Fan-Fiction Contest: Entry #6 - The Barbaric Archipeligo

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Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 09/22/2014






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Rovena Cousland || Ailith Hawke || Asiya || Arwen Lavellan || Imogen Trevelyan

victoriae350's picture
Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 09/22/2014

I’m Epp. It’s a short name, easy to remember. Years upon years ago my dad traveled across the sea in search of new fish. You see, before I was born a terrible plague struck our cove, the dreaded Piranharrow.


Now I’m an explorer. The stories my dad told me about the people he met, and the creatures he saw have kindled in me an insatiable curiosity for the world beyond Alba. What is it like out there? Have the rumors about the Norse people been true? Have they really learned how to train, dragons?


There’s no point to training a Kelpie. Even if you could tame a sea spirit, how would you even touch the thing? Let alone ride it. I guess the Mimikoo could be tamed. But they’re… well… so stupid. And what a miserable ride that would be on the ground.

Then there’s the Kyte. Now that’s a dragon to consider. Small, only the lightest in build could ride one, but they were created for speed. Just imagine being on the back of an animal like that as he sales so high above and then dives for his quarry. It takes my breath away.


I’m small. Well, small-ish. Definitely smaller than the average Norseman. I could ride one, I could train it.


…but how?


That’s why I was here, sailing alone on the savage north seas. I hadn’t yet run into pirates, but I knew they were out here just as well as I knew the dragons were. And I was pretty sure I had a tail lurking somewhere in the abyss, because every now and again a giant bubble steamed up from the depths and never too far from the back of my father’s old dinghy. Ah well, I thought, I’ll take him when he comes at me. No use fretting over something I can’t change.


Seagulls harassed my tiny boat and dolphins played at the bow, chasing the flying fish. Some of them ended up on board, and I’m not one to miss an opportunity. Into the fish barrel they went.


“Not here, not here, not here,” I said, scratching off uninhabited islands on my map. “Where is this place called Berk? Will I ever meet up with someone who knows of it? Will I ever meet up with anyone at all?” I asked the wind.


It refused answer. Wind is rude that way.


I snorted. “With my luck, it’ll be the northernmost isle in all the archipelago.”


The clouds dotting the sky seemed to congregate together and hurry along.




There it went again, my secret admirer.


I leaned over the side, only to be met by the reflection of my ruggedly handsome face. It was too deep to see anything else. I smiled and shook my head. Shy one.




There was a disturbance among the gulls. Through them flew an antagonized animal right into my mast.


It bounced off the wooden beam and fell on deck.


The seagulls were quick to snap him up but I was quicker. I caught the one with the prize in his beak by a yellow webbed foot.


“Not so fast!” I said as he squawked, dropping the little creature. “What lands on my boat belongs to me. Shoo!”


A pattering of feet and the tiny thing scurried under the ore bench. I got down on all fours for a better look. He was angry, hissing with his back arched and waving a long stringy tail.


“A thank you would be nice,” I put out my hand to pick him up. So little, only the size of a mouse.



Maybe a mouse in size but certainly not in temperament! When I wrapped my hand around him he struck it with the shard on the end of his tail, and then his nose got hot.


Really hot! Even though I dropped him as soon as I felt it, to this day I have a white burn mark on my palm. Rushing to the fish barrel I stuck my hand in the cold water.


“You’re not too friendly.” I scowled.


The little thing growled from his corner.


He looked dragon like but the smallest one I’d ever seen. Four short little feet, a big head and nose, and huge eyes. Also a long tail. It had to be twice his own length.


Grey in color, almost gleaming. Armor, not scales. His wings were tiny even for him, and there was a ridged sail along his back.



“There they were. A cloud so thick it blocked out the light of day. I hurried your mum and two elder sisters into the cellar and bolted it shut. It was awful to hear our poor cow cry out amongst the buzzing, but at least her plight was short. The sea churned as the terrible beasts dove in after the fish, and they did it in such masses that as they flew out and up they made it rain with the water that clung to their wings.”


“Did they et our cow, papa?”


“Yes, Epp. When it was safe to come out, all that was left of Belle was her bones. She’d been picked clean.”

“I’ll stop ‘em. Next time, we’ll have another cow and they won’t et her because I’ll fight those big mean bullies and save her.”

Papa smiled down so very kindly. “You will, aye?”


I swooshed an invisible sword around.


