Online:Narsis Dren

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Narsis Dren
Location Exile's Barrow, Dreloth Ancestral Tomb, Solitude
Race Dunmer Gender Male
Health 39959
Reaction Friendly
Narsis Dren in Glass Style armor

Narsis Dren is a famous Dunmer adventurer and author. He is first mentioned by Valinka Stoneheaver and Karamel Little-Leaf in their hireling correspondence, and can be met in person at several locations.

He can be located inside Exile's Barrow in Wrothgar, within Dreloth Ancestral Tomb on Vvardenfell, and in Solitude in Western Skyrim.

Related Quests[edit]

Quest-Related Events[edit]

Draugr Dilemma[edit]

Speak to Borfree Dull-Blade outside the barrow, and he'll express concern that his employer has not returned from exploring the area. A short ways inside the barrow, you'll notice a sarcophagus. Examine it and suddenly the lid will pop open:

Narsis Dren: "That was … unexpected. Never had a lid get stuck like that while I was … ah … investigating."
"It's a good thing you happened by! And in an old barrow, no less!
But tell me, are you a simple admirer or a true devotee of my work?"
I'm looking for Narsis Dren.
"How wonderful for you, for you have found him!
So tell me, do you want me to sign one of my books or have you come to watch a real adventurer at work?"
Actually, I was asked to check on you and make sure you were all right.
"Why wouldn't I be all right? I am the great Narsis Dren, after all!
Still, I'm always willing to show a novice adventurer the ropes. Forward, my friend, and together we will deal with the draugr of this barrow! After you!"
Do you have a plan to send the draugr back to their rest?
"A plan? Narsis Dren always has a plan. Haven't you read my books?
Of course, it's a work in progress. I'm sure it involves locating the main burial chamber and finding a switch or lever. In my experience, it's always a switch or lever. Now, onward!"

He'll now begin following you around, letting you take the lead (and damage). If you speak to him, he'll say:

"I'll follow along and critique your adventuring skills. I like to stand back so I can take in every minute detail, but I'll be close enough to provide guidance and advice.
Never fear, however. Since you're assisting me, my usual fee won't apply."
What made you decide to help the Orcs with their draugr problem?
"What are you suggesting? I'm just doing what any famous adventurer and treasure hunter would do in this situation. It's my … sacred duty!
To imply anything else would be slander, my friend."
I'm only saying that it's a good thing you happened by when you did.
"Well, yes, I see what you mean. But coincidence has always been the dungeon delver's closest ally. And I was hoping to get a look in this barrow when I … noticed that the draugr were active.
For some reason."

Enter the large central room and Dren will get excited:

Narsis Dren: "What a spacious chamber! It's most likely the primary tomb's antechamber."
Narsis Dren: "Look at those pillars! This barrow is definitely from an earlier period than the ones I've explored in Skyrim!"
Narsis Dren: "That large door must lead to the main burial chamber! I am, after all, quite familiar with this sort of thing."
Narsis Dren: "The carving on this pillar! I think it's some sort of switch. How exciting!"
Narsis Dren: "Hmm. I wonder what happens if I press it?"

Dren presses the panel with no result:

Narsis Dren: "That's strange. Usually when I press something, something happens …."
Narsis Dren: "Ah, this panel is broken. That must be the key. Yes, I'm sure it is!"
Narsis Dren: "A number of these carvings are broken. Yes, yes, I see what we must do."
"I think …. Yes, I'm sure it is! This must be the primary tomb's antechamber! Look at that artwork! Definitely from the Nord neo-strife period!
If this place follows the usual construction, the main burial chamber is right behind that door!"
Any idea about how we open the door?
"It's what we in the adventuring trade call a puzzle lock. When we solve the puzzle, the door unlocks.
But look! Three of the stone panels are broken. We need to find the missing chunks before we can solve the puzzle and open the tomb."

During your exploration, Dren will constant interject combat advise as you deal with the occupants of the barrow:

  • Narsis Dren: "Aim for the knee! Aim for the knee!"

In the next room, as you fight off the mobs of draugr, Dren will squeal:

Narsis Dren: "Don't mind me. I'll just go and examine that panel!"
"Well, isn't this intriguing? Look at the attention to detail, the complex composition ….
I can tell that a dedicated artist created this work!"
What do you think the image represents?
"Isn't it obvious? The dragon and the dragon priest destroyed a mountain!
Hmm. But from this angle, it looks more like they're building or restoring something. The imagery of the neo-strife period can be very confusing to the untrained eye."
Building something? Maybe it commemorates the construction of this barrow.
"Let's not leap to conclusions. Interpreting ancient carvings requires training and experience. A squiggle here or a line placed there can change the entire meaning.
Let's look around. There might be a broken panel piece nearby."

Try to speak to him again and he'll only say:

"The broken pieces for the three panels must be around here somewhere. Let's explore the eastern and southern portions of the barrow and see if we can find them."

In the southern room, he'll see another panel:

Narsis Dren: "Oooo, another Nord carving! I must get closer and examine it!"
"I'm going to be the envy of Nord scholars everywhere! These carved images are simply remarkable!"
What do you think this one means?
"Something, something … praying? Some grand ceremony? Clearly that's the dragon priest … something, something …. Ascension. I think."
You have no idea, do you?
"Oh, how little you know me! The dragon died, the priest killed himself, and his followers sealed themselves in this barrow, making the whole place disappear into the mists of time. Ta-dah!
Now, let's find the missing puzzle pieces and finish this."

In the eastern barrow, he'll find yet another panel:

Narsis Dren: "Look! Ancient artwork, just like in the antechamber! How exciting!"
"Isn't it remarkable? I love finding this kind of stuff!"
What is it?
"This kind of sculpture is called a relief. Look how the images seem to rise out of the very stone!
I think it's meant to tell some sort of story …."
What do you think it means?
"Now, this is purely conjecture on my part, but if I interpret the image correctly, it depicts the Narsis Dren of his day. Look at how his admirers worship him!
Either that or it's a dragon priest celebrating some sort of triumph or victory."
A dragon priest?
"In days of old, the dragons ruled the world through their powerful servants, the dragon priests. Now that I think about it, this could depict the time of the Dragon War.
Let's find more of these remarkable images and see what else they can tell us."

Make your way to the last panel:

Narsis Dren: "Deal with any ruffians, if you would! I see more artwork to examine!"
"I must determine how to safely remove one of these wonderful depictions!"
What does this panel reveal?
"This appears to show the dragon, the dragon priest, and their followers going on some sort of trip.
Perhaps it was a quest. Or a pleasurable excursion into the countryside? I'm not sure. They do seem a bit grim."
Maybe that shows them making the journey to this land?
"Good suggestion, but it's difficult to know for certain. To convey complex ideas such as an exodus with a single image is harder than you think.
Let's look around. We might find one of the missing pieces for the tomb lock around here."

Pick up the last broken piece:

Narsis Dren: "Back to the tomb door! That puzzle lock is as good as solved!"

Dren runs back to the main chamber. Catch up with him:

"Ah, there you are! Take the broken pieces and see if you can fit them back into their panels!"

