Sturlaug the Industrious
© Peter Tunstall, 2008
1. The Heroes Introduced
Everyone who’s truly well versed in events, knows that the Turks and men of Asia settled Scandinavia. That was the origin of the language which later spread over all lands. The leader of this people was Odin who men trace their ancestry back to.
At this time, a king called Harald Goldmouth ruled over Thrandheim in Norway. He had a queen. Nothing is told of their children. There was a jarl in his kingdom called Hring. He lived down by the sea in Kaupang. He had a daughter who was called Asa the Fair because she surpassed all other maidens of her time, as red gold surpasses black copper, or the sun the other heavenly bodies.
There was a
powerful man called Ingolf who ruled over Namdalen province. He had a son
called Sturlaug. Sturlaug soon grew up to be a tall young man, fair of hair and
skin, and refined in every respect. His whole body was well formed. He was
friendly in speech with his men, easy to get along with, and generous with
money. Because of this, he was very popular. He practiced archery and swimming
and all sorts of skills. His father Ingolf lived at a farmstead called Skardastadir.
Ingolf was known for his magnificence and had a great many followers with him there.
He had another farm on the
There was a
man called Asgauti. He lived at a farmstead called Tunglaheim. He was a very
important man. He had a wife called Grima. They had two sons: one called Jokul,
the other Guttorm. They were great men and well educated, like their father. There
was a man called Thorgaut. He lived on the
All the boys listed here played children’s games together and learnt all the skills that people were wont to teach their sons in those days. They swore brotherhood to each other. But they all lived together in prosperity with their fathers.
2. About Vefreyja
There was a woman called Vefreyja, eminent and wealthy, and she lived at Ve farm. She had two sons. One has called Raud, the other Hrafn. They were both big, strong men, well armed and well clad. Vefreyja’s foster son was called Svipud. They were both canny ones and knew a thing or two when it came to the old lore, Vefreyja and Svipud. She had a fine farm with two doors. She sat there every day and looked out through each of the doors. Not much caught her by surprise. She was always spinning flax. She sat in a chair. Her eyes grew very red with age, but even so, she saw what was coming, no matter what was approaching the house, because not much took her by surprise. Asa the Fair was fostered there while she was young, and learnt lore there. Vefreyja loved her a lot, and Asa her.
3. Sturlaug Asks for Asa’s Hand in Marriage
One day, Ingolf talks to Sturlaug and his sworn brothers, saying, “How much longer are you and your friends going to play at children’s games like a bunch of girls? It would be more like the behaviour of big brave fellows to go out and accomplish something to make a name for yourselves, or at the very least to seek wives for yourselves and settle down on your farms to manage the estates with your fathers.”
Sturlaug said, “Tell me where I should ask for a wife then, since you’re so keen for us to get married.”
Ingolf said, “Jarl Hring has a daughter called Asa the Fair. She’s a fine-looking woman and well endowed with wits.”
Sturlaug says, “I’m not really old enough to be making marriage requests, and I haven’t exactly made up my mind, but I’ll give it a go, although I doubt it’ll come to much.”
So they get ready to go, and there’s sixty of them all told, well armed, and with plenty of good clothes and horses. They ride on their way now and come at evening to the hall of Jarl Hring where they receive a warm welcome. The jarl arranges a outstandingly fine feast for them. They stayed there three days. And one day, they went with the jarl to Asa’s room, and Sturlaug broaches the subject and asks for Asa’s hand in marriage. The jarl defers to her.
He talks to his daughter about them and speaks thus: “You have a suitor here to answer, daughter.”
Asa said, “What’s he called?”
“He’s called Sturlaug,” says the jarl.
Asa says, “Why would I marry a man who always works at home on the farm with his mother and does nothing to make a name for himself?”
At these words, Sturlaug becomes very angry and rides off home.
In the spring, the sworn brothers set out in ten ships and go raiding east across the Baltic and are victorious wherever they go. They let merchants go in peace, but subdued robbers. And they spent the summers in piracy, and the winters at home with their fathers. They’ve had their fill of this now, so they divide the loot. The sworn brothers take all the goods they can transport and go back with them to their fathers, but they let the crews carry on raiding in their ships. Sturlaug and his sworn brothers live the quiet life now.
5. The King is Betrothed to Asa
It happens now that King Harald’s wife took sick and died. It came as a great loss to the king, as he was getting very old now, and he grieved for her. The king’s counsellors and courtiers advise him to seek a wife for himself: “And hopefully then you can put her majesty’s death from your mind, and stop pining for her.”
The king says, “Where should I ask for a wife?”
They say, “Jarl Hring has a daughter called Asa. You can marry her, if you want, as soon as you like.”
The king agreed, and they set off with a hundred men.
They ride now till they reach the hall of Jarl Hring. He was outside, and there were men practicing sports in front of him. The king rode up so fast, people had to jump out of his way on either side. The king gave him two choices: he could betroth his daughter to him, or be killed on the spot.
The jarl says, “Let’s go to Asa’s room and talk to her to find out what her answer is.”
“No,” says the king, “I don’t want to wait as a suitor for an answer, so choose fast, one way or the other.”
The jarl considers now and calculates that he’ll be overwhelmed by weight of numbers, so he stretches out his hand and betrothed his daughter to the king. She was to remain betrothed for three years before they were married. The king leaves at once and rides home, pleased with his journey. The jarl meanwhile is less happy with his lot. He gets up and goes to Asa’s room and sits down and sighs miserably.
Then Asa said, “What’s the matter, father? You’re so quiet? Have you got some news to tell me?”
“I’d call it news,” says the jarl, “when I’ve been forced to betroth you to a man.”
“Who is he?” she asks.
“You’re betrothed to King Harald,” he says, “and you’re to be married in three years.”
She answered then, “It isn’t exactly the lowliest who’s stepped up here, but who knows what sort of news this is. Perhaps it’s meant to be someone else. A lot can happen in three years, so be cheerful, father.”
The jarl said, “I’d have rather seen you given to Sturlaug.”
She answers, “I don’t know what might be for the best.”
Time passes, and all is calm for a while.
6. Kol the Crafty is Betrothed to Asa
One day, so it’s told, Jarl Hring was outside on the sportsfield with his men. They saw a man come riding towards them out of the forest, very well built. His horse was covered in armour, as was he, a black shield at his side, a thrusting spear in his hand. He rode so fast, people had to jump out of his way on either side. He rode up like that and sat on his horse and levelled his lance forward between the ears of his horse and said, “Hail, lord!”
The jarl accepted his greeting and enquires as to who he might be. He says, “I’m called Kol the Crafty, and I’m here to ask for the hand of your daughter Asa.”
The jarl replied, “Don’t you know that she’s betrothed to King Harald?”
Kol says, “Nevertheless, I’m just as eager to marry her. So decide one way or the other: betroth her to me, or I’ll run you through with my spear.”
The jarl considers this now, and he knows it’s hardly likely to be a good match, and he chooses to live, expecting nothing but bad to come of it. It’s no matter to him how badly Kol and King Harald fall out, so he accedes to Kol’s demand.
Kol said, “Tell King Harald I challenge him to a duel east of the River Gautelf when midwinter passes. Whoever wins will get the girl. But if he doesn’t come or dare to fight, let him be shamed in the eyes of all men as long as he lives. Good day, lord.”
Then Kol turns his horse and rides away, pleased with how well he’s handled himself.
The jarl is less happy with his lot. He sits outside for a while, then stands up and goes to his daughter’s room, sits down beside her, and is barely able to speak.
Asa said, “Are you ill, father?”
The jarl said, “Better to be ill and quickly dead than to suffer the shame of being forced to give away one’s daughter.”
Asa said, “Who am I engaged to now?”
The jarl said, “He’s called Kol the Crafty.”
She says, “It may happen that our luck takes a turn for the better and that I won’t end up marrying such an awful man, and there may come a marked improvement in our affairs compared to what’s expected now; after all, only one of them can win the prize, not two! It could also turn out that neither will get the prize, with any luck. So be of good cheer, father,” she says.
The jarl said, “It would be well it were as you say, if they kill each other, but I fear that won’t be the result, although that’s what I’d like.”
