Markarth

Online:The Dark Heart

The UESPWiki – Your source for The Elder Scrolls since 1995
Jump to: navigation, search
This page is currently being rewritten as part of the Online Quest Project.
The page is being both written and checked. All users are welcome to make changes to the page. If you make a change that is relevant to the project, please update this template accordingly, and make sure you have observed the project guidelines.


ON-qico-Zone Story.png Search for the truth about the Dark Heart.
Zone: The Reach
Zone StoryThis quest is part of the Zone Story
Quest Giver: Gwendis at Rebel's Retreat or by the Markarth Wayshrine
Location(s): Blackreach: Arkthzand Cavern, Chamber of the Dark Heart, Markarth, Nighthollow Keep
Previous Quest: The Awakening Darkness
Next Quest: A Feast of Souls
Reward: Black Diamond Pendant
1 Skill Point
High Leveled Gold
XP Gain: High XP
ID: 6554
Delve deep beneath the Reach with Count Verandis
Verandis detected a growing concentration of dark energy—Void energy—within Nighthollow Keep. Perhaps we'll find the Dark Heart somewhere within those ancient ruins.


Quick Walkthrough[edit]

  1. Meet with Verandis in front of Nighthollow Keep in Blackreach.
  2. Explore Nighthollow Keep with Verandis.
  3. Investigate Nighthollow Suite.
  4. Head deeper into the keep.
  5. Bypass the ward and traverse the Dark Halls.
  6. Watch the vision by the ancient blade.
  7. Defeat Lord Idrisin.
  8. Talk to Verandis.

Detailed Walkthrough[edit]

You'll accept the quest from Gwendis, who tells you Verandis has been studying the energy you discovered back in the Library. Something has changed, and he needs you to meet him at Nighthollow Keep.

"Verandis has been studying that dark energy down in the Library of Arkthzand. Trying to figure out what Rada al-Saran and Lady Belain have planned. He thinks it might actually be related to the Darkness—the Void!
Isn't that a terrifying thought?"
The Void?
"Look, I'm no scholar. I barely believe in this stuff and I hardly understand it. But the Void is the place outside the places. The darkness beyond Mundus and Oblivion.
Anyway, Verandis felt a change in the currents. He sent me to get you."
A Ghostsong clan witch attempted to awaken the Dark Heart. Arana and I stopped her.
"Well, that would explain it. You might have stopped it from fully awakening, but Verandis says something has changed. Even I could feel it.
Come on. Verandis needs you to meet him at Nighthollow Keep. That's where he traced the dark energy to."
I'll go meet Verandis at Nighthollow Keep.

You can ask her a few more questions before you leave. Nighthollow Keep was once home to an ancient vampire clan known as the Nighthollow. It's full of Void energy, and the inhabitants are naught but feral beasts now. The Nighthollow were one of the clans who established kingdoms beneath Skyrim and the Reach. On the subject of Void energy, Verandis believes it's very dangerous. The shades you saw in the library were caught in this energy and twisted into hungry, hateful shadows. Verandis fears Rada al-Saran seeks to use this energy for some dark purpose.

Go to Nighthollow Keep[edit]

Nighthollow Keep is located in Blackreach, east of the Library of Arkthzand. The Keep inhabits the easternmost section of the cavern, and its wayshrine overlooks it from atop a cliff. You'll find Verandis below the cliff east of the Nighthollow Wayshrine, on the north side of the river in front of the keep. He tells you that he thinks the Dark Heart is nearby as he greets you.

Talk to him and figure out what you're doing here.

"The pockets of energy we discovered in the Library of Arkthzand, they're even stronger here. The Void energy permeates that ancient keep.
I suspect the Dark Heart hides somewhere inside. And I fear that it's growing stronger."
Arana's sister sacrificed much of her clan to attempt to awaken the Dark Heart.
"Interesting. The Dark Heart hasn't fully awakened, but I did feel it stir.
We need to find the Dark Heart, whatever it is, and prevent Rada and Belain from using it. I thought it was a Dwarven artifact, but then why was I drawn to Nighthollow Keep?"
What do you know about Nighthollow Keep?
"Very little, I'm afraid. The whole idea of a kingdom of ancient vampire clans hiding in the depths of Blackreach … I thought it was nothing more than a legend.
Let's explore the keep and see what we can learn while we try to find the Dark Heart."
All right, I'll help you search Nighthollow Keep.

