Chapter 31: The Truth

Elinor sighed, resting her head in her hand with her elbow propped on her knees as she sat on a rock, looking at Merida and Hiccup as they finished telling her what had been happening the last few months. Elinor put her hand over her mouth as the two finished, looking at them for a moment in quiet contemplation. After a moment, her eyes shifted to Toothless, who was currently lapping water from the nearby pond.

"All o' this is true?" Elinor questioned, still watching the dragon.

"Every word," Hiccup assured the queen, prompting her to turn back and give the teens a very serious look.

"Ye understand whit ye're telling me, correct?" Elinor questioned, "Nae anly are ye puttin' everythin' people hae ever known aboot dragons intae question, but ye're also sayin' 'at Mor'du an' th' Vendal are workin' tae release th' most powerful dragon 'at has ever been known who has been trapped fer generations by a witch's spell."

"Aye, we understand it's pretty big, Ma," Merida replied with a nod, "But it's all true."

Elinor fell silent again, covering her mouth with her hands as she pondered the ground in front of her for a few moments.

"Whit shud we dae?" Merida questioned nervously.

"'At's th' big question, isnae it?" Elinor replied with a chuckle and a sigh, "This is nae an easy problem tae solve. Ah cannae say how either o' yer fathers will react if Ah tell them, tae say naethin' o' if they'll even believe me."

"I don't think my dad's going to like this, no matter how we tell him," Hiccup stated, "I'll be lucky if he doesn't kill me when he finds out."

"Ah daenae believe 'at fer an instant," Elinor replied, giving Hiccup a meaningful look, "An' even if Ah did, we wudnae let anythin' like 'at happen tae ye."

Hiccup smiled at the queen as Merida reached out and placed a hand on Hiccup's knee.

"Ah'm nae worried aboot convincin' Stoick though," Merida spoke up, turning to look at her mother again, "If we can convince Da, then Ah think 'at'll be enough tae get Stoick on our side."

"Or it cud start a war," Elinor answered wearily, "We cannae rely on yer father bein' able ta convince Stoick nor shud ye rely on my ability tae convince yer father."

"Come on, Ma," Merida replied with a smirk, "We both know 'at ye've got Da wrapped around yer little finger."

"In some regards yes," Elinor replied with a small smirk of her own, "But yer father is still a king, an' even Ah cannae truly tell him whit tae dae. Especially if Mor'du is involved."

"Sae whit can we dae?" Merida questioned.

"Ah will try tae speak with yer father, Ah dae agree 'at Fergus will be easier tae convince than Stoick," Elinor explained, "He might believe me, but he's gaein' tae need some sort o' proof."

"We can do that," Hiccup replied, "Obviously, with all we know, we don't intend to go through with killing the Monstrous Nightmare."

"What dae ye plan tae dae then?" Elinor asked.

"I want to show everyone that dragons aren't as dangerous as we always thought," Hiccup explained, "I want to show that they can be tamed, that they can interact peacefully with people."

"A big display like 'at will definitely send a message," Elinor agreed, "We jist hae tae ensure it's th' message we want tae send."

"Hopefully, 'at's where ye an' Da will come in," Merida stated.

Elinor paused for a moment before nodding her head.

"Ah will dae what Ah can," Elinor stated, looking directly into Hiccup's eyes as she spoke, "But ye must tread lightly, Hiccup. A wrong move here cud prove disastrous."

"I know," Hiccup replied solemnly with a nod, "Thank you for helping us. I don't think we could do this without you."

"Ah'm sure ye wud hae found a way," Elinor stated with a small smile, "Ye are an exceedinly clever young man."

Hiccup blushed under the praise, scratching the back of his head in embarrassment as Merida smiled at him.

"Now, if ye daenae mind, Ah'd like tae return tae th' village," Elinor stated as she yawned and stretched her arms above her heads, "All o' this gallivantin' aboot th' woods in th' middle o' th' night has left me exhausted. Ah think it's time fer us all tae retire fer th' night."

Merida and Hiccup agreed with nods before they patted Toothless on the head and bid the dragon goodnight before they began leading Elinor out of the cove. As they walked, Elinor fell into step next to her daughter as Hiccup walked ahead.

