The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Legendary Edition Guide
Two hundred years have passed since the Oblivion Crisis, and it's now the year 4E 201. The High King of Skyrim lies dead, killed by Ulfric Stormcloak in a duel. A Civil War has broken out in the land. The rebel faction of the Stormcloaks wishes for Skyrim to secede from the crumbling old Empire. However, their cause is not supported by all of the land's people and leaders; many still support the Imperial Army. The war has reached a stalemate. This schism is the final event in a prophecy of the Elder Scrolls. It is foretold that this conflict will lead to the return of the Dragons, led by Alduin, the Nordic God of Destruction and the World-Eater.
Just before the Imperial Headsman has the opportunity to decapitate the Dragonborn and end the game before it begins, Alduin arrives and disrupts the execution, raining meteors and fire down upon the town. With the execution halted and the town in chaos, the Dragonborn escapes custody. Running towards a nearby tower, the Dragonborn meets Ralof and Ulfric Stormcloak, leader of the Stormcloaks, who also managed to escape. The Dragonborn then learns that their hiding place is not safe, as Alduin blasts a hole in the tower, killing another Stormcloak in the process. Ralof will instruct the Dragonborn to jump out of the tower from the hole into a nearby inn, with the promise that he will meet the Dragonborn when he can. After jumping down and exiting the inn, the Dragonborn finds Helgen heavily damaged, with many buildings destroyed and burning. After the Dragonborn runs into the street, an Imperial Soldier, Hadvar, will tell the Dragonborn to follow him to safety. Hadvar will then lead the Dragonborn to the Helgen Keep. At the keep's entrance, Ralof catches up.
At that point, either Hadvar or Ralof must be chosen to accompany the Dragonborn the rest of the way. The choice will create some minor changes in the story during the Civil War questline; however, this does not affect the side that can be taken in the war later in the game.
The only main difference at the beginning of the game between following Ralof and following Hadvar is that if Hadvar is followed, the Dragonborn gets light armor, but if Ralof is followed, the Dragonborn gets heavy armor.
After entering the keep with Hadvar, he unbinds the Dragonborn and tells them to look for equipment. In the corner of the room there is a warden's chest where an iron sword, Imperial light armor, Imperial light boots, and a Helgen Keep key can be found. After opening the door with the key, pulling the chain will open the wooden gate. Behind the gate there are two hostile Stormcloaks. After defeating them there is another door, leading to the store room.
In the store room two more Stormcloaks are found. When the fight is won Hadvar suggests taking potions from a barrel nearby. On the table there is also potion of minor healing and potion of minor magicka. Taking them is optional, which means Dragonborn doesn't need to take them in order to proceed.
Going down, there is a torture room, where the torturer and his assistant are battling the two Stormcloaks. If the torturer and his assistant don't survive a dialogue between them and Hadvar will be missed. Shortly before continuing, Hadvar notices a mage's body in the cage. He gives the Dragonborn twelve picks (four more can be found in backpack on a small table) and asks them to pick the lock to the cage where novice robes and a novice hood are found, as well as some gold, a Sparks spell tome and two potions of minor magicka. This task is optional.
After leaving the torture room there are about ten more Stormcloaks to kill. Some of them are near the oil which can be set ablaze with the flames spell. Then, a bridge which is activated by a lever nearby must be crossed. After going through the bridge and entering the cave, Alduin will roar, which causes the ceiling above the bridge to collapse. Now, the Dragonborn only needs to follow the quest marker along with Hadvar.
On their way, they will meet some frostbite spiders. After killing them, the sleeping bear is found. Hadvar gives the Dragonborn a long bow and twelve iron arrows, suggesting either sneaking past or killing the bear. After the bear has been dealt with, the two can exit the cave.
After exiting the cave, Hadvar says that he will meet the Dragonborn in Riverwood. If the Dragonborn decides to split up, unique dialogue can be missed.
Upon entering the keep, the Dragonborn and Ralof discover the body of a dead Stormcloak, Gunjar. After freeing the Dragonborn from their bindings, Ralof instructs the Dragonborn to take Gunjar's gear, as he won't be needing it. While it is being equipped, Ralof examines the doors. He discovers one door is locked, and the other can't be opened from the inside. Luckily, an Imperial Captain and Imperial soldier will come through and open the door from the other side (if the Dragonborn is seen before the gate is open, the captain will be alert and shout "It's the Stormcloak prisoners!"). Once they open the door, they must be killed in order to recover the key to the other gate from their bodies. Also, a full set of heavy Imperial Armor can be taken from the Imperial Captain's corpse. The newly opened path leads to a store room, with two more Imperial soldiers gathering supplies.
After defeating the soldiers, Ralof advises the Dragonborn to go through the barrels to find potions. There is time for a thorough search of the area and all containers and to become familiar with Skyrim's controls and menus. A search will find a barrel with potions, a magicka potion over near the table with bread, tankards, and a potion of minor healing. Between the barrel of potions and the cabinet, there is a crate containing five rock warbler eggs, which can be used in Alchemy.
Continuing down, a battle between an Imperial torturer and his assistant against two Stormcloaks is discovered. After defeating the soldiers, Ralof points to a cage. There is a dead mage in the cage who is wearing a novice hood and robes. Along with this, he has 25 gold coins and two potions of minor magicka. Next to him are a few septims and the Sparks spell tome. Ralof gives the Dragonborn twelve lockpicks, and suggests picking the lock in order to get to the items. The rest of the locked cells can be picked for lockpicking experience. In the armory there are two lockpicks, an iron shield, and an iron mace and a couple of books. On a table outside the cage is a knapsack containing four lockpicks and some gold. Next to it is The Book of the Dragonborn and an iron dagger. The torturer who was killed also has a steel dagger, the only one in the keep.
Beyond is a hallway lined with cells. One of these cells contains a skeleton, bone meal, and a coin purse. After that, a room is entered with prisoners in cages. All of them are deceased, and there are three more skeletons, all of which also carry bone meal. They usually have gold on them as well. In one of the cages, there is a dead Stormcloak wearing ragged robes.
Eventually, a natural cave is entered, filled with soldiers guarding it for General Tullius. There are few Imperial soldiers in the cavern, along with another soldier wearing heavy armor. The archers all are positioned dangerously close to a pool of flammable oil, which can be set on fire using the Flames spell. After killing them, any surviving Stormcloak Soldiers will stay behind, waiting for Ulfric Stormcloak. Next is a drawbridge that connects to another part of the cave that is not occupied by the Imperials. Shortly after arriving in this cave, Alduin will roar, destroying the bridge behind the Dragonborn. When following Ralof, there is a skeleton near the passage leading towards the cavern that leads to frostbite spiders. Near the skeleton is an iron dagger, a potion of minor healing, and a coin purse. Shortly after it is entered, the passage behind collapses, forcing the Dragonborn to find a way out through there. The next cavern consists of two to four of the smaller variety of frostbite spiders, plus two larger ones (not to be mistaken for giant frostbite spiders) that will drop down from the ceiling. Frostbite venom can be collected from their corpses. Once the spiders are defeated, the Dragonborn and Ralof exit through another passageway.
In the next cave, a potion of health is at the fire at the other side of the water. There is also an iron dagger. The potion can't be seen from a distance, because it is too close to the fire. After getting the potion, Ralof tells the Dragonborn to stop at the cart, as there is a bear on the other side. He suggests sneaking by, but he also gives the Dragonborn a Long Bow and twelve iron arrows. In the cart next to the Dragonborn is a bottle of Alto wine, and a coin purse. In front of the cart, near the skeleton, is an iron helmet. Beyond the bear is an exit to the cave. Upon exiting, Alduin can be seen flying overhead. Ralof will direct the Dragonborn to his sister, Gerdur, who lives in Riverwood. At this point the Dragonborn can choose to follow Ralof to Riverwood, or split up and find their own way.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Following Ralof (Stormcloaks) grants slightly better heavy armor because one of the guards who must be killed is an Imperial Captain, which means that Imperial armor can be picked up. This gives very helpful protection in the early part of the game. After continuing to Riverwood, Gerdur will give the Dragonborn her house key.
If the Dragonborn sides with Hadvar (Imperial Legion), the pile of iron and steel ingots which spawn next to the workbench outside of Alvor and Sigrid's house can be taken freely. This gives the Dragonborn a better weapon from the start if they have Steel Smithing. The armor and weapons next to the grindstone and in the basement of his house can also be taken.
Before the Storm Quest
After escaping from the dragon attack at Helgen, it's necessary to follow the advice received that leads to Riverwood. It is possible to gather supplies and prepare for a trip to Whiterun to report the recent events to Jarl Balgruuf.
Heading to Riverwood
The Dragonborn emerges into the bright light of Falkreath Hold, due north of the still-smoldering ruin of Helgen. Ralof or Hadvar (depending on who the Dragonborn followed) watch as the dragon responsible for disrupting the execution flies away to the north. After that occurs talk to whoever the Dragonborn followed, and then head to Riverwood. Following their new friend down the hillside heading to the next town, it may be possible to lose him. Simply continue on and meet up with Hadvar's or Ralof's contact in Riverwood.
