Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

Not to be confused with Rending Flames.

Tending the Flames is a quest available in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. This is a quest for the Bards College in which the Dragonborn must retrieve King Olaf's Verse to be performed at the Blue Palace and allow the Burning of King Olaf to proceed.


I have applied at the Bards College. As part of the Application, Headmaster Viarmo wants me to find and bring to him King Olaf's Verse.


  1. Find King Olaf's Verse
  2. Return to the Bards College
  3. Help Viarmo reconstruct Olaf's verse
  4. Meet Viarmo at the Blue Palace
  5. Watch Viarmo perform Olaf's Verse
  6. Speak to Jorn
  7. Attend The Burning of King Olaf


"You should be aware that many apply but we accept very few people. When possible, we ask applicants to perform tasks the college needs completed. In this case, I do have a task befitting an aspiring bard..."

The quest begins inside the Bards College with Viarmo, the headmaster of the college, who approaches the Dragonborn as soon as they first enter the college to speak with them. Upon speaking to him, the Dragonborn is given a dialogue option to ask for admission. He then tells the story of King Olaf's Verse, which was thought to be lost when the king ordered the copies destroyed. However, one copy is suspected to be with the bard at Dead Men's Respite. Viarmo then asks the Dragonborn to retrieve the book from the dungeon. The marker for the dungeon shows up on the map, south of Solitude.

King Olaf's Verse[]

The Location of King Olaf's Verse besides the corpse and the ghost of Svaknir

The ancient barrow is located in the mountains southwest of Morthal and the Dragonborn will, immediately upon entering, notice a strange ghost wave at them, then disappear through the sealed entrance to the north. Pick up the Ruby Dragon Claw from the table, which will cause four of the previously dead draugr enemies to reanimate and attack, but will also raise the gate and allow them to follow the ghost. It soon becomes clear that the ghost shows the correct path, so follow it and pull the chain at the dead end.

The next area is a maze-like tomb where the Dragonborn will have to pull several chains to open up different areas. Use the map to make sure to access the easternmost room for a copy of the Speech skill book The Buying Game, guarded by a well-placed battering ram. Watch out for several draugr and frostbite spiders and continue north. Beware of the pressure plate at the foot of the stairs, which will release a flame trap.

Fight the spiders in the next room, loot the shelves for some potions and soul gems then pull the chain, which will open the grating in the floor and reveal a watery pit. Take the plunge and proceed forward to a chamber with several enemies, including an archer on the ledge above.

Proceed to the level above and disarm the tripwire on the gate before opening it, or it will trigger several swinging blade traps. Pull the chain at the far side of the bridge to make them stop. Go up another level and open the huge door.

At the end of the next tunnel, use the Arcane Enchanter if necessary, then turn around and watch the ghostly guide disappear through yet another door; due to a magical seal they are not allowed to follow, so continue through another set of catacombs and fight draugr or a Draugr Deathlord, depending on level, with two sleeping draugr in alcoves. The expert locked door hides a master locked treasure chest, with a boss-leveled amount of gold.

In the next chamber, the gate will shut behind the Dragonborn and five draugr will attack. After the battle, explore the southeastern room for a chest, but beware of the dart trap protecting it. Pull the chain and head down the stairs in the center of the room. Activate the handle to the left and watch the rock wall lower and behold the sight of the ghost sitting next to the decaying corpse of Svaknir, the Bard executed for questioning the King in ancient times. The Dragonborn cannot interact with the ghost, but the corpse still holds the forbidden Verse, so claim it and learn the truth behind the annual Festival in Solitude. As soon as the Verse is taken, the ghost disappears and the Dragonborn will have no choice but to backtrack through the catacombs. Svaknir's corpse can be looted for some gold as well before or after claiming the book held in its hand.

