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After completing 'The Lost Expedition', a courier will come to you after 2-3 days with a note from Calcelmo. Reading the note will start the quest. This quest consists of three paths that can all be done at a given time. However, certain parts are dependent on other parts. For this reason the walkthrough is split into each of the three branches. The given order here avoids back-tracking to a previous dungeon.

Walkthrough

Seek out and speak to Calcelmo

Note: You must have the letter from Calcelmo in your inventory for him to speak with you about the quest. The letter is not marked as a quest item, so it's possible to have disposed of it; in this case, re-add it using the console command player.additem xx236d5b 1 (where xx is the location of Legacy of the Dragonborn in your mod list).

Read Calcelmo's research notes

Reading the research notes will give you three leads, from here on out split up into Alftand, Xrib and Irkngthand

Alftand

Check the library at the Winterhold college

Search the library for any books on the snow elves or dwemer

There are three books lying on small shelves. Read all three. The names of the books are: Interesting Book On the Dwemer, Unique Book About the Dwemer and Rare Book Concerning the Dwemer

Talk to Urag again

Read Dwemer History and Culture

Ask Urag for another book

Read The Falmer: A Study

Talk to Urag again

Urag will talk to his assistant. This stage can seem to get stuck. If it won't progress on it's own, talk to Urag again and then run outside. Once outside, the quest should update to the next stage.

Look for the Synod mage at Mzulft

He's Dead Jim...

Dead Synod mage

Travel to Mzulft. The synod mage went into the supply room. There is a tunnel behind the Aetherium shard leading to a room full of spiders and a dead Synod mage. Loot his body to get the key to the traveler's chest.

Find the Synod's chest

The chest is back in the storage room, open it up and take the book.

Read 'Fall of the Snow Elves' by Hyminae Whippet.

Read the book: The Fall of the Snow Elves

Investigate the area around Alftand

The quest marker might point towards the top tower, the game is sometimes confused at that specific tower. Your goal is a frozen over door just north of the lower tower entrance. Any fire spell will easily melt the ice and grant access.

Alftland refugee annex local map

local map entrance

Door ice blocked

frozen door

Find the hidden artifact

Blue dwemer currators key location
Once inside a Ghost will call you and repeatably call for you to follow her.

She'll run directly to a room where there are multiple empty Dwemer Curator's Keys on the shelves and one charged blue one. You want to take an empty one and the blue one with you. The ghost will disappear once she has brought you to the keys.

Continue further into the area into a large multi-leveled round room. On the bottom floor there is a empty display case, the artifact you're looking for has been taken by one of the Falmer that dwell this area. Dispose of them and take the Staff recovered from Alftand from them.

When leaving a Shade will appear and attack you.

Deliver the staff you found in the forgotten Annex at Alftand to Calcelmo

This stage can't be completed until all three artifacts have been collected.

Temple of Xrib

Visit the temple of the Divines in Solitude

Search the Temple of the Divines for clues

Talk to Freir and ask her about Xrib, you can either pay her 50 gold or refuse.

Check the Temple of the Divine's book archive

The book archive is left of the shrines, depending on if you paid the bribe or not you can either just take the book or need to steal it.

Read the Encyclopedia Bretonica Vol 9

Ask Calcelmo about his entries in the Encyclopedia Bretonica

Return to Calcelmo after reading the book.

Find Calcelmo's book

The book is on a shelf in a side room of his Dwemer museum.

Investigate the temple of Xrib

Go to the Sightless pit and drop down until you see the door.

Find the hidden artifact

Key charger green
Again the Ghost will call you to follow her. She'll disappear once you reached the Key charger. Put a Empty Dwemer Curator's Key in the charger, after a few seconds a green key will be added to your inventory. If you do not have a key yet you will have to come back here after getting one. Be sure to take a right before opening the green door by switching the lever against the wall. This will open up a path with a lot of pipes, at the end is a chest with Black Ice.
Refugee annex artifact room
Open the green door and continue further until you reach a large room with two centurions. Inside this room are two display cases. To open them press the corresponding button on top of the stairs. One contains the Staff recovered from Xrib and the other holds Sunblessed.

