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Skyrim:No One Escapes Cidhna Mine

Skyrim: Quests: Side Quests
Escape from Cidhna Mine!
Quest Giver:
Location(s): Cidhna Mine, Markarth
Prerequisite Quest: The Forsworn Conspiracy
Reward: Silver-Blood Family Ring and/or Armor of the Old Gods (see Two Rewards)
Disposition: =1 (Thonar Silver-Blood) if Madanach killed
ID: MS02
Suggested Level: 6
The prison cell in which you awaken at the beginning of the quest

Quick WalkthroughEdit

  1. Complete The Forsworn Conspiracy and go to jail.
  2. Brawl, bribe, and/or lie your way into a meeting with Madanach.
  3. Follow Madanach's instructions and escape with the rest of the prisoners, or kill Madanach and escape on your own.

Detailed WalkthroughEdit

Doing TimeEdit

Borkul the Beast

You will arrive in Cidhna Mine after completing the quest The Forsworn Conspiracy and choosing to go to jail, where Urzoga gra-Shugurz tells you that you will have to mine for your freedom. Your journal will inform you that you must find Madanach, also known as the King in Rags, to help clear your name. Head through the gate, walk down the wooden platform, and talk to miner Uraccen who is sitting by the fire.

Uraccen will say that you won't be able to speak with Madanach unless you can get past his bodyguard Borkul the Beast. Uraccen can entertain you with a story of one of Borkul's exploits before you go speak with him. Borkul is guarding one of the three gates in this room. When you ask him to see Madanach, he tells you that the toll for entry is a shiv. As alternatives to his request, you can brawl with him, intimidate or persuade him, or pickpocket the key from him.

Option Dialogue Reaction
I don't have a shiv. Then find one. That dung heap Grisvar's been known to make a few. Find a shiv
Here's your shiv. All right, head on in. But don't try anything in there. Madanach is smarter than you think. Pass the door
Madanach is expecting me. (Persuade) Passed: Hmph. Fine. Go on in. But don't try anything in there. Madanach knows more than you think.
Failed: The only thing Madanach expects is a bottle of Skooma in tribute every so often. You're not getting through.
Passed: Pass the door
Failed: Nothing
How about some skooma instead? (Bribe) Passed: Ah, now that's a good idea. Head on in. But don't try anything in there. Madanach is smarter than you think. Passed: Pass the door
Let me through, pig-face. (Intimidate) Passed: Those eyes. All right, killer, go on through. But don't try anything. Madanach knows more than you think.
Failed: That's what I was hoping you'd say.
Passed: Pass the door
Failed: Turn hostile
How about I fight you for it? (Brawl) Brawl: That's what I was hoping you'd say.
  • Victory: It's been so long since I tasted my own blood. Sour.
    • You'll let me through now?
    • Yeah, yeah. Go on in.
  • Failure: (Nothing)
I'll pay the toll later. That's right. Turn around and leave. Nothing

To get a shiv, talk to Grisvar the Unlucky, who will ask for a bottle of skooma. To get the skooma, you have to find Duach and pass a speech challenge, win a brawl, or pickpocket him.

Option Dialogue Reaction
I need some. Badly. (Persuade) Passed: Getting the shakes, huh? All right. Take it. Old gods keep you.
Failed: Skooma addict. Get lost.
Passed: Get the skooma
Failed: Nothing
Hand over the skooma. (Brawl) Passed: Easy there. I didn't mean nothing. Take it.
Brawl: That's it.
  • Victory: Damn addicts always stealing from me.
    • Now give me that skooma.
    • Here. I hope you choke on it.
  • Failure: (Nothing)
Passed: Get the skooma
Failed: Brawl
Never mind. Smart. Nothing

Bring the skooma to Grisvar, who will give you the shiv. If you want to keep the shiv, then you can still attempt the alternatives to completing Borkul's request. You can pickpocket an additional bottle of skooma from Duach and bribe Borkul with it. Alternately, you can also start a battle with the Forsworn prisoners (attack anyone but Grisvar). This locks you into killing Madanach, as he becomes hostile. This fight can be difficult; you have no armor, no enchantments, and your only non-conjured weapons are pickaxes and possibly shivs, though you can still use any magic or powers that you may possess. Once you've won, loot the key off Borkul's body and proceed to kill Madanach per the next section.