Svaknir opens the magically sealed door

On the way back, the ghost of Svaknir is near the magically sealed door. He will turn towards the door and break the barrier and run headfirst into the chamber. Follow him to a Nordic puzzle door; it is finally time to investigate the ruby dragon claw found when the Dragonborn initially entered the barrow, so take an extra look to find the symbols Wolf, Hawk, Wolf. Proceed forward and prepare for a lengthy battle.

Olaf's Burial Chamber

In the final chamber, the ghost of Svaknir will stand in the middle of a small pond, surrounded by draugr all seated on thrones. There are eight on the ground floor, and an additional four on the ledge in the other end of the room. Everything seems quiet, until getting close to the ghost. He will then shout out:

"Olaf! It is time!"

His words will make the entire room tremble and the first wave of draugr enemies will rise from their thrones and attack. As a ghost, Svaknir is immortal and will pick up the fight, so help him out to defeat them. When all eight enemies are slain, Svaknir will shout:

"Arise, Olaf! My vengeance is at hand!"

This will make the four draugr on the ledge rise and attack, so once again help Svaknir get his revenge. These draugr are all higher level than the first ones, but Svaknir will once again prove his skills and help to defeat them. When they are dead, he again shouts out:


Svaknir's battle with King Olaf

This will finally cause Olaf One-Eye himself, a leveled draugr boss, to burst out of his coffin screaming:

"Insolent Bard. Die!"

He will then attack both Svaknir and the Dragonborn. He can be a tough opponent, as he will almost always be armed with an ebony sword or war axe, or if fought at a lower level, an Ancient Nord weapon, and also can use the Thu'um, such as Frost Breath, but will eventually fall to the ground and die. The tormented soul of Svaknir will finally be set free; he will head to the nearby door, pull out his lute and disappear in a ray of light, ascending to Sovngarde. Loot Olaf's corpse for the key to his treasury, then examine the Word Wall behind his coffin for a word of the Whirlwind Dragon Shout. Examine the area for considerable loot – each draugr has at least some gold. Unlock the treasury door and examine the chest and surroundings for loot, then pull the lever and leave the barrow.

Return to Viarmo[]

Return with the verse and bring it to Viarmo, who begins to read it. He mentions that the verses are incomplete. Ask him about recreating the verses, and he gives it a shot. The first verse talks about King Olaf's capture of the dragon Numinex being a con. The three options to select are:

  • "Olaf found him asleep."
  • "Olaf made a deal with Numinex."
  • "Olaf was Numinex. A Dragon in human form!" (Persuade)

The second verse talks about his conquest of Skyrim, and the Siege of Solitude. The three options to select are:

  • "Olaf ordered disguised troops to attack Solitude?"
  • "He convinced Solitude to attack Winterhold."
  • "He sacked it and used magic to blame Solitude." – Only selectable if the Dragonborn chose an option other than the (Persuade) option for the first verse.
  • "Olaf sacked it in dragon form!" (Persuade) – Only selectable if the Dragonborn chose the (Persuade) option for the first verse.

Performance of the Verse[]

Once the Dragonborn meets Viarmo in the palace, he will approach the Jarl and begin to read the verse:

