But on a day in spring Gunnlaug was walking abroad, and his kinsman Thorkel with him; they walked away from the town, till on the meads. before them they saw a ring of men, and in that ring were two men with weapons fencing; but one was named Raven, the other Gunnlaug, while they who stood by said that Icelanders smote light, and were slow to remember their words.


Gunnlaug saw the great mocking hereunder, and much jeering was brought into the play; and withal he went away silent.


So a little while after he said to the earl that he had no mind to bear any longer the jeers and mocks of his courtiers about his dealings with Raven, and therewith he prayed the earl to give him a guide to Lifangr: now before this the earl had been told that Raven had left Lifangr and gone east to Sweden; therefore, he granted Gunnlaug leave to go, and gave him two guides for the journey.


Now Gunnlaug went from Hladir with six men to Lifangr; and, on the morning of the very day whereas Gunnlaug came in in the evening, Raven had left Lifangr with four men. Thence Gunnlaug went to Vera-dale, and came always in the evening to where Raven had been the night before.


So Gunnlaug went on till he came to the uppermost farm in the valley, called Sula, wherefrom had Raven fared in the morning; there he stayed not his journey, but kept on his way through the night.


Then in the morning at sun-rise they saw one another. Raven had got to a place where were two waters, and between them flat meads, and they are called Gleipni’s meads: but into one water stretched a little ness called Dingness. There on the ness Raven and his fellows, five together, took their stand. With Raven were his kinsmen, Grim and Olaf.


Now when they met, Gunnlaug said, “It is well that we have found one another.”


Raven said that he had nought to quarrel with therein;

“But now,” says he, “thou mayest choose as thou wilt, either that we fight alone together, or that we fight all of us man to man.”


Gunnlaug said that either way seemed good to him.


Then spake Raven’s kinsmen, Grim and Olaf, and said that they would little like to stand by and look on the fight, and in like wise spake Thorkel the Black, the kinsman of Gunnlaug.

Then said Gunnlaug to the earl’s guides, “Ye shall sit by and aid neither side, and be here to tell of our meeting;” and so they did.


So they set on, and fought dauntlessly, all of them. Grim and Olaf went both against Gunnlaug alone, and so closed their dealings with him that Gunnlaug slew them both and got no wound. This proves Thord Kolbeinson in a song that he made on Gunnlaug the Wormtongue:—


“Grim and Olaf great-hearts

In Gondul’s din, with thin sword

First did Gunnlaug fell there

Ere at Raven fared he;

Bold, with blood be-drifted

Bane of three the thane was;

War-lord of the wave-horse

Wrought for men folks’ slaughter.”



Meanwhile Raven and Thorkel the Black, Gunnlaug’s kinsman, fought until Thorkel fell before Raven and lost his life; and so at last all their fellowship fell. Then they two alone fought together with fierce onsets and mighty strokes, which they dealt each the other, falling on furiously without stop or stay.


Gunnlaug had the sword Ethelred’s-gift, and that was the best of weapons. At last Gunnlaug dealt a mighty blow at Raven, and cut his leg from under him; but none the more did Raven fall, but swung round up to a tree-stem, whereat he steadied the stump.


Then said Gunnlaug, “Now thou art no more meet for battle, nor will I fight with thee any longer, a maimed man.”


Raven answered: “So it is,” said he, “that my lot is now all the worser lot, but it were well with me yet, might I but drink somewhat.”


Gunnlaug said, “Bewray me not if I bring thee water in my helm.”


“I will not bewray thee,” said Raven. Then went Gunnlaug to a brook and fetched water in his helm, and brought it to Raven; but Raven stretched forth his left hand to take it, but with his right hand drave his sword into Gunnlaug’s head, and that was a mighty great wound.


Then Gunnlaug said, “Evilly hast thou beguiled me, and done traitorously wherein I trusted thee.”


Raven answers, “Thou sayest sooth, but this brought me to it, that I begrudged thee to lie in the bosom of Helga the Fair.”


Thereat they fought on, recking of nought; but the end of it was that Gunnlaug overcame Raven, and there Raven lost his life.


Then the earl’s guides came forward and bound the head-wound of Gunnlaug, and in meanwhile, he sat and sang:—

“O thou sword-storm stirrer,

Raven, stem of battle

Famous, fared against me

Fiercely in the spear din.

Many a flight of metal

Was borne on me this morning,

By the spear-walls’ builder,

Ring-bearer, on hard Dingness.”


After that they buried the dead, and got Gunnlaug on to his horse thereafter, and brought him right down to Lifangr. There he lay three nights, and got all his rights of a priest, and died thereafter, and was buried at the church there.


All men thought it great scathe of both of these men, Gunnlaug and Raven, amid such deeds as they died.






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The Saga of Gunnlaug the Worm Tongue and Raven the Skald



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