(AN: HAVE A MEGA ULTRA MONDO UPDATE. Thank you so much for your patience. A fair bit going on here that wouldn't do in two piece, hence the length.
Also, 'Hel' is not a typo. It's the Viking Hell for the dishonorable dead. ~.
ON WITH THE STORY-)
Quarrels were common among friends and lovers alike, this much Hiccup knew.
In personal experience, he had only a few of the first, much less the second, so the Viking was still unused to not outright arguing his point to the intended party with no punches held. Softer squabbles with ones he held dear without the tie of blood required more tact and heed towards the other's feelings: Astrid was not one for mincing her words, and nor were any of the other riders. Not that there was a need to spare them, since he had known the brusque crew since childhood.
Outsiders rarely remained for more than a few hours, and were barely inclined to become acquainted with Hiccup, so when it came to hard words with Jack, it was uncertain and articulation became difficult, especially with the addition of exhaustion.
In short, the human became a grouch. Whether it resulted from fatigue, the many frustrations with his current situation, or even just the infernal temperature that spewed from his pores, Hiccup was not equipped as a young human being to deal with so many corners of stress at once. He did what any teenage boy would do when things got too heavy and simply got annoyed at everything.
"Seriously though, I sometimes forget that mortals need to do these things, you know? Can't remember the last time I needed to sleep."
'Everything' seemed to also include the constant prattle 'f concern that Jack seemed to be reeling out non stop.
Temper flaring in his gut, Hiccup was ready to spin on his heel and tell his companion to kindly give it a rest, when something caught the corner of his pale, itching eye.
"Well, if you don't include passing out-"
Shadows were prone to playing tricks on the lad when he found himself on the brink of physical collapse, often flickering in the corners of his weary vision when it was time to finally retreat into the welcoming tangle of blankets.
This was not one of those times, instinct told him as a delicate palm raised itself briskly with a halting motion in Jack's yammering direction. The shadow had been too quick, deliberate, and sported a rather unique profile, complete with jagged points and an impressive nose. Torrid blood froze in constricted veins as vines of black spread along worn wooden beams.
By this time, Jack had also cottoned on to the swirling darkness that silently crept against each rough slat. He paled -if it was possible- and whirled on his heel. Two pairs of eyes grew impossibly wide as a malicious inky spill grouped itself into a recognizable shape: It solidified, and the Nightmare king practically peeled himself away from the wall, an awful smile gleaming out from the black veil that receded from his terrible face.
"Pitch!" Jack cried, his own teeth bared as he readied his stance and brandished his crook. Sparks crackled along its surface, his face under-lit in a blue wash that only seemed to highlight his dread.
Hiccup, on the other hand, was not armed apart from the tiny dagger in his waistband, but that hardly counted. Although it was a near Herculean effort to prise his petrified face away, he scanned familiar walls and furniture for some sort of a weapon. Despite their abundance, there were none in immediate reach, aside from a basic wooden shield to his left.
A bolt of ice crashed into the wall where Jack had been aiming for Pitch's head, but the shadow coiled and dodged the attack with a smirk.
"What is it with teenage boys-" He remarked as a casual inky whip was flung in the Sprite's direction.
"-And refusing to stay dead these days?"
The lash connected with Jack's side despite his agility, earning a cry of pain as Hiccup dove and rolled with a surprisingly nimble action himself. Snatching up the shield, he hooked it over his left arm, managed to get to his feet without too much scrambling and raised his meagre defence. Only, distraction yanked the boy's attention near instantly: His head wrenched around in alarm as Jack slammed into a wall with a crunch.
"Now now, where's that Viking Hospitality, hm?" Came the sly chime from a clearly unworried Pitch.
Through his yell, Hiccup was deaf to the shade's comment as another inky tendril of sand knocked him off his feet. Luckily, it was caught in his peripheral just and time and the shield deflected its brunt, but all air still vacated the human's lungs as he crashed to the floor.