Conditions Verses
First part "O, Olaf, our subjugator, the one-eyed betrayer;"
"death-dealing demon and dragon-killing king."
"Your legend is lies, lurid and false;"
"your cunning capture of Numinex, a con for the ages."
1.1 Olaf found Numinex asleep "No shouting match between dragon and man, no fire or fury did this battle entail."
"Olaf captured a fast-sleeping dragon, a mighty feat which the meek would not fail."
1.2 Olaf made a deal with Numinex "No shouting match between dragon and man, no fire or fury did this battle entail."
"Olaf struck a deal to make himself king, Numinex let go though none tell that tale."
1.3 Olaf was Numinex. A dragon in human form! "No shouting match between dragon and man, no fire or fury did this battle entail."
"Olaf was Numinex in human form, on moonless nights he would spread wings and sail."
Second part "Olaf grabbed power, by promise and threat;"
"From Falkreath to Winterhold, they fell to their knees;"
"But Solitude stood strong, Skyrim's truest protectors."
"Olaf's vengeance was instant, inspired, and wicked."
2.1 Olaf ordered disguised troops to attack Solitude "Olaf gave orders, Winterhold disguises. An attack on Solitude, total destruction to follow."
"His men dressed up and then went out to fight, but they reversed Olaf's orders much to Winterhold's sorrow."
2.2 Olaf convinced Solitude to attack Winterhold. "Olaf sent word to Solitude's Jarl, cajoling and mocking and begging for a fight."
"From Winterhold Olaf had sent every message, upon attack he was nowhere in sight."
2.3 Olaf sacked Winterhold and used magic to blame Solitude. "Because Solitude would not soon bend knee, Olaf would hurt them while his status accrued."
"He sacked Winterhold his only true ally, and used magic bold to blame Solitude."
2.3P Olaf sacked Winterhold in dragon form! "Because Solitude would not soon bend knee, Olaf would hurt them while his status accrued."
"He sacked Winterhold in dragon form, and bent their minds to blame Solitude."
Ending lines "So ends the story of Olaf the liar, a thief, and a scoundrel we of Solitude commit to the fire."
"In Solitude bards train for their service, they also gather each year and burn a King who deserves it."

No matter the lines chosen, Elisif will be impressed enough to reinstate the festival and provides to the college a reward of varying significance - "moderate", "generous", or "very generous" - depending on the reconstructed verse. Viarmo thanks the Dragonborn, then tells them to talk to Jorn inside the college. Talk to Jorn, then wait until after 8:00 PM to talk to him again if necessary.

The Burning of King Olaf[]

"Welcome, people of Solitude! We of the Bards College are pleased to be here to celebrate the Burning of King Olaf. The festival would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of our latest applicant/inductee. With the lighting of the effigy... He becomes a full-fledged member of the Bards College. Please welcome our newest Bard!"

Once outside, head to the right and into the overlook. Speaking with Evette and Sorex will earn some free items from them, and the treats Bendt provided along with some extra bottles of Evette's spiced wine can be taken without repercussions. Viarmo will set an effigy of King Olaf on fire, and announces to the crowd that the Dragonborn is now officially a bard. He then personally congratulates them on their work, informs them of several other quests offered by the college professors, and provides their share of the reward from the Jarl, a sum depending on their level and the reconstructed verse; at max effective level, the latter range is between 750 (1.2>2.2) and 1800 (1.3>2.3P) gold.

Festival Participants[]

The following Bards College members and Solitude residents will be present at the Festival and their reactions are listed in the table below:

Character Reaction
Aia Arria "You've done well by restoring our Festival."
Ataf "Come on! Light the fire!"
Bendt "You might as well have some sweets. I made them for the Festival, after all."
Erdi "Burn the King!"
Evette San "Thank you so much. The Festival has really increased my sales."
Illdi "Thanks for convincing Elisif to put this on again."
Jawanan "Best batch of Spiced Wine I ever had."
Jorn "There's the man/woman himself/herself."
Kayd "Burn the King!"
Minette Vinius "I like the pretty lights."
Pantea Ateia "Congratulations on getting our Festival restored."
Rorlund "I believe Sanguine would be pleased with this festival."
Silana Petreia "I heard you're the reason we get to have this. Thank you."
Solitude Guards "Solitude wouldn't be the same without the Fire Festival. City owes you a debt of gratitude."
Sorex Vinius "Get your festival meat pie. Specially made."
Svari "Jorn is the best of the bunch, you should hear him sing."
Taarie "I thought the Festival wasn't happening this year."
Una "So nice to get this break from my cleaning duties."


