I'd like to send a thank out to all the people who took part in my poll and left comments, I really appreciate your views, I wanted to try and get a large representative sample of people's views so I could go with the majority which is another reason why this update has taken so long.
Anyway Hope you enjoy
It was past mid day before ships were sighted on Berks horizon indicating the arrival of the Ash Warrior tribe. The Ash Warriors were renown throughout the nearby continent of Ferelden as fierce, elite warriors who used their vicious mabari war dogs in battle. They typically worked as mercenaries and inspired fear against any enemy they encountered. The Vikings of Berk crowded along the docks to welcome the fellow warrior tribe to their home. Stoickk stood on the edge of the pier and waited for the ships to dock. Astrid's mother Kenra walked up to Stoickk and cleared her throat.
"Have you found her?" Stoickk asked, his eyes never leaving the ship before him.
"No, I can't find her anywhere in the village and I haven't seen her in nearly three days. I'm really starting to worry that something has happened to her." Kenra replied, her usually strong face showing the faintest cracks of worry.
"I will try and stall them from seeing her, that won't work for long. You have to find her soon. Go find her friends and see if they know where she is. And while you're at it find Snotlout, he should be here as future chief to greet our guests." Stoick said in a hushed tone so no one else would know that they were in the middle of a crisis.
"They were looking for her the other day and they said they had an idea of where she was. I'll go look for them." Kenra quickly left the chiefs side and hurried back up to village. She was halfway there before the Ash Warrior tribe chief came face to face with Stoick.
"Good day to you. I am Stoick the Vast, Chief of the Hairy Hooligan tribe. Welcome to Berk." Stoick said to the fellow chief.
"Good day to you Stoick, I thank you for inviting us to your home. I am Bolmor and this is my mabari Dane." Bolmor replied in a monotone voice, his eyes never wavering from Stoick's. Bolmor himself was relatively short by Viking standards and so had to look up to meet Stoick's eyes, but this didn't seem to bother him as he stood tall and proud before the crowd of Vikings. He had a large round shield strapped to his back and an iron long sword attached at his hip. His armor was of the traditional Ash Warrior style, consisting of crossing leather strips across his chest and a thick leather skirt. He wore an emotionless expression on his face which only enhanced the large ugly looking scar travelling along his cheek. The dog Dane was about half the size of his master and was a sandy brown colour. Although this was hard to tell because of the various patches of paint that formed a pattern over the dog's body. During the two chiefs greeting a young man had approached from the nearby ship. He bore a remarkable resemblance to Bolmor and so could only be his son. However, where as Bolmor's face was hardened by decades of the life of a mercenary, his sons face was soft and scarless, which plainly showed the entitled life he had lived as the chief's son.
Bolmor heard his sons approach and inwardly signed, he was hoping that his son would stay back for the time being so he analyse the other tribe and find out how committed Stoick was to the arranged marriage. He knew he was being naive in his hope that his son and his betrothed would spend as little time as possible together before their marriage. It's not that he thought that his son would cause trouble; it's that he knew he would.
"Stoick, allow me to introduce my second son, Skorm." Bolmor said indicting with his hand to Skorm. "And Skorm this is Stoick, our most gracious host." Bolmor quickly sent a silent prayer to Hircine the Dog Lord that his son would for once be respectful.
"Yeah, yeah whatever. Where's this fiancé of mine? She better be pretty." Skorm said looking around trying to find his future wife.
Stoick could hardly believe the blatant disrespect that this Skorm had just showed him. He was glad that his son at least knew his manners...not that he had a son anymore. Bolmor looked equally as angry at what his son had done. He looked down at Dane and nodded his head. Dane then grabbed hold of Skorm's leather skirt and dragged him back towards the boat, all the while Skorm shouting obscenities at Dane.
"My apologies for my son's behavior, he is just anxious to meet this... Astrid was it?" Bolmor said, his expressionless face finally showing some emotion of embarrassment.
"That's... Understandable." Stoick finally replied, still watching Skorm who was struggling against Dane at the end of the pier.
"But he does have a point, where is this Astrid? I would like to meet her." Bolmor said, he too scanning the crowd, albeit more subtly than his son who had managed to struggle his way back to his father's side.
"Well... About that..." Stoick stumbled and not being one for quick thinking saw no option but to tell Bolmor the truth.
"At this present time, Astrid isn't here." Stoick said.
"Where is she?" Bolmor asked politely.
