57. Egill slays Berg-nund and raises a nstng

Harold Fairhair set his sons to rule in Norway when he began to grow old: Eric he made king above all his other sons. It was when Harold had been king for seventy years that he gave over the kingdom into the hands of his son Eric. At that time Gunnhilda bare a son, whom Harold the king sprinkled with water, giving him his own name; and he added this that he should be king after his father if he lived long enough. King Harold then settled down in retirement, being mostly in Rogaland or Hordaland. But three years later king Harold died in Rogaland, and a mound was raised to his memory by Haugasound.

After the death of the king there was great strife between his sons, for the men of Vik took Olaf for their king, but the Thronds Sigurd. But these two, his brothers, Eric slew at Tunsberg, one year after king Harold's death. All these things happened in one and the same summer, to wit, king Eric's going with his army eastwards to Vik to fight with his brothers, and (before that) the strife of Egil and Bergonund at the Gula-thing, with the other events that have just been related.

Bergonund remained at home on his estate when the king went to the war, for he thought it unsafe for him to leave home while Egil was still in the land. Hadd, his brother, was now there with him. There was a man named Frodi, a kinsman of king Eric, very handsome, young in years, but a man grown. King Eric left him behind to protect Bergonund. Frodi was staying at Alrekstead, a royal farm, and had some men there. A son of Eric and Gunnhilda there was named Rognvald, who was then ten or eleven years old, and had the makings of a very handsome man. He was with Frodi when these things happened. But before king Eric rowed forth to this war, he made Egil an outlaw through all Norway, and free for any man to slay. Arinbjorn was with the king in the war; but before he left home Egil took his ship to sea, and made for the outlying fishing station called Vitar, over against Aldi. It is on the high road of the seas: fishermen were there, and 'twas a good place for hearing tidings. Then he heard that the king had made him an outlaw. Whereupon Egil sang a stave:

      'Law-breaker, land-demon,
      Long voyage lays on me;
      He bane of his brothers,
      Beguiled by his bride.
      Gunnhilda the guilt bears
      (Grim queen) of my exile:
      Fain am I full swiftly
      Her frauds to repay.'

The weather was calm, a fell-wind blew by night, a sea breeze by day. One evening Egil sailed out to sea, but the fishermen were then rowing in to land, those, to wit, who had been set as spies on Egil's movements. They had this to tell, that Egil had put out and sailed to sea, and was gone. This news they carried to Bergonund. And when he knew these tidings, then he sent away all those men that he had had before for protection. Thereafter he rowed in to Alrekstead, and bade Frodi to his house, for he had a great ale-drinking there. Frodi went with him, taking some men. They were feasted well there, and they made merry, with no fear of danger. Rognvald, the king's son, had a pinnace, rowed by six men on either side, painted all above the sea line. He had with him ten or twelve who constantly followed him; and when Frodi had left home, then Rognvald took the pinnace and they rowed out to Herdla twelve in number. A large farm of the king's was there, whereof the manager was named Skegg-Thorir. Rognvald in his childhood had been fostered there. Thorir received the king's son joyfully. There too was no lack of drink.

Egil sailed out to sea for the night, as was written above. And when morning came the wind fell and there was a calm. They then lay drifting, letting the ship ride free for some nights. But when a sea-breeze came on, Egil said to his shipmen, 'We will now sail to land, for I do not quite know, should the sea-wind come to blow hard, where we could make land, 'tis a dangerous-looking coast in most places.' The rowers bade Egil rule their course.

So then they made sail, and sailed into the waters about Herdla. There they found a good haven, and spread the tent over their ship, and lay there for the night. They had on the ship a little boat, into which went Egil with three men. They rowed into Herdla, and sent a man up into the island to learn tidings; and when he came down to the ship, he said that there at the farm was Rognvald, the king's son, and his men. 'They sate there a-drinking,' said he. 'I lit on one of the house-carles; he was ale-mad, and said that here they must not drink less than was drunk at Bergonund's, though Frodi was feasting there with a party of five. He said that no more were there than the house-hold, save Frodi and his men.'

