The Offspring of Lightning and Death Itself

Author's Note: This piece is set in an AU where dragons continue to live on Berk - it does not follow the path that the third film is going to take.

Many people regard the infamous line in the Book of Dragons – "The Unholy Offspring of Lightning and Death itself" – to be an expression, a description of the deadliness of Night Furies. I found it to be more telling than they ever imagined.

A few weeks ago our resident alpha dragon – the Night Fury my long gone great-great-grandfather had named Toothless – began acting a little strange. His long Titan-Wing ear and tail tendrils drooped, his tail dragged, and his normally brilliant green eyes seemed dull. He ate only half of what he normally stole from the Great Hall every day. A few days after I first noticed the changes, another dragon – a Timberjack - presided over the morning feeding fest and the evening group flight – a duty which Toothless normally oversees. The Night Fury in question wasn't even present in the evening flight, which was even more suspicious than Toothless not leading the aerobatic exercise.

This pattern persisted up until a few days ago. When most of the villagers ambled to the Great Hall for dinner, out of the corner of my eye I caught Toothless moving up behind my great-great-grandfather's old house. I stopped. Toothless didn't usually walk anywhere unless he was indoors. Suspicious and ravenously curious, I ran home and grabbed my rucksack and camping gear. If something important was going to happen, I was going to see it.

I followed the jet-black alpha into the forest behind Berk village. For a while I thought Toothless was perhaps making some kind of ritual visit to "The Cove" where he and my great-great-grandfather supposedly met. However, Toothless never veered off in that direction. Plodding slowly but surely, he made a beeline for the ominous Bork's Bridge – a natural pass that crosses the Howling Inner Cliffs and leads to Badmist Mountain, the highest peak on the island of Berk.

Few have ever been to the top of Badmist Mountain, not even many chiefs have even bothered with the treacherous climb. Nothing that anyone wants is on top of Badmist, and the danger of being attacked by rogue, unsympathetic dragons is still very real. Not all dragons that live on Berk are friendly.

For previously seeming so slow and tired, Toothless trudged on with the determination of a Terrible Terror after a halibut sandwich, walking through most of the night. His blue alpha markings glowed brightly in the dark forest, making it both eerie and easy to follow him. Either Toothless was losing his stealthiness or he didn't care that I was following him. A few ghostly dragon calls echoed throughout the trees, but nothing came near us. Not even a Nightwing or a "Flaming Squirrel" beset our path.

Toothless stopped just before reaching the bottom of Badmist. I set up camp several yards away. He settled down in a patch of earth he scorched for himself.

The following morning I woke to find Toothless already gone. I panicked, thinking I'd lost him and my chance at making an important discovery. However, I needn't have worried. The Night Fury was only a little way ahead of me – blue markings ceasing to glow in the morning sunlight.

The day started out very nice – the reasonable chill in the crisp air offset by warm sunlight streaming through giant trees, and a clear sky to boot…but the further the day progressed, the less friendly the weather became. Clouds gradually ate up the sky, blocking out the sun. The temperature dropped enough to make sweat chill the skin, leaving the air damp and cold.

None of the changes affected Toothless, and he never changed course. I could barely keep up with him, even at his slow pace up the mountainside. Huffing and puffing and scrabbling for footholds in roots jutting out of the rocky soil, I struggled to follow Toothless up Badmist for the rest of the day.

As evening approached, the skies darkened to charcoal, and the wind started to howl. I had to strap down my roll of maps extra tight to keep them from blowing away. Doing so almost cost me my mysterious quarry.

By nightfall we were just on the cusp of reaching the peak of Badmist Mountain. The wind howled so loud I couldn't hear myself. Thunder rumbled close over my head, and a few raindrops pelted my skin. Toothless continued, undeterred by the bad weather. Finally, finally, just before I collapsed of exhaustion, the ground leveled off. The peak sat ominously several yards away, angry sky churning past its edge.

Toothless crept up to the very peak, undeterred by the wind and noise. He stood there for what felt like an eternity, rain beginning to pour in sheets, tail swishing as he looked out over what was possible to see. His once-again glowing markings contrasted harshly against the ominous grey.

For the first time in three weeks I heard Toothless make a noise. An eerie, spine chilling cry that wafted in unison with the raging wind and sky. It lilted with longing – growing in intensity until I could feel the cry shaking through my bones. Sorrow and a note of finality in its purest form.

I had to tamp down an especially strong urge to run to the dragon and throw my arms around him, but there was no need to. Toothless collapsed onto the mountain peak the instant his cry stopped echoing amongst the hills and cliffs below.

My mouth dropped open far enough to let a Snowpecker inside. Tears sprang to my eyes as I beheld the majestic, yet lifeless form. For such a stoic, heralded dragon to have such a lonely and forlorn end was a tragic thing. I took a step forward to investigate-

BANG!- A white flash brighter, louder and more terrifying than anything I have ever seen shot down from the clouds – hitting Toothless's dead body. The shockwave threw me several feet onto my back.

A permanent shiver rattled in my spine. All the hair on my arms and neck stood at attention. I peeked back where Toothless once stood. A large blackened sooty spot marred the ground. Something was in the middle of it. My feet refused to take any steps, but curiosity eventually won.

Wind dying down to a calm, quick breeze, I inched my way to the blackened spot. In the middle of the spot, crying softly and wiggling its teensy little claws, sat a Night Fury small enough to fit in my backpack. It saw me and immediately stared, ears flattened and teeth cautiously bared. This creature wasn't Toothless – or it'd recognize me.

We stayed that way for an indefinite amount of time. Eventually the little Night Fury ceased glaring at me, it's pupils widening to the friendly gaze I'd seen Toothless give countless times. It waddled over and sniffed my soaked yak-hide boots. The little fury then decided it liked the way my vest looked and jumped inside (without my consent) to snuggle against my warmth. With the day being so late, and the weather still very hostile, I set up camp at the edge of the trees downhill. The little Night Fury stayed with me for the night, and accompanied me back down the mountain, eagerly pouncing into, onto and under everything it had never seen before.

Now we know why my great-great-grandfather and everyone after never found another Night Fury. What my great-great-great-grandmother Valka thought she saw at her dragon sanctuary was actually a very young Toothless lost after a badly-gone raid on Berk. Her assumption sent my family (and the whole village) on a wild goose chase for the answers for where Toothless's possible mate and family had gone. They never realized that the answer had been at home the whole time – not even my great-great-grandfather figured it out. In making a stab at verbal creativity, Bork the Bold accidentally penned the answer to the mystery of the Night Fury in his lopsided home all those years ago.

Never more than one Night Fury ever exists at a time. It's life, lasting three times as long as most other long-lived species, ends on the peak of a mountain. With that and a mysterious, magical lightning strike, a new Night Fury is born. The cycle repeats, with no end. I am the first to witness this phenomenon.

The Offspring of Lightning and Death Itself, indeed.

Author's Note: I'm aware that there is an episode of Race to the Edge where an "Island of Night Furies" is mentioned - but nothing is ever found there. I'm going to assume that was either a mistake or a purposeful ruse.

Reviews/comments are highly welcome - this is my first submission, I'd appreciate any advice/critiques.