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One of the best things about a massive role-playing game like Skyrim is the incredible amount of lore, backstory, and behind-the-scenes considerations made to make the world feel authentic and living. Skyrim certainly achieves this, using the warehouse full of lore they have built up over the years from other installments of the Elder Scroll’s franchise.
These backstories can either dictate the moods of an entire people, much like the sublet running through the game concerning the encroaching arm of the Aldmeri Dominion, or they can simply add a little bit of texture for the seasoned gamer.
Either way, the care and attention to detail devoted to each of these points show why a game such as Skyrim is yet to have a fully-fledged follow-up title. After all, a game’s development cycle with such vibrance must take forever.
With all of this in mind, this guide will look at one of the quests featured in Skyrim, which expertly uses the lore and backstory built up around Skyrim over the years.
This quest, ‘The Forsworn Conspiracy,’ is not only one of the best examples of Elder Scrolls writers doing their thing but also a fan favorite, and for this reason, this guide is going to be a pretty special one for me. So, with that being said, let’s get into it!
Quest Details Up Front
- This quest is activated as soon as the Dragonborn enters Markarth for the first time.
- The quest is given to the player by Eltrys, who hands the player a note they must read to begin.
- This quest is designed for lower-level players and is therefore not very difficult.
A Little Background
Before diving into this quest, we should get a little background into the critical faction that motivates the player to act, the Forsworn.
Who Are They?
Anyone who has ever played more than ten minutes of Skyrim has undoubtedly run into the Forsworn. This band of tribal-looking warriors is, at times, incredibly difficult to deal with. That is until you level up enough, and you can quite literally swat them away like flies. Up until this point, however, they are mighty annoying.
The Forsworn are not a race in Skyrim like the Falmer or Altmer people. Instead, they are a group of Reachmen who once occupied the city of Markarth during the events of the Great War between the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion.
You see, the land which makes up the Reach has been heavily contested for eras, with many factions and peoples laying claim to the land. However, it has always seemed to end up back in the hands of the Empire and a Jarl who supports said ownership.
This might explain why, when the Great War was at its height, a group of Breton warriors decided to come down from the mountains and attempt to take Markarth and, therefore, the Reach, with the city being its capital. To almost everyone’s surprise, this attempt succeeded, and the rebels had managed to take back what they claimed was rightfully theirs.
However, this would not last for long as the heir to the throne of Markarth was still alive and seething over what he had seemingly lost forever. During this time, the heir, Igmund, would reach out to one of his friends from the Great War, a man he knew would understand his pain, Ulfric Stormcloak. Igmund knew that Ulfric’s taste for war and similar position as heir to the throne of Windhelm would bring the great swordsmen all the way to Markarth at a movement’s notice.
Sadly, for those Breton rebels, Igmund was right, and it was not long until Ulfric had summoned his militia forces and rode for Markarth. He arrived at the city in record time and began what he did best, laying siege to a city.
The rebel soldiers did not stand a chance against the battle-hardened militia Ulfric brought with him. Thus, they were pretty quickly dealt with and banished from the city, getting control of the Reach back into the hands of Igmund and the Empire.
This banishment from Markarth in what would later be known as the ‘Markarth Incident’ forced these Bretons back into the mountains and outskirts of the Reach. Eventually, these dispirit groups would form a solid form under Forsworn’s name.
What is Their Goal
As you might imagine, the Empire believes that the Reach is theirs, the Nords and therefore the Stormcloaks see it as their own, and the people of Markarth do not care otherwise. However, in the mix of all of this, we have the Forsworn, who also believe the Reach and thus Markarth is their birthright. After all, they count themselves as true Reach citizens, having been born and raised in the mountains that cast shadows over the area.
Therefore, what they want is pretty simple; the Reach and the power to hold it in perpetuity as well as the banishment of all other forces and peoples who have, in their eyes, kept it from them for so long.
And Here We Are
Now that we have the full context needed to completely understand the motivations of the people wishing to capture the Reach for themselves, by any means necessary, we can finally jump into the actual quest itself. Let’s go!
- Ulfric Stormcloak took the city under the promise that it would return to Talos worship. However, Igmund and the Empire betrayed him, imprisoning Ulfric and once again banning Talos worship.
- The Breton rebels came down from the mountains and took Markarth while it was weakened by the Great War.
- The Markarth Incident took place after the signing of the White-Gold concord and is pointed to as the event which jolted Ulfric into starting the Stormcloak rebellion.
They’re At it Again!
When the player first strolls into the city of Markarth, you would be forgiven if you thought that it was a relatively peaceful and laid-back city. After all, what greets you is tones of beautiful, free-flowing water and a busy but friendly market stall. However, this organized chaos soon explodes into anarchy as the player hears someone yell, “The Reach belongs to the Forsworn.”
