Chapter Two

When There Is Bad News

There's a moment of silence, where everybody's filled with shock and confusion. Well, except me, I have no idea what's going on, but I can tell it's really bad. Then, all of the Vikings start asking questions.

"Quiet!" Stoick yells and raises his hands. It takes a few moments, but soon, everybody's silent and watching. Stoick turns to Trader Johann, "How did you find out?"

"Well, I was sailing to Outcast Island for trading. Of course, they were a little less trusting of me since our last meeting. When I got there, they started looking for air weapons, like, the ones you throw. Catapults, bows and arrows - you name it. But then I noticed that there weren't any rogue dragons like there always is. Then, I saw a horrifying sight. Alvin flew up and out of their arena on this alarmingly dangerous looking dragon. It was huge with spikes all over its body. It was long and had these awful white eyes."

Toothless and I look at each other. So do the other dragons. We all know what that is. This 'Alvin' was riding a Whispering Death.

I shudder slightly, remembering my last encounter with one. It would have killed me if the gang hadn't driven it away while I was down. I had to choose between life and death, death being made to seem more appealing. Now, all that remains are scars on my neck where the spines dug the deepest.

While the Vikings keep talking, I signal the gang to follow me with a flick of my tail. Once out of earshot, not that the Vikings can understand us anyways, I ask, "What are the Outcasts? And who's Alvin and why is he riding a Whispering Death?"

Toothless sits down and, with the help of the other dragons, explains; "Berk isn't the only island with Vikings on it. There is another island called Outcast Island, which is home to, well, the Outcasts."

"We were at war with them before you came," Stormfly says, "and we thought that we had seen the last of them since they haven't been active. They are very large and dangerous, though not very smart. Well, at least most of them. Their leader is Alvin the Treacherous and he can be nifty at times."

I snort, "Alvin the Treacherous? Really?" Toothless looks at me seriously and says, "Raven, don't take this lightly. Alvin and the Outcasts are very dangerous, and now that they're riding dragons…" he takes a deep breath and I put a comforting wing on his back, trying to ignore Barf and Belch arguing. "Sorry," I mutter, "didn't realize how bad this is."

Hookfang glances at the Vikings, who seem to be working something out. "We're gonna have to come up with a pretty good plan if we're going to defeat them." He says doubtfully.

Suddenly, Stormfly whacks Belch and Barf on their heads with her tail. They were snapping at each other and are now glaring at Stormfly. "What did we do?" the two heads snarl at the same time. "In case you didn't notice," Meatlug growls, "we could be attacked at any moment!"

Stormfly raises her hackles, "And we need all the help and ideas we can get-"

"-so would you quit arguing?!" I finish for her. The three of us are on our feet and glowering at Barf and Belch.

The males stare at us in surprise. Hookfang, still staring wide-eyed, mutters to Toothless, "Now I know to never get my mate angry." Toothless snorts and the Vikings walk over to us.

"…we should go now, so we would have more time to prepare." Hiccup was saying. Astrid climbs onto Stormfly and Hiccup onto Toothless. "So what do we do, just stand here and wait?" Snotlout asks arrogantly. "Yes." Astrid says. Toothless makes a questioning sound and Hiccup states, "The stealthy dragons, that's you and Stormfly, are going to fly us over to Outcast Island and we are going to see exactly how bad things are. If things are really bad, we'll have to train all the dragons on Berk."

They prepare for take off and Stoick says, "Be careful, you two."

"Yeah, come back in one piece or I'll have to make another fake limb." Gobber says and they laugh. I purr and prepare to launch into the sky by crouching low.

"Woah woah woah," Toothless steps in front of me, "you're staying here."

"Am not!" I say defiantly, "I want to see the Outcasts." He opens his mouth to retort when Hiccup says, "Good idea! We'll send Raven back if things are bad and we need to start training all the dragons. She's fast, she can do it."

I give Toothless a look of triumph and he scowls. "Just," he says in exasperation, "don't do anything dumb or pick a fight."

"Um," Stormfly says, "I think we learned this morning who is the fastest."

I push her playfully and takeoff into the sky. They follow me and are soon at my sides. Turning my head to look at Toothless, I say defensively, "And when have I ever picked a fight?"

He gives me a look that, if he were human, would have had an eyebrow raised. I roll my eyes, "Okay okay, so what, I sometimes pick fights. But that doesn't mean I can't win my own battles. You said it yourself, Tooth. I'm better in battle, but flying's your thing."

"Actually," Stormfly says, "I think male Night Furies are supposed to be stronger and the females are supposed to be faster."

Toothless shakes his head and gives an arrogant dragon grin, "Yeah, but Raven's got battle moves and that's what makes her good. Me, well, when I fly, I fly with style." I snort dip down enough to use my tail to splash him with water. He grunts and shakes his head, now soaked. "Hey, what was that for?" Hiccup says. Unfortunately, he got wet too. "Well, if you spoke dragon, oh great dragon master, you would know." He looks at me blankly and we crack up.

"So," I say once we catch our breath, "other than flying to an island to see if we are going to be attacked by the Outcasts who are even more dangerous now that they have dragons," I take a breath, then, "what else is new?"

Apparently, not much. Stormfly is on a chicken diet so she can fly faster. Toothless-well he tells me what's going on so nothing new there. I don't tell them about the phoenix. They'd probably say something useless. Instead, I tell Stormfly that I'm going to try her chicken diet. She doesn't complain after I say that it will be a more interesting competition.