“Bullies are not always big, son. Do you want to guess how big a Piranharrow is?”


I put out my hands as wide as I could.


“Smaller than that,”


I put them out as wide as our cat.


“Try smaller yet.”


Finally I put them out only inches apart.


“That’s it lad. A piranharrow is small, as small as a mouse. He could fit in your hand. You see, it’s not always about how big you are. It’s about what you can do. And…” he tapped his head, “How smart you are. If I was smarter, I would have listened to the birds and come home sooner, then we could have saved Belle, too.”



I returned to the present, and studied my new passenger. “You are a Piranharrow, aren’t you?”


He barred his buck teeth.


“Yep.” I squinted. “Who else could have such a jolly disposition and size? …Where’s your hive?” I stood and searched the sky, suddenly feeling out in the open. Not a swarming cloud of death to be seen.


He slowly crept out of his cubbyhole.'


“…did you get left behind?”


The dragon stared with unfeeling eyes.


“That’s it, isn’t it. You were left behind. We’ll don’t dally on my account hurry back to them before they miss you.”

He climbed up onto the side and looked down, shifting his weight from one tiny foot to another, wings fluttering, tail spinning, but never making the jump.


“Well, get on with it,” I had to tease.


He looked back with angry yellow eyes and squeaked, then turned and leapt over and onto the mast. Sharp claws made light work of climbing up the canvas and he soon found himself on the crossbeam. Again he fluttered and spun and shifted his feet but didn’t actually fly.


The seagulls were waiting, and the dolphins took interested too. By and by I came to realize what his real dilemma was.

I look at his wings and spinning tail. Sure, they were perfect when airborn, but not so great for getting in the air. If he tried to fly now, he’d just flop into the water and get eaten.


The gulls swooped by, trying to scare him into falling. A hiss so small I couldn’t hear it escaped him. The ridged sail on his back sent a quiver all the way down his tail.


“I’ve got an idea,” I said, and pulled open the hatch.


Rummaging through the random stuff I found what I was looking for. My dad’s quiver and arrows. The birds eyed me warily and fell away from the boat. Smart birds.


My uninvited guest however only cocked his head.


“Not sure what you’ll think of this,” I pulled the thread taught. “but here’s the plan. You climb onto the arrow, and I shoot it up into the sky. A jumpstart. What do you say?”


I brought it up to him. Surprisingly he clambered on.


“Happy sailing!”


It was strangely satisfying to launch a dragon into the air. Just the boost he needed to get up and going, I watched him fly loops and circles up and down and all around, leaving the seagulls in his dust.


Then he did something I would have done.


Thunk! Went the mast.


“What?” I said, staring at the dragon now at my feet. “I just got you up and running!”


He ran up my leg in a flash, crawled onto my arm and waiting expectantly.


I grinned.


One more arrow disappeared from the quiver.


Out he sailed again, flying up and down and all around.



Another arrow disappeared.


And another.


My dad would have killed me if he knew I used his expertly crafted arrows to fling a tiny dragon repeatedly through the sky.

But I was having fun, so… justified. Or at least it was until I reached over and realized I had used them all. Then I felt stupid, I was down weapons and up a passenger.


The dragon looked at me angrily when I came up empty handed, and nipped finger. Before I could retaliate he scurried off and into a corner, growling.


“Fine. That was my bad, so you can stay until I find land. Then you’re out.”




Night fell.


Under the veil of darkness I heard many things. Strange things, beautiful things, creapy things, and things I could not understand.

Hotshot, as I had decided to call him eventually accepted the fact we shared this boat. He even took a piece of fish that I offered him… sort of like I owed it to him, but hey it was a start.




“What is that thing?” I leaned over the side once more. Hotshot joined me out of curiosity. I turned to him. “Any ideas?”

He shrugged.


When I looked up my eyes caught sight of a mass of black protruding out of the water.




Within three hours we ran ashore a rocky beach. Not the best mooring spot but it would have to do because I didn’t feel like looking for a better one. I turned and faced the jagged cliff.


As I slipped and stumbled up the cliffside with my sea legs, Hotshot zipped past. He ran to the top and jumped off.


The wind caught in those tiny wings, the tail spun. He was flying.


He twisted and turned and flew straight up and straight down at incredible speeds, buzzing around me like an enormous fly.

