Once upon a time there was a student at the Seminary at Hólar.
His name was Loftur; he practised sorcery,
and tried to
interest others in that practise.
Loftur kept at his sorcery studies until
he had learned
everything contained in Gráskinna (Greycover).
Then he sought to gain more arcane knowledge
from other sorcerers, but nobody knew more than he did.
Early one winter Loftur talked to a schoolmate,
who was considered
to be brave, and asked him
to help in resurrecting the ancient
The student did not want to do this,
but Loftur told him that otherwise he would be killed.
The student asked Loftur how he might help,
as he knew no sorcery. Loftur
replied that he was simply
to stand in the belfry and hold the bell rope.
was not to move at all,
but to was to watch Loftur and ring the bell
as he saw Loftur's hand signal.
Loftur wanted to do this, because:
"those who have studied sorcery as I have done,
can only use it for evil, and they will perish, whenever they die;
but if one knows enough, the Devil no longer has power over the human,
but must serve him, without getting anything in return,
and anyone who knows this much,
can use his knowledge as he pleases.
This knowledge is hard to come by nowadays,
since The Black School was closed,
and Bishop Gottskalk the Evil had Rauðskinna (Redcover)
buried with him, which is why I plan to resurrect him
and obtain the book from him with sorcery."
Just after bedtime they went to the church, in moonlight,
and the student stopped in the belfry but
Loftur mounted the pulpit
and started chanting.
The ancient bishops arose from their graves, one after another,
and some begged him to stop, but Loftur continued.
Three of them were wearing crowns,
the first, the one in the middle, and the last one.
But Gottskalk stayed put, and Loftur started chanting
before, he turned the Psalms to praise of the Devil
and confessed to all his good deeds.
The three crowned bishops stood as far away as possible
and faced Loftur with their hands raised,
but the other bishops looked at them and away from Loftur.
Then a heavy noise was heard, and a man arose with a staff
in his left hand and a red book under the right one.
He did not have
a crucifix on his chest,
and looked unkindly at the other bishops,
but leered at Loftur, who chanted all the more.
Gottskalk moved an inch closer
and said derisively:
"Well chanted, my son, and better than I expected,
but you will
not obtain my Rauðskinna."
Loftur seemed to turn inside out and chanted like
he had never done before.
He turned The Blessing and The Lord's Prayer
to praise the Devil, and the church shook
and was like a straw in the wind.
The student thought he saw Gottskalk move closer
to Loftur and thrust a corner of the book towards Loftur;
he had been frightened, but now he shook with terror,
he thought the bishop lifted the book and that
Loftur stretched out his hand,
and he pulled the bell rope, and everything
vanished into the floor with a whispering sound.
Loftur stood for awhile in the pulpit,
then staggered down and found his companion,
"Now the worst has come to pass.
I could have waited for the dawn,
the bishop would
then have let go of the book, but he overcame me in our encounter,
and he made me so frenzied that if
I had chanted one stave more the church
have sunk, and that was what he wanted.
But I noticed the faces of the crowned
and became startled, but knew that you would
faint by the bell rope
and the bell ring,
but the book was so close, I thought I could reach it, and indeed
I touched a corner and only lacked a good grip to hold it.
But things must be as they
are, and my welfare is doomed."
Loftur then was sure he would die on a certain Sunday,
but his friends advised him
to flee to
the priest at Staðastaður, who was very religious
and had helped people in
trouble. Loftur stayed there
until that Sunday arrived. The priest had to leave home
to give the last rites to an old friend, but Loftur felt
so sick that he could not
accompany the priest,
and stayed at home.
As soon as the priest had left, Loftur
became better and walked to the next farm
and got the farmer there to float a
and they went fishing.
There was no wind that day,
but the boat has never
been seen since.
A man thought he had seen
a grey furry hand rise from the sea,
when the boat had just gotten afloat,
and grab the stern where Loftur
sitting and pull everything under.
Free Translation by Virtually Virtual Iceland
Stamp designed by Þröstur Magnússon