And we are back! I hope I haven't kept you waiting too long. It's been a rough year. Pandemics, Lockdowns, Friends stabbing friends in the back. I could name several things that went to hell this year, but I will not. Christmas is upon us and I know many of you will probably not be able to spend Christmas with your families due to the pandemic, but we have a vaccine on the way and life will return to normal hopefully sometime soon.
Until then, please take care of yourselves and to give you some Christmas joy, I went ahead and finished chapter 20. It's short, but it kicks things off.
To those who left me kind messages regarding the betrayal, I really appreciate your kindness. This year has not been kind to us all. Some days I feel like I've aged twenty years. But all will be better in the new year.
As a matter of fact, I completely forgot to tell you this, but I'm currently engaged and my Fiancée and I are getting married next year! So I'm really excited for that. Updates may slow down around July as that's when the wedding is set, but I don't know how infrequent they will be once we're married, but I hope you stick around for the ride.
Anyways, thank you for sticking by me through this time. Now without any further ado, here is...
No Need for Titles
Six Years Earlier
Thunder crashed as the HMS Runeard rocked with the waves, the wooden hull creaking with each swell. At a desk, a woman sat writing on a corner of a piece of ancient parchment, covered in symbols. Nearby were two maps of the ocean. One leading to Viking Territory, the other to a mystical place in the middle of the most treacherous waters known to man. The Dark Sea.
Iduna glanced up in worry as another wave slammed into the vessel, causing it to shiver along the entire length of it.
"Ahtohallan has to be the source of her magic."
Adgar came over, rubbing his wife's shoulders to comfort her.
"Then we keep going for Elsa."
The ship suddenly lurched to one side as another wave hit the ship, cracking the glass of the big window at the rear of the vessel. Part of the wooden hull below the water line, snapped from the strain, the Dark Sea rushing into the vessel. Anything not bolted down slid to the starboard side, causing the ship to list. Iduna cried out.
"The waves are too high!"
Adgar quickly took the maps and the ancient parchment, rolling them up, and placing them into a brass tube. He sealed the tube, and placed it inside a waterproof compartment, sealing it tightly before going to his wife. With the ship listing badly, it was a struggle for them to reach each other.
The two managed to embrace as a wall of water crashed through the rear window, engulfing them.
Iduna snapped awake, breathing heavily. Dagur glanced over from his post at the rudder.
Dagur raised an eyebrow, and locked the rudder into a straight position before going below deck for a few minutes. He returned with two steaming cups of tea.
"How did you…"
A clicking noise was heard as a medium-sized brownish-purple and yellow dragon came out from below deck.
"Easy Mr. Triple Stryke," Dagur replied. "They're friends."
"Mmmhmm. A Triple Stryke. I found him below deck. Must have been held hostage down there. I've been slowly nursing him back to health. Believe me, it took a while to get anywhere near him, but he's cool. Right, Strykey?"
The Triple Stryke growled at the name.
"Sorry! Forgot you didn't like the name. I need to come up with a better one."
The Triple Stryke seemed to roll it's eyes before it went up to the bow of the boat and sat down, looking out across the sea. Dagur handed one of the cups to Iduna.
"It was my mother's recipe. She taught me how to make it before….well…"
Iduna looked up at Dagur
"I'm sorry for your loss."
Dagur took a sip of his tea.
"Thanks. So...you've seen a dragon before?"
Another voice spoke up.
Iduna looked over at her husband, and saw he had bags under his eyes. It seemed wherever they went nightmares continued to chase them.
"Oh?" asked Dagur.
"Yes," replied Adgar. "A Night Fury."
Dagur's eyes widened.
"Oh. That's quite the legend around these parts. Most tribes would sooner mount the head of that dragon then do anything else."
Dagur glanced forward, smiling when he saw his home island.
"Ah! Home sweet home!"
Suddenly, the Triple Stryke, reared up and took flight, letting the boat pass under it, and Dagur dropped the anchor, climbing up the sail to talk to him.
The Triple Stryke looked sharply at Dagur, flying towards him and landing back on the boat. Dagur climbed down from the sail.
"Do you...do you like the name?"
The Triple Stryke purred and nuzzled Dagur.
"Oh..wow...That's what I'll call you. Sleuther!"
The newly named Sleuther glanced over to Iduna, and Adgar, then Dagur, growling softly.
