Saying that there is a hoard of quests and equipment in Skyrim is an understatement. There’s a seemingly unending amount of things for you to do in the game, including helping out the divine entities of Tamriel. This often happens by accident; you’re exploring one of the many dungeons in Skyrim, crack open a chest, and loot anything that looks remotely interesting. Sometimes, you’ll find a long-lost object and draw the attention of a Daedric Prince.
If you can be bothered helping them after they’ve moaned at you for a while, you’ll probably end up with some pretty good rewards. One of these rewards is Dawnbreaker, a powerful sword given by Meridia once you complete a particular quest. If you’re looking for a blade capable of dispatching the undead and unholy with ease, this sword is the one for you. Helping Meridia is worthwhile, but it’ll require you to delve deep into some labyrinthine dungeons full of the undead. This guide can help you avoid getting lost and ending up as worm food.
Starting the quest for Dawnbreaker
To earn the Dawnbreaker, you’ll first need to start the related quest, the Break of Dawn. This can be done in one of two ways – finding a particular item, called Meridia’s Beacon, or discovering the Statue of Meridia. Obtaining Meridia’s Beacon is pretty much completely down to luck. Its spawn is entirely random, and could be in any one of scores of chests, above and below ground. If you have your heart set on finding this item first, you’re best off looking in dungeons, caves, and the like for chests. It probably isn’t going to spawn in some random villager’s home, after all.
The second method is by far the easiest. The Statue of Meridia can be found in the mountains near Solitude. You can find it easily by traveling due west from Solitude; if you follow the path, the statue will pop up on your compass before long. Approaching the statue will give you the opportunity to speak with it, as a proxy for Meridia herself. If you do so, she will tell you that a necromancer has occupied her temple, infesting it with undead abominations. She will then demand that you must head there and clear it out, stating that she cannot stand the insult of the undead defiling her place of worship. If you agree to help, you will gain a quest marker to the chest holding Meridia’s Beacon, and the nearby Kilkreath Ruins will become available. You’ll need to visit these ruins for the next step of the quest.
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Venturing into Kilkreath Ruins
Once you have placed Meridia’s Beacon at the Statue of Meridia, you can head into Kilkreath Ruins and start on your path to becoming Meridia’s Champion. Essentially, you’ll be fighting your way through the ruins, raising pedestals that can direct Meridia’s light deeper inside, and, naturally, doing a fair bit of looting. You should especially watch out for the desecrated corpses, as they all hold a good chunk of gold. There are more than 20 of these corpses, so you can easily walk out of Kilkreath Ruins a couple thousand coins richer.
Once you enter Kilkreath Ruins, you’ll be met with a fairly large room that has a pedestal in the center. This chamber is essentially a tutorial to what comes next, so all you need to do is interact with the pedestal and follow the light through the door that opens right in front of you. The next room has three shades to kill, with another pedestal in the center. Once triggered, it will open the door at the top of the stairs, and the door to the right of the pedestal. The door at the top of the stairs leads to a caved-in passage, where only Meridia’s light can fit through. You’ll need to take the side door instead.
In the next room are another two shades, plus a couple of desecrated corpses. Head up the stairs, turn north, face the next pedestal, and jump across the gap. Pass the pedestal to the far side of the chamber for an adept locked door that can open the gate to a chest. Collect your loot, activate the pedestal, then head out to the next area – Kilkreath Balcony.
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Passing through Kilkreath Balcony
Kilkreath Balcony serves as a connection to the upper levels of Kilkreath Ruins. At the end is a locked chest with a fair bit of loot inside, and a stairway up to the next area. Head inside and continue lighting the way for Meridia.
The next chamber has two pedestals and four shades; three on the first floor and one on the second. The first pedestal can be accessed by taking the nearby stairs, with it unlocking the door behind it. There are a couple of shades lurking in the winding corridor, plus a few burial urns to loot in the main chamber. Once at the end, follow the barred walkway, activate the second pedestal, then head through the next door.
The next chamber is fairly quiet. There are three desecrated corpses, plus another on the second floor. There’s also a Solution of Strength over to the left, but stand to the side when you grab it to avoid the trap. To advance, head up the other set of stairs and follow the corridor. At the end is the third and final pedestal for this area overlooking the main chamber. Activate it, then drop down and head through the final door leading to the Catacombs.
Exploring Kilkreath Catacombs
Malkoran can be found at the end of Kilkreath Catacombs. There is one unguarded chamber before him with a pedestal unlocking the door to his dwelling. Once past the wooden door, it will lock behind you, sealing either your fate or Malkoran’s. Head down the stairs to meet your quarry, flanked by four shades.
Malkoran is not an easy enemy to fight. He is supported by four shades, which themselves are tough enough to handle, and he wields powerful ice magic. Not only that, but once you put him down, he revives himself into a shade that has strong electric magic. Any combination of these enemies and powers is enough to kill you if you’re careless.
Naturally, the first objective is dispatching the four supporting shades. One of the easiest ways to do this is by sniping them a little, then closing the door on them once they pursue you. Malkoran likes to stay at range, so he won’t be eager to close in on you at any point during the fight. You can use this to your advantage, as he won’t get close to that door, let alone open it. Kill the shades and heal up, as the main fight has yet to come.
There are two approaches to fighting Malkoran – range and close combat. Unless you have heavily invested in range and magic, you’ll have a very tough time, as he has a strong healing spell that he uses at roughly 30% health. To kill him at range, you need to out-damage this heal, or you’ll just go in circles. The other option is to rush him, run circles around him, and strike every chance you get. If he doesn’t get the chance to shoot a spell at you, he can’t hurt you. This tactic is just as good against his shade, which spawns right next to him. Dispatch it with a flurry of attacks to finish the battle.
After the battle with Malkoran, Meridia will congratulate you and reward you with Dawnbreaker. You’ll need to head to the pedestal at the end of the chamber, then interact with it to claim the blade for yourself. As a side note, it is possible to take two Dawnbreakers from this quest. If an AOE spell hits the pedestal, Dawnbreaker will duplicate itself, with one falling out of the pedestal and one staying in. It’s a good sword and is worth quite a bit, so it’s worth either Shouting at it or getting Malkoran to shoot you with his AOE frost spell.
With the blade in hand, Meridia will free you from the ruined temple, proclaim you her Champion, then release you back into Skyrim to cleanse the undead. Future battles against them will be much easier now you have Dawnbreaker, as it deals 10 fire damage on hit to an enemy, with the possibility for undead to explode on defeat. A hit from Dawnbreaker or an explosion can double as Turn Undead, causing an undead enemy to flee from you for a few paces. The crossguard also shines brightly, making it easier to see in dark areas. With all these perks, dungeon crawling will be a lot easier now that you have Dawnbreaker.