Finding the Afar-Land - Act One Full - The Cult

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InTheTardis2
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Joined: 09/05/2015

PROLOGUE 

 

There was once an island called Afar, but it was lost.  

 

Afar was a striving land with hundreds of residents and teeming with one particular type of dragon; The Groncicle. The Groncicle, if you were naïve of this, is a rather fat, dumpy dragon which resembles a common-o'-garden Gronckel but concealed in ice. It has the breath of the Bewilderbeast and the heart of a Night Fury and is loved by one and all on the small, snow-infested land of Afar. 

    The homes on Afar were small and brick with horrid architecture, but kept privacy the way you wanted it to. The village was small and hidden underneath the land in what they called The Homing Caves, for obvious reasons. Beside these homes was a small wooden platform with metallic screwed in edges, which bobbed and floated with the tide, this acted as their dock. You see, there was a small edged cliff that fell down into some shallow-ish waters (nobody really knew what they were for) where small trading boats would come and go as they please, with permission from the docks man on the outside of the island. 

    The outside of the island was expansive, with an insignificant lake resting like a sleeping dragon next to the highest peak which if you found yourself plummeting down, you would note of the fact that you were in the larger lagoon that lay directly next to the Homing Caves.  

     So yes, as I was saying, trade ships would come and go as they please, as long as they had the dock man's permission. This NEVER caused any trouble until one, fateful day. 

   The chief of the island at the time was called Estowick, however, just weeks before the day they now call The Final Battle of Afar (although it most defiantly was NOT) he had gone and only the new chieftain, his wife, knew what had happened to him, but she refused to tell.  

     The couple did have a child who is, now-a-days, known as S.H.M. Professor Estowick the Enthusiastic IV. He was a bright young lad of whom didn't own a Goncicle but outside of the sight of the village made friends with a puffin called Dorothea and a SpeedStinger called Gonzalez after someone he had met and admired from when he was five. He had admired her simply for one reason; she had been everywhere. She had been to The Mainland, to a place called Berk, a place called the Xzantium, The Shivering Shores, she had even been respectfully honoured by The Empress of Iceland. If he had to look up tp anyone, it was her, and so he named a SpeedStinger after her. If his mother was to die, Estowick (The IV) would have taken her place. 

    If you haven't guessed yet, Estowick is our main character and the one we will be following in these decaying pages of despairing glory. Estowick, in his most recent years had long grey locks, with a pale green iris. Let me explain why he is so significant in our story. Afar is lost. You already know this but I thought I'd remind you.  

   During the Final Battle of Afar, Est-y's mother died along with hundreds of others, while some fled to other lands like the Xzantium or Iceland. Estowick, however, somehow fell onto one of the opposition's vessels and fell with the tide, through the Summer Current and eventually to The Isle of Berk, where an overweight man found him, unconscious with mounds of gold not belonging to him but given to him.  

    At age ten, the boy calling himself Estowick the Enthusiastic enrolled into the campus of the School of Dragons, a school dedicated to training dragons and the other necessities. To be fair, it wasn't the safest of schools, with a number of attacks happening daily and only the students left to defend. Furthermore, the environment wasn't the safest with it lying on a supposedly 'dead' volcano but still hundreds had attended and hundreds more to come. 

   Put down as the reason for his slight weakness of not remembering where he came from, they suspected that he had an ultimately bad head wound, of which couldn't be found, but was still thought to be true. Estowick hadn't forgotten everything, he knew that his island was called Afar, and that there had been a battle and all the basics, just not the last day or so of his time back home. 

   For some reason, Estowick had grown to HATE dragons, he still owned them because he had to, but he didn't want to, until another, faithful day. 

 

It was sunny, very sunny and as Estowick waked the streets of Berk mumbling and moaning to himself until he was stopped by the highly obnoxious man called Bucket. We all know Bucket; that person who is known for actually wearing a Bucket on his head. He was found peeking his eyes out from behind the border of his house.  

"Psst!" He called. Estowick looked around for Mulch, of whom Bucket usually moaned at, but he was nowhere to be seen. Estowick with wide eyes pointed at himself, wondering if it was if fact him the mad-manwas looking for.  

"Yes. You! Come here!" He commanded.  

Est-y was then explained to that Bucket had heard earthquakes rumbling through the higher mountains of Berk that day and wanted someone to check on it. And he did so, finding once he was up there, a tremendous beast feared by many but loved by few, none-the-less. The Whispering Death.  

    As you would, I'm sure, he ran. He ran as far as he could before finally reaching the end of the possible path. This is where his natural instincts kicked in and instead of finding a way around he immediately jumped into the waters over one-hundred and fifty feet below. Mad, I tell you. Mad.  

    They then found the same dragon while on a small, relaxing fishing trip in the Wilderness, it almost ate Estowick but they ended up being great friends and lifelong ones, too. This where Est-y first found his love for dragons and training them. This started off something and he would train any one he could find, releasing them afterwards. For the first time in a long time, he was happy.  

    He built a house, after a long debate if he was allowed to, in the Training Grounds. It was- oversized, to say the least. It had a large glass window, giving the greatest of views to the boy, who at this point, was sixteen. 

Yes. Estowick was quite happy. He had made good friends with a girl called Sophie who owned a changewing named Pete. He enjoyed life at the School of Dragons, enjoying his lessons, his work, his general life. This was until yet another faithful day. 

 

***

 

Act One

 

 

The Cult

 

 

When called upon by the highest religious council, it is up to 

Estowick to decrypt and uncover a different

Religious Order and stop them from terrorising all.

 

 

***

 

Chapter One

 

 

Evening Meal

 

 

He stands in front of the crowd before him and he bellows his lungs out to gain their attention. He then explains who he is, why he is there and more importantly, that he was an intruder. There were whispers of shock and gasps spreading like a disease across the room, with men from either side slowly getting closer and closer to rid of the man whose name was Estowick. 

 

Now, I am getting ahead of myself. That comes a little later on. Where was I? As, yes; Fishing. 

The harsh waters of the Barbaric Archipelago (All of the islands like Berk and Outcast island) crashed upon the rocky shores of the School of Dragons. On the outer rim of the School, on an icy pontoon, sat a boy. The boy, at age seventeen, was sat next to a girl, both of which were fishing. Casting and reeling, casting and reeling, they fished.  

"Have you had a bite yet?" Questioned Estowick, the boy on the left, whose long white-ish hair blew in the harsh wind of the West. 

"No, not yet," came the lifelong friend of Estowick, Sophie Meyrick. 

Soon after, they announced to one another that they would leave and head back to school, seeing as the sun was on the brink of setting.  

The two of them, almost simultaneously cupped their hands to their lips and made the most horrific of noises; a dragon call. Within seconds, from the sky emerged the clear silhouette of a perfect blue Changewing. That was Sophie's dragon, called Carlson. But nothing came for Est-y. They two people began to worry about his whereabouts until they started to worry about something else entirely; the ground began to shake. Rumbling through the ground came more and more shakes.  

"Oh, no," Estowick moaned to himself. 

"What? What is it? An earthquake?!" 

"No, not AN earthquake; it IS Earthquake" 

A hole emerged through the cliff face as the two took precautions and stepped backwards. The hole remained calm for a few seconds until finally a round head covered in spikes and projections creeped out, slithering its way with its head down in shame. 

 

"What have I told you?!" He exclaimed to his dragon in Norse. 

Sophie's eyesight jumped from dragon to human as they spoke to one another in the lost language of Dragonese, of which, Estowick was a master of. 

"Well," she began, awkwardly, "I'm gonna go, now. I'll see you tomorrow. Bye, Est-y, bye Earthquake!" 

The heads of the two others turned to wave goodbye to their friends until they were no longer seen.  

After he finished bashing his dragon, Estowick mounted the beast and tugged on his reigns for him to fly, to soar into the air. They did so as if it were nothing, orbiting the outer rim of the school grounds until finding the opening crack which was the renound entrance. 

  Earthquake tucked in his miniscule wings as to be able to fit through the cavern before at last arriving in the grounds. 

Adjusting to the light source, our hero of this book squinted his eyes. But the sight he did see when he finally entered the cauldra of the school. It was a beautiful place before its downfall, with numerous waterfalls starting their journey in the walls of the circular space, two buildings, a lake, a vaster lake below which was of salt water and contained at least two of those Berkian Viking statues. To you, on your first visit, this would have looked incredible, almost impossible, but if you were Estowick and this was your thousandth entrance, it was dull. 

   They glided and descended down toward the concrete circular pad that was the Landing Stage of the school. There were two of these, one big, one small, and both of which, it had come to his attention, were jam-packed with people. In fact, the entire school was. This was, he realised, because it was the new term and only a week in. It was autumn and so new students were arriving by the second to enroll at the place of education.  

 

The pupils all stood back in fear of being trampled on by the beast and so Estowick hopped off and instructed his dragon to go on home while he checked up on everything. 

 

"It's fine, everyone. Carry on with your day," he comforted. 

Slowly, he made his way through the crowd, moving with the rhythm of them all. It was a snail's pace that they moved at, most of them in wonder and astonishment of all of the dragons they could see that they never have had the pleasure to. 

"HICCUP!" Called Est-y over the mutters and murmurs of the newbies.  

"ESTOWICK! Someone sane, finally," he said under his breath. 

"Hiccup? What's happened? Do children actually want to go to school these days? Ha!" They laughed. Estowick turned to a whisper, now "Who's the girl?" 

 

"Oh she's just this-" he stopped, "Wait. You live in that huge house in the Training Grounds, don't you?" Estowick nodded with wide eyes. "Well, this is Cressida and she needs somewhere to live. And seeing as you have plenty of room and she doesn't want feeding or talking to. So-" 

"No. She's not moving in," he persisted. 

The argument progressed for minuets to come until another boat full of students arrived. 

"Fine! But NO food!" He gave in. 

He gestured for her to follow him while giving Hiccup the dirtiest of looks. 

"What did he say your name was again?" Questioned Estowick, his teeth slightly gritted, still. 

"Urm- Cressida. And what was yours?"  

"Estowick." 

"Estowick? As in- Stoick? Oh, That's nice," she pondered. 

"When I was born if you had something that sounded like 'st 'O' ick' in your name, you would be destined to be a great chieftain. And 'Es' was a fad on my island," he explained, walking through the small tunnel which was the main school building. 

They chatted and talked about Berk and how the school was run and rules and everything else as they passed Johaan's trading stall and went through to the Training Grounds, a large space with numerous sea stacks and places for students to test their abilities through racing and flying. 

 

"So, you're not from Berk?" She said, bringing up what was said in the past. 

 

"No. It's a long, long story," he reminisced, "Anyway, where are you from, Cressida?"  

"Oh, a small island called Louse. Absolutely TEEMING with dragons," she said, a grin inhabiting her face. 

"Ah, yes. I've heard of it," he recalled his childhood idol saying that she had gone there. 

 

They talked about what had happened on Louse, now, along the thin shoreline of glorious Training Grounds. The sun was beautiful. It was a perfect orange and shone over the sea stacks, casting long shadows across the waters East. They continued to talk about these things until Cressida completely stopped in her tracks. 

"What's the matter?" Estowick asked, worried that she wouldn't come in, for he had taken a liking to the girl, hoping that they would become good friends over time. 

"You," she paused, "Live there?!" 

"Yes. Anything wrong?" He said blankly. 

"Nope. It's just; it's HUGE!" And she was right. 

It was an oversized space of a home. It looked as if it were made of oak wood, the dark kind. It had a large dome made of the wood which was the centrepiece of the entire building. It had planks of the same wood going across to the toilet, to the small, metal catapult and to the magnificently built water-lift. On the centrepiece was a large gap filled in with a transparent material like glass or DeathSong Amber, this gave all people inside the most glorious of views over the rising sun in the mornings and of any attacks that would come anytime soon.  

"I know it's big, but I had the money, they gave me permission and so I built it. I gave the excuse that it can look out for dragons or attackers and help fight against them. Plus it has the Training ground's ONLY toilet," they laughed. 

 

"Step on," he gestured to the woman, stepping onto the platform that was the water-lift.  

"How does it work?" She asked, curious. 

He explained that when you tugged the rope that would pull forward a cog which would connect to the watermill and pull the lift up. And if you wanted to go down, there was a separate lever on the top which would also stop it.  

"Did you design this?" She said, as Estowick made sure that he shut the gate properly on the floating pontoon. 

"Yes," he blurted, trying to fix the gate. "Do you want to start it up?" He smiled, seeing her itching to have a go. 

She too smiled and tugged on the thick, yellowing rope hearing the watermill's friction build and the cogs move as more wires and strings heaved. 

