybe together we can unlock the secrets the Dwemer left behind."
The Dwemer? What do they have to do with this? "Forbidden knowledge was somewhat a specialty of the dwarves, eh? You don't think they would just leave it alone, do you? It seems the ancient Dwemer discovered this book and took it to study. I have found their "reading room" in the ruins of Nchardak. The book is there, but it's sealed in a protective case which I wasn't able to open. But perhaps the two of us together will be able to get the book. To Nchardak, then. Follow me."
Just tell me where the book is and I'll go get it. "I'm afraid it isn't that simple. If it was, I would have the book already."
Why won't the book you have here help me? "Oh, it clearly is not associated with the same power that has overtaken the island. And I'm not talking about Hermaeus Mora. These Black Books are all his, of course. No, what you're looking for is a specific book. Presumably because Miraak's power derives from it."

After the conversation has finished, Neloth leaves for Nchardak, located north of Tel Mithryn, along the coast and relatively close. Upon leaving the mushroom tower, it is possible that the Dragonborn will be accosted by Talvas Fathryon and the side quest "From the Ashes" will start.

If Varona Nelas' corpse is outside Tel Mithryn ("Reluctant Steward"), Neloth will ignore it completely.

City of a Hundred Towers[]

Upon reaching Nchardak, Neloth will comment: "The Dwemer certainly knew how to build for the ages. These towers have outlasted their creators by millennia. The book is housed inside that dome. I'll need to unlock the door for us. Lets get on with it." At this point, Neloth will follow the Dragonborn and may be accompanied by his own Ash Guardian. Up the main stairs, the various Reavers that have taken up residence in the grounds of the ruin need to be eliminated.

Upon reaching the main door, Neloth will remark: "The Dwemer of Nchardak appear to have been fond of these control pedestals. Luckily I found a cube to operate it inside on my last visit. I sealed the door when I left to keep out ignorant meddlers. Let me unlock it. The book is just inside."

Nchardak Reading Room[]

"So tantalizingly close..."

Once he unlocks the door, the path to the Reading Room is open. Upon approaching the large gold ring in the center of the room, Neloth will comment: "You can see the book right there. So tantalizingly close... But trust me, no magic will open that. I'd have had the book already if I could. No, we'll have to do this the hard way. If we can restore the steam supply to this room, I'm certain I can open it. As you'll see, that's easier said than done. This way to the boilers."

Neloth then uses his cube to open another door that houses an elevator leading to the Nchardak Great Chamber. He commands the Dragonborn, "Follow me."

Nchardak Great Chamber[]

"In its day it was the largest of the great Dwemer Archives and perhaps the most advanced."

While following him down the halls, he will comment: "The last time I was here, I only explored a small part of the ruins. I was here alone then, and I find an assistant is absolutely essential for this kind of dirty, dangerous work."

Upon reaching the main chamber he will exclaim: "Nchardak, The 'City of a Hundred Towers'. In its day it was the largest of the great Dwemer Archives and perhaps the most advanced. In the old stories, when the Nords came to conquer it, it's said the Dwemer submerged the entire city beneath the sea until the invaders gave up. I have my doubts. But the city was a marvel of Dwemer engineering. Now reduced to this. As you can see, most of the lower levels of the city are flooded. but it isn't hopeless - the old Dwemer pumps still seem to work. Watch."

"The pumps only operate when a cube is in the pedestal."

Neloth then walks over to a control pedestal overlooking a large flooded area of the chamber and activates is with his cube. The water flooding the chamber partially drains out, however he reveals: "The pumps only operate when a cube is in the pedestal. And unfortunately, I have only one cube. These four boilers provide steam to the room upstairs. They're shut down, but they still respond to the control cubes. So, if we can find four more cubes, we can turn these boilers back on and restore steam power to the room upstairs. Then I should be able to open the book's protective case. Bring that cube. We'll need it."

After picking up the cube from the pedestal, Neloth can be followed to a display panel, where he explains: "Yes... here we are. This device shows the location of four more cubes in this section of the city. It looks like most of the cubes were moved to the lower levels, perhaps to try to control the flooding before the city was abandoned. Interesting. That would suggest that the city must have originally sunk during the first cataclysm of Red Mountain. Or that the Dwemer's servitors continued to try to preserve the city after their creators' disappearance."

