Chapter 2: Unholy

((Hiccup had experienced some close run-ins with dragons but nothing like this. As he ran from the Gronkle the sounds of the fighting faded until only the fluttering of wings and hungry snarling resounded from behind.

Panic flooded Hiccup as he frantically zig-zagged down the pathways, desperately looking for a hiding place or some nook to dive into. He could not stop running, but every step away from the fighting lowered his chances of being rescued.

Hiccup's boots slid against dirt as he sharply turned around the corner of a small house. He had to turn this chase around so that the other Vikings could save –

A deafening noise thundered in Hiccup's ears and the wooden wall which he ran alongside trembled like a leaf, before leaning over towards him. The teenager threw himself to the side and dust flooded his vision as the wall of the house collapsed.

Hiccup scrambled to his feet and spared no thought to just how narrowly he avoided being crushed. The house he had tried to run around was little more than a mound of planks and clay bricks, with a very confused and enraged dragon freeing itself from the debris. The Gronkle quavered to its feet and its tiny wings fluttered the beast back into the air. It's beady yellow eyes remained unfocused and perplexed as it stared about, and Hiccup wondered if his manoeuvre had knocked it senseless.

Hiccup made a dash for the closest house before the dragon noticed.

There came a warbled snarl and Hiccup's blood froze to the unmistakable noise of another fireball bursting from the Gronkle's maw. The teenager turned to watch a blinding glob of fire further down the pathway – missing him by an enormous margin.

Hiccup frowned.

The dragon fired again, clearly able to see Hiccup peeking from behind the nearest house. The fireball soared past Hiccup and exploded against something with a loud boom. A grin wormed onto Hiccup's face at the dazed creature's efforts at hitting him.

His grin slipped when the Gronkle landed back on the rubble and charged. Hiccup's foot caught as he tried to step and he fell on his back with a grunt as the beast charged at him with its maw gaping and full of cleaver-like teeth and Hiccup did not even have time to scream as the dragon –

A whirring bola whipped around the dragon's thick body. Its jaws slammed shut and the meaty legs which carried it were snagged, bringing the beast down just yards in front of Hiccup. The dragon gurgled furiously, struggling against the bonds. A Viking rushed in from around the corner and Hiccup slammed his eyes shut as the man brought his axe down on the dragon.

Hiccup scrambled to his feet and cloudiness in his vision threatened to send him back to the floor. The Gronkle corpse was a grisly sight now, and the brushes with death did nothing to help his light-headedness. More Vikings rushed in now, following the man who likely threw the life-saving bola.

Except they ran past him and the dead Gronkle - further down the pathway from the fight.

Hiccup's eyes followed the Vikings and saw where the Gronkle's misses had struck. Flames had engulfed houses and a wooden bridge with glowing, furious intensity. Angry and squirming tongues of fire were rising higher and higher with every second.


Cringing, Hiccup turned to look at his father. Stoick the Vast did not meet his son's eyes. Instead he looked out at the carnage which was spreading rapidly – no anger, no shame, only focus.

The Chief spoke before Hiccup's frantic explanation left his tongue. "Wait in the hall."

No frustration, and no scolding. Stoick spoke in a way that Hiccup had never heard in this situation, and marched towards the inferno without another word.

Hiccup's gut sank, and a shaky breath fled from his chest. It dawned on him that he had screwed up more than anyone had thought possible.))


The sounds, aches and blurred sights of reality flooded back into Hiccup's mind. Dreams and memories were washed away, reduced to little more than an uncomfortable sensation at the back of his head. The teenager groaned as he sat up – his legs and back stiff from the awkward position he lay in.

Blinking dazedly, Hiccup rid himself of the cloudiness behind his eyes. He was on the docks, with his body powdered with dust which shimmered in the morning light. Hiccup frowned at the sight, until his eyes caught the source of his dirtiness.

The curled-up mess of ropes, wood and metal parts that was once his launcher unleashed a torrent of memories. Hiccup's eyes widened, and he looked out to the sky in front of him – now blue and clear.

Had he really hit it?

It had to have been a Night Fury. The screech was unmistakable, he thought. Not to mention, the beast which entered the storehouse looked unlike anything he had seen. The shimmer of glossy scales and hissing of raw menace flashed in his mind, and he shivered. He had never felt such a sense of danger.