Already in the process of recovery, determination and rage scored livid creases into Jack's normally fair features. An adrenalin sharpened gaze flicked to his left where his frail friend rag dolled, but without the presence of blood the young man couldn't spare any focus in the face of the Nightmare King, or they would both suffer.
As if the roar that was simultaneously loosed aided its charge, the beaten crook sizzled with power and groaned as the aged wood strained to contain the attack. It didn't have to: Air screeched as the sprite leapt, spun the weapon and bore down on his target with an overhead strike.
Golden eyes hooded in blatent amusement and his arm raised, encased in a gauntlet of oscillating darkness to absorb the blow, when a heavy clambering overhead captured the attention of both combatants.
Momentum dissipated and the Sprite experienced a brief moment of hang time while both he and the shade witnessed a Night Fury gargle an ominous ball of Violet flame.
With a grunt, the downed Human rolled and shrugged off his shield so he could shakily brace on his elbows, but he managed to lift his head just in time to absorb the scene with skewed vision.
Bare feet touched down to splintered floorboards, and a support beam creaked under Toothless' weight. Even Pitch seemed to halt with a dent of confusion between his brows.
The blast would hit them both at that range.
Thought barely entered the equation of Hiccup's next move as it all merged into a blur: Urgency allowed him to burst forward just enough snag a thin ankle and yank, much to the surprise of Jack, who had been transfixed on the Night Fury. Startled, he had a split second to recognise what snared him before the pull brought him crashing to his front.
Jack's strong chin collided with a markedly sturdier surface and pearly teeth clacked together in a cringe worthy fashion as the protective (and possibly territorial) dragon above spat a flame so hot that it scorched silvery licks of hair as it passed.
Pitch finally cottoned on to exactly what he was in for, but far too late for even him to dodge as the searing ball of light collided with his chest... And the majority of his form for that matter. The Nightmare king hurtled through the cabin's wall in a blaze that enveloped him for a few moments before he extinguished the fire with a cyclone of black sand.
Meanwhile, debris and splinters scattered over the pair's heads as Toothless sprang from his rafter in pursuit of the trespasser to his master's home. As he did however (and through no direct fault of his own) the beam creaked and a fragile fissure already present there buckled with the push of his powerful haunches.
Both Jack and Hiccup gasped and struggled to sit, but naturally the elder regained his bearing more quickly, just in time to see the rafter fall away completely over his friend's quaking head.
If he had liquid blood, it would have solidified then, but his reflexes were automatic. He lunged at the oblivious human and captured him in a protective embrace. Jack huddled Hiccup close and flourished his crook with the finesse of an exaggerated paint stroke, drawing an arc of ice above them to protect against a cascade of debris that followed. The loss of support compromised the cabin's structure, and the roof fell in on them.
The arc expanded instinctively at Jack's subconscious command, and both were encased under an ever thickening shell of ice as more and more weight piled on top of it. Nails, slates and planks continued to crash and blot out any light.
Both cold and nerves shook Hiccup's limbs as the clatters overhead refused to stop for what seemed like an age, but when they did, the boys were left in a chilly, close darkness. Tense fingers remained clawed in Jack's shirt for a spell, and an equally strong palm clutched Hiccup's skinny shoulder as it jerked with each impact. Breath reverberated shortly against their shield's walls, and when the groaning above eventually stopped, it took a second or two for one of them to speak.
A swallow bobbed Jack's apple while he waited, and although unseen by his companion, a smile glinted even in the blackness.
"I'll be honest with you..." He breathed, though his quiet words were edged with the brightness of his grin.
"...I had no idea that would work."
This comment earned a sharp jab to Jack's skinny side from the boy who still hadn't raised his head.
Soon enough however, Hiccup managed to lift his eyes and bore into the dark space where he thought the other's face might be with a glare so fierce that if it had carried heat it could have threatened the integrity of the ice dome.
Outside the wreckage, things weren't quite so idyllic. Pitch's rush of sand had not deterred the Night Fury in his wake, and by now every Viking that remained in the village had their attention stolen by the practical explosion that had eradicated chief Stoick's home. They thundered up the hill, but Astrid tore on her swiftest legs to the group's front (despite many yells of protest), executing a series of ducks and weaves with Stormfly in airborne tow to check on the commotion. Pale eyes narrowed as they tried to pick out details at a distance.
