The Hound of Khalznroth

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LissaFish
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The

 

 

Hound of Khalznroth

 

(AKA Survival of the Dragonbloods)

Edited by Lissafish

 

 

 

 

__________________

 

 

Lissa ~ Christian ~ Artist ~ Writer

SoD member since 2016.

 

I make the arts! Insta

I write! HERE for forum master thread. HERE for Wattpad

I love dragons, birbs, using emoticons, and animales

Monster Kitty Ebony

By Ecliptic Eight Thx she is so cute!

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LissaFish
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Acknowledgements

*This finfic has been canceled due to the complexities of trying to

edit a roleplay.*

 

My name is Lissa, and I've had the pleasure of writing nine short stories, one poem and a full-length novel on the subject of HTTYD world and lore, much of it inspired by fellow HTTYD fans/artists such as Chameishida and Flitt. If you’d like to get a taste of my style or enjoy what you find here, THIS is the link to my master writing threat (whoops typo… and yet... <.<) here on the forums

This story is a collaboration work by yours truly, Flitt, Chameishida, Alphaspeedstinger, Ninjadragon, Amazieing, Mareenamuse, Gingerforum, Pinapplelark, and Raahimj. I have set out to turn it into a traditional fanfiction for your convenience because I really love it and hope you enjoy it too^^

 

Rules:

Feel free to comment but please do not reply directly to the chapter/story posts! I... will not be able to edit them... and then... I will see typos. Misspellings. GrAmMaTiCaL ErRoRs! *screams in background*

…scratch that last one I don’t never see those xD

Feedback and constructive criticism are always welcome of course :3 They keep a writer going.

 

 

 

Acknowledgements:

 

Thank you Flitt for permitting me to write about your creations the Dragonbloods! To find out more about dragonbloods visit HERE, I highly recommend the stories and reading the lore, this will make a lot more sense if you do :3

Thank you Chameishida for your permission to write about The Wardenrain! Fan dragon design and info can be found HERE, as can many other amazing creature designs! But I'm with Chame on favoring the Wardenrain they're awesome <3

Thank you Ninjadragon for coming up with the idea to have this RP! T’was the first and only ^^’ rp I've been in and I enjoyed it very much.

Much of the rp has been edited out to make for a clean plotline, but if you're interested in different characters and their plotlines I recommend checking out both threads, Survival of the Dragonbloods, and Survival of the Dragonbloods Part 2 right here.

 

Lastly, thank you to all who gave me permission to re-write their characters into story form!

Amazieing: for Cuttora

Flitt: for Jonny, Flitt, and Mabin

Pinapplelark: For Bullseye and Zima

Gingerforum: For Twilight, Nora, Silas, Scamp and Whisp

Chameishida: For Gusto and Ogma, Buddy and Teri

Raahimj: For Ray

 

Author’s notes:

This is an AU filled with fan creations such as Dragonbloods and Fan dragons

The characters are not all mine, and I will present them as best I can like they were presented in the RP. The fan creations are not all mine.

There is violence. Dragons, dragonbloods and people are killed.

There is romance (G rated)

And there is comedic gold XD

 

 

 

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LissaFish
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DNR Directly, Please

 

The Hound of Khalznroth

 

Strange storms plague a floating island, and wild dragon populations are out of control.

Chief Hiccup has sent a team of Dragonbloods to investigate but a castaway with a dark secret threatens them all.

 

Table of Contents:

 

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

 

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Prologue

Prologue

 

 

“Oi,”

Surly looking fishmongers smelling of low tied and sweat nodded toward the clatter of horse hooves on plank. “Look alive. All the King’s men greeting this pig.”

“Don’t recognize that ship’s crest. You?”

“Nope.” Tallest among them, and the unfortunate owner of a large, hawk-like nose glanced at the docking vessel. He was covered in fish gut, a stark contrast to the pompous display of ceremonial purples and golds, meticulously groomed animals and their silver tackle.

“’Nope?’ ‘tis all ye’g’teh’ se, Ian? Nthn more?” one of his crewmates teased.

The horses and riders trotted past, fully expecting the peasants to move out of their way and willing to trample them if they didn’t.

He smirked. “Not the kinds of things y’say with the kings’ men in earshot.”

A snicker resonated among them.

“Keep about your business!” the Captain snapped as work slowed.

 

Sharply dressed in a black, mid-length coat, suede leather boots, brais, and a silk shirt with silver buttons, a gentleman stepped off the boat. Strapped to his belt was a sword; hilt black as obsidian and of such craftsmanship that even sheathed it was clear no expense had been spared.

“Welcome Count Argos of Kalznroth,” the armed soldiers bowed. “To Mykines. His Highness has arranged an audience for you within the hour.”

“Punctual, excellent.”

Despite the first monger’s use of the term pig there was nothing boorish about him. Argos was lean and had excellent features; high cheekbones, a strong and cleanshaven jaw, curly, richly black hair set perfectly into place and a good, straight nose.

“This way Sir.”

Riders cued their mounts and turned back the way they came.

Ian stole another glance toward the newcomer. The Nobleman was studying their little group so he didn’t let his eyes linger and kept up his work.

Did this stranger have him beat in looks? Attire? Carriage? Hygiene? A proportionately sized nose? Yes on all accounts. But he had one thing over the Nobleman: HE was tall. For all his splendor the guy couldn’t have been more than 5’2”

“What was his mother, a dwarf?”

“Shh!” Ian stifled a laugh and warned the youngest monger. He looked up again-

And Argos was standing in front of him.

The Count stared with remarkably yellow eyes, glancing between now silent peasants keeping their business, not wanting any trouble.

Ian clenched his jaw as his keen brown eyes met the cold, focused yellow. He didn’t want to look away. He wanted to throw his net over this arrogant gentleman and drop-kick him into the sea. It would be so satisfying and the talk of Mykines for weeks.

But he looked down and kept his mouth shut. For Eleanor. He was doing it for Eleanor.

Argos continued to stare.

“What is your name?”

“Ian.”

“Captain, arrest Ian.”

“What? What for??” He demanded.

“Insubordination I heard your whispers.”

“I didn’t whisper a thing!”

“Aye it’s true, let him go!” one of the others shouted in alarm as two of the escort took Ian from either side and began dragging him off. “He said nothin.”

“Oh? Then who’s whisper was it?” Argos turned patronizingly from his catch to the hapless fishermen, arms behind his back as he deliberately rested his eyes on the thirteen-year-old boy.

The young man shrank under his stare. His father edged closer, a hand over him and hate in his eyes for Argos. Ian looked between the three of them and lowered his head.

“That’s what I thought.” The Count answered their silence.

“Oi tyrant. A man can’t speak his piece without being shut up. Well I’m punished for it, what’s to stop me now?”

He painted his frustrations with the system and the stranger in articulate and colorful words while the King’s men led him away.

“Where are they taking him?” The young man Ian was taking the fall for asked.

“The jailers.”

“But sir!”

“Oh don’t be so dramatic. Your fish-gutting anarchist will pay his dues and be released in two days’ time.”

 

 

 

 

“I’m here to see Ian Hansen.” A middle-aged woman with blue eyes, a weathered but kind face, and light brown hair done up in a loose bun told the guard.

“No visitors,” He spoke sharply.

So much for that, Eleanor thought. She stared into cold, damp jailcells beyond. Someone had a deathly cough; and though she prayed for them she really hoped her husband didn’t catch whatever it was.

She wandered off a short distance, waiting until the guard looked the other way before slipping around back of the wooden structure.

“Ian?” she whispered as she went.

“Ellen?” His voice returned. On the other side of the wall he jumped up from the mud and leaned against the boards to hear her. “Ellen is that you?”

“Yes it’s me.” She paused. “You alright?”

“Aye they didn’t rough me up too bad I’m fine.” He assured. “And you won’t believe it, but I found Bjorn! Say hi Bjorn.”

“Hey.”

“Hi Bjorn. Ian what happened.”

“Ahh, well..” Mud made that suctioning sound as Ian took a step away and scratched the back of his head. “…see… a Nobleman come in today at the docks. He uhh, overheard our whispers and next thing y’know, heh, I’m in here.”

She looked heavenward in silence and he could feel it.

“It was just a comment about his height. I swear I wasn’t looking for trouble.”

“Well you got it anyways. Why can’t you just keep your mouth shut? Someday you’ll go too far and they’ll really punish you.”

“I tried Eleanor.” He grumbled.

“Any idea how long you’ll be here?”

“Sunset tomorrow.”

“’They intend to feed you?”

“No, pfft Argos believes that’s a punishment. Not sure what he thinks a peasant’s life looks like around here.”

Eleanor put her fingers to the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes. “Alright. I’ll have save your dinner. Best I head back now and see how Grace has done in the market with your share of the catch.”

“Give the little rascal my thanks… oh and make her wash up she always wipes her hands on her skirts.”

“Like father like daughter,” Eleanor quipped.

“I don’t ever wipe my hands on my skirts.”

The woman slapped the wood. “Very funny. We may be out fishing when you get home.”

“El no. Don’t do that we’ll be alright.” All fun left his voice.

“The fish are here and we need the money. ‘Can’t afford to waist those kinds of opportunities.”

The wood fell very quiet; humbled.

She placed her hand on a plank between them and leaned her forehead against it. Ian saw her shadow and did the same from the other side. “Please be more careful.” Eleanor pleaded.

“Aye. I will.”

“See you tomorrow… anything you want me to tell Bonny when she comes home from stewing?”

“No.”

Ellen hesitated. “You’ve got to say something Ian.”

“What can I say,” his tone hit a new low, “That won’t set her off? She hates me and I don’t know where I went wrong, how to fix it.”

“She doesn’t hate you she’s just confused. Not everything needs ‘fixing’, Some things just need listening.”

“I don’t understand her when I listen. It’s like we’re from different worlds.”

“Then nod your head and let her talk. Even if you don’t understand a simple ‘I love you’ goes a long way.”

“Alright.” He sighed. “Give her and Grace my love, and we’ll talk more about that boy when I get back.”

 

 

...

 

 

Jingle jingle. Clank! Creeeeaaaakkk,

In the concession of sounds Ian turned, perplexed as the guard opened his door.

“Out.”

“Why? Where am I going?”

“I don’t care as long as it’s not here.”

“What- about my sentence?” He picked up his coat and edged warily to the open door but not through, in case this was some sick trick. “I’m supposed to be in here until sunset tomorrow.”

“Guess it’s your lucky day. The Count just ordered you set free.”

Weird, but I’ll take it. Ian turned sideways to give the guard a wide berth.

“Bye, Bjorn.”

“Bye.”

A moment later he stepped outside, visible in the doorway of the jailhouse thanks to a lighted torch. No moon, as he knew there wouldn’t be, but no clouds either. The stars shown brightly and they were all he needed for the long trek home. Coat slung over his shoulder he slipped into the night.

…No flogging? No stocks? Let out early? After what he said every member of the guard was willing to beat him to a submissive pulp… and he was just a tad proud of that. But the nobleman had heard it all and was setting him free. He couldn’t have been all that bad to see it for the hot air it was. Perhaps I misjudged him, Ian thought. Perhaps Argos of Khalznroth was a reasonable sort …for a nobleman anyway.

 

Like a hawk on its perch the Count in question watched from the window of a guest room within the King’s castle. It was no surprise when his ignorant fishmonger started for the bay.

Argos rolled his shoulders and straightened his cuffs before a mirror. Time to make a presence.

