Okay, who's back in business now? Me!
I'm only a day late, just barely. It's like midnight on the 2nd so…that's not too shabby. Enjoy the chapter, Odin knows I especially enjoyed writing this one!
Part Two: We are Searching for Significance
Chapter Sixteen: Entrusted and Evicted
It was the kind of bare-toothed, claw digging fight that Hiccup would've, otherwise, stayed away from.
But he felt it again. The changewing was dying….
If anything haunted him about his abilities more it was that he could hear another creature dying. It gave him a window to what death was like. The terror of it, the thoughts racing and slowing down all at the same time. The frantic prayers and regrets. It buzzed in his ears, he had to stop it.
Running out of the cave Hiccup put himself square in the middle of the fight, hands outstretched and face dead serious.
::Enough!:: Hiccup yelled inwardly.
::Out of the way little supper:: The whispering death glared and whipped his tail, smacking him taut in the face, his jaw slacking in contact and it sent Hiccup crashing into the upper rocks of the cave. His spine crunched at the impact and the wound on his back stung with an intensity that only came out as a bit back hiss. Hiccup slid down and Toothless was there to catch him promptly.
::I told you to let the fight be, why are being reckless?::
::You can't hear it?:: Hiccup asked, whipping a little blood from his mouth. Toothless's blank expression answered his question. So…only he could hear the dying process? Lucky him, Hiccup thought dryly.
::That changewing is dying…I have to help her.::
::Don't…help me….:: Hiccup heard a voice and looked over to the changewing. She staggered up, hobbling in a last attempt to climb the tree, but the whispering death took her in his tail, his spikes digging deep.
The changewing let out a shriek, her mind dimming. Hiccup didn't know whether her thoughts were to herself or to him, but he followed her instructions.
::Help…eggs…:: She wheezed. ::Up…in the tree…save them…please.:: The spikes dug deeper, and Hiccup lurched back, almost feeling the spines in his own gut.
::Toothless!:: Hiccup called out, but the night fury was already on the move. Toothless clawed at the tree, climbing swiftly while Hiccup ran over to the battle, yet again.
The whispering death dropped the changewing, it's red skin punctured and bleeding. Hiccup ran to her side, but the whispering death still lunged at them.
::Toothless is getting your eggs, don't worry.:: Hiccup tried to comfort her, all while putting together some kind of plan of getting the whispering death away in a few seconds before he was met with a piercing scream, life being torn away quickly and almost painlessly.
Blood spilled over him, his hair wet but he shuttered at what it was wet with. Though to his relief, it wasn't the changewing that died before him, breaking his ears with one last shocked breath as life left without warning.
It was the whispering death. Killed by Alastair.
She was dyed red as she slit the dragon's throat with the sword Hiccup had acquired while he was breaking Alastair out of prison. He looked up at her, whipping the sword back and exhaling before turning around, her blood red face chilling his nerves.
"Sorry…" She said sadly, looking back at the dragon she had just killed. "I just woke up and saw you being attacked and I…panicked, I guess."
Hiccup looked around. Toothless in the tree, looking ready to leap. No doubt the night fury would've jumped for the kill if Alastair hadn't come in right that moment.
And the dying changewing beside him, relieved but still taking shaky breaths.
The dragon let out a cough, gurgling out acid that made the grass beneath her mouth sizzle. Alastair came up and sat beside Hiccup, reaching forward to the dragon before placing her hand back at her side.
"Is it dead?" Alastair asked.
"Not yet….but it will be soon."
"We can help it?"
"No…" Hiccup sighed, clutching his chest. Maybe he has some kind of ability to heal dragons? If he was the only one to hear them die then maybe he could bring them back to life too…?
::Can you still hear me…?:: Hiccup called out to the changewing.
::Strange human…:: The changewing breathed. ::Able to speak…like us…::
Toothless came down from the tree, trying to balance the five eggs as best he could without dropping any. Hiccup smiled placing a comforting hand on the changewing's forearm.
::Toothless has your eggs and the whispering death is dead, you're safe now.:: He reassured her, but he could still feel the life slipping away. Odin must've been with her for so long to keep her alive, but Hiccup felt the one fighting will that kept her heart pumping just a little longer.
::Please take care…the eggs.::
Hiccup looked back over at Toothless, the night fury was sniffing the eggs curiously. Was she really asking he look after her eggs?
::I-I uh…I'm not a….:: He stumbled but immediately stopped himself. This dragon was dying. And he wouldn't deny her one last wish. Especially if it was as noble as finding someone—anyone—to watch her unborn hatchlings. Hiccup took a breath and nodded.
::I'll watch over your eggs…don't worry.:: Hiccup offered her his best smile, but the concept of a smile didn't even register to her. Still, his gesture must've emitted some kind of calming gesture, because as Hiccup felt the last breath leave her body, there was a relief that left with it.
