Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert
THE BATTLE OF HJORUNGAVAGR (Circa 986 AD)
15. “A full year thus we fared among men;
Our name was known among noble heroes.
Through linden shields sharp spears we hurled,
drew blood from wounds, and blades reddened.
Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)
(986) When Prince Sweyn got back from Hell, Alfled was at the quay waiting to greet him. “You have to do something about your son,” she complained. “We moved further down the hall but the pounding never stops. I thought he was wearing out his three wives when he went out and got himself three new local Norwegian wives, but, no, now he focks twice as much. There’s pounding morning, noon and night now!”
It was noon so, Sweyn went in and Valdamar was eating lunch with his six wives. “Morning, Vald,” Sweyn said as he walked up to the table. “Father!” Valdamar said, getting up, and his wives all rose with him. “These are my new wives, Princess Brita, Princess Dagmar and Princess Katla, all the daughters of local Jarls and Princes.”
“Ladies,” Sweyn greeted them and then he saw who Katla was and he said, “I have to check something,” and he left them and went to his master suite. Alfled followed him in and started complaining again, “You shouldn’t just walk out on your son and his new wives,” she began, but Sweyn cut her off. “I raped Princess Katla,” he said, quite embarrassed. “She was part of that hard rape I helped Haakon with a few years back. She was younger then.”
“She’s just a girl now!” Alfled said.
“Her father must be the Jarl that Haakon wanted to discipline,” Sweyn said as he paced about the bedroom and stomped on the floorboards here and there.
“You’re distraught,” she said. “Stomp on the floor, kick the bed if it helps.”
“I’m testing the floor,” Sweyn said, and he jumped up and down on it all around the bed. “Can you talk to Katla for me? Tell her I was following orders?”
“I’ll talk to her,” Alfled said, “but I’ll ask her to talk with you as well.”
“Fine,” Sweyn said. “Later this afternoon?”
“That should work for her. They’ll be going upstairs to fock after lunch so, she should be free in about three hours!”
“This floor is really solid,” Sweyn said. “I think there are cedar beams under the floorboards and they rest on undisturbed soil. If we take out that wall and that wall, two of the side bedrooms can be added to the master bedroom, making one huge focking bedroom! I’ll get some of the barracks carpenters in here this afternoon,” and Sweyn clapped his hands together. “My grandfather said, I’m at my best when I’m a builder and not a destroyer.”
The pounding started up in the loft master suite and daub dust began floating down from the ceiling again. Alfled was about to complain, but Sweyn kissed her on the lips and said, “I’d better get on this,” and he left her in the suite.
Sweyn pulled a few carpenters off his barracks project and went through the required modifications with them and they said they’d have it done by supper and that reminded Sweyn to have some lunch and spend some time with his children. The carpenters got to work and were doing some pounding of their own and Alfled had to leave and she went over to Haakon’s hall and visited with them for a few hours. When the upstairs pounding was over for a while, she came back and talked with Katla and arranged a meeting with Sweyn in a corner of the hall.
Sweyn walked up to where Alfled and Katla were sitting and was about to apologize to the girl when she blurted out, “Please don’t tell Valdamar that we had sex! I told him I was a virgin.”
“Didn’t he notice that you weren’t?” Sweyn asked.
“He took me last, after the other two, and he was quite bloody by then and I sort of slid through using some of the other girls blood. I haven’t slept with anybody since you had me,” she said. “You got me pregnant and I had a son by you. He’s living with my parents.”
“I won’t say a word to Valdamar about this,” Sweyn promised, “if you don’t.”
“I won’t say a word,” Katla promised. “My dad was pretty mad at Jarl Haakon for a long time, but he got over it. My parents both love our baby Sweyn.”
“You named him Sweyn?” Sweyn asked.
“My father said it was very important that people knew that he was the son of a great prince. My father was never mad at you or Jarl Eirik.”
“We were only following orders,” Sweyn began apologizing. “I’m sorry if I caused you pain.”
“Oh, you caused me pain alright,” Katla laughed. “I never knew cocks were so big until you stuck yours through my flower! And then nine months later another Sweyn’s cock passed through me the other way and that hurt even more. And now your son, Prince Valdamar is sticking that big monster of his into me and causing both pain and pleasure. But I’m glad you gave me little Sweyn. He’s such a good boy and we love him so much.”
“Do you think we could visit my son sometime?” Sweyn asked.
“My father is supporting Jarl Haakon with his warship in this upcoming fight,” Katla said. “He’s Jarl Kettle. Just talk with him and ask him. He was never angry with you about what happened. My mother even thanks you for the help you gave her.”
“Can Alfled and I join you ladies and Valdamar for supper tonight?” Sweyn asked Katla. “I have an announcement I’d like to make and it involves all of you.”
“Of course,” Katla said. “Please do.”
The carpenters had the work done well before supper so, Sweyn took Alfled with him to inspect the work. The master suite had been widened to almost double its former, the floor had been reinforced where needed and the bed had been widened as well. Sweyn thanked the carpenters for the fine job and then he told Alfled, “Valdamar and his wives will be moving in here after supper. There won’t be any pounding coming out of this room, not with this floor under them!”
Alfled jumped up and down on the floor and then bounced on the edge of the bed. “I think you might be right!” she said.
“And I want to throw a feast this Saturn’s day for Valdamar and his new wives!”
“I think that would be wonderful!” she said as she bounced on the bed. “Let’s try it out!”
“Try what out?”
“The bed, silly!” she said. “You pound me as hard as you can for as long as you can and we’ll see if it makes any noise,” and she started undressing Sweyn. Then Sweyn began undressing her and she said, “It’s such a small world.”
“What do you mean?”
“You rape some young girl in Lade and she ends up marrying the Grand Prince of Kievan Hraes who just happens to be your son.”
“It may be a small world,” Sweyn agreed, “ but you’re about to experience my big cock!”
“It’s not that big,” Alfled said, as she slid herself onto the bed.
“Katla thought it was big,” Sweyn said as he entered Alfled.
“She was twelve years old!” Alfled laughed and then Sweyn began thrusting into her and pounding away and she began moaning and Sweyn drove his member into her for a half hour straight and she had several orgasms and he kept thrusting into her. He was in training for the upcoming battle and had done a thousand sit ups and a thousand push ups with Emma before leaving Hell and he saw this bed test as another opportunity to train. After a full hour of pounding and not one sound emanating from the floor or the bed, Alfled began moaning in a way that excited Sweyn and he was soon flowing inside her.
After supper Sweyn got up and announced that Valdamar would be in need of a double size bedroom, since he had doubled the number of wives with him, and Sweyn gave them all a tour of the renovated master suite. “It is yours,” Sweyn said, “should it so please you.”
“I love it!” Valdamar said and his wives all agreed as they bounce tested the bed.
When they returned to the hall, Sweyn announced he would be providing a feast celebrating all of Valdamar’s new wives. They drank and celebrated in the hall and Katla made sure she filled Sweyn’s horn with thank mead for his silence. What Sweyn had feared would be embarrassing for him turned out to be a wonderful thing as Katla and Alfled bonded together as mothers. Servants and slaves were busy moving trunks and clothing while they partied and Valdamar’s gear was transferred to the main floor bedroom suite while Sweyn and Alfled’s gear was moved to the loft suite. That night Alfled and Sweyn were in bed in each other’s arms listening for any noises emanating from the main suite below them. They did faintly hear a few of Valdamar’s wives having orgasms, but there were no pounding sounds at all. “I didn’t guarantee there wouldn’t be moans of ecstasy,” Sweyn told Alfled. “I just guaranteed to end the infernal pounding.”
“It’s wonderful!” Alfled whispered. “It’s like listening to your baby babble because it’s happy, versus your baby crying its lungs out because it’s hungry and its diaper is shitty.”
“Moaning orgasms are like a baby babbling?”
“I think I hear Katla moaning,” she said. “I mean it’s a pleasing sound like a happy baby’s sounds.”
“You’re pregnant again, aren’t you?”
“I think so,” Alfled said and she held Sweyn’s arm as he kissed her.
