AN: So, last chapter was nice and fluffy, but this time we'll be dealing with a storm, both literal and metaphorical. Elsa is eager to go and visit a cherished little village from her childhood on the way north. However, things in the world are growing restless as the Villains' master plan begins to enter the first stages. As this is going on, Hiccup, Elsa, and the crew face the challenges of the mighty ocean as their journey takes them a bit too close to the Dark Sea and Helheim's Gate. It seems something is calling to Hiccup and Elsa, but the mystery is only just beginning. So, without further delay, onto the story…
Disclaimer: I don't own HTTYD or Frozen.
Rising Tide and Howling Winds
The heat of the summer sun warmed the salty sea air that blew in from the waterfront as children laughed and played among the sprawling hills and flower filled meadows. The many residents of the beautiful sprawling village had their windows open and were working hard at their livelihoods as they too enjoyed the rare heat the day had brought them. Being so far north, the days of heat and warmth were few and far between, so all found themselves outside in some fashion on this special day.
The gentle breeze brought the pleasant aroma of fresh baked goods and the sweet scent of flowers, only adding to the appeal of the picturesque village. At the edge of the village, a mother smiled in delight as she placed her tea down on the table and gratefully took the small pink flower her daughter had offered her. On the hills just outside of town, a small mixed group of children joyfully laughed and played amongst the trees. Near the docks, a weathered old fisherman watched with a content smile as his young grandson caught his first fish and proceeded to dance in delight over his accomplishment, despite the tiny size of the fish.
Men and women alike tended to the land, provided services, and helped their children to learn and grow. It was a normal day, one filled with beauty and wonder, and the village was content. It was also a marked day, but by the time they learned that…it was far too late.
Death and destruction as far as the eye could see…
The screams of men and women as the shadows descended from the sky spreading fire and ash in their wake…
The cries of frightened children and the desperate cries of mothers as the sought their young ones…
The war cries of the invaders as they swarmed the defenseless village…
The tears shed as so many lost their homes and their loved ones…
And the eerie silence that followed as the gray ash fell to the ground like snow…
Elsa jolted awake with a gasp, her heart pounding against her chest, her long blonde hair plastered to her sweat drenched brow as her slim blue nightgown lay plastered to her damp clammy skin. The room itself was relatively warm, as the dying embers of the fireplace still glowed faintly casting a reddish glow with which to see by, but Elsa felt a deep chill running over her whole body. Wrapping her arms tightly around her trembling frame, Elsa's tear filled eyes desperately scanned the room in fright, though everything looked the same and the only sound was the sound of her uneven panting as she tried to catch her breath after the horrible nightmare.
Clenching her eyes shut and distractedly wiping at her tear stained cheeks, Elsa willed her heart rate to slow as she tried to even out her desperate panting. It took a few minutes, but eventually the trembling ceased and Elsa felt her breathing and heart rate even out, though sleep was now the last thing on Elsa's mind. With a resigned sigh Elsa slipped out of bed and, grabbing a simple oil lamp, immediately began padding over towards the door to the hall, intent on getting some water from the main level.
It was the third night in a row that Elsa had woken up to basically the same dream and even though the details were always muddled and vague, Elsa felt in her bones that something was wrong…the only question was what it could be. Normally, Elsa simply restarted the fireplace and huddled in her room with a book until she grew tired once more, but tonight had been the worst yet and had left her mouth too dry to ignore. Elsa paused as she stepped out of her room and stared at the door to Hiccup's room, a sudden desire to knock overcoming her for a moment before she shook the thought out of her head and continued towards the stairs.
I'm a grown woman, Elsa mentally chastised herself with another shake of her head as she ascended to the main level. I can't be running to others in tears simply because something spooks me. It's not like my dreams mean anything, they're just my fears manifesting themselves in vague images. Besides, it would be…inappropriate to run into Hiccup's room in the middle of the night, even if we are married…at least that's what I keep telling myself.
Having just reached the four month mark in their marriage, Hiccup and Elsa had seemed to be hitting their stride so to speak, but for the past week things have been getting…awkward once again. Elsa would find her eyes drifting more and more towards Hiccup, and while not uncommon at this point, the feelings that had been appearing with increasing frequency had become a bit of a nuisance, to put it mildly. It wasn't so bad when the two were near each other just talking or relaxing, but more often recently Elsa found her focus shifting from her reports to the handsome young viking with the adorable look of concentration as Hiccup looked over his own work or tried to perfect a sketch.
What is wrong with me lately? Elsa groaned internally, her eyes clenching shut in frustration as she came to a halt right as she neared the top of the stairs. I've already acknowledge that Hiccup is a handsome young man and I though I was past this, but lately it's like just being around him isn't enough anymore. I find myself spending less time with my reports and more time focused on Hiccup…even when he's not around! And lately it's like I'm suddenly more prone to getting flustered over the simplest things. I mean, I practically jumped out of my skin yesterday and started spouting nonsense all because Hiccup came up behind me while I was seated at my desk and placed his head right next to mine to look at a report…one that I had actually called him over to look at.
Letting out a weary sigh, Elsa shook her head to rid herself of the plaguing thoughts and decided to just focus on getting her water before heading back down to bed. Distracted as she was, Elsa hadn't noticed the faint light coming from under the door until she had opened it and saw that there was a faint glow coming from the fire place. Curious, Elsa closed the door and looked over towards the fireplace, only to have her eyes widen and her face flush as she caught sight of a shirtless Hiccup huddled against Toothless as he sketched by the light of the fire, which also gave his hair a coppery glow only adding to the appeal.
Quickly turning towards the table and grabbing a cup and the water pitcher, Elsa could only quietly groan in frustration at herself, as she thought, I'm being ridiculous here…it's not the first time I've seen him shirtless for frost's sake. What is up with me?!
Refusing to back down, even to her own emotions, Elsa resolved to overcome this new awkward phase by meeting it head on. To that end, despite her rapidly beating heart, Elsa took her water and moved to join Hiccup by the fireplace…only to belatedly realize her lack of appropriate dress when she noticed Hiccup's eyes widening as he had lifted them from his sketch to greet her. Elsa was sure her face was red again, but trusted the fire to hide it as she moved to silently sit beside the slightly gaping viking, trying to rationalize that though it was bit…intimate, Hiccup was her husband and the nightgown was still relatively modest.
A moment later Hiccup seemed to come back to himself and shake off his surprise with a smile, a feat which Elsa deeply envied as her heart rate still had yet to truly come back under control. Trying to distract herself Elsa took stock of her surroundings and noticed that Hiccup's shirt was actually over by the fireplace and, from the looks of it, had just finished drying. Forgetting all about her embarrassment, Elsa's brain started to puzzle out the situation before her as it finally clicked that Hiccup was up in the middle of the night, had woken up Toothless to bring him into the main room, and had been drying his shirt which had been wet with either water or…sweat.
"Hiccup," Elsa suddenly whispered out, turning towards her husband with a worried look as the pieces all fell into place, a fact made clearer when she saw the sleepless look in Hiccup's eyes. "Why exactly are you up so late?"