Toothless let out a sigh as well.
::I'm sorry I agreed so quickly for all of us,:: Hiccup said to Toothless. ::But I couldn't deny her a dying wish…::
::No need to apologize, it's human of you.:: Toothless looked off into the distance, the eggs still tucked with him. ::I'm surprised she even asked you…most instincts call for simply letting nature have it's way.::
::You mean another dragon would've just left her eggs there to hatch and then be defenseless!?:: Hiccup asked. That was like leaving a newborn baby just to fend for itself in the woods just because it's mother died.
Toothless still looked away. ::Animals are different than humans…it's just the way things are, lots in life are chosen.:: Toothless looked at him, there was a slight tug in his mouth—a smile—something human that Hiccup was still amazed that Toothless picked up. ::I'm glad that I'm here to learn from you, though:: Toothless said, genuinely. ::You have a good heart, any dragon can sense it.::
"Um…" Alastair spoke up, still clutching the sword but obviously confused. Hiccup still could only imagine how weird it was for her. He had already had two conversations yet all she heard was silence. He reached out without thinking and took her hand, giving her a serious look.
"We're all going to be parents soon."
Astrid wasn't too on board with all of them suddenly taking on five eggs to raise—so Hiccup put it—but she couldn't really deny him. She was too tired to argue and too drained to really be too much of anything.
Hiccup said they'd stay on that island for another day to figure out how they'd travel with the eggs, and for her to rest some more. And she appreciated the brain dead time. She wished her life would just slow down and give her time to react…but being with a banished prince and a night fury didn't really seem like the slow kind of life either way.
She sat against the tree, after washing the blood off of her clothes, surprisingly not bothered by two dead dragons not too far off in the distance. Death seemed to just be following her around, she concluded, and she decided to just be numb to it. She wouldn't allow herself to cry anymore over her mother or worry Hiccup and Toothless anymore than she probably already had.
The way they both looked at her, always having worry in their eyes, always treating her gingerly, telling her everything gently. It made her feel fragile…and she didn't need to feel that way.
Hiccup and Toothless examined the eggs and apparently Toothless determined that they'd hatch in just a few weeks or so. They just needed to be kept secure and not to move them around too much.
There was one egg, though, that was cracked, probably from the fight earlier, and made Toothless worry that it wouldn't hatch at all.
When Hiccup told her all of that, she simply nodded and took it all in. But she couldn't help but—horribly—think that one less egg to take care of would be better.
She leaned against the tree again, sighing and looking up into what she could see of the sky. It was mostly covered by the treetops, but little peaks of blue shown through.
And then a night fury's nose entered her vision and she jolted up.
"Oh..it's just you Toothless." The dragon sat next to her, giving her those same worried eyes Hiccup did. "I'm alright, just taking a little mind vacation." Toothless leaned against her, pressing his nose into her side, as if he wanted her to come in the cave with him and Hiccup.
"I'm really okay, Toothless, I just…wanna sit outside for a little while." She sighed, and pressed her back against the bark. "The air's clear out here…."
Toothless stayed, since she wasn't moving he just sat beside her, his tail came around her, and she smiled a little before getting a good look at his prosthetic fin. It was a very impressive piece of machinery. And Astrid laughed as she could still see the place where Hiccup messed up on the stitching when they made it.
Still, she had never taken the time to wonder how it must've been for Toothless…being with humans so much, having a human contraption as his only way to get around. Despite all that…Astrid always felt a little envious of Toothless. He could read Hiccup's mind after all.
That boy never ceased to amaze Astrid, but she often wondered what it would be like to know his thoughts. It would sure make everything between them currently a whole lot easier.
Toothless looked at her again, blocking her view and only then did she realize her gaze had drifted right onto Hiccup. Astrid hated being caught staring…and it was even worse that it was by Toothless, who'd probably tell Hiccup in a more…detailed manner.
"What's it like…being able to read his mind?" She still asked, the thought apparently still lingering. Though she felt silly, she knew Toothless couldn't answer her. Yet she still prodded further. "Do you know if he hates me…for lying to him? Does he even know I lied to him yet?"
She really didn't have any real way to tell that he knew what she was. He still called her Alastair—not that he'd know her real name anyways—still hadn't brought up the kiss. And given what had just happened…he was amazingly sympathetic and gentle towards her.
"Once he finds the Dragon Heart…I wonder what that'll mean for you and me…?" She looked at the night fury, smiling sadly. "Hiccup has this grand destiny waiting for him, I can feel it…I just hope both of us will fit into it." She laughed bitterly. "Though you probably have a better chance than me…being related to Nidhogg and all."
Toothless wasn't too amused by that one, and growled at her.