Finally reaching their destination, Est-y swiftly flicked a lever on the side to stop the craft. She now saw the watermill which was currently detached from the rest of the machinery to stop it breaking. The watermill was funded by a small water spout in the corner next to the mystical 'salt-lakes' up the top. 

 

"That's incredible! You're an amazing designer to have though that up! Easier than calling your dragon, I bet!" She joked along with her landlord. 

 

After turning a corner, Cressida's eyes came across a small, manmade pond which was inhabited with reeds, a tricking flow of water and- what?! What was that? 

"Estowick," she whispered, dragging his attention, "I think you've got a Dragon infestation." 

With that, Estowick cautiously plodded over to the dragon with arms out to protect them. They continued to do this until the dragon's attention was finally diverted toward them where he stopped scratching his wing and started to growl.  

"Stand back!" He called to Cress. 

 

He charged forward and with one blast of green-ish flame, he was gone. Estowick was gone.  

Cressida's face was picture, in shock, in terror, a mix of everything. 

Then, however, came the quiet chuckle of a man from behind the dragon.  

"Ha ha ha!" Came the voice. Was it the dragon? No. 

"Your face! Ha ha ha!" The man who emerged fell about the floor laughing. 

"Cressida, this is WHD, he's my dragon," he came out with after his laughing fit.  

She shook her head in disapproval of the prank which was obviously well-rehearsed with help from the twins. This frown eventually came out to be a smile, changing like a changewing's colours. 

They both laughed as they exited the 'garden' and entered the house. The interior was amazing. Still curved with a platform-balcony leading to more rooms. In here, was the kitchen and the living room. Along with this was a staircase leading up to the platform and a spiral staircase leading upwards. 

 

"Where's that go to?" She asked, trying to peer upwards. 

 

"Ah, that's the tower, I don't go up there often. Only if I'm really stressed," 

 

"Quite often, it seems," she cheeked, followed by a collection of laughter. 

 

"Tell me more about this 'Afar' place, then. What happened to it? Why can't you find it?"  

This conversation lasted a good while, when Estowick broke his own rule and asked "Would you like anything to eat?" 

She agreed to the idea of some biscuits and goat cheese and enquired if there was a hot water bath in the school.  

"Well, there's the one in the school, geothermal," 

"Okay, that's great. I'll just pop over there. I'll be right back," she said, packing her things before Estowick could say anything. 

"You do realise it's dark out, you don't know your way and the water temperature varies from cold to a little warm, right?" He said blankly. 

"Yes, well. It's all I've got for now," 

"Well, it's not," he began, "Why would I build an entire house and not include a hit water bath? Let me just go and ask WHD to light the fire for me then you can turn the valves to your required temperature," Cressida was overjoyed at the sound of a bath in her own home, something that was a MAJOR luxury. This, too, was backed up by the fact that he had the money and he was allowed.  

 

The furnace burned and warmed the one water valve while the other was just cold from the spring. Estowick cut up and prepared the evening supper and set it out in a proper manner. He lit the small candle lamps for a gentle, not overwhelming, light and folded small napkins to be put on the side plates to make it orderly.  

 

Deeply satisfied with her bath, Cressida returned in bath robe and slippers to the 'foyer' to find the windows open, slightly but no lights on or food set out, or Estowick waiting. Instead, what she saw was the gentle flicker of candlelight beaming from above the stairwell in the tower. She ascended, not knowing if he would be up there. He was found sat on a chair connected to a table connected to another chair, all at different angles, where an assortment of food lay on a wicker tray with two side plates housing butter knifes and napkins.  

 

"Good evening, Cressida. Enjoy your bath?" Greeted Estowick. 

 

"Yes thank you. Estowick, this is wonderful. I thought you said you never came up here," 

 

"I don't but it's a special occasion, I have a new house guest. And just look at the view." 

 

Though faint in the darkness, the view was spectacular, you could just see a large sea stack in front, you could see all of the rare flickers of light from the grounds, themselves, all dragon fire and the odd ship heading from one side of the horizon to another. 

 

subtle smile inhabited Cressida's face, understanding that all of this was done for her. She sat, resting her leg over her knee and thanked Estowick personally for such a lovely welcome. 

 

"So, come on then," Estowick brightened up, tucking in to the cheese, "Tell me more about Louse. Your childhood, your parents, dragons, I wanna' know," 

 

She smiled, taking a smell at the aroma of the food. 

"Well," she began. They continued to talk through their pasts and what they wanted in their futures eating and drinking as they please all through the night until early morning when the sun rose. 

 

 

***

 

Chapter Two

 

 

The Witching Hour's Demise

 

 

During their six and a half hour conversation, a lot of subjects came up. Things like fishing, farming, history, teachers, maps and of course, dragons. 

 

"So, you don't have a dragon yet?" Estowick asked her, curious. 

 

"Nope. My parents always told me to 'wait until I'm older' and now I am older, I just need to find one," They sat there, silent, for a few seconds obviously thinking about her type of dragon. 

 

"WHD? What does it mean?" The question came bounding out of the blue, "Where did you find him, I've never seen a dragon like him before?" 

 

"Ah. Well, I found him only a couple of months ago. And the name comes from when and where I found him," he began to explain. 

 

To be fair, it was a rather strange looking dragon. It had a bulbous stomach which was nothing to do with his eating habits, at all. It was just the dragon itself. It was quite, rocky, too, with projections of an uneven rock-like skin. It had long, seaweed like hairs dropping from it like a willow tree and powerful green eyes that could stare in to one's soul. 

 

Now, as to the name. WHD. Strange isn't it? Does it stand for other people's names? Does it mean anything? A code? 

Well, to find that out, we must venture back to where he was found, around three months before this conversation. 

 

Estowick, had been busy all day working on fixing the lift (Something had gone wrong up there and he couldn't figure out what) and so to calm him, instead of going to the tower, he slept in his boat, another thing that he did when he was stressed.  

He sent his dragons to his stables before going to his bed himself. He lit a small candle on the table beside the poster bed, got his book from the drawer next to him, sat up in his bed and started to read. It was a book about farming and times of the year to plant out and harvest things, he was currently on the chapter called 'Deterring Hawks' which spoke exactly what it said on the tin. He read about string and mice and bottles and actually keeping them. All of these were nonsensical, obviously, but it made light reading.  

He never went anywhere in his small Viking ship, it just stayed docked in case of emergencies. After around ten minutes of reading, he picked up and dropped his bookmark between the binding pages of knowledge, then blew out his candle. Just like a ship, he drifted from awake to asleep, something he had no trouble with.  

   Out of the darkness of the pier, came a figure. A figure carrying a small pocket knife in his right hand and nothing in his left. He crouched down once he had reached where the ship was docked and with the blade, he began to hack away at the rope restricting the vessel from floating away like Estowick's consciousness. After less than a minute of chopping  it snapped, broke in two. And with one gentle push forward, the boat began to float out with the waves, with the owner inside, not knowing what at all would happen to him. The man who let the ship go must have dropped the pocket knife, for it was left at the scene, in replacement of the raft. The man was not identified but they all knew someone had done it purposely, it wasn't a freak accident by a dragon.  

      The next morning, just half an hour after the early summer sunrise the head boy of the school, Toultons, came rushing over to the mansion which was Est-y's home. He skipped along the pier, panting until he came to realise that Estowick either must have had his boat in for repair or gone out for it wasn't there. This was not good news.  

   He strode all the way back to the school's Great Hall and warned the headmaster that he would not be able to do what he was supposed to because of the lack of an Estowick. The Headmaster was furious and took it out on the botanist's chair beside him, knowing that this couldn't have been of Est-y's own doing for this was such a big mission.  

   "Hiccup, get Hiccup. And the Berk Guard, we need to find him! Go!" He ordered. 

And so, Toultons along with three other students went on a wild hunt for clues to Estowick's whereabouts and those who could help. 

   Just an hour before Toultons' search, Estowick awoke. He found himself in his bed, in a simple and calm environment. He sat up against the headboard and turned to reach for his book, for he knew by the amount of sunlight coming through the floorboards, however, he saw nothing. An empty cabinet with nothing but dust is all. No book, although he was certain he had put it on the side. In case he had put it back into the built-in drawer, he opened it up after tackling the friction  and searched the contents. Nothing. This was, however, until his eyesight was averted by the small obstruction on the floor. The book. How did it get there? On the other side of the room? Had he been sleepwalking? No. 

"Wait, hang on," he said to himself, as he did often when alone. He closed the drawer and stopped. He listened. He listened to what he suspected would be the sounds of quiet crashes of waves and perhaps the random disturbed terror, but no. All he heard was the gentle sway of his ship. 

Suddenly realising something important, he turned his head toward his wall where lay a poster explaining the tides and when he would have to move the ship. 

"I shouldn't have slept here, I should have moved it out. So," his mind filled with what should be happening seeing as the tide in the Training Grounds was out today, or it should have been, "Why aren’t I sideways?" 

He immediately got up to his feet and for the first time this morning felt something different. How he had not noticed already, he didn't know. The boat was rocking, more than it should do if it were parked.  

He sprinted up the stairs to the deck and instead of seeing the dim lit edge of the Training Grounds, he saw nothing. He saw the sky and the sea. He turned. Sky and sea. And again. Sky and sea. Where the devil was he? 

If we zoomed out of the map at this particular moment, we would have seen that Estowick could be found bobbing up and down in his ship on a piece of ocean between Berk and what is now known as 'Itchy Armpit'. The sky was slowly changing its gradients as he peered either side of the boat for something. Anything. Was this a joke? Had he been dragged there? Or was he honestly stuck in the middle of what he suspected by the warmth of the water was the Summer Current, a strong stream of water which was warmer than everything else that ran right through the Archipelago and was well known to house Sharkworms. Oh, no. Sharkworms. If you were unaware, a Sharkworm is a type of Dragon with no wings, is Tidal Class and looks just like a Shark when in the water. However, there are a few, subtle differences. One of these is the fact that on its fin, unlike a normal shark's which is just curved then straight, a Sharkworm's is curved, then zig-zagged. And the second difference is insignificant, it has legs. Okay, maybe not that insignificant. Okay, maybe it's important, seeing as it can climb onto any ordinary Viking ship, take it over completely without a trace of evidence and leave it float off into the sunset, none-the-wiser. 

"Did I just?" He asked himself, coming to terms with the threat that impelled him, "Did I just put my hand in the water? Estowick? Are you dumber than we all thought? That's rhetorical, it's true! We all know that!" 

He started to panic. The sun started to peak its head over the horizon before it would at the Training Grounds just as Estowick saw his first shadow. It came and went by quickly, very quickly. Then came his second, which was more noticeable this time, and by Thor this wasn't a shark. This is one of the rare times in human history that you would wish for a Shark, for a Sharkworm is a fearsome creature, fearsome, indeed. The spikey edge of the fin of the worm cut Estowick's confidence in half, and half again. He was terrified. He had heard the sort of crimes that could be committed within seconds of one boarding your vessel, and he had good reason to be terrified, I'm certain you would be, too. 

   Then, in a flash, came a booming knock on the side of his boat. Then from the other side, another. And another, and another and- nothing? In one swift rock, an oversized, black claw could be seen, tipping the boat up on one side. Thinking on his feet, Estowick grabbed the first thing he could find and poked the claw, trying to pry it away from the wood. He did so and it fell, but soon after, it appeared again in a different place. Along with another claw. Then two feet, then three, then four. It was ugly. Very ugly. 

Estowick looked at his chances; they were diminishing. He looked down at what he had picked up to pry away the claw, his suitcase. There was nothing important in there. It was dark green with a gold-ish border. He had bought it a few weeks ago off of Johaan for around fifty gold coins and was 'one of hundreds that had faced the Amber Slave Ships' apparently. 'One of hundreds'; That explained the dirt-cheap price.  

Looking as if he were in retreat, he placed the bag down in front of him, the dragon's teeth gnawing at the air waiting for the bliss as he did so. With one swift movement, Estowick sprung up like a SpeedStinger and landed on the fragile case. A bellowing boom of a sound consumed the entire boat, sending small vibrations through the wave-less water. The Dragon retreated; for a moment. Then with full force it attacked the bag. Est-y then used all of his courage to drag the bag and push it down the stairs below deck. It followed immediately, perhaps all that time under-water could have damaged it's eyesight and thinks that the bag is the threat because of the noise it had made. It was down there, 'killing' the suitcase for at least five minutes until Estowick had to go and sneeze. Ruined it all, didn't he? The Dragon bounded up the wood faster than a Skrill and confronted Estowick. Although having impaired eyesight, the dragon still snapped in the right places. Estowick drew a sword from below the floor boards and pointed it at the dragon. He made more noise by swishing the blade through the air, attracting the dragon's attention. He snapped again. Finally, the dragon plunged forward as Estowick dived backward and ran to the back of the dragon, prodded it and ran again. He knew the clock was ticking, and he knew how long the dragon had left. You see, a Sharkworm is a water-bound dragon and like the scauldon can't be out of the water for too long. In a scauldron's case, it's hours, in a Sharkworm's, it's ten minutes. And just as the Sharkworm would make its final pounce for its victim, its tail became dry and hard, then its back and soon enough it had vanished. It wouldn't be back too soon. Just thank the lord for that bag. 

