The king replies, "Thou hast no occasion to hasten so much to meet us; for fate has not decreed to thee to-day a victory over me, who raised thee to power and dignity from a mean station."
238. BEGINNING OF THE BATTLE OF STIKLESTAD.
Now came Thorer Hund, went forward in front of the banner with his troop, and called out, "Forward, forward, bondemen!" Thereupon the bondemen raised the war-cry, and shot their arrows and spears. The king's men raised also a war-shout; and that done, encouraged each other to advance, crying out, "Forward, forward, Christ-men! cross-men! king's men!" When the bondes who stood outermost on the wings heard it, they repeated the same cry; but when the other bondes heard them they thought these were king's men, turned their arms against them, and they fought together, and many were slain before they knew each other. The weather was beautiful, and the sun shone clear; but when the battle began the heaven and the sun became red, and before the battle ended it became as dark as at night. King Olaf had drawn up his army upon a rising ground, and it rushed down from thence upon the bonde-army with such a fierce assault, that the bondes' array went before it; so that the breast of the king's array came to stand upon the ground on which the rear of the bondes' array had stood, and many of the bondes' army were on the way to fly, but the lendermen and their house-men stood fast, and the battle became very severe. So says Sigvat: --
"Thundered the ground beneath their tread, As, iron-clad, thick-tramping, sped The men-at-arms, in row and rank, Past Stiklestad's sweet grassy bank. The clank of steel, the bowstrings' twang, The sounds of battle, loudly rang; And bowman hurried on advancing, Their bright helms in the sunshine glancing."
The lendermen urged their men, and forced them to advance. Sigvat speaks of this: --
"Midst in their line their banner flies, Thither the stoutest bonde hies: But many a bonde thinks of home, And many wish they ne'er had come."
Then the bonde-army pushed on from all quarters. They who stood in front hewed down with their swords; they who stood next thrust with their spears; and they who stood hindmost shot arrows, cast spears, or threw stones, hand-axes, or sharp stakes. Soon there was a great fall of men in the battle. Many were down on both sides. In the first onset fell Arnljot Gelline, Gauka-Thorer, and Afrafaste, with all their men, after each had killed a man or two, and some indeed more. Now the ranks in front of the king's banner began to be thinned, and the king ordered Thord to carry the banner forward, and the king himself followed it with the troop he had chosen to stand nearest to him in battle; and these were the best armed men in the field, and the most expert in the use of their weapons. Sigvat the skald tells of this: --
"Loud was the battle-storm there, Where the king's banner flamed in air. The king beneath his banner stands, And there the battle he commands."