"Sorry…too close to the bone?" She bit her lip, but Toothless's anger subsided just as quickly as it came. He gave her a soft gaze, sharing her worry, perhaps?
"But then…he said…he said that we were all a family now. You even agreed with that didn't you?" She asked and Toothless gave her a nod. Astrid reached out and scratched under Toothless's chin gently and smiled. "Then…maybe…"
She felt a slimey wetness gloss over her in one quick motion before she realized that Toothless had licked her. She didn't know whether to be flattered or disgusted. She had seen Toothless lick Hiccup from time to time. It usually seemed endearing despite it being utterly gross. Still, in the nature of the situation, it seemed the equivalent to a hug.
She ran her fingers through her hair, slimey strands following her fingers. And she had just washed her clothes, too.
"Just…give me a heads up next time you wanna do that, okay Toothless?" She laughed, a good natured, hearty laugh regardless. It felt good. Maybe that was the night fury's plan all along.
"Sounds like I'm missing a good time over here." Hiccup suddenly walked over, seeing Astrid coated in saliva. "Oh, he got you, huh?" Hiccup laughed as well. "He's been wanting to do that for a while, ever since…" Hiccup trailed then, not finishing the sentence.
"Well despite this being really nasty, it put me in a better mood." She smiled at him and the fact that he beamed back at her made her smile even more.
"Thanks for, um…saving me back there, by the way." Hiccup said, scratching his head as he looked over at the dead whispering death in the distance.
"No problem." She bit her lip, wondering how sappy she should be. "And thanks for…being there for me last night. And saying all that stuff, it helps knowing I still have people…"
"And I meant it too, Alastair, we're family." Hiccup reassured her, grabbing both of her shoulders and held them firmly. She looked in dead in the eyes for the first time in a while, and for the first time in a while, as well, she felt like she could.
She got that silly urge again. To kiss him. But she swallowed it back. No more of that…no more testing the limits of their fragile relationship.
It was nighttime when the eggs began to glow near the fire stoke and while Hiccup and Astrid first took alarm at it, Toothless assured them that the eggs were fine.
"I guess changewing eggs really do glow." Hiccup leaned back, poking at his fish.
"I still can't believe we have to take care of five baby dragons and find this dragon heart…girl." Astrid took a rough bite from her fish, chewing loudly.
"Well geez, spread the joy, why don't you." Hiccup rolled his eyes but Astrid just chewed more. "Look, we're in the situation so let's just deal with it."
Astrid looked back at the eggs and wished she felt more sympathetic, given that it was the changewing's dying wish, though she just didn't feel like this was going to turn out well. Especially since their main goal was being discrete. But she knew why Hiccup agreed…that's just the kinda guy he was.
One of the eggs began to shake, a little too violently to just be mid-hatchling kicking and Hiccup ran over to grab the egg.
"I thought Toothless said the eggs wouldn't hatch until a few weeks from now!?" Astrid asked, a little worried and ran over to Hiccup as well. The egg felt warm, even for dragon standards, the heat emitted was enough to make her sweat even though she wasn't touching it. Hiccup placed the egg on the floor and he, Astrid, and Toothless all gathered around it.
Toothless sniffed the egg, examining it. It was the egg that was cracked.
"Do you think something's wrong with it?" Astrid asked though she looked over and saw that Hiccup and Toothless were already communicating.
"Toothless says either the dragon's infected from the overexposure from the crack before it's supposed to hatch…or…it's…about to hatch."
"Okay…" Astrid nodded slowly. "So what do we do?"
Hiccup took off his outer tunic "We should keep it covered just to keep the crack closed off." He wrapped the tunic around the egg, hissing a little at the heat. Astrid sighed and reached out her arms.
"I'll hold it. You and Toothless just go get some water."
Both Hiccup and Toothless looked at each other quizzically.
"Well what if the second thing that Toothless said is true? What if it's going to hatch soon. We should have some water handy for it…especially since—" she hissed as well at the heat of the egg as she took it. "—It's so hot."
"A-alright." Hiccup immediately stood. "We'll be back soon. Stay safe Alastair. Please."
"I should be telling you that." Astrid rolled her eyes as the two disappeared into the forest.
The sword was left there, so even if a dragon were to come in the cave, she could at least defend herself. It was odd…how even after everything that had happened, she still had very little reserve in killing a dragon, especially if it was out of protection. She hardly believed that all dragons were soulless anymore…but Astrid refused to lose another family member behind a dragon. She'd stain as many swords as she had to with the blood of who ever tried to take Hiccup and Toothless away from her.
They were all she had left, after all.
She held the egg a little tighter, but it was still burning despite it being covered. The heat was getting a little too scalding and she had to take the egg out of her lap and put it on the ground. She watched the egg twitch and bunch in the tunic.
An unbearable heat came seeping through the shirt, and Astrid saw some watery red slime seep out from the tunic, burning it.
