NOTE: If you have already done the Daedric Quest: Discerning the Transmundane, you will have already gotten the Elder Scroll from Blackreach. If not, you have a long trek ahead of you, and you should gear up accordingly. Bring plenty of potions and be prepared for a long journey to reach the Elder Scroll.
Speak with either Esbern at Sky Haven Temple or Arngeir at High Hrothgar. They will both point you toward the College of Winterhold in the northern Mountains of Skyrim. Make your way to Winterhold by whatever means you choose, and head up the path at the other end of town. A mage with the College will stop you if you’re not a member of the College and ask you to show you are skilled in magic. Choose any offensive or conjuration magic (or a Dragonshout) and cast it to impress Faralda, and she will tell you to find Mirabelle Ervine in the College. Instead of reporting to Mirabelle Ervine, since this is beginning your questline with the College of Winterhold, find the Orc Urag gro-Shub in the Arcaneum. If you head into the Hall of the Element and take the door to your left, it will take you into the large library where he will be standing behind the counter.
Speak with Urag and he will give you two books to read that relate to the Elder Scrolls. Take a look if you want, but it will be impossible to understand without translation from the original author, who is holed up in an ice field north of the College. To find Septimus Signus, make your way down the mountain carefully and head north.
You will find Septimus in an ice mound in front of an odd locked door that looks ancient. Septimus will not give you the location of the Elder Scroll without a favor: you must explore the ancient city of Blackreach and transcribe the Blank Lexicon he needs to open the door.
NOTE: The location given to you for this quest into Blackreach is one of many entrances. If you have already explored another entrance, you can take that one instead of the long-haul through Alftrand.
With the Attunement Sphere and Blank Lexicon in hand, travel to Alftrand and find the entrance to the ruins below at the bottom of a tower. Be careful on your way down the bridges; it’s a long fall if you misstep. This is a very large area, and your destination is always marked on your map, so use it accordingly. To get to the first door, head down the snowy corridor and up a winding ramp, leading you into another snowy hallway. Make your way through here and into the ruins ahead, heading north. Open the door and head south and then east, navigate the moving pistons in the wall, and head through the door to Alftrand Animonculary.
Head east through the corridor with Dwarven Spheres to kill. DO NOT walk on the pressure plates of the next ramp, since the trap blade in the middle will kill you outright. Use the lever on the right to open the gates to a winding walkway heading down, being careful not to fall off while battling any Dwarven Spiders. Head west and avoid more pistons in the wall, then turn northeast and down farther into the ruins. Fight your way through the Falmer and down another winding pillar. Keep heading deeper into the Falmer nest until you find a gold door in the southwest that leads to the next area. If you wish to head back for supplies, head to the northwest to use a Dwarven Elevator to the outside. You will create a map marker that you can return to if you leave.
Back in the southwest, unbar the door for future travels. Head to the bottom of the winding walkway and through the corridor to reach the next area: the Alftrand Cathedral. This area is fairly straightforward, but also dangerous. Once you clear out any enemies, head south and enter the platform. Here awaits a large Dwarven Centurion that holds the key you need to get through the next area. Head to the gate and kill the thieves nearby, then open the Dwarven Mechanism. You can head up the tower and open another entrance to Blackreach here, or continue on with the Attunement Sphere. A path is revealed and you can now enter Blackreach, a massive underground area.
If you follow your quest-marker, it will take you to the Tower of Mzark. If you decide to explore the area, you can spend a great amount of time looking around and finding Crimson Nirnroots for a side quest. If you want to leave, take the elevator to the southeast to the Great Lift at Alftrand, which gives you an easy entrance and exit from the area. Once you decide to continue, find your way to the Tower of Mzark and go inside.
In the Tower of Mzark is the Elder Scroll, but you must align the Oculary. First, put the Blank Lexicon in the empty pedestal, then begin playing with the stands beside it. Hit each lit up stand until the next one lights up, until each one is active. Press the tallest one in the middle three or four times; Press the stand left of that one twice; Press the smaller one once. Now you can pick up the Elder Scroll from its home in the center. You may also want to continue the Daedric Quest: Discerning the Transmundane while you are here, by removing the Lexicon from its stand. If you don’t remove it, you will have to return to this area again to fetch it later, this time without a quest marker.