The face staring back wondered why he bothered to go on with this charade and in all truth he didn’t know. A paranoid tick, he supposed, to put such effort into creating an alibi for a case no one would give a first glance, let alone second.

Opening the door he joined those honored guests of the King at his table.

 

 

 

 

It was a lonely walk. The poor fishmonger came across only two other men on the stretch… one a farmer he knew. They chatted briefly over Ian’s little jaunt to the city and went their sperate ways, both eager to get home.

Crickets sang. The night was crisp and for nothing more than stubborn Celtic pride Ian fought to keep his jacket off. His mind wandered to how he should tease Ellen and the girls with his return. Strange noises? Just charging straight through the door... or maybe slipping in quietly and sneaking to the table before they knew he was there. Another gust hit him hard.

“Oof alright alright you win! ‘Don’t have a’ gloat.” He pulled over his coat and growled to the wind.

Ahead came a shrill whistle. Gravel scattered; the hair on the back of his neck stood on end as a startled herd of roe deer sped past. Bodies low and tails tucked they ran on either side of him without care.

Something’s nearby, the fishmonger became wary and listened to his surroundings. Jackals, more than like. Maybe a pack. But so far they’d been happy enough to stick to sheep and game.

Through the dark he peered ahead, hoping to catch a glimpse of any movement. The large, bulky silhouette he could barely make out surprised him; too big to be any animal he could only assume it was someone’s wagon left right in the middle of the road.

Ian purposed to go around… but it moved.

He froze, looking hard at the murky place. Listening for the sound of crunching gravel. But now he neither saw it or heard anything. Even the crickets had gone silent.

“These old eyes,” The peasant mumbled, coming to the spot and finding it bare.

On edge, he jumped when something brushed against the grass to his right and spun to stare with wide eyes.

A pair of eyes glinted back. They were quite large, with slitted pupils and low to the ground.

Ian’s hear skipped a beat. What the heck was that.

It blinked, then moved.

“What in-” He stumbled as the creature crawled out onto the road, revealing its enormous size and monstrous backplates. The ugliest head Ian had seen in his life -which is saying something for a fisherman- was attached, and carrying the bulk of its weight were giant, mantis-like pincers.

“Oh,” he croaked in horror, breaking into a cold sweat. Between the stars he could just make out two jagged, leathery, red-and-black wings and a long, raised tail. It flowered open and closed, some kind of stinger on its end. “It’s- it’s a demon. It’s a demon!”

The tail flew toward him with the speed of a scorpion! Ian dodged and bolted but the beast cut him off, curling its tail to strike again.

“Stay away from me!” He roared, waving his hands to look bigger than he was. When that had no effect he leaned down just enough to grope for any loose debris he could find in the dirt road. “Get back!”

The monster crawled forward unabashed. Tail struck out again, this time it found flesh.

“Ah!”

Ian ripped the stinger out of his shoulder, trying not to think about the strange sensation it left in his arm, the painful, pulsing feeling it left creeping through his bloodstream. Meantime he stumbled upon a decent-sized rock.

Oof! The beast growled as it clunked off his thick skull. Idiot, stop that.

Ian would not. He’d come across quite the little pile of rocks and continuing to walk backwards barraging the creature with them, aiming between those soulless eyes.

Alright that’s enough.

Lunging forward it extracted a cry of terror from the peasant. He dropped his arsenal when two giant tusks jutted out from the creatures’ lower jaw and trapped him between them! Man and beast locked eyes for a fleeting moment, before the latter turned its’ neck with a quick jerk and effortlessly flipped the human upside down, dropping him on his head.

Ian curled out from between the tusks and bounced back to his feet only to fall again, reeling from that hit to his head. Still he crawled away from the monster.

My arm! The one that had been stung gave out! He could feel it but he couldn’t move it. Head only throbbing now he sprang to his feet to bolt, but his legs gave way!

“Not today,” he muttered, losing control of his entire body as that demonic creature came at him. “Not today please I’m not ready. Ellen needs me the girls need me… let me make things right with Bonny.”

“Oh so that’s her name.”

Ian’s eyes widened and he almost didn’t believe his ears. “Argos??”

“Ellen. What do you mean by girls though? And Bonny? Have you a family, Ian? Children?”

Even in the dark he could make out that stately coat and beautiful sword as the nobleman leaned down while he suffered.

“What’s wrong with you,” he gasped, “Blithering idiot get off the road the beast will kill you,”

Argos tilted his head and blinked, then patted Ian and thoroughly paralyzed he could do nothing but growl.

“A noble sort, I pity you. But it does make my job that much easier.”

Moments later the monster was back, sniffing his helpless prize. Two bird-like talons stabbed into the peasant’s shoulders and on black and red wings carried him off into the night.

 

 

“I don’t understand what do you mean he’s not here,” Eleanor kept careful check of her voice. “He was supposed to be here until tonight! Why was he released ahead of schedule? Which way did he go?”

“I don’t know! Probably that way,” The man pointed the road Ellen had just walked.

“Whose order was it for him to be released?”

“Mine.”

Eleanor turned to face a well-dressed man who was…

in fact…

quite short…

“Count Argos of Khalznroth,” He nodded civilly. “You’re the wife of the anarchist fish monger, yes?”

“Ian Hansen, yes,” she blushed. Studying him her skin crawled and she couldn’t pinpoint why. “I… understand by this fine guard,” she said politely as she could, “That he was released last night instead of today?”

“He was.” Argos confirmed. “The fool’s only crime was speaking his mind after all. …Why is that a problem.”

“He didn’t come home last night.”

“Have you checked the local tavern?”

“Ian’s not that kind of man. He’s got a family to feed.”

“A family you say?” there was keen interest taken in the Count’s yellow eyes. “Little ones? How many?”

“Just two,” the woman answered very carefully.

“He didn’t say anything about a family. I might have left him at the docks with a light flogging if he had.” Argos shrugged and didn’t press the matter any further.

“How very… kind, of you Sir,” Ellen really had to force the words as she bowed. Light flogging. So thoughtful. “I best go, if he isn’t here and not at home then something isn’t right.”

“He’ll turn up somewhere I’m sure. Check the tavern.”

“Yes Sir. Thank you Sir.”

Eleanor walked away. She could feel him watching her, up until she turned a corner, and it was only after the fact that she realized she was holding her breath. That- Count! What was up with that count! She wasn’t a timid woman or even sheltered, she’d seen a wicked sort or two in her day but he- there was something way off about him. Was it the calm in his voice? The casual interest and strange undertow? Or was she just so flustered she’d become paranoid? Why did he make a point of mentioning their children??

A few minutes ago the woman thought if she found Ian in the tavern she’d about kill him. Now she hoped that he was there. If not… then what could have happened to him between the jailhouse and home? And what, if any, part did The Count have to play in it?”

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Chapter One

 

Chapter One

Dragonblood Island

 

 

Shutters trembled. Branches beat against the walls as leaves whipped violently every which way. But to Ray’s surprise it was the first morning without a cloud in the sky.

Something’s not right, he thought as he readied for the day. The storms might be worse than usual today.

They could be better, some optimistic part of his brain suggested. It was properly quelched though. Life experience taught him not to listen to it.

“Everyone up,” He called, knocking on all the doors. “We’re meeting in the dining hall-oh, good morning, Twilight,”

“Good morning,” Twi happened to be leaving her room at the same time and smiled back, a little shyly. She headed to the dining hall, her dragon ears twitching at the unusually strong winds. She joined him at the table and kept glancing outside every so often while they waited. "That- that's not normal weather, is it?" she asked slowly.

“Not the last time I was here. I think we’re in for some ugly weather.”

Twilight moved her wings uneasily, trying not to show concern. "It'll probably blow over in a few hours" she hoped.

 

Flitt followed the voices to the hall. She’d been awake for hours, listening to the wind.

The Dragonblood joined Twilight and Ray, one of whom was in dragon form. Instinctively she shifted to hybrid so she could understand the dragon's speech, stretching white Flightmare wings that had materialized on her back.

"We need to get moving,” Ray was saying, too concerned with what was going on outside for patience to wait on those not yet up. “I'll scout out the coming storm to see how bad it is, hybrid form. Could use a wingman if you want to come Flitt," he shifted to hybrid. "Also, Twilight, we need someone to close up the cabin, someone to make some food and someone to find some. Whatever you can manage will be appreciated everything else I give you authority to delegate."

Flitt couldn't cook to save her life. She was glad of the opportunity to join the team leader scouting.

“It would be safer with two. That's if you don't mind, Twilight.” She added, looking at the dragon.

Twilight was wondering if she should go too. I hate being stuck inside.. then again, I'm not as good a flier as either of those two… I'd better not embarrass myself

"Ok, I'll try" she answers, then shifts to hybrid form.

Hey guys!" Cuttora the Razorcutter dragonblood chirped, stepping into the hall ready for adventure. Noticing they had picked to be hybrid or full she grinned, enjoying full dragon a little more than half or human. She knocked her head to one side and heard the approaching storm "Oh...I guess this means no games today?" 

"Not until we’ve boarded up the base. We need people on that, and someone to cook and or find food." Ray explained.

The teen dramatically fell on the floor "WORK! The horror. Oh how the wicked claws of menial labour clutch my sou-" She stops her long and dramatic speech for a brief moment, "Aww look a ladybug!" Scurrying over Cutt picked it up. "So cute. I’ll name her Victoria.”

Ray looked from her to the other two female dragonbloods. “Uhh. So… food, Cuttora?”

“…I'll get started on it soon..." She said absent mindedly.

He figured that’s about as good as it would get. Cutt was a good sort at heart; she was born and raised dragon after all. She’d get the job done.

Angry sounds had been coming from the hall ever since Ray knocked on all the doors. Two men stepped into the room and leered over the other occupants; their heads already shifted into the dragon. It was generous to think they were being considerate to the other dragonbloods already in their dragon forms, much more likely they were just angry.

"Don't think that our getting dragged out to babysit you lot means you can do whatever you want, brats! No one asked for a wakeup call!” Gusto, the smaller of the two shady personalities hissed between Skrill teeth.

“Yeah,” Ogma backed, burly arms crossed.

Twilight's pupils turn to slits. 'Different situation, same attitude' she told herself. Shifting to human form the young woman lowered her head a little. "Sorry we woke you. You can go back to bed if you want, we won't cause any trouble, promise."

“The weather has taken a strange and alarming turn,” Ray stood up for himself, “And besides needing to take care of ourselves it’s our mission to study this island and its occupants! What was I supposed to do?”

Flitt kept out of the confrontation. She headed to the entry and poked her head out, the heavy wooden door almost slamming back on her. This was going to be quite a storm.

"Yeah that's right! Be sorry!" Gusto picked the reply he liked most and focused on Twilight. "but we're awake now, it's a done deal and you’ve got nothing else to do but to take responsibility."
"Yeah!" Ogma chimed in. again.
"And that responsibility-" Gusto paused, missing a huge chunk of context. "…is… …doing… whatever… work we were assigned."
"Yeah!"
"Yeah, Yeah! You do all the work while we just chill! Got it!?" Gusto snarled.

"In order to survive in a storm like this we have to work together. That means helping." Ray shifted to dragon, a nightlight, but only noticeably at close range. His back spikes were tipped in the lightfury white and a good splotch of it marked the end of his tailfins but other than that he was all night.

He wasn’t a fan of being ignored. "Now, help, come out with me and Flitt to scout the island or be useful here.”

"What!!?” Gusto growled, “You wanna go!? Bring it you--"

Unexpectedly Ogma interjected. His hand landed firmly on the shorter man shoulder, "Uhh, the storm. It does seem to be serious."