"Sae, much has happened since we left ye here," Elinor commented.

"Aye," Merida agreed with a smile and a nod, "It's pretty crazy when ye stop an' think aboot it."

"Whit Ah find interestin' is how much ye an' Hiccup's relationship has changed," Elinor stated, smiling wryly as she glanced at her daughter.

"W-Whit dae ye mean?" Merida questioned, a light blush on her face as she looked up at her mother.

"When we left ye, ye cud barely stand th' sight o' him," Elinor observed, "Now th' two o' ye are all but inseparable."

"Thin's changed," Merida replied, averting her eyes as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.

"Changed in whit way?" Elinor questioned.

"Ah…Ah got tae see th; real Hiccup," Merida explained hesitantly, glancing at the young man in question as he continued to lead them out of the forest, "An'…Ah really liked whit Ah found."

"Ah was hopin' saemethin' like this wud happen," Elinor stated as her smile grew, "Ah can tell th' two o' ye balance each other well."

"Ah think we dae," Merida agreed with a nod before looking up at her mother, "Ah guess Ah haee tae thank ye fer 'at."

"Och, nae need tae thank me, Merida," Elinor replied, "Ah didnae expect this tae turn oot as well as it did. Ah'm very happy fer th' two o' ye."

Merida smiled and the two began to walk through the forest in comfortable silence.

"Sae, hae ye kissed him yet?" Elinor asked abruptly, a smile on her face.

Merida sputtered in shock as her face turned bright red, whipping her head around to look at her mother.

"Maaaa!" Merida whined in embarrassment causing Elinor to chuckle in amusement.

The next day,

Merida walked up the sloping hills of the village towards a large building she wasn't familiar with. It was a grand, imposing building made out of hard stone and partially built into the cliff side. Flanking the front door were two large sculptures of muscular Viking men, one armed with a warhammer, the other only possessing one eye and a raven perched on his shoulder, a spear clutched in his hand.

Walking up to the large, wooden double doors decorated with the image of a warhammer, Merida pushed them open. Inside was a long hall made of stone, held up by rows of columns. Numerous torches lined the walls, illuminating various altars dedicated to numerous gods set up along the walls.

Merida looked around in confusion for a few moments, trying to find anybody in the large, apparently empty building. As she scanned the room, her eyes fell on a person sitting by an altar near the back of the room.

"Hello?" Merida called as she made her way over to the person, "Hic, is 'at you?"

As Merida approached, the person turned to face her, revealing she was not Hiccup but in fact a girl a few years younger than the princess. She had brown hair that was done in two braids that framed her freckled face. She wore a simple brown dress along with a black, hooded robe. As her brown eyes fell on Merida, she quickly blew out the match she had been using to light the candles on the altar.

"Och, Ah'm sorry," Merida apologized, "Ah thought ye were saemeane else."

"It's quite alright," the girl replied politely as she turned to face Merdia, "Is there something that I can help you with, Princess Merida?"

"Oh," Merida said again as she blinked in surprise, "Ye know who Ah am?"

"Of course," the girl replied with a small giggle, "It's a small village and you're rather hard to miss."

"I suppose ye've got me there," Merida replied with a smirk, "But Ah daenae believe we've met afore."

"We haven't," the girl agreed with a shake of her head, "I suppose you haven't had much cause to come to the temple. I'm Helga."

"Helga?" Merida questioned, the name ringing a bell but she was unable to place it.

"Yes," Helga replied with a nod, "So, you're looking for Hiccup?"

"Ah am," Merida replied with a nod, "Hae ye seen him? Saemebody mentioned they saw him come in here earlier."

"I have," Helga replied with a nod, "I can take you to him, if you'd like?"

"'At'd be wonderful, thank ye," Merida answered with a smile. Smiling back, Helga reached out and grabbed a pair of crutches that Merida hadn't noticed before. Sliding them under her arms, Helga pushed herself up, causing Merida's eyes to widen in surprise as she saw the girl's legs dangling uselessly beneath her.

"Sun above," Merida whispered in horror as she moved to Helga's side, "Here, let me help ye!"

"It's alright, Princess," Helga replied, shaking her head with a half-hearted smile, "I'm quite capable on my own."

