ECLIPSE Chapter seventeen

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LissaFish
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Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 02/12/2017

 

 

 

 

 

ECLIPSE

 

 

Chapter Seventeen

 

 

By Lissafish

LissaFish's picture
LissaFish
Offline
Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 02/12/2017
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Up, down. Up, down. Up, down.

The beautiful teal wings cut through air as paddles through the sea.

 

 

“Hiccup, can we talk?”

“Sure, Dagur. What’s on your mind?”

The Berserker took a deep breath and let it all out. “I can’t come back with you guys to Berk. I have to return to Berserker Island.”

“What?”

“Alvin hates us Berserkers. If he’s returned who knows what he has planned… or could have already done, to Berserker Island. We have something he wants there. Something… big. Now I’ve been gone for months Hiccup and I have no idea what’s been happening on my own island. If all is well Sleuther, Shattermaster and I will fly out butts over to Berk like there was no tomorrow, but I have to go back home and be sure that all is well.”

Hiccup nodded. “Not going to lie, I could really use a warrior like you at my side, Dagur. Especially if the Outcasts are involved. But I understand. We must protect our own first.”

The Berserker Chief nodded. “You coming, sis?”

“No...” She said, rather hesitantly. “Berk is home to me as much as Berserker Island, and my friends have always been there when I needed them most. I can’t abandon them.”

Dagur respected her choice and broke away, promising to be back as soon as possible.

She watched with grave reservations as her brother disappeared into the distance.

Although everything in him wanted to keep his mouth shut, Fishlegs summed up the courage to say what should be said.

“You should go with him, Heather. He needs your help.”

“But I can’t,” She turned to us- clearly torn. “I must stay with you guys- and- and fight.”

“What if he has to fight?” Fishlegs pointed out.

“We are a village of dragon riders,” Hiccup urged her kindly. “But there are only two of you for Berserker Island. Dagur will need you at his side even more that we will.”

She looked to Fishlegs, concern written on her face.

“It’s ok. I’ll be fine. We all will.” He smiled and waved his hand in that cheerful, carefree manner of his. “When you get done kicking-butt over there come on back and we’ll swap battle stories.”

 

That was a day ago.

It wasn’t easy watching two capable warriors fly off. We were down a dragon, Hiccup was still re-cooperating, and even though we took turns having Snotlout double up it was wearing on the already weary dragons.

 

 

Escaping the albino had proven easy. The dragon was alone, no other Nightfury to be seen. Fishlegs spotted her chasing something. She caught wind of our scent and stopped, staring at our fleeing party. Everyone waited for an attack… but she turned back to her current quarry.

We had seen neither hide nor claw of her since. Maybe she wasn’t following us, maybe she was. A lot of theories were tossed around but nothing was certain. All I knew was I hated looking over my shoulder all the time. I took my axe out and tested the blade.

 

“Are we there yet?” The twins whined. “Where are we anyways?”

“Say that one more time and I’m slapping the both of you off this dragon.” Snotlout threatened, sitting in the crook of the zippleback’s neck. “You know full well where we are!”

The Thorstons snickered.

“Gronckles, ten O clock,” Hiccup pointed.

“On it, Chief!” Meatlug and Fishlegs dove.

The ball of temporary displacement was already rolling. Flightmares were being harassed away from Algae Island by the dragons of Caldera Cay- including the sacred terrors who turned out to be very aggressive without a place to call their own. The Flightmares in turn pestered the Armor Wings away from Iron Island, and they in turn harassed the poor and lonesome Buffalord of Odin’s Respite. But he had a way of handling himself so they didn’t get very far.

As Monstrous Nightmares, Zipplebacks, Gronckles, Nadders and Terrible Terrors were pushed out of their homes and replaced by others that did not belong, urgency to return to Berk and set things right settled in. Any dragons we chanced across were urged out of the path of destruction.

Meatlug grunted her concerns to the wild Gronckles and they grunted back, turning westward.

“Nice work guys.”

Fishlegs saluted.

Stormfly and I sidled up to Hiccup and Toothless. Nadder and Nightfury exchanged words and we did the same.

“What’s your plan of action when we get to Berk?” I asked. “It could be surrounded by Outcast ships.”

“Yes I know. I’ve been thinking about that.”

Hiccup turned in the saddle to bring the others in.

“We’re between a rock and a hard place, guys. On one end, Alvin and quite possibly the Outcasts. The other? A pack of aggressive, intelligent and capable dragons. We want the least amount of damage done as is possible, to us, to Berk, to the Night Furies…” He grit his teeth. “And even to the Outcasts. If a life can be spared it should. So lets do a little brainstorming.”

“All out, swords blazing, full on frontal siege!” The twins raised their arms in the air. “Every boat, hut, farm, yak, burn it all to the ground! None left standing.”

“And… not a word of that got into your brain.”

“Whoa whoa whoa whoa hold on a second. So you guys actually think Berk is under siege by the Outcasts?”

“We have to assume the worst, Fishlegs. If Alvin is who Dagur says he is then this could be a very real situation. And even if he’s not, someone who poisons a clan Chief can only have devious intentions.”

“I think we should come under the cover of darkness.” I said. “It’ll be much easier to approach at night than by day.”

“That’s a good idea.” Hiccup agreed.

“Teacher’s wife,” Tuff grumbled. Stormfly looked up at the pretty blue sky as she slapped his face with her tail.

“Ow!”

“We’ll scout Berk, figure out where the Outcasts are and pinpoint any possible anti-dragon contraptions such as dragon root arrow, catapults and net launchers. Then well meet up, report, and cover the perimeter. When you give the signal, Hiccup, we’ll rush in and have the dragons take their ships while we dismount and engage in ground combat. Hopefully the rest of Berk will then get a chance to mount up and help us.”

