As you wake up you discover you have been bound and are in the back of a wagon, on your way to your execution! You were captured in an Imperial trap at the border, along with a thief and a pair of rebels, and are being executed as a spy. Nice way to begin an adventure, eh?
When you reach the execution site you climb out of the wagon and are treated to the execution of the thief -- by archer -- because he bolts, not wanting to have his head chopped off! You are then called forward by the bloke with the lists who, it seems, does not actually have your name down as a condemned prisoner! But no worries mate, that will not actually stop them from killing you, they just want you to tell them your name so they know who they are killing!
Actually this is the spot where you get to create your character, so your race, your appearance, and your name. Once you have completed that process to your satisfaction the list keeper turns to the female Captain of the Guard and asks what should be done with you, as your name is not on the list. The Captain -- a firm believer in the philosophy Kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out!" says execution! And so you continue on your trip to meet the headsman.
One of the rebels is executed as you wait your turn, and they you are next! Ah, but when you get to the block, drop to your knees, and watch the headsman approach with his honking huge head-lopping implement of destruction, you find yourself spotting a dragon in the sky behind the tower!
First thing you need to grasp is that dragons are only common in this world in legend -- none of these people have ever seen one before, and neither have you for that matter! Not content to simply fly around doing dragon-things, it decides to attack! Which as it turns out is good for you, because in the confusion one of the guardsmen -- Hadvar -- orders you to follow him, and you do!
--== Quest: Unbound ==--
Your hands are still bound, but Hadvar leads you on a merry path into the nearby Keep -- which as it happens is being attacked by the dragon -- down around and through the dungeons. Actually this is rather important -- after he frees you from your bindings you should search the area and grab the set of Imperial Armor and the weapon of your choice -- I prefer sword and shield myself, but as I chose Breton as my race, I can also do magic, so often my shield hand will have a spell assigned to it.
Having You an Escape!
As you work your way through the Keep you want to keep an eye out for potions on tables and crates and barrels you can search as some will also contain potions. The rule of thumb here is you want to take any potions you find, but as for other kit, to be honest you have to be careful not to go overweight, so as long as you have a main weapon and shield and a backup weapon, your armor, and any really valuable items you come across like gold, pieces of armor and weapons you should take, but you should pretty much ignore the rest of the stuff like buckets, tankards and the like.
Giant Spiders make you feel right at Home!
The rule of thumb is to take only what is worth carrying so you can sell it later -- but do NOT leave this first dungeon empty handed!
--== Some Wealth and Experience ==--
After your bonds are cut you are instructed to arm yourself -- take all of the armor and weapons from this area, being sure to equip a set and arm a sword. There is gold on the table to the right as you enter the room -- not much but hey, every little bit helps, so take it.
Note that the one thing that can be said for this part of the game is that it is packed with opportunity that you can miss...
In the first and second chambers after you are armed there will be combat encounters -- be sure to strop the bodies of the dead clean as you can sell their kit when you get to Riverwood. In addition starting with the second area, look around for things to loot like potions and bottles of wine worth 12 or more gold. Search the cupboard and take the gold, as well as the potion on its shelf, then empty the nearby barrel of potions!
On a table will be a Salt Pile - and in one of the sacks in the room are 4 more Salt Piles. These will be useful to have later, weigh practically nothing, so go ahead and take them and hold on to them to use later in crafting. Grab the potion and Salt Pile from the table, then follow Hadvar to the Torture Room for another brief battle.
When you reach the torture chambers you will find on a small table here is a pouch, a dagger, and a book -- The Book of the Dragonborn -- which you should grab because it gives you some important background information on the world that you will really want to know after certain developments... Later when you get out of the Keep you will want to read it.
Picking Your First Locks
After you strip the dead bodies of their stuff and grab the weapon and shield off the rack, you can put the lockpicks you got from the bag on the table to good use! Go pick the locks on the cages in this room -- one will have nothing but one will have a mage in it and some gold and a potion on the floor along with a spell tome for the spell Sparks. Take those then strip the mage of his gold and potions, as well as his clothing!
Watch the video embedded above to learn how to pick locks - basically you want to gently probe the lock changing the position of the tension bar (the left Joystick) until the lock gives using the lever (right Joystick). Apply too much pressure -- as you see that I did in the video -- and you will break your pick. Gentle is the word here! Each lock that you pick gains you a little experience and increases your skill, so it really is worth picking these. When you succeed save the game so that if you fail you can reload and not lose that pick!
In the hallway leaving this area there are more locked doors to be picked -- so go ahead and open those and you will find a skeleton with some gold and bonemeal with a coin purse on the ground near him in the last one. You should pick up skill as well! There are a few skeletons ahead with some gold on them so take that as you pass right?
The first anecdote that I was prepared to offer is that this entry in the Elder Scrolls series had not started out in the traditional way... After all where are the sewers? Where are the tunnels? Where are the giant spiders and large animals that we have to kill to escape? So of course I was gobsmacked when Hadvar lead me down into some tunnels after we took out a bunch of rebels, and THERE were the giant spiders! And not too long after that, a nice sized bear for us to slay!
In the process of all that battling and slaying we got to learn how to use potions -- good for us! And at the end of the tunnel -- and the end of the Prologue -- we find ourselves having escaped the village into the sunny and mostly dragon-free plateau in the mountains!
Talk to Hadvar to complete the quest Unbound, and flag the quest Before the Storm.
Making it out of the caves and in to the lands of Skyrim unlocks your first Achievement -- Unbound (10 GS) -- so good on ya mates! Well done!