Next he walks over to the sealed door to the Nchardak Workshop and remarks "Three of the cubes are through here. This seems like a sensible place to start. You should be able to unseal this door with the control cube I gave you."

Placing the cube in the control switch will remove the seals and allow the Dragonborn to enter the workshop with Neloth. At this point, it is possible to ask him to explain the details again, via two dialogue options. These are:

How do we get the book out of its case? "It won't be easy. The whole lower part of the city is flooded, which has shut down the boilers which supply steam to the reading room. If we can restore the steam supply, I'm certain I can open the book's protective case."

Why do we need these cubes? "I thought I made myself clear the first time. The boilers in the Great Hall provide steam to the reading room upstairs, which we need in order to open the book's protective case. We need a total of five cubes - one to operate the pumps in the Great Hall, the other four to activate the boilers."

Nchardak Workshop[]

Upon entering the workshop, Neloth will be standing next to another control cube he has found. He remarks: "I hope the rest of the cubes are this easy to find. Although knowing the Dwemer, I rather doubt it."

"These must be the "Great Workshops of Nchardak."

Taking the cube from the pedestal will stop the fire traps ahead, allowing Neloth to be followed to the next area. After defeating some Dwemer Spiders, a bridge is reached. As Neloth walks across the bridge, he observes the automatons lining the walls and comments: "These must be the "Great Workshops of Nchardak." Impressive even in ruins. In the city's days of glory, it was reputed to be able to assemble a complete automaton in a single day. Much of the Dwemer army at the Battle of Red Mountain must have come from here."

Two control pedestals.

At the end of the bridge are two more control pedestals. Neloth remarks: "It looks like we'll need to lower the water level to make any more progress." Placing a cube in either pedestal will lower the water. Several automatons will attack. Once they are defeated, placing a cube in the control switch immediately at the bottom of the stairs will make a set of stairs to the north appear. However, the stairs are blocked by a brass bridge. Heading up and around the walkway to the brass bridge and placing the cube in another control switch will raise the bridge. It then is possible to return to the previous control switch and climb the stairs to the door.

The control switch that leads back to the Great Chamber.

Up the stairs to the right (east) then right again (south) leads to a room with an adept-locked chest. Going to the left (west), then south leads to a small enclosed cage where another control cube can be found. Taking this cube will cause the water to rise again and a few spiders to attack. Heading back up to the east end of the bridge and taking the original cube from the pedestal causes the water level to raise much higher than what it was originally. Neloth then leads the Dragonborn to a door on the south side of the room. Upon opening it, a series of underwater halls are seen. Swimming through the halls, fighting off the Dwemer Spiders along the way, leads to the fourth cube found in a pedestal against the north wall of the room. Taking the cube will cause the water level to raise again and a Dwarven Centurion to awaken and attack. Once it has been defeated, the nearby staircase against the west wall leads up to the south, then east. Another Dwarven automaton protects a control switch to the north that, when activated, drops a bridge that leads to a door back to the Great Chamber.

The Final Cube[]

Once in the Great Chamber, Neloth will walk over to the large flooded area and mention the last cube is through the northern door, but the water level must be lowered to reach it. Placing two cubes on the pedestals on the upper area will completely drain the water from this chamber. Neloth will now lead the Dragonborn down the stairs. After defeating the two Dwarven Ballistas guarding the northern door, the control switch nearby can be activated to open the seal to the Nchardak Aqueduct.

The bridge puzzle.

Inside the aqueduct, Neloth spots the pump activator where water can be drained, but reaching it requires solving a small puzzle to lower the three bridges that lead to it. Turning around to the south, there is a ramp leading up to the three control switches overlooking the aqueduct. The combination to lower all three bridges is simply the right switch, then the left switch. Once the bridges lower, several automatons appear.

The final cube.

Across the bridges from the floor level, a control switch is now visible on the western end of the room. When activated, it will open a door that leads up a ramp and turns left (south) to a small room lined with traps. The first trap is a pressure plate that activates iron bars that slam shut near the entrance. The next is two spinning blades in front of the gate that holds the final cube. Finally, another pressure plate lies near the pedestal; it activates poisoned arrows when stepped upon. Taking the cube will cause the water level to rise. Swim back to the main aqueduct chamber, where Neloth was waiting. Once he sees that the final cube has been obtained, he will remove the control cube from the pump activator to raise the water much higher than before. It is then possible to swim back to the entrance to the Nchardak Great Chamber.