"Are..are you asking me to take them home? I think...I think that's something you need to ask them."
Sleuther walked over, clicking, and smelling the couple. Iduna gulped, but spoke up.
"Can you take us home, Sleuther?"
Following her future son-in-law's example she held her hand out, and looked away before feeling the warm scales on her hand.
Adgar followed Iduna's example, and then helped her onto his Sleuther's back, himself following soon after.
"Thank you, Dagur," he said. "When we get home we'll send an emissary up your way. You are forever in our debt, and are a friend of Arendelle."
Sleuther flapped his wings and took flight, not even hearing his new rider, gulping.
Meanwhile in Arendelle, Hiccup had just returned from another dragon raid, bringing part of the flock back. A Crimson Goregutter was in the mix.
"This is Arendelle," said Hiccup as he introduced the new dragons while riding Toothless. "Your new home away from home. A stunning, one-styled, all-expense-paid dream destination. So settle in and let your worries melt away! The service here soars, the cuisine's fiery, and the locals are as colorful as you get."
A landing area had been set up across from the castle as Hiccup brought the new dragons in. Dragons flew all over the Kingdom, some with riders, many not. It truly was a Dragon-Arendellian Utopia.
"Any run of the mill paradise boasts beaches and sunshine...Well, not us. We've got something no one else can touch. We, my friend, have dragons. Lots - and lots - of dragons!"
Hiccup guided Toothless onto a pole which had a bar sticking out, using the weight of a dragon's body to lower the bar as they touched the ground. The Crimson Goregutter landed behind them, roaring loudly, rattling the windows of the castle. Astrid, Tuffnut, Ruffnut, Fishlegs, Snotlout, and Heather landed behind Hiccup and Toothless.
"Nice job today guys. Another set of dragons rescued. Thanks for your help getting them transferred down here. I'm sure I can find some riders for these guys."
Hiccup watched as the townsfolk came over to greet the new dragons. Fishmeat, one of Meatlug's kids, jumped out from a pouch Fishlegs had in his dragon scale armor. He bounced over to the Crimson Gorecutter, wanting to play with him.
"Fishmeat! You found a new friend!"
Fishmeat jumped around prompting the Crimson Goregutter to start jumping around, knocking things.
A townsfolk called out.
"Mind your heads!"
The Goregutter hit a building, which was insignificant, but what the building hit was pretty significant. The building fell over, crashing into the rampart of the castle, knocking several bricks into the fjord. Hiccup winced and a loud voice called out.
"Ugh! What good is having the King of Dragons around if he can't keep the order?"
It was Gobber. He had come down for a visit, helping Hiccup out with training a new apprentice in the forge.
"Hey, bud," called Hiccup. "Do you wanna do something here, or...?"
Toothless roared at the Goregutter, which turned and bowed respectfully to Toothless.
"And where do you suppose you'll put these ones," Asked Gobber.
"Eh, we'll make room."
"Aah!" Cried Gobber. You brought back a Hobgobbler. They're a bad omen. We're cursed."
The dragon Gobber was afraid of was a tiny black dragon with purple spots that was chubby and had short stubby legs. Hiccup laughed as Valka landed with Cloudjumper and went over to the Hobgobbler.
"Nonsense. What harm could he do?"
She picked up the Hobgobbler and examined him.
"No injuries. They're all a little shaken, but otherwise healthy. Now, who's hungry?"
Ice stretched across the ground, trapping Hiccup.
"HICCUP HORRENDOUS HADDOCK THE THIRD!"
Hiccup gulped. Out came a very very angry Elsa. Tuffnut patted his shoulder.
"I wish you the best in Valhalla."
He walked away as Elsa came up to Hiccup. Her voice held no emotion. When her voice had no emotion, Hiccup knew he was screwed.
"You are in so much trouble."
Hiccup nervously laughed.
Later, Gobber, Hiccup, and Elsa walked into the dining room as Hiccup and Elsa checked the dinnerware for the delegates who had arrived a couple weeks before.
"You're just asking for trouble, 'Iccup," Gobber said.
"Gobber, relax," Hiccup replied. "We did it. The world's first Dragon-Arendellian utopia. We made the dream a reality."
Gobber rolled his eyes as they neared a pot of soup.
"Your dream, maybe. Mine's less crowded and more…"
He looked down into the pot. The Hobgobbler was floating in the pot.
"Gobber, you're not fooling anybody," Hiccup replied. "I know you love them."
