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Viktor Rydberg's Investigations into Germanic Mythology Volume II  : Part 2: Germanic Mythology
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The Story of Norna-Gest

6. Sigurd Felled the Sons of Hunding

Now it is to be told of how Sigurd prepared for battle against the sons of Hunding. He had a large and well armed force. Regin had planned much for the troops. He had a sword called Ridil, which he had forged. Sigurd bade Regin to lend him the sword. He did so, and bade him kill Fafnir, when he returned from this journey. Sigurd promised him this.

Then we sailed south along the coast. Then we met up with a storm raised by witchcraft, and many recognized the work of the sons of Hunding. Then we sailed along the shore a bit. There we saw a man standing on a promontory, which went out from the sea-cliffs. He was dressed in a green cloak and blue pants, and high buttoned shoes on his feet, with a spear in his hand. This man sang to us and said:

"Who rides here
Raevil's horse
On the high waves
And resounding sea?
Are your sails
Swollen with the sea
Will the wave steed
Withstand the wind."

Regin said in reply:

"Here are we, with Sigurd,
Come on the sea
Good wind is given to us
To death itself.
The waves break high
Over the ship's prow
Hlunvigg will plunge down
Who asks of this?"

The man in the cloak said:

"I am called Hnikar
Who gladdened Odinn's wise raven
And as a Volsung
Vanquished widely.
Now you must call
The man on the cliff
Feng or Fjolnir
Such a journey will I accept."

Then we made for land, and the weather immediately lessened, and Sigurd bade the man to come out onto the ship. He did so. Now the weather fell, and the most favorable breeze sprang up.

The man sat at Sigurd's knee and was most pleasant. He asked if Sigurd would accept some advice from him. Sigurd said that he would, and said that he supposed that he must have a lot of good advice, if he wished people to benefit from it. Sigurd said to the cloaked man:

"Tell me, Hnikar
All you know
Of both the gods and men:
Which are the best
If there shall be fighting
Fortunate when swords are sweeping."

Hnikar said:

"Much is good
If men know
Fortunate when swords are sweeping.

A faithful companion
I think the dark raven
To be for a warrior.

That is the second
If you have come outside
And prepared for a journey:

You gaze at two
Praiseworthy men
Standing on the path.

That is the third
If you hear the whistling
Of the wolf and ash tree.

Destined for good luck
From the helmeted head to you
If you wish to travel on.

A man shall not see
Against the horizon
The late shining
Of the moon's sister.

They have victory
Who can see
The rapid sword-play
Or the column arrayed.

That is great harm
If your feet stumble
On the way to battle:
Guileful spirits
Stand on two cliffs
And wish to see you injured.

Combed and washed
Shall each appear
And at morning meal
Although it is unknown
What comes after.
It is ill to stumble before good luck."

And after that, we sailed south along Holsetuland and east of Friesland, and there to land. There the sons of Hunding heard of our expedition, and collected troops and soon there was a large army. When we met them, there was a great battle. Of the brothers, Lyngvi was the most valiant in all of the advances. They all fought bravely. Sigurd advanced so forcefully that everyone fell back before him, since the sword Gram was likely to wound them, but there was no need to question Sigurd's courage. And when he met Lyngvi, they exchanged many blows and fought quite bravely. There was a pause in the battle, as people were watching hand-to-hand combat. For a long time, neither of them could inflict a wound on the other, since they were so skilled in arms. Then Lyngvi's brothers attacked fiercely and killed many men, although some fled. Then Hamund, Sigurd's brother, turned toward them and I with him. There was then another encounter. It so ended with Sigurd and Lyngvi, that Sigurd seized him, and he was set in irons. But when Sigurd joined us, there was soon a change. Hunding's sons and all of their troops fell, as night was coming on.

When morning light came, Hnikar had disappeared, and was never seen again. Men think that it must have been Odinn.

There was then a discussion of what sort of death Lyngvi should have. Regin advised that a blood eagle should be carved on his back.. Regin then took his sword from me, and with it carved Lyngvi's back until the ribs were cut from the back, and the lungs drawn out. Thus Lyngvi died with great valor. Then Regin said:

"Now the blood eagle
With a broad sword
The killer of Sigmund
Carved on the back.