"What on Freya's green Earth-?"
Axe already in her hand, its blade flashed as the girl adjusted her grip, only to screech to a halt at the sight that greeted her. Toothless was engaged with what looked like a man made of living ink, currently in the process of glaring his opponent down and stalking around him in a tight circle of predatory intent. Without warning, fiery jaws parted and spewed flame that deafened unprepared onlookers with its characteristic shriek, but it seemed that Toothless' assailant was ready, and a graceful sweep of a willowy arm seemed to be all he needed to raise a wall of-
Yes, that's what it seemed to be, she could see from the way particles scattered and she knew it would have stung her eyes if she hadn't covered them. However, the others had not been so quick and the wash of sand incurred a rash of Vikings all rubbing at their faces. Blinking a few times to make sure there was none in her lashes, the shield maiden tried to make sense of what the hell was going on, when her focus shifted and flicked briefly to the ruins of Stoick's cabin...Hiccup had been in there.
For a reason she couldn't explain, her heart thudded, and she dashed around the confrontation, skidded on her knees and proceeded to wrench pieces of wood away from the wreckage. As a side thought, Astrid turned briskly and blurred a series of hand signals to her flying companion, who obediently landed at Toothless' side to aid him.
Stormfly set down lightly, and hopped around to the strange figure's right. A flame like a blow torch was jetted in his direction, only for another swathe of sand to block it. It seemed that whenever these lashes met a blast, they solidified under their heat and crystallised into violent glistening spires. The reptiles did not care for this and instead both pounced from opposite ends to try and flatten their target with brute force: unbeknownst to them, this tactic could only end badly.
It had started with agitation, but the effects of the Nightmare King's Sand had evolved into full on panic soon enough amongst the group of gathered Vikings. Late comers to the scene witnessed in disbelief when their comrades began to flail and yell as any movement riled their senses and brought their terror to an insidious fever pitch: As equally meaty bodies sprinted towards them in a practical wall of muscle, these poor souls occasionally had to knock their friends out with a well meant pop to the face. So distracted by the troubles that immediately met them literally head on in some cases, most didn't even acknowledge the surreal battle that occurred on the mount, and those who did could only stare in awe as they dragged any dead weight out from under the trample of friendly boots.
"Jeez Hic, that stung!" Grunted Jack, even though a tinge of his smirk remained. The said boy was honestly in no kind of mood for nonsense any more.
"We need to get out of here, now." Hiccup didn't raise his voice, there was no need. It carried in the contained space, and his tone also held enough weight to put his urgency across as bluntly as a blow to the head.
Humour eventually faded from the edge of pale lips, and the immortal nodded once, just a little dejected: It seemed that at last, playtime was finally over.
"Alright..." He replied, and wondered how exactly they were actually going to get out. For a long, awkward moment, only the sound of their breath could be heard while Jack thought. The Spirit's own was steady, but each was long and mostly out of habit than need. His companion's however was tremulous and uneven as it tickled his chin. The boy's fist still hadn't unclenched from his shirt, and with their proximity Jack could feel the rapid beat and occasional blip in Hiccup's lively pulse, since his own body barely made a sound.
He was in a state of silent panic, and being in a dark, enclosed space with rapidly depleting oxygen probably wasn't aiding matters by any stretch. But Thor smite him if Hiccup didn't hide his condition well.
A few icy star bursts issued glassy tinkles as they shattered and provided some light in the space when Jack summoned them from his crook: their illumination made his eyes blaze blue as they flicked about, analysing the structure until a solution was reached.
The restricted room made it difficult, but every muscle prepared to pull back in the young man's arm as he tightened his grip around the wooden shaft, ready to strike, when he halted.
Hiccup blinked in the sporadic light, and glanced up at Jack quizzically as confusion set his brows off kilter.