Hiccup groaned to his feet and dusted himself clean. He stared at what was left of his launcher, equal parts proud of its success and frustrated at the memories of the times when he made such contraptions. A smile spread on Hiccup's face as he pictured Gobber's reaction to what he had achieved last night.


Hiccup tore his eyes from his launcher and he looked back to the sky. The sharp twang of the bola snagging on the Night Fury echoed in his mind, and he imagined every Viking of Berk learning of what he had done.

Hiccup took a slow breath, letting the ocean air sink deep into his chest. He waited.

The teenager smiled – amazed, frankly, at how little he felt.

No surge of honour and glory rippled through his body. The Viking blood which mockingly flowed through his veins did not boil into life, and the chants of a hundred past generations did not bellow in his ears.

There had been no fantasises of glory, or desires to 'do his part in the war' during his exchange with the Night Fury. He had been little more than a man defending himself against an unprovoked attack, and had made the beast pay for coming so close to taking his life.

That, and that alone, caused pride to swell in his chest. The fact that it was a dragon no Viking had ever faced only sweetened his victory. He was not helpless, and he was certainly not useless. Nobody could take that away from him.

Hiccup looked back to the remnants of his launcher and felt a cool sense of finality wash through him. The Vikings would be in uproar if they saw him fiddling with his old inventions. The boy approached the contraption, and with a sharp push he wheeled it off the docks. The heavy metal and aged wood gave the launcher little hope at buoyancy, and Hiccup watched as the fruits of his youth were swallowed by the hungry ocean.

Only a single wooden plank, embedded with metal pins and bolts, bubbled to the surface.

Hiccup stared at the unremarkable, albeit rust-free, piece. Bobbing in the water with the sun beaming down, it glimmered and shone like the finest weapon.

Nothing wrong with keeping a little trophy to remember this.

Hiccup bent over and dipped his scarred arm in the soothing waters, then lifted the wooden plank from where it floated. The piece was solid yet light, and so smooth along the edges that Hiccup felt triumph swell within him once more.

The teenager returned to his home, just yards from where he had fainted earlier that morning, and placed the plank under his bed. His cooking fire was little more than embers now, and his fish basket was still knocked to the side – mockingly empty.

Hiccup smiled nonetheless. He had given the dragon far worse than it got. The teenager cleaned his corner of the storeroom and propped the launcher piece against the side of his bed, before letting out a sigh and taking his broom in his hands.

Self-declared dragon slayer or not, Hiccup still had to do his part around this wretched village, lest they banish him altogether.


Unlike the day prior, the sun made no effort to obscure the bitter cold. Swirling clouds, thick and dark, had rolled over from the west and choked the sky of any warmth. Hiccup had been comfortable by the docks when he woke, but from the steps to the great hall there was nothing to shield the chilling wind.

Hiccup breathed heavily, sweeping with all the strength in his arms to keep the burn of fatigue smothering his shivers. He tried to clamp his jaw shut but an eye-watering yawn forced itself from his throat. The pace he worked at was only worsening his mood and sleep-deprived body. Not even his triumphs against the Night Fury could salvage his temperament.

Hiccup kept his eyes locked to the stone ground while he heard footsteps grow louder from the hall.

Are they going to ignore me, or make some stupid noise?

The nameless Viking who passed Hiccup snorted with distain, and Hiccup would have mockingly snorted back if not for the itching frustration growing within him. Every Viking reacted the same way while he worked – a testimony to their communal stupidity.

Hiccup, on the other hand, was not a moron. He knew that the stairs did not need to be cleaned once a day – or even once a week. Either the village wanted him cleaning these stairs for half the day to 'keep him out of trouble', or to humiliate. He did not know which was worse.

Hiccup looked out to the rest of the village below, and wondered if the view was the real reason he was forced to work there. With its warm orange glow from inside and a shape that differed from the nearby homes, Gobber's smithy was painfully noticeable. In between bitter gusts of wind, he could hear the faint clang of a hammer on steel. Hiccups grip tightened on his broom as if it were a hammer. His hammer.

