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The Saga of Half and His Heroes
12. King Asmund's Treachery
King Half went up to Asmund's hall with one half of his warriors. There was a multitude of people there. The banquet was bountiful and the drink so strong that Half's Heroes were soon fast asleep. King Asmund and his men set fire to the hall.
And the first of the Heroes to wake saw that the hall was nearly full of smoke. He said, Seems a bit smoky round our hawks9 now. Then he lay down and went back to sleep.
And another one woke up and he saw that the hall was burning, and he said, I suppose the wax'll be dripping off our blades now.10 That one lay back down.
And then King Half woke up. He got up and roused the men and told them to arm themselves. They charged at the wall then, so that the clasps on the corner-beams came loose.
And Innstein said:
Smoke's to the hawks
Wake, Half, I urge -
Ram now the planks,
With hard blows we'll go
Look lively, lads,
13. The Fall of King Half
So it is said that Half and his Heroes got out of the fire and that Half fell before overwhelming odds together with his men. Innstein said, when the king had fallen:
Here I saw armed-men
Then the rest of the Heroes joint the fight, those who'd stayed with the ships. There fell a great many of Half's Heroes. The battle dragged on till nightfall, before Innstein fell. Innstein said:
Rook has fallen
I've been at sea
So here Innstein
14. Of Utstein and Rook the Black
Gunnlod went in the night among the slain to look for her sons. She found Innstein dead, but Utstein was wounded, though barely alive, and likewise Bard and Bjorn. She put them on a cart and brought them to a cottage and healed them in secret and sent them south then to Sweden. Bjorn and Bard went to see King Solvi, Half's uncle on his mother's side, but Utstein went to Denmark to King Eystein, his kinsman.
Rook the Black had many grave wounds. In the night, he walked from the battle field till he found a humble cotter whose name was Skogkarl. There he stayed, and his wounds were bandaged. The cotter smuggled him north to Sogn to Lord Geirmund, his father's brother. There he was healed in secret and in the autumn he went to the Uplands and east to Gautland. He made it to King Haki in Skåne and stayed the winter with him.
9. A conventional metaphor for brave warriors, but the writer of the prose may have interpreted it literally here.
10. The blades were coated in wax to prevent rust.
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