And at that, he takes his leave.
7. The Duel of Heming and Kol
News of what’s happened reaches King Harald, and he was of the opinion that things had not improved. He sought the advice of his friends on the matter. The upshot was that the king sent his men to Heming to invite him to a Yule feast, assuring him that he wouldn’t leave empty handed. He commissioned a man called Kolli to deliver this message. They go now north up Namdalen to meet with Heming and greeted him and deliver the kings message. Heming had been the greatest duellist, but was now advanced in years, and for a while he hadn’t been on the best of terms with King Harald. Now the messenger delivers his message.
Then Heming answers, “I don’t recall the king ever inviting me before. Now there are two choices before me, to stay at home and disregard the kings invitation, or to take a chance with what’s behind it. And because nothing is a risk to an old man, let come what may. It can’t be said that no one is left, so long as my son Sighvat lives.
Now Heming gets ready and sets off with eleven men, and they arrive on Yule Eve and went into the hall into the king’s presence and greeted him well. The king received their greeting well and made space in the place of honour and set Heming next to him, and they drank away the days of Yule in good favour.
But when it came to Twelfth Night, the king had a talk with Heming. The king said, “I have a duel on my hands, and I’m hoping you will get me out of it and take my place against Kol the Crafty.”
Heming says, “I don’t know that you’ve offered me so much that I’d risk my life for you. It seems to me not unlikely that we aren’t dealing with a brave man here, so much as a troll.”
The king said, “I asked you because I consider you to have been practically the greatest champion in the land. If you can’t do it, I doubt there’ll be anyone who can. But if you come back from this expedition, then I’ll reward you well with gold and silver.”
Heming says, “It’s true what they say, that nothing’s a risk to an old man, and so it is here. The ancient tree is most like to fall. I’ll take on this mission.”
The king says, “Bravest of the brave on land and sea, it was to be expected that you’d do the right thing.”
Now Heming gets ready to go and rides off on his way and doesn’t stop till he comes east to the River Göta. Kol was there waiting. And when they met, Kol asks Heming what he wants.
Heming says, “I’m here to fight a duel with you.”
Kol replied, “It won’t be much of a challenge for me if you’re my opponent. I’ve slain men who were stronger and more likely to win renown than you. Give me your weapons and go home and say you were overcome and that you didn’t dare fight with me.”
Heming says, “I’d rather die than live with shame in all men’s eyes.”
Kol said, “I won’t baulk at killing you, you dog, if that’s all you want.”
In the evening, they each made camp, and they sleep for the night. In the morning, Heming gets up and sees that Kol has come to the island. He goes to the island now with his men. Now they cast a cloak beneath their feet, and Kol proclaims the rules of the duel. Then they come together, and they fought, and the upshot was that Heming fell to Kol.
Kol said to Heming’s men, “Now you must go back to your king and tell him either to come in person to fight me or to find a man with some might in him if he expects to win the woman, or else he’ll have to let her go.”
The men who’d gone on the expedition turned back quickly and went north to Namdalen to King Harald and tell him all these tidings and what Kol the Crafty had said.
8. Sturlaug Married Asa
The king considered this bad news, and he wonders what to do now. And in the end, he decides to send his messenger Kolli to Sturlaug and his father to invite them to a fortnight-long feast with him, along with as many guests as they wanted to bring. They pass these words between them, father and son. Then Sturlaug asks his father whether they ought to accept the invitation.
His father says, “I’d rather we stay at home and not go.”
Sturlaug says, “I’m not inclined to ignore a royal invitation. I know there must be something behind it, but still I want to go. There won’t be much to tell of us if we never go to visit other people when we’re invited. Who can say what will come of this journey that might add to our honour.”
Ingolf says, “The decision will be yours when it comes to our journeys, for better or worse.”
After that, they prepare to travel, and there’s sixty of them all told, all well armed and well clad. They ride now to see King Harald and arrive on Yule Eve. The king gives them a warm welcome and sets them in the seat of honour beside him, and a very fine feast that was. But when Yule was over, the king had a talk Ingolf and Sturlaug.
Sturlaug spoke to his men, saying, “Get your horses ready while we talk.”
They did so.
The king said, “I have a duel on my hands, and I’m hoping you will get me out of it, as I’m rather too old to be fighting a duel against Kol the Crafty.”
Sturlaug spoke: “Transfer to me the betrothal agreement that you got from Jarl Hring. I have to have some reward,” he says.
“That’s a high price you’re asking,” says the king.
“If you do,” says Sturlaug, “I’ll take the risk and see how it goes between me and Kol.”
The king says, “I never expected you to make this condition which would bring me into the greatest disrespect were I to accept it.”
Sturlaug says, “It’s a matter of which option you think is best.”
The king announced, “I’ve decided that you should fight this duel with Kol. As for the two of us, it will go as fate decrees.”
Sturlaug answers, “Transfer to me your betrothal first.”
The king does so now, albeit unwillingly, because he didn’t fancy his chances against those sworn brothers’ luck.
They ride off now to see Jarl Hring. He receives them well and invites them to a feast there. They tell him how matters stand and what’s transpired between them and King Harald. The jarl perked up at this. He asks them to go to Asa’s room, and they do. When they arrive there, Asa welcomes them.
Hring said, “We have a suitor to welcome and to answer, daughter.”
“Who is that man?” she says.
“He’s called Sturlaug.”
Asa spoke: “I won’t be short of men now,” she says.
Sturlaug said, “It wasn’t meant that I should have to wait any longer as a suitor.”
Asa says that it will be as they wish. Now a splendid feast is prepared, and nothing was wanting. Sturlaug married Asa the Fair and shared a bed with her at once. The feast goes well, and the guests are seen on their way with good gifts. Ingolf rides home with their company, while Asa and Sturlaug remain and were well content with their lot.
9. Sturlaug Met Vefreyja
One morning, as they were lying in bed, Asa said to Sturlaug, “Have you got a duel on your hands, Sturlaug?”
“I certainly have,” he says.
“Who with?” she says.
“With Kol the Crafty,” he says. “Any suggestions?”
She answers, “Go and see my foster mother Vefreyja. Take her advice and you’ll do well. Here is a gold ring which you must give her as a token, and say that it matters a lot to me that she treat you well.”
Sturlaug goes now with his eleven sworn brothers. They ride till they come to the old lady’s farm. Sturlaug leaps down from his horse, runs inside to the old lady and lays his hands around her neck and kissed her, saying, “Hail and how do you do, grandma.”
She twists round hard and looks up at him: “Who is this son of a dog who treats me with such mockery? No one’s dared do that before, and this will be severely repaid.”
Sturlaug said, “Don’t be so angry, grandma. Asa sent me here to you.”
“What’s Asa got to do with you?” says the old lady.
“She’s my wife,” he says.
She said, “Is the wedding feast over?”
“It is,” he says.”
“Well, there’s some trickery in this,” says the old lady, “seeing as I wasn’t invited. Even so, it will be done as Asa asks. Take off your clothes. I want to see your stature.”
He does so. She rubs him all over, and he feels himself getting much stronger from it. Then she gives him a goblet to drink from. Then they go to the sitting room. The old lady treats him royally that evening. She asks Sturlaug whether he wants to lie alone that night, or with her, “but for all that, I won’t betray my Asa.”
Sturlaug says, “I think it would be better, grandma, if I was close to you.”
Then the old lady put a bit of wood between them, but they lay on one pillow and spoke together in the night.
Sturlaug said, “What can you offer me by way of advice, as I have a duel to fight with Kol the Crafty?”
“It doesn’t look good,” says the old lady, “for no iron will pierce him, and I hardly know what to suggest.”
In the morning, the sworn brothers get ready to go, and when they were ready, the old lady spoke to Sturlaug: “Here, take this fur cloak that belonged to my forefathers, and a short-sword that has always brought luck, and put to the test whether there’s any pith in you.”
Sturlaug took it and struck a rock that stood by the barn, and it sliced off the corner of the rock. Rust fell from the sword, leaving it as bright now as silver.
Then the old lady said, “You must carry this sword in your duel with Kol the Crafty, but you can’t show it to him if he asks to see what you have to strike with.”
