Bethesda really stepped up its game when it came to Skyrim’s DLC content. While Dragonborn is easily the undisputed king of the bunch (although Hearthfire is a personal favorite of mine), Dawnguard came with a plethora of phenomenal quests, both as side quests as well as the DLC’s main quest itself.
One of those side quests is Lost to the Ages. It’s rare for a Skyrim quest to take you to all four corners of the map and even rarer for it to not feel like a glorified fetch quest. So, the quality of Lost to the Ages speaks for itself. At least, it does, in my opinion.
That being said, expansive quests like this tend to have a whole bunch of roadblocks involved with them. In this case, it’s the fact that you won’t get any map markers telling you where to go if you haven’t discovered the locations in advance.
So, I’m here to act as your own personal map marker. In this Lost to the Ages guide, I’ll walk you through all four locations you need to visit over the course of the quest, as well as how to get to the mythic Aetherium Forge. I’ll also give you a brief rundown of the potential quest rewards you’ll receive and why I think one of them is far superior to the others.
Lost to the Ages is awesome both from a gameplay and lore perspective, so use this guide to get it done and experience Bethesda quest design at its greatest. Or, at least, like 70% of its greatest.
Quest Details Up Front
- Location: All of Skyrim.
- Quest Giver: Katria.
- Requirements: Dawnguard DLC.
- Quest Length: Very long.
- Quest Rewards: One of three Aetherial items.
- Difficulty: Very hard.
After meeting the ghost of an adventurer called Katria, the Dragonborn is sent to scour Skyrim for four Aetherium Shards. The shards are used to craft items in the Aetherium Forge of legend, which has been lost to the ages since the fall of the Dwarven civilization in Skyrim.
Speak with Katria in Arkngthamz
To get the Lost to the Ages quest, you need to head to the ruins of Akrngthamz and speak with a ghost named Katria. Speaking with Katria will trigger Lost to the Ages.
However, the quest can technically start earlier if you end up reading The Aetherium Wars book dotted around Skyrim and the prominent areas introduced in the Dawnguard DLC. Reading the book will give you a miscellaneous objective pointing you towards Arkngthamz. However, you can just head straight there if you haven’t read the book.
Either way, speak with Katria for all that juicy lore on what exactly is going on, and you’ll be prompted to find four different Atherium Shards dotted around the various Dwarven ruins of Skyrim.
Find the Four Aetherium Shards
The first shard you’ll be hunting, obviously, is in Arkngthamz. You’ll need a ranged weapon or spell to retrieve it. If you don’t have anything like that with you, you can loot Katria’s bow, Zephyr, from the ruins above where you first spoke to her. The bow is also one of the best in the entire game, so I would recommend you pick it up regardless.
Work your way through the Arkgnthamz dungeon, and you’ll eventually come to a gate with five spinning locks above it. You need to shoot these locks in the correct order to open the gate. The combination is as follows:
- Bottom left.
- Bottom right.
- Top left.
- Top right.
Once the door is open, proceed through it to finish Arkngthamz and pick up that location’s Atherium Shard.
Deep Folk Crossing
Rather than going dungeon crawling, you’ll just need to pick up this shard from an altar located on the surface.
Deep Folk Crossing is located Northeast of Markarth. When you arrive, you’ll find a large Dwemer bridge going over a river. Cross the bridge and proceed up the hill. There, you’ll be able to loot the next shard, as well as some other Dwarven goodies.
The next shard is located in the ruins of Raldbthar. These are the same Dwemer ruins that the Dark Brotherhood’s first main contract takes place in during Mourning Never Comes.
Unlike Deep Folk Crossing, you’re going to need to actually go crawling through the Raldbthar dungeon to obtain this shard. If you’ve already done the Dark Brotherhood quest that takes place here, the first section of the dungeon should be cleared out.
Work your way through the dungeon, and you’ll come to a flooded room with a raised drawbridge. Dotted around the room are various Dwemer gears. Each of these gears will be jammed with bones or Dwemer scrap.
Clear all of the debris out of the gears, including the gear under the water, and the drawbridge will drop, triggering a Centurion to activate. Deal with the Centurion and proceed through the dungeon. You’ll soon come to the final room with the Aetherium Shard. Take it and return to the surface.
While Mzulft is an actual dungeon you can clear, you don’t have to do so in order to get the shard. Instead, it’s being stored in the Dwarven Storeroom that’s located next to the entrance into the Mzulft dungeon. You’ll need to pick two Apprentice locked doors to get the shard, so make sure you bring lockpicks with you.
