Dragonborn:The Gardener of Men

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DB-qico-Main.png Travel to the realm of Hermaeus Mora to learn the rest of Bend Will.
Location(s): Apocrypha, Skaal Village
Prerequisite Quest: The Path of Knowledge
Next Quest: At the Summit of Apocrypha
Concurrent Quest: Cleansing the Stones
Reward: Last two words of Bend Will
ID: DLC2MQ05
 
The Black Book, Epistolary Acumen

[edit] Quick Walkthrough

  1. Read the Black Book Epistolary Acumen.
  2. Explore the book and learn the second word of the Bend Will shout.
  3. Defeat Krosulhah.
  4. Talk to Storn in Skaal Village.
  5. Learn the final word of Bend Will.

[edit] Detailed Walkthrough

[edit] Chapter I

The path opens

By reading the Black Book Epistolary Acumen, you are transported to the realm of Hermaeus Mora, Apocrypha.

If this is your first trip (not counting the one where you first meet Miraak), Hermaeus Mora will appear, floating above the platform as a tentacled eyeball. He will speak to you of Apocrypha's seductive wealth of knowledge.

Chapter I opens on a small platform. As is common in Apocrypha, if you approach the edges, tentacles may reach out of the water and whip you. Activate the scrye at the platform's center to lower a bridge to a moving corridor. Jump onto the moving passage, taking care not to fall into the dark water. Hop off at the platform on the far right, then activate a second scrye and lower a second bridge. Jump back into the moving passage and ride it back to that bridge. Read the book on the pedestal here to access Chapter II.

[edit] Chapter II

Travel down the narrow pathway and activate another scrye. The corridor will unfurl to become the floor of a room, where you battle a lurker and a couple of seekers. Once they are dealt with, activate a scrye on the eastern side of the room in order to open up the large gate to the west. To the southeast is a pod you can loot. Through the gate, to your right is another pod, and right in front of you is Chapter III.

[edit] Chapter III

The start of Chapter III

Follow the pathway around and up several sets of stairs, eliminating the seekers as you go. To the left of your entry point, there is a font of magicka surrounded by a pool of poisonous water that will restore your magicka reserves. There is another one located at the top of the stairs, where you will also encounter a moving tunnel similar to the one encountered in Chapter I.

If you choose to get off at the closest platform, you will be greeted by a lurker, and two seekers will fire at you from a platform below. Drop down the far side of the lurker's platform to kill them, then activate a scrye around a corner to the southwest in order to return to the starting platform. The last and farthest platform contains two seekers and a pod full of loot, with a font of magicka hanging on either side.

Chapter III & IV

To reach Chapter IV, do not jump on the platforms. Instead, activate the scrye at the end of the moving passage to open the gate, and defeat any seekers that appear as you move forward. As soon as you reach the end of the next passage, it will move to the left and a bridge will lower, leading to a lurker. At the end of the path, there will be another move to the left, and you will approach the gates you activated before, but this time from the left side. Activate the scrye to open them again and continue on, avoiding the tentacles that reach out at you from the water. Eliminate the seekers as you walk down the path to Chapter IV.

[edit] Chapter IV

A Daedric Prince wants to make a deal

You may recognize the location below the platform as the setting of Chapter III. Loot the vessel to the left and activate the scrye. The large capsule containing the Black Book: Epistolary Acumen will open. Walk up to the Book and read it to summon Hermaeus Mora.

The following dialogue is dependent on the status of the quest Discerning the Transmundane. If the quest has been completed, Hermaeus Mora greets you in one of two ways:

  • If you respected Mora before: "Well done, my champion. Your journey towards enlightenment has finally led you here, to my realm, as I knew it would."
  • If you disrespected Mora before: "You thought to reject me, and yet here you are. Your journey towards enlightenment has finally led you here, to my realm, as I knew it would."

This presents two possible replies:

  • 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."

Alternatively, if Discerning the Transmundane has not yet been completed, he will simply greet you with: "All seekers of knowledge come to my realm, sooner or later." Either way, the following set of dialogue choices becomes available, where he reveals that you cannot hope to surpass Miraak without the last word of power:

  • 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."
  • 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."

Regardless of what option is chosen, Hermaeus Mora ends with: "I know what you want: to use you power as Dragonborn to bend the world to your will. Here then is the knowledge you need, although you did not know you needed it. The second Word of Power. Use it to bend the wills 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 as he wields, but all knowledge has its price."

Next, he reveals his price for the Word of Power, knowledge for knowledge:

  • 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."
  • 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."

After this section, the conversation ends with the following set of options:

  • 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."

Regardless of what option is chosen, Hermaeus Mora parts with: "Send the Skaal shaman to me. He holds the secrets that will be mine.", referring to Storn Crag-Strider.

Just before Hermaeus Mora fades away, he teaches you the second word to Bend Will. After this, you may choose from one of three powers emanating from the Black Book:

Only one ability from the book may be accepted at a time. To return to Solstheim, use the Black Book in front of you or access it from your inventory.

[edit] Return to Solstheim

"What happened? What did you see?"
Krosulhah attacking upon your exit

After reading the book, you are returned to Nchardak, where Neloth will approach and ask: "What happened? What did you see? Different people have very different experiences when reading these books."

You can give him two possible answers:

  • 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."

If you explain to Neloth that Hermaeus Mora wants the "secrets of the Skaal" in exchange for the third word, Neloth replies: "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 you die within Apocrypha before speaking to Hermaeus Mora, a different option is presented:

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."

After this, if you return to Apocrypha and come back, Neloth will ask with skepticism: "Did you actually learn what you needed to know by reading that black book?"