"What's going on in there!?" Astrid yelped and took Hiccup's tunic off the egg just in time before the rainbow hues of the egg all began to burn bright red, and suddenly a loud boom exploded in front of her.
She was sent back into the wall of the cave, her hair crisped a little while she scrambled to put it out before looking over and seeing that the egg was gone…and with it was a tiny changewing.
It let out a sneeze, little red drops coming from its nostrils. But it didn't look like blood, and the drops seemed to sizzle a little as they hit the ground. It was acid.
Luckily, though, the changewing wasn't any bigger than her hand, even baby terrible terrors were bigger. It seemed too skinny, and its skin was a dingy red rather than bright sanguine like its mother was.
The dragon looked up at Astrid then, its eyes wide when it saw her and immediately it stepped away from the cracked remainders of its egg and went over to her, still sneezing acid.
Astrid tried to back away from the dragon as best she could but it kept cooing at her. Seeming lost and confused, and seeking her for answers. Despite the danger, Astrid couldn't look in those eyes for too much longer before she began to reach out rather than back away.
"H-hey there…little guy." She stuttered. "I'm not your mama but…I'm here to take care of you…I…I gues…" The dragon turned his head in confusion, eyes still wide. He crawled up into Astrid's outstretched hand, taking careful steps to get himself in her palm. Astrid helped the dragon the rest of the way, pushing him from the bottom.
"There you go." Astrid lifted her palm. The tiny changewing fit right inside. "You're awfully tiny, aren't you?"
"Alastair!" Astrid heard Hiccup and Toothless run into the cave. They both had pouches of water in tow. "We heard an explosion, what…?" Their eyes fell on the tiny dragon in Astrid's hand. "What is that?" Hiccup raised a brow.
"It's a changewing…he hatched." Astrid smiled crossly.
Both Hiccup and Toothless went over to the dragon, looking at him closely. But the changewing only let out a little shriek and crawled up Astrid's arm, hiding on her neck and nuzzled into her hair.
"I uh, think he's scared." Astrid tried to laugh it off, but Hiccup looked a little hurt.
"Yeah, no kidding. He…he won't even let me talk to him." Hiccup leaned back, scratching his head.
"Maybe he doesn't understand you? He is a baby, maybe he has to learn to communicate just like humans have to learn to talk?" Astrid said, giving the little changewing a light pet. The dragon purred happily, staying at the 'safe place' on her neck.
"Maybe…" Hiccup trailed, before looking over at Toothless. More communicating and he let out a sigh a few minutes later.
"What did Toothless say?" Astrid looked up.
"The changewing was born premature…so he doesn't communicate correctly. That part of him hasn't developed yet. But…Toothless is pretty sure that since you're the first thing the baby saw, he's taken to you. He probably thinks you're his mother."
Astrid blushed. "What!?" She scooted back a little. "You've gotta be kidding me."
Hiccup looked at Toothless once more before shaking his head to her. "Nope…you're…" Hiccup then switched, covering his mouth to bite back a laugh, but it still came out as snort. "You're a mother, Alastair."
Astrid only rolled her eyes as Hiccup belt out a laugh.
"Yeah, yeah, that's real funny." She looked at the changewing on her. Still, so tiny. "I didn't even know changewings came this small."
"They don't" Hiccup whipped a few laughing tears from his eyes. "It wasn't due to hatch for a few more weeks, but I guess when the egg cracked it just…hatched early." Astrid could tell that Hiccup was mostly thinking up of all of that on the spot, but he was probably right for the most part.
And now she was responsible for a tiny changewing that came into the world too early and couldn't even communicate with anyone. She looked at the dragon again, suddenly moved with pity. How scary that must've been. Being brought into a world where nothing made sense, and no one spoke the same language. But then, this dragon had lost his mother too. So…they had that in common.
The changewing hiccupped against her and seemed to burp up a little red stone. It was grainy and flat.
"You're just a strange little guy aren't you?" Astrid smiled, and the changewing burped up another rock.
"Toothless has never seen a changewing that coughs up rocks before…that's interesting." Hiccup leaned back on his heels.
"Well, he is premature, who knows what interesting abilities he has…" Astrid petted the little dragon gently.
"What are you gonna name him?" Hiccup asked, and Astrid chewed on the thought. She looked at the changewing once more, and he sneezed again, a cute, little choo of a sound.
"Nimfir" Astrid laughed and took the changewing from her neck, bringing her to face her. "From now on, you're Nimfir…'Nim' for short." The dragon blinked at her before letting out what seemed like a happy sound. It's little arms and legs kicked happily.
"Welcome to the family Nimfir." Hiccup said gently and Toothless sniffed the little dragon yet again. Nimfir whimpered a bit but Astrid shushed him.
