Hey guys! I'm back. :) Sorry about the long update; my finals week at school just concluded so I haven't had much time. XD Anyway, I feel so bad I haven't mentioned this yet, but 100+ REVIEWS?! I never thought this story would be so popular! YOU'RE ALL AMAZING! THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
So, here we are with chapter fifteen: a little hark back to the summary of this story; more specifically, the part of the summary that says 'troll sightings'! Naturally, chaos ensues. If this chapter reminds anyone else of the "Hash-Slinging Slasher" episode of Spongebob, that's because that's what I watched before I wrote this. XD
As always, feedback is appreciated but never ever required! Thanks for being so good to me everyone, and please enjoy the chapter!
A concussive rumble of thunder shook the sturdy walls of the forge on a cold, rainy, dark evening. Hiccup shivered and looked out at the pouring rain with distaste.
"Thor," he grumbled, watching the distant forks of lightning rake across the dark horizon, "At least there won't be any dragon attacks tonight."
He stepped away from the window, closed it to keep some of the cold out, and loped back to his grindstone, where he had abandoned a dull seax to look out at the storm. Work was very slow and Gobber hadn't really cared about the small break his apprentice took, continuing to pump the bellows to reheat the small pile of bent weapons lying on the coals. The work they had left to do was very little and they very well could have left it for the next day, but neither wanted to walk out in that storm—it was miserable as well as dangerous, and so they remained in the forge, waiting hopefully for the storm to settle down a bit so they could run home and not get completely soaked by the freezing rain.
"Maybe no dragon attacks," Gobber remarked to Hiccup's initial statement, "But I'd bet my other leg there's trolls wanderin' 'round here."
"Gobber," Hiccup was chuckling wryly as he examined the edge of the knife, "If I've told you once, I swear I've told you a thousand times… Trolls do not exist."
Gobber sniffed. "Tough talk for the kid who said he believed in trolls, too."
"I was nine years old!" Hiccup paused to sigh. "Well, whatever. You shouldn't be worrying about trolls; you should be wondering if we could get home in the next few hours without getting struck by lightning. We're already late for supper. My dad's probably worried. Well, as worried as someone like him can get, anyway."
"Ye know what I've told ye 'bout trolls, Hiccup!" Gobber exclaimed, pointedly ignoring Hiccup's sardonic commentary on his father for a topic that was a bit fresher around the forge.
"Yeah, yeah," Hiccup sighed, grudgingly putting up with his instructor's superstition for the time being; not like there was anything else to amuse himself with. "They're attracted by lightning… They'll roar when they've caught your scent… Then they'll come and steal your socks or something nonsensical like that. What a fate."
"And don't ye forget it!" Gobber agreed.
A scoff was Hiccup's only reply, tossing the completed knife over to Gobber, who deftly caught it and added it to their pile of completed weapons, and then leaned back against the still grindstone. Gobber resumed pumping the bellows, and they remained silent for a length of time, the only sounds in the forge being the puff of the bellows and the pounding rain. There was a sudden flash of lightning, too nearby for Hiccup's comfort, followed by a distant sound: it wasn't thunder, however, Hiccup slowly realized, but almost like a… roar.
The bellows slowed to a stop. "… Didja hear that, Hiccup?" Gobber inquired, softly, waiting for the sound to return within the next several seconds. It didn't.
"Yeah, I did," Hiccup replied with a thoughtful frown. "It wasn't a dragon, though. Do you think it was a wolf or a bear or something?"
"That wasn't no wolf or bear, Hiccup," Gobber replied, ominously.
"Well what was it, then?"
"… Do ye wanna know?"
"Uh, yeah, sure."
"Do ye really wanna know?"
"Do ye really wanna know?"
"Do ye really, really wanna—?"
"I'll tell ye what it was!" Gobber finally declared, then lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. "That was a different kinda animal…"
"It was a troll!" Gobber announced loudly, just as another strike of lightning lit up his face, contorted into an odd expression of terror, and an unusually strong gust of wind blew open their window and extinguished every torch in the forge, leaving them in pitch darkness.