On the way to Riverwood there is the possibility of a chance encounter, but that's nothing that cannot be handled with the help of Hadvar or Ralof. Along the path taken are three Guardian Stones: The Warrior Stone, The Mage Stone, and The Thief Stone. Pick one according to the preferred playing style and continue following the path.
After arrival in the village, assuming the Dragonborn traveled the entire way with their Helgen-met companion, the hero is led to a house depending on who was followed in the opening quest. Following the quest markers, the Dragonborn will be offered a gift of supplies. All of the items offered can be taken without anyone complaining. The Riverwood contact will also recommend that a report be made to Jarl Balgruuf, in Whiterun, regarding all of the events that have transpired.
Heading to Whiterun
Heading straight to Whiterun can skip Riverwood altogether. The journal will still be updated as if they went there and spoke with the contact of their friend. Exiting Riverwood to the north and following the path with the waterfall rapids to the east will lead the Dragonborn to Whiterun. Head west on the road from the two bridges, on the opposite side of the stream, to Chillfurrow Farm, and pass the Honningbrew Meadery.
In the surrounding farmland, the Dragonborn may find members of the Companions engaged in a battle with a giant (the giant won't attack even if it's attacked by them). Passing the Whiterun Stables that mark the outside entrance to the city, and continuing up the hill and over the drawbridge, will lead them to the main gate. A guard bars access to the city; the city is closed with the news of dragons spreading fast. The Dragonborn only needs to tell him that Riverwood calls for the Jarl's aid. Once inside, head through the town to Dragonsreach. The Jarl's Housecarl, Irilet, wants to know the Dragonborn's business, but regardless of the answer the Dragonborn will end up talking to Jarl Balgruuf. The conversation with him can be lead in any direction, but in the end the quest will be completed, and a reward will be received from the Jarl.
- Heavy or Light armor cuirass (level-dependent); has a chance of a random enchantment.
- Increased disposition from Alvor or Hod and Gerdur if visited after escaping Helgen, depending if the Dragonborn followed Hadvar or Ralof, respectively…
Bleak Falls Barrow Quest
In order to start this quest, the Dragonborn must speak to Farengar Secret-Fire during the previous quest Before the Storm inside Dragonsreach, Farengar will explain how he is looking for a map of Dragon Burial sites so he could find out where the next Dragon might rise. He will then instruct the Dragonborn to look for this Dragonstone map in Bleak Falls Barrow, starting the quest of the same name.
Bleak Falls Barrow
Travel to the Ancient Nordic ruins of Bleak Falls Barrow. Outside are several bandits and after eliminating them, the Dragonborn can then find the entrance at the top of the stairs. In the first large room a couple of bandits have set up camp and are discussing when entering. When moving forward they will detect and attack on sight. Continue into the corridor and proceed until reaching a small room with a bandit, a lever and a puzzle. Watch him pull the lever setting off a trap that will kill him. Set the pillars on the left of the entrance after the tablets on the upper wall above the gate and the tablet beside the lever. The order, from left to right is: snake, snake, whale.
Arvel the Swift
Travel further through the dungeon to winding stairs that go downwards. There are skeevers at the bottom, and just around the corner waits a wounded frostbite spider. Kill it and then speak to Arvel the Swift, who is trapped in a spider web. He wants to be freed, which can be done by hitting the spider web with a weapon. As soon as he's free, Arvel will make a run for it. Chase him down the corridor and kill him, or let the draugr do it further in. When he is released from the web, he recoils and has low health, and it is quite easy to kill him before he can escape. If he manages to slay the draugr, he may run over the pressure plate trap near the scene of the battle and get himself impaled on the swinging wall trap. However, if this happens, his body may be flung a large way away and it may be difficult to find.
The Golden Claw
Arvel will have the Golden Claw with him. Continue through a hall where some draugr wake up and attack. There are pressure plate traps near the entry and stepping on it will trigger a swinging wall trap. The next obstacle will be a swinging blade trap. The blades can be stopped with a chain pull after passing them. The next room has three more draugr. Kill or avoid them and follow the path upstairs. At the room with a creek running through it go through the metal gate into the creek. The gate is opened by pulling the chain on the right side.
Next there is a Nordic puzzle door with three movable rings. The Golden Claw is the key here, both literally and figuratively. Align the three rings in a specific pattern, which can be seen when zooming in on the Claw in the inventory. The correct combination is on the palm of the Golden Claw (from top to bottom: bear, moth, owl). When the rings have been correctly aligned, use the Claw in the middle of the door to open it.
Past the door lies the real treasure of the crypt: A Word Wall that teaches a word of the Dragon Shout Unrelenting Force. Afterwards, a powerful draugr (it is normally a draugr overlord) will emerge from the sarcophagus nearby. Kill it and get the Dragonstone off its corpse and leave the crypt through the exit nearby.
If you find yourself overpowered by the draugr, to the right (as you enter) of the cavern on the far side of the bridge is an easily accessible area which the draugr cannot reach and which allows the Dragonborn to snipe away with arrows.
Return to Dragonsreach and give the Dragonstone to Farengar, (with a stop off at Riverwood to return the Golden Claw to Lucan). Irileth will run in almost immediately and ask Farengar to come quickly to speak to the Jarl, beginning the quest Dragon Rising.
Dragon Rising Quest
A dragon has been sighted at a watchtower near Whiterun. Jarl Balgruuf sends his housecarl Irileth, as well as some soldiers and a newly arrived warrior to kill the dragon.
Follow Irileth to the Western Watchtower, which was attacked by Mirmulnir. Many men from the Whiterun garrison accompany the Dragonborn and Irileth in battle with the Dragon.
Use the debris of the wrecked tower for cover, or climb to the tower's summit. From either location, use ranged weapons or spells to attack Mirmulnir. Once his health drops to below half, he should land, allowing melee attacks against him. Irileth and the guards may be able to distract Mirmulnir, long enough for a melee-oriented Dragonborn to attack from the flank or behind. Beware of Mirmulnir's deadly Fire Breath shout.
After Mirmulnir is defeated, the Dragonborn absorbs his soul, much to the surprise and astonishment of the soldiers, who proclaim that they must be a legendary, "Dragonborn." Irileth, who is skeptical about the theory, tells the Dragonborn to report back to the Jarl. On the way back, they hear a loud sound. Jarl Balgruuf explains it to be the Greybeards calling them to High Hrothgar, and explains what it means to be a Dragonborn.
After completion of this quest, dragons will begin appearing in the wild and attacking the Dragonborn at random.
The Jarl promotes the Dragonborn to Thane of Whiterun, gives the Axe of Whiterun, and assigns Lydia as the Dragonborn’s housecarl.
The Way of the Voice
After the completion of Dragon Rising, a powerful shout will be heard from the mountains close to Whiterun. Upon talking to Jarl Balgruuf, it is revealed that the shout was uttered by the Greybeards, summoning the Dragonborn to High Hrothgar. The Jarl (after a heated discussion between Proventus Avenicci and Hrongar) will suggest that the Dragonborn should travel to High Hrothgar, so that the Greybeards can educate them in the Way of the Voice.
Going to Ivarstead
The first stage of this quest is to travel to Ivarstead, in The Rift. The safest way is to travel via a route south from Whiterun, beginning at the destroyed Helgen, staying on the main road and heading east through the mountains. Alternatively, they could follow a route north, around the mountain, but this may present some challenges to low-level players (Valtheim Towers, Ruined Toll and Wispmother's Well, Trolled Stormcloaks Darkwater Overhang).
Once in Ivarstead, cross the bridge and travel up the "7000 steps" to reach High Hrothgar. Before doing so however, talk to some of the villagers as they can provide some information about High Hrothgar. One in particular, Klimmek, will request that they deliver some supplies to High Hrothgar, by placing them in the offering chest located just outside of the building. Doing so will reward them with a leveled amount of gold.
The 7,000 Steps
One should be careful when travelling up the steps, as there is an array of enemies that could be encountered, including a (fixed) frost troll and other random leveled enemies such as Ice Wolves, Snow Bears or Ice Wraiths. If the Dragonborn is at a higher level, they can also come across a dragon. The Frost Troll can be difficult to defeat for a lower leveled Dragonborn and there are a wide range of different strategies which could be used when confronting it.
Once the Dragonborn has made it up the 7000 steps they will arrive at High Hrothgar. Go inside and they will be approached by four members of the Greybeards, but only one will and can talk; Arngeir. He will ask the Dragonborn to demonstrate their abilities. Use the Shout on Arngeir, the Shouts cannot hurt them. After speaking to Arngeir, they must demonstrate their newly learned Word of Power on three spectral forms. Then go to the High Hrothgar Courtyard to learn and demonstrate the Whirlwind Sprint shout. After that, Arngeir tells them their training is complete.
