Interpreted By

Brian Howard Seibert

In this version of ‘The Saga of Arrow Odd’ we shall make a few minor modifications to the story in order to find its place in time and history and to run it in parallel with Book 5 of Saxo’s Danish History with which it shares numerous characters and villains.  In this history, King Frodi ‘the Peaceful’ of Saxo’s 5th of his First Nine Books starts circa 810 AD, which places the birth of Arrow Odd at circa 839 AD.  Notes (in Italics) shall point out important parallel points between Odd’Saga and Frodi’Saga as the tale progresses.



Left Click on Chapters Below to Go To Them.  Same to Return Here.

Chapter One – The Birth of Odd. 2

Chapter Two – The Prophesy I 5

Chapter Three – Hrafnista. 9

Chapter Four – Bjarmaland I 12

Chapter Five.-.Bjarmaland II 15

Chapter Six – Bjarmaland III 20

Chapter Seven – Halfdan’s Gift 23

Chapter Eight – Soti’s Gift 26

Chapter Nine – Hjalmar the Brave. 28

Chapter Ten – Five Easy Berserks. 31

Chapter Eleven – The Death of Asmund. 33

Chapter Twelve – Olvor’s Plate-Mail Shirt 36

Chapter Thirteen – Ogmund Eythjofsbane Tussock. 40

Chapter Fourteen – Holmganger on Samsey. 44

Chapter Fifteen – Hjalmar and Ingeborg Together at Last 54

Chapter Sixteen – Saemund the Viking. 56

Chapter Seventeen – Aquitania. 57

Chapter Eighteen – Hildir the Giant 60

Chapter Nineteen – King Harek of Bjarmaland. 65

Chapter Twenty – The Finngalkin. 68

Chapter Twenty One – Vignir and Odd. 71

Chapter Twenty Two – Vignir and Ogmund. 74

Chapter Twenty Three – Geirrod the Giant 76

Chapter Twenty Four – Barkman I 79

Chapter Twenty Five – Barkman II 83

Chapter Twenty Six – Barkman III 85

Chapter Twenty Seven – Harek and the Bragarful 88

Chapter Twenty Eight – Harek and the Marriage Proposal 95

Chapter Twenty Nine – Vidgrip Dead. 98

Chapter Thirty – Kvillanus. 102

Chapter Thirty One – The Prophesy II 106

Chapter Thirty Two – The Death of Odd. 107


Chapter One – The Birth of Odd

There was a man named Grim who’s byname was Hairycheek.  This was because when he was conceived, a strange thing happened; Ketil Trout, his father, and Hrafnhild, Bruni’s daughter, went to bed together and her father spread a hide over them because he had invited some Lapps over, and during the night Hrafnhild looked out from under the hide and saw one Lapp who was very hairy.  And it was at that moment of conception that Grim got his mark, his hairy cheek.  Grim lived on the island of Hrafnista and was one of the most wealthy and powerful men of Halogaland. He was married to a bright and beautiful woman named Lofthaena, the daughter of Lord Harald of the Vik in the east of Norway.

The summer after the death of Brother Gregory of Gardariki, Grim planned a journey to Hraegunarstead in Jaederen Province and then on to the Vik, where he had much property.  Lofthaena wanted to go with him, but Grim was reluctant because his wife was with child.

“I will not be happy unless I go.”

Grim loved her dearly, so he let her come with him.  She was very attractive, intelligent and well-spoken and was used to having her way.  They outfitted their two ships smartly and adorned themselves lavishly and the people of Hrafnista gave them a grand send-off.  When they reached Jaederen they turned into Hraegunar’s fjord and beached their ships at Hraegunarstead.  They were greeted by his aunt Kraka and Brak, Hraegunar’s foremost man.  Hraegunar himself had not been home in years, having marked himself with a spear and having dedicated himself to following Odin’s calling.  When Grim told his aunt that Brother Gregory had requested that his baby be raised at Hraegunarstead, she suggested that he be raised at a farm nearby called Berurjod, just along the bay.  A friend of Grim’s called Ingjald lived there with his wife and baby, a handsome boy called Asmund.  When Ingjald asked what the baby’s name was, Grim explained that there was none.  Brother Gregory wanted Hraegunar Lothbrok’s son, Hraerik Bragi, to name the boy when he next returned to Norway from Gardariki.  Kraka thought the instructions very odd, so that is what they would call the boy until his proper naming…Odd, meaning edge.

While Grim and his wife were staying in Hraegunar’s longhall, Loefthana went into labour and gave birth to a boy.  They named him Gudmund and took their baby with them when they left for the Vik, but Odd stayed behind at Berurjod to be raised with Asmund.

Odd was a good looking boy who picked up skills very quickly and Asmund followed Oddi’s example.  Oddi and Asmund became sworn brothers. But Oddi spent much of his time at Hraegunarstead with Brak and seemed to take an interest in blacksmithing.  Oddi would not play games like other children. He forged his first little arrow heads by the time he was six and seemed quite skillful at making arrows.  Many arrows.  And he did not take good care of them.  He left them lying about on seats and benches and many were hurt by them when they came in after dark and sat down on them.  This one thing made Odd unpopular.  Men told Ingjald that he should talk to Odd about this.  Ingjald met with Oddi one day. “There is one thing,” said Ingjald, “foster-son, that bothers people.”

“What is that?” said Oddi.

“You do not take care of your arrows properly,” said Ingjald.

“I think you could blame me for it,” said Oddi, “if you had given me something to keep them in.”

“I shall get you,” said Ingjald, “what you want.”

“I think,” said Oddi, “that you will get me what I need, but not what I want.”

“I will get you what you want,” said Ingjald, impatiently.

“You have a black three-year-old goat,” said Oddi.  “Have him killed and skinned whole with both horns and hoofs.”  All was done as Oddi had asked, and he was brought the skin-bag.  Then he gathered all his arrows up into it until the skin-bag was full.  He had much finer arrows, and more of them, than other people, and he had a bow to match.  Odd wore a scarlet robe every day and had an embroidered gold headband round his brow.  He had his quiver with him wherever he went.  Odd did not make sacrifices, because he believed in his might and main, and Asmund did as he did, but Ingjald was a great man for sacrifices.

The sworn brothers, Odd and Asmund, often rowed out from the land together in a four oared boat that Ingjald and Brak had helped them build.  But they were only allowed to row it about the fjord.  And the two boys practiced everything together: archery, swimming, sword play and riding, but afternoons Oddi reserved for steel smithing with Brak.  Over the years he progressed from arrow heads to spear tips to seax knives and axes, then on to the famed Jaederen blades that Hraegunarstead was famous for.  Brak had never seen a child take so quickly to steel work as Oddi.  Not even his former student, Hraerik, had started so young or progressed so quickly.  By the time he was ten, Oddi could hammer together a Jaederen tri-steel blade with trident guard as fast as any man.  Brak even taught Oddi how to make Indian steel, and how to hammer out the alloyed blooms into helmets and breastplates, ring-mail corselets and Roman plate-mail byrnies as well as chain mail coifs.  Brak was primarily a weapons steel smith, but he also dabbled in defensive gear and was known for his shield bosses and perimeter rings.

Here we are setting Arrow Odd up to be the son of Prince Hraerik (Erik) ‘Bragi ‘the Old’ Ragnarson of Gardariki as Prince Helgi (Oleg) ‘Arrow Odd’ Erikson of Kiev, instead of the unwanted son of Princess Lofthaena.

Chapter Two – The Prophesy I

There was a witch named Heid who knew how to predict the future.  She was often invited to banquets to tell people their fortunes.  She would bring with her fifteen boys and fifteen girls and she was at a banquet not far away from Ingjald’s farm, Berurjod.  One morning Ingjald got up early and went to where Odd and Asmund rested and said: “I will send you both on an errand today,” he said.

“Where will we go?” said Odd.

“You shall invite Heid, the seeress, over for your birthday naming feast,” said Ingjald.

“I will not do that,” said Odd, “and I will not like it if she comes here.”

“You must go, Asmund,” said Ingjald, “I expect you to do as you’re told.”

“My father is coming to the naming,” said Odd, “and he hates witchcraft more than I do.”

But Asmund went and invited the seeress to the banquet anyway and she promised to come.  Ingjald went to meet her and invited her into his house.  They had prepared preliminary auguries to be carried out the night before the naming feast and when some people started showing up early, the seeress went right to her night-time rituals with her followers.  Ingjald came to her then and asked her what the results of the auguries were. “I think,” she said, “that I have already learned all that you wish to know.”

Hraerik Bragi and Grim Hairy-Cheek were late coming down from Hrafnista, but Oddi’s uncle, King Hraelauger, was in early from the Vik.  As he sat down at the guest high seat opposite Ingjald he saw Heid and had the feeling that he had seen this before.

“Everyone shall go to their seats,” said Ingjald, “and hear your words, Heid.”  And Ingjald was the first man to go to her.

“It is good, Ingjald,” she said as she sat  on a highchair between the high seats, “that you have come here before me.  I can tell you that you shall live here until you are old and with great dignity and respect,” and this prophesy was applauded by all.

Then Ingjald went off, and Asmund came. “It is well,” said Heid, “that you have come here, Asmund, for your honour and dignity will go around the world. You will not wrestle with old age, but you will be thought a good fellow and a great warrior wherever you are.”  Asmund went to his seat, and others went before the witch and she told each of them their fortunes, and they were all well satisfied with the prophesies.  Then she predicted the weather for the farmers and many other things as well.  Ingjald thanked her for her predictions.

“Has everyone come before me that are to have their fortunes told?” Heid asked.

“I think now almost everyone,” said Ingjald.

“What about Oddi, the subject of this naming feast?  What lies on that bench over there?” she asked.  “A fur cloak is lying there, but I think it stirs sometimes when I look at it.”

Oddi threw off the fur and sat up on the bench.  “That’s right,” said Oddi, “you thought that a sleeping man might be stirring under the fur, and it is a man trying to sleep, and what he would like is for you to be quiet and talk not about my future, because I do not believe in what you say.”  Odd had a rod in his hand and said: “I will hit you on the nose with this, if you prophesize about my future.”

“You are yet a child” Heid said.  “You will be a man on the morrow, but now you are still a child.  I will speak, and you will listen.”  Then all ears perked up as poetry came to her lips:

“Awe me not,            Odd of Jaederen,

With that rod,            Although we row.

This story will hold true,                  As said by the seeress.

She knows beforehand                  All men’s fate.

You will not swim                 Wide firths,

Nor go a long way                Over lands and bays,

Though the water will well              And wash over you,

You will burn             Here, at Berurjod.

Venom-filled snake             Shall sting you

From below the                    Skull of Faxi.

The adder will bite               From below your foot,

When you are terribly              Old, my lord.”

Heid saw that Oddi was angry and she ended her poesy and switched to prose.  “This is to say, Odd,” she started, “that you are destined to live much longer than others.  You shall live to be three hundred years old, and go from land to land, and always seem the greatest wherever you go.  Your reputation will go around the world, but travel as far as you try, you’ll die here, in Berurjod.”

“You make the worst prophecies of any old woman I have ever known,” said Oddi.  He jumped up as she was about to speak and he brought the rod down on her nose and blood soon flowed.

“Pack up my belongings,” said the witch, “as I wish leave this place.  I have never been treated, beaten like this before.”

“Do not leave,” pleaded Ingjald, “for there’s recompense for every ill, and you will stay here for three nights more and get good gifts.”  Heid took the gifts but left anyway.

King Hraelauger got up and stood beside Oddi in front of the highchair where Heid had been seated.  “I’ve heard this poesy before,” he told Oddi.  “Heid foretold it to my brother Hraerik many years ago.”  Oddi looked up at his king.  “Hraerik wanted to punch her in the nose back then.  The stick might have been a bit much.”

“Will my father be here tomorrow?” Oddi asked.

“He will, but don’t talk of him as your father here,” Hraelauger answered.  “There are too many ears and it may not be safe.  He and Grim were working on your naming gift, but they are done and shall be here tomorrow some time.”

The next day, Hraerik Grim and Loefthana arrived at Berurjod and they had Oddi’s gift with them.  “What do you think of her?” Hraerik asked his son, Oddi, from the bow of the ship as it nudged gently into the sand.

“It’s Fair Faxi!” Oddi shouted.  “And she is beautiful!”  Oddi jumped into the freshly painted ship.  “I shall sail her across the Nor’Way!”

“She’s a little old for that trip,” Hraerik laughed.  “But she is fine for coastal waters and just right for young men to train in.”

That evening, at the naming feast, Prince Hraerik Bragi Hraegunarson gave Oddi three names: Arrow Odd as he had been called in Berurjod, Bjorn after King Bjorn of the Barrows  and Helgi as he had been first named.

“He was first named Helgi Ald Hraerikson by my wife, Princess Gunwar,” Hraerik explained, “just days before she died in battle on the dusty plains of Tmutorokan.  Helgi means Holy in the Christian faith that my wife had adopted, Ald meaning from the Old Skioldung Fridlief-line of Danish kings and the last bit for my contribution to the birth.  I am naming him Bjorn Ironsides Hraerikson because I promised King Bjorn of the Barrows of Sweden that I would name my firstborn son after him if he would but spare me my head so I could avenge the killing of my wife on those dusty plains of Tmutorokan and Ironsides because of a famed plate-mail corselet he shall someday acquire.  Don’t ask me how I know this because then I’d have to kill you.”  The folks in the hall laughed at this, some more nervously than others.  “And I shall give Helgi the byname of Arrow Odd meaning arrow’s edge, as that is the name you all have chosen for him because he is such a pain in the ass…if you accidentally sit on his arrows.”  Again, the folks in the hall laughed and some clenched their cheeks.  “Coincidentally, when I battled the great sea-king Spear Odd, he told me just before he died that I would name my firstborn son after him, so perhaps in the future young Arrow Oddi shall grow into the great Spear Odd, but Arrow Oddi should be close enough to appease the spirit of that great spear edge.”

Here the prophesy told Arrow Odd by Witch Heid is the same as the prophesy that is told in the Hraes’ Primary Chronicle to Prince Oleg of Kiev by witches.  Both prophesies are essentially identical with identical attempts at thwarting the identical outcomes which fail identically leading to identical results taking place at the same time, supposedly thousands of miles apart.  This is the same man and he deals with identical fates in either near Stavanger Norway or near Kyiv Ukraine.

Chapter Three – Hrafnista

Odd and Asmund took Faxi and bridled him and led him behind them until they came to a valley. There they dug a hole so deep, Odd had to struggle to get out of it.  Then they killed Faxi and dumped him into the hole, and they brought the biggest stones they could find and poured them into the hole and packed gravel between the stones.  Then they piled a mound atop the hole in which Faxi was buried.  When they had completed their work, Odd said: ‘I think that trolls shall be interfering if Faxi is ever seen again, and I think I have just now frustrated the fate that foretold of my death.”

They went home after that and Odd told Ingjald, “I want a ship as a gift, for all the trouble your witch has caused me.”

“Where will you go?” Ingjald asked.

“I think I shall go away from here,” said Odd, “from Berurjod, and never come back as long as I live.”

“I do not want that,” said Ingjald.  “Who will you be taking with you?”

“Asmund and I shall go,” said Odd.

“I would like you to send Asmund back quickly,” said Ingjald.

“He shall not be coming back any more than I,” said Odd.

“By this you do ill,” said Ingjald.

“You invited the seeress here, and you knew that I thought about witchcraft.”

Odd and Asmund prepared to go and they said their goodbyes to Ingjald, and went to the ship and launched it, then rowed away from the shore and set their sail.

“Where shall we go?” said Asmund.

“I think we should go to Hrafnista and seek my kin.”  But the wind was slight and blowing against them and Odd said, “It will be a lot of work if we have to row all the way north to Hrafnista.  Let us see if I have any of our family luck.  I hear tell that Ketil Trout hoisted his sail in calm weather and always got a favourable wind.  I shall now hoist the sail and see what gives.”  And a fair wind arose, so that they arrived at Hrafnista while the day was still young and they yarded their ship up onto the beach and then went up to Ketil Trout’s stead.  Odd had no weapon other than the bow in his hand and the quiver of arrows he had on his back.  A man stood outside the longhall of Grim Ketilson and he greeted them kindly and asked them their names.  “I’m not saying,” said Odd, but he did ask if Grim was home.  The man said that he was.  “Then call him outside,” said Odd.  The man went inside the hall and told Grim that two men were outside and said that you should go out.

“Why can they not come in?” asked Grim.  “Ask them to enter.”  The man went out and told them what Grim had said.

“You must go in a second time,” said Odd, “and tell Grim that he must come out and meet us both.” He went in and told Grim.

“What sort of men are these?” said Grim.

“These people are handsome and tall.  One of them has a goatskin quiver on his back.”

“These men are the sworn brothers, Odd and Asmund.”  Grim went out with all those who were inside and they welcomed the young men.  Grim invited them into the hall and they all went in.  And when they all sat down, Odd asked after his relatives, Gudmund and Sigurd.  Their kinship went so that Gudmund was brother of Odd, the son of Grim and Lofthaena, but Sigurd was the son of Grim’s sister. They were all promising young men. 

“They are to the north of the island,” Grim began, “and they plan to sail to Bjarmaland.”

“Then I will try to see them before they set sail,” said Odd.

“Well, I wish,” said Grim, “that you will stay here the winter.”

“I will go first,” said Odd, “and see them.”

Grim walked with them to the north side of the island and they found Gudmund and Sigurd anchored there in two ships.  Odd called for them to come ashore and they rowed in and gave him a warm welcome.  Odd said, “Where have you decided to go?”

“To Bjarmaland,” said Gudmund.

“Asmund and I have a ship and would like to go with you,” said Odd.

But Gudmund said, “There is no way, kinsman Odd, that you can come with us this summer. We two are now already equipped for our voyage, and you can come with us next summer, wherever you want.”

“We don’t have to outfit our ship,” said Odd, “if we just go with you.”

“We sail right away.  You’re not coming on this voyage,” said Gudmund, and with that they rowed back out to sea and set their sails.

Hrafnista, where Varangians are born, is the last island on the north cape of Norway that garners heat from the Great Norwegian Current before it shifts west towards Iceland, but the Great Nor’Way Merchant Fleet assembled in the Great Varangerfjord that still exists in the north cape to this day.  The Rang River in Iceland means Wandering River, everybody knows this, and VaRangers are the Way Wanderers of the Nor’Way who have made the Great Arctic Ocean (Barents Sea) crossing to the White Sea and Kandalaks Bay!  Everybody knows this!  Even Ohthere, and he’s never been there!

Chapter Four – Bjarmaland I

Odd decided to accept his father’s invitation to stay, and Grim gave him the second highseat to share with Asmund, and Grim gave them every comfort he could.  And Gudmund and Sigurd were becalmed off the north side of the island for two weeks as they waited for a fair wind.

One night Gudmund was stirring in his sleep, and his men wondered if they should wake him.  Sigurd told them to let him dream his dream. When Gudmund awoke he said, “I have dreamed I saw a polar bear laying in a ring about the island, and its tail met with its head just above the ships, but it was the cruelest bear that I have ever seen, its hair all stood on end, and it seemed about to throw itself at our ships and sink them both, then I awoke.  Now you must interpret the dream.”

“I think that there is little need to interpret it,” said Sigurd, “because when you thought you saw this cruel bear with all its hair on end, and you thought that it would sink our ships, I see clearly that it is the fetch of Odd, our kinsman, and he is angry with us.  And this is why you thought the bear cross with us.  This I know for certain now, we will never get a fair wind, unless he comes with us.”

“He will now not join us even if we ask him,” said Gudmund.

“What shall we do, then?” Sigurd asked.

“This is what we do,” whispered Gudmund.  “We go ashore and invite him to come with us and if he refuses, we’ll offer him one of our ships.”  They went ashore and met with Odd and invited him to come with them.  Odd said he would not go. “We will give you one of our ships, if you come with us,” said Gudmund.

“Then I shall go,” said Odd, “and I am ready.  Asmund and I have been outfitting our ship while you have been awaiting a wind, so you can keep your ship.”

This made Gudmund and Sigurd very happy, so Grim followed Oddi to his ship.  “Here is a treasure that I shall give you, kinsman Odd,” said Grim.  “They are three arrows, and together they have a name, and are called Gusir’s Gifts.”  He gave the arrows to Odd, who examined them and said they were the greatest of treasures.  They were gold feathered, and they flew of their own accord, and back again, and there was never any need of looking for them.  “Ketil Trout took these arrows from Gusir, king of the Lapps. They bite all that they are told to, because they are dwarfs’ work.”

“I have received no gifts,” said Odd, “that I think equally fair,” and he thanked his father, and they parted in friendship, and Odd jumped aboard his ship and ordered the sails unfurled and they joined the other ships on the northside of Hrafnista.  They immediately got a good wind and they sailed north to Finmark, where the wind died, and they made for a harbour and stayed there the night.  There were quite a few Lappish tents up above the shore and, in the morning, the crews went ashore from Gudmund and Sigurd’s ships and raided each hut and plundered the Lapp women.  The women were angry at this treatment and shouted a lot.  The crew on Odd’s ship talked with Odd about going ashore, but he would not allow it.  Gudmund and Sigurd came back to their ships that evening, and Odd said, “You went ashore?”

“Yes, we did,” Gudmund said, “and we had marvellous entertainment making the Lapp women shriek.  Will you go with me tomorrow?”

“I will not,” said Odd.  After three nights, they got a fair wind, and they finally got to Bjarmaland. They brought their ships to the river called the Northern Dvina, which had many islands.  They cast anchor off a headland that jutted away from the left riverbank.  Ashore they saw many men coming out of the forest and gathering in a clearing.  Odd said, “What do you think those people are doing ashore, Gudmund?”

“I do not know,” he said, “but what do you think, kinsman Odd?”

“I think,” he said, “that this must be a religious gathering or a funeral procession.  Now you and Sigurd guard the ships, Gudmund, and Asmund and I will go into the forest and get a better look.” When they entered the forest, they saw a large building, but night was falling and they were losing light.  They went to the door and took a look and saw many things: people were sitting on benches on both sides of the hall, and by the door was a vat.  The room was so well lit that there were no shadows, except behind the vat.  The people within sounded happy.  “Do you know anything of their tongue?” whispered Odd.

“Not any more than birds’ chirping,” said Asmund.  “Do you understand any of it?”

“No more than you,” said Odd.  “But that one man serving drinks to both benches looks Norse.  I’ll bet he knows how to speak our tongue.  Now I will go in and take up position behind the vat and when he comes to get more mead, I’ll grab him.  Then we’ll find out what we’re in for.”  Odd went in and took a spot behind the mead vat and waited until the servant walked by and he grabbed the man, but he shouted and told the Bjarmians that trolls had grabbed him.  The Bjarmians sprang up and made for the door, but Odd fought them off with the servant.  Odd and Asmund took the servant outside and slammed the door shut behind them and the Bjarmians bolted the door shut from the inside as though to fend off an attack. 

Arriving at the ships with the servant, Odd slammed the man onto a rowing chest and began questioning him, but he kept tight lipped.  “There is no point in remaining quiet,” said Odd, “because I know that you speak the Norse tongue.”

Then the servant said, “What do you want to know?”

Odd said, “How long have you been a captive here?”

“A few years,” he said.

“What do you think of it?” said Odd.

“I’ve never been in a worse place than this.”

“What could we do,” said Odd, “that would really piss the Bjarmians off?”

“That’s a good question,” he said.  “There is a mound along the riverbank and it is made of two parts, silver and earth.  Silver is placed there for each person who goes from this world, and also, when someone comes into this world, as much earth is placed there.  The Bjarmians will think it most terrible if you go to the mound and take the silver.”

Odd called to Gudmund and Sigurd and said, “We’ll follow the servant’s directions and take our ships to the mound.”  Once there, they prepared to go ashore, but Odd remained behind to guard the ships and the servant.

Arrow Odd’s Saga is quite amazing in that it shows us so much about the Witchcraft and Giants of the time.  I am always amazed at how much of the Pagan beliefs have been preserved in this one tale.  It is, dare I say it? quite miraculous!

Chapter Five.-.Bjarmaland II

When Gudmund and Sigurd and their crews came upon the mound, they collected up sacks of earth and silver. Once they had gathered up as much as they could carry, they went back to the ships.  Odd asked them how they fared, and they were in great spirits and said there was still much silver there.

“Now it is our turn,” said Odd.  “Watch the servant closely, because he keeps looking back towards the Bjarmians hall as though he thought it not as bad as he let on.”  Odd and Asmund and their crew went to the mound and began grabbing silver out of the earthen howe but, while Gudmund and Sigurd were busy sifting the earth for silver, the servant ran off unnoticed. Odd told his men to gather up as much earthen silver as each man could carry, but the first crews had taken the richest earth, so it was dawn before they were done.  As they were leaving Odd stopped and went down on one knee.

“Why have you stopped?” said Asmund.

“I see Bjarmians streaming out of the woods,” said Odd.