Once the house had been quieted down, Aud began coming over to study again and she stayed over Thor’s day night and slept with Sweyn and Alfled as they had become accustomed to do. People were even beginning to think that perhaps Prince Valdamar had misheard news of the Jomsvikings attack and maybe it wasn’t coming. But Freya’s day afternoon, one of Haakon’s very fast scout ships returned with news that sixty Jomsviking ships were sailing up the coast of Norway. They were estimated to arrive at Trondheim Fjord late on Saturn’s day and, since Jarl Haakon wanted to meet somewhere outside the fjord, they planned to sail against them on Saturn’s day morning. So, Valdamar slept with his wives on Freya’s day evening and Sweyn and Alfled sat at their highseats waiting for Aud to arrive. She arrived with her brother Eirik. He did not want to sleep alone. Alfled had slept with Eirik many times before, when she was Haakon’s concubine, but never as Sweyn’s wife so, she looked up at Sweyn for an answer and Sweyn nodded. He had not told Alfled or Aud about his Sacred Band experience with Eirik in Hell, but he expected the girls might be in for a surprise. Theban Sacred Band Brothers always made love before battles to reinforce their bonds prior to combat.
They drank wine at the highseats and took a few bottles up to the loft master suite. As they went up the staircase to the balcony before the suite, it reminded both Sweyn and Eirik of Hallveig’s hall and, as they walked through the double door, both men instinctively searched the room for Thorgerder Helgibruder. But there were no side doors in the bedroom that led to nowhere. There were just two shuttered windows on the end wall of the room.
Alfled was still under the impression that Eirik was there to seek comfort with her and she told Eirik he wouldn’t need protection as she had just learned she was already pregnant. They congratulated her and she began undressing Eirik as Aud and Sweyn sat at a side table with the wine and watched. Eirik was naked and erect and he began undressing Alfled and when she was naked she knelt down beside the bed and took Eirik’s stiff member into her mouth and she began nominal congress on it. Sweyn and Aud drank some wine and Aud had her foot up under the side table and was massaging his lingam with her toes as they watched Alfled at work. When she thought Eirik was sufficiently wet she crawled up on the bed and laid herself open on the bed to receive him. Eirik crawled onto her and slid into her and began thrusting his way deeper. Alfled was pregnant by Sweyn, but when Sweyn had pounded on Alfled during their main suite bed test, he had shaken something loose within her, an egg, and when Thorgerder Helgibruder learned that Hallveig was going to sacrifice her two foetuses to pay for her services, Thorgerder decided to pay Alfled a visit and give that egg a little push toward her uterus and she gave both eggs there a special touch. Both Sweyn and Eirik carried the blood of Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ Hraerikson through Hraerik and Thorgerder Helgibruder, the bride of Helgi, was going to collect on Helgi’s promise to give her a baby. While Eirik was focking hard upon Alfled, wind burst in through the windows, throwing the shutters open with a clatter, and it left the room as suddenly as it had entered. Aud was startled and spilled her wine and Sweyn rushed over to secure the shutters. But Helgi’s bride swept through the room with the wind and touched Alfled in a way only powerful spirits could and Thorgerder had her way with Alfled’s DNA. When Eirik’s lust was sated and his semen flowed deep into Alfled, it was Thorgerder’s egg that Eirik fertilized and Sweyn’s wife was now pregnant with twins of different fathers and, to some extent, different mothers as well.
When Eirik was done with Alfled he walked naked toward Sweyn and led him next to the bed and began undressing him. Alfled was shocked and she got off the bed and sat at the side table with Aud and they both sat and drank wine and watched. Eirik took Sweyn’s cock into his mouth and sucked it hard and got it wet and then he crawled onto the bed on all fours and Sweyn got on the bed and knelt behind him and entered him and grabbed him by the hips and thrust deeply within him and began focking him. Alfled was still in shock as she watched, but Aud had gotten over her shock and was now eyeing Alfled and she snuck her foot under the table and began working her toe into Alfled’s cunny well. Sweyn was watching Aud as he was focking Eirik and thinking of her soon had him coming in her brother.
When Sweyn was fully sated, he laid Eirik back and took his cock into his mouth and he could still taste Alfled on it and he enjoyed her taste as Eirik got hard. Aud was caught up in the spirit of the thing and she led Alfled to the bed and laid her back beside Eirik and she put her tongue into her cunny well and she began to get Alfled excited. When Sweyn got Eirik’s cock wet enough he straddled his hips and slid Eirik’s cock up his anus and he began riding his steed. He had always wondered how his wives felt riding his steed and he felt the power he had over the process. When he’d tired of the ride he got off Eirik and then Eirik entered Sweyn from behind and grabbed his hips and began focking him while Aud and Alfled stopped and watched. Eirik was driving hard and fast and his groin slapped against Sweyn’s ass and the floor started pounding and Alfled could picture the daub dust floating about Prince Valdamar’s room below. Eirik made a final deep thrust into Sweyn and exploded within him.
“Boy’s night out?” Alfled whispered to Aud, but Aud said, “No. Girl’s night out!” and she laid back and awaited a reciprocating service from Alfled. It was Sweyn and Eirik’s turn to watch as Alfled soon had Aud moaning in pleasure. Then they all slept together and Eirik and Aud rose early in the morning and rode horses back to Haakon’s longhall. Sweyn and Alfled woke up and had their own pre-battle sex and Sweyn prepared to sail off to meet the Jomsvikings.
Prince Sweyn had his fleet of thirty Roman dromons ready to sail and Prince Valdamar likewise had his thirty Hraes’ transport warships ready to go so, they went over to Jarl Haakon’s longhall to see if the rest of the fleets were ready. Sweyn and Valdamar were talking with Eirik and Aud when Haakon came up and asked Sweyn, “Could you go to Hell and get Hallveig Irpa?” When Sweyn said he would, Haakon added, “And tell her to bring all her chantreusses!”
Sweyn took his dromon shieldship to sail over to Hell and pick up Hallveig and Emma and they loaded up their helmets and armour and shields and the twelve chantreusses that had helped contact the spirit, Thorgerder Helgibruder. “Why do we need the children?” Sweyn asked Emma as he helped her with the gear.
“We have to conjure up Thorgerder Helgibruder when we get there. She doesn’t just appear out of thin air, you know.”
“I know,” Sweyn said. “I kinda thought she did just appear out of thin air. I kinda saw her do just that when we were calling her up in Hallveig’s master bedroom.”
“That’s because we had chants going to call her there. If we just conjure her up without the proper chanting, she’s as likely to appear here, in Hell, as she is upon the battlefield.”
“I don’t like taking children into battle with me,” Sweyn protested.
“Either do I, Sweyn. Welcome to my life!” and Emma looked up at Sweyn with an expression of helplessness on her face. “This is going to be really bad, Sweyn. I’m so afraid,” she said, and she looked about herself as if searching for a place to hide.
“I’m sorry, Emma,” Sweyn said, hugging her and trying to reassure her. “Jarl Haakon called her Hallveig Irpa,” he added, as Hallveig came out her hall with the children, “when he asked me to come fetch her.”
“Don’t tell me this,” Emma said. “That means it is even worse. Irpa is Hallveig’s spirit name. Haakon is afraid we’re going to lose. These are Jomsvikings we’re up against. Jomsvikings!”
“We aren’t going to lose!” Sweyn assured her. “We are Hraes! We never lose.”
Sweyn helped her onto the gangplank and watched her go up it. She had been training hard and it showed as she stepped lightly up the plank. Hallveig Irpa then came down the quay with her brood trailing behind her and he could see she had been in training as well. She was old, but she was in good shape. “The children can sit below deck,” Sweyn told her as they boarded. “This is a Roman dromon. We have a full rowing deck below deck,” and he took them below deck and took them into his captain’s cabin at the bow of the ship. There were chairs and beds in the cabin and the children marvelled at the comforts there. “I’ll settle them in,” Hallveig said, “and then I’ll come up on deck and join you and Emma.” Sweyn didn’t realize she had taken a hold of his hand until she let it go as he was leaving and she smiled at him softly. He realized then that she was as nervous as Emma.
Jarl Eirik had gone north to Namdalen, to gather troops and ships from all around the islands. They had all been told that the Jomsvikings were coming and the arrow had been passed, but these were Jomsvikings they’d be fighting so, Eirik went out to gather up the stragglers. As they turned into Trondheim Fjord, Eirik sailed south along the Hamrasund, and a warship came to meet him and the man in charge of the party was called Thorkel Medium; he was a Red Viking and in conflict with Jarl Haakon and they immediately broke out their weapons and intended to attack Eirik. They had three ships, but when Eric saw this, he said to Thorkel, “If you want to fight us then we’ll be ready. But I’ve a word of advice first.”
