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Medieval and Classical Library


Snorri And Sturla Win
The Work At Ere In Bitter.

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #33

The same night Snorri the Priest sent a man west to Stead-knolls to Sturla Thiodrekson, and bade him come meet him at Tongue north in Bitter the next day. Withal Snorri sent to the farmsteads thereabout, and summoned men to him, and then they went north over Gablefell-heath (1) with fifty men, and came to Tongue in Bitter in the evening, and there was Sturla abiding them with thirty men.

They fared thence out to Ere in the night-tide, and when they were come there, Uspak and his folk went on to the wall of the work, and asked who ruled that company. They told him, and bade him give up the work, but Uspak said he would nowise yield it up.

"But we will give you the same choice that we gave to the men of the Strands," said he, "that we will get us gone from the countryside, and ye shall depart from our castle."

Then Snorri bade him offer no more of such guileful choices.

But the next day, as soon as it was light, they apportioned out the work amongst them for onset, and Snorri the Priest got that part of the work that Raven the Viking guarded, and Sturla the guard of Uspak; the sons of Bork the Thick, Sam and Thormod, fell on at one side, but Thorod and Thorstein Codbiter, the sons of Snorri the Priest, on the other.

Of weapons that they could bring to bear, Uspak and his folk had for the most part stones for their defence, and they cast them forth against their foes unsparingly; for those in the work were of the briskest.

The men of Snorri and Sturla dealt chiefly with shot, both shafts and spears; and they had got together great plenty thereof, because that they had long been getting ready for the winning of the work.

So the onset was of the fiercest, and many were wounded on either side, but none slain. Snorri and his folk shot so thick and fast, that Raven with his men gave back from the wall. Then Thrand the Strider made a run at the wall, and leaped up so high that he got his axe hooked over the same, and therewith he drew himself up by the axe-shaft till he came up on to the work. But whenas Raven saw that a man had got on to the work, he ran at Thrand, and thrust at him with a spear, but Thrand put the thrust from him, and smote Raven on the arm close by the shoulder, and struck off the arm. After that many men came on him, and he let himself fall down outside the wall, and so came to his own folk.

Uspak egged on his men to stand stoutly, and fought himself in right manly wise; and when he cast stones he would go right out on the wall.

But at last whenas he was putting himself very forward and casting a stone at Sturla's company, at that very nick of time Sturla shot a twirl-spear (2) at him, which smote him in the midst, and down he fell outside of the work. Sturla straightway ran to him, and took him to himself, and would not that more men should be at the slaying of him, because he was fain that there should be but one tale to tell of his having been the banesman of Uspak. Another man fell on that same wall where the sons of Bork fell on.

Thereon the Vikings offered to give up the work, life and limb saved, and therewithal that they would lay all their case under the doom of Snorri the Priest and Sturla.

So whereas Snorri and his men had pretty much spent their shot, they said yea to this. So the .work was given up, and those within rendered themselves to Snorri the Priest, and he gave them all peace of life and limb, even as they had claimed. Both Uspak and Raven died forthwith, and a third man withal of their company, but many were wounded on either side. So says Thormod in the Raven-song:

     "Fight fell there in Bitter;
     The maker of stir meseems
     For the choughs of the war-maidens
     Brought home the quarry.
     Three leaders of sea-wain
     Lay life-void before him,
     The fanner of fight-pith.
     There Raven gat resting.