Do as he asks and he'll be delighted with your success:

Narsis Dren: "Well done! You're turning out to be one of the best assistants I've ever had! Now press the panels in the proper sequence."

Speak to him and you can ask what he knows about the panels:

"If you can determine the proper order of the story these panels tell, that's probably the key to solving the puzzle!"
"I must admit, I usually wind up solving these things through a lot of trial and error."
"We're almost there! You can do it! I have the utmost faith in you!"
I'm not sure what order the panels should be pressed, are you?
"Ah, this is a test of our observational skills. I, of course, quickly ascertained that these large pillars show a part of each of the reliefs we examined. The reliefs tell a story.
Come now, I'm sure you can figure it out without any help from me."

Before solving the first panel, he'll give you a clue:


A second clue:

Which relief showed the second part of the tale?
"I think it was a parade of sorts. No wait, a journey? Well, they were going somewhere. And they were traveling with a dragon.
I always wanted to own my own dragon …."

A third clue:

Which relief showed the third part of the story?
"Weren't you paying attention?
Let me see. That was the one where they were building a grand home for the dragon and his priest, if I recall. The Nords love their stonework! Not at all like the graceful curves of Morrowind architecture."

The fourth clue:

Do you remember anything about the fourth panel?
"At this point, I imagine there's only one panel remaining, so you do the math.
Honestly, what do they teach young adventurers these days?"

Pressing a wrong panel will elicit:

Narsis Dren: "Nothing happened. If you must guess, at least try to guess correctly."
Narsis Dren: "Remember, each bas-relief told a different part of the full story."
Narsis Dren: "Not everyone fully grasps the intricacies of solving puzzles. But go ahead and give it another try."
Narsis Dren: "Puzzle locks can be tricky. Go ahead and give it another try."

With success, Dren will yell:

Narsis Dren: "You did it! This way!"

Follow Dren into the Main Burial Chamber:

"You really do have a knack for adventuring! Are you ready to look upon the grandeur of a dragon priest's tomb?"
What do you think we'll find in here?
"Could be anything! This is why we travel, why we face the dangers. We want to see the sights that those possessed of a more timid nature can only dream of!
You go first. I wouldn't want to deprive you of the experience."
Have you been in barrows like this before?
"Narsis Dren has explored many a barrow!
For example, there's usually a treasure vault next to the dragon priest's tomb. There might even be a guardian, but I'm sure the dragon priest is long gone."
I thought we were looking for a way to return the draugr to their rest.
"Well, yes. Of course we are. I'm sure something inside the tomb holds the key to solving this dilemma. And hopefully it also holds the key to the treasure vault as well!
Now onward, my stalwart assistant. Onward!"

Make your way into the room and defeat the draugr:

Narsis Dren: "Look at this place! Amazing! Simply amazing!"

Next defeat Arthosiis the dragon priest:

Narsis Dren: "Good work with the dragon priest! Now let me just … aha!"

Dren will run up to the altar:

Narsis Dren: "Keys! I knew it! The treasure vault awaits!"

In the next room you can hear the sound of tumblers:

Narsis Dren: "That's it! I can hear the locks turning. Come on!"

Inside the vault:

Narsis Dren: "I knew there was a vault in this barrow!"
Narsis Dren: "Look at all these treasures! I'm beside myself with elation!"
Narsis Dren: "It must be around here somewhere …."
Narsis Dren: "Come to Narsis Dren, you ancient beauty! This will increase my reputation a thousandfold!"
Narsis Dren: "Well, this has been a most profit … exciting adventure. You did quite well, my able assistant!"
"That was exhilarating! I'd say we're done here. Another profitable adventure for the famous Narsis Dren!"
All this trouble so you could loot a barrow?
"But it's a dragon priest mask! An early one, no less! It will be a crowning glory in my vast collection!
Besides, Narsis Dren does not loot. He searches, he explores, he entertains. And I couldn't have done it without your help!"
You're a fraud. And it's your fault the draugr were awakened.
"A fraud? What a hurtful thing to say! And it wasn't my—oh, all right. Perhaps my initial investigation caused a bit of a problem. But now that the dragon priest has been vanquished, the problem will take care of itself.
All's well that ends well."
I think I hear another dragon priest! Quick, hide! <Trick Narsis>
You should tell the villagers the truth.
Narsis Dren: "Tell the villagers? Certainly! They'll want to hear all about how Narsis Dren saved the day!"
<Dren runs out of the tomb>

Outside, Borfree will tell you that Dren has gone to the village. Arrive at the village just as Dren is finishing his tale:

Narsis Dren: "With lightning reflexes, I flung a pair of daggers, dropping two of the foul creatures."
Narsis Dren: "Ah, here comes my able apprentice, who distracted the third draugr while I solved the tricky puzzle lock."
Narsis Dren: "Have no fear. I'll continue my tale momentarily. I need to speak to my apprentice."
"We did good work today, my friend! You should be proud!
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to finish my tale and then accept compensation from my adoring public!"
That's quite a tale you were telling the village.
"Every story needs a little embellishment. Surely you've read my books? I know how to hold an audience's attention!"
I can't believe you're going to profit from this when it was all your fault.
"The draugr dilemma? That was an unfortunate accident. But I acquired a rare dragon priest mask. And the draugr have begun returning to their slumber. All thanks to my efforts.
And with your help, of course."
[Persuade] You got the dragon mask. These poor villagers deserve some gold for the trouble you caused them.
"Very well, if you insist. I'll speak to Mazgroth. But don't think this makes you better than me, do-gooder. I knew you weren't cut out for adventuring the moment I saw you.
And you know this means I won't be mentioning you in my next book."
I think Mazgroth deserves to hear the true story of what happened in the barrow.
"Very well, if you insist. But it won't make any difference, do-gooder. My version of the tale is more exciting. You're just going to come across as petty and jealous.
Now off with you. And don't expect a mention in my next book."
"You're really going to tell the truth, aren't you? That's … appalling!"

After speaking to Mazgroth you'll find that Dren has left to find another adventure.

A Treasure in Need of a Home[edit]

While you're exploring Exile's Barrow, you'll come across a collection of ancient Nord relics of unknown provenance. Dren will comment:

  • "As the senior member of this expedition, I get first choice of the valuable items."
  • "Take whatever you want, but don't ask me to carry anything!"
  • "Don't we have better things to do than examine every piece of junk you come across?"

You can ask him what he thinks about it:

I found this relic. Does it have any historical value?
"Let me see … well, it's certainly ancient, but it's hardly interesting. Good for scholars, perhaps, but not adventurers such as you and I.
My assistant Berrice is a stickler for details and historical accuracy. She loves dull things like that."
I'll speak to her, then.

Ancestral Adversity[edit]

Dreloth Ancestral Tomb[edit]

You meet Narsis's assistant outside of Dreloth Ancestral Tomb. She asks you to enter the tomb and assist Narsis with his expedition.

Upon entering the tomb, you will encounter Narsis:

Narsis Dren: "Not so loud! That creature in the next chamber is a tricky one."
<Looks you over.>
Narsis Dren: "You must be my new apprentice! Well, lets start the lesson, shall we?"

