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During "Diplomatic Immunity", the Dragonborn will find out about Esbern, an old friend of Delphine and the only other member of the Blades in Skyrim. Delphine will tell the Dragonborn to go to the Ratway in Riften to find him before the Thalmor do. Thalmor Agents will pop up outside as well, and once the Dragonborn has talked to Esbern, the agents will attack.
Esbern is located in The Ratway Warrens behind a barred door with a viewing slot. Access the Ratway Warrens by traveling through several areas, including the Ratway, The Ragged Flagon, and The Ratway Vaults. The Ratway's main entrance is located on the south end and lower level of Riften.
Brynjolf, if not spoken to already, will be located in town during the day and at The Bee and Barb at night. Talking to Brynjolf at the Bee and Barb will trigger conversation leading to the Thieves Guild quest line. If the Dragonborn has already become a member of the Thieves Guild, they can talk to Brynjolf or Vekel the Man inside The Ragged Flagon - Cistern to advance to the next part of the quest.
Alternatively, talking to Keerava, the barmaid of the Bee and Barb, can give the Dragonborn the information without putting the question to Brynjolf, although this will bypass the introduction to the Thieves Guild. Once inside the Ragged Flagon, talk to Vekel about Esbern. He will not give information about Esbern unless the Dragonborn has a high Persuasion, 140 or beats him in a Brawl. Then, he will give Esbern's location and warn of Thalmor looking for him as well.
After meeting with Brynjolf and mentioning Esbern, he will give information that Esbern is in the Ratways, and the quest marker will update accordingly. There have been problems reported with quest advancement if the quest "A Chance Arrangement" has also been picked up. "A Cornered Rat" can progress after completing "A Chance Arrangement" or after being caught. Brynjolf then will ask the Dragonborn if they want to join the Thieves Guild (if this hasn't been done already), and a new quest will start. The slot on Esbern's door will be closed, and conversation with Esbern is not possible if the quest has not advanced properly.
Some events in the Ratway may unfold differently depending on certain events during "Diplomatic Immunity".
If this is the first time inside the Ratway, there will be a few enemies to fight through to get to the headquarters of the Thieves Guild. If already a member of the Thieves Guild, the Dragonborn may enter through the secret entrance in the Riften graveyard.
If the Dragonborn did not kill a man named Gissur during "Diplomatic Immunity", It is possible to be attacked by him outside the entrance to the Ragged Flagon. Inside, after the attack, Gissur may be identified by Guild members and killed. The Dragonborn can take Gissur's Note from his body. The note may also be found in the Ratway without the body. If Gissur was killed at the Thalmor Embassy, he will not appear during this quest. Alternatively, the Dragonborn may encounter a female Khajiit assassin named Shavari. Shavari's Note can be looted from her corpse.
From the Ragged Flagon, head through the Ratway Tunnels to get to the Ratway Warrens. It may be necessary to fight several Thalmor while navigating through the tunnels before locating the entrance.
Once in the Warrens, locate a locked door with a viewing slot at the top of a set of steps and activate the door to engage Esbern in conversation. The Dragonborn will then be able to tell Esbern about Delphine and warn him of the Thalmor searching for him. After being convinced, there is an unusually long delay as he gathers his thoughts and unlocks what seems like an absurd number of door locks and bars.
Once inside, the conversation will continue as he gathers his belongings. He will be able to provide some additional background information about the Blades, and the Dragonborn will bring him up to date on current events. Once the conversation with Esbern has ended, this quest will be completed and "Alduin's Wall" will begin.
|A Cornered Rat – MQ202|
|10||The Thalmor are just as puzzled as we are about why dragons are returning. I learned that they are looking for a Blade named Esbern, who Delphine says is an expert on ancient dragon lore. We need to find him before the Thalmor do.
|50||The Thalmor are just as puzzled as we are about why dragons are returning. I learned that they are looking for a Blade named Esbern, who is supposed to be an expert on ancient dragon lore. I've learned that he's hiding out in the Ratway Warrens in Riften.
|150||The Thalmor are just as puzzled as we are about why dragons are returning. I learned that they are looking for a Blade named Esbern, who is supposed to be an expert on ancient dragon lore. I found Esbern hiding in the Ratway in Riften, and convinced him to let me in to explain myself.
|180||The Thalmor are just as puzzled as we are about why dragons are returning. I learned that they are looking for a Blade named Esbern, who is supposed to be an expert on ancient dragon lore. I found Esbern hiding in the Ratway in Riften, and convinced him to let me in to explain myself.
This section contains bugs related to A Cornered Rat. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:
|Click to show|
In some cases bugs can be avoided altogether by using console command
[Archive] sResourceArchiveList2=Skyrim - Voices.bsa, Skyrim - VoicesExtra.bsa
Esbern frozen or stuckEdit
Each time he seems to be frozen, try one of several reported fixes:
|Skyrim Main Quests|
|Act I||Unbound • Before the Storm • Bleak Falls Barrow • Dragon Rising • The Way of the Voice |
The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller
|Act II||A Blade in the Dark • Diplomatic Immunity • A Cornered Rat • Alduin's Wall • The Throat of the World |
Elder Knowledge • Alduin's Bane
|Act III||Season Unending • The Fallen • The World-Eater's Eyrie • Sovngarde |
Dragonslayer • Epilogue