Welcome to chapter 30 of Warm Days! This is really a filler chapter while I finish up organizing the next few. Enjoy it!
Hiccup wiped the sweat off his brow, his screaming arms begging him to put down the hammer. It was late, his work at the forge demanding most of his time over the past few days. The storm that they passed by on the way in from Jumenjorg did a good bit of damage across the village, so he had been working near non-stop to make nails, hinges, fittings and other such things.
He was lucky that the previous summer had proved to be fruitful with the iron ore. He had more than enough metal to work with, even without the Gronkle iron recipe that still had to be figured out exactly by Fishlegs. He had studied and cataloged hundreds of rock combinations, going all the way to four different rocks in one meal. So far, nothing had reproduced what Meatlug had barfed up that day.
Hiccup was not thrilled when his father finally came to him and bashfully told him about the damage to the village. They had spent the better part of two days partying and wasting time while the village was almost falling apart, only surviving with on the spot repairs by Gobber and the carpenters.
He set pulled a metal sheet from the fire and started to fold it. The hammer blows had long ago melded into a rhythmic beat in his head, allowing him to think while he forged. The sheet would be folded over itself six times, then pounded to flatness. The finished product would be a foot long base for a larger hinge.
The piles of hinges and nails behind him rose almost as tall as he was, and that was just the days work. Things went faster when Gobber was there helping him, but the old smith retired earlier than Hiccup did, always. These long nights at the forge were something he was used to; Hel alone knows, he spent more than a few nights a week on the small cot in his office from when he was ten, shaping metal through the night usually.
Things had been almost boring on Berk since they returned from Jumenjorg. He went back to the daily grind at the forge, with his father coming to see him pretty often. Astrid went back to doing whatever it was she did during the day. It used to be running around with Azure, training in the forests or beating Tyr up for something he didn't do. Recently though, he had heard rumors of her doing far more...domestic things. A particularly juicy rumor saw her at Elder Gothi's, taking lessons from the elder on how to look after children.
Another saw her learned to bake bread. Another witnessed the girl taking a sewing lessons from Molda Thorston. One that he had immediately cast off as a lie told of her emerging from Hulda Frigg's house. Everyone knew that Hulda Frigg was a practitioner of Freyja's fine dance; in normal terms, the art of lovemaking.
He had cast it off as a lie because he believed that Astrid needed no lessons. In his mind, Astrid could compete with Freyja herself in the bedroom, but he supposed he was biased. Not that he minded her taking lessons from Hulda, but she would never need some fancy moves to get him to loose his seed.
His fighting lessons with Tyr had been momentarily paused until he could get the village into better shape, but he wasn't being lazy. He often took a few minutes to work on his footwork, or to practice lunges, blocks, counter and other things that Tyr had shown him.
The Dragon Academy had reopened, and Fishlegs was taking the lead on things for now, Ruffnut helping him. Every now and then, Hiccup would take a quick trip up on Toothless and spy on the arena. Sometimes it was just Fishlegs, sometimes it was him with Ruffnut, and sometimes it was everyone minus him there, teaching the tricks of the trade.
In general, the trainees had taken well to their new lessons. Gemeye had grown particularly fond of a male Nightmare in their absence, and it accompanied her almost everywhere now. He had yet to ask her if she had named him, but he would get around to it.
Mjoda Stromson had been officially adopted into Berk, upon request of Spitelout. No doubt Snotlout had a huge role to play in that recommendation, but Stoick had seen no issue with taking the girl in. Tyr had mysteriously assured them that Metal Hook when never come looking for her. How he knew that was unclear.
As was customary, she was spending most of every day with the Elder, learning the laws of Berk, learning who was who and generally learning to be a Berkian. Stoick had expressed a preference that she complete this preliminary training of sorts before she be given the chance to claim a dragon of her own, and Hiccup agreed without reluctance.
His father had decided to change his ways of training Hiccup to be chief one day. Instead of lecturing Hiccup, and going through huge drawn out explanations of the smallest things, Stoick had instead taken a more practical path to educated his son. He took many problems that he dealt with on a daily basis and asked Hiccup for his opinion.
When Hiccup provided that opinion, his father would steer the conversation in a way that would make Hiccup think from all the angles a chief would need to. Hiccup had to admit that it was quite ingenious, his father taking advantage of Hiccup's overactive mind to teach him things. For a man that Hiccup gave more brawn than brains, it was a work of art. And to top it all off: he enjoyed those talks.
Which made it all that much more bearable and easy. At the same time, he had directly influenced his father to judge things differently, offering up options that Stoick had either previously cast out or ignored completely.
While sometimes his father took his advice, the chief still did what he thought was best for the village, and at times that was not what Hiccup would have done. He was making progress, but he could tell through these talks that he was still far from being ready to lead. He still made decisions completely based on compassion. He could see a measure of ruthlessness in some of his fathers choices. He would need to come to terms with the fact that sometimes, there was no happy ending to something.