It had been almost a year since he had worked in there and felt the orange glow of forge fire on his face. Almost a year since he had let the swings of his hammer transform swirling, unguided emotion into flowing, gleaming steel. It was and always had been an outlet for him, and while his new fishing hobby was soothing, he had never felt close to as satisfied. To be allowed back in the forge, even for one last time, would fill him with a joy he had not felt for a long time. To feel the power of crafting something worth more than its simple fragments.

But we both know that won't happen, will it? The malicious voice whispered from the depths of Hiccup's mind, and his fantasies shuddered to a halt. Your chances of ever being trusted again are long gone.

The roof of the smithy was laced with dark scorch marks, which was little in comparison to nearby structures. The raid of that morning had been brutal, Hiccup deduced, with smoke still pluming from houses by the forest edge and pools of dragon blood staining the pathways. Vikings scurried about the village, as per usual, but with drooped shoulders and a noticeable lack of pace.

Hiccup tore his eyes from the view and looked down the pathway winding through Berk. Two Vikings approached the stairs and the teenager's gut shrivelled into an icy ball.

Astrid. Stoick the Vast.

Frustration and fatigue fled Hiccup as the pair marched towards the steps leading to the hall. If not for the clashing of blonde and auburn hair, a stranger could have claimed them father and daughter. The conversation they shared was awash with equally furrowed brows; equally high chins and equally large arms being waved about. Their weapons and armour, both smeared in dragon blood and ashy burns, only strengthened their image as a working pair.

Hiccup wanted to bring his broom down on their heads and make them feel every inkling of suffering they had caused over the past three years – but in the pair's wake, only despair filled him from a source so deep that he hardly knew himself.

If Astrid or Stoick cared for Hiccup's presence, they did not show it. Instead they continued to talk while Hiccup returned to intently staring the steps while he swept – preferring a hug from a Monstrous Nightmare over a stare from either of them.

And yet at the same time, the thought of them simply disregarding him left a sharp tightness in his chest.

"– Aye, but Bertha and I are more alike than I want'a admit," Stoick said gruffly. Hiccup continued to stare at the floor, but he could imagine the man's expression. A red-haired canvas of stern wrinkles, fresh scorch marks and murky green eyes. "I won't meet if she thinks this' outta desperation and she will feel tha same."

"Fishlegs has a way with words, Chief" Astrid replied, "He could be with you while you write your letter and make sure it's as neutral as possible"

Stoick made a sound which sounded like agreement and the pair continued up the stairs. The well-endowed Bog-Burglar chieftess was the only Bertha Hiccup knew, and from what he could recall from his childhood, she and Stoick were indeed similar. Their bellowing arguments of old still rang in his ears.

Perhaps the latest raid has encouraged some alliance talks.

The pair left Hiccup's earshot, and he could no longer resist the urge to stare. To see if they gave even a sliver of acknowledgement to his presence. The teenager looked up and watched as Stoick and Astrid marched to the highest stone steps, and while the Chief walked forward to open the wooden hall doors, Astrid turned around and met Hiccup's eyes.

((The great hall was a cacophony of mutters and hisses, and Hiccup knew where every one of them was being directed.

Morning light bled through the doors to the hall, and cast light on hundreds of ashen-faced Vikings, each of them dishevelled from one of the harshest raids in living memory. The cause of such hardship, however, was not from the Dragons.

"How are weh supposed to get to the Kill Ring!" A Viking called out, and bellows of agreement echoed around the hall.

"Silence!" Stoick boomed, dropping his child-sized hammer on the stone table with a resounding clang. The Chief stared ahead at the crowd of Vikings, not once casting his gaze down to Hiccup by his side. "I will not have my kin babble like babes in tha face of struggle." The hall simmered down, yet the glares of an untold number of Vikings had Hiccup's ears ringing with shame and misery.

He had only wanted to help, and show what worth he truly believed he had.

"Mulch, Bucket," Stoick cast his eyes across the table to a pair of cumbersome kinsmen, unremarkable in their burly appearance with the exceptions of Bucket's rather unique headwear. "Tha two of yeh have built half the ships on Berk, and know wood like yer own stumps. What's tha state of the bridge?"