“That’s great,” I snorted, almost losing my foothold. “You’re amazing. Now fly back to wherever the rest of your buddies are.”


Hotshot wasn’t one to take orders. He bugged me all the way up the cliff.


What I get for being nice, I grumbled, brushing mud and rock off my clothes.


There, nestled amongst the hardy oaks stood a stone house.


It had all but been completely taken over by vine and trees. The door was leaning and the windows were barred shut with wood. Some of the stones had fallen out of place and lay around it looking forlorn and purposeless. A well stood in front of it.

Fresh water. What luck!


Hurrying over, I tossed the bucket in and brought it up over flowing, drinking from one side as Hot Shot helped himself to the other. He drank more than I did. It was amazing to watch as this tiny thing kept gulping and gulping until the bucket ran dry.

“Somebody was thirsty.”


The wind blew and the door and windows of the old house creaked.


“Hey Hotshot,” I said, fiery spark in my hazel eyes, “This place gives me the creeps. Let’s check it out.”


He growled.


“Suit yourself.”


I tried the door but it was bolted shut. Probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway, it was leaning too far off the hinges. The windows were obviously a no go… but maybe the chimney….


Hotshot followed me up the biggest oak, chattering his teeth as I got out on a limb.


“Come on,” I turned to the scolding creature. “Where’s your sense of fun?”


That’s when the branch broke.


And then the roof broke.


And the second floor.


And the table full of papers, ink and dishes


And then me.


I hit the dirt floor and just lay there, trying to remember how to breath.


The branch had demolished the fireplace. Boy was I glad I didn’t end up there.


Sitting upright I looking around. There were cobwebs everywhere, dust in the air and papers were still fluttering down after I destroyed their resting place.


“What have you done?” A fierce voice boomed in the silence. I just about jumped out of my skin.


A very tall man stood in the shadows. He ran his fingers through brown hair.


…Someone lives in this miserable place?


“What have you done??”


Leaping forward he grasped at the fluttering papers.


“You scared me,” I gasped. Someone lives in this miserable place!


“I scared you?” He said in a thick, Gaelic growl. “You just blew out my roof, second floor and table in the middle of the night and I scared you?”


“I’m sorry. I was looking for a place to stay and I thought-”


“Sorry? SORRY? This is thousands of runes of damage. Do you have any idea how much it would cost me to replace this table? The second floor? The ROOF? If I sent a tmail right now, it would be months before anyone could get down here to even look at this.”

I reviewed my handiwork. It was impressive. One would have thought a boulder went through this drafty old house, not a shrimp of a Scoti. It made me grin… a short people thing to feel pleased to be capable of causing mass destruction.


He looked to me with angry blue eyes. “You think this is funny?”


“No sir.” I bit my tongue.


“You shouldn’t. All said things can be replaced, but this is years of my life’s work here.” He continued to collect the papers, sighing at the sight of one saturated in ink. “Years. AND YOU JUST BLEW IT TO SMITHEREENS!”


“Look I feel terrible,” I backed away from the irate six-and-a-half-foot giant. “I had no idea someone actually lived in this dump-HOME, home- and I’m more than happy to help you fix it up.”


“Bah. You’re kind don’t stay put long enough to get things done. GOOD things, anyway.”


I glanced over at the door. Just as I had thought, it was bolted shut. It was also nailed shut, and boarded up, and chained… and so were the windows.






“Hmm. Liam… why is your door nailed closed?”


“I don’t like visitors. But SOME people can’t take a hint.”


“Right… how do I leave?”


“Through the back,” He grumbled. “you won’t find it on your own.”


He continued collecting, so to speed things up I helped him at it.


“Wait a second,” I said, studying one papers. “That’s a Mimikoo.”


He snatched it from my hands. “You don’t say.”


I pointed to another. “And that’s a Hobble grunt… and a Hodgepodge.” Looking up in awe I asked the question on my mind. “Are you a dragon trainer?”


“What? No! I’m a herpetologist.”


“But you study dragons, right?”


He rolled his eyes. “Yes.”


“-So you can learn how to train them?”


“I’m not interested in training them. I leave that to the Berkians who pay handsomely for my work- or what’s left of it.”


“Berkians? Berk Berkians? The fabled dragon trainers?”


He stormed across the room to a wooden chair.


“Where are they? Where is their island? When do they come here? Are they coming soon?”