Talk with him to see what he needs about to ask about the tomb:

First time meeting:
If you met Narsis Dren previously in Wrothgar:
"Can you smell it? The dust of ancient Elves permeates the very air of this old tomb.
Ooh, that's a good phrase. I must remember it for my next book! But tell me, what brings you to this lonely place?"
"Hmm. You look familiar. Let me think. The cave full of nereids? The incident with Morella the Cruel and the Mephala cultists? No, no. I remember. The draugr incident! We helped the Orcs out of a jam, as I recall.
What brings you down here, friend?"
Your assistant, Elfbetta, sent me to check on you.
"Assistant? Oh, you mean that young Nord woman who's been hanging about? Very kind of her, but Narsis Dren doesn't need to be coddled!
I'm in the middle of a very important undertaking. There's more to this old tomb than meets the eye!"
What's so special about this tomb?
"According to an old scroll I discovered, this tomb was built atop two older structures. Imagine, secret chambers that haven't been opened in centuries! And the family died out ages ago. No one to contest my findings.
Except that creature over there."
Elfbetta mentioned an old scroll, too.
"She did, did she? Probably told you she found it. Well, I had to translate it. And from the ancient Elven, no less! Difficult, even for me.
Before I could begin my investigation, however, that creature over there appeared to harass me!"
Tell me more about this creature.
"It's a sneaky one. Silent as a tomb and twice as deadly. Even its shadow is terrifying, but it won't get the jump on Narsis Dren!
Slip into the chamber and see what its intentions are. I'll wait here, poised to leap to your aid as necessary."
You seem to have weathered the Exile's Barrow incident without too much trouble. (Option if previously met Narsis in Wrothgar)
"It takes more than a few shambling corpses to stop the formidable Narsis Dren!
Come to think of it, I seem to remember that you weren't as helpful as I'd hoped once we got into that ancient Nord barrow. There was a sarcophagus, as I recall …."
Did you write a book about that adventure?
"Hmm? Oh, yes. My most popular volume to date! "Narsis Dren and the Draugr Dilemma." Surprised you haven't read it. It's captivating!
Help me get through this tomb and I'll let you have a copy—at a substantial discount!"
Very well, I'll go look

Investigating reveals the creature is just a tiny spider feasting on a dead scamp with a lantern next to is projecting its shadow onto the nearby wall.

Narsis Dren:"I knew there was nothing to worry about."
Narsis Dren:"Now lead on, my stalwart companion! this tomb won't explore itself"

Upon reaching the end of the tomb, it will be rather plain and small:

Narsis Dren:"This isn't what I expected. It's rather ... Small."

Speaking with him, he'll consult the scroll:

"This isn't right. Where's the treasure vault? The hidden chambers? This tomb deeply disappoints Narsis Dren."
What were you expecting to find here?
"Something more interesting than a boring burial chamber.
This ancient scroll indicates that if you honor the ancestors, they reveal … I can't quite make out this word. I'm having a hard time translating some of these old idioms."
Vvardenfell has a lot of tombs. Are you sure this is the correct one?
"Are you questioning my expertise? Ancient Elven is like a second language to me and scholars across Tamriel revere my ability to make sense of historic gibberish!
Still, I could check my notes again, just to be sure …."
Why don't you do that.

At this you can watch Narsis puzzle it out:

Narsis Dren: "Hmm, let me see. This squiggle means "tomb" …."
Narsis Dren: "Oh, wait That's "V," not "D."
Narsis Dren: "Veloth tomb! Ooh, what's this button do?"
<He presses the nearby button and a monster is summoned.>
Narsis Dren: "Deal with that, will you? Then talk to Elfbetta outside!"

Veloth Ancestral Tomb[edit]

Upon arriving at Veloth Ancestral Tomb, Elfbetta asks you to enter the tomb to look for Narsis. You will soon come across a locked door and a familiar voice:

Locked Door: "Hello? is someone out there? I seem to have locked myself in!"
"Who's out there? No, never mind. I don't care. I just want to get out of here.
It's dark and it's cramped and it smells like an Argonian's armpit."
How did you get locked in there?
"I recognize that voice! I knew you'd come and find me! As for my current predicament, how was I supposed to know it was a trap? The door slammed shut and locked behind me!
So, do a Dark Elf a favor and open the door like a good apprentice. Please."
How do I open the door?
"There's probably a button or something nearby. In my experience, there's always something pushable. I remember seeing Daedric symbols on plates along the wall.
Try pushing a button that's divisible by three. Three has always been lucky for me."
Divisible by three?
"Now you're just trying to prolong my agony!
Divisible by three! Try pushing the sixth panel from the left. Or the third panel. Or maybe the eight panel. Any of the panels in a position that's divisible by three!"

After working out the puzzle, Narsis will be freed:

Narsis Dren:"Another obstacle overcome by the great Narsis Dren!"

Talk with him to see what he wants to do next:

"I find that escaping from an ancient trap really gets the heart pumping—provided it doesn't take too long, of course.
I couldn't have done it without your relatively minor contribution. Thank you."
So are you sure this is the tomb you were looking for?
"Indeed. Veloth Tomb! Now we need to locate the hidden passages mentioned in the scroll and the relics of Saint Veloth will be mine! Um, to write about in my next book, of course.
Stick close, apprentice. These tombs can be dangerous to the unwary."
What should we look for?
"I could tell you, but I work on an instinctual level. I know relics of historical value when I see them.
Apprentice, you lead the way. I expect that locked door was the worst this tomb has in store for us. It's smooth sailing from here, I'm certain!"
What about the hidden passages?
"Ah, yes, the old scroll. It did mention hidden passages. That's what attracted me in the first place. So, I'll look for relics and hidden passages while you keep an eye out for any unexpected dangers.
See? We make a great team, apprentice!"
You think Saint Veloth is buried here?
"Saint Veloth? Perhaps. It's more likely he's buried in his shrine in Deshaan. This is the family tomb. Did I tell you my mother traces her lineage to this noble line?
Whatever we're going to find, it won't happen if we keep standing here. So …."
  • Saint Veloth's shrine is in Deshaan? (If you have not completed A Saint Asunder)
"One of them. And it's one of the larger and more significant ones, too. You should visit the place if you're ever in that part of the world.
Now, I'd really like to get on with the exploring if you don't mind."
"And I've chatted with the shade of my Great Aunt Attivinia. She was as unpleasant in death as she was in life.
Is there a point to regaling me with the story of your minor exploits?"
Just that the shrine contains the saints bones and other relics.
"Of course it did. Probably had his preserved toe for good measure. I'm not interested in bones. I'm looking for blessed relics sent as gifts to his beloved family. Heirlooms they buried with them in this tomb. Can we get to the exploring now, please?"
All right, let's look around.

Along the way through the tomb, he will comment on the various things he finds:

Narsis Dren: "Ooh! This might be Veloth's long sought after right pauldron!"
Narsis Dren: "Remarkable hanging. Early Second Era perhaps?"
Narsis Dren: "Ah! The main chamber must be down these stairs!"