Fewer were more valiant
As the troops dispersed
A chief of people
Who made the raven glad.

There was much booty. Sigurd's troops took it all, since he did not want to have any of it. There was much treasure in clothes and weapons. Then Sigurd slew Fafnir and Regin, since he had intended to cheat him. Sigurd then took Fafnir's gold and rode away with it. He was afterward called Fafnisbani, the Slayer of Fafnir.

7. Of Sigurd and Starkad Storverksson

Later Sigurd married Gudrun Gjukadottir. He stayed for a while with the Gjukungs, his in-laws.I was with Sigurd north in Denmark. I was also with Sigurd, when King Sigurd Hring sent Gandalf's son, his in-law, against the Gjukungs, Gunnar and Hogna, and demanded that they pay him treasure or otherwise suffer here. However, they wished to defend their country. Then Gandalf's sons challenged the Gjukungs to a duel on the boundary, and then returned home. But the Gjukungs asked Sigurd Fafnisbani to go to battle along with them. He said that he would do so. I was still with Sigurd. We then sailed still further north to Holsetuland, and landed there at a place called Jarnamodir. A short way from the harbor, hazel poles were set up, where the battle was supposed to be.

We then saw many ships sailing from the north. Gandalf's sons were in command of them. Both of them attacked. Sigurd Hring was not there, since he had to defend his land, Sweden, since the Kurir and Kvaenir were raiding there. Sigurd was by that time quite old. Then the forces collided, and there was a great battle and loss of life. Gandalf's sons advanced bravely, since they were both bigger and stronger than other men.

In their troops was seen a man, big and strong. This man killed men and horses so that no one could withstand him, for he was more like a giant that a man. Gunnar bade Sigurd to attack the man-devil, since he said that as things were, there would be no success. Sigurd then prepared to go against the huge man, and some others with him, but most of them were not too eager to do so. "We immediately came upon the huge man," said Gest, "and Sigurd asked his name and where he came from. He said that he was named Starkad Storverksson, from the north, from Fenhring in Norway."

Sigurd said that he had heard of him, most often not favorably. "Such men are not merciful to those who are unwelcome."

Starkad said: "Who is this man, who casts so many words of blame?"

Sigurd said who he was.

Starkad said: "Are you the one who is called Fafnisbani?"

"So it is," said Sigurd.

Starkad then tried to escape, but Sigurd turned after him and lifted aloft the sword Gram, and thrashed him with the sword guard on the jaw so that two teeth fell from his mouth. That was a maiming blow. Then Sigurd told the scoundrel to drag himself off from there. Starkad turned quickly away from there. I took one of the teeth and took it with me. It is now on a bell rope in Denmark, and weighs seven ounces. People think it is a curiosity to see it there.

After Starkad took flight, the sons of Gandalf fled also. We seized much booty, and then the king went home to his realm and stayed there for a while.

8. How Gest Got the Gold

A short time later we heard that Starkad had committed foul murder, and that he had killed King Ali in the bath.

One day Sigurd Fafnisbani rode to some gathering or other, and rode into a puddle, and his horse Grani leaped up so vigorously that the saddle-girth broke apart and the ring fell down. When I saw where it was shining in the mud, I took it up and brought it to Sigurd, but he gave it to me. You saw that same gold piece a short time ago. Then Sigurd dismounted, and I stroked his horse and washed the mud off of it, and took a lock of hair from its tail to show its size.

Gest then showed the lock, and it was seven ells high.

King Olaf said: "I find much pleasure in your stories."

They all praised his stories and honor. The king wished that he would say much more about the exploits of his kinsmen. Gest told them of many amusing matters until the evening. Then everyone went to bed.

The following morning, the king had Gest called and wanted to talk to him even more. The king said: "I can't really estimate your age, or how likely it can be that you are a man so old that you were present at these events. You will have to tell another story, so that we can be well informed about such matters."

Gest answered: "I knew beforehand, that you would want to hear another of my stories, if I told you about what happened about the gold."

The king said: "You must certainly tell me."

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