“You ask too many questions and I don’t like talking to people. That’s why I’m here, on my island, all by myself.”


Pulling the chair back, he revealed a trap door beneath and a tunnel shrouded in darkness.


“There’s the door.”


“To… the basement?”


He scowled. “OUT. Just keep going and you’ll be fine.”


As much as I loved the idea of jumping into a dark tunnel that I had no idea where and if it ended, I was too close to getting some answers to walk away. And if there’s one thing a Scoti doesn’t do it’s give up.


“Do you know about the Kelpie?”




“Maybe the Kyte?”




“Okay how about the Gyphon?


He glanced to me skeptically. “Do you know anything about the Gryphon?”


“….No but my friend-”




He looked about ready to push me down the tunnel.


“Wait! I want to grab my Piranharrow.”


“Piranharrow?” His face turned ashen.


“Yeah,” I taunted. “My Piranharrow. Hotshot, come here,”


To my utter shock and delight the little dragon came. He growled at Liam.


“We go back a long time, Hotshot and I, I know so much about them now…”


The tall man ignored my every word. He ran to his desk and rummaged through it.


“They shouldn’t be here. They shouldn’t….”


“Hey, it’s just one. No big deal.”


“That,” He pointed to Hotshot. “Is a scout. He’s the first sign of a full-on deluge. “Look. See?”


Liam got out his study on Piranharrow. “Scouts are light grey in color, they blend better in their surroundings than the common piranharrow. Common Piranharrow are black and they live in constantly migrating swarms that have numbers in the trillions. A scout will usually travel two days in advance of the swarm, if for some reason he falls back to them he is just as likely to be eaten as anything else. They migrate across the world, consuming all that is in their path, leaving only stubble and bones in their wake.” He brushed the paper with his hand. “I have yet to send this to the Berkians. They don’t realize this dragon exists.”


“How do the most famous dragon people in the world not know that the Piranharrow exists?”


“The last time they came through there was no one left to tell the tail.”


I shrugged. “Fair enough. But it’s really not such a big deal. My family survived a deluge, so long as everyone gets the animals and themselves inside and they’ll be fine… might take years for everything else to grow back…


“You don’t understand Berkians… they fight, everything. All the Vikings do. So when the Piranharrow came through they tried to fight them. It was a massacre.”


I shrugged again. “This time don’t fight them. Problem solved.” I squinted. “If everyone died how would you know about it? And how would there still be a village?”


“That’s beside the point. The vikings will fight. They will fight for their fish, and the wild dragons, and they will fail and be destroyed.”


Liams eyes grew wide. “And thanks to you so will I. This place is no longer fit to protect me! We’re doomed.”


“We can take these guys!” I tried to calm him down. “As long as we find a good place to hide. Papa said it only lasts a few hours.”


“It can,” Liam corrected, “It can also last for days. The swarm that travels this course is one of the largest. It’ll take at least twenty four hours for them to come through. Do you have a safehouse that would suffice for twenty four hours?” I DID.”


Again back to this. I was getting annoyed. “What about this tunnel? Won’t that work?”


Hotshot saw something interesting on Liam’s shirt. He buzzed over and landed on the man.


Liam cupped him in his hands


“No don’t! His-“


“Agh!” He was quick to let go.


Hotshot dropped on the dirt floor, nose aglow.


“-his nose burns.”


“I can see that,” Liam soaked his hand in a pale of water. Under it was a gaping, endless-looking hole. And above it was a strange metal pipe. He grabbed a piece of the pipe, lifted it up and pressed down. Water came out and drained into the hole.


“Whoa…” I said. “What is that?”


“A faucet.”


“Where is the water coming from?”


“My well. It’s hard to explain so don’t ask.”


I walked over and picked my little dragon up. “A scout, huh? What does he scout for? They eat everything so why do they need somebody to go ahead and tell them where stuff is?”


“They don’t scout food. They scout obstacles and possible nesting areas. So mostly islands, mountains, air streams and weather.”


“How do they tell the others what they find?”


“I’m not sure exactly how it works but…” Liam said, “I do have a theory. I call it the hive-mind.”


I gave him a dubious look.


“Yes. It’s crazy but my research strongly suggests these dragons never return to the swarm. They live their lives ahead of it, but somehow, always in communication. How they do it I don’t know, but they do.”


