Skyrim:A Cornered Rat

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SR-qico-Main.png Locate Esbern.
Quest Giver: Delphine
Location(s): Riften, The Ratway
Prerequisite Quest: Diplomatic Immunity
Next Quest: Alduin's Wall
Reward: None
ID: MQ202
Suggested Level: 8
 
Esbern in his room in the Warrens

[edit] Quick Walkthrough

  1. Talk to Brynjolf in Riften or talk to the Argonian bartender in The Bee and Barb.
  2. Search the Ratway for Esbern's hideout.
  3. Find Esbern in the Ratway Warrens.
  4. Talk to Esbern.
  5. Bring Esbern back to Delphine at Sleeping Giant Inn in Riverwood.

[edit] Detailed Walkthrough

[edit] Finding Esbern

After infiltrating the Thalmor Embassy, return to Riverwood and inform Delphine of what you learned from the Thalmor records. Now, you must retrieve the archivist Esbern from his hiding place in Riften, and you are told to ask him about what happened on the 30th of Frostfall to earn his trust.

The journal will direct you to talk to Brynjolf. You may speak to him, Dirge, or Vekel the Man inside The Ragged Flagon. All three give an option to persuade or bribe them for information on Esbern's location.

Brynjolf

Option Dialogue Reaction
Let me find him first. Dragons are bad for business. (Persuade) Passed: Aye, you've got a point there.
Failed: Passing on a golden opportunity is worse.
Passed: Locate Esbern
Failed: Nothing

Vekel the Man

Option Dialogue Reaction
I need to talk to him. I'm a friend. His life's in danger. (Persuade) Passed: Maybe I'm just getting soft in my old age, but I actually believe you.
Failed: That's a touching story. Now get outta my face.
Passed: Locate Esbern
Failed: Nothing
Maybe this will help your memory. (Bribe) Passed: Well... when you put it that way, I think I do know the old guy you're talking about.
Failed: Big talk for someone with a light purse.
Passed: Locate Esbern
Failed: Nothing

Dirge

Option Dialogue Reaction
I need to talk to him. I'm a friend. His life's in danger. (Persuade) Passed: A friend, huh? Well... then it's probably okay if I tell you.
Failed: I guess you don't hear too well. I never heard of this "friend" of yours.
Passed: Locate Esbern
Failed: Nothing
Maybe this will help your memory. (Bribe) Passed: You know what? I think I do know the guy you're talking about.
Failed: Maybe it would. If you had it.
Passed: Locate Esbern
Failed: Nothing
I can break some of your bones if that's what it's going to take... (Brawl) Passed: Easy there. I don't want that kind of trouble. Guy ain't worth it.
Brawl: Yeah. That's what it's going to take.
  • Victory: You're tougher than you look. You got me, fair and square.
    • Now where's Esbern?
    • He lives somewhere in the Ratway Warrens. Must be crazy or desperate to live down there. Maybe both.
  • Failure: (Nothing)
Passed: Locate Esbern
Failed: Brawl

This is not necessary if you have already joined the Thieves Guild. They will tell you that Esbern is located in the Ratway Warrens. As the location is accessible before this, you have the option to proceed directly to Esbern without talking to them. Speaking with Keerava, the Riften innkeeper, also advances the quest. The quest continues as normal and will update with both finding Esbern and talking to Brynjolf. Thalmor are still present in the Ratway regardless.

[edit] The Warrens

The sewers and tunnels beneath Riften are inhabited by a number of thugs and three or four Thalmor warriors searching for Esbern. When you reach the door to Esbern's room, he is very wary of Thalmor agents and initially refuses entry. You may persuade him by saying Delphine sent you, you can tell him the password "Where were you on the 30th of Frostfall?", or you may explain that you are the Dragonborn.

Once Esbern is convinced that Delphine sent you, he will unlock the door and let you in, after which he tells you what he knows: Alduin the World-Eater's return has apocalyptic implications, and Esbern's warnings of this threat have been consistently ignored. Esbern makes it clear that there had been no hope until you arrived and that he had believed the world was going to end. He agrees to follow you to Delphine's base in Riverwood.

At this point he will run around the room, claiming that he has to remove all the information from the room so the Thalmor won't find anything out. He will gather some supplies from the chest at the foot of his bed and the he will be ready to leave and the next quest begins.

[edit] Notes

  • If any follower is hired prior or during the quest, they will not be forced to return to their original location when Esbern comes along, making him a second follower.
  • Gissur may be seated at a table in the Ragged Flagon when you get Esbern's whereabouts from Vekel the Man. After you end conversation with Vekel, Gissur will get up from the table and leave the Flagon. Vekel will suddenly say "That one, right there, walking out the door! He was one of them asking about that old man you were looking for." If confronted, Gissur will only rebuff your attempts at conversation. However, he can be attacked and killed with no repercussions, and other Thieves Guild members will join the fight on your side. This may make your escape with Esbern easier.
  • If A Chance Arrangement has been started, Brynjolf cannot be talked to.
  • It is possible to proceed directly to Esbern without returning to Delphine first. Esbern will unlock his door if you tell him you are Dragonborn.

[edit] Bugs

  • The quest may fail to start after completing Diplomatic Immunity, and even trying manually start or end it with the console will not work.
    • PC Only This bug is fixed by version 1.2 of the Unofficial Skyrim Patch.
    • Pc22.png You may have to skip forward to the start of the next quest, Alduin's Wall, by using the console and typing in setstage MQ203 5, which will allow you to continue.
    • Pc22.png Use console command setstage MQ202 (stage #) to force Esbern to open the door and talk again. Stage 160 makes Esbern open the door, if bugged. Stage 170 makes Esbern talk again, if bugged. Another easier way to avoid bugs is to type in CompleteQuest MQ202, which would work for any quest value.

[edit] Quest Stages

A Cornered Rat (MQ202)
Stage Finishes Quest Journal Entry
10 The Thalmor are just as puzzled as we are about why dragons are returning. I learned that they are looking for a Blade named Esbern, who Delphine says is an expert on ancient dragon lore. We need to find him before the Thalmor do.
Objective 10: Talk to Brynjolf (if no later stage was done and Taking Care of Business wasn't started)
20
Objective 20: Search the Ratway for Esbern's hideout
50 The Thalmor are just as puzzled as we are about why dragons are returning. I learned that they are looking for a Blade named Esbern, who is supposed to be an expert on ancient dragon lore. I've learned that he's hiding out in the Ratway Warrens in Riften.
Objective 30: Find Esbern in the Ratway Warrens
150 The Thalmor are just as puzzled as we are about why dragons are returning. I learned that they are looking for a Blade named Esbern, who is supposed to be an expert on ancient dragon lore. I found Esbern hiding in the Ratway in Riften, and convinced him to let me in to explain myself.
Objective 40: Talk to Esbern
180 Finishes quest The Thalmor are just as puzzled as we are about why dragons are returning. I learned that they are looking for a Blade named Esbern, who is supposed to be an expert on ancient dragon lore. I found Esbern hiding in the Ratway in Riften, and convinced him to let me in to explain myself.
  • The following empty quest stages were omitted from the table: 0, 1, 5, 55, 56, 60, 65, 70, 100, 130, 140, 145, 160, 170, 175, 200, 300.
Prev: Diplomatic Immunity Up: Main Quest Next: Alduin's Wall

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