10: Vahtacen's Secret - The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
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A research project is underway in Vahtacen, an Ayleid ruin south of Cheydinhal Irlav Jarol is the man in charge of the project. Look for Irlav Jarol in the Arch-Mage's Chambers and speak to him. He'll give you a rundown of the situation, as well as the key to Vahtacen.
Before setting out, make sure your character has an inexpensive frost spell in his or her spell book. You can purchase the cheap 'Snowball' spell from Edgar's Discount Spells in the Market District of the Imperial City.
After speaking to Irlav Jarol, fast travel to Cheydinhal and make your way south to the ruins of Vahtacen. Once there, you must speak to Skaleel, who is currently over-seeing the project. Skaleel is a bit deeper into the ruins, but the path to the expedition area is very straightforward. Speak to Skaleel; she explains that the research team has come to a pillar that appears to be immovable through normal means. Apparently, this pillar does not react well to magic, as several guild members have already been injured by it.
The mysterious pillar in the ruins of Vahtacen is actually an elaborate puzzle.
The pillar is actually an elaborate puzzle, which you are tasked with solving. To reach the pillar, locate the locked gate and use the Vahtacen Ruins Key to open it. Speak to Denel outside of the pillar room to learn of the strange Ayleid markings that are embedded on the walls surrounding the pillar. Denel thinks that Skaleel may have a book that can be used to decipher the text. Return to Skaleel and inquire about the book. Skaleel will give you the Ayleid Reference Text; with this in hand, you can solve the puzzle that has had the Mages Guild research team stumped for weeks.
By translating the inscriptions, it becomes evident that specific spells must be cast on certain parts of the giant pillar. There is a chest behind the table in the area where Denel can be found. The chest contains a scroll of each of the spells needed to solve this puzzle. Remove the scrolls from the chest and proceed into the pillar room. It would be wise to save your game at this point, just in case you make a mistake.
You have to compare the inscriptions on the walls of this room to determine which spell must be cast on each section of the pillar. Each tablet on the wall refers to a different spell: Av molag anyammis refers to Fire, av mafre nagaia refers to Frost, magicka loria refers to Damage Magicka, and magicka sila refers to Fortify Magicka.
Each spell must be cast on the sections of the pillar that are whole. Some parts of the pillar have a small rectangle on the bottom; do not target these.
Match up the inscriptions on the tablets with the translations in the Ayleid Reference Text.
The spells must be cast in a certain order. First is the 'av molag anyammis' inscription. This refers to Fire, so aim your fire spell toward the whole rectangle portion of the pillar diagonal from the tablet and hit it. Next is the 'av mafre nagaia' inscription, which refers to Ice. Move on to the 'magicka loria' inscription, which refers to Damage Magicka. Lastly, move down to the 'magicka sila' inscription, which refers to Fortify Magicka. If at any point you are hit by a spell, you did something incorrectly.
So, the order that the spells must be cast on the pillar is Fire, Ice, Damage Magicka, and then Fortify Magicka. If done correctly, the pillar will open and a notification will pop-up onscreen, informing you of your success in solving the puzzle. Climb down the stairs and enter the 'Vahtacen Lorsel' area.
Solving the puzzle in the Vahtacen ruins
Upon entering Vahtacen Lorsel, Follow the path ahead to reach a large room. Do not step on the middle panel here, as doing so will trigger a trap. To avoid the trap, move through this room by walking along the sides of the panel and jump diagonally across to the other side. In the next area, you have to step on the floor panel here to open two passages to your left and right. Kill the two ghosts, and then proceed through the opening straight ahead. There is a trap in the middle of this room as well, as the blood stains effectively indicate. Avoid this trap in the same fashion as the last and proceed through the passage at the end of this room.
Continue to the end of the path to reach a large room. Head up the stairs at the other end of the room, turn left, and activate the Switch on the pillar there. The Switch triggers the stairs surrounding the platform in the middle of the room to rise. Make your way over to these steps and take them up to the platform. Look for a Press Block on one of the pillars up here and activate it; doing so will raise the cage in the middle of the platform to reveal an Ancient Elven Helm. Take the relic and leave the Vahtacen Lorsel area.
Retrieve the Ancient Elven Helm before leaving the Vahtacen Lorsel area.
Speak to Skaleel before leaving Vahtacen, and then return to Irlav Jarol in the Imperial City. Once you have given the helmet to Irlav Jarol, speak to Raminus about your advancement to be promoted to Conjurer. You'll also be given a Robe of the Conjurer as reward.