Author's Note: Hi everyone! I was pretty sheepish about the amount of negative reviews I received for the last chapter, which was actually very understandable if one looked into it. Doesn't mean I was any less disappointed that y'all were disappointed, haha! But you'll be happy to know that I'll revise many elements of last chapter, so any qualms that anyone had with it are hopefully abated.
Anyway, commence the responses!
Guardian of Azarath: Thank you for being brutally honest, and I mean that sincerely. I profess, I was rather idle with last chapter's writing, and I'm glad you pointed it out. It woke me up and it means that I shouldn't rush but rather take my time to look deeper into my work. What was undermined needed to be written, so you'll be happy to know that I'll go back and revise, just for you, bro! ;) Thank you so much for everything you've done for me; you've inspired me, cracked me up, and gave me enough criticism so that not only your reviews were light hearted but also they could be taken seriously in terms of solemn critique.
FluentFletcher2: Hi-Ho! Cheerio! Thank you for your feedback. You aren't the only one who caught on that I wasn't feeling particularly creative with the last chapter. It was terribly rushed, and I didn't care until you guys told me. So thanks again for the review, Fletcher. It really helps a lot. More than most would think.
A Person Who Likes Comedy: Oh, you little dickens, you! ^^ You've got to be the sweetest bro on this site! Even at my worst, you tell me to keep my chin up and not to worry, because everyone makes mistakes. How true and wise of you to say. Keep 'em nice reviews coming, man!
CassandraDayTree: Thanks dude! I always appreciate your reviews and how you manage to do one for every single chapter. I hope that you can leave a lengthy one for this chapter because I want to hear more from you instead of just the occasional "good job".
Noname: Bro-Bro, you da best. I know that this is going to turn into "you-are-better" contest but you are better than me. ^^
The Foresaken Twist:
Chapter Nineteen~ End
"This was your plan?!" Came the alarmed yet jubilant cry of Gobber the Blacksmith as he straggled behind the group that was traveling at impending speeds. "This-is incredibly dangerous!"
"Who said babies were easy to deal with?" Hiccup queried with a smile, and easily held onto the throat of his baby dragon. "Besides, it was approved."
"Whoa! Eh, by whom would that be?" Gobber asked skeptically, raising an eyebrow.
"By me," came Hiccup's tranquil reply.
At the back of the group, Stoick hugged his hatchling and huffed, "I never would have approved!" He was rather disgruntled since his weight obstructed his poor hatchling from flying any faster than it could with him on its back.
"Well, then I guess it's a good thing I never listen," Hiccup replied with a shrug and a mumble, quiet enough that his son couldn't pick up and give him ideas. With a small icy sigh, he held his wife close, nestling her between the back of the dragon's head and his chest. He must have apologized to her, even though she could not hear him, over a thousand times. Because of him, she was hurt-breathing, thankfully, if not raggedly, but she was alive and that was all that mattered. She had suffered too many hardships for today, and he didn't want to know if he could handle his wife dying. There was only one plan in mind: Get to Drago, defeat him, and get their dragons back.
Unfortunately, there was more to the obstacle than they could safely overcome. Not only had Drago control over TWO alphas, but the entirety of the sanctuary's former residents, and if he had gotten to Berk, the Berkian dragons as well. They couldn't just rush into battle all willy-nilly, Stoick had pointed out. They needed a well-thought-out strategy to overwhelm Drago and his army of human and beast.
Luckily, they had an inside man.
Eret was wheezing and incredibly unnerved as he clung feverishly to his baby dragon, his fingers digging painfully into the leathery scales. "Can't say I'm finding this fun," he hissed through gritted teeth, squeezing his eyes shut, "but it's better than a desolate isle!"
"Eret," yelled Hiccup, his voice echoing within the cave walls. "You need to give us cover and take out the weak points of the army."
"On my own?" Squawked Eret before Hiccup could go on.
"Not alone," Ruffnut interfered, smirking saucily, "you son of an Eret, I'll be there t' help ya out." Tuffnut retched. "Looks like I'm coming along too," he groaned, quite dissuaded by the idea, "since she and I will share Bark and Belch."
Hiccup nodded assumedly. "Exactly," he said. "We'll be there to help you, Eret. You're not alone in this." The Inuit stared at him, and then looked away, shrouded by memories of his shipmates, who would pledge him of the exact same thing if times got too rough for him alone to handle, and the day he was branded. "You're sure about that?" He slowly asked. "You aren't going to hand me off to Drago? Or keep me as a war prisoner?"
Hiccup raised his eyebrows. "Not unless you want to-"
"Gah! Heavens NO!" Eret retched, making a face. "I'd rather bathe in seal dung than go back to that vile, repulsive beast of a man."
"Then it's settled," Ruffnut cheerfully cackled, flying close to grip his muscular arm, which caused him to shudder. "Welcome to the team, crab-cake."
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," Stoick frowned. "There are bigger things to worry about right now. I suggest that we-"
"Go in, weapons BLAZING!" Shouted the twins in unison.
"NO," Stoick growled, palming his forehead in frustration. "We do that and they'll shoot us out of the sky in three seconds flat. And these things can't maneuver as well as our own," he pointed out, gesturing to the hatchlings, who squawked and wriggled playfully. The attitude of the twins dimmed a little at that.
"Oh," said Tuffnut gloomily.
"Come on, can't we just keep it simple like we always do?" Snotlout groaned from afar. "Bust in, take the dragons, and kick Drago's a-"
"Affirmative!" Came Gobber's jaunty voice. "C'mon, Stoick, ye big lug!" He teased. "We're all guilty of minimalism, an' when has that ever come t' bite us in the behinds?"
Everyone was quiet for a moment, and Eret quantified, "If you need information, I know Drago better than any of you." Everyone looked to him in interest, and he went on. "So to understand that he won't be expecting our presence is very important."
That much was obvious. "And?" Stoick pressed, rotating his hand.
"And he's never done well unprepared," Eret explained as a matter-of-fact. "No matter how powerful, it takes him a good while to strategize and on the base of a surprise attack, he's sure to crumble. He thinks we're stranded with no way out." He paused for a moment and watched with relief as it dawned on the riders. "I believe," he itemized with a smirk, "that a shock attack is the best approach."
"Haha! See?" Laughed a gleeful Tuffnut with a grin of his own.
