Elder Scrolls Main quest :Unbound


Unbound is a quest available in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. This quest serves as the opening quest and tutorial for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

I’ve been captured by the Empire and been sentenced to death alongside Stormcloak rebels. We were being taken to Helgen, but before I could be executed Alduin appeared and attacked the town. I need to find a way out of the town.


Quest Giver None
Location Helgen
Prerequisite Start game (starts shortly after character creation)
Next Quest Before the Storm
Reward Freedom
Salvaged loot
Progress in storyline
Type Main Quest
QuestID MQ101

Unbound is a quest available in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. This quest serves as the opening quest and tutorial for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

I’ve been captured by the Empire and been sentenced to death alongside Stormcloak rebels. We were being taken to Helgen, but before I could be executed Alduin appeared and attacked the town. I need to find a way out of the town.


Character creation

Main article: Character Creation (Skyrim)

Character creation is very much the same as it was in Oblivion. Design of your own Dragonborn is not very detailed, but it does have many options to choose from. You, as the player, can determine the race, height, gender, and more. The choices you make will affect how the people of Skyrim and beyond react to your protagonist.

Hadvar’s comment when he calls the Dragonborn will change based on the race chosen by the player:

Race Hadvar’s comment
Altmer “You’re not with the Thalmor Embassy, are you high elf? No, that can’t be right…
Argonian “Are you a relative of one of the Riften dock workers, Argonian?”
Bosmer “Not many wood elves would choose to come alone to Skyrim.
Breton “You from Daggerfall, Breton? Fleeing from some court intrigue?”
Dunmer “Another refugee? Gods really have abandoned your people, dark elf.”
Imperial “You’re a long way from the Imperial City. What’re you doing in Skyrim?”
Khajiit “You with one of the trade caravans, Khajiit? Your kind always seems to find trouble.”
Nord “You picked a bad time to come home to Skyrim, kinsman.”
Orsimer “You from one of the strongholds, Orc? How did you end up here?”
Redguard “What’re you doing here, Redguard? You a sellsword? A sailor from Stros M’Kai?”


Tullius: “Ulfric Stormcloak. Some here in Helgen call you a hero. But a hero doesn’t use a power like the Voice to murder his king and usurp his throne.”
Ulfric: “<muffled grunts>”
Tullius: “You started this war, plunged Skyrim into chaos, and now the Empire is going to put you down, and restore the peace.”

Dragon attack

Just before the Imperial Headsman has the opportunity to decapitate the Dragonborn, Alduin arrives and disrupts the execution. With the execution stopped and the town in chaos, the Dragonborn take the opportunity to escape custody. Running towards a nearby tower, the Dragonborn meet up with Ralof and Ulfric Stormcloak, leader of the Stormcloaks, who also managed to escape. Quickly the Dragonborn learn that your 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 up with the Dragonborn when he can. After jumping down and exiting the inn, the Dragonborn find that Helgen has become heavily damaged in quite a short time, with many buildings damaged and burning. As the Dragonborn you run 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 entrance of The Keep, Ralof catches up with the Dragonborn.

You then have to choose to either have Hadvar or Ralof accompany you the rest of the way. Your choice will create some minor changes in the story during the Civil War questline. This does not affect which side you are able to take in the war later in the game.

Helgen Keep

The only main difference at the beginning of the game between following Ralof and following Hadvar is that if you follow Hadvar you get light armor and if you follow Ralof heavy armor, which is easily obtainable at the beginning.

Following Ralof

Upon entering the keep, you and Ralof discover the body of a dead Stormcloak, Gunjar. After freeing you from your bindings, Ralof instructs you to take Gunjar’s gear for your own use, as he won’t be needing it. While you equip yourself, Ralof examines the doors. He discovers one door is locked, and the other can’t be opened from the side you’re on. Luckily, an Imperial Captain and Imperial Soldier will come through and open the door from the other side (if you are seen before the gate is open the captain will be alert and shout “Its the Stormcloak prisoners!”). Once they open the door, you are forced to kill them in order to recover the key to the other gate from their bodies, and you can gain a full set of heavy Imperial armour from the Imperial captain. Going through the now opened up path, you will discover a store room, with two more Imperial Soldiers gathering supplies.

After defeating the soldiers, Ralof advises you to go through the barrels to find potions. If you’re new to The Elder Scrolls, take the time to do a thorough search of the area and all containers. This is a good opportunity to familiarize yourself with Skyrims controls and menus.When searching you can find the barrel with the potions in it, and there is a magicka potion over near the table with bread, tankards, and a Potion of Minor Healing. In between the barrel of potions and the cabinet, there is a crate containing 5 Rock Warbler Eggs, which can be used in alchemy.

