Main Story Archives
A Blade in the Dark
Talk to Delphine
Locate the dragon burial site
Kill the dragon Sahloknir
Talk to Delphine
Now that you are a Greybeard and have accepted your destiny as the Dragonborn, the problem of those pesky dragons is your new goal. Return to Riverwood and speak with Delphine at the Inn. Follow her into a secret area in one of the rooms, where she informs you that she knows where a dragon burial site exists. She thinks that the dragons are bringing each other back to life and you need to find a way to stop it.
At Kynesgrove in Eastmarsh, you walk right into a new dragon being resurrected, and you must kill it. Don your favorite weapon and head up the mountain. It is easiest to use a long-range bow or spell while Delphine does all the dirty work up front, but if you do get face-to-face with the beast, stay away from his face and tail. Dragons can one-hit kill you randomly if you don’t stay to their sides and wings.
Loot the dragon skeleton and speak with Delphine about the newest kink in your plan. Maybe someone in Skyrim is helping the Dragons or can give you some information. Delphine suggests the group that rules the Aldmeri Dominion. These people like to throw lavish parties up at the Thalmor Embassy, and Delphine can get you in.
Meet Delphine in Riverwood
Meet Malborn in Solitude
Give Malborn the equipment
Meet Delphine at the stables
Create a distraction and get away from the party
(Optional) Retrieve your gear
Search for information about the dragons returning
Escape the Thalmor Embassy
Talk to Delphine
Recover your equipment
Meet Delphine in Riverwood and she will have more information on how you are going to get into the Thalmor Embassy. She directs you to Malborn in Solitude. Speak with him in the Winking Skeever and he will offer to sneak you and some equipment in. You can give him whatever you want, but try to send him with things that will help you with sneak. Bring your favorite weapons too, but realize you won’t be without your full gear for too long.
Make your way to the Thalmor Embassy and make face with the partygoers, who happen to all be distinguished diplomats in Skyrim. If there is anyone there that you know, ask them if they will help you cause a distraction so you can slip out with Malborn. If you can’t find someone you know, ask the man sitting on the bench named Razelan.
Once in the kitchen area, head into the door on your left and get the gear you gave Malborn. Exit the area to go further into the house. Now that you are away from the party, you have the option of sneaking by the rest of the guards, or just outright killing them all. Regardless, make your way to the dungeon area in a snowy courtyard to look for more information.
You can head into rooms on the top floor and look for documents on the Thalmor, or you can head into the cells downstairs and find a prisoner being tortured. Release the prisoner to get information on Esbern, someone the Thalmor Embassy is highly interested in. The guards that come into the area have your only means of escape with the trap door key, so kill them and leave the dungeon by a door in the floor. Watch out for the frost troll in the next cave and try to keep any people with you alive. Find the exit and head back to Delphine in the Riverwood Inn.
Talk to Brynjolf
Search the Ratway for Esbern’s hideout
Find Esbern in the Ratway Warrens
Talk to Esbern
After Delphine lets you know where to find Esbern, leave Riverwood and head for Riften. If this is your first time into Riften, you will have to talk (or bribe) your way in. Either way, head to the large market area in the daytime and look for your contact, Brynjolf.
If you are completely new to town, Brynjolf will tell you that you must frame an Argonian in town named Madesi to get into his favor. Steal the ring successfully from the stall, then locate Madesi and plant it on him by pickpocketing him and placing the ring from your inventory to his. He will be taken away and Brynjolf will congratulate you and reward you. He tells you to find him in the Ragged Flagon, down below the city of Riften.
Get to the front entrance to The Ratway by heading to the waterway below your feet and circling the middle of town. Make your way through a couple of ruffians and into the main area of the Thieves Guild. Locate Brynjolf and talk him into telling you were Esbern is. At this point you can begin working for the Thieves Guild, but for now, we have a hermit to find.
