Thus he spoke, but still men looked doubtfully upon him, for his eye was the eye of a liar—and Eric, as they knew, did not lie.
“It is hard to find the truth between lawman’s brain and tongue,” said the old viking Ketel. “Eric is no lawman, but a true man, and he sang another song. I would slay Eric indeed, for between him and me there is a blood-feud, since my brother died at his hand when, with Whitefire for a crook, Brighteyes drove armed men like sheep down the hall of Middalhof—ay and swordless, slew Ospakar. Yet I say that Eric is a true man, and, whether or no thou art true, Gizur the Lawman, that thou knowest best—thou and Swanhild the Fatherless, Groa’s daughter. If thou didst slay Gudruda as thou tellest, say, how come Gudruda’s blood on Whitefire’s blade? How did it chance, Gizur, that thou heldest Whitefire in thy hand and not thine own sword? Now I tell thee this: either thou shalt go up against Eric and clear thyself by blows, or I leave thee; and methinks there are others among this company who will do the same, for we have no wish to be partners with murderers and their wickedness.”
“Ay, a good word!” said many who stood by. “Let Gizur go up with us to Mosfell, and there stand face to face with Eric and clear himself by blows.”
“I ask no more,” said Gizur; “we will ride to-night.”
“But much more shalt thou get, liar,” quoth Ketel to himself, “for that hour when thou lookest once again on Whitefire shall be thy last!”
So Gizur and Swanhild made ready to go up against Eric. That day they rode away with a great company, a hundred and one in all, and this was their plan. They sent six men with that thrall who had shown them the secret path, bidding him guide them to the mountain-top. Then, when they were come thither, and heard the shouts of those who sought to gain the platform from the south, they were to watch till Eric and his folk came out from the cave, and shoot them with arrows from above or crush them with stones. But if perchance Eric left the platform and came to meet his foes in the narrow pass, then they must let themselves down with ropes from the height above, and, creeping after him round the rock, must smite him in the back. Moreover, in secret, Gizur promised a great reward of ten hundreds in silver to him who should kill Eric, for he did not long to stand face to face with him alone. Swanhild also in secret made promise of reward to those who should bring Eric to her, bound, but living; and she bade them do this—to bear him down with shields and tie him with ropes.
So they rode away, the seven who should climb the mountain from behind going first, and on the morrow morning they crossed the sand and came to Mosfell.
HOW ERIC AND SKALLAGRIM GREW FEY
Now the night came down upon Mosfell, and of all nights this was the strangest. The air was quiet and heavy, yet no rain fell. It was so silent, moreover, that, did a stone slip upon the mountain side or a horse neigh far off on the plains, the sound of it crept up the fell and was echoed from the crags.