Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

Missing in Action is a quest available in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in which the Dragonborn must determine if Fralia Gray-Mane's son, Thorald, is alive and, if so, rescue him from captivity.


Fralia Gray-Mane in Whiterun is convinced that her missing son, Thorald Gray-Mane, is still alive and being held captive. She asked me to visit her home to speak privately about the matter.


  1. Meet Fralia in her home
  2. Find evidence of Thorald's fate
  3. Deliver proof to Avulstein
  4. One of two options:
  5. Rescue Thorald from Northwatch Keep
  6. Lead Thorald to safety
  7. Speak to Thorald
  8. Return to Fralia Gray-Mane


After approaching the market of Whiterun for the second time during the day, the Dragonborn will encounter an argument between Fralia Gray-Mane at her market stall, Olfrid Battle-Born, and Idolaf Battle-Born.

Olfrid: "Foolish old woman! You know nothing! Nothing of our struggles, our suffering!"
Fralia: "Nothing? And what of my son, hmm? What of Thorald? Is he nothing? So don't talk to me about suffering!"
Idolaf: "Your son chose his side, and he chose poorly. And now he's gone. Such is the way of war. The sooner you accept his loss, the better."
Fralia: "I will never accept his death! My son still lives. I feel it in my heart. So tell me, Battle-Borns, where is he? Where are you holding my Thorald?"
Olfrid: "[to son] Do you believe this old hag? [to Fralia] "Holding him"? Why, I've got him in my cellar. He's my prisoner. Face it, cow! Your stupid son is dead! He died a Stormcloak traitor. And you...you best keep your mouth shut before you suffer the same."
Idolaf: "Come on, father. There's nothing more to be said here."

The quest can be started in two ways. The first is by speaking to Fralia directly following the argument. She will tell the Dragonborn that her son is missing, but alive, regardless of what anybody says, and that she would like to discuss it in private at her home.

"All I can think about is my son, my Thorald… they say that he was killed, but I know better. I know my son is alive! Those Battle-Born... they're in with the Imperials. They know it too, and yet they lie to my very face!"

How do you know they're lying? "It's not wise to discuss it here. Please, if you truly wish to help, meet me at my home. I'll tell you the whole story."
How can you be sure your son is alive? "I just... I just know it. I can feel it in my heart. You have to believe me. Please, visit me at my home. I can tell you the whole story."
Can you tell me more about your missing son? "Not here. Let's speak at my home, where we can be alone, unwatched." (If outside of House Gray-Mane.)

The Dragonborn can also speak to Olfrid and Idolaf about the argument with Fralia in the market. When asked "What was that argument about?", Olfrid will say:

"Just one more thing the Gray-Manes want to blame on others. It's not my fault they turned their backs on the Empire, or their mule of a son raised arms against it. And yet they want to heap the fault on my family's good name? Bah."

In response, Idolaf will say:

"More bad blood between the houses. Fralia is convinced our family is somehow at fault for the loss of her son. There's no reasoning with these people anymore."

Once inside House Gray-Mane, Avulstein Gray-Mane will confront the Dragonborn with his weapon drawn. Fralia will tell him to put his weapon down and that the Dragonborn is a friend here to help. Avulstein will provide more information about the situation after the Dragonborn insists that they are here to help and will say that he needs evidence that confirms that Thorald is still alive. The Dragonborn can also enter House Gray-Mane and speak to Avulstein directly without first talking to Fralia to start the quest which will cause him to interact with the Dragonborn differently at first, accusing them of working for the Battle-Borns.

"Who are you? What are you doing here? Are you working for the Battle-Borns? Speak now before I put you in the ground!"

