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As I was meandering along, I saw a dragon in the distance. When I got closer, this pillar of light rendered and I could see that the dragon appeared to be Alduin. I looked for a place to hide and observe the events, but once I had found a good spot, Alduin was gone. The pillar of light remains (coming from a dragon burial site), but nothing interesting happened. There is no marked location on the map. What is happening?

Here is where I am:

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Where are you?? –  Raven Dreamer Dec 26 '11 at 23:53
    
@RavenDreamer - Is there a console command that will give me my coordinates? –  user9983 Dec 27 '11 at 0:02
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@OrigamiRobot You could just post a screencap of where you are on the map. –  Fambida Dec 27 '11 at 0:04
    
@Fambida - that is Plan B... –  user9983 Dec 27 '11 at 0:05
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2 Answers 2

Mild spoiler for anyone who hasn't met the Blades:

Alduin appears to resurrect dragons along the path that Delphine shows you on that map before you go to witness it happen as part of the main quest. This is completely out of band of the main quest line. I stumbled upon it once myself, originally suspecting the dragon was a mere blood dragon from a distance. When I got closer, I heard what sounded like the last of a sentence in the dovah language, and Alduin flew off. I didn't see a dragon spring out of the site, so I moved on. Perhaps 5 real-life minutes later, I was attacked by a named dragon (the name itself escapes me now).

So, it doesn't sound like you managed to scare Alduin off. Rather, I believe he completed his ritual, but the dragon doesn't unearth itself immediately.

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

From the Elder Scrolls Wiki:

Despite being the central antagonist, Alduin does fly around Skyrim (resurrecting named dragons at times), and therefore can be seen outside of events of the main quest. It should be noted though that while he is attackable, he cannot be killed, and will likely fly off or retaliate with a Shout if provoked, however he cannot be forced to duel with player, regardless of taken actions. He is also immortal during these encounters - regardless of damage taken Alduin will fly away alive. If attacked early enough players can force Alduin to retreat before he manages to resurrect a dragon leaving the burial site intact, however the large column of light resurrection animation remains.

I'm not sure what caused him to flee, but this explains the pillar of light.

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obv a mudcrab made him flee FEAR THE MUDCRABS!! mudcrabs tastes like crab talks like mud! –  ronnie Dec 27 '11 at 13:38
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