Then Harald and Svein fitted out ships and gathered together a great force; and when the troops were ready they sailed from the East towards Denmark. So says Valgard: --
"Brave Yngve! to the land decreed To thee by fate, with tempest speed The winds fly with thee o'er the sea -- To thy own udal land with thee. As past the Scanlan plains they fly, The gay ships glances 'twixt sea and sky, And Scanian brides look out, and fear Some ill to those they hold most dear."
They landed first in Seeland with their men and herried and burned in the land far and wide. Then they went to Fyen, where they also landed and wasted. So says Valgard: --
"Harald! thou hast the isle laid waste, The Seeland men away hast chased, And the wild wolf by daylight roams Through their deserted silent homes. Fiona too could not withstand The fury of thy wasting hand. Helms burst, shields broke, -- Fiona's bounds. Were filled with death's terrific sounds.
"Red flashing in the southern sky, The clear flame sweeping broad and high, From fair Roeskilde's lofty towers, On lowly huts its fire-rain pours; And shows the housemates' silent train In terror scouring o'er the plain, Seeking the forest's deepest glen, To house with wolves, and 'scape from men.
"Few were they of escape to tell, For, sorrow-worn, the people fell: The only captives form the fray Were lovely maidens led away. And in wild terror to the strand, Down to the ships, the linked band Of fair-haired girls is roughly driven, Their soft skins by the irons riven."
King Magnus Olafson sailed north to Norway in the autumn after the battle at Helganes (A.D. 1045). There he hears the news that Harald Sigurdson, his relation, was come to Svithjod; and moreover that Svein Ulfson and Harald had entered into a friendly bond with each other and gathered together a great force, intending first to subdue Denmark and then Norway. King Magnus then ordered a general levy over all Norway and he soon collected a great army. He hears then that Harald and Svein were come to Denmark and were burning and laying waste the land and that the country people were everywhere submitting to them. It was also told that King Harald was stronger and stouter than other men, and so wise withal that nothing was impossible to him, and he had always the victory when he fought a battle; and he was also so rich in gold that no man could compare with him in wealth. Thiodolf speaks thus of it:
"Norsemen, who stand the sword of foe Like forest-stems unmoved by blow! My hopes are fled, no peace is near, -- People fly here and there in fear. On either side of Seeland's coast A fleet appears -- a white winged host; Magnus form Norway takes his course, Harald from Sweden leads his force.