The King in RagsEdit

Planning to escape

Once you get past the Orc, you will see Madanach sitting at a desk. He will direct some disparaging remarks at you regarding your predicament, and ask you what you want. Here, you can take one of two paths: take your revenge, or find your answers. If you seek revenge, you can kill Madanach here (or at any time) and then escape on your own. If you want a fair fight, you can tell him you plan to kill him; otherwise, just attack him. Attacking him will make all of the other prisoners hostile (except Grisvar), but as long as they are out of range, they will not rush in to join the fight. Search Madanach's body for a key and a note, then unlock the gate and exit the prison.

If you seek answers instead, Madanach will direct you to Braig, another prisoner, to hear his story of injustice. After you have convinced Braig to tell his story, return to Madanach. You will see a different side of Madanach, and the horrors that drive his purpose. He tells you he wants to return to the war and will help you escape as well, but only if you prove your loyalty to him by killing Grisvar the Unlucky. If you gave your shiv to Borkul, you can get a new one from Madanach at this point. Find Grisvar and kill him. If you tell him that, "Madanach says hello", Grisvar will eventually become hostile and the other inmates will attack him. Once he's dead, return to Madanach, who will declare you an honorary member of the Forsworn and lead the prisoners to the escape tunnel.


Fighting for freedom

After a short speech, follow Madanach and the Forsworn through the tunnel to Markarth Ruins. You will encounter a pair of frostbite spiders, then one or two Dwarven Spheres as you make your way through the ruins. If you're on your own, you can sneak off the bridge onto the floor below, as fighting alone will be quite difficult without any of your normal equipment. Once past the automatons, continue through the ruins until you reach a short tunnel that leads to a door to Markarth. Thonar will return your equipment and give you the Silver-Blood Family Ring if you are on your own and have killed Madanach when you exit the gates.

If you sided with Madanach, a Forsworn woman named Kaie will be there to return your confiscated goods and give you the Armor, Boots, Gauntlets, and Helmet of the Old Gods. The Forsworn will all equip their own armor and run out. When you follow them through the door, you will emerge into a skirmish between the Forsworn and Thonar Silver-Blood, accompanied by a Markarth City guard. After a short conversation, Madanach and the Forsworn will attack and kill Thonar, then fight their way through the rest of the city guard to the gates. Note that some of the townsfolk may be hostile to the Forsworn and can be killed during the breakout. To avoid collateral damage, wait in the tunnel until midnight before exiting out to the city, then no one except for the guards will be present.

Outside the city walls, Madanach and any remaining Forsworn will then run to Druadach Redoubt where they will take up permanent residence. Madanach's Forsworn at Druadach Redoubt will remain friendly to you if you sided with him. No matter which approach you used, you will be pardoned.

Two RewardsEdit

It is possible to obtain both the Armor of the Old Gods and the Silver-Blood Family Ring, but it might prove difficult for lower-leveled players to survive, as well as keeping Thonar alive:

  1. Run through the ruins with Madanach and acquire the Armor of the Old Gods.
  2. Keep him engaged in dialogue to stall him as the other Forsworn escape.
  3. Kill Madanach, loot him for his key and leave the ruins. The Forsworn will attack you once you exit. DO NOT kill any of them inside the ruins!
  4. After the Forsworn are taken care of, return to Madanach's corpse; loot and read his note.
  5. Exit the ruins again, talk to Thonar and receive the Silver-Blood Family Ring.

Townsfolk will speak of how you escaped with the Forsworn and act as if Madanach escaped, however.

If you finish the quest this way, Borkul the Beast will not be hostile with the rest of the Forsworn, and attacking him will incur a bounty. After talking to Thonar, he will be kneeling as if bleeding out.

Another possible way to obtain both the Armor of the Old Gods and the Silver-Blood Family Ring is to:

  1. Run through the ruins with Madanach and acquire the Armor of the Old Gods.
  2. As the Forsworn are leaving, attack one of them, leading them to become hostile.
  3. Kill the Forsworn and simply exit. Thonar will act as if you had escaped by yourself and present you with the Silver-Blood Family Ring.

Note: This method may lead to the bug described below (Thonar not appearing) and is not recommended.


