Hallveig and Solveig
ing Hrapp was the ruler of the tongue of land which sits between Hárfjörðr and Hvalr Vik, who hunted boar with his spear and sting, and in whose mead-hall horns were always overflowing and who gave away so many rings that gold became afraid. He had two daughters, Hallveig and Solveig, who were both birch-tall and sun-bright, and Hallveig was hart-swift with sword and ship, and she fought with forty of the best thegns and was beloved for her conquests of the grim wave-land.
When Thangbrand, Eorl of Ulfhagi, son of Hogni, who was son of Thialf, who was the son of Ulf, sent his son Thrym to ask King Hrapp for Solveig as a wife, King Hrapp was much disappointed, as Thangbrand had a small holding and three sons, and Thrym was unaccomplished. King Hrapp instructed Thrym to go to King Oleif of Grarvàgga and learn the mead of poetry and when he had proved himself in many meetings of metal, to return and be fit to wed Solveig. But Thrym was lazy, and he sailed by the lair of Snozzi the Giant, seeking to make a pact to prove his merit faster. In return for a brave king’s bloodprice of bounty and beside that twenty horses, Thrym asked Snozzi to kidnap Solveig so that Thrym might purport to have rescued her and thus prove his fight-fierceness.
So Snozzi crossed the saltwater meadows in fifteen steps, and while Solveig stood on the seafront he did snatch her, and brought her home in fifteen steps to his lair where his sister Gjilp was waiting. But worthy shield-men of King Hrapp saw this, and reported quickly to King Hrapp that Solveig had been taken by the whale-herder, Snozzi. But King Hrapp had been taken ill since Thrym had left, and he called Hallveig to search for her sister, and defeat the giant.
Hallveig boarded the wave-steed with forty of King Hrapp’s most battle-battered men, and sailed to Snozzi’s refuge. When they arrived, however, she asked the men to stay near the ship, and disembarked on the sandy strand alone to enter the giants’ grim home. She entered his hall with high chin, and said,
‘Snozzi boat-crusher waits;
The whales obey his whims.
The waves smooth at your might;
What does sister Solveig offer?’
Snozzi was pleased with this verse, and answered,
‘The blood-price of a king
will in rings burnish my breast.
The gleam of all-red wealth
I have been guaranteed.’
‘Streams of ravens’ mead
I would rather not release.
If I your briber’s body break,
No bracelets shall bedeck you.
No North man of honor
of sea-mastering might
of battle-bold triumph
would bribe for this trapping.
If such a cur would decline
to his own deeds discharge
and not his prowess prove
why would he his promises perform?’
The grim giant frowned, and this thought he fomented in his mind. What necklaces would adorn his throat, what gold would gleam shining, what delicious horses would he crunch if this craven’s contract were false?
Snozzi then raised his balding head, squinting.
‘If Thrym his contract meets
our meal your bones will make.
If Thrym his word-bond shame,
fierce shield-clash may you share,
and then with fire-coin bright
your kin’s freedom can fix.’
And Hallveig swore by heaven’s stars a coward Thrym would prove, and she to the cave’s black shadows retreated. Thrym then appeared, in courtly clothes, and Snozzi said,
‘How now, trusty lord?
do horse herd’s hard hooves
our hall’s stone hammer?
Your word-swear we summon.’
Thrym, seeing Solveig but not Hallveig, who had hidden, replied with bravado,
‘Begone you foul beasts! My wife I shall rescue, and your bald pates I will break with my axe if you do not leave us at once.’
‘If with heart’s beating blood
you here wish to withdraw
with cup-filling bedfellow,
then blood price you’ll bestow.’
‘Your bloodprice you will have but not now; in forty-two days’ time I will deposit it here, but only because I am feeling generous, otherwise I’d have you killed!’
Then appeared in fishing nets draped, in whale bones and seagrass adorned, a figure from the shadows,
‘Dung-beard, you insult us!
Your boorish babble shames
more than if I your mouth
used as piss-pot. Match metal
with me, Gjilp, sorceress,
if you, gelded, gainsay
you are often fucked by sheep
—then fart. Or are you faint-heart?’
The Eorl-son bristled and sputtered in anger. This giantess in small form—what would her sorcery do against his brain-basher?
‘You must promise your brother will not interfere. Then I will win Solveig and pay you nothing!’
Snozzi, bewildered, agreed and receded to watch the blood spill for his entertainment. The fish-woman flailed, and large steps made while the Oath-breaker his axe readied to shake. In perceiving feet-weakness, Thrym Thangbrandson rushed, but his skull-breaker hit stone as he tripped on the net. The bone-laden woman swiftly left him behind her. She turned on her ankle and her flesh-piercer thrust through his shoulder.
‘For un-manning you here,
No magic need I make.
Cockless wretch, tremble:
No wergild will I pay.
Your vows here fulfill:
Thangbrand’s fee is two-fold.
Learn the gum-sword better;
Shield-din you’ll never enter.’
And with that, she wrenched out her blood-letter, and both his forearms slew, that he might learn better manners, but never fight battle. Casting off her giant-sorceress disguise, Hallveig called:
‘Herder of sea-cows,
with Thrym is decided;
From the Eorl demand double.
Hallveig here witnesses
this weasel welp forfeits.
Neither of you follow:
My fight here is finished.’
She then took her sister by the hand, and from the cave departed, with Thrym’s axe in fist.
‘Stop!’ cried out Snozzi,
‘From you gold I’ll still take,’
But in one step he was trapped in a net three trees tall, which from the mouth of his cave Hallveig’s forty thegns dropped. He crashed into the sea, all in a tangle, and Sollveig, Hallveig, and banner-men all returned to their wave-crusher and sailed to their hall.
Return to Tales of Bhenoria.
Return to Hvalr Vik.