Continuing down, you arrive at a battle between an Imperial torturer and his Assistant against two Stormcloaks. After defeating the soldiers, Ralof points to a cage, there is a dead mage in the cage that wears a Novice Hood and Novice Robes. Along with this, you can loot 25 septims and two Potions of Minor Magicka. Next to him are a few septims and the spell tome for the spell Sparks. Ralof gives you 12 lockpicks, and suggests you pick the lock to get to the items. You can pick the rest of the locked cells for experience. In the armory cage, there are two lockpicks, an iron shield, and a couple of books. On a table outside the cage, there is a knapsack containing 4 lockpicks and some gold. Next to it are Book of the Dragonborn and an iron dagger. The torturer you (or Ralof) killed also has a steel dagger, the only one in the keep.

When you have finished, you go through a hallway lined with cells. One of these cells consists of a skeleton, Bone Meal, and a coin purse. After that, you enter a room with prisoners in cages. All of them are deceased, and there are 3 more skeletons, all of which also carry Bone Meal, and they usually carry septims on them as well. In one of the cages, there is a dead Stormcloak wearing Ragged Robes.

You eventually enter a natural cave, filled with soldiers guarding it for General Tullius. There are a few archers and swordsmen in the cavern, along with another soldier wearing heavy armor. The archers all are positioned dangerously close to a pool of flammable oil, which you can light using the Flames spell. After killing them, any surviving Stormcloak Soldiers will stay behind. You then find a drawbridge that connects to another part of the cave, this section not occupied by the Imperials. Shortly after arriving in this cave, Alduin will roar, destroying the bridge behind you. When following Ralof, you will find a skeleton near the passage leading towards the cavern leading towards Frostbite Spiders. Near the skeleton is an Iron Dagger, Potion of Minor Healing, and Coin Purse. Shortly after you enter it, the passage behind you collapses, forcing you to find a way out through there. The next cavern consists of two-four of the smaller variety of Frostbite Spiders, and two larger ones (not to be mistaken for Giant Frostbite Spiders) will drop down from the ceiling. You can loot their bodies, each of them containing Frostbite Venom. Once you defeat the spiders, you and Ralof exit through another passageway.

In the next cave, just in front of you will find a Potion of Health at the fire at the other side of the water. There is also a Iron Dagger. The potion can’t be seen from distance, because it is too close to the fire. After getting the potion, Ralof tells you to stop at the cart, as there is a bear on the other side. He tells you to sneak by, but he also gives you a long bow and 12 iron arrows, in case you’re “feeling lucky.” In the cart next to you, there is a bottle of Alto Wine, and a coin purse. In front of the cart is an iron helmet.

Once you’ve killed/avoided combat the bear, you will see an exit to the cave. Once free, you will see Alduin fly overhead. Ralof will direct the player to his sister, Gerdur, who lives in Riverwood. At this point you can choose to follow Ralof to Riverwood, or split up and find your own way.

Following Hadvar

The story is the same as above, but instead of siding with the Stormcloaks, you side with the Imperials, and fight the Stormcloaks. Also, you don’t fight the Torturer and his assistant when you go to the torture room. If the player allows Hadvar to escort them through the Keep, he will escort the player to their freedom. Once free, Hadvar will direct the player to his uncle, Alvor, who lives in Riverwood.

During this sequence the player’s companion (Hadvar or Ralof) will not fight back if attacked and will regain health immediately after taking damage. Your companion cannot be pickpocketed at all, and cannot be killed due to their essential status.


Some notable loot found includes:

Object Values: 685 Searching Values Estimate: 3059 Total Area Value: 3744

Following Ralof does grant slightly better heavy armor as one of the guards you must kill is an Imperial Captain, which means you can pick up the Imperial Armor, which gives very helpful protection in the early part of the game. After continuing to Riverwood, Gerdur will give you her house key.

If you side with Hadvar you are free to take the pile of iron and steel ingots which spawn next to the workbench outside Alvor and Sigrid’s house, giving your character a better weapon from the start if you have steel smithing. You can also take some armor and weapons next to the grindstone and in the basement of his house.

You can however steal from Alvor if you followed Ralof to get the weapons and ingots by his forge, but you may be caught – which yields a small bounty – if you’re not careful.


