After completing the previous quest, First Lessons, you’ll automatically start this one. This page offers a guide on how to complete the Under Saarthal quest in the College of Winterhold story line.
How to Get to Saarthal
This quest is based in Saarthal, which is found southwest of Winterhold. If you follow the path from Winterhold towards Saarthal, you may encounter some enemies such as Bandits, Ice wolves or Ice Wraiths. You can either take them out or run past and hope they lose aggro.
Once you arrive, speak to Tolfdir who’s just outside. You can buy spells from him if you like. If you want to start using magic properly, buying candlelight and stoneflesh tomes could be useful.
Help Arniel Gane find Enchanted Artifacts
After speaking to him, follow Tolfdir into Saarthal and continue to follow him down the steps until he asks you if you have any questions before you proceed. Feel free to exhaust all the dialogue or tell him you’re ready and he’ll ask you to find Arniel Gane and help him out. He’s relatively close, just follow the passage into a larger room then take the exit towards the quest marker.
Once you find Arniel Gane, he’ll ask you to go check out the ruins to the north, and 4 markers appear on the map. Three of them will be enchanted rings, and then the third will be an amulet on the wall. When you pick up the amulet, it’ll trigger a barricade that’ll trap you in the room. Tolfdir and Arnel will come over and tell you to equip the amulet and use your magic spells on the wall where you found the amulet. When you do so, it’ll destroy the wall and allow you to pass through into a hidden area, previously unexplored by the college!
Follow Tolfdir into the secret area and when you arrive at the end of the linear path, you’ll be contacted by the Psijic Order who will warn you of the dangers you’ve unknowingly unleashed. After the mysterious mage leaves, tell Tolfdir about the Psijic Order. He’ll then decide to search the coffins, causing a few draugr to burst from them. One of them will be a stronger draugr than the rest, but luckily Tolfdir is a fairly decent fighter so he’ll help you out.
After they’ve been dealt with, proceed through the catacombs and in the next larger room, you’ll be attacked by more draugr. Kill them and Tolfdir will decide to stay behind to check the place out, so proceed to the marker in the next room by activating the chains on each side of the door. Follow the path, but beware of draugr popping out of coffins and you’ll also want to avoid the magic runes on the floor that will deal quite a bit of damage - you can either move around them or hit them with a destruction spell to trigger it.
Follow the path until you go up a level. There are two chests up here you can loot before going through an iron door. Be careful of another floor trap in front of the next chest you see. When you reach another catacomb room, you’ll also find some black-colored pillars on the sides with various animals, like an eagle, a snake, or a whale depicted on them. You’ll need to rotate the pillars until the animals match the symbols behind the pillars.
Once you’ve correctly rotated all six pillars, use the lever and the gate should open. Open the doors at the end of the hallway to find yourself in a larger room. In here, you’ll find a strong draugr, so be ready! If you’re around level 15-20 it’ll be a draugr deathlord, and it’ll scale with your level. He may even have a shout that disarms you so if you’re using a melee weapon make sure to dodge the shout. Your best bet is to use a disabling shout or Fus-ro-Dah to knock him off the upper platform and give yourself a chance to shoot him with your bow or destruction spells. Once he’s been defeated, head into the next room and make sure to loot the chest before heading through the corridor to the right.
After defeating him, continue on through the door on the back wall and grab the chest whilst avoiding the electric runes on the floor, and you’ll be in another hallway with a puzzle similar to the previous one.
However, this is a bit of a trickier puzzle. Rotating the pillars will also rotate the other pillars . They’re trying to get smart on us! Check out what does what below:
Here’s the order in which you need to press the pillars to solve this puzzle quickly (using the numbered screenshot above as reference):
- Turn pillar 3 once.
- Turn pillar 1 once.
- Turn pillar 4 once.
- Turn pillar 2 once.
- Turn pillar 4 once more.
Once you’ve got the pillars matching their corresponding symbols, go through the door and as you reach the next room, you’ll hear Tolfdir shouting for you. Head through to the final room where you’ll discover a large magical orb at the center.
An enemy named Jyrik Gauldurson appears, and at first it’s impossible to damage him. What you need to do is to distract him, whilst Tolfdir extracts the power from the orb behind it. Once you’re given the order from Tolfdir, Jyrik will be weak and susceptible to attack. He’s quite a strong mage enemy, so you’ll want to try to chunk him down before he deals too much damage. The room is big enough that you can back away from him and shoot him from afar. Defeating Jyrik Gauldurson and looting his body will also begin the ‘Forbidden Legend’ side quest.
Once he’s defeated, talk to Tolfdir. He will ask you to return to the college and tell the Arch-Mage Savos Aren about the orb. Head behind the orb to find a door that’ll take you to near the beginning of the dungeon. Before you head out, loot the chest and claim approach the Word Wall to learn a word for the Ice Form shout.
Now proceed through the door and you’ll find a shortcut to the entrance. Leave Saarthal and head to the College. Once here, seek out the Arch-Mage in his chambers on the top floor. After you speak with him he’ll ask you you to go find Urag the Librarian to learn more about the orb. This will finish up the quest and begin the ‘Hitting the Books’ quest.