The pair exchanged a look, and Mulch shuffled closer to the stone table. "Er, it's..." Mulch's gaze flickered to Hiccup, and the teenager saw a flash of guilt. Hiccup and Mulch had always gotten along, ever since Stoick sent his son to help weave nets by the docks as punishment.

"Ah wouldn't step on it, Chief," Mulch said. "The wood on tha' bridge was some'ah the oldest and driest on Berk. The Gronkle blasts weakened the main beams and caused a blaze which finished em off."

The room erupted into noise once more, and Hiccup felt his stomach drop. He had burnt down huts, homes and set an all manner of things ablaze. But never had he destroyed something as important as the bridge between the main village and one of Berk's landmarks.

Stoick let the deafening voices continue while his gaze lowered and brow furrowed into thought. Hiccup saw a hundred plans and goals unravel in his father's murky green eyes.

"Ah'm calling the hunt off." Stoick announced, his voice deep; quiet even. The hall silenced fast enough for Hiccup's ears to pop. "Until we get tha bridge fixed, there will be no searching for the nest."

Vikings that surrounded the table looked more shocked than enraged. The chief hated dragons with the passion of a thousand blazes – to call off perhaps the last hunting chance before winter was drastic.

Stoick looked up, and his auburn eyebrows softened into a rare look of resignation. "And no dragon training either"

The reaction that followed could not have been further from the previous announcement. Groans rang through the hall and Hiccup felt like Snotlout had punched him in the gut. Dragon training was supposed to be his chance – his best shot at leaving behind the clumsiness and the failure, and leave a mark that would finally make his father proud.

Devastation thrashed aggressively in Hiccup's chest, yet he knew that a handful of individuals would be even more distraught.

Hiccup looked across the room and spied Astrid, who was literally trembling in rage. Her eyes were ablaze against the torchlight, and were locked on him with more intensity than the Gronkle which tried to take his life. Her freckles that he daydreamed over were suffocated by a glaring flush. She had always found him irritating and a klutz – he knew that. But never had her fury been pinpointed on him with such intensity.

Hiccup watched Astrid flick dart eyes about the room, towards Snotlout and the twins, checking that each of them shared her emotion. The expression of rage oozed from her face and a very smug, very vindictive curl marred her lips. Such unfamiliar spite caused Hiccup to flinch.

Astrid knew that Hiccup's life would be made Hel because of his actions.

And that thrilled her.))

For just a moment that cruel smile was back on Astrid's face. And then she was gone, striding into the hall and leaving Hiccup below her on the stairs.

Nothing was spoken, and yet everything was spoken. An uncomfortable heat stirred in the bottom of his stomach, and writhed its way to the top of his throat.


The word set Hiccup's body alight with a very real ache; the expression that Astrid wore spoke it clearer than any jeer from Snotlout.

"Bet you think I've deserved the shit that's happened to me since that raid, don't you Astrid?" Hiccup hissed, letting the heat in his body burst aflame. "Is that what useless people deserve?" His fists clenched hard enough for his burnt forearm to gnash with pain.

Hiccup threw his broom on the stairs and marched down the stairs, his chest heaving and face tightened by rage. He would not let her feel this way. He would not let three years of hell be deserved.

Even if it meant tracking down the corpse of a Night Fury to validate his own bloody worth.


The forest that enclosed raven point was a canvas of jagged hills that pooled enough fog for the treetops to be hidden. Dim sunlight threatened to pierce its way to the mossy ground, marking the end of the cold-snap. Equipped with little more than his axe and a stony expression, Hiccup's mood had made far less of a recovery. Birdsong surrendered to the crunching of leaves and branches under Hiccup's heavy steps, casting an eerie silence that would wary even the hardiest Vikings.

But only the shimmer of black scales, speckled with blood, was on Hiccup's mind.

A patch of skin. A pound of flesh. A tooth, or claw, or anything. A reminder for him and only him that he was not useless, no matter what filth dribbled from the mouths of Vikings.

Fantasies swirled within Hiccup's head as he continued trudging down the mossy hill. The teenager's heart thrummed as his creativity, which he so ruthlessly suppressed, began to run wild. He could make a glove to protect his forearm, or a small dagger from a tooth. Claw necklaces, bone arrows and hide clothing all danced about Hiccup's mind – each an ultimate testament to his survival against a world which clearly resented him.

