Eclipse Chapter Eleven: Defenders in Peril

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LissaFish
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Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 02/12/2017

 

 

 

 

Eclipse

 

 

Chapter Eleven

 

 

Defenders in Peril

 

 

LissaFish's picture
LissaFish
Offline
Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 02/12/2017
Chapter Eleven

We flew for miles and miles, Stormfly hot on the trail of our unfortunate Terror.

 

No one was in a very good mood. The dragons were getting tired, and the day was growing old.

Barf and Belch banged heads, both fighting for the lead.

“Cut it out you guys! Only we are allowed to fight like that!” Ruff snapped, re-adjusting her helmet.

“Yeah do you have any idea how much it hurts us when you two argue? Have some consideration!”

Behind us Sleuther and Ebony were having it out. Sleuther was always a little aloof from the rest of the dragons, but he especially couldn’t stand Ebony’s undignified, obnoxious behavior, and she was loving it. A chomp on his tails was the last straw.

“Whoa! No no no you know your better than that,” Dagur sat atop Shattermaster and worked to cool his hot-headed Triple Stryke.

Sleuther growled.

“Who’s the mature dragon? Huh? Who?”

He literally crossed his claws and looked away.

“AAAAHH Hookfang!” Snotlout roared as his beast combusted, just for the fun of frying his rider. They swung a hard right into Windshear. Thinking the Monstrous Nightmare was for some reason lashing out, she spooked and spat a fireball. It didn’t hit him but it came awfully close to Meatlug and Fishlegs.

“Sorry!” Snotlout yelled as they flew around in a zig zagging battle of the wills.

“Easy, girl, easy!” Heather soothed, “it’s okay. Those two are just being mutton heads,” She glared viciously at Snotlout. “When are you going to get a grip on controlling your dragon?”

“What?? I apologized after YOUR dragon tried to shoot us and you are calling us out??” The Jorgenson blew.

“She almost hit Fishlegs and Meatlug because of you!”

Windshear hissed at Hookfang and he snarled back.

“It’s not my fault that your dragon has horrible aim.”

And this is the part where Snotlout gets roasted, I thought to myself, looking back in the saddle.

Heather clenched her fists. “I’ll show you horrible aim. Windshear!”

“Come on guys, who knows how much further it is? We’ve got to conserve ours and the dragon’s energy.” Hiccup yelled over the brawlers. They didn’t hear.

I waited for him to look my way.

“What?”

“What do you think?” I asked, arms crossed.

“We can’t stop. Not now, we’ll lose the scent.”

“Stormfly can pick it up in the morning just as well as she’s following it now.”

I could tell he wanted to argue that the scent could be blown away if we got a storm… but there was little point in flying tired dragons into a gale anyway and he knew it.

“Alright, alright.” He slowed Toothless.

“Hey, guys,” Hiccup flew between the hotheads who were now brandishing double axes and swords. “Lets not tire the dragons out any more than they already are, or make them any more crabby. We’ll find an island and make camp. It’s been a long day for everyone.”

“You can say that again,” Fishlegs and Dagur both looked down to their sputtering Gronckles.

“Shattermaster you’re getting fat. I only rode you half a day.”

 

 

 

Storm clouds mushroomed on the northern horizon as the sun kissed the western sea. An icy wind blasted, creeping into the warmest of our fur clothes. Snow flurries stung our faces.

It was going to be a cold night.

 

Fishlegs pointed us to a tiny little island. Likely a dormant offshoot of one of the bigger volcanic islands, each year it grew a little smaller. It would be nothing but a shoal within a decade. Despite its size it made for good shelter, there were no natives, and best of all, no seagulls.

 

The moment we landed Shattermaster and Meatlug went on an eating spree. Volcanic rock is rich in healthy minerals that Gronckles rarely find anywhere else.

The twins dug a pit for the fire. Dagur went to see if the dry wood we stored in previous years was still usable. The rest of us pulled out the yakhides and set them up as a canopy. It wouldn’t stop the wind but at least we could stay dry. Fishlegs and Heather took the pot out to a spring of fresh water, chattering the whole way.