Whereupon Egil rowed back to the ship, and bade the men rise and take their weapons. They did so. The ship they put out from the shore and anchored. Egil left twelve men to guard the ship, but himself went on the ship's boat, they being eighteen in all; they then rowed in along the sound. They so regulated their pace that they came to Fenhring at eventide, and put into a hidden creek there. Then said Egil: 'Now will I go up into the island and spy out what I can get to know; but you shall await me here.'

Egil had his weapons that he was wont to have, a helm and shield, a sword at his girdle, a halberd in his hand. He went up into the island and along the border of a wood. He had now drawn a hood over his helm. He came where there were some lads, and with them large sheep-dogs. And when they began to exchange words, he asked whence they were, and why they were there, and had such big dogs. They said: 'You must be a very silly fellow; have you not heard that a bear goes about the island here, a great pest? He kills both men and sheep, and a price is set upon his head. We watch here at Askr every night over our flocks that are penned in the fold. By why go you at night thus armed?'

He answered: 'I, too, am afraid of the bear; and few, methinks, now go weaponless. He has long pursued me to-night. See there now, where he is in the skirt of the wood! Are all asleep at this farmhouse?'

The boy said that Bergonund and Frodi would be drinking still; 'they sit at it every night.'

'Then tell them,' said Egil, 'where the bear is; but I will hasten home.'

So he went away; but the boy ran home to the farmhouse, and into the room where they were drinking. All had gone to sleep save these three, Onund, Frodi, and Hadd. The boy told them where the bear was. They took their weapons which hung there by them, and at once ran out and up to the wood.

From the main forest ran out a spur of wood with scattered bushes. The boy told them where the bear had been in the bushes. Then they saw that the branches moved, whence they guessed that the bear would be there. Then Bergonund advised that Hadd and Frodi should run forward between the shrubs and the main forest, and stop the bear from gaining the wood. Bergonund ran forward to the bushes. He had helm and shield, a sword at his girdle, a halberd in his hand. Egil was there before him in the bushes, but no bear.

And when he saw where Bergonund was, he unsheathed his sword, and, taking the coil of cord attached to the hilt, would it round his arm, and so let the sword hang. In his hand he grasped his halberd, and then ran forward to meet Bergonund. Which when Bergonund saw, he quickened his pace and cast his shield before him, and ere they met each hurled his halberd at the other.

Egil opposed the halberd with shield held aslant, so that the halberd with a cut tore out of the shield and flew into the ground. But Egil's weapon came full on the middle of the shield, and went right through it far up the blade, and the weapon was fast in the shield. Onund's shield was thus cumbersome. Then quickly did Egil grasp his sword-hilt. Onund also began to draw his sword; but ere it was half drawn Egil pierced him with a thrust. Onund reeled at the blow; but Egil suddenly snatched back his sword, and made a cut at Onund, well-nigh taking off his head. Then Egil took his halberd out of the shield.

Now Hadd and Frodi saw Bergonund's fall, and ran thither. Egil turned to meet them. At Frodi he threw his halberd, which, piercing the shield, went into his breast and out at his back. At once he fell back dead. Then, taking his sword, Egil turned against Hadd, and they exchanged but few blows ere Hadd fell. Just then the herd-boys chanced to come up. Egil said to them: 'Watch you here by Onund your master and his friends, that no beast or bird tear their bodies.'

Egil then went his way, and before long eleven of his comrades met him, six staying to watch the ship. They asked him what success he had had. Whereupon he sang:

      'Long did we losers sit,
      Losers through him who took
      With greed the gold that once
      To guard I better knew:
      Till now Bergonund's bane
      My blade with wounds hath wrought,
      And hidden earth in veil
      Of Hadd's and Frodi's blood.'

Then Egil said: 'We will now turn back to the farm, and act in warlike-wise, slaying all the men we can, and taking all the booty we can come by.'

They went to the farm, rushed into the house, and slew there fifteen or sixteen men. Some escaped by running away. They plundered the place, destroying what they could not take with them. The cattle they drove to the shore and slaughtered, putting on board as much as the boat would hold; then they rowed out by the sound between the islands. Egil was now furious, so that there was no speaking with him. He sat at the boat's helm.

