Locating Esbern in A Cornered Rat

In this section of the TES V: Skyrim guide, we provide a walkthrough for the next stage of the main quest A Cornered Rat. We will guide you on how to locate Esbern, who is hiding in the Ratway. To find him, the main character must navigate through the underground maze.

  • New main objective: Search The Ratway for Esbern’s hideout
  • New main objective: Find Esbern in The Ratway Warrens
  • New main objective: Talk to Esbern

New main objective: Search The Ratway for Esbern’s hideout

During the first conversation, Brynjolf will provide you with information on Esbern’s hideout if you have successfully persuaded him, worked with the Thieves Guild, or completed A Chance Arrangement. Interestingly, in the last case, it doesn’t matter if you stole and planted the ring or were caught by the guards. Alternatively, you can find Esbern’s hideout without talking to Brynjolf.

Finding the sewer entrance can be challenging as it’s located on the lower level of the city. We recommend using the stairs south of the passage marked by the game (as shown in the screen above). Once you reach the door, you will enter The Ratway.

Explore The Ratway, and you will soon encounter Hewnon Black-Skeever and Draff (as shown in the screen above). You may avoid fighting them if your Speech skill is high enough and you use persuasion, but you are more likely to be attacked. Adjust your tactics depending on who you are fighting. As the battle takes place in a narrow corridor, you may use the Unrelenting Force Shout. After defeating them, search their bodies and continue exploring the sewers. You need to reach the raised drawbridge eventually. Ignore it and jump onto the lower level instead.

The next location can be reached via two paths. The shorter path requires opening the secured eastern gate (as shown in the screen above). If you cannot open it or want to explore the area further, use the western door. Beware of the first trap in the form of spikes that come from the side after you open the door.

If you choose the longer path, you will need to eliminate Skeever and Gian the Fist (as shown in the screen above). Gian prefers close combat, so try to attack him from a distance if he causes you trouble. Inside the room where Gian was, beware of bear traps, and either avoid or disarm them. Even if you fall into one, you won’t lose too much health. Continue onwards, and you will encounter one more trap connected with the pressure plate on the stairs leading to the upper level.

Both paths described above lead to the same room, where you must get rid of a lowlife (as shown in the screen above). Afterward, search the table for the Beggar book, which boosts your Pickpocketing. Use the door leading to the underground inn, Ragged Flagon.

To progress in the game, you need to locate Esbern in The Ratway Warrens. You have a few options to find his exact location, one of which is to talk to Vekel the Man, the bartender. You can pay him for the information or use your Speech skill to persuade him. Alternatively, you can speak to Brynjolf, who will reveal Esbern’s hideout only if you have completed the A Chance Arrangement side quest. Regardless of the method you choose, you will learn that Esbern can be found in The Ratway Warrens. If you are a member of the Thieves Guild, Brynjolf will tell you where to find Esbern.

To get to The Ratway Warrens, head to the south-east part of Ragged Flagon and find the path to The Ratway Vaults. Don’t worry about the different name; you need to pass through it to reach the Warrens. Be prepared for a demanding fight as you will encounter enemies almost immediately after entering the Flagon. Take care of the Thalmor Wizard first, followed by the Thalmor Soldiers. Look out for the one capable of using magic and try attacking the enemies in one of the narrow corridors for an easier elimination. After defeating them, search their bodies for valuable items and treasure chests. You can either jump onto the lowest level or explore the Vaults, starting with the corridor from which the soldier came. Eventually, you will reach the ground floor and find the southern door, leading to The Ratway Warrens.

The Ratway Warrens isn’t a large location, so you won’t have to worry about getting lost. Head to the middle room and go up the stairs. Avoid talking to the people in the cells, as most of them will be aggressive towards you. Approach the marked cell to initiate a conversation with Esbern. You can convince him of your good intentions by trying persuasion, telling him that you’re the Dragonborn, or using the password received from Delphine (remember the 30th of Frostfall). Esbern will tell you about the threat of the dragon Alduin and that the world can only be saved by the Dragonborn. Eventually, you will learn that you need to escort Esbern to Riverwood to progress in the game.


1. What is the quest “A Cornered Rat” in Skyrim?

The quest “A Cornered Rat” is a mission in the video game Skyrim in which the player needs to locate a character named Esbern. Esbern is a former member of the Blades, a group of dragon-slaying warriors who have been in hiding since the downfall of the Septim dynasty. He is believed to have information about the return of the dragons, which is crucial to the game’s storyline. The quest is given to the player by Delphine, a member of the Blades who has been trying to locate Esbern for some time.

2. How do I find Esbern in “A Cornered Rat” quest?

To locate Esbern, the player must first travel to Riften, a city in Skyrim. From there, they must speak to Brynjolf, a member of the Thieves Guild. Brynjolf will give the player a task to complete, which involves breaking into a warehouse. Once the task is completed, Brynjolf will lead the player to the Ratway, a network of underground tunnels beneath Riften. The player must navigate through the Ratway and defeat several enemies before they reach Esbern’s hideout. Once they find Esbern, they must persuade him to come with them and share his knowledge about the dragons.

3. What are some tips for completing “A Cornered Rat” quest?

One important tip for completing the “A Cornered Rat” quest is to bring along a follower, as the enemies in the Ratway can be difficult to defeat alone. It is also helpful to stock up on healing potions and other items that can restore health during combat. Another tip is to save the game frequently, as the Ratway can be a challenging and dangerous area. Additionally, it is recommended that the player complete the Thieves Guild questline before attempting this mission, as it will give them access to important tools and abilities that can make the quest easier.

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