As if to prove her point, Helga began limping across the room, expertly balancing on her crutches. As she watched the younger girl, something clicked in Merida's head.

"Ye're her," Merida commented in understanding.

"What's that?" Helga asked in confusion as she came to a wobbly stop and look over her shoulder at Merida.

"Ye're her," Merida repeated, pointing at Helga, "Ye're th' girl who survived bein' pushed off th' cliff. Ye were there when…"

"When Alvin the Treacherous killed Valhallarama," Helga finished with a nod, "Yes, that was me."

"How…How did ye end up here?" Merida questioned.

"There are not many things a cripple like me can do," Helga explained with a sigh, "But minding the gods is one of them."

Merida fell silent, playing with her hair as she looked at the younger girl with a combination of awkwardness and pity.

"Would you like me to bring you to Hiccup now?" Helga questioned, a small smile returning to her features.

"Y-Yes, o' course," Merida agreed with a nod, "'At wud be lovely."

Motioning for Merida to follow her, Helga began limping along, leading the princess deeper into the temple.

"Hiccup ne'er struck me as th' religious type," Merida commented as they walked past other shrines depicting gods and goddesses in various forms.

"He's not," Helga replied, "He hardly ever comes in here, and when he does, he only ever visits one shrine."

"What ane is 'at?" Merida asked as Helga led her towards the very back of the temple.

"One no one else ever visits," Helga explained before they stopped in front of a door leading into a small room. Inside, Merida saw Hiccup sitting in front of a small shrine, much simpler than the other ones she had seen. On it sat a single red candle that had been lit, casting the room in a dim glow with long shadows. On the other side of the altar a picture depicting two dragons intertwined with one another. The helmet that Stoick had given Hiccup sat next to the young man along with his sword.

Hearing them approach, Hiccup turned around, a look of surprise on his face when he saw Merida.

"Mer!" Hiccup exclaimed in surprised as he hopped to his feet and awkwardly dusted himself off, "W-What…what are you doing here?"

"Ah was lookin' fer ye," Merida explained, "It's…it's almost time."

"R-Right," Hiccup replied, scratching his head, "I was just…just…"

"Prayin'," Merida finished for him, smirking, "It's nae somethin' tae be ashamed o'."

"Depends on who you ask," Hiccup replied awkwardly, "And who you pray to."

"Who are ye prayin' tae anyway?" Merida questioned as she stepped forward to get a better look at the shrine, "Whit god is this shrine dedicated tae?"

"Loki," Helga spoke up, drawing Merida's attention back to her.

"Who is Loki?" Merida asked.

"The God of Fire and Thought," Helga explained as she looked back over at the altar, her eyes falling on the single red candle, "The Misty Eye of the Mountain Below, the Lie-Smith and the Father of Dragons."

"Father o' Dragons?" Merida questioned, glancing between Hiccup and Helga.

"Yeah, it means pretty much what you think," Hiccup stated, "So you can probably guess that he's not very popular around here."

"Then why are ye prayin' tae him?" Merida questioned.

"Because…because I relate to him," Hiccup answered with an embarrassed shrug.

"Whit dae ye mean?" Merida asked.

"Well, I mean look at all the other gods in this temple," Hiccup elaborated, "Odin, Thor, Tyr. All of them big, burly warriors who stand for everything Viking culture is based on. But not Loki. He's smaller than the others, but he's smarter. He relies on his wits."

"Like ye," Merida observed with a small smile.

"Like me," Hiccup agreed with a nod, "The whole fire and intelligence thing makes him easy to relate to as a blacksmith too."

"Ah can see 'at," Merida replied with a nod.

"Anyway, I'm done here if you wanted to get going," Hiccup stated.

"We shud, th' final trail is soon," Merida agreed as she rubbed her arm nervously.

"Right," Hiccup said with a sigh, strapping his sword to his back before picking up his helmet and tucking it under his arm, "Let's get going."

"It was nice to meet ye, Helga," Merida stated as she turned and nodded her head to the younger girl.

"It was a pleasure meeting you as well, Princess," Helga replied with a nod of her own, before turning towards Hiccup, "Be safe, Hiccup. Try not to be a stranger."