"Urgh! Fine! But I’m not going out with lil’ Power-trip here.”

Ray barred his teeth but had the sense not to answer. Flitt watched from the doorway, growling quietly. She didn't want to get involved in case she made things worse.

"Ready, Flitt?" Ray turned his focus toward productive conversation.

Flitt nodded and glanced back at Twilight. “Stay safe.” She shifted to dragon and darted out into the gale. “Let's go!”

Twilight watched them leave, then turned to hybrid form and looked around, wondering where to start. Gusto huffed in satisfaction before promptly plopping down on the couch.

"Yeesh, kids these days and their manners. Not knowing their places" He looked at Twilight, “as for you, no take-backs missy, go do all the work while I--hey what are you doing?"

Ogma already moved to check the nearest window and barred it up.

"Bored" he replied, "Want to move m' muscles anyway"

"Come on man you look like a big softy helping out like that" Gusto groaned but there’s no real bite to it. "Whatever! You do you. I’m going to stay right here." He put his arms behind his head and leaned back.

"Hey," Cutt shouted from the kitchen "Does someone want to help me with this chicken?"

"I'm not very good at cooking, but I'll try." Twilight called back with a small smile toward the Thunderdrum hybrid, boarding up his third window. “Thanks Ogma.”

 

 

 

 

~

Water poured in faster than he could bucket it out. A wave crashed over the stern, and to balance Ian reached for the mast pole, split straight down the middle. A torn, tied and tattered sail whipped into his face; bits of ice disguised as rain bit into his skin from every side. He looked out.

To the south, storm. The east, storm. West, storm. North...

He blinked.

No, nothing. Just storm.

Could be worse, he thought. There could have been a dragon

But there, he blinked again and for an inkling of a second thought he saw the shadows of rocks. The sea he knew so well seemed to roll back, breaking wave pattern and making whitecaps over objects beneath the surface.

Generally boats and rocks don't get along. But if the boat is already going down might as well find something other than water to aim for… and where there’s rocks there’s often land.

He’d lost the oars in the same confrontation with the devil that split his mast, but that made little difference. The sailor turned to his crippled mast eyeing the knot that held the sail. A longshot, but at this rate it the only shot too. “I’m sorry Ellen it’s the best I’ve got,” He grimaced then braced, pulling the knot.

The sail ripped violently open! It caught in such a gust that the tiny fishing boat up and skipped like a stone across the crests of angry waves until the mast snapped off all together. Ian was flung backward in the sudden jolt, when he managed to right himself he could only watch as the vessel collided with a sea pillar. 

Over the storm's fury no one could have heard the crash, no one could have heard his cry.

No one, that is, with human ears.

 

~

 

"How about I try to fly in Hybrid, and you fly in your Dragon form?" Ray asked some time after their initial take-off. The moment they were out of the trees the two dragonbloods found themselves faced with a daunting wall of growling black cloud. It was coming up from the southeastern sea, and much closer than Ray had anticipated.

In the first minute it blot out the sun. By the second the whole of Dragonblood island was engulfed, that eerie rumble of cloud to cloud lightning warning them to leave the sky while they had the chance. A cold rain began to fall.

“Alrighty,” Flitt said. She was almost blown to ground by the fierce gale, but managed to right herself.

They made the patrol round of the island in silence. Ray flew above the forest, searching for ground activity with the local game and dragons. Many of both were only seen in glimpses, scurrying to shelter.

Rain mixed with ice beat down on them and it was a struggle to stay hybrid for Ray. This kind of storm was so much more weatherable in dragon form, none of this soft human skin at all, just scales and tough, leathery hide.

I’ll check if any rabbits are out, he signaled a slight detour over a nearby warren. As an opportunistic hunter Ray rarely suffered hunger, but the little animals had already taken shelter.

Without his purposing them to do so what few scales he had in this form suddenly stood on end.

Uh oh.

“Flitt,” The team leader beat his wings a little faster, trying to move away from the growing electricity in the air and the smell that accompanied it. “I think we better head back, smells like thund-“

Instinctively he barreled, just barely missed by a bolt of lightning!

“Flitt!”  He struggled to regain control of his wings and whilst doing glimpsed a bolt either striking Flitt or very near her. "FLITT!!" 

The Flightmare felt the electricity in the air before she saw the split-second flash. She rolled, feeling the scorching heat and electric zing race past far too close for comfort. Now out of control in the wild wind, she smashed into a tree and tumbled to the ground.

Ray watched her go down in horror. I killed one of my team members. First flight out, one of the best fliers. Dead. Bury me now plz.

He fought the ice and headwinds pouring out of the darkened sky and searched for the downed dragonblood.

"Flitt? Flitt where are you?? Are you alright?”

I’m fine!” She yelled over the thunderous storm, scrambling to her feet and running… er well slipping from the cover of the trees out onto the stormy beach. Waves rolled furiously onto the sand, creeping further up with every break. They appeared almost to have a mind to swallow the island.

Ray spotted her.

Shheee’s alliiiivvveee! “Oh my gosh I thought you were struck,” He flew down toward her in relief. “Can you still fly? Are you dizzy at all?”

“I told you I’m fine.” Flitt bristled with his fretting… but beat her wings hard before trying to fly just in case. No damage.

“Alright I’m calling it. This storm is too dangerous to finish scouting the Island by air, for the likes of us anyways,” He growled at the thought of the lazy censored of a Skill undoubtedly napping or something back at the cabin. “We should probably walk back.”

Ray was all but prepared to land when both their ears flinched at the sound of wood splintering apart.

“Did you hear that?” Ray’s pupils turned to slits. “I thought I heard a voice.”

Flitt nodded, unsure the direction it had come from.

“Let’s check it out.”

 

~

 

Curled into a cozy little ball Jonny the titan red-and-white terrible terror heard the crash too. His ears could never mistake something so loud.

The dragon’s head shot up and he looked towards the coast, then got up and flew out into the gale. Instantly he regretted it, being flung back into the rock face of the cave he just came from. With nothing more than a bruise, though, he slid to the ground and scampered toward the sound. 

~

Ian came gasping up to the surface once more. He had already been soaked by the freezing rain but a dunk in the ocean took the cold shock factor to a new level.

"Help!" He choked. It was an instinctive action, he was in the middle of nowhere and didn’t believe anyone would hear but what else was there to do? “Help!”

A fifteen-foot wave began rolling over his head at the same time a pair of black wings zipped past. He barely had time to register what he’d seen before the sea dragged him under.

 

A human. Ray felt himself bristle when he realized what he was flying over. How dare one sail for OUR island! It’s for dragonbloods only. Hmph. Bet a million runes he’s a hunter.

He seriously considered moving on and pretending he hadn’t noticed the man’s plight. After all, wasn’t that what humans did best? Leave others behind? Shun them?

But I don’t want to BE human. He groaned inwardly. Even if that means saving one.

He doubled back just as Flitt reached the edge of the sea, who also saw the sailor floundering in the water, struggling to keep above the waves. Bits of wood floated around, splintered. The remnants of a boat. 

The dragonblood panicked; it was evident the person needed help but she wasn’t a confident swimmer and Ray was nowhere in sight!

Not confident... that was in human form. She had never tried in dragon or hybrid.

With a quick beat of her wings the Flightmare darted out over the ocean, spray from the sea nearly blinding her. She blurrily saw the human vanish beneath a wave, and shifting to hybrid with a sharp inhale dove after it.

Johnny got to the shore just in time to watch the white Flightmare disappear into the water. He waited with wide and worried eyes, knowing he was too small to be of any help.

~

In the mirky undertow Ian held his breath as long as he could, writhing ocean thrashing him first one way and then another. The speed and force of it would have crushed him had he met with any of the rocks.

A streak of lightning lit up the darkness.

It silhouetted the ominous forest of sea pillars and with them, shockingly close, the figure of a young woman with white, dragonly wings. They had almost lacy tips to them.

Was this his guardian angel? His oxygen-deprived mind thought. He reached toward her in the dark.

 

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gingerforum
Online
Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 02/02/2016
:D

Oooo it's begun! Looking great, and very nostalgic. I probably won't comment very often but I'll always enjoy reading this!

__________________

"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

"Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." Psalm 23:1

 

Table of contents

About me in real life

On the Forums

Art

SoD info (Viking and Dragon list)

 

About me in real life

I'm a Christian and have been saved by Jesus Christ

I'm a girl

My brother, my cat and I all have red/ginger hair (or fur in my cat's case)

I like reading, watching movies, singing, music, daydreaming and roleplaying

I'm from the UK and live in Switzerland

My Hogwarts House is Hufflepuff

I'm an introvert and not always great at explaining myself or conversations in general, but I can ramble a bit if I get excited about something

 

On the Forums

I've made a thread about my own version of lycanwings: http://forum.schoolofdragons.com/content/lycanwings-fan-fictionfan-dragon-guidebook

 

Art

Shadow (top left), Hope (top right), Ice (bottom left) and Thunder (bottom right), Ikran-furies by toothless0603!

 

Lyra the Deathstinger by chameishida!

 

Luna as a Lycan-horse (left) and as a Lycan-bat-horse (right) by toothless0603!

 

Jupiter (left), Ravenflight (middle) and Willow (right) by toothless0603!

 

Zap (left) and Myst (right), Gleaming Terrors by toothless0603!

 

Trico the Brawler Stryke by ZestyDragonWing!

 

Eclipse the Skyfyre by blue and blacksand (species creator) & toothless0603 (artist)!

 

Snepo by ZestyDragonWing!

 

Ripple the Liquid Shocker by toothless0603!

 

Spooky the (failed) NEO-Chimeragon and his certificate, adopted from the Shady Shopkeeper (aka Blue Kitsune)!

 

Pigeonpaw by JadeeBug13!

SoD info:

Viking:

(Art by Sylvia!)