The base he had been working on was finally ready, and he doused it quickly in the barrel of cooling water. Once it was cooled, he put it on a metal cooling rack he had built, grabbed another sheet from the furnace and began folding again, ignoring the burn in his arms.
Toothless was curled up in the corner, as close to the furnace as he could get without being in the way, snoozing contently. Due to his being unable to fly the dragon every waking moment like he used to, Hiccup had perfected a new saddle design, with a lock mechanism auto flap. With it, Toothless could fly without his rider. Even thought the Night Fury didn't like it, he wouldn't get moody and depressed if he could at least fly.
Loving the design as much as he did, Hiccup had decided to make updated saddle designs for all his friends, and then after that he would design saddles for the more unique dragons. His prime target for that project was Spectra, Tyr's Changewing.
He flipped the half bended sheet and started folding from the other side, his actions like clockwork. He had done this exact thing probably a hundred thousand times in the fifteen years he had been a blacksmith, while under Gobber and now when he was no longer an apprentice. The metal was like an extension of himself. Technically, it actually was, if his prosthetic was to be taken into account.
Also sitting in his office were designs for a few new gadgets he had thought up. Two that really intrigued him was actually thought up by the twins and his cousin, Snotlout. In one of their destructive moods, the Thorston twins wondered if they could bottle Zippleback gas, making literal bombs out of it. Luckily, neither of them really felt like putting the effort into actually doing it, leaving an opening for Hiccup to take advantage of.
Snotlout was training some students with Hookfang one evening when the dragon basically drooled on his shoulder. At the time, it was uninteresting, only looking like drool and smelling like it too. When he walked a little too close to a torch on his way out of the arena, the drool lit on fire. They quickly doused him with water, and he didn't suffer any serious burns, but the saliva gave him an idea.
He designed a sword, still his weapon of choice, that he could coat with that saliva and light on fire. With an added fear bonus, a burning sword would offer him the protection that Astrid always attributed to her axe. In the hilt of it, he designed small holding cartridges in which he would place sachets of Zippleback gas. He could pop them, then light the gas to set himself up an escape route. The burning sword and gas satchels could also allow him to show a wild dragon that he was one of them. Doing things that were trademarks of the dragon world had shown to be very effective in calming wild dragons and earning their trust.
He finished the newest hinge base, cooled it and discarded it on the rack. When he turned to go back to the furnace, he pivoted and thrust his hips around, spinning gracefully and ending up where an opponents side would be exposed. To finish the move, he threw a three punch combination that Astrid had shown him.
"Keep your knees bent," Hiccup dropped his tongs and whipped around, finding Tyr lounging on the open window sill, laying with his back against the frame. "If you stand up, those punches won't be as strong as they could be." He finished.
Hiccup leaned down and snatched his tongs, turning back to his work, a mite embarrassed at being caught doing that at such a ridiculous moment. He retrieved another sheet from the furnace and began to pound on it.
"Can't sleep?" He asked over his shoulder.
"The damned dragon won't shut his maw..." Tyr muttered, obviously annoyed about his loss of sleep. Toothless gurgled in disappointment, staring at the man with a single eye.
"Not you, Toothless. The dragon in my head." He reassured the night fury, tapping his temple. Toothless crooned with forgiveness and went back to snoozing. Hiccup put down his hammer and reached over, giving Toothless a comforting scratch just behind his jaw bone. The dragon shivered as his sensitive spot was tickled, grumbling happily.
"Can't you make him shut up? I mean, he is in your body." Hiccup took up his hammer once more, resuming the steady work on the metal. Tyr scoffed behind him.
"No. Two souls, one body, remember?" Hiccup glanced over, his eyes mixed with interest and curiosity. "You never told me that."
Tyr nodded in understanding. "Oh. Must have been Mother then...anyway, yes. My soul and his are separate, but we share this body. Ergo, two souls one body." Tyr explained, using a dagger to pick at his fingernails. For a man cursed with a demon, he sure was casual about it. Most of the time.
"I guess that makes sense...where are you sleeping tonight?"
Tyr scoffed again. "I doubt I'll be doing any sleeping tonight, but I have a camp in the forest. Got a cozy little tent and a fire, and a dragon that seems to have taken a liking to being my pillow." He laughed, referring to Spectra. "She is also pretty warm, so it works out."
Hiccup bit his lip. The nights were dropping down into the freezing range now, the impending ice encroaching ever closer to them. And still Tyr was sleeping outside.
"Come to my place. You can sleep in the living room. We have some extra furs." He flipped the sheet, repeating his folding on the fresh side.
"Come to your place? Were you intending on going home tonight?" Tyr asked in a bored tone. He knew the answer, and Hiccup knew he did. He was just being difficult.
