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The Saga of Hrolf Kraki

28. Elk-Frodi Leaves Home

So it went on for a while, until they were twelve years old. They're so strong by then that none of the king's men can cope with them, and so they can't play anymore.

Then Frodi said to his mother that he wants to go, "and I can't have a decent fight with anyone, because they're nothing but a bunch of idiots and they get hurt as soon as you touch them."

She said he wasn't cut out for human society, because of his wildness.

His mother goes with him to the cave now and shows him what wealth his father had left for him, because Bjorn had said in advance exactly what each one should have. Frodi wanted to take more, but he couldn't, since his was the smallest share. And now he sees where the weapons stuck out from the rock. He takes hold of the first handle, but the sword is stuck fast, so he can't get it out. Then he tugs at the axe-haft, and it's no looser.

Then Elk-Frodi said, "It could be that he who put these treasures here has decided that the sharing of weapons will match the sharing of the other wealth," and he tugs at the third handle now, and it came straight out. It was a short-sword.

He looked at the short-sword for a bit and then said, "Not fair, the man who had these treasures to share," and he wants to smash it, so he hacks two-handed at the rock, but the short-sword buried itself in the rock, right up to the hilt with a clang, but still it wasn't the least bit broken.

Then Elk-Frodi said, "Well anyway, however I use it, one thing's for sure: the bugger knows how to bite."

After that, he said farewell to his mother. Frodi takes some mountain road and becomes a criminal and kills men for their money and builds himself a shack and made himself at home.

29. Thorir Becomes King of Gautland

King Hring now thinks he knows what witchcraft all this must mean, but says nothing publicly and continues acting calmly just as before.

A little while later, Thorir Houndsfoot asked leave to go away, and his mother shows him to the cave and the wealth allotted to him, and tells him about the weapons and asked him to take the axe, and that's what his father had instructed, she explained. Then Thorir left, bidding his mother farewell. First he tugs on the sword-hilt, but the sword is stuck fast. Then he takes hold of the haft of the axe, and the axe is loose, because it was meant for him. Then he takes his inheritance and goes on his way.

He travels first to see his brother Elk-Frodi. He goes into his shack and sits down in the seat and pulls his hood over his face. Soon Frodi comes home and looks at the newcomer none too kindly, draws his short-sword now, and said:

"Short-sword shrieks,
from sheath leaping,
and hand recalls
hard deeds of war."

And he flung it down on the bench beside him, and grows fierce and ugly. Then Thorir said:

"But I indeed
in different wise
that axe of mine
made chime the same."

And then Thorir concealed himself no longer, and Frodi recognised his brother and offered him half of what he'd raked together, because there was no shortage of wealth there. Thorir won't accept it. He stays a while and then goes away. Elk-Frodi directed him to Gautland and told him that the king of the Gauts had just died, and suggested he go to their realm.

He told him all about it: "It's the law of the Gauts that a great assembly is summoned there, the Multitude Moot, and all the Gauts are summoned. This big throne is set up in the moot, with plenty of room for two men to sit on it, and whoever fills that seat will be king. And it seems to me you'll fill it right up."

After that they part, and wish each other well.

Now Thorir went off on his way, till he comes to Gautland to a certain jarl, and the jarl received him well, and he spent the night there. And everyone who saw Thorir said that, with his size, he could well be king of the Gauts, and they said there wouldn't be many like him there.

And when the assembly was gathered, it all went just as his brother Frodi had told him. A judge was there to settle the matter fairly. Many sat in this seat, but the judge declared none of them fit to rule. Thorir goes last, and sits himself down without further ado.

The judge said, "You are sitting most snugly, and you shall be judged best to govern."

Then the landed men give him the name of king and he is called King Thorir Houndsfoot, and there are great tales told of him. He was well-loved and fought many battles and had victory more often then not. He sits in his kingdom now, for a time.

30. Bodvar Took the Queen's Life

Bodvar is at home with his mother. She loved him a lot. He was the most able of men and fairest to look at. But not many knew him to speak to. One day he asked his mother where his father was. She told him of his father's death and of all that had happened and how he was changed by his stepmother's curses.

Bodvar said, "We badly need to repay this witch."

Then she told him how she was forced by the queen to eat some of the bear's flesh, "and that's on your brothers now, Thorir and Elk-Frodi."

Bodvar said, "I'd have thought Frodi would have no less of a duty to take vengeance on this cowardly witch than to be killing innocent men for their money, and committing crimes, and it seems just as strange to me that Thorir should go wandering off and not give this sorceress any token of our feelings, and I expect the best thing would be for me to give her something to remember us by.

Bera said, "Make sure she can't use any of her magic, and hurt you that way." He said he would.