"We don't quite... know. But we have people out looking for her." Was Stoick's slightly embarrassed reply. Thankfully Kenra appeared at that moment, hopefully with good news.
"Bolmor, Skorm; this is Kenra, Astrid's mother." Stoick introduced.
"Good day." Kenra said to the two strangers before turning to Stoick. "There's no sign of them, their parents haven't seen them since early yesterday." Stoick turned away from Kenra, one person going missing was understandable it happened from time to time on such a large island, people got lost. But five... Something was definitely wrong.
"And..." Kenra continued, "There's still no sign of Astrid." There was a moment of tense silence as the four of them process what this meant. But then the silence was abruptly broken.
"You fucking lost her!" Skorm shouted.
High above the two tribes, on a cliff, stood three dragon riders and their dragons, watching as the two large groups come together. "With the arrival of those Ash Warriors, it almost doubles the size of the village. There's way too many to deal with if it comes to a head on fight." Jack said worriedly as more and more Ash warriors and their dogs climbed off the boats.
"Jacks right," Lizzy agreed, "at the moment with Astrid still unconscious, Etana still not fully healed and the Zippleback in no condition to run, we are vulnerable. If they come looking for the others, which it sounds like they're going to do now that they've realised that they're missing, we'll have nowhere to go."
"You're right," Matt said still not taking his eyes off the meeting of the two chiefs. "We should head back to Hiccup and let him know what's happening." Despite what he just said, Matt made no move to leave. His eyes remained fixed on the exchange below them.
"What's wrong?" Jack asked, not sure what had Matt so focused.
"I'm just trying to get a read on Astrid's fiancé, Skorm they said his name was. Hiccup will probably want to know about him." The three of them all went back to staring at the man. Skorm looked to be about average height, slightly shorter than Hiccup. He had waves of massive thick black hair that reached just below his shoulders and the biggest nose any of them had ever seen which he seemed to permanently keep in the air. He looked among the crowd of Vikings and a look of distain appeared over his soft features as he took in their dirty faces and grubby clothes. Over all he looked like a person who was used to being given everything to him on a silver plate.
"I don't think Hiccup has anything to worry about." Jack laughed as he watched the two tribes start to trek back up to the village. Even if Hiccup couldn't beat him to a pulp, Astrid probably wouldn't go anywhere near him due to his terrible personality.
"Where's his dog?" Lizzy asked. "All the other Ash Warriors have dogs."
Almost as if hearing Lizzy. Skorm seemed to realise that he was missing something as he marched back to the boat and disappearing for a moment before reappearing with one of the biggest dogs any of them had ever seen. It was pitch black all over, with red paint that outlined its rib cage.
"I'll tell you what, he may not be anything special, but his dog is scary as hell." Jack said, and Lizzy nodded mutely.
"Come on, we should head back." Matt finally got up and made his way over to Chaka, who had been waiting patiently with Precious and Whiplash.
Meanwhile back at camp Hiccup was enjoying catching up with his old friends, he was amazed by how little Berk had changed in the six years he'd been gone. Many of the Vikings he remembered still worked in the same shops, still lived in the same houses and Hiccup found it refreshing that after all the changes he'd been through, there was still this place that remained ever the same. It made Hiccup a little sad at the thought of leaving again. Hiccup was so focused on this thought that he didn't even notice Rowanna come and sit by him.
"It feels so weird to see you again." She confessed, "No offence but I thought you'd have been eaten a long time ago." She laughed. Hiccup couldn't help but chuckle at her awkward attempt at a joke. "Yeah well think how weird it feels for me, last time I saw you, you were just a mop of crazy red hair." Hiccup laughed.
"Hey don't dis the hair." She laughed bumping his shoulder. They fell into comfortable silence, both listening to Snotlout as he continued to boast about something.
"I hope you know that I will protect your secret." Rowanna said as she continued to gaze at Snotlout as he fell off the log he was sitting on as his overly dramatic gesture threw him off balance.
"I know, I trust you." Hiccup replied chuckling at what Jack said.
"Why?" Rowanna asked, turning to Hiccup. "You barely know me, how do you know that the moment your back is turned I won't simply run to Stoick and tell him exactly where you are. I promise I won't, but I could."
"Well Snotlout trusts you, I trust Snotlout therefore I trust you." Hiccup turned to give her a goofy smile, which she vaguely remembered on him when she was young.