You can locate Esbern specifically by asking Dirge or Vekel of the Thieves Guild, or you can wander around The Ratway yourself until you find him. Be careful once you set foot into the area though, the Thalmor are prowling around the area looking for the same man. Find the door to The Ratway Vaults, a place hidden across a gate you must open in the first area.
Once in the Vaults, avoid or kill the crazies that make their homes here and make your way to the upper floor in the southwest. Here you will find a large, heavily locked door and Esbern, who will take some convincing to let you in. Mention the 30th of Frostfall or your new title as the Dragonborn and he will give you access to his little hermit hole. Tell him Alduin has come back and he will ask you to bring him back to Delphine in Riverwood. Apparently those two have a past in the Blades and he wants to tell you both some serious information on the leader of the dragons and how to defeat him.
Escort Esbern to Riverwood
Talk to Esbern
Gain entrance to Sky Haven Temple
Learn the secret of Alduin’s Wall
You can take the lead and ask Esbern to follow you out if you know the way, or you can follow him out yourself if you are a bit lost. Esbern can easily take care of himself with the Thalmor that have appeared, so help him out or take a breather and watch the mage do your dirty work. Once you get back into the Ragged Flagon, make your way to the west corridor and turn right to get back into the room you came through when you first arrived. Make sure to lower the bridge to make any returns easier and leave by which you came. Or, if you have already made a name for yourself in the Thieves Guild, head up the ladder in the main room.
Head to Riverwood and bring Esbern to meet Delphine in her inn. After learning some important information from Esbern, Delphine informs you that all three of you will be heading to Karthspire. You can choose to travel with them on foot if you haven’t explored the area yet, or you can tell them to meet you there and travel by yourself by fast-travel or other means.
The Forsworn are dominant in this region, and they are hostile to strangers. There is no point in approaching them, so take them out wherever you see them. When you arrive in Karthspire on the Karth River, expect a rough battle with a large group of Forsworn. You can help your companions take out your attackers, or you can sneak into the entrance of your destination.
Once inside, fight your way through the corridors and to a puzzle. Activate each pillar until the Dragonborn symbols are all facing west, and a bridge will open up to the south. Be careful not to run too fast, because another puzzle emerges in a large room ahead, and this one can kill you if you step in the wrong place. The trick is to look at the floor and walk on the tiles with the emblem of the Dragonborn only, until you reach the other side and can pull the lever to turn off the trap. This also opens the way to the Sky Haven Temple Entrance across some bridges.
After you find out how to open the door to the temple, approach the middle of the room. After you open the door, you can listen to Esbern or keep walking. The building inside hasn’t been touched for ages, and you can even find some blades armor in some of the bedrooms on the sides of the area. Head to the middle of the large room and listen to Esbern as he translates the pictures on Alduin’s Wall. The Nords of long ago used a Dragonshout to defeat Alduin in battle, but neither Delphine nor Esbern have any idea what that shout is. You realize that the Greybeards may have an answer, and after some resistance, Delphine tells you to visit the monks for new information. At this point you can speak farther with the duo for some Blades side quests, or head forward to High Hrothgar.
Talk to Arngeir
Learn the Clear Skies Shout
Use the Clear Skies Shout to open the path
Talk to Paarthurnax
Learn the Word of Power from Paarthurnax
Use your Fire Breath Shout on Paarthurnax
Talk to Paarthurnax
Leave Sky Haven Temple by the door up the stairs from Alduin’s Wall and travel to High Hrothgar. Speak with Arngeir and he scolds you for working with the Blades. As you try to leave, Arngeir realizes the error of his anger and informs you that you need to speak with Paarthurnax, the leader of the Greybeards. In order to reach him, you must climb the mountain by a path in the courtyard, and the only way you can make it through the weather is by using a new Shout. Learn the Words of Power Lok (Sky), Vah (Spring), and Koor (Summer) from Arngeir and select the Shout-Clear Skies from your menu.