“Feels like snow,” Dagur commented, arms full of wood. Sleuther followed behind with a much bigger load in his claws, and another wrapped in his tails. They built a wall along the northern side of the shelter, to help block the wind.

A gust whipped through camp, loosening the canopy in two places. We would have lost the yakhides except Toothless grabbed them by a corner. Hiccup tossed me some rope and we worked to get it back down again.

A third corner came loose. This time Ebony was there to catch it.

“Thanks guys,” Hiccup hurried to tie it down.

“She’s warming up to him,” I yelled over the howling wind. Ebony glanced back and forth between us and Toothless.

“I know!” Hiccup beamed. “Maybe she just had to get to know him.”

 

Thunder cracked and roared above us and the two Gronckles came squealing back to their people.

The water crew returned and we all huddled under the shelter.  

“Brrrr!” Ruff shivered. “First night of fall. See ya, summer.”

“Great idea heating the water.,” Snotlout quenched his thirst. “tastes awful, but feels good.”

“That was Heather.” Fishlegs gave credit where credit was due. “Something about cleaning bad stuff out of it.”

“It’s true,” Heather nodded enthusiastically. “I’ve studied this. Vikings and dragons that drink water that has been boiled are safer from diseases somehow, and it doesn’t matter how clean the water looks.”

Tuffnut nodded in approval. “Ah yes the poison pixy. Long said to haunt food and water, striking down the strongest of Vikings without warning. I gave her a name. Microscopic Bacterial Enzyme. Enzy for short.”

“Told ya sis. You’re talking magic,” Dagur twirled his cup around in tease.

“It’s not magic. When you eliminate the impossible, whatever is left, however improbable, must be the answer.” Heather shoved him playfully.

Wind howled through the shelter. Hiccup had wrapped himself in a fur blanket, teeth chattering. He didn’t say anything, just reached a hand out and dipped his mug into the pot of boiling water. He glanced over his shoulder. Toothless and the other dragons were playing with a mouse they’d found. He smirked and pulled a pouch of tea out of his pocket, put it in the mug and covered it with a stone.

“Fishlegs you still have that javelin?” Dagur leaned back against Sleuther.

“Hugh err what?” Ingerman glanced nervously around. “What javelin, Dagur?”

“The one you were planning to throw at some dragon hunters earlier? I need it to roast my salmon.”

Reluctantly Fishlegs handed the spear over.

“Thanks. Anyone else want to roast their dinner?”

Perch, cod, and arctic char were added to the javelin.

“When did you get that, Fishlegs? Ruff demanded.

“And a more appropriate question, why did you hide it from all of us?” Tuff added, standing over with hands on his hips. “Aside from the chance we’d steal it from you that’s just a given because it’s beautiful and vicious and you know how we feel about that.”

“I didn’t want to give anyone the wrong idea. I don’t ever want to use it, but a Vikings gotta be able to defend himself, and his dragon.” He hugged Meatlug.

“But you were going to spear people with it today,”

“No, the goal was to look terrifying, not be terrifying. I’m a pacifist at heart, but I will defend innocent dragons.”

“You might be a pacifist but your rage side sure isn’t and he wanted to do some damage. I could tell.” Tuff argued. “I know the face of destruction when I see it.”

There was a commotion with the dragons. Ebony came up to Hiccup and put something in his lap.

“Ugh, lovely,” he said. It was the mouse they’d been playing with earlier only it looked like it had accidently been stepped on. “Thanks.”

She put her paw on it and slapped twice.

“Sorry, Ebony, but I can’t make him better.” Hiccup picked up the deceased rodent by the tail and gave it back to her.

Sadly, she took it to Stormfly… who promptly ate it.

Another blast of wind brought us closer to the fire.

“You’d think, surrounded by dragons, it would be impossible to get cold,” Snotlout growled, raising an eyebrow at Hookfang. The Nightmare ignored him.

Dagur snorted. “Tuff it out Snotman.”

Tuff and Dagur fist-pumped.

“His ride has heated seats,” Ruff smirked. “So he doesn’t acclimate like the rest of us do.”

Hiccup glanced around the canopy. Toothless was demonstrating to Sleuther his retractable teeth. The Triple Stryke watched, mesmerized, as he retracted and revealed them over and over. Once in a while, when Toothless would retract, Sleuther would duck his head and look under the Nightfury’s chin, thinking maybe that’s where they went.