Stoick thought for a moment, staring solemnly at the back of his hatchling's head before gazing at his son. "What say you, Hiccup?" He inquired curiously.
The man in question jerked his head up in surprise to find that everyone had been awaiting his opinion on the matter. "Well," he started, and ducked his head to avoid an icy stalactite, "I-I think that if Eret is as knowledgeable as he says he is about Drago's issue with time constraint, then we should probably do as he says."
Stoick pondered for a moment, licking his chapped lips, and Snotlout chimed in with, "What else have we to lose? Let's get 'im!"
Without missing a beat, the twins joined in. "Yeah, c'mon Chief!" "Let's kick his barmy butt all the way back to Helhiem!" Jeered Ruffnut while her brother cracked his knuckles. "Legs?" Even Fishlegs had to admit that to catch the enemy off-guard was the beast path to take, considering their unfortunate circumstances.
"I should probably watch over Astrid on the harbor stacks if they're available," he informed the group, and they all glanced at the poor woman with worry. "She's in no shape to join the battle."
Hiccup clutched his wife tighter to his chest and stroked his thumb over her cheek thoughtfully. "If…" He trailed off.
"If what?" Fishlegs asked, but the man in question shook his head with a forced smile.
"If you don't take good care of her, I'll come back to haunt you from the dead," cracked Hiccup, getting a small laugh from the group, even his son, who cackled. He was going to say to Fishlegs that he needed to take care of her in case they all perished, but the group didn't need to hear that when death was already looming in the distance.
"But who says we're going to die?" Snotlout scoffed. "We can do this!"
Stoick smiled and watched as his son took charge. "So it's settled. Fishlegs, take care of Astrid on one of the sea stacks. If anyone approaches and it's not us, fly for the hills. Snotlout, you stick with me and provide cover fire if the twins are captured. Ruff, Tuff, you two go nuts."
Said twins gaped, and for once were at a loss for words. "Uh… You…you're serious?" Tuffnut gasped. "What happened—What demon possessed our Hiccup?"
Hiccup rolled his eyes and groaned at the ridiculous assumption. "Nothing did," he guaranteed. "I just want as much damage to inflict the army as possible. Which means you are our secret weapon. If things start to go downhill, you are going to get Barf and Belch to unleash as much firepower as dragonly possible on that army. But try to avoid the other dragons. Remember, they're in a trance. And if you can take out Drago, they'll be set free."
Ruffnut and Tuffnut squealed and shook in their seats. "Our time has come!" They cried in harmony, pumping their fists in the air.
Stoick put in his two cents with, "Gobber and I will bring up the rear and see if we can rescue any villagers or dragons. Lay some heavy fire, son," he advised. "You're good at that."
Of course, a certain someone didn't want to be left out of the picture. "What about me?!" Asked an eager Hiccup IV, ushering Chaos to catch up with his father. "What do I do?"
Everyone glanced at each other with unreadable expressions as the father of the young lad answered, "You have the most important job of all."
Hiccup perked and tried to peer over his father's shoulders to see his mother. "What's that?" He asked eagerly.
A bout of worry washed over the man, but he kept his composure. "Make sure your siblings are kept safe once we find them," he murmured as they exited the icy caves and out into the world.
It was time to make their mark.
Drago was exceptionally content that the only people that could stand in his way were gone. He was confident that they would die beached on that island in a matter of days, so he wasn't worried. Why should he be? Here he was, on Berk, the dragons completely under his control and the village of people (now his slaves) at his mercy from the elderly to the children.
He balanced his mutilated form on the giant, scarred tusk of the new member of his army: the great white Bewilderbeast of the anterior reservation. The original Bewilderbeast, the one made up of ash and smoke, took a rest at the base of the island in the cold water while the white one stood its titanic body over a heap of rubble that used to be a cluster of buildings. It towered dangerously over the mass of Vikings that had been forced into a huddling assemblage by the men of Drago's army, shivering and angry. Sigrun and Sigmund were amongst the throng, clutching each other like vices. They were in the middle of the clutch, believed to be the only surviving heirs to the tribe, by the kinfolk and by Drago.
The man chuckled, his deep, guttural voice vibrating like marbles in his throat. "It's ours," he murmured, gripping his staff loosely. "Berk is ours." He chuckled again, relaxed and confident. "We've won."
He concentrated his gaze down to the group of Vikings and centered in on the two heirs. On the outskirts of the huddle, the Nightfury (his prized possession) circled around them, snarling and snapping with his unsheathed teeth whenever someone would try to make a break for it. He made a fine guard animal, and would definitely be put to good use in the future.
Drago smirked as he watched it prowl. He did find that dragon amusing. Such a shame that it couldn't fly on its own, implicating figuration concerning the controls and gears so that he could ride the legendary beast himself. All in good time of course, he would assure himself. Now that the prevalent threat was out of his way, he had plenty of time to work with it.
After commanding the entranced Bewilderbeast to lower him down, he hopped off the tusk and onto the frozen dirty ground with a loud thud. When he landed, the soft murmuring in the large group ceased all together, and the whistling wind replaced said murmuring.
"Anxious?" He asked waggishly, but he received no answer. Children clung to their mothers and fathers glared at the perpetrator while the elderly shook their heads with disapproval. "Well, you have every right to be," he conveyed. "Before this day ends, you will all be under my command and become the newest addition to my army. And be warned. If any of you step out of line, there will be severe consequences." A stifled, collective gasp emitted among the Celtic group as they gaped at the man in disbelief.
Who did this monster think he was? Using his dominant to hypnotize their pets into obeying him, stealing onto their island, taking their weapons, threatening their lives, and all to turn them into slaves? Absolutely not! Despicable! They were Vikings, and as such, they were not about to go down without a fight.
"We'll never join you!" Came the high-pitched shout of an extremely brave or foolish figure in the near center of the unit, of a Shepard named Not-So-Silent-Sven. Drago's dark eyes flickered over to the now standing man, all bold and insubordinate. How amusing.
"Ever!" The man shouted again, crossing his arms.
Hm. It looked like he needed to be corrected, unless Drago wanted him to start some sort of uprising. So the vanquisher laughed to illustrate what little threat Sven was. And it caught said Shepard off-guard. "What would you rather do!?" He guffawed. "Die!?"