I looked down at Hotshot. He was sitting on my shoulder now, grooming himself.


“The others can see what he sees?”


“I don’t know I’ve never been this close to a live one.” Liam snorted. “It could be like sending terror mail. Just information. Or they can see what he sees. It could be voluntary or involuntary my research is not complete. Obviously,”


Liam glanced over his notes angrily. “I knew their migration through the Archipelago was pending, but I thought it wouldn’t be for another six to twelve months.” He crumpled the paper up and threw it on the floor. “I held this back from Berk until I had solid proof, so they would know that my word and my work are valid. But now it’s too late; I’ve gambled with the lives of an entire village and I’ve lost the bet. At least I too, shall hidein my error and I won’t have to live with the guilt. Plus you’re coming with us. So that’s a bonus.”


“You are a mean old fellow.” I said, picking up his paper. “And a dooms-dayer. We can kick this. We just need to figure out how. If Hotshot is a scout as you say, maybe we can convince him to convince the others not to travel through the archipelago.”


“That’s the most stupid thing-“


His voice trailed off.


“That’s it! If we figure out how he communicates, maybe we can send a message to the others warding them away! I’m a genious! Crash course! Time to learn about the Piranharrow.”




It may have been the middle of the night but that didn’t seem to bother Liam a bit. And I was a little wound up myself, so sleep wasn’t going to happen.


He dragged another table into the room and we set Hotshot on it. He seemed pleased to be the center of attention.


“Now what?” I asked.


“We need something that would be an issue to the Piranharrow. Something that would need attention. Something…”




“We need a Nightfurry.”


“A Nightfury?” My eyes grew wide. My heart started racing. Was I going to have the privilege of seeing a real live Nightfury? The ancient king of the midnight sky? Terror of all?


Liam scowled. “Now where in the world would we get a Nightfury? They’re extinct- save the Chiefs’.”


“But you just said-”


“Nightfurry. I said Nightfurry.”



“It’s not a dragon. Come on I’ll show you.”


We left Hotshot on the table with a salmon thirty times his size. Liam lead me back to the tunnel. He grabbed a saucepan, a bottle of yak milk, and a net that he handed to me. Then hopped down.


I glared. “These things live in your basement?”


“My entry, but yes.”


He set the saucepan down and poured.


I jumped down to join him. “What’s with the milk?”


“Bait. So here’s the plan, I’ll draw them in and you catch one. Ready?”


I gripped the pole of the net tightly. “I’m ready.”


He patted me on the shoulder and scrambled back into the house. “Good.”


“Hey-hey where you going?”


“To get a pot and spoon, muttonhead. You know, to draw them in?”


“Oh,” I replied, less than easy. “Alright.”


“Do be careful of the claws and teeth, lad. If they smell blood they’ll eat you alive. Best of luck.”




With a loud creek the trap door slammed shut above my head. It was followed by the sound of a sliding latch.


“Liam,” I banged on the door in the pitch dark. “This isn’t funny… let me out!”


Clang clang! Clang clang clang!


The pot and spoon resounded throughout the house.


Clang clang! Clang clang!


My heart skipped a beat. The shuffling of dozens of feet echoed from the back of the tunnel.


“I’m serious! Let me out!”


I was beating that door now.


He laughed.


I was trapped. A maniac above me and an army of terrifying, unknown beasts were closing in. At that moment I reconsidered all that I knew. Why had I chosen to be an explorer? Why hadn’t I become a fisherman or a baker? Why couldn’t I have settled? Sure, it would have been a boring life but I bet I would have gotten to live past my twenty first birthday.


Backed against the dirt wall, life flashing before my eyes, I waved that net frantically and braced for the brutal attack.



Mew mew Meow! Mew!




… I looked up to find myself surrounded by…


winged cats.


Liam was still laughing. “You should have heard yourself! Solid soprano! Encor! Encor!”


“Ha ha. You got me hilarious.”


They pushed and shoved each other out of the way with their bat-like wings, lapping up the milk. The saucepan ran dry in a matter of seconds.


I threw down the net and it fell atop a small black tabby. It hissed and twisted and turned as the others took off down the tunnel the way they came.


“Got one!”


The trap door opened.



We pulled the Nightfurry up in the net. Kind person that Liam was, he made me wear the falconing gloves to nab the angry felinish thing.


