Oblivion:Confront the King

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Find the King of Worms and end the Necromancers' attacks on the Mages Guild.
Quest Giver: Arch-Mage Traven at the Arcane University
Location(s): Arcane University, Echo Cave
Prerequisite Quest: Ambush
Next Quest: Alchemy Acquisitions
Reward: Promotion to Arch-Mage and Staff of Worms
Fame/Infamy: Fame +3
ID: MG18KingofWorms

Quick Walkthrough[edit]

  1. Traven promotes you to Arch-Mage and then soul traps himself into the Colossal Black Soul Gem.
  2. Take the gem and travel to Echo Cave.
  3. Make your way through the cave until you reach Mannimarco.
  4. Talk with him for a while, then kill him.
  5. Return to the University triumphant. The Arch-Mage's quarters are yours!

Detailed Walkthrough[edit]

Traven's Sacrifice[edit]

When you are ready, speak with Traven about tasks, he will say: "Are you truly prepared for this task? I cannot be certain what awaits you, but I am sure we will not speak again after you begin." If you change your mind about starting yet, he will urge you to hurry: "There is little time. Please prepare yourself as quickly as possible. The entire guild depends on you."

This task starts off unlike any other mission that Traven has given you. He explains that Mannimarco intended the Colossal Black Soul Gem for Traven's own soul and that you will grant his wish; by carrying the filled soul gem, you will be immune to Mannimarco's attempts to turn you into a Worm Thrall:

"Then hear me, and hear me well. Mannimarco will have what he seeks, but it will be his undoing at your hands. With this gem in your possession, you will be impervious to his attempt to enthrall you. When he fails, that is when you shall strike. When we are done speaking, you will take this gem, you will then seek out Mannimarco, and destroy him. Get to him anyway you can. It is your only hope for defeating him. I have full confidence in you, and so I leave the guild in your care. When I am gone, you will be recognized as Arch-Mage and leader of the Guild. Lead your fellow mages, and lead them well. The future rests on your shoulders. Farewell, my friend."

After promoting you to Arch-Mage he will mark Mannimarco's location at Echo Cave on your map then commit suicide by casting a soul trap and fire damage spell upon himself and soul trapping his soul into the Colossal Black Soul Gem. You may then loot his corpse for anything you want, including the Filled Black Soul Gem. You must then proceed to deal with Mannimarco. See bugs for potential problems with this sequence.

The King of Worms[edit]

Take the soul gem from Traven's corpse and head to Echo Cave far north of the Imperial City, just west of Bruma. At the entrance to the cave you'll be greeted by a necromancer, a Dunmer named Bolor Savel, who says that he has the key to the cave and that he will relinquish it only in death. Prove him right and take the key from his body. Make your way through the caverns, encountering quite a few necromancers. The cave is fairly linear - just follow the compass.

Mannimarco, the King of Worms, can be found in the large room in the Necromancer's Chamber. A finger-bone style railing will pop up and surround the island. Mannimarco then "paralyzes" you and approaches to talk. He explains his fascination with the souls of powerful individuals and expresses disappointment that Traven did not come personally. Eventually he'll try to claim your soul and turn you into a Worm Thrall:

"I see Bolor was unsuccessful in delaying you. Very well. I shall reanimate him once we are done here. Perhaps we shall chat for a while, since you really have no other options? I must say, I expected Arch-Mage Traven, rather than his star pupil. I am disappointed to see that he could not face me himself. I have met so many of his predecessors over the years. I developed a particular fondness for Galerion, ill-preserved though he may be. But here you are instead. Skilled enough to make it this far, which speaks volumes about you. Perhaps you'll be as useful to me as Traven would."
I'll never help you!
"Oh, my dear, I didn't mean to imply that you have a choice. I will make you another in a long tradition of Worm Thralls, and take my time in studying you. Your very soul will be forfeit to me."
I'll serve you if you spare me.
"I'm afraid you misunderstand. I already have more servants than I need. Your body will be preserved as a Worm Thrall. Your soul is mine; I intend to study both to learn more about the source of your power."

Either leads to:

"Power, my dear friend. I seek power, and so I acquire and study those who have some degree of it. We are after the same things, your guild and I. Yet you worry about 'good' and 'evil' and do not accept they are manifestations of the same thing. So you brand me a villain, and make vain attempts to destroy me. I watch, and I wait, and I collect you when you come for me. Instead of drawing Traven out, I have received you instead. Perhaps I shall personally go and collect him when we are done here."