Journal Entry
I have been captured by the Empire and sentenced to death alongside the Stormcloak rebels. We were taken to Helgen, but before I could be executed a dragon appeared and attacked the town. I need to find some way to escape.

  • Objective: Make your way to the Keep
I have been captured by the Empire and sentenced to death alongside the Stormcloak rebels. We were taken to Helgen, but before I could be executed a dragon appeared and attacked the town. I need to find some way to escape.

  • Objective: Enter the Keep with Hadvar or Ralof
  • Objective: Escape Helgen

  • Objective: Find some equipment

  • Objective: Loot Gunjar’s body
  • Objective: (Optional) Search the barrel for potions
  • Objective: (Optional) Attempt to pick the lock to the cage
I have escaped both my execution and a dragon attack at Helgen. I now have my freedom to do as I see fit in Skyrim.

  • Quest complete


  • This level is the only time you can customize your character’s name and race in Skyrim for free, so be careful and take your time. However, with the addition of The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard, one may talk to Galathil in The Ragged Flagon to change their face but not race.
  • Interestingly enough, Alduin roars before the executions and are heard when General Tullius and the Imperial Captain unknowingly mention the events that would see to Alduin’s return and demise.
    • “You started this war! Plunged Skyrim into chaos! And now the Empire is going to put you down, and restore the peace!” (Alduin roars) – It is foretold in the Elder Scrolls that when the Civil War breaks out, Alduin will return.
    • “Next, the [player’s selected race]!” (Alduin roars) – The player’s character is the Dovahkiin, who would defeat Alduin and save Tamriel, foretold in the Elder Scrolls. And this also, shows that the peace has been restored.
  • When the player is forced to decide whether to follow Hadvar or Ralof, If the player waits too long, Alduin will land in the courtyard or the tower upon the Ralof’s location and attack the player with either his Thu’um or his bite.
  • Hadvar is seen behind your cart on the way to Helgen.
  • During Hadvar and Ralof’s “quarrel”, Alduin grabs an Imperial with his talons and throws him into the air.
    • If the player uses the Voice of the Emperor on an Imperial soldier, talking to them will reveal that this Imperial’s name was Caius.
  • If the player stands around in Helgen, Alduin will speak in Draconic (The tongue of the Dovah). Such lines include:
    • “Daar Lein los dii!” – “This World is mine!”
    • “Fen du hin sille ko Sovngarde!” – “I will devour your souls in Sovngarde!” (This line also points to an event following the fight on the Throat of the World.)
    • “Zu’u Alduin, zok sahrot do naan ko Lein!” – “I am Alduin, most mighty of any in the World!”
  • When the player is following Hadvar through the burning buildings, shortly after Alduin has landed upon the wall and spewed fire at an Imperial soldier, the player must go through a group of Imperials. If the player stays for a few seconds, General Tullius will shout “Run, you idiot!”
  • Throughout the entire sequence, up to the point when you make it to the keep and are cut free, you are bound. Without the use of your hands you are unable to defend yourself and unable to perform almost all actions, but you can still level here. If you do not feel rushed to progress through the story, sneaking around the buildings with Alduin soaring above can easily level your Sneak to 30 or more, depending on how patient you are. What this means is that by the time you make it to the keep you have several levels and perks available as soon as you are cut free. (Just make sure Alduin doesn’t Shout at you.)
  • In Helgen Keep, shortly after being Unbound by Hadvar, he will offer the Stormcloaks mercy. Unfortunately, they refuse to take it.
  • If you open all the three cells and the two others at the Toture Room, you can get a skill point in Lockpicking. Since all of them are Novice, it wont be a big problem to open them.
  • If you start to sneak after heading away from the chopping block, the sneak indicator will be partially opened, this signifies that Alduin is searching for the Dragonborn or that someone else can see your movements and are searching for you.
  • If during character creation you don’t know what to name your player, you may go to: Name Generator. It is a name generator made for Oblivion, but the races are generally the same from Oblivion.
  • If the Dragonborn follows Hadvar, there will be more Stormcloak soldiers in the keep and the town than there even was at the start. When Alduin appears, at least three dead Stormcloak soldiers can be seen, and once in the tower with Ulfric, there are two wounded with a medic, and another upstairs. This is already more than there were in the two carts (the Dragonborn’s cart had the thief Lokir, Ralof, and Ulfric and the other had four Stormcloaks) not to mention around ten more in the keep. It is possible that Stormcloak scouts were tracking the carts, ready to save Ulfric, and some entered the battle with Alduin while others retreated to the keep.
  • After encountering the Frostbite Spiders with Hadvar, he will say “What next…giant snakes?”. This is a reference to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in which Harry and Ron encounter Giant spiders and later on a Giant Snake.
  • If you run fast enough past Hadvar, Vilod will not get attacked by the Alduin.
  • Bugs