I don't know what you're talking about "A likely story. They won't even do their own dirty work now, eh? Well, you won't get the better of me! Now tell me where my brother is!"
I don't know your brother. "Thorald. Thorald Gray-Mane? Fighting for the Stormcloaks, disappeared and believed dead? You really don't know anything about this, do you?"
Calm down. I'm not working for anyone. "No? So you don't know anything about my brother? Then what are you doing here?"
I didn't mean to alarm you. Why are you so tense? "Because they've got Thorald locked away somewhere, and if they find me here I'll disappear too! I am not going to let that happen!"
Sounds like you need some help "I can't do this all on my own. Are you... are you offering to help me?"
Yes, absolutely. What can I do? "I know that Thorald is not dead. I just know it. The Imperials have him, and are keeping him somewhere. But I don't know where. Those damned Battle-Borns... they know something. They're hiding it. They practically taunt us with it. They must have some sort of proof! There's got to be something in that house of theirs. I just know it. I don't dare leave the house myself. So I need your help."
I'll find that proof you need. "Anything, anything at all would be a start. Then we can figure out how to get to him. I'm sorry for doubting you, friend. You have my thanks."
I'm not sure I want to get involved in this. "Please, I'm desperate. This is my brother's life! I won't let them take it away! I beg of you, look for proff of Thorald's capture. The Battle-Borns have it, I just know it."
I'm not even sure what's going on. "My brother, Thorald. He was fighting for the Stormcloaks, and went missing. Everyone assumes his dead. But he's not. I just know it. The Imperials captured him, and they're holding him someplace. The Battle-Borns know where. I'd go and search their house for proof, but they want me too. I'd be captured, and then we'll never know what happened to him. So I need someone to find that proof for me."
What kind of proof do you need? "Anything that confirms that Thorald isn't dead, but is being held captive. I know those Battle-Borns have it. They'd be hiding it, of course. Wouldn't want it to get out that they've been lying this whole time. But you might be able to butter them up enough to lower their guard."

The Dragonborn can also speak to Fralia for more information about the Battle-Borns and Thorald.

Why do you think the Battle-Borns are involved? "The Battle-Borns. The Emperor's biggest boot-lickers here in Whiterun. Their connections to the Empire and the Legion are well-known. When Thorald didn't return home, there was no question in my mind. They knew Thorald supported the Stormcloaks, knew he was going to aid them in battle. Made sure he didn't come back. Locked him up someplace to get back at my family. I'm sure of it."

How can you be sure Thorald is still alive? "He's my son. I just... I feel it in my heart. You'd understand if you had children."
Can you tell me more about your missing son? "Thorald's disappearance has been hard on all of us, but Avulstein has taken it badly. He's afraid of being taken as well, so he hasn't left the house. All he talks about is Thorald. Please, help Avulstein if you can. Something has to be done, or we're all going to lose our minds."

Find the evidence[]

There are a few ways to go about getting evidence from the Battle-Borns. There are essentially three ways to do this, each of which leverages a stealth skill: Lockpicking, Pickpocket or Speech.

  • Lockpicking: The missive is in the Battle-Borns' house on the first floor in a small office adjoining a bedroom. Entering the house from the main entrance, it's on your left. The office door is locked and no key exists for it. The Battle-Born members have keys that open the exterior doors. You can access the property without legal ramifications if you either help Lars Battle-Born intimidate his bullies or answer "Battle-Born" to Idolaf's initial greeting. Whatever you choose, the office door has a locked that must be picked, although on some occasions a Battle-Born will have been in that room, which leaves the office open.
  • Pickpocket: An alternate method is to, instead of stealing the evidence from the Battle-Born house, the Dragonborn can accost Jon Battle-Born with knowledge of his tryst with Olfina. To do so, first pickpocket him for a letter from Olfina. After bringing it up with him, Jon will agree to bring the Imperial missive to the Dragonborn at the statue of Talos.
  • Speech: You will need to pass a high level persuasion check in dialogue with Idolaf Battle-Born (which requires a level 75 in Speech). He will explain that the Gray-Manes are better off believing Thorald to be dead than knowing the truth. Having been a friend to Thorald, he has looked into this particular situation and found that the Thalmor are holding him at Northwatch Keep. The Legion warned him to mind his own business after that and he will give you a copy of the missive as proof.

