Chapter 64 - Egil slays Ljot the Pale.
Thorstein and Egil made ready for their journey so soon as they had ended their errand. They then went their way back, and when they came
south over the Dovre-fell, then said Egil that he would go down to Raumsdale, and after that south by way of the sounds. 'I will,' said he, 'finish my business
in Sogn and Hordaland, for I would fain in the summer take my ship out to Iceland.' Thorstein bade him settle his journey as he would. So Thorstein and Egil
Thorstein went south by the dales all the way till he came to his estates. There he produced the tokens of the king and his message before the
stewards, that they should give up all that property which they had taken and Thorstein claimed. No one spoke against it, and he then took all his property.
Egil went his way, they being twelve in all. They came on to Raumsdale, there got them conveyance, and then went south to Mæri. Nothing is told
of their journey before they came to the island called Hod, and went to pass the night at a farm named Bindheim. This was a well-to-do homestead, in which
dwelt a baron named Fridgeir. He was young in years, and had but lately inherited his father's property. His mother was named Gyda; she was a sister of lord
Arinbjorn, a woman of a noble presence and wealthy. She managed the house for her son Fridgeir: they lived in grand style. There Egil and his company found
good welcome. In the evening Egil sat next to Fridgeir, and his comrades outside him. There was much drink and sumptuous viands. Gyda, the house-mistress, in
the evening had some talk with Egil. She inquired about Arinbjorn, her brother, and other of her kinsmen and friends who had gone to England with Arinbjorn.
Egil answered her inquiries. She asked what tidings had befallen in Egil's journey. He told her plainly. Then he sang:
'Gloomy on me glowered
In gruesome wrath a king:
But cuckoo faints and fails not
For vulture flapping near.
Aid good from Arinbjorn,
As oft, and peace I gat.
He falls not whom true friends
Help forward on his way.'
Egil was very cheerful that evening, but Fridgeir and his household were rather silent. Egil saw there a maiden fair and well dressed; he was
told that she was Fridgeir's sister. The maiden was sad and wept constantly that evening, which they thought strange. They were there for the night, but in the
morning the wind was blowing hard, and there was no putting to sea. They need a boat to take them from the island. Then went Fridgeir and with him Gyda to
Egil, and offered that he and his comrades should stay there till it was good travelling weather, and should have thence such help for the journey as they
needed. This Egil accepted. They stayed there weather-bound for three nights, most hospitably entertained. After that the weather became calm.
Then Egil and his men rose up early in the morning and made ready; then went to meat, and ale was given them to drink, and they sat awhile.
Then they took their clothes. Egil stood up and thanked the master and mistress of the house for their entertainment; then they went out. The master and his
mother went out into the path with them. Gyda then went to speak with her son Fridgeir, and talked low with him, Egil standing the while and waiting for them.
Egil said to the maiden: 'Why weep you, maiden? I never see you cheerful.'
She could not answer, but wept the more. Fridgeir now said to his mother aloud: 'I will not now ask this. They are even now ready for their
Then Gyda went to Egil and said: 'I will tell you, Egil, how things stand here with us. There is a man named Ljot the Pale. He is a Berserk
and a duellist; he is hated. He came here and asked my daughter to wife; but we answered at once, refusing the match. Whereupon he challenged my son Fridgeir
to wager of battle; and he has to go to-morrow to this combat on the island called Vors. Now I wished, Egil, that you should go to the combat with Fridgeir.
It would soon be shown if Arinbjorn were here in the land, that we should not endure the overbearing of such a fellow as is Ljot.'
Egil said: ''Tis but my bounden duty, lady, for the sake of Arinbjorn thy kinsman that I go, if Fridgeir thinks this any help to him.'
'Herein you do well,' said Gyda. 'So we will go back into the hall, and be all together for the whole day.'
