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The Story of Thorsteinn House-Power


Now Thorsteinn saw three well armed men riding, and so huge that he had never seen such large men before. The one who rode in the middle was the largest, in clothes woven through with gold, on a pale horse, and the two others rode on gray horses in red scarlet clothes.

And when they came opposite to where Thorsteinn was, they took places, and the one who was the leader said: "What is moving in the oak."

Thorsteinn then came down before them and greeted them, and there was much laughter, and the largest man said: "It’s seldom that such men come to us. What is your name and where are you from?"

Thorsteinn gave his name and said that he was called House-power, "and my family is in Norway, retainers of King Olaf."

The largest man smiled and said: "It is a great lie about his royal pomp if he has no one braver." It seems to me that you are more a House-child than House-power."

"Give me a naming gift, then," said Thorsteinn.

The biggest man took a gold ring from his finger and gave it to Thorsteinn. It was three aura in weight. Thorsteinn said: "What is your name, and from what background are you, and into what land have I come?"

"Godmund is my name. I rule that place which is called Glaesir Plain. They are a colony of that land that is called Risaland. I am a king’s son, and my squires are called Fullsterk and Allsterk. But did you see any men ride here this morning.?"

Thorsteinn said: "Twenty-two men rode here and did not slow down."

"They are my squires," said Godmund. "That land lies nearby, called Giant-land. A king rules there, who is called Geirrod. We are tributaries under him. My father was called Ulfheidinn the Trustworthy. He was called Godmund, like everyone else who lives in Glaesir Plain. But my father went to Geirrod’s court to deliver his tribute to the king, and died on the journey. The king gave me a request that I should have a funeral feast for my father, and take the rank that my father had. But we are not happy to serve the Giants."

"Why do your men ride ahead?" said Thorsteinn.

"A great river divides our land," said Godmund. "It is called Hemra. It is so deep and strong, that no horses can ford it, except those which we companions ride. Those others have to ride to the source of the river, and we meet in the evening."

"It must be a pleasure to ride with you," said Thorsteinn, "and see what news there will be."

"I don’t know about that," said Godmund. "since you must be a Christian."

"I can be responsible for myself," said Thorsteinn.

"I wouldn’t want you come to harm on my account," said Godmund, "but if King Olaf will give us good luck, then I will trust you to come with us."

"Thorsteinn said he would promise that. Godmund asked him to get behind him, and he did so.

They now rode to the river. There was a house there, and they took other clothes, and dressed themselves and their horses. The clothes were of such a nature that water could not touch them, but the water was so cold that gangrene would set in, if anything got wet. They then forded the river. The horses pushed ahead strongly. Godmund’s horse stumbled, and Thorsteinn got water on his toe, and gangrene then set in. When they came out of the river, they spread out their clothes to dry. Thorsteinn cut off his toe, and they were very impressed with his valor. They then rode on their way.

Thorsteinn asked them not to hide themselves, "because I can make a hiding helmet, so that no one can see me." Godmund said that was good knowledge.

They now came to the town, and Godmund’s men came to meet them. They now rode into the town. They could now hear all kinds of instruments, but Thorsteinn did not think much of the tune. King Geirrod came now toward them and greeted them well, and they were shown a stone house or hall to sleep in and men to lead their horses to the stalls. Godmund was led to the king’s hall. The king sat on the high seat, and his earl next to him, who was called Agdi. He ruled the district that was called Grundir. That is between Risaland and Giant-land. He had his residence at Gnipalundi. He was a sorcerer and his men were more like trolls than men.

Godmund sat on a step before the high seat opposite the king. It was their custom that the king’s son should not sit at the high seat, before he took title from his father and had drunk the first toast. A fine feast got under way, and men drank and were merry and then went to sleep. But when Godmund came to his house, Thorsteinn showed himself again. They laughed at him. Godmund told his men who he was, and told them not to laugh at him. Then they slept the night.




Now it is morning, and they got up early. Godmund was led to the king’s hall. The king greeted him well. "Now we would like to know," the king said, "whether you will show me the same homage that your father did, and I will increase your titles. You will keep Risaland if you swear me an oath."

Godmund answered: "It’s not lawful to ask for an oath from a man as young as I am."

"That shall be," said the king.

Then the king took a velvet kirtle and laid it over Godmund, and gave him the title of king, then took a great horn and drank to Godmund. He received the horn, and thanked the king. Then Godmund stood up and stepped on the footboard step before the king’s seat, and vowed solemnly that he would never serve any king, or show him obedience, while king Geirrod lived. The king thanked him, and said that it seemed to him worth more than if he had sworn an oath. Then Godmund drank from the horn, and went to his seat. The men were happy and merry.