Hiccup removed the rock over his mug and took a swig. “Ahhhh,” He said, relaxing.

I stared.

He grinned back, gulping obnoxiously. “Soo good.”

I rolled my eyes.

“How’s the little guy?” Heather turned to him.

He set the cup down and opened the saddlebag at his side.

“Sleeping. Very heavily.” His countenance softened. “You know guys, I think he’s going to make it.”

“Awesome!”

“What a fighter!”

“Oh, I’m so glad I was so worried!”

 

I leaned across Hiccup and pet the little body. He was warmer now, and the scales were sealing themselves. The healing process was underway.

“What should we call him?” Ruff asked. “I’m sure he’s got a name since he’s a courier, but we gotta call him something other than little guy or terror.”

“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Tuff spouted.

“I was thinking of Trooper.” Hiccup admitted. “It seems fitting. Any objections?”

“Yeah. That I didn’t think of that name sooner.” Snotlout smiled, arms crossed. “Couldn’t be more deserving.”

Everyone agreed. Trooper he was.

Dagur finished the fish and handed them out. We ate in weary silence.

Hiccup had a hard time keeping his eyes open long enough to finish dinner. But unlike MY cooking he didn’t turn his nose up. Apparently Dagur had some culinary expertise that I seemed to lack.

“Dagur,” Ruff stuffed her mouth. “You are a cooking, killing machine. Mala is lucky to have a guy like you.”

“Thanks. Here’s your javelin back, Fishman.”

Dagur tossed the spear. Another blast came through and flung it off coarse and outside. Meatlug hurried out to fetch it back, braving the thunder and lightning.

Stowing away the javelin Fishlegs heaved a sigh. “There’s no way Stormfly will be able to pick up Trooper’s scent again. Not with this wind and rain.”

“Are we calling off the hunt?”

All eyes turned to the leader.

“Fishlegs is right, gang.” Hiccup agreed, weary and downcast. “There won’t be a trail to follow by morning. We’ll have to give it up.”

“We should have pressed on,” Snotlout punched his fist, feeling guilty. “I feel so selfish for arguing right now.”

“Me too,” Heather confessed, blushing.

“Don’t sweat it guys, we had to take a break. I’ve been in situations where I and my men were exhausted and we came across our enemy. It’s not a good combination.” Dagur encouraged.

They got to talking about Dagurs deranged days.

Hiccup quietly excused himself.

“I better hit the sack,” he said, only half awake.

“Mmm,” I gave him a peck. “Don’t snore too loud.”

“I don’t snore… do I?”

“You do. And you could rival a hot burple.”

“Well, at least I inherited something from my dad.” He grinned.

Ugh. Guys.

 

Toothless abandoned the fun and games and hurried to curl up beside his boy, putting his forepaw out for Hiccup to rest his head on. Opening a wing, he used it as a windbreaker.

It didn’t take long for the rest of us to turn in.

Stormfly scratched out a spot for herself and got comfortable. She bruxed and bobbed her head to me, holding out a sheltering wing.

Hookfang ignited, heating the ground around him and Snotlout. Barf and Belch wrapped their necks around the twins. Meatlug cuddled close to Fishlegs, Heather leaned against Windshear.

Pushing Shattermaster toward Sleuther Dagur sandwiched himself between the two. Sleuther seemed a little uncomfortable about it at first, but after a while he wrapped his tails around both of them- poison tips pointed away of course.

Every Viking had their dragon, and every dragon had their Viking.

Almost.

Just as tired as everyone else, Ebony meandered from person to person. She glanced over at Dagur. Sleuther opened an arbitrating eye and raised the tips of his tails.

She went over to Snotlout and Hookfang.

“Oof! Ow!” The Jorgenson sucked in a breath when she kneaded him with her paws, purring loudly. He took it, all the way up until she decided to sprawl herself across his neck.

“G-et- Off!” he choked, slapping her side. “C-an’t- breathe!”

Blissfully ignorant she rested her head on his face.

Hookfang raised his head and yawned, staring down at the dragon smothering Snotlout.