The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller Quest
After completing The Way of the Voice, Arngeir sends the Dragonborn to Ustengrav, tasked with recovering the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller, as a final trial. Arriving to find it stolen, the Dragonborn must discover its whereabouts.
Within the tomb, a word for the dragon shout Become Ethereal is learned. Obstacles in this location include Draugr and hostile Mages.
The hard-to-reach room is in Ustengrav Depths. In there, the large pillars have collapsed paths along them. Find the rock closest to the first pillar and jump across to it. Whirlwind Sprint is needed to reach the last two pillars. At the end is a room with a dead Draugr, a Soul Gem, and a chest.
There is a waterfall back in the main cavern on the north side and a path that leads down to it. A Word Wall for the shout Become Ethereal is next to it. There is a level dependent Draugr slumbering in a small cave behind the waterfall itself. There is also a chest there.
The Puzzle Room
There is a puzzle room with three stones that activate three timed doors, use Whirlwind Sprint within distance of the two farthest stones and then immediately sprint through the gates. The stones are proximity sensitive, but only two of the three can be activated from one place, nor will a waiting follower keep them activated. Activate the two furthest from the gates. The third activates and opens its gate as it is passed using Whirlwind Sprint. The Dragonborn can sprint to the third stone and then use Whirlwind. Once all of the gates are passed, they remain open, allowing followers to catch up unscathed.
The Flaming Floor
After going through the catacomb-like room, there is a room with a large number of pressure-triggered fire traps on the floor. The curved diamond shapes in the center of each tile are different shades of gray. The lighter tiles are safe to step on, while the darker ones will trigger flame traps. Another solution, aside from using Whirlwind Sprint, is to use the Become Ethereal shout, which will render the flames harmless for as long as the shout is in effect. The Sneak perk, Light Foot, will also work for bypassing the trap. After passing the pressure plates, there may be one or two regular Frostbite Spiders and one Giant Frostbite Spider. It is also possible to walk on the rocky sides rather than the pressure tiles for most of the trapped hall. Another solution is to shoot the tiles with a spell such as Firebolt or Ice Spike. Flames/Sparks, etc. don't work. The impact of a bolt or spike is enough to set off the trap if it's not a safe tile.
After making it past the spiders, there is a doorway blocked by spider webs, which can be cut with a sword. Behind is a wooden door, which leads to a gate activated by a chain. This leads to a room where four statues rise out of the water.
The Unfortunate News
Unfortunately, the horn has been stolen and replaced with a note. The note is in the hand of the deceased Jurgen Windcaller, where the horn should be. The note must be actively taken and read, even though the quest system tells its contents when it announces that the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller quest failed.
The note sends the Dragonborn to the Sleeping Giant Inn in Riverwood. Talk to Delphine and ask to rent the attic room. She will say that they don't have an attic room, but to take the room on the left. Go into the room. If Delphine does not immediately enter the room, sleep or wait for a few hours. Delphine will then be there. After the conversation, follow her and she will give the Dragonborn the horn. She will then ask that she be joined on a quest to be proved a Dragonborn. This begins the "A Blade in the Dark" quest.
Return to the Greybeards
Travel back to High Hrothgar and present the horn to Arngeir. The Greybeards will gather in the main hall where Wulfgar will teach the final word of the shout Unrelenting Force.
Following this, the Greybeards will perform a ritual that formally recognizes the Dragonborn as Dovahkiin.
A Blade in the Dark Quest
Talking to Delphine will make her explain that Dragons are coming back to life and asking her more, she'll also reveals she is thinking the Thalmor are behind it. The Dragonborn is then asked to prove that they are indeed Dragonborn by killing a dragon. She believes that the next dragon to come back to life will do so east of the town of Kynesgrove. She will then give the choice to either travel to Kynesgrove together or go there alone.
Upon reaching Kynesgrove, Alduin will be hovering over the grave. Alduin is performing an act to bring a dragon back to life and cannot be killed or injured at this time. Once he is finished, the dragon Sahloknir will arise from the grave site. Sahloknir needs to be killed.
A follower, along with Delphine will be useful for distracting Sahloknir. This fight can be made easier by attacking Sahloknir before he has been fully revived by Alduin. This way his life can be reduced before he's able to fight back.
Sahloknir and Alduin are engaging in a lengthy conversation during and after the resurrection, even addressing the Dragonborn themselves before combat occurs, and rushing in to combat will cause this dialogue to be skipped.
After killing Sahloknir and absorbing his soul, talk to Delphine. The Diplomatic Immunity quest will begin, requiring the Dragonborn to make a choice to either go with her back to the Sleeping Giant Inn in Riverwood or meet her there later. Talking to Delphine will activate the next quest.
Diplomatic Immunity Quest
Delphine thinks that the Thalmor know something about, or are even responsible for, the dragons' return to Skyrim. She has a plan to get the Dragonborn into the Thalmor Embassy, to gain access to their secret documents in an attempt to find out more about the situation at hand. She will acquire a legitimate invitation to a reception being held by the Thalmor ambassador, Elenwen. Find the Bosmer servant and spy for the Blades, Malborn, at the Winking Skeever tavern in Solitude.
When arriving, Malborn will agree to smuggle some equipment into the back-rooms. Malborn can bring an unlimited amount of gear with him, while the only gear the Dragonborn will have during the beginning of the mission will be what has been given to Malborn.
There is only one chance to give him gear. Nothing else can be given to him once the trade dialogue closes, and remember nothing else can be taken inside; give it to Malborn. Give him some lockpicks, since there will be locks to pick.
Afterwards, the Dragonborn will meet with Delphine at the Solitude Stables at Katla's Farm to pick up the invitation and party disguise, and then drop off everything else on hand with Delphine; everything given to her will be stored safely until reclaimed after the mission. Delphine will store the inventory in a chest in her hidden office in the Sleeping Giant Inn, in Riverwood.
Once at the party, the Dragonborn will be approached by ambassador Elenwen and will become engaged in conversation. Malborn interrupts the conversation, causing the ambassador to walk off. The Dragonborn then has the opportunity to speak with Malborn and ask him for a drink.
Distract the Party Guests
Ambassador Elenwen greets the Dragonborn upon entering the Thalmor Embassy. After speaking with her, the Dragonborn will need to create an opening to slip out of the party; tell Malborn when ready, and he'll wait by the door behind the bar for the Dragonborn's next move:
- If Razelan is talked to, (he's on the bench nearest to Malborn) he'll ask for a drink. Malborn can conveniently provide the Dragonborn with a Colovian Brandy to give to Razelan, who then offers to do the Dragonborn a favor in return. Getting a drink from the Bosmer servant, Brelas, and giving it to Razelan will also work. Tell him to cause a scene, and he will make a grandiose announcement, causing a distraction.
- Alternatively, if the Dragonborn is acquainted with Jarl Idgrod Ravencrone and has previously assisted her, she may be asked to cause a distraction, as "an old woman can get away with anything." She will then begin harassing Razelan and making a scene, providing the necessary cover.
- Another option is to overhear Erikur unsuccessfully trying to flirt with the Bosmer servant Brelas. Speaking with Erikur afterward will make him mention his weakness for Bosmer women, and the Dragonborn can therefore offer to speak with her on his behalf. Speaking to Brelas reveals her dislike for guests like Erikur, and asks that he be persuaded to leave her alone. Speak to Erikur once again, and any speech option chosen will cause Erikur to lose his temper and causes a scene. Brelas will end up in the dungeon, but can be freed later in the quest.
- If on good terms with Ondolemar, the Dragonborn may ask him to make a distraction (after a persuasion check), where he begins accusing Razelan of insulting the Thalmor.
- If the Dragonborn has a higher Speech skill and Vittoria Vici is there, she can be persuaded to cause a distraction.
- If the quest for Orthus Endario has been completed, the Dragonborn may ask him to make a distraction, in which he will accuse Razelan of insulting the Thalmor.
- If the Dragonborn has become the leader of the Thieves Guild, then the Dragonborn may request. Maven Black-Briar to cause a distraction.
- Other people the Dragonborn has done favors for might be in attendance, including other Jarls. Some might be persuaded to make a distraction. This distraction, like that caused by Jarl Idgrod Ravencrone, will likely involve making a scene at Razelan's expense. This has been observed with Igmund and Elisif the Fair, among others.
Once there's an opening, go to the door behind the bar and follow Malborn. Go through the kitchen to a pantry, retrieve the smuggled equipment from a chest, and go through a door into the next hallway. Malborn will lock the door behind the Dragonborn, completing this phase of the mission.