Use Clear Skies to bring down the winds and begin your climb. You will have to use the Shout many times to make it to the summit, as the weather returns often. If you don’t use the Shout, you will lose stamina quickly, and that can be dangerous while being attacked by the enemies on the way up. At the top, you will meet Paarthurnax; Arngeir failed to mention that the leader of the Greybeards is a dragon! Display your Dragonborn power with a Shout, and Paarthurnax will teach you a Word of Power for the Shout-Fire Breath. Use is on Paarthurnax and he will tell you some information about the dragons and the Dragonborn. He mentions that Alduin is his brother, but doesn’t seem very loyal to his destructive cause. He tells you that you need to find the Elder Scroll to be able to learn the Shout needed to defeat Alduin. He doesn’t know where the Scroll is, but your friends in the Greybeards or the Blades might.
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Make your way to the Keep
Enter the Keep with Hadvar or Ralof
Find some equipment
Loot Gunjar’s body
(Optional) Search the barrel for potions
(Optional) Attempt to pick the lock to the cage
You start your game out riding down a path in a dilapidated cart, across from you are two prisoners just like you. You were caught trying to cross the border, but at the same time two Nord rebels have been arrested for treason against the High King of Skyrim. Meet the Ralof of the Stormcloaks, along with an unnamed and bound stranger and someone else caught in the crossfire.
General Tallius of the Imperial guard is at the gate of the town you are being brought to, and he lets your small caravan of criminals into the town of Helgen. Little do you know what your supposed fate is, until you reach an area of stone with a chopping block.
Once it becomes your turn, approach the guard and choose your class and appearance. Choose wisely, because the race you choose now will affect you for the rest of your game. (Take a look at our Picking Your Race section in Basics for more information.)
Follow the captain to the crowd and watch the Imperial Soldier talk down to your friend in your cart, now identified as Ulfric Stormcloak, leader of the rebellion. Just as it becomes your turn, a dragon sweeps down and saves you from your pitiful destiny. As soon as you can move, follow Ralof into a tower to take cover. Follow him until a dragon named Alduin busts through the tower wall and breathes fire through the staircase.
Jump through the hole in the wall to the Inn at the east, and make your way to the bottom floor of the Inn and then outside where you will see some guards staring down a dragon, who takes flight soon after. Stay behind Hadvar as he leads you to safety and searches for General Tallius. At the keep, make the choice to follow Hadvar (Imperial Army) or Ralof (Stormcloaks) into the side of the tower they are standing. This choice affects what you see for the rest of the quest and also who you are initially friends with in the civil war questline, but you are free to change sides after this quest if you decide to help the other party.
Head into the tower and have your companion take off the binding around your hands. Search through some nearby areas to find some armor and weapons, and then choose what kinds of items and/or spells you would like to start with by visiting your menu screen and equipping things. Drop whatever items you are not using and equip whatever you are, then follow your companion through the halls, defeating any enemies while picking up any valuable items from corpses and in the area around you. Make it a habit now to loot everything you see and looking on shelves, tables, bookshelves, and in boxes, barrels, and chests. Riches don’t come from your fallen enemies alone.
As you delve deeper into the caves below, you will fight your way into a spider lair and eventually come across a bear. Sneak past the bear if you want, or take him down with a fire spell or weapon of choice. You can use this opportunity to raise your sneak spell by sneaking past the bear and behind your companion through the cave.
As you make your way out of the cave, a dragon flies by and your companion leaves you. Now you are free to explore Skyrim on your own or continue to follow the main questline as you like. Now would be a great time to become acquainted with the overmap and learn what icons mean. Once you are comfortable with navigation, make your way by foot to the nearby village of Riverwood.