 

He straightened himself up, lengthened his sleeves as much as he could, although nobody else was there to see him, and tried to picture where he was. No idea. But if he was in the Summer Current, then, he could be on route to Afar? Perhaps? He stepped forward to check on his maps to see if it were possible, when he stepped on a piece of seaweed dropped by the beast. He fell unconscious.  

 

Hiccup had started looking, now and he found nothing. He searched all over the shores of Berk, the School, he was nowhere to be seen. He soon gave up his search and went back to Est-y's house to see if Toultons was just being obnoxious or if he didn't want to go ahead with the plan at all. When he arrived at the Training Grounds, it was quiet. You see, it was almost the end of term so not many people were working, as such, but just having fun.  And so the Night Fury touched down up next to the salt lakes, clambered over the tools used to try and fix the mill-lift. Inside there was no sight of any life. And so glided down to the dock where his ship would be. For once, Toultons was right; it wasn't of Est-y's doing. The rope that would repress ships from drifting off, was frayed and broken on the end, with the other nowhere to be seen. And there was a clear reason behind this. 

    The second half of the rope lay, hanging on the side of slowly rotting wood very far south from its companion. You see, hours later, when Estowick awoke for a second time, Sharkwormless, he found himself lying on the deck of his ship sideways.  

"Well, this is more like it," he joked to himself, the past events rushing into his mind. 

He got up from his 'bed' and jumped onto the island ground. Where was he? Afar? No; there was grass. No grass on Afar, he recalled to himself. 

"Is that a-" he pronsed over to a particular plant that caught his interest, "Blue Oleander?! Woah. There's hundreds. Wait, that means... Oh, no. I'm on Botany Blight!" This was bad news. You see, one of the well-known traits of Botany Blight was the fact that in full tide, it disappeared. And looking at the tide at the moment-it was coming in. His boat was had a gaping hole out of the side of it where he had scraped the rocks of the island.  

Estowick immediately acted, got his book from inside, the sword and a fork and ran to the centre of the island. Well, that was the plan, anyway. When searching the contents of his boat, in the corner of his eye, he saw a strangely symmetrical rock poking up out of the shallows. He strode over there, slowly in curiosity on how such a square and rectangular shape could be there. He hit it with his knuckles and he soon found from the throbbing pain that it was metal and not rock at all. He also saw small Norse letters engraved into the stone saying: 

'Here layeth Estowick the First'  

And below that, a strangely shaped symbol depicting a deep green dragon with its mouth open. Something like this: 

  

 The current Estowick gasped at the sight of this, for he had heard of his ancestor, who was banished for training other dragons and supposedly working with the enemy. 

Did Estowick dare to look into his great great great uncles grave? Yes, he did because he knew that his uncle was a great deceiver and mischievous person and knew that he wouldn't be buried on an island where no one could fly to because of the flowers. He would want to be visited by anyone and everyone.  

Estowick sunk his hand beneath the water, which was cold for this time of day and unclipped a clip so that he could open the grave. Inside was nothing, as he had suspected and as the water rushed in from either side, he picked up a small medallion engraved with the symbol of a blue dragon on it. He pocketed it and checked for anything else. It was empty, he knew it. It was a strange artifact but an artifact none-the-less, it had intrigued him and it was related to him, basically. 

 

Moments later, after Estowick had recalled his ancestors' stories, he noted of the ascending tide and so headed off to the currently hidden centre of the isle. It was hidden only because of the fact that there was a mound blocking its view. And so, he climbed up the mound of earth seeing a shape in the distance. First appeared the chains. Slumping chains screwed into the ground for safe-keeping, and drooping upwards until finally reaching the main attraction. The beast. Estowick immediately hopped over to where the dragon was in its slumber, waiting patiently for someone to let it free.  

"Hello?" Est-y spoke in the lost art of Dragonese 

Its right eye opened in a snap at the sound of other dragons talking to him, this was a rarity for the beast now known as WHD for the island was filled with Blue Oleanders.  

"A human? Speaking Dragonese? Unheard of these days!" Called the dragon, shocked at his find.  

 

*** 

"And that was how I found WHD," Estowick closed his tale to Cressida.  

"Wait- So why is he called WHD?" She argued. 

"Oh yeah! Well, by the time that we got him out of the chains, it was early morning and those are known as the Witching Hours, and death always sounds good in a name so I put 'demise', instead. Witching Hour's Demise." 

They talked more about how he got out of the chains for a few more minutes, until the Final Battle of Afar came into conversation again.  

"So, this Esvivin fella', it was all his fault that they attacked? And he was just older than us? Why did he betray you all?" 

This was a story to remember. 

Now the sun rose over the sea stacks and into the house. It was a glorious sight. Hundreds of small dragons made their way across the horizon as they woke. This was dawn if you've ever seen it before. And just as the sun did ascend, Estowick focused his eyesight onto a magnificently sized ship heading South-East. It was strangely shaped but didn't keep his attention for long, before answering more of his new friends questions. 

 

This ship would soon dock on Berk, and this flagship would change the fate of the entire Archipelago. 

 

 

***

 

Chapter Three

 

 

The Religious Council of Iceland

 

 

 

"My Lord!" she said, glory in her eyes, "That's beautiful!" 

"It is, isn't it? I don't pay enough attention to it. It's nice to share it with someone else. Not another soul in the school gets to see this, only us.  I really should take more notice of it," he reminisced 

If you're wondering what 'that' and 'it' is, then let me tell you; it was the big ball of light that floats in the sky, waiting for something to happen. Do you know what it is yet? II should hope so; it's the sun. 

"We haven't had a drop of sleep. I hope we'll be alright," Cressida worried. 

"Why wouldn't we be? We might be a bit drowsy an' all, but that's fine, we've only got history with Simon Speaker, and he won't mind." 

"I know, but the shenanigans you get yourself into, we never know!" She joked. 

"Bah! We'll be fine, I doubt anything'll happen today, it's only the second week back." 

Oh, and how he was wrong, for just arriving in front of Berk was a ship. An almighty galleon that was peculiarly shaped with a bow reaching up out of the water for a long way. It had three tiers, three masts all connected with roped, a small 'backup boat' following on a rope from behind and an almighty cotton tent at the front. Very strange.  

"What do you want to do now?" Estowick asked, trying to entertain his guest. 

"I honestly don't mind! It's hours before our first lesson, and as you say 'it's only History.' What do we learn in History, anyway?" 

"We're learning about what will happen during Ragnarök and who will cause it and stuff. Anyway, shall I show you my farm? You'll get your own soon, but I bought one for myself that's- a little different," he explained. By different, Estowick means that he bought one of the first versions of what he now calls 'Farm by the Ocean' and is a bestseller.  

He directed her through the silent planks of the Training Grounds, explaining each of the building's purposes to the girl until they finally reached another beautiful view of the Lookout. 

"You know," she pointed out on her journey, "You're story about WHD had a lot of plot holes." 

Estowick didn't flinch or turn at this point, for he knew it was right. 

"I know it does," he began, "But so does the rest of my life, it seems." 

 

Once arriving at the farm, it came to Cressida how glorious it was. It had pontoons for fishing and sailing, yellow sands that could easily disguise a Sand Wraith on even a Winter's day. There wasn't much there, except for plots and plots of- nothing, it seemed. But below all of the soil were hundreds upon thousands of seeds, waiting to sprout out from their homes in the days to come and grow into their true form- Pumpkins. It was a bit late and Estowick doubted that they would be ready for Dreadfall, at all, but it was fun to grow them.  

"And do you see those trees up there?" He pointed to a group of trees around a mile away, "That is where the rest of my Dragons are. All of 'em. Around ten-twenty, all stay up there. All except WHD who is under protection from me." 

"Yeah, that too, you never did explain why he was in chains," 

"Even I, master of all, ha, don't know that," he joked. 

He told her about his dragons for a short while until remembering that he needed to show her something. 

"Look at this," he pulled his fingers to his lips and let out a squeal of a whistle. 

This soon disturbed the water as a long, snake-like creature emerged from the water, bobbing up and down on the surface. 

"Cressida, this is Olive, Olive the eel. Found her when I found WHD," he explained. 

"And you never thought to mention her? Ha. 'Liv the Fish. Well, it's nice to meet you and have a-" 

"ESTOWICK!" Butted in the bounding Viking from behind. 

"Toultons? What do you want?" Asked Est-y. 

Just as Toultons was about to explain his situation, Estowick butted in himself, "Oh, Cressida, this is our Head-Boy Toultons. And Toultons, this is Cressida, my new house-mate. Oh, sorry, carry on," he gestured politely. 

"Estowick," he panted, "There's a man on Berk in a robe who's threatening to kill me if I don't tell him where you are." 

"Woah, woahwoah. Slow down. A man wants to see me urgently, okay. This early? Strange. Urm, tell him I'll be right there," he put on a fake smile and shooed the boy away. 

"That was Toultons, he can be a little annoying at times," they laughed. 

"Well, shouldn't you go? It does sound urgent," she worried. 

"Tsk! Happens to me every week!" He boasted with a gaping smile covering his face. "Anyway, you can come too, we haven't got lessons for hours yet. Come on! Come!" He urged.  

She gave in and so the two people marched out of the farm, down the slope onto the first boat of the day, the quiet one. This headed through the tunnel to the school where it picked up two or three people who were not at all chatty and gave Cressida and Estowick dirty looks the entire time for talking until they at last arrived on Berk Docks where they chose to wave goodbye to their grumpy passengers and enjoy the walk. They could have got off on Berk, but Est-y found this far more exciting.  

"It's a nice place, this, isn't it?" She said, admiring the landscape of more pontoons and more sea stacks, "I've always liked it, ever since I first arrived on Berk a first came here as a child, then went back home, then moved here," she remembered. 

"It is nice," he replied, "But it's prone to attacks. I've always wanted to be part of one, actually. I will one day, you watch!"  

They wandered up the ramps until reaching the passing cave. It was a short, yet somewhat bendy tunnel that reached from Berk's Docks to Berk, itself. Here they didn't talk about anything, for a change, and instead, amused themselves by clicking their fingers and making strange whaling noises flood through the pass and echo to the other side. 

Berk, at this time in the morning, was normally silent with the odd weird-thing (e.gEstowick) prancing about as if it's four in the afternoon. And so, as the pair came through the passageway, they anticipated this expectation, but this is not what they got; it was packed. Everybody was awake, all of them looking as tired as a Gronckel after a three metre run, but awake, none-the-less. They were all buzzing around in groups talking and chattering to themselves. This was a rare sight. The last time this had happened was years ago during the rise of Mildew. The two students immediately looked at one another in confusion as they crossed the bridge wondering if they had got the time wrong or something.  

They passed a small notice board which Cressida skim read it, understanding that a student at SoD had payed for the school to get expanded on a new-found island until they reached the actual Village. 

As you would as well, the pair joined in one of the talkative circles, themselves, readying to ask what was going on. And just as they joined the group and Estowick opened his mouth to speak, a noise didn't come out of his mouth, it was the rest of them. A gasp spread like the plague across them all, not knowing what had hit them. What was wrong with Estowick? Why were they so shocked? 

"Estowick?!" 

"That's me," he replied to one of the Vikings. 

"WE'VE GOT HIM!" She cheered across to the other groups, as if they were wanting answers. 

"Estowick, who are they? They're looking for you!" Came numerous murmurs from the crowd.  

This came as a sudden shock to the two of them and after just seconds of trying to plead them with questions like 'Who?' They ploughed through the crowds up to the Great Hall, hand-in-hand,  where they surmised they would be.  

They ascended the ancient steps up to the even ancient-er building, passing Hiccup's house in the doing-so. Standing outside Hiccup's house, surprisingly, was Hiccup, who immediately rushed over to the boy with wide, eager eyes and a suspected sweat being born on his forehead.  

"Estowick," he calmed himself down, "Inside the Great Hall are three or four men looking for you. They arrived this morning and they are worrying everybody, so could you please go and talk to them. That's it, I will say no more and goodbye," he drifted off into the crowd, obviously stressed.  

Cressida purposfuly turned to wave 'goodbye' to the chief's son when something caught her eye.  

"Hey, Estowick." 