When leaving you'll once again be attacked by a Shade.

Deliver the staff you found in the Temple of Xrib to Calcelmo

This stage can't be completed until all three artifacts have been collected.

Irkngthand

Investigate Irkngthand

Much ado about snow elves irk annex

Blue door blocks your way, continue following your other leads

Much ado blue door
Pretty early in you'll stumble across a door with a blue light shining across it. Here you will need the Blue Dwemer Curator's Key from Alftand to continue.

Continue exploring Irkngthand descent

You will reach a large cavern similar to Bthardamz. Be sure to jump to the ruined tower on the right which contains a chest with Winter Storm. Deeper in again a door will block your passage, here the green Dwemer Curator's Key you had to charge in Xrib will be needed.

Irkngthand buttons to open displays

At the end is a large room with three display cases, one is broken. The other two contain Staff recovered from Irkingthand and Rising Dawn. The buttons are on the top level, one of them requires that you stick close to the wall to walk over to it.

Deliver the staff you found in the ruins of Irkngthand to Calcelmo

With the last staff found, continue towards the exit, the Ghost will call you to follow her and lead you into a icy chamber. However this time the Ghost will change into a Snow Elf Shade and attack you. The battle can take a while as she will regenerate and must be killed a total of 5 times. After she is finally defeated she'll transform back to her Ghostly self and you'll get the Friend of the Falmer spell.

Find a way out of the icy chamber

To get out of the room melt the patch of ice in front of the ramp using a fire spell. Under the water is a lever to open the gate. However be sure to melt the other patch too, as at the bottom is a chest containing Wraith's Bite.

Go up the ramp and behind the chest is a door leading directly back to the exit. The quest ends here; however the Deliver the staffs parts stay open.

Return to Calcelmo

Bring Calcelmo the three staves, as a reward he'll give you Snowfall.

A few days after bringing Calcelmo the Staves a courier will approach carrying a letter from Calcelmo; the upgraded versions of the Staves can then be found in the Hall of Lost Empires

Quest Stages

Much Ado About Snow Elves (DBM_MuchAdoAboutSnowElves)
Stage Journal Entry
1 [Technical Stage - After prerequisite quests completed this quest will start via story manager and wait 24 hours before giving the courier the letter to deliver.]
5 "Calcelmo of Markarth has sent me a letter requesting my help with his research into some ancient Falmer artifacts found in Dwemer ruins. I should go to his research lab in Understone Keep."

Objective 5: Seek out and speak to Calcelmo

10 "Calcelmo has given me his research notes which should shed some light on and offer good leads on discovering the truth about the lost elven race. I'll have a read through them."

Objective 10: Read Calcelmo's research notes

[Technical Stage - First note is release from Alias and can now be dropped]

15 "Calcelmo's notes were very hard to follow but I now have a few leads. The notes suggest one of the artifacts can be found in or around the Dwemer ruin of Irkngthand. There is also reference to a god figure name Xrib. The priests at the Temple of the Divines in Solitude might know more about it. There is also the Arcanaeum at the Winterhold college which should have some information on the exodus of the Snow Elves."

Objective 100: Ask at the Temple of the Divines in Solitude about Xrib

Objective 200: Check the Arcanaeum at The College of Winterhold for books about the Snow Elves

Objective 300: Investigate Irkngthand

[Technical Stage - Unlocks door to Irkngthand Refugee Annex, adds Encyclopaedia Bretonica to Tenple of Divines bookcase.]

100 "I refused to "donate" to Freir, so I will have to search for clues about Xrib on my own. There must be something stashed away somewhere in the temple."

Objective 102: Search the Temple of the Divines for any useful research materials

Objective 103: Find a way to convince Freir to help

101 "I have made a "contribution" to Freir who has suggested I look at the temple's book archive for the information on Xrib I am looking for."