Rowanna just stared at him as he turned back the conservation around them, but this time she really stared at him. She looked past the aloof master dragon rider he had become and if she looked closely she could still see the small, kind boy that she remembered.
"Thank you." She whispered, not sure if he heard her or not, but she thought she saw the corner of his mouth tilt up slightly.
"So tell me, what's changed around Berk in the last six years?" Hiccup asked his Viking friends.
"Not much, nothing changes in Berk; it's practically the most boring place on earth." Tuffnut moaned.
"For once I agree with him, this place is a dump not like the places I bet you've been too." Ruffnut reluctantly agreed.
"What are you talking about, loads have things have changed!" Fishlegs emphasised. "This year's crop production had increased by two percent from six years ago. The overall population has declined by 40% since Hiccup left. Sigund the Baker invented a new type bread that doesn't taste as much like rock, which has led to a 70% increase in food consumption. Weapon quality has fluctuated but over all decreased. The amount of fish caught..."
"Wait what was that thing about weapons?" Hiccup interrupted, no one sensing Hiccups urgency.
"Well, ever since Gobber left the village has been through a number of different black smiths, at this present time standing at 17.3 smiths, not one lasting more than a couple months. Due to this the number and quality of the weapons being produced by the forge has fluctuated a lot. But in total its down by 47.8%." Fishlegs finished, smiling happily at the depth of his knowledge.
"Why did Gobber leave?" Hiccup remembered everything about the man he considered his substitute father and he couldn't think of any reason why he would leave Berk. Fishlegs, realising the mistake he had made in bringing up Gobber, turned to Snotlout to help him out. Hiccup's gaze turned to Snotlout, the authority in his eyes almost made Snotlout want to quiver.
"Snotlout, tell me why Gobber left." Hiccup said slowly, the tone of his voice making everyone else halt their conversations and turn to the two of them.
"Well...um you see after you left Stoick started to...um...change. And well after a few months Gobber and Stoick got into an argument about it. Gobber basically said that Stoick was taking his anger on what you...did on the dragons and that it was putting the village in danger." Snotlout paused to try and gage how Hiccup was taking this, but his emotionless expression gave nothing away.
"As a result, Stoick gave Gobber a choice to either be...executed or go into...exile. Gobber left later that day and no one's seen or heard of him since." Snotlout said slowly as he watched Hiccup and waited for his reaction.
Everything was silent as they waited for Hiccup's reply. All the Vikings knew how close Hiccup and Gobber where, and the other riders had often heard Hiccup speak fondly of this Gobber person. It all happened so fast, no one was really sure what was happening until Hiccup had already stood up from the log he was sitting on and jumped on Toothless, who must have sensed his riders intentions and were already flying out the cove.
"I think he's angry." Tuffnut said, as he watched Toothless's figure disappear into the trees.
"Yep. That's two agreements in one day, you must be on a role." Ruffnut laughed, trying to take away the uneasy feeling that had descended upon the group.
Toothless could feel the anger radiating of his rider as the continued to fly through the clouds with Hiccup's totally unconscious movements of his amputated tail fin. They had been flying for around 20 minutes before Hiccup finally spoke.
"What should I do, Toothless? I can't believe that my father would do such a thing, but I know that Snotlout wouldn't lie to me about something this serious." Hiccup was silent for bit while Toothless made the appropriate purrs and grunts in response to Hiccups question.
Toothless physically felt the change in his rider's mood. The shift from confused and uneasy to blinding rage almost made Toothless fault in his flying. Toothless was pretty sure he knew what Hiccup wanted to do and Toothless was in agreement. Stoick was responsible for the deaths of thousands of his brothers and sisters, he had made Hiccup think he was worthless when he was growing up and now he had caused great pain to his rider. In silent agreement Toothless and Hiccup altered their course and started heading to Berk.
"How dare he do that? Gobber was his friend and he just threw him out like he was nothing. He needs to answer for what he's done." Hiccup ranted as Berk came into view and they saw that the vast majority of the village and the guest clan were at the arena, including Stoick. Hiccup directed Toothless to the forest edge and set him down to land. Hiccup climbed off Toothless's back and came round to his face.
"Toothless I need you to stay here, this is something I have to face on my own." Hiccup patted his best friends nose affectionately. Toothless purred in response, as if to say that it was too dangerous for him to go alone.
