Most of my tests are over now. And sport's day is this coming Thursday! Yay! I'm not good at sports anyway. I prefer staying home and writing my stories. :3

I had just recently laid out the events of the story and I realized that I have a looooong way to go. I hope I finish this fan fiction. I have an idea for another one that I really want to start writing. Well enough about me. On with the story!

Chapter Nine: Guardian of the Crown

It's never a good idea to keep a man waiting. Especially if that man is Alvin the Treacherous. He sat there, staring at the map of the archipelago as if he was looking for something. He was looking for something alright. But it's just that somethings cannot be seen on maps. Though Alvin never would have thought that he was going to call her in of all people to help him.

Savage ran into the room, panting. His eyes looked like they've seen a ghost. "Alvin!" he breathed. "It's Excellinor. She's here."

"Send her in!" the Outcast chief growled. Savage slowly stepped backwards as a woman dressed in a ragged grey cloak walked into the room. The hood shielded her face, but you didn't need to see it to feel the presence of her sinister smile. "It's been a while, Alvin," she cooed, her voice dry.

"Nice to see you too, mother," Alvin grumbled.

"Well?" Excellinor demanded his son. "Where are the Things? I'm waiting, Alvin."

"I will have them soon," Alvin assured her. "Very soon. I just need to know the location of the boy."

"You mean you haven't killed him yet?" Excellinor screeched, infuriated.

"I couldn't! He has this uncanny ability to wriggle his way out of situations. He's done it with me twice!"

"Well there'd better not be a third time," snarled Excellinor, leaning in closer to Alvin so that he could hear every single word.

"There won't," Alvin told her sternly. "As soon as I get my hands on the Things, the boy will not see tomorrow. Neither him, or any one of his friends."

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

After several hours of flying, Hiccup squinted at the horizon. He managed to make out the shape of a relatively flat island. Thuggory laid back while resting his hands on Toothless. He sighed. "Is that the Isle of Quiet Life ahead?" he asked.

Stormfly squawked in response, gaining the attention of Astrid and Camicazi. The two girls turned to face Hiccup who had a small smirk on his face. "Here we go guys," he said excitedly. "The next item."

Slowly, the viking teens closed in on the island. Eventually, Hiccup managed to make out the steam gushing out from random holes all over the island. There was barely any solid ground. The dirt was black. There wasn't any grass or vegetation. "Well we know it's a good idea to not camp here," Camicazi muttered. "Speaking of camping, the sand back on Dragon Island was surprisingly soft."

"Are you kidding me?" Thuggory groaned. "I think one of those rocks bent my spine."

"You're exaggerating," the young Bog Burglar teased in reply. "Hiccup, where can we land?"

Hiccup's eyes scanned the island as the viking teens began to reach the air above it. They lowered their altitude and began to fly a couple of meters above the steaming geysers. One suddenly shot up at Stormfly and the dragon lurched to the left, catching it's riders by surprise.

"Astrid!" Hiccup exclaimed as Thuggory yelled, "Camicazi!"

Astrid adjusted Stormfly's angle and the Deadly Nadder began to fly at a steady height again. "We're okay," she told the boys.

"Why, were you worried?" Camicazi jeered.

"Hey, the teasing's supposed to be my thing," Thuggory grumbled as he crossed his arms. Hiccup grinned slightly before eyeing the ground below them. Toothless looked up at his rider. Hiccup didn't need anything else to know that his Night Fury was thinking the same thing as he was. "You're right, bud. We can't land anywhere around here."

Looking around, Hiccup spotted a cliff. It was out of range of all the geysers so there wasn't any steam or fog. "There," he said to the others before turning Toothless towards the cliff. The black dragon landed softly on the ground as Hiccup slid off his back. Thuggory followed Hiccup's example as Stormfly landed next to them. The girls hopped off the Nadder.

Lined up, the viking teens looked at what lies ahead: a maze of geysers that were blowing up steams of boiling hot vapor all over the island. Steam clouded a lot of the island.