And when they got further out in the firth towards Herdla, then came rowing out towards them Rognvald the king's son with twelve more on the painted pinnace. They had now learnt that Egil's ship lay in Herdla-water, and they meant to take to Onund news of Egil's whereabouts. And when Egil saw the boat, he knew it at once. Straight for it he steered; and when the boats came together, the beak of the cutter struck the side of the pinnace's bow, which so heeled over that the water poured in on one side and the boat filled. Egil leapt aboard, grasping his halberd, and cried to his men to let no one in the pinnace escape with life. This was easy, for there was no defence. All were slain as they swam, none escaped. Thirteen there perished, Rognvald and his comrades. Then Egil and his men rowed to Herdla island, and Egil sang a stave:

      'I fought, nor feared vengeance;
      Falchion there reddened
      Blood of son of Bloodaxe,
      Bold king, and his queen.
      Perish'd on one pinnace
      Prince with twelve his liege-men,
      Such stress of stern battle
      Against them I stirred.'

And when Egil and his men came to Herdla, at once fully armed they ran up to the farm buildings. But when Thorir and his household saw that, they at once ran away and saved themselves, all that could go, men and women. Egil's party plundered the place of all they could lay hands on; then they rowed out to their ship. Nor had they long to wait ere a breeze blew off the land. They made ready to sail.

And when all was ready for sailing, Egil went up into the island. He took in his hand a hazel-pole, and went to a rocky eminence that looked inward to the mainland. Then he took a horse's head and fixed it on the pole. After that, in solemn form of curse, he thus spake: 'Here set I up a curse-pole, and this curse I turn on king Eric and queen Gunnhilda. (Here he turned the horse's head landwards.) This curse I turn also on the guardian-spirits who dwell in this land, that they may all wander astray, nor reach or find their home till they have driven out of the land king Eric and Gunnhilda.'

This spoken, he planted the pole down in a rift of the rock, and let it stand there. The horse's head he turned inwards to the mainland; but on the pole he cut runes, expressing the whole form of curse.

After this Egil went aboard the ship. They made sail, and sailed out to sea. Soon the breeze freshened, and blew strong from a good quarter; so the ship ran on apace. Then sang Egil:

      'Forest-foe, fiercely blowing,
      Flogs hard and unceasing
      With sharp storm the sea-way
      That ship's stern doth plow.
      The wind, willow-render,
      With icy gust ruthless
      Our sea-swan doth buffet
      O'er bowsprit and beak.'

Their voyage sped well; from the main they came into Borgar-firth, brought their ship into the haven, carried their baggage on shore. Egil then went home to Borg; but his crew found them lodging. Skallagrim was now old and weak with age. Egil took the management of the property and care of the house.


57. kafli - Egill vegr Berg-Onund ok reisir nstng.

Haraldr inn hrfagri setti sonu sna til rkis Nr-egi, er hann tk at eldast, geri Eirk konung yfirkonung sona sinna allra, ok er Haraldr hafi verit sjau tigu vetra konungr, seldi hann hendr Eirki, syni snum, rki. ann tma l Gunnhildr son, ok js Haraldr konungr vatni ok gaf nafn sitt ok lt at fylgja, at hann skyldi konungr vera eftir fur sinn, ef honum endist aldr til. Haraldr konungr settist kyrrsetu ok sat oftast Rogalandi ea Hralandi. En remr vetrum sar andaist Haraldr konungr Rogalandi, ok var gerr haugr eftir hann vi Haugasund.

En eftir andlt hans var deila mikil milli sona hans, v at Vkverjar tku sr til konungs lf, en rndir Sigur. Eirkr felldi ba brr sna Tnsbergi einum vetri eftir andlt Haralds konungs. Var at allt einu sumri, er Eirkr konungr fr af Hralandi me her sinn austr Vk til bardaga vi brr sna ok r hfu eir deilt Gulaingi Egill ok Bergnundr ok essi tendi, er n var sagt.

Berg-nundr var heima at bi snu, er konungr fr leiangr, v at honum tti varligt at fara fr bi snu, mean Egill var eigi r landi farinn. ar var brir hans, Haddr, me honum.

