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The Saga of Bosi and Herraud

7: Bosi and Herraud Stay at Hoketil's

The king who ruled there was named Harek. He was married, and had two sons. One was named Hraerek and the other Siggeirr. They were great champions, and retainers of King Godmund of Glaesir Plain, and were his land guardians. The king's daughter was named Edda. She was pretty to look at, and very capable in most matters.

Now to speak of the foster brothers, that they came to Bjarmaland, and to the wood, which is called Vinuskog. They pitched their tents in a far and remote land.

In the morning, Bosi said to his men, that he and Herraud would go ashore and explore the wood, and get to know what they could see. "You should wait for us her for a month, and if we do not return, you should sail where-ever you wish."

The men did not think much of this, but it was to be as Bosi and Herraud wished. Afterward the foster brothers went into the wood, and they had only what they shot to eat, animals and birds, and sometimes they had nothing except berries and tree sap. The woods tore their clothes very much.

One day they came to a cottage. A man was standing outside and was splitting firewood. He greeted them and asked their names. They told him, and asked what he was named, and he said that he was called Hoketil. He offered them to stay the night, if they wanted to, and they accepted that. The man led them to a room, and there were few people there. The housewife was getting old. They had an attractive daughter, and she took the wet clothes from the guests, and dry clothes were brought for them. Then water was brought for hand-washing, and a table was set up and they were given good ale to drink, which the peasant's daughter poured out. Bosi often looked cheerily to her and put his feet on her instep, and she played the same trick with him.

In the evening, they were led to sleep in a good bed. The farmer lay in a bed closet and his daughter in the middle of the room, and the foster brothers were in a gable bed by the door. And when everyone was asleep, Bosi stood up and went to the young woman's bed and lifted the bedclothes off of her. Bosi spoke to her.

"Why have you come here?" she said.

"Because it was not comfortable there as things were," and asked if he could get under the bedclothes with her.

"What do you want to do here?" she said.

"I want to make my earl hard with you," said Bogu-Bosi.

"What earl is that?" she said.

"He is young and his strength has never come forth, but an earl should be hardened when he is young."

He gave her a gold ring and got into bed beside her. She asked now where the earl was. He asked her to feel between his legs, but she pulled back her hands and told him to keep his earl and asked, why he would carry such a monster, so hard as a tree. He said that it would soften in the dark hole. She told him to proceed as he wished. He then set the earl between her legs. The path was not very wide, but he completed the journey. They lay for a while, as they wished, before the young woman asked, whether then earl had taken the hardening. He asked if she would harden it again, and she said that she would like that very much, if it seemed necessary to him.

It is not told how often they played at this through the night, but it is believed that Bosi asked whether she knew, - "how to get to the vulture's egg, which we foster brothers have been sent after, which has gold letters written outside."

She said that the least she could do to repay him for the gold ring and the night's pleasure was to tell him that which he wanted to know, - "but who was so angry at you, that they wanted you to die and sent you on such a mission?"

He said. "Many things often turn to gifts, although they start out dangerously."

8: The Comrades Get the Vulture's Egg

"Here in the forest stands a great temple. King Harek owns it, who rules here over Bjarmaland. The god called Jomali is worshipped. There is much gold and treasure. The king's mother, who is called Kolfrosta, is in charge of the temple. She is made strong by witchcraft so that nothing takes her by surprise. She knows beforehand with her magic that she will not live out this month, and so she traveled in the shape of an animal east to Glaesir Plain and took away Hleidi, the sister of King Godmund, and intends that she shall be one of her priestesses. That is a loss indeed, for she is the most beautiful and most courteous maiden, and it would be best if that could be prevented."

"What is difficult about the temple?" said Bosi.

"The vulture is there," she said, "so cursed and savage, that it kills everything that comes near it. It stands watch right opposite the door and grabs everything that comes in, and thus there is no hope of life for anyone who comes near its claws or poison. There is a servant in the temple; he watches the food of the priestess. She needs a two-year-old heifer at each meal. Under this vulture is the egg, which you are sent to get. There is a bull in the temple, enchanted by trolls and cursed. It is bound with iron chains. It is supposed to mount the heifer, and the poison is blended with her, so that all who eat of it are enchanted by trolls. The heifer is to be prepared for Hleidi, the king's sister, so that she will be like a troll, which the head priestess was previously. It seems to me unlikely that you can accomplish this, with so much troll sorcery as there is.”

Bosi thanked her for the information, and gave her a good reward with another round of pleasure. It went well for both of them and they slept until day. In the morning he went to Herraud and told him what he had heard, and, and they remained there for three nights. The peasant's daughter told them the direction of the temple, and bade them well at the parting. They then went on their way.