All he had to do was find the body.

There was no chance that the Dragon had survived from such a high fall. The Night Fury was undoubtedly tough, but to crash into Berk's terrain from hundreds of yards in the sky was insanity. Hiccup clambered over a boulder – no smaller than a yak and likely older than his bloodline. Hiccup had no doubts of what would happen to an animal that hurtled into such a thing.

Was there anything left of the body?

If the Night Fury's body had not been pulverized by the fall, perhaps scavengers had already finished what was left. Hiccup knew of at least seven wolf packs that prowled the island, and he could remember more than a few cases of dragon cannibalism from the kill ring.

Hiccup let out a ragged breath, and slowed his pace. He gazed about the woodlands – the endless mist and murky green that was all so hauntingly still – and felt far less confident than when he embarked.

It had only taken a moment of creativity for the veil of rage to be lifted from his eyes. He had no plan to track his kill, nor the means to kill anything which may be scavenging on it. Hiccup looked at his woodcutting axe and snorted. Would this even make a dent in the legendary dragon's hide?

"Oh," Hiccup muttered dryly, staring aimlessly about the forest. "I might also be lost."

A piercing roar echoed across the forest.

Hiccup whipped his head to face the noise. The string of curses at the tip of his tongue were dried up, and the teenager's eyes widened with stunned realisation.

Surely not.

A second roar followed – deeper and frighteningly familiar. The forest trembled as the beast's bellow echoed like a haunting ghoul.

Hiccup stood unmoving, facing the noise. Thoughts of bone arrows and hide gloves bled from his mind, until the only the most primeval urge to run occupied his mind. He saw the glint of razor teeth, and the tensing of rippled muscle underneath glossy black scales. The unholy – and seemingly invincible – offspring of lightning and death itself. Hiccup had been lucky to survive once; only a moronic Viking would try their luck a second time.

Hiccup turned back to the way he came and walked.


He saw Astrid's face. He heard Snotlout's words. He felt Stoick's shame.

Hiccup gripped his axe and let out a sigh. "I must be fucking crazy." He spun on his heels and took off running before his common sense begged otherwise. "But I'm not what they think I am."

Another shrill howl scraped against Hiccup's ears as he ran. Birds scattered from the tree line in a panicked flurry yet the teenager's eyes remained locked on the fog ahead, hunting the source of their fear. The source of his fear, writhing within him but unable to match Hiccup's sheer willpower. Trees hurtled past Hiccup in a flurry of sunlit green, and after what felt like seconds he slid to a halt at the bottom of the hill. Steam billowed from Hiccup's rasping mouth and he noticed how loudly his heart had been drumming in his ears.

Hiccup waited; listened. When the throb of his heart finally mellowed, the distant sound of snarls echoed from his flank.

That can't just be the Night Fury.

Slowly and carefully, Hiccup crept towards. With each step the sound of another, deeper growl could be heard behind the unmistakable shriek which Hiccup thought he silenced. There was a flicker of red between two enormous boulders in front of the teenager and his body froze in an instant.

Nightmare. Monstrous Nightmare.

Hiccup crouched low but did not take his eyes off the gap in the rocks, no less than a dozen yards away. There must be a drop of some sort behind those boulders, Hiccup reasoned, because there looked to be much distance between he and the creature which would gladly tear him apart.

Yep. I'm fucking insane.

Hiccup edged between the stones and looked down into a deep pit – lush with moss shrubs and even a small lake. And there was not one, but two Monstrous Nightmares before him. The beasts, one with fiery red scales and the other a sickly shade of yellow, were both fully grown; laden with jagged spines and teeth that gleamed with spittle. Guttural growls filled the forest as both dragons paced back and forth – their amber eyes locked on the corner of a pit where a towering pine tree met the ground in a mess of tangled roots. There was a large gap between two of the roots, and within it a shadow flickered amongst the darkness.

Hiccup watched in morbid fascination as the yellow Nightmare edged closer to the roots, it's teeth bared in a vicious snarl. The dragon paused, then dove its horned head into the gap. There was a sickening wet noise and the Nightmare wrenched its head away, howling in agony. Blood sprayed the stones and grass of the pit and as the dragon stumbled backwards, Hiccup spied a horrendous gash that had nearly split its yellow face in half.