"Yes!" Unfortunately, Sven was not so wise as he was passionate. "I would rather die than help such swine!" He declared, and the village inhabitants marveled at him, both fearful and amazed. Drago just shook his head with a wide smirk and gave a signal.
Instantly, his soldiers swarmed the shivering faction and plucked out not Sven from its hold, but the two heirs, who whimpered. The Vikings twitched, wanting so badly to help, but with their own pets fuming down their necks, it was difficult to find the will.
"You're keen to die," Drago casually reaffirmed as the twins were dragged before him, held by their necks, and then shoved to their knees. Sigrun gaped up at Drago with her teary, bloodshot azure eyes and hugged her brother, who was sobbing softly. "But are you willing to let them die?"
Sven faltered. He hadn't been expecting this.
"Hm?" Drago questioned before slamming the point of his staff into the little girl's throat, enough to shock her back onto the dirt, but not enough to be lethal. She screamed then, clutching the blade between her tiny fingers and her legs flailed uselessly.
"Muh-MAMA!" Sigrun sobbed hoarsely from earlier crying, her leather dress ripping from the force of her kicks. "DADA! H-HELP ME, MAMA!" Drago paid no attention to her, or to little Sigmund kicking his leg in retaliation.
Instead he watched Sven, who looked quite troubled indeed. "Your only heirs to the throne? The royal blood of the tribe?" Without looking down, he pressed the blade harder into Sigrun's neck, causing her to still, but trembling softly all the same as she did.
"Mama..." She sniffled, her lithe arms and legs twitching. "Muh-Mama..." Sigmund kicked as hard as little legs could kick, but he might as well have been striking stonewall. Everyone watched in horror. Drago would have scooped him up and chucked him over the side of a cliff, but alas, his prosthetic couldn't move on his own and his only functioning arm was busy.
"Take me instead!" Came a random cry in the crowd. Everyone looked to the speaker with surprise. Gunnar, a local repairman had gotten to his feet and was looking at Drago, straight in the eyes. The villagers looked to him in amazement.
"N-No, me!" Came another cry, a friend of Gunnar's. Bjorn, the butcher.
"Don't be ridiculous, Bjorn!" Helga, Astrid's mother, yelled, and got up to her feet. "It's me he shall take."
"Darling, Valhalla shall take me away, not you," joined Egil, softly grasping her arm.
"I'll do it!" Cried little Clamlegs, waving his arms and hopping up and down.
It was incredible and Drago was livid at the unexpected turn of events. He had meant to strike fear into the hearts of these people, exhibiting his ability to feel no mercy even to children, but as more rustics began to chime in and offer themselves for the twins, he realized that Sven wasn't the only one that would give up his life rather than enter the army. He needed to put an end to this.
"Bring that rat to me!" Drago roared, not unlike a dragon, and Sven was dragged to keep beside the twins. The conqueror removed his staff from Sigrun's neck, much to her relief as she lay stationary, and moved it so that he could slice Sven's throat to ribbons.
"Let this be an example for anyone who dares question the true conqueror of dragons!" Drago shouted. "Anyone? Hm? Who's next?!"
"You're next, Bludvist!"
Everyone jumped and regarded the murky sky.
It couldn't be...
"This time," roared a furious Hiccup as he approached on his hatchling, "you've gone too far!"
Drago had little time to respond when the future Chief of Berk swooped down and knocked him off his feet, scooping up an eager Sigrun AND Sigmund into his arms while the baby dragon hauled Sven to safety. Snotlout followed closely behind and managed to deliver a resounding smack to Drago's head right before he landed with a large thump, causing the crowd of Vikings to cheer. And that's when their Chief rode into view.
"It's Stoick!" Gunnar yelled to confirm everyone's hopes. "Why, they're all here!"
"Daddy?" Clamlegs cried hopefully, but his father was nowhere in sight, much to his dismay.
Hiccup? Stoick? Here? Alive?! Drago snarled, pounded his fist into the dirt, and lifted up his head with a heave, just in time to see that it was true, that indeed, the Chief had escaped death yet again.
Stoick the Vast gave a proud nod to his people and lit the area around them aflame, sending the soldiers scattering with fear. The fire died out fast, so the Vikings could escape.
"Grab your shields!" Stoick roared, hovering above the crowd. "Today we FIGHT! FIGHT for your FREEDOM! FIGHT FOR OUR DRAGONS!" His little speech was more than enough to ignite a major spark of passion within everyone, and they obeyed, hunting down the soldiers on the offensive to steal back any weapons they could find.
Drago struggled to pick himself up, especially when a child or two would rush by to kick his head, but he eventually managed to get his feet. Once inert, he watched with shock and rage as the original riders zoomed past, far too quick for his men to strike down, and that they had provided enough of a distraction for the two Bewilderbeasts to wander off with short tempered grumbles.
"No," he growled, throwing himself on one of tusks of the paler dragon. "No, no, no, no, no! Fight! Fight before they take them back!"
He was talking about the dragons of course, including the Nightfury, who had been prowling amongst the villagers just a moment ago and was now sitting dazed on his haunches and blinking rapidly. He murmured tiredly and watched about him in confusion as everyone gathered his or her weapons.
What was going on?
Hiccup had the children gathered in his arms with his eldest son following suit. Together they avoided an onslaught of arrows by climbing higher and higher into the clouds until they reached the peak of Berk where nothing could find them. (This was all after dropping off Sven, who thanked Hiccup profoundly).
With a resounding thump, he dropped the children into the snow and hopped off his hatchling to join them for a moment. The kids were absolutely ecstatic and were talking at once.
"Daddy, you came back-"
"OMT, that was wicked-"
"-and you saved us!"
"I can't believe you knocked "dreadlocks" over-"
"Guys!" Hiccup interrupted and signed the message to Sigmund. "Can I please speak?" The kids stood at attention and gave polite nods with their lips respectively sealed tight. "Thank you," he sighed. "Now this is very important for you to remember."
"I need every single one of you to stay here. Daddy and Uncle Snotlout has to help our friends," he explained, shivering slightly.
Snotlout gave a curt nod of confirmation.
Speaking of family... "Wha' 'bout mama-Where's mama?" Sigrun asked excitedly, eager to see her mother, as she had been to see her father.
Both adults stiffened, but Hiccup IV beat them to the punch, fervent to tell the tale. "She's hurt!" He informed them sadly, and the twins gasped.