But by the time that she had said this, they were through the doors of the Great Hall and it seemed empty.  

The fire pit in the middle had three men standing beside it all of which were wearing a deep maroon covering, draping over their shoulders, it was lined with golden cotton and features embroidered patterns of purple colouring. All men were stationed at different points around the blaze, seemingly at the same angle between each one. They were standing with their eyes closed shut, their hands in an 'x' shape across their heart, overlapping one another, and their heads loomed downwards in a bow.  

The two friends tip-toed around them, Estowick's hand resting on his lodger's back to guide her. They continued to do this as to get a better look at them before Estowick finally made the move to go back to look as if they had just entered and cough to get their attention. All three men lifted their heads almost simultaneously and opened their eyes to view the visitor. Their eyes, when they did open, lit up in glee at the man they saw.  

"Estowick! Thank our Lord above us you're here!" They let out a sigh of relief to see the boy. 

"Can we help you? They say you've been here since this morning, who are you?" Est-y asked. 

"We are from the Religious Council of Iceland and we do need your help and the girl can come if you so wish," explained the man in the middle.  

The Religious Council of Iceland were a World renound group of people from the mysterious Northern Mainland of Iceland. It was so far off, it is on hardly anybody's maps of the Archipelago.  

"The Patriarch requests your immediate confrontation. We have got our ship-" 

Estowick butted in, a harsh murmur to his speech. 

"NO! No! I am not, and I repeat, not, going to Iceland! It can't be that urgent, can it?! If it is urgent then why call me? How can I help?" he rambled on until he himself was cut off. 

"Estowick, I think our friend would like to say something," Cressida said, calming him down. 

"Thank you. There will be no need to travel to Iceland or the Patriarch because we have, in fact, brought him to you," he explained the current situation while Estowick's attention diverted as he began to giggle. 

"HA! This is a joke. I see, The Patriarch never comes by boat," he noticed of the frowning faces of his company, "by boat, unless he comes in the- no. You didn't?!" At that he sprinted out of the doors and gazed on at the water surrounding Berk only to see it being almost fully occupied by a rather large boat. 

"You brought the flagship?!" He yelled back through the doors, "What're you doing?! You can't bring that ship here! No wonder they've all gone loony out there, they've just been threatened by the largest ship in the Archipelago! What do want me for, anyway? So badly that you bring the FLAGSHIP to Berk!" 

    "Estowick," Cressida diverted, "If this Patriarch person is such a big deal, then what he needs must be important too. Now, calm down and see what they need," she seemed pretty good at this.  

   "Thank you, again, girl. You should keep her around, Estowick, she seems to be very good at calming you down.  

If you would be so kind as to let us finish our ritual," he was then cut off by an innocent voice. 

"Well, could we join in, get to know your people?" That was Cressida. 

They agreed, nodding their heads eagerly, opening up the circle around the fire to make room. 

Everyone bowed their heads, closing their eyes and placing their hands on their chests in an 'x' and a small hum came out of the monks' mouths soon followed by the sounds of Estowick and Cressida's out-of-tune song. A strong chant in Latin now expelled itself from the main man as they finished off their ritual and somewhat felt better after talking with the Gods.  

After this, the men walked to the ship, telling our hero to wait in the Village and answer the questions of the terrified people. He did, after many a calming down session (With A LOT of help from Cressida) make his way over to where the ship was docked; on the side of the island, being connected by long, fraying ropes that were tied onto Johaan's stall, the catapult and a few other houses along with a lengthened wooden plank giving a way to enter the boat.  

They paced up and down on the grass-dock awaiting someone to call for them. During this time Hiccup had tip-toed up to them, almost a drip of water on his brow. 

"Estowick, Cressida," he called in a whisper, "Who are they? What do they want?"  

As Estowick opened his mouth to speak another being entered the scene. 
"Estowick," came the low bellow of the great chief of BerkStoick the Vast, "Who the THOR owns this ship?!" 

"Ah, well," he stuttered, "They are the renound Religious Council of The Great Mainland of Iceland in the Watchful Eye of Her Majesty the Empress and they need my help and are due to call for me any minute." 

After a minute extension on the conversation, they left, still with hundreds of queries in their minds. They just stood awkwardly, now, waiting for the doors to open. It was a high deck, he had noticed, reaching above their heads and the doorway was actually in the side of the ship. Looking down, he saw small gaps in the wood where the rowers would sit and direct it. The wood was hardly rotting, unlike it seemed all of his ships were. 

They now just stood there, waiting next to one another, their hearts in their mouths, a sweat appearing on their foreheads. Trying to lighten the mood, Cressida pointed to another nearby noticeboard and pointed out the article about a school boy paying to expand it on a new found island, this conversation didn't last long, as they heard small talks and mutters from behind the door. Seconds later, the wooden gateway swung open revealing a different man in the same sort of clothing they had seen earlier on.  

The man cleared his throat, clicked his heals together and  straightened his shoulders before finally saying "Estowick, the Patriarch is ready." 

Breathing getting heavier by the second, the pair looked at each other in despairthen at last stepped onto the plank leading to the door. It was sturdy, not at all wobbling as they crossed. As their eyes adjusted to the lighting change, what they saw wasn't what they were expecting. Instead of a great church-like palace beneath the deck, all they saw was a small indent in a long, narrow corridor with small, oak steps leading to another flow of light.  

The man gestured as if to say: 'Up there," and they did climb the staircase, having to wait for their eyes to get used to the light yet again until they reached the deck. The boat was big. Bigger than it had looked from below, at least fifteen metres wide and Thor knows how long. As Cressida looked left, she saw another set of two staircases being mimicked by yet another two on the other side. Then, as she looked right, she saw yet another unexpected thing; a tent. Although she had seen it from afar earlier on, she didn't get a closer look. But, there was a tent. Her eyes grew as her mouth dropped and took in a sharp breath of air.  

"My Lord," she said, looking directly at the dark purple and gold linen of the gazebo. It was big, taking up the majority of the front of the deck. Standing in front were two guards, wearing black uniforms with the emblem of the Council imprinted on them. They stood there with no hint of expression on their faces with long wooden sticks ending in a small circular object with what looked like a hat on top. Stepping forward, they note of their loud clicks of shoes on the boats flooring. The man nods at the two guards to let them pass through as they had correctly summised that this is where they should be going.  

The room was still big, with the walls waving often with the gentle east wind. In the room were around fifty stone benches all arranged in an incomplete circle around a blackened fire-pit. The small gap in seats led up a small, removable step to the 'alter' which was a tall block of wood with a place to put your papers if you were delivering a sermon. The alter itself was in the shape of Yggdrasil the tree, showing all of the worlds. However, apart from them and two more guards, nobody else was to be seen.  

Unlike the exterior, the inside of the tent was not like a pyramid, for there was a large descending wall of cloth, cutting just over half way. This is hwere the arms were. Pointing in a question, Estowick wondered if that was their destination. The guards once again had a nod to let them through. Before entering, however, their guide went close to their ears and whispered something they must do, they listened and prepared to enter.  

Once they did, what they saw was a group of around six men, all in the same sort of robes, and then a seventh who was not standing, but sitting in the highest of the chairs that rested in the small 'room' and this man's robe was a mustard-y yellow with fraying edges and some marron patterns embroidered into it.  

All of the men's heads tilted to look at the visitors. 

"Estowick? Thank our Lord," they gleamed. 

In shock, Estowick's eyebrows raise, then remembering what he and Cressida must do. 

 

"Ave domino," they stated in unison, supporting their belief system. 

After returning the statement, they all introduced themselves, one by one, the Patriarch coming last.  

"It is a pleasure to meet you, your Holiness. We hear that you require our help," they admired. 

"Yes, we do indeed," his frail hands slithering from under his robe. 

Tugging on a piece of parchment, he runs his hands across it as if it were his child. 

"You, see. The other day we went searching for something in the Archives, and found this dumped in the foyer, obviously dropped by somebody. At first we thought it a prayer, than blasphemy and then we realised; it was a map." 

And indeed he was right, for located at the end of the shaking fingers was a creased paper, describing the locations of hundreds of places across the archipelago.  

"We need your help because we can't decrypt the legend and we are lead to believe that you do," 

"What's so special about it?" He enquires, Cressida wondering the same question. 

"We are lead to believe that it is a map depicting the known route of the ship belonging to a cult of Dragon-hating maniacs known as 'The Umpires Empire'," 

"Oh, no," said Estowick, in disbelief.  

 

 

***

 

 

Chapter Four

 

 

The Umpire's Empire

 

 

 

Wait! What's so bad about them?!” she bellows, trying to recapture the male who had just stormed out of the tent-like structure in a wrath of anger. 

 

“Don't run after him, my girl. He will have bad memories of these people. You have heard about his land, I take it? How it is lost in battle and rage? How every one of those souls is scattered across the Archipelago, most of them just corpses, scouring the ocean for a new home, a new purpose,” came one of the assistants to the Patriarch. 

 

Then, the decaying skin around the mouth of the Patriarch himself began to stretch as he spoke. “I sense he has told you minimal about Esvivin.” 

 

“He won't tell me a thing. He acts as if he doesn't know, and it scares me,” she muttered. 

 

“Esvivin caused the attack, he is the reason Afar is lost.” 

 

“And he is still part of the Umpire's Empire. Once one of Estowick's best friends, turned evil by the sight and sound and feeling and taste of Dragon haters.” 

 

Explained a few of them. 

 

Estowick ran. He ran and ran and ran. He went out of the tent, and the other one out onto the deck, up the first flight of steps where he thrashed the helm. Then he carried on up again and onto the back decorations. You know, those two little projectiles that poke out of the back of one of those fancy ships. He climbed to the top of the purple, wooden structures and just stood there, understanding that he had reached the end. He could run no further. He stared down into the abyss below; the beckoning waters surrounding Berk and beyond. He reminisced, a tear appearing in his eye, his balance moving only slightly. He shook his head in disappointment. 

 

Soon after, a girl came rushing though the fabrics, scouring the area for any sign of the lad. “Estowick!” she called, obviously terrified, “Estowick come down from there! You might hurt yourself!” 

 

“So? Why would that matter? What have I done to help this world, so far? Nothing. Absolutely nothing!” he scowled. 

 

“What do you mean? Of course you've done stuff! You stopped The Umpire's Empire the first time 'round! You saved your dragon from that island! Thor, you introduced me to this place!” she laughed gesturing to the island. 

  

There was a long and unnerving silence. She just stood, staring at him. And he just stood staring down in the water. 

 
“Hiccup did most of that. Introducing you, that is. I just let you stay the night,” he denied. 

 

“Well, sorry I don't agree with that!” she was cut off. 

 

“And as for my dragon,” he paused, “That's where he lived. That was his home, beneath there was a cave system where his family was. By unhooking the chain, the cave collapsed and they all died. That's why I was there so long, I spent six hours fighting the tide to try and dig them out, but I couldn't- I couldn't save them! 

 

“Oh and don't you even start on the Umpire's Empire rubbish! They've come back! All I did was delay it. A delay, that's it!” 

 

“A seven year delay! Yes they've been working for all these years but they could've been killing! And think, that bought us enough time for us to know about their plan. And there's still time! Decode the map, Estowick. And we can still stop them,” she began to walk away. “ Oh and for your 'what have you done for the world' stuff, you forgot your two biggest words in that sentence. 'So far'” 

 

 

Many leagues away, on an island somewhere in the North, in the centre of three separate, blood-red rock faces was a man. A man whose arms were draped down in deliberate parallelisation, swinging back and forth with every step around the centre. In front of the man, another man. Another man whose arms were draped down, swinging left and right, left and right. And in front of that man, a woman. A women whose arms swung left and right in every slow, pacing step she took. And in front of her, another person doing the same. And again. And again. And again. Over three hundred people all circling this gaping hole in the middle of the land, in unison. Then, all at once they stop. All of them at the same time. Paused. They stay there for what feels like minutes but was only seconds before in a click of a finger drop to their knees and turn to face the hole. They began chanting something then. All the same thing. All something in a low pitch, something that still to this day cannot be understood. Some of the people's arms were up as in prayer, some were stuck together like glue, while other's were just staying down, but all still doing the same thing. 

   After minutes of the chanting, silence returned. But it wasn't normal silence. It was the sort of silence that seemed as if it were building tension. The sort that you knew wasn't good. You knew there was a reason they were quiet. This seemed to last a lifetime. Then, as the atmosphere in the air got tighter and tighter until BANG. The entirety of the group screeched up to the sky in a tremendous roar. A call of all dragons. A call that would call a dragon. A mother of the Dragons. And she awoke. 

 

 

Standing watching the group of people were three. All on small stone pedestals, one higher than the other two, like a competition finale. The tallest was the leader. And the other two were his 'joint second in command.' 