Upon entering the burial chamber:

Narsis Dren:"Now, this is a burial chamber! We just need to find the entrance to the hidden passages."

Talk to him to ask about the secret passage and the tomb:

"According to the old scroll, there's a secret entrance that leads to the hidden passages somewhere in this chamber."
How do we find the secret entrance?
"I don't see an obvious lever or switch. That's too bad. Examine anything that looks unusual. That harp for instance. That's an odd accouterment [sic] for a burial chamber.
I also spot an old tome strategically placed for our reference. Interesting …."
Why am I examining the unusual items exactly?
"I need to supervise! You are my apprentice, after all. Now get down there and find the hidden passage.
Only the richest, most well-to-do families could afford to hide their true resting places so that no one could disturb or defile them. Imagine!"
But aren't we disturbing them?
"Historical research isn't defilement! It's … enriching the knowledge of future generations. My calling is noble and above reproach. It says so in my very first book!
Now, go find that entrance!"

While solving the puzzle, he will provide commentary:

Narsis Dren:"I doubt there's anything related to Saint Veloth in this chamber."
Narsis Dren:"Still, the inscription on that pedestal might reveal something. do give it a look, apprentice."
Narsis Dren:"Perhaps that dusty old tome will suggest suitable offerings. Dust makes me sneeze, so you should take a look."

Speak to him and he'll add: W:"Do you require supervision already? Very well, let me ponder the particulars ….
My instincts tell me you should look for some sort of ancient inscription. Or maybe you should just read that book over there."

After you read the inscription:

"More advice? Very well.
It's obvious from the inscription that we need to honor the memory of these departed souls by making appropriate offerings to each. That book over there may provide additional clues if you need them."

After you pick up the four items:

"Don't you just love exploring ancient places? I must admit I have a fondness for antiques and enticing mysteries. But not Old Lady Ezira. She's too old and mysterious even for my tastes!"

As you progress:

Narsis Dren:"The brazier ignited. That's a good sign."
Narsis Dren:"You're a natural! Although, I suppose my mentoring has honed your talent."
Narsis Dren:"Happy to see the ancestors aren't materializing. I find ghosts to be rather boorish."

Completing the puzzle:

Narsis Dren:"Oh well done! Perhaps I should charge for my tutelage?

Speaking to him afterwards, he'll suggest using the harp:

"Yes, yes, you figured out which offerings pleased the ancestors. Makes you feel all tingly inside, doesn't it?
But I still don't see an entrance to the hidden passages. Didn't the inscription mention something about a harp?"

Upon playing the harp the passage opens:

Narsis Dren:"We did it! On to the Undertomb, apprentice!"
Narsis Dren:"No dawdling, apprentice! There's treasure nearby, I can practically smell it!"

Speaking with him before descending into the Undertomb:

"Isn't it exciting? We're the first living creatures to set foot down here in more than a hundred years! This will definitely get an entire chapter in my next book!"
You were right. A hidden passage led to an older section of the tomb.
"And that surprises you? Haven't you read my books? This is very similar to that time I unearthed the secret chambers of the <aster Thief of Elsweyr.
A pity my apprentice on that excursion refused to heed my advice. Walked right into a nasty trap."
What do you suggest we do next?
"We search! You lead the way while I watch for the tell-tale signs of a valuable item of historical significance. Hopefully even a relic of Saint Veloth himself!
This is the part where our adventure gets really exciting!"
How do you recognize items of historic significance?
"Oh, that's a skill I developed. Finely honed in the heat of battle—both metaphorical and physical!
So lead on, my erstwhile apprentice. And do watch for any guardians or traps that might be waiting in hiding."
Is that why you always want me to go first?
"Going first? That's an honor I wouldn't dream of denying you! And I'll be right behind you, offering advice and watching for opportunities to teach valuable lessons.
You won't get this kind of education at any university or academy."
Is that what you told your apprentice in Elsweyr?
"Something along those lines. But he was too eager, running ahead before I could offer him the advantage of my experience.
You don't seem to have that quirk. In face, quite the opposite. It seems like you want to stand here and talk forever."
Very well, let's go.

Along the way through the tomb, there will be hostile undead to fight off. Soon Narsis will come across a treasure:

Narsis Dren:"Hmm. Nothing important in there."
Narsis Dren:"An ornate coffer! I'll take a look while you deal with any other issues that may arise."
Narsis Dren:"Keep your eyes peeled for traps, apprentice!"

While you make your way through, you can ask him about the scroll again:

"Pity that old scroll didn't include some sort of map."
Where did your assistant find that old scroll?
"You keep bringing up that strange Nord woman. I believe she said she found the scroll at a shop in Sadrith Mora. Once she noticed the ancient Elven, she brought it to me straight away."
So you'll share credit for this discovery with Elfbetta?
"What? No, of course not. She'll get a thank you, in the fine print. But I translated the scroll. I braved the dangers of the tomb. I did all the hard work.
With some help from you. Which I will gladly acknowledge when I write this thrilling tale."

Narsis will they run ahead again:

Narsis Dren:"I'm sure you can handle this!"
Narsis Dren:"Well, that's not something you see every day. Great opportunity for you to impress me, though."
Narsis Dren:"I believe I see the treasure vault on the other side of this chamber!"
Narsis Dren:"Away, foul creatures!"
Narsis Dren:"The Bracelet of Indrel Veloth, I'm sure of it!"

Narsis runs ahead and becomes trapped behind another door trap:

"Damn these trapped spaces and their tempting gaps! I hate to be a bother, but could you get me out of here please?"
You seem to have a knack for getting into tight situations.
"So good of you to notice! I'm quite proud of my ability to turn any situation into a dramatic scene for my next book!
Anyway, I believe you'll find another series of wall plates to push in that chamber to my right."
I could just leave you in there.
"That's a rather ungrateful attitude after I graciously agreed to take you under my wing! If you don't let me out, however, we won;t be able to use the key I found in here. I'm quite certain it opens the way into the next section of the tomb."
There's another section?
"Almost certainly! The scroll clearly described a final treasure vault, and we haven't come across anything like that yet.
So, do a Dark Elf a favor and go push a wall plate. It's the second one from the left. Or is it the right?"
All right, I'll see if the wall plates will open this door.

If the wrong button is pressed the trap will give Narsis a shock:

Narsis Dren:"Ow! Something just shocked me!"
Narsis Dren:"Ow! What are you doing out there?"
Narsis Dren:"All right, that was just mean!"
Narsis Dren:"Ouch! Try pushing the correct button this time!"
Narsis Dren:"Yow! You did that on purpose, didn't you?"

Upon releasing Narsis from the trap:

Narsis Dren:"I found a jeweled glove and a sturdy key! Let's see if it opens the way into the next section of the tomb."
<He uses the key.>
Narsis Dren:"Ah, sweet freedom! Onward!"

Continuing through the tomb, you will need to fight off the undead:

Narsis Dren:"You deal with this. I wouldn't want to deny you a chance to demonstrate your impressive combat prowess."
Narsis Dren:"So many spirits! Why they prefer tombs like this is beyond me!"