“What shall we do now?” said Asmund.  Then they all saw the group of Bjarmians gathering.

“This is bad,” said Odd.  “I left my bow and quiver back on the ship.  I will go off into the forest and cut myself a big club with this axe I was using to break up the earth, but you must take the men back to the ships before the Bjarmians see us.”  When he came back, he had a big club in his hand.

“What caused this crowd?” Asmund asked, grabbing the axe from Odd.  “I sent the men back, but I’ll not let you face these natives alone.”

“I think,” said Odd, “that the servant got away from Gudmund and has raised the alarm with the Bjarmians.  I think he fears us more than the natives.”

Then the crowd spotted the Norwegians and rushed towards them, and Odd saw the Norse servant in the vanguard.  Odd called to him and said, “Why did you lead us astray?”

“I wished to learn what you liked best,” the servant answered.

“Where did you go?” said Odd, as he and Asmund began retreating back to their ships.

“Inland,” he said, “to tell the Bjarmians about you.”

“How do they like this business?” said Odd.

“I spoke up for you so well,” he said, “that they will now do business with you.”

“That we will do gladly,” said Odd, “when we get back on board our ships.”

“It seems the Bjarmians think the least they could do is complete the business now.”

“What shall we trade?” said Odd, trying to buy his men more time.

“They want to trade weapons with you and give you silver for iron.”

“We do not buy it,” said Odd. 

“Then let us fight,” said the servant.

“It’s up to you,” said Odd.

By that time, Odd and Asmund had caught up to their men on the riverbank and saw their ships were gone.  Odd told his men they would have to fight and that they should throw any enemy corpses into the river because Bjarmian magic could be used to resurrect the dead.  Odd’s crewmen drew their swords and the fight began.  Odd went through the Bjarmian ranks with his great club and swept away men like pieces on a game board.  And Asmund’s axe cut down the Bjarmians as if they were saplings.  The fight was both hard and long.  But in the end the Bjarmians broke and ran for it, with both Odd and Asmund after them.  Then they both turned back and Odd surveyed his men.  A few of his crew had fallen, but most of the slain were natives of the land.

“Now we can do business,” said Odd.  “Let us now collect their silver weapons as well and put them with the sacks silver and earth.”  And so, they did.

“What shall we do now?” said Asmund.  “Just wait here for our ships and hope more Bjarmians don’t come back first?”

“Let’s start a fire on the riverbank,” said Odd.  “When Gudmund sees the smoke he shall return.  The Bjarmians wouldn’t be starting a fire in the middle of nowhere, so he will know we have prevailed.”

Asmund thought it a good idea so he went into the woods beside the river and kindled a fire high up in a big tree.  It burned so that the flame stood out above the river and could be seen for miles upstream.  Then they saw ships coming back downriver and there was a joyful reunion of kinsmen, and they set off with their loot.  Nothing of note happened until they returned to Finmark, to the same Lapp harbour as they’d been anchored in before.  When night came there, they awoke to a great crashing in the air, the likes of which they had never heard before.  Odd asked Sigurd and Gudmund if they had heard such a racket before, and as they were discussing this, there was another great crash, and then came a third, and it was the greatest of them all.

“What do you think, Odd,” said Gudmund, “causes this?”

Odd said: “I’ve heard it said that two winds will blow at the same time and clash and from their collision will come a big crash.  Now we should expect rough weather soon coming our way.”  And they built a bulwark across their ships and lashed them together following Odd’s instructions, and when it was all done, weather struck that was so evil it swept them clear of the land, and they were carried off out of control and they had to keep bailing so their vessels would not founder beneath them.

Then Gudmund called from his ship to Odd and said: “What should be done now?”

“There is only one thing left to do,” said Odd.

“What is that?” said Gudmund.

“Take all Lappish plunder and toss it overboard,” said Odd.

“What good will that do?” said Gudmund.

“The Lapps will decide that for themselves,” said Odd.  All did as Odd instructed, and when it was done, the Lappish plunder was all broken up.  Then they saw that it was driven along one side of the ships, and back to the other, so that it became one mass, and then it was driven rapidly against the wind, and then it was gone.  Soon after this they spotted land, and the wind kept up and drove them ashore, and they were all exhausted except Odd and his kin and Asmund.

They did not know how long they had been at sea.  After resting, they unloaded their ships and dragged them further onto the beach and arranged them defensively in a triangular pattern and set about building themselves a hut in the center.  And when they had finished, they explored the land about them.  Odd thought that they might be on an island.  There was no lack of animals, and they shot and roasted some of them, as they were short of food.

One day when Odd was in the forest, he saw a huge bear and shot it and flayed off the whole skin.  Then he put a pole in its mouth and right through its body and spread the hide over a bush so it looked quite alive and he let it stand mid-path and facing towards the mainland.  Odd was enjoying his time on the island, but one evening, they were out and they saw a number of natives on the mainland, and that a crowd was gathering on a headland, people both large and small.

“What do you think, kinsman Odd,” said Gudmund, “that this crowd is about?”

“I don’t know,” said Odd, “but I will try to go ashore and listen to what they are talking about.”  Odd asked Asmund to go with him and they went to the seaside of their island, took a boat and rowed to the nearside of the headland and sat in their boat and listened to the people talk through the bushes.  One who seemed a chief of sorts began to say, “As you know, some children have come to the island which we own, and done us great damage, and I come here to propose that we kill these squatters.  I have a gold bracelet on my arm and I will give it to whoever will work their death.”

A woman came forward to the assembly and said, “We are fond of trinkets, us women, so give me the ring.”

“Yes,” said the giant, “you will do it well, the job which you carry out.”

Odd and Asmund returned to their island and told all what had happened, what they had heard.  Sooner than expected, they saw the giant woman wading across the sound from the mainland to the island.  She wore a leather tunic and was so big and evil-looking that they thought they’d never seen such a creature.  She went to the ships and scattered the defensive array and crushed the hut in the center so that the men watching worried the ships would all be broken.  She walked up the path, but Odd had positioned himself behind his scorn pole bear and he had put some glowing embers into the mouth of the beast for effect.  He now took an arrow and shot it right through the bear and out of its mouth.  The giantess saw the arrow flying at her, and stopped it with the palm of her hand, and it bit no more than if it had hit stone. Then Odd took one of Gusir’s Gifts and he shot it like the first one.  She put up her other hand, but the Gift went through it and into her eye and out the back of her head.  Still she kept coming and Odd shot a third arrow, another Gusir’s Gift.  She spat in her other hand and put it up as before, but the Gift went right through it just as it had before, into her eye and out the back of the head.  That stopped her.  She turned around and splashed her way back to the mainland and complained about what the children had done to her.  Oddi and his kinsmen stayed peacefully on the island for a while.

There is such a Jomali mound full of silver and ashes of the dead in a later Book of Saxo’s Nine Books and even I helped myself to some of the silver and used it in my Book 2.  Prince Hraerik and his famous glowing and sputtering sword Tyrfingr cutting down Biarmians in the failing light of a burial mound clearing…how could I resist.

Chapter Six – Bjarmaland III

One evening, Oddi and his kinsmen were relaxing outside their hut, when they saw that a group of giants had gathered on the headland just as before.  Odd and Asmund again rowed to the mainland and rested on their oars and listened through the bushes.

The chief spoke up again.  “It is a great surprise to me,” he said, “that we cannot kill these children.  I sent our noblest woman, but they have a creature that blows arrows and fire out of its nostrils and mouth,” and the giants discussed what this creature could be at length until finally their chief said, “now it follows that I am so sleepy that I must go home.”  And so did Asmund and Odd.

Yet a third evening, the Norsemen saw the same thing happen on the mainland, and Odd and Asmund rowed there again and sat in their boat, rested on their oars and listened.  The same chief began to speak, “It is as you know, that we have condemned these children, and nothing has come of it, but now a vision has been given to me.”

“What do you see?” asked the giants.  “What I see,” he continued, “is that here are two children arrived by boat, and they listen to what we say, so I shall send them a little something.”

“We must get away quickly,” said Odd to Asmund and they began rowing hard.  No sooner had the words left his lips than a huge stone flew from the headland and came crashing down to where their boat had been, but they were already rowing back.  Then the chief said, “This is a great wonder! Their boat is still whole and so are they.  I will throw another stone, and a third, but if they miss each time then I will leave them alone.”  So huge was the third stone that Odd’s boat was flooded, though the stone missed by quite a bit.  As they rowed away from shore, the giant began to speak, “They are still safe and so is their boat, but now I am so sleepy that I cannot stay awake.”  And the giants went home.

Odd said, “They’ve gone, so let’s row back.”

“What do you want do now?” said Asmund.

“I must know where this group lives.”

Odd and Asmund went ashore once more and they spotted a cave where a fire burned inside.  They snuck up to the mouth of the cave and saw that trolls sat on both benches.  An ogre sat on the throne.  He was both big and evil-looking, and he had long black hair like whale baleen.  He had a snotty nose and wicked eyes.  And his woman sat next to him.  To describe one is to describe them both.  Then the chief said, “Now a vision is given to me, and I see the island, but now I know who they are who are there.  They are brothers, the sons of Grim Hairy-Cheek, Odd and Gudmund.  I see that the Lapps have sent them here, believing that we shall kill them for them, but we cannot execute that outcome, because I can see that Odd is fated to live much longer than others.  Now I will give them a wind to get away from here, as fair as the wind the Lapps gave them to come here.”

Odd whispered, “Of all men and trolls you give the worst gifts.”

“This too I see,” said the chief, “that Odd has the arrows called Gusir’s Gifts, and so I will give him a byname and call him Arrow-Odd.”

“That is a more fitting gift,” said Odd to Asmund.  Arrow-Odd then took one of Gusir’s Gifts and put it to his bow, and, instead of shooting at the chief, he shot at the ogre on the throne.  But when the ogre heard the whine of the arrow, he dodged it and it hit his woman sitting next to him, and the arrow hit under one armpit of the woman and came out the other, so that she ran up and flew at her ogre husband and clawed at his face.  The trolls all leapt up from both benches, and some helped him, but others his woman.  Odd shot a second Gusir’s Gift right into the ogre’s eye and back out his head.  After that they ran to their boat and returned to their island.

The brothers were jubilant.  “How far did you go, Odd?” said Gudmund.

Odd then recited a verse:

“I sought my goal                 with Gusir’s Gifts

between the crags               and burning fire.

An ogre I hit             in the eye,

but in the ribs            his rock-lady.”

“We thought,” said Gudmund, “that you were achieving much, since you were gone so long, or did something else happen during your journey?”

“A name was given to me,” said Odd and he recited:

“I got my byname,                for which I have wished,

down from the crags            ogres called it,

they said Arrow                    Odd they would give

a fine wind                 to cross the waves.”

“Wind was promised us,” Arrow Odd said, “with which to sail away from here, and I am told that the breeze won’t be worse than the wind that the Lapps gave us leave with.”

They got ready for the journey, ready for a rough one, and then they went out and lashed their ships and got away from land and the same gale struck them, and swept them out to sea, and many times they bailed, but more often they prayed for relief from the tempest and salvation from the sea.  But the storm was unabated and it raged for many days until, suddenly, it calmed and they came to the same Lapp harbour as from which they were driven, and now all the huts were derelict and deserted.  Arrow Odd stood up and spread out his arms and they got a good wind and they sailed all the way to Hrafnista, arriving late in the winter.  Grim was happy to see his sons and invited them home with all of their followers, and they accepted this offer.  They put all their belongings into the hands of Grim and stayed with him for the winter.

Chapter Seven – Halfdan’s Gift

Arrow Odd gained such fame for his deeds and his wealth gained in Bjarmaland that no one thinks any greater thing has been achieved from Norway.  There was great joy in the winter and much drinking.  When spring came, Odd asked his kinsmen what they wished to do next. “You can decide for us,” they said.

“Then we will go on Viking raids,” said Odd.  He then told Grim that they needed one more ship to complement their three and for all to be ready to sail.  Then he promoted his blood-brother, Asmund, to captain.

Grim, a very wealthy and capable man, took charge and soon told Odd they were ready.

“Now I would like,” said Odd, “for you to direct us to some Viking you think us worthy of.”

Grim said, “Halfdan is the name of a Viking who anchors in the east, off Elfar Skerries, but he has thirty ships.”

“I’m sorry I asked for that fourth ship,” Odd apologized, “when three were all we needed.”

They sailed south round Norway, and when they came to the Elfar Skerries they anchored their ships, but Halfdan was not far off.  And when they had pitched their tents Odd went off with Asmund and a few others to where the Vikings were moored.  Odd saw a huge dragonship in the fleet and he called out to the ship and asked who the commander was.  A sailor lifted up the ship’s awnings, “Halfdan is the name of this fleet’s leader, but who asks?”

“He is called Arrow Odd,” Asmund shouted in reply.

“Are you the Odd who went to Bjarmaland?”

“I have been there,” shouted Odd, nonchalantly.

“What is your errand here?” Halfdan questioned.

“I want to know which one of us is the greater man,” said Odd.

“How many ships have you?” Halfdan said.

“We have three vessels,” said Odd, “all big ones with a hundred and twenty men aboard each, and we will be here tomorrow to meet with you.”

“I think we’ll sleep soundly despite that,” said Halfdan.

Odd and Asmund rowed back to their own Vikings and told them what had happened.  “Now we will have our hands full,” said Odd, “but I have a plan on what we will do.  We’ll beach our cargo to make our ships lighter, and we’ll cut down some trees, the largest and most leafy, and we’ll put two on the foredecks of two ships, and two on the aftdecks of the other two,” and so they did.  When they were ready, Odd said: “I want you, Gudmund and Sigurd, to take your ships and board the dragonship from our left and Asmund and I will attack it with our ships from the right.  We want to take out Halfdan before his other ships can engage.”

“But you told Halfdan,” Asmund started, “that we only have three ships.”

“I lied,” Odd confessed.  “Three on thirty sounds better, and at those odds, we’re allowed to lie a bit.”

Oddi and his men quietly rowed toward Halfdan’s ships which were anchored down the inlet.  Halfdan saw four small ships approaching all covered with trees, when he was expecting three large dragonships.  He watched the leafy ships approaching almost lazily and gave no orders to his fleet, sitting dead in the water.  Odd gauged their distance from Halfdan’s dragonship to be just right, then ordered his men to start rowing hard and the four ships leaped out of the water and began a rush for the flagship.  They soon flanked the huge dragonship, and grappling hooks were thrown and lines were let and the smaller ships were soon towing the dragonship along with them, but one grappling hook let go and Sigurd’s ship shot forward and away from the pack.  Lines were cut and the trees all fell free from the rigging and the trucks crashed against the topstrakes of the dragonship and the men of Hrafnista dropped out of the leafy branches like red fall leaves and hit the deck, taking the Vikings by surprise, and beat at the Vikings through their tent awnings.  Odd and Asmund battled so ferociously that they had the dragonship cleared as far as the quarterdeck before Halfdan even got to his feet, and they slew him there on the quarterdeck, and then Odd gave the survivors two choices, if they wanted to keep up the fight or wanted to give up, but they took the latter and surrendered.  Odd picked out all the men that he thought toughest and he took the dragonship into his possession and a second dragonship as well, but all the other ships he gave to the Vikings.  He took all of the treasure for himself.  And he gave the dragonship a name and called it Halfdan’s Gift.

Arrow Odd and his men sailed home to Hrafnista with a great victory to tell tales about and stayed there over winter.  But when spring came, Odd had his ships prepared to journey from the land.  When they were ready, Odd asked his father, “Where can we find a raider who is truly exceptional?” and Grim said, “Soti is the name of a great Viking, and he lies south of Skane.  He has thirty ships.  I would recommend using more than just three this time.”

So vain, it seems so vain, fighting sea battles just to see who was a bigger man!  Perhaps there was more to it?  These Vikings were raiders and slavers working the coasts of Nor’Way and Skane and England, gathering up slaves to sell through Kievan Hraes’ to Baghdad and Constantinople.  Ransoms were not being offered, making the captors mere kidnappers instead of Vikings, and Prince Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ was making them pay for it.  Unknown to him, the kidnappers were in the pay of King Angantyr Frodi ‘the Peaceful’ of Kiev and his Sor’Way trade route, the Dan’Par.

Chapter Eight – Soti’s Gift

The kinsmen sailed from Hrafnista and their five ships were soon moored south off Skane.  As summer wore on, Soti heard of Odd’s activity and sallied forth to meet him, sailing day and night to set up an encounter.  When Soti ran into contrary winds, he said, “Let us lay our ships side by side in a line, with my dragonship in the middle and, because I have heard that Odd is a man of daring, I think that he will sail his ships straight for us.  But when they come at us and drive back the center, we will encircle their ships and not one mother’s son shall escape.”

“I know what Soti and his men plan,” odd stated.  “They believe that we will sail straight at their centermost vessels.”

“Then we’d best not do what he expects?” said Gudmund.

“We do not want to disappoint Soti,” said Odd, “but we should take advantage of knowing that he knows what we will be doing.  I think,” he said, “I’ll sail my dragonship first, right up to where Soti is, and we’ll clear the whole deck back to the mast.  And you will follow me in your ships and break through their lashings and when they close their trap, the only thing left in the middle will be Soti…dead.”

And so that is what they did, and Odd’s dragonship, Halfdan’s Gift, charged fast, and it was all covered in iron bands right round the prow, so it went with its keel just scraping bottom, straight for Soti’s dragonship and the others followed in his wake.  As Odd got close to the Viking ships he could see how well they were lashed together and he said, “I think their ropes will break.”  Odd sailed his dragonship as fast as it could go and he crashed through the lashings all the way past mid-mast, and Odd and Asmund rushed aboard Soti’s ship and they cleared the deck and killed him before Sigurd and Gudmund came up in their wake and crashed through the remaining lashings and did an about face outside the encircling ring.  Then Odd had Halfdan’s Gift join their formation and they gave the Vikings the choice of taking peace from Odd or keeping up the fight.  With their encirclement broken and their formation scattered, they decided on peace.  Odd took their gold and Soti’s dragonship but left them the other ships.

Then they sailed up the coasts of Skane and then Norway, home to Hrafnista with great wealth and great fame and Grim was happy to see them again, and they spent winter on the island in great respect.  But when spring came, Odd readied the ships to sail once more, but he was now very picky about the men he chose to go along with him.  Odd gave Gudmund and Sigurd the dragonship he called Soti’s Gift.  He had the whole of the dragonship Halfdan’s Gift painted and he gilded both dragon head and weathervane in gold.  When all the ships were ready, Odd went to Grim and said, “Now tell me, father, where the best raider you know of prowls.”

“It is clear to me,” said Grim, “that you are not satisfied with being great men, but wish to prove yourselves the best men, men of character as well as strength.  I shall now refer you to the best two Vikings I know of, the best in everything.  One is Hjalmar the Brave, and the other is called Thord Prow-Gleam, but I must warn you that men such as this will soon have you doing their bidding, for, everything they think is true and everything they do is right.”

“Where are they,” said Odd, “and how many ships do they have?”

“They have fifteen ships,” said Grim, “and a hundred men aboard each.”

“Where is their homeland?” asked Odd.

“Hlodver is the name of the king of Sweden.  They stay with him in the winter but stay aboard their warships in the summer.”  And when they were ready to go, Grim went with them to the ships, and the father and sons parted with much affection.

Chapter Nine – Hjalmar the Brave

Odd and his kin sailed out from Hrafnista and got great wind, and soon arrived on the coast of Sweden, at a place where one massive headland jutted out to sea from the mainland.  They anchored their ships and raised the awnings and Odd went ashore to see what was what, but on the other side of the headland he spotted fifteen ships and a camp on the land.  He saw games being played outside of the tents and he saw the leaders of these ships, both Hjalmar and Thord.

Odd walked back to the beach and rowed out to his ships and told his brothers the news. Gudmund asked what they should do.  “We will split our men into two groups,” said Odd.  “You shall sail our ships around the headland and shout a war cry at the men on the shore, and I will march overland with my half of the troop and we shall shout another battle cry at them, and it come,” said Odd, “that this will unnerve them and they may flee away back to King Hlodver.”

But when Hjalmar and his men heard the battle cry of Gudmund, they didn’t heed it, but when they heard another battle cry from the land, they stood still a while, then they got back to playing their games.  Soon both groups returned from the headland, and Odd and Gudmund spoke.

“I don’t think,” said Odd, “that these Vikings are easily frightened.”

“What will we do now?” Gudmund asked.

“Here is what I think we should do,” said Odd, “We should not sneak up on these men.  Here we shall sleep in our ships tonight beside the headland and wait for tomorrow then sail around and challenge them.”

Then next morning they sailed around the headland and challenged the Swedes to fight.  But Hjalmar walked to the beach from his camp and said they should join him to eat first.  When Oddi and his men saw the Vikings cooking on shore, they armoured themselves and joined them.  Hjalmar asked who led such a fine troop of men.  Odd answered: “There are more chiefs than just one.”

“What is your name?” said Hjalmar.

“My name is Odd, son of Grim Hairycheek out of Hrafnista.”

“Ahh…Norwegians”, Hjalmar said easily.  “Are you the Odd that went to Bjarmaland recently?”

“I’ve been there,” Odd answered coolly.

 What is your errand here?”

“I want to know,” said Odd, “who is the greater man of us.”

“How many ships have you got?” said Hjalmar.

“I have five ships,” said Odd, “and how many ships have you?”

“We have fifteen ships,” said Hjalmar.

“That’s heavy odds,” said Odd.

“Ten of my ships’ crews shall sit back, watch and learn,” said Hjalmar, “and we’ll fight it out man to man.  My men could use some hard training.”

Both sides prepared for battle and the ships squared off and fought while day lasted.  In the evening a white peace shield was held up, and Hjalmar asked Odd how he thought the day had gone.  Odd was very pleased and said, “Your men make worthy opponents.”

“Do you want to continue the game?” said Hjalmar.

“I would not have it any other way,” said Odd, “for I have not met better boys or hardier men, and we will continue the fight in daylight.”  And everyone did as Odd suggested, and they bound their wounds and returned to camp for the evening.  But the next morning, after breaking fast, both sides drew up their ships into battle array and fought all that day and as night approached, they drew up a truce.  Then Odd asked what Hjalmar thought of the battle that day.  But he was very pleased. “Do you want,” said Hjalmar, “to have this game a third day?”

“Only if it will settle things between us,” said Odd.

Then Thord Prow Gleam said, “Is there plenty of treasure and money in your ships?”

“Far from it,” said Odd, “we have got no plunder this summer at all.”

“That goes for us as well,” said Thord.  “I think it is foolish for us to keep fighting, because we fight for nothing, only pride and ambition.”

“What do you suggest we do?” said Odd.

“Do you not think it good advice,” said Thord, “that we combine our efforts?”

“It pleases me well,” said Odd, “but I am not sure what Hjalmar would think.”

“I want only the Viking laws,” said Hjalmar, “which I have always had.”

“I will know,” said Odd, “when I hear them, just how agreeable they are to me.”

Then Hjalmar said: ‘This is the first rule, that I will not eat raw meat, nor my troop, because it is many people’s custom to squeeze flesh in cloth and call it cooked, but it seems to me that it’s a custom more fit for wolves than humans.  I will not rob merchants or farmers unless it is just to cover my immediate needs.  I never rob women, even if we find them in the land alone with a lot of possessions, and no woman is to be taken to the ship to be raped, and if she is taken unwillingly, then he who does this will lose his life, be he rich or poor.”

“Your laws are good,” said Odd, “and they will not block our comradeship.”  And then they joined forces, and they had as many as Hjalmar had before they met.  But the survivors were the best of the best.

It is here in the Rules of Hjalmar that we first see an aggressive stance being taken against rape and pillage, perhaps a response to the eastern trade.

Chapter Ten – Five Easy Berserks

When Odd asked Hjalmar where they should go next, he said: “On Zealand I know of five berserks, 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 sail,” said Odd, “to where the berserks are.”  They went to Zealand with twenty ships and heard that the berserks were gone ashore to meet their mistresses.  Odd slipped ashore alone to meet them, and they met as the brothers were returning, a battle began, and it ended up that he killed them all, but was not wounded.  When Asmund realized Odd had gone ashore he told Hjalmar about it.

“Yes,” Hjalmar agreed.  “And we should not be idle while he is gone.”  Hjalmar sailed with six ships and attacked and captured the berserks’ ships.  When Odd 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 Odd accepted.  But Gudmund and Sigurd, went north to Hrafnista with their crews, agreeing to meet again at the Gota River.  King Hlodver welcomed the Vikings with open arms, and they wintered there with much honour.  Odd 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 Ingeborg and she was a very attractive and skilled woman.  Odd asked Hjalmar why he did not marry Ingeborg, “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 Odd, “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, but in the spring, they went raiding when their ships were ready.