 

“Perfection,” said the one to the left, the youngest of them, “Absolute perfection. All of them at the same time, not at all faltering. And to think, I've got around a hundred more on the ship. All doing the same thing. At this rate she'll be flying in no time at all!” 

 
“She already can,” argued the one to the right. The two seemed to have some sort of rivalry to be at the top. He was the older of the two, if you haven't guessed. 

 

“Yes, it happened yesterday, while you were recruiting. She got up about a hundred feet into the air. Sorry you missed it,” said the leader, the controller of the hundreds of minions. His name was Archivolt. Archivolt Dell. He was the infamous leader of The Umpire's Empire, the one who was soon to terrorise the entire Archipelago with his plan. 

 

“And you didn't think to tell me?!” the boy scolded. 

 

“Watch your mouth, child, you've only been here a few years compared to Alfred here. You can get kicked back down there with the rest of 'em. Do you want that?” 

 

“No,” he sulked in reply to the High Councillor. 

 

“Then keep your mouth shut,” he said, a smirk appearing across Alfred's face. 

 

“Wait,” the youth tugged, “Why is she still here then? Why haven't we attacked?” 

 

“Because someone's being indecisive,” Archivolt gestured to the man on his right. 

 

“Well, it's a difficult decision. If we go to the Shivering Shores, they'll use the Armada and the whole Archipelago'll be against us, if we go to Louse, nobody will pay any attention and nobody'll be against us!” he argued. 
 

“Do you have any suggestions?” questioned the leader, forgetting about the elder of the two, while still admiring the crowd. 

 

“Well, he is partially correct, it is a delicate decision,” 

 

“Thank yo-” 

 

“But then again... Let's go to Berk. Not too many defences, they will believe everything, but they have enough connections to get the World worried,” the child explained. However as the explanation was being expelled, the man in the centre and the man on the right had began whispering to one another, taking minimal notice of the idea. 

 

“Child,” he decided to include him at last, “Do you see that?” He pointed his wrinkly finger in the general direction of a man in the crowd. “Does he look familiar to you?” 

 

The conversation about the identity of the figure progressed further as the people still marched around in unison, dropped to their knees and sounded the best Dragon Call yet, the loudest and most accurate. It was then that the first glimpse of the Dragon withheld inside the burning fury of the hole appeared. A hot red glow shone out of the cavern, blinding everything there. Then a single eye appeared through the flames, staring directly upwards before tilting and scanning the others, the others who had just called her. The second it appeared another beckoning chant began, untranslatable. The people were not at all fazed by the appearance of the creature, all except one. 

 

The moment the eye could be seen, he stopped chanting. He stopped everything. 

 

Watching from a distance, this was the identity the 'crew' were trying to figure out and they had come to their conclusion. 

 

“Alex!” called the leader to his Butler. 

 

“Yes, sir.” 

 

“See that man there, bring him here,” 

 

“Of course, sir.” 

 

Then the three stood and watched with eager eyes as to finally end the argument in their heads about if it really is him. They watched as Alex went around the perimeter and instructed one of the guards to collect the rouge. 

However, moments later this was deemed useless, as the man could no longer be seen in the circle. Nor could he be seen with another guard. However, he could be seen alone. A lone wanderer making his way across the stone toward the men, through his own will. 

 

“You can't do this, you know Archie!” the man called, “I've seen the eye of that beast before, that Dragon should be left to roam free, not trapped under your control!” 

 

“Oh, shut up Jerry, you were the exact same in school. 'You can't do this, you can't do that' Well, ya' know what?! Watch me! We fly to Berk, NOW!” exclaims the old schoolmate of Jerry the Preacher from Iceland. 

 

“I won't let you! You can't do this, Archie!” 

 

“Oh, do you EVER shut up?!” agreed the two others. 

 

“This is wrong, and you know that, Archie, please... We used to be best friends- why do you have do this? What makes you NEED to do this? What? What is it? Come on tell m-” the great sword Leviahect drew from the belt of Archivolt Dell of The Umpire's Empire and impelled itself into the side of Jerry the Preacher from the Religious Council of Iceland, who was on a mission to discover their plot. 

 

“I've wanted to do that for thirty years. Feels good,” he tugged on the blade and wiped it on the shoulder of Alex, who had just returned. The body was taken away soon afterwards. 

 

A loud, rib-shattering horn sounded, calling everybody's attention to the Controller. 

 

“My people,” he began, “We leave for Berk. To the ships! 

 

“Alex! Tell those down below to loosen the chains, The Green Death's off to Berk!” 

  

 

“Alright you lot, where's this map, then?!” stormed in Estowick a smile going from ear to ear. 

 

“Thank you Estowick, we realise how hard this must be for you,” came a very swift reply from one of the Patriarch's main attributes, while gesturing to the piece of laid out parchment. 

 

After a few moments of looking at Estowick's eyes going back and forth over the page, all of them in that tiny room started to get impatient. All of the guards, the followers, Cressida. They were all anxious to discover what was meant by this piece of paper. 

 
“Oh come on! Do you recognise it?!” came the unexpected cry of the ancient Patriarch, himself. 

 

After a look of surprise covers his face, Estowick then went on to say: “Well, yes. I- it's funny, really. Urm- this is a series of symbols which we were taught when we were children. All of us on Afar. It was a game. Most of the parents would have forgotten by their age how to understand it, but the children loved it. Every island had one, do none of you remember? It was to up our skills in decoding.” 

 

Every one of them had a closer look and tried to recall their childhood, but failed. All except from one- Cressida. 

 

“We had something so similar! Back on Louse! They were the exact same symbols, just with little changes, like dots here and there. So does that mean that the maker of the map... Is a child?” 

 

 

The three men boarded the youngster's ship known as the similar name to their religion The Umpire. The Green Death was ready to set off as it was tied using the strongest of deep green chains  to the bows of the ships. There were three ships in total. The largest was where Archivolt, Alfred, Alex and the youngster were stationed, while the other two were filled with guards and the remaining three hundred followers. 

“Alex, tell the archers to set sail at a steady 40 knots. Oh, and fetch me a cup of Selomide, will you, thanks,” he ordered. 

 

Soon enough, six specialised archers with supreme accuracy loaded six separate arrows with shining metal points and, at the exact same time, shot into the side of the great adolescent Dragon that could be seen hovering in front of the ships. It was at that moment that the beast powered forward with extreme force tugging along the armada behind them at a strong 40 knots. 

 

 

“This is great!” he exclaimed, “With two of us knowing it, we'll be able to track down the position of their fleet in no time at all!” Hid Estowick behind a veil of joy. 

 

“Don't they have an island, like a base or something?” queried Cressida. 

 

“Well, last time I checked, their entire religion of less than a hundred people were stationed on an armada of around fifteen ships, with the main church centred on the flag ship. Deciphering the key will tell us where they park the ships at certain times of the year. Ha! Right, I can't remember every symbol so if you name the ones you can and I'll name the ones I can, we'll get through it. Ready? Let's go-” 

 

After a short while, half an hour or so, the two had finished working out the letters for the key and had now started working out the key, itself. It was at this point that the shadow came. While still inside the little tent, alone now, left to work by the Icelandic, the light that crept its way through the cracks in the deep purple veil vanished. The light that made its way through the miniscule gaps in the fabric, disappeared, also. It wasn't a gull, for it stayed there for too long. It wasn't a native Berkian dragon for it was too large. So what was it? Of course the question cropped up in the couple's minds but it didn't really bother them, for they could still see what they were doing. Seconds passed and they just carried on chatting away, talking about the past when the sound of a high pitched whelp makes its way into the pair's ears. They surmise it's just the Twins up to their old tricks but that is soon proved wrong when another yell for help appears. The shadow has now moved away but the screams keep on coming.

“What do you think it is this time?” joked Cressida, having only lived there for a minimal amount of time but still understanding the torment this town went through due to certain members of it.

“I'm not sure. It sounds more serious than normal, more layers,” he began in reply, him brow furrowed, “I'm just going to check, you carry on decrypting.”

 

He gets up out of his chair, reaches his hand forward and opens up the first veil. The cries are louder now. He steps forward, his pace and his pulse quickening before finally unveiling the final veil only to see- nothing. Just the sea. He steps out into the centre of the deck and turns to face the island of which he called home. There were only around fifteen people to be seen, and they were all running. All of these people happened to be in the shadow, to Est-y's naiveness the same shadow that had appeared moments earlier. They all either headed to the docks, the main docks or the Great Hall with one or two going into their homes. This drew Estowick to the question- 'What were they running from?' This, to the seventeen-year-old's surprise, was answered almost immediately afterwards.

After turning to look the other direction to answer his query, it came upon Estowick to look twice at the thing he saw. It was impossible, he'd never seen anything like it. Within minutes without warning, a great and powerful beast had housed itself in the sky, hovering above the water causing ripples to be sent to nearby fishing boats.

“My lord,” came the croaked voice of Estowick. With his heart in his mouth, Estowick immediately charged back into the tent back to Cressida.

“Psst! Cressida! Down here!” he crouched on the floor, “There's a- a- Dragon outside.”

 

“Okay. Did you find out why they were shou-”

 

“No, no, no. You don't understand, it's a,” he looked around, “It's a Great Death. Purple-y green-y thing in the sky.”

 

“Estowick. Number one- I don't think we need to be worrying about colours for the moment, and two- I think we need to stay calm, say hi, and get it on its way. Okay?” she said, her voice wavering in fret.

 

They made their way back out of the ship, down the steps, through the glorious corridor and back out through the nautical door. They stood on the grass, stayed still and stared. Just just stared into the eyes of the beast. This was, however, until something caught their eyes. A ship. A single ship. Wait, no- two ships of a reasonable size. Oh, hang on- three ships. The one in the middle is larger than the other two and has an emblem on the flag. Oh, no went the thoughts of Estowick, briefly as he recalled the symbol imprinted on it. He repeated his thoughts out loud numerous times before being punched by Cressida with questions.

“What? What is it?!”

“That ship- It... It belongs to the Umpire's Empire. It's their flagship, it is the Umpire itself!”

 

And on the bow of that ship, on the front little decoration-al wooden part, stood a boy. The same boy who the ship basically belonged to. When the boy and our friend Est saw each other, they locked eye contact. Though taking few seconds to recognise one another, one of them smiled in glee for he knew he would be here while the other almost broke down to the floor.

 

“No. No. It can't be. I thought he left- I thought he was fired!” said the one who broke down to the ground.

 

“Ha ha ha. Oh. And to think I'd choose Berk for their defence systems. Ha!” said the one who smiled.

 

“What? Why did we come here other than their connections?” queried Alfred.

 

“Why, didn't you know? This is the home of the surviving heir to Afar! Estowick, I think he calls himself,” he laughed, watching his enemy confer with his companion over a stretch of sea underneath the adolescent Green Death.

 

“What? Who is it? What do you mean 'fired' fired from what?” bounded Cressida.

 

“He was fired from The Umpire's Empire, I'm almost certain of it. Esvivin.”

 

***
 
 
 

Chapter Five

 

 

The Umpire's Rise

 

 

 

Footsteps bounced and pronounced their songs of the ground as waves crash not far above him. The footsteps progress up around a foot, then across around two feet, then up a foot, and over and over again for these were stairs. However, these were no ordinary steps for this was no ordinary staircase. Laden with flashing gold and deep green, these steps led down to a hundred separate rooms, and led up to a village. The noise got louder for the owner of the footstep as he neared the entrance. By noise, I mean the waves. You see, the waves on that island were peculiar, whenever something bad happened, there would be more of them but on a day which was as calm as a sleeping Gronkle the water was likewise. Today the waves were as bad as a woken Gronkle and for a suited reasoning because of the tragic events that had and would unfold soon enough. The owner of the footstep plodded with heavy feet up the stairwell, lending a watchful eye to all of the pictures engraved into the stone-like material beneath him. These diagrams represented the history of his island and what was predicted to come by the soothsayers of the past. He then gained a glimpse of a different kind of light, a light that was more natural than what he had become used to down here and he smirked. But the smirk then turned into a tad bit of frown as the comforting light of home literally flashed before his very eyes. The flash soon ended, and it went back to normal, but then an onslaught of terrible yells and screams for help sounded, echoing throughout the stairwell. His furrowed brow left almost immediately after it arrived as he realised what had happened. He began to climb faster, now, and the echoes that bounced their songs increased their dynamics. 