"Mama's hurt?" Sigrun cried. "I don't want mama to be hurt!"
"She'll be okay though," assured the young boy, hugging Sigmund. "Really. It's just a scratch."
Sigrun's little face scrunched up. "That means it's BAD!" She howled, bursting into tears, and Hiccup III gathered her up in his arms.
"Sweetie, please. You have to listen to us," Snotlout decreed, getting to his knees. "We have a very important job to do and we need you to be safe."
"No!" Cried the young girl stubbornly. "I hate waiting!"
Hiccup knew that was coming, and luckily, a few stowaways solved the case. "That's why your dragons are here, silly!" He gestured to the triplets. Chaos had gotten Tickles and Mayhem to join the tiny squad and now they squawked playfully to try and cheer their human playmates up. "See? Now you won't get bored, okay?"
Sigrun considered this, wiping her runny nose with a shiver from the cold. "Okay," she croaked. "Come back soon though."
"Daddy will be right back," Hiccup promised with a beam. "You stay here and don't come down until I say so. That goes for all of you, understand?" He directed a serious withering gaze at his oldest with a raised eyebrow. Said eldest scoffed and rolled his eyes.
"Yes," they all groaned, except for Sigmund, who signed it with a pouting face.
Hiccup swallowed hard. "Good." It now occurred to him that he might never see his children again, so he gathered them up and placed a kiss on each of their foreheads. "I love you all. Every single one of you," he murmured, nuzzling their hair. "I'll be right back. I promise."
Snotlout watched with a small grin and tried to pull his cousin away. "C'mon Hiccup," he whispered. "We have to go."
The young man sighed and reluctantly released his children before waving goodbye and mounting the baby dragons for a final time.
"Bye daddy!" Called Sigrun and Hiccup as he flew away, waving their little arms.
Their words echoed through his mind and gave Hiccup just the right amount of determination to nosedive down to the great Bewilderbeast and try to knock Drago off. Snotlout followed, albeit slower to bring up the fear in case something went wrong.
"C'mon," Hiccup seethed through his gritted teeth, the cold wind rushing through his long braided hair. And then he shouted having failed at first to come into contact with the man due to a flying projectile. He could have screamed. And he did. "C'mon!" He shouted at the top of his lungs, and Drago watched as the younger man made a full loop. "Fight me man to man! Stop hiding behind those dragons!"
Drago just chuckled with amusement, not failing to see the irony behind Hiccup's words. "I have nothing to prove to you, boy!" He shouted back with that horrible voice, and then thrust his spear, commanding the white Bewilderbeast to battle, while its twin followed in pursuit. "Come on!" He yelled over the sounds of battle. "Let's end this!"
Toothless went from a confused bumbling Nightfury to the unholy offspring of lightning and death itself in a matter of moments, as did the rest of the dragons, who hissed and turned his or her gazes toward Hiccup.
Snotlout was the only one who noticed, right before he was knocked off his dragon and he fell to the ground, whacking himself unconscious as he hit the ground with a thud. Hiccup was on his own.
On a nearby sea stack, Fishlegs tended to Astrid. He was being as gentle as he could as he tenderly changed her makeshift bandages around the bloody mass that used to be her womb. His own stomach lurched at the sight and had to empty its contents into the bushes several times before he gained the courage to do the job he never really wanted to do in the first place. And that was...
"I have to remove the baby," he whispered, tears clouding his vision. "Oh, Thor, give me strength."
"Humph..." Astrid shifted in her unconscious state and wriggled her fingers. Fishlegs blanched.
"Nope! No! Stay asleep, Astrid," he begged, for she would feel the full throttle of pain if she awoke from her deep slumber. "Please for the love of Freyja, do NOT wake up."
Freyja seemed to not have been listening at the time because Astrid yawned, gave a wriggle, and with Fishlegs watched on helplessly, opened her crusty azure eyes.
A moment passed. And then she screamed. Loudly.
The volume and abruptness of the scream alone caused Fishlegs to scream himself, tripping and falling backward over his own feet until he was a confused, stupid mess atop the sea stack.
Another scream, much more ragged than the first.
"Astrid! It's okay! It's okay!" Trembled Fishlegs's helpless plea, and he rushed to his feet. He pinned down her armored shoulders as she writhed with pain and he was able to hold her still, thanks to his strength. "You're gonna be okay!" He assured her, although he was not so sure himself. "Oh, Thor, what do I do?!" He inwardly whimpered. "She needs Gothi now!"
Meanwhile, things were doing quite well for the Berk residents. The soldiers were plentiful-about a thousand bull-headed hefty-set men and women compared to the measly 345 men, women, children, and elders, but the odds were severely against the opposition; thanks to Ruffnut and Tuffnut, the soldiers were being picked off by the hundreds.
It was difficult to regain control over Barf and Belch, but being the stubborn beasts that they were, after they had truly opened their eyes from the coaxing of their riders, they were able to resist the commands of the alphas.
As soon as the twins were sure that their dragons were safe, they flew off to cause as much mayhem as they possibly could as Hiccup instructed. Lighting ships, catapults, and enemies on fire, they sang battle songs together, called names, took bets, and screamed battle cries.
"Loki owns you ALL!" Tuffnut shouted as they took out a group of soldiers creeping up on some unsuspecting women. "Haha! My body count is dwindling no more, sister!"
"Amen to that, bro!" Ruffnut shouted in agreement. "Nor is mine! Now lets kick some barmy butt!" And off they went, careful to avoid the hissing entranced dragons and the Bewilderbeasts, but had no issue setting fire to buildings as their rampage went on. But who could expect more from the Thorston twins?
"I missed all this destruction!" Tuffnut exclaimed as they sent fireball barreling toward an enemy catapult. "We needed this!"
Ruffnut didn't respond, but steered her head in a separate direction, causing Tuffnut to nearly lose his seating. "Whoa! Whaddaya doin', butt-elf?" The woman sent a death glare to her sibling, but when they landed next to an unconscious figure, Tuffnut bit his tongue and immediately wished he hadn't said anything.
Eret, who'd been flying by, noticed the three and bit his lip before flying on. Hiccup had given him a job to do, and by the Gods, he was going to do it. "Let's go, Aguta," he whispered to his hatchling.
