The Barding Saga

Chapter Ten

Björn set off to return home to Bardstaðir with Gellir Grimsson. Along the way he found the head of Weylin cut off and set upon a pike. Weylin was one of the slaves that Halbjörn Half-troll had brought back from Ireland, and whom Björn had set free. Before he had left, Weylin had asked Björn for permission to take up arms to defend the homestead should they be attacked. He admitted that he would like to take vengeance upon Halbjörn, but he convinced Björn that he placed their friendship in greater regard, and so would not act upon such desires. Instead, he wanted to defend their home against their enemies while Björn was away. Seeing his head upon a pike now, then, filled Björn with dread. He rushed back to the hall, and was relieved to find it standing, but then further puzzled to see the heads of the other two slaves, Caoimhe and Shylah, also on pikes. Inside, he found his wife Helga, who explained that she had returned and killed the slaves, for fear that they would kill him now that he had revealed his devotion to the Red Christ, which these Christians despised with a murderous hatred. Torn by this bloody deed, Björn accepted that there was nothing he could do about it now.

With their court disputes settled, Halbjörn took his men south again to deal with Hallstein Atlisson, whose farm at Stokkseyri lay to the west of Eyrarbakki. Like his brother Hästein, Hallstein had became a þingmann of Skjöldur Brimisson over the winter, and so Halbjörn expected that he would continue to attack Bardstaðir for his goði and to avenge his fallen kinsmen if left alive. Halbjörn sacked the farm, killing many and leaving a man named Ottar Þorkelsson in charge of what remained, on condition that he swore to consider the affairs between them now settled.

As Halbjörn and his men went upriver to rejoin Valberg Blood-Jewel, Björn proposed an idea to Gellir Grimsson and his new neighbor, Ottar Þorkelsson, to sneak into Skjöldur’s home at Árnes and steal his treasure. The plan failed miserably, though. Ottar was slain, but Björn and Gellir managed to escape unidentified.

Meanwhile, Skjöldur’s daughter Solveig, a powerful and respected shieldmaiden, led her father’s men in a series of skirmishes against Valberg and Halbjörn, until she managed to sack Valbergsholt, slaying Valberg and razing his farm to the ground. Solveig escorted the women and children of Valbergsholt, including the goði’s widow, Unn, to Hrafnahof, personally. At the same time, those men who wished to continue the war to fight to avenge their goði’s death rallied to Halbjörn, who decided to head to Hrafnahof to enlist the aid of Einar Lambisson.

Björn, too, had come to Hrafnahof to see what he could do to aid in the events unfolding about them. Halbjörn arrived shortly thereafter with news of what had happened to Valberg, and shortly after him, Solveig arrived with the women and children of Valbergsholt. Her presence there made the situation quite tense, and though they had faced each other as rivals quite often in battle, Halbjörn treated her with the courtesy due to her. It was instead Björn who spoke harshly. Tempers flared, insults were hurled, and soon a hólmganga was challenged and accepted. Björn slew Solveig in that duel. Returning the courtesy she had extended them, Björn and Halbjörn set out to return Solveig’s body to her father at Árnes. Meanwhile, Einar set off for Reykjavik, hoping to enlist the aid of Þorsteinn, the son of Ingólfur Arnarson, the first settler of Iceland and perhaps the most respected goði on the island. He hoped that with his real feud ended with Valberg’s death, Þorsteinn’s support might make the war too costly to continue.



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