Soren Lantern-Heart - Nord Sorcerer (Master Wizard)
- The reclusive guildmaster of the Markarth chapter is one of the most individually powerful mages in western Skyrim, but has little interest in politics, other guild chapters, or even the activities of his own members. Soren rarely leaves his home (which is elsewhere in Markarth Side), preferring to concern himself with his own affairs.
- The experienced leader of the Helsgard Deep expedition and deputy of the Markarth chapter, Cyslandra and her team have recently fallen out of contact with the guild.
- Cyslandra's MG companions on the Helsgard Deep expedition. Tough and competent.
- Steward of the MK guildhall, and the questgiver for the earlier part of the questline. Runs the day-to-day at the hall.
Denegal - Wood Elf Battlemage (Apprentice) and Cassia Vitilia - Imperial Alchemist (Journeyman)
- Younger guild members. Cassia provides modest Alchemy services.
The Guild in Markarth Side is the oldest in the Reach, and its well-established reputation regularly earns its members high-profile commissions. The current such contract is the Helsgard Deep expedition, a joint effort with the Fighters Guild to probe the depths of the eponymous tomb-complex and attempt to rediscover the semi-legendary gate to the Underworld found within. King Barda himself sent the expedition on its way some months ago, before his recent illness. With Soren Lantern-Heart continuing to ignore the world, and Cyslandra missing or dead, the young but enthusiastic Emmandic Courcelles is currently running the guildhall's more everyday operations. Emmandic runs a tight ship, and is eager to get formally promoted to second-in-command if Cyslandra never returns.
Quest I - The Lady and the Lake
- Emmandic has received a contract from a woman named Haeli who lives in Markarth Side. Haeli has evidently lost a prized enchanted ring while strolling out on the docks, and would like the Guild to come find it for her. The player can find the ring in the harbor using Detect Enhantment and return it to Haeli, who seems a bit disappointed that Emmandic did not come himself.
- Things have been going missing from the catacombs beneath (outside?) the city, and tombs have been disturbed. The tomb is actively used by the residents of Markarth Side, so these thefts have been noticed. In response, someone placed an amateurish curse on the tomb, causing everyone who enters to emerge feeling ill. The cityfolk are no closer to finding the thief, but now are more concerned with removing the nasty enchantment on their ancestors' burial place. The player, upon entering, is immediately stricken with Brown Rot. A hunt through the tomb will reveal a dead bonewalker, strangely out of place here in Skyrim. Investigating further will lead the player to the local Dark Elf hostel of Vadas Marvani, where a newly-arrived Dunmer named Trayna Resvalyn admits to summoning the bonewalker, but stenuously denies being the thief. Trayna claims she saw a Nord woman - Haeli - repeatedly exiting the tomb with trinkets, and wanted to impress her Nord neighbors by protecting their tomb from the bandit. She thanks the player for removing her overzealous curse and asks them not to reveal her part in the scheme. Confronting Haeli requires a speech check, but she will eventually admit to having stolen enchanted items from the tomb in order to "lose" them again (as in quest I) in order to get Emmandic's attention. The player can either turn her in to the guards, pin the crime on Trayna, or claim to have killed the thief outside town. Either way, Emmandic is a bit embarrassed by the whole situation.
- Relations with the Fighters Guild have been strained since the Helsgard Deep expedition went missing. Emmandic wants to fix that by aiding the FG with a difficult contract, free of charge. The Fighters Guild has run into some kind of magical barrier while clearing a band of highwaymen from the Direnni ruin Amrothal - they were able to clear the upper levels of the ruin (this should be a FG quest), but can't penetrate past some kind of magical barrier in the depths, nor do they have the means to navigate the huge vertical mineshaft. Emmandic charges the player with delivering some potions of levitation to the FG. The Fighters ask for help opening the magical barrier, which seems to be impervious to magical or physical attack. Emmandic recommends speaking with Calcelmo, a High Elf Alchemist who serves as the court wizard for King Barda. Calcelmo, an expert on the Direnni and their magic, informs the player that Amrothal was once a Direnni attempt to physically drill into the Nordic Underworld. He suggests that the barrier is likely an ancient Direnni mechanism requiring a certain potion to be consumed before passing through it. He will provide the player with this potion if the player brings him some alchemical ingredients. Drinking the potion indeed allows the player to pass the barrier, revealing (after a bit more exploration in lower Amrothal) a caved-in passageway. A bit of digging about will reveal the body of Narin Sunken-Grove, a member of the Helsgard Deep expedition from the Fighters Guild, clutching a letter from Cyslandra marked for Soren Lantern-Heart's eyes only.
- The Fighter's Guild rewards the player (via Emmandic) for discovering Narin's body. Emmandic tells you that he'll bring the letter to Soren, but in the meantime he wants you to head to Helsgard Deep and attempt to find some trace of the lost expedition. Helsgard Deep is an enormous dungeon crawl, with many treasures to be found and enemies to fight, but a thorough player will indeed find the remnants of a campsite deep in the complex. No trace of the expedition is here, but one passageway leads to a great stone wall with runes carved upon it. Blood is on the floor, along with an ornate knife, and the player recovers a journal penned by Grisdir, which describes being attacked by eyeless globs of magical flesh, which dragged several of his comrades through a breach in the carved wall. Attempting to step through this breach results in a messagebox and a strong force pushing the player back. Back in Markarth, Emmandic accepts the journal, gives a reward, and asks the player to speak with Soren at his home.
- Soren explains that the wall is the legendary Fence of the Fallen, a ritual barrier between the worlds of life and death. He explains that crossing the Fence requires one to have been slain in battle - only the soul of one who has sustained mortal injury may pass the wall. While Soren has no idea what could have dragged the members of the expedition through the breach, he suspected that they are likely dead, or the magic would not have let them cross. But Cyslandra's letter (from Quest III) shared her solution: to cross the Fence, one must die - but only temporarily. Cyslandra discovered that a mortal wound from the ritual knife would be healed once the subject passed the barrier, so she cut her own head off, walked through, and re-attached it. The cave leading to Amrothal was found further down, so Cyslandra sent Narin back in the hopes of finding a way out. The player returns to the Fence of the Fallen, and in a scripted sequence, cuts off their own head. Following a succession of pop-up-boxes, the player fumbles their way through the breach in the Fence before recapitating themselves. Beyond the barrier lies an extensive cave system lined by strangely pulsing biological growths, which launch magical attacks at the player until destroyed. An immense, ancient stone door blocks the path forward, but in an adjacent antechamber, the player finds a ragged-looking Cyslandra and Tarug gro-Dular.
- Cyslandra, grievously wounded but alive, breathlessly informs the player that the expedition members were abducted one by one by the monstrous offspring of some ancient Direnni experiment, an alchemical creature the elves had bred specifically for the purposes of bypassing the Fence of the Fallen. She and Tarug attempted to follow and rescue them, but the other expedition members were already all dead. Cyslandra mentions that before she trapped the creature in the main cavern, she saw several more of the half-biological "nodes" grown into the walls. She believes that the monster, having grown powerful for millennia by caching magical power from the threshold of the Underworld, can be weakened and killed by destroying these nodes. The player must enter the final chamber of Helsgard Deep - the Chasm, a narrow bridge above a bottomless abyss, and fend off the creature's alchemical blasts while using levitation or ranged attacks to reach the nodes. When all the nodes have been destroyed, the alchemical leviathan (implemented as an activator, most likely) will finally die, opening the passage to the Underworld. Returning to the Guildhall, Soren asks the player to keep the discovery a secret. Alternatively, the player can return to King Barda's court and inform Calcelmo.