Skyrim Wiki
Newheader left.png Disambig.png This article is about the quest Unbound. For other uses, see Unbound. Newheader right.png

Unbound dragon.jpg
Helgen, Helgen Keep
Minor item from Alvor or
Minor item from Gerdur
Followed by
Before the Storm
Quest Objectives

Unbound is a quest designed as a tutorial, and aims to teach the player about the basics of the game.

Quick Walkthrough[]

  1. Create your character.
  2. Escape the execution.
  3. Escape the dragon attack by fleeing to Helgen Keep.
  4. Follow Ralof, a Stormcloak rebel, or Hadvar, an Imperial soldier through the keep.
  5. Escape from Helgen and enter Skyrim.


Introduction and Character Creation[]

You are introduced to Skyrim in the middle of a Civil War between the Stormcloak rebels and the Imperial Legion, with the rebels trying to restore their Nordic way of life by ending the occupation of the Empire. You wake up, bound and in the back of an Imperial cart, on a mountain road leading down towards Helgen. You are joined by Lokir, a horse thief, Ralof, a rebel fighter, and Ulfric Stormcloak, the leader of the rebellion. General Tullius, the military governor of Skyrim for the Empire, leads the procession, followed by another carriage full of rebels. Hadvar brings up the rear.

Ralof is the first one to talk to you, implying your innocence, and that you were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. He reveals the identity of Ulfric, which makes Lokir panic, realizing what lies ahead of them. As you reach Helgen, you find the hold controlled by the Imperial Legion, with Siddgeir, the Jarl of Falkreath, loyal to the Empire, in spite of the Stormcloak presence in the surrounding area. A guard informs Tullius that the headsman is ready.

The convoy rides on through the village, eventually coming to a stop in a central area, while Tullius rides off to stand near an Imperial Captain, First Emissary Elenwen, and some other Thalmor. The captain orders the prisoners off the carts, telling them to step forward when their name is called. Ulfric, identified as the Jarl of Windhelm, and Ralof are called up first. Lokir attempts to escape, only to be shot by an archer. Next, Hadvar asks you to to step forward. This is where you will go through the character creation process.

Dragon Attack[]

While Hadvar expresses concerns that your name is not on their list, the Captain does not care, and will still order your death. As you join Ulfric and Ralof, Tullius will charge the rebel leader with using the Voice to kill High King Torygg and attempting to seize the throne, as well as instigating the civil war. A distant and terrifying noise can be heard at this moment, but the general ignores it, ordering that the executions start. A priestess of Arkay will start going through the last rites, but gets interrupted by the first Stormcloak to be executed when she mentions the Eight Divines. The rebel swiftly gets his wish to get it over with fulfilled.

When you are pointed out to be the next to be executed, the loud noise can once again be heard, this time closer. Once again the captain refuses to acknowledge it, pushing for the executions to continue. Your head is placed on the execution block, with your eyes towards the headsman and the tower behind him. It is when the axe is raised that the dragon known as Alduin "the World-Eater" will appear, landing on the tower. Legend says that the appearance of Alduin means the end of time is nigh.

Survive, Escape[]

Alduin attacks with a dragon shout, knocking the headsman to the ground. As you regain your senses, Ralof urges you to get up and escape. He runs into a nearby tower to the south, calling for you to follow while fireballs fall from the sky. Inside the building you will find Stormcloaks, one of them being Ulfric. Ralof will ask if the arrival of the dragon means the legends are true, to which Ulfric responds that "Legends don't burn down villages."

The two hurry on up the staircase in the tower, urging you to follow. Halfway up the stairs the side will be blown open by Alduin, who proceeds to use a Fire Breath shout that knocks Ralof off the stairs, though the shout will not affect you. Ralof makes his way back up to you and, as Alduin flies off, telling you to jump through the hole and into the second floor of the inn below. He says that they will follow soon. An objective marker will show you the spot you are to land.

The landing is rough, but the damage taken is minimal. Walk east and drop down to the first floor. An objective marker will lead you outside, where you will see Hadvar, the Imperial from earlier. He will be coaxing Haming, a young boy, to leave his injured father, and come to him. As Haming approaches Hadvar, Alduin lands to send a burst of fire towards them, engulfing Torolf and killing him. Haming is brought to safety next to the inn, near Gunnar Stone-Eye, who takes care of him. Hadvar sees you, referring to you only as "prisoner", and urges you to follow him if you want to live.

