Talk to S'krivva in Bravil. She will tell you that Hieronymus Lex has pulled guards from all over the Imperial City to the Waterfront in an attempt to root out members of the guild and the big cheese; the Gray Fox. The Thieves' Guild must stop him at all costs or the guild may be finished for good. She will then tell you to meet with Methredhel in the Imperial City.
Travel to another area of the Imperial City other than the Waterfront and talk to the beggars. After a "donation", they will tell you that Methredhel is hiding out in the Talos Plaza District. Travel there and go to Dynari Amnis' house and talk to Methredhel.
Methredhel has a plan. The guild will stage a series of high-profile thefts in different areas of the city. Due to the lack of guards, the thefts should prove easy. That will give Lex a bad rep and force him to return all the guards to their original stations. Your job is to swipe Hrormir's Icestaff from the Arch-Mage's quarters in the Arcane University and leave a note in the bedside table beside him. She adds one final piece of information; the Arch-Mage sleeps between 1:00 AM and 7:00 AM.
This is a pretty simple task for an accomplished thief like yourself. Head to the Arcane University during the designated time slot and enter the Arch-Mage's lobby. Take the first portal to your left, then on the second floor take the one on your right. Hrormir's Icestaff is on the chest of drawers right in front of you. Take it. Phase one complete. Now you need to leave the note. You'll notice that the nightstand requires a key to open. You do not need to have the key as the note can be slid into the nightstand without unlocking it. If this does not work you'll have to pickpocket from the Arch-Mage. (Be careful when you do this if you are also a member of the Mages Guild because if you get caught you'll get kicked out. Likewise, if you've already completed the Mages Guild quest-line and have become Arch-mage, you may simply walk into the Arch-mage quarters and take it.)
Head back to Methredhel and tell her of your success. She is pleased that all the thefts were successful. She will then ask you to spy on Lex until something noteworthy happens. Head back to the Waterfront. Once you get within earshot of Lex, a dremora will come up to him and deliver a message. Lex reads the note, then begins to lead the Imperial Legion out of the Waterfront, leaving the note behind. Look at it and you'll see that it's from Raminus Polus, one of the heads from the University. He is angry that a thief stole something from right under the Arch-Mage's nose, but even more so that Lex took away the very guards that could have stopped it from happening. Return the note to Methredhel.
Methredhel is glad that the plan was a success, but does not want the Mage's Guild to become enemies with the Thieve's Guild. She orders you to return the staff. Obviously, you can't just stroll into the Arcane University with the staff in hand, as that would get you arrested or possibly killed. Instead, you are to place the staff in a chest belonging to a former University researcher by the name of Ontus Vanin. As a former member of the Mage's Guild and your unwitting accomplice, he will return the staff without putting you in danger.
Ontus' house is conveniently located right here in the Talos Plaza District. He also leaves the house in the afternoon. Break in at that time and go to the second floor. Open the chest and you'll automatically place the staff inside. You must then return to S'krivva for your reward.
- If you happen to be the arch-mage of the Mages Guild, this mission will be a walk in the park. The hardest part will be returning the staff, but obtaining it is not a problem as it isn't considered trespassing in the arch-mage's room.
- If you remove the Icestaff from the box after placing it inside, you will not have completed the quest.
- If you move quickly enough through the first 2 floors, you should be able to simply enter the arch-mage's room during the day, and grab the staff without any trouble.
- If you are a member of the Arcane University, you can use the teleport portals in the Arch-Mage's lobby at any time of the day to gain access to his room.
- After you have finished the quest and received your reward, you will be able to steal the Icestaff again from the Arch-Mage's room.
- If you come back later after completing the quest, you can open the drawer and take the Gray Fox's note. It will be a stolen item, but you cannot remove it from your inventory, because the game still considers it a quest item.
- If you have killed all the beggars you will be stuck in a glitch.
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