“What is it?” said Thorkel.
“It seems unbelievable to me,” said Eirik, “that we Norwegians would fight amongst ourselves when we are under attack from outsiders, from Danes and Jomsvikings. But if you help my father with your fleet and give him what you are capable of, then we shall do whatever it takes to be reconciled with you.”
“I want this choice,” Thorkel replied, “if you will, Eirik, that I will not be restrained by what you say when I meet your father.”
“I will take care of that,” Eirik assured him, so, Thorkel and his company joined Eirik’s fleet.
Soon after this, all the small fleets had been gathered together in the great bay in front of the cities of Lade and Trondheim and Jarl Haakon and Eirik and Sweyn sailed past them all in Sweyn’s Roman dromon shieldship and they counted three hundred and sixty ships of various sizes from bireme dromons to Hraes’ transport warships to dragonships and longships and finally Nor’Way ships. They sailed south along the Norway coast and assembled in a fjord called Hjorungavagr and they made their plan of battle while they waited for the Jomsvikings. Prince Sweyn’s thirty Roman dromons were linked together side by side and were connected together by their fore and aft boarding bridges to form a high battle platform in the center of the fjord and the Hraes’ troops on the decks began setting up their trebuchets. Prince Valdamar’s thirty Hraes’ transport warships were set half on either side of the battle platform and they, too, set up their trebuchets. And then two flanking fleets were arranged on either side of that to virtually block off the fjord and smaller ships were arranged behind the rest in support. There were a number of small islands just beyond the fjord which was part of a large island off the mainland. Small fast scout ships were sent out patrolling the small islands and the larger islands out beyond Hjorungavagr.
Jarl Haakon was very pleased with the arrangement that Sweyn and Eirik had come up with and he had Sweyn sail his shieldship southwest up the fjord to Hjorungavagr Creek at it’s source. There was a small quay there and Haakon, Hallveig, Emma and the children got out there with a large force of troops and slaves and they set up a camp there and were going to go inland to a sacred oak grove to conjure up spirits. Sweyn soon saw that Haakon had selected the fjord for a reason and perhaps had fought battles here before. Other small support ships were arriving to work on the camp some more so, Sweyn took his ship back into formation and waited with Valdamar and Eirik.
The Jomsvikings had sailed south from the Vik, where they had led a surprise attack on the city of Tonsberg there, and then they had sailed west and north following the coastline of the country, invading and plundering all the way up the coast as they went. They killed many men and burned many places and the people fled before them. They sailed to a channel called Ulfasund, and then they sailed past Stad to a harbor called Hereyjar and they anchored there with all their fleet.
By then they were running short of supplies so, Vagn Akason took his ship and went to an island called Hod, not knowing that Jarl Haakon was nearby with his great fleet. Vagn found a thrall’s hut beside a large corral that held only three cows. Vagn and a few of his men went up to the log hut and they peered into it through gaps in the chinking. “What is that thrall doing? Vagn whispered. “I do believe he is focking a goat,” his scout whispered back. Vagn looked a little closer through the hole and, indeed, the thrall was focking a she-goat from behind and seemed to be saying words of love to it as he humped her rump. Vagn straightened up, went over to the door and kicked it open while he drew his sword. As he stepped into the dark room, the slave withdrew from the goat and stood there with his erect cock dripping semen on the floor.
“Sorry to interrupt your nith work,” Vagn said, “but we need your livestock!” He asked the man his name and he answered, “I’m called Ulf,” as he put his pants on. Then Vagn said to his men, “Now take the cows and the goat and slaughter them on our ship, and I’ll pay Ulf for them and any others we can find here.”
“Who is in charge of this ship?” Ulf asked.
“I am and I’m going to need all your cattle,” said Vagn.
“I have my master’s cows out grazing in the woods,” the slave said, “but I need my goat back before I get them for you.”
“Your master leaves you on this island to graze his cattle all alone with only a she-goat to keep you company?”
“I need my goat back,” the slave said. “She’s my only comfort.”
“I’ll get you your goat,” Vagn replied. “I don’t want to stand between lovers, but I’ll need all your cattle first.”
“I need my goat back first,” the thrall said.
“I need your cows first,” Vagn said, raising his sword.
“You’re Danes,” Ulf said. “You must be here to attack Norway!”
“We’re Jomsvikings,” Vagn said, resting upon his sword, “and we’re here to kill your Jarls.”
“They’re not my Jarls,” Ulf spat. “I used to be a Dane once, before I was taken in a Viking raid.”
“Now you fock goats in Norway,” Vagn spat back.
“Just the one,” Ulf said. “I used to fock the cows, but the master found out and he brought me little Edith.”
“Your goat is Anglish?”
“Fock the Anglish!” my master said, “But don’t fock the cows anymore.”
“Well, I’m still going to need the rest of those cows,” Vagn said, raising his sword again.
“And I’m still going to need my goat back first,” Ulf explained, “because, if Jomsvikings kill my master’s cows at sword point, he’ll just bring me out more cows to graze, but if you kill my goat, he may not replace her, and she sleeps with me in my hut here and she never has a headache and she’s seldom on the rag.”
“You’re a hard man to deal with Ulf,” Vagn laughed, “at least that’s what your goat has been telling all my men.”
“It seems to me,” Ulf replied, scheming to get his she-goat back, “that there could be a greater slaughter of sea cows not far from here if you could but spare me my goat.”
“Do you know anything about Jarl Haakon’s whereabouts?” Vagn asked, getting suddenly excited. “If you can tell us the truth about where he is, then you can keep your goat. What do you know of Jarl Hakon?”
Ulf answered, “Last night he lay here alone on the island of Hod in Hjorungavagr Bay, and you can kill him if you want, because he is waiting for his men there.”
Vagn shouted out to his men to bring back the goat, then said, “I will give you money as well as the goat if you go on board with us and show us the way to the jarl.”
“It is not fitting,” said Ulf, “that I fight against the Jarl, and I do not agree, but I will show you the way until you see his ship, if you will, and then I’ll go.” Ulf locked his goat up in his hut and went off on the ship with them, but it was early in the day so, Vagn and his men went first to Hereyjar to tell his leader, Sigvald, the tidings that Ulf told them.
The Jomsvikings then began to prepare for a great battle and wanted to be ready for anything, even though Ulf kept reassuring them that Jarl Hakon was alone with one ship in Hjorungavagr Bay, but Sigvald was suspicious of Ulf and suspected something was up. Vagn’s ship led the way and they soon saw that there were more ships in the fjord than Ulf had told them. When they saw many ships coming out to meet them, Ulf leaped overboard and swam under the waves and when Vagn saw this, he took a spear and waited for Ulf to come up for a breath and then sent it arcing across the billowing waves straight into Ulf’s back and he sank below the waters.
“Focking nith!” Vagn shouted at Ulf.
Sigvald and all the Jomsvikings rowed into the fjord, and saw that the Norwegian fleet was drawn up in order so, they drew their own fleet into battle order to meet them. They saw the battle order of Haakon and they arranged their fleet to match whom they wanted to fight against.
It was such that to the west sat the source of Hjorungavagr Fjord and the mouth faced the east. There were three islands called Hjorungar just before the mouth of the bay, and the largest one is the only island named. But they were in a row in line with the middle of the fjord, and they were the same distance to land on each side. An island sat to the north of the three, called Primsid, and Hjorund Island sat to the south of the three, and further south yet from there was Harundarfjordur.
Sigvald put his ships and the ships of Harald ‘Bluetooth’ in the middle of the warfleet and his brother, Thorkell ‘the Tall’, put his ship next to him. Bui Digri and Sigurdur put their ships out on the north flank of the fleet and Vagn Akason and Bjorn the Welshman put their ships on the southern flank.
Jarl Haakon and his men saw the lineup against them and had some second thoughts on their own order of battle. And so they arranged in most places that three were intended against one of the enemy. Princes Sweyn and Valdamar were up against Sigvald in the center, but three men were appointed against Thorkell ‘the Tall’ and there was Yrja-Skeggi’s ship, and another under Sigurdur ‘the Fry’ from north of Halogaland, and a third of Thorir ‘the Deer’. Two more men were added to be with Sweyn against Sigvald, first Gudbrandur from Dalir and Styrkar from Gims, and they and their men joined Sweyn on the decks of his dromons and blended in with the Hraes’ troops there.
