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It can be obtained from Mercer Frey at the end of the Thieves Guild quest "Blindsighted". In order to complete the remaining quests for the Guild, the Skeleton Key must be returned in the Twilight Sepulcher.
The Skeleton Key can be used like a regular lockpick and can be kept indefinitely, provided it's never returned to the Twilight Sepulcher. In addition, the Lockpicking skill will still increase when a lock is opened (removed in patch 1.4, back by 1.9). Keeping the key effectively renders the lockpicking perk Unbreakable entirely obsolete, as well as most of that skill tree.
- If the Dragonborn serves time in jail, the single lockpick taken with them to jail will be the Skeleton Key.
- If you wish to replace your Skeleton Key after handing it in for your quest first add it with the console command: "player.additem 0003a070 1" followed by "player.addperk 10F13F". This will give you a new, unbreakable skeleton key.
- Lockpicking skill, albeit very slowly due to not gaining additional XP from broken attempts. This is confirmed up to patch 1.8. Using the Skeleton Key to pick locks will increase the