“I am fordone!” said Skallagrim; “come, drag me from this place, for I fall; or, if thou wilt, hew off my head.”
“I will not serve thee thus,” said Eric. “Thou art a gallant foe,” and he put out his hand and drew him into safety.
For a while Skallagrim lay panting, then he gained his hands and knees and crawled to where Eric leaned against the rock.
“Lord,” he said, “give me thy hand.”
Eric stretched forth his left hand, wondering, and Skallagrim took it. He did not stretch out his right, for, fearing guile, he gripped Whitefire in it.
“Lord,” Skallagrim said again, “of all men who ever were, thou art the mightiest. Five other men had not stood before me in my rage, but, scorning thy weapon, thou didst overcome me in the noblest fashion, and by thy naked strength alone. Now hearken. Thou hast given me my life, and it is thine from this hour to the end. Here I swear fealty to thee. Slay me if thou wilt, or use me if thou wilt, but I think it will be better for thee to do this rather than that, for there is but one who has mastered me, and thou art he, and it is borne in upon my mind that thou wilt have need of my strength, and that shortly.”
“That may well be, Skallagrim,” said Eric, “yet I put little trust in outlaws and cave-dwellers. How do I know, if I take thee to me, that thou wilt not murder me in my sleep, as it would have been easy for me to do by thee but now?”
“What is it that runs from thy arm,” asked Skallagrim.
“Blood,” said Eric.
“Stretch out thine arm, lord.”
Eric did so, and the Baresark put his lips to the scratch and sucked the blood, then said:
“In this blood of thine I pledge thee, Eric Brighteyes! May Valhalla refuse me and Hela take me; may I be hunted like a fox from earth to earth; may trolls torment me and wizards sport with me o’ night; may my limbs shrivel and my heart turn to water; may my foes overtake me, and my bones be crushed across the doom-stone—if I fail in one jot from this my oath that I have sworn! I will guard thy back, I will smite thy enemies, thy hearthstone shall be my temple, thy honour my honour. Thrall am I of thine, and thrall I will be, and whiles thou wilt we will live one life, and, in the end, we will die one death.”
“It seems that in going to seek a foe I have found a friend,” said Eric, “and it is likely enough that I shall need one. Skallagrim, Baresark and outlaw as thou art, I take thee at thy word. Henceforth, we are master and man and we will do many a deed side by side, and in token of it I lengthen thy name and call thee Skallagrim Lambstail. Now, if thou hast it, give me food and drink, for I am faint from that hug of thine, old bear.”
How Ospakar Blacktooth found Eric Brighteyes and Skallagrim Lambstail on horse-head Heights