Talk to Alvor in Riverwood
Talk to Gerdur in Riverwood
Talk to the Jarl of Whiterun
Make your way to Riverwood, south of Whiterun in the Whiterun Hold of Skyrim. If you are new to the game, it is wise to follow your companion that you were with while escaping from Helgen, but you are free to go your own way wherever you want. If you do follow your companion from the cave, you will make your way up a river path and to the Guardian Stones, which possess blessings that you can choose to help your character. These Stones help you learn skills faster, but you can only have one blessing at a time. Obviously, pick the Stone that most fits in with your character’s current play style, be it in stealth, magic, or combat. There are other Standing Stones around Skyrim that have other powerful blessings, but be warned: any new blessing that you accept from another Stone replaces the one you currently have.
Meet your companion and his uncle at the smithing area of Riverwood, so you can speak about what is going on in Skyrim. The uncle has some things he offers to give you, including a garnet and some potions. Take what you need and head for Whiterun to speak with the Jarl.
NOTE: Make sure that you pick up the side quest: The Golden Claw from the Riverwood Trader before you head to Bleak Falls Barrow for the next quest. It is not necessary to this particular quest, but will help you access another part of the dungeon you can’t otherwise. You can also pick up a quest on the outskirts of Whiterun that will start you on another questline with the Companions.
When you arrive in Whiterun, a guard will stop you. Convince him to let you through and make your way up to Dragonsreach, where the Jarl holds court. Speak with him and ask him to send help for Riverwood. He will give you a token of gratitude and ask you to speak with the court wizard.
Bleak Falls Barrow
Talk to Farengar
Retrieve the Dragonstone
Deliver the Dragonstone to Farengar
Find Farengar Secret-Fire and he will ask you to head to Bleak Falls Barrow to find a stone tablet, also known as a Dragonstone. Bleak Falls Barrow is north of Riverwood, so travel to the town and take the path heading out. Head into Bleak Falls Barrow and make your way to the first puzzle of the dungeon, a stone puzzle that has to match the opposing picture (Solution: Snake, Snake, Whale).
You’ll come across a Dark Elf who has been trapped by a Frostbite Spider. Release him and he runs away towards some special treasure further in the treasure, bent on reaching it before you do. Battle through some Draugr that defeat your fleeing friend and get to the dead body when all is clear. Take the Golden Claw and Arvel’s Journal off of him and read it if you want. Continue on, being careful of swinging traps and Draugr along the way. Find the entrance to the Bleak Falls Sanctum and go in.
More Draugr are in this area, so keep fighting through until you get to a door guarded by a puzzle. Take a look at the Golden Claw and notice that the answer is on the wrist. Spin the circles in the door to match the claw and activate the door with the Golden Claw (Solution from top to bottom: Bear, Moth Owl). It will open up and lead you into a chamber that holds a Word of Power and a group of Draugrs. After defeating your enemies, search the Draugr and collect the Dragonstone that you came for. At this time, you cannot unlock the Word of Power without defeating a dragon, so hold tight. It will happen soon.
Return to Dragonsreach and give the Dragonstone to Farengar. Speak to the Jarl for your reward and to begin your next quest: killing your first dragon.
NOTE: If you return to the Riverwood Trader with the Golden Claw from Bleak Falls Barrow, you will receive a gold reward based on your level.
Talk to Jarl Balgruuf
Meet Irileth near the Western Watchtower
Kill the dragon
Investigate the dragon
Report back to Jarl Balgruuf
(Optional) Use your new Shout power
The Jarl of Whiterun informs you that there has been a dragon sighted at the Western Watchtower, and he wants you to help defeat it. He gives you more armor and sends you with some guards to help. Head to the Western Watchtower marked on your map and notice the damage already done. The dragon is still there and ready to eat you too! Take out a bow and start shooting the dragon until he dies, then approach the body of the dragon for a surprising twist. You’ve just absorbed your first dragon soul, and everyone is amazed. Now would be a good time to unlock your first dragon shout in your magic menu by using the dragon soul to learn the Word of Power that you found in Bleak Falls Barrow.