Fri ht mar, frndi Eirks konungs ok fstrsonr hans. Hann var inn frasti mar, ungr at aldri ok vaxinn mar. Eirkr konungr setti hann eftir til trausts Berg-nundi. Sat Fri lreksstum at bi konungs ok hafi ar sveit manna.

Rgnvaldr er nefndr sonr Eirks konungs ok Gunnhildar. Hann var vetra tu ea ellifu ok var it frasta mannefni. Hann var me Fra, er etta var tenda.

En r Eirkr konungr reri enna leiangr, geri hann Egil tlaga fyrir endilangan Nreg ok drpan hverjum manni. Arinbjrn var me konungi leiangri, en r hann fr heiman, lagi Egill skipi snu til hafs ok helt tver at, er Vitar heita, t fr Alda. at er komit af jlei. ar vru fiskimenn, ok var ar gott at spyrja tendi. spuri hann, at konungr hafi gert hann tlaga. kva Egill vsu:

      Lgbrigir hefr laga,
      landalfr, fyr mr sjlfum,
      blekkir brra skkva
      brfang, vega langa.
      Gunnhildi k gjalda,
      greypt's hennar skap, enna,
      ungr gatk ok l launat,
      landrekstr, bili grandat.

Ver vru vindltil, fjallvindr um ntr, en hafgola um daga. Eitt kveld sigldu eir Egill t haf, en fiskimenn reru inn til lands, eir er til njsnar hfu settir verit um farar eira Egils. Kunnu eir at at segja, at Egill hafi t ltit ok haf siglt ok hann var brottu, ltu essa njsn koma til Berg-nundar. Ok er hann vissi essi tendi, hann sendi fr sr menn alla, er hann hafi r haft ar til varar. Reri hann inn til lreksstaa ok bau Fra til sn, v at Berg-nundr tti l mikit heima at sn. Fri fr me honum ok hafi me sr nkkura menn. Tku eir ar veizlu ga ok hfu glei mikla. Var ar allt ttalaust.

Rgnvaldr konungsson tti karfa einn. Reru sex menn bor. Hann var steindr allr fyrir ofan sj. Hann hafi me sr menn tu ea tlf, er honum fylgu einart. Ok er Fri var heiman farinn, tk Rgnvaldr karfann, ok reru eir t til Herlu tlf saman. r var konungsb mikit, ok r s mar fyrir, er ht Skegg-rir. ar hafi Rgnvaldr verit fstri barnsku. Tk rir feginsamliga vi konungssyni. Skorti ar ok eigi drykk mikinn.

Egill sigldi t haf um nttina, sem fyrr var ritat, ok er morgnai, fell verit ok geri logn. Lgu eir rtt ok ltu reia fyrir nkkurar ntr. En er hafgola kom , sagi Egill skipurum snum:

"N munum vr sigla at landi, v at gerla veit, ef hafviri kemr hvasst, hvar vr nm landi, en heldr frivnt fyrir flestum stum."

Hsetar bu Egil fyrir ra eira fer. San tku eir til seglin ok sigldu inn til Herluvers. Fengu eir ar ga hfn ok tjlduu yfir skipi snu ok lgu um nttina. eir hfu skipinu ltinn bt, ok gekk Egill ar vi rija mann. Reri hann inn um nttina til Herlu, sendi ar mann eyna upp at spyrja tenda. Ok er s kom ofan til skips, sagi hann, at ar bnum var Rgnvaldr konungsson ok hans menn. "Stu eir vi drykkju. Hitta ek einn af hskrlum, ok var s lr ok sagi, at hr skyldi eigi minna drekka en at Berg-nundar, tt Fri vri ar veizlu ok eir fimm saman."

Ekki kva hann ar fleira manna en heimamenn nema Fra ok hans menn.

San reri Egill aftr til skips ok ba menn upp standa ok taka vpn sn. eir geru sv. eir lgu t skipit um akkeri. Egill lt gta tlf menn skips, en hann fr eftirbtinn ok eir tjn saman, reru san inn eftir sundum. eir stilltu sv til, at eir kmu um kveldit inn Fenhring ok lgu ar til leynivgs eins.

mlti Egill: "N vil ek ganga einn upp eyna ok njsna, hvers ek vera vss, en r skulu ba mn hr."