"I'll do my best," Hiccup answered with a smile and a nod before he and Merida made their way towards the exit.

"Ye two seem close," Merida commented as they walked.

"Me and my dad were basically the closest thing Helga had to a family after what happened to hers," Hiccup explained, "Her mom had died about a year before and her father died fighting the dragon that destroyed their home. As for her sister…"

Hiccup paused as they pushed open the doors of the temple and stepped outside.

"…Well you already know what happened to her," Hiccup finished with a sad sigh prompting Merida to reach out and take Hiccup's hand in hers.

"Ane day, we'll gae oot an' find Alvin th' Treacherous an' make him pay fer whit he's done," Merida said, looking right into Hiccup's eyes as she said it, "Ye an' me, taegether."

"Thanks, Mer," Hiccup replied with a smile, giving Merida's hand a squeeze, "But first we need to get through today."

"Aye," Merida agreed with a sigh, "An' 'at wonae be an easy feat."

"No kidding," Hiccup stated as they made their way down to the arena, "We just got to hope you were right about your mom."

"Ah daenae think 'at's whit we shud be worried aboot," Merida said with a concerned tone, "Are ye sure 'at we shud try an' tame th' Nightmare? It's nae th' nicest o' dragons an' 'at's sayin' saemethin'."

"It will make our point," Hiccup replied, "Besides, the dragon will already be there so we might as well take advantage of it."

"Alright," Merida stated with a nod, but a nervous expression still played across her features.

"Hey, don't you go getting nervous," Hiccup said, giving Merida's hand a reassuring squeeze, "I'm nervous enough as it is. You're supposed to be the brave one of this operation."

"Ah know," Merida replied, giving Hiccup a small smile, "There's jist a lot ridin' on whit happens taeday. Ah daenae want tae lose ye."

"You won't," Hiccup assured her, looking into her eyes as he spoke, "Now come on, we have to get to the arena before they start without us."

Making their way across the village, Hiccup and Merida made their way to the arena. As they neared the arena, they could see a large crowd making their way into the stands that surrounded the building. As they got closer, Merida and Hiccup saw Fishlegs moving through the crowd, accompanied by his parents.

"Fishlegs!" Merida called, catching his and his parents' attention.

"Hey," Fishlegs greeted with a smile and a wave as he stopped to greet his friends, his parents stopping with him, "You guys ready for today?"

"As we'll ever be," Hiccup replied with a nervous smile.

"All of you will be careful won't you?" Ribbon asked in a nervous tone, playing with her hand as she did.

"Oh, stop worrying Ribbon," Fishguts stated as he crossed his arms and rolled his eyes, "They're trained Viking warriors now."

Fishguts paused as she looked down at the three teenagers in front of him.

"They can handle it," he stated with a nod.

The three teens smiled at each other.

"Now come on," Fishguts said as he urged them onwards, "We don't want you three to be late."

Nodding, the three teens followed Fishguts and Ribbon to the arena. As they reached the large building, Ribbon quickly spun around and gave each of them a hug.

"You all be safe in there, alright?" Ribbon said as she stood back up, still nervously playing with her hands.

"We will, Mom," Fishlegs replied with a nod and a small smile, "Don't worry."

Ribbon nodded in return before turning and following Fishguts up into the stands. The three teens in turn headed for the gate that led into the arena itself. Approaching it, they saw Astrid, Snotlout, the twins and Gobber waiting for them.

"Hey," Astrid greeted them with a smile before her expression turned awkward as she looked at Fishlegs, who blushed in return when he saw her.

"Ye guys are still 'at awkward around each other?" Merida whispered to Fishlegs, raising an eyebrow at the young man.

"We-We haven't really got the chance to talk about it yet," Fishlegs explained as he nervously played with his hands, "I-I think she might be avoiding me."

"Give it time," Merida replied as she reached up and patted Fishlegs on the arm, "Ah'm sure she's jist as confused as ye are."

"Yeah," Fishlegs agreed with a shrug as he glanced over at Astrid, who was doing her best to look anywhere but at him, "I guess you're right."

"Right now, we have bigger things to worry about," Hiccup stated.

