Disclaimer: I do not own How to Train Your Dragon, the movie or the books, the characters, plot, setting, themes, and/or other story elements. Also, the first sentence in this chapter is a prompt I found on a website. Sometimes I have trouble starting a story, so I look an interesting sentence, saying, or idiom and think, "What can I do with this?" Well, the remaining 1,466 words that is "Trouble with Trolls" is the resault of that prompt. It's kind of, uh, silly. But I love it and I'm hoping that readers will, too, so don't forget to review!
Trouble with Trolls
A vein is a road leading exhausted blood back to the heart. And like a vein, one morning as the river bent and twisted through the woods, a small fishing vessel was led back to the ocean. The river was named after Loki, the trickster god, because during the summer when most of the snow and ice thawed, the rapids seemingly laughed as they splashed, amused, against boulders. Children were forbidden to play on the banks, especially near the rapids, since Loki often liked to snatch them away.
For that very reason, Stoik the Vast had hesitated before taking his son fishing. If any child was determined to drown himself, it was Hiccup. Somehow, someway, that boy always found a way to stir up mischief. For instance, if he wasn't spilling his mead all over the dinner table, nearly burning down the house or breaking something important, he was either on the menu for a dragon's next meal or continuing the never-ending quest to humiliate his family.
In all honesty, it wasn't exactly what he wanted in a son; Hiccup been born at the darkest hour of night during a roaring thunderstorm. The winds were so strong, so unruly that night, they blew roofs off of two houses. Another house was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. This had the entire tribe hyped up to believe that Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, simply put, would grow up to be one hell of a dragon slayer. "An omen of greatness," the elder had proudly declared.
More like an omen of disaster, Stoik thought broodingly, now five years later.
But still Stoik was a father and like most fathers, it was important that his boy learned how to properly cast a fishing net. Besides, Hiccup was a rather sensitive child, soft in the gut, and he could use some good old fashioned, man time. So despite his initial gut instinct that this trip was just asking for Hiccup to get into trouble, Stoik took him anyway. Plus, the wind was stronger than ever that day. If they wanted to sail upstream on Loki's River, then it was now or never.
He should have listened to instincts.
Firstly, Hiccup couldn't man a sail to save his life, which meant that Stoik had to take of them and the rudder…which was a difficult task even for Stoik. (And for Thor's sake, seasick? What kind of Viking got seasick?). They didn't even get halfway up the river before Stoik, already in a foul mood---Hiccup by then sicker than a dog---brought the boat ashore. If they couldn't sail upstream, then they would just have to hike to the fishing hole. Stoik was, after all, a Viking (stubbornness being an obvious prerequisite) and by Thor's bloodied beard, he would take his boy fishing if it was the last thing ever he did!
And so they hiked….and they hiked and hiked and hiked, until finally the river split into a stream that gradually trickled eastbound into a green lake. Along the muddy banks, thorn bushes twisted together into thick green braids; the berries they produced, like their thorny vines, possessed a sharp, biting flavor.
"Don't eat that," Stoik warned to the curious five year old who was examining the berries, but it was too late.
Stoik rolled his eyes, turning away as his son's expression twisted into another gag. No matter what was said, Hiccup listened to nobody. Trial and error seemed like his way of life, demolition being his holy credo.
"Not so loud," Stoik said lowly, unfurling the net, "you're going to scare the fish. Now all we have to do---"
"Dad, I saw something," Hiccup interrupted, pulling on his father's elbow. "Over there. Did you see?" He pointed upstream at a small stone bridge, beneath which a watercolor of light and shadows played on the stream's surface.
"I don't see anything," said Stoik. "Anyway, you just get your net ready like this and---"
"Dad, there it is again!"
Stoik's gaze snapped up, but all he saw was the water moving under the bridge between a couple overshadow boulders. "That's just the water, Hiccup. There's nothing there."
