Main Quest: A Cornered Rat

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For this quest you'll need to track down a man named Esbern, who used to be a Blades archivist. The thalmor documents you found in the previous quest informed you that he might be in Riften, and Delphine will suggest that you try looking for him in the Ratway and the Ragged Flagon beneath the city. Delphine will also mention that Esbern is paranoid, and that if you find him you should ask him where he was on the 30th of Frostfall. "He'll know what that means."

In Riften, there are four people you can ask about Esbern:
  • Keerava in the Bee and Barb. She'll recommend that you ask around in the Ragged Flagon.

  • Brynjolf (depending on where you are with the Thieves Guild quests), Dirge, or Vekel the Man in the Ragged Flagon. If you're a member of the Thieves Guild, then they'll simply tell you that Esbern is in the Ratway Warrens. Otherwise, you'll have to bribe or persuade them to get the information.
Note: You can also just head for the Warrens. Esbern will be there whether you talk to anybody or not.

To reach the Ratway Warrens, you'll first have to travel through the Ratway Vaults, which are connected to the Ragged Flagon (Exit A). You'll find the exit to the Warrens (Exit C) on the bottom level of the Vaults. The easiest way to get there is to jump down from the ledge near the entrance (#1). During your trip, you'll probably run into some thalmor soldiers, who will attack you on sight.

Inside the Warrens, you'll run into some insane people, but they'll only attack you if you talk to them, so you shouldn't have any trouble reaching Esbern's room on the southern side (#2). When you knock on Esbern's door, he won't want to talk to you, but if you're persuasive, or mention that you're dragonborn, or ask him about the 30th of Frostfall then he'll let you in (after opening all of the locks on his door).

When you talk to Esbern, he'll start out sounding defeated, and he'll tell you that there isn't any hope for defeating Alduin the World-Eater (the dragon who has been raising the other dragons), but when he learns that you're dragonborn, he'll get excited, and he'll demand that you take him to Delphine. On your way out, you'll have to deal with a couple more thalmor soldiers, plus perhaps Gissur (who will drop Gissur's Note) and/or Shavari (who will drop Shavari's Note), but otherwise the trip should be uneventful.

1 - Ledge

2 - Door to Esbern's Room

Inside Esbern's room on an end table you'll find the book Lost Legends, which can trigger the quest Forbidden Legend. Inside a crate by the bed you'll also find the book Fire and Darkness, which will increase your One-Handed skill by 1.

  1. Doorway between the Ragged Flagon and the Ratway Vaults.
  2. Exit from Riftweald Manor.
  3. Doorway between the Ratway Vaults and the Ratway Warrens.




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