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King Athelstan's Gift to Egil

I returned to King Æthelstan while he was at the table. He immediately cleared out all those opposite him and invited me and my men to sit with him. I did. The king was silent. I was silent. The battle still raged within me. I sat there with my helmet on my head, my shield at my feet and Adder sitting on my lap.

I could not seem to bring myself to ease. My hand was on the hilt of Adder and I kept on sliding it in and out of its sheave. Afterwards people told me that I seemed to be making the king nervous. I remained silent. The king remained silent.

The battle kept on repeating itself over and over in my mind. I am told my face twisted as I re-fought the battle while sitting there with the king. One eye-brow raising as I fought to my left, then it dropped and the other eye-brow would raise as I fought to my right. My eyes grew wide as I slashed down another man. All this I did in silence. The king watched me and he also remained silent.

Several horns of drink were offered me. I did not hear the offers. I took no drink. The servers looked at the king and he motioned them away.

After quite some time I was able to settle down. The king arose and took an extremely large gold bracelet from his upper arm. He stepped down onto the floor and placed the bracelet on the tip of his sword. He held it at arm’s length. Realizing his intentions I also stepped to the floor and withdrew Adder from its sheath. I slowely raised it until the point was level with the point of the king’s sword. I gently lifted the bracelet from the king’s sword with my own. I withdrew a step, removed the bracelet from adder and placed it on my arm. The king smiled broadly and we both returned to the table.

I placed my sword, helmet and shield on the floor and took a horn of drink that was offered me. I drank it down at once. Then I made a verse.


The King in his coat

Of steel sets this gold coil,

This ring, on my right arm

Where falcons have rested;

The gift hangs glowing,

My arm its gallows:

Honor was earned

By the feaster of eagles.



After that all the men drank from their horns and we feasted.

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