Elsa frowned and stared coldly at the Hobgobbler, which scared it so much, it scrambled out of the pot. Elsa took the pot and went through the door into the kitchen to get a fresh batch with some help from some of the staff as she was not meant to be lifting things while pregnant.
"You're supposed to be the generation that leads us into the future," Gobber said.
"That's Hope's job. I'm not heir to Berk anymore."
"She's just a 'ouple months old, 'Iccup. You might have to take over in case your father retires early or something."
Hiccup pinched his nose. A man stepped inside the room gently clearing his throat. He had a tattoo on his chin and if one looked close enough they would see a scar on his chest.
"Eret, son of Eret!" cried Hiccup in joy, relieved he had a distraction. Eret had joined Hiccup a month after Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, Olaf, and his return from the Enchanted Forest and found a niche in Dragon Hunter locating, finding their bases, tracking ship movements. The whole works.
Hiccup turned to Eret.
"What's the report?"
"Two more trapper barges spotted in the strait," replied Eret.
"So we go after them."
Gobber sighed, and Hiccup turned around, seeing Gobber's annoyance on his face.
Gobber sighed, and pointed at Hiccup.
"One day, you're gonna pick a fight you can't win."
A couple days later, Hiccup was at the Roost, overlooking Arendelle and the castle. He was writing down several ideas of how to expand the space for the dragons. Repairs on the castle rampart had been finished the day before, and Hiccup was out of the doghouse. But he was still bothered by Gobber's words.
"And where do you suppose you'll put these ones?"
With Berk, Arendelle, and even his mother's Dragon Sanctuary to the North reaching capacity, it was harder to find more places for dragons with riders to stay. Even other islands with riders that Hiccup had convinced over the years were reaching capacity as well.
Hiccup was brought back into a memory of his dad and himself on a cliff overlooking Berk. He could almost see himself on that cliff watching the interaction.
"Hiccup. This is Berk, son. It's our home. It was the home of your grandparents, and their grandparents before them. And it's my job as chief to protect us, Hiccup. And one day, when you're all grown up, that job will be passed on to you."
"And it's very important, son, because out there, beyond the sunset, lies the home of the dragons."
"Aye! Legends tell of ships that sailed too close to it, only to drop off the edge of the world. Never to be seen again."
Hiccup chuckled, remembering how shocked he was at the tale.
"But those sailors who turned back, told tales of a great waterfall and dragons guarding the entrance to a hidden world."
"Not just a nest, Hiccup, but a land from which all dragons come."
His father laughed.
"Especially Night Furies."
"Those are scary."
"Don't you worry. One day, I'll find the Hidden World and seal it up...so that people and dragons will fight no more."
Hiccup was brought out of the memory by Toothless pushing against his leg.
Toothless looked down at his prosthetic, and then back up at Hiccup.
"Oh, all right. You do know it's not a chew toy, don't you?"
Hiccup leaned down and unclipped the leg, hopping on one leg as Toothless panted excitedly.
"Is this what you want? Oh, do you want this leg? Do you want my leg?"
Hiccup threw his leg off of the cliff.
"Go get it."
Toothless dived after it, while he went back to his journal. A couple seconds went by and the leg landed back on the ground next to Hiccup. He looked up to see Toothless gliding solo.
"Getting pretty good at gliding on your own, bud."
Hiccup pulled out his map and opened it, tracing his finger to the west side of it. Over the years of traveling the world, it had grown in size. The oldest parts of the map included Arendelle in the center with the next oldest being the Archipelago with the most recent edition being the Enchanted Forest along with Ahtohallan.
Toothless meanwhile had landed and nudged the leg onto the map trying to get Hiccup to throw it again as Hiccup tapped the blank northwest corner of the map. A gurgle type of growl was heard as Hiccup watched a Gronkle fly in.
"I got it, I got it! I don't got it!"
The Gronckle crashed landed nearby and Hiccup heard a feminine voice cry out.
Hiccup breathed a sigh of relief as Anna, her dragon, Rockslugger, and Elsa stumbled out of the bushes. It had only been four months since Anna and Kristoff's wedding and Elsa was seven months pregnant. Two months after when she was supposed to stop flying.
"Elsa! What are you doing flying? You know what…"
Elsa raised her hand.
"I know what Doctor Morris said. No flying after five months, but we need to talk. Thank you Anna for bringing me here."