Then she said, “Farewell now, Sturlaug, and may everything lead to triumph and fortune for you for as long as you live, and all the good luck that our ancestors have had I give to you, in so far as I can. I fear though how it will go with you and Kol the Crafty. But I have two sons I’d like you to swear brotherhood with.
“So be it,” says Sturlaug.
Now they swear brotherhood. Then they leave. But they hadn’t gone far before the old lady calls after them and said, “Sturlaug, do you want Svipud, my foster son, to go with you. He’s quick on his feet.”
“I’d like that,” says Sturlaug.
The old lady hands Svipud a little pouch. He put it next to his skin, then ran ahead of their horses. They ride on their way now and don’t stop till they come east to the River Göta, and Kol hadn’t come yet. Sturlaug sets up camp in the shelter where Kol normally camped.
10. The Duel of Sturlaug and Kol
It wasn’t long before Kol came. Sturlaug goes up to him and greets him.
Kol said, “Who’s this wretched son of a bitch with the cheek to camp on the spot where I normally camp.”
Sturlaug said, “You should know well enough who the son of a bitch is, as there wasn’t one here till you came. But if you’re asking my name, then I’m called Sturlaug.”
Kol said, “What are you’re doing here.”
Sturlaug said, “I’m fighting you.”
Kol says, “There some trickery afoot now; you’re too bold by half, coming here with delusions like that, and me having killed so many fine fellows that have fought me. But what brings you to this?”
Sturlaug says, “Mainly the fact that Asa the Fair is my wife. You won’t have her, even if I do fall to you in battle.”
Kol said, “Listen to this! What can have possessed you, you son of the Fiend? And for that alone, I won’t spare you. And very soon, you’ll lose your life, although it won’t be soon enough. But still, it’ll be a loss, such a man as you are.”
Sturlaug says, “I won’t run from you.”
Now Kol makes camp for the evening in the other shelter. But when he came to eat, Svipud comes into his shelter and takes the old lady’s pouch from his cloak and shakes it in the shelter, filling the place with smoke.
Kol looks up and says, “Go away, you wretched dog, and don’t come back again, as you’ve most likely done some harm.”
Svipud left, and no one knew what had become of him. They sleep the night.
morning, Sturlaug gets up early, along with his sworn brothers, and they go to
the island, sit down and wait for Kol.
He said then, “I suspect that wretched thrall who came here yesterday evening had some sorcery with him, and we haven’t much to thank him for on that score, and truly it can be called the sleep of the dead that we slept. Let’s go to the island.”
They go to the island and cast a cloak beneath their feet. Kol proclaims the rules of the duel between them, and each of them had to put up twenty marks of silver. This would go to whoever won.
And when they were ready, Kol says, “Sturlung, my boy, show me that sword of yours that you’ve got.”
He does so. Kol looks at the edge and casts his eyes over it and said, “You won’t defeat me with this sword. Go home instead, say you were overcome, and give me your weapons and send me Asa the Fair and tell her you didn’t dare to fight me or to withhold her from me.”
Sturlaug says, “You won’t defeat me with words alone. Fear has got the better of you, and you’ll soon die a miserable death.”
Kol was seized with fury at his words and said, “You’ll find that I won’t spare you, you wretched dog.”
Then Sturlaug casts aside the sword he’d shown to Kol and pulls Vefreyja’s Gift out from under his cloak and drew it.
Kol said, “How did you get Vefreyja’s Gift? I’d never have started a duel with you if I’d known about that.”
Sturlaug replies, “None of your business. And you’re not doing very well, getting scared before you need to be.”
Then Sturlaug struck at Kol and split his shield in two. Kol struck back and split his shield likewise. Then Sturlaug struck at Kol a second time and landed a blow on his helmet. The sword sliced him through from cheek to shoulder, and came to rest in his shoulder-blade. Kol went on standing there, straight as a rod, as if nothing had happened. Then Hrolf Neb rushed up with his club and drove it down onto the blade so that the sword went down into his torso, and Kol fell then, and Sturlaug was victorious and became famous for this deed. Sturlaug rode to Vefreyja. And the old lady was outside and gave him a warm welcome. Svipud was there.
They stayed the night, and the old lady praised his deed, “and one thing’s for sure,” she says: “it’s well for my Asa that she has a man like you for her husband. And this is the beginning of some very prudent advice that you’ll be getting from now on, if you know how to heed it, although I fear for how it will turn out, but I hope it goes well for you, and this old lady won’t be altogether useless to you.”
Now Sturlaug rides on his way to Jarl Hring who received them all with a warm welcome, and Asa was glad to see her husband. These tidings reach King Harald. The king was not best pleased with this outcome, as will be seen later, but to all Sturlaug’s friends, it was like having him back from the dead.
11. Framar Challenges Sturlaug to a Duel
One day, as Jarl Hring was holding games with his men, who were taking part in sports for Hring and Sturlaug, they saw a man on a red horse riding towards them from the forest. He was fully armed, great in stature, a helmet on his head, and a sword at his side, a gilt shield on his arm, and a spear in his hand. He rode up to the jarl and greeted him well. The jarl greeted him likewise in return, asking him who he was.
He says, “There’s nothing special about my name. I’m called Framar, and we were half-brothers, Kol and me, and I’ve come here to challenge you to a duel, Sturlaug, because I have no wish to be compensated in money for him.”
Sturlaug says, “I’m ready when you are. You have a bad one to be seeking redress for there, that Kol of yours.”
“That’s true enough,” says Framar, “but still he was my blood, and so I want to fight with you out east there at the River Göta as soon as midwinter is past.”
“So be it,” says Sturlaug.
Now Framar leaves them and goes on his way, and the summer passed.
One night, as Sturlaug and Asa lay in bed together, Asa spoke: “Have you got a duel on your hands, Sturlaug,” she says.
“I certainly have,” he says. “What can you offer me by way of advice about this?”
Asa says, “Go and see Vefreyja, my foster mother, and get her advice about it.”
“Very well,” says Sturlaug.
He goes now to Vefreyja. The old lady was outside and greets him warmly, and they stay the night. In the morning, Sturlaug asks her advice. The old lady said, “Who are you fighting a duel with?”
“He’s called Framar,” says Sturlaug, “Kol the Crafty’s brother.”
The old lady spoke: “Poles apart, those two,” she says. “And it’s a shame you should bear deadly spears against each other, for Framar is the bravest of men, and of the best ancestry, whereas Kol was the worse of men, the offspring of thralls, and blessed be anyone who could bring it about that the pair of you were friends instead of foes. I don’t know what to suggest. But fate will decide how it goes between you. My foster son Svipud will go with you.”
So they go on their way and don’t stop till they come east to the River Göta. And Framar rides up from the other side. They meet, exchange news, dismount, help each other make camp in their respective shelters, and sleep the night.
12. Encounter of the Warriors
But in the morning, they rise early and go to the island and sit down together on a log.
Framar said, “Do you want us two to fight first before our men do?”
Sturlaug said, “I’d like to have some entertainment from my men.”
Hrolf Neb stood up and said, “I’ll take you on, blueman.”
Hrolf gladly got ready to wrestle. Then they charge at each other and set to, and a mighty contest it was, and their combat was both hard and long. There was a great difference in strength between them, for the blueman could carry Hrolf in his grip wherever he wanted. The berserk wanted to trip Hrolf then, but he always managed to keep his footing. This blueman was as big as a giant, as fat as an ox, and as black as hell. He had claws of such a size, they were more like vulture’s claws than human nails. Now he carried Hrolf to the log, and the blueman wanted to bring him down on the club, but Hrolf thrust with his feet so hard they fell away from it, both of them, and the blueman fell on his back and landed on a stone and broke his spine, while Hrolf sprang quickly to his feet and grabbed his club and bludgeoned the blueman to death. But Hrolf was black and bloody all over, and the flesh torn from his bones. Sturlaug thanked him well for his courage.
Next out of Framar’s comrades from Sweden was a man called Thord, a big, strong fellow. Against him went Hrafn the Tall, and they set to with mighty blows, and it ended with Hrafn falling to Thord.
Now Jokul stepped forward and said, “Who’s going to be against me?”