"It's alright, Nimfir" she assured. "Toothless won't hurt you." Little Nimfir still whimpered but he didn't wiggle as much when Toothless nudged him. "He'll have to get used to you two." Astrid said and placed the changewing back on her shoulder. Nimfir immediately retreated back to her hair.
It was the next morning when Toothless suggested that they all stay on the island until the eggs hatched.
::W-what!?:: Hiccup exclaimed, though. ::Toothless have you forgotten the real reason we're out here? It's to look for Johann to start getting some answers from this book and find the-::
::I know, but, we're all exhausted.:: Toothless looked over Hiccup's shoulder at Alastair. She was playing with Nimfir, smiling fondly. ::She's doing better but I think it's at least sympathetic to let her relax for a little longer.:: Toothless's gaze fell back on Hiccup. ::And you as well. You need to slow down and relax.::
::Well thanks, mom.:: Hiccup heaved a combination of a sigh and a smile.
All and all, he knew Toothless was right in the long run. He had been pushing himself too hard, wanting to fly around like a madman to find Johann when they didn't even have any leads.
Hiccup had suddenly wished that maybe he had taken the advantage of being near civilization back on Merkskof and asked someone if Johann had come to port any time soon. But given what had happened there, he knew why he didn't. Still…the thought occurred to Hiccup that they might wander aimlessly searching for Johann until they got out of Viking waters.
Hiccup knew that once they got to the mainlands they'd be a little safer, but there were still scouting boats and sparse settlements of their people all in the northern mainlands. He sighed. They're best bet was to keep going until they hit Anglo-Saxon…but that was all the way at the end of the North Sea. And he didn't know too much about the terrain outside the Viking waters. Well, not without a map.
::See, you're already getting worked up.:: Toothless scoffed.
::I have to get worked up!:: Hiccup yelled. ::What if we can't find Johann in these waters and we have to break the boarder and go into other countries? We don't even have a map…:: Hiccup looked back over at Alastair. ::And now that we have all these eggs I don't know if we can keep up this whole island hopping lifestyle.:: He exhaled, more weight feeling like it piled on his shoulders despite the out-breath. ::I mean…we're still wearing the same clothes, all we've been eating is fish, you're exhausted, I'm going crazy, Alastair just lost her mother…ugh!:: Hiccup planted his face straight in the dirt, not caring about it getting in his mouth and nose. ::When did this all become such a mess?::
Toothless laid his head on Hiccup's back, pushing him further into the dirt.
::I wish I could help more…:: Toothless said, in and sympathetic tone instead of the snarky quips Hiccup was expecting. He felt the night fury lick the back of his neck before pulling him up. ::All I can really do is fly your to where you need to go…::
::And, believe me, that's more than anything else.:: Hiccup said. ::And, you know, you're more than just transportation to us, right? We're family.:: Hiccup felt the need to keep reassuring. Reassuring Alastair. Reassuring Toothless. Reassuring himself. That these three…well, four now including Nimfir. They were all his family now. And they'd all head beyond the borders they'd all been encased in all this time to find a new life and purpose. It was a little scary, but he swallowed back his fears and reminded himself that he was surrounded by the ones who accepted him no matter what.
Toothless's ears perked up, his claws curling giddily. ::It's odd…I've always had a family. A mother and a father. I've always had a purpose and was taken care of. But now with you two…it's the first time I actually feel like I really have a family.:: Toothless said, the words poured from his heart, genuine and feeling as if the buildup had taken so long to release. It was a burst that made Hiccup's heart swell. He could feel every emotion that came from the words.
Toothless had never been so open before, Hiccup smiled, and wrapped his arms around the night fury's neck tightly.
::I know what you mean.:: Hiccup breathed, trying to not cry like a baby, but the past few days were emotional….
::We'll make it through all of this, but we have to slow down and compose ourselves. Everything will happen in due time how fate directs it.:: Toothless said calmly, leaning in and closing his eyes. They were both calm, both warm.
Hiccup felt a pair of eyes staring at him though, and looked over a little to see Nimfir sitting on the ground, looking at the pair wide-eyed and curious.
"Sorry," Alastair came running up. "He's just being nosey. I'm sorry he intruded on your..um…moment." She laughed it off.
"Nah, it's okay. You guys can join too, if you want." He reached out a hand to Nimfir. "That is, if you like me now, Nimfir."
The tiny changewing still took tentative steps towards Hiccup, stopping short and looking over at Alastair. She walked over to them and sat close to Hiccup and Toothless, only then did Nimfir close the distance and join in as well.
"He's learning." She said.
"Well he's only two days old." Hiccup laughed. "But…Toothless thinks we should stay on this island until the other eggs hatch."