Opposite Bui was Thorkel Midlangur and another Hallsteinn Kerlingabani from Fjolur and the third Thorkell Leira, a landlord of the Jarl. But in front of Sigurdur Kapa, Bui’s brother’s ship, there were father and sons, Armodur from Onundarfjordur and Arni and Fidr, his sons. Then against Vagn Akason was meant Jarl Eirik Haakonarson and another, Erlingur of Skugga, and a third, Ogmund the White, and the three were to pay Vagn the honour of combat.
And against Bjorn ‘the Brexit, the Welshman’ was intended Einar ‘the Little Lander’, and another in Havardur Uppi, and as third, Hallvardur of Flydrunes, Havardur’s brother. But Jarl Haakon, himself, was kept free of the fight, and was meant to support all the factions together and lead the warfleet.
There were four Icelanders with Haakon’s fleet, one was named Einar, who was then called Skjaldmeyjar Einar, and he was the Jarl’s poet and had little honour from the Jarl of late. Einar had a great deal to say about it and he claimed he would run from Jarl Haakon’s force over to Sigvald’s, and so, he recited a verse:
“I make the tin too respectful in the midst of evil times,
I did that while others, arrow weaved, asleep.
I got what I thought was right parliamentary money better,
meidur saves hodd by rumor, each, but the poet worse.”
Then he said, “After all, I will go to Sigvald. He will do me no less honour than the Jarl does.”
He then jumped out of Jarl Haakon’s ship and onto Prince Sweyn’s dromon and bravely shouted out to Sigvald:
“Let’s get the earl extra wolf’s price dares swords,
we load a table on a bar Sigvald’s bow shields;
does not kill the one who bends sarlinns is grams find,
stripes spread out on others finally, with me.”
Jarl Haakon realized that Skjaldmeyjar Einar was acting out and the Jarl called him and asked to speak with him. Then the Jarl took his fine scales he had with him, made of gilded silver and of gold complete with weights, one of gold, the other of silver. On both sides the figure of a man was engraved as if it were an idol, and it was called a lottery, and these were a common feature to have, but another feature was very important: when the scales were in balance it made a tinkling sound and this was not common at all. Einar had never heard of such a thing before and was very pleased with the scales so, Jarl Haakon gave them to him. And from this Einar got a byname, and was thereafter called Einar Skalaglamm.
There was a second Icelander there named Vigfus, son of Vigga-Glum, the third Thordur, who was called Arrow-hand, and the fourth Thorleif, who was called Skuma, the son of Thorkel ‘the Rich’ west of Dyrafjordur from Alvidra.
It was said of Thorleif that he got himself a large half-root stump in a forest, and then went to a place with waiters and fire and food, and he burned the stump all over the outside, and he held it in his hand and went to meet Eirik Haakonarson on his ship, and Einar Skalaglamm accompanied him there, and then Thorleif thumped the stump in his hand and when Eirik saw him do it, he said, “What are you going to do, Thorleif, with that big stump you have in your hand?” Thorleif answered him thus:
“I have in my hands the shatterer of skulls,
the bane of both Bui and Sigvaldi,
Jomsvikings destruction is Haakon’s defense;
If I live, this oaken club’s the bane of the Danes.”
And the four Icelandic champions went aboard with Jarl Eirik: Einar Skalaglamm, Thorleif Skuma, Vigfus Vigaglumsson and Thordur Arrow-hand.
Sigvald had seen the catapults on the center ships of the Norwegian fleet and had organized his own fleet just beyond what he thought was catapult range so, when the center trebuchets started flinging tonstones at great velocity and several of his ships were broken up, he set his men rowing hard straight for Jarl Haakon’s fleet. A dozen of his ships were shattered before he got his fleet inside of catapult range and the fleets joined in battle. Jarl Haakon joined Prince Sweyn, to strengthen the center against Sigvald, and now the hardest battle between fleets was fought, and neither side could make progress against the other. And it was said that Sigvald and his forces were on an equal footing in the center, so that no further loses of their ships occurred.
On the one flank, Jarl Hakon could see that Bui had greatly punished their party on the northern arm, and those who fought with him had lost ships, and it seemed to them that it would be better to get away from him. But he went after them nonetheless, and he dealt out great blows to them and they got away from him, as he was murderous in battle. The Jarl could see that there was an even fight going on between Eirik and Vagn on the southern arm of the engagement. So, Eirik set out against the north flank in his own ship and Sweyn joined him in another ship, and the Theban brothers went to take the fight to Bui but could only manage to straighten out their line and no better. In the meantime, Jarl Haakon and Prince Valdamar held the center against Sigvald.
But when Eirik returned to the southern arm of the line, Vagn and his ships had greatly battered Eirik’s fleet and it was giving way, and then Eirik’s ships broke apart, and Vagn and his men pushed through the line and threatened to attack the rear. Eirik became very angry when he saw this, and he steered his ship, Jarnbardinn or Ironbeard, hard at Vagn’s ship and they lashed their ships together and they fought again and the battle was even sharper than it had been before. Vagn and Aslakur Holmskalli lept from their ship onto Eirik’s Jarnbardinn and they fought their way down both sides of the deck wreaking havoc and carnage as they progressed. Aslakur Holmskalli struck with his sword using both hands in wild abandon. Eirik could see that these men are so fearless and insane that it will not take long for them to clear the deck so, he urged on his men to keep fighting. Aslakur was a bald man with no helmet upon his head because of the heat. The wind was warm and the weather was clear and hot and many men had taken off their outer clothes to stay cooler, and had only their armor on. Eirik kept urging his men on against them, and they attacked Aslakur with their weapons, chopping him in the head with both swords and axes, but the blows had no effect against his bare head. It was as though they were striking Aslakur’s skull with a piece of whalebone instead of with steel.
Vigfus Vigaglumsson was sure they were fighting a berserk instead of a man so, he took a spear butt and pushed it through the drift hole of a small anvil he had earlier used to sharpen his weapons, and Vigfus raised up the anvil and brought it down with great force over the shieldwall and he drove it into Aslakur’s head and killed him dead.
As Vagn was working his way down the other side of the ship, dealing out bitter two handed blows as he went, Thorleif Skuma ran against Vagn and struck him with his blackened club on the helmet top and it burst wide open, and though he was dazed by the blow, Vagn leaned over and stabbed Thorleif with his sword, and then leaped out of the Ironbeard and landed standing on his own ship’s deck and urged his own men to fight on. Aslakur Holmskalli and Vagn Akason had cleared so many men from the deck of the Ironbeard that Eirik had to get men from other ships, until he was fully ordered, before he could carry on the fight. And then Eirik and his men saw that his father, Jarl Haakon, and the army had gone ashore to eat and there was a lull in battle.
Now the princes and jarls all met and talked and Jarl Haakon said, “I think I see that the battle is getting away from us, and it is, as I thought, most difficult to fight these Jomsvikings, for it seems to me that these men are more berserk than warrior, and these men are no worse off now than when we had begun the fight. We must strike a different tack in dealing with the Jomsvikings. I shall go inland to pray and you must return to your ships and await my deliberations.”
Jarl Haakon went inland along Hjorungavagr Creek and met up with Hallveig Irpa in a clearing in the sacred oak forest, and the Jarl knelt there on his knees in front of her and they prayed for the aid of Thorgerder Helgibruder, and they both looked west, and now spoke to the gods for her reception. Emma started the chantreusses chanting and they joined hands and went about the kneeling couple in a circle. Haakon and Hallveig Irpa, in their words of prayer, challenged the Lade spirit, Thorgerder Helgibruder to answer their calling. Dark clouds could be seen far-off in the west and they moved east very rapidly and a great wind arose to presage their arrival. The black clouds could be seen pouring rain as they approached and Haakon and Hallveig Irpa both knew it was Thorgerder Helgibruder.
Jarl Haakon took Hallveig Irpa and her Valkyrie Emma to his ships, leaving the children to chant in the grove, and the Jarl now urged his army on all over again. “And I know now for sure,” he said, “that we will defeat these berserks of Jomsborg, and now we will do better, for I have been promised a win. We have Thorgerder Helgibruder and she will not fail me, for she has never fallen short of victory!”
