When King Olaf retired from the battle with Erling he went northward through the sounds, and it was late in the day. It is related that the king then made the following verses: --
"This night, with battle sounds wild ringing, Small joy to the fair youth is bringing Who sits in Jadar, little dreaming O'er what this night the raven's screaming. The far-descended Erling's life Too soon has fallen; but, in the strife He met the luck they well deserve Who from their faith and fealty swerve."
Afterwards the king sailed with his fleet along the land northwards, and got certain tidings of the bondes assembling an army. There were many chiefs and lendermen at this time with King Olaf, and all the sons of Arne. Of this Bjarne Gullbrarskald speaks in the poem he composed about Kalf Arnason: --
"Kalf! thou hast fought at Bokn well; Of thy brave doings all men tell: When Harald's son his men urged on To the hard strife, thy courage shone. Thou soon hadst made a good Yule feast For greedy wolf there in the East: Where stone and spear were flying round, There thou wast still the foremost found. The people suffered in the strife When noble Erling lost his life, And north of Utstein many a speck Of blood lay black upon the deck. The king, 'tis clear, has been deceived, By treason of his land bereaved; And Agder now, whose force is great. Will rule o'er all parts of the state."
King O1af continued his voyage until he came north of Stad, and brought up at the Herey Isles. Here he heard the news that Earl Hakon had a great war-force in Throndhjem, and thereupon the king held a council with his people. Kalf Arnason urged much to advance to Throndhjem, and fight Earl Hakon, notwithstanding the difference of numbers. Many others supported this advice, but others dissuaded from it, and the matter was left to the king's judgment.
188. DEATH OF ASLAK FITIASKALLE.
Afterwards the king went into Steinavag, and remained there all night; but Aslak Fitiaskalle ran into Borgund, where he remained the night, and where Vigleik Arnason was before him. In the morning, when Aslak was about returning on board, Vigleik assaulted him, and sought to avenge Erling's murder. Aslak fell there. Some of the king's court-men, who had been home all summer, joined the king here. They came from Frekeysund, and brought the king tidings that Earl Hakon, and many lendermen with him, had come in the morning to Frekeysund with a large force; "and they will end thy days, sire, if they have strength enough." Now the king sent his men up to a hill that was near; and when they came to the top, and looked northwards to Bjarney Island, they perceived that a great armament of many ships was coming from the north, and they hastened back to the king with this intelligence. The king, who was lying there with only twelve ships, ordered the war-horn to sound, the tents to be taken down on his ships, and they took to their oars. When they were quite ready, and were leaving the harbour, the bonde army sailed north around Thiotande with twenty-five ships. The king then steered inside of Nyrfe Island, and inside of Hundsver. Now when King Olaf came right abreast of Borgund, the ship which Aslak had steered came out to meet him, and when they found the king they told him the tidings, -- that Vigleik Arnason had killed Aslak Fitiaskalle, because he had killed Erling Skjalgson. The king took this news very angrily, but could not delay his voyage on account of the enemy and he sailed in by Vegsund and Skor. There some of his people left him; among others, Kalf Arnason, with many other lendermen and ship commanders, who all went to meet Earl Hakon. King Olaf, however, proceeded on his way without stopping until he came to Todar fjord, where he brought up at Valdal, and landed from his ship. He had then five ships with him, which he drew up upon the shore, and took care of their sails and materials. Then he set up his land-tent upon a point of land called Sult, where there are pretty flat fields, and set up a cross near to the point of land. A bonde, by name Bruse, who dwelt there in More, and was chief over the valley, came down to King Olaf, together with many other bondes, and received him well, and according to his dignity; and he was friendly, and pleased with their reception of him. Then the king asked if there was a passable road up in the country from the valley to Lesjar; and Bruse replied, that there was an urd in the valley called Skerfsurd not passable for man or beast. King Olaf answers, "That we must try, bonde, and it will go as God pleases. Come here in the morning with your yoke, and come yourself with it, and let us then see. When we come to the sloping precipice, what chance there may be, and if we cannot devise some means of coming over it with horses and people."