Hotshot lay on his back. Beside him was the salmon’s skeleton, bones sparkling white. The little guy knew how to lick a plate clean.


“The Nightfurry is a natural enemy of the Piranharrow,” Liam explained. “Their wings are created for sharp turns and aerial acrobatics, much like the Nightfury. They easily outmaneuver the Piranharrow whose attack speed prohibits fast turns and can consume as many as fifty of them in a day.”


I raised the growling cat up so Hotshot could see it.


He was on his feet immediately. Raising his tiny wings and chattering his teeth, he wagged his tail back and forth. The sail on his back quivered all the way down his tail.




Liam pointed to the shard at the end. It was vibrating. Wagging one way and then the other as he growled, it eventually stopped and pointed due west.


“I think we just figured out where the Piranharrow are,” I grinned, dropping the Nightfurry. It unfurled it’s wings and flew out the gaping hole in the roof.


“And how they communicate!” Liam rushed to his desk, jotting down some notes. “The shard- it’s like a transmitter of some sort. The tail acts as an antenna to direct the signal. I’ll wager he can only find the others once they send a signal back.”


“Great! How is this helpful?”


“…you’re right it’s pointless. At best we only have a day and it would take me a lifetime to unravel the secrets to wireless transmitting. Several.”


“No no no you were on a role there! Keep theorizing. Don’t worry about all the little details right now. They’re coming from the southwest, right?”


“Should be.”


“Ok, and Berk is where, north of here?”


“North East.”


“So they have to come through us first. Maybe Hotshot’s message about the nightfurry will deter them,” I tried to be positive.


“One Nightfurry means nothing to the swarm.”


“How about hundreds?”


He chuckled. “There’s only fifty or so down there.”


“We could make more!”


I hurried around the drafty house. “Some paper, a little wood, glue, string, and a steady wind. That’s all we need!” I held up my quick creation. A kite in the shape of a winged cat. “If we made as many of these as possible it would pose a real threat to the Piranharrow.”


Liam gestured the little dragon-totally ignoring my invention. “He can tell the difference. But… if we get out all the real ones… he’ll assume they’re all real.”


The doom and gloom lifted from my eccentric new friends’ eyes. “This could work.”

I nodded.


“…and Berk could be saved!”


He launched himself at his desk, grabbing every scrap of paper within reach. “We don’t have a moment to lose!”


Never have two full grown men worked so vigorously on paper crafting. Hotshot watched, lazily curled up in a chair.

Liam made the skeletons out of wood and I glued the papers on. I tried to set aside the ones with notes.


“Don’t bother,” He urged, “We don’t have time.”


“But you’re work-”


“Will be meaningless if the Piranharrow aren’t stopped. I can write them again. Just keep at it.”


All throughout the night we worked. Kite after kite. Liam used every bit of string, every blob of glue, every scrap of paper. He even took the sheets from his bed and tore those up to use. He also went at his tables with an axe-both the one I destroyed and the one Hotshot had planned to make his royal pedestal. Nothing was spared if it could help the cause.


He took an axe to the bolted door so we could run every finished kite out and stake it down.


As dawn broke we both became aware of a strange noise. It sounded like thunder, rumbling unceasingly in the distance. The western distance.


Neither of us spoke of it. Neither of us looked out to see what it was. We just kept on with the kites in silence.


At last we ran out of supplies. I set out the final one, looking up. Give or take, two hundred misshapen Nightfurries dotted the sky. And the lazy Piranharrow in the house didn’t have a clue.


I looked past them to a bone-chilling sight. A wall of thick cloud billowed on the western horizon, black as pitch. It rolled against the wind with a life of its own, tossing and turning like the sea itself and constantly changing shape.


Victory or bust, I thought to myself. We’re out of time.


“The Nightfurries!” I gasped, running back into the house. “How are we going to get the Nightfurries- the real ones, out?”


“Leave that to me,” Liam was dragging a long, hollowed-out leather rope in one hand and a lit torch in the other. He opened the trap door.


“What are you going to do?”


“Something that Nightfurries hate,” He grinned. “The tunnel down here goes past the cistern to the well. It’s stopped up but I’m going to tap into it. Go get that dragon.”


I scooped up Hotshot in my hands. He was surprised, but he didn’t burn me this time. That was nice.


“Now get up to the roof,” Liam ordered, traveling down the tunnel. “And this time don’t fall through!”

