Suddenly the Shape threw up its arms and seemed to sink beneath the waves, while a sound like the sound of a great laugh went up from sea to sky.
“Now here is the end,” said Skallagrim, “and we are lured to doom.”
Ere ever the words had passed his lips the ship struck, and so fiercely that they were rolled upon the deck. Suddenly the sky grew clear, the moon shone out, and before them were cliffs and rocks, and behind them a great wave rushed on. From the hold of the ship there came a cry, for now their comrades were awake and they knew that death was here.
Eric gripped Skallagrim round the middle and looked aft. On rushed the wave, no such wave had he ever seen. Now it struck and the Gudruda burst asunder beneath the blow.
But Eric Brighteyes and Skallagrim Lambstail were lifted on its crest and knew no more.
Swanhild, crouching in hideous guise upon the ground in the bower of Atli’s hall, looked upon the visions that passed before her. Suddenly a woman’s shape, her own shape, was there.
“It is done, Blood-sister,” said a voice, her own voice. “Merrily I walked the waves, and oh, merry was the cry of Eric’s folk when Ran caught them in her net! Be thyself, again, Blood-sister—be fair as thou art foul; then arise, wake Atli thy lord, and go down to the sea’s lip by the southern cliffs and see what thou shalt find. We shall meet no more till all this game is played and another game is set,” and the shape of Swanhild crouched upon the floor before the hag-headed toad muttering “Pass! pass!”
Then Swanhild felt her flesh come back to her, and as it grew upon her so the shape of the Death-headed toad faded away.
“Farewell, Blood-sister!” piped a voice; “make merry as thou mayest, but merrier shall be our nights when thou hast gone a-sailing with Eric on the sea. Farewell! farewell! Were-wolf thou didst call me once, and as a wolf I came. Rat thou didst call me once, and as a rat I came. Toad didst thou call me once, and as a toad I came. Say, at the last, what wilt thou call me and in what shape shall I come, Blood-sister? Till then farewell!”
And all was gone and all was still.
HOW ASMUND THE PRIEST WEDDED UNNA, THOROD’S DAUGHTER
Now the story goes back to Iceland.
When Brighteyes was gone, for a while Gudruda the Fair moved sadly about the stead, like one new-widowed. Then came tidings. Men told how Ospakar Blacktooth had waylaid Eric on the seas with two long ships, dragons of war, and how Eric had given him battle and sunk one dragon with great loss to Ospakar. They told also how Blacktooth’s other dragon, the Raven, had sailed away before the wind, and Eric had sailed after it in a rising gale. But of what befell these ships no news came for many a month, and it was rumoured that this had befallen them—that both had sunk in the gale, and that Eric was dead.