"...it should be a simple matter to release the book."

At the top of the southern ramp (upon which there are more automatons) are the main control pedestals. After taking one of the original cubes already in the pedestals, a circular platform to the lower west will be revealed; upon it are the boiler control pedestals. Placing the remaining four cubes in the pedestals will start all the boilers. A bridge will then lower on the far west of the chamber to reveal a Dwarven Centurion. Once it is defeated, Neloth will remark: "I'm going to head back upstairs and see if the reading room has steam. If so, it should be a simple matter to release the book." Before heading back to the Nchardak Reading Room, a chest found in the centurion's holding area across the bridge can be searched for some leveled loot. After that, proceeding east, then south, leads to a lever that, when activated, brings the Dragonborn to the reading room.

Retrieve the Black Book[]

In the reading room Neloth will be waiting by a control pedestal. Pressing the button results in four beams of light appearing from the floor to focus on a large crystal above. This causes the room to rumble and the book to rise out from the sealed compartment. Neloth remarks: "At last. I hope it was worth it. Please... be my guest. You deserve the first look. Besides, it could be very dangerous. These books are known to drive many people insane." This completes the quest and immediately starts the next quest. "The Gardener of Men."


The Path of Knowledge – DLC2MQ04
ID Journal Entry
10 In order to defeat Miraak, I need to find more of the Black Books, the source of his knowledge and power. Storn suggested that the wizard Neloth may know the location of the Black Books that I need.
  • Objective 10: Talk to Neloth
50 In order to defeat Miraak, I need to find more of the Black Books, the source of his knowledge and power. The Telvanni wizard Neloth found one of these books in the Dwarven ruin of Nchardak, but it is locked inside some kind of protective mechanism. Maybe together we can find a way to get at this black book.
  • Objective 20: Travel to Nchardak with Neloth
  • Objective 40: Restore the steam supply to the Dwemer reading room
  • Objective 50: Release the book from the Dwemer contraption
550 With the help of the Telvanni wizard Neloth, I found another of Hermaeus Mora's Black Books in the Dwarven ruin of Nchardak.
  • Quest complete



  • If Frea is brought along during this quest, she will make various comments and remarks of her own. She will also leave after the Black Book is finished with, but still take up a follower spot. This can be avoided by either dismissing her before reading Epistolary Acumen; or immediately upon returning from Apocrypha, the Dragonborn can go to Skaal Village (where she runs to) and dismiss her before speaking with Storn. Otherwise there will be no follower until the Dragonborn main questline is completed.
  • When the Dwarven Centurion is released, Neloth will call it a Steam Centurion, which is what it is called in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.


This section contains bugs related to The Path of Knowledge. 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.
  • If the Dragonborn leaves the location before Neloth opens the door, Neloth may have disappeared when the Dragonborn returns to Nchardak. It is likely Neloth has entered, yet the door remains locked. Waiting for 24 hours appears to cause Neloth to come out, allowing the quest to continue.
  • If Nchardak is left after the bandits are killed, Neloth will lock the door, making it impossible to get in.
  • Neloth may not unlock the front door.
  • After returning from Apocrypha, Neloth will not have a head. Conversations will continue as normal. Exiting Nchardak fixes this.
  • Most of the time, Neloth will be extremely slow in his movements. One should take care to wait for him, lest they have to go to the previous room again to retrieve him.
  • If a Dwarven Ballista falls in the water of the great chamber, and one goes into another room, Neloth and any follower will be swimming in the water and cannot be interacted with. The only solutions are to load back to before the Ballista fell in the water or completing the mission, and when the book is raised Neloth and the follower will return.
  • It may not be possible to finish the quest if a cube is taken before Neloth finishes any dialogue he may have about that particular cube.
  •  PC   XB1   The control switch that becomes visible on the western end of the room may not be interactable, preventing it from being activated.
  •  XB1   After all five cubes are collected, returning to the room where Neloth is waiting, he might end up trapped swimming or just floating in the water.
    • One solution is to try to lead him the way back to the entrance, on the same path the Dragonborn have walked before the room was flooded.