"For the same reason as you are, I'd wager," Hiccup returned with a weary sigh as he placed down his sketches and tiredly rubbed a hand over his face as he angled himself to better face Elsa. "I've been having some…dreams over the past few days. I feel like something's happened, but I thought I was just being paranoid. It's the first time something like this has happened, but I thought that it was just a me thing…I didn't realize you've been suffering too. Sorry for not noticing Els, you want to talk about it?"
"Maybe later," Elsa muttered as she shook her head with a far away look and a small shiver despite the warmth of the room, prompting a concerned look to flash across Hiccup's face as Elsa rubbed her bare shoulders and arms. "I just want something to distract myself with for tonight so I can get some sleep. Maybe we can talk about whatever these dreams are and why we're having them when we arrive at the village of Spitsbergen tomorrow. I think the happy memories will help a lot and besides, it's not like dreams mean anything."
One of the things Hiccup both admired and hated about Elsa was her stubborn determination, not too unlike his own if he was being honest, as it would sometimes cause her to refuse help when she needed it. However, Hiccup knew a thing or two about stubbornness as well, so without any prompting Hiccup suddenly rose and reached over towards the fireplace, grabbing his now dry shirt and handing it to Elsa with the instructions 'put it on', before turning towards the dragon's pen. Elsa was confused, but did as she was told, instantly feeling warmer and more relaxed as Hiccup's scent wafted over her, a feeling that was magnified when Hiccup returned to her side with a confused Breen following behind him.
As Breen's eyes fell on Elsa, a look of understanding passed between the two, and Breen felt thankful that Hiccup had come to get her so that she may be there for her rider. So, as Hiccup took his spot beside Elsa, Breen completed the little protective black and white circle by laying her head next to Elsa's right side and by Toothless' tail. Surrounded on all sides by those that cared for her, Elsa finally felt her emotions settle for the first time that night as her eyes grew heavy once more.
With a hand resting on an already dozing Breen's head, Elsa leaned back into Toothless' side and turned towards a smiling Hiccup contemplating her appreciation for the man she called her husband. So, not wanting to make the trip back downstairs and blaming her sudden impulsive decision on her lack of sleep, Elsa lifted a confused Hiccup's right arm and tugged him closer, which he did instinctively, as she snuggled into Hiccup's side with her head resting comfortably on his chest. As if by magic, Elsa found her eyes growing heavy as the combined heat of the fireplace, two dragons, and her husband warmed her cold body and chased away the last vestige of the shadows her dream had cast over her mental state.
Truly at peace for the first time in nearly three days, Elsa allowed the steady, if somewhat fast paced, drumming of Hiccup's heart to lull her back into the sweet embrace of sleep. The same could not be said for Hiccup though, as the sudden closeness caused his eyes to widen and his face to flush as his heart hammered in his chest, every atom in his body fully aware of the soft form pressed into his side with a thin layer of silk being the only barrier between them. However, as Hiccup felt Elsa's gentle breathing even out, indicating her return to the land of dreams, he couldn't help but feel relieved and a bit grateful that he'd been able to help in some small way.
As Elsa slept peacefully, Hiccup slowly began to relax and allowed his arm, which had been stiffly hanging in the air up till that point, to wrap comfortably around Elsa's slim waist as he took this opportunity to examine his sleeping wife more closely. Over the past four months, Hiccup had slowly memorized every single little detail of Elsa's face and movements, living in such close quarters meant they were almost always together, but this was something brand new to Hiccup. Never before had Elsa looked so relaxed…or soft for that matter, not to mention that Hiccup hadn't ever realized before that Elsa's natural body temperature was much lower than his own, though whether that was due to her ice powers or whether his own flame powers raised his natural temperature was a question for another time.
With Elsa's face completely at ease Hiccup couldn't hep but notice the softer curve of her face and, unable to contain his curiosity, Hiccup lifted his hand off Elsa's waist and ran a finger lightly over the curve of Elsa's cheek, feeling the soft skin beneath and lightly pulling some stray hairs away from her face and back behind her ear. With his hand so close to Elsa's long blonde hair, and being able to count on one hand the number of times he'd seen it down like this, Hiccup chose to run his fingers lightly through the silky strands, reveling in their softness and the pleasant scent that was threatening to overwhelm him. Hiccup continued his ministrations for a few more moments, until Elsa let out a soft moan of approval in her sleep and shifted into his side more, bringing her right leg up over Hiccup's, causing him to freeze suddenly and his heart rate to spike again, though not just from the obvious reasons.
The perfectly smooth skin of the long shapely leg draped over his own was definitely a distracting new sight for the flustered young viking, but it was really the small smile Hiccup could just see the edges of on Elsa's face that had him all in a twist. The amount of comfort Elsa was obviously feeling in his presence was staggering to Hiccup, but it also served to highlight just how beautiful the Imperium Princess truly was, a fact that Hiccup had always been aware of, but that had been brought much more into focus recently. Hiccup had known since that dragon dance back during the pair's wedding day that he had been attracted to Elsa, and he had even resolved to not let this chance go to waste, but despite the obvious growth between the two, Hiccup was still hard pressed to decide on his next course of action for a number of reasons.
The two of them might have been married, but Hiccup could still tell that there was something that Elsa just wasn't ready to share with him just yet and somehow Hiccup instinctively knew that until whatever it was, was out in the open, then any attempt at drawing closer romantically would be just asking for trouble. Still, if the way Elsa was snuggled into his side was any indication, it was more of a matter of when things finally changed, rather than if they would change, and to be honest that was what troubled Hiccup the most. Hiccup was reasonably certain that Elsa felt the same amount of attraction for him that he felt for her, and, while he knew it wasn't love just yet, Hiccup knew that eventually it could grow to be love.
However, every time Hiccup contemplated the idea of expressing these feelings or thought about having a real relationship with Elsa, his thoughts invariably returned to Astrid. It had been years since the blonde haired valkyrie had disappeared from his life and they had never truly been in a relationship to begin with, at least not an official one, but Hiccup couldn't help but feel like he was betraying his first love by his actions. In a way, the situations were quite similar, with Elsa and Hiccup having been forced together in the same way circumstances had forced Astrid and Hiccup apart years earlier. Only, though Hiccup had refused to admit it for a long time, it wasn't the same, as ultimately…Astrid had chosen to leave.
With that fact in mind, Hiccup was aware that the guilt was all in his head and he had no real reason to feel this way. Hiccup could also acknowledge that it wasn't anything to do with Elsa either, as he was sure that had things continued with Camicazi to the point of seriously considering a future with her, he probably would've faced this same conundrum at some point or another. And of course, Hiccup also knew that even if Astrid did come back, he wouldn't be willing to turn his back on Elsa, and the best course of action would simply be to finally let Astrid go, like he thought he had already done. However, even with all these valid points arguing in his favor, they did nothing to quell the ache in his heart as he struggled to finally lay to rest these conflicting feelings and the choice that came with them.