Anna lazily saluted.
Elsa pinched her nose and sighed.
"Just be careful flying back. Try not to run into anything."
"That was one time!"
She climbed onto Rockslugger.
"See you later, Elsa! Let's go, Rockslugger."
The Gronkle took flight as Elsa came over to Hiccup.
"Oh! So this is where you come to get away from Gobber."
"I..I have no idea what you're talking about.."
Toothless handed Elsa Hiccup's slobber-covered leg and she tossed it away, wiping her hands on her riding gear. She sat down next to him.
"Well, he's right, you know."
Elsa gestures to Arendelle.
"He's right about all of this."
"It does seem like the whole world knows about us now."
"Yep. And the more dragons we bring back here, the bigger of a target we become. The General brought me up to speed."
Hiccup's prosthetic landed in her lap and she tossed it aside.
"Ugh. I just wish there was some way to make them leave us alone."
Hiccup's eyes widened.
"There might be. Dad told me about an old mariners' myth when I was a kid. Of a secret land at the edge of the world, where dragons lived totally out of reach."
"Well, sailors are known for tall tales."
"True. But what if it's real, Elsa? It could be the answer to all of our problems."
Elsa was puzzled.
"How? By moving the dragons there?"
"Uh-uh. All of us."
Elsa was shocked.
"Seriously? And abandon Arendelle? We can't do that, Hiccup. When I became Queen and you became King, we both made a vow to protect Arendelle at all costs."
"I know but I think…."
"Yeah, well, I think we need a real solution, Hiccup."
The two went quiet. Hiccup spoke up.
"How's the baby?"
"She's been quiet. I can't believe she won't be born until summer. I...I want her here soon."
"Well not too soon. I came early into the world, and...I don't want our child to suffer the problems I had to go through as a child. And besides, how do you know it's a girl? It could be a boy."
Elsa leaned over.
"Mother's intuition, my love."
Hiccup leaned towards her, trying to kiss her.
"Is that so?"
A rush of wind interrupted the moment as Toothless leapt off of the cliff, gliding down and into the woods. Hiccup got his leg back on and looked down.
"Uh, bud? Wha-? Yeah, sure, don't bother to wait for us."
Elsa sighed and whistled for Skaði, who landed nearby.
Toothless flew down into the forest, sniffing for the new scent. He pushed through the grass and then he saw...her. A dragon black as night lay in an open spot in the trees, the moon reflecting off her scales. She made little cooing noises as it seemed she was just waking up a nap. Her head shook as she moved her wing aside, her pupils widening at the sight of another of her kind.
Toothless was in awe and slowly stepped forward when the dragon growled at Toothless as if to tell him to stay back. Toothless jumped back, sniffing the ground. He slowly made his way over to her as she woke up some more, staring into Toothless' acid green eyes as he stared back into hers.
The female Night Fury growled and shot a plasma blast at a tree directly behind them. Toothless turned around the see two figures step out from behind two opposing trees.
"Oh my gods…" Hiccup said breathlessly, as if in a daze. He saw the plasma blast fire directly at him, but didn't move from shock. An ice wall formed in front of him, blocking the blast as Toothless growled at the female Night Fury, protecting his rider and his mate. In desperation and with a scared growl, the female Night Fury took flight, Toothless followed her up a tree only to see a bolt of lightning strike her, her body vanishing from sight. Toothless was in awe and purred in sadness.
Hiccup and Elsa came into the clearing.
"Wow...I can't believe it. Another Night Fury. And a female one! Toothless is not alone! How many more are there?"
"I don't know. But we can't deal with her tonight. She almost killed you, Hiccup."
"I know, but she doesn't know us! She probably thinks we're the same as the Hunters. Maybe Fishlegs can come up with something on her. Toothless!"
His dragon came down and Hiccup stopped as he saw something sparkle on the ground.
Toothless did so as Hiccup picked up a dart. It had a purple residue inside it.
"Don't move a muscle. Elsa?"
She formed an ice spear in her hands. Hiccup pointed to a spot on the ground.
Elsa threw the spear as it landed in the field, and a massive trap swung up and slapped together. Toothless growled and Hiccup's face turned grim.
"Somebody's here. And they're no friends to dragons."
Dun Dun Daaaaahhhh! And Chapter 20 kicks off Hidden World, the final arc in this story! It's been a long road, but we are almost there! See you next time!