“Alright alright.”


Hotshot enjoyed the free ride up the house.


Standing, I found myself surveying the entire island.


I caught my breath. The ominous mass of ever hungry dragons had quadrupled in size. I watched as they began to swallow up the sky above. The sea below them was in turbulence.


Hotshot crawled onto my shoulder and eyed the kites surrounding the house. He looked to the massive swarm beyond them. His wings opened up, stretching as far as they could, and closed again. It happened at least five times. He started spinning his tail and shifting his feet.




Traveling faster than a crossbow arrow, a black piranharrow zipped past and blew a hole through the nearest oak tree.








Three more zipped by. I couldn’t track them but I heard leaves ripping as they went.

The sunlight was being blotted out.


“Yikes!” I yelped as one flew inches in front of my face.


Hurry, Liam…


I felt like a sitting duck up there on the roof.


From below came yowls and cries of indignation. I braced myself.


Nightfurries burst out of Liam’s tunnel, shaking water off their fur as they flew. Hotshot squeaked a cry of dismay, abandoning thoughts of flight and cringing under my neck.


The ridged sail on his back sent dozens of quivers down his tail, and the shard vibrated wildly.


“What are you doing up there?!?” Liam yelled up to me. “Get down you’ll be run though!”


“I don’t know if they’ve got the message!” I hollered back. Through the beating wings I tried to see what the swarm overhead was doing. The nightfurries soared up into the sky, delighted to discover the feast above.




One unfortunate Piranharrow squeaked his last in the paws of a Nightfurry.


Hotshot vibrated the little shard on his tail uncontrollably. He shivered in fear. Taking pity, I cupped my hand over him. If the message hadn’t gotten through yet, it never would.


Liam grabbed me by the foot and dragged me back into the house. He was not a moment too soon. Three or four of the nasty little things flew right where I had been standing. I shuddered. If I had still been there, they would have hit me in the chest and head and I was pretty sure that wasn’t an accident.


We ran back down to the tunnel, black, arrowlike dragons blasting through the wooden parts of the house. Some hit the stones and ricocheted off.


“Were we too late?” I asked anxiously as he shut the trap door. “Were we too late to save Berk?”


“I don’t know. Only time will tell now.”


For hours we waited in the dark, damp tunnel. We waited until the sound of splintering wood ceased. When dusk fell, the Nightfurries returned to the cave, looking exceedingly pleased with themselves and very full.


“That’s our cue.” Liam said.


He made me stay back as he opened the hatch.


“All’s clear.”


We snuck outside.


Due south stretched the mighty black swarm of Piranharrow. To the north- nothing but clear skies.


“We did it,” Liam said in disbelief. “Lad, we did it. We re-directed the Piranharrow! Berk is spared!”


He danced for joy. I hollered a battle cry, fondly remembering what I had told my father so many years ago. Not a cow did I help save, but an entire village!


“Wait,” I stopped in my rejoicing. “…We didn’t just send them towards someone else, did we?”


“Naw,” Liam waved it off. “Nothing but ocean and barren islands for hundreds of miles. Well. Maybe outcast Island has a few people… they’ll be fine.”



Ahh, what a story to tell when I returned home. If I returned home. Already I had met with such danger, such adventure and it was only the beginning! The Barbaric Archipelago clearly had many secrets to share, and I planned to learn them all.


Strange as he was, Liam turned out to be a fine sort of fellow. After the Piranharrow left we went down to discover that they had eaten my dad’s old dinghy, so he used the wood from the fallen oaks and what was left of his own house to help me build another. I wanted to pay him back.


“Don’t fret about it. I’m very good at making do with what I’ve got,” He said, “Don’t worry about it.”


Liam and I said our goodbyes. It was at this point that he realized he didn’t even know my name. I had to laugh. I didn’t mind. Being called lad reminded me of being home. It reminded me of my dad.


Hotshot abandoned his position as a scout, much preferring the comfort of my shoulder. I dubbed him my first mate.



A familiar bubble surfaced beside the boat. I smiled. It was like hearing from an old friend.


I set the sails… a bunch of stitched together cat-shaped kites. Onward! Onward to Berk, to meet her people and her dragons. To learn her ways and to pay tribute to her powerful chief, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third.


I could just see him; a mighty man of war, big as an ox, his massive dragon at his side…






….Boy was I in for a surprise.