No. He thought, his heart in his mouth. Once reaching the literal mouth of the stairwell system, the boy, or should I say Estowick,'s  eyes went inactive for a short while before adjusting to the change in light. The image displayed in his mind of that he expected to see was almost what he got. Almost exactly, I would say. There was just one main difference; a man. I say a man, he was just older than the boy, still as fox on the hunt, he stared forward, a small sense of anxiety filling his mind as the ascender clambered out over the stone. Now they had both stopped. Silence. After staring at one another for what felt like a lifetime it would become obvious to a viewer that one of them was slightly gleeful while the other was submerged in sorrows. 

 

“This is all your fault, you know. All of these deaths. All you! If you had done as you were told, if you ever listened! None of this would have happened,” he gestured to the ruins around him, a tear in his eye. 

 

This was a pinnacle point in our story's history, for this was Estowick and Esvivin.

 

SEVERN YEARS LATER

 

 

“Esvivin?! As in the one from your island?! The one who destroyed it!” Cressida tried to break through to the man who was currently in a trance with a barrier thicker than the Roman legions and would respond to nothing.

With all censored that could break loose above their heads and the yelling and screaming continuing, this didn't change the position of the two at all. All of these years apart, it was as if they were catching up. One of the guards of the Patriarch's Flagship tried calling Estowick, but there was no reply. The same came for a particular villager behind them, who tried to get the pair inside away from the attack. Cressida tugged and tugged Estowick to try and get him to get into safety, but in the end, she had to leave him there.

No. He thought, once again, a slight ringing inhabiting his ears, and a slight ringing alone. Time seemed to have stopped for our friend Est-y as he reminisces his past and what could be his future. While everyone behind Esvivin were nudging him to renter the main study and everyone behind Estowick were urging him to get into safety, the pair stood still as two foxes waiting for the other's move. Then, all of a sudden, time went back to normal for Estowick, the ringing in his ears disappeared while his hearing re-materialised. This is where he heard Cressida calling from behind and he called her back to where he was standing for he knew something that apparently no Berkian did.

“Estowick,” she hurried, “You need to get inside, out of the way of that Dragon!”

 

“No, I don't,” he blurted, casually.

Then there were two people standing. They locked eyesight once again, but this time, Estowick looked more confident than Esvivin, flipping the tables. A little tingle of Estowick's fingers transmitted across the water as a wave before folding his arms in a smile and simply standing, not at all fazed by the towering Death above him. He did, however, have a quick peek upwards at the tremendous beast. His eyes exploded with shock after letting the sight of the Dragon sink in. He peered up again and oh, it was a little... big. Just a tad bit large. It was only a baby, really, but still massive. It's oversized wings raised and lowered themselves at an angle similar to that of the rest of its body. Though slow and rare, these flaps of the wings were all powerful and sent shock-waves speeding through the water beneath her, causing louder waves to crash upon Berk's shores. He looked up once more which was a mistake, also because it just scared him even more. The talons of the beast were incredible, 5-10 feet long. He shook it off, realising how harmless it was, really, along with their entire raid on the village.

 

“Estowick,” Cressida pulled with gritted teeth, “Come on, they'll make it shoot any minute.”

 

“You sure about that?” he joked, staying calm. It was around three minutes they stood there, Cressida nervous all the way and Estowick completely calm, on the outside. This all ended when Esvivin finally gave in, his fraying-edged coat running away in the wind, he turned around and stormed into the study. It was as if the two could hear Esvivin sulking from over the large amount of water and over the noises of continuous screaming.

“See? The archers are exiting now, see? We need to get into cover,” Cressida nagged.

“Do you wanna know what I think'll happen?” Estowick pulled in closer to her ear and whispered what he surmised would turn out.

Three or four archers marched up the the edge of The Umpire, all with a straight, completely blank expressions on their faces. They all lifted their left arm simultaneously, turned around ninety degrees right, then raised their left hand to unveil a single metal tipped arrow. Then, in completely accurate unison, the drew back the springy rope connecting the two ends. They were all aimed in the same direction; all facing almost directly upwards, right underneath the Green Death, itself. The tension, like that if the silence on their isle, was building the longer their hands floated in the air, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. There was no communication at all between any of them. They were silent. But somehow, all at once, they released their arrows, at the same speed, at the same time with the same force. Incredible. They glided through the air, watching the absence of the crowd of Berk and the rush of people on the ships below them until they hit something, something warm and slightly squidgy. Flesh. The hard, scale-y skin of a Dragon. Moments afterwards an almighty shriek scattered itself all over the Archipelago, into the farthest depths of cave systems and the highest points of the tallest peaks of mountain ranges for this was a baby's cry for help. And when a baby cries, soon after, it screams and ends in the pit of a tantrum. This was also the case for our prisoner. The beast opened her monumental jaws, showing interchangeable gnashers and unmarked gum-lines. It was such a privilege to see a creature at this young a stage in its life. You see, the beasts one would usually come across would be torn and old and scarred with memories of battles and confrontations of its past, but with one at such an age, these were still to come. You wished that these could be avoided but with the current state of the Vikings, the damage it would one day face was inevitable. Now, I've gone off of subject. Where was I? Ah, yes, she opened her mouth wider and wider until it could fit a Viking's home in and this is when Estowick almost doubted himself and went to turn back. He stayed strong, however, with his arm around his house-mate's shoulder, and watched as deep reds and oranges started to appear from the back of the Dragon's throat. Flame. Without as much of a warning as you might have thought, it fired.

 

With an older Dragon, before releasing its wrath, the creature will try to scare you. It will brighten the glow expelling from its throat so much that it will hurt them, they will make a low growling noise, and finally it will breathe in as much as possible to make it look and sound as threatening as possible. Don't get me wrong, the consequences were bad, just perhaps not as bad as they were built up to be. This Dragon, however, gave minimal amounts of these signs and so it did come as quite the shock when it did fire. Both Estowick's and Cressida's air intake increased at this point for neither of them were certain that Est-y's mindset was right. The flames that did pour out of the Death, weren't very... big. For a baby, they were huge, but in comparison- tiny. The blast clambered forwards, further and further, closer and closer to the couple. It was only when she took notice of the angle of the shots that Cressida really calmed down. Opposite to the arrows, the shots went almost directly down and buried themselves in the lapping waves of the ocean.

The pair just stood there and laughed, chuckling to deliberately be seen over the water by Esvivin, of whom Cressida had not yet had the 'pleasure' of meeting. However, then something did happen that made the opposition chuckle over on his planks of wood. Steam. From the water arose steam, blocking off all sight of the ships, like a thick, smokey fog acting as a barrier between good and evil.

Then a horn, louder than that of Archivolt, sounded, echoing up to the highest reaches of Gothi's Hut and the lowest depths of the well system. No sound other than the horn could be heard and it lasted forever. Only a quick 'woosh' sound from behind could be heard, followed by a flash of blue-y light. Hiccup and his band of misfits. No, they weren't misfits at all, I'm sorry. It's just over the years I have grown to dislike this group due to the fact that they either were never on Berk when they were needed, came in too late and the fact that Hiccup tends to be a little 'restricting' when it comes to trying to stop evil in its tracks. Anyway, Hiccup had arrived and several blasts of purple shone through the mist. As far as I remember they didn't hit anything except from each other, ha. Anyway, after the deafening noise of the horn, the West of Berk had become completely invisible due to the fog. Then, out of nowhere, and yet, everywhere the most ear-splitting speech could be heard.

“Time is ticking for this Empire, Berk,” it began, “The Empire of Humans and Dragons is coming to an end, and the new Empire shall reign upon us. THE UMPIRE'S EMPIRE!” This was followed by a series of cheers from the vanished ships. It was an impossible feat which could not be done today. Threaten an island with hundreds of people with a baby flying lizard which can hardly shoot fire, arrive with three oversized ships packed with hundreds of dedicated follows, make everything you've just showed them disappear with three bits of wood then finally make a speech louder than a man can shout across the entirety of the isle while still being on an apparent non-existent boat. An absolute incredible feat. Now all of Berk was terrified. A woman called Ethelia Limpet while still shaking was half way through an article for the local news about the incident, though everybody was there. Hiccup was scared as was the rest of his gang. Stoick wouldn't leave his house for a good five more minutes. Gothi just sat at home and shook her head, as if she knew it was coming while a few could be seen running over to other's houses and the rest just sat there, worried for their safety. Estowick and Cressida were shaking in their boots, literally, as they were on the front lines with no idea as to where the origin of the noise came from.

“Are you alright?” whispered one of them.

“I know that voice,” the other replied, “The loud one. That's Archivolt Dell! He used to come for a monthly visit to Louse to sell his goods-”

“I think now's the time to run and hide,” butted in Estowick, pulling her back into the ship.

They hid inside the corridor on the ship for a short while listening out and hiding out from the onslaught that was sure to begin soon. Nothing came. Were they waiting for Estowick? Is that why they came here in the first place? These are just some of the questions that crossed his mind.

 

The seventeen year old creped out of the ship, telling his friend to stay back in case of fire. He poked his head out of the wooden boards and then peered behind the ship itself to see where the ships had found themselves. They were gone. All of the ships in mere minutes, had disappeared along with a fifty-foot Dragon. These guys were clever.

 

“It's alright you can come back out, they're gone,” he sighed, thinking of where they'd pop up next.

 

 

Not far away from this situation, not long afterwards a man walks at a fast pace. He hears his footsteps click and tap often as he swiftly makes his way to the main study of the boat. On his right arm is perched a white cloth, while his left arm is pointing upwards, a large silver tray rested on his hand. He marches up the final corridor before nodding to one of the guards to open the doors. He walks in a curve as he enters the office inhabited by three people. The man, whose name was Alex, laid the tray out flat on a small desk on the right before finally pulling back a second darker cloth to reveal the meal. He clicked together his heels once more, straightened his back and left the room.

“Well I think that was a success! Don't you?” cried Archivolt, scraping the plater closer to him to feast. “Oh, thank you Alex,” he muttered under his breath, gesturing to the food.

 

“It jolly well was!” agreed Alfred, overjoyed, “Great choice, Esvivin, Berk! Perfect! Don't ya' think?”

“No,” he said with a low tone. “He smiled. He smiled and laughed. He should have been crying with the thought of his lost island, not smiling at me for five minutes!” he sulked.

 

“Cheer up, boy! You couldn't of chosen better! Now who's up for some grub?” laughed Archie.

 

“What is it?” he asked through gritted teeth.

 

“Fried nano-Dragons, I think. Not the best he's cooked but better than nothing,” he said, his mouth half full.

 

At that the boy just scoffs and the doors open once more to re-reveal the butler, a skip in his step.

 

“A message for you sir, tomorrow's newspaper from the Shivering Shores, written by a Berkian,” he smiled, obviously good news.

 

He snatched it off of him with a cheek, unpicked the knotted string and unravelled the news.

Before laying his eyes on the body of the article, itself, Archivolt skimmed over the headline first, expecting something like: 'Ancient Enemy Strikes Back,' or 'Berk Terrified by Old Foe' or even just 'The Umpire's Empire Returns.'

This was not, however, what he got.

The headline of the paper read:

'Old Man's Three Ship Armada Retreat after a “Bit of Nasty Fog”.'

“What?! What did you bring me, Alex? The way you said it, you made it sound as if it were the best news title in history!” he shook his head. “Increase the speed by thirty knots!” he ordered his servant, obviously annoyed.

“I told you we should have stayed,” groaned the boy.

“Oh shut up, you cynic!”

 

 

The couple made their way back into the vessel owned by the ancients, through the old corridors, passed the paintings once again. It had lost its magic now, three times ruins everything. Ah, well. They ploughed through the tent, into the second one only to see the Patriarch alone, unprotected sitting at the table with the map in one hand and a cup of Selomide in the other.

After a long conversation about personal well-being in a situation such as this and how it's not a good idea to sit in a flimsy, thin-fabric tent.

“I finished decoding it,” he mumbled, innocently.

“What? How?” they questioned.

“Well, when you said that it was just like the ones we learnt as a child, as a religious leader, I am able to look back in my past and figure out any problems at all. I read your key, then tried to recall as much as I could and then found out their base. Easy,” he smiled, causing even more wrinkles than normal.

“What? Let me see that!” ordered Est.

“He's right Estowick, look” showed Cressida.

“So they have got an island. Without a name. Leave it to them to make three flagships disappear and forget to name an island. Thor, call it Archivolt for all I care, just give it a name,” he mumbled to himself.

