- 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.
- Find King Olaf's Verse
- Return to the Bards College
- Help Viarmo reconstruct Olaf's verse
- Meet Viarmo at the Blue Palace
- Watch Viarmo perform Olaf's Verse
- Speak to Jorn
- Attend The Burning of King Olaf
The quest begins inside the Bards College with Viarmo, the headmaster of the college. 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 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.
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.
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 shout out:
This will finally cause Olaf One-Eye himself 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, 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. Loot Olaf's corpse for the key to his treasury, then examine the 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:
|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."
|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."
|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."
|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."
|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."
|Olaf ordered disguised troops to attack Solitude or He convinced Solitude to attack Winterhold.||"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."
|Olaf sacked it 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."
|Olaf was nowhere in sight.||"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."
|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 used, Elisif will be impressed enough to hold the festival and provide a reward to the college. Viarmo thanks the Dragonborn, then tells them to talk to Jorn inside the college. Talk to Jorn, then wait until 8:00 PM to talk to him again.
The Burning of King Olaf
Once outside, head to the right and into the overlook. Viarmo will set an effigy of King Olaf on fire, then congratulate the Dragonborn on their work. He announces to the crowd that they are now an official bard, informs them of several other quests inside the Bards College, and gives their share of the reward from the Jarl, a sum depending on level.
The following Bards College members and Solitude residents will be present at the Festival and their reactions are listed in the table below:
|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|
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|300||I have been inducted into the Bards College in Solitude.
- 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.
- 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.
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