You and Verandis are going to search the keep while Gwendis returns to Markarth to ensure Lady Belain doesn't get the drop on you and enact any plans. Verandis tells you to keep an eye out for personal effects, which he can use the art of auramancy on to learn more about the keep. Items with significant personal value can become imbued with the auras of those who owned them, and Verandis can hopefully use these remnants to learn more about the keep's inhabitants and how the Dark Heart fits into all of this. He doesn't think the Nighthollow are related to Rada al-Saran, but he can't say the same for Lady Belain, as he doesn't know anything about her past.

Explore Nighthollow Keep[edit]

You'll be entering Nighthollow Keep from the front door. Ghosts will phase into being as you approach. The keep's high arched ceilings are clearly of vampiric make. As soon as you enter, you'll encounter a small group of the keep's feral inhabitants. Head north until you reach Nighthollow Study, which lies behind the very first passable door you're going to encounter in the keep. Verandis joins you in the study, and asks you to see if you can find something he can perform auramancy on. You'll find a Cracked Insignia in a coffer near the second row of bookshelves from the entrance, which lies along the central wall to the left. Speak with Verandis about the trinket you found.

"What did you find? My auramancy works best on a personal possession, something with an emotional aura or even an arcane residue clinging to it."
I found some sort of old insignia. Will that work?
"Let me see … hmm. A pity the stone is damaged, but it still retains a trace of a magical aura.
There are different ways to evoke echoes of the past. Objects that people wore or carried tend to collect and hold strong impressions."
Do you know what that insignia is?
"No, but it appears to be a pin or an emblem of some kind. The owner would have worn it on their clothing, close to their body. Good.
Let's see if it has anything to show us. Keep your eyes open and observe."
I'll watch and see what your magic reveals.

Verandis begins casting his spell. A vision of Lady Belain and one Lord Idrisin appears. The latter approaches the former, who is facing the western shelves.

Lord Idrisin: "A gift for me, my love?"

Belain turns and approaches him.

Lady Belain: "I have chosen. Tonight, you and Rhainne will drink from the Dark Heart."
Lord Idrisin: "I have longed for this moment, my lady."
Lady Belain: "Soon you will be a lord of the Nighthollow clan. One of my chosen!"
Count Verandis Ravenwatch: "So Lady Belain did belong to the Nighthollow clan. Interesting …."

Talk to Verandis about what you saw.

"I sensed that Lady Belain was ancient, but the vision confirms she was not only part of the Nighthollow clan—she was their leader! The Dark Heart gets more interesting at every turn. How did they drink from it? For that matter, what did they drink?"
Will any of that help you figure out what the Dark Heart is?
"Yes, but we need more information. I can deduce that the Dark Heart is some sort of power source, that much is obvious. And it's tied to the Void energy we encountered.
Plus, the currents got stronger when Arana's sister sacrificed her clan mates."
Why are the vampires here so different? They're more like crazed monsters than intelligent beings.
"Yes, I noticed that, too. Whether due to the long centuries of isolation or something more sinister, they are shadows of their former selves.
Take the insignia with you and keep exploring. Now that it's charged, more memories may reveal themselves."
I don't understand.
"I cast auramancy upon the insignia. The lingering magic may reveal additional scenes from the past as you explore these halls. Phantasms, really. Harmless.
And keep watch for more void portals. As at Arkthzand, they may help you navigate this place."
I'll look for void portals and watch for memories as I explore.

In summary, Lady Belain was the leader of the Nighthollow Clan. The Dark Heart is some kind of power source that is connected to Void energy. Verandis charged the insignia you showed him with auramancy when he made the vision appear. As you progress through the keep, you may encounter harmless phantoms from the keep's past.

