Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert
(Circa 868 AD)
“And his shield was called Hrae’s Ship’s Round,
And his followers were called the Hraes’.”
Eyvinder Skald-Despoiler; Skaldskaparmal.
Oddi was returning to Europe with his fleet but they were blown off course and found themselves further north than they’d wanted to be. As Oddi was adjusting the course of Fair Faxi using the navigational device he had acquired in Baghdad, he noticed seagulls to the north, which could only mean land, and from the number of gulls, quite a bit of it. He decided that they could use some fresh water so he led his fleet north and they spotted what looked to be a large island with mountains that seemed to be belching smoke and steam. As they approached from the south, Oddi led his fleet west, planning to circle the island. They had been circling west for about an hour when they saw a half dozen ships anchored in the mouth of a fjord and Oddi recognized one of the ships as belonging to a Viking named Floki, who had sailed with him on his first journey to the newfound land. The whole Norwegian fleet swung into the fjord, which sent the anchored ships into a panic until Floki recognized Fair Faxi and told his men it had to be Arrow Odd.
Floki welcomed Oddi to Iceland and told him that he had observed seagulls to the north when they went to find Saint Brendan’s land a few years back, so he later returned to the area of the gull sightings and found this island of fire and ice and he called it Iceland. They were now in the process of establishing the first settlement on the island. Oddi visited with Floki for a few days while his fleet topped up their fresh water supplies.
One evening Oddi was anchored off a headland of the fjord when he saw a man rowing from the east in a boat. Whoever it was, was rowing powerfully across the open sea, and he was amazingly big in size. He rowed so hard up to Oddi’s ships that it seemed everything would be broken before him. Then he rested on his oars and asked who was in charge.
Oddi said to him, “I am Arrow Odd. Who are you?”
“I’m Vignir,” he answered. “Are you the Odd who went to Bjarmaland long ago?”
“Yes,” said Oddi, “but it wasn’t that long ago.”
“I am speechless,” said Vignir.
“Really…it wasn’t that long ago,” said Oddi.
“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?” Oddi 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 Oddi. “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.”
Oddi 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,” Oddi replied, then quietly asked him not to insult his men. “Consider it the first lesson in your training.”
Vignir started to protest, but Oddi 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 horse, Oddi marveled. A very large horse. A cataphract horse.
In the morning they got ready to continue their journey to Europe and Vignir asked Oddi what they would do there. Oddi said he was going to Frankia, but he really wanted to look for Ogmund Eythjofsbane. “From him, you’ll get no good, if you find him,” Vignir said, “because he is the greatest troll and monster ever created in the northern part of the world.”
“It cannot be true,” said Oddi, “that you mock my stature and my men, but you are now so scared that you dare not seek to find Ogmund?”
“No need,” said Vignir, “to taunt me with cowardice, for now I shall have to repay you for your unkind words sometime soon. But I will tell you where Ogmund is. He’s in a fjord named Skuggi on a green island, of the wastes of Helluland, with his eight tussocked lads with him. He went there expressly to find you and he yet waits for you to come out of the great hinterland. Now, you may visit him, if you want, and see how it goes, but I would advise you to let him continue waiting for you. You are safe staying here while he wastes his time waiting to spring a trap for you, way across the Atlantean Sea.”
Oddi said he wished to find him, regardless of safety. They sailed west 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.” Oddi let him go his own way. Vignir was master of his one small ship. That day they saw two rocks emerge from the sea. Oddi wondered much at that. Then they sailed between the rock faces. But as day wore on, they saw a huge island and Oddi asked them to sail up to it. The island was covered with heather. Oddi 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. Oddi 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 Eythjofsbane has sent these creatures out searching for you with his enchantments to work the death of you and all your men. He thought that this would have killed more men than only those that just 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 Oddi.
Arrow Odd and his son, Vignir, sailed until they found the shores of Helluland and they sailed south until they found the green island that Oddi had named New Ireland. They sailed around the east side of the island until they rowed into the fjord called Skuggi. Once they had beached their ship, father and son went to high ground and saw the fortress at the top of some cliffs.
“We spotted this fortress when we were coming out of the hinterland,” Oddi explained. “I thought it was a fortress of King Frodi’s, so we circumvented it.”
“This is Ogmund Eythjofsbane’s fortress,” Vignir said, watching the waves rolling into the fjord, warily. “He calls it Solitude and he built it to wait for you, to wait until you came out of Skrailingland. You must have someone protecting you, some witch or warlock, for you to have gotten by him. But he knows you are here now.”
Ogmund was out on the walls with his companions. He greeted Arrow Odd as though he had expected him and asked them their business.
“You know my business,” Oddi said. “I want your life.”
“My idea is better,” said Ogmund, “that we accept that we are square now.”
“No,” said Oddi, “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 Oddi, “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 Eythjofsbane.”
“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 Oddi, “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, 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. Sea spray rose up halfway to the ledge and Vignir watched the water warily.
Oddi seemed to be doing a little better, even with the numbers going against him. He held a massive club in both hands, because iron would not bite through the magic of Ogmund’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. Oddi 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 Oddi could get to them, Vignir move in to finish off Ogmund with a blow and a spout of water from the great whale Lyngbak shot up from the sea and landed at his feet, causing Vignir to slip and as he fell, Ogmund crouched down over him like a beast and bit out his jugular. Vignir died as he hit the ground. Oddi 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 powers, but I am afraid of no one in this world except you, Arrow Odd, and from you I will get my just deserts, sooner or later, because now you have more reason to kill me.”
Oddi 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.
Oddi 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 burned Vignir’s body with the fortress and sailed back to Europe.