"Uh, something wrong? Not wanting to rush you but-"
A rumble could be felt through the ground beneath them, and that tell tale pulse hastened the words that came next.
"-I think we might be needed out there, so-"
"It doesn't make sense." Interrupted Jack, still motionless and obviously lost in thought. Hiccup let a hush hang as a prompt for his strangely subdued friend to continue. The silvery head shook minutely, and cracked lips formed into a line of tension.
"Pitch shouldn't be able to move around during the day. We were banking on the fact that he couldn't... And I only thought what I heard was a rumour..."
Another shift and tremor beneath them silenced Jack abruptly, and Hiccup decided that his pragmatism should outweigh compulsive curiosity for just this once. A chill ran down his spine as compromised ice creaked above, obviously unable to support the remains of his home much longer.
"Can you get us out? Because, that would be a really fantastic idea."
Before he could waffle on further, a frigid palm splayed and lodged itself against the back of the Human's head, pushing his face down into Jack's shoulder as a shield for what was to come.
"Take a deep breath."
A murmur before a maelstrom: tomb stone teeth clenched together as the Spirit felt his friend's chest swell and a growl of effort rumbled in his own. Pressure built within the dome, whipped and tore at Hiccup's ears and hair, but decisive strikes were launched with that deceptively sturdy crook against the barrier's top.
Ice and wood jettisoned high into the air in a column of concentrated wind. The vacuum dispersed, and at last Hiccup could breathe, only to devolve into a coughing fit as dust was inhaled and Jack helped him to his feet.
As she flung herself away from an unexpected shower of debris of scattered wood and ice crystals, Astrid spotted two figures as they clambered out of the haze. Sure toes rapidly picked through the wreckage as the girl reached out to grab a spindly wrist and pluck her friend out of the dust. Reassurance washed over her like a warm, white wave.
Blinking the murk from his lashes, Hiccup regarded what he thought was a Valkyrie for a split second through watery eyes until they cleared, and a very relieved set of cornflower blues met his. The corners of his mouth automatically pricked up in return.
"Hiccup! What's going on? There's a thing that's-!"
Stormfly was tossed, sailing right over the trio, but the beast's agile nature came into play, and she corrected her trajectory, saving herself a collision with the cabin's remaining wall.
Astrid's eyes widened as the Nadder gave a roar, and readied her tail. Jack cocked his head in confusion, only for the girl to grasp that snowy crown and shove both his and Hiccup's down as a volley of spikes whistled past, only to miss Jack's spikes by a hair's breadth.
"Hiccup, what is that thing? Everyone has gone crazy-!"
The Shadow span and batted Toothless away with his sandy vortex, a snarl finally shattering the unperturbed visage he'd sported until that point. He repelled the Night Fury's pounce, only to be lodged with several vibrant yellow projectiles that impaled in his stomach, shoulder and, rather gruesomely, skimmed his cheek. So concerned was Hiccup by the unruly arc his friend was sent into, he missed the dart that tore at Pitch's skin , which brought a large portion away like a poorly peeled grape.
A howl of rage neither animal nor man was loosed from the Nightmare King, and all at once the youths felt their nerves become brittle with fright. They rose from their crouch and Jack took lead as he sprang over loose ground deftly, Astrid and Hiccup close in tow. Stormfly bounded over to regroup with her dazed companion, who aside from a mild knock to the noggin seemed to be unharmed and got to his feet with no problem. Hiccup followed her progress, and a visible sigh of relief rounded his shoulders. It was short lived as he faced forward yet again to the main threat at hand.
The sprite looked to the clouds, and the pallid sun they obscured... It had been so bright earlier, and he internally cursed its awful punctuality, for when could a soul require her presence more than in this instant?
Distraction was not a luxury any of them had right now though, especially when the smallest of their number had no weapon, not an ideal situation by any means... Well, aside from the tiny knife now held in scuffed, trembling knuckles.
With her usual professionalism, Astrid widened her stance and narrowed her gaze at the God she now recognised as Mara... Or 'Pitch' from Hiccup's account. She studied him as he drew up to his impossible height, the cyclone of tendrils concentrated now to his right, where the light would have bore down on him. This did not spare the teenagers a glimpse of Pitch's face, however.