  • It is possible to avoid the Markarth massacre if you simply turn around and go back into the ruins, where the quest will suddenly update to show that it's been completed. At that point, reload the auto-save and there should be no Forsworn outside when you exit the ruins.
    • Another way to skip to the end of the quest and avoid the massacre is by fast traveling away from Markarth once you've escaped the ruins. You'll need to do this quickly, before the city guards can become hostile to you.
  • If you side with Madanach, he gives you all your non-quest items at the exit of the ruin. You will receive all your quest items after Madanach has finished his dialogue with Thonar and started fighting.
  • Once your inventory is returned to you, it will include any stolen items that you were carrying when you began the quest. This is unlike going to jail normally, where the guards permanently confiscate your stolen items and do not give them back at the end of your sentence.
  • Once either Madanach or Thonar returns your items to you, then individuals will act as if you helped that individual, regardless of whether or not you killed him after receiving your items.
  • If you don't kill Madanach, you can follow him and his men after escaping Markarth. They will lead you to Druadach Redoubt, a Forsworn encampment and cave that is now friendly.
    • Keep in mind that siding with Madanach will only cause the Forsworn in Druadach Redoubt to become friendly to you. Any Forsworn that you encounter in other locations will remain hostile.
  • Escaping from Cidhna Mine during this quest does not add to "Jail Escapes" statistic, nor will it grant you the Wanted achievement.
  • Escaping from Cidhna Mine after killing Madanach causes the Forsworn to spawn at a significantly lower rate, and causes the Forsworn camps to become hostile to one another.[verification needed]
  • Escaping with Madanach and the Forsworn bring up the rate of Forsworn attacks on Markarth Hold, and traveling NPCs are commonly attacked afterward.[verification needed]
  • The inhabitants of Cidhna Mine are all scripted to die if you decide to kill Madanach in his cell and escape from the mine alone.
  • This quest counts towards the Sideways achievement regardless of whether you choose to help or kill Madanach.
  • Vigilant Tyranus, required for the quest The House of Horrors, will never sleep and will thus attempt to attack the Forsworn. As he is essential but weak, he can get stuck in a fight and thus cause the battle to last much longer than necessary, so it is advised to begin his quest in order to remove him from the streets.
  • The Markarth Ruins remain accessible after this quest; however you cannot sneak back into the mine this way as the way back into Madanach's cell is closed off.
  • If you are doing one of Delvin's and/or Vex's special jobs, and you trigger this quest before you report back to them, you will be told you have failed the Thieves Guild quest when you return to them, because you were arrested.
  • It is possible to smuggle outside weapons into the prison to use during the current quest. To do this, you must first hotkey the equipment before entering the Shrine of Talos. The items will not show up in the Character Menu, but instead will show in the HOTKEY Menu allowing you to select which hand to equip. Beware, that appears to be only quest items, but then the item(s) never appear in your inventory again.
  • The Dragonborn expansion provides another possible method of smuggling possessions into the mine, which is to give some of them to the Secret Servant acquired from the Black Book, Untold Legends, before being incarcerated. Once within the mine, you can simply summon the servant and retrieve your possessions from him.