Then Egil and the rest went into the hall and drank. They sate there for the day. But in the evening came those friends of Fridgeir who had
appointed to go with him, and there was a numerous company for the night, and a great banquet. On the morrow Fridgeir made ready to go, and many with him,
Egil being one of the party. It was now good travelling weather.
They now start, and soon come to the island. There was a fair plain near the sea, which was to be the place of combat. The ground was
marked out by stones lying round in a ring. Soon came thither Ljot and his party. Then he made him ready for the combat. He had shield and sword. Ljot
was a man of vast size and strong. And as he came forward on the field to the ground of combat, a fit of Berserk fury seized him; he began to bellow hideously,
and bit his shield. Fridgeir was not a tall man; he was slenderly built, comely in face, not strong. He had not been used to combats. But when Egil saw Ljot,
then he sang a stave:
'It fits not young Fridgeir
To fight with this warrior,
Grim gnawer of shield-rim,
By his gods who doth curse.
I better may meet him,
May rescue the maiden;
Full fearsome he stareth,
Yet "fey" are his eyes.'
Ljot saw where Egil stood, and heard his words. He said: 'Come thou hither, big man, to the holm, and fight with me, if thou hast a wish
that way. That is a far more even match than that I should fight with Fridgeir, for I shall deem me no whit the greater man though I lay him low on earth.'
Then sang Egil:
'Ljot asketh but little,
Loth were I to baulk him.
Pale wight, my hand pliant
Shall play on his mail.
Come, busk we for combat;
Nor quarter expect thou:
Strife-stirrer, in Mæri
Stern shield-cutting ours.'
After this Egil made him ready for combat with Ljot. Egil had the shield that he was wont to have, was girded with the sword which he
called Adder, but in his hand he had Dragvandill. He went in over the boundary that marked the battle-ground, but Ljot was then not ready. Egil shook
his sword and sang:
'Hew we with hilt-wands flashing,
Hack we shield with falchion,
Test we moony targets,
Tinge red sword in blood.
Ljot from life be sundered,
Low stern play shall lay him,
Quelled the quarrel-seeker:
Come, eagles, to your prey.'
Then Ljot came forward on the field and declared the law of combat, that he should ever after bear the name of dastard who should draw
back outside the boundary stones that were set up in a ring round the field of combat. This done, they closed, and Egil dealt a blow at Ljot, which Ljot
parried with his shield, but Egil then dealt blow upon blow so fast that Ljot got no chance for a blow in return. He drew back to get room for a stroke,
but Egil pressed as quickly after him, dealing blows with all his vigour. Ljot went out beyond the boundary stones far into the field. So ended the first
bout. Then Ljot begged for a rest. Egil let it be so. They stopped therefore and rested. And Egil sang:
Back goeth yon champion,
In craven fear crouches
This wealth-craving wight.
Not strongly fights spearmen
His strokes who delayeth.
Lo beat by a bald-head
This bragging pest flies.'
These were the laws of wager of battle in those times, that when one man challenged another on any claim, and the challenger gained the
victory, then he should have as prize of victory that which he had claimed in his challenge. But if he were vanquished, then should he ransom himself for
such price as should be fixed. But if he were slain on the field, then had he forfeited all his possessions, and he who slew him in the combat should take
his inheritance. This was also law, that if a foreigner died who had no heir in the land, then that inheritance fell to the king's treasury.
And now Egil bade Ljot be ready.
'I will,' he said, 'that we now try to the uttermost this combat.'
Ljot sprang swiftly to his feet. Egil bounded at him and dealt at once a blow at him. He pressed him so close, that he was driven back,
and the shield shifted from before him. Then smote Egil at Ljot, and the blow came on him above the knee, taking off his leg. Ljot then fell and soon
expired. Then Egil went to where Fridgeir and his party stood. He was heartily thanked for this work. Then sang Egil:
'Fall'n lies the wolf-feeder,
Foul worker of mischief:
Ljot's leg by skald sever'd
Leaves Fridgeir in peace.
From the free gold-giver
Guerdon none I seek me,
Sport I deem the spear-din,
Sport with such pale foe.'