"I know," Fishlegs replied with a nod as he turned to look at Hiccup, "So what's the plan here?"

Hiccup turned to say something to Fishlegs but was interrupted when Gobber cleared his voice, bringing the teens' attention to him.

"Alright, ye lot, this is it," Gobber declared, "Th' moment ye've all been trainin' an' waitin' fer. Beyond 'at gate, ye'll all be facin' a Monstrous Nightmare, ane o' th' most dangerous dragons in th' world."

Gobber paused for a moment to let his words sink in.

"Ye'll need all yer trainin' an' skill tae beat this monster," Gobber said solemnly before a grin spread across his face, "But Ah hae nae doubt 'at ye will accomplish it. Ye all are, withoot a doubt, th' best group o' trainees to ever gae through this. Ah hae th' utmost faith in all o' ye."

The teens all smiled warmly at their teacher.

"Now, here is where Ah wud say gae make me proud," Gobber stated as he stepped aside and grabbed hold of the winch that would raise the portcullis blocking the way into the arena, "But I'm already proud enough as it is."

Gobber's gaze fell on Hiccup as he spoke, nodding towards the young man.

"Sae instead Ah'll jist say good luck," Gobber finished before he pulled down on the winch, raising the portcullis and prompting the teens to make their way inside.

Stepping inside, the group was met with thunderous applause from the stands, which were packed to the brim. The teens looked around in wonder, unused to having the attention of so many people. Directly across from the entrance of the arena, up in the stands, Stoick sat in his seat with Fergus and Elinor once again sitting to his side with the triplets. On Stoick's other side sat Gothi, watching them expectantly.

"Alright," Astrid spoke up after taking a calming breath as she turned her attention towards Hiccup, "What's the plan?"

"Just follow my lead," Hiccup stated as he lifted his helmet up and placed it on his head.

"That's about as much of a plan we have going into these things anyway," Tuffnut commented with a chuckle and a shrug.

The crowd's cheering quieted as Stoick stood up and raised his hands, bringing attention to himself.

"Well, it seems like I can show my face in public again!" Stoick announced, earning laughter from the crowd, though he failed to notice the quick glare Elinor shot his way.

"If someone had told me a few short weeks ago that we would have a whole group of champions from our latest dragon trainin' class, I would never have believed them," Stoick stated with a chuckle, "If someone had told me that they were practically led by my own son, I would have tied them to the mast of a ship and sent it adrift for fear they had gone mad!"

The crowd cheered in response as Hiccup's face fell slightly. Merida gave Hiccup a sad look before she reached out and entwined her hand with his while Fishlegs reached out and patted him on the shoulder.

"But here we are, and no one is more surprised, or more proud, than me," Stoick continued, turning his attention towards Hiccup, a small smile spreading across his son's face as he heard the words, "And not just of my boy. For this time, we are not just graced with one champion but seven!"

The crowd cheered as Stoick gestured to the other teens.

"My nephew, Snotlout Jorgenson!" Stoick stated, pointing to Snotlout, who puffed his chest out proudly, "A chip off the old block that is his father."

"Ruffnut and Tuffnut Thorston!" Stoick continued, indicating to the twins, who smiled at each other, "We haven't seen a team like them since Stikes and Stoans Bergsson."

"Fishlegs Ingerman!" Stoick announced, prompting Fishlegs to scratch the back of his head as he blushed in embarrassment, "I've known him since he was a boy and I can say that I am impressed with the man that he has become."

"Astrid Hofferson," Stoick continued as he pointed directly at Astrid, "Your father would be proud of you, girl."

Astrid smiled at that, sniffing and subtly rubbing her eye.

"And last, but certainly not least, Princess Merida O'Dunbroch," Stoick stated, smiling broadly at the girl, "When I first talked with her father about a marriage with my son, I was just lookin' to ensure the peace and safety of my people. I was lookin' for an ally against all our foes. I got all these things, but I got somethin' even greater. I got myself a daughter."

Sounds of agreement went through the crowd as Merida looked up at Stoick with a shocked look on her face.

"It was a rough start," Stoick said with a chuckle, echoed by those in the crowd, "But I'm proud to call you a Viking, Merida. I'm proud for call you a member of my family."