Upon reaching the tile puzzle room:

Narsis Dren:"Tiles set in the floor. I've seen this before."
Narsis Dren:"Panels on the walls. Do you see any differences?"
Narsis Dren:"I suppose the order is important, but a few of the panels have fallen into disrepair"

Talking to him about the puzzle:

"Think of the stone tiles set into the floor as a giant locking mechanism. We just need to determine the proper combination to open the way forward.
Of course, there's probably some kind on conundrum built in."
You've dealt with a puzzle like this before?
"Of course! But no two puzzles are ever exactly the same.
The scroll describe a proper path to ancient honors. Or was it to honor the ancients? No matter, close enough. We just need to determine the correct order in which to walk the stone tiles."
What happens if we get it wrong?
"That's where the conundrum comes in.
Check the panels on the wall and see if they provide any insights. I'll supervise and run through the Huge Catalog of Adventure Obstacles and How to Counteract Them. I memorized it for just such situations."
Well, let me know if you think of something.

As you press tiles, he'll comment:

Narsis Dren: "That's it! Just step in the proper order and the way will be opened!"
Narsis Dren: "Did you see that flash of gold? A blessing from Saint Veloth for sure!"

After completing the puzzle, he will grab the golden skull:

Narsis Dren: "Come to Narsis, you beautiful golden head, you!"
Narsis Dren: "And look, another passage opens! That will lead to the treasure vault, most assuredly!"

Talking to him about the skull, he will ignore your suggestions of leaving it alone:

"I'm just guessing, mind you, but I dare say that skull belonged to a son or grandson of Saint Veloth! What a spectacular discovery!"
Maybe you should have left the skull where you found it?
"Nonsense! Did you see it? Emeralds for eyes, covered in gold. It's better than anything in my collection.
Don't let odd sounds disturb you. I learned long ago to just hum the tune to the Red Mountain drinking song and keep moving forward."
But the skull was hidden behind a gate, with magic protecting it from people like us.
"There are no people like us! We solved the puzzle and uncovered the secret. You did all the work, of course, but I had it figured out the moment we entered the chamber. I was ready to help if you needed it.
Now, let's see what's waiting inside."
Very well, let's continue on.
Narsis Dren: "To the ancient crypt! My next book is going to be a trilogy for sure!"

Inside the tomb:

Narsis Dren: "Well, this isn't at all what I expected."
Narsis Dren: "This place is ancient. These must be Veloth's earliest ancestors."
Narsis Dren: "I'll perform a thorough historical examination while you … deal with any inconveniences that happen our way."

As you fight off any enemies, he'll remark:

Narsis Dren: "I expected your technique to be a little more graceful than that."

Come to Matriarch Rathila and he'll say:

Narsis Dren: "Oh dear, I don't like the look of this. I'm sure you can manage."
Narsis Dren: "Aim for vital parts! They have to have vital parts!"

Once the Bone Colossus is down, he'll move on:

Narsis Dren: "Ancient stairs! Those often lead to ancient treasures!"

Upon reaching the "treasure vault", Narsis is disappointed:

Narsis Dren: "This is disappointing. Where's all the treasure?"
Narsis Dren: "Nothing but some broken crates and an old well!"
Narsis Dren: "Narsis Dren never fails like this. I blame you, apprentice!"
"My translation was nearly perfect, so how could this be? where are the relics? The treasure? There's nothing here but some busted old crates and a decrepit old well!"
I guess that old scroll was wrong.
"No, that's impossible. Ancient scrolls lead to discovery and treasure, not disappointment!
I blame you, apprentice. You obviously don't have the attitude and temperament necessary to make great discoveries. You've ruined my expedition!"
Wasn't it worth it just for the adventure?
"Isn't that a noble sentiment! But noble sentiments don't pay the bills or sell my books!
You wouldn't understand. You have no sense of what it takes to do what Narsis Dren does. You're nothing more than an … apprentice."
I'm sure you can make it sound good when you write it.
"Bend the truth for dramatic effect? Unconventional, but it would be a shame to disappoint my adoring readers with a lackluster ending ….
You know, I like the way you think, apprentice!"
[verification needed — see talk page]
Your adoring readers will devour that story, Narsis.
Narsis Dren: "I can't wait to write this all down. To my camp, apprentice!"

Outside, you'll hear:

Narsis Dren: "I can't wait to write this all down. To my camp, apprentice!"
Narsis Dren: "This expedition might make for my most exciting tale yet! That was probably Saint Veloth's mother!"
Elfbetta the Shy: "Oh Narsis, that's wonderful news! I can't wait to read it!"
Narsis Dren: "That will have to wait. I must get to Vivec City. I'll leave it to you to compensate my trusty assistant."

Narsis will run off without another word.

Didn't I read somewhere that the Chimer hid treasure in their wells? [Trick Narsis]
"Of Course! Narsis Dren and the Well of Gold! One of my earliest adventures! Why didn't I think of that?
I take back everything I said. You are a good apprentice! Now, let's see what they hid away in that old well …."
You might want to get a closer look.

Narsis walks over to the well and looks inside:

Narsis Dren:"I think you're right, apprentice. There's no water down there. And I definitely see a gleam of gold!"

At the prompt, push Narsis into the well.

Narsis Dren: "Hey!"
Narsis Dren: "I assume that was a mistake on your part!"
Narsis Dren: "I reiterate my earlier observation. You're a terrible apprentice!"
Narsis Dren: "Hello? Is anyone there? A little help please?"

You can then meet Elfbetta outside.

Divine Blessings[edit]

If you have completed the Ancestral Adversity quest prior to the conclusion of Vvardenfell's main quest, Narsis will be present at the Temple Canton in Vivec City for Vivec's award ceremony during the quest Divine Blessings:

If the player pushed Narsis down the well:

"Oh, it's you. Well, I suppose any friend of Lord Vivec's can be forgiven for inadvertently pushing a famous author and explorer into a dank, dark well.
Just understand that I will not be mentioning you in my next book."

If the player didn't push Narsis down the well:

missing dialogue
Appears only with Greymoor

The Maelmoth Mysterium[edit]

A Peculiar Bottle[edit]

Narsis Dren as the Peculiar Bottle

The Peculiar Bottle can be found in multiple places around Solitude, such as down a back alley or in the inn. When you are in speaking distance, a high pitched and tinny voice will appear to emerge from the bottle.

"Borfree, is that you? Listen closely, you insufferable clod! I need you to find my notes and—
Wait. You're not Borfree. I can tell from the lack of heavy breathing and sniffles. Who are you?"
I'm <Character Name>. Are you … stuck in a bottle?
"Stuck in the bottle? No, no, no. This is a devious and very stubborn illusion. One that you now have the privilege of breaking!
I was conducting some research, you see, and inadvertently triggered this spell. Luckily, I know how to reverse it."
How do you reverse this spell?
"It's quite simple. I recorded the locations of three verses of a powerful incantation in my journal, on the off chance something like this occurred.
Acquire the verses, come back, and dispel this illusion. I'll make it worth your while, I promise!"
All right, I'll find this incantation and dispel the illusion.
"My assistant, Borfree, has my journal. Find it, read my notes, and acquire the incantation. Also, tell him to come get me. Someone nearly took a swig of me!
Oh, I suppose introductions are in order. I am Narsis Dren—famed historian, etcetera."