After that, Bera and Bodvar go to see the king, and now, on Bodvar's advice, she tells the king everything, how matters stand, and shows him the ring which she took from under the shoulder of the beast, and which Bjorn, his son, had owned.

The king admitted he did indeed know the ring. "I rather suspected that this would all be due to her scheming, all this that's come to pass here, but for love of my queen I kept quiet."

Bodvar said, "Send her away now, or we will take revenge on her."

The king announced that he wanted to compensate him, in whatever way he wished, providing he kept quiet and left things as they were, and he'd give him the governorship of the realm and the title of jarl immediately, and after his death the whole kingdom, as long as no harm came to her.

Bodvar said he didn't want to be king, but rather to stay with the king and serve him. "You are so captivated by this monster that you're hardly in possession of your wits or your rightful kingship, and she will never thrive here after this."

Bodvar was so angry then, the king didn't dare stand in his way. Bodvar goes to the queen's quarters and has a leather sack in his hand. The king followed after and his mother too. But when Bodvar came to the chamber, he makes straight for Queen Hvit and puts the shrunken bag on her head and pulled it down tight around her neck. Then he boxed her on the side of the head and beat her to death with various tortures and dragged her through the streets. To many in the hall, most even, this seemed no worse than half of what she deserved, but the king took it hard, but there was nothing he could do. That's how Queen Hvit lost her miserable life. Bodvar was eighteen then, when this occurred.

Soon afterwards, King Hring takes sick and dies. After that, Bodvar has the kingdom and rules for a little while. Eventually he summons a thing, or assembly, of the landed men and tells them that he wants to leave. But be gave away his mother in marriage to a man called Valsleit - he'd been a jarl before that - and Bodvar sits at the wedding feast before he rides.

31. Bodvar Meets Elk-Frodi

After this, he rides off alone, and he didn't have a great deal of gold or silver with him, or anything else of value, although he's alright for weapons and clothes. First he rides his good horse to the cave, as his mother directed. The sword came loose when he takes it by the hilt. It was the way of that sword, that it could never be drawn without being the death of a man. It must not be laid under your head or stood on it's pommel. The blade would only be urged into action three times in its whole life, and could not be drawn a single time after that, it was such a difficult sword. All the brothers had wanted to own this rare treasure. Bodvar set out to find Elk-Frodi, his brother. He made a sheath of birch for the sword.

There's nothing to tell of his journey till late in the day when he comes to a big hall. That's where Elk-Frodi ruled. Bodvar stabled his horse and made himself at home there, helping himself to everything he thought he needed. That evening, Frodi comes home and looks on him none too kindly. Bodvar didn't react, but sat still. The horses were making a commotion, trying to shove each other out of the stall.

Then Frodi speaks: "This man has a cheek, daring to sit in here without my leave."

Bodvar let his hood hang down over his face and said nothing. Elk-Frodi stands up and draws his short-sword and slams it back so the guard clangs on the sheath. He does the same thing twice. Bodvar doesn't flinch. A third time Frodi draws his short-sword and now he goes for him, and he thinks this man must not know the meaning of fear, and aims to sort him out.

And when Bodvar sees what's afoot, he's no mind to sit still any longer. He gets up and runs under his arms. Elk-Frodi had the harder grip, and they wrestled furiously, and then Bodvar's hood falls off, and then Frodi recognises him and said, "Welcome, kinsman! We've been at this wrestling much too long."

"No harm done yet," says Bodvar.

Elk-Frodi said, "All the same, kinsman, you ought to be more careful. If we were in earnest, then you'd feel the difference in strength, if we fought for real and held nothing back."

Frodi invited him to stay there and offered him half of everything he'd got. Bodvar doesn't want it, and it seemed bad to him to kill men for their money. He went away after that. Frodi went along to see him on his way and says to him that he has let off many men who were not very strong, and that cheered Bodvar up, and he said that it was good of him to do this, "but you should let most people go in peace, even if you think you've got something against them."

Elk-Frodi says, "To me, all things are ill-given, but the thing for you would be to travel to meet King Hrolf, because all the greatest champions are supposed to be with him, because he far exceeds other kings in his generosity, splendour and valour.

Then Frodi went and shoved him. Frodi said, "You're not as strong as you should be, kinsman."

Frodi drew blood from his own calf and told him to drink, and Bodvar does. Then Frodi had a second go at him, but Bodvar stood firm in his tracks.

"You're plenty strong now, kinsman," said Elk-Frodi, "and I reckon the drink's done you good, and you'll be the best of men for strength and daring and every sort of toughness and gallantry, and this I gladly give you."

After this, Frodi stamped his hoof into the rock next to him, right up to the dewclaw. Then Frodi said, "I will come to this footprint every day and see what's in the mark. It'll be earth if you die of sickness, water if you drown, and blood if you die from weapons, and then I will avenge you, because of all men I love you the best."

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