"Yeah…it's probably best. It's quiet here and it'll be pretty hard to transport the eggs safely. Plus…" Hiccup placed a hand on her shoulder. "We're all tired, we need to rest up. We've got a lot of flying ahead of us, especially if Johann isn't in Viking waters anymore."
She chewed on the thought before agreeing.
"Whatever you two decide is fine with me. As long as we're all together." Alastair smiled and Nimfir chirped. "And you too, Nimfir. And your future little brothers and sisters."
"You're turning into quite the mother, Alastair. Who would've guessed." Hiccup teased.
Five days passed in a lazy daze. The days were slower now that they sat around and relaxed. The chill of the wind seemed a little too strong for that time of year but even so, it was still calming. Hiccup had only wished Nimfir hadn't burned some of his outer tunic. It was expensive black royal garments. He could probably still fetch a high price on the markets for it but not as much as he could've with in intact. And once they got out of roughing it, they'd have to find a way to make money to live off of, and quickly.
"The first thing we have to do is get a map, and find out a way to hide Toothless when we get to local areas. Anglo-Saxon is a pretty developed area. I'm sure they have search towers and everything." Hiccup said as they ate dinner around the fire that fifth night. "Then we have to sell whatever we can to earn some money, my clothes are probably the only thing we've got, though. And the sword is pretty well made too…"
"And just leave ourselves defenseless?" Alastair interjected, feeding Nimfir.
"We've got Toothless!" Hiccup spat.
"I like to have a defense I can carry…and since I don't have my axe anymore I've got to have something."
::Why do you have to hide me?:: Toothless asked. ::Your people's waters end soon so there's no need for it.::
::Not necessarily, I'm not sure what every country's relationship is with dragons, so until I find out you'll have to hide.:: Hiccup could tell Toothless wasn't happy. But he wasn't going to risk Toothless being hunted. Though it did raise the interesting awareness that Toothless had never been beyond Viking territory either. And if he had, he didn't know much about the humans outside the borders.
"Is Toothless worried about something?" Alastair asked.
"He just doesn't like having to hide."
"Well he might not have to. I mean, it's good to plan just in case we don't find Johann here but if we do then there will be no need to find an elaborate place to hide Toothless….right?" Hiccup frowned at Alastair's words.
"If…he allows us to travel with him." It was easy to forget that Johann might've been wordly but that didn't mean he'd accept a banished prince, a traitor, and a rouge night fury to travel with him right on the spot. He knew Alastair probably forgot that as well. "If not, I'm sure there's other linguist we can go to and have the book translated once we get to the mainlands."
"Yeah…I guess you're right." Alastair sighed. "But, we can't let them know we're Vikings. I don't know much about our outer-land relationships but I know anyone coverted to mainland's religion isn't very fond of us. So if you sell your clothes you have to make it seem like you stole it from a Viking…"
Both Hiccup and Alastair let out a bitter laugh despite the serious tone.
"I know…" Hiccup said. "It's all so complicated, right?"
Thunder boomed outside and everyone jumped a little. Nimfir climbed into Alastair's hair again, quivering.
"It's getting so cold out, I wasn't expecting it to rain." Alastair noted. "And all of this lightning. I really wish this could've waited a few more days, Nimfir's nerves are still pretty bad."
Toothless looked up, growling a little each time the lightning struck. Hiccup could tell he didn't like it, snatches from past experiences popping up quickly that Hiccup couldn't quite grasp.
::What's wrong, Toothless?::
::Lightning isn't the only thing out there.:: Toothless said.
::What do you mean?:: Hiccup asked, growing worried. But he quickly put two and two together. ::You don't mean a skrill, do you?:: First a whispering death, then a skrill. He knew they were a wild dragon's neck of the woods but skrills were so reclusive. It was tough to even find one. But it was just their rotten luck to happen upon one with eggs in tow.
::This island's pretty bare in terms of other dragons living here. A perfect spot to gain some peaceful territory.:: Toothless explained.
::So, what should we do?::
::We should leave. As quickly as possible. It might not be a threat but better to leave safely.:: Toothless suggested and got up, looking over at the eggs. ::It'll be a bit of a bumpy ride with the eggs, though.::
::We didn't even think of how to transport them since we planned to just stay here until they hatched. And we don't have any baskets or anything.:: Hiccup looked at Toothless's saddle. There were a few small compartments. Enough to fit the book inside. Another for a couple of fish and to squish in water pouches. But none were wide enough to fit four changewing eggs. He only wished they had made a basket when they had the time to.
::I'll go get some vines:: Toothless was already on top of things. ::That'll have to do for now.::
::Be careful, Toothless, are you sure you don't want me to do it? I'm less noticeable.::
::But I'm quicker.:: Toothless was already outside at that point.
"Alastair, start packing up Toothless's saddle." Hiccup said and Alastair snapped up, looking confused. "Toothless says a skrill is here and it's best that we leave and not interfere with whatever it's here for."