At this point you can ask him several important questions. If you also return to speak with him before finding the incantations, he will be snappish.

"You haven't left yet? By the Three ….
Yes, by all means, let's have a bit of chit-chat while I'm afflicted by this ridiculous illusion. Did you bring some tea? I'd offer you some scones and kwama spread if I wasn't, you know … a bottle!"
How exactly did you wind up like this?
"Does it really matter? Every historian worth his salt winds up trapped in an illusion at some point. Very common. And thus, not worthy of discussion or commitment to record.
I will say, though—as magical traps go, Maelmoth's wards are top tier."
Magical traps?
"Indeed. I … acquired a powerful scroll from the Mages Guild. I thought it might direct me to a legendary illusionist's secret sanctum! Unfortunately, reading it led me to this dismal state."
That sounds pretty suspicious. Did you steal this scroll?
"Steal? We're adventurers, aren't we? What you call stealing, I call daring investigation.
Maelmoth's works contain a wealth of secrets. If we don't pursue them, some other historian will. I, for one, have no interest in sharing the glory with—uhm."
Go on. You have no interest in sharing the glory with who?
"Why, with anyone other than you, of course! You really thought I meant to exclude you? You wound me."
Tell me about this incantation. Someone hid the verses?
"Yes. The mage, Maelmoth, hid them all over Solitude. Etched in wood, tucked under cobblestones, and so on. Just another one of his insufferable games.
In retrospect, I probably should have gathered the verses before, you know … all this."
Who is this Maelmoth, anyway?
"Was. Who was he. Past tense.
Maelmoth was one of Skyrim's most gifted illusionists—a contemporary of the great Shalidor, if you can believe it. Of course, he's been dead for hundreds of years now. I'd say his claim to secrecy died long ago."
So he kept a lot of secrets?
"Oh, countless secrets! He was a master illusionist after all. Unfortunately, illusionists always cloak their discoveries in puzzles and traps. Insufferable, if you ask me.
No matter! I never shrink from a challenge of the mind!"
If this is just an illusion, why can't you move?
"Ugh. Illusion magic extends far beyond simple parlor tricks and mirages. Skilled practitioners exert power over the mind itself!
Intellectually, I know I am not a bottle. But the spell fooled some primitive aspect of my psyche into believing I am."
So, you can't move because you believe bottles can't move on their own?
"Precisely. The spell turned my knowledge of the natural sciences against me. Crafty, yes? A lesser intellect might have evaded the trap entirely. How's that for irony?"
Narsis Dren in Western Skyrim

You can then speak with Borfee and read Narsis Dren's Skyrim Journal. After finding the three incantations verses around Solitude, you can return to Borfree's location outside The Lonely Troll and you'll find the Peculiar Bottle resting on a stone wall:

"Hello? Is that you, doughty assistant? Thank Vehk.
You have the incantation, yes? Read it, quickly! You'll be surprised to hear that life as a bottle does not suit me."
Do you think it matters what order I read them in?
"How should I know? I'm a historian, not a hedge wizard.
Just use your best judgement. I have … near-total faith in you."

The three lines are:

  • Pigs, and pigs, and pigs, and pigs, My auntie's fingers, thin as twigs!
  • On the shores of an open sea, hordes of horkers frolic free.
  • Vibrant feathers drift on the wind, my hair grew long but never thinned.

If you get any line wrong he'll say:

"Agh! Wrong line. Wrong line!
Ugh … feels like my head's cracking like a melon! Say something else. Anything else!"
"No, no that's not it! Damn, my ears are ringing! Well not my ears … I don't have any— Oh, you know what I mean! Read a different line!"
"Ow! No, no, no! That's not it. Honestly, how hard is it to read three lines?
Start over if you please!"

If you repeat a wrong line, he'll say:

"Vivec preserve me. You already read that one, you dunderhead! Read the other line third. Crows or somesuch?
Come on, now. I believe in you. Sort of."

However, as you read the lines in the correct order, he'll say:

"Yes! Yes, that's it. I can feel the illusion's grip loosening. Keep going! Read the other lines!"
"I think … yes, I think that's right. I can feel the glass cracking around me! Keep going. Speak the final line!"
"That's it! The glass is fading away …. I'm—Oh!"
Narsis Dren, in the flesh

With the last correct verse, in puffs of green smoke, Dren will emerge:

Narsis Dren: "Finally! Let's see … legs, arms, stylish coiffure. Yes! Looks like everything's as it should be. What a relief."

Maelmoth's Journal and a Cold-Blood Librarian[edit]

Now himself again you can speak with the Narsis Dren, who may recognize you from a previous time.

If you met Narsis Dren previously:
First time meeting:
"Oh, it's you. My under-eager assistant of adventures past. Well, any port in a storm, yes? We need to find Maelmoth's Mysterium quickly!
First, we need his journal. A bullheaded librarian refused to share it with me. Can you believe that?"
"A pleasure to meet you in the flesh. As I said before, I am Narsis Dren. You are … whoever you are. Charmed. Now, to business! We need to find Maelmoth's Mysterium!
First, we need his journal. A librarian refused to share it with me. Ridiculous."

If you ask him how he offended the librarian, he'll say:

What did you do to offend her, Narsis? (Appears if you previously met him)
"Ugh. I'd almost forgotten how cheeky you are.
I might have torn one of the pages. Honestly, you'd barely notice. But you know how librarians are. Spill a drink, or talk too loudly, or rip a few pages and wham! They cast you out on your ear."
Whatever you say. Who is this librarian, exactly?

If you ask him why the librarian didn't lend him the book:

Why didn't the librarian let you borrow Maelmoth's journal?
"Oh, the usual inanities of frumpy book hoarders.
I might have torn one of the pages. Honestly, you'd barely notice. But you know how librarians are. Spill a drink, or talk too loudly, or rip a few pages and wham! They cast you out on your ear."
What can you tell me about the librarian?

Either way, he will continue:

"A prickly Argonian named Deem-Vilax. She works in the Mages Guild library in Solitude.
You lack my ample charisma, it's true, but you do radiate a certain degree of authority. I'm confident you can talk her out of the journal."
So, does this mean we're partners?
"Yes, of course. Narsis Dren is always true to his word.
If you assist me in following the clues laid out in Maelmoth's journal, I will gladly share the wonders of his Mysterium with you."
All right. I'll try to get Maelmoth's journal from this librarian.

As you head to the Mages Guild hall, you can hear Dren berate his servant:

Narsis Dren: "Borfree! Why in Vehk's name did you bring my belongings out onto the street?"
Borfree Dull-Blade: "Master Dren! I'm terribly sorry. I just thought you were hollering so loud, maybe I should let you cool down a bit. And I didn't have any coin for the innkeeper. You, uh … you want some stew?"
Narsis Dren: "I most certainly do not! Gather my effects. We look like deranged indigents out here."