Dragons:

(Male, Female)

Blueberry - Titan Deadly Nadder

Shadow (Toothless) - Adult Night Fury

Silver - Titan Razorwhip

Chrystal - Adult Groncicle

Amber - Adult Deathsong

Foggy - Adult Smothering Smokebreath

Slither - Titan Whispering Death

Rocky - Titan Gronckle

Magnet - Adult Armorwing

Splash - Titan Scauldron

Strawberryfly - Adult Groncicle

Frozen - Adult Groncicle

Bolt - Titan Shockjaw

Scorchtip - Adult Singetail

Lava - Adult Eruptodon

Woolly - Adult Woolly Howl

Skeleton - Titan Boneknapper

Royalty - Adult Fireworm Queen

Ghostlight - Adult Flightmare

Lizzy - Adult Flame Whipper

Rainbow - Adult Changewing

Bramble - Adult Whispering Death

Trico - Adult Triple Stryke

Spike - Adult Deadly Nadder

Redsail - Adult Speed Stinger

Flower - Adult Prickleboggle

Mystery and Treasure - Adult Hideous Zippleback

Storm - Titan Skrill

Halvar - Adult Elder Sentinel

Thorn - Adult Monstrous Nightmare

Headbone - Adult Boneknapper

Firetail - Adult Moldruffle

Kettle - Adult Scauldron

Huntress - Adult Stormcutter

Wavetail - Adult Sliquifier

Spiral - Adult Windwalker

Roary - Adult Thunderdrum

Destiny (Light Fury) - Adult Light Fury

Wolf - Adult Deathgripper

Wasp - Adult Sweet Death

Scamp - Adult Scuttleclaw

Boulder - Adult Hotburple

Sandy - Adult Sand Wraith

Buzz and Scuzz - Adult Hideous Zippleback

Magpie - Adult Woolly Howl

Gravel - Adult Gronckle

Croaky - Adult Smitten Hobgobbler

Twilight (Dart) - Adult Nightlight

Gale - Adult Snow Wraith

Mistral - Adult Shivertooth

Comet (Pouncer) - Adult Nightlight

Eclipse (Ruffrunner) - Adult Nightlight

Pixie - Adult Chimeragon

Gruff - Adult Woolly Howl

Grimm - Adult Grim Gnasher

The Marauders - Adult Snaptrapper

MrWangFire - Adult Typhoomerang

Discord - Adult Devilish Dervish

Gem - Adult Snafflefang

Daydream (Pouncer) - Teen Nightlight

Lapis - Adult Deathgripper

Kiki - Adult Dramillion

Kitty (Ruffrunner) - Teen Nightlight

Mischief (Dart) - Teen Nightlight

Bumble - Adult Catastrophic Quaken

Pancake - Adult Thunderdrum

Spark - Adult Fire Terror

Goliath - Titan Terrible Terror

Trollhunter - Adult Rumblehorn

Wisp - Adult Screaming Death

Flare - Adult Whispering Death

Ripper - Adult Crimson Goregutter

Siren - Teen Slithersong

Crusher - Adult Whispering Death

Starlight - Adult Silver Phantom

Wartooth - Adult Gruesome Goregripper

Batty - Adult Night Terror

Strangler - Teen Grapple Grounder

Earthquake - Teen Thunderpede

HueFeather - Adult Hobblegrunt

Echo - Teen Mudraker

Bob - Adult Shovelhelm

Simon - Teen Deathly Galeslash

Streak - Teen Dreadstrider

Audra and Lyn - Teen Seastormer

Electra - Teen Skrill

Shriek - Teen Graveknapper

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LissaFish
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Joined: 02/12/2017
howdy

Thanks Ginger :3

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chameishida
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Joined: 07/31/2014
Ohhh It's here, It's here!

Ohhh It's here, It's here! Tracking!

I think it's going to be fun as a rper to read through this again but it's going to be excited to see how people would hasn't known about the rp before would read this. Even for the rper, seeing Ian's Prolouge is a nice surprise and Ray's inclusion is welcoming. Seeing it adapted, edited and formated like this make things flow better and make me realize how fast thing can be (since in rp a single back and forth can take pages)

There're many scene I'm looking forward to see in this adaption, and especially what happen once it goes beyond the thershold of the rp. It's going to take a while but before then I'm going to be cheering you on and following this fic with the baited breath!

 

Lastly, nostalgia! There're line I recognized to be exactly what happened!

 

__________________

!!Look at my daugther now!!!

++~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~++

+++++ Dragons and Hybrids enthusiastic, TNR RR enjoyer, RP addict, Fan dragon artist +++++

 I've been login in the game more usaul lately so, Hi! My Viking's name is 'Tahno'. I'm in Zesty's Humbanger Studio clan now. Come say Hi! Friend Request is A okay but need to notify me outside of game first otherwise I will ignore. 

(Both Renders in this signature are done by LPS100! Thank you!)

 Chameishida's Book of Fan Dragons  l Chamemeishida's Book of Fan Hybrids and Varients l Chameishida's Book of Spin-off Dragons

------------------------------------------------------

Fan dragons Customizables

   

(grey means closed)

++++++

Come get your random Dragon Pixels!

HUMANIZED DRAGON l OC STORAGE  HUMAN + VIKING REQUEST

l THUNDERDRUM HYBRID BEST HYBRID l CHAMEISHIDA'S QnA l DRAGON RAFFLE

Wooly Razor adoptable l Deathly Singflyer Adoptable 

Swiftwing and Relentless Razorwing Customization l Laxing Blizzadorn Adoptable

 HTTYD Dragon Quiz l Titan Comparison l Hybrids Comparison l Hybrids Skin 

Modern SOD Info Thread l Rescue Riders Tierlist l Dragon Fusion Generator

++++++

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LissaFish
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Joined: 02/12/2017
Hola

Thanks Chame! It has been really interesting seeing what parts of the rp take so much more time than the rp had, and what parts just fly past. So many of the posts were written for continuity between different scenes with different rpers, and when I take all that away it's simple dialogue. Those are so nice and rein the story into a very reasonable pace ^^

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Ginger and Jaxomis
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Joined: 01/07/2018
Tracking, o'course. :D

You know I'm going to be anywhere where your writing appears! ^^

I remember reading a portion of the Dragonblood RP way back when it started, it will be fun to see how you adapt it! :D

__________________

Welcome!

(Siggy Under Construction)

 

I know my name is a bit confusing, so let me explain. I am Ginger. I have a sister whose main Viking is named Jaxomis. Originally we shared this forum account, but my sister recently made her own account as Fuzzy Kitten, so this is now only mine. So please, just call me Ginger! ^-^

 

 

In Order:

​Ginger's Viking Section

​Blackout The Night Fury's Section

Some Random Stuff!

​~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ginger's Viking Section!

​First off... My Vikings!

My main Viking is

Ginger Selson:

​ 

Extras about appearance: Ginger has a small, faint scar on the far left side of her jaw. She also wears a short necklace with a Peridot in the shape of an Eruptodon.

Personality: Ginger Selson is very shy around humans. She absolutely loves dragons, and has learned Dragonese. She has two sides to her personality. The side most people see is quiet, gentle, and would never start a fight. Her other side, the one only her dragons and her best (human) friend, Jaxomis, see, is strong-willed, brave, and will face danger to protect her friends.

History: Ginger Selson is the daughter of two Defenders of the Wing. However, at one point, her parents were going to get some supplies for the Defenders and they took her with them. Unfortunately, their ship was attacked by pirates, and the only survivor was Ginger. Ginger's mother, upon seeing that the ship was going to be taken by the pirates, placed Ginger in a water-tight basket and set her afloat. Ginger drifted to Berk, where she was found by Mulch and Bucket during one of their fishing trips. She acquired her scar while in the basket. A sharp strand of the weave scratched her jaw while she was being buffeted by the waves. She was only 13 months old at the time, so she was taken in by a Berkian woman who had just had Jaxomis 5 months before. Ginger grew up as Jax's sibling, and they have grown to be very close friends. When she was 10 years old, she began attending the School of Dragons. In the 6 years since then, she has become a talented Dragon Trainer. She is currently 16 years old.

​Game Information: ​UDT Star!(big platinum star), 1850+ Trophies, 70 Dragons.

Clan: ​The Messengers

(Now Leader)

           ​            

Main Dragon: Skyfrost

​-Breed: Woolly Howl

-Gender: Male

​-Level: 37

​-Personality: Protective, loyal, brave, and makes a good companion. Sky likes being with Ginger, and flying with her is his favorite thing. He can be a bit bossy and stuck-up, but he has a good heart and intentions.

Other Dragons:

Silverlight- Adult male Monsterous Nightmare, Ginger's first dragon~~~Tsunami- Adult female Thunderdrum~~~Galaxy- Adult female Typhoomerang~~~Jungle- Adult male Sweet Death~~~Firewing- Adult female Moldruffle~~~Illusion- Adult female Changewing~~~Flare- Adult male Moldruffle~~~Firestorm- Adult male Typhoomerang~~~Scythetail- Adult female Devilish Dervish~~~Vortex- Adult female Devilish Dervish, not tame~~~Spinstrike- Adult male Whispering Death~~~Iceheart- Adult male Groncicle~~~Seafoam- Adult male Thunderdrum~~~Bramblethorn- Titan female Deadly Nadder~~~Wavecrash- Adult female Sand Wraith, Ginger's second favorite dragon~~~Twist & Turn- Adult female Hideous Zippleback~~~Copper- Adult male Razorwhip~~~Sunset- Adult female Death Song, not tame~~~Obsidian- Titan female Razorwhip, not ​tame!~~~Snowflurry- Titan female Woolly Howl, not tame~~~Magnet- Adult male Armorwing~~~Chaos- Adult male Screaming Death~~~Spottedleaf- Adult female Hobblegrunt/Threadtail~~~Cindertail- Adult male Singetail~~~Goldriver- Adult female Eruptodon~~~Emberspark- Adult female Flame Whipper~~~Echo- Adult male Mudraker~~~Nettle- Adult male Triple Stryke~~~Springcoil- Adult male Grapple Grounder~~~Cloudcutter- Adult male Timberjack~~~Mischief- Titan female Terrible Terror~~~Lava- Adult female Gronkle~~~Starspirit- Adult male Silver Phantom~~~Flash- Adult male Speed Stinger, not tame~~~Fire, Water, Earth, and Air (The Gang)- Adult male Snaptrapper~~~Anemone- Adult female Shockjaw~~~Whiteout- Adult female Snow Wraith, not tame~~~​Tumbleweed- Adult female Buffalord~~~Dawnblaze- Adult female Fireworm Queen~~~Blizzardchaser- Titan male Woolly Howl, not tame~~~Vigilant- Adult male Elder Sentinel~~~Thunderclap- Adult male Skrill~~~Puddlesplash​- Adult female Windwalker~~~Waterwake- Adult male Scauldron~~~​Thistlebush- Adult female Prickleboggle~~~Dartfang- Adult male Grim Gnasher~~~Ravenwing- Adult female Night Terror~~~Bullcharge- Adult male Rumblehorn~~~Tigerstrike- Adult male Deathgripper~~~Winddancer- Adult female Stormcutter~~~Vex- Adult male Smitten Hobgobbler~~~Ruffrunner- Adult male Night Light~~~Volcano- Adult male Fire Terror~~~Earthquake- Adult male Crimson Goregutter~~~Frostbite- Adult male Shivertooth~~~Pebblescale- Adult female Raincutter~~~Jadeshimmer- Adult female Scuttleclaw~~~Glade & Grove- Adult male Ghastly Zapplejack~~~Crestrider- Adult male Tide Glider~~~Steadfast- Adult female Sentinal~~~Clashcrown- Adult male Chimeragon~~~Pouncer- Adult male Night Light~~~Ashcloud- Adult female Smokebreath~~~Cometstorm- Adult male Flightmare~~~Shiverbolt- Adult female Skrillknapper~~~Aurora & Polaris- Adult female Zipplewraith~~~Dart- Adult female Night Light~~~Champion- Adult male Gruesome Goregripper~~~Fearless- Adult male Graveknapper

Other Vikings: 

*Quicksilver Catspaw​- Goldleaf's brother. He has the ability to change from a human(Quicksilver/Silver) to a cat(Quicksilver/Quick). He also has an amulet that allows him to morph into a Razorwhip(Mercury).

​-Dragons: Oceanmotion: Adult male Shockjaw~~~Chaos & Confusion: Adult male Hideous Zippleback~~~Mossfire: Adult female Eruptodon~~~White Bitetight: Adult male Smitten Hobgobbler~~~Mercury: Adult male Razorwhip (Stand-in for Quick's morph)~~~Deadly Medley: Baby female Death Song

*Caracal Pounce- Cara, for short, is a undeveloped female character.

​-Dragons: Mistlight: Adult female Flightmare~~~Flashfire: Adult female Deadly Nadder~~~Quickstrike: Adult female Deathgripper (Main dragon)

*Finn Howler​- A underdeveloped male Berserker.

-Dragons: Ghostlight​: Adult male Flightmare~~~Screech & Howl​: Teen male Hideous Zippleback

*Jayla the Ranger​- Jay is my Ranger's Apprentice inspired character. She is a new character.