Merida bit her lip nervously as she turned to look at her mother in the stands, who was wringing her hands together with an equally nervous look on her face.

"Today, all of them become full members of our society," Stoick declared, "Today, all of them become one of us!"

The crowd roared in approval as Stoick turned and returned to his seat. Before he could sit, Fergus stood up and stepped in front of him.

"Those were some kind words ye said," Fergus observed with a smirk.

"Meant every one of them," Stoick replied with a smile of his own. Fergus laughed in reply before holding out his hand which Stoick grasped and firmly shake, letting out a laugh of his own. Together, the two of them sat down in their seats to watch what would happen.

"Give 'at overgrown lizard hell, Merida!" Will declared from the place in the stands where he, Andra and Boyd watched, "Show it who's boss!"

"Alright guys," Astrid said as she palmed her axe, looking nervously at the other, "You ready?"

Turning to look at his friends, Hiccup saw Fishlegs pull his hammer from off his back while Merida unslung her bow and nocked an arrow on the string. Turning, Hiccup looked back at Astrid and nodded while unsheathing his sword.

"I'm ready," Hiccup stated solemnly as he turned his attention to the gate from which the Monstrous Nightmare would emerge. Slowly, the weight holding the gate closed was lifted, unlocking the large, heavy doors. As soon as the weight was free, the gate exploded outward as the Monstrous Nightmare, its body already alight, came roaring out of its pen in a cloud of fire and smoke.

"Sun above," Elinor whispered in horror as she watched the Monstrous Nightmare scurry around the arena, "They hae tae kill 'at?"

"Nothing they can't handle," Stoick commented, though Elinor noted some nervousness in his voice.

The teens watched in fear as the Nightmare stampeded around the arena, the flames that covered its body going out as it ran. As they watched, the Nightmare crawled up onto the caged dome, where it hung from its claws and looked down at the teens. Snarling, the Nightmare dropped down and approached the group, who backed away hesitantly.

"All right, Hiccup," Snotlout spoke up, looking nervously as the Nightmare approached them, "Now would be a great time for a plan."

Hiccup quickly looked around at his friends, before up at the stands where everyone he knew was. Taking a deep breath, he looked back at the Nightmare, a look of determination on his face. Stepping forward, he lowered his sword before dropping it to the ground, the metal blade clattering against the stone floor.

"That's not really what I had in mind!" Snotlout declared with surprise as the crowd began to murmur in confusion.

"Whit's he daein'?" Fergus questioned in confusion as Elinor bit her nails nervously.

"I don't know," Stoick replied, his eyes narrowing as he leaned forward in his seat.

"Hiccup!" Gobber called from where he watched by the portcullis, "Whit are ye daein'!? Pick up yer sword!"

"Hey," Hiccup said to the Nightmare in a soothing voice as he cautiously approached it with his hands raised, "It's okay. It's okay."

The Nightmare continued to approach Hiccup, snarling as it glared at Hiccup. Taking a deep breath, Hiccup reached up and took off his helmet, holding it in his hands.

"I'm not like them," Hiccup declared as he dropped the helmet to the ground. Glancing back, he saw Merida watching him. Hiccup nodded to her, to which Merida replied with a nod of her own. She quickly tossed her bow and the arrow aside before unsling her quiver and sword and tossing them aside as well. Looking at the others, Hiccup watched as Astrid and Fishlegs followed suite, placing their weapons on the ground as Snotlout and the twins looked on in confusion.

"We're not like them," Hiccup stated, indicating to his three friends, who were cautiously approaching the Nightmare as well. The crowd gasped in shock at the events unfolding before them.

"Stop the fight," Stoick ordered as he began to rise from his chair.

"Nae!" Elinor shouted, quickly standing to her feet and holding her hands out to Stoick, who whipped his head around to look at her, "Let him dae this."

"What are you talkin' about?" Stoick questioned, his eyes narrowing as his voice began to rise, "What are they doin'!? What do you know of this!?"

Elinor said nothing, looking back towards the arena nervously, prompting Stoick to whirl back around and step towards the arena.

"Hiccup!" Stoick shouted down to his son, "What are you doin'!? Stop this!"