It was deadly silent for a moment, before Hiccup began to laugh. "Really, Gobber? A troll? That's the best you can come up with?" He went to retrieve two of the extinguished torches and stuck them both into the pile of coals still heating the broken weapons, relighting them and chasing away the oppressive darkness of the forge. "You're being silly. I bet the only scary monster out there is my dad wondering why I'm late to supper." He chuckled lightly.
"Don't ya be so sure, Hiccup!" Gobber warned, folding his arms and watching his apprentice systematically relight and return the torches to their rightful places. "I mean, I told ye before—I've heard trolls before. I've seen 'em with my own eyes! And lemme tell ye, lad, if that wasn't the roar of a troll then I don't know what is!"
Hiccup just rolled his eyes. "Right. Sure. C'mon, let's finish these weapons."
For several minutes, the blacksmiths returned to their work and labored in silence, Hiccup dutifully taking Gobber's place at the bellows while Gobber picked weapons from the coals and pounded them back to shape on the anvil. The storm seemed to have subsided and Hiccup was ready to comment that it was high time they ditched the forge and ran home before the rain and lightning started up again, when there was another lightning strike, followed only a few seconds later by a roar—the same roar as before, closer this time. Work slowed to a stop once again.
"There it was again," Hiccup commented with a frown.
"Trolls…" Gobber singsonged.
"Shut up, Gobber." Hiccup tried to get back to pumping the bellows, but not a minute later another lightning bolt lit up the dark sky, and soon thereafter another roar sounded. It was near enough this time that Hiccup could distinguish it—Gobber was correct about one thing; it certainly wasn't a wolf or bear, or any other animal Hiccup knew of, for that matter. It wasn't a dragon either, because Hiccup had been snarled at by enough of those to know that they did not sound like that, either. "That's… weird."
"That's 'cause ye've never heard a troll before, Hiccup," Gobber concluded with a sage nod, and Hiccup frowned at him, just as there was another roar—close and angry-sounding enough to make Hiccup jump a little.
The younger blacksmith took a deep breath and forced himself to look away from the storm still raging outside. "Even if that noise is a troll—which it's not, because trolls don't exist, but you know, hypothetically—, what would it matter if it decided to stroll in here, anyway? Trolls aren't dangerous; you said so yourself."
Gobber raised his eyebrows and pursed his lips in his 'I know something you don't' expression. "Aw, sure… at least when they're not hungry."
"Hungry?" Hiccup repeated almost in a squeak, before scowling. "Shut up, Gobber. You're just trying to scare me, and it's not going to work."
"No I'm not! I'm tryin' to warn ya!" Work long abandoned, Gobber hobbled over and grabbed Hiccup's forearms in what was probably a light hold in the meathead's mind, shaking him to get his point across. "I'm just sayin', sure if that troll wants to come in here and take our socks then that'd be fine, but if he's hungry, then we're in deep trouble."
Gobber's tone was so ominous that Hiccup had to struggle to regain a hold on his rationality, especially once another strike of lightning followed by another roar, quite angry-sounding, echoed much too close for comfort. "B-But… You could fight one, couldn't you? Y-You're the best fighter in Berk."
"In my younger years, maybe!" Gobber retorted, though he smiled smugly at the compliment. "Now, wit' two-a my limbs missin', a fight wit' an angry troll could go either way."
Thunder boomed; a blood-chilling roar followed. It sounded dangerously close to the forge now.
"He sounds angry," Gobber whispered, as if speaking too loudly would immediately ignite the tension in the air, and Hiccup swore he felt the blood begin to drain out of his face. Trolls aren't real, trolls aren't real…
Another flash of lightning outlined the silhouette of an enormous horned figure at the forge's threshold, and at this sight, Hiccup's rationality jumped off a cliff.
The boy finally shrieked in terror in tandem with Gobber's horrified hollering, cowering behind his instructor's formidable form and screaming, "Troll! Gobber! Gobber, kill it! Kill it!"
"A-A weapon!" Gobber bellowed back, "I need a weapon!"