"I'm sorry bud, but I have to do this alone. Please stay here; I will call you if I need you." Toothless gave one last growl of protest before sitting down to wait for Hiccups return. Hiccup turned away from his best friend and snuck into the village undetected. He made his way to the cheering crowds that waited at the arena. Hiccup snuck into the shadows to read the situation. It seemed to him that Stoick had decided to hold a tournament, despite the fact that the dragons had disappeared. The guest clan chief, who Matt had said was named Bolmor, was sat next to chieftain's seat, his son next to him, to watch the fights. Stoick himself was absent from his seat, Hiccup scanned the rest of the arena seats but couldn't locate him. He was about to head back into the village to search for him there until a familiar voice caught his attention from inside the middle of the arena. Hiccup adjusted he position so he could see into the sandy pit. There he saw his fath...Stoick stood off against an Ash Warrior. The Warrior was very skilled but in the end he was no match for Stoick who managed to take him down after a few minutes. A Viking came and picked up the unconscious Ash warrior.
"Any other warrior who dares challenge me" Stoick laughed. Hiccup who always had had a taste for dramatics couldn't pass up this opportunity to make an entrance. Hiccups feet fell silently upon the arena sands and stalked forward towards Stoick. An eerily silence fell over the arena as more and more people noticed the stranger.
"I dare." Hiccups voice rang out across the space between him and the man he used to call father. Stoick turned round to face the voice that had become annoyingly familiar to him.
"You..." Stoick spat. "How dare you come here?! You and your dragon filth."
"I am not here as a dragon rider, but as someone you've wronged!" Hiccup shouted, his anger coming out in waves. Before Stoick could reply a commotion was heard by the arenas gate. Both Hiccup and Stoick turned to see what was happening.
"Let me though you, you great oafs. I am the chief's son and I demand you step aside." Came a voice Hiccup didn't recognise. A second later a young man came out who matched the description Matt gave of Skorm, Astrid's fiancé. Hiccup couldn't help but compare himself to this man who Astrid was supposed to marry. Hiccup felt sure in his comparison that if Astrid was given the choice she would still pick him.
"You!" Skorm shouted, pointing of Hiccup, recognizing his robes. "I've heard tales about you. They say that you are the best swordsman of the age. I am to prove those tails wrong. Draw your swords, you die here today."
Hiccup just stared at the man, no idea what the man was going on about. To him it just seemed like this man wanted a fight. "With all due respect Skorm, I have a score to settle with this man." Stoick said, staring straight at Hiccups hooded face.
"Well with all due respect Stoick," Skorm mimicked. "I don't care. He's mine and when he lays dead at my feet the whole world will know my strength." Skorm then ran at Hiccup, holding his sword above his head and releasing a battle cry.
Hiccup using his dragon eyesight watched in slow motion as the man ran towards him. Hiccup couldn't help but criticize Skorm's posture as he held his weapon and the fact that his attack was riddled with flaws and tactical disadvantages. It took practically no effort at all for Hiccup to adjust his stance to use Skorm's force against him. Unarming and tripping him up at the same moment. Leaving him sprayed out on the floor, sputtering up sand.
"I'd reconsidered this marriage contract Stoick, Astrid would wipe the floor with this fool."
"Hey, what do you mean by fool-" Hiccup delivered a swift punch to Skorms face leaving him unconscious.
"Where is Astrid? What have you done with her?" Stoick shouted.
"She is nowhere she doesn't wich to be. And at this moment she is not any of your concern." Hiccup fell into his fighting stance, pulling out his twin sides and motioned for Stoick to come at him. "I will make you regret what you did."
Something is wrong, Astrid could feel it in her very bones, her blood, her heart, her very soul. Something was very wrong. Her entire body felt heavy, as if she'd been asleep for days and she felt unnaturally hot, her clothes feeling like they were on fire. Astrid could feel a foreign presence within her, but couldn't figure out exactly where. All this was confusing and she could feel herself start to panic. But then it all her memories of the last few days came back to her and it all made sense. Her aching body must be due to the pressure it was put under during the joining, the heat was due to the dragon blood that now flowed through her veins and the presence was Etana as she was now permanently a part of her. However, it still didn't explain the feeling of intense anger and hurt that she felt.
Astrid mustered up all her strength and tried to wake herself up. Slowly she felt her consciousness return to her and a managed to open her eyes. The light stung as it hit her eyes, as they had grown used to the dark, but eventually they adjusted. Astrid heard a squawk to her side that she instantly knew to be Etana and was then surrounded by people.
"Astrid...Astrid are you awake?" Snotlout asked
"Of course she is you idiot, her eyes are open." Tuffnut said, hitting Snotlout round the back of the head.