"No!" Hiccup yelled back, keeping his attention trained on the Nightmare in front of him, "I need you all to see this."

Slowly, Hiccup began reaching his hand out to touch the Nightmare, the dragon beginning to relax as he did.

"They're not the monsters we think they are," Hiccup stated, his entire attention focused on the Nightmare, "We don't have to kill them."

The crowd grew more and more unruly as they watched. Stoick's breath quickened as he began to panic. Spinning around, he grabbed a warhammer he had sitting next to his seat.

"Nae!" Elinor cried as she stepped in front of Stoick as he turned back to the arena, grabbing hold of his arm, "Stop!"

With an angry grunt, Stoick pushed Elinor off of him, sending her stumbling back and forcing Fergus to hop to his feet in order to catch her.

"I said stop the fight!" Stoick declared angrily as he slammed his hammer against the bars of the cage, bending it and creating a loud clang that echoed across the arena. As it did, the Nightmare's widened before it let out a bellowing roar.

"Hiccup!" Merida shouted in fear as the Nightmare snapped its jaws at Hiccup forcing him to backwards. As he dodged out of the way, Hiccup tripped over his own feet, sending him falling to the ground. A panicked look on her face, Merida reached down and scooped up her bow and nocked an arrow. Aiming at the Nightmare, she let the arrow fly, the missile striking the Nightmare between its scales. The dragon screamed in pain before turning towards Merida and sending a fireball flying at her, forcing her to dive out of the way as the fire exploded against the stone wall.

"Merida!" Elinor screamed in fear as Fergus helped her back to her feet before she quickly turned and glared at Stoick, "Look at whit ye've daene!"

"What I've done!?" Stoick roared as he turned his ire towards the queen and approached her threateningly "This is what is supposed to happen! What were they tryin' to do there!? What sort of nonsense did you put in my boy's head!?"

"Dae nae talk tae ma wife like 'at!" Fergus snapped as he stepped between Stoick and Elinor, glaring at the Viking chieftain.

"I will talk to whomever I like however I please until somebody tells me what the Hel is going on!" Stoick roared right back at Fergus before shoving the king out of his way, "Now move!"

Fergus watched Stoick run towards the arena entrance before turning his attention to Elinor.

"Elinor," he said, grabbing her shoulders and bringing her attention to him, "Whit's happenin'!? Whit are Merida an' Hiccup tryin' tae dae!?"

"Daenae worry aboot 'at now!" Elinor declared, turning and pointing at the arena, "Ye hae tae protect our daughter!"

Looking where she indicated, Fergus eyes widened in horror as he saw his daughter being chased by the Monstrous Nightmare. Without another word, Fergus turned and ran in the direction that Stoick had gone.

"Run, Merida!" Will shouted as Merida went racing past where he was in the stands, the Monstrous Nightmare hot on her heels. As she ran by the pens, Merida could hear Boudica and Meatlug fighting to get out of their pens to help. Looking around, Merida saw Fishlegs running over to her. Turning towards him, Merida ducked just as Fishlegs stepped forward and swung his hammer. The hammer whizzed over Merida's head and slammed against Nightmare's face, the force of the blow knocking the Nightmare to the ground. Fishlegs quickly backed away from the Nightmare as it tried to regain its footing.

"What do we do now!?" Snotlout questioned in a panic.

"Don't get eaten!" Astrid shouted as she ran over to Fishlegs and Merida, brandishing her axe once again. Merida and Fishlegs were watching the Nightmare wearily as they backed away. Suddenly, the Nightmare snapped back to its senses and roared at the two of them.

"Look out!" Astrid shouted as she grabbed the back of Merida and Fishlegs' shirts and pulled them out of the way as the Nightmare sent a blast of fire at them. The fire scorched the air in front of the teens as they tumbled to the ground before they scrambled to their feet to get away from the Nightmare.

"Over here!" Gobber shouted as he pulled open the portcullis, flanked by Stoick and Fergus, "Come on!"