He will then turn hostile and proceed to attack you. Despite Mannimarco being a powerful Necromancer, he will often forget about his magic and simply attack you with his dagger. He has a fairly typical array of necromancer spells, and he can conjure powerful undead minions to aid him. You might want to summon something of your own to serve as a distraction. Kill him any way you like - this may take a while as he's essentially immune to most normal attacks or the attacks of summoned creatures. As an Altmer he is vulnerable to magical attacks so - fittingly - the most appropriate way to finish him may be a magical duel.

If you have trouble with this fight, jump into the water and he will not be able to attack you. This will give you time to recover and think of a new strategy. You will need to explore underwater to find a secret tunnel to get out of the water though, so a water breathing spell or clothing item is recommended.

Return Victorious[edit]

Once you have slain Mannimarco, should you return to the university, Raminus Polus will greet you upon your triumphant return:

"Arch-Mage! You have returned! Mannimarco has been defeated? I can hardly believe it! The King of Worms is no more! I... I received a note from Arch-Mage Traven. I know what he did for us, and that he selected you to take his place. I will mourn for him during my own, private time. For now, I cannot help but rejoice. You have brought safety to the guild, and I thank you. I have already sent word to all the local guild halls that you are now in charge. Congratulations, Arch-Mage."

You are now the head of the guild and may take advantage of some perks, including access to the top room in the tower, which can now be used as a house.

Benefits of Being the Arch-Mage[edit]

  • As Arch-Mage, you now have a few benefits that go with your position. This includes the Arch-Mage's quarters in the Arch-Mage's Tower. The quarters include their own spell making and enchanting apparatus.
  • Caution: The drawers at the end of the Arch-Mage's bed reset themselves periodically, so storing items here is not advised. The nightstand next to the bed does not respawn but still has scripts on it so again it is not sensible to store items in it.
  • After speaking with Raminus Polus about an ingredient collection, you will receive a mini-quest known as "Alchemy Acquisitions" that gives you access to an enchanted chest for duplicating alchemical ingredients.
  • As Arch-Mage, you can ask any of the Mage Apprentices at the Arcane University to follow you. Talk to any of them and they will ask you if they can help. You can ask them to follow you or tell them to go back to their lessons. There will be up to five apprentices willing to follow you; however, only one can follow you at a time. If you ask another, he will state that he's "busy right now".
  • If you have already completed Misdirection, Hrormir's Icestaff will be sitting at the foot of the bed when you enter the Arch-Mage's Quarters; picking it up at this point is not a crime. You can also find the note from the Gray Fox in the night stand. Activating the night stand again will remove the note from your inventory.
  • As Arch-Mage, it is impossible to be expelled permanently from the Mages' Guild. You only receive a normal bounty for the crime you committed.


  • Although Traven tells you that he is promoting you to Arch-Mage at the beginning of the quest, and you receive a Journal entry to that effect, your actual promotion to Arch-Mage will not take place until you complete the quest by talking with Raminus Polus after killing Mannimarco. Until then, your rank will still be Master Wizard.
  • The King of Worms' Robes are unlike standard Necromancer's Robes. Mages will still talk to you when you wear the King of Worms' Robes.
  • During Mannimarco's speech, he implies that he has reanimated the body of Vanus Galerion - the founder of the Mages Guild - and studies it frequently.
  • Even after you have been promoted to Arch-Mage, the Battlemages in the Arcane University grounds may still refer to you as "the Arcane University's newest addition", and the Mage Scholars will still rudely dismiss your attempts to converse with them.
  • On Xbox An achievement will be unlocked upon reporting back to Raminus.