NOTE: You must be level 15 to continue with the Daedric Quest with Septimus. If you aren’t this level yet, make a mental note to come back here later when you want to finish it.
Read the Elder Scroll at the Time-Wound
Learn the Dragonrend Shout from the Nord heroes
Now that Blackreach is behind you for now, head back to Paarthurnax at the Throat of the World. Move towards the center of the area and use the Elder Scroll in your inventory. Enjoy the centuries old flashback of the warriors who banished Alduin the last time. You learn the powerful Shout-Dragonrend, which you will use as soon as you get back to reality.
This battle is impossible without using Dragonrend, so use it as much as possible. Alduin cannot be hurt without being under the influence of Dragonrend, and he will not land unless you use the Shout. This battle is much more epic than other encounters with dragons that roam Skyrim, so hold out as long as you can and use those long-ranged weapons and potions you may have stocked up!
Talk to Paarthurnax OR Talk to Arngeir OR Talk to Esbern
Talk to the Jarl of Whiterun
Learn Shout to call Odahviing
Prepare a trap for Odahviing
Call Odahviing to Dragonsreach
Defeat and trap Odahviing
Alduin is down, but not out. He reveals that he is the firstborn of Akatosh, one of the Nine (or Eight, depending on where you are in Tamriel) Divines and the original dragon king. Alduin is invincible at this moment in time and flies away. You can ask three different targets to help you find where he has gone. Ask Paarthurnax while you are at the Throat of the World, travel down the mountain and ask Arngeir in High Hrothgar, or travel back to Sky Haven Temple and speak with Esbern. Each of them will point you to Dragonsreach in Whiterun. If you do stop by and see Esbern, he and Delphine will demand that you kill Paarthurnax because of his close involvement with the last time Alduin was in Skyrim. If you do not choose to kill him, the Blades will no longer help you, stalling any more side quests that they can offer. If you do kill him, it won’t affect the rest of the main storyline significantly. It is up to you.
The next actions you need to take will change depending on where you are in the Civil War questline. If you have completed the Civil War in favor of either party, you can just ask the Jarl in power for help, to which he will agree; you can skip to the next quest in the line, Main Story-The World Eater’s Pyre if so. If you are working with the Jarl at the time you head over to Whiterun, you may have to complete whatever favor he has asked of you before he will speak about the matter. If the civil war is still raging, the Jarl won’t help you until you assist in a peace summit to negotiate a temporary truce. The only ones that will be unbiased are the Greybeards, and you must convince all parties involved to participate.
Speak with General Tullius in Solitude and Ulfric Stormcloak in Windhelm to get them to High Hrothgar. The next few options in the treaty talk will be the ultimate decision on whether you are on the side of the Imperials or the Stormcloaks. Agree with the side that you wish to back and give them as much power as possible, and you will further your dedication to the cause. Either way, after the talk the truce is in place, and you can now trap a dragon with no fear of opposition.
When all parties are in agreement, head to Paarthurnax or Esbern to learn the name of a dragon you can call and trap in Whiterun. You learn the Words of Power Od, Ah, and Viing, which translates to ‘Winged Snow Hunter’ in Dragonspeak. Head back to Whiterun and use the complete call, and watch as Odahviing flies around. Lore him into the trap and approach him, but note that you cannot kill him. He will offer to bring you to an entrance to Sovngarde, the Nord version of Valhalla.
Talk to Delphine or Esbern
This is a completely optional quest, but if you decide to side with the Blades, the Greybeards will disown you. This means that you can no longer report to Arngeir to meditate on Words of Power, but it also means you can complete more Blades quests.
Find Paarthurnax at the Throat of the World and defeat him by whatever means you choose. Dragonrend is a good choice to bring him down, but this battle shouldn’t be too much trouble if you’ve fought other dragons before. Report back to Delphine or Esbern after he is defeated to continue to work with them.
Get Greybeard’s help in negotiating a truce
Talk to Arngeir
Talk to General Tullius
Talk to Ulfric Stormcloak
Talk to Arngeir
Take your seat
Negotiate a truce
The World-Eater’s Eyrie
Set Odahviing free
Talk to Odahviing
Reach Alduin’s portal to Sovngarde
Let Odahviing out of his trap and speak with him to go to Skuldafn, an area that only dragons can fly to. Alduin has used a portal here to get to Sovngarde to consume the souls of dead Nords to regain his strength. Once you get into the area, make a choice to stand and fight the dragons and Draugr that are here or make a dead sprint for the entrance up to the temple. Kill the dragons that follow you if you want the souls, or head towards the door. There are plenty of places to find treasure leading up to the temple door if you want to spend some time killing some Draugr.
