Introduced into Skyrim with the Dawnguard DLC, Lost to the Ages is an extensive sidequest that sees the player delve into multiple Dwemer ruins to uncover the mysteries of Aetherium, as well as uncover the long-lost Aetherium Forge. Although the quest can be quite long, it is well worth the effort, especially if the player is interested in Dwemer artifacts and history.
Lost to the Ages will not only take players inside completely new Dwemer ruins, but also have them traversing the entire map of Skyrim in search of the illusive Aetherium Shards that make up the main focus of the storyline alongside the ghost of an explorer on a similar quest, Katria.
Triggering The Quest
In order to trigger the quest, not unlike Boethiah's Calling and The Legend of Red Eagle, the player needs to obtain a book titled The Aetherium Wars, which goes into detail about the history of the four Dwarven city-states in Skyrim and their conflict over control of Aetherium. The book is fairly easy to find and is scattered throughout most of Skyrim, but the easiest place to find it is in Farengar's library in Whiterun. However, if the player already knows where the first phase of the quest is, they can also find it on Katria's body in Arkngthamz as well as her journal, just after they first interact with her in the old Dwemer ruin. While there is no level limit to this quest, it isn't recommended that players attempt this at lower levels, as there are several Falmer and Dwarven Centurions that need to be fought along the way.
Travel To Arkngthamz
After initiating Lost to the Ages, the player will be directed towards Arkngthamz, located just southeast of Dushnikh Yal in The Reach, near Markarth. After entering, a ghostly voice will tell the player to turn back and leave, though if they continue ahead, the ghost of Katria will greet them and ask them what they are still doing there. After a short conversation, Katria will agree to accompany the player to find the Aetherium Shard inside Arkngthamz. If players don't keep going with this side quest, Katria will continue to follow them in the overworld and is an immortal follower, not unlike Barbas with the Daedra's Best Friend quest.
The dungeon itself is fairly linear and difficult to get lost in, though there are several high falls that may lead to the player accidentally dying if they aren't careful, not unlike how Katria died. Towards the end of the dungeon, players can find Katria's old bow, Zephyr, which fires 30% faster than regular bows and can be enchanted on top of its inherent effect. In the final room, there is a tonal lock that needs to be hit with arrows or projectile spells in order to unlock to doorway that leads to the Aetherium Shard, though getting the combination wrong will lead to the player being attacked by Dwarven automatons. After four failed attempts, a Centurion will emerge to fight the player, which is a very difficult battle for low-level characters, but will mark the end of the player being attacked on a failed attempt, with the exception of the ballista set into the walls.
After getting the correct combination, which is the bottom left, bottom right, top left, top right, and center switches, the side gates will open and lead the way to the room with the Aetherium Shard, which also holds a couple of randomized chests that should be looted as well as many Dwarven Scrap pieces and a Dynamo Core. After taking the shard, Katria will continue on without you, only appearing at each new location once the player reaches it.
Finding The Second Shard
The first entry in Katria's journal, aside from Arkngthamz, talks about a place called Bthar-zei, which is very easily confused with the Dwemer ruin Bthardamz but is, in fact, found in Deep Folk Crossing, found northeast of Markarth and near Bruca's Leap Redoubt. While it is an entirely separate location, Bthardamz is relatively close to Deep Folk Crossing, found just south of the location of the second Aetherium Shard, though unlike the first piece, this one isn't inside a dungeon and is out in the open on a pedestal at the highest point of Deep Folk Crossing.
Finding The Third Shard
The third entry in Katria's journal describes the primary source of Aetherium, which is located inside Raldbathar, a Dwemer ruin that players must enter for one of the assassinations in the Dark Brotherhood quest Mourning Never Comes. If players haven't already done the Dark Brotherhood questline, Radbathar is found west of Windhelm, just south of the main river, and is usually inhabited by bandits. Once the bandits have been cleared from the main area, head into the far room at the back of the dungeon to enter Raldbthar Deep Market and head deeper into the ruin. There aren't many tough enemies that make life difficult inside Raldbthar, though there are some Falmer and Dwarven automatons that are common to all Dwemer ruins. In the final room, however, there are not only many Falmer and Chaurus to contend with, but also another Dwarven Centurion that attacks the player once the door to the Aetherium Shard has been opened. In order to open this door, the player needs to unblock all of the gears in this room to make the bridge fall and allow the player to move forward. While most of these gears are relatively easy to spot, there is one elusive gear underwater, just above where the bridge falls. Once the Centurion has been defeated and the Aetherium Shard has been taken, players can move on to the next ruin and the next shard.
Finding The Final Shard
The final shard, much like the second shard, isn't found inside a large dungeon, though it is located behind several locked doors instead. The location of this Aetherium Shard is said to be a storage site for raw Aetherium, near a major city. This major city isn't one currently inhabited and refers to Mzulft, the Dwemer ruin that players are sent to for the College of Winterhold quest Revealing the Unseen, where players are tasked with finding a map to locate the Staff of Magnus.
However, the Aetherium Shard isn't found inside the main dungeon and is instead located in a separate building, found just outside of the main entrance to Mzulft. After entering this building, players will either need to unlock an Expert level door in order to reach the Aetherium Shard or go around through a connecting room that has a far less difficult lock to lockpick. This side room also has a large number of Dwarven scraps that are useful for leveling up the Smithing skill or making Dwarven Bolts for the Crossbow. After taking the final Aetherium Shard, Katria will congratulate the player and tell them to meet her at the Aetherium Forge.
The Aetherium Forge
The Aetherium Forge can be accessed through the Ruins of Bthalft, found south of Ivarstead. After reaching the ruins, place the shards on the pedestal in order to gain access to the elevator into the main dungeon and the final part of the Lost to the Ages quest. Once inside the ruins, follow the path to another tonal lock, which is much less complicated than the first one and simply requires the player to hit all of the spinners in any order. Once inside the main room, shut off the steam valves to gain access to the forge itself, which will trigger a battle with many Dwarven automatons in quick succession, followed by the main boss, the Forgemaster.
Unlike every other Dwarven Centurion battled so far, this one breathes fire instead of steam and is resistant to fire damage. The best way to approach this boss battle is to hit it with Frost damage from afar, as the fire breath can melt away large chunks of health on even high-level characters. Once the Forgemaster has been defeated, take all of the contents from the chest to the far left of the forge and speak to Katria.
Which Item To Craft
After a short conversation, Katria will realize that the player can use the Aetherium Shards to craft a unique Aetherium item, but the player can only choose one won't get the chance to change their mind later. The Aetherial Staff is probably the least useful, though the ability to summon Dwarven Spiders or Spheres is a unique power that isn't available by any other means. The Aetherial Shield is a relatively useful item that turns enemies ethereal that are hit with its shield bash attack, removing them from combat for a short time. The most useful item for most players is the Aetherial Crown, which allows the player to hold two Standing Stone powers at once.
Once the player has chosen their item, Katria will thank them for their assistance and disappear, completing the quest. However, if players have Ahzidal's Boots of Waterwalking, the Vampire Lord form, or the Become Ethereal shout, they can explore the area immediately behind the forge to find some randomized chests that are otherwise inaccessible.
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