Ghastly was probably appropriate, if its potency could be increased by ten. The heat from Toothless' blast had mostly been absorbed by the odd shadow garments he donned, wrapped around Pitch's limbs and torso like a second skin, but evidence remained of the blast in sickly patches of charred flesh at his collar and wrists. This was small change in comparison to the damage wrought by Stormfly's dart: It became clear that skin Pitch wore had not always been his own, and Jack visibly stumbled back in morbid surprise as this revelation hit him first in a nearly palpable blow.
That gasp of absolute terror caught Hiccup's attention immediately, and he allowed his eyes to travel over to Jack, whose complexion very much reflected the ghost he was.
"What's wrong?" The boy enquired urgently in a hushed tone, diverting his gaze back to the shimmering shape before them-
-And then he saw it.
The tear showed not only the grey face beneath, but an ominous brown smeared in places against it that Hiccup recognised as dried blood. Skin that was stretched far too tight over the God's imposing form had succumbed to holes and rot, its ashen colour actually that of the recently deceased. Any and all courage he'd summoned dropped into the pit of his stomach, and sent a roll of nausea back up with its impact.
"Goodness, look at what you've done to my new suit," Tutted the Nightmare king, casually unfolding the flap of skin that had peeled away from his cheek and eye socket. It was reset after a gentle squelch, and even Astrid winced, her own face devoid of any pink.
"It would seem that with you two around, it will impossible for me to maintain any nice things, eh?" He remarked, at ease for now behind his barrier of sand, and another man's stolen flesh.
At last, Jack found his tongue and wrapped it around a coherent sentence.
"Pitch... What have youdone?" He breathed, voice quivering with both anger and a noxious little drop of fear. The answer was obvious, but Jack was still in shock that the Nightmare King had actually pulled such a heinous act.
Hiccup saw the crook's tip lower, its owner obviously weakened by the horrific sight before him, so with each foot like a block of lead, he brought himself forward to stand at his friend's side, raised his knife and set his glare to full heat as his blade shone just a little brighter in the strengthening sunlight.
"Stay back-" Jack pleaded when he realised Hiccup had drawn up even with him, but his panic was only met with a warm, determined curve of the mouth.
Out of their peripheral vision, they could also see Astrid take a few cautious steps, and thanked Odin that she was someone that regarded them as both friends and allies.
"... You've sheathed yourself in aperson," Concluded Hiccup as his expression grew positively stormy. As if just noticing his presence for the first time since they'd gotten outside, Pitch cocked his head at the tiny Viking, and glided forward a few 'steps'. The Blade's point punctuated the space before Hiccup with a stab, and the Shadow halted, but not out of any sense of self preservation... No. His golden eyes creased with Mirth, the gathering of sallow skin around them pulling his lips into a particularly foul smile.
A spidery hand smoothed back a crest of raven hair, and the man /folded/ himself at the waist to speak to the boy on his level. All three youths jumped, but Hiccup swiftly recovered strong in his stance.
They stared at each other, aquiline nose directly across from a round, freckled one, and Jack did not dare move in case Pitch tried something first.
"Aren't you the brave little warrior now," The man finally cooed, but made now move, other than to widen that awful grin. "You must have aquired a sliver of that Stubbornness you Nords are so damned proud of at last. Such a pity."
The knife's point was mere inches from Pitch's throat, Hiccup noticed. His pulse shuddered at the thought of ending everything so simply, that one jab could eradicate their problems right there and then, and his lids flickered as his grip tightened. Fear was a strong motivator after all.
