The Saga of Hrolf Kraki and His Champions - Translation by Peter Tunstall
Part One: Frodi's Thread (cont'd)
The king said, "They came close then, but I'll warrant there's many in here plotting and conspiring with them, and that will be grimly avenged as soon as there's time. But now we can drink all evening, as they'll be so glad to have got away, and their first thought will be to save themselves.
Regin goes to serve the drinks, and he poured the ale with a vengeance, and many others with him, his friends, so that the king's men dropped down one on top of another, fast asleep.
4. Regin Incites the Brothers
Those brothers lie low in the forest now, as we said, and when they'd been there a while, they spot a man riding towards them from the direction of the hall. They recognise him without a shadow of a doubt, it's Regin their foster-father who's come. They're overjoyed and welcome him with open arms. He ignores their greeting, and just turns his horse back towards the hall. This puzzles them and they ask each other what it could mean. Now Regin turns his horse back to them again and looks at them so unpleasantly, as if he might even attack them.
Helgi says, "I think I know what he wants."
Regin went home to the hall now, and they followed.
"My foster-father," says Helgi, "is acting like this so he won't break his oath to King Frodi, and that's why he won't talk to us, although he certainly wants to help."
The King owned a grove near the hall, and when they came there, Regin spoke to himself, saying, "If I had a bone to pick with King Frodi, I'd burnt this grove down." He said no more.
Hroar said, "What's that all about?"
"What he wants," said Helgi, "is for us to go to the hall and set fire everywhere, except for one exit."
"How can we do something like that, two young men like us, with such overwhelming odds as there are against us?"
"We'll do it anyway," said Helgi, "and we'll have to chance it sometime, if we're going to get avenged for our grief."
And so that's what they do. Next thing they know, Jarl Svaevil is coming out and all his men. He said then, "Let's lend these boys a hand and stoke up the fire. I owe King Frodi nothing."
King Frodi had two smiths, who were veritable Volunds of their craft, and both called Var - that's Wary. Regin herded his people out the hall door, his friends and relatives.
5. The Killing of King Frodi
King Frodi wakes in the hall now, gasping for air: "I dreamt a dream, boys, and not a nice one. I'll tell it to you. I dreamt someone was calling to us, and the voice said, 'You're home now, king, and your men too.' I seemed to answer, and rather sharply, 'Home where?' Then the voice came back so close I could feel the blast of his breath, from the one who called. 'Home to hell, home to hell!' the voice said, and with that I awoke."
And at that moment they heard Regin outside the door speaking a verse:
"There's Rain out here
and Halfdan's riders,
let Frodi know.
Var struck the nails
and Var the heads,
Wary for Wary
hammered out warnings.
"Big deal," said the king's men who were inside, "So what if it's raining out there, or the royal smiths are hammering away, be it nails or whatever they're making."
The king said, "You think that's no big deal? We disagree. Now Regin's told us of some danger, and he's given me some words of warning, and most likely he's being sly and tricky with us."
Then the king goes to the hall door and sees that enemies are outside. Now the whole hall is ablaze. King Frodi asks who ordered the fire. They said that it was Helgi and his brother Hroar. The king offers a deal to the boys and asks them to set the terms for themselves, "And it's not right, this feuding among family, or for one kinsman to wish death on another."
Helgi says, "No-one can trust you. Are you going to betray us any less than you did our father? And now you'll pay for that."
Then King Frodi turned from the hall door and made for the entrance to his underground tunnel, hoping to escape down there to the wood. But when he enters the tunnel, there's Regin waiting for him, and not looking too friendly. The king turns back then and burns inside with many of his followers. Sigrid burnt in there too, the boys' mother, Helgi's and Hroar's, because she wouldn't come out.
The brothers thanked their kinsman Jarl Saevil well for his help, and Regin their foster-father too, and all their followers, and gave many good gifts and took command of the whole kingdom, and with it much wealth which had been King Frodi's, lands and riches. They were quite different in mood, those brothers. Hroar was easy-going and good-natured, but Helgi a great warrior, and generally seemed the greater of the two. And that's how it was, for a while.
And here ends the Thread of Frodi, and the Thread of Hroar and Helgi, Halfdan's sons begins.