As Malborn locks the door, look through a doorway to the left and overhear two Thalmor agents chatting at a bar. Behind the bar are stairs leading up to a Thalmor Wizard. Kill them (or wait for them to move out of the way and sneak past them), and then either go through the ground floor exit or turn left at the top of the stairs. Kill or sneak around the mage, and then turn left again to enter a room with access to a second floor exit. This will open to an exterior area with more enemies to kill or avoid. The two guards can be avoided, but a mage guards the door and will alert the guards if he is attacked. It is, however, possible to go through the door with a sufficiently high Sneak level without alerting the wizard, by sneaking as close to them as possible (within Pickpocket range), targeting the door and activating it. If a general alarm is raised, additional guards will come from the barracks. Once clear, enter the only door into the ambassador's offices (Elenwen's Solar).
A Dragonborn that is an Altmer and is wearing hooded Thalmor robes may walk past all the guards without incident. Walking is essential, as running, even as an Altmer and wearing Thalmor robes will cause the guards to become hostile. Even if the Dragonborn is an Altmer, the Thalmor wizard at the door to the Solar will ask why they are not at their post. At this point, the option to persuade the wizard that Elenwen wants to see them inside becomes available. If this persuasion is successful, the wizard will say to "take his post" and say not to let anyone in, at which point he should leave the area but appears to stay where he is. Either way, once inside the Solar, any disguise will no longer work and everyone inside will become hostile on sight.
Inside, either kill everyone or sneak over to the chest the quest arrow is pointing to, and grab the needed items. Read the documents taken to activate the next arrow. If Rulindil and/or Gissur are not killed, they will have to be fought later (when exiting the Embassy, and in a follow-up quest in the Ratway, respectively).
There is a locked display case in Rulindil's office, containing two elven daggers, a gold and ruby circlet, and a gold and emerald circlet. There is also a Gold Ingot in one of the upper rooms, along with more loot.
After recovering the quest items from the office, the quest arrow will lead down into the dungeon, where Etienne Rarnis is being kept captive. If Rulindil was killed in his office, the only other person in the dungeon will be a guard patrolling outside the cells. If Rulindil was allowed to walk down the stairs, he will also be there, sitting at a desk (taking notes) while the guard tortures the prisoner. Information about Esbern is needed to proceed. This can be done in three ways:
- Pretend to be an interrogator and order the prisoner to repeat what he told the Thalmor.
- Release the prisoner and ask if he has any useful information.
- Open the chest and read the documents inside.
Whichever method is used, learning about Esbern triggers a scripted event leading to the next stage of the quest.
After the Dragonborn learns about Esbern, two Thalmor guards will enter the dungeon with Malborn in custody; his cover blown. The guards hold the key to the trapdoor, so they have to be killed. If the Dragonborn is an Altmer dressed in full Elven Armor the guards will not be hostile, allowing them to get close enough for melee weapons to be effective.
Once through the trapdoor, a frost troll will be waiting, as well as any followers that might have been left before entering the party. Under the stone ledge is a necromancer's body, an Illusion Skill Book Before the Ages of Man, a Stone of Barenziah, and some loot. Exiting the cave will allow seeing off anyone that was saved. Return to Riverwood to reclaim any gear from Delphine's chest. If Etienne survived, he can later be found in Riften among the Thieves Guild. If Malborn survived, he can be found in the New Gnisis Cornerclub in Windhelm, and he will give you another quest to find and kill a Thalmor assassin who is keeping him from leaving Windhelm and Skyrim.
A Cornered Rat Quest
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 gold coins 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 Khajit 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.
Alduin’s Wall Quest
After the Dragonborn and Esbern arrive at Riverwood, they meet with Delphine at the Sleeping Giant Inn. They say that the Dragonborn must go to Alduin's Wall, which is in Karthspire, located in Sky Haven Temple. The Dragonborn may travel with Delphine and Esbern, or meet them at the Karthspire.
Arriving in Karthspire or meeting up at the entrance to the Karthspire camp, the group will encounter a number of leveled Forsworn and a Hagraven. Note: The lower wooden bridge continues up the hill to the other side where there are more Forsworn. If they aren't killed initially, they will attack from above with Ice Spike on the way into Karthspire (Sky Haven Temple).
A dragon may also spawn at the camp, on some occasions, increasing the chaos in the camp. The dragon might attack both the Dragonborn and his allies, as well as the Forsworn. The attacking dragon may be as high as an ancient dragon, even if the Dragonborn is low level.
Upon entering into the caverns, there will be an encounter with several more Forsworn. Delphine and Esbern run ahead, allowing the Dragonborn to look for loot. There's an iron ore vein in the bottom area of the first section. They stop at the first puzzle, which controls a drop-bridge that further passage into the mountain. The puzzle solution, with Esbern's hint, is to align them so that all three show the "Dragonborn symbol" (Dragon, Dragon, Dragon). Once the bridges drop, the group can cross and go higher into the mountain.
Again, the party stops when Esbern looks ahead and sees danger in a patio area consisting of pressure plates with symbols on them. Esbern points out the Dragonborn symbol and, sure enough, walking only on these plates allows safe passage across to where a chain can be pulled that disarms the trap part of the plates. Note that any follower will cause interference while walking across the pressure plates, but this can be avoided by telling the follower to wait while the puzzle is crossed. Once the chain is pulled, Esbern and Delphine run ahead. At this point, a follower can be told to "follow" again without causing problems. Note that Whirlwind Sprint can be used to get across and quickly pull the chain. Another method is to use the Become Ethereal shout and simply walk across the plates, taking no damage. If the drawbridge was opened before Esbern says anything about turning the pillars, it is possible to run ahead and just pull the chain without the pressure plates being activated.
The tunnel opens up into a large room just prior to the Temple. In the wall ahead, there is a very large stone face, and a few feet in front of the face is a circular platform. Esbern thinks the entrance will open if the Dragonborn sheds a few drops of blood onto the pressure plate. If the plate is activated, a cut-scene plays showing the Dragonborn's hand being cut to dribble some blood on the plate. The face slides up and reveals a doorway. A treasure chest with a quicksilver vein can be seen to the right. Note: The plate cannot be activated if the quest is not active.
Instead of racing ahead like they have until now, Esbern and Delphine decide that the Dragonborn should have the honor of being the first to enter the great Sky Haven Temple. As a large, open room is approached with a large table and a carved stone frieze, Esbern reverts to historical scholar. As he examines the frieze wall, he explains that it tells the story of Alduin's time of dragon rule, the human rebellion led by those who could "shout," and finally a panel that shows Alduin defeated by a Shout. Esbern fears that only this Shout will defeat Alduin. Delphine isn't pleased about involving the Greybeards at High Hrothgar but agrees that it is necessary to return to them and ask to learn that Shout.
After the conversation with Esbern, he offers a Dragonslayer's Blessing that will increase the chance to gain critical hits against dragons by 10% for 5 days. It is possible to talk to him and get the blessing again, but he advises that it should only be obtained if battles with dragons are expected.
The room on the opposite side from Alduin's Wall (to the left at the top of the stairs) has a complete set of Blades Heavy Armor and the sword Dragonbane (a weapon that is especially effective against dragons). An upper room has a number of beds and chests. Delphine decides the Temple will be the new Blades headquarters. If there are worthy warriors who will drop previous allegiances and swear to the Blades, they may be sent them to Delphine at the Temple to build up the numbers of Blades.
The exit indicator takes the Dragonborn back through the entire Sky Haven Temple, then through Karthspire to the entrance. It is possible, however, to exit from the Temple quickly. Starting at Alduin's Wall, to the left is a staircase. The left doorway leads to the Blades (Skyrim) sleeping quarters. The right doorway leads to a staircase up. Turning right, heading down the corridor, then left up another staircase, the Dragonborn ends up directly behind and above Alduin's Wall. There are 5 doors leading out to a courtyard, where the Dragonborn can fast travel to their next destination. In the courtyard, there are a couple of archery targets and a practice dummy, hanging moss, juniper berries and a stump with mora tapinella.
- After completion of this quest, the Dragonborn can speak to Esbern and receive the Dragonslayer's Blessing effect.
- There is a room that is not on the map, to the west of the northwestern room. In that room are a number of beds and chests with gold and various hides. From the main room, this unmapped room is up the stairs to the left of the floor area with 4 chairs (behind the table). At the first landing, on the left (west) side, there is another set of stairs that leads to the sleeping area.
The Throat of the World Quest
During this quest the Greybeards teach the Dragonborn all three words of the Clear Skies shout, Lok (Sky), Vah (Spring), and Koor (Summer) in order to reach the summit of the mountain. They also learn a word of the Fire Breath shout (the exact word depends on the words already known).
Find Arngeir in High Hrothgar and speak to him about defeating Alduin. He will become angry that the Blades are involved and if the incorrect dialog option is chosen he will refuse to help. At this point Einarth will speak in a voice that echoes around the building.
Arngeir will apologize and mention Einarth reminded him of his duty. He will teach the Clear Skies shout. From the courtyard, follow the path up the steps. The path will continue into some bad weather; use the Clear Skies Shout to clear the mist and continue to the Throat of the World to meet Paarthurnax. There is a frost troll and some ice wraiths along the way.