Objective 101: Check the Book Archive in Temple of the Divines

[Technical Step - Unlocks Archive cabinet and sets ownership to player.]

102 "While searching the Temple of the Divines I came across a weird looking teddy bear that appears to belong to Freir. When I picked it up a bottle of Skooma fell out of its stuffing. Perhaps I can use it as leverage to get information from her?"

Objective 104: Show Freir the Pookie Bear

110 "I found a copy of the Encyclopedia Bretonica Volume 9 in the archive of the Temple of the Divines which seems to have entries about Xrib. It looks like Calcelmo has made notations in the book. I should ask him about it for more details."

Objective 110: Ask Calcelmo about his entries in the Encyclopedia Bretonica

[Technical Stage - Waits 20 seconds and if the player didn't take the book, adds it to their inventory automatically. Clears Freir as an alias.]

120 "I have spoken to Calcelmo about his notes in the Encyclopedia Bretonica. He has sent me to find his copy of Legacy of the Dwemer Paragons in his Dwemer Museum for further information."

Objective 120: Find Calcelmo's book Legacy of the Dwemer Paragons

130 "Finally! The Legacy of the Dwemer Paragons has shed some light on the existence of the Temple of Xrib deep beneath the Sightless Pit near Winterhold. I should seek out a potential artifact there."

Objective 130: Search for an entrace to the Temple of Xrib in the Sightless Pit

[Technical Stage - Unlock Xrib Annex door and remove wall blocking exit route.]

140 "I've located the Refugee Annex near the temple of Xrib. There should be a relic located somewhere in the ruins."

Objective 140: Search the Xrib Refugee Annex for an artifact

200 "Urag, the librarian in Winterhold has suggested searching the library on my own for the information I need. I should check the bookshelves around the library."

Objective 201: Search the Arcanaeum for any relevant texts on Ancient Falmer or Dwemer

[Technical Stage - Enables 3 books around the library.]

201 "I have found several unusual books concerning the Dwemer but nothing that seems very useful. I should give them to Urag so he knows that this is NOT what I am looking for. Perhaps he will then have some other ideas on where to look."

Objective 202: Talk to Urag again and give him the 3 odd Dwemer books

202 "Urag has given me a copy of Dwemer History and Culture. Perhaps the clues I seek lie within."

Objective 203: Read Urag's copy of Dwemer History and Culture

203 "Dwemer History and Culture did not have the insights I had hoped for. I should ask Urag again for more leads."

Objective 204: Ask Urag for another book

204 "Urag has given me another book to read. This time it's The Falmer: A study. I hope it has the clues I am looking for."

Objective 205: Read Urag's copy of The Falmer: A Study

205 "The book, The Falmer: A Study didn't have the clues I need. I'm starting to doubt that the library possesses anything that I need on the subject. I suppose I'll have to ask Urag again."

Objective 206: Talk to Urag again

206 "The book, The Falmer: A Study didn't have the clues I need. I'm starting to doubt that the library possesses anything that I need on the subject. I suppose I'll have to ask Urag again."

[Technical Stage - Trigger scene between Urag and Ertzebet]

207 "Urag finally had a clue about some books which ended up being "borrowed" by some Synod mage. His assistant Ertzebet confirmed that they had come by and were asking about Mzulft. I should check out the Dwemer ruins there to see if I can locate the misplaced books."

Objective 207: Look for the Synod mage at Mzulft

[Technical Stage - Enable Synod corpse, key and chest in Mzulft. Add key to corpse. Clear Urag and Ertzebet from aliases.]

210 "I found the remains of a Synod mage who had a travel chest key on him. Hopefully the chest this key goes to will contain the missing books I am looking for."

Objective 210: Find the Synod's chest

220 "I found the Synod travel chest which contained the missing book entitled Fall of the Snow Elves by Hyminae Whippet. The book indicates the presence of an artifact in or around the ruins of Alftand. Finally a lead I can follow up on."