Tending the Flames – MS05
ID Journal Entry
75 I have applied at the Bards College. As part of the Application, Headmaster Viarmo wants me to find and bring to him King Olaf's Verse.
  • Objective 75: Find King Olaf's Verse
  • Objective 100: Return to the Bards College
125 I have applied at the Bards College. As part of the Application, Headmaster Viarmo asked me to retrieve King Olaf's Verse. Parts of the verse have decayed, I must help Viarmo reconstruct it so he can present it in court.
  • Objective 125: Help Viarmo reconstruct Olaf's Verse
  • Objective 135: Meet Viarmo at the Blue Palace
150 I have applied at the Bards College. As part of the Application, I helped Headmaster Viarmo reconstruct King Olaf's Verse. I should go watch Viarmo present the verse to the court at the Blue Palace.
  • Objective 150: Watch Viarmo perform Olaf's Verse
175 I have applied at the Bards College. As part of the Application, I helped Headmaster Viarmo reconstruct King Olaf's Verse. The court has accepted the Verse I should speak to Viarmo about my application.
  • Objective 175: Speak to Viarmo
200 I am to be inducted into the Bards College at the Burning of King Olaf festival. I've been told to speak to Jorn who is preparing the effigy of King Olaf.
  • Objective 200: Speak to Jorn
225 I am to be inducted into the Bards College at the Burning of King Olaf festival. Unfortunately the festival cannot begin until the effigy is done and Jorn will not complete it without General Tullius' Coat. I must steal the coat and return to Jorn.
  • Objective 225: Steal General Tullius' Coat
250 I am to be inducted into the Bards College at the Burning of King Olaf festival. I must speak to Jorn who is in charge of preparing the Effigy.
  • Objective 250: Speak to Jorn
  • Objective 253: Speak to Jorn after dusk
254 I am to be inducted into the Bards College at the Burning of King Olaf festival. Unfortunately the festival cannot begin until the effigy is done and Jorn will not complete it without General Tullius' Coat. I must place the coat on the effigy.
255 I am to be inducted into the Bards College at the Burning of King Olaf festival. I should attend the festival in the Bards College courtyard in Solitude.
  • Objective 255: Attend The Burning of King Olaf
  • Objective 260: Place the Coat on the Effigy
300 I have been inducted into the Bards College in Solitude.
  • Quest complete
Note: Objectives 200, 225, 250, 253, 254, and 260 are not featured in the quest despite being present in the game's files.


  • King Olaf can be found in the Hall of Valor in Sovngarde even before the completion of this quest. Either this is a plot hole or Olaf returns to his body somehow.
  • If one does not proceed too far into the final chamber with the seated draugr, one will not trigger their rise and can use sneak-attack with a bow (archery skill ~60) to kill all the seated draugr before proceeding forward. Then one only has to help fight Olaf. Another way to do this is to have a follower manually attack all draugr, as this will not trigger Olaf, and allows the draugr to be picked off one by one.
  • The festival of the Burning of King Olaf is very similar to Guy Fawkes Night, traditionally celebrated in Great Britain on November 5, in that it revolves around the burning of an effigy of a reviled historical figure.
  • Completing this quest grants a perk called "Gift of the Gab" that increases Speech by 15%. In Irish culture, the Gift of the Gab is a gift bestowed upon any who kiss a certain rock on top of the Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland which you can still visit today and is a large tourist attraction. The gift is said to make people more talkative and confident.
  • At the end of this quest, Viarmo will announce that the player is an official bard and member of the college, but the player is still unable to perform songs or do any sort of learning at the college.
  • Several residents of Solitude have set up refreshments for the festival. Sorex Vinius is running a cooking spit and offering meat pies. Evette San is offering her patented Spiced Wine. Bendt is offering several treats, including sweet rolls, Boiled Creme Treats, Apple Pie, and honey nut treats.
    • Sorex Vinius does not give the player a meat pie, but an apple pie instead.
  • After the quest is completed, Solitude Guards will occasionally claim to remember the Dragonborn restoring the festival.
  • Olaf's Verse in its unaltered form is written in a loose approximation of Old English alliterative verse, in the same style as such historical poems as Beowulf. Viarmo's "reconstructions" are simple rhyming couplets.
  • Just before the recital to the Jarl, Viarmo will say the poem is from the Poetic Edda. The Poetic Edda is the name given to a collection of real world Norse poems that includes numerous heroic lays and mythological stories.