Egill hafi vpn sn, au er hann var vanr at hafa, hjlm ok skjld, gyrr sveri, hggspjt hendi. San gekk hann upp eyna ok fram me skgi nkkurum. Hann hafi dregit htt san yfir hjlm. Hann kom ar at, er sveinar nkkurir vru ok hj eim hjartkr strar, ok er eir tkust at orum, spuri hann, hvaan eir vri ea fyrir hv eir vri ar ok hefi hunda sv stra.

eir mltu: " munt vera allheimskr mar. Hefir eigi heyrt, at hr gengr bjrn um eyna, inn mesti spellvirki, drepr hr bi menn ok fna, ok er lagt f til hfus honum. Vokum vr hr hverja ntt Aski yfir f vru, er byrgt er grindum, ea hv feru me vpnum um ntr?"

Hann segir: "Hrumst ek bjrninn, ok fir ykkir mr sem n fari vpnlausir. Hefir bjrninn lengi elt mik ntt, ea sji hann n, ar er hann n skgarnefinu. Hvrt eru allir menn svefni bnum?"

Sveinninn sagi, at eir Berg-nundr ok Fri myndi enn drekka. "eir sitja ntr allar."

"Segi eim ," segir hann Egill, "hvar bjrninn er, en ek ver at skynda heim."

Hann gekk brott, en sveinninn hljp heim til bjarins ok til stofunnar, er eir drukku . Var sv komit, at allir menn vru sofa farnir nema eir rr, nundr ok Fri ok Haddr. Sveinninn segir, hvar bjrninn var. eir tku vpn sn, er ar hengu hj eim, ok hljpu egar t ok upp til skgar. ar gengu fram skgarnef af mrkinni ok runnar sumum stum. Sveinninn segir eim, hvar bjrninn hafi verit runninum. s eir, at limarnar hrrust, ttust skilja, at bjrninn myndi ar vera. mlti Berg-nundr, at eir Haddr ok Fri skyldi fram renna milli ok meginmerkrinnar ok gta, at bjrninn ni eigi skginum.

Berg-nundr rann fram at runninum. Hann hafi hjlm ok skjld, gyrr sveri, en kesju hendi. Egill var ar fyrir runninum, en engi bjrn, ok er hann s, hvar Berg-nundr var, br hann sverinu, en ar var hnk mealkaflanum, ok dr hann hana hnd sr ok lt ar hanga. Hann tk hnd sr kesjuna ok rann fram mt Berg-nundi, ok er Berg-nundr s at, gddi hann rsina ok skaut skildinum fyrir sik, ok r eir mttust, skaut hvrr kesju at rum. Egill laust skildinum vi kesjunni ok bar hallan, sv at reist r skildinum ok flaug vllinn, en Egils spjt kom mijan skjldinn ok gekk gegnum langt upp fjrina, ok var fast spjtit skildinum. Var nundi ungbrr skjldrinn. Egill greip skjtt mealkafla sversins. nundr tk ok at brega snu sveri, ok er eigi var brugit til hlfs, lagi Egill gegnum hann me snu sveri. nundr ratai vi lagit, en Egill kippi at sr sverinu hart ok hj til nundar ok af nr hfuit. San tk Egill kesjuna r skildinum.

eir Haddr ok Fri s fall Berg-nundar ok runnu angat til. Egill snerist mti eim. Hann skaut kesjunni at Fra ok gegnum skjld hans ok brjstit, sv at yddi um bakit. Fell hann egar bak aftr daur. Egill tk sverit ok snerist mt Haddi, ok skiptust eir fm hggum vi, r Haddr fell.

kmu sveinarnir at, ok mlti Egill vi : "Gti hr til nundar, hsbnda yvars, ok eira flaga, at eigi slti dr ea fuglar hr eira."