There had been a break in battle. but that was over now as the two fleets closed in again with a tumultuous clash of weapons. The Jarl and his Valkyries joined Prince Sweyn on his shieldship, and they formed up a second time and the Jarl was again against Sigvald, and the battle raged once more as Haakon put his trust in Thorgerder Helgibruder. Hallveig Irpa conjured up the spirit above her and a huge ghostly visage of a fierce shield maiden appeared overhead.
The fine spring weather went south and the sky grew dark and black clouds billowed as if up from the sea and everything cooled down quickly. Rain lashed down and hail pelted down with it, followed by both lightning and thunder. The Jomsvikings fought from the northeast against the west wind and the sleet came down so hard, some men could hardly keep their feet. The men had all earlier taken off their clothes because of the heat, but now the weather had changed and they begin to freeze. And yet they attended battle without fail. But when the Jomsvikings would hurl spears or shoot arrows the wind would carry them back at the Danes along with the projectiles of the Norwegians.
It was Havard Hoggandi, Bui’s companion, that was the first to see where Thorgerder Helgibruder was in Jarl Haakon’s army, and then many people saw the spirit, an unscrupulous occurrence, as witchcraft, and they saw that, when the light was softened, an arrow flew from every finger of the spirit, and was always the death of a man and this shower of darts was always directed at Sigvald and his comrades, the Jomsvikings.
And now Sigvald spoke out to his men, for Haakon and his men attended the battle now with greater ferocity. “I do not think,” said Sigvald, “that we are here with men to fight today, but with the worst spirit, and though it will be more difficult to go against a ghost, yet it is required that we men harden and handle it as best we can.” And the Jomsvikings fought on with the greatest courage and endured their severe losses as the storm raged on against them.
As the fighting went on, Jarl Haakon felt that the hailstorm was waning and he called upon Thorgerder to increase the intensity of her efforts. But she was deaf to the Jarl’s prayer and she began to be angry with him, and he looked to Hallveig Irpa for assistance and she directed the spirit once more into the fray as she protected herself from the arrows of the Jomsvikings with her shield on one side and Emma protected her with her shield from the other side. The north flank was once more under severe attack by Bui Digri and his fleet so, Hallveig Irpa sent the spirit to that wing to thin the ranks of the berserks there and drive them back. But the southern flank began to collapse again and Hallveig sent the spirit there soon after. The Jomsvikings pulled off for a short respite after their last inhuman efforts and they rested and ate on their ships, keeping under the catapult range, but beyond arrow shot.
“They’re trying to collapse our flanks,” Jarl Eirik complained as they all met on Sweyn’s central shieldship. The dromons were proving proof against Jomsviking attack due to their higher draft, but Prince Valdamar’s lower transport ships were constantly in a state of repelling assaults and the fleets on the flanks were being decimated of troops. “We need a second spirit,” Haakon stated and he took Hallveig Irpa and Emma aboard his ship and shouted for his men to hold on until he returned.
The Jarl and his Valkyries went back to the sacred oak grove and the chantreusses were still chanting and dancing in a circle and Haakon and Hallveig Irpa broke through the circle and began praying in the center. A dark cloud gathered above them and Haakon knew it was Thorgerder and he invited her to accept various things in sacrifice for a second spirit, but she did not want to accept, and he thought he was looking at the matter the wrong way. And it finally came to the point that he offered her human sacrifice, but she didn’t want to accept what he offered her in humans.
The jarl thought his case most unexpected, and, if he could not soothe her, things would not go well for the men of Lade. He accepted the desperation of their situation and increased the offer to her, and it was so important that he invited her to all other men, except himself and his sons Eirik and Sweyn and his son Valdamar. But the Jarl had a son named Erling there, who was seven years old and a most promising young man, but, too late, he realized that he had not sheltered his young son because he was one of the children dancing about him in the circle. Thorgerder accepted his offer and chose Erling Haakonarson.
Hallveig Irpa was in tears and she pleaded for the life of Erling and Emma joined in and, now that the Jarl had his prayers and vows answered by the Lade spirit, Thorgerder Helgibruder, he offered himself up instead, but the cruel spirit refused. The Jarl hugged his boy and handed him to Skofta Kark, his slave, and the thrall did as he was ordered and slit the throat of the boy and collected up his blood in a bronze wash basin. Haakon tore the clothes off of Hallveig, and Emma tried to help him but she had to keep the poor terrified children chanting in their now smaller circle. Haakon was in the center with Hallveig and he dipped both hands into the basin of blood and he smeared Erling’s blood all over Hallveig Irpa’s naked body and she grew younger and stronger and was soon the spirit Irpa alone. She was twenty six years old again, just like Thorgerder’s age when she died in battle and Irpa rose up into the black cloud with Thorgerder and it swept out east and rejoined the battle that had just recommenced. Haakon left Emma with the children and Emma joined herself into the circle to make the full dozen again and they danced and chanted as the Jarl rejoined the fleet.
So, it soon grew even darker this second time and in this ancient abode, Havardur saw that now two women were on Jarl Haakon’s ships and both of them fired arrows from their fingertips and each shot brought about the death of a man, just as he had seen before. The two spirits split up and each went to a separate flank and caused great devastation amongst the Jomsvikings with their deadly arrows. Thorgerder Helgibruder floated below the black clouds and hail in her white Shield maiden’s dress and armour and she fired five arrows at a time from each hand and each arrow brought the death of a man in the fleet off the southern flank. And Irpa floated in glorious form, naked and swathed in red blood strokes as she floated above the northern flank and fired arrows into the ships of the Jomsvikings. One ship she was above, she cleared the deck of men, ten at a time, until there were only five left alive at the stern of the ship, and all five dropped to their knees and pledged themselves to serve her if she would just spare their lives so, she touched them and they fell unconscious at the back of the ship and Irpa moved on to clear another ship’s deck of stalwart young men.
This time Sigvald spoke to his men, “Now I think it best we flee,” he said, “and so do all my men, as it is now worse than before, when we were barely able to bear it, and now we fight against two spirits.” And Sigvald turned away from his ship and called on Vagn and Bui and their fleets on the flanks to do likewise. “When there was one thing,” Sigvald said, “we had a chance, but with two we shall no longer persist. After all, it is not men that we flee from, but spirits. We did not make a vow to fight witchcraft!”
At the moment that Sigvald had freed his ship from the battle, Thorkel Midlangur was on the northern flank and he ran the length of his ship and jumped into the ship of Bui, and struck at Bui just once with his sword, and he chopped off his lip and chin all the way down through, so that it immediately fell onto the deck of the ship and there sat the teeth of Bui and he still managed to say, “It will be hard for the Danish girls of Borgundarholm to kiss me now,” but nobody could understand him because he spoke Danish with his new Norwegian accent. He then struck at the face of Thorkel, but the ship was bloody now, and Thorkel slipped and fell across the topstrake as he tried to avoid the blow, and Bui’s second blow caught him in the middle and cut Thorkel in two and half of him fell into the sea and half upon the ship’s deck.
After this, Bui took hold of his two chests of gold, one in each hand and he jumped overboard after Thorkel with both chests, and did not come up again. Some of his men said that when Bui got up on the topstrake and was about to leap overboard, he said, “Overboard, all Bui’s men who wish to guard this gold,” but, again, nobody understood him, and then he stepped off the strake.
By then, Sigvald had withdrawn his fleet, and he didn’t know that Bui had gone overboard, and he called for Vagn and Bui to flee with him, but Vagn answered him and sang a verse:
“Sigvaldi has led ourselves into danger,
but faint-hearted, has fled home to Denmark.
He intends to embrace soon his girlfriend,
but beyond the topstrake, Bui has lept with courage.”
It was said that Sigvald had become cold and left the steering board in the hands of another to warm himself by rowing with his men. And when Vagn had recited the verse and he saw Sigvald’s ship leaving, he threw a spear at him on the steering board, thinking he was still standing at the helm, but Sigvald was at the oars, and the man who steered received the consignment. When Sigvald’s fleet was back in the range of the trebuchets he received another consignment of tonstones and another dozen ships broke up before they got away.