Early one morning they saw a well-built man in a gray cloak. He led a cow with him. They thought that this must be the slave, and so they attacked him. Bosi struck him with a blow of a club so strong that it was his death. Afterward they slew the heifer and flayed the skin off of it and filled it with moss and heather. Herraud put on the cloak of the slave and led after him the heifer skin, and Bosi threw his cape over the slave and carried him on his back, until they saw the temple. Then Bosi took his spear and drove it into the behind of the slave and through the body, so that it came out at the shoulders. They then went to the temple. Herraud went into the temple in the clothing of the slave. The main priestess was there asleep. He led the heifer to the stall and loosed the bull. The bull mounted the heifer. The moss-filled skin deflated instantly, and the bull fell against the wall and broke both horns. Herraud then grabbed it by both the ears and the jaw, and twisted it from the neck joint.

Then the old hag awakened and jumped to her feet. At that point, Bosi came into the court and held the slave up over his head on the spear. The vulture turned suddenly and dived down from its nest and wanted to swallow the person, who had come in. It swallowed the slave above the waist. Bosi thrust the spear so that it went up into the neck of the vulture, until it reached the heart. The vulture now set its claws in the thighs of the slave's body, and struck its wingtips against Bosi's ears, so that he fell unconscious. The vulture then fell upon him and was in a terrible death struggle. Herraud set against the priestess, and there was a great struggle between them. The priestess had poorly trimmed nails and tore his flesh down to the bone. The fight was carried over to where Bosi had fallen, and there was much blood. The old woman slipped on the vulture's blood, and fell on her back, and there was a great struggle between them, so that each alternately was underneath. Then Bosi came to and gripped the head of the bull and hit the old hag on the nose. Herraud cut one of her arms off at the shoulder. She tried to resist all the more, but in her death struggle there was a great earthquake.

They then went around the temple, and searched it. In the nest of the vulture then found the egg, and it was all written in gold letters. They found so much gold, that they had more than enough to carry. They came to the altar where Jomali was sitting. They took the gold crown from him, set with twelve gemstones, and a necklace, worth three hundred gold marks, and from his knees they took a silver cup so large, that even four men could not empty it. It was full of red gold. But the precious canopy, which hung over Jomala, was worth more than the contents of three ships, the richest to sail the Mediterranean Sea. They took it all for themselves.

They found a side room in the temple, which was secret. There was a stone door before it, strongly fastened, and it took them the whole day to break it down, before they could come in. They saw there a woman sitting on a chair. They had never seen a more beautiful woman. Her hair was bound to the chair posts; that was as beautiful as threshed straw or gold threads. There was an iron band around her waist, securely locked. She was crying terribly.

When she saw the men, she asked what all the disturbance was about, "which there was this morning, and why do you think so little of your life, that you come here eagerly into the hands of trolls, since those who rule here will kill you, if you are seen here?"

But they said they would answer that later. They asked her what she was called, and why she was held so severely. She said her name was Hleidi and that she was the sister of King Godmund, east at Glaesir Plain. "But the troll woman who rules here, brought me here by sorcery, and intends that I should carry on the worship in the temple and be an abbess here, when she is dead, but I would rather be burned alive."

"You would be good to the man," said Herraud, "who released you from here." She said that she knew that it could not be done.

Herraud said: "Will you marry me, if I get you out of here?"

"No-one knows such a loathsome man on earth," she said, "that I would not rather marry than be worshipped in this temple. But what is your name?"

"I am Herraud," he said, "son of King Hring of East-Gautland. But you do not have to fear the temple priestess, since Bosi and I have already sung over her skull sutures, and so you understand that it seems to me that I am entitled to some sort of honor from you if I release you from here."

I have nothing more to pledge than myself," she said, "if that is the will of my family."

"I don't intend to ask their permission," said Herraud, “and I don't want any evasion, since it seems to me that you underestimate me, and I will release you at any rate.”

"I don't know any man," she said, "that I would rather marry than you, of all those I have seen."

They now released her. Herraud asked if she would rather travel home with them and marry him, or send her east to her brother and he would never see her again. But she chose to go with him, and they each pledged to be true to the other.

After that, they carried the gold and treasure out of the temple, and afterward set the temple on fire and it burned to ashes, so that there were no traces to be seen except the ashes. They set off with what they had gotten, and did not stop until they came to Hoketil's house. They did not stay there long, but gave him a lot of money. In the morning they carried gold and treasure down to the ship on many horses, and their men gave them welcome.


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