At the same time Erik, who held the governorship of Sweden, died of disease; and his son Halfdan, who governed in his father’s stead, alarmed by the many attacks of twelve brothers of Norwegian birth, and powerless to punish their violence, fled, hoping for reinforcements, to ask aid of Fridleif, then sojourning in Russia. Approaching him with a suppliant face, he lamented that he was himself shattered and bruised by a foreign foe, and brought a dismal plaint of his wrongs. From him Fridleif heard the tidings of his father’s death, and granting the aid he sought, went to Norway in armed array. At this time the aforesaid brothers, their allies forsaking them, built a very high rampart within an island surrounded by a swift stream, also extending their earthworks along the level. Trusting to this refuge, they harried the neighborhood with continual raids. For they built a bridge on which they used to get to the mainland when they left the island. This bridge was fastened to the gate of the stronghold; and they worked it by the guidance of ropes, in such a way that it turned as if on some revolving hinge, and at one time let them pass across the river; while at another, drawn back from above by unseen cords, it helped to defend the entrance.
These warriors were of valiant temper, young and stalwart, of splendid bodily presence, renowned for victories over giants, full of trophies of conquered nations, and wealthy with spoil. I record the names of some of them—for the rest have perished in antiquity—Gerbiorn, Gunbiorn, Arinbiorn, Stenbiorn, Esbiorn, Thorbiorn, and Biorn. Biorn is said to have had a horse which was splendid and of exceeding speed, so that when all the rest were powerless to cross the river it alone stemmed the roaring eddy without weariness. This rapid comes down in so swift and sheer a volume that animals often lose all power of swimming in it, and perish. For, trickling from the topmost crests of the hills, it comes down the steep sides, catches on the rocks, and is shattered, falling into the deep valleys with a manifold clamour of waters; but, being straightway rebuffed by the rocks that bar the way, it keeps the speed of its current ever at the same even pace. And so, along the whole length of the channel, the waves are one turbid mass, and the white foam brims over everywhere. But, after rolling out of the narrows between the rocks, it spreads abroad in a slacker and stiller flood, and turns into an island a rock that lies in its course. On either side of the rock juts out a sheer ridge, thick with divers trees, which screen the river from distant view. Biorn had also a dog of extraordinary fierceness, a terribly vicious brute, dangerous for people to live with, which had often singly destroyed twelve men. But, since the tale is hearsay rather than certainty, let good judges weigh its credit. This dog, as I have heard, was the favourite of the giant Offot (Un-foot), and used to watch his herd amid the pastures.