  • Sometimes, the quest will not start or progress. The quest may also notify you that a stage is complete without updating your journal. Specific instances include the following: ?
    • PC The quest's beginning, fixed by the console command setstage MS02 10.
    • PC Escaping the mine with Madanach, fixed by the console command setstage MS02 100, using the console command kill 000198e6 (Thonar), or by casting a Fury spell on Thonar.
  • When your items are returned, if you have the quest Alduin's Bane active, you may not get the Elder Scroll back, thus breaking the main quest.
    • Loading a previous save can fix this.
  • Likewise, a quest amulet or weapon that is hotkeyed (as described in the notes above) may not be returned, thus breaking the quest. ?
    • Only loading a save prior to capture will fix this. Carefully unfavorite any quest items before capture.
  • Gold might not be returned.
  • PS22.png On PSVR only, the summer 2018 patch ( broke this quest; after submitting to the guards and agreeing to go to jail, you will end up with a black screen almost immediately. You will still hear some audio for a short time, but very quickly you will be unable to see the menu, click any buttons or choose any actions, or hear any sounds. Your only option will be to close the application. ?
    • The bug occurs while Urzoga gra-Shugurz is speaking to you. If you load an old save and kill her before starting the quest, the bug should not be triggered, although due to another bug, killing her might lead to you not being able to escape the prison.
    • If you own the game on disk, delete your installation, then re-install the game, but don't apply any patches. Play the game; after you've exited the cell, it should work to save the game, apply all patches, then continue playing.
  • If you side with Madanach, when your items are returned by Kaie, ALL your quest items may be missing.
    • Exiting the Markarth ruins to Markarth proper (through the door that's right in front of you at this point) should return your missing quest items during the end of quest notification message.
  • If you decide to kill Madanach and proceed to exit Cidhna Mine, sometimes the quest will not continue and Thonar Silver-Blood is nowhere to be found.
    • PCThis is fixed by entering the console command prid 198E6 to select Thonar, and then moveto player. This will teleport Thonar Silver-Blood to you. Simply talk to him and retrieve your pardon to finish the quest.
  • Sometimes the method above will not work. Even after teleporting Thonar to you, his dialog won't start.
    • To avoid this and the bug mentioned above, equip your returned gear and kill Madanach as fast as possible. Don't wait until the Forsworn return inside, but follow and kill them outside the ruins. If this does not work, going in and out of Cidhna Mines may solve the issue.
  • If you pickpocket the note from Madanach, then later kill him, the quest will update to 'Search Madanach's body' (stage 200), but even when you loot all items, it will not progress to the next stage, 'Read Madanach's note'.
    • To fix, place Madanach's note back on his body, and pick it up again.
    • If you have read Madanach's note at any stage before looting it as part of the quest, the quest will not update further. Fixed by the console command SetObjectiveCompleted MS02 210 1. When outside you may need to manually finish the objective "Escape from Cidhna Mine" by the console command SetObjectiveCompleted MS02 220 1.
  • There is a dead body in the water in Markarth. A Forsworn may raise him during the battle in the city, and the resultant ash pile of him may never be cleared. The same thing may happen to Thonar's body.
  • Entering and exiting the ruins right behind you while Madanach and Thonar are talking will cause Madanach and the Forsworn to disappear and no one will have died.
  • You may not be pardoned when the quest ends, leading to very confused guards who don't have a jail to put you in.
  • If the quest Rebel's Cairn is active, then during the jail term, Red Eagle's Fury will be equipped; it is not shown in your inventory but can be used. ?
  • Killing everyone in the mine prior to this quest will cause the quest to be uncompletable, as the mine does not respawn.
  • There seems to be no way to intimidate Borkul. The Brawl option will always display, even though it should only show up if your Intimidate check fails.
  • Even though the guards say you are going to Cidhna Mine forever, mining ore may still get you out normally, as if you had served your time. ?
  • If you kill Madanach and escape by yourself, Thonar may attack you on sight but you won't be able to kill him.
    • To fix this, cast a Calm spell on him.
    • Another way to fix this is to run away until you are able to fast travel. Wait 24 hours and then return to escape exit point, Thonar should be calm and complete the quest.
  • The non-hostile Forsworn throughout the Reach resulting from siding with Madanach may persist across different save games and characters where you have not sided with Madanach. ?
  • If you remove, sell, dismantle, etc. parts of Armor of the Old Gods set, it might appear back in your inventory/partners inventory (if put in it). ?
  • The key to Madanach's cell won't spawn or be in Borkul's pocket, so you are unable to pickpocket him to progress the quest if. ?

Quest StagesEdit

No One Escapes Cidhna Mine (MS02)
Stage Finishes Quest Journal Entry
5 I'm imprisoned inside Cidhna Mine, framed for Eltrys' murder. I have to find Madanach, the King in Rags, and clear my name.
Objective 10: Ask a prisoner about Madanach
Objective 20: Get past Borkul the Beast
Objective 25: Talk to Madanach
Objective 30: Hear Braig's story
Objective 40: Return to Madanach
Objective 50: Kill Grisvar the Unlucky
Objective 60: Return to Madanach
Objective 70: Follow Madanach
100 Finishes quest☑ I have helped Madanach escape Cidhna Mine, and he and his Forsworn have taken credit for all my past crime, clearing my name in the Reach.
Objective 150: Kill Madanach
Objective 200: Search Madanach's body
Objective 210: Read Madanach's note
Objective 220: Escape Cidhna Mine
250 Finishes quest☑ Thonar Silver-Blood has granted me a pardon for killing Madanach. My name has now been cleared in the Reach.
  • The following empty quest stages were omitted from the table: 0, 20, 55, 75, 77, 80.
* Any text displayed in angle brackets (e.g., <Alias=LocationHold>) is dynamically set by the Radiant Quest system, and will be filled in with the appropriate word(s) when seen in game.
  • Not all Journal Entries may appear in your journal; which entries appear and which entries do not depends on the manner in which the quest is done.
  • Stages are not always in order of progress. This is usually the case with quests that have multiple possible outcomes or quests where certain tasks may be done in any order. Some stages may therefore repeat objectives seen in other stages.
  • If an entry is marked as "Finishes Quest" it means the quest disappears from the Active Quest list, but you may still receive new entries for that quest.
  • On the PC, it is possible to use the console to advance through the quest by entering setstage MS02 stage, where stage is the number of the stage you wish to complete. It is not possible to un-complete (i.e. go back) quest stages, but it is possible to clear all stages of the quest using resetquest MS02.