Egill gekk lei sna ok eigi langt, r flagar hans kmu mt honum ellifu, en sex gttu skips. eir spuru, hvat hann hefi sslat. Hann kva :

      Stum lyngs til lengi
      ljsheims brvi eima,
      meir varak f forum,
      fjarlna hlut skaran,
      r Berg-nund benjum
      bensfan ltk venjask,
      Bors nijar feltk beju
      bli, Hadd ok Fra.

mlti Egill: "Vr skulum n sna aftr til bjarins ok fara hermannliga, drepa menn alla, er vr nm, en taka f allt, at er vr megum me komast."

eir fara til bjarins ok hlaupa ar inn hs ok drepa menn fimmtn ea sextn. Sumir kmust undan af hlaupi. eir rntu ar llu f, en spilltu v, er eir mttu eigi me fara. eir rku bft til strandar ok hjuggu, bru btinn, sem hann tk vi, fru san lei sna ok reru t um eyjasund.

Egill var n allreir, sv at mtti ekki vi hann mla. Sat hann vi stri btinum.

Ok er eir sttu t fjrinn til Herlu, reru tan mti eim Rgnvaldr konungsson ok eir rettn saman karfanum eim inum steinda. eir hfu spurt, at skip Egils l Herluveri. tluu eir at gera nundi njsn um ferir Egils. Ok er Egill s skipit, kenndi hann egar. Hann stri sem beinst , ok er skipin renndust at, kom bar sktunnar kinnung karfans. Hallai honum sv, at sjr fell inn annat bor ok fylldi skipit. Egill hljp upp ok greip kesjuna, ht menn sna, at eir skyldi engan lta me lfi brott komast, ann er karfanum var. at var hgt, v at ar var engi vrn. Vru allir eir kafi drepnir, en engi komst undan. Ltust eir ar rettn, Rgnvaldr ok frunautar hans. eir Egill reru inn til eyjarinnar Herlu. kva Egill:

      Brumk vr, n virak,
      vgleiftr sonar, heiftir,
      Blxar rauk bli
      bmilds ok Gunnhildar.
      ar fellu n ollar
      rettn lagar mna,
      stendr af styrjar skyndi
      starf, einum karfa.

Ok er eir Egill kmu til Herlu, runnu eir egar upp til bjar me alvpni. En er at s rir ok hans heimamenn, runnu eir egar af bnum ok foruu sr allir, eir er ganga mttu, karlar ok konur. eir Egill rntu ar llu f, v er eir mttu hndum koma, fru san t til skips. Var ok eigi langt at ba, at byrr rann af landi. Bast eir til at sigla, ok er eir vru seglbnir, gekk Egill upp eyna. Hann tk hnd sr heslistng ok gekk bergsns nkkura, er vissi til lands inn. tk hann hrosshfu ok setti upp stngina.

San veitti hann formla ok mlti sv: "Hr set ek upp nstng, ok sn ek essu ni hnd Eirki konungi ok Gunnhildi drttningu," - hann sneri hrosshfinu inn land, - "sn ek essu ni landvttir r, er land etta byggva, sv at allar fari r villar vega, engi hendi n hitti sitt inni, fyrr en r reka Eirk konung ok Gunnhildi r landi."

San sktr hann stnginni nir bjargrifu ok lt ar standa. Hann sneri ok hfinu inn land, en hann reist rnar stngina, ok segja r formla enna allan.

Eftir at gekk Egill skip. Tku eir til segls ok sigldu haf t. Tk byrrinn at vaxa, ok geri ver hvasst ok hagsttt. Gekk skipit mikit. kva Egill:

      l hggr strt fyr stli
      stafnkvgs veg jafnan
      t me la meitli
      andrr jtunn vandar,
      en svalbinn selju
      sverfr eirar vanr eiri
      Gestils lft me gustum
      gandr of stl fyr brandi.

San sigldu eir haf, ok greiddist vel fer eira, ok kmu af hafi Borgarfjr. Helt hann skipi snu ar til hafnar, ok bru ft sn land. Fr Egill heim til Borgar, en skiparar hans vistuust. Skalla-Grmr gerist gamall ok hrumr af elli. Tk Egill til fjrforra ok bsvarveizlu.

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