Hiccup had a pretty bad feeling brewing in the pit of the stomach after hearing the faint scream of Drago, "Let's end this now" that squelched out any bout of confidence he had up until then.
He and his hatchling were getting the hang of flying together as they shot straight up toward the clouds, and he had quickly decided to name it:
"Konge, sky!" Hiccup ordered, steering his dragon higher and higher until they had gone past the peak of the mountains. Looking to his children, he waved and they screamed with joy over his appearance. From there he looked down and gulped. If his sweaty hands slipped and he fell-
Hiccup was knocked from the little hatchling and for half a second, his heart stopped beating and he was in free-fall. In the distance, he heard a muffled "DADDY!" And then sharp teeth pierced his right leg and he screamed in pain. Only then did he hear the sounds of beating wings and gnashing teeth, and his heart sank faster than he fell. Is this what Drago intended? For him not to fall to his death, but be torn apart by the creatures he loved the most?
It must have been, for a dragon's head slammed directly into his stomach, knocking the wind out of his system as he was sent in a different direction. A clubbed tail caught his backside and he screamed again, sound becoming a high pitched droning and his vision going white; all while these dragons were tossing him back and forth like-
Slam. A wing caught his throat.
Bam. Another tail caught his leg.
Shear. Teeth grazed every inch of his bruising body.
After a good few minutes of this, Hiccup was still in the air and being tossed around like a ragdoll. Villagers below and even the soldiers had stopped to watch, Berkians with horror and the army with amusement and laughter. Drago himself was enjoying the show quite a bit.
"Behold!" He shouted mockingly, flourishing his staff. "The great Dragon Conqueror!" The army screamed with laughter and whistles while the villagers hopped back into action with screams of rage, determined to infiltrate the core of this army and give their young heir the Justice he deserved.
Snotlout!" Ruffnut cried, throwing herself off her head and clamoring to get to the unconscious man. Tuffnut joined her and threw his helmet aside, gasping upon noticing the pool of blood surrounding Snotlout's helmet-less head. It must have gone misplaced during the fall. Nonetheless, they needed to get him out of there if he was to live.
Far away, Stoick and Gobber were doing quite some damage themselves. They'd made a habit of perching themselves on a catapult, much to the annoyance of the soldiers. And when they were about to attack, the dragons would squawk and blast tiny bits of fire at the catapults, rendering them useless.
They didn't notice Hiccup's misfortune.
Hiccup was falling unconscious due to the pain. That or he was dying. Either way he was sure that his family would be devastated and fight to the death to regain some honor back into the Haddock name.
Slam. A wing.
Bam. A tail.
Whoosh... Free fall.
For once, Hiccup didn't mind. Falling meant getting a break from the constant barrage of stoning reptiles. It meant less pain. Less of everything, really. But as he neared the ground, his resolve melted away and he began to panic. He couldn't die, n-not now!
Lucky for him, death was not what Drago intended for him quite yet. Moments before Hiccup would have become with the Earth, dragon talons caught him by the arms and dragged his lithe form back up higher. Hiccup moaned.
"Nuh-N-No...Not again...Please no..." He mumbled as the flapping of wings and the gnashing of teeth grew louder once more.
And the torture began again.
Fishlegs tended to a hysterical Astrid as best he could, and even wrapped up the little bundle of former life within some spare cloth that he hadn't used yet for her wound. Speaking of which...it was terrible.
There was a hole in her stomach! What was he honestly supposed to do?!
"Take her to Gothi," Fishlegs decided, a bit breathlessly as he tried to calm his erratic nerves. "She's an injured warrior, is all. Take her to Gothi."
Hiccup's former reptilian counterparts threw him into the Great Hall without mercy. With a scream, he crashed through the giant double doors and slammed into the hearth in the center of the area (which was thankfully unlit). He collapsed to the floor with a thud and a moan, completely shrouded in darkness when the sliver of light made by the doors disappeared.
This was not going well. Not for him. His head was ringing and his entire body was aching. Not for Astrid. She was literally dying! And certainly not for poor Toothless. He was still under Drago's control. Oh, where was Snotlout when he was needed?!
Hiccup struggled with all his might to pull his abused form up to a sitting position, slumped against the stone of the hearth. Outside, he could hear the battle cries of his people, screams of pain from the dragons he loved, and the metallic clashing of weapons. He closed his eyes. Why did he think they could do this? They were completely unprepared, but they went for it anyway. Why? Well, they didn't want to see their childhood home go up in flames-or ice, obviously enough. But-
An eerie creeaaak grabbed his attention and his eyes flew open just in time to see the conqueror himself enter the Great Hall. Hiccup could only watch as the sliver of light blinded his eyes before being sucked back into darkness once more as the door closed shut.
And then there were two.
Hiccup sucked in a ragged breath of pain as he struggled to pick himself up. A sharp pain in his ribcage beckoned him to fold over on himself, and he wrapped a skinny arm around the area. "L-Leave," he moaned to the daunting figure.
Drago only shook his head with an amused smile and hobbled toward the young man, who glared. "Ge-Get out of here!" He barked. "Leave Berk alone!"
Drago answered not, but prowled forward like the madman that he was, and Hiccup felt a flicker of panic rise in his chest.
"Can't you see that you're losing more than you can afford by fighting us?" The Viking inquired, grasping the cold stone with his raw, bloody fingertips. "Is it even worth it?"
No answer, and Hiccup sighed, hunching over the hearth. "Can you not hear me?" He whispered.
This time, once he was but a mere few feet away from his intended destination, Drago answered, but it was not what Hiccup expected it to be. "I thought you mentioned us fighting man to man," came his guttural reminder, and the lad blanched as he remembered his careless diction.
Not wanting to get beaten to a bloody pulp, Hiccup needed to think of a way to dissuade this man. Fast. "Am I worth it, Bludvist?" He derailed. "One man?"
Drago, much to Hiccup's surprise, nodded. "Oh yes," he replied. "I hate to admit, but when you came flying in on that dragon, your people began to rally."
Hiccup blinked in confusion. "No..." He slowly denied. "You must be mistaken. My father is the one who has that effect on everyone, not me."
Drago smiled, showing off his yellowed teeth. "Ah, but it's you who is mistaken, boy. In the face of war, you are an icon that the people are waiting for, that they yearn to fight by. You...induce hope. Surely you've noticed."