Navigating Nighthollow Keep[edit]

Continue exploring Nighthollow Keep. Head north, go towards the eastern wall in the next room, and take the southern hallway. You'll come across a fork in the road at the end of the hall. The left side contains a lead for the Ring of the Pale Order, but only the path on the right-hand side will allow you to progress. Both sides are blocked off by rocks, but there's a void portal atop the rocky ledge on the path to the right which you can use to pass.

The next room is partially flooded. There's another rocky ledge near the center of this room, which you'll use a Void Portal to climb. You'll immediately find yourself at a fork in the road: the path north leads to a dead end, so you'll want to head south. On your way south, you'll encounter a Nighthollow Shade who complains about being away from the Dark Heart; the hunger she's experiencing is driving her mad.

Another Void Portal lies upon a balcony on the southeastern side of the next room. Use it to progress. Lady Rhainne stands in the middle of the next room. She can use Vampiric Drain, Blood Storm and Nightblade abilities. At 60 and 40% health, she teleports five times. She goes to to all four corners of the room, summoning Shadows each time she disappears. The fifth time she teleports is to put a little bit of distance between her and her fourth summoned Shadow.

Investigating Nighthollow Suite[edit]

The door to the east leads to Nighthollow Suite, a room which is far better preserved than the rest of the keep. You'll meet up with Verandis here. He suggests you have a look around; see if you can find anything worthy of auramancy. There's a Nedic coffer atop a wardrobe in the northwest corner of the room, which contains a Dark Insignia. Speak with Verandis about what you've found.

"My explorations have turned up very little, but it looks like you've had better luck. What did you find?"
I found another insignia. It appears to be undamaged.
"Exactly what I was hoping for. I suspect the Nighthollow nobles wore these as a badge of rank.
Let's see what we can learn with a little more auramancy."
I'll watch while you perform your magic.
Verandis opens a window to the past

After you've spoken to Verandis, he casts a spell, causing another memory to appear. Lady Belain, Lord Idrisin and Lady Rhainne are discussing the Dark Heart.

Lord Idrisin: "We broke through. The way to the Dark Heart is open. "
Lady Belain: "But the Heart falters. Something is wrong."
Lady Rhainne: "The damn Dwarves! If they depleted its energy … ."
Lady Belain: "Seal the Dark Halls. Until the Heart recovers, only those who bear the sign of the inner circle may partake of its gifts."

You need to speak with Verandis after seeing the vision.

"I think I understand what happened to the Nighthollow clan. I suspect Lady Belain is the survivor of a long decline. While the rest of her clan slid into madness, she alone remained to carry on their legacy.
Such a bitter pill for a proud vampire."
What did we just see?
"That memory comes from a later time. The lord spoke of opening a way to the Dark Heart, which implies the Nighthollow lost access to it at some point.
But what are these Dark Halls Lady Belain spoke of? Where can we find them?"
Maybe the Dark Halls lead to the Dark Heart?
"Perhaps. And maybe we have the key. Lady Belain said that only those who bare the sign of the inner circle can utilize the Heart. That must refer to the insignias you found.
Let's look for these Dark Halls."
I'll look for an entrance to the Dark Halls.

Keep moving forward. The path is straightforward, and you won't come across many enemies. A Nighthollow Shade standing at the base of the next staircase laments his condition; he is not one of the clan's nobles, who Lady Belain was granting exclusive access to the Dark Heart. This shade, and others of his low status, were dying because Lady Belain was depriving them of the Dark Heart. Head through the next door to the Grand Chamber of the Nighthollow.

The Grand Chamber is a large room lined on either side with cells full of feral Nighthollow Clansman. When you approach the center of the room, a Nighthollow Voidbringer appears and opens the cells, allowing two waves of two husks to attack you. She has no quest significance, but is an obstacle you will face on your way to the Black Diamond Chamber, which lies at the western end of this hallway.

It seems this Alliance runs deeper than you once thought

You'll find Verandis in the Black Diamond Chamber, standing in front of a door guarded by a bright red ward. He uses auramancy to draw a memory from it.

