ANY men felt as Solfi did. So when King Audbiorn and
King Arnvid sent out their war arrows, a great host
gathered. All men came by sea. Two hundred ships lay at
anchor in the fiord, looking like strange swimming
animals because of their high carved prows and bright
paint. There were red and gold dragons with long necks
and curved tails.
When the starting horn blew, and their sails were let
down, it was like the spreading of hundreds of curious
flags. Some were striped black and yellow or blue and
gold. Some were white with a black raven or a brown
bear embroidered on them, or blue with a white
"To the sea! To the sea!
The wind in our sail,
The sea in our face,
And the smell of the fight.
After ship meets ship,
In the quarrel of swords
King Harald shall lie
In the caves under the sea
And Norsemen shall laugh."
In the prow stood men leaning forward and sniffing the salt air with joy. Some were talking of King Harald.
"Yesterday he had a hard fight," they said.
They sailed near the coast. Solfi in his
"He is there, ahead. His boats are ready in line of battle. The fox has not been asleep."
King Arnvid blew his horn. Slowly his boats came into
line with his
Arnvid's people had furled their sails and were taking down the masts, but the ships were still drifting on with the wind. The horn blew, and quickly every man sprang to his place in bow and stern. All were leaning forward with clenched teeth and widespread nostrils. They were clutching their naked swords in their hands. Their flashing eyes looked over their shields.
Soon King Arnvid's ships crashed into Harald's line, and immediately the men in the bows began to swing their swords at one another. The soldiers of the shield-guard on the high decks began to throw darts and stones and to shoot arrows into the ships opposite them.
So in every ship showers of stones and arrows were
falling, and many men died under them or got broken
arms or legs. Spears were hurled from deck to deck and
many of them bit deep into men's bodies. In every bow
men slashed with their swords at the foes in the
opposite ship. Some jumped upon the gunwale to get
nearer or hung from the
King Harald's ship lay prow to prow with King Arnvid's. The battle had been going on for an hour. King Harald was still in the stern on the deck. There was a dent in his helmet where a great stone had struck. There was a gash in his shoulder where a spear had cut. But he was still fighting and laughed as he worked.
"Wolf meets wolf
He leaped down from the deck and ran along the gunwale, shouting as he went:
"Harald and victory!"
So he came to the bow and stood swinging his sword as fast as he breathed. Every time it hit a man of Arnvid's men. Harald's own warriors cheered, seeing him.
"Harald and victory!" they shouted, and went to work again with good heart.
Slowly King Arnvid's men fell back before Harald's biting sword. Then Harald's men threw a great hook into that boat and pulled it alongside and still pushed King Arnvid's people back.
"Come on! Follow me!" cried Harald.
Then he leaped into King Arnvid's boat, and his warriors followed him.
"Then he leaped into King Arnvid's boat."
"He comes like a mad wolf," King Arnvid's men said, and they turned and ran back below the deck.
Then Arnvid himself leaped down and stood with his sword raised.
"Can this young Shockhead make cowards of you all?" he cried.
But Harald's sword struck him, and he fell dead. Then a
big, bloody viking of King Arnvid leaped upon the edge
of the ship and stood there. He held his
"Ran and not you, Shockhead, shall have them and me!" he cried, and leaped laughing into the water and was drowned.
Many other warriors chose the same death on that terrible day.
All along the line of boats men fought for hours. In some places the cables had been cut, and the boats had drifted apart. Ships lay scattered about two by two, fighting. Many boats sank, many men died, some fled away in their ships, and at the end King Harald had won the battle. So he had King Arnvid's country and King Audbiorn's country. Many men took the oath and became his friends. All people were talking of his wonderful battles.