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The Saga of Grim Shaggy-Cheek

2. Grim freed Lofthaena from Spells

Next day the weather was good. They went to the shore and saw that a big rorqual had run aground. They go down there and start cutting up the whale. After a while, Grim saw twelve men coming. They approached at speed. Grim hails them and asks their names. They leader says he's called Hreidar the Rash, and asked why Grim was trying to make off with his property. Grim says he found the whale first.

“Don't you know,” said Hreidar, “that I own whatever drifts ashore here?”

“I don't know about that,” said Grim, “but be that as it may, we'll still take half.”

“I don't think so,” said Hreidar, “You've got two choices: leave the whale, or we'll have to fight.”

“We'd rather do that,” said Grim, “than lose a whole whale.”

So they got to it, and fought, and that was the toughest set-to. Hreidar and his men dealt out heavy blows, and were nifty with their weapons too, and it wasn't long before both of Grim's men fell dead. Then a mighty battle ensued, but in the end, Hreidar fell and all his men. Grim fell too, from wounds and weariness. He lay there now among the dead on the beach, expecting nothing but death for himself too.

But he'd not been lying there long, when he saw a woman coming--if you could call her a woman. She couldn't have been more than a seven year old girl, going by her height, but so fat, Grim doubted he could have got his arms around her. She was long-faced, hard-faced, hook-nosed, with hunched up shoulders, black-faced and wobbly-jowled, filthy-faced and bald at the front. Both hair and hide of her were black. She wore a shrivelled leather smock. It barely reached down to her buttocks. Hardly kissable, he thought, as she had a big bogie dangling down in front of her chops.

She went over to where Grim lay, and said, “The chiefs of Halogaland are in a bad way now, unless, Grim, you want to be saved by me?”

Grim answers, “I'm not sure about that, you being so ugly. What's your name, anyway?”

She says, “I'm called Geirrid Gandvik-Bed. As you might imagine, I have some authority around the bay here, so make yourself ready, one way or the other.”

Grim answers, “There's an old saying, that everyone's greedy for life. I'll chose to be saved by you.”

She snatched him up under her smock and ran with him like a baby, and so hard the wind filled it. She didn't stop till they came to a cave in a big cliff, and when she let him down, she seemed to Grim just as ugly as before.

“Now you're here,” she said, “and I want you to pay me back for saving you and bringing you off the beach, so kiss me now.”

“No way, I can't do that,” said Grim, “you seem so fiendish to me.”

“Then I can't help you,” said Geirrid, “in which case, I see, you're as good as dead.”

“Well, I'll just have to do it then,” said Grim, “though I'd really rather not.”

So he went to her and kissed her. She didn't seem as bad to touch as she was to look at… And now it was evening. Geirrid made up a bed and asked whether Grim wanted to lie on his own or with her. Grim said he'd prefer to lie on his own. She says she didn't want to waste any time healing him then. Grim saw this wouldn't help him very much, and says in that case he'd rather lie with her, if those were his options. And that's what he did. First she bound all his wounds, and he felt neither pain nor burning. He was amazed at how soft-fingered she was, how gentle, with such ugly hands as she seemed to have, which looked to him more like vulture's claws than human hands. And the moment they were in bed, Grim slept.

But when he wakes, he saw such a beautiful woman lying in the bed beside him, he could hardly remember seeing anyone so pretty. He was surprised at how much she looked like Lofthaena, his betrothed. Down on the floor at the foot of the bed, he saw that hideous troll-husk Geirrid Gandvik-Bed had worn. There wasn't much strength left in that one now. He got up quick and dragged the husk onto the fire and it burnt to ashes. Then he went over and dripped water on the woman till she came to and said, “Now we're both alright. First I saved your life, and then you rescued me from this.”

“How did you get here? And for that matter, how did you end up like this?” said Grim.

She answers, “Not long after you left my father Harald in Oslo Fjord, my stepmother Grimhild met me and said, 'Now I'm going to pay you back, Lofthaena, because you've shown me nothing but strop and stubbornness ever since I came to this country. This I do solemnly declare: May you turn into the ugliest troll-woman and vanish north to Gandvik and live there in a side-cave right next door to Frosty, my brother, and quarrel long and hard the pair of you, and may whoever is least able to keep their spirits up come off the worst. Also, you will be detested by all, trolls and men alike. And what's more,' she said, 'you will be in this plight for the rest of your life and never get out, unless some human man agrees to these three things when you ask him (and I know there won't be anyone to do that). This is the first: to let you save his life. This second: to kiss you. And this the third: to sleep in the same bed as you, you who will fare worse than anyone.'”

“Now,” said Lofthaena, “you've done all this for me, even though you had to. And what I want now is for you to take me home to my father in the south and then drink the wedding feast with me, as was intended.”

They went back to Grim's shack, and there was plenty of game to be had now. A whale lay in every bay. He loaded his boat and when he was ready, put out from land, with the two of them on board, Grim and Lofthaena. He then began to use that trick that Ketil Trout, his father, had had--and other Hrafnista men too--of hoisting sail in calm weather, and a fair breeze began to blow. And he sailed home to Hrafnista, and people felt they'd got him back from the dead.

3. Grim Fought a Duel with Sorkvir

Not long after, Grim headed south to Oslo Fjord, and Lofthaena went with him. By now Grimhild had practically taken over the running of everything down there. But when Grim came, he had Grimhild taken and a bag put on her head, and stoned to death, having first told Lord Harald what had happened. Then he celebrated his wedding with Lofthaena and went home to Hrafnista. And Harald married a third time and took Thorgunn Thorri's daughter.

