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The Saga of Hromund Gripsson

Chapter 4

They sailed west to Gaul and soon found the barrow. And after six days had passed, they came to an opening in the barrow. They saw a great ugly man sitting in a chair, blue-skinned and stout, all clad in gold, so that it glittered. He chattered much and blew on the fire.

Hromund asked now who would  enter the barrow, and said that whoever did should choose three treasures for himself.

Vali said: "No one would willingly give his life for that. There are sixty men here, and that troll will kill us all."

Hromund said: "Kari would have dared to do this, if he was alive," --and added that he was prepared to descend into the barrow, although it would be better if he went with  others. Hromund went down on a chain. It was night-time by then. And when he reached the bottom, he found much wealth and gathered it together.

In previous days Thrain had been king over Gaul, and he had accomplished everything by sorcery. He did much evil, until he was so old that he no longer wanted to know adversity any longer, so he went alive into the barrow and took much wealth with him.

Now Hromund saw where a sword hung up from a pillar. He took it down, belted it to himself and went forward and said: "I will speak with you before I leave the barrow, since you do not stop me. What is wrong with you, you there, old one? Do you not agree that while I gathered  your wealth together you sat silent, hated dog? Was something in your eyes, that you looked on as I took your sword and jewellery and many of your other treasures?"

Thrain said to himself that he would seem worth little if he allowed himself to sit silently in his chair, -- "I have little wish to fight. But I must have become a great coward, if you can rob my wealth. I  refuse you my treasure. You will see me dead first."

Then Hromund said: "It would be seemly if you rose, cowardly and craven one, and took your sword back from me, if you dare.''

The drow said: "That is no deed, to bear a sword against me, who am weaponless. I will test my strength with you and wrestle."

Hromund threw down the sword and trusted in his own strength. Thrain saw that and got up from his cauldron. He blew on the fire, and now he was ready to eat out of the cauldron. A great fire lay between his feet, and the cauldron was full of goat-meat. He wore a gold-painted hide. Both his hands were gnarled, and his nails were crooked over the tips of his fingers.

Hromund said: "Rise from the chair, cowardly slave, and take your wealth." Then the drow said: "Now will we have fitting speech, now you challenge my courage."

Day passed, and dusk fell, and it grew dark in the barrow. Then the drow went to wrestle with Hromund, but he cast down his cauldron. Hromund had the advantage of strength, and so  they went hard at it, so that rocks and stones sprang up. Then the drow fell to his left knee and said: "You knock me down, and certainly you are a brave man."

Hromund said: "Stand without support  to your back. You are as great a coward as Máni the farmer said."

Thrain went crazy, and he filled the barrow with an evil reek. Then he set his claws to the back of Hromund's head and broke hold of the bone to his loins and said: "Do not complain about it, although the game grows coarse and I have wounded your throat, so that now I shall tear you apart still alive.''

"I do not know," said Hromund, "from where such cat-kin has come to this barrow."

The drow said: "You were born to Gunnlod. All your like are so."

"Evil will it be," said Hromund, "that you scratch me long." They wrestled hard and long, so that everything around them shook, until Hromund felled the drow with a foot-trick. By then it had become very dark.

Then the drow said: "Now you want my advice having obtained my sword. I have lived long in my barrow and gloated over my wealth, but no good came from that treasure, although you think it good. I never intended that you would use Mistiltein, my good sword, to harm me."

Hromund then loosed the sword and rested it on his knee, and said: "Tell me now, how many men did you defeat in duels with Mistiltein."

"Four hundred and twenty," said the drow, "and I never received a graze. I tested my skill with King Seming, who ruled in Sweden, and he saw that I would soon be the victor."

"Long have you," said Hromund, " been harmful to men, and I will work it that you die first."

He struck the head off the drow, and burned him up in the fire, then went out of the barrow. Then the men asked how Thrain and he had parted. He said that he went in choice, --"then I struck off his head."

Hromund kept three treasures that he found in the barrow, a ring, a necklace and Mistiltein. All of the others got money. Then King Olaf sailed away from there, north to his kingdom, and afterwards his land was well renowned.

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