"Astrid, how are you feeling?" A calm voice that she recognised to be Matt asked placing a hand on her back to help her up.
"Um... I don't know, I feel strange. I need... I need Hiccup." Astrid said, frantically looking round which only caused to make her head hurt more.
"Astrid take it easy, the joining takes a while to get used to." Jack said, trying to make everyone back up to give her some air.
"Where's Hiccup?" Astrid said, with more urgency. The build up of these foreign emotions within her was only getting worse and she knew it had something to do with Hiccup.
"Relax Astrid, Hiccup and Toothless went for a fly not long ago. I'm sure he'll be back soon." Ruffnut tried to reassure her. Astrid knew that something wasn't right with Hiccup, he was hurt and angry. She had to go find him. Astrid shakily stood up and started walking to Etana. Etana knew that Astrid wanted to go and find Hiccup and was more than happy to help. Not only did she want to make her rider happy, she also wanted to help Hiccup and more than everything she wanted to fly, she was sick of being cooped up in the cove. Lizzy was the first one to figure out what Astrid was planning, probably because she also had wanted to go look for Hiccup.
"Astrid, don't be stupid; even if you knew how to fly, you're in no stable condition right now." Lizzy said.
"Hiccup needs me and I'm going to help him." Astrid said as she tried to unsuccessfully haul herself onto Etana's back, which only caused her body to pulse with pain.
"Astrid, don't be ridiculous. Get down away from Etana and we will help you." Matt tried to reason, approaching the dragon. But as he got close Etana began to fidget and squawk, indicating for him to back off.
"Back off." Astrid shouted now firmly situated on Etana's back. "I'm going to go find him." With that Astrid and Etana took to the sky, in a rather shaky take off. "Come on girl, take me to him."
Astrid concluded that flying was a lot harder than it looked, not only do you have to deal with the strong winds, uncomfortable position and dodging obstacles but you also have to deal with you and your dragon arguing about directions. Eventually Astrid and Etana arrived at the point where Hiccup had left Toothless. Astrid managed to navigate a really poor landing, with her ending up being thrown forward into a busy, and ordered the two dragons to stay put.
"Stay here, it will be safer for all of us if I go fetch him myself." Astrid left the two dragons and headed to where she just knew Hiccup would be, the arena. When Astrid arrived at the arena she couldn't believe what she saw. Hiccup was going head to head with Stoick and by the looks of it they had been at it awhile. Both had various tears in their clothes that were bleeding to varying different degrees. Stoick seemed to be favoring his right arm, indicating that Hiccup had dealt him a hard blow on his left, whereas Hiccup was limping slightly on his left foot. Over all it looked like a stalemate. However, something in the off to the side caught Astrid's attention. A man she didn't recognise was pushing himself up and was glaring menacingly at Hiccup. He grabbed his sword that was lying next to him and started sneaking up on Hiccup.
"Behind you." Someone shouted and it took Astrid a moment to realise it was her. Both Stoick and Hiccup turned to the voice and Hiccup caught sight of Skorm trying to sneak up on him.
"You made me look a fool!" Skorm shouted as he lunged at Hiccup.
"I think your doing a good enough job of that on your own." Hiccup replied jumping out the way. Hiccup waited for Skorm to lunge forward again and when he did, Hiccup side stepped the attack, grabbing hold of Skorm's outstretched arm and pulled him forward, then using his shoulder to shove him. This caused Skorm to again end up face first in the dirt. However, during this time, Stoick had gotten over his shock of seeing Astrid and took advantage of Hiccups distraction by delivering a swift blow with his hammer to Hiccups side, the force of which knocked Hiccup to the ground. Hiccup ignoring his happiness that Astrid was awake, cursing Skorm for distracting him and ignoring the pain that Stoick had just caused, jumped to his feet. However, the upward movement caused Hiccups hood to fall back revealing his face to Stoick.
"No...no...no no no!" Stoick shouted, staggering backwards. Hiccup just stood there, not sure how to react to his father's denial. Stoick threw his hammer to the ground and Hiccup in return lowered his swords. Stoick raised his hand and started moving towards Hiccup, desperate to know if his son was really standing before him.
"Stay back." Hiccup said, holding up one sword in warning. Regardless as to whether Stoick was happy he was back; Hiccup was still angry at what him for what he had done to Gobber.
"Hiccup, is it really you?"
Thanks for reading
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