Head back to the Jarl and explain what happened. If you didn’t notice the large, booming call that came after you defeated the dragon, the Jarl informs you that it was the call of the Greybeards. This group of monks lives in the high mountain village of High Hrothgar, where they learn and practice the Way of the Voice. Best not keep them waiting!
The Way of the Voice
Speak to the Greybeards
Demonstrate your “Unrelenting Force” Shout
Speak to Arngeir
Learn the Word of Power from Einarth
Demonstrate your “Unrelenting Force” Shout (x3)
Learn the Word of Power from Borri
Demonstrate your “Whirlwind Sprint” Shout
Speak to Arngeir for further training
To find your way up the mountain to High Hrothgar, there is an easy way and a hard way. The easy way is to travel to Ivarstead by a path east of Whiterun and travel up the mountain path nearby. The hard way involves climbing up the cliffs yourself. Either way, when you reach High Hrothgar and the leader of the Greybeards asks you to use your shout to prove you are the warrior they called. Use your shout and Arngeir is so impressed and wishes to teach you a little more about the Greybeards’ way of life. Arngeir asks another monk to teach you a new Word of Power for your shout Unrelenting Force.
You are what is known as the Dragonborn, a human born with the soul of the dragon and the ability to speak their ancient language. After learning Ro (Balance) to add to Fus (Force) from Einarth, you are asked to demonstrate your new, more powerful Shout. Equip it in your menu and hit him with it three times, and he will direct you to meet Borri for a completely new Word of Power for the Shout Whirlwind Sprint. After you demonstrate your ability to use your new Shout by traveling through a closing door in the area, you can approach Arngeir for more information. You need to find the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller to be considered worthy of being a Greybeard.
The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller
Retrieve the horn
Meet with whoever took the horn
Return the horn to Arngeir
Learn the Word of Power from Wulfgar
Receive the Greybeards’ greeting
Find your new quest marker for the village of Ustengrav in Hjaalmarch Hold. You will be confronted with Bandits and Necromancers at first in this dungeon, so be prepared for magic attacks until those enemies are killed by Draugrs. Find your way to a small crypt that has a chain to pull, opening up the way to the large hall and a bridge to cross. Open the door to Ustengrav Depths and make your way into the large grotto area.
If you travel down the ledges to the bottom of the area, you will find a banquet hall. Head south and cross the bridge to leave the hall, then explore the corridors leading to another large grotto area. Defeat the enemies below and find the wall for a new Word of Power for the Shout-Become Ethereal. Defeat the Draugrs that emerge, then head back to the throne room. Cross the large bridge heading up and clear the enemies to find a puzzle area blocking your path. In order to get through all the doors, you must quickly use the Shout-Whirlwind Sprint through each boundary. Once through, navigated the fire traps on the floor and open the wooden door to the east covered in cobwebs. Pull the chain to open the door to the crypt of Jurgen Windcaller. Approach the coffin to find that the Horn has been stolen, replaced by a note to go to the Sleeping Giant Inn in Riverwood. You can make a quick exit through the wooden door behind the sarcophagus when you are done with the area.
NOTE: The quest “Retrieve the Horn” is going to be failed regardless of your actions. Do not be alarmed.
Head to the Inn in Riverwood and rent a room from the innkeeper, Delphine. Enter the room and Delphine will follow, aware that you are the one she has been waiting for. She gives you the Horn.
Return to High Hrothgar and speak with Arngeir. He comments that now that you have the Horn, you must be officially recognized by the Greybeards. You are taught another Word of Power, Dah (Push), the final word of the Shout-Unrelenting Force. Now you must stand in the center of the room and be shouted at by a bunch of monks with long beards, a ritual passed down for generations. Now you are an official member of the Greybeards and have access to all of High Hrothgar. Every 36 hours you can speak with Argneir for a new Word of Power to meditate on, and if you wish, you can return to the Tomb of Jurgen Windcaller and put the Horn in its place to get a free dragon soul to spend on another Shout.
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