"Low visibility," Hiccup whispered. "We should stick together. By any chance we get separated, don't get hit by a geyser and call for help immediately."

"What if no one answers?" Thuggory asked.

"We will," Hiccup told him. "This island's not that big. We can probably hear each other if we yell really loud."

"Well that's reassuring," Astrid mumbled. "But we're going to have trouble finding our way around if we get separated. And if we all go together, we'll get separated with all the fog anyway. Got any counters, Hiccup?"

The heir to Berk thought for a moment. "I got it," he said, brightening up. "We'll split into two groups. Camicazi, you're coming with me. Astrid, go with Thuggory and try not to kill each other. Toothless will come with me and Stormfly with Astrid. If we ever need to call the other, the dragons will fire into the sky, or you can fly up. We'll all see that for sure. The fog decreases as it goes up into the air so it should work."

"Sounds like a plan," said Camicazi.

"And what do you mean 'try not to kill each other'?" Thuggory smirked, earning him a hard punch on the arm from Astrid. "We still have that spar to do. And I'm willing to go any time."

Chuckling, Hiccup patted Toothless' head. "Come on, guys. We've got a crown to find." Walking forward, Hiccup gestured for a merry Camicazi to follow him into the smoke and fog. The young Bog Burglar sprints after Hiccup, closely followed by Toothless. After a few seconds, the three disappear into the steam as a puff of water vapor shot up behind them.

Turning to face Thuggory, Astrid crossed her arms. "Well? You want to get going?"

Thuggory steps forward and into the fog. Astrid gestures for Stormfly to follow her. Apart from Thuggory's back towards her and Stormfly to her right, all Astrid saw in her field of vision were layers and layers of thick steam. It caught against her skin, making her feel all sticky and sweaty. The geysers huffed and hissed, throwing more steam into the air every couple of seconds. It was silent for the next couple of moments they walked.

Eventually, Astrid let out a sigh. As Thuggory dismisses it, Astrid stopped walking and placed her hands on her hips. Thuggory paused and turned to face her. "Is something wrong?"

"Why are you helping us? Or rather him," Astrid asked bluntly. Thuggory raised an eyebrow in confusion. "'Him'?" he repeated.

"Hiccup," Astrid clarified. "You just met him, what, four days ago and now you're risking your own life to help him in a quest that doesn't even belong to you? Camicazi as well. Why are you guys doing this? I have my reasons since I'm a close friend of his. But you guys don't have anything to do with it. So why are you helping Hiccup?"

Thuggory averted his gaze to the ground for a moment and remained silent. "To be honest, I don't really know." The young Meathead started to walk again, albeit slowly. Astrid furrowed her eyebrows, getting a little irritated. "What do you mean by 'you don't know'?"

Shrugging, Thuggory turned back to face her. "There's just something about him. I don't know whether is it his way with the dragons, or how his brain works, or just how I feel that he's a good person. But if there's anything I know, it's that Hiccup has what it takes to become King of the Wilderwest and not that Alvin guy. If Alvin is going to bring us an age of fear and darkness, then Hiccup is going to give us a new age. He could rebuild the archipelago as a place where humans and dragons live together. It would be an age of peace and prosperity. Following that reason, that future, I'm willing to risk my life for it. That Bog Burglar girl too, probably. There's just something about Hiccup that makes you believe in him. I'm sure you feel it too."

Thinking for a moment, Astrid thought back to what happened on Hysteria. She was about to be killed by Norbert when Hiccup jumped into the fight and saved her. Even though he didn't know whether or not he was going to win or lose, he saved her and engaged the crazy chief in battle. The determined energy he gave off wasn't like anything Astrid ever felt from him. It was reassuring. "Yeah, I have," she finally replied. "And I bet that was the longest thing you've ever said in your life."