Here we see Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ developing into a veritable killing machine in order to stop the slave trading machine that King Frodi is developing in the east, in Kievan Hraes’, where the local Slavs he is kidnapping and selling in such volumes that the Roman term ‘Serviles’ slowly gave way to the Anglish Danish term ‘Slaves’.  Oh yes, the vast majority of Vikings of the ‘Great Viking Manifestation of the Middle Ages’ spoke Anglish Danish, the forerunner of the English language.  If you are reading this, you are reading Viking!

Chapter Eleven – The Death of Asmund

Oddi, Asmund and the Swedes met up with Gudmund and Sigurd at the Gota River and discussed where they should sail that summer.  Odd said he was for going west over the sea all others liked the idea.  They had twenty ships and Odd skippered their flagship, the dragonship Halfdan’s Gift.  They went to Scotland, raiding, harrying and burning everywhere they went, and they would not stop until they had every land paying tribute.  From there, they went to the Orkneys, and they ruled over them and wintered over on the islands.  In the spring, they went to Ireland and raided along the sea and sometimes inland.  Odd and Asmund were inseparable throughout their raiding.

One day, when Odd and Asmund were walking together inland, Odd with his quiver on his back, and a bow in his hand, to see if they could find anyone.  Before Odd could even move, a bowstring hummed and an arrow flew from the woods and it hit Asmund in the chest and he fell down dead.  Odd was devastated, but he left Asmund there on the path, and he rushed through the woods and he came to a clearing where a large number of women and men were gathered.  He saw a man in a very princely tunic, with a bow in his hand, and some arrows stabbed in the ground in front of him.  Odd was sure he would find his revenge there where the man stood.  He took out an arrow, one of Gusir’s Gifts, and nocked it to his bowstring, then he aimed at the man and shot him.  The Gift struck him right through the middle and then he fell down dead.  Then he shot at the others beside him and he killed three more of them.  And now the people fled into the woods.  Odd was so evil in heart towards the Irish that he meant to do them all great harm.  He went along a forest path that the people had used to get away from him and he tore up every shrub and bush that was in his way.  He pulled up one bush that was less firmly rooted than the others, and he saw a door and pulled it up and went down into a hole in the ground.  There he found four women in an earthen-home, and one was far more attractive than the others so, he seized her hand and tried to pull her out of the house.  She spoke then and said: “Let go of me, Odd.”

“What witch are you,” he said, “to know my name, for I have travelled far and have just arrived here?”

“I knew who you were when you first came here,” she said, “and I know that Hjalmar is with you, and I know to tell him if I am being taken unwillingly to your ships.”

“Nevertheless, you will come,” said Odd.  The other women took hold of her and would not let go, but she ordered them stop.  “I will ransom myself,” she said, “for I have no lack of treasure.”

“I don’t want your treasure,” said Odd, “for I have no lack of gold or silver.”

“Then I will make you a shirt,” she said.

“It is still the same case,” said Odd, “for I have enough shirts of both silk and wool.”

“You will never have a shirt,” she said, “such as that which I will make for you.  It shall be made out of silk and shellac and will be sewn with gold.  I will sew into the shirt qualities that you will be loathe not to have.”

“Let me hear them,” said Odd.  “These qualities you speak of.”

Then the young woman said:

“You shall never be cold in it,         neither by sea nor on land.

  You shall not get tired when swimming, and nor will fire hurt you,

  and never shall hunger grip you, and never shall iron bite you,

  and it will ward away from you    all things except one.”

“What’s that?” said Odd.

“Iron will bite you,” she said, “if you retreat, even if you’re in the shirt.”

“I’ve never fled in battle so that is fine with me,” said Odd.  “When shall it be made?”

“By this time next summer,” she said.  “Then we will meet here in this same clearing.”

“What do you think I will do to you Irish if you do not fulfil this promise?  I have much to pay back for what they did to my comrade, Asmund!”

“Do you think you still have not avenged him,” she said, “when you have killed my father and my three brothers?”

“It does not seem to me that I have avenged him at all,” said Odd.  They shook on their deal and both went their separate ways.

Odd returned to Asmund, took him up and carried him on his back and went down to the sea where they’d anchored their ships.  Hjalmar had come ashore with all his men and was looking for Odd when they met on the beach, and Hjalmar asked what had happened, as he helped Odd with Asmund, and Odd told him about what had happened.

“Did you avenge him?” asked Hjalmar.

Poetry parted Odd’s lips:

“I ran hard down that                       wide wagon road,

to the fierce arrows             I set my face.

To have Asmund back                    by my side

I would gladly give               all of my gold.”

“What shall we do now?” asked Hjalmar.  “You’ll likely now want to plunder here and do evil everywhere.”

“I’d rather be away from here, and quickly,” Odd answered.  “Next summer they shall pay for what they’ve done to Asmund.”

The Vikings were very surprised to hear this.  But Hjalmar said it should be as Odd wished.  They raised a howe over Asmund, but the Vikings wanted to make them pay now and were angry about this, and they grumbled about Odd behind his back.  But Odd acted as though he did not hear it.

They sailed east until they came to Laeso Island, and an earl met them there and he had thirty ships and the attack was without warning and the fighting was fierce.  By clearing many decks, Odd cleared himself of the coward’s name that the Vikings had given him in Ireland.  Odd and Hjalmar won a great victory in this sea battle.

They then sailed to Denmark where they heard news that a fleet had been mustered against them to avenge the five berserks they had beaten the summer before.  Two earls, this time, led the Danish fleet, and it ended up when they clashed with the Vikings, they both met their deaths, but the battle was very hard and lasted several days and there was no respite from the fighting until darkness intervened, only to flare up again with the first flickerings of dawn.  The surviving Danes fled east across the Baltic and the Oddi’s Vikings raided the land for treasure.

Now it is not mentioned in this saga, but it is important to note that Odd’s courage and deeds had attracted the attention of a great Danish king who was building an empire in the east, a king named Frodi Fridleifson the Third, and this king had placed a bounty on his head.  Halfdan was half Dane and Soti may have been too, but the five berserk brothers were full blooded Danes killed on Danish soil by the great Arrow Odd.  And now there would be the matter of one earl of Laeso and two earls of Zealand all dead.

Chapter Twelve – Olvor’s Plate-Mail Shirt

Now Oddi’s Vikings divided their spoils and their forces, and Gudmund and Sigurd sailed north to Hrafnista, and they settled there quietly, deciding to give up raiding.  The fighting seemed different to them somehow, more somber, more deadly.  But Odd and his forces occupied Denmark over the winter, while Hjalmar returned to Sweden with his followers, and they agreed to meet east in Skane the following spring.

Once the snow had melted, Hjalmar and Thord Prow Gleam sailed from the east at the time agreed for them to meet in Skane.  When they met, Hjalmar asked Odd where he wanted to go that summer, and he replied that he wanted to go back to Ireland.

“You didn’t want to plunder there last summer,” said Hjalmar.

“That was then, and this is now” he said, “and now I want to go back to Ireland.”

So, they sailed from Skane, and they had a good wind, sailing along Scotland and the Orkneys, collecting tribute along the way, until they got to Ireland.  Odd said: “Let us camp here and pay our respects at Asmund’s howe, but then I will go inland alone.”

“I will come with you,” said Hjalmar.

“I will go alone,” said Odd, “because I am meeting someone to collect tribute for my friend here, and if I am not pleased with the wergild I receive, we shall ravage the coast and collect tribute here as well.”  Odd walked the path upon which Asmund had died and the bitterness all came back to him.  He came to the clearing where Olvor had agreed to meet, and she had not come yet.  He was already steeped with great anger for the Irish and resolved to harry the land.  But, no sooner had he given way to war, than he heard some wains creaking towards him.  He saw it was Olvor, saw her pretty face, and his anguish dissipated and was gone with the spring breeze.

She greeted him first, “Now I hope you won’t be angry with me, though I am later than I said.”

“Is the shirt done?” said Odd, anxiously.

“You know it is,” she said, “and now you must sit down with me, and I will see how well it fits you.”  And so, she took it out and unfolded it and showed it to Oddi and he touched it and turned it this way and that and said, “where did you get the plate-mail?”  She pulled off Odd’s leather jerkin and her pulse raced a bit as she saw the power in his back and the scars on his shoulders, where iron had bit him in who knows what battles.  “It is Roman,” she said, “and this shirt will keep these bites away,” and she stroked a particularly bad gash.  “There is a Roman saying that goes…rust punishes iron for the pain it inflicts on man,” and she put the shirt on Odd, and it fitted perfectly in all respects.

“Do all the qualities go with the shirt,” said Odd, “that you spoke of?”

“They do,” she said.  “And it shall never feel the pain of rust.”

“How did you ever,” said Odd, “make this treasure yourself?”

Then poetry came to the lips of the princess:

“This shirt is sewn out of silk          from six lands:

an arm in Ireland,     the other by Lapps in the north,

Saxon maidens started it,   but Hebridey women spun it,

Welsh wives wove it,           on Othjodan’s mother’s warp. “

Then poetry came to Odd’s lips:

“Not like the byrnie   of blue rings

rough and ice cold   ‘pon my skin,

went down my sides,           this silk thing,

gold embroidered,    and warm within.”

“How do you find the shirt?” she said.

Odd was very well pleased. “Now, choose your reward for the shirt,” said he.

“There has been little happiness here,” she said, “since my father was slain, and the land is running out of my control.  Therefore, I choose as a reward that you stay here three winters.”

“Then let us make another deal,” said Odd, “that if I stay, you’ll be my wife.”

“You’ll think me eager to get a husband,” she answered, “but I accept.”

Then Odd looked around and saw nearby a group of warriors.  He asked if this troop was sent to kill him.  “Far from it,” she said.  “These men shall accompany you down to your ships, and you will now leave with more honour than last summer.”  He returned to his ship and these warriors with him, and they met Hjalmar at the tents.

Now Odd asked Hjalmar to stay with him for three winters, and so he agreed.  Odd now married Olvor.  But in the summer, they stayed aboard their warships and killed all Vikings attacking Ireland and collected their tribute from the Scots and the people of the Orkneys.  After three years were up, and they had wiped out all the Vikings, both near and far in Ireland, some killed, most fled, Hjalmar told Odd he wanted to return to Sweden and Ingeborg.  By then, Odd was also tired of being there, so Hjalmar asked him to go to Sweden as well.

Olvor and Odd had a daughter named Ragnhild.  They argued about it because Odd wanted to take her with him, but Olvor refused this.  They asked Hjalmar about it, and he said that the girl should grow up with her mother.

When their ships were ready, they sailed away south and landed in England.  They heard news that there was a Viking named Skolli, and he had forty ships.  And when they dropped anchor, Odd went off in a boat and wanted to have words with Skolli.  But when they met, he asked Odd what errand he had in that country.

“I am Odd and I mean to do battle with you,” Odd answered.

“Why would you want to do me harm?” said Skolli.

“Nothing personal,” said Odd, “but I will have your treasure and life because you are making war on the king who is ruler here.”  His name was Edmund.

“Are you the Odd,” said Skolli, “who went to Bjarmaland a long time ago?”

“It wasn’t that long ago,” said Odd.

“I am not so vain,” said Skolli, “that I’m going to think myself your equal.  Now you must learn why I fight King Edmund.”

“Well said and pray tell,” said Odd.

“The king killed my father here in the country, and many of my kin, when they settled in the realm.  But I have sometimes seized half of the country, and sometimes a third. Now I think you would get greater glory if you combined your troop with mine, and we kill King Edmund and put the realm under us. I will seal this deal with witnesses.”

“Please,” said Odd, “summon eight farmers of the land to swear oaths on your behalf.”

“It shall be so,” said Skolli.

Odd returned to their ships and told Hjalmar what Skolli had offered, and that they should fight alongside him.  They slept on it and in the morning,  they went ashore with all their followers.  Skolli had been busy all night, and he came down from the land with the farmers, and they all swore oaths of support. After that they joined their forces and went inland to make war, looting, burning and destroying everything they came upon.  But the people fled away and went to their king for help.  King Edmond led his army south and the battle began between them, and they fought for three days, but in the end, King Edmund fell.  Odd laid the land under them and they stayed there over winter.

In the spring Skolli offered to share the land. Odd refused it but suggested that Hjalmar take his share.”  But Hjalmar refused.  He had visited with Ingeborg and she was not interested in England at all.  “It is full of Danes…Angles and Jutes and even some of Charlemagne’s Saxons,” she had complained to her champion.

“In that case,” said Odd, “we should give Skolli all the land.”  And he accepted it and said that they could stay there at any time they wanted, winter or summer.  Then they equipped twenty ships to continue on to Sweden, but they were stopped south of Skane.

Princess Olvor’s Platemail Shirt is likely a laminated resin armour birney of a Roman Fire Officer of a Roman Bireme Greek Fire Ship that Ragnar Lothbrok took in Scythia and gifted to Olvor’s family when he was blown off course to Ireland decades earlier.  Had Olvor’s father been wearing it instead of the ‘Princely Shirt’ he wore when Arrow Odd shot him, he would not have died.  Apparently it was in need of repair.

Chapter Thirteen – Ogmund Eythjofsbane Tussock

There were two kings anchored south of Skane with a fleet of thirty ships.  One was named Hlodver, the other Haki and they had been waiting almost a year for Odd and his men.  When they saw Halfdan’s Gift, with its gold dragonhead and weathervane, ten ships came rowing out at them and no words were bandied, because, instantly, a battle broke out between them.  Odd had twenty ships, but they attacked so fiercely that Odd had scarcely ever been so sorely pressed.  In the end Odd’s Vikings managed to defeat the ten ships.

Then Odd said, “These Hraes’ weren’t the terrors they’re reported to be.”

“Do you think that?” said Hjalmar. “They were but the scouts of the men who are after us.”

They barely had time to bandage their wounded when twenty more ships rowed out to meet them, and again, instantly, a battle broke out that was so hard and intense, that Odd had never met such warriors, neither at sea, nor on land.  The fighting ended with both kings dead and all that were with them, and Odd and Hjalmar had barely enough men to sail away in Halfdan’s Gift. They carried on towards Sweden and soon they came to the islands called the Elfar Skerries and in the islands are creeks called Tronuvagar.  They saw two ships there, with black awnings draped over them both.  It was the beginning of summer.  “Now I don’t want them,” said Hjalmar, “to notice us, for those Hraes’ lie quietly beneath their awnings.”

“I cannot accept skulking by them,” said Odd.  “I’ll have a word with men when I go by them.”  Now Odd called and asked who was in charge of the ships.  A man lifted the hem of the awnings, and said, “That man is called Ogmund.”

“I’ve not heard of any Ogmund worthy of note,” said Odd.

“Where have you been that you have not heard tell of Ogmund Eythjofs-Bane?” the sailor said.

“I have never heard tell of you,” said Odd, “and never have I seen such an evil-looking person.”  Ogmund was black of hair, and a huge tuft of it hung down over his face where the forelock should have been so that nothing was seen of his face except his teeth and his eyes.  Eight of his men looked much the same and could have passed for brothers.  No iron bit them, they were more giants than men and correspondingly evil.  Then Ogmund said, “Who is this man finding fault with me?”

“He’s called Odd,” the sailor said.

“Are you the Odd,” said Ogmund, “that went to Bjarmaland a long time ago?”

“I am that man,” said Odd, “and it wasn’t that long ago.”

“It is good,” said Ogmund, “for I have been looking for you most of my life.”

“What errand are you about?” said Odd, condescendingly.

“Where would you fight, at sea or on land?” Ogmund said.

“I will fight at sea,” said Odd.  Then Ogmund and his men took down the awnings.  Hjalmar and the crew made ready and loaded stones in the ship.  And when both sides were ready, they rowed their ships next to each other and had a long and hard battle.  And when it had raged on for a while, Ogmund waved a peace flag and asked Odd how he thought it went.  He said that he thought it went badly.

“Why is that?” Ogmund said.

“I have fought with men before, but now I think I fight Hel,” said Odd.  “I tried hacking your neck before, which should be easy with the fine sword I hold, but it did not cut.”

Ogmund answered: “I can say the same about you.  I hacked at your chest, which I thought easy, and the sword I use has never wavered in a fight before, but it could not bite through that shirt you wear.  Do you still wish that we fight?” said Ogmund.  “Or do you wish that we part, because I know how this battle will go: here will die the sworn brothers, Hjalmar and Thord, and your troop too, as will all my warriors as well, and then only we two will remain standing.  But if we fight it out, I will fall to you because of that damned shirt you wear,” said Ogmund.

“On with the battle,” said Odd.  They thrust shields together a second time and fought until only three men remained standing, Thord, Hjalmar and Odd.

But Ogmund still stood, and eight with him.  He spoke: “Now do you want to part, Odd, because I now call equal numbers of slain.  Things will go as I’ve foretold, because you are meant to live much longer than other men and you wear a shirt in which you cannot be hurt.”

“It seems better now,” said Odd, “to part sooner than later as long as you attribute cowardice to no parties here.”

“Then we break off now,” Ogmund said, “because I call out equal slain.”

Odd wanted to get away from the Tronu Creeks, so they did and they went to an island.  Odd said that three things had to get done: one was to go into the forest and shoot game, second, to guard the ship and third, to build a fire and set up camp.  “I will light a fire,” said Hjalmar, “and do the cooking.”  Odd went to the forest with his bow and quiver, and Thord kept the ship.  When Odd came back with a boar, they found Thord gone.  They went looking for him, but he was not on the ship nor around thereabouts.  After much searching, they found him in a rock crevice.  He had just sat there and died.  “This is an evil,” said Odd.  “We have not had such a loss since Asmund died.”  They checked for what caused his death, and found that a spear was under one arm, and the spear edge came out the other.  “That villain Ogmund thought,” said Odd, “that we weren’t quite as even in the numbers slain as he let on.  We shall row through all the bays and search for them.”  And so they did, but Ogmund had already headed east for Gardar.  They sought him through all the skerries, forests, islands and headlands, but could not find him, nor find even sign of him.  They went back to Thord and brought him to Sweden and raised a burial mound over him.  Then they went home to Uppsala and told the king the news.  The king received them with open arms, and they sat quietly, but when summer came again the king invited them to stay there – “and I will give you both a ship and crew from the land, so that you may entertain yourselves.”

Now it is not mentioned in this saga, but it is important to know that early in the spring the twelve berserker sons of Prince Arngrim and Princess Eyfura, the daughter of King Frodi the Third, visited with King Hlodver and Princess Ingeborg and the eldest son, Prince Angantyr, asked for the hand of the Swedish Princess, and Angantyr was of princely station and carried the blood of the old line of Danish kings, the Skioldungs.  Princess Ingeborg told the Danish prince that she was already spoken for, promised to her father’s foremost man, Hjalmar the Brave.  Prince Arngrim noticed some hesitation on King Hlodver’s part and claimed that a foremost man was not worthy of the princess.  He told the court that King Frodi’s foremost man, Ogmund Eythjofbane Tussock was more worthy than Hjalmar, but he thought that a true prince was Princess Ingeborg’s due and he challenged Hjalmar and his second, Arrow-Odd, to a combat to the death, a holmganger, on Samsoe Island.  He warned all that no person should have the right to marry the princess until the combat was resolved, by order of King Frodi Fridleifson the Third.  And this king had increased the bounty on Odd’s head for the deaths of Halfdan and Soti, both half Danes, the five full Danish berserk brothers killed on Danish soil, one Danish Earl of Laeso, two Danish Earls of Zealand and two Hraes’ Kings of Gardar.

Chapter Fourteen – Holmganger on Samsey

Arrow-Odd and Hjalmar the Brave were provided two ships with forty men each and they sailed from Sweden to Denmark.  They hit some rough weather, and they came to an island called Samsey.  There are bays there called Munarvag.  They anchored their ships and raised the awnings.  But during the gale the rudder oar on Odd’s ship had broken, so, when morning came, Odd and Hjalmar went ashore to cut down a tree.  Hjalmar always wore his full armour when walking about and Odd wore his plate-mail shirt day and night.  Both crews were asleep on their ships when Vikings attacked them by surprise, and their leader was named Angantyr.  The Vikings were twelve in number and were all brothers and all berserks.  They had gone around the world and nowhere had they met their match.  When they came to the ships of Odd and Hjalmar, they attacked the men aboard and they killed every man on the ships.  Then the brothers spoke and said: ‘Again it is that our father, Arngrim, never said a bigger lie when he told us these men were hard and mighty Vikings, so that no one could stop them, but in all the places we’ve been, no one has borne himself worse and shown less fight.  Let’s go home and kill that shit of a man as payback for his lies.”

“There is another possibility,” said some, “either Odd and Hjalmar have been most over-praised, or else they have gone ashore, since the weather is good.  We should go ashore and look for them rather than go home untried.”  So, the twelve brothers went ashore, and soon a berserk fit came upon them and they went roaring onto the beach.  Then a berserk fit came upon Angantyr as well, but it had never happened to him before.  Just then Odd and Hjalmar stepped out of the woods.  Odd stopped and listened.  Hjalmar asked what was up.  Odd said, “Something odd keeps happening, sometimes I think that bulls or dogs are yelping, but sometimes it sounds like men are screaming, and do you know whose nature it is to behave thus?”

“Yes…berserks!” said Hjalmar.  “I know those twelve brothers.”

“Do you know their names?” said Odd.

Then a verse came to Hjalmar’s lips:

“Hervard, Hjorvard,  Hrani, Angantyr,

Bild and Bui, Barri and Toki,

Tind and Tyrfing,      Two Haddings,

East in Bolm they were bairns,

Sons of Arngrim       and of Eyfura.

I learned that these men     are malevolent

And most dishonourable    in their acts.

They are berserks,   bringers of evil,

Our two ships they swept   of our loyal sailors.”

Then Odd saw the berserks legging towards them, and poetry came to his lips:

“I see men walking  war-hungry

from Munarvag         in grey mail coats.

Vile the fight these men have fought.

Broken our ships      on the beach.”

Odd further said: “This is not good, because I forgot my quiver and bow when we left the ships, and have only this axe in my hand,” Odd then recited a verse:

“I felt fear       Only once,

When they bellowed,           leaving the longships

And screaming                     ascended the island

Inglorious,     Twelve men together.”

Odd then went back to the forest and cut a club, while Hjalmar awaited his return.  When he came back, the berserks came running up to them.

Whereupon Hjalmar said:

“Mighty are the warriors      Leaving the warships,

Twelve men together                       Inglorious;

I think this evening we will be Odin’s guest,

Two sworn brothers,            But the twelve will live.”

Then Odd followed with:

“To your word will I  provide an answer:

They will this evening          be Odin’s guests,

Twelve berserks,      we two shall live.”

Then a verse came to Angantyr’s lips:

“It has gone   hard for you,

All your fellows                     have fallen,

and now you must follow    and feast in the hall.”

Then Odd said:

“There are come      trudging together,

inglorious,     those twelve.

One by one, the                   battle waging

is the hero’s way,     unless his heart fails.”

“Who are you men,” said Odd, “that we meet here?”

“There is a brother named Angantyr,” said the other, “who is our leader.  We are twelve brothers, the sons of Earl Arngrim and of Princess Eyfura from east of Bolm.

And who asks?” Angantyr said.

“This one is called Odd, son of Grim Hairy-cheek, the other is called Hjalmar the Brave.”

“A warm welcome,” said Angantyr, “for we have sought you widely.”

“Did you go to our vessels?” said Odd.

“We went there,” said Angantyr, “and we’ve taken everything for ourselves.”

“How do you feel now,” said Hjalmar, “about our meeting?”

“I think,” said Angantyr, “we should do what you said earlier, fight this one to one, and I want to fight you, Odd, because you have a shirt that means that iron shall not bite you, but I have a sword that is called Tyrfing and dwarves forged it and promised that could bite through anything, even iron or stone. We shall divide our troop into halves, and have seven in one group, and I and four men in the other.  I am said to be equal to the two Haddings. Then there’s one more against Tyrfing.”

Then Hjalmar said, “I will fight Angantyr, because I have fourfold ring armour which has kept me from wounds.”

“That’s a bad idea,” said Odd, “for we will do best if I fight with Angantyr.  It will be hopeless otherwise.”

“However it goes,” said Hjalmar, “I shall prevail.”

Then Angantyr said, “I want this boon: If anyone survives here, let no one rob the dead of weapons.  I would have Tyrfing in the mound with me, if I die. And so Odd shall have his shirt and arrows, and Hjalmar his armour.” And so they agreed that they must raise a burial mound over the dead, if they live.

The first to fight were the two Haddings, but Odd smote each with his club, and they did not need more.  Then one after another stepped forward to fight Odd, and he killed all who came before him.  Then Odd rested.  Next, Hjalmar went up against one and they were finished when he fell.  Then came a second, and a third and a fourth and finally there came Angantyr, and they fought hard and long, until Angantyr fell before Hjalmar.  Then Hjalmar went to a hillock and sat down and sank up against it.  Odd went to him and recited:

“What worries you, Hjalmar?         Your colour is wan.

Wasting your strength         are multiple wounds;

Your helmet is hacked,       and the hauberk on your chest.

Now I deem you have seen           the end of your days

And have proved that          which I told you,

that you would not listen to,            if you fought Angantyr.”

