Medieval Icelandic Sagas
The Saga of Arrow-Odd
13th century, Old Norse.
'Where’s that little infant I saw here just now?' says the giant.
Arrow-Odd, fated to live for three-hundred years, pursues an adventurous life, pitting his skills in battle against a number of notable Viking warriors and winning ships and wealth and a great deal of notoriety. But one day, whilst crossing a forest, he comes to a ravine that brings his journey to an abrupt halt. Perhaps this is a metaphor, a necessary pause in his extended life – for he has been fated to live for three hundred years – but now his journey is blocked and he finds himself confronting a barrier that seems impossible to overcome. To try to cross it will result in his death, or so it seems.
Suddenly a vulture appears from out of nowhere. It takes Arrow-Odd in its claws and carries him far away to its nest, which lies high on a cliff above a forbidding sea, on a desolate and windswept crag.
Living for many days on the food that this vulture has brought for its chicks, Arrow-Odd can see no way of getting down.
One morning a stone boat approaches the cliff. In it sits a giant who is rowing towards the vulture’s nest in search of some food that the vulture has stolen from him. Odd kills the vulture's chicks, gathers the stolen food into a pile and calls out to the giant. The giant climbs into the nest and puts the food into his stone boat. Odd hurriedly hides.
Where’s that little infant I saw here just now? says the giant.