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... In Iron Age Britain two brothers struggle for supremacy. The Archdruid prophesies kingship for one, banishment for the other. But it is the exiled brother who will lead the Celts across the Alps into deadly collision with Rome...
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The Saga of Ketil Trout

Chapter 2

At that time there was a great famine in Halogaland, among the farms along the coast. Ketil said that he would go fishing and not be at all hungry. Hallbjorn offered to go with him. Ketil said it would be better if he travelled alone in his boat. "That is crazy," said Hallbjorn, "You are very self-willed. However, I will tell you of three firths. One is named Naestifjord, the second Midfjord, and the third Vitadsgjafi, and it has been a long time since I went there, but back then there were two huts that seemed to be inhabited."

That summer Ketil went to Midfjord, and found there fire in the hearth of a hut. On the coast of the firth, Ketil found a great hut, and its inhabitant was not at home when Ketil entered. He found a large number of carcasses in a great pit dug down in the earth, and he pulled everything out of there and threw them about him here and there. He found the carcasses of whales and polar bears, seals and walrus and all kinds of animals, but at the bottom of each pit, he found salted man's flesh. He dragged all this out, and spoiled it.

But when dusk fell, he heard a great splashing of oars down by the seashore. Then a man came to land. His name was Surt, and he was big and evil. As soon as the ship touched the shore, he stepped overboard, took hold of the ship, dragged it up to the boathouse, and then knelt down on the ground. In a deep voice he said: "It has gone badly here, that all my possessions have been wrecked and all has gone ill, which was best, as my man-corpses are ruined. Such a reward was worth it. Now it has not turned out well, that Hallbjorn, my friend, sits quietly at home, but Ketil Trout, the kitchen-fool, has come here, and if I was younger I would give him his deserts. It is a great shame to me that I bear this act of his, he who has grown up by the fire and been a coal-biter."

He went to his hut, but Ketil hid behind the door with his axe raised. And when Surt entered the hut, he had to bend down to fit through the doorway, so Ketil drove his axe through his head and then through his shoulders. Then Ketil hewed through his neck with his axe. It sang loudly as it sliced off his head. The giant fell dead to the hut floor.

Then Ketil took his boat and went back home for the autumn.

The next summer he went to Vitadsgjafa. Hallbjorn forbade this and said it would be better for him to drive the wagon home for the harvest. Ketil said he was not tempted to help with that - "And I will go," he added.

"When you are there, you will think yourself haunted," said Hallbjorn, "but it is clear that you will know my fireplace and stay with me always in the kitchen."

Ketil said he was going.

Afterwards he went north to Vitadsgjafi and he found a hut where he stayed. He had no problem fishing, because he could catch fish with his bare hands in that firth. He stored his catch in the boathouse, and then went to sleep. But the next morning, when he went back, he found all his catch scattered outside.

The next night Ketil awoke. He heard a giant enter the boathouse, and take hold of a great burden. Ketil went with that and struck him to the shoulders with his axe, and his load fell from him. The giant ran away, having taken a wound, so that Ketil lost his axe, which remained fast in the wound. The giant was named Kaldrani. He ran down the firth shore and into his cave, but Ketil pursued him. The troll sat beside his fire and Ketil laughed much, saying that Kaldrani had got what he deserved for his deeds. Kaldrani said the wound was great and he needed ointment. Then Ketil entered the cave and said that he was a physician, and said he would apply the ointment, and bind the wound. Then the troll went to the front of the cave. But Ketil took the axe out of the wound and struck the giant a deadly blow. After that he went home to his hut, took his boat and went home.

Afterwards, Hallbjorn received him well, and asked him if anything had happened. Ketil told him things had gone fine. Then Hallbjorn said that he was red with blood - "and do you know anything about that?' he asked.

"Yes," said Ketil.

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