Olaf One-Eye is a named Draugr found in the crypt of Dead Men's Respite. In life, he was a Jarl of Whiterun who rose to power as a High King of Skyrim during the First Era (reigned 1E 420 – 1E 452) after defeating the dragon Numinex atop Mount Anthor. He is also the primary antagonist of the Bards College's storyline.
During the Burning of King Olaf festival, Olaf is depicted as a tyrant, and an effigy of him is burned. During the quest "Tending the Flames," a book called King Olaf's Verse must be obtained, before the Bards College can open classes to the Dragonborn. One of the choices for rewriting the Verse includes changing the character of Olaf into Numinex.
According to Adonato Leotelli's account, Olaf and the Dragon, Olaf One-Eye fought the dragon Numinex with the aid of the Thu'um, in the presence of several witnesses. Drawing the battle toward Whiterun, Olaf contained the dragon within a prison in the Cloud District. The people of Whiterun renamed the keep Dragonsreach in honor of this task. Numinex stayed there, trapped, until his death.
Olaf became High King of Skyrim after the battle, facing mixed opinions from his peers. Because most witnesses of his victory against Numinex became extremely wealthy after he became High King, many believed that they were paid to provide false testimony to the events that took place atop Mount Anthor. Sometime during Olaf's reign as High King, Olaf expanded Skyrim's boundaries when he conquered the Reach.
The poet Svaknir wrote a heretical elegy, defaming Olaf and labeling him a traitor. Copies of Svaknir's script were burned until none remained, save the one buried with Olaf in Dead Men's Respite, the tomb of Olaf where Svaknir's body was also laid to rest in. Even this script was badly damaged, forcing the Dragonborn to rewrite it.
Viarmo tasks the Dragonborn with recovering Svaknir's lost verse, said to still reside in Olaf's tomb. The verse is needed to convince Jarl Elisif the Fair of the legitimacy of the Burning of Olaf festival the Bards College wishes to perform. During the recovery of the manuscript, Olaf, whose body has become a Draugr, attacks and is defeated by the Dragonborn.
The Dragonborn can pass a persuade test to change Olaf's history, where it can be rewritten to show Olaf as actually being a dragon in human form.
The spirit of Olaf states that, despite Svaknir's defaming words, he respects the bard as an honest opponent, and wished to greet him as a friend in the Hall of Valor, meaning that there could have been some truth to Svaknir’s account of Olaf’s capture of the dragon. Svaknir is seen making his way to the Hall of Valor. Unfortunately, it is possible that Alduin the World-Eater devoured him before he got there.
King Olaf One-Eye: "Insolent bard. Die!"
- The two renditions of King Olaf, as honored dead and as Draugr, are quite dissimilar in many ways. They have different hair colors, with Olaf's spirit having black hair and the Draugr having brownish. The style of their facial hair is also different, the Draugr version sporting a braided beard and the spirit Olaf bearing a bushy mustache. And lastly, their armor is different; the Draugr Olaf wears customary Ancient Nord Armor, while the spirit form is clad in steel plate armor. Additionally, the Draugr version has two fully intact, identical eyes, albeit one being lit like standard Draugr and the other being unlit like dead Draugr. It is possible that Bethesda simply did not want to use a completely new model, however, or that decay had affected his body.
- After Olaf is defeated in Dead Men's Respite, on return visits he will have been replaced with a generic leveled Draugr.
- If failed to be resurrected via a reanimation spell, the game mistakenly refers to Olaf as a Draugr Death Overlord. The in-game message reads, "Draugr Death Overlord is too powerful for <spell used>."
- King Olaf is the only Draugr that actually speaks in the Tamrielic language.