"Yeah, huh. I saw it, Dad. It was big and green and, and…and it had warts all over its face!" He added lowly, in a very serious whisper, "Dad, I think I just saw a troll."
"Trolls don't exist, son."
But Hiccup insisted. "Gobber says the smaller trolls like to steal socks but they only take the left ones, except nobody knows why." Hiccup paused. "We should go ask."
"No, we should not," said Stoik, grabbing the boy before he could run off. "We're fishing today, Hiccup. Now at least try to pay attention." He went on explain how to properly hold a fishing new, how to best throw one and how long to wait before pulling it back in. Meanwhile, Hiccup stayed quiet the whole time. Finally, he's listening to me, Stoik thought, wading into the shallow waters.
"Alright, that should do it," he said. "Now we'll pull it in. You can take this corner, Hiccup. Hiccup?" Oh, bloody thunder gods, where did he run off to this time? It didn't take long before he spotted Hiccup sneaking up to the bridge on his tip-toes. Stoik sighed, exasperated. Odin, help me. I turn my back on him for two breaths and look what happens.
He caught up to Hiccup easily and asked…well, rather he demanded, "What the devil are you doing?"
"Not now, Dad, I'm going to capture this troll." He paused, glance at his father's boots thoughtfully. "Can I have your left sock?"
"Gobber says the stinkier the socks, the better," Hiccup said practically.
Suddenly, their father-son fishing trip became a hunting adventure for old wives' tales. But what else could Stoik the Vast do but take off his boot and left sock and go along with Hiccup's game? Sometimes it was just better to let Hiccup get it out of his system before he could focus on anything. (And there Gobber was definitely going to get some words about this).
"Knock yourself out," Stoik grunted, handing over his left sock.
Hiccup clapped a hand over his nose, accepting it. Slowly he tip-toed under the bridge, holding the sock at an arm's length. The current was gentle and the water only came up to his waist (Stoik's knees).
"Dad, your socks smell really bad."
"Yeah, well, you asked for it," Stoik muttered, pulling on his boot.
It was then that Stoik felt that something very wrong with the stream under the bridge. The waters suddenly became black as tar, the light having disappeared from the surface. As if alive, the water---no, the boulders---stirred, shifting in the muddy stream-bed. Stoik blinked several times, squinting.
Wait a minute…
What he thought had been a very large rock (but now seemed to most definitely have ears) slowly rose out of the water and---Odin, have mercy! That boulder had eyes! Big, round, green eyes! A pair of hatching-sized black wings lifted out of the water, unfurling over the surface like midnight. A thick, spiny tail swished in the mud.
Grabbing a fistful of the boy's shirt, he yanked Hiccup out from under the bridge just as the "boulder" opened a pink, gummy mouth. He gave the dragon a mighty kick in the chest.
And then he ran.
He ran faster than he'd ever run in his life; he was, after all, in a race against lightning.
Now, Stoik the Vast wasn't one to flee from much of anything, let alone a dragon, but if that thing was what he thought it was…well, with Hiccup under his arm, still dangling that smelly sock-bait, he wasn't going to take any chances.
"I told you I saw a troll," Hiccup said, as they climbed back onto the boat.
"It wasn't a troll," Stoik growled, kicking angrily at ropes and empty crates. He, of all people, had run from a dragon; although he had a good reason, the thought made his blood boil and bruised his heart with shame. "It was a bloody, no good dragon that almost took off your head!"
"But it didn't have any teeth---maybe that's why trolls eat socks. Maybe the right sock is chewier than the left?"
"It was a dragon," Stoik insisted, but at the end of the morning neither father nor son could agree on what they saw because, as usual, they both saw two very different things. At last the conversation lapsed into silence as the river jokingly led them back to the ocean. Hiccup went back to getting seasick and Stoik busied himself with the sails. Then, just as Berk had finally come back into view, Hiccup wiped his mouth and croaked, "Hey, Dad?"
"What about the fish?"