Appendix B:

Odd's Duel


The Duel on Samsey as told in Arrow-Odd's Saga:


The following must now be told of Odd. He and Hjalmar get two ships ready and have forty men in each ship. Now they put out to sea. It so happens that the weather drives them, and they put in at an island called Samsey. This is where the inlets of Munway are to be found.
They drop anchor in the bay and put up awnings on board. But after a day, the figurehead on Odd's ship has got broken. So when morning comes, they go up onto the land, Odd and Hjalmar, to cut themselves some timber. Hjalmar was in the habit of wearing his armour, as if he was fighting a battle. Odd had left his quiver back on the ship, but he kept his shirt on night and day. Their whole crew was asleep.

They hadn't been gone long when vikings arrived, and their leader was called Angantyr. There were twelve of them, and they were all brothers. They'd travelled far and wide, never more than just the twelve of them, and never met any resistance. Now they come to where Odd and Hjalmar had left their ships. They rush aboard and - what more is there to say? - kill every last man on the ships. Then they start talking amongst themselves, these brothers:

"It's got to be said, our father Arngrim never told a bigger lie than when he claimed these men were big hard vikings, and no shield could hold them back, but then when we get here, a very sorry show they made of themselves. They really were the worst fighters we've seen yet, and the most useless. Let's go home and kill the old shit, and he'll get that for his lie."

But some of them say, "It's one of two things. Either Odd and Hjalmar have got scared, or else they've gone up on land while the weather is good. Now we should go and look for them, rather than turning back from our business."

So this is what they do, the twelve brothers, and now as they walk along the berserk state comes on them, and they scream. Then the berserk state comes on Angantyr too, and that had never happened before.

Meanwhile Odd and Hjalmar are coming down from the wood. Suddenly, Odd stops. Hjalmar asks what's up. Odd said, "I can hear a strange noise. Sometimes it seems like a bull bellowing, and sometimes like a dog's bark, and sometimes it's like they're shrieking, or have you heard of any sort of men who make a noise like that?"

"Yes," said Hjalmar, "I know of these twelve brothers…"

"Do you know their names?"

A song came then to Hjalmar's lips:

"Hervard, Hjorvard,
Hrani, Angantyr,
Bild and Bui,
Barri and Toki,
Tind and Tyrfing,
the two Haddings.
Those brothers were born
in Bolm to the east,
sons of Arngrim
and Eyfura.

Of the meanest men
I heard mention,
the least inclined
to kindness.
They are berserks,
baleful folk,
stripped two ships
of stout soldiers."

Then Odd sees where the berserks were walking and a song came to his lips:

"I see men marching
from Munway Bays
itching for battle
in iron shirts.
Fresh from the fight
with fury they land.
On the shore empty
our ships now stand."

Then Odd spoke: "This is not much use," said he, "I've left my quiver and bow down on the ship, and all I've got is this little wood-axe."

"One time only
I felt frightened,
when from warships
they walked roaring
(and loud yowling
to the island climbed).
Fiendish fighters
I found that day,
crafty, quick
and hard to kill."

Odd now goes back into the woods and cuts himself a club, and Hjalmar calls to him. And as he comes back down, the berserks approach from below. Then Hjalmar spoke thus:

"Let's retreat
from terror of war
never, though panic
appeal to us;
we two will eat
with Odin tonight,
two foster-brothers
and those twelve live."

But Odd says this:

"No way, I say,
these words deny it:
tonight they'll all
be Odin's guests,
twelve berserks,
while we two live."

Then a verse came to Angantyr's lips:

"Here you've hurried,
hard warriors,
soldiers out the wave-wood,
we killed
all your comrades,
and now you're off to hell."

Then spoke Odd:

"Here have furious
fighters come,
twelve all together,
they'll get no honour.
Single combat
would seem fairer
for keen troopers
or does your courage droop?"

"Who are these men that we've met here?" said Odd.

"This man's called Anganyr," the berserks said, "he's the leader of the band. We are twelve brothers, the sons of Jarl Arngrim and Eyfura, from the east of Flanders."

"And who wants to know?" said Angantyr.

"Odd son of Grim Shaggy-Cheek, and Hjalmar Greatheart."

"That's good," said Angantyr, "because we've come a long way looking for you."

"Have you been on our ships by any chance?" said Odd.

"We went there," said Angantyr, "and took the lot."

"Where are you off now?" asked Hjalmar, "to look for us?"

"I'm here," said Angantyr, "as you said before, to fight one on one, and I choose Odd for myself, because you've got that shirt on which no iron will bite, so it was foretold, and I have that sword called Tyrfing, which was made by dwarves who swore that every blow would find its mark, be it through iron or stone. We'll split our band in half: seven in one group, and me with the other four. That balances out, me in this lot and the Haddings with the other. Then they get one more, to make up for Tyrfing."

But Hjalmar spoke up: "I wish to fight with Angantyr, as I have this byrnie in which I've never been wounded. It's made of quadrupled rings."

"You're making a mistake," said Odd, "They'll give way if I fight Angantyr, otherwise nothing is certain."

"I will decide how it goes," said Hjalmar.

Then Angantyr spoke. "This is my wish," said Angantyr, "if any of us gets away from here, they leave the others' weapons. I want Tyrfing in my grave with me, if I die. Likewise, Odd will have his shirt and shot, and Hjalmar his byrnie." And they also agreed to this, that whoever survived would make a mound for the others.

The Haddings step forward first now, and Odd strikes each of them a blow with his club, and this is all it takes. Then the berserks rise, one after another, those who were meant to fight with Odd, and by the end he's killed the lot, all of those assigned to him. Now Odd takes a rest.