    Click to see the list of bugs encountered
    • After following Ralof into the first tower, there is a chance that the wall of the tower will not collapse after you follow Ralof up, but that the quest will continue as normal as if the wall had a hole in it.
    • Before entering Helgen Keep, if you push Ralof by running at him, he may not appear inside, making impossible to continue.
    • Once the player meets hadvar after jumping to the inn, if the player sprints directly for the Keep without stopping, Ralof may appear at the Keep and argue without Hadvar being present.
    • Sometimes when following Hadvar, he will disappear yet you can still hear his voice.
    • There is a possibility that Alduin will just fly around without attacking and the headsman will not try to behead you, causing a never ending stance.
    • Occasionally, if the player follows Hadvar and decides to sprint ahead of him a large distance, Hadvar will freeze as if he is waiting for the Dragonborn to catch up with him. This will not hinder progress through the quest, but certain events (E.g. the rocks falling on the drawbridge) will not occur. The solution is simply returning to Hadvar.
    • If the player kills the bear prior to Hadvar handing him a Long Bow, the player will not receive a longbow or iron arrows. No actions will revert this besides loading prior to killing the bear.
    • Sometimes Hadvar will sit and stare at you in silence the whole cart ride. (super creepy) This will prevent you from creating your character. Reloading does not help.

    The reason why this happens is if the previous prisoner’s head rolls off the box and not stay inside of it the bug will happen

    •  PC   Under certain ambiguous circumstances* the player may not be able to speak with Gerdur about Ralof or escaping Helgen, making the misc follow-up quest ‘Speak with Gerdur’ impossible to finish without the use of console commands. She will, however, still provide free supplies, as that conversation option is still available for some reason.
    •  360    PS3  Once the quest starts, the player can go into the quest journal, select show on map, and then fast travel to Helgen, this makes you appear outside the gates, but your hands are still bound and you cannot do anything. The sky will be gray from Alduin’s Storm Call. Nothing can be achieved from this and reloading is the only way to get back into Helgen.
    • Sometimes when the first Stormcloak is beheaded there will be no box and the head will roll around (Note: seeing this is actually quite funny)
    • If you decide to follow Ralof into the tower, after killing the two Imperial soldiers you can hack away at Ralof instead of “unlocking that door” and get you one handed or destruction up past 30 or so. this also helps with early leveling and getting a few perks before you’re even into the game.
    • When entering Helgen in the carriage the whole carriage will fly up in the air with everyone inside it and will never stop
    • It is possible to jump to the inn while Alduin is breathing fire into the tower. The result is a humorous event where the player stands on Alduin’s left shoulder, and Alduin pays no attention to it.
    •  PC   360   PS3  If the player manages to fail at jumping to the inn, they will get stuck in an area of Helgen closed off by debris. Console commands may solve the issue, but there is no fix for it on consoles.
    • Sometime the carriage will get stuck and the Player won’t be able to make their character.
    • Sometime if the game is saved and exited before entering the tower in the beginning of the quest, Alduin will not break the wall making it impossible to proceed through to the inn.
    •  360   PS3   Rarely, The sentry will not say “What in oblivion is that?” And Alduin will continue to fly in circles around the watchtower without landing. Reloading the character creation save won’t fix the glitch, so the player will need to start a new game.
    • Sometimes while waiting for the Imperial Captain to push the Stormcloak down so he can be executed, she never does this and she stands there continuously. Only solution is to load at the autosave right after creating your character. No known cause.
    •  PS3   Hadvar will no longer walk you over to the Guardian Stones, but walk you over to Embershard Mine. This does not affect the quest in any way.


    Unbound (Achievement)
    Complete “Unbound”
    Points 10 Game points
    Bronze trophy


    Skyrim Main Quests
    Act I UnboundBefore the StormBleak Falls BarrowDragon RisingThe Way of the Voice
    The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller
    Act II A Blade in the DarkDiplomatic ImmunityA Cornered RatAlduin’s WallThe Throat of the World
    Elder KnowledgeAlduin’s Bane
    Act III Season UnendingThe FallenPaarthurnaxThe World-Eater’s EyrieSovngarde

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