Objective 220: Investigate the area around Alftand

[Technical Stage - Unlock Alftand Annex.]

230 "I managed to get into Alftand Refugee District by melting the ice covering the door. There should be a hidden artifact inside."

Objective 230: Find the hidden artifact in Alftand

300 "My progress in Irkngthand is halted by a glowing blue sealed door. I should continue following another lead until I can find a way through it."

Objective 310: A sealed blue door blocks the way, continue following your other leads

310 "A mysterious ghost led me to a Blue Dwemer key in the ruins of Alftand. There must be a use for it."

Objective 311: Try the Blue Dwemer key on the locked door in Irkngthand

OR

Objective 312: Find a use for the Blue Dwemer key

315 "I've gotten past the blue sealed door in Irkngthand. I should continue to explore the Refugee District for any signs of an artefact."

Objective 315: Continue into Irkngthand

320 "My progress in Irkngthand is halted by a glowing green sealed door. I should continue following another lead until I can find a way through it."

Objective 320: A sealed green door blocks the way, continue following your other leads

325 "A mysterious ghost helped me to charge a Green Dwemer key, but the green door here is already open. There must be a use for it elsewhere."

Objective 321: Try the Green Dwemer key on the second locked door in Irkngthand

OR

Objective 322: Find a use for the Green Dwemer key

330 "I've gotten past the two sealed doors in Irkngthand. I should continue to explore the Refugee District for any signs of an artefact."

Objective 325: Locate the artifact in Irkngthand

398 "I followed a mysterious Snow Elf ghost through Irkngthand. It lead me to a chamber where it transformed into a shade which attacked me. I managed to bring peace to the ghost, but I am now trapped in this chamber. I need to find a way out before I freeze to death."

Objective 398: Escape the icy chamber

399

"What have I seen these past days? The Falmer betrayed, their souls screaming for vengeance... A Snow Elf ghost, now vanished, but leaving behind a power to walk among her diminished race. Will I ever know the reason? Will I ever see her again?"

400 "I've discovered a rare Snow Elven staff in the Temple of Xrib. I should return it to Calcelmo and see what he thinks."

Objective 400: Deliver the staff you found in the Temple of Xrib to Calcelmo

401 "I have given Calcelmo the staff I found in the Temple of Xrib and he rewarded me with gold. I should continue following my remaining leads to see what other mysteries I can uncover."

[Technical Stage - Checks if stages 403 and 405 have completed and if so moves to stage 410.]

402 "I've discovered a rare Snow Elven staff in Alftand. I should return it to Calcelmo and see what he thinks."

Objective 402: Deliver the staff you found in Alftand to Calcelmo

403 "I have given Calcelmo the staff I found in Aftland and he rewarded me with gold. I should continue following my remaining leads to see what other mysteries I can uncover."

[Technical Stage - Checks if stages 401 and 405 have completed and if so moves to stage 410]

404 "I've discovered a rare Snow Elven staff in Irkngthand. I should return it to Calcelmo and see what he thinks."

Objective 404: Deliver the staff you found in Irkngthand to Calcelmo

405 "I have given Calcelmo the staff I found in Irkngthand and he rewarded me with gold. I should continue following my remaining leads to see what other mysteries I can uncover."

[Technical Stage - Checks if stages 401 and 403 have completed and if so moves to stage 410.]

410 "I've completed my work for Calcelmo and returned three Snow Elf staves to him to aid his research."
450 "What have I seen these past days? The Falmer betrayed, their souls screaming for vengeance... A Snow Elf ghost, now vanished, but leaving behind a power to walk among her diminished race. Will I ever know the reason? Will I ever see her again?"

[Technical Stage - Completes all objectives, registers for 24 hour update which will give the courier the final note. Completes quest from the log at this point.]

500 "Calcelmo has sent me another message to notify me that he has donated the Ancient Falmer Staves to the Dragonborn Gallery in Solitude."

[Technical Stage - Enables the displays in Hall of Lost Empires.]