Investigate the Aetherium Forge
After you have all four shards in your possession, Katria will tell you to find the Aetherium Forge. Consulting her journal, which you will have needed to pick up in Arkngthamz, points you towards Lake Honrich by Ivarstead. Rather than being by the lake, though, the forge is actually located in the Ruins of Bthalft. These ruins are located in the hills below the lake, almost directly South of Ivarstead.
At the ruins, you’ll be prompted to put your four Aetherium Shards into a Dwemer Globe by Katria. Do that and take the completed gear that is produced as a result. After taking the gear, the pedestal that you were standing on will begin to vibrate. Walk off of it, and it will shoot up, revealing a hidden entrance into the Aetherium Forge.
Enter the forge and walk down to the forge room. There, you will need to activate two valves to turn off the steam in the room. Doing so will spawn a wave of enemies. Clear the enemies, and you’ll need to turn off the steam once again. This triggers another wave, which upon clearing, will spawn in the Forgemaster.
The Forgemaster is the strongest Dwarven Centurion in the game and must be killed in order to continue with Lost to the Ages. Once the Forgemaster has been defeated, you can then interact with the Aetherium Forge to craft one of three Aetherial items. Lost to the Ages will then be complete, and you can return to the surface.
Read the Aetherium Wars
Reading The Aetherium Wars is actually a prelude to Lost to the Ages. It isn’t necessary to trigger the quest, but it does give you a miscellaneous objective that points you towards the quest giver.
The two easiest copies of The Aetherium Wars to read are located in Castle Volkihar and Fort Dawnguard, making the book accessible to both factions. Alternatively, you can find a copy of it in the College of Winterhold, or elsewhere randomly out in the world. If you can’t find a copy of the book, you’re better off heading straight to Arkngthamz to trigger Lost to the Ages Manually.
Investigate the Ruins of Arkngthamz
Arkngthamz is located Southeast of Markarth. It’s pretty easy to find. Just follow the quest marker that you got from reading The Aetherium Wars, and it will lead you straight to it.
A short while into your trip to Arkngthamz, you’ll stumble over the corpse of a Nord woman. This woman tripped and stumbled (get it?) from a tree branch fairly high above you and bit the dust. Reading the journal on her corpse will reveal that she came to Arkngthamz in search of the Atherium Forge.
This journal contains hints regarding the locations of the forge, as well as the shards you need to access it, so keep it on hand throughout this quest. When you’re done with the journal, its owner will show up in the corporeal flesh for a chat. She’ll tell you that her name is Katria and that she is a researcher looking for the Aetherium Forge.
As it turns out, the man who wrote The Aetherium Forge stole Katria’s research, passing it off as his own and hogging all the glory for himself. She aims to find and craft something from the forge to prove that he’s a fraud. Naturally, you’re going to help her do that.
Retrieve the Aetherium Shard from Arkngthamz
After speaking with Katria, you’ll need to start heading upwards using a series of Dwemer pipes, ledges, and rocks. If you look up at any point during this climb, you’ll be able to see a log jutting out over you. Katria’s bow, Zephyr, is on this log. Zephyr is one of the best bows in all of Skyrim, so make sure you take it when you get up there, even if you’re not an Archery character.
Along the way, Katria will be feeling very chatty. She’ll warn you about various enemies and traps that litter Arkngthamz, so it’s worth lending her your ear. You’ll know you’re at the top when she comments on the spot that she fell from. Once you hear that line of dialogue, make retrieving Zephyr your top priority.
Continue through the ruins, and you’ll eventually come to a massive locked door. Surrounding the door, you’ll see five hollowed-out compartments with anemometers in them. The game calls these tonal locks.
Whenever you hit one of them, it will spin and light up. You need to hit all five of them in the correct order to open the door and proceed. If you hit them in the wrong order, well, something bad will happen. All the corpses surrounding you in this room should be enough of an environmental clue for you.
If you read Katria’s Journal, then you’ll already know what the first two locks in the combination are. There’s a dead adventure in the room with a note that will tell you the third lock.
After that, it’s just a 50/50 for you. However, Katria does give you a pretty unhelpful clue by stating there’s a certain pattern to the lock. Luckily for you, I’m here to give you a much better clue in the form of the actual combination.
- Bottom left.
- Bottom right.
- Top left.
- Top right.
That’s the order you’ll need to hit the locks in. To actually activate them, you’ll need to either use a bow or a projectile spell. If you don’t have either of these, you’ll have to use Zephyr.
Inside the room you just opened, you’ll be able to find your first Aetherium Shard. Katria will then tell you she’s going out in search of the others and that you should read her journal and join her. After disappearing, she’ll reappear at each shard’s location once you get there.
