Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

"That is who we are. The Forsworn. Criminals in our own lands. And we will cut a bloody hole into the Reach until we are free."

Madanach, also known as The King in Rags, is the leader of the Forsworn Rebellion. He is imprisoned in Cidhna Mine, deep beneath the city of Markarth.

Escape from Cidhna Mine[]

Main article: No One Escapes Cidhna Mine

Before Madanach allows the Dragonborn to escape the mine with the rest of the Forsworn, he will require the disposal of Grisvar the Unlucky, as Grisvar has been in and out of Cidhna Mine, possibly leaking information, and thus is suspected of being a spy. With Grisvar dead, Madanach and his followers plan to escape through a tunnel they have been digging under Markarth, leading eventually to the city's surface. Upon reaching the surface, Madanach will give a speech to his followers, after which a battle will ensue between the Hold Guards and his men.

Once the battle concludes, Madanach and his followers will retreat to the Druadach Redoubt.

If the Dragonborn decides to kill Madanach before escaping the mine, the remaining prisoners will become hostile. One can then use Madanach's Key to escape through the tunnel next to Madanach's quarters. Thonar will meet the Dragonborn at the entrance to the Markarth Ruins, reward them with the Silver-Blood Family Ring, then he will inform them that they have done a great service to the Silver-Blood family and that they have been pardoned by the Jarl of Markarth.

Upon helping Madanach escape and choosing not to kill him at Thonar's behest, Madanach will reward the Dragonborn with the Armor of the Old Gods.


The "King in Rags" proves to be a strong-willed and shrewd character, totally dedicated to his cause. He is no stranger to murder, as long as he expels the Nords and regains the Reach for his fellow Forsworn. He has a particular distaste for outsiders too, being hostile to the Dragonborn in their first meeting. Madanach shows absolute belief in his cause, he fully believes what he is doing is right and the Nords are evil, and that the Forsworn are the only legitimate rulers of the Reach.

Madanach shows a talent for manipulation and cunning. In the shadows, he lures Thonar into a false sense of security before striking at him and Markarth, with the right agents in place. He forces the player to kill the loose end, Grisvar, who could be disloyal. Honeyed words and speeches are his specialities, as he attempts to convert the Dragonborn and justify his cause. He empowers those who follow him and seeks to win through slyness what brute force cannot obtain. He fancies himself to be ruthless and cunning, although he reveals that all he really wants is the peace they had before Ulfric's attack.


If the Dragonborn decides to attack and slay Madanach, they should take caution. If attacked in his cell, the Dragonborn will have little equipment, the only available weapons, aside from magic, being a pickaxe or a shiv. This is the same for Madanach, and he has magic on his side as well. If confronted directly, he can invoke a Frost Cloak spell. He will also hurl Fireballs and Ice Spikes relentlessly if the Dragonborn is within range. A sneak attack may be the best course. Magic users will have a much easier time with this battle, as they don't have to get close to the Frost Cloak. Shouts are also very useful, as a single Fire Breath shout with all three words of power may result in an instant kill at lower levels.

Slaying Madanach after aiding him will make his followers hostile, too. At this stage, some may have been killed by the enemies in the ruins. One may or may not have recovered their equipment by then, so this may vary in difficulty. Avoid being surrounded, as some of the other prisoners have magic of their own. Madanach will also have improved and enchanted gear if the Dragonborn's equipment has been recovered.

Beast form or Vampire Lord Form may prove useful as it requires no equipment to use.


No One Escapes Cidhna Mine[]

"Well, well. Look at you. The Nords have turned you into an animal. (Or "Your kinsmen have turned you into an animal, Nord." if the Dragonborn is a Nord.) A wild beast caged up and left to go mad. So, my fellow beast, what do you want? Answers about the Forsworn? Revenge for trying to have you killed?"

Let's start with revenge! "Very well. Come for me, then. Come and let's end this! (Or "Then come for me, "son/daughter of Skyrim." Come for me!" if the Dragonborn is a Nord.)"
I want my freedom. "Your freedom? Yes. But even if you were to escape Cidhna Mine, your name would still be stained with all that blood."
You have a lot to answer for. "Do I? And what about you? What right did you have to meddle in my affairs? Kill my people? Was it worth it? Your truth? You're one of us now, you see? A slave. The boot of the Nord (Or "your kinsmen" if the Dragonborn is a Nord.) stepping on your throat. Maybe if you understood that, I could help you."
I don't need, or want, your help. "So many say that, at first, until they realize the truth. If you change your mind, speak to Braig. Tell him I sent you. I want you to know how widespread the injustice of Markarth is."
Understand? How? "There's a man named Braig inside these mines. Besides me, he's been here the longest. Tell him I sent you. Ask him why he's here. I want you to know how widespread the injustice of Markarth is."
I want to know about Thonar. "I had Markarth. My men and I drove the Nords out. We had won, or so we thought. Retribution was swift. I was captured, quickly tried, and sentenced to death. But my execution never came. Thonar Silver-Blood stopped it. He wanted the Forsworn at his call, that I would point their rage at his enemies and spare his allies. And I have. Humiliating at first, but I knew he would let his guard down eventually. That he would come to trust I was under control."
I had questions about the Forsworn. "This was our land. We were here first. Then the Nords came and put chains on us. Forbid us from worshipping our gods. Some of us refused to bow. We knew the old ways would lead us back to having a kingdom of our own. That is who we are. The Forsworn. Criminals in our own lands. And we will cut a bloody hole into the Reach until we are free."

