It always bugged me how awkardly Lucan always reacted to seeing "his family heirloom" and how Arvel was a bit too well versed in the secrets of bleak falls barrow for a bandit, and how convenient it was that the Golden Claw, which was the key to finding the dragon burial sites was literally next door to Delphine, one of last surviving Blades, dedicated to eradicating dragons. So here is my theory timeline, which puts these things in place for me.
Lucan acquieres the Golden Claw for either its value, or because he himself suspects that it has a connection to bleak falls barrow. In either case he saw great monetary value in the claw, and he decided to hide it in plain sight, to give the impression that it's no more than a useless heirloom. I don't think he had it for a very long time before it was stolen, because he says things like "it seems smaller than I remembered" upon seeing it again.
Delphine, through her studies of the Dragon Cult finds out that a Dragonstone is located in Bleak Falls Barrow, and that Lucan has the key to it. She can't steal it herself, fearing it might blow her cover, so she hires Arvel the Swift to steal it for her. In addition I think she wanted to use Arvel and his gang to help her infiltrate the barrow and get to the Dragon Stone, and in return, the gang would get to keep any treasure they find.
Delphine tells Arvel too many details about the barrow. He definitely has exensive knowledge on Bleak Falls, as he specifically names the Hall of Stories, knows exactly how to use the claw, and in his journal he talks of great secrets within, all things that only someone like Delphine should know.
Arvel decides to double cross Delphine and after stealing the claw from Lucan, he and his gang head straight to the Barrow. Delphine then heads to Dragonsreach to find alternative means of getting the Dragonstone through Farengar, who is also studying dragons.
In comes the Dragonborn, fresh out of the dragon attack on Helgen. He meets with a furious Lucan Valerius, and is asked to retrieve the claw. Now obviously Lucan doesn't tell the Dragonborn of the true value of the artifact, but offers a pretty high reward for its return.
(Depending on how you play, this part may differ, but I always went to Dragonsreach to pick up the Farengar quest as well, and then head to Bleak Falls, so that's how it plays out in my head.)
The dragonborn arrives in Dragonsreach with news from Helgen, and is subsequently asked to report to Farengar for a particular assignment suited for their abilities. That assignment is to recover the Dragonstone.
Deplhine, after being betrayed by Arvel was looking at a very daunting task of infiltrating the Barrow filled with Draugr AND hostile bandits, and when someone who encountered a dragon and lived to tell the tale showed up at her doorstep, she took her best chance at getting the Stone and it paid off.
Thank you for coming to my TED talk.
- The journey of Mihr Hadriel part 3
- Mod Idea – “The Dragonborn Comes” – Adds a Voiced Dovahkiin NPC running around Skyrim who slowly completes the Main Questline and Dragonborn while you play.
- Dragons, Tamriel, Atmora, and Akavir. A series of questions.
More about The Elder ScrollsPost: "[My Fan Theory]Delphine and Arvel worked together" specifically for the game The Elder Scrolls. Other useful information about this game:
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