The Black Star
This quest is first triggered by speaking with Aranea Ienith, a Dunmer worshipper of the Daedra Azura who keeps vigil at the foot of the Shrine of Azura located to the south-southwest of The College of Winterhold. Explaining that your encounter with both her and the Shrine was no mere coincidence, Aranea will then task you with retrieving Azura's Star, a powerful Daedric Artifact that went missing.
After offering a cryptic clue describing what sounds like a sunken fortress and an gifted elven mage "able to turn the brightest star as black as night", Aranea points you to the town of Winterhold to seek someone who might possibly fit the description.
Your search need not take long once you arrive at Winterhold. Enter the Frozen Hearth tavern and catch a brief exchange between an Altmer mage named Nelecar and innkeeper Dagur. Speak to Dagur afterward to learn more about Nelecar (and receive the optional quest update).
Apparently Nelecar is the very elven mage you are seeking, so introduce yourself to him; while not very friendly at first, you can use your Speechcraft skills to coax out of him some very troubling details concerning research a former College mage, Malyn Varen, had attempted on the Star before stealing it and fleeing to Ilinalta's Deep, the very fortress prophesized by Aranea's vision.
Nelecar will then caution you against bending to the will of the Daedra so easily, and his jaded advice in fact is intended to clue the player in on another possible way to complete this quest without returning the Star to Aranea.
 Ilinalta's Deep
This dungeon located on the northern shores of the large lake west of Riverwood, and serves as the stronghold for very powerful Necromancers and Conjurers; shore up your magical defences to tackle the foes inside. After defeating a boss-level Necromancer and ascending to the highest level of the dungeon, you'll find the Broken Star artifact near the skeletal remains of Varen, in addition to his research notes.
 Restoring the Star
At this point you will need to make a choice as to whom to return the Broken Star to; Aranea back at the Shrine, or Nelecar up in Winterhold. What you need to do afterward remains the same, but your reward will be very different depending on how you choose to advance this quest. Return the Star to Aranea to have her restore it to Azura's Star, or have Nelecar transform it into the Black Star.
- Azura's Star
This is the original version of the Daedric Artifact, and was designed to only hold "White Souls." In game, it acts as a reusable Soul Gem for creatures only; it will not hold the souls of any humanoid character.
- The Black Star
The altered version of the Star, as first devised by Varen for the purpose of achieving his twisted form of immortality. While it is described as only being able to hold "Black Souls", i.e. exclusively the souls of humanoids, technically it functions as a resuable Black Soul Gem in game. This means it holds a greater variety of souls compared to Azura's Star, giving you the option of capturing all levels of Souls from creatures including Grand Souls from humanoids.
No matter who you wish to deliver the Star to, your next step remains the same and is equally dangerous no matter your choice. Aranea or Nelecar will need to temporarily "transfer" your soul into the Broken Star for the purpose of confronting Varen and "purging" him from within the Artifact itself, thus allowing it to be restored to one of its two forms.
Essentially this means you must defeat Varen in combat, no small task as he will summon two levelled Dremora mages to fight for him. Depending on your level and skill, this will be quite a battle; their Destruction magic spells pack a serious punch, but the rewards for defeating the Dremora include what will likely be your earliest chance of harvesting valuable Daedra Heart components useful for Smithing. If you aim is collect both Hearts, be sure to leave Varen alone until you have defeated both Dremora.
Note that while it is likely in your best interest to defeat the Dremora because they represent such a significant threat, the only mandatory target is Varen himself and he proves to be a very simple one to defeat compared to the Dremora. You may wish to make a beeline to where he is cowering if you wish to end this portion of the quest quickly, but it is better to be prepared to deal the Dremora with your favorite skills and strategy.
Once Varen is defeated, either Aranea or Nelecar will pull you from the Star and fully restore the Artifact for your personal use.
If you had Aranea restore the Star for you, you will also have the option of recruiting her as a powerful Follower. Nelecar himself does not offer anything other than the Black Star, though you will earn a signifigant amount of his respect at the cost of Aranea's; in fact, the Dunmer will be downright hostile to you should you show your face in front of her with the Black Star in your possession, as she considers your act a desecration of a Daedric Artifact.
 Quest Rewards
- Azura's Star
- The Black Star
Depending on the player's choice of actions during the quest
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