This section contains bugs related to Tending the Flames. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:

  1. Please reload an old save to confirm if the bug is still happening.
  2. If the bug is still occurring, please post the bug report with the appropriate system template  360  /  XB1  ,  PS3  /  PS4  ,  PC  /  MAC  ,  NX  /  PS5  ,  XS  , depending on which platform(s) the bug has been encountered on.
  3. Be descriptive when listing the bug and fixes, but avoid having conversations in the description and/or using first-person anecdotes: such discussions belong on the appropriate forum board.
Click to show
  • The singing of the verse will be skipped if Elisif is asleep.
  •  360   PS3   Upon finding Svaknir, searching his corpse only reveals gold pieces; the verse is not present. The verse is in the ground next to the corpse half-sticking out. (Verse NOT next to corpse on PS3; Questline broken and if you saved over your main file AFTER you jumped down the well, you are stuck in dungeon indefinitely and must revert to an earlier save... or until this glitch is fixed)
  •  PC   PS3   If you are hidden when you pick up the Ruby Dragon Claw in the first room, the gate may not rise and the draugr may not attack. There is, then, no apparent way to get the gate to rise. It is, therefore, suggested that you make a save upon zoning into the cave and do not hide before grabbing the claw.
    •  PS3 (Fix)   Solution: This bug may be fixed by standing on the pressure plate (the same plate where the ruby dragon claw was) and casting an Ice Storm spell on it. Make sure to step off the plate after you cast the spell.
    •  PC (Fix)   Solution: This bug may be fixed by standing on the pressure plate (the same plate where the ruby dragon claw was) then stepping off again.
  •  360   Upon reaching the room where you use the ruby claw on door, the circles might not spin and are locked in place.
    • Patch 1.4 was supposed to fix this issue, however it can still happen.
    • Saving and reloading the game should fix this.
  •  360   When solving the ruby dragon claw sealed door, the door may not open even though you have entered the right solution, thus rendering you stuck indefinitely. No known fixes.
    • Patch 1.4 solved the issue.
    • Occasionally, the puzzle will rotate, but the door will not open, even with the correct order. If reloading does not solve the issue, try enchanting a weapon at the Arcane Enchanter found earlier in the dungeon and approaching the door again.
    • Workaround confirmed to work with Patch 1.8:
      1. Line the symbols up correctly.
      2. Click outer ring to initiate a spin, then quickly click the middle and inner rings.
      3. When outer ring has finished moving, repeat until symbols are lined up correctly again.
      4. Activate with the claw.
  •  PC   360   As you enter the dungeon Svaknir's ghost will be halfway into the floor unmoving. Walking up to him seems to make him move along until he disappears like normal. The next time you see him he will be in the "down but not out" position crawling along the floor the way he is meant to go. This is consistent throughout the whole dungeon. When you get to the sealed door he is unable to break the barrier. No known fixes yet.
    •  PC (Fix)   Solution: This bug can be fixed by opening the console and using the "resurrect" command on Svaknir's ghost while he is standing in front of the sealed door.
  •  PC   Svaknir's ghost may idle in front of the sealed door and refuse to open it.
    • Try opening the console, click on the door, and enter "disable". The door should disappear. Then open the console, click on the ghost, and enter "disable" or else the boss room dialogue with Svaknir will not occur and the draugr will not awaken.
  •  PC   360   Once you have entered the Blue Palace and selected the "Are we ready" option, Viarmo sits on a bench, never going up the stairs to read the verse. He only responds "Not now!" when prompting conversation.
    • This may occur if the quest "Season Unending" is at a stage where the negotiations are about to take place, as Elisif will be absent from the Blue Palace, making both "Season Unending" and this quest unprogressable. The best option so far is to load from an earlier save (before speaking to Tullius and Ulfric / before giving King Olaf's Verse to Viarmo) and complete either one first without progressing on the other.
