Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

For the conflict in the Merethic Era, see Dragon War.
"The World-Eater wakes, and the Wheel turns upon the Last Dragonborn..."
―Prophecy of the Dragonborn[src]

The Dragon Crisis was a series of events that occurred in 4E 201, when Alduin, the Nordic god of destruction,[1] returned to Tamriel. He, along with the many dragons that he resurrected, caused destruction and chaos throughout Skyrim, already in strife from the Skyrim Civil War. However, a mysterious individual—later revealed to be the hero of legend, the Dragonborn—rose up and was able to defeat Alduin,[2] as foretold by the Elder Scrolls.[3]

The main questline of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim prominently features the Dragon Crisis.[2]


Main article: Dragon War

During the early age of Skyrim, the province was ruled over under the cruel will of the Dragons, led by Alduin. Alduin had wandered astray from his duties as the World-Eater, choosing to rule over men, much to Akatosh's dismay. In time, a human rebellion rose up against the dragon rulers, led by the three Nordic heroes (Felldir the Old, Gormlaith Golden-Hilt, and Hakon One-Eye), collectively referred to as the "Tongues." With help from the defected dragon general, Paarthurnax,[4] and the blessings of the goddess Kyne, they were able to defeat Alduin using an Elder Scroll and a new shout they had created called Dragonrend. They were not, however, able to completely destroy him, but rather cast him out of Time through a rift generated by the Elder Scroll, in the form of a Dragon Break.[5]

Beginning of the end[]

Alduin exited the time rift in the year 4E 201. His first known action after his return was attacking a small mountain town, Helgen, coincidentally interrupting the execution of several prominent figures, among them Ulfric Stormcloak, his lieutenant Ralof, and an unnamed prisoner. Alduin later escaped into the northern lands.[6]

Alduin subsequently began resurrecting fallen dragons across the region. Notably, the dragon Mirmulnir came into conflict with the people of Skyrim near the major city of Whiterun, after guards reported a dragon attacking the city's Western Watchtower. The prisoner, having arrived there themselves, was tasked alongside a contingent of guards, to meet and end the threat. After a battle, the force eventually defeated Mirmulnir. The defeat of the dragon in turn revealed that the prisoner was in fact the Dragonborn, a legendary warrior with the body of a mortal and the soul of a dragon. The mysterious order of monks known as the Greybeards then summoned the newly minted Dragonborn to their monastery for training.[7]

The true conflict[]

The Greybeards conducted various training exercises with the Dragonborn to train them in the ways of the Voice,[8] and eventually sent them on a mission to retrieve the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller, which was located in the ancient Nordic burial crypt of Ustengrav. However, the Horn had already been taken by another party, leading the Dragonborn back to the town of Riverwood.[9]

When the two finally came into contact in Riverwood, the thief was revealed to be the innkeeper, Delphine. She explained to the Dragonborn that she had knowledge of several dragon burial sites located across Skyrim, some of which had been found empty. She believed that the dragons were being resurrected and that the next resurrection would happen at the small settlement of Kynesgrove, and thus requested that the Dragonborn follow her there to gain further information and avert any attack.[10]

After arriving at Kynesgrove, Alduin was observed hovering over the burial site, speaking in the ancient Dragon Language, as another dragon, Sahloknir, rose out of the earth. He openly mocked the Dragonborn, calling them arrogant in taking the name of "Dovah" (dragons). Alduin then ordered Sahloknir to "slay the mortals" and flew away. Sahloknir began to attack Delphine and the Dragonborn, and a battle ensued. Eventually, however, the Dragonborn and Delphine were able to overcome and slay the dragon, after which Delphine revealed that she was one of the last members of the Blades, and her suspicions that the Thalmor were responsible for the recent dragon uprising.[10] The Dragonborn's investigation revealed the opposite; the Thalmor were seeking answers just the same, namely by tracking down another Blade, the archivist Esbern.[11] The Dragonborn reached him first, and led him back to Delphine. Esbern explained his knowledge on the dragons' return and new information on ways to fight them.[12] Delphine, Esbern, and the Dragonborn then traveled to an ancient Blades stronghold, Sky Haven Temple, where they discovered Alduin's Wall. Through the wall, they deciphered that the Ancient Nord warriors used, in conjunction with an Elder Scroll, a Shout to defeat Alduin.[13]

Power play[]

After returning to the Greybeards, the Dragonborn was permitted to meet with their leader, Paarthurnax, who was revealed to himself be a dragon.[14] After discussing philosophy and history, Paarthurnax sent the Dragonborn to find the Elder Scroll, used by the Tongues, in the Dwemer Ruins of Blackreach.[15]

After retrieving the Elder Scroll, the Dragonborn read it atop the summit of the mountain. Alduin, sensing the power of the Scroll, appeared in the skies above. With the help of Paarthurnax, the Dragonborn nearly defeated Alduin during their "duel atop the world" by using Dragonrend—the very shout used by the Tongues to defeat Alduin long ago. Despite their best efforts, however, Alduin managed to escape to the realm of the Nordic afterlife, Sovngarde.[5]


A prophecy fulfilled[]

The Dragonborn later convinced the Jarl of Whiterun to allow them to use Dragonsreach as a prison for Odahviing, Alduin's second-in-command, in the hopes to learn where Alduin escaped to. After the dragon's capture, Odahviing struck a deal with the Dragonborn. The terms of this deal were that Odahviing would be freed; in exchange he would carry the Dragonborn to the gate of Sovngarde, located at the Nordic ruin Skuldafn.[16] After reaching Skuldafn, the Dragonborn defeated Alduin's remaining forces who were guarding the portal, then was teleported to Sovngarde.[17] Fighting alongside the Tongues themselves,[18] the Dragonborn finally defeated Alduin, as was prophesized in the Elder Scrolls.[19]

Peaceful world[]

In the aftermath of Alduin's defeat, Odahviing swore loyalty to the Dragonborn, after witnessing their power against Alduin.[20] Speaking to the Dragonborn, Paarthurnax stated his intention to bring the Way of the Voice, his philosophy of the Thu'um, to all of dragonkind.[21]




  1. Varieties of Faith in the Empire
  2. 2.0 2.1 Events of the Main Quest
  3. The Book of the Dragonborn
  4. The Dragon War
  5. 5.0 5.1 Events of "Alduin's Bane"
  6. Events of "Unbound"
  7. Events of "Dragon Rising"
  8. Events of "The Way of the Voice"
  9. Events of "The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller"
  10. 10.0 10.1 Events of "A Blade in the Dark"
  11. Events of "Diplomatic Immunity"
  12. Events of "A Cornered Rat"
  13. Events of "Alduin's Wall"
  14. Events of "The Throat of the World"
  15. Events of "Elder Knowledge"
  16. Events of "The Fallen"
  17. Events of "The World-Eater's Eyrie"
  18. Events of "Sovngarde"
  19. Events of "Dragonslayer"
  20. Dialogue with Odahviing
  21. Dialogue with Paarthurnax