Ljot's death was little mourned, for he had been a turbulent bully. He was a Swede by birth, and had no kin there in the land. He had
come thither and amassed him wealth by duels. He had slain many worthy landowners, whom he had first challenged to wager of battle for their lands and
heritages; he had now become very wealthy both in lands and chattels.
Egil went home with Fridgeir from the field of combat. He stayed there but a short time before going south to Mæri. Egil and Fridgeir
parted with much affection. Egil charged Fridgeir with the securing of those lands that had belonged to Ljot. Egil went on his way and came to the
Firths, whence he went into Sogn to seek Thord in Aurland. Thord received him well; he declared his errand and the message of king Hacon. These words
of Egil were taken well by Thord, who promised him his help in this matter. Egil remained there with Thord far into the spring.
64. kafli - Egill drap Ljót inn bleika.
Þorsteinn ok Egill bjuggu ferð sína, þegar þeir höfðu lokit erendum sínum. Fara þeir þá aftr á leið. Ok er þeir koma suðr um Dofrafjall,
þá segir Egill, at hann vill fara ofan til Eaumsdals ok síðan suðr sundaleið. "Vil ek," segir hann, "lúka erendum mínum í Sogni ok í Hörðalandi, því at ek
vil búa skip mitt í sumar til Íslands út."
Þorsteinn bað hann ráða ferð sinni. Skiljast þeir Þorsteinn ok Egill. Fór Þorsteinn suðr um Dali ok alla leið, til þess er hann kom til búa
sinna. Bar hann þá fram jartegnir konungs ok orðsending fyrir ármennina, at þeir skyldi láta fé þat allt, er þeir hafa upp tekit ok Þorsteinn kallaði til.
Egill fór leiðar sinnar ok þeir tólf saman. Kómu þeir fram í Raumsdal, fengu sér þá flutningar, fóru síðan suðr á Mæri. Er ekki sagt frá ferð
þeira, fyrr en þeir kómu í ey þá, er Höð heitir, ok fóru til gistingar á bæ þann, er heitir á Blindheimi. Þat var göfugr bær. Þar bjó lendr maðr, er Friðgeirr
hét. Hann var ungr at aldri, hafði nýtekit við föðurarfi sínum. Móðir hans hét Gyða. Hon var systir Arinbjarnar hersis, skörungr mikill ok göfug kona. Hon var
at ráðum með syni sínum, Friðgeiri. Höfðu þau þar rausnarbú mikit. Þar fengu þeir allgóðar viðtökur. Sat Egill um kveldit it næsta Friðgeiri ok förunautar hans
þar útar frá. Var þar drykkja mikil ok dýrlig veizla.
Gyða húsfreyja gekk um kveldit til tals við Egil. Hon spurði at Arinbirni, bróður sínum, ok enn at fleirum frændum sínum ok vinum, þeim er til
Englands höfðu farit með Arinbirni. Egill sagði henni þat, er hon spurði. Hon spurði, hvat til tíðenda hefði gerzt í ferðum Egils. Hann segir henni af it
ljósasta. Þá kvað hann:
Egill var allkátr um kveldit, en Friðgeirr ok heimamenn váru heldr hljóðir. Egill sá þar mey fagra ok vel búna. Honum var sagt, at hon var
systir Friðgeirs. Mærin var ókát ok grét einart um kveldit. Þat þótti þeim undarligt.
Þar váru þeir um kveldit. En um morgininn var veðr hvasst ok eigi sæfært. Þar þurftu þeir far ór eyjunni. Þá gekk Friðgeirr ok bæði þau Gyða
til fundar við Egil. Buðu þau honum þar at sitja með förunauta sína, til þess er gott væri færiveðr, ok hafa þaðan fararbeina, þann sem þeir þyrfti. Egill
þekkðist þat. Sátu þeir þar veðrfastir þrjár nætr, ok var þar inn mesti mannfagnaðr. Eftir þat gerði veðr lygnt. Stóðu þeir Egill þá upp snemma um morgininn
ok bjuggust, gengu þá til matar, ok var þeim gefit öl at drekka, ok sátu þeir um hríð. Síðan tóku þeir klæði sín. Egill stóð upp ok þakkaði bónda ok húsfreyju
beina sinn, ok gengu síöan út.
