Hey Guys! For those of you coming here after reading the Depth of Betrayal, I'm happy to be writing for you again! As I said, I will try to keep this on a week to week update schedule, but please allow for a two day sway period each way. For those of you who don't want to read Depth first, let me know, I have a general synopsis of the story for your quick enjoyment, but please, these will be better if you read Depth yourself.
"I'm not getting on that thing!" Tyr whined. Hiccup and the other teens rolled with laughter at the side of the dragon training arena. Astrid was pulling Tyr towards one of the riderless Nadders, and the silver eyed man was squirming like a child heading to school for the first time.
"Tyr, you have to learn how to ride a dragon!" Astrid chided him.
"I like my feet on the ground, thank you!" Tyr exclaimed, escaping her grasp and scrambling the other way. Astrid huffed and gave chase.
It had been almost six weeks since Tyr's brush with execution, and life couldn't be any better. Hiccup and Astrid had decided that with all the work that needed to be done, all the restocking of supplies and rebuilding, and building new buildings, they would hold off on their wedding until further notice. The rebuilding had gone well so far, and the shortage of money that his father was so worried about was completely taken care of. Tyr had hidden most of the Ardni fortune in Toothless Cove, and that money will more than pay for anything they might need, but so much will be left over that it will refill the village treasury.
It had been since decided, by the young dragon trainers, that Tyr needed to learn to ride a dragon. It would be easy as getting Gobber drunk during Snoggletog. They had not, however, foreseen that actually getting the man onto a dragon was like drinking Astrid's Yaknog. A horrible time.
After tackling Tyr once more, Astrid grabbed his longest braid of hair and pulled him back towards the Nadder, "You will get on this dragon's back this instant!"
Ruffnut leaned over and elbowed Hiccup, "Take a good look; that's going to be your children someday." She snickered. Hiccup snipped at her, but thought about her words. Children. Just the idea was a bit daunting, much less the actual experience of kids. A shiver went up his back as he turned his attention back to the scene in front of them.
Astrid had gotten Tyr to place a hand on the Nadders head and pet it lightly. The Nadder, for what it meant, wasn't doing too badly with it. A bit of discomfort at the new touch, but other than that not bad. Until Tuffnut got involved. He snuck up behind the dragon and, with a spear that he'd dug out the equipment box, poked the poor thing on the tail. It squawked its sudden disapproval and brought its tail spikes to bear, hurling them at a retreating Tyr. Astrid, knowing what to do because Azure had done this to her many times had rolled to the left, away from the tail which came around the right side of the dragon.
Hiccup shut his eyes as the spikes flew and imbedded themselves into one of the wooden half walls that lined the edge of the arena. Tuffnut was roaring with laughter, and Astrid was actually giggling as well. When he looked to the half wall at the other side, Hiccup couldn't help but laugh as well.
Laying face down in front of it, Tyr groaned out, "Do I have a spike in my butt?"
"Yes, Tyr." Hiccup called.
"Yes Tyr!" Astrid yelled, before doubling over in laughter at her own joke. Nevertheless, all the others, including Hiccup, laughed just as hard. The Keeper grumbled loudly before yanking the spike out with a grunt. It hadn't gone in deep, but deep enough to hurt like hell.
Tyr walked away grumbling about dragons and spikes and crazy friends. Tuffnut and Ruffnut motored off to pester him more about his huge butt. Astrid came over and sat down, graciously accepting the cup of water Hiccup offered her, "Nice job, nadder master." he sniggered.
"Watch it. He would have been fine if it wasn't for Tuffnut." she retorted.
"Guess you're right." Hiccup answered before standing up and stretching his legs. He looked at Astrid and oogled her beauty, how the sweat made her skin glitter and shine. He tried to make his voice as heavy and sexy as possible, "So...what are you doing later?"
Astrid gulped down the water, "Mom wants us over at sundown, and no dragons." she said simply. Hiccup stood aghast, his attempts at looking sexy falling by the wayside, "But we've been there every night this week!" he complained. Astrid gave him a passing peck on the cheek, "And we'll keep going there until mom is comfortable! Hiccup, shes still unsure of me moving out. I think she had this idea that we were gonna live out of my room for the rest of our lives."
"I know, I know..." he grumbled. He and Astrid had been so busy that their moments together, whether intimate or not, had been scarce and short. All his attempts to create more had been struck down by both friends and family.
After cooling off and cleaning up a bit, Hiccup waited for Astrid in their kitchen. As part of his thanks for Hiccups life saving speech, Tyr and Milaki had personally championed the building of a new home for he and Astrid. Marcais, along with the carpenter, acted as the overseers. The new house was built within two weeks.
It was a big house, with a large first floor and a second floor with four rooms. Included in the plans had been a massive back room, where both Toothless and Azure could relax comfortably by a fire, fully equipped with a swinging double door. The kitchen was okay sized, maybe a bit too cluttered at the current moment, but it would clean out. Astrid had yet to learn how to cook anything beyond a simple stew.