You have to choose, Hiccup's inner voice whispered to him as his eyes grew heavy and his hand found itself returning to the curve of Elsa's waist, the cooler temperature of Elsa's body soothing him, as Hiccup's breathing began to even out. You can choose to reject reality, stubbornly clinging to the shadow of a long lost memory…or you can choose to lay the memory of the past to rest and cherish the beautiful treasure you have with you right now. So, what will you choose Hiccup?
The thought of finally letting go of Astrid was painful, as it always was, but Hiccup knew that he couldn't run from this anymore, as this was something he should've done a long time ago. Hiccup knew that Astrid would always be his first love, and therefore would always hold a place in his heart, but Hiccup knew that he couldn't cling to the past anymore, always thinking about how things could've been. Elsa deserved better than that and so, as sleep nearly took him, Hiccup found his eyes drift one last time to the content face of his sleeping wife…and in that moment it finally clicked inside Hiccup. Like a light finally clearing away the last shadows of doubt, the hole in his heart finally allowed itself to start mending and as sleep finally claimed Hiccup completely, Hiccup knew his heart had finally made its choice.
The Northern morning air lightly whipped through Elsa's long blonde hair, once again done in her preferred French braid, as she soared through the air above the clouds on the back of Breen, simply lost in the silent joy and excitement of the moment as they drew ever closer to their destination. The smell of the salty sea air combined with the warmth of the suns rays just seemed to brighten Elsa's mood even more, but as a large black shadow briefly fell over the pair from above, Elsa was forced to admit that maybe it wasn't just the excitement that was improving her mood. Hiccup and Toothless slowly lowered themselves to glide side by side with the girls, each giving a cheeky smile as they too shared in the mounting excitement of reaching their destination.
For the first time in the past few days Elsa had managed to sleep through the night soundly, due in no small part to the unexpected, though not unwelcome, company that had been there for her to rest against. Even the following morning hadn't been as awkward as Elsa had expected as, though her cheeks had flushed red initially upon waking, once she had settled into the moment Elsa couldn't find it in herself to muster the energy to be embarrassed. Elsa had come to realize that with Hiccup there was no judgement and there was no need to worry about being seen as weak, so there was also no need to bother feeling embarrassed either.
Hiccup for once had been the first one up and had seemed fascinated with Elsa's hair, once again gently running his fingers through the beautiful locks, and Elsa had simply taken a few moments to bask in the treatment with a low hum of approval before finally allowing herself to stir completely from her slumber. No words passed between the two as they had stood and stretched lightly, but when Elsa had taken Hiccup's hand in her own and locked her gaze on him, Hiccup could clearly see the thankfulness in Elsa's eyes, a sentiment that had been echoed in the smile he had given her. Still, as the two had moved back downstairs to get ready for the day, Elsa could tell that Hiccup wanted to ask her once again about her dreams, and if she was honest herself Elsa was a bit curious as to what Hiccup had dreamt about as well.
However, not wanting to ruin her good mood first thing in the morning, Elsa had preemptively cut off any possible inquisition by acknowledging the fact that Hiccup was right and that she needed to talk about her concerns and then promising Hiccup that the two would sit down and talk before bed that evening after arriving in Spitsbergen. In all honestly, Elsa had been both grateful and surprised by the comfort Hiccup's mere presence had successfully been able to give her last night, having not expected to fall asleep so easily or so quickly. So, Elsa had decided that talking with Hiccup was probably the best course of action concerning both her current mental state as well as for any future problems…and she may have also been looking for an excuse to sleep cuddle up by the fire again tonight as well…purely for comfort of course.
All in all, Elsa couldn't be happier with the way things were going, and she was even looking forward to talking with Hiccup about her dreams later that night, but because she was so wrapped up in her good mood Elsa very nearly missed the sound of a loud roar followed by sudden panicked yelling from down below. Pulling to a sudden halt in mid-air the sound of concerned shouts mixed with the crashing sound of heavy waves became that much clearer, causing Hiccup and Elsa to give each other a concerned glance before directing Toothless and Breen downward towards the Dreki-Rede. At first it sounded like the ship was caught in the merciless rough waters of a storm, but with the wind being so mild and no sign of storm clouds, Hiccup and Elsa knew that this couldn't be the case, but as they broke through the cloud cover to see the sight below them, both felt their blood run cold.
Marshmallow let out a pained monstrous roar as she was bodily tossed partially out of the water by the large green male Submaripper that had just breached the surface of the water. However, as Marshmallow was still harnessed to the large battleship, the momentum was quickly halted causing her to crash back roughly into the sea, even as the Dreki-Rede jerked to the side violently, the haul and chains groaning under the strain, but thankfully remaining intact. The seriousness of the situation was becoming all too clear to Elsa as the turbulent waters below continued to crash violently together under the kinetic forces being administered, but this was much different from a typical skirmish between ships as this was between two territorial Tidal class dragons and as such it was outside of Elsa's normal area of expertise.
"Hiccup!" Elsa cried out frantically, eyes wide in panic, as Marshmallow suddenly breached the surface of the water with a roar, successfully diving onto the wild Submaripper and forcing it under the water once again with a loud crash, water spraying everywhere. "This is getting really serious! I know how territorial Submarippers can be and this is the route we always take. Marshmallow knows these waters very well, so she's not about to back down to what she feels is an invader in her turf, but if we don't end this soon the ship will be torn apart and my dragon could get hurt!"
"Alright, I have an idea! Do you think you can get Marshmallow's attention?" Hiccup cried out almost immediately, much to Elsa's relief as she nodded in affirmation, before Hiccup returned his focus to the behemoth sized dragons as they resurfaced a short distance from each other, glaring and readying to launch into another frenzied attack. "You remember the day we met? Just before you left the ship you created a platform of ice on the water so you could tend to Marshmallow. When I give the signal, I need you and Breen to dive bomb the water in between Marshmallow and the invading male Submaripper and create as large a glacier as you can to put some distance between the two. Then while I'm doing a run of my own, I need for you to calm down Marshmallow enough so that she'll be more willing to listen to instructions. We're going to try and herd this guy away from these shipping lanes and further out to sea, but it'll take all three of us to do it safely."
Nodding once again in acknowledgement, Elsa found her panic settling and her breathing evening out despite the volatile situation below, as the comfort of knowing Hiccup's expertise in dealing with dragons allowed her mind to finally wrap itself around the situation and break it down into something she could control. Sharing a quick look with Breen, whom had a determined glint in her eyes, having understood the gist of what was going on, Elsa listened carefully for Hiccup to indicate it was time to dive. Down below the wild Submaripper tried to launch himself at Marshmallow, but she simply slammed her body into the invading dragon's side mid-air to push him off before he could sink his teeth back into her.
"NOW!" Hiccup suddenly cried out, indicating that Elsa should dive, but was surprised to note that Elsa and Breen had launched themselves downward at the exact second that he had moved to cry out.
Shaking off the surprise for now, Hiccup waited a mere three-seconds before leaning forward on Toothless and moving them into their own diving run, the scream of the rushing air causing Hiccup's blood to pound in his ears and a determined look to cross his face. As the wild Submaripper moved to turn around for another run, Marshmallow nearly dived forward for another attack, but paused at the familiar sound of an approaching Light Fury. Trying to take advantage of his opponents distraction, and unfamiliar with the sound, the wild Submaripper lunged forward, breaching the water, only to be knocked back as twin blasts of ice slammed into the ocean in-between the two struggling behemoths, creating a large spiked glacier.