Hiccup was at a loss for words. "Huh-Hope?"
"And if you've paid attention in warfare class, to win a war," Drago continued, brandishing his spear, "you need to snuff out the opposition's hope." He tapped the spear against a frozen Hiccup's chest. "What say you?"
"I-I..." Hiccup couldn't the words to describe how appalled he felt. He could feel the tip of the blade piercing his skin, through his tunic, and it frightened him terribly. He needed to think quickly, lest he wanted to die. But he didn't need to.
"Unless," Drago mused, removing the spear.
"U-Unless?" Hiccup stammered, moving a hand to run the sore area on his chest.
The conqueror smiled. "Unless you join me."
Hiccup took a start. "What?!"
"If not, have it your way," Drago shrugged. "But your people will become my slaves. Whichever you choose, loyalty or death, that is how it will end."
Hiccup slumped. "The Vikings of Berk will always fight," he whispered. "You're wrong."
"Am I?" Drago smirked, moving to the side. The movement caused Hiccup to warily glance up, and what he saw made him gasp, his eyes growing so wide that they hurt. A part of him wanted to scream and run, another wanted to stay and weep with joy. After all, it had been too long since he had seen his dragon.
"Toothless?" He exclaimed, scrambling to his feet. "Buddy!"
The Nightfury that had been hidden in the shadows this entire time seemed to be in worse shape than Hiccup was. All bruised and banged up, covered with cuts and gashes either inflicted by humans, dragons, or both, and his eyes glowing green with madness. "Oh, Toothless..." He was a mess, and although it had been the work of someone else, Hiccup couldn't help but feel utterly responsible for letting this all happen.
"Hey, Bud," he greeted softly, extending a shaking hand as the Nightfury prowled forward. Those beautiful made eyes had turned back into slits, indicating that outside somewhere, the alpha was still in control. Hiccup shook his head. He couldn't give up, no matter what the circumstances. "Come back to me."
Drago just laughed. "You cannot subdue the grasp of the alpha. But try, oh great dragon master. Try and take him." Hiccup caught a whiff of smoke trailing from between the Nightfury's lips, and he gulped. "He won't miss a second time."
Hiccup shook his head, trying to ignore Drago's mocking words coupled with the immense danger and focused on his best friend instead. Toothless needed him more than ever right now; he couldn't back down. He just couldn't! "Please," he whispered, his insides melting into white-hot slurry, as the beast appeared not to hear him. "Please come back to me."
No response, except for the slight growl escaping past Toothless's extracting teeth. Hiccup felt his heart drop and the hair on the back of his neck stand up on end. In truth, he was frightened and ashamed to be, of his best friend. It was hard not to be though he knew that it wasn't the real Toothless stalking him, but a grim substitute that Drago had created.
"Please," Hiccup said again, and as the Nightfury approached, he gained the courage to place a hand on his forehead, caressing the leathery scales. Drago raised his eyebrows at the bold move. He had been presuming the Nightfury to bite off the boy's hand, but instead, it just stood there panting and chuffing.
"I won't let you go," Hiccup whispered, pressing his own forehead against the scales. The touch was electric; the dragon's pupils and mind responded indifferently to the soft, delicate contact created by the loyal, persistent human.
Drago furrowed his eyes. "What are you-?"
Toothless chuffed; the slits of his eyes slightly expanded and contracted and it caused Hiccup's heart to soar. It was working!
Drago was concerned, looking back and forth between Viking and dragon in awe. "How are you doing that?" He asked, moving forward.
Hiccup paid no attention to him and placed another hand beneath the dragon's chin. "You are my best friend, Bud." The pupils expanded and contracted, evident of the internal battle Toothless was fighting to regain his will. Somehow, Hiccup's words were encouraging his will to fight back against the authority of the alpha, and regain control over his own being. And it was working!
Hiccup breathed in and said it one last time, tone loving and kind, "My best friend..."
Toothless jerked his head away from the human and shook it rapidly, his ear flaps shaking, his teeth sheathing, his pupils expanding for the last time, and the sweetest dragony smile in the world taking the place of the hideous snarl his muzzle once adorned. Speaking of smiles, a huge one overtook the entirety of Hiccup's face when he realized that his buddy had come back to him. "That's it, Bud! Come on back!"
Drago knew that he had waited too long, and a rush of fury flooded his veins. "No!" He shouted, bashing the rehabilitated dragon on the head with his staff, once, twi- Toothless, irate as could be, unsheathed his teeth and tore the staff from Drago's hands.
Fishlegs had no choice. Astrid needed Gothi. And if Gothi was on a war-torn island of misery, then that's where they were going, unfortunately.
With the woman in his arms, Fishlegs climbed atop the hatchling and stared at the war-torn island in the distance. He let out a miserable sigh but steered the hatchling in the right direction. "Here goes nothiiiiiiiii-!" He cried when the baby dragon leapt from the sea stack.
"C-C-Careful!" He shouted at the hatchling, wrapping his large arm around the neck of the dragon, the other clutching a sobbing Astrid like a vice. They were both being shaken beyond comfort. "G-Go a little slower, please!" He stuttered, but the baby refused to comply as it did not listen to anyone, and flapped its wings ever harder to join its siblings on Berk.
And Berk, well, it was a sight for Fishlegs to see. Dotted with enemy soldiers and familiar Vikings, the isle was shrouded with smoke and many flocks of dragons by which Drago had taken control of, creating a spectacularly colorful but deadly view. The hefty-set man closed his hazel eyes and sent a silent prayer to the Gods, begging for his life to be spared as the baby dragon began its descent.
"Whooaaaaaaa-carefulcarefulcarefulcareful!" Fishlegs shrieked as they flew through a battle zone, narrowly missing flying spears, arrows, sheep, and other projectiles. "EIIIIIIIIIII-GOTHI!" There she was!
Hiccup wasn't the only one to pull Toothless from the dark hold of the alphas; other Berkians had figured out the problem as well and were determined to solve it. Instead of forcing themselves to kill their own pets, Vikings set down their weapons and coaxed that loving instinct to come out of hiding, pulling the dragons away from Drago's command.