“…And while you guys keep the outcasts distracted, Toothless and I will go in and look for Alvin. My absence in the attack shouldn’t rouse his suspicions, he’ll just think his poison did the job. And Toothless own’s the night. No one will see him coming. We’ll strike when he least expects it, and with their leader held captive, the Outcasts will have no choice but to surrender Berk.”

“Victory will be ours!” Fishlegs rallied.

“You can be a devious sort when you want to, Hiccup.” Tuff leaned forward. “I like this mind of yours when it’s conjuring war and destruction.”

“Captive, huh?” I muttered, still casually stroking the blade of my axe. “Okay. Say we do actually take him ‘captive’. We can’t just let him go after what he did to you. What will we do with him and the Outcasts afterward?”

The action did not escape Hiccup. “Something that he wouldn’t do to us. We’ll figure it out. For now, let’s just focus on taking Berk back.”

 

 

Night had fallen by the time we reached Berk.

It looked as quiet and peaceful as ever… except very few lights were shining and not a dragon could be seen in the sky.

Trouble was indeed brewing.

 

Hiccup gave me command of the attack, then he and Toothless snuck out into the darkness in search of Alvin.

I called for a circle formation.

“Alright. Fishlegs you and Meatlug take an aerial view of Berk, find the catapults. Maybe check on Gothi’s hut, see if anyone’s up there. Ruff and Tuff, you guys find the outcasts on guard. DO NOT attack them yet.”

“Pfft. Like you have to tell us.”

“She’s right bro we were so just talking about how fun it would be to-“

“Focus! Berk is at stake here!”

“We’re on it Astrid.” 

“Good. Stormfly, Snotlout and I will circle the island and check out the ships. We’ll meet you all back here in a half hour.”

 

We glided silently passed town square- intact but not a soul in sight. It was eerie.

“Where is everyone?” Snotlout whispered loudly in my ear.

“SHHH!” I hissed back, pointing to the Great Hall. It stood illuminated.

Stormfly knew we were tying to keep quiet but she was nervous. No people… No dragons… No destruction? If not all then at least one of these things was in Berk always. Where were they now?

I was really wondering about the destruction. To be sure, three or four huts had been wiped out, along with the market, but Outcasts are known for their way of leveling villages and leaving no stone unturned.

We approached the watch-tower cautiously. Since our departure three others had been built to join it; sturdy, well-constructed and well-placed. They surrounded the village and had a 360 view of the seas. All bore bright pillars of fire, and I could just barely make out human forms silhouetted against the blaze. Beside them, one for each watch tower was a moldruffle. I could only imagine what they were doing to those poor things to produce that powerful of a flame.

Good thing about surveying your own village is you know where the blind spots are. In and out we wove amongst the outmost abandoned houses.

“Look,” Snotlout pointed as we eased below the village.

The stable gate had been shut and barred with what looked like Gronckle iron.

“Let me off. I’ll start working to free the dragons,” Snotlout slid back.

“No,” I warned him. His movement was forcing my nadder to flap her wings. “We’ll come back for them. This is just a recon mission. Don’t move any more or Stormfly’s wingbeats will alert someone.”

He didn’t argue.

We reached the docks and landed in a shadowy cleft… a favored place for tormenting honest sea-goers who dared to weigh anchor in Berk.

Finally, some real proof of battle. Our ships lay shattered in the water, replaced by five strange ones I had never seen before.

They were a handsome fleet, that I couldn’t deny. The forty-meter-long, six-meter-wide oaken vessels were built for speed. All were in pristine condition with fresh double masts, ropes, rudders, and who knows what else. Each vessel was equipped with a bronze ram, sticking out like a sharp beak and with eyes on both starboard and port sides. A wooden statue of some unfamiliar being stood above it. Unique to these boats from any I had ever seen before was their triple bank of oars. Each bank held thirty oars. And with three banks on each side… assuming they only needed one man per oar…

“Each of those ships has a crew of at least a hundred and eighty men.” Snotlout voiced my thoughts. “And there’s five ships. I don’t get it! What tribe did they enslave to get this kind of manpower?”

This wasn’t right.

“Do you see a crest?” I whispered back, searching.

He studied the fleet. “No. Maybe… something that looks like a round branch with leaves on it?”

“Where?”

“On the main sail.”

I could barely make out what he was talking about. It was just too dark.

We could have left then. We had a good idea how many invaders there were and we knew how many ships there were. In the dock anyway. All that was left for our recon mission was a quick trip around the Isle to be sure no other ships lurked in the shadows.

But something about these boats didn’t sit right with me. I felt like I had seen them before but I knew that I hadn’t. They were not like Outcast ships; big ugly bulks covered in barnacles that ploughed through the water like a mudraker through mud. These were sleek, elegant, balanced and fast, but also sturdy and clearly capable of inflicting serious damage. So much brain power went into them. Too much brainpower.

“Let’s take a closer look.”

“What? No! What happened to the whole, ‘gotta be silent this is a recon mission we can be seen’ stuff? I say we finish and head back. Everyone will be waiting for us anyway.”

“Hush up, Snotlout!”

Stormfly spread her wings and we ventured in. Not making a sound we slipped between the bodies of the fleet.

Snotlout had been right. The flagship bore a crest of two olive branches circling upward. Within them two swords that were crossed. That ship had a nameplate of gold that read Augustus.

I could feel the blood drain from my face.

“We have to get back and tell the others now.”

“Why?”

“These aren’t Outcasts. These are-”

A trumpet sounded. It was followed by others and the shouting of soldiers.

The tall figure of a man appeared on the deck of the Augustus. He was clad head to toe in polished armor, wore a galea helmet with a bright red plume and a cape of the same color trailed behind him. In his hands was a crossbow aimed at Stormfly’s head.

“Romans.”