“That doesn’t matter,” said Hjalmar, “everyone has their time to die,” and he said this:

“I have sixteen wounds;                 my byrnie is split,

My sight is darkened,                      I cannot see.

Angantyr’s blade      entered my heart:

That sharp sword     was steeped in poison.”

“Now I have had a loss,” said Odd, “that won’t be made good for as long as I live, and it has gone badly because of your stubbornness, and we would have gotten a great victory here, if I’d only had my way.”

“Relax,” said Hjalmar, “and I will make you a poem to take back home to Sweden.”  And he said this:

“They’ll never hear,  the women back home

that I ever cringed    at sword cuts.

They’ll not tease me about me retreating,

the sly girls    at Sigtuna.

I sailed away from the songs of women,

Eagerly voyaging     eastwards with Thord;

Travelling swiftly      after joining a troop,

Left at last      my friends in the hall.

I went from the                     white cloaked woman,

To Agnafit     on the edge of the sea;

It is true what she told me there,

That I would never   be near her again.

I abandoned her,     young Ingeborg,

Hastily determined,     the day of destiny.

She will soon mourn me,    bitter in her mind,

But never again shall          we meet each other.

Carry there to display,                     from my combat,

Helmet and mail coat                       to the royal hall.

Tears will drop,                     King’s daughter,

When she sees broken                   the byrnie on my breast.

Five were the farms    I had for my own,

But never have I known                  joy of them;

Now I must lie                       with my life taken,

Wounded by the          sword on Samsey.

Slip the red-gold ring              from my hand,

And bear it to            young Ingibjorg;

Her misery will                         remain in her thoughts,

For I’ll never be seen               in Uppsala again.

Well I remember sitting       with the women persuading

Me not to set out      from there.

Hjalmar will never know      joy in the king’s hall,

Fine company                       or ale.

“Now I wish, too, that you bear my greetings to all our bench companions, and I will mention them by name:

“We drank and talked                      many a day,

AIf and Atli,                Eyvind, Trani,

Gizur, Glama,                        Gudvard, Starri,

Steinkel, Stikill,                     Storolf, Vifil.

Hrafn and Helgi,       Hlodver, Igull

Stein and Kari,                      Styr and Ali,

Ossur, Agnar,                       Orm and Trandill,

Gylfi and Gauti,                    Gjafarr and Raknarr.

Fjolmund, Fjalar,      Frosti and Beinir,

Tindall and Tyrfing,  Two Haddings,

Valbjorn, Vikar,                     Audbjorn, Flosi,

Geirbrand, Goti,       Guttorm, Sneril.

Styr and Ari,              Stein and Kari,

Voll, Vesela,              Audbjorn, Hnefi.

We all shared                       a single bench

Sat at ease;   As a result

I am Reluctant                      to flee.

Svarfandi, Sigvaldi, Saebjorn and Kol,

Thrain and Thiostolf,           Thorolf and Sval,

Hrapp and Hadding,            Hunfast, Knui,

Ottar, Egil,     Ingvar and all.

“Now I would ask you,” said Hjalmar of Odd, “that you do not lay me in a mound beside such evil fiends as these berserks are, for I deem myself much better than they were.”

“I will give you that,” said Odd, “as you ask, because it seems you are rapidly fading.”

“Now, take the ring from my hand,” said Hjalmar, “and take it to poor Ingeborg, and tell her I sent it to her on my dying day.”  Now poetry came to Hjalmar’s lips:

“The earls sit                         all drinking

Ale heartily    in Uppsala.

Many warriors           weaken at beer,

But alone       with my wounds

on this island            I suffer.

From the east the raven flies,        abandons his bough,

After him the eagle  flies as well:

I feed him with flesh       for a final time,

Now he will guzzle   my dripping gore.”

And after he said that, Hjalmar died.

Odd dragged the berserks together in a heap and piled timber around them.  It was not far from the sea.  He laid with them their weapons and armour, and he took nothing from them.  He covered them with turf and then covered them with sand.  Then he took Hjalmar down to the beach and laid him out on his back.  Then he went out to the ships and carried every man who had fallen to the beach and be built another howe over them.  It is said by those who have gone there since that you can still see signs today of what Odd did then.

The Holmganger (Island Duel) on Samso is one of the greatest duels that took place in ‘The Great Viking Manifestation of the Middle Ages’ and is found in both Arrow Odd’s Saga and in Saxo’s Nine Books of Danish History as well as in many other places in both prose and poetry and even song.  It is also the least understood.  Jarl Hjalmar is not the target of this duel, but his second, Arrow Odd.  The Hraes’ berserker princes, all grandsons of King Frodi, have locked Odd into a contest from which he cannot escape without losing all honour.  They wanted to take Oddi’s head back to their grandfather, King ‘Angantyr’ Frodi.  And they would have, too, if not for fate.  Oddi had damaged his rudder oar on the sailing to Samso and the berserks were late, when Prince Angantyr returned home to get the famed sword Tyrfingr from his father, so Oddi and Hjalmar went off into the woods together to cut a new rudder oar.

When the twelve berserker princes arrived they saw the two ships of Odd and Hjalmar and went into their berserker fits and slew all eighty men on board the ships, but when they came out of their fits they realized that Odd and Hjalmar must have been missing or the fight would have at least caused a wound or two on the attackers.  As they were following tracks in the sand leading into the woods, Hjalmar and Odd saw the total destruction that was strewn across the decks of their ships.  When the two saw the twelve coming into the woods, Hjalmar thought they would soon be dead, but Oddi saw that the twelve had just come out of their fits and were weak, as berserks were wont to be when coming down, so he told Hjalmar it would be the twelve who would soon be dining in Odin’s Hallowed Hall and he challenged the sons of Prince Arngrim and Princess Eyfura, King Frodi’s daughter, to a combat right away, before they could regain their full strength.  Only Prince Angantyr, who stood a full head taller than the rest, was strong enough to battle Jarl Hjalmar to the death as principal fighters.  Prince Odd, as a second, took on the other brothers one at a time as Angantyr’s seconds until he had dispatched them all with the great rudder oar he had just carved out.  In dealing with berserks, Prince Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ preferred to use clubs instead of edged weapons, as berserks often blunted sword edges with but a look.  He should know.  His ‘Arrow Odd’ byname means “the Arrow’s Edge”.

Chapter Fifteen – Hjalmar and Ingeborg Together at Last

Odd then put Hjalmar aboard his ship and set out to sea.  Then Odd used his magic.  He set the sail in calm weather, held out his arms until he got a wind and sailed back to Sweden with Hjalmar’s battered body.  He landed at a place of his choosing, beached his ship, and put Hjalmar on his back and went to Uppsala with him and set him down at the entrance of the hall.  He went into the hall and carried Hjalmar’s armour in his hand and also his helmet and he laid them down in the hall before the king and told him all that had happened.

Then he went to where Ingeborg was sitting, sewing a shirt for Hjalmar, and he said: “Here is a ring that Hjalmar sent you on his dying day and greets you with it.”  She took the ring and looked at it but said nothing.  She sank down then back against the chair posts and died.  Odd then burst out hysterically and said: “It is not often that things have gone well of late, so I should be rejoicing.  Now they shall enjoy each other in death so much more than they could in life.”  Odd took her up in his arms and laid her in the arms of Hjalmar at the entrance hall, and he sent men into the hall after the king and asked him to what he had done.  After that, the King welcomed him as a son and set Odd on the throne with him.  But when he had taken a rest, the king told him that he wanted to hold a funeral rite for Hjalmar and Ingeborg and raise a burial mound for them.  So, the king ordered everything to be done as Odd thought fit.  When the helmet and armour that Hjalmar had worn was displayed, it was easy to see how brave a man he had been and the spirit with which he had defended himself.  Now they were forever lying both in one howe.  So, all the people came to see this remarkable work, for Odd had made it with great honour.  Odd now sat quietly over winter with King Hlodver, but in the spring the king gave him men and ten ships, and then in the summer Odd went to look for Ogmund Eythjofsbane Tussock.  He searched all summer but could not find him.

From the end of Saxo’s Book 5:  “Arngrim had twelve sons by Eyfura, whose names I here subjoin: Brand, Biarbe, Brodd, Hiarrande; Tand, Tyrfing, two Haddings; Hiortuar, Hiartuar, Hrane, Anganty. These followed the business of sea-roving from their youth up; and they chanced to sail all in one ship to the island Samso, where they found lying off the coast two ships belonging to Hialmar and Arvarodd (Arrow-Odd) the rovers. These ships they attacked and cleared of rowers; but, not knowing whether they had cut down the captains, they fitted the bodies of the slain to their several thwarts, and found that those whom they sought were missing. At this they were sad, knowing that the victory they had won was not worth a straw, and that their safety would run much greater risk in the battle that was to come. In fact, Hialmar and Arvarodd, whose ships had been damaged by a storm, which had torn off their rudders, went into a wood to hew another; and, going round the trunk with their axes, pared down the shapeless timber until the huge stock assumed the form of a marine implement. This they shouldered, and were bearing it down to the beach, ignorant of the disaster of their friends, when the sons of Eyfura, reeking with the fresh blood of the slain, attacked them, so that they two had to fight many; the contest was not even equal, for it was a band of twelve against two. But the victory did not go according to the numbers. For all the sons of Eyfura were killed; Hialmar was slain by them, but Arvarodd gained the honours of victory, being the only survivor left by fate out of all that band of comrades. He, with an incredible effort, poised the still shapeless hulk of the rudder, and drove it so strongly against the bodies of his foes that, with a single thrust of it, he battered and crushed all twelve. And, so, though they were rid of the general storm of war, the band of rovers did not yet quit the ocean.

This it was that chiefly led Frode to attack the West, for his one desire was the spread of peace. So he summoned Erik, and mustered a fleet of all the kingdoms that bid him allegiance, and sailed to Britain with numberless ships.

This was the Great Pagan Army of the Danes that attacked England and was the start of the struggle yet to come, of Arrow Odd’s feud with King ‘Angantyr’ Frodi and his foremost man, Warlock Ogmund Eythjofsbane Tussock that would cost them all oh so much!

Chapter Sixteen – Saemund the Viking

In the autumn Odd was in Gautland searching and he heard about a Viking named Saemund.  He was supposed to be very difficult to deal with and he had fifty five ships.  Odd attacked him with ten ships and there was a battle long and hard, with no lack of heroic deeds.  But by evening, all of Odd’s ships had been cleared of men and he was the last on his side standing.  Odd jumped overboard when it was near dark and a man saw this, snatched up a throwing spear and hurled it after him.  It hit Odd in the calf muscle and drove to the bone.  He was on the run and tried swimming quietly back to the ships, but some Vikings saw Odd and pulled him into their boat.  Saemund told them to fix shackles to his feet and bind his hands with a bow string and this was done.

Odd sat in fetters and twelve men guarded him in their flagship, but Saemund left for shore to set up camp.  Odd said to his guards, “Do you wish that I entertain you, or do you wish to entertain me, since it’s so dull work?”

“We reckon,” said the head guard, “that you won’t be very entertaining since you are in chains and are to be killed tomorrow.”

“I am not afraid of that,” said Odd.  “Everyone has to die sometime.”

“Then we choose that you entertain us,” they said.  Odd began to sing and did not stop until they were all asleep.  Then Odd crawled to where an axe was lying on the bulkheads.  He adjusted it so that the edge faced him, then he turned his shoulders and rubbed his hands against it until he was free.  He unlatched the fetters by removing the hinge pins and got them off his feet.  Once free, he seemed to have room to move.  He went to where the guards were sleeping and prodded them with the axe handle, told them wake up, and whispered “because you slept like fools, the prisoner has gotten free,” and he killed them all, took his quiver and climbed into the boat and rowed ashore.  Then he went into the woods, pulled the spearhead out his foot and bound up his wound.

Saemund woke up with a fright in his tent and sent men out to the flagship to check on the guards and they learned that Odd had gotten loose and had killed all the guards.  When Saemund heard what had happened, he searched everywhere for Odd, but Odd was well hidden in the woods. Early one morning, Odd came out of the woods with a big club and he saw Saemund’s tent and felled it on top of Saemund and his men.  He clubbed Saemund and fourteen more to death, got their weapons and took the men in the next tent hostage.  He then made the Vikings an offer, that they accept his guidance and make him their chief, and they from recent experience just how capable Odd was and they accepted his offer.  Odd spent the rest of the fall raiding with his Vikings in the Baltic, always keeping an eye out for Ogmund Tussock.  Odd over wintered in Sweden with a small troop of picked men.

Chapter Seventeen – Aquitania

Odd sent messengers north to Hrafnista and asked his kin to join him, so Gudmund and Sigurd sent word back that they would come to Sweden in the spring.  At winter’s end there was a joyful meeting between the Hrafnista men and Odd.  Afterwards, they set sail from Sweden and kept heading south, hugging the coast, and the water became much shallower along the coast and Odd had never been there before.  They plundered southern Gaul, Frankland and Halsingjaland.  They wreaked much havoc until they managed to wreck their ships on a certain shore.  They went ashore with full weapons and armour and, when they headed inland, they soon saw a house before them.  It was built of unusual construction they had never seen before.  Up they went to the stone house and they found that the door was open.  Odd said, “What do you think, Sigurd, is the purpose of this house?”

“I don’t know,” he answered. “What do you think, kinsman Odd?”

“I am not sure,” he said, “but I suspect that men must live here and will come back soon.  We shall not go in as things stand.”  They settled down in a place outside the house, but after a while, they saw people hurrying to the house, and they heard a noise which they had never heard before.  “I think,” said Odd, “that these are strange men in a strange country.  We shall now wait here until they come from the house.”  It was as Odd had guessed, and soon the men hurried from the house.

One of the local people went where Odd sat, and said, “Who are you?”

Odd told him who he was and asked what country this was.  The person said that the country was called Aquitania.  “But what is this house you’ve just left?” Odd asked.

“We call this a church.”

“But what kind of noise is it you have been making?”

“That we call Mass,” said the local man.  “But what about you, are you an utter heathen?”

Odd said, “We do not have any religion.  We believe in our might and main.  We don’t believe in Odin, but what religion do you follow?”

“We believe in him that created heaven and earth, the sea, the sun and moon,” said the man.

Odd said politely: “He who has built all that must be great, that much I can understand.”

Now Odd and his men were shown to lodgings.  They were there several weeks and had some meetings with the locals.  They asked Odd and his men if they would take the faith and Gudmund and Sigurd converted.  They asked Odd if he would take the faith.  He said he would offer them a deal, “I will accept your faith, but I will believe the same as before.  I will not sacrifice  to Thor or Odin or other idols, but I don’t want to stay here.  Therefore, I will travel from place to place, and be sometimes with pagans, sometimes with Christians.”  In the end, however, Odd was baptized.  They stayed there for a while.

One time Odd asked Sigurd and Gudmund if they would go away.  They said: “We like it here more than anywhere else.”

“Then we are in disagreement,” said Odd.  “I have been  bored  because nothing happens here.”  He didn’t ask his brothers, he just left by himself one day.

And Odd left the city, he saw a large group of people heading his way.  One man was riding while the others walked.  These people were all well dressed, and no one was carrying weapons.  Odd stood by the street, as the people walked past him in silence.  Then Odd saw four men running and they all carried long knives in their hands.  They ran at the man who was riding and they cut off his head.  Then they ran back past Odd, the same way they had come, and one carried the head of the man they had killed.  Odd thought they had done great evil, so he ran after them but they ran into the forest and went underground in an earth-house like Odd had seen in Ireland.  Odd chased them into the earth-house.  Odd attacked them and they fought fiercely, four long knives against one short sword.  But he gave them no relief until he had killed them all.  Then he took their heads and tied them together by the hair, then went out with the four heads and the fifth they had carried in there.  Odd went back to the city and he saw there were others who returned to the church with the body of the man who’d been killed.  Odd took all the heads into the cathedral and said: “Here is the head of the man who was killed, and I have avenged him.”  They thought highly of this deed that Odd had done.  Odd asked who it was that he avenged.  They said that he was the bishop.  Odd said, “I’m glad I did it then.”  So now they kept an eye on Odd, because they did not want him to go now.  But he was still bored and now things were worse because they kept watch on him.  Now he waited for a chance to get away.

One dark night that chance came and he ran away.  He roamed from land to land and came, at last, to the River Jordan.  There he took off all his clothes including his plate-mail shirt, then went into the river and washed himself.  Then he got out of the river and into his shirt, and it held all the powers as before.  He put his quiver on his back and wandered from land to land.  He came to an immense forest and he stayed alive by shooting animals and birds for food and that’s how it went for a while.

Chapter Eighteen – Hildir the Giant

One day Odd came to a crag, and some big ravines, where a river fell in noisy waterfalls.  He wondered how anyone could get across, and he saw no way forward.  He had just sat down, when something caught him up and lifted him into the air.  An obscenely large vulture had come flying at Odd and snatched him up with its claws so fast that he could not protect himself from it.  This creature flew with Odd across many lands and seas, but eventually it flew with him to some cliffs and landed on a grassy ledge.  Here its young waited.  When it let Odd loose, he was whole and unharmed, thanks to his shirt shielding him from the claws of the vulture.

Odd was left alone with the vulture’s young in the nest.  There was a high cliff above, while a sheer drop was underneath.  Odd could see no way to escape without risking his life and jumping into the sea, but there appeared to be no chance of his getting ashore anywhere as he saw no end to the cliffs.  The chicks were still unfledged.  The vulture was rarely home in the nest, as it was always out looking for prey.  Odd tied up the beaks of the young and concealed himself in a rock cleft behind the nest.  The vulture returned with fish and birds and human flesh, and of all sorts of animals and livestock.  It even began carrying cooked meat there.  When the vulture left, Odd came out and took the food but he concealed himself during feedings.

One day Odd saw a great giant rowing in a stone boat towards the nest.  The giant shouted and said: “An evil bird is nesting there, and she has been stealing away my freshly boiled meat day after day.  I shall avenge myself somehow.  When I take the oxen of the king, I did not mean that a bird should have them.”

Odd stood up and killed the chicks and called to the giant: “Here is all that you are looking for, and I have taken care of it.”

The giant went into the nest and took his meat and bore it to the boat. The he said, “Where is the little boy that I saw here?  Don’t be scared, step out and come with me for your reward.”  Odd showed himself then, and the giant took him and put him in the boat. He said: “How shall I kill this beast?”

Odd said, “Set fire to the nest, and when the vulture comes back, she will fly so near that the fire will burn its feathers, and then we can kill it.”  It happened as Odd said, and they killed the vulture.  Odd took its beaks and claws and climbed into the boat, and the giant rowed away.  Odd asked him his name, and he said he was Hildir and that he was one of the giants of Giantland and he had a wife called Hildirid, and a daughter named Hildigunn.  “And I have a son called Godmund and he was born yesterday.  I am one of three brothers.  The name of one is Ulf, the other Ylfing. We have set up a meeting next summer to see who will be the next king of Giantland, namely, whoever does the most remarkable deeds and has the most savage dog in the dogfight at the meeting.”

Odd said, “Who do you think, out of you three brothers, will become king?”

Hildir answered: “It seems to go that one of the other two receives it, because I’ve always been the lesser of us three, and so it will likely still be.” 

Odd said, “Would you choose to be king if chance was in your favour?”

Hildir answered: “I would like to be king, but it is very unlikely, because Ulf has a wolf that is so ferocious that no dog can take him.  Ulf has killed an animal called a tiger, and he has the head of the beast to prove it.  But Ylfing is even harder, since he has an unbeatable polar bear, and he has killed an animal called a unicorn.  I have no deeds to compare with theirs and no dog to compare either.”

“Well, it seems to me,” said Odd, “that I might have a solution if someone was sympathetic to my cause.”

Hildir said, “I have never met a child as little as you, nor as arrogant, nor as crafty, and because I think you may be too clever by half, you are the greatest treasure.  I will bring you to Hildigunn, my daughter, and she can have you to play with and foster you and bring you up with Godmund, my son.”

After that Hildir rowed home to Giantland and Odd thought that the boat went very fast.  When Hildir got home, he showed them the child that he had found, and asked his daughter to take care of him as if he were her own.  Hildigunn took Odd and when he walked with her, he stood thighs high, but Hildir was taller than her, as a father would be.  Hildigunn picked up Odd and put him on her knee, then she turned him to look at him, and said: “This tiny pip has a tuft under his nose, but Godmund is bigger, though born just yesterday.”

She put him in the cradle with the giant baby and sang lullabies to the child and cuddled with them.  But when Odd was restless in the cradle, she took him to bed with her and caressed him, and it came about that Odd played the games he wished and then things went well between them.  Then Odd told her that he was not a child, though he was smaller than local men.  But the people of Giantland were so much bigger and stronger than any other kind; they were friendly and handsome, but no wiser than other people.  Odd over wintered there and in the spring,  he asked Hildir how generous he would be to the man who got him a dog that could beat his brothers’.  Hildir answered “I would give him anything he asked for.  Can you get me such a dog?”

Odd said, “Perhaps I can show you it, but you will have to grab it yourself.”

Hildir answered, “I will grab it if you show me it.”

Odd said, “There is a beast on Varg Island that hibernates.  Such is its nature that it sleeps all winter, but in spring it wakes up hungry as a bear and then it is so greedy and cruel that nothing is safe, neither cattle nor men nor anything that moves.  Now I’m pretty sure that this animal would beat your brothers’ dogs.”

Hildir said, “Take me to this dog, and if it turns out to be true, then I will pay you well when I’m in power.”  They got ready to go.

Then Hildigunn spoke to Odd.  “Will you be coming back after this?”

He said that he did not know for sure.

“I hope you do,” she said, “because I love you greatly, even though you are small.  I must tell you that I am with child, though it seems unlikely that you could do this, as small and feeble as you are, but there is no one except you who can be the father.  And though I love you very much, I will not stop you going, because I know your character is to go where you please, but do not doubt that you cannot get away from here without my letting you.  But I would rather bear grief and sorrow, than hold you here against your will.  Still, I would like to know what you want me to do with our child?”

“You must,” said Odd, “send him to me, if it’s a boy, when he is ten years old, because I have much to offer him.  But if it is a girl, then she should be brought up here, and you should look after her yourself, because I will be of no use to her.”

“You shall have your way in this as in everything else,” she said, “so farewell.”  She then cried tragically, but Odd had his way and went to the stone boat.

Hildir rowed.  To Odd the way seemed  too long and the progress too slow with oars, so, he raised his arms like a true Hrafnista man and he hoisted the sails, and there came along a fair wind, and they sailed out of the country.  But, before long, Hildir got to his feet in the boat and seized Odd and pushed him down.  “I will kill you if you don’t stop,” he warned, “this magic of yours, for the land and the mountains rush past as though sheep and the ship will soon sink under us.”

Odd explained, “You are dizzy because you’re not accustomed to sailing; let me up and I’ll show you how it works.”  Hildir did as he asked and Odd reefed the sail and the shore and mountains were calm again.  Odd told him not to worry about the speed because he could stop whenever he wished.  Hildir was now calm after that and he realized that sailing would be quicker than rowing; Odd hoisted the sails and the wind took the boat along as before and Hildir sat quietly.

When they got to Varg Island, they went ashore.  There was a large scree slope nearby and Odd asked Hildir to stretch his hand down among the stones and see if he could feel anything.  He did so and drove his arm into the stones up to the shoulder, and said, “Oh, there’s something odd inside.  I’ll get my rowing glove,” and once so armed, he drove his arm back into the scree and then pulled out a bear by the ears.  Odd said, “Now, treat this dog just as I said; take it home with you and don’t let it loose or feed it until the meeting when it fights the dogs.”  Hildir had bites all over his hand.  He said, “This should do the trick, Odd.  Come to this grim place next spring, at this time and I’ll have your reward for you.”  Odd agreed to it.  Hildir took the beast home and did everything Odd said, but Odd went the other way.

The next spring, Odd returned to the place where they had agreed to meet.  He arrived early and hid in the woods a short way from there so Hildir would not see him.  He did not want to meet him, because the giant would want revenge if anything went wrong with his plan and if everything went right, he might regret giving Odd his freedom and take back the boon.  Soon he heard the sound of oars and saw Hildir come ashore.  In one hand he had a large kettle full of silver, and under his other arm two very heavy chests.  He came to the spot where they had agreed to meet and he waited there a long while, but there was no sign of Odd.  Then Hildir called out to the woods, “It is a shame now, Odd, foster son, that you did not come, but I see no point in staying here any longer, because my domain is leaderless while I am away, so, I will leave these boxes here, which are full of gold, and a kettle full of silver; please take this treasure, even if you come later.  I will put this flat stone on top of it so no wind blows the treasure away.  Also, I am leaving these gifts, a sword, a helmet and a shield.  But if you are about and can hear my words, then I shall tell you that I was chosen king out of my brothers and I had a great savage dog because it bit to death both the dogs of my brothers and many of the men who tried to save the dogs.  I produced the beak and claws of the vulture we killed and That deed seemed greater than those of my brothers.  I was declared king of the land and now I shall return to my kingdom.  Come with me and I shall give you the best of everything.  I can also announce that my daughter, Hildigunn has given birth to a boy we named Vignir, and she said that you fathered him upon her, so, I shall bring him up to be a lord and I shall teach him sports and do all for him as I would for my own son, and when he is ten years old, he will be sent to you, according to what you told her to do.”  Then he rowed off in his stone boat.  Odd stood up and went to the treasure, but it was under the stone slab, and the rock was so big a church full of people could not have stirred it.  Odd could only get the gifts that were on top of the slab, but they were worth a good deal.  Having taken this little treasure, Odd went on his way.