Thorkell ‘the Tall’, Sigvald’s brother, went away with him and had six ships, and so did Sigurd Kapa after Bui, his brother, had gone off overboard, and it seemed as if both of them had fulfilled their vows, Thorkell and Sigurd, and they all now sailed until they’d come home to Denmark, and had taken away with them four and twenty ships. All that was left of the Jomsvik ships that remained in Hjorungavagr Bay rallied around Vagn’s longship, and there they all defended themselves until darkness fell. But when it got too dark to still fight, the battle broke up and many men still stood upon Vagn’s ship, and Jarl Haakon had little time to search the abandoned ships, so, they just removed all the oars and kept a watch over them for the night, and when this was done, Jarl Haakon and his men rowed ashore, and pitched tents and made campfires and now drank to victory toasts. Einar Skalaglamm made many a verse and used his new scales to weigh the hailstones sent by the sisters, Thorgerder and Irpa, and it was considered good. It is said that a hailstone weighed a penny, and, as they weighed, the scale pans tinkled.
And while this was going on, the wounds of the injured men were bound up by the Valkyries of Prince Valdamar’s fleet, and they stayed up all night, Jarl Haakon himself and Gudbrand of the Dales.
Prince Sweyn took Hallveig and Emma and eleven children into the Captain’s cabin of his dromon shieldship and the healers gave the young ones potions that would make them sleep and they tucked them into the beds of the cabin. Hallveig was still naked and covered in blood so, Sweyn covered her with a blanket and Emma scrubbed the blood off of her body. “She’s so young,” Sweyn said to Emma as Hallveig fell asleep in a captain’s chair in her blanket.
“She’ll remain young like that for a long time,” Emma said.
“How long?” Sweyn asked.
“That is entirely up to Thorgerder Helgibruder,” Emma answered. “She’s gone now, but she will likely keep Hallveig young for a long time because of the sacrifice she has made. She had to sacrifice her son, you know.”
“I thought it was Haakon’s son who was sacrificed.”
“It was,” Emma said. “It was Haakon’s son by her. You’ve lived in Lade long enough to know that our Jarl Haakon is a rapist.”
“I know,” Sweyn admitted. “I had to help him with some of his rapes. I didn’t want to, but I had to.”
“Hard or soft?” Emma asked, and Sweyn realized that Emma knew Haakon’s methods.
“Both,” Sweyn confessed.
“I’m sorry he put you through that. When he raped Hallveig, he made me watch.”
“But Hallveig wanted me because she was a virgin and didn’t want to die that way,” Sweyn said, expectantly.
“Many women who are taken by force don’t consider it sex as much as assault. Hallveig was saving what was left of her virginity for a man she loved and respected and that man was you, Sweyn.”
“But she was a virgin,” Sweyn protested. “I’ve had virgins before. I know that I pierced her flower.”
“She’s a healer, Sweyn. She knows how to fake it. She’s helped many young women on their wedding nights prove themselves to their new husbands,” and she laughed a bit in embarrassment. “Don’t be angry with her. She loves you, as do I.”
“I’m not. I love you too.” The children were asleep and Hallveig was curled up in her chair snoring softly so, Sweyn gathered up some furs and he made love to Emma on the cabin floor and they curled up together and enjoyed the warmth of each other’s bodies. Just as Sweyn was drifting off, he saw Hallveig getting up in her hard new body and he wondered if she was a virgin once more as she stepped out of the cabin.
Emma mumbled, “Who is it?” And Sweyn answered, “Hallveig just stepped out to relieve herself,” and they fell asleep in each other’s arms.
In the darkness and cold of the night, Vagn and Bjorn the Welshman discussed with their men what they should do – “There are two courses we could take,” said Vagn, “one, to stay here with the ships until daylight and let them kill or take us, and the other, to leave here and make our way to the forest and try to survive until we can steal a properly equipped ship.”
They all decided that they should take the sail mast and yardarm and float with it across the bay to escape in the darkness. There were eighty men left and together they swam with the mast in the darkness and moved onto the mainland and hid in some trees. It was said that when Sigvald had fled, all the thunder and lightning took off after him and that the weather became calm and cold. And so it was at night when Vagn and his men were in hiding until daybreak They were wet and freezing and many were wounded, and there were ten men laid to rest in the night, and threescore and ten who survived. When they woke up in the morning, they realized that they had fled to a small island instead of the mainland.
The next dawn, the Jarl’s men were still tending their wounds, and had been all night since they had set up camp, and, as a result of their wounds many of the men had died. As they were erecting a howe on the shore, they heard the twang of a bowstring coming from a ship and an arrow flew up out of the darkness and struck Jarl Gudbrand, Haakon’s uncle, and he fell dead. Jarl Haakon ordered his men away from the shore until a search of all the ships could be conducted. All of the men thought this to be of the greatest harm, and wanted to search right away, but Jarl Haakon ordered his men to wait until there was more light and then they would search all the ships and surrounding islands for survivors because he felt that nobody would be safe until all the wounded Jomsvikings were dealt with.
One man stood by his tent doors, and when Jarl Eirik went into the tent, he asked: “Why are you standing here?” Then he asked, “Are you wounded, Thorleif?”
“I did not remember,” he answered, “that Vagn Akason’s bloodsnake came to me yesterday when I struck his helm with my blackened club.”
The jarl found the wound, then said, “Your father would be ill if you were to die now.”
And when Einar Skalaglamm heard the earl speak, he said:
The wounder of gold searched frantically.
for the hidden marks of the wound fire.
and the earl did say to the man of sea horses,
‘Your father will suffer if you die,’ we think.”
And then Thorleif Skuma fell down dead.
And when it was clear in the morning, the Jarl and his men went to inspect the ships and came to the ship which Bui had owned, and they found there Havard, who had been Bui’s right hand, but he was injured in that both his legs were cut off below his knees. Prince Sweyn and Thorkell Leira went there to him and Havard asked, “How is it, lads?” and he added, “Did any consignment come from a ship last night to land there, or on someone?”
“On someone,” they answered.
“Who did my arrow kill?” Havard asked, smiling weakly. When they told him, he said, “My luck was close then, for it was meant for the Jarl himself,” and Thorkell Leira killed him.
As they carried on inspecting the ship’s they found Hallveig Irpa sleeping amongst the furs of a Jomsviking ship with five young Jomsborg warriors and Prince Sweyn woke her and said, “We were wondering where you had got off to, Hallveig. Are these men your captives?”
“Yes,” she answered, as she got up and stood before Sweyn, young and naked as she had become the day before. “Thorgerder Helgibruder had me spare them yesterday, and she gave them to me after they had all sworn oaths to serve me if I didn’t kill them.”
Sweyn took up a fur off the deck of the ship and wrapped it around the healer. “You’re no longer covered in blood,” he told her.
“I had my young men bathe me last night after I awakened them, and then we focked all night.” Sweyn looked at the five warriors still asleep in the furs and he could see that they were all naked underneath them. “I worked them hard last night,” she told Sweyn, “I had such a battle lust worked up.”
“Can you bring them down to Jarl Haakon’s camp when you’re done with them?” Sweyn asked. “We’re gathering up prisoners for the Jarl’s judgement on them.”
“They’re mine!” Hallveig said. “I’ll bring them to camp, but Thorgerder blessed me with them!”
During the search of the surrounding islands, they saw where a group of men were hiding in a copse of trees and the Jarl’s men went on one ship and rowed out to the skerry, and they gathered up the men and they were all brought ashore to meet the Jarl, and they were seventy men. Vagn and his companions had their hands tied behind their backs and were tied to each other with one rope and not in a stern manner. The jarl and his men broke out supplies and some began to make breakfast. But before they sat down to eat, the ships of the Jomsvikings were brought ashore and stripped of goods, and the money was distributed amongst the men and Jarl Haakon and his men divided up their weapons, and they now boasted to have won a great victory.
Then the Norwegians ate breakfast and when they were full, they went out of the camp to the captives. Thorkell Leira was to be executioner of the Jomsvikings. Thorkell had previously spoken to the Jomsvikings and had asked them if they were as courageous as all that was said about them. But the warriors of Jomsborg did not answer him.
First, some warriors who are very wounded were released from the rope. Skofta Kark and some other slaves had guarded them on the rope and now that the men had been freed, the slaves twisted sticks into the hair of the Jomsvikings so their heads could be more easily handled afterwards, and three wounded men were led out first by their handles, and Thorkell then went to them and made them kneel and the slaves held their heads steady by the sticks and he cut off the head of each of them with his sword, and then spoke to his comrades and asked them if he looked somewhat changed by this deed “for it is a saying among men,” he said,” that all men change colour after beheading three men one after the other.”
