This world and these characters are pretty much not mine. I just like to play with them.
Wow, this feels like the end of some kind of journey or something. Maybe because this fic was longer? Weird. Anyway, here's the end! For now. As you can tell by now, I'm a glutton for punishment and am planning to write at least one more fic. But I am behind on my Big Bang entry, so I can't say when I'll start posting the third fic.
I wish I knew how to get in touch with interested readers. I am looking to start posting again somewhere before the end of September. Sorry, that's the best I can do to project so you won't miss anything...
Now my shoutouts:
Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed: Teshy, Toothless-the-nightfury, Duchess Delanie, Victoria62015, Calico, ITman496, Cedric Bale, wakazimaru, MeloDenesa, Anonymouse, and zestychicken2.
Thanks to those who commented on the epilogue of Helheim's Gate: Silver-ShadowSpark, Sunbitten, Duchess Delanie, and Teshy.
Thanks to everyone who added this fic to their favorites: almne, benn55555, Future Aviator, Kirara-Elfkin, Pterodactyl, Spirit Avatar, Teshy, Toothless-the-nightfury, and Victoria62015.
Thanks to everyone who added Helheim's Gate to their favorites: inubaka07, neko262012, Nightcrawler's Shadow, and Teshy.
Thanks to Teshy and T'laren for adding me as a favorite author.
And thanks to the rest of you lovely readers. =) Your hits count, trust me.
Hopefully that covers everyone! I apologize if I've missed you. It's past my bedtime. D:
Last, but certainly not least, thanks to Backroads for beta reading! She is so amazing, you guys have no idea.
And... that's that. Until next time, my lovelies. Happy reading!
The Only Good Fight
Nanna shuts her eyes and tears drop down off her cheeks.
"So," I say. I glance around at the Dead Tree Forest. "He's safe and he loves you and he misses you. We're going to go now."
"No," Nanna says, holding out her hand. "Wait."
I take a deep breath and wait. I glance at Toothless. He nods towards Nanna so I look back at her.
"Thank you," Nanna says in a shaky voice. She opens her eyes to look at me. "And I'm sorry."
"You don't have to apologize," I say. "He's your son. I understand. Well, I guess I don't really understand, but it's all right. You were justified."
"He's all right," Nanna murmurs. She wraps her arms around Baldur's neck and kisses his mouth. "Our baby is all right." She sniffles. "It was all Hiccup's doing."
"Hiccup," Baldur murmurs.
"Hiccup is good," Nanna says as she runs her fingers through Baldur's hair. Then she releases him and moves toward me.
"Oh," I say as she pulls me into a hug. She holds my face to her bosom before she lets me go. "Uh, you're welcome?"
"He really misses you," I say. "He wanted to come down here-"
"Oh, no he can't!" Nanna exclaims. "He mustn't!"
"I told him it's probably not a good idea."
"No, definitely not," Nanna says. "Was it very bad?"
"Was what very bad?"
"It wasn't very nice," I say. "I don't know very much about it other than what I saw."
"Volcanoes aren't very nice," Nanna informs me.
"I got that impression," I say with a nod. "The voices were a cruel touch."
"There were voices?"
"Reminding him about you guys. How you're dead and gone."
Nanna shakes her head. "Loki," she bites out.
"Hopefully none of the other gods will fall into any traps," I say. "It would be really great if they didn't."
"What about your world?" Nanna asks. "How will you protect the Vikings?"
"I... don't know," I say.
"Protect them," Nanna says. "You must."
"I'll do what I can," I say, "But in the meantime, I have another quest that Forseti set up for me."
"I have to find a lost hero."
"Do you think he is in a trap?" Nanna asks.
I think about this. "I didn't consider that," I admit. "But now..."
"Good luck," Nanna says, holding my arm. "Whatever it may be. Good luck, Hero."
"Thanks. I guess I'll need it."
"I will ask my darling about the traps again," Nanna informs me. "I will help you, if I can."
"Thank you," I say solemnly.
"Go," she says, "Return to your world. You have saved mine."
She waves as I set my foot in the stirrup. I return the wave, but as I do, I see Hel walking toward us. Hodur stumbles behind her.
"You're still alive," Hel says.
"So are all of your grandchildren," I reply as I turn away from the saddle.
Hel nods. "Do you hear that, Hodur?" she says, turning to him. "Hero saved Forseti and my offspring's offspring."
"Out of my way, hag," Hodur growls.
Hel steps aside and Hodur wanders around, feeling the air with his hands. "Where is he?"