Before learning about Dragonrend, Paarthurnax will offer to teach a word of the Fire Breath shout. Paarthurnax will use the Fire Breath shout at the nearby word wall, allowing the Dragonborn to acquire a word of the shout.
(After being taught the first word of Fire Breath, if a dragon soul is spent on unlocking it instead of receiving Paarthurnax's knowledge of the word, the second word will be taught and unlocked.)
While speaking with Paarthurnax, it is learned that no dragon can use Dragonrend, because it was the first Thu'um made by mortals and the concept of mortality is beyond their understanding. According to Arngeir, the Shout was made entirely with hatred for dragons - by those who suffered the slavery of Alduin. Learning the word would mean taking in the hatred that created them as well.
In addition, Paarthurnax allows the Dragonborn to Meditate on the Words of Power, adding bonus effects to shouts and the Dragonborn. Paarthurnax reveals that Alduin was first defeated using the Dragonrend shout, but not without the aid of an Elder Scroll. After Dragonrend was used, the Elder Scroll was used on Alduin to cast him on the tides of time. However, Alduin was simply sent forward. Since that day, Paarthurnax has remained at the point where time was shattered. He stayed there, waiting thousands of years for Alduin to appear once more. From here the next task is to find an Elder Scroll, though Paarthurnax does not know where it may be. He suggests talking to either Arngeir or Esbern, both of whom will direct the Dragonborn to the College of Winterhold.
Elder Knowledge Quest
College of Winterhold
Upon arrival to the College of Winterhold one will be met by an Altmer named Faralda. If the College of Winterhold was not yet joined, Dragonborn will be prevented from entering the college. There are several options to gain entry:
- Persuade: Persuading Faralda to gain entrance.
- Test: Taking Faralda's test by casting a random spell.
- Shout: Telling Faralda that they are Dragonborn and proving it by a shout.
Should the Dragonborn succeed in one of these actions, Faralda will allow entrance into the College.
Once Dragonborn access to the college has been granted, they need to locate Urag gro-Shub, who runs the Arcanaeum inside the College. Then, he should be asked about the Elder Scrolls. Urag will give two books written about them. (If they're not working, check the Notes section). If one has not yet started the side quest "Discerning the Transmundane," reading Ruminations on the Elder Scrolls will begin that quest. After telling Urag that the Ruminations on the Elder Scrolls is incomprehensible, he will say that the book was written by an expert on the Elder Scrolls, Septimus Signus. He gives Dragonborn the last known location of Septimus.
Alternatively, one can simply go to Septimus Signus' Outpost, and avoid joining the College altogether.
Go to Septimus Signus's Outpost, the northern iceberg where Septimus has made his home. Climb down the ladder to find Septimus working on a Dwemer Box. Ask Septimus about the Elder Scroll, and he will say that it is hidden in the depths of Blackreach, a large underground Dwemer city that lies underneath the ruins of Alftand and many other Dwemer ruins. He will give an Attunement Sphere needed to gain entry to Blackreach, and the Blank Lexicon.
The next stage of the mission leads to Alftand, leading on to the ancient underground city of Blackreach. This portion of the quest can be difficult for lower-level characters, as Blackreach contains many Falmer and Dwarven Animunculi.
Alftand is located in the glacial mountains southwest of Winterhold. When entering Alftand, one will need to travel throughout large glacial tunnels. Follow the tunnel until reaching the Dwemer Ruins. When reaching the barred door, proceed to the passage that heads west up a ramp.
Continue north, and there will be two Dwarven Spheres. Kill or avoid them and head through the door and up to a Dwarven Spider–infested passage stretching south. This main passage leads east, above the room with the Dwemer Spheres in it. Dodge the pistons and continue on to the Alftand Animonculory.
Travel through the Alftand Animonculory, past the spinning blades, to find a locked gate. There is a lever on the right by the big pipe and on the other side of the gate that is accessible from the far left position. Open the gate and proceed to a massive shaft in the Animonculory. Travel down this shaft and within it are four Falmer. Dispatch or sneak by them. Alternatively, use the Become Ethereal shout to jump straight to the bottom. Taking this course could potentially cause the Dragonborn to be overwhelmed by the number of Falmer at the bottom, and bypasses valuable items on the way down.
Midway down the shaft, one of the ramps is broken, requiring a jump down to the platform below. This could potentially result in taking some damage. To minimize damage, jump to the pipe on the right side to descend approximately halfway down prior to jumping. At this point returning to the levels above is only possible by continuing to another exit and re-entering Alftand.
Once at the bottom there is an entrance to a door preceded by fire jets. While it is possible to walk through the fire jets to the door, it is also possible to avoid taking fire damage by passing through a small gap between the pipes on the left side. Enter the door, which leads to a Falmer nest. Go through the nest, dispatching or avoiding the Falmer inside. Go through the door on the southwest. This leads to a bridge, followed by another looping walkway containing several Falmer and at least one Frostbite Spider.
Now enter the Alftand Cathedral. Battle or avoid the two Falmer. Travel up the stairs and activate the switch, then pass through the newly opened gate. There will be a Dwarven Centurion that must be defeated, as it holds the key needed to proceed. A simple way to defeat the Centurion is to lean in the left part of the gate, and firing an arrow at the Centurion. As it comes close, it will try to fire steam at the Dragonborn. Go far until the steam's range, and fire arrows from there. The Fire Breath Shout is also effective with the same strategy, but arrows make the fight go faster. Another option is to walk back down the stairs. The Centurion will follow. Let it try to catch up around the round "water well". A Frostbite spider will appear and start attacking the Centurion. Wait, and the spider will damage or destroy the Centurion. Next, proceed to the gate on the southwest where there will be two hostile adventurers, Sulla and Umanan, arguing. Engage or sneak past them to continue. If remaining concealed, they will eventually fight, leaving one survivor. Proceed to the Dwarven Mechanism and insert the Attunement Sphere. The floor will part, revealing stairs down to a hidden door and an entrance into the undercity of Blackreach.
Note: At this point the elevator immediately behind the "Dwarven Mechanism" will lead back to Skyrim. This lift can then be taken back to this point if nearing or at maximum carry weight. This location is also a useful midway point for returning later to collect the various bits of Dwemer metal for converting to ingots.
One can exit Blackreach using the Dwarven Elevator just left of their location. There are several Dwarven Centurion along the road, but it is possible to avoid them. Dispatch or sneak by the Dwemer Sphere and the Falmer (a very easy way to dispose of the sphere is to activate the nearby crossbow before the sphere activates, as this kills it instantly), and follow the cobblestone path southeast to a button encased on a Dwarven head pedestal. Press it, and the elevator behind lights up, allowing access to the elevator to ascend and exit back outside. Open the gate to allow later entry from the Great Lift of Alftand.
Follow the quest marker to the far southwest corner of the map. This will lead to the Tower of Mzark, where the Scroll resides.
Once inside the Tower of Mzark, one will come to a room with a number of alchemical ingredients and other items. The Oculory is through the door on the far side of the room. Go up the spiral ramp. Near the top is a level area with desks, ruined books, and a door to an elevator to the surface. Near the door is a dead body, Drokt. The Journal of Drokt is next to his skeletal remains.
Go up the ramp above the elevator door to the controls. The controls consist of a Lexicon Receptacle and four positioning buttons embedded in pedestals. Activate the Lexicon Receptacle, so the Blank Lexicon rests on top of it. The two pedestals to the Receptacle’s left, the only ones currently active, open and close the Oculory lenses. Press the taller of the two pedestals (right of the pedestal with the lens chart on it in the middle of the buttons) until the pedestal with the blue button to the left of the middle one starts to glow.
Move to this new pedestal (at this point, the Blank Lexicon may be glowing blue). The two pedestals to the left of the lens chart, the taller of which is now active, control the ceiling lens array. Press the button of the taller, left pedestal twice, until the button on the left of that (the smaller pedestal) begins to glow. Note, if the left button is pressed too many times, one may have to start over with the farthest right button pedestal (as a reset). Now press that button, and a large set of lens crystals descends from the ceiling and stops. The main crystal rotates and splits apart to reveal a tube-like carrying device, which contains the Elder Scroll.
Acquiring the scroll completes this quest. Retrieve the Lexicon in order to continue "Discerning the Transmundane."
Alduin’s Bane Quest
After retrieving the Elder Scroll, the Dragonborn will need to go to the Time Wound at the summit of the Throat of the World and learn the Dragonrend shout from those who created it, so that it may be used to finally defeat Alduin once and for all.
By completing the quest "Elder Knowledge," the Dragonborn collected an Elder Scroll. The Dragonborn will need to return to Paarthurnax atop the Throat of the World and read the scroll at the Time Wound. When the Elder Scroll is read, a cinematic scene will begin. The Dragonborn will see an image of three Nordic heroes. The Dragonborn will then learn all three words of the Dragonrend shout, which will be used to defeat Alduin. Once the Dragonborn comes out of the vision, Alduin will attack them and Paarthurnax. Dragonrend is used on Alduin to make him land on the ground, where the Dragonborn can then begin to damage him. After Alduin is defeated, he will fly off and escape.