Alastair swallowed. "O-okay. Come on Nimfir." She immediately gathered up their stuff, stuffing the saddle. Hiccup put out the fire and went over to the eggs, trying to wrap them best he could in his tunic, but it wasn't long enough to hold all the eggs. Tying the vines together and making a net was really the best they could do at the moment.
Toothless returned with a mouthful of vines sooner than Hiccup expected.
"Alastair, start tying the vines together into a net for the eggs. Tie it as tightly as possible while I saddle up Toothless." Hiccup ordered again, wincing a little at how bossy he was suddenly being but Alastair just nodded and went to tying.
::How does it look out there?:: Hiccup asked while putting on the saddle.
::It's definitely a territory matter.:: Toothless confirmed. ::He's best left alone, so we should fly a little more north before we head south.::
::Whatever you think is best.:: Hiccup sighed and looked over at Alastair. "How's it going over there?" He asked her.
"I don't know how much this is gonna hold, vine isn't the best for intricate knotting, you know." Alastair sighed, hoisting the makeshift net filled with eggs over her shoulder. "But, it'll have to do. And at least since Nimfir already hatched there's only four eggs to carry and not five."
They secured the netting onto the sides of the saddle best they could, but Alastair still had to hold the eggs in her lap. She placed Nimfir inside her shirt, tying Hiccup's burnt outer tunic around her to hold the little changewing close to her as extra support just in case.
"You good there little guy?" Alastair asked and Nimfir chirped. "Okay, Hiccup, Toothless…we're ready."
"Alright. Alastair, you and Nimfir two look for the very next island we can find out of the skrill's reach. But please hang on as best you can, we don't have flying vests."
Taking Toothless's advice they flew north once leaving the cave, as the beach and skrill overhead were to the south. Luckily it was night and the rain was a perfect cover for them to escape quickly and unseen.
Nimfir, not enjoying the rain squirmed and whined and despite Alastair's efforts to calm him down but the noise was starting to pierce the rain.
"Alastair!" Hiccup groaned.
"I'm trying to calm him down but he's not used to getting wet from the rain." She said.
::Toothless, is a skrill's hearing good?::
::Not especially, well, at least not by dragon standards.::
::And by human standards?::
::It's best to be as quiet as possible. Though if it heard us already it would've sensed my wings effecting the air density not the baby.::
Hiccup frowned, trying to concentrate on finding the skrill's thoughts if he could, but his mind was much too frazzled to really do it correctly.
::Leave fending him off to me, just worry about finding a new island and keeping the eggs safe.:: Toothless said and they finally banked to the south, taking a wide right turn to avoid getting in the skrill's range.
Nimfir still kept whining though as the rain picked up and the lighting seemed to keep striking with forced intensity.
"Are you sure it was a good idea to be out here? This lightning is really bad and you know how much the Gods hate metal." Alastair made a nod towards Toothless's prosthetic.
"We don't have a choice. Staying on the island would've been trouble eventually if the skrill moves its territory there."
::Oh no…:: Toothless suddenly let out a growl.
::W-what is it? What's-?:: Hiccup asked before looking up and seeing the skrill raging overhead.
::Tell the girl to hold on to the eggs, you and I…we have work together. Just put me in the right place and I'll take care of it.:: Toothless said, immediately going into a nose dive.
Alastair grabbed onto Hiccup urgently, squeezing the eggs and Nimfir between them. "Hiccup!"
"Just hold on, okay?"
Alastair nodded into his back, holding on tightly. But Hiccup's heart pounded as the skrill got closer, the lighting around them was almost blinding. He felt the hairs all over his body straighten Nimfirm squirming between him and Alastair, and the eggs jostled.
It was….going to be one of those nights.
Hiccup coughed against the breath being pushed into him, the warmth releasing air into his lips left and he woke to look up at Alastair staring at him, he couldn't tell if her face was stained with tears or just wet, but before he knew it his surroundings kicked in.
The raging ocean surrounding him, the patter of the lighter rain against his hair, and the roughness of Toothless's body supporting him.
"Hiccup!" Alastair hugged him tightly. "I'm sorry…I'm sorry…."
::It's my fault…:: Toothless frowned.
"What are you two…?"
"It's my fault the eggs are…" Alastair cried and then Hiccup's memory snapped.
The eggs. The skrill.
They maybe lasted four minutes in battle before Toothless's prosthetic got hit by the skrill's lighting and they went spirally down. The storm raged the ocean…and while Hiccup last remembered trying to go after the eggs as deep down in the water as he could go the rest was a blackout that even the rainbow glow of the changewing eggs couldn't shine through.
Did he save them…?