Jack saw the minute contraction in his friend's arm, preparation for a strike, and he felt the need to cry out, but for a reason he could not name. Before any sound could leave him though, Pitch wrapped an unnaturally long fingers around the boy and raised him him from the ground so suddenly that a jolt of surprise disarmed Hiccup and prised his dagger from shock slackened fingers. Jack vaulted forward and swung with every spark he could muster as Astrid followed immediately afterwards with a practised but deadly twirl of her axe. They both struck with blows that should have driven into the Shadow's side, but the inky substance melted Astrid's blade upon contact. She staggered back with a shout and blew on her hands as the wood seemed to burn like acid against her palms right before she could let go. Jack's luck wasn't much better, as his icy slash missed, faltered when he feared it might hit Hiccup: Pitch snatched at this advantage, along with the young man's waist. A tentacle snagged around Jack's middle and launched him back into the girl who was in the throes of psychosomatic blistering upon her palms. They went down and tumbled into a thankfully intact bank of snow, but were too overcome with disorientation to rise for the moment.
With a sniff, Pitch turned back to the struggling boy in his grasp and shook his head in admonishment, lips puckered in mock disapproval.
"Hiccup, Hiccup : I thought you were meant to be intelligent. Honestly, is that any way to go about trying to slay a God?"
All around, shouts of terror filled the air, panic thick and roiling with a taste of sweat and metal. The Nightmare king drank it in like a revitalising tonic, granting him just an extra ounce of fortitude against the sun that was consistently threatening to peek through the dense layer of overcast clouds. Time was shorter than even he could anticipate, but the shadow's attention was diverted just a fraction longer as he looked closely at the writhing child in his grasp.
"Besides, it would seem that the divine has tarred you with their misguided brush as well." The comment was conversational as a clammy forefinger and thumb held Hiccup's jaw in a vice. Sea foam eyes gleamed at his captor in rage as he grew progressively more weary with being lofted from the ground without permission and thundered back as well as he could.
" What are you talking about?!"
The way Pitch cocked his head in interest was near avian in its sharpness: his pyrite study devoured his prisoner's vibrant rose gold hair and milky skin, made note of each stark dot of pigment and the heat he could absorb through his spindly fingers around Hiccup's torso as it heaved against the cage they formed. A smirk was all the answer that the boy was offered before Jack came flying at them, screaming in rage. So caught up in his scrutiny was he, Pitch had actually forgotten about the little ghost and warrior maiden he'd flung aside. Surprise had actually managed to flank the God as a surely aimed bolt of blue lightning crackled against his shoulder and dislodged the little captive from his grasp.
Dropped without warning, Hiccup crumpled to the ground like a loosely wrapped bundle of twigs, but recovered quickly as Astrid hauled him quickly to stand. Her lips were thinned by well concealed pain as she hefted back her arm to throw one of the smaller hatchets taken from her hip. A grunt evolved into a yell of effort as Hiccup ducked clear of the axe that whizzed past expertly with a flick of her wrist.
Jack, who had banished Pitch's sand barrier with his unforeseen attack, had heard the whistle of metal before he saw it. Still carried by the momentum of his assault, he gripped Pitch's shoulder, twisted out of the path of blindly thrashing tentacles and brought in his knees to reverse somersault away. The push of his legs in turn inched Pitch towards the whirling silver edge that Astrid had thrown, and as it lodged itself in the God's opposing shoulder, the boys couldn't help but wince at the sickly sound it made, like a cleaver sinking into a lamb's leg.
There was no blood however, and as the trio briskly regrouped, Pitch couldn't help but stumble back.
With a smile.
As if the axe in his joint was a splinter in his toe, the Nightmare king yanked it from himself. It was dropped to the ground as a child would when he had grown bored of his friend's toys, but only tainted enjoyment painted that hideous flaking face of his. His eyes wandered back over to Jack then, a decayed brow raised in interest as if he had only just noticed the return of blizzard locks and cerulean eyes.
"And now this 'bleaching' has formed a trend. Tell me jack, did you not like the fresh look? I suppose after three hundred years, a boy can be set in his choices-"
"Hiccup fixed him!" Spat Astrid through gritted teeth, her fingers throbbing in agony as she curled them around another axe and poised to attack. "Whatever you do, we'll find a way to fix it, you sack of slime!"