The Dragonborn must talk to either Paarthurnax, Arngeir, or Esbern. Whoever is picked will say that they must talk to the Jarl of Whiterun to try and convince him to let them use Dragonsreach, which was originally designed to capture and house a dragon.
Jarl of Whiterun
The Dragonborn tries to enlist the aid of the Jarl Balgruuf; however, the Jarl will say that he cannot try to capture a dragon while Whiterun is under threat of attack. He says that if a peace treaty can be agreed between the Imperials and the Stormcloaks, he will help capture and hold a dragon. The Jarl will also suggest talking to the Greybeards, as both General Tullius and Ulfric Stormcloak highly respect them.
Note that if the Dragonborn has already completed the Civil War questline, thus ending Skyrim's civil war, then this quest will not need to be completed. Regardless of whether Whiterun is under the rule of Balgruuf the Greater or Vignar Gray-Mane, the Jarl will agree to capture Odahviing without talking to the Greybeards, and the main questline will be continued.
Getting the two sides to the table
The Dragonborn will speak to the Greybeards, who will agree to help negotiate a truce. Arngeir will suggest the Dragonborn speak to both General Tullius and Ulfric Stormcloak, and extend an invitation to meet with the Greybeards and discuss the future of Skyrim.
Note that if the Dragonborn has not yet chosen a side in the Civil War quest line, then upon speaking with both General Tullius and Ulfric the first time, there will be no dialogue option to tell either about the peace conference. Instead, after mentioning Helgen, each will assume that the Dragonborn wants to join their side.
Each will direct them to their assistant (either Legate Rikke or Galmar Stone-Fist), and in most cases they will then end the conversation. Approaching each one a second time will now present the option to tell them about the Greybeards and the conference.
After speaking to both parties, returning to Arngeir and speaking with him will allow the conference to begin. However, Delphine and Esbern will show up demanding entrance to the conference representing the Blades. Arngeir initially refuses, but is ultimately persuaded to permit them to join.
Once the peace conference has started, the Dragonborn is given many options, mostly having to do with the side taken in Civil War questline.
Negotiation 1: Elenwen
As soon as the negotiations begin, Ulfric raises objections about Elenwen even being involved in this council, saying how the Thalmor should have nothing to do with Skyrim's politics. Tullius or Ulfric will ask what the Dragonborn's thoughts are:
- To agree with Tullius and keep Elenwen in the meeting.
- To agree with Ulfric and eject Elenwen from the meeting.
Either choice has no effect on the negotiations.
Negotiation 2: Markarth or Riften
The next item to discuss is giving up a major Hold.
If the Dragonborn has sided with the Stormcloaks, General Tullius will demand that Riften be turned over to the Empire. Otherwise (either if sided with the Imperials or no side yet selected), Ulfric will demand Markarth be surrendered to the Stormcloaks. The opposing faction’s reaction depends on the state of the Civil War: The faction that controls Markarth or Riften asks the Dragonborn what they believe is a fair trade for the city.
The answer is always one of three choices:
- An exchange of a major Hold the opposition has.
- An exchange of a minor Hold the opposition has.
- Alternative dealing with choice in Civil War quest line (not available if no side has been chosen yet).
The council goes along with whatever choice is made. The side that controls Markarth or Riften will be unhappy if it is bargained for a minor Hold.
Negotiation 3: Minor Hold
Here the Dragonborn has the choice of giving up a minor hold to the Imperials or the Stormcloaks. There is no difference in the speech other than at the end. If a minor hold is given up, Tullius tells the Dragonborn of his displeasure. He does not use that speech if it is kept. The Stormcloaks will take the deal either way.
Negotiations 4: Concessions
It is now time for the faction that has been favored less (and thus “losing” the negotiations) to ask for additional concessions. For each demand, the Dragonborn can choose whether to agree to the concession.
This continues until the side issuing demands runs out of concessions to request (which requires one to refuse all their demands).
Once the treaty is agreed, the quest is complete.
After completing the peace treaty with both sides, the Civil War questline is halted until the main quest has been fully completed.
If the Dragonborn has sided with the Stormcloaks and has liberated Falkreath in the quest line Liberation of Skyrim, in which the next objective is to liberate the Reach, then it is possible that after completing Season Unending, the "Liberate the Reach" objective will also be complete. Note that the Liberation quest line cannot be completed if the Dragonborn has a bounty in either Windhelm or Solitude.
If the Dragonborn has sided with the Legion and decides to trade the Reach for the Rift, then the quest Compelling Tribute (Imperials) in the Civil War quest line is skipped.
Delphine and Esbern learn that Paarthurnax is the leader of the Greybeards. They inform the Dragonborn of Paarthurnax's former position as the lieutenant of Alduin during the Dragon War and claim he was responsible for many unspecified atrocities against humankind. Bound by their oaths as Blades, they refuse the Dragonborn further assistance until Paarthurnax is slain. This quest is optional; it does not need to be completed in order to finish the main quest.
This quest is optional, but in order to continue the Blades storyline, it must be completed before the conclusion of the Main Quest. However, doing so will prevent any further communication with the Greybeards, including the radiant quest to locate Words of Power. The conclusion of the main storyline slightly differs depending on whether or not Paarthurnax is still living. Working with all factions prior to engaging Paarthurnax runs the risk of making the quest impossible to complete.
Defeating Paarthurnax is not especially difficult as he displays only the usual powers common to all dragons and at this point the player must have access to both the Dragonrend shout and the Dragonbane sword.
This quest starts immediately after the quest "Alduin's Bane" is complete. However, if the Civil War quest line is incomplete or not started, it will be put on hold shortly after it starts for "Season Unending" to commence.
After Alduin escapes from the Throat of the World at the end of the previous quest, the Dragonborn will need to track him down in order to defeat him once and for all. The Dragonborn can speak to Paarthurnax, Arngeir, or Esbern to learn that the best way to do this is to trap one of Alduin's dragon allies at Dragonsreach in Whiterun and interrogate him for information.
If the Civil War questline has been completed on either side, the Dragonborn can then speak to the Jarl of Whiterun to get his assistance in preparing the trap.
If not, the Jarl will decline to help while the war is still ongoing; this will start the "Season Unending" quest, in which a peace treaty must be negotiated at High Hrothgar between the Imperials and the Stormcloaks to put the Civil War on hold first. If, however, the Dragonborn had killed Paarthurnax by this point in a quest for the Blades, then the truce cannot be called because Arngeir will refuse to help with the negotiations. In this case the only way to continue the quest is to bring about peace by completing the Civil War questline before the Jarl will agree to provide assistance.
Once the Jarl of Whiterun has agreed to help, the Dragonborn will learn from Esbern or Paarthurnax (if the Dragonborn had not killed him) that the names of all dragons are actually Words of Power, and that Dragon Shouts can be used to call them. The Dragonborn will then receive the Call Dragon shout which will be used to lure Odahviing into the trap at Dragonsreach.
The trap can now be launched by traveling to Dragonsreach and speaking with Jarl Balgruuf or, if the Battle for Whiterun was completed in favor of the Stormcloaks, Jarl Vignar Grey-Mane. Exiting through the doors behind the throne room to the Great Porch (which Esbern incorrectly calls the "Courtyard") allows Odahviing to be called and trapped, using first the Call Dragon shout to lure him out, and then Dragonrend to force him down from the sky. Note that it may be helpful to go up on the small balcony to the right and use the Call Dragon shout from there; the shout button must be held down long enough for all three words of the shout to be completed in order to make Odahviing show up.
Since Odahviing cannot be killed, there is no point to trying to fight him or trying to drain his power. Instead, he can be immediately lured into the enclosed area, and the trap will come down on his neck and hold him in place. He will then speak to the Dragonborn, and offer to take them to Alduin's lair at Skuldafn in exchange for his freedom.
Note: If followers or NPCs insist on tanking Odahviing and keeping far away from the trap, attack him until he is "KO'd" and then retreat to the doors. When Odahviing's HP is restored (since he is not killable at this point), he should attempt to follow the Dragonborn and get trapped.
At this point, Farengar may come in and start running tests on Odahviing, with amusing results.
When choosing to free Odahviing, a guard on the second floor will help release the trap. Speaking with Odahviing again will allow him to carry the Dragonborn to Skuldafn, which immediately starts the next quest.
The World-Eater’s Eyrie
The only way to reach Sovngarde's portal is to fly on Odahviing. Freeing him can be done by talking to a guard, located on the second floor of the Great Porch, who will pull the chain. The trap can also be released by the Dragonborn pulling the chain. Odahviing will then propose to carry the Dragonborn to the Jerall Mountains. Followers cannot accompany the Dragonborn to Skuldafn. However, if Bound Until Death has been completed, the Spectral Assassin can be summoned to use as company. If the Assassin dies or disappears during the quest, he can be summoned again at least one day later, even if he is so far away as outside the actual Skyrim world. Beware that, once Skuldafn is reached, there is no turning back, as fast travel is impossible.