A man called Frosti stood up and said, “Would it not be most fitting for me to go against you, since the frost hardens the glacier?”
They fight for a long time till Jokul fell to Frosti, and the loss of his sworn brother came as a hard blow to Sturlaug, but it was stipulated that none of them should help another.
Framar’s other companion was a certain Finn, and he was to fight Svipud. They come together and fight hard and fast, quicker than the eye could see, and neither managed to wound the other. But when the spectators looked again, Finn and Svipud had disappeared, and in their place were two dogs, and they bit at each other furiously. And when least expected, the dogs were gone, but there was some kind of din heard in the air, and the spectators looked up and saw two eagles flying at each other in the air, and each was tearing off the other’s feathers with its claws and beak so that blood rained down on the earth. And it ended with one of them falling down dead to the earth while the other flew away, and they didn’t know which one that was.
13. The Duel of Sturlaug and Framar
Framar said, “Now it’s time for us to fight.”
“I’m ready for that,” says Sturlaug.
So they cast a cloak under their feet. Then Sturlaug draws Vefreyja’s Gift. But when Framar sees this, he says, “Where did you get Vefreyja’s Gift from?”
Sturlaug says, “Never you mind where it came from.”
Framar said, “I wouldn’t have come to fight a duel with you if I’d known this. But still, I’ve never yet felt cowardly despair in my heart.”
Framar proclaims the rules of the duel, and it was Sturlaug’s turn to strike first. He struck at Framar and hit his helmet, and his sword glanced off it into Framar’s shield, and split it all the way down, from top to tail, and came to rest in the ground. But the blade had sliced through Framar’s mail to his chest and into his brow to the bone, and blood filled his eyes at once so that he couldn’t see, and there was much swelling. Framar struck at Sturlaug then, and split his shield all the way down. Then Sturlaug struck at Framar a second time, and it went the same way, and by now Framar was unfit to fight.
He lowered himself to the ground then and said, “You have the greatest fiend in your hand, for your sword is full of poison and evil. So cut off my head as quick as you can. I don’t want to live on in agony.”
Sturlaug said, “Do you want me to let you live?”
Framar says, “I’d like to accept your offer, but my life has been destroyed.”
They carry him off the island and into their shelter, although there isn’t much hope for him. But when that was done, they hear a noise like thunder outside. And when they came out, they saw that Vefreyja had arrived in a cart, and she asked how they’d done. They answer that Framar was on the point of death.
The old lady says, “Carry him out here. It makes no difference where he dies.”
It was done as she asked.
Sturlaug said, “Do you want any company on your way?”
“I do not,” says the old lady. “I can make my own way fine,” she says.
The old lady drives off with Framar in her cart, leaving them behind. Night passes. And in the morning, Sturlaug gets ready to go.
Frosti comes up to Sturlaug and said, “I’d gladly go with you and your sworn brothers.”
Sturlaug said, “I think Jokul will be well paid for if you take his place.”
Now he becomes a sworn brother to Sturlaug. They ride off now and didn’t stop till they came to Vefreyja’s house. And when they arrive, they find there Svipud and Framar both completely healed. They stay overnight there in good favour.
In the morning, Vefreyja spoke: “I’d like it, Sturlaug dear, if you and Framar would swear brotherhood between you, for he is the bravest of men in every respect.”
Sturlaug answers, “You’ll have your wish, old lady. It will suit me just fine.”
Now they swear a pact of brotherhood between them, Sturlaug and Framar, and each is obliged to avenge the other, just as if they were brothers born in wedlock.
14. The King Entrusts Sturlaug with a
After that, they ride on their way till they’re just coming up to the domain of Jarl Hring, and it seems to them there’s something strange going on here; the hall is all covered in men. King Harald had arrived with four hundred men and meant to burn Jarl Hring inside along with his daughter Asa the Fair. They see fire blazing everywhere now, and King Harald is burning the whole farm. Then Sturlaug and his companions see people coming up out of the ground in a clearing. They hurry over there and recognise Jarl Hring with all his men, and there was Asa the Fair with him. There was a happy reunion there between them all.
And after this, they all ride to meet the king at the burning farm. They were fully armed, and their horses clad in armour.
Sturlaug says then, “Rather we meet here now, your majesty, than at sea. But you’re behaving badly, for you are both gutless and sneaky.”
The king replies, “I don’t care about your insults, but one thing I will say to you, Sturlaug, is that you’ll never be free from fear in this land unless you bring me the aurox horn that I lost long ago. And I’ll give you a name along with the mission. You’ll be called Sturlaug the Industrious. That name will stick because, from now on, there’ll be toil destined for you sworn brothers as long as you live – if you come back from this expedition, which isn’t likely.”
Sturlaug says, “Where shall I look for that?”
The king says, “That’s for you to think about.”
Sturlaug says, “It isn’t right that I should go on your mission,” he says, “but whatever you think hard to lay before me, I’ll risk my life on.”
The king baulked at attacking them because he thought the sworn brothers and their company tough opponents, both because of their strength and their armour. They bid each other farewell and parted with matters thus. Sturlaug and the others all rode north together to Namdalen and spent the winter there.
15. Sturlaug Seeks News of the Aurox Horn
And one day, Asa came to talk to Sturlaug and said, “Have you got a mission on your hands, Sturlaug?”
“I certainly have,” says he. “Where would you advise me to start looking for this horn?”
Asa says, “Go and see my foster mother Vefreyja and get her advice.”
And the next day, they got ready to set out and rode to Vefreyja’s house, and she’s outside and greets them warmly, and they stay the night.
But in the morning, Sturlaug said to Vefreyja, “What can you tell me of the horn that’s called the horn of the aurox?”
The old lady said, “I can’t say anything, and indeed I won’t.”
Sturlaug said, “Do you know anyone who can tell me about it, because I really want to know.”
Vefreyja says, “There’s a woman called Jarngerd, and she’s my sister. Go to her and see what she has to say.”
They ride on their way now and don’t stop till they come to the place where Jarngerd is in charge. They stay the night there. Sturlaug asked Jarngerd if she could tell him about the aurox’s horn.”
She says, “About that, I can’t tell you, but I know the lady who will know.”
Sturlaug asked who that was.
“Snaelaug is the name of my sister. She’s married to King Hrolf of Hundingjaland, but it’s hardly possible for you to go there, although if you did succeed, that journey would earn you great fame on your return.”
Having learnt that, the sworn brothers ride home.
16. The Sworn Brothers Meet a Troll Woman
It’s to be told next that Sturlaug gets ready to travel, not long after, together with all the sworn brothers, and they have a hundred men and one ship. Sturlaug spoke with Jarl Hring and with his father too, asking them to take care of Asa while he’s away, and all his goods that were left behind.
They sail north now by Halogaland and Finnmark and Vatnsnes and into Austrvik and cast anchor and make the ship fast and rest the night there. After that, they drew watches, and Aki drew the first watch, Framar the second, and Sturlaug the last.
And when everone onboard was alseep except for Aki, he took the boat and rows along the coast and out along the headland. He hears someone walking up on the shingle. Aki speaks up then and said, “Ought I to greet a man or a woman here?”
The answer came back: “This is a woman, for sure.”
“What are you called, my lady?” says Aki.
“I’m called Torfa,” she says. “Who’s in the boat?”
“Aki’s his name,” he says.
“You don’t mean to tell me Aki Jarngerd’s son has come here?” she says.
“The very same,” says he
“Will you make a bargain with me, Aki dear?” says she.
“What bargain is that?” says he.
“That you carry me over to that island just off the coast here. My father left a lot of money there, and there’s three of us sisters, and we have to share it between us. I’d like to get there ahead of them. I’ll give you two days good sailing wind when it’s most timely.”
“Very well,” says Aki.
Now she climbs aboard the boat, and he rowed out across the sound, and before he’d got very far, she started to speak: “I can wade ashore alright from here. Farewell and fare lucky. I’ll reward you handsomely for this.”
Now she lifts up her skirts of skin and steps overboard. Aki rowed back to the ship then and woke up Framar, and lies down and is soon asleep.
Framar gets into the boat and rows out along the headland. He hears the crunch of someone walking on the beach.