But Jarl Haakon answered him, “We do not see you changed by this, but still it seems to me that you may have.”
Now a fourth man was let off of the rope, and a stick was twisted into his hair, and he was led to the place where Thorkell was doing the cutting. This man was very injured and when he came forward, Thorkell spoke to him and asked him what he thought of dying. “I am fine with death,” he answered. “It will happen to me like it happened to my father.”
“Your father was beheaded too?” Thorkell asked.
“No, my father died and was fine with it and I am too, so strike your…”
Thorkell quickly cut off the man’s reply and head, and so ended his life.
Now the fifth man was released from the rope and led there with a stick in his hair and Thorkell Leira said, “And how are you going to die?”
He answered, “Without fear, for I do not forget the laws of the Jomsvikings and I am not allowed to show fear of death or speak words of fear, for all men shall each someday die.”
And Thorkell struck off his head.
And now Jarl Haakon and Thorkell determined to ask each of them before they were beheaded, which way they were going to die, and then to see whether they were as brave as what was said of them. If none of them showed fear of death, then the Jomsvikings would be considered truly fearless. But secondly, Thorkill Leira enjoyed hearing their words, no matter what.
Now the sixth man was taken from the rope and a stick was twisted in his hair and he was led out and Thorkell asked how well he intended to die. “I want to die,” he said, “with a good reputation intact; but your reputation left you when you changed colour, for you are ashamed of your life and will live in shame and misery until, like me, you die!”
Thorkill had no more words for this man, and quickly cut off his head.
Then a seventh man was led to be beheaded and Thorkell asked him how well he intended to die. “I think very well,” said he, “and I think it would do well to perform a test as I die. I have here a dagger,” he said, pulling it out from his sleeve and he stepped in so close to Thorkill that he could have stabbed him before Thorkill could raise his sword and then he stepped back out of striking range and he said, “I shall hold it level and try with all my might not to let it fall when my head does and if I hold it level for even a second then my body shall have followed its training, but if it falls right away, then you shall know only the mind is trained.”
Skofta Kark stepped forward to hold the head of this one still, for he had often wondered about such things.
And now Thorkell struck so that at once the head fell off the torso, but the knife immediately fell to the ground and they knew now, for sure, that only the mind could be trained.
Then an eighth man was led out, and Thorkell asked the same.
“I think I shall die well, but” he said, and then he knelt down to receive his blow and when he thought it was almost upon him, he shouted, “Ram!”
Thorkell stopped the blow and asked why he would shout such a thing.
“Because,” he said, “in death I will be a ram and I’ll give it to those two ewes, those witch bitches, you called upon yesterday to fight your battle for you, and I’ll fock them both to undeath!”
“Mother focker!” said Thorkell, “Such a speaker!” and he struck off his head at once.
Now a ninth man was freed from the rope, and Thorkell asked, “What is true, comrade,” he said. “How good do you think you are going to die?”
“I intend to die well like all my comrades, those who here now lay dead. But I wish that you would grant me that I was not thus led to be struck like a sheep, but that I would kneel before your sword, facing it, and that you would walk in front of me and strike me in the face, and watch carefully whether I blink or not, because we have often talked, we Jomsvikings, whether a man would react if the blow was in his face.”
Thorkell did as he asked. He knelt upwards in front, as Thorkell struck the front of his face and he did not see him blink, except when the blade moved into his eyes and lopped off the top of his skull. A slave picked the top up by the stick, but the scalp pulled away and the brain fell out freely and the blood red skull rolled into the grass and sat up like a dish. “That would make a fine cup for a Bulgarian prince,” Sweyn said after it came to a stop.
“Perhaps that was what was on his mind?” Jarl Haakon said.
“It is only a Bulgarian thing,” Jarl Eirik replied.
And after this a tenth man was freed from the rope and led to the killing floor, and Thorkell asked the same thing again.
“I think I shall die very well,” he said; “but I wish you would let me relieve myself before you cut my head off, so I don’t go off in my pants as I die.”
“It shall be as you wish,” Thorkell said, thinking he wanted to piss, but he unbuttoned his pants and pulled out a huge member and he began stroking it in front of the Jarl. The member was so large and hard that the jarls could only stand and watch. Haakon stepped to one side as the thing went off and shot out into the grass. When he finished with it, he said, “Things do not always go off as planned, for I had intended that this companion of mine should go off inside Thora Skagadottir, the jarl’s wife, and that she should share her bed with me,” and he shook the thing off as he said this, and then stuffed it back into his trousers.
So, Jarl Hakon said, “Cut off his heads as quickly as possible,” and he added, “for you behold here a man who has long had evil in mind, and has now done it to himself.”
Thorkell was amused by this so, he ignored the Jarl and cut off only one of the man’s heads, and so ended his life.
Still, the princes and jarls marvelled at the courage of a man who could stroke himself off just before being beheaded. Their little experiment was proving the Jomsvikings to be braver than anyone had expected.
Next, a man was let off of the rope and led forth. He was a handsome young man and had a beautiful head of hair, so that it lay on his shoulders and was as yellow as silk. Thorkell asked him how he thought he would die. “Although I have lived the most beautiful of lives,” the young man said, “and they have now just so recently died, that I do not think it worthwhile to live any longer, and yet have no real choice in the matter. But still I wish that you grant me that slaves will not lead me to be beheaded, and I wish that someone who is of as high and fine a rank as you would lead me out, and yet I think that you will have no trouble in finding such a man among you,” and he tossed his hair back and it flowed forth over his shoulders almost sensuously. “It is another thing that I am so accustomed to my hair that I want that man to keep my hair out of the blood while I am being beheaded, and to quickly pull my head free of my body, so that my hair does not become all bloody.”
A retainer stepped forward, a minor jarl, to lead him out, and it was not considered necessary to turn a stick in his hair, as it was so long, and the young jarl took the fine blonde hair and wrapped it in his hands, and then held both hands for his handsome young head to receive the blow, and Thorkell Leira raised his sword and intended to cut hard and fast so there’d be no pain, and he struck down, but the young man, when he heard the whoosh of the blow start, quickly pulled his head back hard and it took the retainer’s hands under the blow, and Thorkell struck both arms off at the elbows. Then the blonde haired handsome man sprang up and made a joke and said, “Who is this boy with hands in my hair?” and the two arms hung down as the hands locked up upon his locks.
Jarl Haakon then spoke, and said, “Great storms are happening now, and too many of these men are yet left in the line, and we should go as fast as we can and kill them. They have had great mirth at our expense. Death is but a joke to them and they face it far more bravely than any normal man should.”
Jarl Eirik was still watching the young Jomsviking as he spoke and answered his father, “Do we not want to know, father, who the men are, before they are all killed? What is your name, young man?” Eirik asked and both Sweyn and Haakon knew his interest.
“My name is Sveinn,” the young Jomsvik said.
“Whose son are you, Sveinn,” asked Eirik, “and what is your gender?”
“My father’s name was Bui Digri,” he said, “and he was Veseta’s son from Borgundarholm, and I am a Dane by birth.”
“How old are you?” Eirik asked as his interest grew.
“If I pass this winter,” he said, “then I will be eighteen years old.”
“So, you must pass the winter,” said Eirik, “and if you accept my rule and become my man, you will not be killed.”
Sweyn also added, “If he is under eighteen, he is too young to be slain. My Valdamar is just turning eighteen himself.” Prince Valdamar stepped forward and vouched for his father’s words.
And Eirik now took him aside in peace and let him join in his company of men.
And when Jarl Haakon saw this, he spoke, and said, “I do not know how you can accept this young man into your company, who has so much shame and contempt for us as this one, a young man whom we have suffered the most from. But yet I can see that I will not keep the man out of your hands so, your will shall be followed here.”
So, it went as Jarl Eirik wanted.
And now Jarl Hakon said to Thorkell Leira: “Hit the men hard again. We must get this done more quickly.”
Eirik then added, “The men will not be beheaded until I have spoken to them before, and I want to know who is being killed and I want Einar to keep a record of this.”
Einar stepped forward and said, “Oh, I have been, my prince. The battle gave me much to compose, but this stuff is gold!”