Trying to right himself, the wild Submaripper paddled backwards away from the glacier and saw a smaller dragon hovering near its rival, but even as the dragon moved to get around the strange ice that had suddenly appeared, another screaming sound echoed through the air. Looking up this time, the wild Submaripper was still unprepared for the plasma blast that slammed into the left side of his thick hide with extreme force, knocking him sideways and beneath the waves. Hiccup and Toothless quickly pulled up and around from their frantic dive and moved quickly to hover by Elsa, Breen, and a much calmer Marshmallow.
"Ok, nice job, but we're not out of the woods yet," Hiccup quickly complimented as he took stock of Elsa and Breen's physical condition, before giving a quick check of Marshmallow's hide, grateful that the bight marks and scratches from the wild Submaripper didn't look that deep. "Given that Marshmallow's still harnessed to the ship we're going to have to coordinate this so this guy gets the idea that this fight isn't worth it. So, Toothless and I will get his full attention on us, while you relay the plan to the men on the ship."
"Have them create an ice barrier similar to yours on the port side of the ship," Hiccup quickly explained as he circled around Elsa, so as to keep an eye on the water, knowing that the wild Submaripper would be surfacing within a moment. "I'll herd our unexpected guest that way so we can keep the fight close to the ship…hopefully without actually damaging it. Once he's focused on us completely have Marshmallow attack, but only using body blows if possible, we don't want either dragon getting hurt if we can help it. Then before he can attack Marshmallow in turn, you and Breen will create another ice barrier to separate them. Meanwhile, Toothless and I will have set up for another run, so when he's forced to surface once more we'll hit him with another plasma blast. It shouldn't take more than another run or two, but we'll continue to drive him further northwest and away from the main shipping lanes."
Elsa could only stare in complete awe of the sudden role reversal of the pairs excursion back in Weselton, with Hiccup taking charge and outlining the plan while Elsa simply played her role in it. Though she followed direction just fine and without complaint, Elsa was used to taking the lead in most areas and so had expected to feel nothing at best or slight irritation at worst, but the feeling currently sitting in her chest at the authoritative tone Hiccup was taking was nothing like she expected. Hiccup's commanding presence, combine with the resolve and tactical ability he was showing, added to the adrenaline of the moment, all came together to form an image that was…quite intoxicating if Elsa was being honest.
Suddenly, the moment was broken as the invading Submaripper breached the water with a mighty roar, glaring at the offending Night Fury and his rider and thrashing about in challenge, churning the water violently around him. Toothless roared back in acceptance of said challenge as Hiccup turned to Elsa with a quick look, before nodding and turning back towards the behemoth dragon with a smirk, urging Toothless onward. For a moment Elsa and Breen simply hovered in place as the two sped off, both staring intrigued and enchanted by the boys' powerful auras, but a roar from Marshmallow quickly snapped them back to reality and they quickly moved to relay the plan to Captain Mattias.
Over the course of the next minute, Toothless ad Hiccup ran circles around the Tidal class dragon, peppering it with Plasma blasts as he tried to leap out of the water and snap at them, but each time he came up empty. Growing frustrated, the Submaripper suddenly dove beneath the turbulent waves and disappeared, but Hiccup already knew what was coming next and, confirming that the Dreki-Rede was now in position, decided to spring the trap. Flying low enough to be affected by the Submaripper next attack, Hiccup closed his eyes and counted down the seconds, before directing Toothless to quickly rise just a mere second before a large whirlpool opened up beneath the pair, the suction of it trying to pull Hiccup and Toothless right out of the air.
Working in perfect tandem with Hiccup and trusting him to indicate when it would be time to shoot, Toothless keep his unflinching gaze on the very eye of the swirling whirlpool, knowing that at it's center would be the wild Submaripper's gaping maw, even as Toothless' wings continued to pump hard against the suction. A moment later, feeling the barest of shifts from Hiccup and instinctively knowing that he wanted him to act, Toothless let loose a volley of three plasma blasts dead center of the whirlpool, causing the Submaripper to snap its maw shut in pain, ending the suction creating the whirlpool. As the wild Submaripper tried to shake off the pain, Marshmallow rapidly swam up next to him and slammed forcefully into his side, causing him to be pushed painfully into the sea floor, before an ice blast hit next to him creating another large glacier forcing him to instinctually surface in fear of further assault.
This action of course put the wild Submaripper right back into the crosshairs of Hiccup and Toothless, both of whom were already diving in another bombing run on the Tidal class dragon. With the pattern repeating itself again, the wild Submaripper was quickly overwhelmed by the three dragons and their riders, causing him to lose his will to fight any further. Forced into submission, the wild Submaripper began to swim away, heading northeast towards the village of Spitsbergen, but a quick plasma blast from Toothless herded the Tidal class dragon northwest and away from the village, towards the Dark Sea.
Satisfied, but wanting to make sure the wild Submaripper didn't change course further down, Hiccup and Elsa flew along as escorts, with Marshmallow and the Dreki-Rede lagging behind, close enough to see them, but far enough away so as not to provoke another attack. As the pair flew onwards the clouds began to thicken, growing darker, but Hiccup was preoccupied by his own thoughts, especially since he knew that they still had a little bit of time before they drew near the Dark Sea. So, with the danger of the situation now handled, Hiccup could finally address the nagging question at the back of his mind, one that had been bugging him since he first saw the invading Submaripper.
"Hey Elsa, you said that this was the normal path you and your family would always take to Spitsbergen right?" Hiccup suddenly asked Elsa out of the blue after a few minutes of contemplation, earning a cautious nod of confirmation from his wife. "Then what exactly was that wild Submaripper doing there? Submarippers are extremely territorial, not to mention mainly sedentary predators, sticking to their personal hunting grounds almost exclusively and using their wind based breath to literally suck up their prey. Even with the ocean currents dispersing it a bit, Marshmallow's scent should still be there as Submarippers and other Tidal class dragons use a much stronger scent marker that actually absorbs into the rocks of the sea floor as that's how they define their space and territory. On top of that, that shipping lane is far too active to support large schools of fish and even though it's certainly deep, Submarippers usually prefer the even deeper drop offs near the edges of the sea bed where larger schools of fish are more plentiful. It's almost as if someone actually mov-, argh!"
Hiccup cried out in surprise as Toothless suddenly jerked forward with sporadic movements, his pupils narrowing into slits as his ears flaps twitched as if he was not in total control of his actions. Elsa moved to call out in concern when Breen suddenly jerked forward as well with the same look in her eyes, causing Elsa to cry out in surprise herself, before both dragons dove simultaneously towards the distant fog bank at blinding speeds. For a brief moment Hiccup looked back at the Dreki-Rede and noticed that Marshmallow was also being affected by whatever call was pulling at the dragons as she was rapidly pulling the Battleship forward, though at a different angle of approach, but that was quickly overridden by what they were approaching.