“But when Odd was restless in the cradle, she took him to bed with her and caressed him, and it came about that Odd played the games he wished and then things went well between them.  Then Odd told her that he was not a child, though he was smaller than local men.”  It is an interesting look at Aesir beliefs and values in that Oddi has his way with the ten year old giantess and even gets her pregnant.  Historically, marriageable age was twelve at that time (at least in England), and child sex was not counted as rape unless the child was under eight years of age, when the community would get involved.

Chapter Nineteen – King Harek of Bjarmaland

One day Odd walked to the edge of a forest.  He was tired, so, he sat down under a big oak tree.  Then he saw a man in a blue-flecked cloak walking by with high shoes, gold emblazoned gloves and a reed in his hand.  He was average height and gentlemanly in looks, but he had a lowered hood that covered his face.  Odd could just make out a big moustache and long beard, both of them red.  He turned to where Odd sat and greeted him by name.  Odd welcomed him and asked who might be.  He said he was Grani, called Raudgrani, then he said, “I know all about you, Arrow-Odd.”  “It seems to me that, since you are the greatest hero and an accomplished man, you have few followers, and travel rather like a pauper, and it is bad that a man like you should be so reduced.”

“It is true,” Odd said, “that I have not been a leader of men in a while.”

“Will you swear an oath of brotherhood with me?” Raudgrani said.

“It’s hard to deny such an offer,” said Odd, “and I will take it up.”

“You are not yet totally luckless,” said Raudgrani.  “Now I know of two champions in the east of this country and they have twelve ships.  They are sworn brothers; one comes from out of Denmark and is called Gardar, and the other Sirnir and comes out of Gautland.  I know of no other heroes on this side of the sea and they do well at most things, and there I will bring you into brotherhood with them, yet you’ll have the most say of all of us, although following my advice will be helpful.  But where would you want to sail if this is arranged as I have now said?”

“I would like to find a killer named Ogmund Eythjofsbane Tussock, so if that could be arranged while we are raiding…”

“Stop, stop,” said Raudgrani, “you don’t want to find him, because he is not a man of humankind, is Ogmund, and if you meet him again, you will get far worse from him than before, so just put the idea to find him from your mind.”

Odd answered: “All I wish to do is avenge my blood brother, Thord, and I shall never give up until I do, if that is my fate.”

“I’ll tell you,” said Raudgrani, “how Ogmund was born, then you’ll see there is no chance that he will be killed by mortal men.  It is said that King Harek ruled in Bjarmaland when you made your Viking raid there, and you will remember what damage you did to the Bjarmians, the giants, before you left there.  Once you had left, they felt bitter about what you had dealt them with your Gusir’s Gift arrows and they wanted revenge, if they could get it.  And this was how they got it, they enticed a giantess who lived under a large waterfall, filled her with magic and sorcery, and laid her in bed with the King Harek, and with her he had a son; the boy was sprinkled with water and given the name Ogmund.  He was unlike most mortal men from an early age, as you’d expect from his mother, but his father was the greatest of men for sacrifices.  When Ogmund was three years old, he was sent to Finmark, and he studied all kinds of magic and sorcery, and when he was fully trained, he went home to Bjarmaland.  He was then seven years old  and as big as a full grown man, very powerful and hard to deal with.  His looks had not improved while he was with the Lapps’ sons, because he was both black and blue, with his hair long and black, and a tussock hanging down over the eyes where a forelock should be.  He was called Ogmund Tussock.  They meant to send him to meet you and slay you; although they knew that much would be needed to bring about your death.  They strengthened Ogmund with witchcraft, so that no normal iron could bite him and they sacrificed to him and altered him so that he was no longer a mortal man.

“Eythjof was the name of a Viking.  He was the greatest of berserks and an unparalleled hero, and he never had fewer than eighteen ships when raiding.  He never spent time on land and stayed out on the sea, winter and hot summer.  Everyone was scared of him wherever he went.  He conquered Bjarmaland and forced them to pay tribute.  Then Ogmund got eight comrades, and they all dressed in thick black woolen cloaks, and no iron bit them.  They were named thus: Hak and Haki, Tindall and Toki, Finn and Fjosni, Tjosni and Torn.  Then Ogmund joined up with Eythjof, and they went to war together.  Ogmund was ten years old.  He was with Eythjof for five winters.  Eythjof was so fond of him that he could not refuse him anything, and for his sake he freed Bjarmaland from tribute.  Ogmund rewarded Eythjof no better than to kill him sleeping in his bed and conceal the murder.  It was easy to do because Eythjof shared an awning with him, and he planned to make him his adopted son.  He left Eythjof’s men to do as they pleased, but Ogmund had two ships fully crewed his eight comrades and the finest of Eythjof’s men to fill out the rest.  He was then called Ogmund Eythjofsbane Tussock, and that same summer he attacked you at Tronuvagar and Ogmund was then just fifteen years old.  He hated getting no vengeance against you, and so he murdered Thord Prow-Gleam, your sworn brother.  Then he went to meet the giantess, his mother, who was Grimhild when she was with humans. But then she was a finngalkin.  She looks human as far as her head, but like an animal further down and has remarkably large claws and a tremendous tail, and with it she kills both humans and livestock, animals and dragons.  Ogmund coaxed her to get you, and now she lives in the forests with animals and has reached the north of England and is looking for you.  Now I have told you plainly of Ogmund.”

“I can see,” said Odd, “why most men find him hard to fight, if he is as you say, but I still want to meet him.”

“He is worse now, though,” Raudgrani said.  “He is more wraith now than man, so I think that he won’t be killed by humans.  But let’s go down to the ships first,” and so they did.  And when they came to the sea, Odd saw where many ships floated.  They went aboard.  Odd saw two men who stood out from the rest.  They stood up and greeted Raudgrani as their blood brother.  He sat down between them and told Odd to sit.  Raudgrani said, “Here’s a man who you sworn brothers will have heard told of, called Odd and Arrow Odd.  I wish that he be sworn our blood brother; he shall also be one to lead us, because he is most experienced in warfare.”

Sirnir asked: “Is he the Odd who went to Bjarmaland?”

“Yes,” said Raudgrani.

“Then we shall benefit,” said Sirnir, “if he is sworn as our brother.”

“I like the idea,” said Gardar.  They bound this fast with promises.  Then Raudgrani asked where Odd meant to go.  “Let us first,” said Odd, “sail west to England.”  So, they sailed there and they put up awnings over their ships and they sent out raiding parties for a while.

In this saga Raudgrani (Odin) tells Odd: ‘It is said that King Harek ruled in Bjarmaland when you made your Viking raid there,’ and this corresponds with Saxo’s Book 5 of Danish History when Erik, the son of Ragnar Lothbrok, became Kagan-Bek of the Hraes’ and ruled Novgorod as Ruirik.  In my version of Oddi’s Saga, Hraerik, the son of Hraegunar Lothbrok, is Kagan-Bek of the Hraes’ and ruled in Novgorod while he searched the north for his missing son, who turns out, in the end, (Spoiler Alert) to be Arrow Odd.

Chapter Twenty – The Finngalkin

One day fine day, Sirnir and Gardar went ashore to shoot and throw weights and play sports with a leather ball.  Many men joined them in these activities, but Odd stayed on his ship.  Raudgrani was nowhere to be seen.  The weather was very warm, and the blood brothers and many others went swimming in a nearby lake.  There was a forest by the lake and they saw an incredibly large animal come out of the woods.  It had a human head with immense fangs and its tail was both long and stout and its claws were remarkably large.  It had a sword in each claw and both were large and gleaming in the sunlight.  When this finngalkin came at the men, she howled menacingly and killed five men in the first attack.  She cut down two of them with her swords, a third she bit with her teeth and two she struck with her tail.  Within a few minutes, she had killed sixty men.  Gardar grabbed his sword and dashed  out naked against the finngalkin and he struck her with a blow so hard that it smashed one of the swords  from her claw and way out into the lake, but she hit him with the other sword, and he fell, injured.  Then as she jumped on top of him, in came Sirnir with his sword that never failed, named Snidil, best of all blades, and he struck the beast, and knocked the second sword into the water.  The finngalkin then trampled him until he was unconscious.  Men who escaped ran to the ships and told Odd that the foster-brothers and many others had been killed and said that no one could stand against the beast.  “Please, Odd,” they cried, “save us and sail away from this place as quickly as possible.”

“That would be a great shame,” said Odd.  “To flee and not avenge my sworn brothers, such valiant heroes?  I’ll never do it.”  He took his quiver and went ashore and when he had gone but a short way, he heard a frightening noise.  A few steps more and Odd spotted the finngalkin.  He put one of Gusir’s Gifts to the bowstring and shot it into the eye of the monster and out the back of her head.  The finngalkin charged so fast that Odd could not use the bow.  It clawed at his chest so hard that he fell on his back, but the shirt kept him from being killed.  Swiftly he drew his sword while rolling to the side of her and cut off the beast’s thick tail when it was going to strike him.  He kept one hand up so she could not bite at him as she ran toward the woods screaming horribly.  Odd then shot another of Gusir’s Gifts.  It hit the beast square in the back, right in the heart and through the breast and the finngalkin fell forward quite dead.  Many people ran up to the monster then and hacked and hewed, those who had not dared come close before.  The animal was decimated.  Then Odd burnt the remains so it could not be revived by magic and he had the sworn brothers taken to his ship to be healed.

They found Raudgrani and the survivors left England and overwintered in Denmark.  Raudgrani knew that by staying in Denmark, Arrow Odd was hoping that Ogmund Eythjofsbane Tussock would feel compelled to join him there.  They spent their summers raiding and fighting in Sweden and Saxony and Frankland and Flanders until Sirnir and Gardar grew tired of the Viking life and settled down in Skane, between their respective countries.  Raudgrani followed them and they set up three farms together.  The Viking life wasn’t really Raudgrani, who never seemed to be there when danger was about, but he had been a great adviser when advice was needed, and he had rarely tried to stop them from performing great and dangerous deeds. He had many wise sayings and he had taught Oddi much.

The Finngalkin attack upon England may be representative of the Great Heathen Army attack upon England as King Frodi expands his search for the killer of his grandsons.

While staying in Denmark, Arrow Odd may have ruled there under the name of Helgi ‘the Sharp’ (Odd being edge).  There was a second historical king of that name at this time.

“Helgi the Sharp, Prince of Ringerike: In “Ragnarssona þáttr”, Helgi was the brother of Guðrøðr, King of Ringerike, and they lived in the 9th century.  Prince Helgi (Oleg) ‘Arrow Odd (the Sharp)’ was the nephew of King Guthrother (Hraelauger) of Viken Nor’Way, brother of Prince Hraerik (Erik aka Rorik of Jutland, Rurik of Novgorod), the father of Arrow Odd by Princess Gunwar, King Frodi’s slain sister.

Ragnar Lodbrok’s sons Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, Björn Ironside and Hvitserk had raided in France and after Björn had gone home to Sweden, his brothers were attacked by Emperor Arnulf of Carinthia. In the battle 100 000 Danes and Norwegians fell, including Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye and king Guðrøðr.

Helgi escaped from the battle with Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye’s banner, sword and shield. He went to Denmark and informed Sigurd’s mother Aslaug of her loss. Since the next king, Harthacanute, was still too young to rule, Helgi stayed in Denmark as its regent. There, Helgi married Harthacanute’s twin sister, also named Aslaug, and they had the son Sigurd Hart.” (Thanks Wiki!)

The battle seems unlikely unless it was actually the Battle of the Goths and the Huns in Scythia, which is nearby Carinthia (Austro-Hungary w/ Huns), but it is interesting that Helgi (Oleg) is here paired up with Harde Knute I, who is no other than Prince Eyfur/Ivar/Igor of Kiev (Ivar ‘the Boneless’) who was aided by Prince Oleg/Ivar in the conquest of Kiev from Askold and Dir (Angantyr Frodi) who I have as being slain in Kiev circa 886 AD, shortly after King Frodi’s 885 AD attack on Paris as King Sigfried (SigFrodi), Frodi being the German Freddy.

From the Roman History of Leo the Deacon:  ‘Emperor John Tzimiskes warns Prince Sviatoslav (Svein ‘theOld’) of what had happened to his father, Prince Igor (Ivar ‘the Boneless’) “on his campaign against the Germans, he was captured by them, tied to tree trunks, and torn in two.”

  These are subtle whispers of antiquity, to be sure, but enough whispers become words of change that put order into the shambles of the current history.  There are kernels of real history mixed in all this chafe.

Chapter Twenty One – Vignir and Odd

Odd started raiding again and he had three fine ships all well manned.  And again, he wanted to find Ogmund Eythjofsbane Tussock.  One evening Odd was anchored off a headland and he saw a man rowing in a boat.  Whoever it was, was rowing powerfully, and he was amazingly big to see.  He rowed so hard up to Odd’s ships that it seemed everything would be broken before him.  Then he rested on his oars and asked who was in charge.

Odd said to him, – “I’m Odd.  Who are you?”

“I’m Vignir,” he answered.  “Are you the Odd who went to Bjarmaland long ago?”

“Yes,” said Odd, “but it wasn’t that long ago.”

“I am speechless,” said Vignir.

“Really…it wasn’t that long ago,” said Odd.

“I am speechless because you are my father,” said Vignir, “and I can barely believe that you’re a father to me, for you are so small and weak looking.  I’m sorry.  I’m just speechless.”

“Who is your mother?” Odd said.

“My mother is Hildigunn,” said Vignir; ‘I was born in Giantland, and raised there, but mother told me that I must find my father and begin training as a Viking, so I have been searching for you.  She told me that Arrow Odd was my father, a Viking and a hero, and I was thinking he would be a real man, but now I see that you are the least of nobodies to look at, and so you will likely turn out to be.”

“You little shit,” said Odd.  “Do you think that you will do more than me?  Or work greater feats than I have?  But I will accept you as my son and you’re welcome to remain here with me and I will train you.”

“That I will, and I accept it,” said Vignir, “but it seems beneath me, however, to train with your men, because they more closely resemble mice than men, and it seems very likely that I will do far bigger things than you, if I live as long as you have.”

Odd recollected how modest a giant, Vignir’s grandfather, had been, but then remembered that Hildir had become king and likely Vignir had been raised as a little shit of a royal.  “I haven’t lived that long,” Odd replied, then quietly asked him not to insult his men.  “Consider it the first lesson in your training.”

“Vignir started to protest, but Odd said, “Ah…ah…ah, lesson number two starts tomorrow,” and he invited his son aboard for some food.  And the boy could eat like a number of horses, Odd marvelled.

In the morning they got ready to sail and Vignir asked Odd where they would sail.  Odd said he wanted to look for Ogmund Eythjof’s-Bane.  “From him, you’ll get no good, if you find him,” said Vignir, “because he is the greatest troll and monster ever created in the northern part of the world.”

“It cannot be true,” said Odd, “that you mock my stature and my men, but you are now so scared that you dare not seek to find Ogmund Tussock.”

“No need,” said Vignir, “to taunt me with cowardice, but I will repay you for your unkind words sometime soon.  But I will tell you where Ogmund is.  He’s in the fjord named Skuggi, in the wastes of Helluland, with his eight tussocked lads with him.  He went there because he couldn’t be bothered finding you.  Now, you may visit him, if you want, and see how it goes.”

Odd said it should be so.  They sailed until they reached the Greenland Sea, then turned south and west along the coast.  Then Vignir said: “Now I shall sail in my boat today, but you can follow after.”  Odd let him go his own way.  Vignir was master of his one small ship.  That day they saw two rocks emerged from the sea.  Odd wondered much at that.  Then they sailed between the rock faces.  But as day wore on, they saw a huge island and Odd asked them to sail up to it.  The island was covered with heather.  Odd asked five men to go ashore and seek water, but they had been on shore only a short while when the island sank and drowned them all.  They did not see it again.  When they looked back at the rocks, they saw they had vanished as well.  Odd was very surprised by this, and he asked Vignir if he knew why this was.  Vignir answered, “It seems to me that you have no more sense than stature. Now I will tell you that these are two sea monsters.  One is named Hafgufa, the other Lyngbak.  The latter is the greatest of all whales in the world, but Hafgufa is the biggest of monsters created in the ocean.  It is her nature that she swallows both men and ships and whales and all that she can reach.  She stays submerged day and night together, and then she lifts up her head and nostrils, then it is never less time than the tide that she stays up.  Now that sound that we sailed through was the gap between her jaws, and her nose and lower jaw were the rocks you saw in the ocean, but Lyngbak was the island that sank.  Ogmund Tussock has sent these creatures to you with his enchantments to work the death of you and all your men.  He thought that this would have killed more men than just those that drowned, and he meant that Hafgufa would swallow us whole.  Therefore, I sailed through her mouth because I knew that she had just risen to the surface.  Now we have seen through these contrivances of Ogmund, but I think that we will still suffer from him worse than any other men.”

“That’s a risk we’re going to have to take,” said Odd.

It is important to note that Odd’s timeline right now is circa 870 AD and the headland he was anchored off of was likely Iceland.  The later Helluland is Baffin Island and Labrador, making Arrow Odd the first Norseman to visit North America, about one hundred and fifty years before Leif the Lucky Erikson of Greenland.  But he is still about a hundred and fifty years behind Saint Brendan of Ireland.

Chapter Twenty Two – Vignir and Ogmund

Arrow Odd and his son, Vignir, sailed until they found Helluland and rowed into the fjord called Skuggi.  Once they had beached their ship, father and son went to high ground and saw a fortress along some cliffs.  Ogmund was out on the walls with his companions.  He greeted Odd as though he had expected him and asked them their business.

“You know my business,” Odd said.  “I want your life.”

“My idea is better,” said Ogmund, “that we accept that we are square now.”

“No,” said Odd, “that isn’t true.  You murdered my blood brother, Thord Prow-Gleam.”

“I only did that,” said Ogmund, “because I had greater numbers slain in our prior battle.  But now that your losses equal mine, we are square.  Besides, you will never defeat me while I am in this fortress, but I will offer you this: either you two fight me and my companions, or we will stay in the fort.”

“If that is what you wish,” said Odd, “I will fight you, Ogmund, and Vignir here will fight your companions.”

“That shan’t be,” said Vignir.  “Now I will reward you, father, for taunting me by saying I would not dare go up against Ogmund Tussock.”

“You sound like my friend, Hjalmar the Brave, when he wanted to battle Angantyr and left me to deal with all his brothers.  We’ll regret this,” said Odd, “as I have regretted Hjalmar’s death by the bite of the berserk’s sword, Tyrfingr, ever since.  I have a shirt to protect me from harm, but I know you’ll want to get your own way in this, just as did Hjalmar.”

Then the battle raged and all were evenly matched.  Ogmund and Vignir went hard, because their age and might matched as did their weapons training.  Vignir drove Ogmund so vigorously that he ran off north along the sea cliff, but Vignir chased him until he drove Ogmund down over the rocks of a grassy ledge.  They were forty fathoms above sea level, and struggling mightily on the ledge, tearing up turf and stones like bone skates on snowy ice.  Odd seemed to be doing a little better, even with the numbers against him.  He held a massive club in both hands, because iron would not bite through the magic of Tussock’s men.  He dashed all about him with the club until he had quickly killed them all.  Exhausted, but unhurt, he thanked Olvor once more for his famed shirt.  Odd then went looking for his son out along the cliff edge until he saw Vignir and Ogmund battling like demons on the grassy ledge below him.  But before Odd could get to them, Ogmund surprised Vignir with a dirty trip and as he fell, Tussock crouched down over him like a beast and bit out his jugular.  Vignir died as he hit the ground.  Odd stopped and put up his hands as if that action would reverse what had just occurred.  Ogmund said: “I think it would have been better, Odd, if we had called it square as I asked.  Now you have lost someone by me that you can never forgive, and that is something I wanted to avoid at all costs.  Your death has already been foretold to you and it is not at my hands.  This bodes not well for me.  And your son, Vignir, is dead; a man I think would have outdone both of us in strength and valour had he but lived.  He would have beaten me if I was an ordinary man and not the wraith that I am.  He has crushed and broken my body and damaged everything in me, every organ, every tissue, every bone.  I would be dead if it were not my unnatural nature to live, but I am afraid of no one in this world except you, Odd, and from you I will get my just deserts, sooner or later, because now you have more reason to kill me.”

Odd overcame his shock and flew into a rage, jumped down the cliff and landed on the grassy ledge.  Ogmund moved quickly and dove off the ledge headfirst into the sea with a great splash, and he was gone.

Odd rushed back to his ships and ordered his men to row out and search the sea thereabouts, but there was no sign of Ogmund, so they sailed back to Europe.  He went to Skane and found Gardar and Sirnir, his blood brothers, and he told them what had happened.  Raudgrani was gone as was his habit.

Chapter Twenty Three – Geirrod the Giant

Odd wintered in Skane, but with spring came raiding, so he and Gardar and Sirnir went to war and as they were getting ready to sail, Raudgrani joined them.  He asked Odd where he wanted to go.  Odd said he wanted to search for Ogmund Eythjofsbane Tussock.

“It seems to me that you search for sorrow,” said Raudgrani.  “Every time you come up against him you lose those dear to you.  It’s unlikely that Ogmund has changed since you parted.  But I know where he has gone and I can tell you if you’re interested.”  Odd nodded.  “He went east to the giant Geirrod in Geirrodargard and has married his daughter, Geirrid, and both are the worst of trolls, and I advise you not to go there.”  Odd said he was going anyway.

Then they readied their ships to go east, the sworn brothers, and when they reached Geirrodargard, they saw a man fishing in a boat.  It was Ogmund Eythjofsbane Tussock  and he wore a shaggy cape.  When he had escaped from Odd, he travelled east and he became the son-in-law of Geirrod the giant, and he claimed tribute from all the kings of the Baltic such that they would each year send him their beards and moustaches.  Ogmund had used them to make the cape that he wore.  Odd and his men headed for the boat, but Ogmund retreated, rowing strongly.  The sworn brothers jumped into a boat and rowed rapidly after him, but Tussock rowed so powerfully that the blood brothers could not gain on him.  Then Ogmund ran ashore and Odd was quickly after him, followed by Sirnir, then Gardar and all ran after Ogmund.  But when Ogmund saw them catching up, he spoke, and recited:

“I pray to Geirrod      for the gods’ favour,

greatest of warriors, grant me assistance

and my wife  quickly to others,

I need now all     the aid they can give.”

Then the old saying, if you speak of the devil, he’s sure to appear, proved true once again.  Geirrod showed up with all his people, and there were fifty of them in all.  Then came up Gardar and the rest of their men.  Then began the greatest of battles.  Geirrod hit hard, and in minutes had killed fifteen of Odd’s men.  Odd pulled off his quiver and looked for Gusir’s Gifts.  He took out Hremsu and nocked it on the bowstring and shot.  It hit Geirrod in the chest and came out at the shoulders  Geirrod kept coming, even after taking the arrow, and he killed three more men before he fell, dead.  Geirrid was also a threat because she killed eighteen men in a short time.  Gardar turned to her and they traded blows, but Gardar lost his life in the exchange.  When Odd saw it, he was furious.  So, he nocked another one of Gusir’s Gifts and shot it into the right armpit of Geirrid and it came out the left.  The shot didn’t seem to do anything.  She rushed headlong into battle and killed five men in no time.  Odd then shot another of Gusir’s Gifts.  It went into her stomach and out one thigh; she died after that hit.

Ogmund too was hard in battle, having killed thirty men in a short time before Sirnir turned on him, and they fought hard, and Sirnir was soon wounded.  Odd saw Sirnir giving ground so, he turned that way, but Ogmund saw him and fled in disarray.  Sirnir and Odd went after him and both of them were running very fast.  Ogmund was still wearing his fine cape, but when they were almost upon him, Ogmund threw down the cloak and recited:

“Now must I cast      away my cloak,

which was made      of kings’ beards,

and embroidered with        moustaches,

I am grieved              to give it up,

But they chase me   at full pelt,

Odd and Sirnir,             from the battle.”