Rada al-Saran: "A dormant Dark Heart is of little use to us, Belain."
Lady Belain: "It can be awakened, but I need to get the help of the Reach witches."
Rada al-Saran: "Patience, Belain. Not until I restore the Gray Host. Not until we unlock the orrery."
Lady Belain: "More delays! Very well. But the Dark Heart must beat again, Rada al-Saran. Nothing else matters."
Count Verandis Ravenwatch: "It seems Rada came here a long time ago. This is the most recent memory, but it's still centuries old."
The vision at the sword

Speak with Verandis about what you saw.

"Did you see? Rada and Belain made some sort of deal centuries ago. And now the conditions of that deal have almost been fulfilled.
We can't let them fully awaken the Dark Heart!"
Didn't Nathari's sacrifices already awaken the Dark Heart?
"I've been thinking about what you told me. I believe the Ghostsong ritual primed the Dark Heart, opening a path between this world and the Void. The void energy is stronger here, but it lacks direction.
I fear they require a greater sacrifice."
A greater sacrifice?
"Something as powerful as the Dark Heart that's been asleep for millennia may stir from the taste of a few souls, but I suspect it needs a banquet to awaken fully.
Perhaps, if we hurry, it won't come to that."
Lady Belain said she was ready to awaken the Heart centuries ago. Why wait until now?
"Because Rada had not yet raised a new army. And he had other preparations to make, no doubt. Centuries don't matter much to immortal vampires.
Now, hold up the intact insignia. Let's see if we're right and it grants us access to the Dark Halls."

The Dark Halls[edit]

You need to use the insignia you found in the Suite on the door. The insignia is one that belonged to one of the Nighthollow Clan's nobles, so it should grant you access to the halls beyond. Sure enough, using the insignia on the door dispels the ward, and Verandis walks right on inside. Follow him in.

The Dark Heart

At this point, Verandis becomes a follower, and will assist you in battle with protective spells and buffs. You'll find Void Rots, Nighthollow Husks and a Voidmother in the tunnel. At the end of the passage, you'll come across a well-crafted sword. It must have been made with care, and was placed precisely upon the nearby dais. Verandis uses auramancy to draw a memory from it.

Lord Idrisin: "Belain, we're dying. There's nothing you can do."
Lady Belain: "I refuse to accept that, Idrisin. But one of us must remain strong to save the others."
Lady Belain: "I will take the remaining energy from the Dark Heart. It will sustain me until I determine how to make it beat again."
Lord Idrisin: "No, Belain. You know blood no longer sustains us. If you take the last of the Heart's energy, the rest of us will starve …."

Speak with him about the memory.

"How horrible. The Dark Heart gave the Nighthollow unbelievable power, but they were dependent on it. They lost the ability to draw sustenance from blood.
As the Dark Heart slowed and fell into slumber, they became diminished."
Except for Lady Belain.
"It appears that Lady Belain took the last of the void energy for herself. Enough to saturate her and keep her strong through all these long centuries. While the clan around her starved and turned feral."
Rada al-Saran attempts to free the Dark Heart
Couldn't they just go back to feeding on blood like other vampires?
"Apparently not. Feeding on void energy changed them. They lost the ability to take nourishment from the blood of mortals.
I suspect Lady Belain believes that her clan will recover once the Dark Heart begins to beat again. And she's probably correct."
Let's move forward.

If you're a vampire, you can ask an additional question:

Could I free myself of the thirst for blood by drinking from the Dark Heart?
"I admit the thought has crossed my mind. But we would be trading one master for another. Besides, allowing the Dark Heart to awaken … that's not something I want to risk."

You need to use the noble's insignia on the ward to pass through to the Chamber of the Dark Heart.

Verandis fights for control

The Chamber of the Dark Heart[edit]

You'll traverse a short tunnel before you enter a large chamber. You'll find Rada al-Saran and Lady Belain in the Heart Chamber, along with Lord Idrisin and four Nighthollow Husks. Suspended in the air is a cage-like apparatus of Dwarven make, which surrounds a black orb of Void energy.