After exiting Nchardak, it is revealed that Miraak has sent a dragon named Krosulhah to ambush you. He hovers above the ruins and bellows: "Miraak has commanded your death. So it shall be." before attacking. Following his death, travel to the Skaal Village and talk to Storn, who can be found meditating outside his hut.

[edit] The Secrets of the Skaal

"So it falls to me to be the one to give up the secrets to our ancient enemy."

If you have yet to cleanse the All-Maker Stones, Storn will say that he is too weak to face Hermaeus Mora, as the Oneness of the land is disrupted. You will need to complete the related quest to restore the shaman's connection to the All-Maker before he will agree to help you.

Once the Sacred Stones have been cleansed, return to Storn and ask him about the secrets of the Skaal, to which he replies: "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."

Next, three optional questions become available, each of which give additional insight into the relationship between the Skaal and Hermaeus Mora:

  • What are the "secrets of the Skaal"?: "Ancient lore, handed down from shaman to shaman since the All-Maker first gave Solstheim. How to talk to the wind, how to listen to the earth - these are our secrets. Nothing of power of mastery."
  • Why would Hermaeus Mora want your secrets?: "We know him as Herma-Mora, the Demon of Knowledge. It is in his nature to horde secrets to himself. Their value to him is of no consequence. The very fact that the Skaal have kept knowledge from him has merely increased his desire to have it."
  • Herma-Mora? Why do you call him that?: "That is our name for him - the Demon of knowledge. He has always been our enemy."

Back to the matter at hand, the following set of options are presented:

He said it's the only way he'll teach me the final Word of Miraak's Shout:
Storn's Reply Condition
"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 do." Cleansing the Stones is complete
"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. With Miraak's corruption of the Stones... the Oneness of the land is disrupted, and our connection to the All-Maker is broken." Cleansing the Stones is incomplete
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 myself. I will make sure he lives up to his part of the bargain."
I hope you know what you're doing. (Give book):
"That is my hope as well. I am trusting you will make this sacrifice worthwhile."
"Father, you must not do this. That book is... wrong. Evil."

When you hand him the book he will walk into the center of the village, while Frea will shout:

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 the foul master of this book has in store for me."
"You... liar... gah! ... I won't... not... for you..."

While seemingly unconvinced about Hermaeus Mora’s intentions and promises, Storn then opens the book. Seconds after, several tentacles shoot out from its pages and grab him, one of them piercing into his brain, while Mora gloats: "At last, the Skaal yield up their secrets to me." While the secrets of the Skaal are drained out of him, all Storn can utter is: "You... liar... gah! ... I won't... not... for you..."

Hermaeus Mora will then speak to you: "Dragonborn, you have delivered 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." When you finally receive your gift, Mora will let go of Storn who will shout: "Nooo!" and fall to the ground, dead.

Frea will rush to her father's lifeless body and cry out: "Father! What have you done!" She will then look directly at you: "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." She will then stay by her father, while all the citizens of Skaal Village pay their final respect to their old shaman:

"We won't forget what you did for us, Storn Crag-Strider."
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 Woodcutter: "Frea... I'm sorry."
Aeta: "It can't be... please, All-Maker, send him back to us..."
Baldor Iron-Shaper: "I... uh... you'll be missed, old man."
Finna: "May the All-Maker guide your soul to the next life."
Nikulas: "Frea... what happened? What was that thing? I thought the village was safe now."
Wulf Wild-Blood: "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."

[edit] Notes

  • 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 this is your first time entering Apocrypha, and you have previously encountered Hermaeus Mora during Discerning the Transmundane, he will recognize your previous encounter by saying, "I know you, champion. The Oghma Infinium was only the beginning."
  • During the conversation with Hermaeus Mora at the end of Epistolary Acumen, if you choose disrespectful dialogue at the beginning of the conversation, you will not be able to pick the options that call Mora "my lord" later in the conversation.
  • You may return to the previous chapters at any time during the quest by reading the book located behind each starting position.
  • The word "Epistolary" generally means a novel in the form of a series of letters, but could also refer to the writing of letters. "Acumen" means keenness of perception or skill. Thus the title "Epistolary Acumen" could mean "skill at letter writing".
  • If Frea is your follower, she will run away to Skaal Village as soon as you return from Apocrypha. However, she will still be counted as your follower, rendering you unable to take another. If you return to Skaal Village you'll have to talk to her and dismiss her before speaking with Storn, otherwise you'll be without a follower until you complete the Dragonborn main questline.

[edit] Bugs

  • You may be unable to go back to Solstheim using the activator at the end, instead receiving the message "You are unable to concentrate on what you're reading."
    • Step into the black water in Apocrypha. When you lose all your health, you'll be transported out of the book.
    • Pc22.png Use the coc command to move to another location, (e.g., coc WindhelmDocksExterior01).
  • When Storn is supposed to read the Black Book, he may instead just stand still and comment about being in the hands of the All-Maker.
  • Storn may continually be attacked by Hermaeus Mora through the book, but the quest will not progress.
    • This may be related to losing Frea. [verification needed — What are the conditions for this bug?]

[edit] Quest Stages

The Gardener of Men (DLC2MQ05)
Stage Finishes Quest 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
100
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
500
Objective 40: Wait for Storn to read the book
1000 Finishes quest 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 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.
  • The following empty quest stages were omitted from the table: 0, 1, 150, 200, 250, 290, 300, 310, 320, 325, 330, 350, 355, 360, 370, 390, 400, 450, 600, 610, 620, 630, 700, 750, 800, 1100.


Prev: The Path of Knowledge Up: Dragonborn Next: At the Summit of Apocrypha

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