So as more and more people were taking their dragons, it became apparent to both sides that they were no longer on the defensive. With their recently altered pets, they flew at the enemy, brandishing weapons and fire as they sped. Even Gothi was getting in on the action, sending her aggressive yet homey Terrible Terrors a-flying and beating anyone on the head with her staff if she could. She was a tough old bird, and truth be told, she was beginning to enjoy herself-by protecting her home of course-until a certain someone came flying up to her with an injured warrior in hand.
"G-Gothi!" Fishlegs gasped. "Thank goodness I found you! Oh, Thor, it was terrible! It was awful! It was diabolical!" The old woman gaped at the young female in his arms and bonked him on the head with her staff, silencing his idiotic rambling. "R-Right, right. Sorry. Let's get to your h—WHAT IN THE NAME OF MIGHTY ODIN?!"
His outburst had been perfectly understandable, for who else would undermine the sight of Drago bursting from the Great Hall with Hiccup flying close behind on Toothless? Fishlegs certainly didn't expect it, and neither did anyone else. But he couldn't focus on that just yet.
"Okay, that was awesome and weird. C'mon Gothi," he whispered, and with the old woman in tow, they made it up to her hut, where Astrid was placed so that she could be healed. Gothi got to work right away, ignoring the rattling of her home as the battle continued, removing the makeshift bandages, dotting the sound with alcohol which caused Astrid to whimper and shift in her once again unconscious state, scooping away as much puss as was visible, and then replacing the makeshift bandages with real ones, wrapping them as tight as they would go.
Fishlegs sorrowfully watched the woman work her magic, standing in the corner with something in his hands. Something bloody. Something wrapped in cloth. The baby. He wasn't sure what would come out of showing the healer, but he felt like it had to be done, for the sake of the former living being.
"Gothi," he whispered, ignoring the blasts of outside. Somehow, the old woman hear him and glanced in his general direction, her brow furrowing when she caught sight of the tiny bundle. Without hesitating, she hobbled forward. Fishlegs caught her drift and kneeled on one knee, extending the bundle as she hovered her soft, wrinkled hand over it.
A moment of silence shrouded the area, and Fishlegs could feel tears prickling at his eyes. "Will...Will Astrid ever...?"
Gothi shook her head before he could finish, sending a pitiful glance at the motionless woman on the cot. Fishlegs closed his eyes, tears finally escaping. So that was it then. Gothi had made it quite clear that there would be no babies coming out of that young Valkyrie alive, which meant that this babe was the end of the Haddock expansion.
"Boy or girl?" He asked softly, wanting as much information as he could so that he could inform his poor friends.
Gothi reached up and tugged at his hair.
Fishlegs closed his eyes again and handed the tiny bundle to Gothi when she beckoned for it. She cradled it gently, sending a silent prayer to the Gods. She believed that a proper burial was needed for this baby. He deserved to be sent into Valhalla like any other child would.
"Clamlegs?" He gasped, rushing to the entrance of the hut, staring at the chaos in horror, knowing that his son was in the middle of it. Without acknowledging Gothi, he sprinted out of the hut, down the steep wall of stairs, and into the battlefield without a second thought.
"CLAMLEGS!" He shrieked as a spear whizzed past his nose, causing him to squeal. "W-Where are you, son?!" Gods, if he was hurt, o-or dead-
"He's with the other children!" Came Stoick's familiar voice, and Fishlegs spun around to see the Chief circling above him on his dragon. "I took care of him and Snotlout too! Don't worry!"
Fishlegs gaped as the man sped off. Did Stoick posses wizardry in the tips of his fingers and nobody ever knew?
It was a beautiful victory and Hiccup was ecstatic. Not only had he helped Toothless finally escape the Helheim that was the alpha's command, which was really Drago's command to begin with, but he'd also managed to toss Drago's behind out the double doors like the trash he was. And now atop the staircase of the Great Hall, looking quite regal indeed, Hiccup smiled as his people began to cheer. He patted Toothless's head and whispered, "Ready to end this, Bud?" If the dragon could speak, he would have thoroughly agreed.
Together they leapt from the stairs and glided their way down, avoiding as many projectiles as possible by performing extremely difficult acrobatics, and once they reached the fallen Drago, Hiccup picked up a nearby sword and flung it at his adversary.
Drago screamed as the blade sliced into the dark skin of his hand and glared daggers at his opponent, he strolled on over to him with a disapproving complexion. "It's all over now, Bludvist. Surrender now."
Not one to be taken down so easily, the conqueror clenched his fists, grit his teeth, and forced himself to stand. When he did, however, Toothless growled warningly, preventing him from making any wrong moves to harm the rider. Drago heaved, and watched as his loyal Bewilderbeast, the one made up of ash and smoke, moved in to kill.
He almost smiled. This was how it would end! His alpha would encase the boy's body with ice and end this silly rally. With him dead, the Nightfury would fall back under his control, and he could work his way back up to regain control of all the other dragons too. "Or is it?" He sneered.
Unfortunately, not all went his way.
The King of the Sanctuary seemed to appear out of nowhere from his protective shell and attacked its twin. Hiccup turned around to face the commotion and was just as surprised as Drago to see the two of them dueling—too close for comfort in his opinion.
"C'mon, let's help, Bud," he stated, and Toothless complied, rocketing toward the sky.
Openmouthed, Drago watched them go, and it was only then that he realized he had lost control. His staff was gone (lost from his pratfall) and now the flocks were turning against his army. "No," he growled softly and then louder. "NO!" He barked, sprinting toward the two alphas. "FIGHT BACK! WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH-?" He stopped, realizing he had drawn the negative attention from the two beasts—and neither of them looked quite happy with him.
Dread. That consumed his body until there was nothing left. He backed away a few feet and stared. In the sky, he came across the tiny dot that was Hiccup and Toothless between the two alphas. Hiccup was shouting—and THERE was his staff!
In Hiccup's lithe hand was the weapon Drago had been using to control the beasts, and now Hiccup was brandishing it as it he owned it. The two men distantly locked eyes and Hiccup almost sneered. He mouthed something Drago could not read, and then ice was barreling toward at lighting speed.
Thank goodness nobody was near the conqueror, or they would have frozen on the spot. He ran. He ran like mad, past his dead soldiers, past the grinning Vikings, and past the dragons that had regained their will, including the alphas. They were all watching him, knowing that he wasn't about to conquer Berk anytime soon.
