Thousands of years ago, Skyrim didn’t belong to the Nords but rather to the dragons. Mortals worshipped the dragons as gods, and some of them were lucky enough to be granted the favor of their dragon overlords. These lucky few became known as Dragon Priests.
The dragons bestowed knowledge and magical abilities onto these Dragon Priests in addition to enchanted masks to bolster their power. When the rule of dragons came to an end, the days of the Dragon Priests were so too numbered. With the return of Alduin, the Dragon Priests have awakened from their slumber to serve their old masters.
Eight Dragon Priests lay in sarcophaguses throughout Skyrim as liches, still donning the masks that their dragon masters gave them. Volsung is one such Dragon Priest entombed inside the Nordic ruins of Volskygge.
As the Last Dragonborn destined to defeat Alduin once and for all, I feel obligated to put an end to the Dragon Priests as well and claim their powerful masks for myself. Let’s start with Volsung.
- Black or Grand soul gem (All Dragon Priests are Grand Souls)
- Items that provide frost resistance
- Potions or magical apparel that buff your primary attack style
- Companion or Dremora Lord summoning spell
What Level Should I Be Before Taking on Volsung?
It depends on how much time you’ve been spending at the blacksmith’s forge, alchemy lab, and the arcane enchanter. Every Dragon Priest in the base game is level 50 with maxed skills of Destruction, Conjuration, Alternation, and Restoration.
They also know Command Daedra, so the only minion you can summon is the Dremora Lord (Due to immunity from expulsion or command), which is an endgame Conjuration spell.
If you’re still walking around in Imperial armor and using a non-tempered steel sword, give Dragon Priests a wide berth. But if you have done some fortifying on your weapons and armor and or have access to powerful potions (Your own or pre-made from alchemist shops) and are comfortable at punching up, you can head for Volskygge pretty early.
I’ve defeated Dragon Priests before hitting level 30. At level 40 and up, Dragon Priests should be no problem for you.
Archers with companions or summoned minions have the easiest time. Run for cover as soon as the Dragon Priest appears, using your companion or minion as a meat shield. Pop your best Fortify Marksman or True Shot potion and aim for a ramped-up sneak attack. Anyone of any attack style can get it done, however.
Volskygge is in the Haafingar hold in the far northwestern part of Skyrim. It’s a straight shot west of the capital city of Solitude and slightly southwest of Lost Echo Cave.
- Surfeit of Thieves
- Two emeralds
- Whirlwind Sprint Word of Power
- Volsung mask
- Khavozein’s Fang (Potentially)
As soon as you arrive, head down the stairs into the excavation area. Watch out for the pressure plate trap as you make your way into the tomb on your left. There’s some minor loot here in the burial urns, a dead draugr on the floor, plus a live draugr in the left coffin.
After clearing out this room, make your way up the northern set of stairs. There will be several bandits outside that you’ll need to eliminate. Once that’s done, head inside Volskygge.
The first room appears to have been a throne room. A pressure plate trap in front of the throne will shoot out poisoned darts if triggered. Several bandits are a short way ahead and will likely come into the throne room to confront you.
After taking care of them, head down the winding path and deeper into the tomb. There’s another pressure plate trap that activates the swinging spike gate. You can avoid it by heading right instead of down the middle.
Another bandit is just down the stairs along with an apprentice-locked chest. Keep pressing forward until you come to an intersection. Two bandits are in the room on the left near the locked gate. Make sure to check the bookshelf for a copy of Surfeit of Thieves, a Lockpicking skill book.
Pick the adept-locked gate and pull the lever to reveal a secret room just to your right. Inside is a chest with some random loot and a couple of potions on a table. Head back the way you came and down the right path into the dining area.
Kill some bandits, loot the dead draugr, and raid the shelves and tables for some potions. There’s a well-concealed pressure plate trap in front of the iron door, so watch out.
All finished? Then make your way into the puzzle room.
There are pedestals in each of the room’s four corners, with emblems of the snake, fox, wolf, and bear on them. There’s a book called The Four Totems of Volskygge on a pillar in front of the locked gate.
Reading it will give you hints on how to solve the puzzle. You have to activate the four handles in the correct order to move forward. Doing it in the wrong order will release several draugr. I like doing it incorrectly on purpose because I like free loot.
Activating the correct handle will cause a fire to start on the coffin pillar with the brazier on top. The correct order is snake, bear, fox, and wolf. The gate will open up, and you’ll be free to press on.
You’ve completed the first section of Volskygge! Head down the winding stairway and make your way into the Volskygge Passages.
Bandit playtime is over, and it’s a draugr fest now. Pick up some minor loot in this first room before opening the iron door. There’s a lever in the first room, but it just opens up the gate to your left with nothing inside.
Go into the next room, with a lone draugr and a booby-trapped chest that will launch darts if sprung. Activate the lever next to the locked gate in this room to move on.
A pressure plate will trigger a pendulum trap in the corridor into the adjacent chamber. Watch out for the grate in this next room; it’s a trap door with a Mortal Kombat-style spike trap at the bottom.
There are wooden platforms on the way down that can break your fall. However, falling will place you right in the middle of the draugr crypt and make it harder for you to get the drop of them.
Head around this trap door to a dead bandit on the right side of the room. Pull the lever beside her to reveal a secret room with another lever.
Activate this one to open up a second room with an adept-locked chest and a healing potion on a pedestal. Grabbing it will trigger a spike trap on the floor in front of the pedestal, so grab it from the side before heading back.
