The Tower of Mzark is a very important location in Skyrim‘s story, despite the fact that it’s rather small and has little to no lore attached to it. You’ll end up visiting it at some point during the main questline, so I’ve conjured up this guide to make sure your trip goes as smoothly as possible.
The only thing that should really give you any trouble is the puzzle that’s located in the tower. You need to complete this puzzle to continue with Skyrim’s main quest, so you can’t just skip it, as much as any of us would like to.
I’ve included the puzzle solution in this Tower of Mzark guide. It’s rather simple, so it shouldn’t take you half as long to finish it as it did for me. I’ve also gone over a little bit of the lore we can discern from the tower, as well as some information on the locations you need to traverse to even get there in the first place.
Key Details Up Front
- Location: The Tower of Mzark can only be reached by traversing Blackreach by way of Alftand. You can only access this area as a part of the Elder Knowledge and Discerning the Transmundane quests.
- Loot: Elder Scroll (Dragon).
- Enemies: None.
- Related Quests: Elder Knowledge/Discerning the Transmundane.
To solve the puzzle in the Tower of Mzark:
- Press the 3rd button 4 times.
- Press the 2nd button 2 times.
- Press the 1st button 1 time.
How to Solve the Tower of Mzark Puzzle
The Tower of Mzark is home to a puzzle. You need to complete this puzzle to continue on with the main questline, as well as Discerning the Transmundane. It’s mandatory, so you can’t just ignore it.
Thankfully, the solution to it is beyond simple. So simple, in fact, that it took me an embarrassingly long time to solve it the first time I played Skyrim all those years ago. I, like many others, made the mistake of thinking that the solution was going to be more complicated than it actually is. To save you from that pain and embarrassment, I’m going to tell you how to solve the puzzle before I run through anything else to do with the Tower of Mzark.
- On a platform overlooking the Dwarven mechanism in the center of the room, there are four buttons and a pedestal. Place the Blank Lexicon given to you before you came to the Tower of Mzark onto the pedestal. Two of the four buttons will now light up.
- Press the third button from the left four times, making sure to wait for the mechanism to finish moving after each button press. The second button will then light up.
- Press the second button twice, again waiting for the mechanism to shift and change after each press. This will trigger the first button to light up.
- Press the first button once, and the puzzle will complete.
Yeah, you don’t even need to press the last button. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, but at least you’ll be spared the suffering that I had to endure.
Tower of Mzark Lore
Unfortunately, we actually don’t know who Mzark is, or why they have a tower. However, I think it’s relatively safe to assume that they were the architect of the tower or some other Dwemer of renown. There’s no lore pointing to either of those assumptions, but that lack of lore means that they probably aren’t important characters like a king or god.
Having said that, the Tower of Mzark itself clearly holds significance for the Dwemer of Skyrim. At least, it did in terms of functionality. The Oculory that you find, and use, in the Tower of Mzark, holds an Elder Scroll. In fact, its clear purpose is to transcribe the contents of a scroll onto a Dwarven Lexicon.
From the looks of things, they didn’t manage to succeed before the Heart of Lorkhan Thanos snapped them all into oblivion, but the fact that they made a machine that’s not only capable of holding an Elder Scroll but reading one as well, is incredible.
Tower of Mzark Key Features
The Tower of Mzark is actually a fairly small location. While it takes you ages to get there as a part of the Elder Knowledge quest, the Tower itself is only one room. There’s nothing to fight, explore, or really loot there. However, there is one key feature in the Tower, and that’s the massive Dwarven mechanism that dominates the center of it.
As I’ve stated in the lore part of this Tower of Mzark guide, this mechanism was designed and created by the Dwemer to hold and study an Elder Scroll. The fact that they managed to succeed in this task is an achievement that should not be understated.
In Elder Scrolls lore, the Elder Scrolls aren’t actually regularly written artifacts. They’re a leftover from the creation of the world and exist in the past, present, and future all at once. They frequently disappear and reappear during important events, making them a force unto themselves. So, the Dwemer being able to bind one in place and create a contraption to read and transcribe them is incredible.
For us, the player, though, this key feature of the Tower of Mzark is watered down to a little puzzle that involves pressing a few buttons. Aside from that, there’s nothing of note in the tower.