Framar said, “Is that a man or a woman on the shore?”
The answer comes, “A woman, no doubt of that.”
“What are you called, oh fair and wealthy lady,” he says.”
“I’m called Hild,” she says. “And what are you called, little boy?”
“Framar’s my name,” he says.
“You don’t mean to tell me that Framar, Kol the Crafty’s brother, has come here?” she says.
“The very same,” says he.
“Poles apart, you two,” she says. “I’d like to make a deal with you.”
“What sort of a deal?” says Framar.
She says, “Take me over to the island just off the coast here. My father has died there and left a great fortune, but there’s three of us sisters in line to inherit, and I’ll be left out if I come too late.”
Framar says, “Will you give me two days good sailing wind then?”
“Very well,” she says.
She gets in the boat now, and he thought the boat was weighed down plenty low enough when she stepped aboard.
She said, “Would you like me to row with you?”
“No need for that,” says Framar.
But after they’d gone a third of the way, she spoke up and said, “You don’t need to take me any further. It’s just a few ells to shore, and I can wade that fine.”
She stepped overboard and waded to the island. Framar went back to the ship and wakes up Sturlaug. He sprang quickly to his feet, and Framar lay down to sleep.
Sturlaug gets into the boat and rows along the headland. And as he’s coming north around the ness, he hears someone walking up on the gravel, and sees flame spurting from the stones under this creature’s feet. It had a halberd in its hand. He guessed this would be no ordinary weapon that the monster bore.
Sturlaug asks, “Ought I to greet a man or a woman here?”
She says, “Are you blind? This is a woman,” she says. “And what are you called?”
“Sturlaug’s my name,” he says.
“Where are you from and what’s your business, Sturlaug the Industrious?” she says. “I’m called Horn-Neb,” she says. “Who’s with you,” she asked. “Is Hrolf Neb there by any chance? I’m told,” she said, “that he’s a fine man to have on your side, and no creature faster.”
“There’s a lot of truth in that,” he says.
“Then there’s trickery in it,” says she. “Will you make a bargain with me?”
“What sort of bargain?” he says.
“I want you to bring Hrolf Neb to me, so that I can see how big and strong he is, and what he looks like, because I’ve heard a lot about his good looks. I’ll give you what I’ve got in my hand, which is a halberd.”
Sturlaug says, “What’s special about this treasure you’re offering me?”
She said, “It cuts through everything it hits. It can shrink so small you can stick it in your cloak like a bodkin. Wherever you go, success will come easily for you with this, whatever you want and need.”
Sturlaug says, “Then you’ve got a deal.”
Sturlaug goes to his sworn brothers now and wakes up Hrolf Neb and asks him to come with him. Off they go now up cliff that the old lady was at the base of. Hrolf sits on the edge of the cliff and dangles his feet over it. He was dressed in a furry goatskin and a whole fat calfskin on his head, with the tail standing up on top of his head, and his whole face was rubbed black with soot from the pot, and he had a stick in his mouth to make his cheeks bulge out. He had an ox horn in his hand. He had a pigskin on either foot. And when he was done, he didn’t exactly look handsome, sitting there on the cliff and gaping at the moon, which was shining brightly.
After this, Sturlaug goes to meet Horn-Neb. She greets him well and said, “Where is Hrolf Neb?”
Sturlaug said, “Look up at the cliff and you’ll see him sat up there.”
She turns sharply and sees where he was. She shades her eyes with her hand and studies him, then spoke: “It’s no lie,” she says, “to say that there is a fine figure of a man. And they weren’t exaggerating when they told me about this man who’s so majestic.”
Now she grows enormously. Then she stretches herself up the cliff, but she thought she’d never manage to see him perfectly where he was sat up there.
“I don’t know what else to say but that I count her a lucky woman who gets that man.”
Then Sturlaug sees that she’s going to succeed in grabbing hold of his feet, and he isn’t minded to wait till that happens, but jumps out of the boat and onto a rock and thrusts at her with the halberd, running her right through with it. She fell on top of him, and he dived down at once and dived out from under her, but the boat capsized. She lost her life there. He rights the boat. With that, they go back to their comrades and tell them what’s happened. They approve.
17. Of the Welcome they Had in Hundingjaland
After this, a spanking wind comes on, and they sail then till they sight land. It was thickly wooded. They came to a hidden inlet and sailed in along the inlet and put into a hidden bay and dropped anchor there. The sun was then in the south. And they went ashore.
Sturlaug asked them, “What land do you reckon this is that we’ve come to?”
Framar says, “Hundingjaland, to judge by my brother Kol’s account of it. And the three of us, Sturlaug, Aki and me, will go ashore while you others wait for us here till the setting of the third sun from now. And if we don’t come back by then, you’ll have to take care of yourselves.
They go ashore now and into a dense forest and mark their route on oaks, and eventually they come forth out of the wood and see many big, populated areas, towns and castles. They see a fortified town with a much bigger hall than the others. They head in that direction, and there were two men stood in the doorways, and their chins were grown into their chests. They barked like dogs. The sworn brothers had a feeling they knew where they were now. The guards blocked their way. Sturlaug drew Vefreyja’s Gift and cut one guard in half. His sworn brothers killed the other.
After that, they went into the hall and stand just inside. Aki sees women sitting on the daise. One was easy to recognise as she was much better looking than the others. Aki recognises this woman from his mother’s account, walks up to the daise and steps up onto the step and places both arms round her neck and spoke: “Hail, kinswoman,” he says.
She accepted his greeting and turned to him. King Hundolf sees this and doesn’t take to it kindly; he couldn’t stand to see men look at his queen. Now it can be imagined how furious he was in his heart to see a foreign man hugging and kissing her right in front of his eyes and committing such an outrage. He springs up from the table and calls to his servants and trumpets sounded through all the streets.
Aki said, “I’ve come to see you, kinswoman. I’d like you to tell me about the aurox horn and where it’s to be found.”
She said, “Who are these men?”
They told her their names.
She said, “It’s a shame that you’ve come here, because you’re all doomed to die, and so there’s no need to tell you about the aurox horn.”
Aki said, “Even if we are killed on the spot, still we think it’s good to know the truth in so far as you can tell us about the horn.”
She says, “To begin with, there’s a certain temple in Bjarmaland. It’s consecrated to Thor and Odin, Frigg and Freyja and made with skill from the most precious of wood. The temple has a door facing northwest and a door facing southwest. In there is only Thor. The aurox horn is there before him on a table, as fair as gold to look at. But only Sturlaug is to enter the temple, because only his luck will suffice; even so, he mustn’t touch the horn with bare hands, because it’s full of poison and sorcery. But this won’t be much use to you, since they plan to kill you all, and it’s a great shame that such brave men as you sworn brothers should perish.
Sturlaug said, “By the time we’re all dead, those Hundings will have found that, although there aren’t many of us, there’ll be a few of them with bloody noses.”
And at that moment, the Hundings burst into the hall, all fully armed, and attack them boldly, but they defend themselves well and valiently and kill thirty men before they were taken, and they were stripped of all their clothes except for their linen breeks and driven out of the hall with whips and goaded with speartips and forced out to the forest. They came to a clearing. There were two hollow stones there. They were put into the smaller stone, and the larger one overturned on top of them, and they were meant to starve to death there. Those stones stood on a knoll. Now the Hundings leave, and considered their shame well avenged.
Now it’s to be told that Sturlaug and his sworn brothers were in the stone.
Sturlaug said, “How are we doing now, do you reckon?”
They were doing fine, they said, so long as they were all in good health.
Sturlaug said, “What did I prick myself on back there, on the back of my calf, when we were being stripped of our clothes?”
He feels with his hand and finds there a little piece of iron, like a pin, and this was his halberd. He told it then to grow big enough for him to easily accomplish what he needed to with it, and it was soon big enough for him to hack through the stone till they all got out. And they ran back to their comrades, and there was a happy reunion between them.
18. Sturlaug Gets the Aurox Horn
They prepare to leave now and head out along the firth.
Aki said, “I don’t believe I was ever in more need of a good sailing wind than now.”