Grim and Lofthaena hadn't been together long, before they had a daughter, and she was called Brynhild. She grew up at Hrafnista and was the prettiest of girls. Grim loved her a lot. But when she was twelve years old, a man called Sorkvir asked for her. Sorkvir was the son of Svadi, the son of Raudfeld, the son of Bard, the son of Thorkel Bundinfoti. She didn't want to go with him, and so Sorkvir challenged Grim to a duel. Grim agreed. Sorkvir's family was from Sogn on his mother's side, and he owned farms there. The duel was to be in half a month's time.

There was a chief in Norway called Asmund. He was lord of Berurjodr. He was a married man and had a son called Ingjald. Ingjald was a brave man indeed, and he was always staying with Grim, and there was great friendship between them, and though Ingjald was the older of them, Grim was much stronger. Ingjald married Dagny, sister of Olaf Army Men's King, and daughter of that Asmund known as Gnodar-Asmund, after the ship Gnod. With her he had a son called Asmund, who later was foster brother to Odd the Traveller, who was with Sigurd Ring at Bravellir, and his other name is Arrow-Odd.

At the appointed time, Sorkvir came to the duelling-island with eleven men. They were all berserks. Grim had come too, and Ingjald with him and many Halogaland farmers. They went to the island and it was Grim's turn to strike first. He had the sword Dragvendil, which had belonged to his father. The man who held the shield in front of Sorkvir was called Throst. Grim hacked so hard on his first blow that he split the shield top to bottom, and his blade sliced Throst right through from his left shoulder to just above the right hip, cutting into Sorkvir's thigh so as to take off both legs, one above the knee, one below, and he fell down dead. Now Ingjald and the others turn on the remaining ten, and didn't stop till they'd killed them all. Then Grim chanted this verse:

“Here we've hewn down
to the hard ground,
twelve berserks
bad men, gloryless.
Although Sorkvir
was said to be strongest
of those brigands,
and Throst second.”

And he also said:

“In the footsteps of my fathers
I'll follow first:
no lass of mine
reluctant wed
will ever be,
young pine of velvets,
given unwilling
while Grim lives.”

Now Grim went home from the duelling-isle, and Ingjald to Berurjodr. Not long afterwards his father died and he took over the whole property and became a great farmer, and his hospitality was legendary.

4. Of the Descendents of Grim Shaggy-Cheek

A few years earlier, Bodmod Framarsson had died, leaving his wife Hrafnhild--who then went home to Hrafnista to live with her brother, Grim--and a daughter called Thorny. Her son was Thorbjorn Whalebone, the father of Broad Ketil, father of the Thorny who married Hergil Button-Arse.

There was a man of note called Thorkel. He was jarl of the Namdalen province. He went to Hrafnista and asked to for the hand of Hrafnhild. She married him. Their son was Ketil Trout, who burnt Harek and Hraerek, the sons of Hildirid, in their own house after they slandered his kinsman Thorolf. After that, Ketil went to Iceland and took land there between Thjorsa and Markarfljot, and he lived at Hof. His son was Hrafn, the first lawspeaker in Iceland. His second son was Helgi, father of Helga, who married Oddbjorn Askasmith, the Shipwright. His third son was Storolf, father of Orm the Strong and Hrafnhild, who married Gunnar Baugsson. Their son was Hamund, father of Gunnar of Hlidarendi, and their daughter Arngunn, who married Hroar Tungugodi, the chieftain of Tungi. Their son was Hamund the Lame.

Vedrorm, son of Vemund the Old, was a great lord. He asked for the hand of Brynhild, daughter of Grim Shaggy-Cheek. She went with him. Their son was Vemund, the father of Vedrorm, who fled King Harald1 to Jamtland and cleared the forest to live there. His son was Holmfast, and Vedrorm's sister was called Brynhild. Her son was Grim, who was named after Grim Shaggy-Cheek.

Those kinsmen, Grim and Holmfast, went raiding in the west and killed Jarl Asbjorn Skerryblaze in the Hebrides, and took as booty Olof, his wife, and Arneid, his daughter, and Holmfast got her and gave her to his kinsman Vedrorm, and she was a servant there, until Ketil Thrym married her and took her out to Iceland. The place called Arneidarstadir in the Austfjords is named after her. Grim married Olof, daughter of Thord the Waddler, who had been married to the jarl.

Grim went to Iceland and claimed Grimsnes, all the way up to Svinavatn, and he lived four years at Ondverdunes, and afterwards at Burfjall. His son was Thorgils, who married Helga, the daughter of Gest Oddleifsson. Their sons were Thorarin of Burfjall and Jorund of Midengi. Grim fell to Hallkel, Ketilbjorn of Mosfjall's brother, in a duel under the Hallkelshollar hills.

Grim Shaggy-Cheek lived at Hrafnista, as has been said. With his wife, he eventually had a son called Odd. Odd was fostered with Ingjald at Berurjodr. He was later called either Arrow-Odd, or Odd the Traveller. Grim was considered a man of no small consequence. He was strong in body and very daring, but he often camped alone. He died of old age.

And here ends the saga of Grim Shaggy-Cheek.


1. Harald Finehair, first king of all Norway, ruled c. 890-942.

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