Elder Knowledge/Discerning the Transmundane
Speak with Septimus Signus
Elder Knowledge is one of Skyrim’s main quests and it runs alongside Discerning the Transmundane. Wait until you get Elder Knowledge and you’ll be sent to speak with Septimus Signus in an ice cave North of Winterhold.
Septimus is a scholar studying a Dwemer lockbox stuck in this ice cave. This lockbox is the main focus of the Discerning the Transmundane quest. Over the course of your conversation, Septimus will give you that quest, a blank Dwemer Lexicon, and an Attunement Sphere needed to access Blackreach, which is in turn needed to access the Tower of Mzark. There is no other way to reach Blackreach.
Explore Alftand and Blackreach
I’ve walked you through how to navigate both Alftand and Bleackreach down below, so I’ll keep this brief. Proceed through Alftand like you would any other Dwemer dungeon in Skyrim. Eventually, you’ll reach a boss fight with a Centurion. The Centurion has a key on its body that you need to continue to the next room. Then, you’ll encounter two NPCs fighting, the woman has a unique shield on her so make sure you pick it up.
Rather than returning to the surface at the end of Alftand, use the Attunement Sphere on a pedestal in the room, and a staircase to Blackreach will open up. Once in Blackreach, just follow your map marker over to the Tower of Mzark. It’s only a short jog from the point at which you enter the area.
Solve the Mzark Puzzle
I went over how to solve the puzzle at the top of this Tower of Mzark guide, but I’ll run you through it one more time. It’s incredibly simple.
- When you put the blank lexicon into a slot atop the viewing platform overlooking the Dwemer Oculory, two of four buttons in front of you will light up.
- Push the third button from the left four times.
- Push the second button from the left twice.
- Push the first button once.
That’s literally all there is to it. You don’t even have to hit the last button. Just make sure you wait for the Oculory to stop moving after each individual button press.
Once the puzzle is complete, take the now inscribed Lexicon back. Also, grab the Elder Scroll from the Oculory. You can then take an elevator back to the surface.
Return to Septimus
Now, you can continue on the main questline without worrying about Septimus. However, there are a few more steps beyond this for Discerning the Transmundane.
Return to Septimus with the Lexicon. He’ll tell you he needs time to study the Lexicon and to return later. Upon leaving the cave, Hermaeous Mora will appear and speak to you. You can reply to the Daedric Prince however you want, it doesn’t make a difference in the long run.
At this point in Discerning the Transmundane, you’re locked out of the quest until you reach level 15. If you’re not at least level 15, go and continue playing through other quests. Once you reach that level, Septimus will send a message to you instructing you to return to him. If you’re already level 15, just return to the cave and speak with him.
Septimus will give you an Essence Extractor. This extractor is used to gather blood. Septimus needs the blood of the elven races in Skyrim to open the lockbox, and you can only collect the blood of corpses. So, you need to go and find/kill a:
- High Elf
- Wood Elf
- Dark Elf
Clear out a few bandit camps, and you should have no problems getting this part of the quest done.
Open the Lockbox
When you return to Septimus with the blood, he’ll proceed to open the lockbox. To save you from some spoilers, I’ll just say that some tomfoolery goes on once you’re inside. It essentially plays out like a cutscene, so watch the events unfold, and Discerning the Transmundane will complete.
The Elder Scroll housed in the Tower of Mzark is specifically the Dragon Scroll. When used by the Dragonborn, the scroll shows them a vision of the past in which Alduin was sent into the future. During this vision, the player will learn the Dragonrend shout.
The Dragonrend shout has a lot of plot significance for Skyrim’s story as it has the ability to make dragons experience mortality. This incomprehensible experience wretches at a dragon’s very being, so much so that it can no longer focus on flying.
What that means for us, though, is that using it on a dragon will force it to land, making dragon fights much easier. So much easier, in fact, that Dragonrend is arguably the most powerful shout in the entire game. It’s also the only way to deal damage to Alduin in Sovngarde.
The shout is also known as Alduin’s Bane, and it’s one of only two shouts ever created by man, with the other being Dragon Aspect from the Dragonborn DLC.
How to Find the Tower of Mzark
Get the quest Elder Knowledge
The Tower of Mzark is actually gated behind one of two quests. The first is the main quest Elder Knowledge. Elder Knowledge will bring you to the second quest that gives you access to the tower, Discerning the Transmundane.
However, you can get Discerning before Elder Knowledge, making it possible to go straight there at any time during the game. Just make sure you pick up the key item from the end of the quest so that you don’t have to head back there.
