Prologue - extract

I, Ceredig, have been entrusted by King Itmar with the task of setting down for his son Lagdwis the histories of the eleven companions of King Gudleifr, Itmar’s grandsire, so that Lagdwis may learn from their deeds and take example from them. Accordingly, it is of these eleven men I write, making but little mention of Gudleifr himself, for much is related of Gudleifr in many chronicles. Moreover, my purpose being not merely to describe important events, but rather, and above all else, to recount the lives of the companions, I have styled my manuscript not a Chronicle but a Saga.

I have gathered my knowledge of the lives of the companions from many quarters. Above all from the royal companion Arnwald Dragonslayer, under whose command I made several voyages on the king’s ships and from whom I gained a tolerable mastery of the Old Tongue, but his narrations were far from complete. Reiulf Goodcheer, Arnwald’s right-hand in later years, vouchsafed more to me, and the last two companions to remain in royal service, Harald son of Morcant, and Randwulf Wolfsnout, enlightened me with respect to obscurities in the recollections of Arnwald and Reiulf. I heard much from Black Bald, likewise a former royal companion, who entertained me at his family seat at the foot of Dankrad, whither he had retired with his wife after leaving royal service, and from rhe mouth of Asgeirr the Physician, whom I visited on the way back from Dankrad. Finally I was well served in my endeavours by the Book of Wetemaa, which with the aid of the greenmen I read painstakingly, and by no means without difficulty, from beginning to end.

(Wetemaa – The Book of the Fate of the Eleven Companions of King Gudleifer)

translated by Anna Bryson