Helheim's Gate, Hiccup groaned internally, recalling all of the many horrible rumors and stories surrounding the thick fog bank that acted as an entrance to the turbulent and deadly Dark Sea. The ships that enter there almost never come back…and of course that's exactly where we're being led.
Ah Ah…Ah Ah…, A melodious sound suddenly rang out in both Hiccup and Elsa's ears, causing the pair to immediately turn their heads straight ahead at the same point of the fog bank, before jerking to look at the other in surprise.
And now Elsa and I are hearing voices calling to us too, Hiccup silently groaned again as he watched Elsa's gaze distractedly return to the direction the voice was calling them from. Great, first we're tormented by dreams and now voices in our heads. Maybe we're just going crazy. Ugh…can this get any worse?
I had to ask! Hiccup screamed internally as he desperately clung to Toothless' back, barely able to hear his own thoughts over the sound of thunder, the pouring rain, and the crashing turbulent waves below.
Hiccup had at least felt grateful that the voice had been able to guide Toothless and Breen easily through the invisible maze of sea stacks of Helheim's gate, otherwise the four wouldn't have survived the harrowing journey. However, the moment the fog had cleared the voice had faded away as the flood gates of the heavens had burst open in a torrential downpour and the wind had slammed into the four and knocked the two dragons side by side, nearly causing Elsa to fall out of her saddle. Instinctually, Hiccup had thrown forward the locking mechanism of Toothless' tail fin and slipped off his safety harness in an instant, before he had stretched over to the side and pulled Elsa back into place, only to end up slipping off his own saddle instead.
Having expected this, Hiccup had quickly slid his hands through the loops of the artificial wings of his flight suit and attempted to stay airborne long enough for Toothless to recover him, but the strong winds had immediately started to toss the young viking lad around like a rag doll with Toothless, Elsa, and Breen crying out in worry. Hiccup had felt himself being flipped end over end and pushed up and down until Hiccup didn't know which way was up, the winds howling in his ear and the rain seeping into every inch of his clothing and armor, but as he had been battered around Hiccup caught a glimpse of white above him. Using Breen as a point of reference, Hiccup, with ever once of will power he could muster, had sent out a large blast of flames straight down at the turbulent sea below, succeeding at halting his momentum and bracing himself against the howling wind for just a moment, but it had allowed Toothless to finally angle his large form just under Hiccup.
Gripping Toothless's neck in a death grip, Hiccup forced himself back into the saddle and reconnected the safety harness before forcing his eyes open to take stock of the situation, not that he could make out much over the pouring rain and strong winds. Spotting Breen and Elsa struggling futilely against the wind just up ahead, Hiccup urged Toothless forward, while pressing the spot on his neck to encourage the protruding fins on his back to elongate for better maneuvering ability against the wind. With every ounce of strength he could muster, Toothless fought against the air current and muscled his way towards the girls, letting out a sonic screech ever few seconds to make sure he was still on the right trajectory, but within mere moments, that felt more like hours, Toothless and Hiccup finally reached the female pair.
"Elsa, lean as far forward on Breen as you can!" Hiccup hollered at the top of his voice in order to be heard over the roar of the wind and rain as he maneuvered Toothless and himself as close as they could manage over the two struggling females, to shield them from powerful forces of nature as best as they could. "Do you see the ship anywhere?! Marshmallow was following the call too and might have found a way in! We'll have a better chance sailing out of the storm than flying in this kind of wind!"
"No!" Elsa cried out in response as she did as instructed and leaned flush against Breen back, her riding dress and hair absolutely soaked and cling to her skin, but still grateful for the meager cover the boys were offering against the wind and rain. "I thought I caught a glimpse of it to the right a minute ago, but the rain is so thick that it disappeared from view in an instant!"
"Hang on, don't try not to move from our shadow, we'll check…Toothless!" Hiccup shouted out before directing Toothless to send off a sonic blast in the indicated direction, earning a happy bark a moment later, much to Hiccup's relief. "Elsa, Toothless found the ship! The winds picking up even more though and Breen doesn't have the same amount of maneuverability or pushing power that Toothless does right now! Don't move, I'm going to hop down to you guys and let Toothless lead the way! My added weight, plus Toothless cutting a path ahead of us, should allow Breen to maneuver easier in the wind currents!"
Elsa was concerned on multiple levels with Hiccup trying to switch dragons in the middle of such a turbulent storm, even if he was literally right above her, but trusting in her husband, and knowing that his points were valid, Elsa could only shift further forward on Breen's back and tell her to hold as steady as possible. A moment later Elsa felt Hiccup's form land on Breen's back, causing Breen to wobble in her flight path for a moment, but before Elsa could move an inch, she felt Hiccup slide up behind her and practically lay his entire body over her's, pushing her form more firmly into Breen's back for both protection and to decrease drag. Her heat hammered in her chest at the sudden proximity, but before Elsa would even cry out in confusion Hiccup reached above Elsa and firmly gripped Breen's saddle hand holds before urging Breen forward right behind Toothless as he made a path towards the ship.
At first Elsa was dumbfounded on what was happening with their positioning, but a moment later Elsa realized that she was no longer being assaulted by the rain and wind as bad as she was before, and the heat from Hiccup's body was slowly seeping into her as well. So, while not the most comfortable position to fly in, Elsa couldn't help but bask in Hiccup's warmth as she closed her eyes and simply listened to the beat of Hiccup's heart, no longer able to hear the sound of the roaring wind in her little bubble with Hiccup bodily shielding her. For the next few minutes the quartet fought valiantly against the storm to reach the ship, but finally the Dreki-Rede came into view and both dragons pushed forward with the remaining strength they had straight for the relative safety of the large battleship.
"Captain Mattias!" Hiccup hollered and waved, Elsa still clutched protectively to his chest to shield her, as the quartet approached the main deck with the crew scrambling to keep the ship together and on course. "Over here!"
"Your majesties!" Captain Mattias cried out in relief as he rushed over towards the quartet as they set down on the deck, quickly moving to help both royals down off Breen's back, before directing both dragons to move towards the side and out of the way of the crew. "Thank goodness you both are safe! Prince Haddock, please take Princess Elsa below deck and keep her safe! We'll try and make for Helheim's gate and out of this storm!"
"No, we will not be hiding below deck!" Elsa returned with conviction and a determined look as she quickly approached the bow of the ship and sent two quick blasts of ice at the ocean, a silent signal she had taught Marshmallow years ago to indicate to turn around and return the way she had come. "It's going to take everyone's help to successfully navigate our way out of this in one piece! Even with how strong the hull is, we'll need every ice wielder we have above deck and blasting back these waves to keep them from capsizing us!"
"Prince Haddock, can you please help me…" Captain Mattias began, hoping that Hiccup could somehow persuade the stubborn princess to go below deck where it was safer, but was both distraught…and a bit impressed to see Hiccup already directing certain members of the crew to more helpful positions, as well as directing the dragons where they should go. "Of course…As you wish your majesty, just please be careful! This will not be an easy task! Officer Hansen, I want you to take command of the main deck! I'm going to take over the helm personally once more and try to steer us safely through the storm and Helheim's gate! Officer Olsen, once the ship is turned around, relay orders to Officer Larsen to give the engine everything he's got! Everyone else to your positions and make sure the water stays outside the ship!"