Their bedroom was small, compared to the rest of the house, but its size made it warm at night. A big bed completed it, along with separate drawers for both him and her. A smile came to his lips when he recalled that half of his drawers were filled with the overflow from hers.
"You ready yet?" He called up the stairs. "Just a minute!" was the reply. He sat back down, knowing full well that he wouldn't be going anywhere for another ten minutes. A knock on the door caught his attention. Opening it, he was surprised to find Ruffnut, panting like she'd been sprinting, "Hey...Hiccup. Astrid here?"
"If I said no, would you believe me?" He answered through bored, half lidded eyes. If Astrid and Ruff got into one of their ever important 'girl' talks, Hiccup would be eating dinner alone with Ingrid. Ruffnut shook her head, "She's upstairs." Hiccup sighed. Ruffnut thanked him and walked in, "Oh, by the way, the Elder asked me to tell you that she wants to have a chat." she called back down the stairs. "Tell Astrid I'll meet her at her moms house!" he called back.
Not waiting for an answer, he walked out into the chill of the evening. The sun was still up, giving him a little time before his mother-in-law would try to fry him in a skillet. Toothless bounded up to him and licked his face, "Eww! Toothless, no licking tonight bud. Astrid's mom will kill me if I show up smelling like a dragon." he said, patting the Night Fury's head. Toothless seemed to understand as he fell into step with his rider. Most families were inside at this point, and they few that were still outside would call their greetings out with warm smiles.
Arriving at the Elders, Hiccup found her staring at something in the snow. She called him over, and he quickened his step. "You wanted to see me?" He asked. She jumped and rapped his knees with her staff, "Don't sneak up on me like that, boy."
"B-but you called me over," he whined, rubbing his knee caps.
"So I did. Look at these tracks. Anything you've ever seen before?" She pointed to the snow bank that enclosed her fence. Hiccup thought it would just be a Terror playing in the snow and the old Elder getting worried. When his eyes fell on it, he forgot about the Terror. The track was like nothing he'd ever laid eyes on. He whipped out his sketchbook and began to draw. The footprint was light, but the outline was completely new. Four toes or talons, but they were long and thing, and split in such a way that it didn't even look natural.
"I'll have to study this for awhile, Elder Gothi, but I have to go now. Dinner." Hiccup said, bowing to the small woman. She nodded at him and went back inside.
He ran towards Ingrid's house with all haste. If Astrid got there first, he was in for a night on the couch. On his way, he ran into Tyr who was walking, with a noticeable limp due to his Nadder incident, while looking around as if he'd lost something. "Tyr? Lose something?" Hiccup said after watching him look for a moment.
Tyr flashed a look at him, then resumed whipping his head around, "Hi Hiccup, no I haven't lost anything, just taking a few minutes to observe...stuff. What are you doing?" Tyr gave him an awkward smile.
"Astrid wants me to go to her mothers for dinner, I said I'd meet her there. Uh...can I help you at all?"
Oh, I just saw her walking to Ingrids, you better hurry!" Tyr said animatedly. Hiccup jumped and rushed past, "Alright then, good luck!" he called back.
Arriving at the Hofferson lodge, he rapped on the door, hoping that Ingrid would answer and not her glaring daughter. The door opened, and a small boy leaped up and down in joy, "Uncle Hiccup!" Hodr yelled excitedly. Hiccup laughed and let the little boy escort him inside.
He breathed a sigh of relief. Opposed to what Tyr had said, Astrid had not beat him there. Ingrid was in the kitchen when he walked in, "Hi mom," he said, casually going to take a sip of mead from the jug that was on the counter. He sniffed it before his drink. "Mmmm, strawberry mead."
As he went to take a sip, a wooden spoon slapped onto his wrist, "Ow! Why is everybody smacking me today?" he complained. Ingrid Hofferson gave him a strict glare, "No touching the mead before dinner! I won't have you be too drunk to speak when the chief gets here."
Hiccup rubbed his wrist, "You do know that he's going to be your brother, right?" His earnest tongue earned him another warning smack, "He isn't yet, young man! How was your day?"
Dinner went much as it usually did. Astrid arrived a few minutes after he did, and Stoick arrived last. They had spiced pork, potatoes and strawberry mead, which Hiccup savored because he had been attacked viciously while trying to get some earlier. All throughout dinner though, all he could think about was the print. He wanted to just pass it off as something random, but it was too interesting to be random.
Walking back home, Hiccup insisted that they stop by the Elders again, so Astrid could see the print for herself. On the way there, they were surprised to find that there was another one, just like the first, but further down from the Elders hut. Every few feet, there were more, and more, and more, until they found where the footprints stopped: just outside their very own front door.
"Uh...Hiccup, I'm scared." Astrid quivered, clinging to him.
"I'm the one who's supposed to say that." He chattered. A sound behind them alerted them, and Hiccup swung around to find Tyr approaching them. "Evening!" He said cheerily. Astrid tried to swat him as he came near, "What are you doing out and about at this time?" she inquired. Hiccup saw again as Tyr looked around carefully, looking down at the prints, then looking around again.
"Tyr, what are you loo-" Astrid began, but Tyr shushed her. She was about to lose it when Tyr smiled, eying the front of their house.