There comes on at once then a spanking wind, and they sail till they come to Bjarmaland and in towards the River Dvina. They see flat plains inland to the west of the river and a magnificent temple, so bright it seemed to cast a glow over all the plains, for it was adorned with gold and precious stones.
Sturlaug said, “Now let’s turn the ship around so that the stern faces the land, and make her fast to the land with a rope, in case we’re in a hurry, and have the poles out for pushing off, and be all ready to leave. Meanwhile, Framar and me will go ashore.
They go ashore now, along with Hrolf Neb, and went to the temple. And when they came to the temple, there were doors in it just as they’d been told. They go to the doors on the northwest side of the temple, as these were the only ones open. Then they saw that, just inside of the threshold, there was a pit full of poison and, next to it, a big crossbeam that was fitted before the entrance, and there were walls in the doorway, all round the pit, so that the apparatus wouldn’t be destroyed by excess of poison.
And as they reached the temple doors, Hrolf Neb arrives. Sturlaug asked him why he’d come.
Hrolf said, “I didn’t want to deny myself the fame of going inside the temple with you.”
“Not much chance of that,” says Sturlaug. “I’m going into the temple alone.”
“Do you want to deny me my fame?” says Hrolf.
“That isn’t my reason,” says Sturlaug.
He looks into the temple now and sees Thor sitting very tall in the seat of honour. Before him was a fine table coated in silver. He sees the aurox horn stood on the table in front of Thor. It was as beautiful as gold and full of poison. There was a tafl board and tafl pieces set there, each made of bright gold. There were shining clothes and golden rings fastned up on poles. There were sixty women inside the temple, and one in particular stood out above all the rest. She was as big as a giant, as blue as death and as fat as a mare, black-eyed and mean-looking. Even so, she was a well-dressed woman. She served at the table. They chanted this ditty when they saw Sturlaug:
“Here comes Sturlaug
the Hard Worker,
the horn seeking
and a hoard of rings.
Here in the horn,
at the hallowed feast,
are treasures and gold.
We intend him ill.”
Then the priestess answered and said, “He’ll never leave here alive if I get my way, or my faith and prayers are fulfilled,” and she chanted:
“In the grave, our guest
will get his rest,
and many a maim
will mar his ease.
Then will he, Sturlaug,
the Hard Worker
be gnawed in flesh
with the knives of gums.”
After this, Sturlaug gets ready to go in, forbidding his sworn brothers to follow him. In the temple, there stood three slabs, as high as a man’s ribs, and deep pits inside between them, full of poison, so he had to jump over them to reach the place where the aurox horn was. Now Sturlaug launches himself and jumped in over all three slabs, boldly and well, grabbing the horn off the table quickly and without any hindrance, and set off back. The priestess stands there swollen with rage, holding a double-edged short-sword. He can see what looks like fire burning from the edges of it. She shrieks horribly at him and gnashes her teeth at him, although she baulks at actually attacking him. And as Sturlaug comes to the slabs, he sees Hrolf Neb leaping in over the slabs. Hrolf heads for where Thor and Odin were, grabbed the tafl set and tips them into his lap and runs along the temple hall, making for the exit. And now he sees the priestess running after him, gnashing her teeth and snarling. He jumps onto the slabs now, meaning to get out over them, but the priestess catches hold of his tunic and snatches him aloft and drives him down against the slabs so that his spine was snapped instantly. So died Hrolf Neb, with great courage.
After this, the priestess runs out and screams with such terrible rantings and ravings and threats that echoes answered her from every cliff and hill around. She spots Sturlaug now and give chase and attacks him. He defends himself well and with great courage and skill. And at that moment, Sturlaug sees someone coming out of the forest, then another and a third figure, and next thing they’re coming from all directions. Sturlaug retreats, but she attacks all the more viciously as she sees the others pouring in. He leaps at her now with Horn-Neb’s Gift and drives it right through her so that the point stood out through through her shoulders. She jerks back so hard, he loses his grip on the halberd, and that’s where it stays, but she died instantly. Sturlaug runs out to the ship now and cuts the rope. The Bjarmalanders attack in strength in their ships.
Framar said then, “I utter these words: let come now the wind that Grimhild promised me.”
And at once, there came on a spanking wind, straining the sail so that every rope was taut, and they sail away, and the Bjarmians pursued for as long as they could, some being driven off by the ferocity of the gale, others falling to their weapons. Those that managed to find their way back counted themselves lucky.
19. Sturlaug Hands Over the Horn
Meanwhile Sturlaug and his companions sail out to sea. Nothing is told of their travels till they come to Värmland. They put in there and asked after the news. They were told that Jarl Hring had left the country and gone to Sweden. Then they go to King Harald and come into his hall and went into the king’s presence and greeted him. Sturlaug stood before the king, holding the aurox horn. The king sat on his throne, swollen with rage to such an extent that he could hardly get a word out.
Sturlaug says, “I’ve come back from this mission, your majesty, although you didn’t expect that. And to prove it, here’s the horn I’m carrying.”
doesn’t answer or hold out his hand to receive the horn, but Sturlaug tosses it
at the king’s nose, drawing blood instantly and knocking out four of his teeth.
After that, Sturlaug goes east to
At that time Ingifreyr was king of Sweden. Sturlaug was appointed to defend his lands, together with all his sworn brothers, and they carried out extensive raids on enemy lands and were always victorious wherever they went, and so it went on for twelve years. Then King Ingifreyr gave Sturlaug the title of king, along with a great deal of land, and his sworn brothers had the task of defending the land.
20. Sturlaug Went Raiding in Bjarmland and the Land of the Hundings
One day, Sturlaug announces that he wants to go to Bjarmaland and gathers a large force, and they came to Bjarmaland and burn and destroy all that they can there. They committed one atrocity after another. Word of this reached King Rondolf of Bjarmaland, and he gathers an army at once, although he didn’t managed to raise a very big one. And thereupon the two forces met, and there ensues at once the most ferocious of battles. There many thick shields could be seen cloven, mail-coats cut, spearheads broken from the their shafts and swords asunder, and many a man sinking headless to the ground. And this battle ended with King Rondolf slain, and many men with him. And after this great deed, Sturlaug subdues under him the whole of Bjarmaland. He also got back the halberd, Horn-Neb’s Gift, and many other good treasures.
And when this great achievement was complete, he decided to take his army to Hundingjaland and fight the king of the Hundings. After this, Sturlaug gets ready to travel again with his army, and there’s nothing told of the journey till he came to Hundingjaland. They kill men and seize property, burn the farms and the whole district, wherever they go. Word of this reaches King Hundolf, and he gathers an army and sets off at once to meet Sturlaug. And thereupon the two forces meet, and there ensues at once a battle between them with fierce fighting and hefty blows. Sturlaug often charges through their ranks. He had both his hands bloody to the shoulders, dealing them heavy blows, striking many men headless to the ground, and the fiends received them.
It’s said that
King Hundolf advanced boldly. Surlaug sees the king striking down his standard.
He’s not best pleased by that and strides forward with the short-sword
Vefreyja’s Gift drawn in his hand, and makes for King Hundolf and strikes the
king’s helmet with his sword and clove him right down from skull to torso, slicing
through his armour and cutting the horse in two beneath him. His sword came to
rest in the earth. And Sturlaug and his sworn brothers slew countless Hundings,
and King Sturlaug won a beautiful victory. They head back then, and Snaelaug
goes with them. Nothing is told of their journey till they arrived back home in
21. Of Solemn Oaths
And the following winter, Sturlaug held a Yule Feast and invited many nobles. And on Yule Eve, when everyone was seated, Sturlaug stood up and spoke: “It is the custom of all to establish new merriment for the entertainment of those that have come. Now I’ll begin the swearing of solemn oaths. And the vow I’m swearing is that I’ll discover where the aurox horn stems from by the third Yule or die trying.
Then up stands Framar and swears that he’ll find his way into the bed of Ingibjorg, the daughter of King Ingvar of Russia in the east, and that he’ll have kissed her by the third Yule or die trying.
Sighvat the Tall swears that he will accompany his sworn brothers wherever they want to go or set off on travels. It isn’t told what oaths any others swore. Now Yule passes without incident, and after the feast each guest went home with good gifts.