(After the player hears Braig's story)
I talked to Braig. "Imagine hearing a story like that, over and over. Each time a different family. Each time a different injustice. Your meddling above ground reminded me of how removed I've been from the struggle. My men and I should be in the hills, fighting."

Spare me from your speeches. "You know, I'm almost beginning to like you, but you haven't earned your place out of here yet."
You'll help me escape then? "Yes, but I need a show of loyalty from you. I don't need a shiv in the back while we break out."
"Have you met Grisvar the Unlucky? He's rightly named, and he's also a thief and a snitch. He's outlived his minor usefulness. Take care of him, and then we can leave Cidhna Mine for good."
I can't kill Grisvar without a shiv. "Ah, Borkul muscle one out of you on your way in? Fine. Take this one."

(After the player kills Grisvar the Unlucky)

Grisvar is dead. "You've finally become one of us. Come with me. I think it's time I announced my plans to you and your new brothers."

Uraccen: "What's going on, Madanach? You wouldn't have old Grisvar killed unless you weren't planning on needing him."
Madanach: "My brothers, we have been here long enough. It's time to leave Cidhna Mine and continue our fight against the Nords. Through this gate, just beside my quarters, is a tunnel. A tunnel that leads right through the old Dwarven ruins of Markarth, into the city. Well, what do you say, my brothers?"
Duach: "The Reach belongs to the Forsworn!"
Borkul the Beast: "The Reach belongs to the Forsworn!"
Braig: "The Reach belongs to the Forsworn!"
Uraccen: "The Reach belongs to the Forsworn!"
Odvan: "The Reach belongs to the Forsworn!"

"I say you've earned an early pardon. Let's go."

Where did this tunnel come from? "It's a little gift from the dwarves. Who knew they would end up helping our cause? We have to move. We'll talk more once we see the sky."
I'm ready. "Into the tunnel. Let's go."

(When the group reaches the end of the tunnel)

Kaie: "Madanach. I've brought what you asked for."
Madanach: "Good work. Get ready while I have a word with our favorite outsider."

"I had Kaie recover all the things the Nords stole from you. You better get ready before we break out into the city. And take this. It's blessed with the old magicks. Something to remember me by. Time to finally see the sky, and make it rain red."

What happens now? "Now? I announce to all of Markarth that I have returned. Don't worry about your name. They'll know who to blame and fear after today. It'll take years, but I'll organize the Forsworn again. We'll reclaim our land, and then, when power is ours, we'll have peace. A kingdom. Until then, let me offer you a warning. Beware the Forsworn. No place in the Reach is safe from us now."
I'd sooner forget all of this. "Time to finally see the sky, and make it rain red."


  • "Ah, my friend from Cidhna Mine. Hello. This is where it will begin. A new uprising. We'll have our freedom. One day." ―Madanach at Druadach Redoubt.


Madanach in his Forsworn Armor

  • If the Dragonborn kills Madanach (by selecting revenge or simply attacking him), he or she will be pardoned upon escaping the prison.
    • Accordingly, it is possible that Madanach may not survive the escape from the mine.
  • If the Dragonborn wishes to avoid extensive combat, but still wants to kill him, Madanach can be attacked as soon as Kaie gives them their gear back. However, one must wait so that all of Madanach's followers have gone through the door before attacking.
    • Kaie will remain and will have to be dealt with as well. Combat will still ensue, but this method greatly lessens the number of hostiles the Dragonborn has to handle.
  • Without help, the Forsworn may be too weak to battle the guards and be killed. Their bodies can be looted for a decent sum of gold.
    • If Call to Arms is used with some or all of its available augmentations (Vampirism, Elixir of Illusion, etc.), it will give the Forsworn enough health and fighting skill to slaughter the Markarth guards easily.
  • Even if Madanach dies while fighting the guards, all NPCs from Markarth will still act as if he is alive.
  • While Madanach and his followers make their way to the Druadach Redoubt, it is possible, (due to pathing issues and ensuing guards), for Madanach to be found somewhere between Markarth and the Druadach Redoubt.
  •  PC   If Madanach is selected using his reference ID and moved near a Forsworn while he is in Cidhna Mine, the Forsworn's temperament will become hostile, and vice-versa.
  • If the Dragonborn is a Nord, he will refer to the Nords as their kinsmen.
  • Also, if the Dragonborn is a Nord and decides to kill Madanach by selecting Revenge option, he will mockingly say "Then come for me, Son of Skyrim. Come for me!" and attack.
    • Madanach will still use the same line if the player is a female Nord.
  • If Madanach is backstabbed during his speech in the prison, the others will become hostile and attack, and you will not be able to loot his body (it will say he is busy). However, if you manage to become hidden once again, the others will all begin to go through Cidna Mine's escape route as if Madanach were leading them (he will be lootable by then). 
  • If you escape the city with him, the Forsworn and everyone in Cidhna Mine will become friendly at Druadach Redoubt encampment. Other Forsworn encampments will still be hostile.
  • Madanach and his followers' bodies will not reset if you kill them after the quest. Note that you have to help them to escape for this to work. Curiously, their corpses will level with you (up to level 50) even if you killed them at level 1. This will turn them into powerful allies with Dead Thralls.