Skuldafn Temple’s Courtyard
Odahviing leaves the Dragonborn on a small area west of the Skuldafn temple. As soon as the Dragonborn arrives, it is likely that they will encounter a leveled dragon. Draugr will also be guarding the temple and must be dealt with or sneaked past. The path crosses a bridge to the east, proceeds under an arch, then turns south. Another dragon will be likely waiting further ahead.
The first of two optional areas (Skuldafn South Tower) is straight ahead to the south. It contains random treasures and draugr. The courtyard turns to the left (east) and climbs up a set of stairs to the second level. There are many leveled draugr waiting above, positioned at high vantage points throughout the courtyard area, which makes this area challenging to get through. Just beyond the top of the steps are two archways that lead under a bridge. Beyond that, Skuldafn North Tower can be seen in the southeast corner of the courtyard, on the third level, but it can't yet be reached because there is a relatively sheer wall that can't be climbed.
The path through the courtyard turns left (north), besides the path that hugs the wall in the right, there is a doorway to a short tower on the left. A set of wooden steps inside the tower lead up to a second floor with a chest, otherwise the tower is a dead end. Back outside, the path north leads to another two archways under a bridge, then to a set of stairs that finally lead up to the level of the bridges (the third level) and then on to the fourth (top) level. At the landing between the two halves of the stairs, it is possible to turn left (west), then left again (south) and walk along a ledge that leads to the bridges previously walked under.
The first bridge encountered (the second one walked underneath) leads east to a ledge that runs north and south. To the north is the landing previously encountered. To the south is the main body of the upper courtyard, with Skuldafn North Tower ahead against the left (east) wall. This tower contains more draugr and chests.
There are three other sets of stairs leading up from this third level. The stairs to the northeast, and the stairs that are found by staying to the right and walking around to the west side of the third level, lead up to the fourth level of the courtyard, which is the level of the temple itself (this can also be reached by simply continuing up the stairs from the landing noted earlier). Another set of stairs from the south side of the third level leads to a table with a chest on it that contains nothing but some gold.
A treasure chest is located to the left (west) of the temple's entrance, around the corner on a ledge, which only holds some gold.
The temple itself begins in a large area with a huge column directly ahead (north). To the right is a table with embalming gear and several potions. To the right of the column is a chest containing minor loot, while a dart trap protects the path on the left side. There are several leveled draugr to deal with. On the north side of the column is a table with six urns (three on each side).
From there, two sets of stairs lead further north to the first puzzle room, which is guarded by several lower-level draugr. This puzzle is made of three pillars with three sides each: the first depicting a bird, the second a snake, and the third a whale. A lever is just north of the pillars. Two different combinations each open a different gate. The gate to the right (against the east wall) opens to a treasure chest, while the one to the left (against the west wall) opens the way to the rest of the temple. When looking at the puzzle from the lever, the left pillar's wall-facing side (i.e. its left side) should depict a snake (facing the matching plate on the wall), while the right pillar should have a whale facing the other wall with the matching plate. The center pillar dictates which gate opens. The bird opens the right gate, while the snake opens the left gate. Standing at the lever facing the pillars, this is what should be seen:
Bird; Snake; Bird – Opens left gate Bird; Bird; Bird – Opens right gate
The direction the lever points makes no difference. Simply activating it, regardless of its position, will open or close the gate corresponding to the center pillar's position.
The path through the left gate proceeds up stairs, then turns left (west) where there are more stairs up. The path leads to the upper level of a medium-sized two-level room with several draugr at the bottom of wooden ramps leading down. A table supports the corpse of a draugr and several urns, while between the ramps is a chest. Through a narrow opening to the west is a web-covered crypt area that leads to the right (north), where three frostbite spiders are at the top of a ramp. The path turns right (east) and leads through a web-covered doorway that needs to be cut. Beyond that, the path turns back left (north), where another spider is found guarding a short set of steps up.
At the end of a short hall, the path again turns right (east), leading up another set of steps to more spiders and an iron door. There is a chest buried under the spider web just before and to the right of the iron door, near the egg sac.
Behind the door is the second puzzle room, which is guarded by several more leveled draugr. This is a two-leveled room, where there is a log ramp leading up to the second level. The correct symbol for the pillar directly in front of the door is on the far (east) side of the central platform - on that side of the platform is a chest. The correct symbols for the other two pillars are above the alcoves where the pillars are located. Setting the pillar located immediately in front of the door to snake, the one on the second level to the right to bird, and the one on the second level to the left to whale, then activating the lever on top of the central platform, will drop a drawbridge leading to a door to another part of Skuldafn Temple. The puzzle can be bypassed by using the Whirlwind Sprint shout while on the platform near the lever, or by jumping across.
Beyond the door, the path leads east, then turns north to a two-leveled room with several draugr. A table in the center of the bottom of the room holds an empty chest. Steps lead up to the north, then the path turns right (east) and leads clockwise around the room until the bridge is reached. Across the bridge is a doorway to a path leading west, then north to the base of a spiral staircase. However, a trap trigger will cause a lantern to drop onto the oil-covered floor, setting it ablaze, and also launches darts at the doorway. There are several urns and various loot around the bottom of the staircase.
At the top of the stairs is a gate to the north that cannot yet be opened, and a door to the south. Behind the door are three leveled draugr, a chest to the right, and a lever to the left that opens the gate. Through the gate is a slight upward incline, then the path turns right (east) and opens on a long hallway that is split into sections. At the end of the second section, a chest is on the right. Between the second and third sections is a trap trigger that will cause another lantern to fall on the oil-covered floor.
At the end of the hall, the path turns left (north), where the third puzzle room is found. The Dragonborn will have to face a leveled draugr or Dragon Priest. The Diamond Claw should be looted from his dead body. Like all the dragon claws, the puzzle door's key is found on the claw's palm. It is, from the top to the bottom: [Fox]-[Moth]-[Dragon]
Beyond the door, a word of the Storm Call shout is on a Word Wall found at the north end of the room. This will be the only chance to obtain this word since the Dragonborn can never return to Skuldafn.
On the roof of Skuldafn Temple, there is one elder dragon and one leveled dragon on each side of the portal, as well as four leveled draugr. By luring the draugr close to the edge of the roof, it is possible to knock them off with Unrelenting Force. If done quickly, they can be running around while the shout recharges and be thrown off one or two at a time. The dragons will remain neutral unless provoked with Dragonrend, an attack, or transforming into a Vampire Lord or werewolf.
Directly across from the entrance to the roof (west), there is a tower with a leveled chest on the lowest level.
A dragon priest is just ahead of the dragons' pillars. The priest's name is Nahkriin, and his staff is the key to going to Sovngarde. After killing him, his Dragon Priest Staff can be looted from his body. This is also the only opportunity to get his mask. To enter Sovngarde, his staff must be used on the altar, before jumping into the portal.
It is possible to enter the portal without fighting Nahkriin if the Dragonborn runs to the portal before it is closed (by Nahkriin reclaiming his staff).
Tactics to defeat Nahkriin
Nahkriin can be difficult for lower leveled characters, especially those who are not resistant to frost damage. Nahkriin relies heavily on ranged attacks and will, at all times, keep his distance. In some cases, he will also cast a cloak spell and conjure a frost atronach before the fight, as a form of defense against melee-oriented foes, which means that attacks should be carefully planned. He may also cast Ice Spike, slowing the Dragonborn drastically for a short period of time, leaving them more vulnerable to attacks.
Like every other dragon priest, Nahkriin wields a high-leveled staff, and having a good amount of healing potions might be necessary for this fight, and later on for Sovngarde. A few methods can be used to make the fight easier:
- The Shadow Stone can be used to turn invisible, allowing the Dragonborn to sprint into the portal before it is closed without confronting Nahkriin. An invisibility potion can also be used, or the Whirlwind Sprint shout to get into the portal past Nahkriin. This will make Nahkriin's Dragon Priest Mask unobtainable.
- Because Nahkriin will never confront the Dragonborn in melee range, he can be killed by hiding behind the pillar, near the edge of the large stairs. Nahkriin will only attack when the Dragonborn gets out of his cover. A bow can then be used to slowly decrease his health, hiding behind the pillar after every few shots.
- Nahkriin can also be lured over the edge, and charged with a melee attack, causing him to fall off the edge and die. Shouts can be also used, such as Fire Breath. This is not recommended, as then Nahkriin will have likely grabbed the staff, making it hard to enter Sovngarde.
- Nahkriin can also be sneak killed. A high Sneak level is necessary, and muffled boots are recommended. Nahkriin will appear facing the portal to Sovngarde, but, if he does not notice his foe, a sneak attack can be made. It is advised to have either the Backstab, Assassin's Blade perk, or a high Archery level with a powerful bow.