Bóndi ok móðir hans gengu á götu með þeim. Þá gekk Gyða til máls við Friðgeir, son sinn, ok talaði við hann lágt. Egill stóð meðan ok beið
Egill mælti við meyna: "Hvat grætr þú, mær? Ek sé þik aldri káta."
Hon mátti engu svara ok grét at meir. Friðgeirr svarar móður sinni hátt: "Ekki vil ek nú biðja þess. Þeir eru nú búnir ferðar sinnar."
Þá gekk Gyða at Agli ok mælti: "Ek mun segja þér, Egill, tíðendi þau, sem hér eru með oss. Maðr heitir Ljótr inn bleiki. Hann er berserkr ok
hólmgöngumaðr. Hann er óþokkasæll. Hann kom hér ok bað dóttur minnar, en vér svöruðum skjótt ok synjuðum honum ráðsins. Síðan skoraði hann til hólmgöngu á
Friðgeir, son minn, ok skal á morgin koma til hólmsins í ey þá, er Vörl heitir. Nú vilda ek, Egill, at þú færir til hólmsins með Friðgeiri. Myndi þat sannast,
ef Arinbjörn væri hér í landi, at vér myndim eigi þola ofríki slíkum manni sem Ljótr er."
"Skylt er þat, húsfreyja, fyrir sakar Arinbjarnar, frænda þíns, at ek fara með syni þínum, ef honum þykkir sér þat nökkurt fullting."
"Þá gerir þú vel," segir Gyða, "skulum vér þá ganga inn í stofu ok vera öll saman daglangt."
Ganga þeir Egill þá inn í stofu ok drukku. Sátu þeir þar um daginn, en um kveldit kómu vinir Friðgeirs, þeir er til ferðar váru ráðnir með
honum, ok var fjölmennt um nóttina. Var þar þá veizla mikil.
En eftir um daginn bjóst Friðgeirr til ferðar ok margt manna með honum. Var þar Egill í för. Þá var gott færiveðr. Fara þeir síðan ok koma í
eyna Vörl. Þar var fagr völlr skammt frá sjónum, er hólmstefnan skyldi vera. Var þar markaðr hólmstaðr, lagðir steinar útan um.
Nú kom þar Ljótr með lið sitt. Bjóst hann þá til hólmgöngu. Hann hafði skjöld ok sverð. Ljótr var allmikill maðr ok sterkligr. Ok er hann gekk
fram á völlinn at hólmstaðnum, þá kom á hann berserksgangr. Tók hann þá at grenja illiliga ok beit í skjöld sinn. Friðgeirr var maðr ekki mikill, grannligr ok
fríðr sjónum ok ekki sterkr. Hafði hann ok ekki staðit í bardögum. Ok er Egill sá Ljót, þá kvað hann vísu:
Esa Friðgeiri færi,
förum holms á vit, sörvar,
skulum banna mjök manni
mey, örlygi at heyja
við þanns bítr ok blótar
bönd élhvötuð Göndlar,
alfeigum skýtr ægir
augum, skjöld at baugi.
Ljótr sá, hvar Egill stóð, ok heyrði orð hans ok mælti: "Gakk þú hingat, inn mikli maðr, á hólminn ok berst við mik, ef þú ert allfúss til, ok
reynum með okkr. Er þat miklu jafnligra en ek berjumst við Friðgeir, því at ek þykkjumst eigi at meiri maðr, þó at ek leggja hann at jörðu."
Þá kvað Egill:
Esat lítillar Ljóti,
leik ek við hal bleikan
við bifteini, bænar,
brynju, rétt at synja.