And for the first time since the battle had begun, Drago felt utterly helpless. He crumpled to the ground, having tripped on a charred body and then faced his enemy, who'd flown to land before him. Hiccup… He growled.
The young man dismounted his dragon, and with the whole world behind him, took a few steps toward the older trembling man. He stopped, curled his lip, and then flung his hand to gesture to the mass of living beings behind him. "Now do you get it?!" He exclaimed. "This is what it is to gain a dragon's loyalty. Let this end. Surrender now."
Drago just stared, eyes flickering rapidly. He seemed to be losing his mind. "N-Never!" He gasped out, inhaling and exhaling much to quickly. "I can still conquer this land. I can still—" He stopped, catching sight of a familiar figure no more than a few yards away.
"ERET!" He yelled. "Kill him!"
The young adult flinched at the sound of his name coming out of the mouth of that villain, but stood his ground. "No," he simply replied. "You do not own me anymore. This mark means less than nothing." Beside him, Stoick put a hand on his shoulder.
"Good answer, son," he assured the man, and Eret smiled nervously in return. He wasn't used to praise.
Confident that he wasn't going to be assassinated, Hiccup moved forward and knelt down to his adversary's level. Staring deep into his eyes, Hiccup said softly, "Drago, it's over."
"N-…" Drago stopped, looing wildly round him. There must be something! Anything! A sword nearby! A rock! Embers! No…nothing… Drago's heart dropped into the deep pits of his stomach and he sighed under his breath, head bowing in final surrender.
"Hey, it's okay boy..."
A gentle touch, a wary croon was the response. The war had been hard for everyone on Berk. The population had literally been cut in half.
"You must be Vänoss..."
So many were injured, and the dragons had been scarred forever. Gothi couldn't take care of everyone, so they had to learn to heal themselves.
"My son told me about you, you know."
The island had been reduced to rubble, not a single building left standing. But they were Vikings. They would tough it out in the Great Hall.
"You miss her."
The owl-faced dragon blinked up at the Viking and moaned sadly, motionless, stuck forever, circled around his human friend.
"Mind if I get a look at her, Bud?" Smiled the human. "She was my mother, after all."
The dragon chuffed and inhaled Hiccup's scent. "Ah... Her offspring..." The dragon thought sorrowfully. He gave a small lick to Hiccup's hair, causing
him to laugh. "She will forever haunt me."
Nobody but Hiccup could send the Bewilderbeasts on their way, back to freedom, since he had not the staff but the gift to guide dragons to do what he wanted.
Kneeling down after Vänoss had shuffled out of the way, Hiccup sucked in a breath at the sight of a familiar pile of bones.
Hiccup pursed his lips. "Hi Mom," he softly began. "I..." He trailed off, unsure of what to say. "Things have been pretty rough lately, but I'm hoping everybody's help we can fix the things that have crumbled. Hopefully some jail time will straighten Drago out."
There was no response, of course, but he talked on.
"Dad's crowning me Chief today, did you know that? He thinks it's time, but I don't know if I'm ready or not." He paused. "Then again, I've had four kids, so what's 100 more people to take care of?" He gave a small chuckle and rubbed the back of his head. "I'm convinced that he's crowning me so soon because he wants to send you out to sea. Don't expect very many visitors...or me."
Vänoss watched the human communicate and laid his head onto the soft grass, listening quietly to that and the soft sloshing of distant waterfalls of the now empty sanctuary. It had been empty for a long time, and now only he remained.
"Hiccup?" Came Astrid's voice, and a gentle hand rested upon his shoulder. "It's time to go. The kids are missing us."
"In a minute, Astrid," Hiccup replied with a smile, kissing her cheek gently. "I just need to say goodbye."
She nodded with a smile and then limped away, not quite fully recovered.
For a while, he just gazed at the skeleton and wondered, wonder what it would have been like to have a mother in his life. From the day he was born to the moment his wedding had commenced back when he was fourteen. What if she had been there? What advice would she have given him?
"You were never there for me, Mom," he mumbled, rubbing at his eyes with a sigh. "And honestly sometimes I wonder if I should even call you that. You didn't raise me. You left my dad alone to do it."
No answer, just as it had always been when he was young, when he sobbed, begged, and prayed for his mother to answer his cries. "Snotlout says I shouldn't be so harsh, but you were just his aunt, not his mother, and there is a difference, believe me."
He sighed. "I just wish that there had been a verbal connection between us, because it looks like we shared similar interests. I think we could've gotten along really well."
The dark, hollow eye sockets had no voice, and they stared back at him emptily.
Hiccup stared back, and then, "Take care of my son for me, Mom. If you're up there in Valhalla, then my boy's up there with you. Take care of him till I get up there, okay?"
He closed his eyes when they grew hot. It had been three months. Three months and he knew that the hurt would never go away. It was relentless and tore at his mind and heart. For the longest time, he contemplated...no.
"It's hard to forgive," he muttered. "If you were anything like me, then you of all people should understand that. I'm sure you forgave dad for killing dragons, but... I need to forgive you. If I don't forgive, I'll carry this-this baggage of memories of the wrong, of negative feelings, of anger and unresolved emotions. And let's face it: I never do well with those."
"But I forgive you, Mom. I do." Hiccup stood still for a moment, almost rooted to the spot, until he got to his feet, er, foot, and gave one last long look at the owl-faced dragon, and her. "Take care of her until my dad arrives," he told the dragon, with a monotone voice. Vänoss gave a huff and moved back to his spot, curled around the skeleton like a mother dragon would do with her hatchling.
Hiccup gave a curt nod and then left, not looking back. As he descended the ledge, his heart grew heavy, and tears began to build up behind the back of his eyes.
"Hiccup?" Whispered Astrid as she caught up with him. "Are you alright?"
Hiccup shook his head and gave her his best smile. "She's going to take care of our son in Valhalla, Astrid."
The girl raised an eyebrow at the odd comment, and then sighed. "She'd better do a good job," she warned. "Or I'll come back to haunt her."
Hiccup burst out laughing. "That doesn't make any sense!" He chortled, and his wife rolled her eyes.
"Whatever," she grumped, hitting his shoulder in retaliation. And when he wouldn't stop laughing, she added, "Do you have everything we need?"
Hiccup wiped a tear away and nodded, grinning goofily as the woman pouted. "Let's go."
They had a family to get back to.