Alternatively, the player can also become a friend to the Battle-Borns through one of these methods.

  • Speak with the child Lars Battle-Born. With a little coaxing, he eventually divulges that Braith is bullying him, and he asks for help with the situation. You can speak with Braith and convince her to stop.
  • Answer "Battle-Born" to Idolaf's initial encounter when he asks "Gray Mane or Battle Born?"
  • Sell any crops to Alfhild Battle-Born.

Having befriended Clan Battle-Born, one can freely enter the study (requires picking an Adept lock) and take the missive.

In any case, return to the Gray-Manes' home with the missive. If the door is locked, wait until Eorlund returns home at 9pm. Once you're inside, speak with Avulstein, who will want to round up some men (Geirlund and Vidrald) to go rescue his brother; you can agree to meet him there or tell him to stay put and let you handle it yourself. After making your decision, it's on to Northwatch Keep.

Rescue Thorald[]

With the Imperial missive recovered from the Battle-Borns, the Dragonborn should return to Avulstein to report back the evidence that Thorald is alive and being held prisoner by the Thalmor. With the knowledge of Thorald's location, the Dragonborn can choose to relay it to Avulstein and join him and two of his friends, Geirlund and Vidrald, in attacking the fort, or simply go alone.

I have proof that Thorald lives. "I knew it! Let me see, please! The Thalmor? By the Nine, it's worse than I thought. So... Northwatch Keep. Then we know where to hit them."

You're going to assault Northwatch Keep? "I'll do anything if it means saving my brother. You'll join us, won't you? Thorald can't be left to those... monsters."
Of course I'll join you. "I'll round up what men I can, and meet you outside Northwatch Keep. We'll get in and out as fast as possible. I'll see you there."
Let me see if I can bring him back on my own. Without bloodshed. "What? You, alone, reasoning with the Thalmor? That's madness, friend. You're serious, aren't you?"
I'm sure. I'll bring him back myself. "Very well. I'll give you a chance. But if you can't do it, I will."
You stay hidden. I'll take are of this. "Are you sure? I doubt you stand a chance against the Thalmor. I can have a group of men ready at a moment's notice. Many would be willing to help rescue my brother."
You're right. We should work together. "Exactly. Together we stand more of a chance of making this work. Make your way to Northwatch Keep in Haafingar. I'll meet you there, and we'll plan our assault."
I'm sure. I'll bring him back myself. "Very well. I'll give you a chance. But if you can't do it, I will."

Once at Northwatch Keep, the Dragonborn may speak to Avulstein who, in response to saying "What do we do now?" will say "We kill every Thalmor between us and Thorald, and we bring him out alive. Let's go." The Dragonborn can also talk to the guard at the front of the entrance if not with Avulstein and his men. It is impossible, however, to convince the guard to release Thorald.

I'm here for Thorald Gray-Mane. "Are you joking? Even if we did have a prisoner by that name, the only way he'd be released is by order of the Imperial legion. Now I suggest you turn around and go back the way you came."

Although it was originally intended for the Dragonborn to be able to get written permission from General Tullius to have Thorald released, he will only deny your request, even if the Civil War has been completed.

I need a prisoner released from Northwatch Keep. "The Thalmor? Do you have any idea what you're asking? I'm sorry, that's just not possible. It would cause far too many problems."

The Dragonborn can elect to make a direct assault or use stealth:

  • Direct assault: The Dragonborn can choose to fight through waves of Thalmor guards throughout the fort to find Thorald. The guards use shock and fire spells, leveled weapons, and Elven light armor. Depending on the Dragonborn's level, there is a good chance that Geirlund or Vidrald will be killed before even reaching the Keep by the Thalmor archers.
  • Stealth: There is a side entrance secured by a Master-level lock on the north side of the keep, accessible through an open gate in a wooden palisade protected by a single guard. There is also a guard patrolling around the outside of the keep, and another keeping watch from a high vantage point in the northern wall. The side entrance will make moving through the keep much easier, requiring only a fight through two rooms with a few enemies. All the Thalmor guards outside will funnel through that side entrance if they become hostile, allowing for an easy chance to hit them with a Shout to stun them, which provides an opportunity to massacre them.