-Dragons: Oakleaf: Adult female Sand Wraith~~~Bullseye​: Teen male Deadly Nadder

​~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Blackout the Night Fury

​Blackout is Ginger's Night Fury OC. Blackout is a wild Night Fury who lives where Night Furies are more common. He is fierce, proud, and never backs down from a fight. He looks more or less like Toothless, but he has blue eyes and a lighter birthmark on the left side of his forehead. He's really just for RPs and art.

          

*Edit by me*

*Base by MagaboltPhoenix, filled by me*

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Random Stuff!

Things I like: Dragons, cats, dogs, equines (I'm a proud longear owner/fan!), HTTYD 1, 2, and The Hidden World, RttE, Riders/Defenders of Berk, Tuffnut, Hiccup, Toothless, Tales of Arcadia, BBC Merlin, most animals, hanging out with my sister, watching movies and shows with my sister, Warriors, The Ranger's Apprentice, Wings of Fire, The Dragon Prince, reading, drawing, playing SoD, browsing through things online, being with animals, DRAGONS, Survivors, The Inheritance books, Rick Riordan's books, Keeper of the Lost Cities, and did I mention reading?

Also, in case you were wondering, my Hogwarts house is Ravenclaw, with a strong Hufflepuff leaning!

   Image result for Ranger's apprentice          Image result for warrior cats

 

Bye!

 

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LissaFish
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Joined: 02/12/2017
Guten Tag

Aww thanks Ginger. ^^ Hope you enjoy!

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Rune the Viking
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Chief
Joined: 06/07/2021
Ruffrunner slept on my subject

Oh my god
This is soooo goodddddddd !!!!!!!
Really appreciate you put ray in!
Can't wait for chapter 2
I already like this more than harry Potter!

__________________

yes

so

lets begin

Name: Rune the Viking 

gender: male

fav dragon: stormcutter 

hobbies: listening to music, watching movies, reading, playing badminton/tennis, chatting(ok that sounds very cringe) 

fav books: percy jackson, heroes of olympus

instagram: @runetheviking_

age: teen

clan: UnConquerable

join our community SoD discord server, for photoshoots and normal game pics and chat

https://discord.gg/9SuQfZBkkG

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LissaFish
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Joined: 02/12/2017
Ciao

Thanks Raahimj! Ray has been a fun addition :3

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LissaFish
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Joined: 02/12/2017
Chapter Two

Chapter Two

 

 

“Speedstingers are jerks.” 

Ebony hobbled while she hissed, one foot still asleep after a confrontation with the snarling, growling den behind her. “They’re so rude! I say hi, they say sting. I say share, they say sting. I say sleep here an live with you forever and ever, they say get out we gonna snack attack you. And sting. So selfish.”

Rainwater splashed from the waving tree-branches over her cupped wings and back. She shook with a chill. Storms were a regular event here, but it didn’t make them any more bearable.

“I miss hoomans.” The dragon lamented ever leaving Berk, trying to stretch the numbness out of that leg. “If I get back I is never leaving again.”

 

~

 

Wings powering Flitt through the water she shifted to hybrid; Flightmare claws weren’t much good for holding onto anything. She reached for the human as he reached up, took his arm and pulled, fighting the sea. With a mighty gasp for air she got the person up so his head was just above the surface. He coughed far bit of water out.

Now what? Both of them were being dragged further out, and she couldn't fly and carry him in this form.

Ah, there was Ray coming back around, a foul look on his face. At the same time a wave lifted both her and the stranger high. She saw a chance, and shifting to her dragon form beat her ragged-edged wings hard.

Ian, still sputtering but coming back to his senses looked up at the girl-turned-dragon and part of him wanted to let go but the other part clung for dear life.

“Quit- moving!” Flitt growled. And of course, since she was speaking dragon he didn’t understand.

Ray also came in with an aggressive hiss, alarming the rescue/captive. “Be still, human. Who are you and what do you want with us?” He snapped in human tongue

"Nothing,” The man heeded the dragonblood’s demands with apprehension. “I-I’m Ian, and all I want is some land under my feet!"

The Nightfury Hybrid looked to Flitt, struggling to keep Ian from getting sucked under again. “Need a hand?”

“Not at all we’re doing great.”

Ray bit back a sharp reply and took hold of one of the man’s arms.

Thanks,” The Flightmare panted. She blinked water from her eyes and set her sights on the beach.

 

~

 

Chicken roasting over the fire, Cutt, Twilight, and Ogma finished with the windows and moved on to reinforce the walls and keep the cabin warmer. Cutt, as she was the resident extrovert, rambled to Ogma and Twilight while they worked, making sure to keep it fun. 

The storm was raging into a full hour when everything was done, and still there had been no sign of Flitt or Ray. "I wonder when they'll get back. Hope they're okay...” Cutt voiced as she rotated the bird. “Does… does anyone else think maybe we should go look for them?" 

“Maybe,” Twilight said, a little hesitant. She didn’t like how long the scouts were taking but the last thing they needed was to get more dragonbloods lost in the storm. “There’s really only one person who could go out and not have any trouble, though.”

She grimaced as she gestured the full form Skrill fast asleep across the room. True to his word he hadn’t lifted a finger to help the gang.

“I can ask him,” Ogma offered, a much friendlier sort when not inspired to wreak havoc by Gusto. He made his way over and tapped the skrill on the wing.

~

Though the storm fought them for every inch the Dragonbloods finally made it to the beach. Flitt collapsed on the sand in hybrid form and promptly sneezed, startling the Terrible Terror who had watched the whole thing. “What is this?” the little dragon chittered, circling. “What happened? Are you ok?”

“I am. Are you two?” She asked Ray and the stranger, Ian.

“Yes.” Ray shook.

Land. his weary sealegs could hardly keep him upright on it, but finally, he was safe. "Aye, thank you," bedraggled Ian nodded his rescuers, particularly the one with lacy wings. Even so he stepped away. "Thank you heartly, the both of you. You've been very kind to save a stranger's life I won't forget it." A shiver took him. “’There an inn, here somewhere?

 

~

 

Still miffed about the speedstingers Ebony didn’t pay attention to her footing and tumbled down a forested hillside.

"Oof!" A tree trunk broke her fall. She looked up, baffled, until her nose twitched. "Wait... Wait a second. Is that... FOOD?"

Enormously wide yellow eyes grew wider. It was food. not just any food, cooked food.

"Hoomans!!" The fury murphed, eagerly following her nose. "Should introduce myself. I bet they have extra.”

She got to the cabin and was a bit surprised. The windows were all shut up, rags covered every nook and cranny, the doors locked, sacks of sand in front of them. It was almost like the hoomans didn't want visitors.

But then, if they didn't want visitors why were they cooking? It was obviously some cultural misunderstanding she was happy to forgive.

"Hello?" The dragon scratched at a window. "Is anybody in there? I is hungrrrrryyy..."

Hmmm, no answer. Time to go straight to the source.

Ebony shook the water out of her wings and beat them hard, landing on the rooftop. Her faithful nose led her straight to the chimney.

Ahhh, that was the stuff. Chicken and potatoes and... greens... nah scratch that just the chicken and potatoes sounded good. Whatever else was down there she was happy to share with the hoomans.

Just the thought made her stomach gargle. She leaned into the smoke rising out. Aha. This must be the true entrance. A bit small, but she was sure she could... somehow...

Ebony crawled into the chimney

 

~

 

Flitt climbed to her feet... foot. “Erm, no. The only place to stay here is our cabin.” She shouted over the roaring of the wind and waves. The storm was coming to its worst and fast.

"We’ve gotta head back." Ray said, concerned that the others might come searching for them if they didn’t return soon.

Flitt nodded and looked down at the Terrible Terror. 'You’re welcome to come if you like.”

The small dragon half-nodded.

Ian hesitated to follow the two dragonbloods and their little friend. "There's nothing else? Nothing at all? I wouldn’t want to intrude," A gust tried to knock him over and he glared up at the sky with a soft, unnoticeable growl. “Though this storm is very persuasive.”

…So was the idea of not standing here on the open shore. That- that thing was still out there.

“Who says you’re coming with us?” The team leader thought it bold of Ian to assume. Then looked up sharply.

Four wings beat, whooshing over their heads. Ian ducked, and as he saw what had happened upon them stared in stunned silence.

"That," he finally found words, pointing to the enormous newcomer. Not with the trepidation one would expect; his question was almost like someone who had found a missing piece of a puzzle. "What is that??"

"A Stormcutter” Ray snorted with a surprised look. Ok maybe he’s not a Dragon Hunter. How would he not know a Stormcutter when he sees one?? He switched over to Dragon tongue and in a much kinder tone addressed the creature. "Hi there, what’s your name? Can we help you with anything?" 

Ian watched, ready to run if it tried anything. "A Stormcutter," He repeated with a funny look on his face. "A Stormcutter a stormcutter."

“Celeste.” The creature answered graciously. “I am on migration, and in passing heard a struggle. You all seem well and unharmed,” the wild dragon looked from one to the another. “No one out here trying to do you harm?”

“Oh. Yes it’s alright, everything’s under control now.” Ray affirmed. “This human ran his boat into a rock is all.”

“Ah. Humans.” She echoed his sentiments in good humor.

“Exactly.”

 

~

 

Nom nom nom....

So maybe she was a little stuck now. Maybe the room was beginning to fill with smoke since she was clogging up the chimney but the chicken was everything she hoped it to be. Crunching bones she looked about the spacious cabin, spotting three humans and one dragon. A Skrill.

"Hey bud wake up," The human tried to coax the Skrill awake.

"Yo," Ebony said between mouthfuls. "Zappy, you gots one nice place here. Are all these hoomans yours?"

Twilight jumped in fright, spotting the night fury. She blinked, then shifted to dragon. "Um, hi? What are you doing??"

Ebony's mouth dropped open. Wriggling all the way down the chimney and into the room only her tail remained in the fireplace. She instinctively she arched her back at the sight of another fury.

“What,” she grunted, “Did you just do to that poor hooman? Did you step on her?? Where’d she go?”

The dragon stretched her neck to look around the nightlight without getting any closer.

“Aww! A wild dragon!” Cutt said delightedly, shifting to Razorcutter and heading over to meet Ebony. "Hello! I love your eyes! They look like bright yellow stars! And I love how your scales glisten! You must be starving! Here, I'll fix you up a snack, although I know Ray wouldn't want us to eat yet... would you like to stay for dinner?" Cutt looks at her with almost puppy like eyes, even if she wasn't attempting to.

Such nice things… especially that bit about dinner. But the fury didn’t have a chance to answer.

"Bug off!"  In Gusto's sleepy state he snapped and swatted Ogma away. The Skrill blinked, his eyes came into focus, zeroing in on something behind Ogma.

"INTRUDERS!" He screamed, backing away and spreading wings to look more threatening. Ogma jumped and turned around as well, shifting to part dragon on instinct while Gusto continue to shriek at the Night fury, voice raised above all the friendly interaction of his teammates. "INTRUDERS! IN MY TERRITORY! HOW DARE YOU! GET OUT GET OUT YOU GOT NERVE COMING INTO MY TERRITORY, WEAKLING!"

Now, for a dragon, or well any creature for that matter Ebony could handle a lot. But the things unfolding before her in that cabin made no sense at all. First it was full of hoomans, now it was full of dragons, one screaming insults at her, another she'd never seen the likes of, one with a thunderdrum-head but hooman body, and lastly a fury... a friendlish fury, but a fury. How did they sneak up so fast? And what happened to all those hoomans??