Hiccup went sprawling out from behind Gobber, who was nervously taking a step back every time the troll took a step forward, towards the first weapon he saw—a bola lying on a nearby barrel. He glanced at the figure in the door, which was drawing ever closer; it seemed to be making some kind of awful noise that was largely drowned out by Gobber's earsplitting screaming.
"Hiccup! It's gettin' closer! Weapon! Now!"
"Here!" Hiccup summoned a strength he didn't know he possessed and beaned the bola at his instructor, who caught it and proceeded to lob it with deadly precision at the head of the creature. It hit its mark on the forehead of the troll, and the beast finally collapsed with a wall-shaking roar, mere feet from the blacksmiths. It went still then, continuing to breathe heavily but no longer struggling; it seemed to have gone unconscious from the blow to its skull.
Hiccup had since thrown himself into the protective cage of Gobber's arms, still shrieking. "G-Great Odin's Ghost, i-i-i-it was a troll! A troll!"
"Don't worry Hic, I got 'im!" Gobber yelled back, feeling extremely successful, "C'mon, let's go check 'im out. Careful. The bola shoulda tied him down, but if he wakes up he's gonna be ferocious!" Gobber grabbed a nearby sword and dumped it into Hiccup's arms, then grabbed his favorite battle-axe, and very slowly, the two crept forward towards the massive, heavily breathing form. It snuffled and rolled over, and Hiccup and Gobber both let out (extremely manly and Viking-like) shrieks of panic and skipped a few steps backward before cautiously resuming their forward journey.
Hiccup reached the body first, examining it very curiously and wondering if it really looked like how Gobber had explained it to him all those years ago. While his mentor was examining the troll's feet, Hiccup wandered towards its face, only to see not a leathery green visage with the one yellow eye Gobber had always told him about, but a very familiar countenance that sent a sick feeling straight to his gut.
"Uh… Gobber?" he barely managed to get out, "T-This isn't a troll…"
"Of course it is! Why else would it've come in here, growling and hollerin' like it did?"
In his frantic panic, Hiccup became very peeved. "I don't know Gobber," he hissed, "Maybe it's because this is my dad!"
Suddenly there was dead silence, only interrupted by the storm outside.
Seconds ticked by.
Gobber was the first to start laughing, loudly. "What? I shot down yer dad?" He did not sound nearly as concerned as Hiccup thought he ought to be, considering he just violently assaulted his best friend and chief. "Are ye pullin' my leg, Hic?!"
"Why would I joke about something like this!" Hiccup demanded incredulously. He propped up Stoick's head so Gobber could see his slack face. "See? This is no troll!"
Gobber proceeded to hobble over to Hiccup's side, standing next to him as they both stared down at the chief's face. An enormous, dark bruise was already beginning to develop over the larger part of Stoick's forehead, and a small trickle of blood was running down into his hair. Hiccup couldn't help but think that it was good that this was the man who had hit his head on rocks his entire childhood; it could have been a lot worse otherwise.
Gobber, however, was not as concerned. "Odin! I really did a number on 'im, didn't I?" The older blacksmith kept laughing jovially, and, still in shock, Hiccup numbly joined. "To think we thought that was a troll comin' in here to get us! And it was yer dad?! Oh, Thor Almighty!" He slapped his knee with the sheer hilarity. "He really got us! You were screamin' like a lil' kid, Hic, Mr. Doesn't-Believe-in-Trolls! Changed yer mind, did ya?"
Indignant and still shaking with residual terror, Hiccup snapped, "Shut up! I was not. Besides, you were scared too! I thought you knew what trolls look like!"
"What can I say? Yer dad looks like a troll, what with those horns on his helmet." Gobber shrugged, nudging Stoick's head with his foot, and then kept laughing. Hiccup briefly frowned at him in disapproval and then sat by his father's head, gently hefting Stoick's head onto his lap—whether they got along or not, Hiccup still didn't like seeing his father injured. The man was out cold and all tied up with the bola, and the enormous bruise on his forehead was getting bigger; he groaned when Hiccup pressed on it lightly.