Finally he rolled her away. She tried to come back but the monstrous nightmare gave her a warning snarl. So she repeated her personal bubble crushing ritual with both the twins, Heather, and Fishlegs.

About two hours later Stormfly and I started at a wildly loud clang. It was loud even for a howling windy night. We looked around. Toothless was ignoring the sound and Hiccup was sleeping like a rock. Everyone else rolled over in their blankets.

“Ebony!”

Poor thing, since no one was willing to put up with her antics she decided there was only one warm place left. All curled up in a tight ball, she sat inside the fire pit. The pot and spit lay where she had shoved them aside to make room for her chubby body. Now she looked up at me with those huge yellow eyes.

I lay back down. Offspring of lightning and death in my eye. Dorky dragon.

 

 

The next morning was dank and depressing. Rain water dripped from the saturated yak hides above us. Breathing out, I watched the steam from my mouth billow up just the same way smoke would from Stormfly.

She yawned and stood, shaking the water off her scales.

I rose and stretched my stiff chilled body. It wasn’t pitch black anymore, but it was still pretty dark. About twenty minutes to sunrise.

 

“Morning,” Heather whispered, prodding Ebony with a stick.

I greeted the only other early bird in the gang. “Morning. What are you doing?”

“Trying to get her off the firepit so we can start a fire. But she just keeps sleeping,”

Ebony snored, happy as a clam.

“Windshear, do you mind?”

The Razorwhip snaked her head under the canopy, wrapped her jaws very gently around Ebony and picking her up. The black dragon murffed, stretched lazily but didn’t bother to open her eyes even as Windshear dragged her across the tent and out into the elements.

 

 

Meatlug and Shattermaster were soon by our sides. They didn’t often get a chance to play together but they loved to. I looked at our supplies of fish.

“Low,” I muttered, “Alright you two, before the fun and games begin we gotta have some breakfast. Be good little Gronckles and get us some fish?” I said sweetly.

Stormfly mimicked me, rawking a few condescending notes of her own. The gronckles glared and turned away, tails up. She bristled.

I couldn’t help but smile. “I’ll handle this Stormfly.”

“Okay guys, who’s a good Gronckle? Who? Who? Is it you, Meatlug? Are you such a good girl? Yes you are!”

Unable to resist the urge to please both dragons turned back to me, tails wagging.

“That’s right! Shattermaster, your such a good boy! Alright, get some fish guys and you can play!”

They spun around in excited circles and took off sideways, making dizzy patterns in the sky.

Heather sparked the fire and we headed out for some more water.

 

Bored, the dragons milled about in search of food. Eventually each Viking came to the conclusion that their rain-wet blankets were more uncomfortable than the morning air.

One by one Dagur, the Twins, Snotlout and Fishlegs joined us by the fire, but Hiccup kept sleeping. Toothless, being the loyal dragon that he was couldn’t leave Hiccups’ side, but he was anxious to see what the others were getting up to. He gently patted his boy’s face, then chewed on Hiccups’ hair, waging his tail in anticipation.

“Ok I’m up, I’m up…”

Hiccup groaned and sat up, hair a wreak and looking generally miserable.

“Morning, sunshine,” I smiled. Toothless bounced around him joyfully.

“I thought getting some rest would help me feel better.” He held his head.

“You look like you just crawled out of Nifheimoehel.” Ruff blurted out.

He shivered, throwing aside his blankets and stealing over to the fire. “My head is killing me and I’m soaking wet. That rain was so awful, it’s going to take hours for the blankets to dry out.”

“If they dry out. It’s still storming. Poor widdo Hiccup, he’s gowing to fweeze to deaf.”

Hiccup shot Snotlout a dirty look. “What happened to Ebony?” He glanced over the Jorgenson’s shoulder at the Nightfury; on her back with legs outstretched, snoring.

“This is an improvement. When we woke up she was sleeping in the firepit.” Heather said.

Together the dragons lifted their heads and looked to the south.

“Sh-sh-sh!” Snotlout said.

Everyone strained their ears.

The eerie scream of a Scauldron echoed across the water.

“Where there’s one there’s always more,” Ruff quipped.

“Where’s my Meatlug?”