"And there is no chance of me heading to into your home alone. I find that breathing suits me." The Keeper narked, now tapping on the window frame, trying to sync his taps with Hiccup's hammer blows.
"What?" Hiccup wondered, glancing over his shoulder. Tyr smiled sourly.
"Just imagine, Hiccup...Mother hearing a noise in the night, waking her from her sleep. She gets out of bed, into the cold, and puts her coat on. She comes down the stairs, tired and upset, to find me making myself comfortable. What happens?"
"She gets annoyed?"
"Well, if you consider her slicing me up into Keeper treats for Azure as being annoyed, then yes..." He laughed bitterly, his voice strained and tired. Hiccup shook his head hopelessly.
"She won't kick you out and you know it," Hiccup remarked, turning back to his forging. Tyr laughed mirthlessly.
"Au contraire, Hiccup, I think she will. She wouldn't want freshly killed Keeper on her floors," He snorted. "Well, I do suppose she could salt my pieces put me in the dragon troughs..."
"You have an interesting sense of humor tonight," Hiccup noticed, marking that nearly every single thing Tyr has said somehow refers to him being dismembered or served up as dragon food. It was a decidedly fatalistic sense of humor that really wasn't like him.
"I know. I should do shows..." The Keeper snorted. The cooling barrel steamed as the newly forged hinge was dumped into it, Hiccup taking the few seconds to look at Tyr intently.
"Does it help with the demon?" He asked, referring to the humor. He, maybe most of all the vikings on Berk, understood how important self imposed humor could be to coping with something. His sarcastic sense of humor was probably one of the reasons he had never gotten suicidally depressed during his years as Hiccup the flimsy fishbone.
"Not as much as I wish it did," He began, blowing out a deep sigh. "But it does help a bit." He rolled off the sill and to his feet, just inside the forge, looking around. Hiccup watched him reach up and take a sword off the wall, swinging it absently.
"Have you and Astrid had any more talks about your little tizz back on Jumenjorg?" He asked, his voice flat and monotonous. Hiccup deposited the hinge on the cooling rack and grabbed a few more sheets of iron. He slid them into the furnace to heat before grabbing an already heated one and beginning his folding again.
"We did have one, actually. It is mostly behind us, but she is still set on taking this Oath of yours." He recalled their conversation on the ship. It was not heated, nor accusatory. They each took time to explain themselves to the other, and then alleviated each others concerns about it. He was still worried about this whole Oath, but she wanted to do it, and he wouldn't stand in the way.
"About that Oath, Hiccup..."
"Tyr, I won't try and stop her, so don't even think about asking me to." Hiccup snapped, remembering the last time he tried to stop Astrid from doing something.
"Not that. She can't take the Oath here on Berk. She will die."
Hiccup didn't stop his hammering, deciding for once to listen to Tyr before acting on his impulse to lose control. "Why?"
"The Oath is old magic. She needs to be near the source of that magic to survive, and this magic is only prevalent in one place."
"Mount Houder..." Hiccup trailed off, remembering Tyr's description of his homeland. An island far away from Berk, beyond even Rome. Tyr told them some legend about how the gods trapped a leviathan underneath the mountain, using it as a giant sealing stone. He told how the gods magic seeped into the rock, producing these crystals that Astrid talked about.
"So, you're going to tell me that we need to go to this mountain so she can take the Oath?" He said, matter of factly. Tyr's telling silence was the answer to that question.
"Let's do it then. The faster we get this over with, the faster our lives go back to normal." He grunted, banging the metal harder as his temper flared. The constant need to go places and deal with potentially life threatening Oaths and demons and crazy guard captains was really getting old.
He wanted to just live their lives. He and Astrid could get married and be happy. Have seventeen sons before the daughter Astrid wanted. He would become chief and becoming a boring old man with nothing but Toothless to remind him of past glories. A nice, relaxing life.
"I've already spoken to Ingrid about this, and your father. He was...not thrilled with me. But he understands, somehow. All I need to do is convince you and Mother." Tyr said from behind him, his voice getting some normal authoritative ring back to it.
Hiccup flipped the sheet and began folding the other side, working tirelessly. "Don't you worry about Astrid. She'll probably try to kill you if you mention traveling abroad again. Let me talk to her." Hiccup proclaimed. All he heard was a shuffle behind him, and he turned to find Tyr gone, the sword he had been playing with hung back on the wall. He shook his head in wonder and returned to his work. For a large man, Tyr moved quickly.
He cooled the new plate and hung it on the rack. Another sheet slid out of the furnace onto his anvil, the hammer coming down on it. Only seventeen sheets to go.
Tyr stormed about the village, keeping his head down and his eyes closed as much as he could without walking into things.