Búumk til vígs, en vægðar
ván lætka ek hánum,
skapa verðum vit skaldi
skæru, drengr, á Mæri.
Síðan bjóst Egill til hólmgöngu við Ljót. Egill hafði skjöld þann, sem hann var vanr at hafa, en hann var gyrðr sverði því, er hann kallaði
Naðr, en hann hafði Dragvandil í hendi. Hann gekk inn yfir mark þat, er hólmstefnan skyldi vera, en Ljótr var þá eigi búinn. Egill skók sverðit ok kvað vísu:
Þá kom Ljótr fram á vígvöllinn, ok síðan rennast þeir at, ok heggr Egill til Ljóts, en Ljótr brá við skildinum, en Egill hjó hvert högg at
öðru, svá at Ljótr fekk ekki höggvit í móti. Hann hopaði undan til höggrúmsins, en Egill fór jafnskjótt eftir ok hjó sem ákafast. Ljótr fór út um marksteinana
ok víða um völlinn. Gekk svá in fyrsta hríð. Þá beiddist Ljótr hvíldar. Egill lét þat ok vera. Nema þeir þá stað ok hvíla sik. Þá kvað Egill:
Fyrir þykki mér fúra
fleins stökkvandi nökkvat,
hræðisk hodda beiðir
happlauss, fara kappi.
Stendrat fast, sás frestar
fleindöggvar stafr, höggum.
Vábeiða ferr víðan
völl fyr rotnum skalla.
Þat váru hólmgöngulög í þann tíma, at sá, er skorar á mann annan til eins hvers hlutar, ok fengi sá sigr, er á skoraði, þá skyldi sá hafa
sigrmál þat, er hann hafði til skorat, en ef hann fengi ósigr, þá skyldi hann leysa sik þvílíku fé sem á kveðit væri. En ef hann felli á hólminum, þá hafði
hann fyrirvegit allri sinni eigu, ok skyldi sá taka arf hans, er hann felldi á hólmi. Þat váru ok lög, ef útlendr maðr andaðist, sá er þar í landi átti engan
erfingja, þá gekk sá arfr í konungsgarð.
Egill bað, at Ljótr skyldi búinn verða. "Vil ek, at vér reynim nú hólmgöngu þessa."
Síðan hljóp Egill at honum ok hjó til hans. Gekk hann þá svá nær honum, at hann hrökk fyrir, ok bar þá skjöldinn af honum. Þá hjó Egill til
Ljóts, ok kom á fyrir ofan kné ok tók af fótinn. Fell Ljótr þá ok var þegar örendr. Þá gekk Egill þar til, er þeir Friðgeirr váru. Var þetta verk honum allvel
þakkat. Þá kvað Egill:
Ljótr var lítt harmaðr af flestum mönnum, því at hann hafði verit inn mesti óeirumaðr. Hann var sænskr at ætt ok átti enga frændr þar í landi.
Hann hafði komit þangat ok aflat sér fjár á hólmgöngum. Hann hafði fellt marga góða bændr ok skorat áðr á þá til hólmgöngu ok til jarða þeira ok óðala, var þá
orðin stórauðigr bæði at löndum ok lausum aurum.
Egill fór heim með Friðgeiri af hólmstefnunni. Dvalðist hann þar þá litla hríð, áðr hann fór suðr á Mæri. Skilðust þeir Egill ok Friðgeirr með
miklum kærleik. Bauð Egill Friðgeiri um at heimta jarðir þær, er Ljótr hafði átt. Fór Egill sína leið, kom fram í Fjörðum. Þaðan fór hann inn í Sogn á fund Þórðar
á Aurlandi. Tók hann vel við honum. Bar hann fram erendi sín ok orðsendingar Hákonar konungs. Tók Þórðr vel ræðum Egils ok hét honum liðveizlu sinni um þat mál.
Dvalðist Egill þar lengi um várit með Þórði.