Lady Belain: "The Dark Heart must be fed! I will see to Markarth."
Count Verandis Ravenwatch: "Rada, no! You must not awaken the Dark Heart!"
Rada al-Saran: "I stopped heeding your advice a long, long time ago, Verandis."
Lady Belain: "Idrisin, slay these meddlers!"
Count Verandis Ravenwatch: "Deal with Lady Belain's minions. I'll try to stop Rada."

Lady Belain teleports away while Rada teleports to a higher rock outcropping and begins to cast a spell on the heart, attempting to destroy its metal bindings.

Rada al-Saran: "Fulfilling an oath and saving my brethren … our brethren. This is the way it must be, Verandis. You'll understand. In time."
The Dark Heart is released from its bindings

Verandis teleports to another platform across from his old friend and tries to counter Rada's magic with a spell of his own. You need to defeat Lord Idrisin and his underlings. The husks accompanying him are very weak, the real threat is Idrisin himself. Stay out of his AoE circles, interrupt him when he attempts to cast a fear spell at you, and keep in mind that he summons four more weak husks when his health falls to 40%.

Once Lord Idrisin falls, you need to join Verandis atop the northwestern platform. Rada manages to destroy the Dark Heart's bindings, setting it free and allowing it to rise. Verandis loses his grip on the Heart, doubling over. Souls pour in through a hole in the ceiling, from Arkthzand's Orrery.

Count Verandis Ravenwatch: "The Dark Heart awakens! I can't stop it!"
Rada al-Saran: "Feed, you heart of darkness! Feed on the souls of Markarth and soon my brethren will be free!"
Count Verandis Ravenwatch: "Those souls … the people of Markarth! Rada … what have you done?"
The Dark Heart feasts

Talk to Verandis about what just happened.

"The Dark Heart. A piece of the primal Void trapped in our world. No wonder it warps the very weave of existence all around it.
Look up. We're directly beneath the Library of Arkthzand. The Dark Heart, it powers the orrery. But to what end?"
What did Rada al-Saran mean, feed on the souls of Markarth?
"The Dark Heart feeds on death. You saw that when the Ghostsong clan was sacrificed. Only he's offering the Heart a much larger feast—all the Reachfolk in Markarth.
He sent Lady Belain there to finish what has undoubtedly already begun."
Ard Caddach called all the clans to take shelter in the city.
"Correct. As part of Lady Belain's peace with the Gray Host. Just another horrible deception.
Let's get out of this place. There may still be a way to save the people of Markarth."
I'll meet you outside.

The lift southwest of Verandis's platform will take you up to Arkthzand. You'll find yourself on a balcony overlooking the Orrery. The dome is glowing blue as souls are being drawn in from the surface en masse. Speak with Verandis to end the quest.

"I now understand the what of our enemy's plan, if not the why of it. Rada had centuries to set this in motion, yet I don't see how the orrery can free the Gray Host.
As for Lady Belain … the Dark Heart beats again. Her Nighthollow are reborn."
So Rada al-Saran and Lady Belain have won?
"No, not yet. Our enemy has gained a momentary success, but now we know the extent of their plans. Knowledge is a powerful weapon, my friend.
This isn't over. We can still pull victory from the Void. Because of you, we still have a chance."

Quest Stages[edit]