Make your way down the path and into the crypt proper. Several draugr will be playing possum, but it’s easy to spot which are alive since they have weapons equipped. There’s yet another spiked gate trap (The old Nords really loved these things, didn’t they) that you can use to your advantage.
From the pressure plate on the floor, you can take the path on the left and go down the stairs to kill another draugr near the spike pit, but there’s nothing else of note. Go back into the crypt, past the spiked gate, and pick the apprentice-locked chest.
Keep going forward and into a large burial chamber with 5-6 draugr. At least one will be a draugr scourge, who can use the Unrelenting Force shout.
Go up the stairs in the center of the crypt and straight into the room to the north. Another draugr scourge will be here, along with several leveled health potions on the altar.
Head back into the previous room and take the stairs on your right. A pressure plate halfway up will trigger a log of doom trap, and there’s a single draugr at the top of the staircase.
You’re out of draugr territory for now and stepped right into a frost spider nest. By this point, these things are small fries, so feel free to take a breather here.
Make your way through the winding cave, making sure to loot the cracked egg sacs for precious spider eggs. There are a couple of frost spiders to take care of and several webs to hack down.
Eventually, you’ll reach a chamber with a river. Four or so frost spiders will drop down from the ceiling. Kill them, head up the winding path, chop down one last web, and you’ll be back in the crypt section of Volskygge.
Head up the stairs and disarm the booby-trapped chest before looting it. You’ll be inside a double-bridged chamber with several draugr. Kill them, then travel down the river on the right side to reach a chest and an orichalcum ore vein at the end.
After hiking up the set of stairs, there’s a fancy-looking stairway on the left side of the next room. Waiting for you at the top is a draugr death overlord sitting on his throne.
Draugr death overlords are the strongest draugr in the game and you shouldn’t underestimate them. They can use several shouts, and if you’re a high enough level, they will be using ebony equipment.
That makes them a tough fight but means you get a well-deserved, high-value reward. Slay the draugr death overlord, then loot his throne room.
You’re in the home stretch now. Head up the stairs behind the throne and outside to Volskygge Peak.
As soon as you step outside, you’ll hear the chanting of a nearby word wall. But before you climb those steps, look to the right to see an eagle sculpture. On the ground on both sides of it will be an emerald. Cha-ching.
Climb up the steps and go to the word wall to claim a second word of the Whirlwind Sprint shout. After doing so, the dragon priest Volsung will rise from his slumber and attack you.
Volsung can be a tough fight if you are not prepared. He will use high-level Alternation spells like Ebonyflesh, Greater Ward, and Frost Cloak to defend himself and frost magic to attack. While he can summon Frost Atronachs, I have never seen him do so. He mostly spams Icy Spear.
Slay him with your attack method of choice, then loot his corpse for the final prize of Volskygge: the Volsung mask.
Was going through this Nordic ruin worth it? You better believe it.
The Volsung mask is a fantastic headpiece and one of the best dragon priest masks in the game. Light Armor users are in luck, as it ties with the Krosis mask for the highest base armor rating of any light armor headpiece in Skyrim. Where it really shines, however, is in its’ bonus effects.
Volsung is one of the few headpieces in Skyrim with the Fortify Barter effect, giving you +20% better prices while bartering. On top of that, it provides +20 carry weight and lets you breathe underwater. You can improve the mask using corundum ingots, and it benefits from the Daedric Smithing perk at level 90 Smithing.
And that’s it, ladies and gentlemen. That’s one Dragon Priest down and seven more to go.
Alternative Method: Skip the Tomb and Head Straight for the Peak
If you want to bypass the interior of Volskygge, you can use HM08 (Thumbs up if you get the reference) to rock climb up the mountain and head straight for the peak and word wall. In typical Skyrim fashion, it’s hard to tell which mountains you can scale and which ones you can’t.
I can confirm that you can climb the rocky slopes at Volskygge by heading up the left side.
You can do so on foot, but it works best if you’re riding a horse.
Question: Is Volsung the Best Fortify Barter Headpiece in the Game?
Answer: No. The Masque of Clavicus Vile from the A Daedra’s Best Friend quest is the best Fortify Barter headpiece with +20% better prices and +10 Speechcraft. The Blackguard’s Hood is also superior to Volsung, with +25% better prices.
Question: What is the Kahvozein’s Fang?
Answer: It’s a unique dagger necessary for harvesting Dragon Heartscales from the slain beasts. It spawns randomly in Nordic ruins, and the chest in the throne room is where it will be in Volskygge if you’re lucky.
Once you obtain it, you need to achieve level 90 Alteration and speak with Tolfdir at the College of Winterhold. Speaking with him will start the Alternation Ritual Spell quest and reward you with two high-level Alternation spells.
Question: How Tough is Volsung Compared to the Other Dragon Priests?
Answer: A lot of it, of course, depends on when you decide to take them on, but I’ve always found Volsung to be one of the easiest. And that’s a good thing for you since his mask is one of the most useful.
Volskygge Guide: Conclusion
I think the Dragon Priests are their tombs (Or peaks), are a great addition to the Elder Scrolls series. The Daedric Lord quests are regularly the best side quests in any Elder Scrolls game, but it’s nice having good ones of the local variety. Skyrim is all about dragons, and it does that part of the game well.
But Volsung is just one Dragon Priest, and there are plenty more for you to take down. With Volly boy’s mask, you’ll be able to afford some upgrades to further arm yourself in preparation for the rest of the dangers in the world of Skyrim. Press on, Dragonborn.