It’s said that Sturlaug went to visit Vefreyja, and she gave him a warm welcome. He tells her of his oath. She offered him trusty advice, as will become apparent. Sturlaug went home from there, well satisfied with his journey. Time passes now, and all is quiet.
22. Of Mjoll and Frosti
It was said that, one day, Sturlaug calls Frosti to him and talks to him: “I have a mission for you.”
He asked what that might be.
“You’re to go north to Finnmark and get this little stick into the lap of King Snow’s daughter.”
He agrees to go. After this, Frosti gets ready to go and sails out now to sea. He comes to Finnmark and into the presence of King Snow and greets him. The king accepts his greeting well and asks him his name.
He says he’s called Gest, “and I’d like you to accept me in your retinue.”
The king says that he will. Frosti kept himself to himself and didn’t meddle in any of the goings on at court. He stayed there over the winter, and the king treated him well. A little way from the royal hall, there was a bower and two fences, so high that nothing could get over short of a flying bird. Frosti sits all the time by the stockade, wanting to see Princess Mjoll, but never managed it. Winter passes without incident.
And one day, as men were playing with the king, Frosti goes to the stockade and sees that it’s open, and the bower likewise. He goes in and sees a woman sitting there on a chair, combing her hair with a golden comb. The hair lay on a pillow beside her, as fine as silk. He takes in her appearance now, and he didn’t think he’d ever seen a more beautiful woman than this. He couldn’t keep still, since he couldn’t do now what he wanted, so he takes the stick and throws it into her lap. She sweeps back her hair and takes the stick and looks at it. And when she’s read it, she looks out towards the fence and smiles and seemed delighted with what was carved on the stick. Her maidservants came into the bower now, and Guest left and went back to the hall and he could neither eat nor sleep for the concern he had for his mission.
And when everyone was asleep, he felt something touch his chest. He follows the hand up, and a golden ring falls from the arm. He gets up and goes out. There he finds the Princess Mjoll.
She spoke: “Is it true what’s written on this stick?” she says.
“It certainly is,” he says.
She said, “We’re agreed then, me and Sturlaug, because there isn’t a man under the sun that I’m more pleased with. I’d gladly be his lover if he’d like. I wouldn’t hold back any affection with him but share embraces and polite caresses, kisses and love.”
“All this, he’ll accept with kindness,” says Frosti, “if you come to him.”
“Are you ready?” she asks.
“I’ve been quite ready for a long time,” he says.
She goes to the door of the hall and intones some words before she leaves. After that, they go. And Frosti could hardly keep up with her.
She said, “You’re very slow, Frosti dear. Grab hold of my belt.”
She went so fast, he felt he was full of wind. And nothing is told of their journey till they came to Sweden. Princess Mjoll took women for herself into her bower. Frosti met Sturlaug and tells him of his travels and how it’s turned out.
Sturlaug said, “Now the fox has come out of its hole. You must now dress yourself in my best clothes and marry her in my place. She’ll think it’s me because we look very much alike, you an me, in every respect.”
Frosti said, “I’ll carry out all your plans.”
Then Sturlaug says, “What I’d like Frosti, is for you, when you go to bed with Princess Mjoll, to ask her what the origin of the aurox horn is, as she alone knows that. Meanwhile I’ll stand behind the tapestry while you talk about that.
He agreed to do it. Now he enters the hall with a great company of attendants in fine clothes and sits down in the throne, and everyone takes him to be Sturlaug. Mjoll looks at the bridegroom most pleasantly, very happy with her lot.
The evening passes, and eventually they go to bed together. Then the bride turns to her husband and talks very affectionately to him.
Frosti says to her, “How do you like your lot?”
“It’s just what I want, Sturlaug dear,” she says. “Isn’t it the same for you?”
“I feel exactly the same way,” he says, “but there’s just one thing I’d like you to tell me.”
“What’s that?” she says.
“It’s like this,” he says. “I have a solemn oath on my hands. And to fulfil it, I have to know where the aurox horn comes from.”
“I can tell you that,” she says. “The first thing to say is that King Harald went raiding in many lands and was always victorious wherever he went, but there’d always come a great famine in many lands, and most of all in Bjarmaland, with loss of man and beast. Then they took one animal and made sacrifices to it, and they called it an aurox. It gaped at them, and into its mouth they dropped gold and silver, and cast such spells over it that it grew in power and became worse and more harmful than any other animal. It began then to eat both men and livestock, and crushed it all under itself, and laid waste to everything west of the River Dvina, and not a single creature could get away. There wasn’t a champion who dared to go up against this beast till word of it reached King Harald, and of the likelihood of riches there, and he sets sail for Bjarmaland and came there with three hundred ships. There it happened that King Harald fell asleep. A woman came to him, and she had a rather grand manner.
She said to the king, “Here you lie and think to defeat our beast which is called the aurox.”
The king said, “What’s your name?”
“Godrid,” she says, “and I’m just a little way inland. And if you want my advice, you should head inland tomorrow morning with half your men, and then you’ll see the beast. The crowd will take fright at that and run off to the sea. Then you must attack it with all the rest of your army, and take a big stick to it and bludgeon it with that. The beast will run away and out to sea. Then Godrid will throw herself in front of it, and it will force me under and hold me down. It will come up dead afterwards. Then you can take it, but I must have the pick of its treasures, and that’s the horn that sticks out of the front of its head.”
“It will be as you say,” says the king.
The night passed, and everything went as she’d said: they managed to defeat the beast. Then this woman came and took the horn. It’s the same one you were after in the temple in Bjarmaland, Sturlaug dear. Now I have told you where the aurox horn comes from.”
He says: “You’ve done well now.”
And after that, Sturlaug leaves, and now fire is kindled in the bower and Frosti and Mjoll burnt to ashes. There they lost their lives. This was all the advice of Vefreyja, because Mjoll was so sorcerous that she’d have cast some spell on Sturlaug and Vefreyja at once if she’d known this in advance.
23. Aki Married Ingibjorg
The next thing to say is that Aki and King Sturlaug send Sighvat the Tall east to Russia to ask for the hand of Princess Ingibjorg. He has ten ships, and sails to Gautland. He performs well and valiantly till he comes to Russia and meets with the king and greets him well and respectfully. The king accepts his greeting and asks him who he is.
He answers, “My name is Sighvat, and I’m here to ask for the hand of your daughter Ingibjorg on behalf of my sworn brother Aki.”
“You certainly are great men, you sworn brothers,” says the king, “and indeed you think yourselves greater than kings. And you expect me to be so open-handed with men and money, lands and princesses that I’d give away my own daughter to Sturlaug’s thralls? Seize them and let them feel the embrace of the highest gallows.”
Sighvat hurried from the hall and escaped to the ship. He tells his men to travel fast. They sail home and tell Sturlaug how their journey went.
Sturlaug gets ready now with all speed, and his sworn brothers accompany him, and they travel west to Gautland. King Sturlaug seized King Dag, for King Dag hadn’t the forces to oppose them, and gave him two choices: to give away his daughter Aka in marriage, or else to die. And, as it was clear to the king that he was defeated, he chose to give away his daughter Aka. Aki was betrothed to Ingibjorg, and a wedding feast prepared without further ado, and Aki married the Princess Ingibjorg, and lived there afterwards, and he’s out of this saga. Then Sturlaug went back to his kingdom and lived at peace.
24. Of Framar’s Proposal
Now it’s to be told that Framar wants to fulfil his vow. He gets ready to travel abroad and has sixty ships. They set sail for the east and spent the summer raiding and brought their forces to Aldeigjuborg. King Ingvar ruled there. He was a wise man and a great leader. He had a daughter called Ingigerd. She was more beautiful to look upon than any other woman and sharp of wit, a good doctor, and many went to her when were in need of healing. It’s told that she was to choose a husband for herself. Many leaders had asked for her hand, but she’d turned them all down with courtly replies. Framar sent his men to Aldeigjuborg to meet with King Ingvar to request his daughter’s hand in marriage.
The king replies that he’ll call an assembly and bids him attend, “and she’ll choose a husband for herself.”