"How long you been up there, eh?" he said to apparently nobody. Hiccup looked at the house, back to Tyr, back to the house. Had Tyr gone mad?
The soft sound of something landing on snow came from behind the house, and Hiccup ran around to look. Nothing was there except for darkness. He came back to find Tyr making small talk with Astrid like nothing was up. "How was dinner and all that? Mum doing alright?"
Astrid, on the other hand, was still concerned about whatever was making the prints, "Tyr, what was that? Why do you always get into some sort of trouble?"
He sighed, "Have either of you ever heard the phrase 'it takes a snake to find a snake'?"
Astrid nodded, "Yeah, my dad used to say it pretty often. He would always say 'you need a spy to find a spy' or something like that. What about it?"
Tyr began to trudge off into the darkness, "Well, lets just say that this old snake has found himself a snake."
Hiccup watched him go, concern growing in him. Tyr was acting funny, "Astrid, you're not...worried about him, are you? I mean, he won't do anything dangerous, right?" he stammered. She scoffed, "Tyr won't step on a dead bug, Hiccup. Lets go to bed, I'm tired."
He agreed, and decided on talking to Tyr in the morning.
The next day, Hiccup was pacing like a caged beast at the training arena. They hadn't seen or heard from Tyr since last night. Astrid had been telling him to calm down since they'd woken up. "Hiccup, he's fine! Don't worry about it!" she reiterated, standing and watching him pace.
Most of the teens were there, minus Fishlegs, who said he had something important to do in the forest. Weird, because Fishlegs didn't frequent the forest that much. Only when he was drunk. And he wasn't drunk.
"Dude, Tyr probably found himself some tail and took advantage, who cares." Ruffnut snickered before randomly punching her brother, "What was that for?" he asked fiercely.
"I dunno." she answered nonchalantly. He glared at her and looked about to pounce when yelling reached their ears. A boy probably about eleven years old, one of Fishlegs little brothers actually, was running towards them, arms flailing, "Mister Hiccup! Miss Astrid! Ruff and Tuff! Big brother said he wants to see you in the forest!"
"Whoa, Njord, relax. What does Fish want?" Astrid said to the young, panting boy. "He said that he has something crazy to show you guys and to come right away!" Hiccup shot a look at Astrid that asked 'what now?'
About fifteen minutes into the forest, the came onto Fishlegs, who was intently watching something. "Fish, whats happening?" Hiccup whispered, thinking that being quiet would somehow benefit them.
"Look, a that tree over there." Fish replied, not turning his head away. Scanning the tree line, Hiccup found the tree in question, with Tyr sitting in front of it. "What is he doing?" Astrid asked.
"He's been talking to that tree for an hour now. I was in here first to gather kindling for our fire when I found Tyr sitting like that." Fishlegs said, his eyes squinting, trying to find something that he obviously was not.
Hiccup stared hard. He couldn't find a single thing interesting about the tree, other than how it had some branches that hung pretty low to the ground. A small shove alerted him and he turned to see Astrid motioning for him to go investigate. "Why me?" He whispered frantically.
"Please?" Astrid asked quietly, sweetly, giving him the biggest, roundest, cutest eyes.
Dammit he thought as he walked through the clearing. Astrid and he damn cuteness. It would be the death of him. As he approached, he heard Tyr acknowledge him, "Good morning! What brings you to the woods today?" Hiccup noticed that Tyr didn't stop staring at the tree.
"I should ask you the same thing, Tyr. What are you looking at?"
"I think, Hiccup, your question should be who I'm looking at. And I think its a she." Tyr replied. Hiccup shot his eyes at the tree, looking up and down, but again he couldn't see anything. Tyr kept talking, "I think she was following you yesterday. Curious one. No idea what she is though." he said.
Hiccup retreated to the bushes, "He said he's looking at someone, or something, that was following me yesterday, and that he thinks its a she, and that he has no clue what she is."
Astrid's face betrayed nothing, but Fishlegs looked annoyed, "He's looking at something? Yeah, he's looking at a tree!"
"Hiccup, go back over there and smack him for me." Astrid said, the Thorston behind her snickering. Hiccup walked back over, not with the express intent of smacking Tyr, but convincing the man that he was, in fact, looking at nothing.
About halfway across the clearing, he stopped, his eyes plastered on the tree. It had moved. Or the bark did. Tyr was now standing, and Hiccup heard the others inch out of the bushes towards him. They stood and bore witness as the thing that they thought was a dumb tree was actually living.
The vine that had been snaking up the trunk wasn't a vine at all, but a tail. The low hanging branches were legs.
Tyr stood up and was face to face with the thing that had come out of the tree.
"Fish...are you seeing what I'm seeing?" Astrid asked slowly.
"I dunno...Hiccup, what are you seeing?"
Hiccup gulped down his excitement. He'd never seen one before, other than in the book of dragons.
"Changewing." He whispered.
There we are! Tyr got speared in the bum, then finds a dragon! The nest update will come later today, a special treat for you readers! Read and review, and if you have any ideas you want me to consider, let me know!