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How to complete the quest Shadows return in Skyrim

After passing the Thieves Association quest in Skyrim, it’s finally time to participate in the final quest titled Darkness Returns. With your newly acquired Skeleton Key, you’ll need to make your way to the Twilight Sepulcher and face Nocturnal.

Related: Skyrim: How to fully restore the Thieves Guild

In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about completing The darkness returns, including the rewards you will receive upon completion. Although this quest is the last in the story of the Thieves’ Guild, it is quite simple and can be completed quickly. First, let’s take a look at all the quests that you’ll need to complete before starting Darkness Returns.

Prerequisites for completion


standing stone beside the entrance to the nightingale hall

Below you can find a complete list of every quest you need to complete before you get to Darkness Returns. This includes every quest in the Thieves Guild quest line.

Mission Name NPCs to talk to
A chance arrangement Brynjolf
Business care Brynjolf
Loud and clear Brynjolf
Shock Absorber Spirit Maven Black-Briar

  • Located in Regular Ri
    • in The Bee and Barb or Black-Briar Meadery
Scoundrel’s Folly Mercer Frey
Speak with silence Mercer Frey
The answer is difficult Karliah
The track Karliah
Trinity is restored Karliah
Blind Karliah and Brynjolf

  • Located in Irkngthand
    • you can get here by going west from Windhelm

Accept the return of darkness

After completing Blindsighted, you will automatically received this quest from Karliah. Here, she will tell you that the Skeleton Key must be returned to the Twilight Sepulcher.

Journey to the Twilight Grave


Twilight tomb location on the map

The Twilight Sepulcher is a mausoleum, located northwest of Falkreath. To come here, start at Falkreath and go into the mausoleum. Yes There are no other locations nearby, making it easy to find.

This ruined tomb is home of Ebonmere, a portal to Nocturnal’s Oblivion plane. When Mercer Frey stole the Skeleton Key, this portal was interrupted which is why you need to reset the Skeleton Key.


ghost of gallus standing in twilight grave

When entering the Dusk Tomb, Talk to the Nightingale Sentinel, whose name is Gallus. When you talk to Gallus, you will learn about Pilgrim’s Path, consisting of five trials. You can go straight to the first test, which is located behind Gallus, or get Nystrom’s Journal. Getting back the magazine is optional, but it will contain vague quizzes on how to complete the tests. Magazines can be found to the right of Gallus, near Nystrom’s skeleton.

Test one

The first test you will face involves ferocious Nightingale ghosts. Kill or sneak by these ghosts to move forward. Killing the ghosts will allow you to take the loot in the room. For more loot, go to the room on the left with the alchemy table and press the button under the desk. Doing so will reveal a room with loot.

Test Two

For this trial, you will need to navigate the room while in the darkest. If you accidentally walk into the light, you will start large amount of damage.

Test three


nocturnal statue for the third challenge

The third room you enter will have a statue, two wall lamps and a dead bandit. Here you will need Pull the two chains next to the cupcake. This way, the light in the cupcakes will turn off and the door behind the statue will open.

Test Four

There are two ways to solve the fourth test area, including a corridor full of traps and a room full of fierce guards.

Trapped corridors can be avoided by Select a master padlock on a door to the left of the first hallway. If you manage to successfully choose the key, you will Pass all the traps and move into the last room with the guards.

If you’ve chosen to go through the trapped corridor, watch out for swinging axes and slamming blows. These can cause a lot of damage, and axes will transmit diseases.

Kill the guards in the last room, take any loot, and then go into the fifth trial.

Test Year


the bone key is being placed in the ebonmere khóa key

Finally, you are on the fifth attempt. When entering the room, you will see a giant hole. It is important to note that Once you get into the pit, you can’t turn around. Make sure you have all the loot before going into the pit.

Jump into the pit and wait a few seconds before locking the react frame. When this happens, the floor of the pit will disappear and you will see the Ebonmere lock. Place the Skeleton Key here, and Nocturnal will be summoned.

Talk about the night


players talk about the night

With the key set, Nocturnal will appear and talk to you. Nocturnal will thank you for returning the key, and allows you to become a ‘real’ Nightingale dealer. Listen to her talk about this, and then talk to Karliah.

Note: There may be a bug here that causes Karliah to disappear when you talk to Nocturnal. It’s important to save often to avoid getting stuck here. If this happens, you can also wait an hour or two (some players report a need to wait up to five hours), which may cause Karliah to reappear. When she reappeared, quickly talk to Nocturnal so she doesn’t disappear anymore.

Now that the Skeleton Key has been returned, you will have the option to become Agent of Strife, Subterfuge, or Shadows. Karliah will explain what each means, but let’s take a quick look at each one below.

Dealer type What is its meaning?
Strike When using Strife’s greater power, you will instantly Absorb 100 health points from your target.
Subterfuge When using a power greater than your Subterfuge, The judgment of those around you will be clouded. This means that nearby people and creatures will attack anyone around, no matter who they are.
Shadows When you use Shadow’s greater power, you become stealth while crouching for 120 seconds.

Each of these powers can be used once a day, but you will only be able to accept one. Fortunately, you can change your chosen greater power once a day also; all you need to do is go back to Twilight Sepulcher.

Note: There was an error while re-selecting your Agent status. With this bug, the icons for each state won’t appear when reselected. Remember to save before going into Twilight Sepulcher to avoid getting stuck here.

Once you have selected your Affiliate status, Go to the gate to leave.

Reward for completing the return of darkness


inside ratway tavern pub area

After completing this task, You have completed the main quest of the Thieves Guild! You will have the option to continue with quests to restore the clan, as well as become the leader.

As a reward for completing the quest, you will receive one of the powers mentioned above, and unlock the quest Under New Manager; This quest prepares you to become Guild Master. Return to Ragged Flagon in Ri regular to start Under new management.

Next: Skyrim: A Guide to Laid To Rest Quest



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