Return after reading the journal and you'll find Dren in front of The Lonely Troll:

"Ah, assistant. It's about time.
So? Any luck with that cold-blooded librarian?"
Yes, she let me borrow the journal.
"Excellent! I must admit, I had my doubts, but you're turning out to be a model employee … er, assistant. Partner. Whatever.
Now, if you'd just hand it over, I can try to untangle Maelmoth's riddles and set us on the right path."
What do you intend to learn from this text, anyway? Deem-Vilax seemed to think Maelmoth was crazy.
"Feh! She would. This text will reveal Maelmoth's Mysterium! His trove of arcane trinkets and treasures!
Now just give me a moment to … yes, I have it. This clearly refers to a meditation grotto near Kilkreath. One of Shalidor's old haunts."
So we're headed to Kilkreath Temple. Fair enough.

Once you have a direction, you can continue to question Narsis about how he found out about Maelmoth's Mysterium.

"To be frank, this seems too good to be true. A single riddle leading to our prize? Too easy. Then again, things often come easy to an adventurer of my caliber.
I have some business to conclude here. I'll meet you at Kilkreath once I'm finished."
How do you know about Maelmoth's Mysterium, anyway?
"How would I not? Ancient mysteries are Narsis Dren's stock-in-trade! No arcane relic or lost antiquity evades my gaze for long.
Surely you've read some of my books? They're best-sellers, assistant. I can get you some at a very reasonable price."
I'll think about it. So, you discovered it all on your own?
"Well, advanced scholarship always involves a bit of give and take. For example, an elderly mage I met in Riften made a … modest contribution.
But make no mistake, it was I who cracked Maelmoth's riddles!"
An elderly mage? Is he looking for Maelmoth's trove, too?
"He was. For a time. Struck me as something of an obsession, if I'm being honest.
Fifty years he's been at this Maelmoth business. Fifty years! Can you imagine? That might be a reasonable period of study for an Elf, but for a Nord? It's untenable!"
So, you encouraged him to let it go?
"Of course I did! What kind of mer would I be if I let that doddering fossil waste his scant remaining years chasing riddles like this? I may be ambitious, but I am never cruel.
I took his notes as a personal and professional courtesy."
Will you credit him in your books if we find Maelmoth's trove?
"Yes, yes, of course. All the credit he deserves.
I am generous with my praise. You'll see soon enough, assistant!"
Narsis observing the projection of Maelmoth

The Meditation Grotto[edit]

When you arrive at the Meditation Grotto near Kilkreath temple, Narsis will enter the area and look around:

Narsis Dren: "Ah, there you are! Yes, I'd say this looks like the right place."
<Walks over to the large lever.>
Narsis Dren: "What's this, then? A lever of some kind?"
Narsis Dren: "Well, you did arrive first. Fair's fair. Go ahead and pull it, won't you?"

Speaking with him beforehand, he will offer some encouragement. From a safe distance away.

"Hesitating? Well, that's a bit uncharacteristic. Honestly, where's your sense of adventure? Go on. Pull the lever.
I'll be right over here if anything happens, so you have nothing to worry about. I'm behind you, assistant. One-hundred percent!"

Pull the lever and a projection of Maelmoth will move from each decorated stone tile to another as a clue of how to solve the puzzle. Dren will immediately take control:

Narsis Dren: "Watch and learn, assistant!"

Narsis Dren does well for the first two tiles then messes up the pattern and gets thrown back to the ground:

Narsis Dren: "Agh. Now that I've … graciously shown you what can go wrong, you give it a try."

If you talk to him to see how he is, he will be out of breath.

"I just … need a moment, assistant. I do hope you appreciate that bit of instruction. Puzzles can … puzzles can really, really hurt. Yet another lesson, free of charge."

When you solve the puzzle a scroll will appear floating above the pedestal

Narsis Dren: "Look, something appeared! A scroll of some kind."

He'll insist it is your turn to read.

"Go on and read it! I've had my fill of enchanted scrolls for now, thank you."

After you read the scroll, you can bring it to him.

"Let me guess—another array of tiresome clues? Ugh. Do you have any idea how many clues I've worked through thus far? That bottle-nonsense from before? That was just one of many chapters in this ridiculous saga!
Enough grousing. Out with it."
The riddle mentions flowers. What do you make of it?
"Ah yes. A reference to his passing fancy with poetry and romance. Was Maelmoth a cunning illusionist? Yes. Was he a master wordsmith? Hardly.
I don't know about the flowers, but this bit about Lady of the Winter Winds likely points to Kyne."
If you are a Nord:
If you are any other race:
Kyne? Godess [sic] of the Storm?
"And the widow of Shor, yes. You know your people's history! What a welcome change of pace.
A shrine dedicated to her lies southeast of here, near Chillwind Depths. We'll probably find Maelmoth's next farce. I'll meet you there."
"Yes. The Nords' storm goddess. I'm not aware of any connections between Kyne and flowers, but an ancient shrine dedicated to her lies southwest of here, near Chillwind Depths. I'll mark it on your map.
Meet me there, all right?"

Either way:

All right, I'll see you there.
"Do not lose heart, assistant.
Yes, these riddles are infuriating, but you know what I always say: the more numerous the puzzles, the more numerous the rewards!"

Kyne's Shrine[edit]

When you arrive at Kyne's Shrine Narsis Dren will already be there, looking at the flower puzzle with distaste:

Narsis Dren: "A path of flower petals? Path to a headache, I'd say. Damn this puzzle!"
<He notices you.>
Narsis Dren: "Ah, assistant! Why don't you take a crack at it?"

Before you arrived he has been having trouble with the riddle.

"Blooms for grieving widows? Dragon's Tongue for ancient throats? Nonsense, the lot of it!"
The riddle seems to focus on flowers and numbers.
"I fail to see how flowers have anything to do with these sconces. Probably a red herring. Very common in this sort of riddle. But don't let me stop you!
Truthfully, I could use a break from all this foolishness."
All right, I'll give it a try.

Talking to him while solving the puzzle.

"Don't you have some flower petals to pluck, or something?
Go on, assistant! Maelmoth's Mysterium awaits!"

If you interact with the illusory flowers in the wrong order, Dren will comment on your progress:

Narsis Dren: "Hmph. There must be a sequence of some kind. Check Maelmoth's riddle again."
Narsis Dren: "One blossom for the kiss at the end. Surely he doesn't expect us to kiss one of these sconces!"
Narsis Dren: "Glad to see I'm not the only one struggling here. Re-read the riddle and try again, assistant!"
Narsis Dren: "Four flowers, two flowers … but six sconces? Ugh. Why must everything be a puzzle?"
Narsis Dren: "Hmm. Incorrect, it seems. Two mountain flowers …. Perhaps there's an order there?"
"And another scroll. What a surprise …."

Complete the sequence correctly and yet another scroll appears:

Narsis Dren: "That did it! And another scroll. What a surprise …."
"Well, go on and read the scroll, assistant. More absurdities await, I'm sure."

After you read the clues from the scroll for the next test, you can bring it to Narsis Dren who is getting sick of the puzzles.