  • Killing Bolor Savel without speaking to him first may result in his death being considered a murder.
  • Mannimarco sometimes cannot be hit even after completing his speech. Not even NPCs allied with you (or at least hostile to Mannimarco) will be able to hurt him.
    • On PC You can use the Console commands: prid 16488 followed by setghost 0
    • You can try to exit the dungeon and wait 3 days, allowing for the cell to reset.[verification needed — see talk page]
    • Otherwise, you can also try reloading an old save.
    • If no amount of re-loading fixes the problem, try drowning him. When Mannimarco starts attacking you, run to the edge along the water and push him into it. Jump in after him, enable some type of Water Breathing effect, and then, either force him or lure him into the underwater tunnel. In the tunnel, block all his attacks until he drowns. Wait until you get confirmation that you have killed him.
    • Alternatively, kill him through fall damage. When Mannimarco starts attacking you, run to Echo Passages then out to the Jerall Mountains and run up a hill and run down. Both you and Mannimarco will receive fall damage, so make sure to bring healing potions and spells. Repeat as needed until he dies and you get confirmation that you have killed him.
    • Another way is to reflect his own attacks back to him. Use either Reflect Damage and/or Reflect Spell, though Reflect Spell is usually better, since he is a mage. He will have one random Restoration spell, but if you are lucky it will not be a Restore Health spell; otherwise he will stop attacking and heal himself.
    • This bug may be linked to the chameleon effect. Load a save prior to speaking with Bolor Savel and remove all chameleon effects. You may re-equip, re-cast, etc. any chameleon effects after Mannimarco becomes hostile.
  • It is possible that the bone railings will not rise after Mannimarco's speech.
  • If you don't kill Mannimarco yourself (e.g. he is killed by a summoned creature or by reflected magic) the bone railings surrounding his island don't always go down again, and you could be stuck inside. ?
    • Lure Mannimarco back over the bridge you came on. Then, when the bone fingers come up, you will be on the right side.
    • Go behind the curtain. By doing this, you can actually squeeze around the end of the bone fingers at the left of the altar as you face it. Then jump over onto the land. If you fell in the water, you'll need to swim out of the tunnel at the opposite end of the room.
  • It is possible that the bone railings will rise with you outside of them before Mannimarco's speech. If this happens, jump on top of the cauldron filled with skulls and you can jump over the railings.
  • Sometimes Hannibal Traven does not sacrifice himself. If reloading an earlier save results in the same, pickpocket Traven for the Filled Colossal Black Soul Gem (be sure not to get caught, or you will be kicked out of the Mages Guild), or proceed without the gem, as technically you don't need it. Continue with the quest as normal. When you return to the Mages Guild, Traven will be gone and you will be Arch-Mage.
  • The Colossal Black Soul Gem given to you by Traven sometimes will not disappear or let you drop it after the quest is completed. Technically you don't need the gem. You can just leave it on Traven's corpse, so it doesn't get stuck in your inventory. You will not be able to drop the Echo Cave Key either.
  • If Mannimarco misses you with his ranged-bolt paralyze spell for whatever reason (dodging, jumping, etc) he will return to where he was standing without being aggressive, sometimes passing comments about the player's presence. You can then pickpocket (or reverse-pickpocket) him, stealing his Staff of Worms. Directly activating/speaking with him resumes the plot as normal. If he likewise misses with the second spell (Enthrall) the same behavior as above will result. Speaking with him resets his dialogue, as before.
  • If you kill Mannimarco before he talks to you, you could get stuck as though the game is waiting for his speech to begin. You can fix this by reloading a previous save.

Journal Entries[edit]

Confront the King (MG18KingofWorms)
Stage Finishes Quest Journal Entry
10 Hannibal Traven has promoted me to Arch-Mage, and has tasked me with stopping the King of Worms. I need to take the Black Soul Gem to Echo Cave and confront him.
20 I've arrived at Echo Cave, and have gained access to Mannimarco's lair. I need to find him inside, and put an end to him.
30 I have killed the King of Worms. I should return to the Arcane University to announce his defeat.
100 Finishes quest☑ Raminus Polus thanked me for putting an end to the King of Worms, and has recognized me as Arch-Mage of the Mages' Guild.
  • Not all Journal Entries may appear in your journal; which entries appear and which entries do not depends on the manner in which the quest is done.
  • Stages are not always in order of progress. This is usually the case with quests that have multiple possible outcomes or quests where certain tasks may be done in random order.
  • If an entry is marked as "Finishes Quest" it means the quest disappears from the Active Quest list, but you may still receive new entries for that quest.
  • On PC It is possible to use the console to advance through the quest by entering setstage MG18KingofWorms stage, where stage is the number of the stage you wish to complete. It is not possible to un-complete (i.e. go back) quest stages. See SetStage for more information.
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