Retrieve the Aetherium Shard From Deep Folk Crossing
At this point in Lost to the Ages, you’re left to your own devices. Reading Katria’s journal will give you the general location of the last three shards, but if you don’t have the specific areas already discovered, you’re not going to get a quest marker.
You also don’t need to find them in any particular order. So, out of the three locations, you’ll need to visit, feel free to go to the ones you deem easiest first. For me, Deep Folk Crossing is easily the simplest of the three to obtain. Not only do you not have to go dungeon delving to get it, but you don’t even need to enter any additional load zones.
The crossing is located just Northeast of Markarth. When you arrive there, you’ll see a large Dwemer bridge that stretches over a river. Cross over the bridge and continue up a hill and you’ll be in front of a Dwarven alter with Katria.
There is a Dwarven Helmet and Sword on the alter, as well as the Aetherium Shard. It’s just sitting there, for some reason. Take it and the additional goodies to continue on your quest.
Retrieve the Aetherium Shard From Raldbthar
Raldbthar is the only one of the three last shards that require you to actually go into Dwemer ruins to collect. Raldbthar is located in the mountains Southwest of Windhelm. Most of you should already have this location discovered as it’s where the first major quest in the Dark Brotherhood questline takes place.
That quest is called Mourning Never Comes and involves killing a bandit at the entrance of the ruins. If you’ve completed that task, then the first section of this dungeon will already be clear for you, so you can just waltz in without needing to fight anything.
After that first section, you’ll end up in the Raldbthar Deep Market. Make your way through the market, pass a metal gate, and you’ll eventually reach a room full of water. The room will have a handful of Falmer for you to deal with, but, more importantly, it has a series of gears dotted around the walls.
If you walk up to one of these gears, you’ll see that they’re blocked either by bones or Dwemer scrap. Get close enough to a gear, and you’ll be given the option to remove the blockage.
You need to do this for all of the gears in the room. You can see most of them pretty easily. The only real hidden one is submerged under the water. Once you’ve cleared all of the blockages, a bridge will drop down to reveal your path forward, as well as a Dwarven Centurion.
Once the Centurion is defeated, you and Katria will fight through another series of rooms with Dwarven automatons. You’ll locate the shard, as well as the elevator back to the surface, at the end of this series of rooms.
Retrieve the Aetherium Shard from Mzulft
After raiding Raldbthar, you should only have one shard left to obtain. Thankfully, somebody left this priceless piece of Aetherium just sitting in a glorified shed outside Mzulft, so you won’t actually need to go dungeon-delving for it. You always can if you want to, though.
Mzulft is South and a little East of Windhelm. Follow the mountain line down, and you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding it. Rather than heading into the entrance of Mzulft itself, you’re looking for a Dwarven Storeroom that’s located outside, above the surface.
There’s a little bit of loot in here to accompany the shard, but nothing too major or noteworthy. There are also three locked doors inside the storeroom. Two of them are Apprentice level, and the last one is Expert level. You need to open two of these three doors to loot the Aetherium Shard.
Once you have all four shards in your possession, Katria will tell you to find the forge.
Find the Aetherium Forge
If you consult Katria’s journal, you’ll be told that the Aetherium Forge is somewhere near Lake Honrich, right next to Ivarstead. This is a little inaccurate. The forge is actually located in the hills below the lake, almost directly South of Ivarstead.
You’re looking for the Ruins of Bthalft. These ruins were pretty pointless in vanilla Skyrim. They’re open-air, so there’s no dungeon attached to them. All there is to find is a makeshift bandit camp. With Dawnguard, though, the ruins become the hiding place for the Aetherium Forge, so jog on over to them to continue with Lost to the Ages.
Once you’re at Bthalft, Katria will pop in for a cup of tea. She’ll point out how she loves what the Dwemer have done with the place, namely a big ornate globe sitting on a pedestal. Needless to say, you’re going to go investigate it.
If you approach the globe, you’ll see that there’s a slot that’s shaped like your Aetherium Shards. You’ll need to put all four into the slot and then take them out after the globe turns them into a unified Aetherium Crest. Take the crest, and your screen will start to shake pretty violently. Step off of the platform that the globe is on, and it’ll shoot up into the sky, revealing a massive lift and the entrance to the Aetherium Forge.
Defeat the Forgemaster
After taking the lift down, you’ve got a pretty straightforward path to the Aetherium Forge itself. You’ve just got to proceed down the path, following the self-lighting torches. You might think that you’re done now that you’ve reached the door. You’re playing a video game, though, so I hope you’re not that naive because the worst is still to come.