"Here," I say.
Using just that sound, Hodur finds me. He feels my face with his hands. "True hero, are you?" he asks me.
"I'm just doing my best," I say.
"Keep doing it," he says with a nod. Then he drops his hands.
"Can he go?" Hel asks. "Does he have Hodur's approval?"
Hodur waves me away. "Move on, now! The gods will be needing more help soon enough."
Hel smirks a little, but when she notices me watching her, it slips off her lips. "You did well," she says to appease me. "Is that what you were hoping to hear?"
"I keep hoping to hear what they've all been waiting to hear," I say as I gesture to Nanna, Baldur, and Hodur. "But I know enough not to ask for it."
"Good child," Hel says. She walks over to me and tilts her head. Then she raises her hand and gives my head an awkward pat. "Take care of my grandchildren."
"You should visit them some time," I say.
Hel almost smiles, but her lips don't quite curve. "One day they will know me."
After we fly over Garm, I remember what other business I have in the cave. "Toothless, hold on a moment," I say, and he sets down near the river. I look around. "Modgud?"
"Yes?" she says behind us. We turn to face her.
"I thought you liked me," I say.
"I do," Modgud says. "Did I not give you the feather?"
"Then why did you hit me?" I ask her.
Modgud blinks. "You knew that was me?"
"I guessed," I admit.
"Tyr does not visit you arbitrarily," Modgud says. "If he requests his presence not be known, he has his reasons. And at the time you threw him out, he was telling you something very important. I grew angry. I apologize. It was not my place."
"It's okay," I say.
Modgud fiddles with her cloak.
"I think... I think I understand what he was trying to tell me," I tell her.
"You know, your feather is pretty powerful."
"Are you okay?"
"I worry for you," she says. "You are truly a hero."
"Well, it comes with the job, right?"
"You do not understand. Not all gods accept heroes. Not all forces accept a devotion to the gods."
"Forces? What forces are you talking about?"
Modgud stares at me.
"I have nothing else to say."
"Do you mean like giants, or...?"
Modgud looks away.
"Please? Just a little hint?"
"I cannot," Modgud says.
I rub my hands over my face. "Okay. I'm going to give you time to think about this. You're going to have to tell me some time."
Modgud lets out a small "hm".
"Okay, I'm going to go home. I have... a lot of people waiting for me."
"All right," Modgud says. "Be careful."
"I will," I say flatly, "Thanks." I try to give her a disparaging look, but it fails. So I tell Toothless we need to go.
"Oh, you're awake!" Lex says, leaning over me
I blink. "Why are you in my..." I sit up and look around. "This isn't my house."
"No, this is the Elder's hut."
"Why am I here? Wait. Why are you here?"
Lex puts her hands on her waist as she thinks. "Someone said they didn't want Arick to be hanging around you when you were in Helheim. So they brought you here."
"And you... know about this Helheim thing how?"
"Mumbles told me."
"And you're here because...?"
Lex smiles. "Silly. Everyone else is at dragon training."
"You don't need dragon training?"
"Well, they're working on not having the dragons freak out on them today. I sort of already passed that part. I thought you'd want some company when you woke up."
Toothless lifts his head next to Lex. He glances at her, then he puts his front paws on the bed and rests his chin on the edge of the mattress. I pet his forehead.
"I'm going to be an elder when I grow up," Lex says.
"But... you're with Bear."
"He doesn't know yet. Well, I guess no one knows yet. But the elder in our village says I should watch out for things like this. Gifts from the gods. You're a gift from the gods, you know. You're going to find my brother."
"... I am," I say. I'll try. I swallow the urge to remind her I may not succeed.
Toothless nudges my hand with his snout. I realize I stopped petting him.
The door creaks open. "Is he awake?" the Elder asks.
"Yup!" Lex says.
The Elder nods, mutters, then she leaves us alone again.
Lex smiles, but doesn't talk.
I swing my legs around over the bed so I'm fully facing her.
She watches me with a lot of hope in her eyes.
"If I disappoint you," I say, "Please don't hate me."
"I'm pretty sure you won't," she replies.
"How can you tell?"
"You don't seem the type," she says. "I have a feeling about you. A good feeling."
"But if it happens..."
"I won't hate you. I promise. You're the one who's supposed to hate me, remember?"
She grimaces. "Sorry. Awkward."
I shake my head. "No. Honest."
We stare at each other.
"So," I say. I take a deep breath. "Tell me about your brother."
Lex smiles. She also wipes her eyes with her hands. But she smiles.