Now we must take up the story, and say how Thrain Sigfus' son came to Norway. They made the land north in Helgeland, and held on south to Drontheim, and so to Hlada (1). But as soon as Earl Hacon heard of that, he sent men to them, and would know what men were in the ship. They came back and told him who the men were. Then the earl sent for Thrain Sigfus' son, and he went to see him. The earl asked of what stock he might be. He said that he was Gunnar of Lithend's near kinsman. The earl said, "That shall stand thee in good stead; for I have seen many men from Iceland, but none his match."
"Lord," said Thrain, "is it your will that I should be with you this winter?"
The earl took to him, and Thrain was there that winter, and was thought much of.
There was a man named Kol, he was a great sea-rover. He was the son of Asmund Ashside, east out of Smoland. He lay east in the Gota-Elf, and had five ships, and much force.
Thence Kol steered his course out of the river to Norway and landed at Fold (2), in the bight of the "Bay," and came on Hallvard Soti unawares, and found him in a loft. He kept them off bravely till they set fire to the house, then he gave himself up; but they slew him, and took there much goods, and sailed thence to Lodese (3).
Earl Hacon heard these tidings, and made them make Kol an outlaw over all his realm, and set a price upon his head.
Once on a time it so happened that the earl began to speak thus, "Too far off from us now is Gunnar of Lithend. He would slay my outlaw if he were here; but now the Icelanders will slay him, and it is ill that he hath not fared to us."
Then Thrain Sigfus' son answered, "I am not Gunnar, but still I am near akin to him, and I will undertake this voyage."
The earl said, "I should be glad of that, and thou shalt be very well fitted out for the journey."
After that his son Eric began to speak, and said, "Your word, father, is good to many men, but fulfilling it is quite another thing. This is the hardest undertaking; for this sea-rover is tough and ill to deal with, wherefore thou wilt need to take great pains, both as to men and ships for this voyage."
Thrain said, "I will set out on this voyage, though it looks ugly."
After that the earl gave him five ships, and all well trimmed and manned. Along with Thrain was Gunnar Lambi's son, and Lambi Sigurd's son. Gunnar was Thrain's brother's son, and had come to him young, and each loved the other much.
Eric, the earl's son, went heartily along with them, and looked after strength for them, both in men and weapons and made such changes in them as he thought were needful. After they were "boun," Eric got them a pilot. Then they sailed south along the land; but wherever they came to land, the earl allowed them to deal with whatever they needed as their own.
So they held on east to Lodese, and then they heard that Kol was gone to Denmark. Then they shaped their course south thither; but when they came south to Helsingborg, they met men in a boat who said that Kol was there just before them, and would be staying there for a while.
One day when the weather was good, Kol saw the ships as they sailed up towards him, and said he had dreamt of Earl Hacon the night before, and told his people he was sure these must be his men, and bade them all to take their weapons.
After that they busked them, and a fight arose; and they fought long, so that neither side had the mastery.
Then Kol sprang up on Thrain's ship, and cleared the gangways fast, and slays many men. He had a gilded helm.
Now Thrain sees that this is no good, and now he eggs on his men to go along with him, but he himself goes first and meets Kol.
Kol hews at him, and the blow fell on Thrain's shield, and cleft it down from top to bottom. Then Kol got a blow on the arm, from a stone and then down fell his sword.
Thrain hews at Kol, and the stroke came on his leg so that it cut it off. After that they slew Kol, and Thrain cut off his head, and they threw the trunk overboard, but kept his head.
They took much spoil, and then they held on north to Drontheim, and go to see the earl.
The earl gave Thrain a hearty welcome, and he shewed the earl Kol's head, but the earl thanked him for that deed.
Eric said it was worth more than words alone, and the earl said so it was, and bade them come along with him.
They went thither, where the earl had made them make a good ship that was not made like a common long-ship. It had a vulture's head, and was much carved and painted.
"Thou art a great man for show, Thrain," said the earl, "and so have both of you, kinsmen, been, Gunnar and thou; and now I will give thee this ship, but it is called the Vulture. Along with it shall go my friendship; and my will is that thou stayest with me as long as thou wilt."
He thanked him for his goodness, and said he had no longing to go to Iceland just yet.
The earl had a journey to make to the marches of the land to meet the Swede-king. Thrain went with him that summer, and was a shipmaster and steered the Vulture, and sailed so fast that few could keep up with him, and he was much envied. But it always came out that the earl laid great store on Gunnar, for he set down sternly all who tried Thrain's temper.
So Thrain was all that winter with the earl, but next spring the earl asked Thrain whether he would stay there or fare to Iceland; but Thrain said he had not yet made up his mind, and said that he wished first to know tidings from Iceland.
The earl said that so it should be as he thought it suited him best; and Thrain was with the earl.
Then those tidings were heard from Iceland, which many thought great news, the death of Gunnar of Lithend. Then the earl would not that Thrain should fare out of Iceland, and so there he stayed with him.
(1) Hlada or Lada, and sometimes in the plural Ladir, was the old capital of Drontheim, before Nidaros--the present Drontheim--was founded. Drontheim was originally the name of the country round the firth of the same name, and is not used in the old sagas for a town.
(2) The country round the Christiania Firth, at the top of "the Bay."
(3) A town in Sweden on the Gota-Elf.