Two men were named with Earl Agdi. One was Jokull and the other Frosti. They were envious. Jokull grabbed up an ox-bone and threw it at Godmund’s men. Thorsteinn saw that and grabbed it in flight and sent it back, and it hit Gustur in the face and broke his nose and knocked out all his teeth, and he fell unconscious. King Geirrod was angry, and asked, who threw bones over his table. He said that before it was all over, they would find out who was the strongest in throwing stones.

The the king called to two men, Drott and Hosvi: "Go and get my gold sphere and bring it here."

They went, and returned with a seal’s head, which weighed ten fjordungs. It was glowing and sent out sparks like a forge, with fat dripping down like glowing pitch.

The king said: "Now take the sphere and throw it at each other. Whoever drops it, shall be an outlaw and lose his possessions, and whoever does not dare to participate, shall be called a coward.


Now Drottur throws the ball at Fullsterk. He grabbed it with one hand. Thorsteinn saw that he was failing in strength, and ran against the ball.. They tossed it to Frosti, since the champions stood farthest against each bench. Frosti caught it mightily, and it came so close to his face that his cheek-bone split. He threw the ball at Allsterk. He caught it with both hands but he would have bent backwards, had not Thorsteinn supported him. Allsterk turned quickly toward Earl Agdi and he grabbed it with both hands. Fat spattered his beard, and everything blazed and because of that he hurried to get rid of the ball and tossed it to King Godmund. But Godmund tossed it to King Geirrod. He dodged it, and the ball hit Drottur and Hosvir and killed them both. The ball went through a glass window and out in a ditch, that was dug around the town. Flame flared up. Now this game was over. Then men started to drink. Earl Agdi said that his thoughts always trembled, whenever he came near Godmund’s men.

In the evening, Godmund and his men went to sleep. They thanked Thorsteinn for his assistance, which kept them without mishap. Thorsteinn said it was nothing, "but what entertainment will we have in the morning?"

"The king will have us wrestle," said Godmund, "and they will attempt vengeance, since they are much stronger than we are."

"The king’s luck will strengthen us," said Thorsteinn. "Don’t forget, to let yourself be taken in my direction." Then they went to sleep for the night.

In the morning everyone followed his pleasure, while the servants were laying the table. King Geirrod asked, which men wanted to wrestle, and they said that he should choose. Then they undressed and started wrestling. Thorsteinn thought that he had never seen such an onslaught, so that everyone trembled with fear, when they fell, and Earl Agdi’s men were losing.

Frosti went to the floor and said, "Who will come against me?"

"I expect someone will," said Fullsterk.

"They went at each other and there was a great struggle, and Frosti was much stronger. The fight came near to Godmund. Frosti lifted him up to his chest but had to bend over backward. Thorsteinn struck him with his feet at the back of his knees, so that Frosti fell backwards, and Fullsterk was on top of him. The nape of Frosti’s neck was broken, and also his elbows.

He stood up slowly and said: "You are not alone in this game, and why is it smelling so foul around you?"

"Your nose is too close to your jaw," said Fullsterk.

Then Jokull stood up, and Allsterk went against him, and the onslaught was the hardest yet. Jokull was stronger, and took him toward the bench where Thorsteinn was. Jokull wanted to drag Allsterk from the bench and held fast to him, but Thorsteinn held on to him. Jokull pulled so hard that he sank up to his ankles in the hall floor, but Thorsteinn pushed Allsterk away from him, and Jokull fell on his back, and his foot went out of joint.

Allsterk went to the bench, but then Jokull stood up and said: "We can’t see all the people who are on the bench."

Geirrod asked Godmund if he wanted to wrestle. However, he said that he had never wrestled, but that he would not turn down the offer. The king bade Earl Agdi to avenge his men. He said that he had been away from wrestling for a long time, but that he would do the king’s bidding. Then they undressed. Thorsteinn thought that he had never seen such a troll-like body as Agda. He was deathly blue. Godmund rose against him. His skin was white. Earl Agdi approached him in wrath, and took his side so firmly that everything went down to the bones, and they staggered all around the hall. And when they came there where Thorsteinn was, Godmund started wrestling, and turned him nimbly. Thorsteinn threw himself down before the feet of the earl, and then he fell, and crashed on his nose, and broke his thief’s nose and four teeth.

The earl stood up and said; "Heavy is an old man’s fall, and the heaviest when three go against one."

Then the men dressed.

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