The Dark Heart
Finishes Quest Journal Entry
Gwendis asked me to meet Verandis at Nighthollow Keep, an ancient vampire fortress in Blackreach. The Dark Heart may be hidden somewhere inside.
Objective: Go to Nighthollow Keep
I met Verandis on the way to Nighthollow Keep. I should talk to him.
Objective: Talk to Count Verandis Ravenwatch
As we search Nighthollow Keep, Verandis wants me to look for personal objects that he can use his auramancy on to get impressions of what happened here and how it relates to the Dark Heart.
Objective: Explore Nighthollow Keep
Hidden Objective: Main Halls
I wandered into an old study in Nighthollow Keep. I should search it for something Verandis can use to attempt to draw a memory from.
Objective: Search the Nighthollow Study
I found a damaged insignia of some sort in the keep's study. I should ask Verandis whether this is a suitable target for his auramancy.
Objective: Talk to Count Verandis Ravenwatch
Verandis thinks he can coax a memory from the emotional aura clinging to this insignia. I should observe anything that appears.
Objective: Observe the Auramancy Magic
Hidden Objective: Verandis Tries His Magic
The memory conjured from the insignia showed Lady Belain and another Nighthollow vampire talking about drinking from the Dark Heart. I should see what Verandis thinks of this revelation.
Objective: Talk to Count Verandis Ravenwatch
Verandis wants me to continue to explore. While the magic he cast on the damaged insignia might reveal more memories, he wants me to find an undamaged one. He also suggested the place may contain void portals that will help me navigate the keep.
Objective: Explore Nighthollow Keep
Hidden Objective: Kill Lady Rhianne [sic]
I found a relatively undamaged portion of the keep. It looks like a noble's personal chamber. I should search the area for objects that Verandis can cast his auramancy upon.
Objective: Explore the Nighthollow Suite
I found an undamaged insignia in the Nighthollow suite. I should ask Verandis to try his auramancy magic on this new insignia.
Objective: Talk to Count Verandis Ravenwatch
I should watch and see what memory Verandis can draw from the insignia with his auramancy magic.
Objective: Observe the Auramancy Magic
I observed another Nighthollow memory conjured by Verandis's aurumancy. I should talk to Verandis about this latest memory.
Objective: Talk to Count Verandis Ravenwatch
Verandis and I learned that the Nighthollow vampires accessed the Dark Heart through a passage they called the Dark Halls. I should continue to explore the keep in search of this passage.
Objective: Find the Path to the Dark Heart
Hidden Objective: Find the Entrance to the Dark Halls
Verandis and I have found the passage to the Dark Halls, but the way is blocked by powerful magic. Verandis wants to try to draw a memory from this location with his auramancy. I should watch and see what happens.
Objective: Observe the Auramancy Magic
At the entrance to the Dark Halls Verandis conjured an old memory of Rada al-Saran and Lady Belain discussing the Dark Heart. I should talk to Verandis about this latest memory.
Objective: Talk to Count Verandis Ravenwatch
Verandis wants me to use the intact insignia and see if it opens the way to the Dark Halls.
Objective: Dispel the Ward
The way is open. Now to explore the Dark Halls and see if we can find the Dark Heart.
Objective: Explore the Dark Halls
Verandis and I found a small shrine deep in the Dark Halls. The personal items left here seem to be good candidates for his auramancy. I should watch whatever memory Verandis is able to reveal.
Objective: Observe the Auramancy Magic
It appears that when the Dark Heart began to slow many centuries ago, Lady Belain took the last of the power for herself. I should talk to Verandis about this.
Objective: Talk to Count Verandis Ravenwatch
Another magical barrier guards the end of the Dark Halls. I should use the intact insignia to dispel it as I did at the entrance to this passage. The Dark Heart must be close.
Objective: Dispel the Ward
With the last ward dispelled, I should head through the door and try to find the Dark Heart.
Objective: Enter the Dark Heart Chamber
Hidden Objective: Find the Dark Heart Chamber
We reached the chamber containing the Dark Heart, but Rada al-Saran and Lady Belain are already here. While Verandis attempts to stop Rada al-Saran, I need to keep Lady Belain's Nighthollow minions away from him.
Objective: Protect Count Verandis Ravenwatch
Hidden Objective: Rada and Verandis Scene
The Dark Heart has awakened and is rising upward, but Rada al-Sraran [sic] and Lady Belain have gotten away. I should check on Verandis.
Objective: Go to Count Verandis Ravenwatch
The Dark Heart has awakened. I should talk to Verandis and find out what we should do now.
Objective: Talk to Count Verandis Ravenwatch
I need to follow Verandis and leave the Dark Heart chamber.
Objective: Leave the Dark Heart Chamber
☑Finishes quest The lift took me to an overlook across from the Library of Arkthzand. The orrery dome is now glowing. I should talk to Verandis.
Objective: Talk to Count Verandis Ravenwatch
Prev: The Awakening Darkness Up: The Reach Next: Online:A Feast of Souls