With an invigorated cheer, the chaos on deck quickly turned to order, everyone moving to their positions as the ship slowly, almost painfully so, started to turn around as Marshmallow used her large size and strength to fight back against the turbulent ocean current and begin the short but dangerous trip back to safety. In response, the storm seemed to rage even more, battering the poor men and women abroad the Dreki-Rede mercilessly, but none wavered for even a moment, literally blasting back wave after wave as the ship and crew fought tooth and nail to break free of the storm's hold and survive. For many tense minutes, the Dreki-Rede was battered back and forth as it fought the ocean's currents, but with Marshmallow's strength and the crew's resolve, soon the thick fog of Helheim's gate appeared on the horizon.
Hope seemed to swell within each member of the crew as the once foreboding sight now looked like paradise in comparison, but the Dark Sea wasn't quite ready to admit defeat and release its captive audience just yet. Almost as if it was initiating one final all out attack, the waters of the Dark Sea raged with even greater ferocity and the largest wave any member of the crew had ever seen came barreling towards them, aimed straight at the starboard side of the ship. Elsa cried out for every ice wielding member of the crew to send out a large simultaneous ice blast so as to create a wave breaker, silently praying it would be enough to hold up against such a colossal force.
Hiccup could only look on in concern, feeling a little bit helpless at the moment, as Elsa, Mia, and the other ice wielders created a large ice wall to protect them from the large wave's destructive power. Suddenly, Hiccup heard Toothless and Breen let out a concerned growl as the hairs on the back of Hiccup's neck began to stand on end and immediately Hiccup recognized exactly what was about to come. With only a moment to react, Hiccup closed his eyes and took a deep breath as he began blocking out the roaring of the wind and the movement of the boat, striving to slow his rapid heartbeat as he waited for his moment to move, stretching out his senses to feel for the heat signatures around him.
Just as Elsa and the others finished the ice wall and were bracing for impact, Hiccup felt the sudden surge of white hot intense heat ripping through the clouds and lancing straight at the boat…and that was when Hiccup made his move. Gritting his teeth against the searing pain that was about to come, Hiccup used every once of strength he had left in his body to grab ahold of the immense heat of the lightning bolt and redirect it from the hull of the ship towards his hand and the new path he was creating for it. Despite bracing for it, Hiccup couldn't help the cry of pure agony he let out as the lightning touched his outstretched fingers, but knowing a single lapse in control would result in his death, Hiccup resolutely ignored it as he mentally rerouted the intense power through his body, around his heart, and gathered it into his other hand.
"Everybody down!" Hiccup shouted out with all his might, his entire body howling in agony as steam wafted off his form from the heat he was generating at that moment, but his face set in determination as he aimed his left hand at a point to the left and just past the ice wall, intent on using the power of the lighting to aid in halting the forward momentum of the advancing wave.
Elsa, Mia, Leah, and the rest only just barely hit the deck before, with a cry of pain, Hiccup released the pent up power letting it arch through the air along the path he had mapped for it and into the ocean where it exploded outwards with extreme force. The shockwave and subsequent opposing wave succeeded in weakening the oncoming wave to the point that when it hit the ice wall it only had enough strength to cause a single crack to form in the wall before the wave dissipated, its energy spent. All eyes turned to Hiccup in awe at the feat he had just accomplished, with the steam still wafting from his strong form only adding to the effect, when he suddenly stumbled forward and nearly collapsed from exhaustion.
Elsa, having insisted on being at the front of the crew to help brace the ice wall, was too far away to stop Hiccup's fall, but thankfully two others were much closer, so both Leah and Mia were able to grip Hiccup by his arms and halt his descent, supporting the exhausted viking lad on either side. Elsa could only sigh in relief, a hand clutching her rapidly beating heart as she finally allowed herself to lean against the railing and slide down to the deck, Leah and Mia helping Hiccup to stagger over towards where Elsa was resting just as the ship entered the fog bank of Helheim's gate. Knowing they weren't out of danger yet, despite the worse being over, Leah and Mia quickly helped a dizzy Hiccup to lower himself to the deck next to Elsa, whom immediately urged Hiccup to lay his head on her lap, so that the two officers could return to helping guide the ship through the dangerous fog bank.
"I gotta say I'm impressed," Leah stated with a thankful smile as she wrung a small amount of water out of her hair, just before she moved to return to her command. "It seems that vikings can tame the very heavens as well as the seas…Prince Hiccup, thank you for saving our lives. This crew owes you a debt that we can never repay."
"I for one agree with Officer Hansen," Mia supplied with a small voice, but with a genuine smile as she bowed deeply in respect, water dripping from her red locks as she did. "Thank you both Prince Hiccup and Princess Elsa for safely delivering us through that storm."
Hiccup, still a little lightheaded and situated on Elsa's lap, and Elsa, who was absentmindedly running her fingers through Hiccup's hair in a soothing manner, could only smile and nod in recognition of the praise. Both Hiccup and Elsa were too drained to point out that it had been the efforts of the whole crew that had delivered them all, and in any case Leah and Mia were already off to their respective posts to help with the next leg of the journey. A minute later the Dreki-Rede emerged from the fog bank into the bright midday sunshine they had been in not even thirty minutes beforehand, but to the weary crew…it might as well have been a lifetime ago.
For a moment everyone just basked in the sudden warmth, suddenly all too aware of the water and the frigid temperature of the sea air around them, but all were grateful for the discomfort as it meant that they were still alive to feel it. A smiling Hiccup and Elsa turned to regard each other and couldn't help but notice the messy state the other was in, with Elsa's hair and clothes dirty and matted to her skin, and Hiccup's hair even more wild then normal and the skin of his hands and face red and a bit blotchy from the intense heat. Despite their state, both couldn't help but privately think that the other looked perfect, before both suddenly burst out in hysterical giggles, the absurdity of their narrow escape from the deadly encounter suddenly dawning on them.
Many of the crew quickly joined the pair in their laughter, the joyful cries echoing across the deck, soon followed by the delighted roars of the Toothless, Breen, and Marshmallow…everyone thankful to be alive.
Two hours later the Dreki-Rede finally came within sight of the far side of the island of Spitsbergen and, at the urging of a now semi-refreshed Princess Elsa, moved to immediately begin docking procedures. In a matter of fifteen minutes, Hiccup and Elsa, along with Captain Mattias and a small continent of guards, were moving ashore and towards the forest path after giving instructions to the remaining crew that would be continuing to sail the long way around. Elsa for her part was practically giddy with excitement, dragging a still recovering Hiccup along as she sought to reach a clearing up ahead causing said viking to laugh lightly with a content expression.
"Well, I see someone's excited," Hiccup chuckled as Elsa tugged him ever onward at increasing speeds, happy to see Elsa spirits so high after the near death experience a few hours before. "You mentioned before that your family would come here at least once a year, but what exactly is so special about the forest that you couldn't wait another thirty minutes to sail around the island to the village itself? Not to mention insisting that we leave Toothless and Breen behind. You know it would've been faster to just fly to the village if you were in that much of a hurry right?"
