Following the Dragon attack on Helgen, the player character may choose to escape either with Hadvar,an Imperial soldier, or Ralof, a Stormcloak rebel. After the escape, the player travels to the nearby town of Riverwood. The player is asked to journey to the city of Whiterun, and request aid from the Jarl against the Dragon threat. The Jarl agrees to send a detachment of soldiers to Riverwood, but asks that the player aid his court-wizard in return, retrieving a Dragonstone from a nearby ruin known as Bleak Falls Barrow. The player discovers a Word-Wall in the process, learning their first "Thu'um", one of the Shouts used by the ancient Nords to battle the Dragons.
Upon returning to Whiterun, the player is asked to assist in defending the city from an attacking Dragon. After defeating the Dragon, the player character absorbs the Dragon's soul. Astonished, the Whiterun soldiers tell the player that they may be a "Dragonborn", able to naturally speak Draconic, the Dragon language, and absorb their souls. After returning to the Jarl with news of the Dragon's defeat, the player is summoned to meet with the Greybeards, an order of monks who live in seclusion in their temple of High Hrothgar on the slopes of Skyrim's highest mountain, The Throat of the World. The Greybeards further train the player in the "Way of the Voice", teaching the player more powerful Thu'um's and instructing the player on their destiny and role of the Dragonborn. As a further test, the Greybeards task the player with retrieving the legendary Horn of Jurgen Windcaller. However, the player discovers the Horn has been stolen by another, who wishes to meet with the Dragonborn. The thief reveals herself as Delphine, Riverwood's innkeeper and one of the last surviving members of The Blades. Delphine and the player witness Alduin reviving a Dragon from a burial mound and defeat the Dragon. Afterwards, Delphine helps the player infiltrate the Thalmor Embassy near Solitude, the headquarters of agents of the Elven Aldmeri Dominion, to follow up on