"Your soul is weakening..." The dragon cackled in Tyr's head, an image of a toothy grin flicking through his mind. He gritted his teeth as his temples throbbed. The headache wasn't really helping his efforts at squelching the beast.
"Shut up, lizard..." He grumbled. He was thankful that nobody, apart from the occasional patroling guard, really walked around at this time of night, because it would not do well for them to hear him talking to himself.
"Or what, Keeper? You going to fetch your new Mother? Please do, she almost set me free once already. Maybe she will do a proper job this time!"
"Do us both a favor and go back to your hole." Tyr grunted, winding up and kicking a rock as hard as he could. Ancestors alone know he might be insane already. Walking around at night, kicking rocks and talking to a demon that was trapped in his mind. This could all be an elaborate nightmare, and all the gods were laughing at him.
"You still question yourself...you question if you can prove me wrong. You question whether you are capable of love...all this questioning and uncertainty...it is delicious." The Drakonicus laughed evilly, the horrible sound reverberating on the sides of Tyr's skull.
"It is not a question, demon. You are wrong, and have always been wrong. Shaiya proved you wrong." Tyr retorted, marching through the market place, the memories of his terrible battle with the Ardni. The time when the dragon took over was all just a haze to him, but a bloody one. The Ardni numbered in the thousands. There was no way he killed that many before the dragon broke free.
"Shaiya!? Shaiya proved me right, Keeper. When she was taken, did you demand that Soram return her to you? Did you go look for her? Do you remember my lesson about love?"
"Remind me." Tyr snapped, exiting the market place and heading for the docks.
"Love is unthinking, Pretor. Love is unconscious. Love is inefficient. Instinctive. Most of all, love is insensible. You cannot comprehend doing something with no reason behind it. You are unable to do it, and that is the very essence of love." The demons voice was sickeningly confident, the hiss ringing in his head. He reached the docks, staring out at the calm waters. The moon was high and full tonight, bathing the area in light. If he wasn't arguing with the damn dragon, he might have been able to enjoy this night.
"You forgot one thing. I have Marcais. I love him." He snickered, thinking of the man who was essentially his father after...well, after Tyr killed his own. He turned from the sickening calm of the eater and stomped away from the docks, heading back up through the village toward Meade Hall.
"The old one? You owe him a debt, Keeper. You have not kept him around for so many years out of love. You have done it out of gratitude. You have never loved, Pretor. You are alone in this world; pathetic and alone, which you will remain for the rest of your days!"
"I might be alone, demon, but I am free to walk the world as I please while you are shut in a prison!" He yelled. A guard just ahead of him turned and stared, eyes tired and heavy. Tyr tapped his head and continued walking, hoping that they guard would understand the gesture, but not caring enough to stop and make sure.
For a few blissful moments, all he could hear was the dragon growling and making other noises, making Tyr's head sound more like a cave in the woods than anything else. He made it to Meade Hall, stopping in front of the large steps and glaring up at the mighty structure.
"Set me free, Keeper..." It hissed lowly. "Set me free, and all your pain and suffering will be over..."
He stormed away from the hall, heading back for the woods. "Not a chance, demon. Any pain and suffering is worth keeping you locked up!"
"This isn't over, Pretor...I will be free...you shall see..." The dragon's hiss trailed off and Tyr's head mercifully went silent for the first time that night. He let out a deep breath, holding his head in his hands and leaning against the side of a random house. The demon was finally gone, and now he could sleep and try to regain his energy. He had a lot to do tomorrow. He set off at a slow, tired pace towards the woods and his camp.
As he walked, Tyr passed by the Hofferson-Haddock lodge. The window were shut, but Tyr could see light peeking out from the cracks. Against his better judgment, he walked up to the door and put his ear to it.
There was no sound coming from inside, so nobody was talking. Taking a deep breath, he slowly pushed the door open, peeking inside. The home was neat. Extremely neat. Neither Astrid nor Hiccup were messy people, so that wasn't that surprising.
The fire was burning low, barely even coals at this point. A few candles were lit on the mantle piece, throwing off the light that he had seen from outside. Laying on the bench, chattering away from the cold, was Mother. She had probably been waiting up for Hiccup and fallen asleep in front of the fire, and had been warm while it was burning high.
He closed the door silently behind him and walked over to the supply closet. He knew where these things were because he had built this house for them. Inside it were the extra furs that Hiccup had spoken of. Tyr pulled out three and draped them over the bench and Astrid, being sure to cover her completely.
He pushed two fresh logs into the coals of the fire and started to blow gently. Before too long, he had the fresh logs lite and beginning to burn. He checked to make sure that Astrid would stay warm and, with a longing look back at her, left the house.
"Sleep well, Mother..." He mumbled, walking down the steps and out towards the forests.
Next chapter will begin the preparations to leave for Mount Houder! Read and review and have a nice day!