"...Immout." She turned nervously to crawl back up the way she’d come.

Cutt rushed over to the Skrill and put a paw over his mouth. "Oh dear! Terribly sorry about all this! I suppose we all should have introduced ourselves first! I'll go first, I'm Cutteroa, this is Twilight," she pointed to the young fury with her other paw, "this is Ogma, and this is Gusto, so sorry for the screaming! We haven't had visitors in a while..."

Twilight shook her head and came a little closer to the startled night fury. "We're Dragonbloods, shapeshifters. We were the humans" she explained. “I'm Twilight, what's your name?"

 

~

 

His rigid stance softened as the creature overhead returned Ray’s greeting. It seemed friendly enough, even if he didn't understand it. He used the time to note it's unique titan features: including the larger spikes and plated armor along its back, ridged wings and double ...horns? ...crest? over those deep, wise eyes. Were those features of the gender or a subspecies of the dragon? Or was it at a different stage in life? He couldn't tell.

And anyways the wind, ice and biting rain in his fast-stiffening clothes made it next to impossible to think straight. They, or at least he really needed to find shelter before hypothermia could set in.

Flitt noticed how Ian shivered. Dragonbloods didn't feel the cold as much, but even to her this wind was bitter. He looked gaunt even for a human. She glanced up to the sky and saw how low the grey clouds had come. Snow, she thought. She could smell it, too.

She approached the human and nodded for him to follow her. The others would be fine, she figured, They had delt with storms before. But this newcomer needed to get to shelter.

Ian nodded back, forgetting Ray’s comment earlier.

Ray waved as the Stormcutter left, wishing the foul weather away in his head. If it weren’t so miserable he could get away with dumping the stranger here on the shore. But he had a conscience. And Flitt. “Alright let’s go before the others come out looking for us.”

Others? Soggy shoes oozed water with every step. Wet sand clung to them as Ian toyed with the word, something telling him it was important. Through the mind-fog it hit him. Others?!? Were there MORE dragonbloods?? 

He let the question go unspoken, following in complacent silence. He'd know soon enough. And if one of 'them' turned out to be a mutual acquaintance he couldn't see it being any worse a fate than staying out here.

Jonny chirruped, dithering for a few moments before joining the group at a distance. He didn't want to go back to his cave. It was cold and h.ard and he was hungry.

Thunder peeled overhead as the foursome entered the forest.

 

~

 

"Yeah that's right, leave!" Ogma growled when he saw Ebony turned to go.

Gusto shook his head away from Cutt's paw, redirecting his string of curses toward her.

Ebony narrowed her gaze but stayed her exit. Twilight might be telling the truth, there was after all a half thunderdrum-human monstrosity in the room. "Ebony. Or Jynx, or Monster... or Clueless, or Monster Kitty, or Toothless... I'm not sure which it changes every time I meet a hooman." 

"Paw off me you derranged mix breed! How dare you interrupt!" The Skrill snarled at the half razorwhip half Stormcutter trying to make peace.

The encroaching fury arched her back, lips curling. "I like the Stormwhip she's nice and doesn’t scream."

"NO ONE CARES!” Gusto shifted his attention back to Ebony, only briefly before getting back on Cutt’s case. “Now you, stop offering wild dragons our food!"

Ebony’s tail flicked and she sat on her haunches, emphasizing a sudden determination to stay. "No one cares? NO ONE cares??? I care. I LIKE the Stormwhipper. Yes. As a matter of fact I just decided that she is a very very good friend of mine. That I met. Last year, and forgot about."

Aww! Cutt thought, happy Ebony considered her a friend already.

"WHAT'S THAT!?" Gusto bellowed, moving across the room to stand forehead to forehead with her. "You can't just up and make stuff up about this, Weakling! We don't associate with the wild weaklings such as you! Did you really meet her last year!?" Gusto turned to Cutt.

Ebony smirked, her nose squishing under the Skrill's headbutt. She was not the least bit phased by his intrusion on her personal space however. 

“Uhh- um- actually- well-”

"Yyeeeaaah, we met last year. It was... it was Snoggletog! During the great migration. We were just in it for the rush, y'know? To see what all the hype was about. Anyway I crashed into her and we talked and... and decided to prank a monstrous nightmare mother by switching her eggs with a terrible terrors, and vice versa. hahaha you should have seen them it was great; the nightmare was flying around with a swarm of tiny babies and the terror ones’ as big as her."

Her face went totally blank as she stared into the fire with eyes wide.

"That poor terrible terror mother though. She raised all of those nightmares by herself, since her husband was eaten by rabid lemmings. She worked tirelessly day and night to stuff those hungry mouths, until one day >sniff!< she died of exhaustion. Her Monstrous Nightmare children mourned her five whole years, recognizing the great personal sacrifice she made to ensure they had Perch instead of Trout. So the obvious lesson here is don't be picky."

Twilight blinks, stunned by the turn Ebony's story had taken. 

"Oh dear!" Cutt said, deciding that she liked the fury more then the angry skrill. "I had no idea that the Terror had died!I do believe you are mistaken about that! In fact I thought I saw her with her large children only a while back! In fact I went over to apologize for causing so much trouble a few months ago," Cutt tried not to think about how many lies were in that sentence. "I had all but forgotten that! Oh what a joy it is to see you again!" Cutt rushed over and gave the fury a gentle nuzzle under her head. she then forgot that she was supposed to stay farther away and simply stayed right beside the fury. "I'm quite sorry for all the confusion! In fact I do believe I told you that you must visit me at some time, I don't see why today shouldn't be that day" She then gave the fury a slight wink.

 

~

 

‘Your name's Ian, right?’ Flitt asked the human. She watched him from the corner of her eye. There was something strange about him, not least the way he had reacted when the stormcutter had arrived. ‘My name is Flitt. This is Ray, over there--’ her words were cut off by a massive lightning bolt striking somewhere in the forest, thunder that seemed to shake the ground following seconds later.

Ian, listing, was startled as the world flashed white and exploded in thunder. Greenish yellow pine dust fell away from the trees around them in its wake.

That was awfully close.

He found Lacy Wings looking his way.

"...Ian…aye." He blinked, realizing she had been speaking to him prior to the thunderbolt. "Flitt? A pleasure." The human glanced at her wings. "If I may be so bold... what are you?"

The scent of cooked chicken caught in his nostrils and he looked up. Through the trees was a cabin, smoke rising from a misshapen chimney. He paid that bit no heed. Finally, some shelter from the storm! He couldn't wait to dry off by the hearth.

 

~

 

Ebony trilled. "See? She remembers everything. Told you we's long old friends, aren't we... we..."

She leaned into the hybrid's ear with a guilty look. "Wut’s your name?"

Cutt whispered into the Furies’ ear with the upturning of one half of her mouth, trying not to let the skrill notice. "You can call me Cutt.”

"Cutt." Ebony nodded vigorously.

Gusto narrowed his eyes but ever a thickhead, soon bought into it "What, so you do know each other" he made and annoyed sound, "You and your lovey dopey friendship with the weaklings! I can’t stand it. You all make me sick!" He huffed and retreated from the main room, followed closely by Ogma.
"I'm going to the kitchen!"

"K, see ya Zaps. You too Thunderhead nice meeting you." Ebony returned with neither a shred of sarcasm or common sense. Her ears perked toward Cutt.

“Bread?" She licked her lips, nose twitching. "Will there be butter? If not I can steal a cow for you to squeeze it out of."

 

PineappleLark's picture
PineappleLark
Offline
Berk's Power Player
Joined: 08/22/2019
This is great!

Tracking. I'm a little late but this is really good! It's fun to see more of what happened before I joined the rp too

__________________

Welcome to my signature!

 

 

My in-game name: KatieHills

My dragons:

Night the Deadly Nadder

Boomerang the Typhoomerang

Sugar the Groncicle

Shock Wave the Thunderdrum

Coal the Deadly Nadder

Flower the Groncicle

Rhino the Rumblehorn

Boggles the Whispering Death

Zig and Zag the Hideous Zippleback

Makita the Whispering Death

Gaggletack the Skrill

Aurora the Fireworm Queen

Pineapple Lump the Prickleboggle

Marama the Rumblehorn

Sprinter the Speed Stinger

Turtle the Grapple Grounder

Blayde the Razorwhip

Vanek the Monstrous Nightmare

Skylark the Stormcutter

Truffle the Moldruffle

Bumbly the Sweet Death

Boggie the Mudraker

Gobble and Go the Hideous Zippleback

Geranium the Typhoomerang

Puddles the Mudraker

Razzmatazz the Flightmare

Pizza the Woolly Howl

Tortoise the Rumblehorn

Copper the Razorwhip

Fangsong the Deathsong

Bumblebee the Catastrophic Quaken

Hobbletail the Hobblegrunt

Bells and Whistles the Hideous Zippleback

Dart the Night Light

Flashburn the Armorwing

Gemini the Golden Dragon

Fidget the Gronckle

Tea Tree the Sand Wraith

Synonym the Deathgripper

 

Art and Edits

Venus by SilverNight

Buck the Barrow Pegasus by LissaFish

 

Stardust the Night Light by AndreaEaston

Primrose the Night Light by AndreaEaston

Focaccia the Night Light by AndreaEaston

Milkshake the Night Light by AndreaEaston

Valiant the Skrill by Speedyleaf

Skylark by WoollyHowlEra

Crag by AMAZIEing

Smooth by SilverNight

Venus by DiliehIdol1214

Shinglepaw by DiliehIdol1214

 

Still a work in progress, and it probably always will be

LissaFish's picture
LissaFish
Offline
Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 02/12/2017
Hi there

Hello, it's been a while! Unfortunately I've come to realization I'm not going to be able to finish this. Turns out editing a roleplay into an actual story is a heckin' lot of work and it's better to just pull some aspects from it and make something new. Very sorry to anyone keeping tabs on this! Please know I tried.

 

If anyone is interested, I have permission to post the unedited rp between myself and Gingerforum that details the fate of Argos. I'll go ahead and do that here sometime tomorrow.

 

LissaFish's picture
LissaFish
Offline
Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 02/12/2017
Argos End PT1

Survival of the Dragonbloods PM Posts from beginning

 

Jason nods, then stiffles a yawn.

"We should probably all head home.. it's been a really long day and it's late" Nora says quietly.

Jason nods again. "Yeah, you're right. See you tomorrow, Flitt." The pair slowly head off back to the village and their house.

The two Dragonbloods walk through the village, hand in hand. Nora looks around at the peaceful scene and smiles a little. She shifts to hybrid form, enjoying the cool breeze that tugs gently at her wings, inviting her to fly. Jason smiles softly as he watches her. "I'm so glad you're not afraid of your dragon side anymore."

Nora smiles back. "Me too. It's still not easy to control though."

"Tell me about it. I'm not used to being around so many humans and dragons after being alone and in dragon form for so many months" Jason chuckles. They walk on in happy silence.

Just before they reach their house, Nora stops and looks around, suddenly feeling uneasy.

"What's up?" Jason asks.

"I'm.. not sure.. something just doesn't feel quite right..." she mumbles. After looking around a bit longer, but not seeing anything strange, she sighs and shakes her head. "Probably just tired" she tells Jason.

He nods slowly, a little on edge now. "Okay.. let's go in." They go inside and shut the door, and though they both smile, neither of them fully relaxes.

"Let's stay up a bit longer. There's too much on my mind to sleep" Nora says.

"Good idea. I'll get some of that peppermint tea of yours" Jason says.

