This story is the first of four shorts, followed by a novella and all of which revolve around the same arc: The Horizons Saga.
This series of ideas just came to me out of the blue a few days ago and I just had to run with it. I loved the darkness of HTTYD and although the movie was adorable, I really thought it brought out the more somber side of what animation is capable of.
So here it is: a character study in four parts, starting with the very aftermath of the battle of the Red Death.
The Horizons Saga
Part One of Four
Astrid wasn't entirely sure when nightfall had fallen over the island, but after the smouldering remains of the great beast had dissipated, she could feel no warmth from the sun. She was nestled down beside the others, huddled beneath a fur mantle she had been sharing with the four other adolescents. They were all uncharacteristically quiet, which might have been a sign of the Ragnorok were it not for the circumstances.
She shivered against her bed of stone and propped herself further up upon a shard of granite protruding from the earth. She kept her eyes trained in front of her, towards the bonfire and the three silhouettes that undulated like spectres in the waves of heat. Two stood crumpled over the fallen form of some felled creature, sprawled with tender care upon a mattress of fur in some fruitless sign of apology. The other, her large breasts evident in the firelight, held a sword within her palms that glowed with a nearly molten quality as she raised it with disturbing precision.
The shriek that echoed through the night was terrifying.
The young blonde beside her stiffened in her sleep, pressing closer to her wakened brother as the scream waned into silence. His eyes were staring sightlessly at the same cluster of tribesmen and women she had been moments earlier, before she screwed her eyes shut and tried to drown out the writhing, animated cries with prayers of healing and something else.
She glanced away from the twin's haunted expression and turned her attention towards the hunched form of the slender dragon, whose damaged limbs were forgotten at the urgent screams of his rider. The dragon was crumpled now beside the tongues of fire, crooning dolefully as the woman healer began to bandage the cauterized flesh before infection could set in. She heard Gobber's voice carry across the wind; she could not hear what he was saying but she recognized the tone.
Silently, the young Viking crawled out from beneath the cloak and began walking towards the raging fire, ignoring the half-hearted plea from the chief to return to her place by the rocks. She ignored him, having only eyes and ears for the situation in front of her, the terror in the dragon's eyes nulling her senses.
She stepped around the mass of furs piled on top of Hiccup, his half-conscious gasps coming in short bursts. She tried not to show the expressions she was feeling but her efforts were futile, the fruits of his struggle beginning to break down her walls. She placed a wary hand on the crooning dragon, careful not to make eye contact with the panicking beast. His scaled hide trembled beneath her touch and Astrid tried to soothe him silently, but found herself doing a rather poor job of it.
She glanced at the Night Fury's bent form, her eyes running over the complex array of twisted metal and blistered leather digging into his scales. She took a few steps backwards, careful to keep her palm trailing against the dragon's skin before gently dislodging the charred wiring wound around his tail. The dragon paid no heed; his attentions were already occupied.
Astrid continued up the dragon's body, slowly but surely ridding him of his damaged tack. She winced visibly as she tugged part of the stirrup from a lesion on his side, expecting the dragon to retaliate. But Toothless did nothing but warble miserably and settle even closer to his fallen rider, allowing Astrid access to his belly where much of the burnt hardware still remained.
She continued methodically, peeling the broken saddle from the dragon's scales piece by piece. She smoothed her palms over one of the dragon's larger wounds, now covered in a bright orange scab that glowed eerily in the firelight. She sighed and ran her hands up the dragon's spine, resting her fingers near the nape of his neck. She scratched him gently below the junction of his ear, content to feel the beast relax beneath her constant ministrations.
She slid down beside the dragon and leant against his withers, resting her tired head on his darkened scales. She caught another glimpse of Hiccup through lidded eyes, his mouth parted as puffs of breath passed between his lips. His chest rose up and down in erratic intervals, scaring her when they would become so slow that he stopped all together.
The healer returned from time to time, her expression both curious and apprehensive as she eyed the two figures by the young hero's bedside. She would monitor his temperature, grimacing as she alerted the only other healer to have survived of his rising fever. The harried woman swore under her breath and complained of the lack of herbs on the island, despite the summer months. She left in order to wet a cloth to place upon the boy's brow in hopes that lowering his temperature would fight off the infection, though her optimism was sparing.
Soon the sun began to peak above the eastern bank, its light breaking through the dissipating fog and ash. The welcome glow placed the island in sharp relief, its rocky crags and distraught occupants finally brought into unnerving focus. Astrid woke from her brief slumber alongside her scaled companion, his eyes still focused on the gentle rising and falling of his rider's chest. The fever had broken while she had slept it seemed, though he was no less ashen than he had been when Stoic had pried him from the dragon's arms.
Astrid looked up towards the sky, the sunlight finding her face and warming her skin. She removed her headband and released her hair from its bindings, allowing it to fall freely across her shoulders and down her spine. She breathed in deeply and clasped Hiccup's hand in her own, closing her eyes and smiling silently to herself as the boy's heartbeat calmed in his chest.
She opened her eyes.
The sun would rise again.
Hope you enjoyed!