"Oh hush you," Elsa practically giggled with a beaming smile, for once appearing to Hiccup like she was a child instead of a regal princess, as she tugged once more at his elbows, mindful of his bandaged hands. "They both still needed their rest as you well know. Besides, it's not just the village I want you to see. Don't get me wrong, I love soaring above the clouds, but some things are best experienced from the ground. As for what's so special about this forest…this!"
Having timed it just right, Elsa gestured to the large clearing right as they emerged from the tree line, and Hiccup could immediately tell just what Elsa meant. The view before Hiccup was absolutely breathtaking, with a small flowing stream providing water to a whole host of different flowers in all manner of colors and sizes. Though clearly man made, or at least maintained, it did nothing to detract from the natural beauty that flowed before him and the sight only got better as Hiccup explored further and saw hosts of fruit bearing trees…it was like a perfect little garden.
"It's one of the hidden gems of Spitsbergen," Elsa supplied eagerly as she gestured around her at all the natural beauty before moving to kneel beside a nearby rose bush. "The ring of trees around us, as well as a small nearby hot spring near the mountain, help to stabilize the temperature of this little clearing allowing for an assortment of flowers that otherwise wouldn't survive as long this far north. I have far too many good memories of this island to ever pick a favorite spot, but this garden was always special to me as it was always a place where I could just forget the harsh world around me and just…be happy…be me. It's funny, but as a child I heard an old wives tale that each flower has a story to share with us and that roses where the one that remind us to love. In a way, that's where my love of roses comes from, as the sight of them always reminds me that it's possible to find love and happiness in my life, no matter how hard things get…or how often I forget."
"Well, as good a reminder as a rose can be," Hiccup began seriously as he took Elsa's hand in his bandaged one, guiding her up from her kneeling position and staring into her eyes as he ran his bare thumb over the smooth skin on the back of her hand. "I think I can do one better for you, because I promise that as long as I'm here I won't just remind you to be happy…I'll make sure to always add happiness into your life as well."
Elsa's cheeks were a bit flushed and her smile was shy as she promised the same in return and threaded her fingers with Hiccup's, but she couldn't have been happier than she was right then. Unbeknownst to the other, but as Hiccup and Elsa went back to looking at the flowers, both couldn't help but ponder the words left unsaid and the question of whether they could also bring love into the other's life…and if the other would accept them that way. For the next few minutes no words were shared as the two simply took in the spectacular beauty of the hidden little garden, before finally continuing on towards the village, Elsa once again eager to show off more of her many childhood memories of the village.
"Oh, I can't wait for you to see it Hiccup," Elsa continued to ramble on as they neared the edge of the trees ten minutes later, so caught up in her reminiscing that she didn't notice the eerie silence or how the trees were starting to sport spots of gray ash on them until they finally cleared the tree line. "Mrs. Hawkins' bakery has some of the best pastries I've ever had and there's always some kind of event or gathering happening in the main square. It's the most beautiful little village you'll ever-…"
Elsa abruptly cut herself off, not that Hiccup or any of the men seemed to notice, as all eyes took in the devastation before them, the village a shriveled husk of its former self. More than half of the builds lay partially collapse, scorch marks everywhere as ash still rained down amidst the slight breeze wafting around the silent area, everything looked simply lifeless and grey. For a moment all was silent, none able to comprehend what they were seeing, when suddenly Elsa sprinted off down the hill at break neck speeds, ignoring the startled cries of Hiccup and the other men, desperate to awake from this horrid nightmare, but unable to turn away.
Past the remains of houses and Mrs. Hawkins' bakery, around Mr. Yue's carpentry shop and the local healer's demolished hut, Elsa charged through the ash, nearly choking on the air around her, the ash stinging her eyes. Finally reaching the large open area of the village center, Elsa's aching legs threatened to collapse, but her desperation pushed her onwards as she noticed one lone figure covered in soot, breathing uneven as if he had been crying or breathing in the ash for far too long, sitting curled in on himself against the entrance to the main hall of the village. Elsa moved to call out to the young man, but he spoke up first in a soft voice that seemed to almost echo around the abandoned village.
"You're too late," the young man spoke with a small sigh, his eyes hidden by the shadow of his hair, but his face and form emotionless and still as if he were already dead and his body just hadn't registered it yet. "They came…the men of the flames…they burned it all to the ground. Everyone's gone…now it's just me here, and here I will remain…until my tears have all been spilt and have spelled out my pain for all eternity."
"Elsa!" Hiccup cried with a cough as he finally reached Elsa from where she stood frozen in a catatonic state, a few men running onward to check on the young man, with Captain Mattias and the others looked in the nearby broken buildings for any other survivors. "Elsa, I'm so sorry that this happened, but there's nothing we can do about it right now. We need to go back and wait outside the village for the ship and the rest of the crew, it's not safe here. This amount of ash could kills us if we breath in to much of it, but once the ship gets here we'll be able to organize a proper search for survivors, so please come with me, we have to…"
"The men of the flames did this, he said," Elsa whispered in a distant voice into the still air around her interrupting Hiccup's pleas, her eyes glazed over as she slowly began to continue forward towards the very center of the large town square, confusing Hiccup, but instantly gaining Captain Mattias' attention. "Vikings did this…"
"By the frost…everyone take cover!" Captain Mattias suddenly shouted out in pure terror as Elsa's form slowly started to tremble, each of the men suddenly moving in a panic away from the Imperium princess, two dragging the young man with them, until only Hiccup and Elsa remained in the center.
Captain Mattias, realizing that Hiccup hadn't moved, since Hiccup didn't understand what was happening, quickly broke cover to try and save the unaware viking lad, but it was too late. All Mattias could do was create an ice wall in front of himself and brace for the storm, all while hoping he could figure out a way to get Hiccup out of there before it was too late. Before Hiccup could question anything else, Elsa suddenly collapsed onto her knees and cried out in a voice filled with pain and anguish as the last of her control slipped and the raging storm inside her broke free at last.
The air temperature plummeted, as an icy wind burst forth and scattered the ash and debris to the winds at great speeds, a destructive icy blast going out in all direction, with Elsa at the epicenter of it all, as her voice turned hard and angry as she shouted to the heavens with tears in her eyes, "…THOSE SAVAGES BURNED IT ALL!"
AN: …As Bugs Bunny from those old Looney Tunes cartoons would say, 'Ain't I a Stinker'. So, wow all that just happened…I mean the emotional ups and downs of this chapter have just been all over the place. After the foreshadowing we went right into enough sweetness to give you a cavity, but we ended with so much angst that it could make a grown man cry. Now, obviously next chapter will show us the results of Elsa's breakdown here, but it will also result in Hiccup finding out just what Elsa's been afraid of him finding out all this time…the full extent of her powers. As that secret has been one of the main obstacles that have held both Hiccup and Elsa back from exploring a romantic relationship, as of next chapter that obstacle will no longer be in play which means…the next stage of Hiccelsa is on its way!