“WHERES my SHATTERMASTER!”

“Now guys, don’t get excited.” I tried to calm the boys down. “I sent them out fishing this morning, but they’re smart enough not to tangle with-”

A strange hissing sound told us the Scauldron had fired, and it was promptly followed by a gronckle’s blast.

“-Scauldrons.” I moaned. Stormfly glared at me.

“OoOH!” Fishlegs cried, leaping to his feet.

“Great we get to go through this all over again.” Snotlout cringed.

Quick as a flash Dagur mounted Sleuther. He reached down and offered Fishlegs a ride. Hiccup jumped on Toothless, but as I hopped up on Stormfly the hum of Gronckles’ wings met our ears.

“Shattermaster!” Dagur put a fist in the air. “Vanquish those Scauldrons! Yeah!”

“Meatlug!” Fishlegs gasped in relief. “You’re okay!” He put his hands on his hips. “What would you go and bother a pod of Scauldrons for? You know better!”

Meatlug and Shattermaster hurried to us. They grunted, very upset. Meatlug rushed to Fishlegs, but instead of giving him her usual hug she opened her mouth wide. All manner of fish fell out, and sadly…

“Another Terror!” We all cried. Fishlegs picked it up.

This one had not been as fortunate as Trooper.

“At least he’s not in any pain,” Heather said, her compassionate heart pricked.

“Hey he was a courier too,” Snotlout pointed to its’ leg. “And the message is still attached!”

Hiccup dismounted Toothless to join Fishlegs. Gently he removed the message from lifeless creature.

“Let’s see if there’s a clue in here about who did this to you,”

Opening it, he read.

“It’s from the Defenders of the Wing… to us! Listen…

              

‘To the Riders of Berk, of Dragons Edge, to be forwarded to Hiccup Horrendous Haddock, Chieftain of Berk of the Hairy Hooligans.

 

I am Mala, Queen of the Defenders of the Wing. Greetings to you from the Defenders of the Wing!

It is with urgency that I request your presence. The dragons of our Island, that we have observed are in some sort of peril. Indeed, those left are becoming few in number and erratic in behavior.. We have searched in vain for a cause, and I believe that better results could be achieved on the backs of dragons. If it pleases you, and if it can be done in haste, send the Riders of the Edge who know our waters and our customs. If you are able send word to Dagur, Cheiftan of the Berserker tribes, for as of yet I have been unable to contact him about this issue.

We will be ever in your debt.

 

Health and Prosperity to you and your tribe.

Stoker, the Courier, deserves the very best of care and I am sure he will receive it in your hands.

 

That sinking feeling I had on Deathsong Island returned. Something was happening in the Archipelago, and it wasn’t good.

All eyes turned to Dagur.

“…What?”

“Dagur you should be answering your wife’s terror mails!”

“I didn’t know she was sending them! I get tons of terror junkmail everyday. Trader Olga’s blister ointment. Trader Garret’s fly repellent. Her’s must have gotten lost in the rest of it.”

“What are we standing around talking about terror mail for?” Snotlout and Hookfang snorted. “We’ve got a real lead. Let’s go!”

Dagur mounted up on Sleuther, a new urgency to his step. “Snothat’s right I don’t want to waist another minute here. If the dragons are in trouble the Defenders might be. And if the defenders are then Mala certainly is.”

“There’s nothing I would rather do, guys. We’ll pack up camp as quickly as possible but first things first.”

 

We said our last goodbyes to the second dragon that week.

 

I had a hard time properly synching Stormfly’s saddle as we got ready, but I blamed it on the cold weather instead of my nerves.

“Something between us and the Defenders did this,” Fishlegs stated, crushing a rock in his palm before feeding it to Meatlug.

Hiccup put a hand to his head.

“Hey, are you ok?” I studied my husband. He did seem kind of pale.

He shook it off. “I’m fine. Its just a nasty head ache.”

I put my hands on my hips. “And you would tell me if you felt you were coming down with something, right?”

He immediately changed the subject. “Gang,” Hiccup addressed everyone. “We ride to Caldera Cay. And Odin willing hope to meet up with the people responsible for this!”

The dragons all snarled and spread their wings.

“Somebody wake up Ebony!”