We're in the middle of a conversation about the academy when a large grey blotch appears in the distance. "There it is." Hiccup says, "Let's land in the forest."

I narrow my eyes, but there's not a trace of green. "What forest?" I ask. Stormfly points to a dark grey area with her nose, "There. Most of the trees are dead or dying. There's no green because all of them have turned grey from malnourishment."

"The Outcasts don't even try to keep their land healthy," Toothless scoffs, "All they care about are weapons and war. They're ambitious, and that's one of the reasons why they're so dangerous."

I get the feeling that he left out the 'and one of the reasons why I didn't want you to come' part, but I don't say anything. We make a turn and fly over the dull, lifeless forest. I get an odd feeling, like there's a lump in my stomach. It's not very strong, though, I probably just ate some bad fish this morning. Flying as quietly as possible, we land on an outcropping of rock and crouch down.

The riders get off of their dragons and squat next to us. "Okay, don't let them see us." Astrid says to Stormfly and Hiccup declares, "We're just here to see how bad things are." Ignoring them, I stealthily climb over the top of the outcropping and leap gracefully onto the ground without a thump. They do the same, though I can tell they're not too happy with me going before they did. Then, we all creep towards a rock mountain that is grey. Big surprise.

The lump in my stomach is getting a bit annoying, but I ignore it. Climbing the mountain, I slip into a sideways crack in the wall and crouch low, wincing at the sight I see.

Large, malicious looking Vikings are running around or riding dragons that look dirty and unkempt. My amber eyes dart around, searching for the Whispering Death the Trader Johann told us about. The others gather next to me and gaze at the scene. Suddenly, the ground near a place that looks somewhat like an arena erupts and a Whispering Death shoots out.

It has claw mark scars on its face and a bite mark on its underbelly. My eyes widen and I tense; I can hear the others gasp. It's the same one that nearly took my life.

Toothless lets out a soft growl and steps a little closer to me. Meanwhile, the Whispering Death and his rider, who is in fact Alvin, are flying around and shooting targets, each time getting a bullseye. When a group of Monstrous Nightmares flies dangerously close to us we pull back skid down the mountain.

"Wow," Astrid breathes, "This is worse than I thought."

"We should go soon," Hiccup says once we catch our breath, "Raven, fly ahead and warn the others. We need all the time and training we can get."

I turn around and raise my wings. "Be careful, Raven." Toothless says and I nod. Stormfly looks at me and bids, "Fly safe." Before I turn back around, I wink at her and she snorts.

I launch into the air, flying up and diagonally. Once I'm high enough and over the water I stop flying upward and position my body so I'm slightly diving so I can pick up speed without a lot of flapping but not going directly into the ocean too quickly. Flapping my wings, I fly even faster with my position, size, and shape.

It only takes about half an hour to get back to Berk. The rest of the Viking gang is at the dock sitting, chatting, and looking bored. Taking a deep breath, I roar and they look up at me. Spreading my wings, I try to slow down but, due to speed, I stumble when I land. The Vikings run up to me as I get up.

"I guess we're at war again." Fishlegs says solemnly. The others sigh and Stoick and Gobber run up to us. "Where's Hiccup?" he asks.

"Still flying back, I guess." Ruffnut says, "But, hey, we're at war with the Outcasts again. It'd be great to see some real explosions."

"Yeah," Tuffnut agrees, "Like the ones where we all use our dragons to destroy stuff! Or-"

"What are we standing around for? We need to gather the dragons and start training!" Stoick interrupts loudly and we jump. The gang scrambles off quickly and I turn to look at the sea horizon. Toothless and Stormfly haven't appeared yet; somebody else has.

I turn to look at the phoenix landing beside me. Of course, it's the same one. "What do you want?" I ask in annoyance. It shrills the same tune and hops right in front of me so it has to lift its head completely upward to see my face. I want to back away, but something keeps me rooted to the spot. The phoenix spreads its wings and flames once again spark at the tips. Then, it brushes my belly with its wingtips and flies away.

I gaze after it in confusion when the feeling in my stomach comes back. But this time, I notice that it's not exactly in my stomach, more like… My eyes widen in horror. "No no no!" I whisper, prodding my stomach hard with my paw, "I can't lay eggs! Not now! We're about to go to war with the Outcasts!"

But, unfortunately, I can't deny that I'm carrying eggs. In fact, to make matters worse, I think there're two of them.

My heartbeat quickens in anxiety and I look up to see Toothless and Stormfly's shapes in the distance.


Nighttime

I've been thinking about telling Toothless about the…problem. It's the right thing to let him know that he's going to be a father and I might just make things worse if I don't tell him. But he'll probably start worrying about me and insist on me resting. Then I won't be able to fight and he'll have to protect me like I'm some-

The sound of footsteps interrupts my thoughts. I lay on the rock slab in the house and watch as Hiccup and Toothless walk in, both looking tired. When they and Astrid had arrived we had immediately begun training. The Vikings got all of the dragons on Berk suitable for battle to the arena. There, we worked on ground fights, aerial attacks, counter attacks, and defense. It was hard to get much done because there were so many dragons. But, in the end, everybody learned at least two new moves. Hiccup said Stormfly, Toothless, and I could go rest near the end of the lesson since we flew a lot today, but Toothless stayed.

Toothless collapses next to me and yawns. "This is going to be a pretty big fight," he says, "are you sure you want to fight?"

I nod and he rests his head on his paws and curls his tail around me, "Okay. We're going to need all of the help we can get."

He sighs and closes his eyes. I rest my head on his shoulder. I shouldn't tell him. No, not yet.