On a side note, as some of you might have noticed, I decided to include a few references to the original inspiration for Frozen, 'The Snow Queen' by Hans Christian Andersen and might include a few more next chapter. For those of you that didn't notice I'll note them here: Spitsbergen is said to be where the land of permafrost is located with the Snow Queens palace and gardens. (Also, yes Spitsbergen is a real place, but I will say that any resemblance my story may have to it is completely accidental as I have no knowledge of what it's actually like there.) And the roses Elsa says she loves are a reference to how Greda is reminded of her love of Kai by roses. And, of course the unnamed man we see at the very end is Kai himself…wonder if that means Greda will be showing up next chapter. (Kai's line about spelling out his pain for all eternity with his tears is a reference as well, to how he needed to spell 'eternity' in the Snow Queen's ice palace, using pieces of ice, to free himself from her power)
So, in the first part we see a glimpse of the attack on the village of Spitsbergen, and how apparently Hiccup and Elsa have been dreaming about it. I don't want to give too much away as to how they knew, but I will say that Hiccup and Elsa didn't receive these dreams as a message or from some hidden power. It's because of the gems they carry, but the specifics are for a later time.
Also in the first part was a nice little moment between Hiccup and Elsa, cuddling by the fireplace, but it was also a moment for Hiccup to begin to come to terms with his growing feelings for Elsa. This chapter, as well as the next two, mark a turning point in Hiccup and Elsa's relationship. The first few chapters till now were the two coming together as friends and building their bond; now we'll be seeing the pair begin to start drawing together in a more romantic way, but don't think it'll be all smooth sailing.
Next we see a bit more good feels and relationship growth…just before we get thrown into a battle between titans: Marshmallow versus the wild Submaripper! We get to see Hiccup in his element as a leader and as a dragon expert as he quickly handles the situation like a boss, successfully impressing Elsa without even trying. Of course, just when things get resolved, we're thrown another twist as the dragons suddenly hear an instinctual call…one that Hiccup and Elsa also seem to be able to hear. However, the significance of this is still a mystery and, as none of our heroes are ready to answer the call they've only just heard for the first time, it abandons them part way through in the midst of a violent storm.
And as the title of the chapter suggested, what a storm it was that greeted our heroes! I tried to convey the overwhelming power of nature at work, but I know that words can only do so much in describing the intensity of the wind and the rain. In the midst of an impossible situation, Hiccup and Elsa banded together to fight their way back to the ship, but even then it wasn't an easy escape. The waves were threatening to capsize the ship and a stray lightning bolt nearly ended it all, but with Elsa and Hiccup taking the lead, the impossible became inevitable, though it was hardly pain free.
Finally, with the crew on the mend, we arrive at Spitsbergen, with Elsa eager to share this precious experience of her childhood with Hiccup. We get a sweet moment in a beautiful garden…only to see the horrors of Hiccup's and Elsa's dreams coming true. Elsa, unable to take it, finally reaches her breaking point and the storm is finally let loose. Now the question is, what will Hiccup be able to do about it? We'll just have to wait and see next time.
Now to answer some reviews:
To epantoja521 and Guest Reviewer from 8/31: Thank you very much for your kind words and I'm glad you found my story enjoyable. Hopefully you enjoy it for the long haul as there is still plenty more to come. Also, for the guest reviewer, I actually rewrote the first chapter recently, pretty much doubling its size and emotional impact. So, if you haven't already, you should give it another look as it's even better now. Hope you continue to enjoy the story and hope to continue to hear your thoughts on its progress as well.
To Guest Reviewer Mark Andrew: It is good to hear from you as always. With Mia, I'll just say that I had always planned to take her down the little sister path. She has a crush, but it's more like the kind little girls get over an older teacher or celebrity. Mia's just always been so focused on proving herself, that the distraction her crush brings her makes her angry and she takes that out on Hiccup, blaming him. Once she learns to accept it and let it go in a mature fashion, they'll click a lot better. As for a flashback to the Southern Isles…I don't have a plan for one, but I might if I can think of a way to work it in. Honestly, we already saw the important part…anything else would literally be them sitting down and just talking about feelings that they already expressed individually by their thoughts and throughout their flashbacks. Besides, I kind of did the beginning of this chapter as the cuddly moment you were probably expecting for the aftermath so it kind of evens out. Glad that you seem to be enjoying it and hope you enjoyed both the update to Chapter 1 as well as this chapter.
To Jman17: I agree, fillers can be either really good or really bad, the same with OCs, but I'm glad that you enjoyed the last chapter. I won't say the my OC's roles are vital, but they will play a role in certain key events that will happen later on, both directly and indirectly. I find that Hiccup and Elsa are born leaders, but if you don't have followers…what are you leading? I also find that the character growth happens most through interactions, so for both sides it helps that aspect as well I'm glad that you could pick up on the subtle synergy that I was inputting in the last chapter…of course there was nothing subtle about this chapters interactions so hope you enjoyed that too. Hiccup can be pretty dense about things, despite how smart he is, and I wanted to showcase how both Hiccup and Elsa are flawed as there's no such thing as the perfect guy or girl, just real people. Hope you enjoyed the update to Chapter 1 and this chapter as well.
To Lovepeaceandwar: Great to hear from you my friend and glad you felt the good vibes in the last chapter and that you didn't think it was just a waste. I also hope you enjoyed the major update I made to chapter 1 recently. Yeah, I honestly didn't know what direction I was going to go with Leah, but it appears that she decided it for me…lol. I boil down Hiccup's fighting style to three words, 'find a way'. His style involves tricks, misdirection, and skill and it's very unique. Elsa's style, as we got to see more of in my redone first chapter, boils down to 'precise technique'. It's a bit more martial arts in a way, as she doesn't really use a weapon, and focus on simply using a perfect and flawless technique to overcome her foes until they make a mistake for her to strike at. You'll get to see more of how they fight in later chapters.
Mia, yeah I wanted her to grow in this one and get closer to understanding who Hiccup is and what she actually feels for him. As I mentioned in answering Mark Andrew's review they'll eventually go down the brother sister path, but she needs to learn to accept things won't always go how she wants them and that she can't always control how she feels. Hiccup's always been oblivious, smart in certain ways and an idiot in others, but he always gets it in the end and just naturally seems to make it work. The closet all encompassing termI can think of for the crew is family and don't worry, we'll be seeing Anna and the family again in a few chapters, though it'll still be a little bit before the riders make a come back, but we'll be checking up on them again in a few chapters to see what they're up too now. Hope you enjoyed this chapter.
To Guest Reviewer justagirl: I'm glad that you enjoyed the last chapter. I'm trying to make the progression realistic, so it might be a little bit before we get to that point, but rest assured it will come.
To warlocktoungue: I glad you liked it, it was honestly really fun to write it as well. As for your question…yes and no, or at least not quite yet. I do have some plans for jealous moments they will have, but I haven't thought up anything more overt like would be typical in a political situation. If I think of something and find the right movie world to use for it, I'd be willing to throw in some moments like that.
Thank you for reading and please remember to Fav., Follow, and Review below.