In the forge room, you’ll see raised platforms to your left and right. On each of these platforms, there’s a valve. You need to activate both of these valves to turn off the steam in the room. After doing that, a wave of spiders will spawn in. When you kill them, more spiders and spheres will spawn, and the steam will reactivate. You need to turn off the steam again and kill all of the Dwarven automatons.
After you do all of that, you need to fight the Forgemaster, who effectively serves as the final boss for this entire quest. The Forgemaster is massive and rises out of the lava behind the forge, so if that doesn’t tell you this is going to be a tough fight, nothing will.
Even on lower difficulties, the Forgemaster will mess you up. He’s Master level and the strongest Centurion in the game by a country mile. He also spits fire instead of steam. You’ll have Katria to help, so you can let her take the aggro if you want to keep your distance, but you’ll still need to be extremely careful.
Approach the fight however you want. Once you’re done, you can activate the Aetherium Forge to make either the Aetherial Crown, Aetherial Staff, or Aetherial Shield. You can only choose one of them, so choose wisely. If you’re missing any of the components to craft them, you can find them in the rooms just off the forge.
Craft your reward and say your goodbyes to Katria. Lost to the Ages will then be complete.
The Aetherial Staff is arguably the most underwhelming of all three possible rewards for Lost to the Ages. It’s charged spell staff that summons either a Dwarven Sphere or Spider wherever you’re pointing it. There’s also a chance for it to summon random bits of Dwemer scrap instead, implying that it could not actually put together your automaton.
Now, as amusing as your staff failing at its Skyrim-Lego set, that’s not exactly the kind of power you want as a reward for finishing a quest that literally takes you to the four corners of Skyrim’s map. It also doesn’t look all that unique. In fact, it’s almost identical to the Spider Control Rod that you can find in vanilla Skyrim. If you still want the staff despite all that, you do you, don’t let me stop you.
The Aetherial Shield is a bit stronger than the Staff, but it’s still not as strong as the Aetherial Crown. Its effect is pretty cool, though. When you bash someone with it, it turns them ethereal and casts fear on them for 15 seconds. In layman’s terms, your enemy will run away from you and not be able to hit or be hit for 15 seconds.
This effect works on almost every enemy in Skryim, excluding dragons. The shield doesn’t look too dissimilar to a regular Dwarven Shield, with the exception of the big Aetherial plate in the center of it.
The Aetherial Shield is more of a gimmick than anything else, but it’s a fun gimmick. Plus, it means you’ll always be able to get time to heal up in combat if you get yourself into a pickle. Still, I wouldn’t recommend you take it over the Aetherial Crown.
The Aetherial Crown is a unique-looking circlet, which isn’t anything too special, but its ability is. With the Aetherial Crown equipped, you can have two active Standing Stones at any one time. If you don’t think this ability is broken, you’re wrong. For example, you can combine the Lover Stone with your starting class stone of choice, giving you a flat +35% XP increase to all of your skills in your class.
That itself is enough to make the crown leagues better than the other two Aetherial items, but you don’t have to use it for leveling. There are a bunch of different combinations of Standing Stones that are absolutely busted.
I’m not one for using the unique items I get. I prefer to lock them up in a trophy cabinet in my home. However, once I get the Aetherial Crown, I almost never take it off. It’s one of the most underappreciated and overpowered items in the game. So, if you want to get the best item out of the three Lost to the Ages rewards, this one is it.
Question: Where are All Four Aetherium Shards?
Answer: The four Aetherium Shards are located in the following Dwemer locations around Skyrim:
• Deep Water Crossing
Question: Are there Any More Aetherium Shards?
Answer: No. There are only four Aetherium Shards in the entire game, meaning you can only craft one of the three Aetherial items.
Question: Is Zephyr a Leveled Item?
Answer: No. Zephyr is not a leveled bow, meaning you can get it at any level without consequence.
That’s pretty much it for my Lost to the Ages guide. It’s a long quest that you probably won’t get through in one sitting, but the Aetherial Crown sort of makes all that effort worth it. I can’t say the same for the other two Aetherial items, but it’s still a fun quest.
Plus, after you complete Lost to the Ages, you have a chance to randomly run into Taron Dreth on your travels. Dreth, for those of you that don’t remember, is the author of The Aetherium Wars and the scumbag that stole Katria’s work.
He’ll attack you if you have an Aetherial item on your person, so you can hand out the only sentence worthy of a plagiariser – death.
In all seriousness, I do hope you manage to get something of use from this guide, whether that’s which Aetherial item to forge or where the four Aetherium Shards are located.