  •  PC   360   PS3   Even if you passed the persuasion checks, Viarmo might still do the last part of the verse as if you had picked the middle option.
  •  PC   360   In Olaf's Tomb, if you learn the dragon shout before Svaknir summons Olaf, he may get stuck and Olaf never appears. To avoid this, be sure that Olaf is dead before reaching the Word Wall.
  •  360   PS3   When lighting the Olaf effigy, Viarmo will get stuck in a loop of lighting it, over and over. The problem is the presence of Pantea. Solutions:
    • Repeatedly talking to her so she does not reach the arena until Viarmo finishes lighting the effigy and finishes his speech can fixes this.
    • Force Pantea to leave the festival by punching her or attacking her with a weak weapon. She will run from you and a few of the villagers will begin attacking while Viarmo finishes his speech. Find a guard, sheath your weapon, and pay your 40 gold assault bounty.
    • Killing Pantea also fixes this though gaining a 1000 gold bounty you can run to a guard and sheath your weapon thus starting a conversation with the guard. After picking you desired option go back to the festival and it will be fixed.
    • Before Pantea arrives at her position in the festival but after Viarmo starts his speech, use disable on Pantea. After he says "...he becomes a full fledged member of the.." you can re-enable.
  • Using Dawnbreaker anywhere in the dungeon and causing a corpse explosion effect triggers a bug that clips the verse into the floor, making it irretrievable, thus breaking the quest. When this bug appears simply walk back, kill the two undead with Dawnbreaker, then return and the verse should be visible. Alternatively, use a fireball (or any other explosives) to "shake up things" and the verse will fall out of the rock.
    • The verse is stuck underneath the ground. Using "tcl" (noclip) in console will let you dive under the surface to pick it up. Just be sure to turn noclip back off when you are on solid ground again.
    • Skyrim 1.5 Patch Fixes that in “Tending the Flames” King Olaf’s Verse will no longer disappear from explosions.
  •  PC   360   Viarmo will not sing in the Blue Palace because Jarl Elisif the Fair is not in the Blue Palace (if Civil War Questline is complete and Stormcloaks have won).
    • Solution: Attempt to pickpocket a member of the court and fail, gaining a bounty. This should skip the performance and the members of the court will no longer be frozen in place inside the Blue Palace.
  •  PC   360   After Viarmo sends you to be initiated by Jorn the marker will be outside of Solitude but if you look on your local map you do not need to go through doors. As puzzling as this is, there is no logical fix. If you exit Solitude the compass will direct you back in. Only time will sometimes fix this.
  •  360   PS3   Sometimes, when you come back to the college, when performing the ceremony, Viarmo will continuously light Olaf with the torch. It seems to return to normal if you leave and come back days later.
  •  360   PS3   Viarmo will not recite the verse to the court after selecting the "Are we ready?" option and immediately completes the assigned objective.
    • Solution: This bug occurs when Viarmo tries to recite the verse at night when the festival would have already started. Simply wait until daytime, when the members of court are awake and active (after 8 a.m.), and before nightfall (before 8 p.m.)
    • Viarmo may recite the verse in a manner different from the options that were chosen previously.
  •  PC   360   PS3   Viarmo will not unequip the torch he used to burn King Olaf, and will hold it for the rest of the playthrough. Does not affect gameplay.
    • Solution: Get the perk to pickpocket equipped items and steal the torch from him.
  •  PC   If you attack Viarmo while he is reciting the verse, he will not turn hostile, and act as if he had recited the verse completely. Anyone around will get hostile though, but they will not if you happen to hide before attacking.
  •  360   Sometimes, it may be possible for the verse to not appear in its location, where the quest mark is pointing, rendering the quest broken.
    •  360 (Fix)   Reloading an autosave will make the verse appear on the ground where the quest mark points.
  •  360   Viarmo's head may become invisible after he exits the Bards College to head towards the Blue Palace. This will be fixed once he and the Dragonborn enter the palace.