Framar waits now till the day comes when the assembly is to be held. Framar dresses himself in royal array and attends the assembly with an impressive retinue. He had a chair set under him. King Invar arrives with a great host.
The king asks, “Who is that man with such a magnificent manner.”
“I’m called Snaekoll,” he says, “and I’ve come to ask for your daughter.”
The king says, “Where are your lands and subjects, your great wealth and honours?”
“My intention is to seek wealth and honour with you, if I should become your inlaw,” says Framar.
The king says, “Have you not heard that she herself is to choose a husband?”
“I’ve heard,” he says.
Then Ingigerd is sent for, and she comes to the assembly and greeted her father. He receives her well and worthily.
“You have a suitor to greet here,” he says.
“Who’s that?” she says.
“He’s called Snaekoll,” says the king.
“That may well be,” she says, and goes before this tall man and looks at him for a while and then said, smiling, “You are a fine, brave man,” she says, “and indeed you sworn brothers think yourselves greater than kings for esteem. I know well who you are, Framar,” she says, “and you don’t need to hide it from me.”
After that, the assembly was finished.
25. Of Framar and Ingigerd
Framar went to his ship and they set course for some islands which lay close by the shore. There Framar had them put up the awnings on their ships. Then Framar took for himself a merchant’s garb, and he goes to the hall and asks if he might stay the winter there. The king grants his request, and he called himself Gest. He often looked out for a chance to get into the princess’s bower, but he never managed it.
It happened one day that he was leaving the hall and walked along a certain road. He heard human speech coming up out of the ground beside him. He spots the opening to an underground chamber and goes down into it and sees three wizards.
He said, “It’s good that we’ve met. I’ll report you.”
They say, “Don’t do that, Framar; we’ll accomplish for you whatever you wish, whatever manner of thing it is.”
Then Framar answers, “Then cast leprosy on me, but in such a way that I’ll get better as soon as I want.”
“So be it,” they say. “That’s no problem for us.”
They transformed his whole flesh so that he was nothing but crust and scabs from head to heels, and he leaves them and goes to the princess’s bower and sits down under the fence.
Princess Ingigerd sends one of her chambermaids to the hall, and when the chambermaid sees this poor man, she turns back, saying to the king’s daughter of this man, “and he must need your mercy.”
They go to the fence, and the king’s daughter looks at him for a long time, this wretched man, and they haven’t seen his like, so badly has the disease affected him.
The princess said, “He’s in a sorry state, this man, and very poorly, and yet you’ll need to do better than that if you want to fool me, because I’ll recognise you Framar so long as you’ve healthy eyes in your head, whatever abominable spells you cast on yourself.”
She goes back to her bower while Framar goes off to the wizards, and they remove the illness from him. He goes away and gave no heed now to what went on.
26. Framar Accomplished his Vow
He goes to the wood and on down the road. He sees a man coming towards him, tall of stature, and holding his belly in both hands. He was wearing a coat of mail and had a helmet on his head, and his baldric hung down over his chest. It was his sworn brother Guttorm. There was a happy meeting there between them. Framar asks where he’d come from. He claims to have fought against the viking Snaekoll and lost there men and property, and that he himself had escaped by swimming. And he asks how far it is to the princess’s bower.
Framar says, “It’s a day’s walk there.”
“That’s a very long way,” says Guttorm.
Framar says, “How long have you been walking.”
Guttorm says, “Two days before we met.”
Framar said, “There’s a big difference between your courage and mine. I’m sorrowing on account of a maiden and not getting her and haven’t been in any battle, while you’re walking, as can be seen, with your guts hanging out, and I’d like you to get me into her bower, if she’ll receive you.”
“I will if I can,” says Guttorm.
They go now the same way as Framar had gone before till they come to the fence, and Guttorm was in a bad way. And when they got there, Framar went away. At that moment, a chambermaid had gone out of the into her yard on some errand and saw this man with his guts hanging out, and goes back into the bower and tells the king’s daughter about this man who’d come. The princess jumps up at once along with all of her twelve maids, and they go to the gate. The princess sees this poor man now and how badly he’d been treated, with his guts hanging out. She asks him his name. He says he’s called Guttorm.
“Are you the sworn brother of King Sturlaug,” she says.
“The very same,” he says. “And I’d like to ask you if you might give me some help.”
She says, “How much closer to Sturlaug could I get than by healing his sworn brother, but don’t betray me.”
After that, they carry him into the bower. The king’s daughter had a little infirmary, and it was most delightful inside there for ailing wretches, to be staying with gentle and sympathetic womenfolk. Guttorm stayed in the princess’s infirmary for a while and was very well looked after. The king’s daughter was forever there with her chambermaids and healed Guttorm with the skill and wisdom that she had in plenty, and likewise many a patient, rich and poor, women and men, healed and made healthy.
It happened one day that the king sent for his daughter. She came at once with her chambermaids to the hall, and they left the bower open, and and the gate in the stockade wasn’t locked. This is what Framar had been waiting for, and Guttorm comes to him and leads him into the bower and into the infirmary, and he stands there behind the drapes. It draws towards evening, and eventually the king’s daughter comes to the bower, and she goes at once to Guttorm and takes off the bandages from his wounds, and they were well healed by now.
“You’ve been outside today,” says the princess, “and I think you’ve betrayed me.”
And as they were talking thus, Framar jumps out from behind the curtain and takes hold of her chin with one hand, and the nape of her neck with the other, and kissed her.
She was furious and told them to leave fast: “I don’t want you to be killed before my eyes, as would be fitting. Guttorm has been here for a while, and he has Sturlaug to thank for that. But the two of you have done plenty to earn death by this behaviour of yours. But I have a liking for Sturlaug on account of his accomplishments.”
They go now, as she instructed them. Framar left at once and went out to his ships, and now they sail to Sweden and tell king Sturlaug how things stand and ask him to lend his assistance.
27. Attack on Aldeigjuborg
He’s agreeable to that and musters men from all over his kingdom and has a great fleet prepared, with three hundred ships, well equipped in every respect. They set course then for Russia with great merriment and pomp. And when they reach land, they charge ashore with their army, slay and slaughter, raze and ruin, burning both man and beast.
And when this had been going on for a while, they become aware of a mustering of forces, and when the kings Snaekoll and Ingvar become aware of this, each of them marches against the other. And when they met, there was fought the fiercest of battles, and it was a ferocious assault with which each assailed the other. Sturlaug advanced unprotected, as was his wont. The sworn brothers fought with great valour and heroism. That battle lasted three days with great loss of life.
Among those that fell before Sturlaug in this battle were King Ingvar and King Snaekoll. Hvitserk escaped in the route, and many men with him. Sturlaug had the peace-shield raised and went on to Aldeigjuborg with his whole army. There was great rejoicing and merriment there and noisy celebration among Sturlaugs forces, and the whole town was in their power. All the inhabitants came to make truce and give their allegiance to Sturlaug.
28. Framar Married Ingigerd
Then Sturlaug gave the king’s daughter Ingigerd in marriage to Framar. That wedding feast was magnificent in every respect and nothing was wanting, and after the feast, the leading men were sent on their way with fine gifts. They parted thus and each went back to his home. Sturlaug then gave the town of Aldeigjuborg to Framar together with all the wealth that had belonged to King Ingvar and, with it, the title of king. Framar now settles into his kingdom with his wealth and rules his realm, taking counsel from the best men in that land. And from Framar and Ingigerd are descended a great family and many great men, although they aren’t traced out in this saga.
After this, Sturlaug goes back to Sweden and settles into his kingdom and was wise and wealthy, and he was at peace all the time with the chief king in Sweden, and the king thought him hardy in all trials, for his sworn brothers remained fast friends and loyal to one another as long as they all lived.
Sturlaug and Asa had two sons. One was called Heinrek, and the other Ingolf. They were both big lads and likely-looking, and many a tale is told of them. They learnt all kinds of skills already at a young age. They were both kings after the death of their father Sturlaug, and many great families are descended from them. Sturlaug died of old age after the time of King Peace-Frodi.
Here ends the saga.
 góma knífar ‘knives of the roof and floor of the mouth’, a kenning for ‘teeth’.