 

 

Hours and leagues later, three ships had come to a halt, all waiting for transport. They had all docked on the mysterious island known as- well, nothing – next to small floating pontoons surrounded by sea stacks and they were all itching to get back to the island to celebrate their successes. The island itself was really rather round, with three triangular peaks building a wall around the centre, of which looked as if it had been carved out by a beast. This depth is what gave the island its hideout, and its place for its super-weapon. A fiery home for a fiery beast, hidden deep within the gaping hole in the middle of the land, reaching out its glove to the bottom of the burning Earth. The reason they were parked over 500 feet away from the island itself was because of the fact that it was too dangerous. You see, dotted all around that island were small craggy rocks and stones that could at any time puncture a ship, causing it to fall to the home of the sea-monsters. To prevent the problem were three, reasonably large wooden pontoons, floating and bobbing with the waves quite a way away from the isle, itself. This was where the 'ferries' came in. On the main flagship, The Umpire, were two or three 'ferry-boats' which were narrow collections of wood which made up carriers to get to and from the island to the ship. However, after a short while of standing there, these ferries were nowhere in sight, for they were already parked on the island with a few followers, tying up the Green Death so that it is absolutely safe before arrival.

On the third and the largest pontoon of them all, stood three men in a funny-looking line, awaiting their passage.

“Alex! Where are they?” snapped the irritated leader, Archivolt.

“They shouldn't be too long now, sir. Once they've finished fastening her up, they will be right back.”

The three men, Archivolt, the leader, Alfred, the age-old second in command, and Esvivin, the youngest of them all but still second in command, were starting to get impatient, often finding themselves muttering 'Come on,' and 'How much longer?' under their breath. Tapping of toes and the twiddling of thumbs started to increase as the water lapped and crashed upon the rocky shore's of nowhere. Then, in the corner of his eye, Alfred saw a woman. A woman with her arm poised up in the air as if to attract attention.

“Alex,” he called, leaning toward him, “Is that supposed to mean anything?”

At that Alex turned immediately to his attention-seeker. This he raised his opposite arm in reply.

She then began to send him a message via the movement of flags. Perhaps not the exact same, but very similar to that used by the British Royal Navy for several decades. After around two minutes, Alex turned swiftly to face his master with a foul, rather scared look struck across him.

“What did she say, Alex?”

“There's other people in there, already. Someone's found the base.”

 

This was a situation of 'all hands on deck,' if I've ever seen one. All followers and guards and menservants were ordered to build up defences and weapons for they knew that if there was one person in there now, soon enough there would be a whole plethora of others, fledging to find them.

“I need seventeen of you!” demanded Archivolt, “Three guards and the rest you lot, pair up!”

Within minutes, the leader had entered the study on the rampant ship, marched to the back and revealed a secret doorway. He was only in there a few seconds before returning down the ramp to the pontoon where Alfred and Esvivin looked at each other rather worried and confused as to what their Umpire was doing. He thrashed the side of the ship to unveil an opening containing a small emergency escape ship.

“I will come with you sir,” called Alfred from a short distance, trying to suck up to his leader.

“If you so wish. Bring your sword, man,” he said, paying more attention to the boat than to him.

“And I shall stay here, guard the fort,” Fought Esvivin, trying to get one better on him.

A few minutes of more competitiveness and he was ready. Stationed in the back of the small emergency dingy sat Archivolt awaiting Alfred and a couple of guards to enter along with him.

“We're ready. Esvivin, defend here. If anything else turns up, do NOT let it in. You do this, you'll get your promotion,” explained Archie under his breath.

The four people sailed on in and out of the rock formations, passed schools of fish and small nano-dragons before at last arriving at the shore. I say shore, I mean rock-face. It must've been a fifty degree angle but it was the only way into the cauldra-type basin.

On arrival inside, it was empty. All except the giant titan Dragon in the centre. It looked empty.

“Hello, Archivolt,” came the gentle, ageing voice of the Patriarch.

“Delmac,” he greeted.

“I haven't seen you in a long while, not since we were children. You have not changed,”

“You have. Look at you! Patriarch of Iceland. Fancy robes, fancy ships and fancy parades. Well, I am also the leader of my religion. Did you like your visit earlier on?” spat Archivolt, “So what're you doing here, alone, hey? How'd you get here?”

“Number one; I shall respect your religion only if you respect mine. Number two; I am not alone. And number three;” he paused, “By dragon.”

And at that moment the ground began to shake beneath them, and before Archie's very eyes, the ground split into a million different pieces before revealing, at last, an almighty beast of great size. A Whispering Death. To be specific, Estowick's Whispering Death, Earthquake. The snake-like body of the beast began to coil around Archivolt's body, keeping him hostage. The guards brought out their swords to threaten the beast.

“Don't hurt it, it'll kill me,” he gave in. He was trapped.

“Who's with you? Who's dragon is this?” Alfred demanded from behind.

“That dragon is mine! And if you kill him, I shall slaughter every last one of you!” called down the voice of God. Or what seemed to be at the time for the owner could not be seen. Scouring high and low, they finally spotted the location of the trespasser. He was stood high on one of the three peaks. It was a surprise they hadn't seen him on the way in, he was so visible. He stood overlooking the gap between us and the fiery insides of the World to his right and the oceans of the Planet to his left.

“RIGHT!” called the voice, trying to attract the attention of everybody everywhere there.

“I don't like you lot! I don't like you lot at all!”

Lots of controversial yells and murmurs could be heard, echoing from the outside, them only just noticing the figure.

Who the Thor? Thought Esvivin to himself, looking up at the speech maker. Who is that?

Esvivin's thoughts were greatly represented by the questions of the crowd, but they had stronger language. Nobody on their side could see the face of the person for it was blocked out by the beaming sun, raining down upon them all.

“And I dislike you all so much that if you don't do as I say,”

Esvivin could picture the voice until a small Dragon eclipsed the sun for a few seconds. Estowick.

“Then do you know what I'll do?”

More grunts and complaints spread through the crowd of four- maybe five hundred people like a disease until Est-y answered his question. After drawing his sword from his scabbard, he cleared his throat. He breathed deeply now, for he knew how much of a risk this was. If he went too far, stayed there for too long he could get hurt. They had stayed in the back of his mind for all these years and now it was getting to him. He just had to do it. He took a deep breath and faced his audience.

 

“To you,” he pointed his sword at a random man, “And you,” and again, “And you, and you, and you,” he continued to point to non-specific people scattered across the area, “And you, and you, and all of you,” he gestured to the entire crowd. “Do you know what I'm gonna do to you all? No?”

 

What is he doing? Thought Esvivin again, almost laughing now.

“I'm gonna do this,” the tension in Est-y's voice was extreme, his breathing heavier by the second.

With that, he brought his blade up into the air, pointed it toward his chest and gave force. The sword impelled Estowick into his chest just as he fell to the floor, motionless. Estowick was dead.

 

To. Be. Continued.

 

***

 

Chapter Six

 

 

The Empire's Fall

 

 

 

So he is dead. So what? Just another human being dropping down in his demise. Not any more important that any other person on Earth. He's dead. So're millions of other people, why should I care? Why should I care that another human has died? Oh. Yes. I remember; The Umpire's Empire.

 

Minutes after the controversial speech given by Estowick the Enthusiastic (IV, but we'll get to that later...) and his actions that followed, everything went wrong. The Patriarch was captured and tied up with Cressida who had also been fished out of the crowds of followers on the pontoons and put with him on one of the large, totem-like poles surrounding the portal to censored. Estowick's Dragon, Earthquake the Whispering Death, was discovered hiding behind one of the nooks of the island, awaiting his requirement. He was attached to half-a-dozen re-enforced chains and dragged around the mountainside into the cauldra-type area, itself. The imposters, the three or four men who had come with the Patriarch to try and take control over their foul weapon and set it free, were also tied up, but were kept over the other side of the area. The ferries were finally brought back and the followers flooded into the place of worship, eager as ever to see tonight's celebrations.

 

“GOOD EVENING EVERYBODY!” called Archivolt, a bit excited, “Today has been very... eventful!” the crowd laughed as Cressida and the Patriarch attempted to wriggle their way out of the ropes, “We showed Berk what we've got! We got my voice all over their island! We managed to fly her o'er there! And we were able to disappear just as fast! I think, although a pretty tacky headline for tomorrow's news, I think we scared the living daylights out of them! And to top it off!” he paused, the crowd still cheering while the ropes grasped onto the pair tighter, now, it felt, “We've had an old friend of Esvivin here try and terrorise us all, but we didn't even have to attack! He killed himself! By accident! If that is not a sign from the Gods to carry on our work, I don't know what is.”

 

The cheers from the crowd were immense, no other noise other than them could be heard. It was unbelievable how many people were there, really How many people hated dragons. Ah, yes. That's a point I haven't really elaborated on, the reason this cult was so dangerous was because of the fact that they were Dragon Haters, the close relative to... No. You won't know about them yet. This was where the danger was for the dead-student's Dragon, Earthquake.

 

“And because of the boy's horrid mistake,” butted in Alfred, laughing from the back, “We already have tonight's Celebrations and Sacrifice! Reveal- The Whispering Death!”

The crowd jumped in excitement, a chance for them to thank their Gods and to kill a dragon all at the same time.

“What're we going to do now?” whispered Cressida.

“We wait,” replied the wise-man, certain on the answer to her question.

 

“And now,” began Esvivin, a smile reaching from ear to ear, “As a special treat, here is the intruder himself!”

 

“What?” said Cressida, horrified, “They wouldn't do that”

“They're Dragon Haters, they'll do anything.”

 

Three men were carrying a large wooden plank, around seven foot long and three feet wide, and they marched in-between the masses of people who were 'boo'ing and 'hiss'ing all the way. There was a lump on that piece of wood. A large thing, that consumed the most part of it. The thing, however, was covered in a thin cotton sheet, ready for the reveal and so nobody were certain of what it was. In the very middle of the lump was a stick, poking up the fabric and making it a few feet taller. Finally making their way through the people, the bearers of the board lowered their arms down to the crumbling, warm ground and left the plank alone in piece.

“Re-introducing ESTOWICK!” he called out, unveiling the sheet. And there he was, in plain sight, lying motionless with a metal rod poking out of his chest, Estowick the Enthusiastic.

A horrible silence fell upon the people. Nothing. This was however until a single clap could be heard, then a second, and a third then lots more until the entire plethora of followers were applauding and cheering the murderer of this foul person, which was the victim, himself. The noise was once again immense and would deafen you if introduced to you all of a sudden, all whooping and cheering on their passed on enemy!

Esvivin then moved over to the boy's Dragon who was still attached to the chains.

“And don't forget that he gave us our sacrifice for tonight!” more cheers. “He also brought a few of his friends! And look who's here! It's the Patriarch of the Icelandic Religious Council. The well-known dis-respecter of our beliefs!”

“They're not beliefs,” he argued, “They're killing rights,” he perked up.

“They're wrong, is what they are!” chirped Cressida.

“HA! And another one! They come in threes!” laughed Esvivin, “Now, I think it's time we sent this BRUTE of Loki, himself, back to its rider, in the Underworld! Into the Belly of the Beast! Yes?”

The crowd leaped up in joyous rampages, and yells of happiness.

Esvivin and Alfred were on both sides of the winch keeping the dragon in place beside the hole. Earthquake sat there, struggling but still understanding what was happening, and he stayed calm, not trying to break free or cause havoc... yet. Cressida, the Patriarch and his helpers all sat tied to posts watching the ceremony. And Estowick just laid there, not moving still impelled with his own sword Trickster.

Archivolt stood tall in front of the beast in the dimming light of the day, casting his shadow over it. He stood, with dagger in hand, awaiting the perfect moment. Then it began. His chant. The chant of the Umpire's Empire.

 

“May this Beast descend back to Torment,

back to where it began and Loki is content,

selling the souls of humans to free this foul creature,

only to let it back, and I, the Preacher,

Doest one day hope for a Dragon-less age,

Where all of the corpses do lay in a cage,

Then they shall never retreat or conspire,

For this will be the age of 'The Umpire's Empire!'

 

 

 

It was then that the blade in his hand struck. Drawing blood over the sacrifice for the Gods to notice. The people shouted three words, then, in reply to his speech. The same three words over and over again- “The Umpire's Empire.” The blood drawn from Archivolt Dell's hand had now soaked in and the remaining dagger approached the fearsome beast. Two, not really healthy, hands clasped the weapon above his head before glancing over to the dead body of the Dragon's owner and turning back to the creature. Just as he was about to put all of his force forwards, something moved. In the corner of his eye, something moved. He peeked to his right to see what it was. Nothing. His old mind playing tricks on him. He took a deep breath before seeing a scuttling again. Once again, he turned to see what it was. Nothing, again. It was Estowick in Valhalla, he had decided, playing his old tricks.

“Are you alright sir,” questioned Alex, standing by for the dagger.

