Skyrim Confirms Oblivion's Obsessive Nirnroot Quest-Giver's Fate

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim are chiefly concerned with the direst circumstances of their times. Players take control of the Hero of Cyrodiil and the Last Dragonborn, and ultimately stop the Oblivion Crisis and Dragon Crisis, respectively. The continent of Tamriel, where The Elder Scrolls takes place, has thoroughly diverse and deep narratives in regards to its denizens, many of which have no choice but to go about their lives during these most dangerous eras. One such person, a famed alchemist by the name of Sinderion, happens to appear in both games.

Sinderion is an Altmer, or High Elf, who lives in the city of Skingrad during the Oblivion Crisis. Generally speaking, the Altmer are a proud, long-living race, with lifespans usually exceeding 200 years. When players first meet Sinderion in Oblivion, he appears old, but his exact age is unspecified. His renown as an experienced master alchemist implies he is indeed aged, but his exploits following Oblivion seem to suggest he was not too old to travel.

Related: Dwemer, Falmer, Altmer, & Every Other Elder Scrolls Elf Type Explained

The Altmer alchemist dedicated his life - or at least his later years - to research into Nirnroot, a now rare plant in Cyrodiil. His research was aided by the Hero of Cyrodiil, but his interest was not satisfied by the end of the Third Era. Sometime after the Oblivion Crisis, between Oblivion and Skyrim, Sinderion's obsession with Nirnroot took him from his home in Skingrad and led him to the northern province of Skyrim, where he ultimately met his death attempting to further his research by collecting samples of the even more scarce Crimson Nirnroot.

Sinderion's research into Nirnroot is widely known throughout the alchemist community in Cyrodiil. If the player picks up even one sprig of Nirnroot, the quest "Seeking Your Roots" begins, directing them to find an alchemist who might know more about the curious, glowing, and noisy plant. Alternatively, any player looking to become a master alchemist in Skyrim will ultimately meet Sinderion, as he is the one who can train the player in Alchemy after reaching an expert level in the skill. Not only is Sinderion obsessed with Nirnroot, but he is also a connoisseur of vintage wines and will request a bottle of two, 34-year-old wines in exchange for his alchemical mentorship.

Nearly every city in Cyrodiil has an alchemist, but searching for an expert on Nirnroot will always result in the alchemists directing the player toward Skingrad. Broaching the subject of Nirnroot with Sinderion continues the "Seeking Your Roots" quest, where he sends the player to find more research samples. Sinderion suggests that The Elder Scrolls protagonist, the Hero of Cyrodiil, searches Shadeleaf Copse northeast of Skingrad for more Nirnroot. There are very few roots to be found at Shadeleaf Copse, however, and 10 are required for Sinderion to make a potion.

Sinderion's research into Nirnroot began some years before the Oblivion Crisis when he came across a recipe for a potion called Elixir of Exploration. The Elixir is made out of Nirnroot and is primarily used in dungeon delving. Bringing Sinderion more and more Nirnroot will result in more powerful versions of the Elixir being rewarded. After 100 Nirnroot samples have been found and brought to the alchemist, a Grand Elixir of Exploration is crafted, which fortifies Health and Fatigue by 20 points, grants a Night-Eye buff, and fortifies the Blade, Blunt, Destruction, Restoration, Security, and Sneak skills by 10 for 300 seconds.

Related: Potions Every Skyrim Player Should Have On Hand

The Elixir of Exploration is an incredibly rare potion, thanks to the equal scarcity of Nirnroot, as explained by Sinderion in his in-game Elder Scrolls book, "Nirnroot Missive." Sinderion began his research into Nirnroot following in the footsteps of an Imperial Herbalist named Chivius Regelliam, who claimed that Nirnroot was once easily found all throughout Cyrodiil, but was adversely affected by the eruption of the Red Mountain in Vvardenfell in the 668th year of the First Era, roughly 3,500 years before the Oblivion Crisis. The Red Mountain's eruption resulted in the Sun's Death, where ash from the event blotted out the sun for an entire year, which Regelliam claims is primarily responsible for Nirnroot's slow descent toward extinction.

Sinderion believes that Regelliam's theory is more than plausible, but posits that while the Sun's Death was certainly responsible for the decline in the Nirnroot population, it also brought about a metamorphosis in the plant. Regelliam noted that Nirnroot had a distinct yellow glow, but by the time Oblivion takes place, it glows a soft blue. Sinderion attributes this change to Ash Salt, a magical substance that can be found in samples of Vvardenfell's ash. The magical properties of Nirnroot allowed it to adapt during the sunless year, letting it grow without the need for sunlight, but the change in the environment still had catastrophic effects on Nirnroot's natural population.

Over 50 years after the Hero of Cyrodiil aided Sinderion's research, the master alchemist found himself in the tavern of Skingrad's West Weald Inn. There, he heard the distinct noise made by Nirnroot but was surprised to find a traveler carrying a sample of a crimson shade. According to Sinderion's Field Journal, he acquired the Crimson Nirnroot, a map to Skyrim's Dwemer city of Blackreach where the sample was found, and a key to access the dungeon from the traveler in exchange for 1,000 Septims. During the course of the following year, Sinderion prepared for a journey to Skyrim, sold his workshop in Skingrad, and left to begin his Crimson Nirnroot research in Blackreach.

Related: Skyrim's Weirdest NPCs (& Where To Find Them)

At this stage in the Nirnroot-obsessed alchemist's life, Skyrim is contradictory on the subject of his associations. His own Field Journal suggests he was directed by the College of Winterhold to consult with Avrusa Sarethi at her farm near Riften, where he prepared for his descent into Blackreach. Sarethi is a student of botanical alchemy and tells the Last Dragonborn that she was a former apprentice of Sinderion's, and suggests that Sinderion never consulted the College. Regardless of their previous relationship, Sinderion apparently grows close to Avrusa Sarethi and her younger sister, Aduri, and Sinderion's fate is the same.

He set up a field laboratory in an abandoned Dwemer home in the depths of Blackreach in order to study the rare, underground variety of Nirnroot. He hypothesized that the Crimson Nirnroot had a symbiotic relationship with the massive, bioluminescent fungus that grows in Blackreach, which provided water for the red plant, letting it flourish near abundantly wet places like the Cyrodiil strain. Sinderion's journal reveals his trepidation regarding the Falmer that live in Blackreach, and it would appear that his fear was justified when the Last Dragonborn finds his remains riddled with arrows in his lab. The most renowned alchemist to be found in Oblivion followed his Nirnroot research across Tamriel, but it only lead to his death. Skyrim's "A Return To Your Roots" quest shows Sinderion's life work live on, however, being taken over by Sarethi after his fate is discovered.

Next: Skyrim's Secret Ending To The Dark Brotherhood Questline

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