Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert
(Circa 862 AD)
“And his shield was called Hrae’s Ship’s Round,
And his followers were called the Hraes’.”
Eyvinder Skald-Despoiler; Skaldskaparmal.
When Oddi asked Hjalmar where they should go next, he said: “On Zealand I know of five berserk slavers who are hardier than other men, one called Brand, another Agnar, the third Asmund, the fourth Ingjald, and the fifth Alf. They are all brothers and have six vessels, all large. What do you say we do, Odd?”
“I say we set sail,” said Oddi, “to where these berserks are.” They went to Zealand with twenty ships and heard that the berserks had gone ashore to meet up with their mistresses. Oddi secretly slipped ashore by himself to meet them, and when he saw the brothers returning from their trysts, he planned his attack. They were riding back on horses when they saw Oddi standing on the road, bow in hand. They immediately raised their shields, drew their swords and charged at Oddi. The young Norseman stood his ground against the Danes and nocked one of Gusir’s Gifts, and when he loosed it, the arrow flew as if it had caught someone’s evil stare and it followed that evil eye to the head of Alf and it struck him so hard in the face that it passed through his brain and out the back of his skull and it took his helmet right off him, and Alf rolled backwards off the saddle of his horse and he fell face-first onto the road. The brothers rode around his body and continued on their course. Oddi already had another nocked and he let the second of Gusir’s Gifts fly with pretty much the same result. Agnar’s helmet flew off his head as he rolled backwards out of his saddle and landed ass-first on the road, his body rolling and tripping up Ingjald’s horse which slowed up the charge of the others. Asmund at the back became the man at the front, destined to receive the third and final arrow of Gusir’s Gifts, but he hit a rise in the road and bounced up out of his saddle and was struck hard in the chest and flew backwards off his mount quite dead. When Brand stopped his horse in front of Oddi and leaped down sword in hand, Arrow Odd was there to meet him sword on sword and the blades sang out. The berserk bit into his shield and flew into a rage and was soon hacking Oddi’s shield to bits. Backing down the road, Oddi found himself beside one of the horses and he managed to get the horse between himself and Brand just as his shield gave out. Brand was in full rage by then and began hacking the horse apart and took its head off with one stroke, but blood spurted out of the horse’s neck and hit Brand in the face, blinding him. Oddi instantly lunged forward with his blade and sliced Brand through the jugular and halfway into his neck, then sliced the other jugular with his return stroke and Brand’s head fell and rolled across the road until it hit the head of the horse.
“Speed is everything!” Oddi breathed as he sidestepped the falling bodies of both the horse and the berserk. He walked up the road to check on Ingjald, who had fallen from his horse and was laying on the road dead without injury.
When Asmund realized Oddi had gone ashore he told Hjalmar about it. “Yes,” Hjalmar agreed, “he must have headed inland. And we should not be idle while he is away.” Hjalmar sailed with six ships and attacked and captured the berserks’ ships. When Oddi returned, they told each other of their adventures and both had amassed wealth and honours.
Hjalmar invited Odd to return to Sweden with him and Oddi accepted. But Gudmund and Sigurd went north to Hrafnista with their crews, agreeing to meet again at the Gota River. Asmund took his ship to the Vik and asked Sigrid and Gudrun to come to Sweden with them, but their father was back from his Nor’Way trading and would not allow it. But he told Asmund they could visit if they wished. King Hlodver welcomed the Vikings with open arms, and they wintered there with much honour. Oddi was treated with great respect, because the king thought he had no match, and, soon, the king gave him five farms. The king had an only daughter, named Ingibjorg and she was a very attractive and skilled woman. Oddi asked Hjalmar why he did not marry Ingibjorg, “because even I can see that both your hearts beat as one.”
“I have asked for her hand,” he replied, “but the king will not give his daughter to anyone below a king’s rank.”
“Then we shall gather our Vikings next summer,” said Oddi, “and give the king two choices, fight us or give you his daughter.”
“I don’t want to force King Hlodver’s hand with this,” said Hjalmar. “I have had sanctuary here for a long time.” They stayed there quietly over the winter.