- Attacking with quick magic attacks such as Firebolt work well, then switching to melee force him to move, therefore lowering the chance of a hit from his attack. Then close the distance and use power attacks to stagger him, shouts help as well.
- Nahkriin will initially be moving toward the portal. Run past him and get between him and his staff. He can then be melee attacked till he dies, as he will not fight back until he gets his staff.
- Finally, there is a way to come up to Nahkriin and he will not be hostile, even if attacked. When coming out of Skuldafn Temple to Skuldafn there is a wooden bridge directly outside, if the Dragonborn heads to the right and climbs the rocks, it is possible to come out at the side of Nahkriin without making him hostile. With 100 sneak it will still show that the Dragonborn has been detected but Nahkriin will not attack, even if attacked, making him easy to pick off with a bow. Using this method, it is not possible to get the staff however, as it will already be in place with the portal open.
- Sprint up the stairs to Nahkriin, get him in range for Unrelenting Force. With him staggered by the Thu'um, sprint towards him into melee range. Bashing and power attacks stagger him, so keep doing so before he picks up his staff.
- A quick way to kill Nahkriin is: if you have the Sanguine Rose, summon the Dremora near Nahkriin and then pick him off using a bow.
- If one has obtained Windshear, one could chain stun Nahkriin until he dies. Windshear is only obtainable if one has progressed to the end of the Dark Brotherhood quest line.
- Another tactic similar to the Windshear strategy above, is to get the "Impact" Perk for destruction magic. It is possible (with enough magicka or fast enough regen) to repeatedly stagger him with most duel cast with any magic other than Sparks, Frostbite, or Flame as they are not "power attacks" and thus do not cause stagger when duel cast.
- If you have all three words, you can use the shout Call Storm as soon as you enter the area. It will damage him and the dragons while you focus on the Draugr.
- The difficult battle can also be avoided by attacking Nahkriin repeatedly as soon as he is encountered, before he gets his staff.
When entering Sovngarde, walk down the stairs, and there will be a Stormcloak Soldier. He'll say that he can't reach the Hall of Valor due to the deadly mist. In this mist, Alduin hunts for lost souls to gain power. After the conversation, follow the path through the mist. If you chose to help the Stormcloak, he will be devoured. Note: You can clear the mist using the Clear Skies shout.
Note: the soldier does not always start in the beginning, and there is a good chance the soldier will not be encountered until part way through the mist. Do not worry, the mist will not engulf you as you speak with the soldier.
If you have killed Ulfric, his soul will be here, saying, "We can't get anything done in this fog" and will tell you to turn back. Also, Galmar Stone-Fist can be found saying, "Dragonborn, even in death you dog my steps?" and "How come you're here? The king of this realm will cast you out - cursed be your name by all sons of Skyrim, with scorn unceasing."
Conversely, if you followed the Stormcloak quest, Rikke will be here if you killed her.
Also, if you have finished the Companions quests, Kodlak Whitemane will be wandering in the fog.
If you have completed the Bards College quest "Tending the Flames" you can see Svaknir, who wrote the verse you retrieved, along your path.
At the end of the path, the Hall of Valor comes into full view. The majestic building is situated at the far side of a great chasm that can only be reached by crossing the Whalebone bridge.
In front of the bridge stands Tsun, the Nordic god of trials. The first two questions give some background about Tsun and his relationship with Shor. He also gives some insight into the current situation in Sovngarde. In the last question, Tsun asks why he should allow the Dragonborn entry into the Hall of Valor. The right of birth will always be available, however, the other options will only appear if the respective guild questlines have been completed.
Once he remarks about the Dragonborn's right of entry, a final question is asked. This prompts a battle with Tsun. When his health reaches about 60%, he will yield and allow you to cross the bridge to the Hall of Valor. If you try to skip the test, you will die when you walk on the bridge - even if you have god mode on with console commands.
Note: If you use mist form as a vampire lord during this battle he will yield and allow you to cross.
Hall of Valor
Upon entering the Hall of Valor, Ysgramor himself will greet the Dragonborn. He will instruct the Dragonborn to speak to Gormlaith Golden-Hilt, Hakon One-Eye and Felldir the Old - the three heroes who defeated Alduin in the past. Once their speech is completed, they will ready their weapons and charge outside to face Alduin. This completes the quest and begins Dragonslayer.
Upon leaving the Hall of Valor and crossing the bone bridge, the next objective is to get rid of the mist in the valley. The Clear Skies shout needs to be used three times as Alduin will re-summon the mist twice. The three heroes will use the shout as well. After Alduin summons the mist again, the heroes eventually say to use it again. Alduin will now summon the mist for the last time. After a small dialogue, using the shout for the third time will get rid of the mist and Alduin will appear.
Now that Alduin has appeared, he must be killed.
Tactics for defeating Alduin
The Dragonrend shout can be used on him as soon as possible to get him on the ground, where he can be attacked. Dragonrend can be used repeatedly to stun him and keep the other heroes alive. If he can't be killed before he defeats the other three heroes, lots of healing potions or spells will be needed to stay alive, as his fire breath attack is quite strong.
A simple tactic to defeat him is to use the same tactic used in the fight at the Throat of the World. A shield bash/stun will stop him from using his fire breath along with using the Unrelenting Force shout, and in between shield stuns, it should be possible to get two to three swings with a weapon in. Between using Dragonrend and stunning him, it should be a simple matter of ensuring that health doesn't drop too low from his physical attacks, plus maintaining stamina to use the shield bash.
There are also several unorthodox strategies to defeating Alduin. The player can wait on the sidelines using Dragonrend from a distance; as the heroes are essential and very powerful they can finish off Alduin after only a few minutes. However, once defeated, the player must deliver the final blow himself/herself. Alduin will watch the player, but not resist his fate.
Baiting Tsun into the fight is also useful. Stand behind him and wait, a meteor will eventually strike him and he will become enraged and join the battle. He is essential and will only fight for a short time before returning to his post.
Note: For players using the legendary or master difficulty settings the two previous strategies are very helpful.
This quest does not show up in the quest log. It is a sequence of dialogue that serves as the final strand of the main quest. To initiate the quest, simply speak to Tsun in order to return to Skyrim.
Once Alduin has been defeated, speaking to Tsun will cause him to explain that he can return the Dragonborn back to Nirn.
Once they accept this offer, Tsun will grant the Dragonborn the Call of Valor shout, which can summon an ancient Nord hero to aid in battle. After imparting the words of power, Tsun summons Shor's might and returns the Dragonborn to the Throat of the World.
Return to Nirn
Upon arriving at the Throat of the World, Paarthurnax and many other dragons will be there to meet the Dragonborn. Paarthurnax sits atop the Throat's Word Wall, greeting the Dragonborn with grief.
The conversation ends as Paarthurnax leaps off the wall and ascends to the skies. Paarthurnax pauses in mid-air, and will face the Dragonborn. Paarthurnax, along with the other dragons, continues to circle around the Throat of the World. Eventually, he and the other dragons leave one by one. Next, Odahviing lands, greeting the Dragonborn. Odahviing then ascends high into the sky, and circles the Throat of the World alone. This marks the end of the main questline.
Return to High Hrothgar
If the Dragonborn returns to High Hrothgar, The Greybeards will all be gathered at the conference table waiting for them. Arngeir will rise and address the Dragonborn. Upon completion of this passage, if the Dragonborn speaks to Arngeir again, there will be a new dialogue option. If Paarthurnax was killed, the Greybeards will be inhospitable.
Regardless of whether Paarthurnax has been killed or not, the Dragonborn can return to the Blades, where Esbern tells them Delphine has been worried about them since the rumors that they flew out of Whiterun on a dragon. The two are happy to hear that Alduin is dead and that the Dragonborn's destiny has been fulfilled.
If Paarthurnax has not been killed, the two insist they are not ungrateful for all that has been done, but repeat that they must stay true to their oath as Blades, and so cannot aid the Dragonborn further until they kill Paarthurnax and close the pages on a dark chapter in history with the death of both brothers.
If Paarthurnax is killed before Dragonslayer is completed, the epilogue's script will not appear in-game. Upon returning to the Throat of the World, several dragons will fly overhead but Paarthurnax will not be there.
If the shout "Call Dragon" is used, and Odahviing is summoned, talking to him will result in him admitting that he is no longer ashamed of his defeat, as not even Alduin himself could stand against the Dragonborn's Thu'um, and that Alduin's lordship has been passed to the Dovahkiin.
Callbacks to the first meeting
If, during the Dragonborn’s first meeting with Paarthurnax, they stated that they do not believe in destiny, Paarthurnax's dialogue is quite different.
If, during their first conversation, the Dragonborn asserted that the next world will have to take care of itself, Paarthurnax will remind them of this if they claim that the world is better off without Alduin.