 

 

Peppermint tea. One of the many different remedies to soothe a troubled dragonbloods soul. Traces of its aromatic scent had been on Nora the first time he tried to nab her, and traces of it had brought him to the Dragonblood's home.  

Footsteps approached but in the shadows Argos remained seated. His bow was leveled, dart tipped with something far less friendly than deathgripper venom, waiting until the young man had reached the tealeaves.

"Jason." he smiled and pulled the trigger.

Jason whips around at the hauntingly familiar voice, furious with himself that he hadn't shifted to hybrid form to give himself an early warning. Too shocked by the sight of Argos to think clearly, he makes a grab for the dart to stop it instead of dodging. The dart hits him in the chest and he steps back, then quickly pulls it out, knowing the stuff - whatever the dart had in it - is already inside him, but hoping he reacted fast enough to avoid getting the full dose. "Nora, run!" he shouts, then throws the dart back at Argos. He shifts to dragon form and leaps at his enemy. Nora comes running into the room, her eyes wide. "Jason, what's-" She freezes and lets out a short cry of terror as she takes in the scene.

Argos grit his teeth as Jason's reaction saved him from immediate death. But the tip had penetrated so longer-term consequences were still in order, and the younger dragonblood's surprise bought Argos just enough time to set another bolt. When the dart came flying back at him he jumped up and twisted around, using the chair to both block it and throw at the deathgripper now in the middle of the room.

"Careful," He warned, edging along the wall and choosing his words, "The more riled you get the faster the poison spreads." Out of the corner of his eye he caught a motion as Nora entered the room and froze

Jason staggers as he gets hit with the chair. He reluctantly shifts to hybrid form at Argos's warning. "What kind of poison?" he demands, his wings spread open. He sways a bit as he starts to cough. Nora stares in dismay, then bares her teeth in a snarl. Jason manages to stifle his coughing and he jerks a wing towards the door, a desperate attempt to tell Nora to escape. Noras eyes shine with tears but she slowly backs out of the room. Once out of Argos's line of sight and fire, she dashes to the door and bursts out of the house.

"Leave now and I will give you neither the name of poison or the antidote. Call an alarm," He hissed loud enough Nora could hear him as she ran, "And I will put every effort into making him suffer." Jason already beginning to succumb to the high dosage, his cold stare shifted toward Nora, but the bolt remained on the hybrid deathgripper. 

Nora stops sharply as she hears Argos. She turns back, her eyes wide. "No, Nora, don't -" Jason starts, but breaks down coughing again. "Don't listen to him.." he says hoarsely once he stops. "Please.. warn everyone.. I'll be ok.." he says quietly, sinking to the ground in exhaustion.

Nora's throat grows tight with fear and tears stream from her eyes. "I.. I'm so, so sorry Jason.. I can't leave you like this" she whispers, stepping back inside and shutting the door. "I - I won't tell anyone.. just, please, if you really do have the antidote.. cure him. Please" she begs Argos. Jason tries to protest, but he can't speak without coughing. He leans against the fallen chair, panting and struggling to keep his eyes open. "A-and if you don't have the antidote, please just tell me what the poison is. Please!" Nora continues, panic rising in her voice.

Some of the tension fell from Argos shoulders. He put a hand into the pocket of that mid-length coat and held out a vial

"Thank you. I propose that this is the antidote... but if you want it you'll do me a favor or two."

Nora nods slowly, despite being very upset about it. "W-what do you want?" she asks weakly.

"Nora.. don't.." Jason groans.

Nora quickly gets to his side and kneels down next to him. "S-stay with me.. please.." she whispers.

Argos stepped back, lowering the bow with a wary eye but allowing her to approach Jason all the same. "I first want you to encase him in amber. Only to be sure he can't warn the others of my presence."

Nora hesitates and doubts about if Argos will keep his promise begin to creep in. "A-and then what?" she asks, not moving to act just yet.

"Then I'll ask for that second favor." He said simply. "It will not involve anyone's harm. The fact I want you to encase Jason is a statement to my intentions," That ugly smile played at his lips. "There's no reason to keep a dead man from walking."

With another slight shift in focus he looked down at Jason falling further and further from consciousness. "And once encased I would not try to shift to dragon if I were you. The amber will hold."

Nora hesitates for several seconds longer, then she sighs shakily and shifts to dragon form. She spits a few bits of amber onto Jasons feet, just enough to keep him in place. She then reluctantly shifts back to hybrid form and looks at Argos, waiting for what else he wants from her.

"I said encase." He repeated coldly. "If you won't keep him from causing me grief I will."

Nora shifts back to dragon form and carefully, so she doesn't hurt him, encases Jason in amber. Jason groans weakly, struggling to stay awake. Once he's almost completely encased, with only his head and shoulders free, Nora shifts back to hybrid form.

Argos nodded his satisfaction and held the vial up again. "What does your word mean to you? My next request involves a little trust in both directions." He studied her, almost hesitant. "My word means everything to me. And I give it that your fiancé can and will be saved from the poison by this vial if you do as I ask."

Nora feebly wipes away a few tears, feeling wretched. "I - I'll do what you want me to... I promise" she says quietly.

"No.." Jason whispers.

The killer continued to study her a long moment after. "All I want," he said finally, "Is my notebook. And if I understand the equality concept your oh so precious Chief has set into order... or lack thereof, he shouldn't have a problem letting you borrow it... you could remind him of this if he does. Get me the book and don't speak of anything that has happened here, tell no one I am on Berk, and return to me immediately. You must if the antidote is to be of any benefit."

Nora nods slowly. "O-ok.. I'll be back as soon as I can" she says, gently touching Jasons shoulder. She then gets up and hurries off. Her head spins as she runs through the village towards Hiccups house. She stops at the door, takes a few moments to catch her breath and wipe her tear-stained face, then knocks.

 

 

POSTING

Earflaps turned. Large hazel green eyes snapped open and a small snout twitched as Toothless, previously asleep before the hearth stared at the entry, head and ears lopsided.

There was a rap at the door.

"Bjorn," Hiccup groaned, staring into his rafters as he left his comfortable chair and interesting read to trudge to the door. With marked gruffness he pulled the latch and swung it open. "You better not be back here complaining about your brother Koen...er," He blinked back his surprise. "Hi... Nora. Sorry, I, I thought you were someone else."

His entire mood changed and he smiled. "There anything I can do for you?" The smile faded slightly as he looked into her strained face "...is everything alright?"

Nora nods quickly, trying desperately to look relaxed. "Y-yes, Sir, I'm ok.. I, um, just need to borrow something.. Argos's notebook, to be specific. I.. thought there might be a hint in there as to how we can beat him.." she says quietly, unable to look him in the eyes as she talks. "Please? It's really, really important."

"S-sure Nora. If you think you can find anything useful in there go for it." He gestured her inside. "Let me go get it. But out of curiosity why now?"

He turned and rummaged through a disorganized bookshelf. Stray papers fluttered to the ground, one book he gave a second glance to, muttering something about wondering where it had gone. Not finding what he was looking for on the shelf he could reach he stared up at the next level.

"Um, Toothless, bud?"

Toothless rolled his eyes and stretched. Humans. Needing a dragon to get a foot off the ground. He sauntered Hiccups way and allowed the viking to step on his forehead.

"Thanks bud"

Nora steps inside, her heart racing. "W-well.. the others want to go hunt Argos down, starting tomorrow morning.. and I thought maybe I could help even though I can't really fight."

"Pfft are you kidding Nora?" Hiccup chortled, reaching as far as he could reach. "You're a deathsong, one of the toughest dragons out there. But what's this about hunting Argos down tomorrow morning I didn't authorize that." 

Toothy lifted his head a little, smiling with amusment when he heard Hiccup say 'gotcha!'

The Viking Chief hopped down, metal leg clanking against the floor as he pat his dragon absent-mindedly. "Don't even know why I put it up there so high. Maybe..." he glowered. "Maybe I just didn't want to have to look at it all the time. It's not for the faint of heart."

He hesitated just before handing it to her. "I don't want anyone running off after this guy. If we're going to get him, we'll get him by working as a team. The lone wolf never beats the pack."

"I'm not brave enough to fight, that's all" Nora mumbles as Hiccup tells her how tough she is. She sighs in relief when he hands her the book. "Thankyou, thankyou so much" she says, managing an actual smile. "I'll tell the others not to go.. Twilight just got really upset, I don't know if anything else really wants to get Argos though." She holds the notebook slightly gingerly, half expecting it to be poisoned too. "Again, thankyou so much, Sir. I'd better get going now though." With a grateful smile, she heads for the door.

"Hey," Hiccup said softly, putting a hand on her shoulder as she took it with a sigh. "From what I've heard about you, Nora, you are brave. New to your abilities, battling deathsong instincts, those aren't easy things." His expression grew thoughtful. "And fighting isn't always the bravest thing to do. It can be a lot harder peacekeeping."

Though not always. a thought warned as he glanced down at the book. There was a time for peace, and for war. And when it came to Argos... well, by his own hand he'd proven his state of mind. There was no peace to be had.

She thanked him and he nodded. "No problem. Just remember to bring it back, at your convenience of course and NO ONE runs off to exact vengeance. I'm going to give Twilight a call myself to be sure."

The young woman flashed him a grateful smile and made for the door, which he opened like the gentleman he was.

"Goodnight, Nora. Try not to read too much of that before bed. But if you figure anything out please let me know my door is always open."

Toothless silently padded to Hiccup's side, cooing curiously at Nora.

Nora drops her gaze, unable to bare the kindness of both the Chief and the Alpha. 'I'm a traitor.. even more so for not explaining myself... and yet I can't bare to lose Jason' she thinks, her wings trembling slightly. "Ok.. I'll try my best to bring it back soon. Goodnight" she says quietly. She walks off towards her house, struggling not to run for as long as Hiccup might be able to see her. 'I wish I had more time.. then maybe I could make a copy or something, but I can't risk it' she thinks, stressed. Once she's just out of sight, she runs back to her house as fast as she can. She bursts through the door and shuts it quickly. "H-here, I've got your notebook. Now please, cure him!" she begs, showing Argos the book. She looks at Jason, scared as she sees how pale he is. "J-jason?" "Mmh?" Jason responds weakly, his eyes fluttering open a little. He smiles sadly as he sees Nora.

Hiccup watched her go, until she disappeared from sight. He sighed. "Well, bud, sounds like a walk to Twilight's is in order."

His fury shoved him. 

"Ow hey, what?"

The dragon gargled off and Hiccup scowled. "You know I don't understand in human."

Again, he glared, and made a sound even Hiccups human ears couldn’t mistake by its tone.

"Alright fine." Hiccup shifted to hybrid, black wings tipped with green sprouting from his back, long fury tail swishing. "What?"

"You are stupid." His friend snickered. "You know you could have gotten the book yourself?" 

Oh. So he could have...and that did make him feel stupid for forgetting that he could shift to dragon. 

"Instead you stood on my face."

"Thank you, for summing that up. Got any other uplifting comments?"

"Yeah good choice in words," Toothless couldn't help but grin. 

"Very funny. Alright come on, let's go see Twilight."

"Nora smelled afraid," The fury mused as he squeezed through the door behind Hiccup. "And you smelled very angry when you first held that book. Is it a bad book?"

"Yes it's a very bad book."

"Then why do you hold it? Why does Nora want to hold it?"

"Because we can learn from it. Learn about a very bad dragonblood, and hopefully figure out how to stop him."

"Oh. That's interesting. Was the book made by the dragonblood?"