"Maybe," Thuggory answered smugly. Laughing softly, Astrid, Thuggory and Stormfly continue to walk through the steam. Thuggory suddenly came to a stop. "What's the matter?" Astrid asked him. When she peered over Thuggory, she realized that they were standing in front of a large hole that looked very much like a boiling hot lake. In the center of the lake was a chunk of land. Sitting in it was an object. It shone dimly, but it was still obvious what it was.

"The crown!" Astrid exclaimed. Smiling, she turned to the Stormfly. The Deadly Nadder perked it's head upwards, shooting a brilliant line of flame into the sky. Looking back down at Astrid, Stormfly tilted her head slightly. "Good job, girl," Astrid told her dragon. "Now let's just hope Hiccup sees it."

Meanwhile, in another part of the island, Hiccup and Camicazi were talking and laughing while looking around for the crown.

"'Hictooth'?" Camicazi repeated while laughing happily. "Come on, Hiccup, you can do better than that."

"Well, I don't want to end up a 'lousy winner' again so I would prefer to keep things low," Hiccup replied. "It's getting a little hard to have all the King's Lost Things and not show them off to anyone."

"Don't worry, you'll get your chance to show them off," Camicazi told him. "There's always going to be the coronation. That's when everyone is going to see what you have done."

Hiccup paused for a moment. "But what if they don't want me to be King?" Toothless purred while lowering his head. Camicazi stepped up to Hiccup and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Relax. They will." Perking up a little bit, Hiccup allowed himself to smile softly.

Suddenly, Toothless' roar catches the attention of the two vikings. Whipping his head up at the sky, Hiccup managed to make out the fading of a stream of fire to his left. "Astrid and Thuggory!" he shouted. "They must have found something." Darting to the right, Hiccup took off in the direction of the fire blast.

"Wait for us!" Camicazi yelled before running after Hiccup beside Toothless. Hiccup had to pause a couple of times to stop himself from running into geysers. It took a couple of minutes of intense running, but he eventually reached Astrid and Thuggory who were still standing at the ledge of the lake. Thuggory turned around in time to see Hiccup running towards them.

"Stop!" he yelped, holding up his hands in front of him. Hiccup dug his left foot into the ground, skidding to a stop. Behind them ran up Toothless with a panting Camicazi. "Don't leave me behind back there," she hissed.

"Sorry," Hiccup murmured before turning back to Astrid and Thuggory. "So what happened, you guys? Did you find something?" Turning at an angle, Astrid pointed at the land in the middle of the lake. "That's where the crown is."

Stepping over to the edge, Hiccup peered into the lake. "That's just great. Any ideas on how to get across?"

Camicazi walked over to Stormfly and reached into the bags. She brought out some rope attached to a grappling hook. When she looked at her peers, they looked at her in a weird way. "You guys seriously don't back equipment like this?" Camicazi grumbled before throwing the hook across the boiling lake. The tip of the hook caught a large rock on the land in the middle of the lake. Camicazi gripped the rope tightly and tugged it a couple of times. "It should hold," she said before turning to Astrid and Thuggory. "Well you guys should help me."

Astrid and Thuggory then placed their hands around Camicazi's rope. All three pairs of eyes plus two of the dragons turned to Hiccup. "You're the one who's supposed to go across," Thuggory told him.

Inside, Hiccup sighed. He had to do the most dangerous bit. As usual. Toothless looked at his rider, slightly worried. "I'll be fine, bud," Hiccup told his dragon before rubbing his hands on his waistcoat, drying them as much as possible. He then clung onto the rope and started moving himself across the lake. Hiccup wouldn't dare stand. He wouldn't dare hand either. With both arms and legs gripping the rope, Hiccup squirmed his way to the other side. He felt himself start to panic when his palms were sweating but he tried to focus his attention on something else, like forcing himself to not look down.

"This is as bad as the lava," Hiccup muttered to himself. A few moments later, Hiccup found himself swinging himself onto the island in the middle of the lake. In front of him was a brilliant golden crown sitting on a rock. With his heart rate accelerating, Hiccup ran towards the crown. He was about to reach out and pick the crown up when he felt something move.