Proceed through the Keep to the prison area. Thorald Gray-Mane is chained to the wall in the back of the room. Kill the Northwatch Interrogator to free him. He will grab a nearby weapon to protect himself before following the Dragonborn. If Avulstein is with the Dragonborn, he will exchange words with his brother about how they are breaking him out of the Thalmor's imprisonment.

We're here to rescue you. "I never thought I'd see another friendly face again. We need to get to safety as soon as possible. Let's move."

What do the Thalmor want with you? "I'm not sure. At first they accused me of being a Stormcloak, a secret Talos worshipper.. They wanted a confession. To what didn't matter, they simply wanted me to admit to something. I think they wanted to break me. Use me as a way to get to the rest of the Gray-Mane family. I gave them no such pleasure."
How long have you been chained up? "Gods, I've lost count of the days. It felt like an age has passed. I wish I could believe that I'd have held out forever against their torture, but I can't be so sure. Now thanks to you I needn't worry anymore."

After exiting, Thorald will thank the Dragonborn for saving him. He will then explain that it is not safe for him or Avulstein to return to Whiterun, as the Thalmor will be after them now. He states that they will join the ranks of the Stormcloaks to blend in, and gives the Dragonborn a message to pass on to Thorald and Avulstein's mother: "Suffer the winter's cold wind, for it bears aloft next summer's seeds." He then parts ways.

You should be safe now. "I cannot thank you enough for rescuing me from this place. I suspect I'd never again see the light of day otherwise. But why would you risk your life for me, a stranger?"

Your family was concerned for you. "Of course. I should have known. This was all Avulstein's idea, wasn't it? Where is he?" (If Avulstein is present: "Of course. I should've known. Avulstein was behind this, wasn't he?" No response from Dragonborn.)
Your brother talked me into it. "I've never known Avulstein to be that convincing! Where is that little scamp?" (If Avulstein is present: "He must of been very convincing." No response from Dragonborn.)
I told him to wait in Whiterun "A wise decision, but I fear he may not be safe there anymore. They'll go looking for me, and Whiterun will be the first place they search."
"I cannot stay. Not here, not in Whiterun. It likely won't be safe for Avulstein, either. Our best hope now is to fall in with the ranks of the Stormcloaks. But would you do me a favour? Tell my mother to suffer the winter's cold, for it bears aloft next summer's seeds. She'll know what it means. I thank you again, friend. You've given me my life back."

Return to Fralia[]

Once the Dragonborn approaches Fralia with the news of her son's survival, she will ask for proof. Give her Thorald's message. She will give thanks for bringing her the peace of knowing that her son is alive and safe, and not locked up in a prison cell. She then rewards the Dragonborn with a random Skyforged weapon or an enchanted steel weapon, originally intended for Thorald, and the quest is complete.

If Fralia's husband, Eorlund, has died anytime before the conclusion of this quest, Fralia will say that she does not have much to offer, due to the passing of Eorlund, and will be able to give 200 Gold instead of the weapon.

Thorald is safe. "Is he? You've saved him?! I must see him at once!"

I'm afraid he's not here. He didn't think it was safe to return. "What? After all this, I can't even see him? How... How do I know you're telling me the truth, and not just what I want to hear?"
He said to tell you to "suffer the winter's cold wind." "...for it bears aloft next summer's seeds." That's my boy. So it's true, then. For now, it's enough to know that he's alive. I can find peace in that. Thank you, dear friend. You've given me back my son. I'd had Eorlund forge this for Thorald. It was to be a present for his return. I suppose he can't have it now. Why don't you take it? We can always make another for the day when this war ends and Thorald can come home." (If Eorlund is dead: "With Eorlund gone, I'm afraid I can't offer you much in the way of thanks. But please, take this. It's the least I can do.")