"So? What's next on the agenda? Sorting pigs by ear-size? A guar steak-eating contest? At this point, nothing would surprise me."
The riddle deals with doors.
"Doors, eh? Perhaps we're finally nearing the end of this.
Yes, I see now. This final line about feline faith? It's a clear reference to Sabre Cat's Leap—a rocky precipice southwest of Morthal. I don't know of any doors there, though."
Maelmoth may have conjured door illusions there.
"Ugh. You're probably right. I'll tell you this, though: if these illusory doors lead to nowhere, I will be very put out.
Only one way to know for sure. Make your way to Sabre Cat's Leap. I'll meet you there."
All right, I'll meet you at Sabre Cat's Leap.

If you talk to him before leaving he will worrying about his librarian foe.

"Let's not dawdle, assistant. I don't trust that shifty librarian for a moment. She may have put another historian on Maelmoth's trail, just to thwart me!
No matter. Scaly book hoarders will never get the better of Narsis Dren!"

Sabre Cat's Leap[edit]

Arrive at the Sabre Cat's Leap with its Four Doors puzzle and Dren will take charge yet again:

Narsis Dren: "This puzzle seems easy enough. It's just a matter of simple deduction. Aha! I have it. Observe!"

Dren tries one door and is immediately thrown flat on his back:

Narsis Dren: "Agh!"
<He gets up and limps back.>
Narsis Dren: "No, no, no. I used that one to illustrate the consequences of hasty choices, remember?"

Talk with him to see if he has anymore insights. It is not promising.

"Had you going there for a moment, didn't I? I … I just wanted to illustrate the perils of overconfidence! A critical lesson for dashing heroes like us.
Now, feel free to solve the puzzle. I'll observe … from over here."
Do you have any idea what door is correct?
"Of course I do! But what kind of historian would I be if I robbed my assistants of the opportunity to achieve great things on their own?
Now, enough accusations! You have a puzzle to solve."
Why not give me a clue?
"A clue? Very well …. Uhm. Read the riddle. Only one of these doors is correct!"
That's not a clue. You're just repeating what the riddle said.
"Am I? Or is the riddle simply repeating what I said?"
That doesn't make any sense.
"To you, perhaps! It makes perfect sense to me and my hordes of loyal readers. I did mention that I'm a best-selling writer, didn't I?
Perhaps when you've published some award-winning tomes we can discuss who does and does not make sense!"

Get a door wrong and he'll say:

Narsis Dren: "Wrong! I expect better of my assistants. Try again."

Pick the correct one and the two of you will be transported to Folgunthur Barrow:

Narsis Dren: "At last! Maelmoth's … wait. Another scroll? By the Three. If this isn't the last one, I quit."
"Go on. Better read it now, or I'm liable to put the damned thing to the torch."

Folgunthur Barrow[edit]

After reading the scroll, Dren is already mentally writing a draft of his book.

""What did this note say?" he asked, expecting a ludicrous response …."
It appears to be a practical joke. Touching it unlocked the door to the Mysterium!
"Vehk be praised!
In all my years of study and adventure, I have never faced a more frustrating foe than this idiot, Maelmoth. And he's dead! Can you even imagine how insufferable he must have been while he was alive?"
It's almost over.
"Mercifully, I believe you're right. Naturally, parting company with me will be difficult, but you'll muddle through somehow.
Come on, assistant. Let's bring this farce to a close, shall we?"
All right. Let's go.
Narsis Dren: "The Mysterium awaits! Onward!"
<Dren runs into the ruin.>

Once inside the Barrow you will find it quite small and Dren agrees.

Narsis Dren: "Hmph. Hardly the majestic retreat I was expecting. Wait. Look there! Another door."
<He runs up to the door and examines it.>
Narsis Dren: "Locked. Say, is that a key on the pedestal? Snatch it up quick!"

Aftering defeating the spirit of Maelmoth the Mysterious, you can grab the key and unlock the door:

Narsis Dren: "Not trapped? Good! Now, let's finally get a look at Maelmoth's mysteries!"
"Quickly, assistant! Open the door!"

Enter the vault and Narsis Dren will look around, becoming rapidly disappointed.

Narsis Dren: "At last! Maelmoth's— Wait? What is all this?"
Narsis Dren: "This isn't treasure! This is … junk! Damn that addle-brained wizard! It's just another trick. It has to be!"
Narsis Dren: "Ah! Look there. A book! Step lively, assistant. Have a look at that tome while I piece this together."
<He notices a strange tile in the middle of the room.>
Narsis Dren: "Look there! An X on the floor. A gate of some kind? Hmm."

Once you Maelmoth's Marvelous Masterpiece, you can talk to Dren who will excited to learn what it said.

"One last riddle, assistant! One final test! Then I … we, will reap the rewards!
So, tell me. What did Maelmoth's tome reveal?"
The book mentioned several items, but that bottle seemed especially important.
"Of course! How could I have missed such an exquisite antiquity?
Granted, most of these items are worthless trinkets and oddities. But with some modest poetic license, I could turn that bottle into something truly extraordinary for my readers."
Maelmoth certainly went to a lot of effort to hide it.
"A testament to its value, no doubt.
Now, a less experienced historian might be troubled by the comically threatening X on the floor, but we know better. Maelmoth would only place such a symbol to confuse us. Right? Right. It's perfectly safe!"
Narsis being turned back into a bottle
Narsis on display in Solitude Mages Guild

While he assures himself, you have a choice. You can either neglect to tell him the bottle is another illusion trap:

<Lie> You're right, of course. Go ahead and take the bottle!
"Yes! There's a good assistant!
After all that Maelmoth put us through, I … we deserve this!"
We absolutely do.
Narsis Dren: "Hmm, it is quite fine. Why, this might be cut from diamond!"
Narsis Dren: "Yes, this will make all the nonsense worthwhile, I know it!"

Dren takes the bottle, and in a flash, he's become the bottle once again:

Narsis Dren: "What? No!"
Narsis Dren: "Assistant! Are you there? Damn you, Maelmoth!"
Narsis Dren: "Right. Well. You must be pleased with yourself. Just take me back to Solitude. Ridiculous …."

Return to Deem-Vilax and she'll scoff at your adventures with the famed historian and merely uses the bottle to decorate the guildhall.

The other choice is to tell him the truth:

The tome indicated that if you touch that bottle, you'll trigger another illusion. I wouldn't do it.
"Oh. Oh! Well, yes, of course it would trigger another illusion! I knew that. You passed the test, assistant. Superb reasoning.
And now, we let the grim resignation set in. By the Three, what a waste of time."
So what will you do next?
"Now, I will do what I always do in situations like this. Hyperbolize! With some clever prose and a few creative liberties, I can spin this into a yarn worthy of Narsis Dren.
As for you, I suppose you should return Maelmoth's journal to Deem-Vilax."
Will you include all the mistakes in your book?
"What, your mistakes? No, no. You wound me! I would never cast you in an unflattering light!
No, you'll be a mysterious figure, assisting from far, far, far back in the shadows. A helpful, but discreet partner."

You can then return the journal to Deem-Vilax, who is determined to ban all of Dren's books from her shelves.