He nodded, blinking. He looked at the helpless dragon, recalled the ceremony's words in his mind and then- he saw it again. He turned around one final time and stomped on over to the corpse to rid of any rats that may be feeding on him. He bent down closer to the body, looking up and down for any sign of ANYTHING moving. He leant his ear close to the dead-boy's mouth listening for any stomach-acid issues there may still be. He stayed there for a good few seconds, the people looking at him with their eyebrows lowered in worry and wonder as to what he was doing. Just before he would have left, he thought he heard something.

“Did any of you say anything?” he asked the closest members of the crowd, all of them shaking their heads in certainty immediately afterwards.

He leant back down even closer this time. Silence. Upon everybody in the entire area, silence had fallen.

“BOO!” went the body, sending shock-waves writhing through Archie's body along with just about everybody else's as he yelled in anguish.

“Archie,” called Alfred, “I think you'd better come back here,” he comforted.

“No! I heard it talk! It said BOO!” he argued like a child.

“He couldn't of. He's dead, I'm sorry, that's impossible.”

“I know what I heard!” he started to get angry, kneeling now, to get a better sound.

Alfred, approached his master two hands in front of him in protection.

“Now, now. Calm down, let me have a listen,” Archivolt welcomed this offer just to have a second opinion. Nothing. Silence, again.

“Right, Archie, I'm gonna take you back on the ship. We'll get those herbs we found-”

“I know what I heard!”

Alfred shook his head in disapproval.

“Me and Esvivin will finish off the ceremony, you go have a res-”

“NO! I will finish it.”

He got back on his feet, stumbling back to the sacred position in front of the Dragon. He took a deep breath, again, reprised the speech, again then drew the dagger up into the sky one last time, determined to finish the job. Higher, higher it went into the sky, then it paused. This was the moment. A chuckling Patriarch and Cressida in the corner, watched red faced as he was about to make his last move. And right before he was about to strike- who'd have guessed it? He saw something move. He lowered it immediately, with his vein covered, blood red face.

“I most defiantly saw it THAT time!”

“All right, that's it! You are going back to the ship-”

“NO I AM MOST DEFINATLY NOT!” he ordered his joint second in command, Alfie, pulling away from his grip. He sat back down next to Estowick's corpse and stared. No movement.

“Come, on. Move, I dare you,” he stared, not blinking or breaking contact with the lad. “Go, on. I know you want to. Move. Speak. Anything.” This lasted for several minutes.

“Archivolt Dell, I must escort you-”

“You get away from me! I'm fed up of you! You've been bossing me around the second you got a little notice, telling me what I should and shouldn't do. Always saying 'I'm taking it into consideration' whenever I, your leader, Your Umpire, suggests something! Well I've had enough of it. Esvivn's so much better than you! And he's only been here for eight years!” he bellowed getting closer and closer to Alfred who seemed to be backing away.

“Now, I am very sorry sir. But I really do think- Argh!”

“Shut up!” he forced forward his hand containing the sharpened blade and killed his second-in-command in seconds flat, “Esvivin! You've got your promotion. Now help me!”

 

“I'm so very sorry,” apologised someone, “I didn't mean to cause any trouble, I was just having a little nap, that's all.” The entirety of the contents of the room looked bewildered, all looking at the person who had just stated these words. He stood to his feet, stretched his back, casually and looked down to see his own blade inserted in his chest. “Oh look. I've been impelled,” he said, an innocent look upon his face. He then drew it out as if it were nothing and walked around for a bit. The crowds, the dragons, the leaders, they were all stunned in silence, for this was Estowick.

 

 

Around Three-A-Half-Hours Earlier

 

 

“So, are we all clear on what we're doing? Yes? Your holiness, in the interior of the island, if there is one; Cressida join in the crowds, and I'll be hidden somewhere outside, waiting for the signal from you. If we could take four of your men with us? If that's alright, then we can try and capture the Dragon,” Estowick reminded himself of the plan. At that moment, all three stood in unison and turned to face the exit of the little tent. The guard who had arrived late at the door then saw something that was really quite rare, The Patriarch; a man known throughout all of the Scandinavian World for his subtle and seriousness, swinging a sword round and round in his right hand, a smile reaching from one oversized ear to the other, Cressida; an ordinary girl from an unknown island plodding along on the left and Estowick; a boy who'd had quite the childhood, losing his parents, losing his friends, losing his home to an ancient civilisation come back to life and they were on their way to re-defeat them, he too had a smile across his face, for this was a moment he would cherish, being accompanied by two other people from completely opposite sides of the Archipelago to help terminate of an enemy of all, to prevent the ending of an era, to keep the Empire as it was, without changing it a bit.

“Urm,” came an awkward screech from the eldest of the trio, “Estowick, I may have the slightest problem.”

“And what is that?”

“Well, I have a small suspicion... that-” he paused, “That, perhaps half of the crew sneaked onto one of their ships,” he revealed, obviously concealing it for quite a while.

“Oh,” Estowick stopped, speechless, “Well- What- Urm. How'd they do that?”

“Simple. While their attention was focused on the Dragon and you, they were able to get in the back and they are probably passing themselves off as members of the Empire,” he gave an innocent smile.

“And what exactly were they planning on doing once they got there?”

“We didn't think that far ahead. We saw that they were here and we took the chance. I s'pose it's a spy mission,” he smiled again.

Estowick just looked at him as if to say 'I'm the only sane one in the Archipelago'.

“Right, so, why didn't you just think of sending the one?”

The Patriarch didn't reply. Silence, again, fell upon them.

“Right, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, and I'm gonna' ask you if you lot have any form of way we could contact each other from this far away,” he sighed, his head in his hands.

“Well, there is one way. There should be enough of us on the ship to get the message through correctly-”

“Oh, no, no, no. No zippity-zap mind stuff. We need something that is bound to work, no maybes, no perhapses, it mustwork.”

“Now, now, Estowick. If you do not have faith, then we may as well let them kill all of your Dragons and let them rule their Empire. You must have faith for this to work. Now, while I send the message to them, you figure out how we're going to get there before them without our ship,” he argued.

“Does he just not listen?” he whispered to Cressida, concerning their plan.

With that, the Patriarch in complete silence from behind, on the deck of the ship, Estowick lifted his fingers to his lips and let out a tremendous call for his ride. Nothing happened for a few seconds. Estowick looked around on the island for any sign, and all he saw were people. They had all come out of hiding, now. And they just stared. Staying where they were, not at all faltering. Looking at the trio with a sort of angry combined with terrified expression. All of them, rows and rows along the cliffs, watching each of their moves. Men, women, children, all looking forward. All placing their trust in the three people's hands. Estowick nodded at them, a small solemn nod as if in acceptance. He then jolted his head to the right as if to say, 'c'mon, let's go'. His friends did follow, Estowick, still on the lookout for his Dragon. He called again, nothing. They made their way down to the beach where he tried a final time with the response of a rumbling noise coming from the cliff face, where Earthquake soon appeared. After a short telling off, they were off around three miles into the distance where they descended into a cavern of an island and they headed for the island of nowhere.

 

 

The atmosphere in the room was incredible, worrying but incredible. Everyone in that room was stunned. How had this boy survived his own killing, he could be that bad a swordsman, could he?

 

“He's been possessed! By the Dragon! Kill it!” called one man.

 

“He's a wizard! Kill him!” called another.

 

“No. He's none of those things. He's a trickster! That's what he is!” rampaged Esvivin into the centre.

 

“Oh, be quiet, don't spoil the fun!” Estowick drew his sword once again before stabbing it into Esvivin's side. He was un-fazed. “Isn't it fun? It's telescopic! It folds into itself, so it looks like I've stabbed myself, but I haven't!” a beaming smile shone from the boy's face.

 

“You two!” ordered Archivolt, still a little stunned, pointing at two of his followers from the front, “Hold him back! Esvivin, do the honours! Ladies and gentlemen, another sacrifice!”

This time, the crowd were silent, most of them still wondering why he was still alive.

 

The two people that had been picked out, rushed to Estowick's sides, holding each of his arms in opposite directions, not an expression on their faces. Estowick, well, he smiled.

Taking his sword out of his scabbard and pointing directly at our friend, the other 'Es' whispered under his breath: “I've wanted to do this for seven years.”

He clambered forward, eyes wide with anticipation then he pulled back his right arm ready to release the tension and kill him. Just as he was about to move forward, the two men holding Estowick's arms up like a scareterror, stepped back, put their arms down before lifting them up again, revealing two shining silver swords, ten times thicker than the enemy's. They intervined with the incoming weapon pushing it off course before all three of them reached their heads into the sky and called these same words: “Ready?” then they paused for mere seconds, before returning with, “Disperse!”

Archivolt turned his head in numerous jolts left and right, not understanding what was happening, until he turned to his manservant, bellowing in his face.

“What the Loki is going on?! Where are they all going?!”

You see, what had happened was that all of the followers were leaving the island, were leaving the interior space, they were all heading out of the rocky, fiery place of worship and scuffling in the other direction.

“Well, sir. Do you remember back on the pontoon and I got the message from that woman? Did you recognise her? Neither did I,” he turned around, pulling a sword from his belt and pointing it directly at his master. “They offered me a mound of gold, for letting half a ship full of the Religious Council of Iceland into here, while getting you worried and rushed off of your feet and entrapping you and everybody else,” this all made sense.

 

“Oh, you know what Alex. I knew there was something wrong with you from the start. It was only Alfred who persuaded me to trust you!” Archivolt Dell unveiled his own almighty weapon in his own hand and held it up in parallel to the traitor's.

The wands of power waved in the air for a while before Alex drew back and whacked his old masters sword, attempting to get it out of place. He failed, and Archie forced his the other direction, pushing Alex's out of the way, sending him tumbling to his side. Archivolt impelled his sword into Alex's side before removing it and wiping it on the victim's shoulder, just like before.

Now it had all become clear. The reason everyone was moving away was because they were being pushed by those in the middle. All of which were not supposed to be there. The incursion of the Umpire's Empire.

 

“How did you find us?!” Esvivin shouted over to Estowick, as the room emptied like a bowl of water.

“You gave them a map! A map in a symbology I can remember. It was simple!” Est-y laughed.

“What do you mean you gave them a map?!” butted in the Leader, “Are there only traitors here, today?!”

Archivolt got closer as Esvivin tried to explain himself. Estowick stood there, watching two of his arch-nemesis fight it out through words. Suddenly, a voice managed to shape its way into the ears of our ally, a voice of his friend. At first he thought it was the Patriarch using his religious powers to talk to him, before he looked up in shock to see his Dragon, Earthquake with Cressida and his Holiness on the back of him. He was pulled onto the back of his Dragon before swooping past the smoke and fog they had found themselves in and breaking through the stone keeping the chains restricting the escape of the Great Dragon, everyone seemed to have forgotten about. To alert the Beast of this, Earthquake then fired a smooth shot of flame onto its back before watching it lift up its almighty wings pushing the air down and it up.

“The Green Death!” Archivolt called, noticing the disturbance between his battle, “You did this Esvivin. You did this all!” But when he had turned back around to look at him he was gone. Esvivin was gone.

As Death left, so did Estowick, in a different direction, puzzled by what the Leader was saying. Just as they were about to exit the dusty, smokey area, and fly over the threshold over the second of the three peaks, a figure could be seen. A figure with a foul face watching the Dragon and its riders.

It was as if Estowick could hear him saying “I will find you, Estowick.” We are still not certain to this day of it was him, but we suspect that this was Esvivin, tormenting Estowick one last time before he left.

 

The Green Death migrated South for the Winter, not far, but still and found an abandoned Volcano with no inhabitants. An island known as Dragon Island, which was once owned by the Red Death, of which was killed by our murderous friend Hiccup Haddock III. This was not the last time it was seen, as you probably all know.

 

The Patriarch left on his flagship soon after returning back to Berk along with the rest of them all. Cressida and Estowick found their way back to the school, caught up on a day's work and everything was back to normal. She stayed with him now, permanently, as it was good company for Estowick and for Cressida, really. Every night from then on, in Estowick's dreams whispered the words “I will find you, Estowick.” The message given to him, as he supposed, by Esvivin. The last words he said to him before he left the island. The last words he said to him before Estowick found Afar.

 

 

To Be Continued in Act Two-

 

He11 or High Water

 

***

 

End of Act One

 

 

The Cult

 

 

To be continued with...

 

 

 

Act Two

 

 

He11 or High Water

 

__________________

“May this Beast descend back to Torment,

 

back to where it began and Loki doest stay content,

 

selling the souls of humans to free this foul creature,

 

only to let it back, and I, the Preacher,

 

Doest one day hope for a Dragon-less age,

 

Where all of the corpses do lay in a cage,

 

Then they shall never retreat or conspire,

 

For this will be the age of 'The Umpire's Empire!'

 

- The Umpire, Archivolt Dell    

 Finding the Afar-Land, Chapter Six