Pitch, however, barely seemed to heed the girl's words, apart from the mention of his tiny Viking victim reversing Jack's transformation. Sunlight flashed threateningly through the once again evaporating cloud bank, and the God knew his time was nearly over.
Barely audible over distant shouts of panic, Pitch narrowed his eyes at Hiccup, all humour fleeting from them like a hare from a fox pack.
"...I see. That would explain a lot, actually. You stink of her." He pondered aloud, those golden pin pricks very leaving their mark. The subject of his scrutiny only grew frustrated.
"What are you talking about? I smell like who? " He cried, although his knees felt weak. Jack leant over to grasp an elbow, steeling his little friend's stance. The intonation of Pitch's words lead the sprite to slot disjointed pieces of information together into a theory he could articulate. A piercing glare was shot in the shadow's direction.
"...Then you know that you've bitten off more than you can chew, Pitch." He stated simply, conviction rooting his deep tone.
For a moment, Pitch said nothing, and then his awful lips lifted once more.
"...Granted, I have underestimated you two." He purred, his shadows retreating to wrap more tightly around him as armour. "But I would have been disappointed if this battle ended prematurely, if I am to be perfectly frank. This is the most fun I've had in aeons, and now I don't wish it to end. I'll tell you what-"
One finger extended skyward as an illustration.
"I will grant you one day's rest, and come sunset tomorrow, we will settle the bid for this land once and for all. That way, we can dual at full strength, and have ourselves a grand old time. A fair condition, is it not?"
Before either boy could answer, smoky tendrils swaddled Pitch's form in protective bandages of shadow and two enormous wings sprouted from his back, a form borrowed from the night fury (much to Hiccup's quiet indignation).
"I look forward to seeing all you have launch at me... And breaking it all apart."
With a scream of wind, wings harshly beat once and launched the Nightmare king into the air, an acidic cacophony of laughter riding his wake that would haunt all present for the night to come. With his departure towards the sea and from the realm of sight, the wails of the Vikings devolved into pathetic moans, and then eventually exhausted silence.
At last, light broke through and bathed the island in a warmth that Hiccup didn't realise he needed so much. He and Jack exchanged a one sided pair of looks that spoke volumes of the Sprite's withheld knowledge.
Astrid, feeling that the danger had subsided for now, dropped her axe into the snow and glanced down at her raw, trembling fingers. Her friend noticed this, and abstaining from questions for the moment, Hiccup coaxed his elbow from Jack's grip to inspect the girl's damaged hands.
"Oh Gods, Astrid... Let's take a look-"
He attempted to gently take the fingers into his own, but Astrid yelped in pain and surprise, batting him away.
" OW! No- No- You're skin's like fire!" She screamed, clutching her fist in the other, only to half sob again at the raw contact it afforded. Hiccup staggered backwards in alarm, only for Jack to step in front of him and automatically take Astrid's hands into the soothing fold of his cold ones.
"Calm down... Come on, Astrid, you're fine, you're tough..."
Although she flinched at first, soon enough she sighed in relief, and felt the blisters gradually sink. A small smirk curled her lip, watery eyes lidded in amusement.
"Tougher than you'll ever be, twinkle toes.~"
The mirth was mirrored as Jack grinned back broadly.
"Don't doubt that for a second, pig knuckles."
After a moment though, the pair's attention shifted to their shaken little friend, who was now looking at his freckled knuckles as if they were cobras. His focus lifted, rife with worry as both the Sprite and the shield maiden regarded their mysteriously afflicted friend with concern. Dread coiled into a hefty. Nauseous bundle in Hiccup's chest cavity.
"...Just what in Hel is going on with me?"
It should be noted that the alternative title was "In which Jack's hair is constantly under threat."
As ever, thank you for reading!
Any questions, feedback or anything else, don't hesitate to message me or leave a review.~
As an answer to 'Jessie' (I couldn't reply to your review for some reason), this is a friendship fic. From what I gather though, Vikings didn't mind touching each other all that much. These guys are honestly just very fast friends. From what I know of the coming plot, I don't think that will change. Sorry if that spoils anything for anyone? :'D