Serving as both Helgen's prison and a barracks for the Imperial Legion, the Dragonborn was forced to flee through the location as Alduin massacred its inhabitants and razed the surrounding town, Helgen. Despite being a seemingly normal prison and base in the middle of Helgen, it seems to have a pretty complex system of caves beneath all of the rooms and cells that all lead out of this small hole, which ends up leading to the front of the town, close to the main path. Without this hole, the Dragonborn may not have been able to escape Helgen.
Returning to Helgen later in the game reveals a myriad of burned out buildings and other destruction. A few corpses lay about the town containing tiny amounts of gold (<4) or bone meal. Inside the keep, the Dragonborn can pass through many of the same chambers they did before, picking up any previously missed loot. Depending on how much time passed, the Town and Keep will be abandoned, or bandits may have moved in. The tunnels passed through during the escape may still be blocked by fallen stone shortly after the torture chamber, or the blockage may have been cleared and a wooden bridge built (may be related to how long bandits have been inhabiting the Keep before the Dragonborn's return). If the chamber where archers are encountered during the quest "Unbound" is revisited, there will be a chest containing levelled loot.
- Spell tome: Sparks
- The Black Arrow, v2 in the torture room on the shelf next to the ale. Books do not appear until the bandits take over.
- Imperial soldiers (if went with Ralof)
- Stormcloaks (if went with Hadvar)
- Bandits (if the Dragonborn returns after some time has passed); respawn gradually if enough time passes between visits.
- The dead Mage found in the locked cage can be thralled. His corpse is permanent.
- The corpse of the Stormcloak Soldier hanging in a cage wearing ragged robes will resist Dead Thrall.