"I should've never let go of them, I'm so sorry…" Alastair continued to cry. "I-I lost our family…"
"No, Alastair…" Hiccup hugged her and looked down. They were just barely treading the water on Toothless's back, the connectors on his prosthetic were separated. And without his smithy back on Berk…it was a permanent setback.
The eggs were gone in the ocean…but it seemed Nimfir was still fine, squirming in Alastair's shirt as she hugged him tightly.
::It's not your fault either Toothless.:: Hiccup assured. If anything he felt like it was his fault. He's the one to agreed to watching the eggs…and the one who passed out trying to save them. Now the only one of the changewing's hatchlings that survived was, ironically, the premature one. He hadn't even managed to keep the dying wish of the changewing back on the island.
He knew Alastair saw everything as just losing more family, so he held her close. But Toothless…he could feel the guilt coming off of the night fury, almost in waves. The uselessness he suddenly felt because of the position he was in, not being able to fly. Losing the fight against the skrill and not being able to defend…
::I'm sorry I couldn't protect…the family.:: Toothless said.
"Just stop it! Both of you!" Hiccup cried, crushing Alastair against him on reflex. "We all have to just…just…" He sniffled, trying to hold back whatever emotional guilt trip he was trying to work up. "We've gotta keep our heads and…"
It was no use….
He started crying as well…
"Hi-Hiccup…" Alastair muffled into his shoulder.
"Is that a scouting ship?"
Hiccup turned, looking over his shoulder and his eyes widened. The fog of the rain over the ocean muffled the view but he recognized the head of that bow anywhere.
"N-No." Hiccup felt a tug at his lips. Although scouting ships weren't uncommon. Warrior recruits had scouting ships that were going beyond the borders all the time, but this ship certainly wasn't Viking-made.
"That's Johann's ship…"
Alrighty, Johann's finally gonna make his entrance, hopefully he can actually do what Hiccup needs him to do.
And what do you all think of little Nimfir? And before anyone says anything like "changewings don't cough up rocks or have red acid" Nimfir is premature, so the effects of his acid are a little weird. I even took a mental visit back to my high shool chemistry class and researched some different type of acid properties and everything. Hahahaz! And, 10 points to anyone who can figure out what Nordic word Nimfir's name is based off of.
Guest1: Glad you liked it, but you know I can't answer who the Dragon Heart is. You're just going to have to wait and see :)
M4yui: Thanks! Hope you enjoyed this one!
Ferdoos: Blah, did I have a typo somewhere in the beginning of the chapter? Ugh, I don't even remember mentioning scauldrons at the beginning but I'll go back and check XD
Wolffury: Thanks! And yeah, it was a tear-jerker, and I'm glad I'm still surprising people with where the story's going. I don't think anyone was expecting this little detour either.
TheDelta724: Yay for thick plots! XD And it's good to be back. This story grows on me so of course it's here to stay.
Lilo202: Hmmm…I guess it's not too spoilery to say that, yes, Norse Gods will be playing some major to minor roles as the story goes on as well as some legendary locations.
StorSpeaker: Yeah, though situationally speaking it's a little understandable as to how he would act that way. Not that it was any less jerky. But glad you enjoyed the chapter!
92firedemon: Haha, well I'm on time today, so hopefully that makes up for it!
AliceCullen3: Thank you!
Q-A Authoress: Haha, sorry but if anything happened to Hiccup, Astrid would probably get the book. I mean…Alastair…I mean…Astridstair…XD
Rose: Oh, you slay me with your emotional investment and whatnot. Keep on being an awesome reader, I'm glad you like the story so much!
Non-heinous: Gaaah! I just realized who you are. You're from the httyd fandom on tumblr! I love love LOVE your art! I'm very flattered you like the story and you keep being awesome.
Prayergirl: Yeah if there's one thing I enjoy about this stage of the story it's really focusing on Hiccup, Toothless, and Astrid forming a really good familial bond. Especially since all the outside pressures of Berk are out of the way. And they've even got a "baby" now XD
TheGaangsAllHere: Oh, I'm glad someone caught that parallel! Cause that was the exact scene that inspired me to write the dialogue that way. Avatar will always be my first love XD
Guest2: Aww, I'm sorry. Don't cry too much.
Wishyouweremedontya: At this point in the story, anyone's open to be the dragon heart. Could be Astrid, Hiccup, could be someone who hasn't even been introduced yet. We shall see. Though I can say that Astrid's role in particular in this story should fulfill your "gentlemen in distress" needs, for sure. And, maybe you caught the little sneak romantic moment in this chapter between Hiccup and Astrid, particularly near the end. But the chapter is early and on the first so haha, and ha!
Thanks for all the reviews everyone! Someone of you guys are really getting into this story. Makes me proud and a little scared all at the same time XD But anyways, looks like we're back on schedule so if all goes well I'll be back on the 15th with something new for ya!