Now that Ogmund had a lighter load, he pulled away.  Odd steeled himself and ran quicker than Sirnir and, when Ogmund saw that, he turned towards him, and they fought.  They were grabbing and punching frantically; Odd was not as powerful as Ogmund, but Ogmund could not knock him off his feet.  Then Sirnir came up with his sword, Snidil, and tried to strike at Ogmund, but when Ogmund saw it he turned and thrust Odd between them.  Then Sirnir held back the stroke and so it went again, that Ogmund used Odd as a shield and Sirnir had to hold back his strokes.  Then Odd braced both feet against a very solid boulder and grabbed Ogmund’s wrists so hard that he was forced to his knees and Sirnir hacked at Ogmund who had no opportunity to parry the blow with Odd.  The stroke hit him on the buttocks and took a chunk out.  Sirnir cut so great a slab out of Ogmund’s backside that no mule could carry more.  Ogmund was so pained that he sank down into the earth where he was.  But Odd was determined to stop his escape and grabbed his beard with both hands with so much force that he tore it from him, beard and skin down to the bone, and much of his face with both cheeks and right on up his forehead to his tussock, and they parted their ways as the ground opened up for Ogmund and the boulder held for Odd.  But Odd kept what he held, dripping with gore as the earth closed above the head of Ogmund and he disappeared.

Odd and Sirnir went back to their ships, but they had lost many men and the greatest sorrow was the loss of Gardar.  Raudgrani was also gone, and Odd and Sirnir never learned what happened to him during the battle.  It was true that he seldom faced danger, but some of the men saw him struggling with giants.  He had always given the best advice and never more so than with his last warning, but the sworn brothers never saw Raudgrani again.  Men think he may have actually been Odin.  The sworn brothers went to Gautland, since their farms in Skane reminded them too much of their losses.  Geirrid had a son by Ogmund Eythjofsbane Tussock named Svart.  He was three years old when Odd learned of him.  He heard the boy was tall and it looked like he would turn into an evil man.

Chapter Twenty Four – Barkman I

Odd and Sirnir overwintered in Gautland.  As winter dragged on, Odd became very depressed.  He kept revisiting the tragedies that he had suffered at the hands of Ogmund Tussock.  He no longer wanted to risk his blood brother’s life in his fight with Ogmund, because, as Raudgrani had said, all those close to him wound up dead.  He thought his friends had suffered losses enough already.  He formed a plan to steal away alone at night.  He arranged transport when he needed it, but mostly he walked through wildernesses and ran along long mountain paths.  He had his quiver on his back and his sword at his side.  He walked through so many countries, that finally it came to pass that he had to shoot birds for his food.  He folded birch bark round his body and feet.  Then he made a big hat with the bark.  He was not like other men, far bigger than any other, and he was all covered in bark.

When he finally came out of the forest, he saw settlements before him, a great farm stood nearby, but there was a smaller farm close by.  He thought he would try the smaller farm; though he had never previously tried anything like that.  He went up to the door and there was a man there chopping wood.  The man was short with white-hair.  He welcomed Odd and asked him his name.  “My name is Barkman,” he said, “and what is your name?”

He said he was called Jolf.  “Would you like to stay the night?” the man asked.

“I would,” said Barkman.  Now he followed the man into his living room, where his wife sat alone on a chair.

“Here is a visitor,” said the old man, “you shall entertain him, as I have many things to do.”

The old woman grumbled a lot, and said that he often offered people accommodation, but never had anything to offer his guests.  The man got back to work and the woman sat with Odd.  In the evening, when Jolf came in, there was a table set with just one dish, but on the side Barkman sat at, he put down a good knife.  Two rings were on the knife, one of gold, the other of silver.  When Jolf saw it, he reached for his knife and examined it.

“You have a good knife, Barkman,” said Jolf, “how did you come by this treasure?”

Barkman said: “When I was young, we made salt by the ocean, and one day a ship was wrecked nearby.  The ship was broken to pieces, and the men were washed ashore, and were very weak, so we quickly finished them off, and I got a knife in my share of the plunder, but if you, Jolf, have any use for it, then I will give you the knife.”

“Best of luck to you,” said the man and he showed the woman his knife.  “This is good,” he said, “and this knife is much better than the one I had before.”  They ate their food, and then went to sleep, and Odd slept through the night and he did not wake until Jolf was away working.  When he got up, he asked the old woman, “Would you like me to go out and look for breakfast elsewhere?”  The old woman said that Jolf wanted him to stay in his home.

It was almost noon when Jolf returned and the Barkman was on his feet.  Then the table was laid.  There was a dish on it and the old man put down three arrows with stone heads.  These were large arrows and fair, so Barkman thought he had never seen that kind of arrow.  He took one up and looked at it.  “This arrow is well made,” he said.

“If you think,” said the old man, “you like them, then I will give them to you.”

Barkman smiled at him and said, “I am not sure there’s any reason for me to carry these stone arrows along with me.”

“You never know, Odd,” said the man, “when you might need them.  I know that you are called Arrow Odd and are the son of Grim Hairy-Cheek from north in Hrafnista.  I know, too, that you have three arrows called Gusir’s Gifts, and you will think it strange when you come to a time when Gusir’s Gifts fail you and these arrows save you.”

“Since you know that my name is Odd, and also that I have the arrows named Gusir’s Gifts, it could be,” said Odd, “that you are right in what you said before.  I shall accept these arrows,” and he put them in his quiver.  “What do you say, Jolf,” said Odd, “do you have a king in this land?”

“Yes,” said the man, “and he is called Herraud.”

“Who are the noblest men with him?” said Odd.

“There are two foremost men,” said the Jolf, “one called Sigurd, and the other Sjolf.  They are the chief men of the king, and the best of all fighters.”

“Who are the king’s children?” said Odd.

“He has one beautiful daughter called Silkisif.”

“She’s a beautiful woman?” asked Odd.

“Yes,” said the man, “there is none other as beautiful in Gardariki and elsewhere.”

“Tell me,” said Odd, “how would they receive me, if I went there?  And do not tell them who I am.”

“I can hold my tongue,” said the man.  Then they went to the royal hall, but the old man put his foot down and refused to go further.

“Why do you stop?” said Odd.

“Because,” said the man, “I will be put in shackles if I go in there.”

“No,” said Barkman, “we shall both go in together, and I cannot settle for anything less than your going in with me,” and Odd clutched him and they entered the hall.  When the king’s retainers saw the old man, they swarmed him, but Barkman held them back.  They went down the hall until they came to the king.  The old man greeted the king modestly.  The king took it well.  Then the king asked whom he brought along with him.

“I can’t say,” said the man, “but he may wish to tell you.”

“My name is Barkman,” Odd said.

“Who are you?” asked the king.

“This I know,” he said, “I am older than anything you know, but there is neither wit nor memory in my skull, and I have lived outside in the forest almost all my life. Beggars always want to be choosers, oh king, and I ask you for winter lodgings.”

The king replied, “Are you at all skilled?”

“No,” he said, “Because I am clumsier than most other men.”

“Will you work a little?” said the king.

“I do not work, since I can’t be bothered to work,” said Barkman.

“Then it doesn’t look promising,” said the king, “for I have made a vow to take only men who are skilled.”

“Nothing I ever do,” said Barkman, “will benefit anyone.”

“You must know how to collect game, when people go shooting,” said the king. “It may be that I will go hunting sometime.”

“Where do you want me to sit?” Barkman said.

“You should sit farther out on the lower bench, between the slaves and the freedmen,” said the king.  Barkman saw the old man out and after that he went to his appointed seat.  There were two brothers.  One was named Ottar and the other Ingjald.  “Come here, mate,” they said, “and you shall sit between us,” and that he did.  They sat close at his knees on either side and asked him about other lands he had visited, but no one else knew what they were talking about.  He hung up his quiver on a peg above him but kept his club under his feet.  They always asked him to take away the quiver, and it seemed to be a great nuisance, but he said he would never let it be taken away from him, and he went nowhere but he would have it with him.  They offered him bribes to take off the bark, “and we will give you good clothes,” they said.

“I can’t abide by that,” Odd said, “because I have never worn anything else, and while I live I never will.”

Barkman magic it is.  Cover yourself with Birch bark and disappear for a while.  Or become someone nobody sees.  Prince Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ becomes the Lone Varanger for a while and patrols the Nor’Way looking for injustice and adventure and, of course, Warlock Ogmund Eythjofsbane Tussock.

Chapter Twenty Five – Barkman II

Barkman sat at the end of his bench and usually he drank a little in early evening and then laid down and slept on his bench.  And so it went until the men in the hall began to go hunting.  Autumn was approaching and Ingjald said one evening, “we are going to sleep early as well, for we must rise early in the morning,” and the two brothers slept early at their benches as well.

“Why is that?” Barkman whispered, and Ingjald whispered that they were going hunting in the morning.  In the morning, the brothers rose and tried to wake Barkman, but they could not wake him, and he did not wake up until almost every man had left for hunting.  When Barkman finally woke he asked the brothers, “What is happening now, are they all ready?”

Ingjald answered, “Ready and gone.  We tried to wake you all morning, and now it looks like we won’t be shooting any animals today unless we get a move on.”  Then Barkman asked, “Are they very great sportsmen, Sjolf and Sigurd?”

“We would know that,” said Ingjald, “if ever anyone competed against them.”  They headed out into the forest and came to a mountain, and a herd of deer ran past them, and the brothers drew their bows, and missed.  Then Barkman said, “I have never seen anyone shoot as badly as you two.”

“We have already told you,” Ottar replied, “that we are not as good as the others, but now we are late and the animals we find have already been stirred up by the others.”

Barkman said, “I couldn’t do worse than you, so give the bow and I’ll try.”  So they gave him the bow and he pulled the arrow to the tip and the bow snapped into two pieces.

“Now you’ve done it,” Ottar complained, “and it is now unlikely that we will shoot any deer today.”

“Things haven’t gone well,” he said, “but my walking stick doubles as a bow, and do you want to know what’s in my bag?”

“Yes,” they said, “we were wondering that.”

“Then spread your cloaks, and I’ll empty it.”  So, they did, and he emptied the bag of arrows onto the cloaks.  Then he nocked an arrow, drew his bow and shot it over the heads of the men that were at the hunt.  And he did it all day, shooting at the deer that Sigurd and Sjolf were going for.  He shot all his arrows but six, the stone arrows he got from Jolf and Gusir’s Gifts.  He did not miss a deer that day, and the brothers fetched game for him, and all the hunting parties marvelled at his shooting.

In the evening, when the hunters all came home, all the men’s arrows were brought before the king, and each man identified his arrow marks, and the king noted how many deer each man had killed over the course of the day.  Ottar and Ingjald said, “Go up there, Barkman, and get your arrows off the table before the king.”

“You two do it,” he said, “and say you both own the arrows.”

“They won’t believe us,” they replied.  “The king knows how badly we shoot.”

“Then we’ll all go together,” he said.  So they went before the king and Barkman said, “We claim these arrows with our marking upon them.”  The king looked at him and praised his archery.  “Yes, sire,” he said, “because we often shoot animals to eat.”  And after that they went to their benches and ate and drank.

Chapter Twenty Six – Barkman III

One evening, after the king had gone to bed, Sigurd and Sjolf went over with horns to offer a drink to the brothers, Ottar and Ingjald, and asked them to take them and drink from them.  And when they’d finished, they came with another two, and offered them to the brothers.  Then Sjolf asked, “Does he always lie down so early at his bench?”

“Yes,” they said, “he thinks it wiser than drinking himself senseless like us.”

Then Sjolf asked, “Is he really a good archer?”

“Yes,” they said, “it is a gift.  He has many talents.”

“Do you think he can outshoot the both of us?” Sigurd asked.

“I reckon he can outshoot anybody in Gardariki,” Ingjald replied.  “He shoots much farther and straighter than anyone we have ever seen.”

“We must wager on it,” said Sjolf, “and we will bet a bracelet worth half a mark against your two rings of equal weight.”  So, it was agreed that the king would be there with his daughter to see their shooting, and they were to hold the bracelets and rings before and give them to whoever the winner was.  The next morning, when the brothers woke up, they apologized to Barkman for making the wager.  “The bet seems risky to me,” he said, “because even though I can shoot deer in the field, it is quite another thing to shoot in competition against such great archers, but I will try my best since you have staked all your wealth on this bet.”

First the men had drinks, and afterwards the people went out, and then the king wanted to see the shooting.  Sigurd went first and shot as far as he could, and a spear was stabbed into the ground where his arrow had landed, and then a courtier went up to it placed a gold chess piece on the butt of the spear, and Sjolf shot and hit the rook, and it seemed to everyone that this was excellent shooting and he said that Barkman need not bother trying to beat that shot as the courtier replaced the rook.  “Good luck often alters bad,” said Barkman, “so I am going to try.”  Barkman nocked one of Gusir’s Gifts and stood where Sigurd had stood and he shot straight up in the air, so that the arrow remained out of sight for a long time, but when it came back down, it went straight through the center of the rook and into the spear shaft so that the chess piece did not move.

“The shot last time was great,” said the king, “but this shot was much better, and I can say truthfully that I have never seen such fine shooting.”  Now Barkman took another Gusir’s Gift and shot it so far that no one could see where it came down, and it was agreed by all that he had won the match.  Then Princess Silkisif awarded the brothers the bracelet and rings.  They offered the bracelet to Barkman, but he told the brothers to keep it.  A few days later, the king had gone, and Sigurd and Sjolf went with a horn each which they offered to Ottar and Ingjald, which they drank.  Then they brought them another two.  Then Sjolf said, “Still Barkman lies at his bench there and doesn’t drink.”

“He is better mannered than us in everything,” said Ingjald.

“I think,” said Sjolf, “that he has rarely ever mixed with noble men, and he has lain often out in the woods like a poor man without entertainments, but does he swim well?”

“We’re sure he is good at all sports,” Ottar replied, “and we think that he is a very good swimmer.”

“Can he swim better than both of us?”

“We think that he is a better swimmer,” said Ottar.

“We will make a bet on it,” said Sjolf, “and we will stake another bracelet worth a mark, but you shall stake two rings, a mark apiece in weight.”

It was again agreed that the king and his daughter should see their swimming contest, and all was set up as it was the first time.  In the morning, when they woke up, news of their bet had gone round the benches of the hall.

“People are saying,” Barkman started, “that you accepted another bet last night?”

“Yes,” the brothers replied and they told him all about the bet.

“Now I think it looks even riskier than before,” said Barkman, “for I am no great swimmer and it’s a long time since I’ve been in cold water.  Have you wagered much silver?”

“Yes,” they said, “but you don’t have to swim unless you wish to.  It would serve us right if we had to pay for our own foolishness.”

“That shan’t be,” said Barkman.  “I’ll try my best, since you treat me with honour and respect, and the king and Silkisif will certainly see me go for a swim.”

The king and his daughter were invited to judge the swimming competition and the people went to the water, a big lake nearby.  When they came to the beach, the king and his retinue sat down and relaxed and the competitors went swimming in suitable clothes, but Barkman wore the guise that he was accustomed to.  Sjolf and Sigurd swam at him when they came from the shore and they tried to push him under and then held him down for a long time.  Then they let him come up and they took a rest.  They tried to gang up on him a second time, but he reached out for them and took them by the scruff in each hand and forced them down and held them down so long that it seemed unlikely that they would come up again.  He let them up for air then took them under a second time and held them longer, and then for a third time he held them under for so long that no one thought that they would come back up alive.  But he let them up and out of their nostrils spouted the royal blood of these nobles and it seemed that they would need help back on land so the Barkman took them and cast them ashore.  Then he went on swimming and put on a show of games and tricks, and the royal retinue was glad to watch the display of swimming.  Later, he went ashore to meet the royals and the king said, “You are a better sportsman than the rest, both at shooting and swimming.”

“You have seen my skills,” said Barkman, “and my name is Odd, if you would like to know, but I will not tell you anything about my family.”  Silkisif gave him the bracelet and rings and said she admired his skills.  Then they went home.  The brothers said that Oddi should have all the rings, but he refused and told them to keep them as he passed them over.  The king seemed very anxious about who the man, this Odd, in bark might be.

Chapter Twenty Seven – Harek and the Bragarful

One day a man named Harek returned to Gardariki and the king had great respect for him.  He was an older man and he had fostered the king’s daughter.  The king talked to him about the Barkman, but he said he did not know him and thought it likely that Oddi came from a noble family.  It happened again, when the king had gone to bed, that Sjolf and Sigurd went up to the brothers and they brought two horns, and they drank from them. Then Sjolf said, “Does Odd the Great sleep?”

“Yes,” they replied.  “It is more sensible than drinking yourself witless like we do.”

“That could be because he is more used to sleeping in forests with lakes than to drinking with people in halls, or is he a great drinker as well?”

“Yes,” they said.  “He is a fine drinker of meads and ales.”

“Would he be a better drinker than us both?” Sjolf asked.

“It seems to us,” said Ottar, “that he could drink more than all of us.”

“We must wager on it,” said Sjolf, “and we’ll bet this gold bracelet, which stands at twelve ounces, but you shall stake your own heads.”  The brothers drank some more and the glittering gold caught up their eyes and they bound the wager with the noble warriors just as they had in the past.

The next morning, Oddi saw the sheepish looks of his friends and asked what was said and they told him.  “Now you’ve really made a mindless bet,” said Oddi, “and you’ve increased the stakes and now risk your heads, but it is not certain that I shall be the greater drinker though I am bigger than those two, but I will take them on in a drinking match.”  Then the king was told about the drinking competition, the bragarful, and that the king and his daughter were invited to sit in and judge, and Harek, her foster father as well. 

Sigurd and Sjolf went up to Oddi and said, “Here is a horn,” and poetry came to Sigurd’s his lips:

“Odd, you’ve never              split mail coats in battle

when helmed warriors,                    in Odin’s fetters fled;

while battle sweat flowed,              and fire razed the town,

when our king won,             victorious over the Wends.”

Sjolf brought him another horn, and told him to drink it and recited:

“Odd, we didn’t see you                  at the sword clash,

we dealt the king’s forces   death on a plate;

I took sword cuts,     six and eight,

while you were begging      your food from boors.”

Then they returned to their benches, but Oddi got up and went before Sigurd, bringing him a horn and another to Sjolf, and he recited a verse to each of them before he went away:

“I shall serve to you             my sweet nith song

Sigurd and Sjolf,       on benches too long,

you both need word-mead  for your fine poetry,

a couple of pansies the pair of you be.

You were, Sjolf,                    yet on kitchen floor

whelp lacking deeds,                       undaring doer

while in far-off                       Aquitane

four assassins                      I had slain.”

They drank from their horns, Oddi went to sit down.  Then they went over to Odd, and Sjolf gave him a round, then laid this verse down:

“You, Oddi, have been                    with beggars before

Getting scraps and tidbits   from the table,

While I all alone        bore from Ulfsfell

my hacked shield     in my hand.”

Sigurd bore him another horn and recited this:

“Odd, we saw you not                     out there with the Greeks,

fighting Saracens     with battle reddened swords;

we made the hard    din of Odin,

we felled fighters,     in the red folk flame.”

Oddi now drank from the horns, but they went to sit down.  Then Oddi rose and went with his horns to each of them he recited it thus:

“You were giggling, Sjolf,    with all the girls,

while keen flames    swept the fort in dancing swirls;

we slew the hard      Hadding there,

and Olvir’s life                       we did lay bare.

You, Sigurd, lay                    in the lady’s sweet vice,

while we battled hard                      the Bjarmians twice;

warlike heroes                      with hawk like minds,

while you slumbered in the hall,    closing the blinds.”

Oddi went back to his bench, and they drank from the horns, and everybody thought it a great entertainment and were giving it a good hearing.  After that they went before Oddi and offered him two horns.  Then Sjolf said:

“Odd, we saw you not         on Atalsfjalli,

when the fen-fire      we had gathered;

we the berserks        bound up there,

of the king’s troop many      a warrior was killed.”

Oddi drank from the horns, and they sat down.  Then Oddi brought them horns and said:

“Sjolf, we saw you not,                    where all was wet

ring-mail byrnies                   washed in battle sweat;

spears dug deep                  in chain-mail sarks,

but in the king’s hall             you’d rather lark.

Sigurd, we saw you not,     when we cleared decks

of six high-pooped ships    off of Haukaness;

we saw you not                    in Angleland’s west,

when Skolli and I      ransacked a king’s nest.”

Oddi sat down and they brought him horns but no poetry.  He drank of them, but they settled down.  Then Oddi brought them horns and recited this:

“Sjolf, we saw you not,                    when we reddened our brands

sharp on the Earl     off Laeso Island;

but you stayed there                        at home, torn between,

the cuddlesome calf            and the slave maideen.

Sigurd, we saw you not,                  on Zealand where I slew

the battle-hard brothers,     Brand and four more too:

Agnar and Asmund,            and Alf and Ingjald;

but you in the hall                the king’s tall tale skald.

Oddi sat at his bench and they brought him two horns.  Oddi drank both and he brought them two horns and then recited this:

“Sjolf, we saw you not                     south at Skien,

where noble Kings   knocked helms in the rain;

dabbled in blood,     we became ankle deep;

I was slaying men,   passing out battle sleep.

Sigurd, we saw you not                   at Svia Skerries,

when we took Halfdan’s                 fleet of slaver ferries;

where sword hacked upon battle-hewn shield,

And Sotti fell too,                  both refusing to yield.”

Now Oddi sat down and they brought him the horns and he drank them back before they sat down.  Oddi then brought them the horns and he said:

“We sailed our ash-ship      through Elfar Sound,

content and happy, at Tronuvagar;

there was Ogmund Eythjofs Bane,

tardy to flee,     with two ships.

Then we showered linden shields

with hard stones       and sharp swords;

Only three of us lived                      and nine of them.

Captive rogue,                      why so quiet now?”

Oddi then sat at his bench and they brought him two horns.  He drank both down and offered them two more and said this:

“Sigurd, we saw you not     on Samsey Island,

when we received    strokes from Hjorvard;

two of us,       but twelve of them;

I seized victory,                    you sat quietly.

I went over Gautland                       grim in mind

seven days I went,   until I met Saemund;

I took then,    before I travelled,

Eighteen people’s    lives away,

but you took,             reeling your way

through the blackness of night,                a slave girl to bed.”

Cheering rang in the hall as Oddi sang, and they drank from their horns, but Oddi sat down.  The king’s men basked in the tales, immersed in the verses.  They brought Oddi two more horns, and he finished both quickly.  Then Oddi stood up and went to them and he saw that the drink had the best of them.  He gave them the horns and recited this:

“You will never                      be thought worthy,

Sigurd and Sjolf,       company for a king;

I think of Hjalmar,                 Hjalmar the brave,

who swung his sharp sword                       more briskly than any.

Thord forced his way forward                    and broke shield walls,

when we were in conflict,   that heroic viking;

we laid Halfdan low             upon the deck,

and all of his             fellows and allies.

We were together, Asmund,          often in childhood

sworn brothers together      many a time;

I often bore                in battle a spear,

where kings               clashed in the fray.

We smote the Saxons                     and raided the Swedes,

Ireland and England                        and once Scotland

Frisians and Franks                         and Flemings too;

I smote them all                    I was like a plague.

I’ll list them now                    all of them;

those fierce warriors            who followed me there;

never again               will we ever see

such brave warriors             go into battle.

Now I’ve listed                      all the deeds,

That so long ago                  we had done;

Rich in victories,                   we returned to our homes

to sit in our highseats;           so now let Sjolf speak.”

After that Oddi sat at his bench, but Sjolf and Sigurd fell back on their benches and quietly fell asleep.  Done with their drinking, they now began snoring, but Oddi kept going for a long time.  Then all retired and slept the night.  In the morning when the king came to his highseat, Oddi and his companions were already outside.  He went at once to the water to wash.  The brothers saw that the bark cuff was torn on one of his hands and there was a red silken sleeve and red gold rings on the arm, and they were not narrow.  And then they ripped off his bark.  He did not try to stop this, and underneath he was clad in a scarlet robe of velvet, and his hair lay down to the shoulders.  He had a golden band on his forehead and he was the most handsome of all men.  They took his hands and led him into the longhall to the highseat of the king and said: “It seems that we did not fully appreciate whom we have had here in our care.”

“It may be,” said the king, “and who is this man who has so hidden his identity from us?”

“I am named Odd, which I told you months ago, son of Grim Hairy-Cheek of Hrafnista from northern Norway.”

“Are you the Odd who travelled to Bjarmaland a long time ago?”

“It was not so long ago that I was there.”

“It seems not so strange now that my nobles did badly with you in all sports.”  The king now stood up and welcomed Oddi and invited him to sit on the highseat with him.  “I will not take it like that, unless I go with my comrades.”  It is said that they now changed their seats and Odd sat next to the king, but Harek moved from his place to a stool before the king. The king showed much respect to Odd, and he valued no man more than him.

CHAPTER Twenty Eight – Harek and the Marriage Proposal

Odd and Harek often discussed things with each other.  Odd inquired if men hadn’t asked for the hand of Silkisif.  “It’s true,” Harek said, “that both leading men have asked for her hand.”

“How did King Herraud answer this?” asked Odd.

“He gave them a chance,” he answered.

“Let’s hear about it,” said Odd.

