Author's note: Here it is! The prologue of my second multi-chapter story for this amazing fandom! Come embark with me on this journey, and I hope you will not regret it!
Also, if you like reading while listening to music, I suggest the "Disparus" track from the movie "Oceans" for this prologue (which, by the way, I have edited)
HTTYD: Beyond the realms
Part I: Lacrimosa
"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love." (Washington Irving)
The seagulls flew high above the cold waters of the Norse sea, beating their wings ever so regularly and resuming their peaceful gliding. The whale's road was never the same, changing from minute to minute, and the waves invariably danced beyond the horizon. Sometimes, they were small and playful, and the seagulls would dive easily through them to catch their daily preys. And sometimes, the waves morphed into gigantic and deadly liquid walls and rare were the creatures who dared to challenge them in their powerful waltz.
That day, the young seagulls took pleasure in performing aerobatics until they reached the curtain of mist their parents had taught them never to fly into, for this was a sad and forsaken place, inhabited by such hatred and bitterness that it remained lost to those who did not know where it was. The seagulls obeyed the laws and never passed through the mist unless the light of the sun or that of the full moon tore it apart on a few, rare occasions. The seagulls all learned to behold the glory of the stars and listen to the whispers of the wind in order to navigate correctly through the infinite air, and they knew nothing but death awaited them within the mist.
The young seagulls flew around as the stars progressively tattooed the night's body like fireflies shimmering on the painting of the universe, and the perfumed air grew colder because of the trade wind that blew softly, bringing peace and rest along with the quiet ballet of salty scents to bodies and souls. But in the mist, the air was thick and cold. For in the mist was the isle of Arken.
There was little to be said about the isle of Arken, and even less about those who lived there. The isle merely consisted of a sheer rock, big and sturdy enough to support the weight of the castle that had been erected upon it, oblivious to the endless roars of the sea as the waves beat against it tirelessly. The five towers of the castle stood high and proud, their massive shape blurrily outlined against the obscure light of the moon that surreally still managed to force its way through the suffocating mist. The castle, although teeming with activity, was eerily silent and only a couple of rooms were still lit by the golden, flickering glow of fireplaces.
The Commander peered at what he could see of the night sky through the highest window of the main tower, whose peak was as sharp as an arrowhead. He knew he would have to leave soon. The ship was ready to set sail, and his crew awaited him on board, ready to obey him at the exact moment he would snap his fingers to signal the time to depart had come. The fire was raging behind him, but no warmth came from it. He did not care. He did not even remember the last time he had actually felt cold. Stretching the well-trained muscles of his massive body, the Commander waited patiently for his master to come and for the instructions that were to guide him through his next mission.
When he heard the footsteps echoing in the stairs alongside the peculiar noise of his master's staff, the Commander automatically checked how he looked one last time and was satisfied with what he saw. The door slightly creaked when it was opened; it had been a long time since it had been built and the wood was growing old and cracked. The Commander instantly kneeled in front of the figure that strode along towards him, and each step that was taken echoed on the rocky floor like a sinister promise. Nobody knew either what Lord Arken actually looked like, for he kept his face hidden under the black hood of the long mantle he always wore, or what his real name was. When people had started to call him by the name he had himself invented for the isle his castle was built upon, Lord Arken had offered no protest, and so the name had spread and stuck.
"My Lord. The men and I are ready to go."
"Very well, Commander. Would you like a glass of wine before you leave? I have recently received a dozen crates of a particularly wonderful one."
The Commander knew it was only a way to postpone the moment he would know what his mission did consist of. He also knew that the suave tone Lord Arken liked to use was usually a trap only idiots would fall into.
"With all due respect, my Lord, I never drink before setting sail. Alcohol and navigation do not merge together very well."
The man laughed, looking his most-trusted warrior up and down with a sly smirk.
"Always the professional type, I see. I heard you have had a problem with the eels I asked you to prepare. Is that right?"
"Yes, my Lord. I surprised one of the apprentices cutting an eel the wrong way, and its blood was spilling on the floor."
"Such a waste is indeed regrettable. What of the boy?"
The Commander allowed a cruel grin to cross his features.
"He's feeding the sharks by now. But I kept his head on a spike as a souvenir and a reminder for the others."
"Good. I have no use for screw-ups."
The long, black mantle that covered the Commander's master floated behind him as he made his way towards the fireplace.
"You have heard about that teenage boy who managed to slay a Green Death atop of a Night Fury he is said to have tamed on his own, haven't you?"
"Yes, my Lord, I have. If I remember correctly, that took place a couple of years ago."
"Four years, to be precise. Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III must be seventeen or eighteen years old now. He has the reputation of having the purest soul around and he is destined to become the next chieftain of Berk. Unfortunately for him", the man added with a low chuckle, "that is unlikely to happen."
"I want you to go to Berk and bring that young man here, no matter whether he agrees or not. Strike quick and well, and strike first, for it is highly improbable the Vikings will let you take him away from them without a raw fight. Do not hesitate to use the eels' blood if necessary. You have a free hand. Do whatever it takes, but bring him here as soon as possible. Do you understand me?"
"Yes, my Lord."
"If he causes any trouble, make sure he learns what the word obedience means. Pure souls don't usually surrender if you merely threaten their lives."
"If he's not afraid of death, what is he afraid of?"
Lord Arken smiled as he returned to the long wooden table on which a succulent dinner had been served.
"Pure souls are not afraid of their own death. However, they would do anything to protect the ones they love. Break his heart, Commander. Break his spirit," he added whilst helping himself a glass of wine and taking a sip, "and he will follow you. Are you sure you do not want to drink?"
"I am, my Lord."
"Very well, then. You shall go."
Understanding that the conversation was over, the Commander stood up, bowed reverently and walked across the room to exit it. He had barely opened the door when his master's voice resounded again.
"By the way, Commander..."
"Yes, my Lord?"
"I have no reason to think this will happen, but if you do come back here without the boy, it is you I will have the pleasure to behead."
The Commander did not reply. He knew he was not expected to. Rolling his shoulders and fastening his sword at his belt, he climbed down the stairs with every ounce of determination he could summon within him. If luck was on his side, he would be near the shores of Berk on the next day.
When the black shape of a ship pierced through the mist and headed for the North-West, the seagulls heard the way the wind blew sinisterly in its sails, and whoever who could hear the wail in their cries knew blood would flow soon.