Later, the player will find out the man who yelled this is named Weylin. Before this, however, the Dragonborn must act before he manages to randomly stab an innocent woman named Margret in the back. However, should the player not act in time, not much actually changes in the quest because either yourself or the guards will eventually bring down the Forsworn agent.
This incident, understandably, may leave a bitter taste in the player’s mouth concerning the city of Markarth, placing you on edge for a few moments. This is why it is so alarming when another stranger, this time with a note in his hand instead of a dagger, approached the Dragonborn, depositing said letter.
Receiving and thus reading this letter from Eltrys will begin the quest ‘The Forsworn Conspiracy.’
- The player must kill Weylin before he enters the stabbing animation in order to save Margret.
- Should the player save Margret, she will give the player a silver emerald necklace as a reward.
- This quest will activate on the player’s first entry into Markarth.
When the player finally finds the time to read the note dropped off to them by Eltrys, they will see that he wishes them to meet him over at the Shrine of Talos.
Upon meeting Eltrys and engaging him in dialogue, he will tell the player a few crucial things. First of all, he is clearly starting to lose his mind over the state of Markarth and the conspiracy he can see running through it. However, he does not know anything about what’s going on.
However, he does know that Margret from the market earlier was involved, along with one of the Silver-Blood family. The most powerful family in the Reach.
He then tasks the player with finding out how Margret is connected to the Forsworn and finding and searching Weylin’s room in a place called the Warrens in the underground sector of Markarth. A place where the homeless and destitute reside. He hopes that by doing both of these things, he will somehow learn more about his father’s death.
The Plot Thickens
The Mystery of Margret
Should the player have managed to save Margret or not, the quest is not affecting too much. You see, if Margret is still alive, by the time you make it to Silver-Blood Inn, where she resides, you will simply have to either persuade her or intimidate her into telling you what you want to know.
Alternatively, if she is already dead, simply make your way into her old room, vie either lockpicking your way in or pressuring the innkeeper. Inside the room, the Dragonborn will find her journal. Either way, the player will soon learn that Margret is not some innocent Markarth citizen.
Instead, she is an Imperial investigator stationed in Markarth by General Tullius. Most likely because of the anti-Empire sentiment, which is so rife in the Reach post the Markarth incident and with the increase in Forsworn activity.
If you continue reading or questioning Margret, you will find out that the Silver-Blood you are looking for is Thonar. This, therefore, creates another side objective wherein the player is tasked to ‘Find evidence about Thonar.’
Then, upon exiting the Inn, almost on cue, the player is greeted by a guard. This guard rather threateningly tells the player to back off and ‘stay out of their business. Further warning that the city guards will be forced to act against the player should they continue poking their nose in where it apparently does not belong.
At the time this occurs, one may not be aware of what they have stumbled into. Still, it is pretty safe to assume that the connection between this case and the Silver-Bloods must run deeper than Eltrys imagined if they’re already using their power and influence to scare civilians.
Weylin’s Unfortunate Home
Located deep in a place called The Warrens, the player will find Weylin’s room. Now, you can either pickpocket your way into this room, lockpick the door, or intimidate a man named Garvey into giving you the key. The decision is entirely yours. However, once you do enter the room, you will find something called ‘Weylin’s Note.’
When the player reads this note, not much is learned except that somebody with the initial ‘N’ has signed it and is, therefore, a part of this overall plot. Someone the Dragonborn must therefore find.
Once again, as you exit this location, the player will be confronted by another henchman of assumedly the Silver-Blood family. Going by the name Dryston, this mercenary will again tell the player that they have gotten too close to something they shouldn’t have and that they should have headed their initial warning.
At this point, the player can choose one of two options. When the inevitable brawl with Dryston ensures, you can either win or lose the battle. Winning it will have the mercenary confess to working for someone named Nepos the Nose, thus solving the mystery of ‘N.’
Alternatively, the player can lose the brawl and wait for Dryston to go inside Weylin’s house. Once he is inside, the player can sneak up on him and either kill or pickpocket him. Doing either will give you access to Dryston’s Note, informing the player of N’s true identity. After all of this, the player is encouraged to return to Eltrys to receive some gold for his troubles.
- The player must find information about Margret and Weylin for Eltrys during the opening stages of the mission.
- The player learns that Thonar Silver-Blood and Nepos the Nose are involved in this plot somehow.
- When exiting both the Silver-Blood Inn and The Warren, the player will be confronted by agents of either the Silver-Blood family or Nepos. One a guard and the other a mercenary.
Who is Thonar?
After the player has once again parted ways with Eltrys, there are still questions to be answered. Who is and how is Thonar involved in this conspiracy, and how does this mysterious Nepos fit into all of it?
Firstly, I would always go after Thonar and his information first in order to give proper context for your meeting with Nepos. Therefore, you need to head to the Treasury House. Inside this location, you will meet a receptionist by the name of Rhiada.