“The king wants to collect back tribute from a land called Bjalka, ruled by a king named Alf and nicknamed Bjalki.  He is married to a witch named Gydja, and they are both great for sacrifices and offerings.  They are so powerful as magicians that they could hitch a horse to a star.  They have a son called Vidgrip, who is a mighty warrior.  The King Herraud has tribute to collect from there, and it has long been unpaid.  The king told both Sjolf and Sigurd that he would marry his daughter to the foremost man that could collect the tribute from that land but it went nowhere, because they each asked to go with so great an army to the country, that the king thought he wouldn’t have enough warriors left here at home to defend his realm.”

“So it seems to me,” said Odd, “that if I could collect the tribute with a smaller force, the king may want to give me her hand.”

“The king is a wise man,” said Harek, “and my guess that he’ll see the difference between you and the other suitors.”

This issue was brought before the king, and it was agreed by all that Odd would go on an expedition and collect the tribute, and if he completed the mission and received the tribute, he could ask for the hand of the king’s daughter, and he promised Princess Silkisif that he would do this in front of many witnesses.

Odd gathered together a small a force of cavalry, and when he was ready the king and Princess Silkisif saw him off.  “There is a costly treasure,” said the king, “that I will give to you that may help.”

“What is it?” said Odd.

“It is a shieldmaiden who has long followed me,” answered the king, “and she has been a shield for me in every battle.”

Odd smiled and said, “It has never come to pass that a woman has been a shield for me, but I’ll take all the help I can get.”  The King and Odd parted and Silkisif gave him a silk kerchief and tied it to his lance for luck.  Odd and his force travelled east until they reached a great raging river, and he crossed it on his horse.  The shield-maiden was next after him, but her horse became frightened and bauked at the raging flood.  Odd shouted back, “Why have you not followed after me?”

“I was not prepared,” she said.

“Well then,” he yelled, “prepare yourself.”  She spurred on her horse and it ran into the river and was swept away by the current and so it went too with the cavalry troop, that most made it across, but some did not.  Odd sent back home the third of his troop that could not make the crossing, saying, “it is better to have a staunch few than a wavering many.”

Odd then went on with his remaining troop and sent scouts on before him, and they came back with news that Prince Vidgrip was leading a large army against them.  The two armies met each other on a plain, but it was evening by then.

They both set up camp there, facing each other, on the plain, and Odd kept a watch that evening for where Vidgrip had his men pitch his campaign tent.  The men of Gardariki were grumbling and the cavalry officers agreed that they were outnumbered and could have sure used the help of those Odd had sent back home.  When the men had fallen asleep and all was calm and quiet, Odd got up and snuck out of camp.  He was equipped with only a sword in his hand and no other weapon.  Soon he was there, at the tent where Vidgrip slept, and he stood in the shadows some time, and waited for a man to come out of the tent.  Finally it happened that a man walked out to relieve himself, but it was very dark and he almost walked into Odd waiting there.  “Why are you waiting out here?” he said.  “Go back into the tent or go do your business.”

“I have,” he said, “but I can’t remember where I placed my bedroll in the tent earlier this evening.”

“Do you know whereabouts it was in the tent?”

“I am sure that I was one man this way from Vidgrip, but as it is now, I can’t find my way to it.  I will be every man’s laughing-stock if you do not help me.”

“Okay,” said the other, and he popped back into the tent.  “Vidgrip lies on his bedroll right by that pole,” and he pointed it out in the shadows.

“Thank you,” said Odd, “and I’ll be quiet going over there, because now I see my bedroll clearly.”  The man walked out again to take care of his business and Odd walked in, going up to the bedroll of Vidgrip to confirm that he was the leader he had seen at the head of his army.  Then Odd stuck a peg through the tent wall where Vidgrip lay.  After that he went out and almost ran into the man he had asked for directions.  “I got so worried about not finding my spot, I forgot to take care of my business!”  The other man laughed and entered the tent.  Odd went behind the tent, to where the peg was pushed through, then he lifted the tent side and pulled Vidgrip out and quickly cut off his head with his sword.  He pushed the body back into the bedroll and smoothed out the tent wall as though nothing had happened.  He returned to his camp and went into his campaign tent and lay down and whispered to himself, “A staunch one is better than a wavering many,” and he went to sleep as if nothing had happened.

“The king wants to collect back tribute from a land called Bjalka, ruled by a king named Alf and nicknamed Bjalki.  He is married to a witch named Gydja, and they are both great for sacrifices and offerings.  They are so powerful as magicians that they could hitch a horse to a star.  They have a son called Vidgrip, who is a mighty warrior.”  This is Helgi’s new challenge and in Saxo’s Book 5, King Frodi’s firstborn son is named Alf, so this is King Alf ‘Bjalki’ Frodison and his wife and son.  One might think it is safe to assume that King Frodi is dead and his son has taken over the rule of Kiev.

Chapter Twenty Nine – Vidgrip Dead

The next morning, when the Bjalka host all rose, they found Vidgrip dead and his head gone.  It seemed to them that some kind of witchcraft had been perpetrated, and one thing is certain: the man who directed a strange warrior to the bedroll of Vidgrip was minding his own business next day and told no one of his ‘Odd’ encounter the night before.  Their captains all talked together, and it was decided that they would take another one as leader and give him Vidgrip’s name and armour and have him bear the banner that Vidgrip bore the day before.  And now Odd woke and armoured himself and sauntered out of his campaign tent to find a group of his complaining captains discussing how Vidgrip’s head got onto a standard pole in the middle of their camp.  “I’d recognize Vidgrip anywhere,” one stated adamantly, “and that’s his head!”.  Odd had his captains arrange their standards so that Vidgrip’s head was at the center of them.  Now the two armies drew up against each other and Odd went out before his troop and saw that he had a much smaller force.  Odd called out to the native force and asked them if they recognized the head that was borne beside him.  The Bjalka force then looked to the Vidgrip armoured man at the head of their host and grew suspicious and one sergeant knocked the helm from him and they saw it was an imposter, so they dragged him from his saddle and began beating him, thinking he was some usurper who had used magic to behead their prince.

Odd now gave them two choices, either to fight against him or to give up and pay their tribute, and it seemed to them that they should pay the tribute rather than face further witchcraft such as this.  Odd accepted their surrender very graciously and had his men disarm and detain them, but some of them were mercenaries and those men Odd hired.  He took them and all their camp followers and headed to the capital, where Odd encountered Alf Bjalki.  Both now had great troops, but again Odd had fewer than Alf.  At once battle broke out and it was so fierce that Odd was amazed at the slaughter, because he thought he saw a lot of losses from his own troop.  Odd decide to battle his way up to the banner of Alf, but could see him nowhere.  Then one countryman, who had been a mercenary with Vidgrip before, said, “I am not sure what’s wrong with your eyes, for he stands just behind his banner and never leaves it, and he is using witchcraft because he shoots an arrow from each finger and kills a man with each shot.”

“I still can’t see him,” said Odd.

Then the mercenary raised his hand above Odd’s head and said, “Look here from under my hand.”  And then Odd saw Alf Bjalki and everything else the man had claimed was happening.

“Hold your hand there for a bit,” said Odd, and he felt for a Gusir’s Gift and took one out of his quiver and put it to the string, keeping his eyes on Alf the whole time, afraid to lose sight of him again and he shot at Alf ; but Bjalki put up his hand and the arrow hit his palm and did not bite.  “Now you shall all go,” said Odd to Gusir’s Gifts, and he shot both remaining arrows, but neither one bit, and he could see all of Gusir’s Gifts lying in the grass before Bjalki.  “I am not sure,” said Odd, “but maybe the time has come to give Jolf’s stone arrows a try,” and he took one of them and nocked it, and shot at Alf Bjalki.  When he heard the whine of the arrow that flew at him, Alf again raised his palm but the arrow flew straight through it and his eye and out of the back of his head, taking his helmet off with it.  Odd quickly took another stone arrow and laid it to string and without it even slowing him down, he thought about the five berserk brothers on the Island of Zealand and how they had tumbled off of their horses and he could see the dust rise as they crashed to the metaled road and he shot at Alf.  Bjalki quickly put up his other palm to protect his remaining eye, but the arrow passed right through it and through that eye and out of the back of his head.  Still, Alf did not fall, though now blind and holding both hands in front of his face.  Then Odd shot the third stone arrow, hitting Alf in the chest, and now he fell, dead.  Now all the old man’s stone arrows vanished, as he had said that they could be shot only once and then would not be found.

Once King Alf had fallen, the fight was quickly over.  The enemy was routed and the survivors retreated to the city.  Gydja stood in the center gate of the city and she shot arrows from all her fingers just as Alf had done.  She held the one gate, but the battle died away and the enemy troop surrendered to Odd.  Near the city were shrines and temples and Odd had them set on fire and burnt everything near the town, and then poetry came to Gydja’s lips:

“Who is causing this blaze,                this battle;

 who on the other side                     arrows rattle?

 Spear Odd to Arrow Odd               did giants turn.

Shrines are blazing,             and temples burn.

“I harried the gods       fainthearted two,

like goats from a fox                        they ran anew;

evil is Odin                as a close ally;

it must not continue,                        their devilish cry.”

Odd now attacked Gydja with a huge oak club.  She ran away into the city with her personal guard behind her.  Odd chased her protectors, and killed all that he could, but Gydja fled to the main temple of the city, and took sanctuary inside and said this:

“Help me gods                      and goddesses,

aid me, Powers,       your own Gydja.”

Odd came to the temple, but would not go in after her.  He went up on the roof and saw where she was hiding through a clerestory window.  He then took up a large stone and threw it through the window and it hit her on her spine and smashed her against the wall, and she died there.  But Odd continued to battle throughout the city.  He came to where AIf had been taken, for he was not quite dead, then Odd beat him with his club until he was.  Then he gathered tribute from all across the land and set up new chiefs and governors.  But as he says in his poem, it was in Antioch that he killed Alf and Gydja.  And once he was done, he went back to Gardariki with such great wealth and immense riches, that no one could calculate its worth.

When he got back to the Greek kingdom he learned that old King Herraud was dead, and he had already been laid to rest in a mound.  Odd at once ordered a funeral ale for him , and it was prepared.  Then Harek betrothed to Odd his foster child, Silkisif, and once the people of Gardariki had drank the funeral ale of King Herraud they started into the marriage ale of Queen Silkisif, for at that feast Odd was given the name of king, and they both now ruled his kingdom.

“Gydja stood in the center gate of the city and she shot arrows from all her fingers just as Alf had done.”  Here we have Prince Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ attacking the capital city of the east, Kiev, and he kills King Alf ‘Bjalki’ Frodison, and then his wife Gydja.  King Frodi of Denmark conquered King Olmar of the Slavs, and likely ruled Scythia from Kiev and his son was named Alf and he likely took over the rule of Kiev after his father had died.  The use of witchcraft in the firing of arrows from the fingers resulting in the death of a man with each arrow is also found in the Saga of the Jomsvikings during the Battle of Hjorungavagr in Norway, with the arrows being loosed by the goddess Irpa.  This northern battle is fought about one hundred years later.  In the first case we have this Kievan Aesir magic helping a Danish king against a Norwegian prince and, in the later battle, the arrow magic helps a Norwegian prince against a Danish king.

Chapter Thirty – Kvillanus

It had come to pass, seven winters before, that the king who ruled in Holmgard had died, but an unknown man called Kvillanus had then seized the realm, and he became king there.  He was somewhat strange looking because he had a mask over his face, so that no one ever saw his bare face.  Men thought this strange.  No one knew his family or ancestry or land, or even where he was from.  The people of the north talked about this a great deal and the news eventually spread, and it came to Odd’s ears in Greece, and it seemed very strange to him that he should not have heard about this man during his many travels.  One night at the Bragarful, Odd got up in public and made a solemn vow to learn who ruled the kingdom of Holmgard in the north, and he soon collected his forces and left home.  He sent word to Sirnir, his blood-brother, who came to meet him east of Wendland, and had brought thirty ships to bolster Odd’s fifty.  The ships were all fully equipped with weapons and men.  They sailed eastwards to Holmgard.

Gardar is a vast land that it consists of many kingdoms.  Marron was the name of one king and he ruled Moramar in Gardariki.  Rodstaff was the name of another king, and Radstofa was the name of where he ruled.  Eddval was the name of a king who ruled in Sursdal and Holmgeir was the name of the king who had ruled Holmgard before Kvillanus.  Paltes was the name of a king who ruled Palteskjuborg.  Kaenmarr was the name of another king.  He ruled Kaenugard, where the first settler was Magog, son of Noah’s son, Japheth.  All these kings paid tribute to King Kvillanus.

Before Odd had even imagined coming to Holmgard, Kvillanus had been busy mustering troops for the last three winters.  Some men thought that he had foreknowledge of Odd’s coming.  All his tribute kings were with him in Holmgard.  Svart Geirridson was there.  He was so-called after Ogmund Eythjof’s Bane had disappeared.  There were also hosts of Kirjalalandi, Rafestalandi, Refaland, Virlandi, Estland, Livland, Vitland, Courland, Lanland, Ermlandi and Pulinalandi.  Kvillanus’ army was so large that it could not be counted in hundreds and men wondered how it could ever have been gathered.  When Odd’s army beached their ships on the riverbank of the Volkov, he sent messengers to Novgorod to challenge King Kvillanus to a tournament.  Kvillanus responded quickly and went forth to meet him with his army.  He wore a mask on his face, as he was wont to do, and when they met, they immediately prepared for the tournament.  They both had long strong lances, but they broke four of them in the first four charges.  They jousted for three days and they both failed to unseat each other.  “It seems to me,” Kvillanus said, “that we’ve tested each other and I believe we are equals.”

“I believe you are right,” said Odd.

“It seems to me that we agree,” said Kvillanus, “and should fight no longer.  I wish to invite you to a banquet.”

“There’s just one thing,” said Odd, “that I must know first.”

“What is that?” Kvillanus asked.

“I made a solemn vow to my people that I would learn who is king in Holmgard.”

Then Kvillanus took off his mask asked: “Do you know who owns this ugly head?”  And Odd realized that this man was Ogmund Eythjofsbane, because he bore the scars given him when Odd had torn off his beard, his face and forelock in Bjarmaland.  The skin had healed over most grotesquely and no hair grew where his famed black tussock had been.

“No, Ogmund,” he cried, “I will never come to terms with you.  You have done so much to harm me, and I challenge you to battle on the morrow.”  Ogmund accepted the offer, and the next day their armies met in battle on a nearby plain.  It was violent and brutal, and as the day wore on, many men killed on both sides.  Sirnir fought valiantly and killed many men, because his sword, Snidil, bit hard all that stood before him.  But when Svart Ogmundson faced him, they battled hard, but Snidil wouldn’t bite, even though Svart bore no armour.  The duel concluded when Sirnir, with much honour, fell dead.  Odd killed all the tributary kings of Kvillanus, some he shot, some he hewed down, but when he saw Sirnir fall, the anger boiled up in him, as it seemed to be happening all over again, a personal loss of life at the hands of Ogmund and his company.  He nocked an arrow and shot at Svart, but the youth put up the palm of his hand, and it would not bite.  He shot another and a third and while shooting, he felt great loss now Gusir’s Gifts were gone, so he grabbed up his club and went to battle against Svart with it and Odd struck him with the club again and again and did not stop until he had broken every bone in Svart’s body and left him there dead.  Kvillanus had been busy, as always, and he shot arrows out of his fingers and a man was killed by each one, and with his men killed every man with Odd.  But many had fallen on Kvillanus’ side, so many that he could not count the dead.  Odd was still up and fighting, protected by his plate-mail shirt.  Night fell upon them, and it was too dark to fight, so Kvillanus went into Novgorod with his men who had survived, no more than sixty, all tired and wounded while Odd retreated to his ships and the small force he had stationed there.  After this battle Ogmund was then called Kvillanus Blaze and he ruled in Novgorod for a long time.

Odd had barely enough men to sail one ship and he returned to Gaul.  There two kings ruled, but there had been twelve realms.  One king was named Hjorolf, the other Hroar.  They were the sons of two brothers and Hroar had killed Hjorolf’s father to get the throne and he ruled the whole realm but allowed Hjorolf to rule one realm.  Odd had landed on his lone coast.  The king was youthful and amused himself with archery, shooting at targets, but very poorly.  Odd had joined his company and complained that all their shooters were bad shots.  “Can you do better?” the king asked.  “I could not do worse,” Odd said, taking up his bow.  He shot and shot and always hit.  The king was impressed and formed a high opinion of Odd.  The king told him how he had been treated by King Hroar.  Odd said he ought to ask for a more equal division of the realms.  They sent twelve men with a letter of request to King Hroar and, when he had read them, he answered back that it was immodest to beg such things, and he had the twelve harried back so that no one would wish to beg such a thing again.  And then both collected their armies, and Odd and Hjorolf had less than a twelfth of Hroar’s forces.  Odd asked people to point out King Hroar, then he took an arrow and shot at him and hit him in the waist.  King Hroar fell there, and there was no battle.

Hjorolf offered the realm to Odd, but he was not happy there long and he snuck away one night.  Then he sailed away until he came to his kingdom, and he settled there in peace.

Somewhat later Kvillanus sent Odd gifts rich in both gold and silver and many precious objects and with them a message of friendship and reconciliation.  Odd accepted these gifts because he was, at last, wise enough to see that Ogmund Eythjofsbane Tussock, now called Kvillanus Blaze, had also lost much and was unbeatable, being no less a wraith than a man.  And it is not written that they had further connections, and this was the end of their conflict.

Chapter Thirty One – The Prophesy II

Odd now stayed in his kingdom, and he had a long life there and had two sons with his wife, Silkisif.  Asmund, the eldest, was named after Odd’s foster-brother, and the youngest was named Herraud after Silkisif’s father.  They were both very promising young men.  One evening, when Odd and Silkisif went to bed, he slowly told her: “There is one place that I would like to go.”

“Where would you like to go?” Silkisif asked.

“I’m want to go north to Hrafnista,” he answered, “and I want to know who now holds the island, because I own it with my family and I have much wealth buried there.”

“I think,” she said, “you have enough wealth and property here.  You have won all Gardariki and can take other goods and countries that you want, and I think you should not worry about one small island in the north.”

“Yes,” he said, “it may be that the island is worth little, but I have the treasures of many victories buried there and I shall choose the ruler it will have, and you should not try to discourage me because I have decided to go, and I will only be briefly away.”  The next day he sailed away with two ships with forty well-armed warriors aboard each, and there is nothing to be said about his journey until he came north to Hrafnista in Norway.  His relatives welcomed Odd when he got there and prepared a banquet to greet him, and they gave him a fortnight of feasting.  They invited him to rule over the island and all the property that belonged there.  He gave them all the property he had kept there and would not stay there.  He dug up all his treasures and shared much of the gold with his kin, then he prepared for his homeward journey, and the people brought him fine gifts.

Odd now sailed out from Hrafnista until they came to Berurjod, in Jaederen. Then he told his men to reef the sail.  Odd went ashore with his troop and came to where Ingjald’s farm had been, and it was now only ruins grown over with turf.  He looked over the place and then said: “This is terrible to see, that the farm should be in ruins, instead of what it was before.”  He then went to where he and Asmund had practiced archery and where they had gone swimming, and then named off every landmark.  And when his men had seen it all, he said, “Let us be on our way.”  Now they went down to the bay, and everywhere about the ground had been eroded.  Odd said: “I think that now hopes are fading that Heid’s prediction will ever happen, as the old witch saw for me long ago.  But what is that, there?” Odd asked.  “What lies there exposed?  Is that not a horse’s skull?”

“Yes,” his men chimed in, “and extremely old and bleached, very big and all grey outside.”

“Do you think it could be the skull of Faxi?”  Odd prodded the skull with his spear shaft.  The skull flipped over and an adder sprang forth and struck at Odd.  The snake bit his leg above the boot, so that the venom worked at once, and his leg swelled up.  The poison took Odd so fast that they had to lead him down to the sea.  Odd sat down on a huge stone on the beach and said, “Now you must divide up into two groups.  Forty men must stay next to me because I want to compose a drapa about my life and each of you must memorize a verse.  The other forty must make me a stone coffin and drag it over here.  They must lay a fire inside and burn up everything together when I am dead.”

Chapter Thirty Two – The Death of Odd

Some men began their work of carving the stone coffin and when Odd began reciting the drapa, those who were tasked to learn the poem listened.

Odd said this:

“Listen, warriors            to what I must tell

 you fighting folk              of friends long gone.

 Now I know-               no need to conceal it­

 this forest-staff                 could not strive against fate.

 I was fostered early         by my father’s counsel,

 to be brought up                 at Berurjod;

 I felt no lack                 of love and happiness,

 of all that Ingjald                  could offer me.

 We both grew up                at Berurjod,

 Asmund and I,                  all through childhood;

 shafts shaping,             and ships building,

 Fetching arrows          for fun as children.

 The seeress told                 true runes to me,

 but in no way                           did I want to listen;

 I said to the young              son of Ingjald

 that I felt like a visit       to my father’s estate.

 While Asmund lived,            he often said

 he was eager to travel        and used to the steel-meet;

 I told the old gaffer              that I’d go away

 and never come back;          now I’ve broken my word.

 We let our launch               linger on the sea;

 with our own hands              we hoisted the sail;

 we sailed from afar             to a steep island

 where Grim once had          his home and lands.

 When I got to the farm,          I was glad to see

 benchmates bidding                         both of us welcome.

 Surely I was able                to share out gold

 and fair speech               with friends of mine.

 In spring I heard              the summons to attend

 the byrnie-assembly               of the Bjarmians;

 at once I said                       to Sigurd and Gudmund

 that I’d make the journey           and join the bold ones.

 My two kinsmen                  were crafty fellows,

 wise leaders                   and warship captains;

 the wily crewmen                  wanted to claim

 the takings from                  the Tyrfi-Finns”.

 In a merchant ship              we made safe landfall

 where the Bjarmians                  had built their houses;

 we ravaged their folk               with fire and flame;

 we managed to capture           a careless guide.

 He vowed to reveal               to our valiant men

 a good place to go              to gather a hoard;

 he told us to leave              by the longer road,

if we should want             to win more money.

 The Bjarmians rushed out,            ready to defend

 their heroes’ howe,                 with hosts deployed;

 we made many                    mighty warriors

 lose their lives                 before leaving that place.

 We had to dash                   down to the ships

 after forcing our foes              to flee to the marshes;

 we lost both                 our boat and ships,

 with the wealth and men        that we brought down.

 Quickly we kindled               in the close forest

 a blazing beacon                burning on land;

 the hound of trees                 we turned loose to frisk,

 rising to the sky,                  red and towering.

 Soon we saw                           splendid ships

 and richly decked men             rushing to land;

 my own kinsmen             who’d camped there

 were overjoyed                 at their arrival.

 As the breeze blustered,       we brave fellows

 let our ship               sail where it would;

 it seemed as if sand               was strewn on the deck,

 no hope of landfall-            I didn’t lie idle.

 We came from afar               to a craggy island

 late in the summer,               sails all tattered;

 most of the heroes              hauled up the ships,

 sending them swiftly               sliding on rollers.

 We pitched our tents,                       and practiced archers,

 wielders of the bow,                        went on a bear hunt;

 we landed on the island           to light a flame,

 a blazing bonfire,                and the bear stood before us.

 The crag-dwellers               called out and said

 that they’d drive us away           if we didn’t leave;

 the rock-plain rulers’                         roaring voices

 weren’t so winsome                       for warriors to hear.

 We the warlike                weapon-trees

 never cringed                          since coming there;

 the heroes stacked up       sturdy walls

 along the cliff;                  I labored at that.

 I set out, going                    with Gusir’s Gifts

 between the cliffs                  and the coals burning.

 I shot out the eye                of an awful troll,

 and pierced the breast         of the boulder-Freyja.

 There I won the name                that I wanted to have,

 which the ogres called             from the crags to me.

 They said they’d gladly                  give Arrow-Odd

 a wind for sailing                     away from there.

 We said we were ready                 to sail from the island

 as soon as we found                a favorable wind;

 we escaped from them              and came home safely,

 kinfolk greeted                     their gracious friends.

 We were together               all winter long,

 gladdened by gold          and good-hearted words;

 when the frost melted,          the fighters dragged

 their finest warships                       to the water’s edge.

 Straightaway we sailed              south along the land,

 truly, we travelled                in two ships and one more;

 we hoped to haul in              a hoard of treasure

 by searching all               of the Elfar Skerries.

 There in the sound               we saw ahead of us

 capable thanes,                  Thord and Hjalmar;

 standing before us,               the fighters asked whether

 we’d accept a truce            or sail on our way.

 Our band of heroes            held council together,

 there seemed little hope           for a haul of wealth;

 the Halogalanders                  made a happier choice,

 we judged it better              to join our forces.

 We all set sail                      from sea to land,

 wherever we heroes                 could hope for plunder;

 we feared nothing                while fierce chieftains,

 staunch commanders,               steered the warships.