The teens quickly raced over towards the exit, the Nightmare chasing after them. The three adults quickly pulled them in, trying to get them out of harm's way. Just as Hiccup reached the gate though, the Nightmare fired another flaming blast at him, cutting him off and scorching the wall right next to him. As Hiccup stumbled to a stop, the Nightmare raced around him, forcing the young man to double back as the dragon snapped its jaws at him. As Hiccup ran away, the Nightmare pounced on him, slamming its claws onto him and holding him against the floor of the arena.

"Hiccup!" Merida screamed, trying to move to help him, but her father grabbed hold of her and kept her at his side, despite her struggling. As Hiccup looked on in fear, the Nightmare lowered its head towards him, growling.

Elinor watched on from the stands, gripping the bars, her face pale and horrorstruck. Suddenly, a loud shrieking noise caught her attention, prompting Elinor to turn around to find the source of the noise. As she did, she saw the sleek, black form of Toothless bounding down through the village.

"Sun above," Elinor whispered before ducking as Toothless came leaping over her head, blasting a hole through the cage with a blast of plasma. Landing in the arena, Toothless quickly leapt into the air again and landed on the Nightmare's back, biting its shoulder and neck, causing the Nightmare to screech in pain.

"Night Fury," Gobber whispered with a mixture of horror and wonder.

Rolling over, the Nightmare knocked Toothless off its back, biting at the Night Fury as it tried to pin him to the ground. Toothless roared as he batted his claws at the Nightmare before kicking it off, causing the dragon to screech in pain as it rolled away. The two dragons snarled at one another as Toothless placed himself between the Nightmare and Hiccup. The Nightmare made a few more moves to get to Hiccup but Toothless deterred it with snaps of his jaw and swipes of his claws. Eventually, the Nightmare was cowed and it retreated to a corner of the arena.

"Alright Toothless, go!" Hiccup exclaimed as he ran up next to the Night Fury and tried to urge the dragon to flee, "You have to get out of here!"

Toothless refused to budge even as Viking warriors began to leap into the arena from the stands, quickly converging on the Night Fury.

"Go!" Hiccup shouted, but Toothless refused to budge, "GO!"

Grabbing a waraxe hanging on the wall, Stoick rushed towards Toothless, pushing the teens out of the way.

"Stoick, nae!" Merida shouted in a vain attempt to stop the village chieftain, breaking away from her father to chase after him.

"Dad no!" Hiccup shouted, holding up his hand to ward off Stoick, "He won't hurt you!"

Snarling as he saw Stoick, Toothless bound forward to meet the chieftain head on.

"No!" Hiccup cried in despair as the Vikings rushed towards Toothless, "You're only making it worse!"

Toothless barreled through a few Vikings, knocking them to the side before pouncing onto Stoick. The two tumbled for a moment before Toothless pinned Stoick onto his back, looking like he was about to bite the chieftain's head off.

"Toothless! No! Hiccup exclaimed, trying to prevent any kind of bloodshed, "Stop!"

Immediately, Toothless calmed stepping off of Stoick and turning to look at Hiccup with a sad moan.

"Get him!" Spitelout shouted before tackling Toothless, slamming the Night Fury's head against the ground as other Vikings began to dog pile onto the dragon.

"No!" Hiccup shouted, moving to help Toothless but was stopped as Merida stepped in front of him and wrapped her arms around him, holding him back, "Please! Don't hurt him!"

Merida buried her head in Hiccup's shoulder, tears running down her face as she held onto him, the young man still holding his hand out helplessly. Fishlegs sat on the ground with his head in his hands as Astird leaned against him, her hands resting on his shoulders.

Stoick pushed himself to his feet, brushing himself off as he looked down at Toothless and the men who were holding him down. One Viking tried to hand Stoick the axe that he had dropped when Toothless knocked him down, but he pushed it away.

"Put it with the others," Stoick ordered with a growling voice, before turning his attention towards Hiccup and Merida. He marched over to where they were standing, before reaching down and pulling them aside.

"Move girl," Stoick snapped as he pushed Merida away while picking Hiccup up by his tunic, "I need to have a word with my son."

A/N: Sorry this took so long getting out, ended up being kind of hard to write. Third acts in full swing now though and we're careening towards the finale. Hope you guys like what's to come! As always, feedback and critiques are always welcome, so please review! Later!