Hiccup's ears caught the sound of a small movement. He whipped his body around just to catch sight of something slithering away. It looked very much a tail. Hiccup felt his heart beat it's way up to his throat.

Suddenly, Hiccup felt his back slam onto the hard ground. The boy exclaimed in pain and surprise. Forcing his eyes to stay open, Hiccup noticed that there was a claw pinning him onto the ground. It was grey and it looked like rocks with pebbles. It was then that Hiccup squinted and realized that the pebbles were actually-

"Scales?" he choked. The claw slowly changed color to pale green, revealing the rest of the beast. Hiccup found himself looking at a dragon about the size of a Monstrous Nightmare with one of it's talons pressing on his chest.

'A Changewing' Hiccup's thoughts told himself. He immediately began to panic. He had never dealt with a Changewing before. He had only heard about it from the Book of Dragons. 'Come on, Hiccup, think. What facts would Fishlegs say?' Desperately, Hiccup racked his brain.

'Changewing, Mystery Class. Ability: camouflage. Attack: 9, Speed: 14, Armor: 1, Shot Limit: 10, Firepower: 12, Venom: 0, Jaw Strength: 2, Stealth: 20. Hypnotic eyes.' That was all Hiccup could remember at that point since he was too busy trying to breathe.

The Changewing lowered his head and looked at Hiccup who immediately averted his gaze. For some strange reason, Hiccup felt as if the Changewing's thoughts were entering his own brain, as if it was speaking to him in there. Your name, boy? the dragon's ancient voice seemed to hiss.

Hiccup gulped. "Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third." Hiccup suddenly felt the weight of the Changewing's claw loosen on him and then lifted off all together. The boy got to his feet.

Hiccup? the Changewing's voice repeated in Hiccup's brain. You are, Grimbeard's heir?

"Y-yes," Hiccup replied nervously and scared that if he were to give the wrong answer he wound be roasted alive. He could call for his friends but that would put them in danger as well. And there was no way for Toothless to cross the lake without Hiccup riding him. He was on his own for the time being.

You're after the crown, one of the King's Lost Things. Grimbeard personally instructed me to guard it, in case someone were to use it for their own selfish reasons. What is your reason for wanting the crown?

"It's for my friends and family," Hiccup answered sternly, slightly clenching his fists. "And I was also following this prophecy I found in my sword compartment. But I'm gathering the King's Lost Things to become the next King of the Wilderwest so I can keep it away from Alvin the Treacherous. If he becomes King, my whole life would fall apart along with the lives of my friends and family. Toothless. Astrid. My father. Berk. Everyone. I need that crown so that I can protect it."

The Changewing swooped into Hiccup's view, it's eyes locking with Hiccup's dark green. Hiccup had that weird sensation that the Changewing was sucking out his soul and swallowed hard.

Not a lie the Changewing finally said before it crept behind the crown. Take it and succeed Grimbeard. Lead this world into a new age of peace. Stepping forward and gathering his guts, Hiccup picked up the crown and hung it on his arm. "I will." With that, Hiccup climbed back onto the rope.

As he crept back to his friends, Hiccup turned back to take one last look at the Changewing. It slowly began to turn back into pale grey, blending in with the steam and ground, back into hiding. Looking forward, Hiccup could see Astrid, Thuggory and Camicazi pulling at the ropes.

"Hiccup!" they all exclaimed when they saw that he made it off the island. When Hiccup reached them, he brushed some dirt off him.

"So how was it?" Camicazi asked excitedly. Grinning, Hiccup held the golden crown up in front of them. It was a beauty, definitely fit for a King. Still grinning, Hiccup placed the crown into one of the baskets that was attached to Toothless. As he closed the lid, Hiccup realized that he was only one item short of becoming King of the Wilderwest.
Current date: February 21st

–––––––––––––––––

I think that was my longest chapter. Any who, Hiccup has only one item left! But the story is far from over. I'm really excited to write the climax. That is what keeps me writing!