Three Strange Nights with Hrani

King Hrolf readied himself for his journey, assembling a hundred men in addition to his twelve champions and his twelve berserkers. Nothing is told of their travels until they came upon a farmer, who was standing outside as they rode up. He invited all the king's men to stay at his house. The king answered, 'You are a bold man, but do you have the means for this? We are not so few, and more than a small farmer is needed to take care of all of us.'

The farmer laughed, saying, 'Yes, Sire, 'I have at times seen no fewer men come to where I have been. You will lack neither drink nor anything else that you might need during the night.'

The king said, 'Then we will risk it.' The farmer was pleased with this decision. The newcomers' horses were taken care of and shown proper treatment.

'What is your name, farmer?' asked the king.

'Some men call me Hrani,' he answered.

The hospitality was so good at Hrani's that the king felt he had rarely been received with so much generosity. The farmer was full of cheer, and there was no question to which he did not have an answer. They found him to be no fool.

They now went to sleep, but they awoke to such extreme cold that their teeth were chattering. They all got up together, dressed, and covered themselves with whatever they could find. All, that is, except for the king's champions, who were content with the clothing they already were wearing. Everyone felt the cold throughout the night.

The farmer asked, 'How have you slept?'

'Well,' replied Bodvar.

Then the farmer spoke to the king, 'I know that your retainers found it cold in the hall during the night, and so it was. They cannot be expected to withstand the hardships that King Adils will try on you in Uppsala, if they thought this trial was so difficult. Send home half your company, Sire, if you want to stay alive, because it is not with a large force that you will overcome King Adils.'

'You are an impressive man, farmer,' said the king. 'And I will adopt the counsel that you offer.'

When they had readied themselves they set out, wishing the farmer well. The king sent home half his force. The rest rode on their way, and at once another small farm appeared in their path. They thought they recognized the same farmer with whom they had just stayed. Matters now seemed to them to be taking a strange turn.

The farmer greeted them well, asking why they came so often. The king replied, 'We hardly know what tricks we are facing. You might be called a truly crafty fellow.'

The farmer said, 'Again you will not be poorly received.'

They were there another night and were shown fine hospitality. They fell asleep but were awakened by a thirst they found almost unbearable. They could hardly move their tongues in their mouths, so they got up and went to a vat filled with wine and drank from it.

In the morning farmer Hrani spoke, 'Once again, Sire, matters are such that you might well listen to me. I think that there is little endurance in the men who drank during the night. You will have to endure trials more difficult than that when you visit to King Adils.'

Suddenly a fierce storm struck, so the men remained there that day and the third night came. Again a fire was built for them in the evening, and those who sat near the fire felt the heat on their hands. Most of the men quickly abandoned the places on the benches that farmer Hrani had allotted them, with everyone moving back from the flame except King Hrolf and his champions.

The farmer said, 'Yet again Sire, you can cull from your company, and it is my counsel that no one should go except you and your twelve champions. Then there would be some hope that you will return, but otherwise there is none.'

King Hrolf replied, 'You impress me, farmer, as so sensible that we will take your advice.' They stayed there three nights.

The king rode out with twelve men, sending back the rest of his company. King Adils learned of Hrolf's progress and said that it was well that King Hrolf had chosen to visit him, 'because before we part, he will surely have an errand here, and the stories about it will be thought well worth the telling.'