 We were wrathful               when we met with

 a stout shield-bearer,             standing off Holmsnes;

 we gathered up                   the gear of all

 the splendid warriors                          on six ships.

 We were all there                in the west with Skolli,

 where a lord of men               his land was ruling;

 the brave ones bore               bloody wounds,

 gashed by swords,              but we gained the victory.

 The jarl’s warriors                laid waste the cape,

 used to the fight-moot            as foxes to hounds;

 Hjalmar and I                     headed right for them,

 savaged the ships              with swords and flames.

 Gudmund asked                 if I’d go with him

 and head for home                 at harvest time;

 I made it known                  that I never wanted

 to see my family                   in the far-off north.

 We all made a pledge              to meet in the summer,

 on the Alv, in the east,            outward bound;

 the bold-hearted                      Hjalmar wanted

 my band of fighters             as we fared south.

 The cheerful ones fared                to the chainmail-meeting

 by two different ways,                once the breeze was fair;

 then to Sweden                       we set our course,

 we sought out Ingjald                       in Uppsala.

 The bold-hearted                Hjalmar gave me

 farms on the land,                 five all together;

 I was glad of the gift,              and was greeted by others

 with the finest rings              and the fairest wishes.

 We all met up                                  on a merry day,

 Swedish sailors                       and Sigurd from the north;

 we rifled and robbed                       riches aplenty

 from those islanders;                   they faced burning.

 We let the roller-steeds            ride the billows,

 setting out westwards,           sailing to Ireland;

 when we came there,                     we quickly saw

 that lords and ladies                       had left their houses.

 I ran down the wide                wagon’s track,

 seized my sturdy                   staves of the bowstring.

 All of my gold                       I’d give, to have

 Asmund alive,                        alongside me.

 Later I saw                           assembling there

 bold warriors,                         their wives as well;

 there I forced four               of Olvor’s folk,

 though good at the edge-game,     to give up their lives.

 From the wagon            the woman addressed me,

 promising me                       prized treasures;

 the lady told me               to return next summer,

 said that they’d seek             a suitable reward.

 It did not seem                     like a stout byrnie,

 or frigid iron rings                  falling down over me,

 when this silk shirt,             sewn with gold,

 fell over me,                     firmly fitting my sides.

 We went westwards             to win more treasure;

 the crewmen called me            a cowardly wretch,

 until the fighters                  found in Skida,

 baleful brothers           and brought them death.

 In the Swedish Skerries,          Soti and Halfdan

 were murderers                     of many folk;

 when we came away,             we’d cleared the decks

 of sixty ships                        from stern to prow.

 As we sailed away,             we saw warriors,

 troublesome and spirited,              in Tronuvagar.

 Ogmund’s death                 was not yet ordained;

 three of us escaped,               and they had nine.

 I could boast                        before brave heroes

 that I’d killed great men,        when we came to the sea;

 we two suffered                  the saddest loss,

 when Prow-Gleam                was pierced by a spear.

 The wise warriors                  went home from there,

 but hailed Thord                  with a high grave mound.

 No man dared                    to defy our wills,

 we lived with no lack            of luxuries.

 Hjalmar and I                       were happy each day,

 steering our ships                     and safe from harm,

 until we found                      fighters on Samsey;

 well could they wield              the wound-flame.

 We let fall into                      the eagle’s clutches

 twelve berserks,                    tainted with shame;

 I was forced to part                 on the fated day

 from my true friend,              trusted and worthy.

 Never before                                    had I known a man

 with a better head                   for bold adventure;

 I hoisted on my shoulders             the helm-destroyer,

 and then set out                     for Sigtuna.

 I hadn’t lingered                  long a time,

 before I could see                 Saemund a coming;

 his men cleared away            the crew from my ship;

 myself, I struggled              to swim away.

 I went through Gotland,           grim in mind,

 for a full six days                 before finding Saemund;

 I forced his followers                to face my sword,

 thirteen churls                     plus the chieftain himself.

 Southwards on the sea                  I set my course,

 until I grounded                       on great shallows;

 I was all alone,                      but on the other hand,

 many I forced                       to fare the Hel-road.

 I came to a country             where castles were ruled

 by excellent folk                    in Aquitania;

 there I left four                     fearless warriors’

 corpses lying;                              I’ve come here now.

 Earlier, I’d sent                      a short message

 to the northernmost                of my near kinsmen;

 I was as glad                       to greet them arriving

 as a hungry hawk                   harrying its prey.

 The men made offer             of many honors

 to the heroes three             in that place, later.

 I didn’t want                     to win such things,

 but both my brothers            stayed behind.

 I hurried away            from the host of the mighty,

 until I found              the fortress of Jerusalem;

 I went to the water              to wash all over,

 then I learned to serve           and to love Christ.

 I know that the waters                washed me all over,

 the flood of the Jordan,                far from Greece;

 nonetheless,                          as is known by all,

 the splendid shirt                preserved all its powers.

 Near the chasms                 I encountered a vulture;

 he flew off with me,               far through the lands,

 until we came                       to craggy heights,

 and in his aerie                      at ease I rested.

 Until Hildir                      took me away

 in his rowboat,                     a robust giant;

 freely offering                the fire of Vimur,

 he let me tarry                      for twelve months.

 I dallied with Hild,                    daughter of that giant,

 wise and huge                     and winsome indeed­

 of her I begot                         a glorious son,

 a marvelous                         and mighty lad,

 surpassing all other            proud warriors.

 Ogmund Eythjof’s Bane             ended my son’s life

 in the harsh stony                   Helluland wastes.

 His eight companions                I deprived of life;

 never have I known                a nastier pirate.

 He slew yet more                of my sworn brothers,

 Sirnir and Gardar,           but I seized the ogre’s beard.

 Unlike anyone                     in his appearance,

 he was then called                   Kvillanus Blaze.

 I was reckoned useful           at the rain of sword,

 when battle raged               on Bravellir;

 Hring then ordered                Odd Far-Traveler

 to have his fighters             form a wedge.

 A little while later,                  when lands I ruled,

 I met with a pair                   of proud-minded rulers:

 I granted to one                   of these green leaders

 a stroke of good fortune    in fighting for his inheritance.

 I came to where Sigurd             and Sjolf his fellow

 thought themselves keenest           of the king’s household;

 the rank and file urged us           to ride out hunting

 and show my weapon-skill        against such great men.

 My shots flew                no shorter than the princes’,

 the smoothed linden              was light in my hand.

 Then we decided                on a swimming match;

 I left them both blowing         blood from their noses.

 A shield-maiden                  was meant for me then,

 when we had                               to hold the battle;

 I know that our enemies                in Antioch

 were robbed of life;             we reaped great wealth.

 We fell on the fighting            folk with our swords,

 and we wasted                    their wooden idols.

 I battered Bjalki                     with a bludgeon of oak

 within the fort gates,                 until I finished him off.

 Harek was loyal                  and a loving friend,

 when he plighted the faith         of his foster-daughter;

 I wedded the ruler’s                                    wise daughter;

 we ruled our lands,                     my lady and I.

 In good spirits                                  I stayed there

 for a span of time,                   as I see now;

 a great many tales          could be told of my journeys

 to thoughtful thanes:                      this is the last.

 All who are hale                  must hurry now,

 go down to the ships;             our doom is to part.

 Send to Silkisif,                   and our sons as well,

 my fondest greetings;             I’ll go there no more.”

When the poem was done, Odd was fading fast, and they led him to where the stone coffin had been built.  Odd said, “Now everything the seeress told me has turned out to be true.  I want to lie down in the stone coffin and die there.  Then you must light a fire inside and burn everything all together.”  He lay down in the stone coffin and said, “You must carry my farewell home to Silkisif, and to our sons and friends.”

After that, Odd died.  They lit a fire inside and burned everything together, and they didn’t leave until it was completely burned up. Most men say that Odd had been twelve ells tall, because the stone coffin measured that long on the inside.

Odd’s retainers went on their way and traveled back east.  They had a favorable wind until they arrived at home.  They told Silkisif what had happened on their journey, and they brought her his farewell.  She felt that this was terrible news, and so did the people of the land.  Afterwards, she took over the kingdom, along with her foster-father Harek. They kept watch over the land and thanes, until Odd’s sons were ready to claim the kingdom.

The lineage in Russia that was descended from Odd grew up there.  But the girl whom Odd left behind in Ireland, who was named Ragnhild, came from the west after her mother’s passing and went north to Hrafnista, and there she was married.  Many people are descended from her, and her lineage has grown up there.

And here ends the Saga of Arrow Odd, as you have now heard it told.


By Brian Howard Seibert, BA, December 01, 2022

Most Saga Experts agree that both the semi-historical Prince Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ and the more historical Prince Oleg (Helgi in Norse) of Kiev are both said to have died by the bite of a poisonous snake that crawled out from under a horse’s skull, but many claim the similar deaths are likely a coincidence and the two characters are not necessarily the same.  This paper shall attempt to expand upon the legends and bring us closer to the truth of whether or not Arrow Odd and Prince Oleg are one and the same man.  We shall look further into the similar deaths that are depicted, first, for Arrow Odd, in Arrow Odd’s Saga, a Norse saga written circa 1200 AD, perhaps three hundred years after Odd’s death by poison snake bite, and second, for Prince Oleg/Helgi of Kiev, in the Hraes’ Primary Chronicle written circa 1100 AD, perhaps two hundred years after his death in 912 AD.

Besides the similarity in death’s, both stories tell us that their death’s in later years were foretold by witchcraft in their younger years.  Starting with Arrow Odd’s Saga, as translated by Gavin Chappell 1  :

“There was a witch named Heid who knew how to predict the future.  She was often invited to banquets to tell people their fortunes…

“Awe me not,             Odd of Jaederen,

With that rod,             Although we row.

This story will hold true,                  As said by the seeress.

She knows beforehand                  All men’s fate.

“You will not swim    Wide firths,

Nor go a long way    Over lands and bays,

Though the water will well  And wash over you,

You will burn             Here, at Berurjod.

“Venom-filled snake            Shall sting you

From below the                    Skull of Faxi.

The adder will bite   From below your foot,

When you are terribly              Old, my lord.”

And now Prince Oleg with the Hraes’’ Primary Chronicle, as translated by Samuel Cross 2  :

“Thus Oleg ruled in Kiev, and dwelt at peace with all nations.  Now autumn came, and Oleg bethought him of his horse that he had caused to be well fed, yet had never mounted.  For on one occasion he had made inquiry of the wonder-working magicians as to the ultimate cause of his death.  One magician replied, “Oh Prince, it is from the steed which you love and on which you ride that you shall meet your death.”  Oleg then reflected and determined never to mount this horse or even to look upon it again.  So he gave command that the horse should be properly fed, but never led into his presence. He thus let several years pass until he had attacked the Greeks.  After he returned to Kiev, four years elapsed, but in the fifth he thought of the horse through which the magicians had foretold that he should meet his death. He thus summoned his senior squire and inquired as to the whereabouts of the horse which he had ordered to be fed and well cared for.  The squire answered that he was dead.  Oleg laughed and mocked the magician, exclaiming, “Soothsayers tell untruths, and their words are naught but falsehood.  This horse is dead, but I am still alive.”

“Then he commanded that a horse should be saddled.  “Let me see his bones,” said he. He rode to the place where the bare bones and skull lay.  Dismounting from his horse, he laughed and remarked, “So I was supposed to receive my death from this skull?”  And he stamped upon the skull with his foot.  But a serpent crawled forth from it and bit him in the foot, so that in consequence he sickened and died.  All the people mourned for him in great grief.  They bore him away and buried him upon the hill which is called Shchekovitsa.  His tomb stands there to this day, and it is called the Tomb of Oleg.  Now all the years of his reign were thirty-three.

“It is remarkable what may be accomplished through witchcraft and enchantment.”

So the foretold death of Arrow Odd was by Witch Heid in Chapter 2 of his saga, whereas the whole tale of Oleg-Helgi’s earlier prophesy and later death are told together in the year of 912 of the Chronicle.  We must go to the start of Chapter 3 of Odd’s tale to find out what happens next:

“Odd and Asmund took Faxi and bridled him and led him behind them until they came to a valley. There they dug a hole so deep, Odd had to struggle to get out of it.  Then they killed Faxi and dumped him into the hole, and they brought the biggest stones they could find and poured them into the hole and packed gravel between the stones.  Then they piled a mound atop the hole in which Faxi was buried.  When they had completed their work, Odd said: ‘I think that trolls shall be interfering if Faxi is ever seen again, and I think I have just now frustrated the fate that foretold of my death.”

There is a slight difference in the handling of the horse in the Christian Rus tale versus the Aesir Norse tale, but both versions seem to have overcome the prophesy.  Now we must go to Chapter 36 of the saga to see what becomes of Odd:

“Odd now sailed out from Hrafnista until they came to Berurjod.  Then he told his men to reef the sail.  Odd went ashore with his troop and came to where Ingjald’s farm had been, and it was now only ruins grown over with turf.  He looked over the place and then said: “This is terrible to see, that the farm should be in ruins, instead of what it was before.”  He then went to where he and Asmund had practiced archery and where they had gone swimming, and then named off every landmark.  And when his men had seen it all, he said, “Let us be on our way.”  Now they went down to the bay, and everywhere about the ground had been eroded.  Odd said: “I think that now hopes are fading that Heid’s prediction will ever happen, as the old witch saw for me long ago.  But what is that, there?” Odd asked.  “What lies there exposed?  Is that not a horse’s skull?”

“Yes,” his men chimed in, “and extremely old and bleached, very big and all grey outside.”

“Do you think it could be the skull of Faxi?”  Odd prodded the skull with his spear shaft.  The skull flipped over and an adder sprang forth and struck at Odd.  The snake bit his leg above the boot, so that the venom worked at once, and his leg swelled up.  The poison took Odd so fast that they had to lead him down to the sea.  Odd sat down on a huge stone on the beach and said, “Now you must divide up into two groups.  Forty men must stay next to me because I want to compose a drapa about my life and each of you must memorize a verse.  The other forty must make me a stone coffin and drag it over here.  They must lay a fire inside and burn up everything together when I am dead.”

And, after Arrow Odd composed his drapa, he died, and his men did what was ordered.  So, one can see very clearly that there is more to this pre-ordained death than a cursory one line statement that Experts often make when trying to gloss over the matching tales as mere coincidence.

There are other similarities in the stories of the two characters lives that lead me to believe they are one and the same man.

“6388-6390 (880-882).  Oleg set forth, taking with him many warriors from among the Varangians, the Chuds, the Slavs, the Merians and all the Krivichians.  He thus arrived with his Krivichians before Smolensk, captured the city, and set up a garrison there.  Thence he went on and captured Lyubech, where he also set up a garrison.

“He then came to the hills of Kiev, and saw how Askold and Dir reigned there.  He hid his warriors in the boats, left some others behind, and went forward himself bearing the child Igor’. He thus came to the foot of the Hungarian hill, and after concealing his troops, he sent messengers to Askold and Dir, representing himself as a stranger on his way to Greece on an errand for Oleg and for Igor’, the prince’s son, and requesting that they should come forth to greet them as members of their race.  Askold and Dir straightway came forth.

“Then all the soldiery jumped out of the boats, and Oleg said to Askold and Dir, “You are not princes nor even of princely stock, but I am of princely birth.”  Igor’ was then brought forward, and Oleg announced that he was the son of Rurik.  They killed Askold and Dir, and after carrying them to the hill, they buried them there, on the hill now known as Hungarian, where the castle of Ol’ma now stands.  Over that tomb Ol’ma built a church dedicated to St. Nicholas, but Dir’s tomb is behind St. Irene’s.  Oleg set himself up as prince in Kiev, and declared that it should be the mother of Hraes’ cities.  The Varangians, Slavs, and others who accompanied him, were called Hraes’ses.”

So here we have Prince Oleg-Helgi conquering Kiev from his competing Varangian contemporaries, Askold and Dir by using stealth and hiding his men.  I began wondering if, perhaps, Askold and Dir was an expansion on one Norse name such as Hoskolder or Angantyr, as cities were usually run by one man, not two.  Now Arrow Odd does capture a city that seems a lot like Kiev in Chapter 29 of his saga:

“Odd accepted their surrender very graciously and had his men disarm and detain them, but some of them were mercenaries and those men Odd hired.  He took them and all their camp followers and headed to the capital, where Odd encountered Alf Bjalki.  Both now had great troops, but again Odd had fewer than Alf.  At once battle broke out and it was so fierce that Odd was amazed at the slaughter, because he thought he saw a lot of losses from his own troop.  Odd decided to battle his way up to the banner of Alf, but could see him nowhere.  Then one countryman, who had been a mercenary with Vidgrip before, said, “I am not sure what’s wrong with your eyes, for he stands just behind his banner and never leaves it, and he is using witchcraft because he shoots an arrow from each finger and kills a man with each shot.”

“I still can’t see him,” said Odd.

Then the mercenary raised his hand above Odd’s head and said, “Look here from under my hand.”  And then Odd saw Alf Bjalki and everything else the man had claimed was happening.

“Hold your hand there for a bit,” said Odd, and he felt for a Gusir’s Gift and took one out of his quiver and put it to the string, keeping his eyes on Alf the whole time, afraid to lose sight of him again and he shot at Alf ; but Bjalki put up his hand and the arrow hit his palm and did not bite.  “Now you shall all go,” said Odd to Gusir’s Gifts, and he shot both remaining arrows, but neither one bit, and he could see all of Gusir’s Gifts lying in the grass before Bjalki.  “I am not sure,” said Odd, “but maybe the time has come to give Jolf’s stone arrows a try,” and he took one of them and nocked it, and shot at Alf Bjalki.  When he heard the whine of the arrow that flew at him, Alf again raised his palm but the arrow flew straight through it and his eye and out of the back of his head, taking his helmet off with it.  Odd quickly took another stone arrow and laid it to string and without it even slowing him down, he thought about the five berserk brothers on the Island of Zealand and how they had tumbled off of their horses and he could see the dust rise as they crashed to the metaled road and he shot at Alf.  Bjalki quickly put up his other palm to protect his remaining eye, but the arrow passed right through it and through that eye and out of the back of his head.  Still, Alf did not fall, though now blind and holding both hands in front of his face.  Then Odd shot the third stone arrow, hitting Alf in the chest, and now he fell, dead.  Now all the old man’s stone arrows vanished, as he had said that they could be shot only once and then would not be found.

Once King Alf had fallen, the fight was quickly over.  The enemy was routed and the survivors retreated to the city.  His wife, Gydja, stood in the center gate of the city and she shot arrows from all her fingers just as Alf had done.  She held the one gate, but the battle died away and the enemy troop surrendered to Odd.  Near the city were shrines and temples and Odd had them set on fire and burnt everything near the town,” and then he killed Gydja with a huge stone.

Here we have Prince Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ attacking the capital city of the east, likely Kiev, and he kills Alf Bjalki, the ruler.  King Frodi of Denmark conquered King Olmar of the Slavs, and likely ruled Scythia from Kiev and his son was named Alf and he likely took over the rule of Kiev after his father had died.  The use of witchcraft in the firing of arrows from the fingers resulting in the death of a man with each arrow is also found in the Saga of the Jomsvikings during the Battle of Hjorungavagr in Norway, with the arrows being loosed by the goddess Irpa.  This battle is fought about one hundred years later.  In the first case we have this Aesir magic helping a Danish king against a Norwegian prince and in the latter the arrow magic helps a Norwegian prince against a Danish king.  Prince Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ follows up this victory with an second attack upon Kiev and a series of victories conquering cities going north into Hraes’ Gardar:

“It had come to pass, seven winters before, that the king who ruled in Holmgard had died, but an unknown man called Kvillanus had then seized the realm, and he became king there.  He was somewhat strange looking because he had a mask over his face, so that no one ever saw his bare face.  Men thought this strange.  No one knew his family or ancestry or land, or even where he was from.  The people of the north talked about this a great deal and the news eventually spread, and it came to Odd’s ears in Greece, and it seemed very strange to him that he should not have heard about this man during his many travels.  One night at the Bragarful, Odd got up in public and made a solemn vow to learn who ruled the kingdom of Holmgard in the north, and he soon collected his forces and left home.  He sent word to Sirnir, his blood-brother, who came to meet him east of Wendland, and had brought thirty ships to bolster Odd’s fifty.  The ships were all fully equipped with weapons and men.  They sailed eastwards to Holmgard (Novgorod).

Gardar is a vast land that it consists of many kingdoms.  Marron was the name of one king and he ruled Moramar in Gardariki.  Rodstaff was the name of another king, and Radstofa was the name of where he ruled.  Eddval was the name of a king who ruled in Sursdal (Suzdal) and Holmgeir was the name of the king who had ruled Holmgard (Novgorod) before Kvillanus.  Paltes was the name of a king who ruled Palteskjuborg (Polotsk?).  Kaenmarr was the name of another king.  He ruled Kaenugard (Kiev), where the first settler was Magog, son of Noah’s son, Japheth.  All these kings paid tribute to King Kvillanus.

As Odd took his army north, all the kings before him withdrew to join Kvillanus in Novgorod and there was a great battle there and both armies were destroyed.  Kvillanus then agreed to rule over Staraya Russa and Prince Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ ruled the remainder.

Prince Oleg (Helgi) of Kiev also followed up his conquest of Kiev with an attack upon the north:

“6391 (883). Oleg began military operations against the Derevlians, and after conquering them he imposed upon them the tribute of a black marten-skin apiece.

6392 (884). Oleg attacked the Severians, and conquered them.

6393 (885). Oleg sent messengers to the Radimichians and he directed them to render tribute to himself instead of the Khazars. Thus Oleg established his authority over the Polyanians, the Derevlians, the Severians, and the Radimichians, but he waged war with the Ulichians and the Tivercians.”

So Prince Oleg (Helgi), after conquering Kiev, made further conquests north just as Arrow Odd had, and he must have stalled out as Odd had, because he only waged war with the Ulichians and Tivercians, but did not seem to succeed in conquering them.  Not only do we have these further parallels between Prince Arrow Odd and Prince Oleg, but many of the tales and magic that is contained within the story of Prince Oleg Helgi is turning out to be both Danish and Norwegian in character.  More research has to be done, particularly on areas of their stories that seem to touch and merge together.  Who was King Alf of Kiev and why was his surname Bjalki and not Frodison?  Is the Aesir arrow finger witchcraft a Norse Danish thing, or does it occur in other sagas and chronicles as well?

By connecting Prince Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ of Norway concretely with Prince Oleg (Helgi) of Kiev, we are establishing the early founding of Kievan Rus’ to the Danes and Norwegians, instead of some non-descript Varangians and Hraes’es from across the Baltic Sea.  Now, the name Oleg means holy in Slavic, which explains why I call him Oleg (Helgi), because Helgi is holy in Norse.  But where do I get off calling Arrow Odd, Prince Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’?  For that, we must look to the end of the Saga of Arrow Odd:

“Odd’s retainers went on their way and traveled back east.  They had a favorable wind until they arrived at home.  They told Silkisif what had happened on their journey, and they brought her his farewell.  She felt that this was terrible news, and so did the people of the land.  Afterwards, she took over the kingdom, along with her foster-father Harek (Erik or Rurik). They kept watch over the land and thanes, until Odd’s sons were ready to claim the kingdom.

The lineage in Rus’ that was descended from Odd grew up there (the Rurikid dynasty).  But the girl whom Odd left behind in Ireland, who was named Ragnhild, came from the west after her mother’s passing and went north to Hrafnista, and there she was married.  Many people are descended from her, and her lineage has grown up there.”

There is an old rumour that the Province of Halogaland in Northern Norway was named after Arrow Odd, Halo being Holy or Helgi, so it stands to reason that his prename was Helgi and ‘Arrow Odd’ was his byname meaning Arrow’s Edge.  So his full name is Prince Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ Erikson.  And why would I call him Erikson…


1  Author unknown.  The Saga of Arrow-Odd.  Iceland, c.1200.  As translated by Gavin Chappell.  Thor’s Stone Press. 2014.

2  Author unknown.  The Hraes’ Primary Chronicle.  Kievan Rus’, c.1100.  As translated by Samuel Hazzard Cross and Olgerd P. Sherbowitz-Wetzor.  Crimson Printing. 1953.

NOTE: The recent copyright discovery by the author that Prince Ivar ‘the Boneless’ Rurikson (Slavic: Prince Igor) of Kiev was also King Harde Knute (Hard Knot) of Denmark, that Prince Svein ‘the Old’ Ivarson (Slavic: Prince Sviatoslav) of Kiev was later King Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ of Denmark and England and that Prince Valdamar ‘the Great’ (Slavic: Grand Prince Vladimir) of Kiev was also King Canute/Knute ‘the Great’ of England, Denmark and Norway (the early Knytlings or Knot Kings) is original, speculative and remains to be proven by said author, and is copyright, all rights reserved.  To put it in the words of the Bard’s Prince Hamlet, “To be, or ‘knot’ to be, that is the question.”