Therefore, she works for the Treasury House and is employed by the Silver-Blood family. The player will first need to ask her permission to see Thonar, a request she will flatly deny, citing that he is too busy to be disturbed.
However, much like the rest of this quest, the NPCs can always be intimidated, persuaded, or bribed into doing as the Dragonborn requires. Otherwise, you can simply sneak on by her and the two other patrons of the Treasury House, Nana, and Donnel, picking the lock to Thonar’s room.
No matter how you gain access, the player will then need to engage Thonar in dialogue. However, doing this will not come to anything except for activating some scripted fighting outside of the room. It appears that talking to Thonar activates Nana and Donnel, having them attack Thonar’s wife and Rhiada in the process.
The Dragonborn must kill the pair, finding out they were Forsworn agents all along. In the aftermath, Thonar’s wife will have died, and he will tell the player about a man named Madanach, the leader of the Forsworn rebellion who is currently operating out of Cidnha Mine prison.
Alternatively, however, the player can prevent any and all bloodshed by simply pickpocketing Thonar’s journal from him, allowing you to find out about Madanach that way. This, therefore, prevents the Forsworn agents from activating because the player has not engaged Thonar in conversation. There is no other way to save Thonar’s wife, as her death is scripted.
What in the World Is a Nepos?
Nepos the Nose, holder of one of the stupidest names I am yet to come across in Skyrim, can be found rather easily. Simply head on over to the man’s house, located in the north of Markarth, right beside the Vlindrel Hall.
Once inside, the player will learn that Nepos is seemingly a quite wealthy citizen of Markarth and therefore exists in relative luxury with three servants at his beck and call. However, if you have been paying attention to this guide, your alarm bells will start ringing when you learn that they are Breton servants.
The first of these Bretons is a woman named Uaile. In what is becoming a theme for this quest, she will tell the Dragonborn to leave immediately. However, the old man will quickly interrupt this, commanding her to let the player through, allowing the two of you to have a nice little conversation.
During this conversation, he will tell the player, rather candidly, that for the last 20 years, he has been working for the Forsworn in order to further their rebellion. Apparently, he has been the sole recipient of Madanach’s orders from prison, fulfilling his duty by acting on said orders without question ever since.
The player can then ask Nepos why he is telling them all of this. He will respond with some humor, stating that those guards you walked by are actually Forsworn agents, and you will not be leaving his home alive. If desired, the player can stall this fight and find out more information regarding Madanach.
If so, he will tell the player that the ‘King in Rags’, as he calls him, has been running this conspiracy with the hope of taking back Markarth from a Nord prison for over 20 years.
After this dialogue tree has been exhausted, the player will be subsequently attacked by the members of his household, forcing the Dragonborn to defend themselves, killing all those who breathe.
- Thonar can be located in the Treasury Hous, and he will only tell the player about Madanach after his wife is murdered by the Forsworn agents stationed there.
- Nepos the Nose has been carrying out the orders of Madanach for over twenty years, fulfilling everything he requests to the letter. He also informs the player that they are not the only ones to discover their plot and subsequently lose their life.
- Nepos and his ‘servants’ will attack the player soon after the dialogue tree with Nepos has been exhausted.
Return to Sender
After the Dragonborn is forced to use their miraculous power of main character plot armor, the player must return to Eltrys at the Shrine of Talos.
When the player eventually arrives here, they will be confronted by a dead Eltrys and three Markarth city guards standing over his corpse. They will tell the player that they are under arrest for his murder and all others that have occurred since you have entered this city.
The player can either go with them quietly or resist. However, I would advise just going with them quietly because if you do resist and murder all of the guards, the quest will not proceed until the player finally engages with another Markarth guard and accepts their fate of being thrown in Cidnha Mine prison.
Once the player is actually arrested and thrown in said mine, the quest ‘The Forsworn Conspiracy’ will be complete; moving the player on the next quest is the saga, ‘No One Escapes Cidnha Mine.’
Forsworn Conspiracy Guide for Skyrim: In Brief:
- Once Nepos and his agents are defeated, the player must return to Eltrys at the Shrine of Talos. However, when the player arrives, he will already be dead.
- The guards who killed Eltrys will take the player into custody.
- Allowing the guards to do this will properly finish the quest and begin the next.
So, there you have it, a complete and detailed guide to ‘The Forsworn Conspiracy’ quest. We even got to take a quick look at how the Forsworn ended up inside Markarth and started thinking of the city as their own.
When one considers the sheer amount of backstory and lore that bolsters this quest and the player’s understanding, there is simply no way to not love this quest. Not only does it lead into another incredible quest, but the storyline of mystery, spies, and intrigue is one seemingly from another game.
This allows the player to break the monotony of typical Skyrim quests with some truly different. With all this in mind then, I hope you learned something about this quest and the history of the people involved in it. Good Luck in the mines; you’re going to need it!