Gobber was still chortling, when Hiccup looked up and pointed out something perhaps crucial to the situation: "He's gonna kill you, Gobber!"
That stopped the blacksmith. "… Oh. Yeah," was all he managed.
"Yeah, 'oh yeah' is right. If he wakes up and finds himself hogtied on the forge floor, I think some lives are gonna end. Like yours."
"Well… It wasn't just me! You were the one who gave me the bola!"
"You're the one who asked for it!" Hiccup sighed, frustrated. "Well, whatever. No matter whose fault it was, we can't just leave him here."
"Well, where do ye wanna take 'im? He ain't exactly light," Gobber commented.
"I dunno… Home, maybe?"
Gobber shook his head. "No, that'd be too obvious. He'd know fer sure that we were the ones what rung his bell."
"… Are you trying to say that you want us to keep this from him? How? It's not like he's going to just not notice a bruise the size of a pumpkin on his forehead!"
Gobber chuckled in a rather paternal fashion, roughly patting his apprentice's shoulder. "Hiccup, Hiccup. Don't worry. I've got lotsa experience wit' stuff like this! I mean, sure he's gonna notice the bruise… but it's not like he'll remember where exactly it came from, ye get me? We just need to create a believable scene!"
Hiccup was not normally the deceitful type (or the type to go along with things that Gobber had 'experience' in, which tended to be one and the same), but one look at his still-unconscious father, and thinking about how livid the man would be when he woke up, created a moment of weakness in him that had the boy slowly nodding his head. "… Yeah, okay."
And that's how Hiccup ended up assisting Gobber in dragging his father's unconscious body all the way across town through the pouring rain to the Great Hall, before placing him inside at a table.
"I dunno, Gobber, this seems kinda dishonest," Hiccup remarked uncertainly, rearranging his father's heavy limbs on the tabletop.
Gobber stood back, surveying his apprentice's work. "O' course it is. All part o' the Vikin' experience, Hiccup!" He picked up a half-full tankard of ale left over from dinner that night and placed it in the chief's hand. "There we go. Yer dad's no stranger to havin' one too many. As far as he's gonna know, he'll just think he drank a lil' too much ale and got in a fight. Nothin' big." He walked a circle around the chief and grinned at Hiccup's handiwork, slapping the boy on the shoulder. "Good job, Hic! He'll never know it was us."
"Gobber, this is lying… to the chief," Hiccup pointed out, fists balling nervously. "I mean…"
Gobber rolled his eyes and looked at his apprentice sternly. "Hic, do ye want him to find out we thought he was a troll and beaned 'im in the head wit' a bola?"
"… You're right, let's go," Hiccup agreed a bit hastily, and with that, they left Stoick there in the Great Hall, both going back to their houses for the night.
Hiccup prayed his dad wouldn't come home for quite a while.
The door of Hiccup's house opened and closed heavily at dawn, and Hiccup, warming his hands at the hearth, hastily pasted a smile across his face and turned to face his father, who was stumbling inside heavily, holding his head in the spot where he had been clobbered by the bola and looking awful in every sense of the word.
"Heeeeeeeey, Dad!" Hiccup exclaimed, overenthusiastically, trying his best to sound as natural and casual as possible and as a result sounding extremely unnatural, "Out having fun, huh? I-I mean, not like I would know or anything because I was right here at home all night long, yup, I sure was, but I just assumed and all that you were, so yeah, anyway, were you?"
"Y… Yeah," Stoick affirmed after a moment, sounding a bit unsure and leveling a slightly confused look at his son, "I… think so. I can't remember anythin'…"
"R-Really?" Hiccup inquired, feigning surprise and privately thanking Odin for his father's fortuitous memory loss, "T-That's really too bad. I bet it really was a night to remember! Well, anyway, you just come over here and sit by the fire; I'll get you some water…"
Hiccup flitted to his father's side, made sure he got to the hearthside and collapsed into his pelt-covered chair, before sprinting to grab a mug, filled it with water from their barrel, and ran back to give it to his father. The man took a sip of the water and leaned back, holding his head and groaning.