The red Monstrous Nightmare bellowed and thrust its jaws into the same hole with even more speed. The dragon jerked and pulled with muffled growls until a ferocious shriek tore through the pit and a mass of black scales was flung out from underneath the tree.

Hiccup could not believe what he was seeing.

The Night Fury scrambled to its feet as the two Monstrous Nightmares circled it like wolves would a sheep. Free from the confines of his crowded home and amongst other Dragons, Hiccup noticed just how small the Dragon was – little more than wings, razor teeth and rage held together by glossy black scales. The teenager thought he had seen the beast angry when it was invading his room, but the rage which rolled off it now was beyond palpable. Every inch of the dragon's stocky body was lithe with muscles ready to burst into deadly fury, and its blade-like head was –

Hiccup spied a rope tied around the Night Fury's jaws, and his thoughts came to a shuddering halt.

The Night Fury tried to pivot and keep both Monstrous Nightmares in its sights, but the dragon stumbled clumsily. The rope was noosed around it's legs and body, too – knotting itself on the Night Fury's wings with two unmistakable bola weights.

It can't fly away.

Hiccup looked back at the Night Fury's head. It furiously strained against the rope, with jaws unable to open more than a few inches. It's once frighteningly green eyes were milky slits, straining terribly in the sunlight.

The gored yellow Nightmare pounced, leaping forward with a burst of its wings. The Night Fury whirled its body in defence, despite the near-blindness and bondage. The black dragon's tail whipped across the nose of the Nightmare in a spray of broken teeth but the red Nightmare thrust its jaws forward and caught the tail fin between its jaws.

A shriek of furious pain rang in Hiccup ears but it was hardly enough to make him look away. The red Nightmare reared its head back, furiously shaking the tail fin which crunched and tore between its jagged teeth. The Night Fury shrieked again, higher pitch and unmistakable panic lacing the banshee-like noise. With a single, desperate tug the black Dragon tore its tail out of the Nightmare's mouth. There was a sickening rip, and Hiccup saw that the tail fin had remained in the jaws.

The Night Fury screeched so loud that Hiccup flinched violently and the panicked flutter of bird wings echoed across the forest. The dragon turned to face the source of its mutilation, its snarling face the very embodiment of wrath, but the red Nightmare leapt backwards with a beat of its wings. The yellow Nightmare mewled agonisingly, teeth wobbling as it called to its brethren, and the red Dragon seemingly answered with a short bark. Both dragons took to the skies left the Night Fury, bleeding and alone.

Hiccup was as sure of his thoughts on Dragons as Vikings were. They were pests – scavengers that were killed in false glory for trying to scavenge on food that was too stubborn to leave. Only the Night Fury, a Dragon that had gone out of its way to steal from what was Hiccup's, had been worthy of his retaliation. But as the teenager watched the black Dragon pace in circles, crooning at the sight of its half-tail, he could not ignore the lack of contempt within him.

Hiccup had known the Night Fury was unlike other animals from the moment it had entered his house, and unworthy of the disdain he held towards other Dragons. Dragons such as the two Monstrous Nightmares which had just tormented the Night Fury with clear intent on killing. And yet despite being out of its element, immobilised and outnumbered, they had failed. Hiccup looked down at his axe, and could no longer see it carving through glossy black scales. For nearly killing him and stealing his fish, the teenager had downed it and caused it to be preyed on by others. He had found his vengeance, and that alone was the validation he so craved when leaving the village that morning.

"I guess that this makes us even" Hiccup whispered, watching as the Night Fury stumbled back towards the mess of tree roots which it had been hiding under. The Dragon tripped and landed heavily on its belly, and sunlight glinted off the two bola balls which remained knotted atop its folded wings.

Hiccup winced. Leaving that snare on the beast was a cruelty that overstepped his revenge. Condemning the Night Fury to starvation or attacks from more creatures was the kind of brainless action which had steered Berk into hundreds of years of war. The woodcutting axe felt heavy in Hiccup's hand, and he let out a sigh.

Crazy was an understatement.