Then another man was loosened from the rope and the free end of the rope was getting long enough to twist around his foot. The man was tall and handsome and young in age and seemed most diligent. Thorkell asked him how he intended to die.
“I think well of it,” he said, “if I take care of one last vow before my end.”
Jarl Eirik said, “What is your name? And what is your vow that you wish to take care of before you lay down your life?”
He answered: “My name is Vagn, and I am the son of Aki Palnatokason of Fyn. That is what I’ve been told, at any rate.”
“What vow did you make, Vagn,” Eirik asked, “that you say would allow you to die in peace?”
“I had a vision and I swore,” said Vagn, “that I would go to the bed of Ingibjorg, daughter of Thorkell Leira, without the permission of him or her kinsmen, if I came to Norway, and I now feel very much lacking in my cause if I shall not do so come before I die.”
“I will make it so,” said Thorkell angrily, “that you shall not come to into heat with any of my kin,” and Thorkell ran at him and struck at him with both hands on his sword, but Bjorn the Welshman, foster-father of Vagn, though still bound in the line, tugged on the rope about Vagn’s foot and knocked him down and Thorkell’s blow went over him and Thorkell tripped over him and landed on his own sword and it cut him badly. Vagn did not lie down long, and sprang to his feet and at once took the sword which Thorkell had and struck Thorkell Leira’s head off.
Then Vagn said, “Now I have fulfilled my second vow, and I now believe in the vision more strongly than before.”
Jarl Haakon said, “Do not let him play free for long, and kill him as soon as possible, for he has done us great harm.”
“He shall not be killed sooner than I myself,” said Eirik, “and I will accept Vagn into my company as well.”
Jarl Haakon said, “We need to kill these men as quickly as possible. This has gotten out of control!”
Einar Skallaglamm stepped forward and said, “This is bringing you much fame! Gold couldn’t buy you the fame that this execution is garnering!”
“It’s a good thing to enlist a man such as Vagn, father,” said Eirik, “and it seems to me well earned, though we take Vagn in the respect and ambition which Thorkell Leira has had, and replace him. Thorkell had hoped to stop Vagn’s vision and look what it got him. It comes down to what is often said, ‘that prophecy can be wise,’ but you have already accepted it today.”
Sweyn stepped in this time and asked Vagn his age. The young Jomsviking said he would be eighteen in a month and Sweyn said, “He’s too young to be slain.”
And then Vagn said, “I like it best to accept peace from you, Jarl Eirik,” then added, “but if I am to be spared, all those who are left must be given peace as well, should they wish to serve you.”
Eirik answered: “I will want to have a word with these comrades of yours, before I allow what you ask.”
Eirik went to where Bjorn the Welshman was tied in the line, and asked who he was; he answered that his name was Bjorn. Jarl Eirik stepped back and said, “Are you Bjorn ‘the Brexit’ who is best known for heroically saving your companion from King Harald’s highseat hall?”
“I do not know,” says Bjorn, “that it was heroic, but still I came out of his hall with the man alive.”
“What reason brought you here to us,” asked Eirik, “an old man with white balding hair like some seagull? What drove you to this journey? Was it because all the kings want us lowly Norwegian jarls gone from here, sending those who’ve not yet come of age to those almost upon old age to fight with us? Will you want to accept life from me, “said Eirik, “if I can get it for you? Because I do not think you are a killer, an old man such as you?”
Bjorn answered, “Don’t discount my capacity to kill. Many men died in that Danish hall before I got our man out. Vagn only allows me to follow him because of it. But I wish to accept life from you, Eirik,” he continued, “if you free my foster-son, Vagn, and all our men who are left.”
Eirik said, “It shall be granted to you and to all,” he says, “if I can get it.”
Jarl Eirik went before his father and begged him that they all have peace, the Jomsvikings who were left; Prince Sweyn, Prince Valdamar and Einar Skallaglamm joined in and the Jarl gave in to all of them.
And the Jomsvikings were all redeemed, and they were assured and given peace. And it was ordered by Jarl Haakon and Eirik that Bjorn ‘the Brexit’ should go to the estate of the one who had conjured up the spirits, Hallveig, the old woman who was now young. It was also ordered that five more young Jomsvikings go to that same hall of Hallveig Irpa, the goddess who had turned the tide of battle. Hallveig Irpa took the men back to her ship and once more accepted their surrenders.
Jarl Eirik took Sveinn Buison and Vagn Akason to his ship, the Iron Beard, and he accepted their surrenders under the awnings. The rest of the Jomsvikings were bent over their shields right there on the killing field and the few that did not offer up their surrenders were raped or killed by Jarl Haakon depending on how he felt about them. There were no captives of a rank suitable for princes to ransom so, Sweyn returned to his shieldship and had Emma again and Valdamar went back to his ship and focked each of the three wives he had smuggled under his forecastle.
Vagn Akason went east to the Vik on the advice of Jarl Eirik, and Eirik told Vagn, before they parted, that he should propose marriage to Ingibjorg Thorkellsdottir as he had foreseen. And when Vagn went east to the Vik, he went to bed with Ingibjorg without asking her kin, and Vagn stayed there over the winter.
But in the following spring, Vagn took his new wife and son they had named Eirik, and they all went to Denmark, home to Fyn and his estates there, and they lived together for the rest of their lives and many great and famous offspring were sprung from Vagn and Ingibjorg.
After Hallveig freed him in Lade, Bjorn the Welshman went home to Britain and ruled there while he lived, and was considered to be a great leader.
Now it was said of Sigvald, that when he fled from the battle, he did not stop until he made it all the way home to Denmark, and that Astrid, his wife, was there and she prepared a feast for him. They told all there the stories of the battle and of the whole journey together, since the Jomsvikings were mostly from Denmark, and it was a great pleasure for all to hear what they told of those tidings. And after that, Astrid had a fine bath drawn for Sigvald and she joined him in the bath and she scrubbed his body and asked him about each particular wound. She then dove under the water and searched for more wounds, but found only his steed and she stroked it and she came above the water and she rode it. “Don’t ever go back to Norway,” she said, after she’d pleasured him. “The wound I found under water,” said Astrid, “will be in constant need of care and polishing,” and she began stroking his steed again, “and should be kept as far away from Norway as possible.”
Then Sigvald told her, “Henceforth I keep clear of Norway and shall only talk of the battle we Jomsvikings fought there.”
Sigvald added, “It might be such in my life that my greatest defeat ends up being boasted of as being tinged with victory, and I think that you’ll like it better as time wears on.”
Sigvald ruled over his estates in Zealand for a long time, and was considered the wisest man, and his fame was not solely there, for great tidings of him are told of in other sagas.
But Jarl Hakon ruled Norway for a short time afterwards, and was thought to be the best of all jarls, and so were his sons.
It was not told of what Sveinn Buison, the handsome blonde young man, ended up doing, whether he was with Eirik, or did something different, but it is possible they became discreet lovers and he shared Eirik with his many wives.
Sigurdur Kapa, Bui’s brother, went to Denmark and took over his paternal estate after Veseti in Borgundarholm and lived there for a long time, and was considered to be the best of men with his wife Tofa, and their intercourse was always good and many great offspring came of it.
Thorkell ‘the Tall’, the noble brother of Sigvald, was considered the wisest man, and later proved himself in many ways. He later served with Sweyn Forkbeard in Angleland.
Skjaldmeyjar-Einar, who Haakon called Einar Skallaglamm, went to Iceland and wrote of the Jomsvikings, but he drowned in Breidafjord, that is now called Skaleyjar or Scales Island, because there the scales drifted ashore, the ones that the Jarl gave him.
Thordur Arrow-hand went home to Dyrafjord to his father Thorkel in Alvidra, and it was said that Thorleif Skuma and Thordur Arrow-hand were brothers, and Thordur lived in Alvidra after his father, and many offspring from him had come to Fjordur west, and Einar wrote most clearly about these tidings out of Iceland.
It has been said since, that Bui Digri became a dragon in Hjorungavagr Fjord and guarded his two chests of gold; but it may have been that the dragon was seen there at Hjorungavagr, or it may be that the evil spirit of Thorgerder Helgibruder took rest upon the gold and appeared there occasionally afterwards. But we cannot say whether it is the one or the other. It may not be true at all, because many things that happened back then, cannot be seen today.