- Go to the Azura Shrine.
- Speak with Nelacar in Winterhold.
- Go to Ilinalta’s Deep.
- Claim the Broken Star.
- Give the star to Aranea or Nelacar.
- Cleanse the star from within.
All over Skyrim, innkeepers will readily tell you about the Shrine of Azura, a monument built by dark elves after they fled Morrowind. It should be a sight to see, so make your way there; it is located in the snowy mountains south of Winterhold and is hard to miss. The gigantic statue atop a mountain looks south, towards the native lands of the elves that built it and there are quite a few steps to the top. On your way up, you will encounter the only remaining worshipper, a female Dunmer named Aranea Ienith. Speak to her and she claims that you arriving at the Shrine was expected. Azura herself saw you coming, and transferred the vision to Aranea. A few options are available at this point, but the obsessed worshipper will not give up and will repeat how you are the one chosen by Azura as her new champion.
The prediction involves a ‘fortress endangered by water, yet untouched by it’ and finding an ‘elven mage able to turn the brightest star as black as night. ‘ Aranea will admit her description to be more cryptic than useful so will send you to the snowy town of Winterhold for clues. In Winterhold, all elves will be able to help you but a much easier option is to enter the Frozen Hearth, the only inn in town and where the mysterious elven mage resides. You will immediately witness a confrontation between innkeeper Dagur and a mage named Nelacar. Apparently, Nelacar set up his laboratory inside his room, filling the cozy taproom with odd smells and loud explosions. Obviously, the mage trying to apologize to the innkeeper is the one from Aranea’s vision.
While reluctant at first, thinking you another applicant for the College of Winterhold, he will not provide any information, especially if you reveal to be working for Azura. He will not say no to a bit of coin though, and will also break down if you intimidate him, so pick one of these options, and he will quickly ask you what you know about soul gems. Regardless of your response, he will provide a quick introduction to soul gems, stating they all break after use, except for one. He will then tell you the story of one Malyn Varen, a former teacher at the College, who examined the Daedric artifact Azura’s Star along with a few colleagues and students. Nobody knew that Malyn was actually ill and dying and was using the star for his own personal agenda, trying to make himself immortal, in the process going insane. One day, the experiment escalated to the point where Malyn killed a student and attempted to use her soul for research and, as a result, was banished from the College of Winterhold. He, along with a few loyal disciples, moved to the depths of Ilinalta’s Deep and vanished. Nelacar will finish with a plea, that you don’t return the star to Azura, simply because of the number of casualties and will specifically remind you the Daedra has no respect for human life. His request will be left hanging, as you can do nothing but travel to Ilinalta’s Deep and search for Malyn and the star.
What turned Ilinalta into Ilinalta’s Deep remains a mystery as the entire fort suddenly sank into Lake Ilinalta with only the rooftops sticking out of the water. According to local legend, the place is cursed and travelers are known to disappear from the area. Upon entering, the earthly remains of a Fisherman will welcome you, now reduced to bones, but still tied up in shackles. Examine his knapsack for a journal and some minor loot, then proceed forward and take a left at the waterfall. Not surprisingly, given the background story provided by Nelacar, the inhabitants consists of necromancers and their undead allies, so be on the lookout for rare ingredients and potions. The fourth room is almost completely flooded, contains two necromancers and hides an underwater section with a chest. Two watersoaked and rather uncomfortable sleeping areas follow, with the last one containing the Enchantingskill book A Tragedy in Black, an alchemy lab and arcane enchanter, along with a locked door hiding minor loot. The next area sees a necromage and a summoned bandit on the other side of a water pond, constantly showering you with frost spells; either pull out your ranged weapon or magic, or jump into the pond, surface on the other side and dispose of the opposition. Locate the chest for some treasure then pull the chain on the wall. This not only lowers the bridge behind you, it also provides access to the second zone further ahead. Take the western exit, and consider unlocking the door for a few potions but not much else. Proceed forward, remove the bar from the door and reenter the very first chamber of the zone, this time on a different level. You can now easily gain access to the second zone through the northern door, and a new bridge leading downstairs will make future exploration much easier.
Proceed carefully forward through the tunnel and you will overhear two necromancers having a conversation on how to find another soul for the insatiable Star of Azura. Dispose of them and look around the area for a few soul gems and the Conjuration skill book The Doors of Oblivion. A few potions can be found behind the eastern door, while the western tunnel leads to an imprisonment area guarded by a skeleton and yet another necromancer. In the final chamber, the boss-leveled necromancer will quickly reanimate three skeletons; after the fight, head up the stairs where you will find the earthly remains of Malyn Varen along with his revealing Grimoire, a boss-leveled chest and Azura’s Star, currently broken due to Malyn’s experiments. Taking the star has no consequences, other than a choice; either bring the star to Nelacar in Winterhold, or to Aranea at the Shrine.
You now have two choices. If you return to the shrine, you will speak to Azura. She will tell you that it is unusable until you have purged Varen’s soul from the star. Likewise, if you return to Nelacar, he will tell you the same thing. The difference is the Star’s use afterwards. If you bring it to Azura, you will be able to use it to trap any size soul except for “black” souls, i.e. souls from other sentient beings. If you bring it to Nelacar, you will be able to trap both “black” souls and “white” souls.
When you return to the Frozen Hearth, Nelacar will be astounded that you managed to bring back the Star, but will soon realize the exact reason for the many disappearances in and around Ilinata. Malyn Varen now resides inside the star, but needs more and more souls to stay alive, provided to him by his disciples in the fort until now. After a bit of examination, Nelacar will see the opportunity to finish what he and Malyn started all these years ago, and will suggest that you cleanse the star. If you accept, he will trap your soul and send you to another plane, for one final confrontation with Malyn.
Back at the Shrine of Azura, an eager Aranea will immediately take the broken star from you and place it on the altar, inviting you to communicate with Azura by placing your hands on the altar. Azura will then speak from the planes of Oblivion. She is grateful to see the star returned, but will also provide the bad news; due to its soul-eating inhabitant, the artifact is useless for you in its current state and you will have to go inside and cleanse the star by banishing Malyn’s soul. As soon as you’re ready Azura will promise to watch over you as you disappear into the realm.
Once you have made your choice, you will be transported inside the star to battle Malyn Varen. The interior of Azura’s Star is a light-blue, surreal world with spikes and chiming sounds. Malyn will be waiting for you just inside, eager to feast on yet another soul; he will, however, quickly realize that something is wrong and rush further into the star, leaving you with no option but fight the leveled Dremora he throws at you. It is not possible to fall over the ledges, so proceed forward and remember to collect the Daedra Hearts from fallen enemies. Once you have defeated Malyn, depending on your earlier choice the Star will turn either black or white and you will be returned to your mortal body in Skyrim. If you went with Azura, you will be given the restored Azura’s Star, capable of capturing White Souls. Additionally, Azura will set Aranea free and you will be able to use her as a follower should you ever need it. If you went with Nelacar, you will receive The Black Star.