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With its defensive automatons deactivated, it is overrun with Falmer, thwarting any attempts to study its artifacts and treasures. Calcelmo asks the Dragonborn to defeat Nimhe, a giant frostbite spider that has halted progress at the dig site. After killing the spider, they gain access to Nchuand-Zel. Alternatively, the lock can be picked for access without needing to talk to Calcelmo. If picked, it is an adept-level lock. The key to Nchuand-Zel can also be pickpocketed from Aicantar.
The entrance to Nchuand-Zel is a large chamber with several sections. The men working in Nchuand-Zel attempted to block the Falmer from entering the ruins, but the creatures were too strong for the men to hold back. While exploring the Armory, Quarters and Control, the Dragonborn finds notes and journals from the men who were working in the ruins along the way.
After completing The Lost Expedition and activating the Dwemer defenses, the Dragonborn can witness a short fight between Dwemer Automatons and a few Falmer.
Upon entering, the Dragonborn will be looking down a small hallway. Go down this hallway—minding the fire trap—and get ready to face a Falmer on the bridge ahead. He can be killed easily with a sneaky shot from a bow. There will be three more Falmer along this bridge (Note: The second Falmer may fall into the water below if it is alerted by sneak-killing the first Falmer. Falling into the water will kill him instantly). After those two, there is two more Falmer on the bridge before the door. The final two are stronger than the first two.
Walk down the hall. To the immediate left (east) there are two pieces of scrap metal. To the right there is a mounded Centurion head. Continuing, the Dragonborn will see another Falmer upon rounding the next corner. He will not see them, so they can sneak-kill him easily. Killing him will alert another Falmer, who will subsequently ascend the staircase. Passing the stairs and continuing down the hall, the Dragonborn will meet a single strong Falmer. Keep going and to the right (west) there is an adept-locked gate. Behind it is some scrap metal, random armor pieces, a potion, and a Dwemer chest containing random leveled loot. Down the stairs, the Dragonborn will meet several Falmer. Finish them off and continue. Another Falmer will be positioned atop the small stairway in the next room. Engaging him will alert a couple more who will attack. Finish them off and go up the stairs.
In the next room the Dragonborn will be returned to the door to Nchuand-Zel. They must go back the way they came until they find the stairway leading down. Go down the stairway and continue through the hall. Prepare to fight a few Falmer at the next stairwell after looting a couple of dead Falmer. Go up the stairs (beware the fire at the top) and get Stromm's Diary. There is also a dead Falmer in this area.
If the Dragonborn continues down the hallway, they will soon come to two dead Falmer. There is nothing in the next room except poison on the small blood-covered table and a torture trap to play around with (pull the lever on the right of the doorway to activate. It will not hurt the Dragonborn).
Go back the way from which this area was entered, and go back through the door to Nchuand-Zel. Walk all the way across the bridge, stopping before the doorway. To the left (west) there is a pathway that leads safely down. The problem with this ledge is it is not easy to get up to. The Dragonborn must step on a slightly-raised cement slab next to the doorway wall (left side) and mash the jump button until they are up. Keep in mind followers will have trouble following this way.
Go down the path to the lower level of Nchuand-Zel. There is a dead Imperial corpse just before the lowest platform. On this platform is Krag, along with his journal. There is also the Alteration skill book Sithis on the bench here. On the bed roll is a sack containing ingredients or food items.
Moving on, a dirt platform that's attached to a large pipe on the far south side of Krag's platform must be jumped down onto. From there, one must jump down to the bottom and walk straight ahead to the adept-locked gate. Behind this gate is an unlocked Dwemer chest containing leveled loot (including some metal scraps). Turn around and head across the water to the door. This low-down door leads to Nchuand-Zel Armory.
Upon entering the Armory, the Dragonborn will be met with a two Falmer just up the stairs. After dealing with them, head right (north) and battle a stronger Falmer and his pet, a Skeever. When they are dead, go left (west) down the stairs (beware the fire trap. It is likely it will not touch the Dragonborn, but any followers will be affected.) Turn left again (south) (beware of a spike trap. When activated, spikes will come from the walls of the doorway). In the next room there are inactive Dwarven Spheres and Dwarven Spiders, as well as the body of a Falmer and Erj. In front of Erj is a chest containing leveled loot. After looting this, two Dwarven Spheres will activate and attack. When they are dead, an expert-locked gate to the left (south) of Erj's body may be unlocked. Behind the gate is an unlocked Dwemer chest containing leveled loot.
Back in Erj's room, head down the stairs and through the adept-locked gate. The Dragonborn will find themselves back at the door to Nchuand-Zel.
Go back up the stairs, this time turning right (east) and heading up again. This door will also lead to Nchuand-Zel, but on the upper level. This is the only way to get back up after having jumped down. Go back up the path, leading to the door of Nchuand-Zel Control.
Upon entry, follow the path. Eventually the Dragonborn will come to a couple of Falmer. Pick them off and head left (west) down the next hall. The Dragonborn will immediately see the shadows of more Falmer up ahead. Noticing this gives the chance of a sneak-attack on one of them. Once they are dead, continue on, but be wary of another spike trap in the doorway. Again, this one will likely miss the Dragonborn, but may hit a follower. Turn left (south) and collect Staubin's journal. Keep going forward after taking the journal.
Up the stairs to the left (east) there are several Dwarven Spiders to battle. After they have been eliminated, head up the stairs and down the hall. There are two dead Dwarven Spheres in this room who carry varying soul gems. Keep going, kill the lone Falmer, loot the chest, and pull the lever. Go down the hallway, turning right (south) to loot a Dwemer chest, and jump down to the lower level. Head back to Nchuand-Zel.
Now, since the Dragonborn activated the Dwemer machines, there will be Falmer battling these machines on the bridge when they enter Nchuand-Zel. Down where Krag was are a couple Falmer battling a Dwarven Centurion. These Falmer will come and attack the player instead, and the Centurion will disappear.
- Moonstone ore vein next to the entrance to Nchuand-Zel Control.
- Nchuand-Zel is littered with Dwemer artifacts which can be smelted into Dwarven metal ingots for the enterprising smith. There is enough salvage to create over three-hundred ingots.
- In the armory, behind an Expert-locked gate on the right of the Centurion statue, is a full set of Dwarven Armor.
This section contains bugs related to Nchuand-Zel. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:
- The quest marker leading back to "someone who knows about the expedition" is glitched. It will lead through the Armory and down to the lower level, and then over to a wall. The quest marker indicates a door, but there is no door here. Ignore the marker and go back to the Excavation Site. This will fix the problem. The marker will now lead to Understone Keep, where Calcelmo can be spoken to and the quest "The Lost Expedition" can be completed.
- The game has a high chance of freezing inside the ruins. Make sure to turn off the Auto Save function, as this seems to make the game freeze even more, and make manual saves frequently. This will help the game considerably, but the game still can freeze, especially when entering or exiting the Armory.