Now when day broke the bondes drove down with their yokes, as the king had told them. The clothes and weapons were packed upon horses, but the king and all the people went on foot. He went thus until he came to a place called Krosbrekka, and when he came up upon the hill he rested himself, sat down there a while, looked down over the fjord, and said, "A difficult expedition ye have thrown upon my hands, ye lendermen, who have now changed your fealty, although but a little while ago ye were my friends and faithful to me." There are now two crosses erected upon the bank on which the king sat. Then the king mounted a horse, and rode without stopping up the valley, until he came to the precipice. Then the king asked Bruse if there was no summer hut of cattle-herds in the neighbourhood, where they could remain. He said there was. The king ordered his land-tent to be set up, and remained there all night. In the morning the king ordered them to drive to the urd, and try if they could get across it with the waggons. They drove there, and the king remained in the meantime in his tent. Towards evening the king's court-men and the bondes came back, and told how they had had a very fatiguing labour, without making any progress, and that there never could be a road made that they could get across: so they continued there the second night, during which, for the whole night, the king was occupied in prayer. As soon as he observed day dawning he ordered his men to drive again to the urd, and try once more if they could get across it with the waggons; but they went very unwillingly, saying nothing could be gained by it. When they were gone the man who had charge of the king's kitchen came, and said there were only two carcasses of young cattle remaining of provision: "Although you, sire, have 400 men, and there are 100 bondes besides." Then the king ordered that he should set all the kettles on the fire, and put a little bit of meat in each kettle, which was done. Then the king went there, and made the sign of the cross over each kettle, and told them to make ready the meat. The king then went to the urd called Skerfsurd, where a road should be cleared. When the king came all his people were sitting down, quite worn out with the hard labour. Bruse said, "I told you, sire, but you would not believe me, that we could make nothing of this urd." The king laid aside his cloak, and told them to go to work once more at the urd. They did so, and now twenty men could handle stones which before 100 men could not move from the place; and thus before midday the road was cleared so well that it was as passable for men, and for horses with packs, as a road in the plain fields. The king, after this, went down again to where the meat was, which place is called Olaf's Rock. Near the rock is a spring, at which Olaf washed himself; and therefore at the present day, when the cattle in the valley are sick, their illness is made better by their drinking at this well. Thereafter the king sat down to table with all the others; and when he was satisfied he asked if there was any other sheeling on the other side of the urd, and near the mountains, where they could pass the night. Bruse said there was such a sheeling, called Groningar; but that nobody could pass the night there on account of witchcraft, and evil beings who were in the sheeling. Then the king said they must get ready for their journey, as he wanted to be at the sheeling for the night. Then came the kitchen-master to the king, and tells that there was come an extraordinary supply of provisions, and he did not know where it had come from, or how. The king thanked God for this blessing, and gave the bondes who drove down again to their valley some rations of food, but remained himself all night in the sheeling. In the middle of the night, while the people were asleep, there was heard in the cattle-fold a dreadful cry, and these words: "Now Olaf's prayers are burning me," says the spirit, "so that I can no longer be in my habitation; now must I fly, and never more come to this fold." When the king's people awoke in the morning the king proceeded to the mountains, and said to Bruse, "Here shall now a farm be settled, and the bonde who dwells here shall never want what is needful for the support of life; and never shall his crop be destroyed by frost, although the crops be frozen on the farms both above it and below it." Then the king proceeded over the mountains, and came to a farm called Einby, where he remained for the night. King Olaf had then been fifteen years king of Norway (A.D. 1015-1029), including the year both he and Svein were in the country, and this year we have now been telling about. It was, namely, a little past Yule when the king left his ships and took to the land, as before related. Of this portion of his reign the priest Are Thorgilson the Wise was the first who wrote; and he was both faithful in his story, of a good memory, and so old a man that he could remember the men, and had heard their accounts, who were so old that through their age they could remember these circumstances as he himself wrote them in his books, and he named the men from whom he received his information. Otherwise it is generally said that King Olaf had been fifteen years king of Norway when he fell; but they who say so reckon to Earl Svein's government, the last year he was in the country, for King Olaf lived fifteen years afterwards as king.