So, you either need to get far enough in the main story to have the Elder Knowledge quest, which will direct you to an ice cave just North of Winterhold. Alternatively, you can head straight to that cave by yourself. Either way, you’ll speak with a scholar who sends you off in search of the Tower of Mzark, through the Ruins of Alftand.
Go Through the Ruins of Alftand
Alftand is located a little South and almost directly between Dawnstar and Winterhold. You’ll need to venture through a few different levels of the ruins before you get anywhere near the Tower of Mzark. The first section of the ruins is iced-over and tells the story of a failed expedition into the ruins. As you get further into the Dwemer ruins, you’ll encounter more Spheres, Spiders, and Falmer.
Eventually, you’ll reach the Alftand Cathedral. There’s a Centurion boss fight in the Cathedral. You need to defeat that Centurion as it’s holding a key you need to continue through the ruins. After the boss fight, you’ll run into a Redguard and Imperial. The Redguard has a unique shield, so it’s worth killing her and looting her corpse. She’ll attack you anyway, so don’t feel bad about it.
At the end of Alftand, rather than taking the elevator to the surface, although you can if you want to unlock it, you need to use an item given to you by Septimus. Putting the item on a pedestal in the center of the room will open up a hidden staircase that leads you into Blackreach.
Blackreach is a massive underground cavern that connects the various Dwarven cities of Skyrim together. It’s a massive and visually stunning setpiece, so feel free to take your time exploring it.
Although, keep in mind that it’s crawling with Falmer. It’s also the home to a secret dragon boss fight if you shout at the massive lantern/chandelier. If that wasn’t enough, though, there are also random Dwemer Centurions littered around that place that can, and will, ruin your day. What I’m trying to say is, exercise extreme caution as you explore Blackreach.
If you follow your quest marker down here, you’ll be brought to the Southwest corner of Blackreach, right up to the front door to the Tower of Mzark.
Enter the Tower of Mzark
The Tower of Mzark itself isn’t too spectacular compared to the places you traversed to get there. Aside from the awesome Dwarven puzzle-constellation-thingy that houses the Elder Scroll, it’s really just a vertical set of stairs. There are a few containers and a few books. There’s no epic loot of legend, except for the scroll, of course.
Anyways, that’s how you get to the Tower of Mzark.
Elder Scroll (Dragon)
There aren’t any traditional unique items in the Tower of Mzark. There are no weapons or armor of note. Instead, it’s home to something much greater: an Elder Scroll.
Now, from a gameplay perspective, that’s disappointing. You can’t exactly crack open the Scroll yourself any time you want and get some loot from it. While it does give you access to the Dragonrend shout, it’s purely used as a device to drive the game’s main plot. That’s okay, though. Skyrim is an RPG, after all. I mean, the name of the series is The Elder Scrolls.
While not an item per se, you do change an item into another in the Tower of Mzark. During Discerning the Transmundane, Septimus Signus (the scholar in the ice cave) gives you a blank lexicon. You need to inscribe that lexicon with the instructions needed to open a Dwemer lockbox. You do that in the Tower of Mzark.
Question: How do you solve the puzzle in the Tower of Mzark?
Answer: To solve the puzzle in the Tower of Mzark, place the blank Lexicon into its slot. Then, press the third button four times, the second button two times, and the first button once.
Question: How do I find the Tower of Mzark?
Answer: To find the Tower of Mzark, you need to have access to either the Elder Knowledge main quest or the Discerning the Transmundane side quest. Elder Knowledge will bring you to the Discerning the Transmundane quest giver.
Follow the quests through Alftand and Blackreach, and you will be able to enter the Tower of Mzark.
Question: Should I give the Lexicon to Septimus Signus?
Answer: To complete Discerning the Transmundane, you need to give the Lexicon to Septimus. The Lexicon has no other uses, so there’s no reason not to give it to him.
That’s all I’ve got for you with this Tower of Mzark guide. Despite being a pretty small location, it’s attached to a long quest that is a part of Skyrim’s main story, so there’s a fair bit you need to know about it. Plus, you know, it’s home to an Elder Scroll.
You’ll have to go here at some point during your playthrough, and despite how long it takes, it’s not all that hard. At least, it isn’t as long as you know the puzzle solution. I had trouble the first time I went there, but with this guide, you shouldn’t.