Missing in Action – MS09
ID Journal Entry
10 Fralia Gray-Mane in Whiterun is convinced that her missing son, Thorald, is still alive and being held captive. She's asked me to visit her at her home to speak privately about the matter.
  • Objective 10: Meet Fralia in her home
20 Avulstein Gray-Mane believes his brother Thorald has been taken prisoner, and that the Battle-Borns of Whiterun have proof. I need to find it and bring to Avulstein.
  • Objective 20: Find evidence of Thorald's fate
  • Objective 25: Meet Jon Battle-Born at Talos' statue
30 After being convinced to help by the Gray-Mane family, I've found evidence that Thorald Gray-Mane is still alive, and is being held in Northwatch Keep. Avulstein will want to see this right away.
  • Objective 30: Deliver proof to Avulstein
40 After being convinced to help, and finding proof that he is still alive, I've offered to try and free Thorald Gray-Mane from Northwatch Keep to prevent bloodshed on either side.
  • Objective 40: Find a way to release Thorald from Thalmor custody
50 Now that I have found proof that his brother still lives, Avulstein Gray-Mane insists on assaulting Northwatch Keep to rescue Thorald. I've agreed to meet him outside the Keep to assist in the fight.
  • Objective 50: Meet Avulstein at Northwatch Keep
  • Objective 55: Rescue Thorald from Northwatch Keep
60 Thorald Gray-Mane is indeed alive. Now I have to get him away from Northwatch Keep and make sure he stays safe.
  • Objective 60: Lead Thorald to safety
  • Objective 100: Speak to Thorald Gray-Mane
110 Thorald Gray-Mane has been successfully retrieved from Northwatch Keep. Fearing for the safety of his family, he cannot return to Whiterun, and has asked me to deliver a message to his mother: "Suffer the winter's cold wind, for it bears aloft next summer's seeds."
  • Objective 110: Return to Fralia Gray-Mane
200 Fralia Gray-Mane is grateful that her son Thorald is alive and well.
  • Quest complete
201 Fralia Gray-Mane is grateful that her son Thorald is alive and well.
  • Quest complete
  • Quest failed
  • Quest failed


  • Vidrald and Geirlund may be found in the courtyard of Northwatch Keep after the quest is completed.
  • Stealing the evidence may cause Bergritte Battle-Born to send hired thugs after the Dragonborn, even if they were not caught in the act.
  • Originally there was meant to be another way to complete this quest, but this option never made it into the final edition of the game. It involved the objective Find a Way to Release Thorald From Custody. The Dragonborn would have had to have completed the quest "The Jagged Crown" for the Imperial Legion to open up the dialogue to do so. General Tullius would give an Imperial missive stating the release of Thorald into the Dragonborn's custody. If the Dragonborn then spoke to the front guard of Northwatch Keep and told him that they have come for Thorald, the guard will refuse to confirm whether they hold a prisoner by that name, and say that a prisoner can only be freed by order of the Imperial Legion. By showing the missive, the guard was meant to allow the Dragonborn to enter the Keep and release Thorald from custody.


This section contains bugs related to Missing in Action. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:

  1. Please reload an old save to confirm if the bug is still happening.
  2. If the bug is still occurring, please post the bug report with the appropriate system template  360  /  XB1  ,  PS3  /  PS4  ,  PC  /  MAC  ,  NX  /  PS5  ,  XS  , depending on which platform(s) the bug has been encountered on.
  3. Be descriptive when listing the bug and fixes, but avoid having conversations in the description and/or using first-person anecdotes: such discussions belong on the appropriate forum board.
Click to show
  •  PC   360   PS3   After being set free, Thorald may stand in place and does not follow the Dragonborn. This can happen if there is no weapon for Thorald to pick up, for he is scripted to pick up a weapon before he could follow. To fix this, simply drop a weapon by his feet; he will pick it up, and the quest will proceed as normal.
  • After talking to Fralia no new objective is given.
  •  PC   360   PS3   Avulstein becomes hostile to the Dragonborn for no known reason upon their arrival at Northwatch Keep. Lose him and fast travel anywhere away from him then fast travel back. If this does not work, go into Northwatch Keep and he will fight alongside instead of remaining an enemy.
  •  PC   360   PS3   If the fort is exited with Thorald through the jail room, it may cause the marker to be placed next to a rock outside the dungeon, and when there, nothing else will happen. If the outside has been cleared, it is worth to try waiting for one hour. Thorald should show up the quest advances. If this does not work run to the main door of the keep and the quest should advance as normal. If that also fails, the only way to complete the quest is to reload an earlier save. To avoid this bug exit the dungeon through the main door.
  •  PC   PS3   The above bug also happens vice versa. If going through the main entrance causes Thorald to despawn, try the side entrance. If the side door's lock has not been picked and the Dragonborn cannot pick it, they are still able to exit through it using the key dropped by the interrogator.
  • If on PC, the issue with Thorald despawning can be fixed by selecting him in the console while inside and typing Moveto player once outside. This will teleport him to the Dragonborn and allow them to finish the quest.
  • There is another bug in which Thorald may attack if the Dragonborn enters alone.
  •  360   If the entire keep is cleared before the quest is started, and Aela the Huntress is a companion, then using the side exit once Thorald is free causes the quest to hang. The quest marker is moved, as described above, to a rock north of the keep. If the Dragonborn goes to the marker, Thorald comes running from the north and repeats his plea to get away from the keep quickly. Even bringing Thorald before his brother in Whiterun via fast travel will not fix this problem. Using the front door of the keep has problems that can be resolved: The marker is in the same location north of the keep. Go to just south of the quest marker between the keep and the rock. Eventually Thorald will come running from the keep to resolve the quest normally.
  • If standing just south of the rock where the quest marker is located does not un-hang Thorald, try standing in front of the door to the keep. Thorald will come running up and the conversation with him giving thanks will be triggered.
  •  360   If Northwatch Keep has been cleared before starting "Missing in Action," then entering either of the keeps doors may cause the game to crash on the load screen and the Xbox has to be restarted.
  • Even after clearing Northwatch Keep of guards and opening the prisoners' cells, the prisoners do not escape. They will still act like prisoners and be curt if spoken to.
  • Sometimes a thief being chased by a hunter (with Whiterun faction) will appear by the fort. Killing the hunter will result in a bounty in Whiterun. Avulstein will then become hostile and attack the Dragonborn. Return to Whiterun, pay the fine, and Avulstein will help again.
  • Thorald may not attack guards during the escape, and will instead just follow. Upon exiting, he can be talked to, initiating the dialogue as if the escape was successful regardless of whether or not any guards are still hostile outside. The area can be exited and the guards will not pursue beyond the main gate, and Thorald will turn around and head back into the prison.
  • After speaking with Fralia to initiate the quest, picking and entering her home during trespassing hours will initiate the next dialogue in the quest, but render the Dragonborn permanently trespassing, preventing its continuation.
    •  PC (Fix)   Exit the house, enter the console code ResetQuest ms09, talk to Fralia, and enter her house after 0800 AM.
    • Alternatively, find Fralia at her jewelry stand in the square during the day, and then use Wait command until just before 6:00pm (do not use Wait command past the time). At 6pm Fralia will begin walking back to the Gray Mane house. Wait until she gets inside, then give a few extra seconds, then enter – this should remove the trespassing problem.
  •  PS3   If the Dragonborn completes the quest "Battle for Windhelm," this quest may not advance past "Meet Fralia at her home."