"Y'know, Hiccup," Stoick began, and Hiccup, who was about to grab his boots and vest and sprint off to work to avoid talking to his father, hesitantly slunk back to his father's side to hear what he had to say, "I don't remember anythin'… But I remember a real strange dream I had…"
"Really?" Hiccup inquired, voice a bit pitched.
"Yeah. You were in it… and Gobber…"
"O… O-Oh," Hiccup squeaked. "Uh, w-what was it… a-about…?"
"I… I was walking all 'round town in the rain, lookin' for you, 'cause you were late to supper… I kept shoutin' for you, too… Finally, I went to the forge to look for you there, and you and Gobber were there, screamin' 'bout… 'bout trolls, or somethin' else ridiculous… Well, you threw a bola to Gobber, and he threw it straight at me, at my head! I passed out in the dream, and then I woke up in the Great Hall…"
Hiccup seriously hoped Stoick wasn't going to look at him anytime soon, because he was sure he was white as snow, knees quivering visibly. "H—… How about that," he uttered weakly, praying his father wouldn't put two and two together.
"What a ridiculous dream!" Stoick finally exclaimed, laugh rumbling and clapping Hiccup's shoulder, pitching the thin boy forward, "I know ye don't believe in trolls, Hiccup. Ye're tough just like yer father, huh? I bet I just got in a fight last night and had a dream 'bout the pain. Funny, funny, huh?"
"Y-Yeah!" Hiccup remarked hurriedly, "Uh, ha ha!" He forced a bit of strangled laughter, a few octaves above his father's deep rumbling chuckles. "W-Well, I'm gonna go to work now, okay Dad, I-I'm gonna go, okay, you just stay here and don't think anymore about your, uh, your d-dreams or a-anything like that, you just rest, uh, okay, so, I, I guess, uh, I'llseeyoulaterI'mgoingtoworknowokayIloveyoubye!" He briefly patted his father's shoulder before flying to the door, snatching his vest off the back of a chair as he passed it, jumping into his boots at the door, and finally sprinting out into the snow, slamming the door behind him.
Once he was outside and sure his father couldn't see or hear him, Hiccup let out a very long breath he didn't know he was holding. Bones feeling like jelly, he mindlessly sunk to the ground until he sat in the wet muck left over from the night before, staring up wide-eyed at the lightly raining sky and still hyperventilating, thanking every god and deity who ever had existed or ever would exist.
Hiccup really, really hated Gobber sometimes.
Hey guest reviewers! Sorry I missed you last time. :( Some of these will have two parts for each review you posted. Thanks, as always!
(Part one!) Hey! I had an awesome holiday season, thanks for asking! Hope you did, too! Thanks so much for your very well-thought-out review! I'm always so happy to get specific feedback and I love yours especially! :)
(Part two!) Glad you liked the chapter! Yeah, I thought the dried dragon head was something Stoick might do. XD Thanks so much!
(Part one!) Aww, I would never be upset getting a review from you! Even if you totally flamed the chapter I probably would still be happy. XD So glad you enjoyed all the little facets of this chapter! Anyway, I will try to see that episode! Might be good for me to see. :) And you are most certainly not silly! Thanks so much for your support :)
(Part two!) Glad you liked the chapter! And nooooooo, STOP APOLOGIZING FOR BEING LATE/NOT GIVING A LONG ENOUGH REVIEW/ECT. BECAUSE IT MAKES ME FEEL BAAAAAAAAAAAAD. D: And happy Snoggletog to you, as well! Thanks! :)
Loonaticslover: Oh my gosh! I'm glad you liked the chapter so much! NOW BREATHE! IT'S OKAY! I'M STILL IMPROVING! XD Ha ha! Thanks for the review!
hs: Ha ha, glad you thought it was funny! Honestly, I kinda just keyboard-smashed and then rearranged the letters in a way I thought sounded funny. However, there was a period of a few minutes where I was staring at my screen and saying aloud: "BLOOHADYA-no. BLOOHABLA-no. BLOO-HABYADA-no." XD Thanks for the review!