Then Hjalmar stands up and one of them comes at him. It isn't long before the berserk falls. Then the next one gets up, and the third and the fourth. Then Angantyr stands, and the fight between those two is hard and long, but in the end Angantyr falls to Hjalmar. Then Hjalmar went over to a some nearby knoll and sets himself down, and sinks to the ground. Odd goes to him and says a verse:

"What's up, Hjalmar?
Changed your hue, there?
I say, many wounds
do weary you.
Your helm is hewn,
and the hauberk on your side;
I say your life
has left you now."

"And it's turned out just as I said: they wouldn't yield if you fought Angantyr."

"So what," said Hjalmar, "everyone dies in time," and he sang:

"I've sixteen wounds,
a slit byrnie,
there's clouds before my eyes -
can't see.
It entered my heart,
Angantyr's sword,
fell bloodspike,
forged in poison."

"Now I've suffered the greatest loss," said Odd, "It will never be healed as long as I live, and all because of your stubborness, because we would have had a great victory here if I'd had my way."

"Sit down," said Hjalmar, "and I'll give you some verses to take home to Sweden." He went on thus:

"Lasses won't say
I lacked mettle
before hard blows
on the field of battle.
She won't have to laugh,
wise-minded woman,
in Sigtun when she hears;
I sought not to flee.

I turned away
from womens' song,
fair-sounding notes -
I feared no joy;
with Soti I sailed
to sea hastened,
joined forces with him
one final time,
from dear friends.

She led me out,
the lord's daughter,
to Agnafit
on the ocean side;
all too true
what she told me then,
that never after
would I be back.

I turned from young
we soon figured that
on the fated day:
One grief will fix
fast in her mind,
that we're not going
to meet again.

Take as proof,
my testament this,
helm and hauberk
to the hall of the king.
It will move her to see
so many wounds,
king's fair daughter,
cover the breastplate.

I had five
farms to my name
but that was never
enough for me;
now I lie
with little might,
on Samsey Isle.

Wrench from my hand
the red-gold ring,
and bring it to young
that grief will fix
fast in her mind,
that nevermore
we'll meet again.

I see where they sit
at home in Sigtun,
the girls who begged
me not to go;
no joy for Hjalmar
in the hall after this,
with ale and men,
ever again.

"Now I also want you to take my verses to all our bench-mates, and I'm going to name them:

"We drank and deemed
many days together,
Alf and Atli,
Eyvind, Trani,
Gizur, Glama,
Gudvard, Starri,
Steinkel, Stikil,
Storolf, Vifil.

Hrafn and Helgi,
Hlodver, Igul,
Stein and Kari,
Styr and Ali,
Ossur, Agnarr,
Orm and Trandil,
Gylfri and Gauti,
Gjafar and Ragnar.

Fjolmund, Fjalar,
Frosti and Beinir,
Tind and Tyrfing,
the two Haddings,
Valbjorn, Vikar,
Vemund, Flosi,
Geirbrand, Goti,
Guttorm, Sneril.

Styr and Ari,
Stein and Kari,
Vott, Veseti,
Vemund, Hnefi.
We all of us were
on one bench then,
it was a laugh, my friends,
that's why I'm loath to fly.

Svarfandi, Sigvaldi,
Saebjorn and Kol,
Thrain and Thjostolf,
Thorolf and Sval,
Hrappi and Hadding,
Hunfast, Knui,
Ottar, Egil,
and Ingvari too.

"Now I want to ask you," said Hjalmar to Odd, "not to let me be laid in a grave beside these bastard berserks, because I reckon I'm a much better man than any of them."

"I'll grant you that," said Odd, "what you ask, as it seems to me your time is near."

"Glad the guests
of the good king drink
ale aplenty
at Uppsala;
much beer
makes the men sleepy
but me sword-tracks
on Samsey torment.

And from the south
flies the raven,
after him eagle
in escort flies;
flesh I offer them,
to feed the eagle -
he leaves his branch.
He will lap my blood."

And after that Hjalmar died. Odd dragged the berserks together into a heap and bent branches over it. It was near the sea. He laid beside them their weapons and clothes, stealing nothing. Then he covered the outside with sods and sprinkled sand on top. Then he lifts Hjalmar on his back, goes down to the sea and lowers him onto the beach, and he goes out to the ship and carries back all the men who had fallen, and makes another mound for them. And it is said by people who have been there that the monument, which Odd made then, is visible to this day.

Next, Odd carries Hjalmar out to the ship and casts anchor. Then Odd practices the special skills that were granted him, hoists sail and heads home to Sweden with Hjalmar's body. He landed at a place of his choosing. He draws up his ship, puts Hjalmar on his back, and goes home to Uppsala with him and sets him down before the hall doors. He goes into the hall with Hjalmar's armour and helmet in his hands and lays them down on the floor of the hall and told the king tidings of what had happened.

Then he went to where Ingibjorg sat. She was sewing a shirt for Hjalmar.

"Here is the ring," said Odd, "that Hjalmar sent you on his dying day and his verses too."
She takes the ring and gazes at it, but makes no reply. She falls back on the carved chair-posts and dies right there. Odd bursts out laughing and said, "It's been a while since anything good happened. We ought to be celebrate. They'll find joy in death, those who couldn't in life."

Odd picks her up and carries her in his arms and lies her in Hjalmar's arms in front of the hall and sends men in to the king asking him to come and see what how he'd arranged them. After this the king welcomes him and sets him in the high-seat beside him. And as soon as Odd had taken a rest, the king said that he wishes to hold a memorial feast for Hjalmar and Ingibjorg and raise a mound to them. The king has everything done just as Odd had said. When the helm and byrnie that Hjalmar had owned were brought forward, everyone is filled with admiration for his achievements and for the greatness he'd shown in his final battle, and now they're lain both together in the same howe. Everyone went to see that great monument, and Odd had it all done with great respect.