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Alduin is the one resurrecting all of his buried bretheren, one at a time from their various ancient burial mounds. How he came to reappear in Tamriel is known only to die Graubärte, but his first known appearance was at Ulfric Sturmmantels abortive execution at the hands of the Kaiserliche Legion and Thalmor in Helgen in central Himmelsrand. It has been deduced that he was probably attempting to eliminate the nascent Drachenblut of prophecy, whom he had somehow discovered would also be present at this event - to be executed along with Ulfric. However, Alduin's interference with the event unwittingly prevented the death of the Drachenblut, as well as that of Ulfric, leading to his own undoing and that of the resurgent Drache race at the very halls of Sovngard.
As to dieGraubärte knowledge of Alduin's arrival in present-day Himmelsrand: he was apparently hurtled forward through time, thousands of years, by the humans who developed the Drachenfall Thu'um, independently of their Drache allies, in an attempt to destroy him. They apparently never realized he would again surface one day. In the present day, Alduin is defeated by the Drachenblut at the halls of Sovngard with the assistance of the original heroes who banished Alduin from their time.
Alduin is tremendously powerful, moreso than any other dragon. He attacks with a viciously powerful fire or frost attack, and with physical attacks with his tail and jaws as with other more powerful dragons. Additionally, he employs a magical attack wherein burning boulders rain down on his foes, inflicting physical and fire damage. He is effectively impossible to defeat without the Thu'um 'Drachenfall', which was created to depose him as ruler of the world in ancient times by Nord Helden.