Hadvar is looking to find General Tullius and assist in the defence of Helgen. You follow him north-east across the area where Torolf was just killed. As you pass between a stone wall and a building, Hadvar will tell you to stop as Alduin lands on the wall right above you and spews fire right around the corner. As Alduin again takes flight, follow Hadvar up the steps and to the left through the wall. You will be in a large open area where a group of imperial mages, soldiers and General Tullius will be fighting Alduin with balls of fire and arrows. As Hadvar approaches, Tullius orders a retreat into the keep. At this point it is very important to stay close to Hadvar, as you are no longer immune to the fire shout of Alduin.

Just before the keep you will run into Ralof. Him and Hadvar will draw their swords, preparing to fight, before realizing that they should prioritize getting to safety inside the keep. The two will take two different entrances into the keep, both asking for you to follow them. Which one you choose to follow will affect the future Civil War quest line. For the most part there is little difference between the two routes, though the enemies and dialogues are different between the two.

Follow Hadvar[]

If you decide to follow Hadvar, you will be led into the barracks, where your bonds will be cut before you are told to grab some equipment from a marked chest. Hadvar will open a gate, and the two of you will walk down to a room containing Gunjar's body, as well as two hostile Stormcloaks. After defeating them, you will follow Hadvar out of the room.

Follow Ralof[]

If you choose Ralof, you will immediately enter the circular room with Gunjar's dead body. You will be free of your bonds, and Ralof will instruct you to take the equipment Gunjar is wearing. Upon inspecting the doors, Ralof finds one locked, and one that can only be opened from the other side. As he says this, an imperial soldier and the captain will open the door for you. You will have to kill them and loot a key from them. You should also be looting the barracks that they came from.

Exit through the dungeons[]

As you move on through the only open path, the ceiling will start collapsing, forcing you to go left through a door that leads to a store room. You will have to fight two enemies here, their allegiance based on who you have decided to follow. After killing them, you will be advised to search the barrels for anything of value before moving on.

The next room is an interrogation room, where a couple of Stormcloaks are fighting an Imperial Torturer and his assistant. You will have to once again kill the enemies, based on the allegiance of your escort. If your escort is Hadvar, he will convince the assistant to accompany you, and if you have followed Ralof, the two Stormcloaks will go with you. Before moving on, you will be given some lockpicks to be used on a nearby cage with a dead mage inside. The mage will be carrying robes, a hood and a spell tome for Sparks. In the corner room you will also find a shield and a mace, as well as some more picks inside of a knapsack on a table. On the same table you will see a copy of The Book of the Dragonborn.

Making your way out of the interrogation room you will go through a corridor and a second prison room. The cells can be lockpicked, but the loot is only minor. You will soon enter a natural cave filled with some enemies, either lost Stormcloaks or Imperials guarding the cave for the general. The room will have an oil slick that teaches you about environmental hazards which, in this case, will come to your advantage. You can light it on fire with your Flames spell to damage the enemies. After killing them, you will have to activate a nearby lever to lower a bridge. After crossing, rocks will come crashing from the ceiling, destroying the bridge, forcing you to move on through the cave.

You will encounter frostbite spiders in the next large cavern. These will spit poisonous venom at range, and can leap to attack you. After this cave, you will encounter a sleeping bear. You will be advised to sneak past it, but you will also receive a bow and some arrows if you want to ambush it. The fight will not be particularly difficult, as you have the aid from your escort, so it is entirely up to you how you want to proceed. Either way, after the bear you will follow Hadvar or Ralof through an opening in the walls, which will take you outside in time to see Alduin fly off towards the north.

Journal Entries[]

Stage Quest End Journal Entry
150 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
  • Objective: Enter the Keep with Hadvar or Ralof
180 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: Escape Helgen
  • Objective: Find some equipment (If you followed Hadvar)
  • Objective: Loot Gunjar's Body (If you followed Ralof)
  • Objective: (Optional) Search the barrels for potions
  • Objective: (Optional) Attempt to pick the lock to the cage
900 Yes 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.


  • Choosing to side with either Hadvar or Ralof at this point matters very little. You will still have the option of which side to support later on, no matter which side you pick at this point.
  • Since the starting date is always the same, this is the only quest that has a set date in the game, the 17th of Last Seed. The day will be Sundas, though it can be changed if you were playing in a different save before starting a new game.
  • Some journal entries depend on which route you took during the quest.
  • Hadvar and Ralof are essential NPCs for this quest, and can therefore not be killed, nor will they turn hostile.