When you enter, you can head right to find a chest and some stairs up, leading to a puzzle you have to figure out before you can proceed. The Whale glyph needs to face west, and the Snake glyph needs to face east in the first area to proceed. In these next two corridors, there are corresponding signs across from the movable pedestals. Take the left door and head to the stairs ahead.
Head to the bottom floor to figure out the next puzzle. Turn the first pillar so the snake faces west, and go up the bridge. Point the next pillar so the hawk faces north, and then head north to find the next pillar. Now turn that one so the Whale is pointing south towards the highest sign. The bridge should lower and you can enter a new door.
Follow the steps up, defeating a number Draugr along the way. At the top, be careful with the Draugr Warlord, and make sure to pick up the Diamond Claw from his corpse. Use the claw on the door after turning the rings to match, from top to bottom, Wolf, Moth, Dragon. Find the Word of Power for the Shout-Storm Call on the crypt wall and leave the area by the large wooden doors.
Head towards the bright light in the sky and intercept the Dragon Priest named Nahkriin. He is a tough cookie with powerful shock spells. Don’t forget about the dragons flying around, but don’t focus on them unless you want to. Your target is the Priest and his Dragon Priest Staff, which gives you access to the Dragon Seal and into Sovngarde. Just don’t forget to grab the Dragon Priest Nahkriin’s Mask, which is part of the Dragon Priests’ side quests.
Head into Sovngarde to meet your destiny.
Find out how to defeat Alduin
Gain admittance to the Hall of Valor
Talk to the heroes of Sovngarde
Head north, past Nords who are panicked by the sight of Alduin. Once the fog sets in, use the Shout- Clear Skies to open up your field of view for a little while. Find the Hall of Valor to the north and approach Tsun. Tell him you look to enter and he will challenge you to a duel for the right of entry. You only have to bring his health to 1/3 when he halts the fight and lets you pass. Explore the area if you want; if you are into the Skyrim mythology, you will recognize the names a number of dead warriors from long ago. Speak with Ysgramor and he will tell you that three warriors wish to help you fight Alduin: Gormlaith the Fearless, Hakon the Valiant, and Felldit the Old. These were the fierce warriors that you saw in your Elder Scroll vision, the ones who banished him the first time. Hopefully with your help, they can kill him permanently.
Help the heroes of Sovngarde dispel Alduin’s mist
Speak to Tsun to return to Skyrim
Head out of the Hall of Valor and out into the foggy clearing. You must use the Shout- Clear Skies with your companions until the weather clears and Alduin descends upon you. Use the same techniques this time as what you did the last time: use Dragonrend as much as possible and assist wherever you feel the most comfortable. Remember that Alduin is invincible unless he is under the influence of Shout- Dragonrend, and he will often choose the advantage of air attacks unless you bring him down. After he is defeated, speak with Tsun to learn a new Shout- Call of Valor and returns you to Skyrim. There is nothing more to find in Sovngarde, but take one more look around if you want. Unless you’re a Nord, your soul may never return to this place again.
You now return and find out that the dragons are still in Skyrim, but they can no longer follow Alduin. Many of them fly away, one of them being Paarthurnax if you didn’t kill him previously. After he leaves you can wait for him to return if you still want to kill him for Esbern and Delphine, and you can return to the Blades after that to complete the quest. Meanwhile, Shout- Call Dragon can now summon Odahviing whenever you choose.
You have now completed the Main Story of The Elder Scrolls V- Skyrim, so get working on the other questlines such as the Dark Brotherhood, Thieves Guild, College of Winterhold, or any of the Daedric Quests. There’s hundreds of more hours of gameplay, you just need to know where to look!
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Dragon Priest Mask Locations (kingtoko.wordpress.com)
- An (Un)Biased Review of The Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim (elderscrollsv-skyrim.com)
- GR Pick: ‘The Elder Scrolls’ Story In 2 Minutes (gamerant.com)
- The Elder Scrolls V : Skyrim (wesfublog.wordpress.com)
- Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Books #03 Surfeit of Thieves (kingtoko.wordpress.com)