"Yep."

"So holding it," The dragon nodded, thinking he understood. "Gives you the power to think like him? Cool. I wish I could hold books that way."

Hiccup smiled. Toothless didn't understand human ways, but he sure tried.

 

 

...

 

 

Argos took the book from her open hands but withheld the vial a moment longer while he looked it over. Every scribble, every note, every sketch was in order. He felt the paper, and couldn't any deep imprints that would have been there if someone had copied it.

"You've done well." He handed her the vial. "And the Chief didn't suspect?"

Nora doesn't answer the question as she grabs the vial and rushes to Jasons side. She carefully opens it and holds it to Jasons lips. Jason frowns ever so slightly, then drinks it. Once it's empty, he sighs a little and blinks, but doesn't really feel any better. Nora studies him, her wings stiff with fear. "It's not working. You promised it would cure him!" she tells Argos sharply.

 

Twilight tosses and turns on her bed, unable to get comfortable or stop her head from buzzing with thoughts. 'Ugh... I need some fresh air.. might wear me out just enough to make me tired... seems the fact that Mabin reminds me of my parents isn't enough to calm me down' she thinks and sits up with a sigh. She shakes her head and walks to the door. With a last quick look around, she steps outside. She then wonders off through the village, trying to find some peace.

 

"You held up your part of the bargain and I gave you my word." He gestured the vial and Jason, conveniently stealing attention away from his subtle shift to hybrid. "Blue Oleander, Scauldron venom. Poison, cure. It will cure him- from the poison that is. But the vial is itself a mix of cure and narcotic, enough to keep a full deathgripper down for five to six hours. And since he's in human form... well, let's just say it doesn't bode well"

As he'd been speaking, his tail slowly snake out. The venomous tip struck at her.

 

"Twilight," The chief and his dragon spotted her across the way and changed course. "Hi, you're just the dragonblood I was looking for. How are you doing? I... heard things got interesting over on Dragonblood Island."

 

Noras eyes widen in horror as she listens to his explaination. As he strikes at her with his tail, she dodges, but the tip tears a hole in one of her wings, injecting the venom. She gasps a little, then shifts to full dragon form and swings her tail around to knock him back. She roars desperately for help.

 

Twilight smiles as she sees Hiccup and Toothless and she dips her head. Her smile fades and gets replaced by a small frown as the Chief continues. "What do you meen by interesting? Who told you what? ..Why were you looking for me?" she asks, going a bit stiff. Her thoughts jumble up so much that she misses Nora's roar.

Hiccup shrugged. "A concerned third party. But that's as much as I know, it was "interesting"." He cleared his throat. "As for looking for you I also hear rumors about a revenge mission and Argos which I'm going to have to... forbid..."
Twilight might have missed Noras cry but Toothless hadn't. His eyes turned to slits and he snorted as he looked the direction the death song Dragonblood had gone. Hiccup noticed too. "Bud Was that Nora?" He asked, in human form uncertain. Sudden apprehension hit him. "Mind walking with me Twilight?" He followed Toothless toward the sound.

 

Curse these kids and always slipping out of reach in the nick of time! Her tail struck him, smacking him into the wall. As it did he took the contact opportunity to lash his tail at hers, wanting to shut her up as quickly as possible. Full dragon or not he wasn't leaving the island without her.

Twilight narrows her eyes, feeling her anger, and her newly rediscovered nightmare side, beginning to rise again. She's about to argue when Hiccup mentions Nora to Toothless and becomes concerned in a different way than he had been with her. She hesitates when he asks her to walk with him, but she sighs and follows reluctantly. "What's this about Nora?" she asks, trying to change the subject.
.
Nora gasps and staggers as Argos's tail spike sinks into her own tail and his venom spreads quickly. She shifts to hybrid form and stumbles over to Jason and collapses. Both too weak and exhausted to speak, they simply gaze longingly into each others eyes, then Nora passes out.

 

"Uhhh... she came to me asking for Argos' notebook..." He answered in a very distracted way. They were alone in this corner of the village... strangely alone. The torches had all been blown out for the evening, as this particular pack of neighbors were known to turn in early. That was no great surprise. What was surprising was the lack of dragons. Not a single wild nightterror graced the sky.

There was a rustling behind one of the huts. Something slinked out of sight.

On the other side of the path, behind the huts opposite something else seemed to crawl up a wall, and yet one more noise came from the shadows ahead. 

Toothless' earflaps sealed to his neck. His wings folded in tightly and he barred his teeth.

"I think we better shift," Hiccup said, and did as he suggested, like Toothless his hazel green eyes searching the night. "What do you smell?"

"Waterbites. I smell waterbites."

 

 

 

Argos caught his breath; thinking he was getting too old for these kinds of skirmishes. Stumbling forward he made sure Nora really was unconcious, then sprinted to the door of her hut to see who or what she might have drawn in. 

A gronckle hummed by, eyes focused on two human figures just cresting the hill at the end of the road. At their side stood a nightfury.

He blinked, noting the molten drool dropping from the gronckles mouth, and the well not so far down the way, watering troughs flowering out around it. With a sneer he couldn't decide if lacing the water had been a really good idea or a really bad one. It was meant to cause chaos so he could slip away unnoticed... but of course, a lot of good that would do if a pack of the deranged, prowling dragons decided to hunt him and his prize down for dinner... or he was himself infected!

Regardless he picked Nora off the floor and made silently for the back door. Part of him begged to make an end of Jason, knowing if the young Deathgripper miraculously survived, he wouldn't rest until he'd rescued his beloved, avenged her, or died trying. But the other part didn't care anymore; Jason wasn't a promised dragonblood. Those were in Dragon's Down, which he now had the means to both find and destroy if he could safely get off this rock.

A foot had lifted to leave the house but a talon set down outside of it. In his full deathgripper form, still wearing the creaky armor he slinked along the backs of the huts.

Twilight hesitates and purses her lips. 'If I try and shift now, I don't know which form I'll be in.. he'll kill me if he finds out about my nightmare form' she thinks. 'Think of something nice.. nice.. Ebony, Cutt, Flitt, Mabin... fish, lemmings...' She slowly relaxes and shifts to nightlight form, sighing in relief as she does. "What is it?" she asks. Her pupils grow large as she looks around, then she freezes and growls as a gronckle comes into sight, glowing drool dripping from its mouth. "No.. nonononono, not grimoras, please.." she hisses, cowering. She growls as a ripple of pain flows through her.

 

Jason watches helplessly as Argos carries Nora away. His eyes slowly close and his head flops as he loses consiousness.

 

"Not another one!" Hiccup said with alarm as the Nightlight joined their three fury team.

"One?" Toothless hissed. "Try five."

Two drooling, wild nightterrors crept down the nearest building, a wicked look in their eyes. On the other side of the road a zippleback did the same. The Chief spun, back arched when a savage snarl resonded behind them. It belonged to a lone, pale-skinned Hobgobbler. Gorf, if he remembered correctly.

"At least he won't be much of a problem," The fury with green tipped wings gestured.

Four trunklike legs slammed down on either side of the Hobgobbler, who, though bounced into the air by the shockwave regained his drooly little self with evil pleasure. 

Eye's slits Hiccup pointed up to the Titan-wing with mooselike antlers, slime falling from his mouth to splatter everything in a ten foot radius. "That's gonna be a problem."

Twilight looks around in horror as grimora-infected dragons surround them. For a moment she wonders if she'd be more useful if she were in nightmare form, but she quickly pushes that thought away. "What's the plan?" she hisses, still crouching low to the ground.

"And I thought it was going to be a quiet evening." Hiccup shook his head. He really had to stop making bets with Astrid. She was always right.

Something struck him as off... where was Nora? He figured she had either met an infected dragon or else been one, either way they should have crossed paths by now. But then, she could have just as easily flown off too. 

"What's the plan?" Twilight hissed.

"Plan? Fly as fast as we can to the sea and hope none of those Grimoras get us before we get there." He grinned sheepishly, "Toothless I'll shift and guide your tail. Grab buckets if you see them on our way- NOT ones filled with water I still have no idea where these things are coming from."

"Got it."

"We get some sea dragons who are immune to Grimoras, have them shower the village and this section in particular with sea water, and come back to

"On my mark Twilight," Hiccup prepared to spring. "Now!"

He jumped, halfway through the air shifting back to human and dropping down on Toothless. False foot latching into the stirrup they sprang for the air as the dragons lunged.

Twilight leaps into the air, flying off towards the ocean as fast as she can. She spots a bucket and grabs it, not slowing down. She looks back to make sure Hiccup, Toothless and the infected dragons are following. She doesn't realise that her bucket has a little bit of water in the bottom...

The night terrors and Gorf suddenly overtake Twilight and block her off. They charge at the same time and Twilight only just dodges in time. She quickens her wing beats, whacking a terror away with her bucket.

Toothless watched with a keen eye, spotting a stack of feed buckets he snags a couple, dodging friendly fire. Uninfected dragons raised their heads in surprise as the group sped past.

Nice thing about Islands; you go any direction for very long and you're going to meet with the sea. Reaching it Toothless dove.

The water was bonechilling! But they were safe now. Breaking the surface Hiccup shook his flattened hair to the sides of his head. "Twilight?" He called.

Twilight makes it to the ocean, the three little dragons right on her tail. The tiny bit of water from her bucket had splashed onto her when she'd used it against her attackers, but she doesn't notice. When she reaches the ocean though, she can't bring herself to dive in, instead she just scoops up some sea water and chucks the bucket at the terrors and Gorf. She hovers above the water, pain shooting down her spine. Her eyes widen in horror as she realises what's about to happen, but can't dive to stop it. "Pull me in!" she growls to Toothless, her pupils turning to slits.

The Chief felt the dragon's muscles tense when Nightlight Twilight spoke an urgent word in dragontonge, and he held tightly. With a mighty thrust of his wings Toothless lunged out of the ocean, grabbing one of Twilight's paws while at the same time chucking a bucket of his own toward her, now filled with seawater. He let his full weight drop again, hopping it would be enough to drag her down with him.

Just as Toothless grabs her, Twilight shifts to nightmare form with a snarl of pain. The grimoras flee with a screech as the saltwater hits them. The nightmare crashes into the ocean, pulled in by the night fury. She doesn't move at first once she's underwater, stunned. After the first shock of not being properly driven mad by the grimoras and the freezing water, she recovers and bursts to the surface, gasping for air and snarling. Anger at Argos, grief for Ian, frustration at Mabin and Hiccup for not wanting her to fight back cloud her mind, blocking out all other thoughts, trapping her in the mindset the arena masters had forced her into and ensuring she doesn't shift back.

Toothless let go in shock! What- what had just happened?? One second he was pulling Twilight down to the safety of the water the next she had vanished; replaced by an outraged Monstrous Nightmare!

He put distance between them.

"What the- Twilight????" Hiccup gawked. If it weren't for Toothless needing him to get back out of the water he would have shifted to full and approached her. Instead he shifted to hybrid and remained in place. "That-that is you right?"

Twilight's head snaps around at the sound of her name, recognition flashing in her eyes admits the rage. Again the sound of her name makes her pause, just like it had with the other dragonbloods. She bares her fangs at Hiccup. "Argos is mine to kill, mine! Don't you dare get in the way of that" she snarls, her voice still similar to what it had been as a nightlight. She flies up out of the water and starts back towards land, but the still infected goregutter, gronckle and zippleback cut her off. Her instincts take over again from her brief moment of control and with a furious snarl, she attacks the zippleback, who happens to be closest, with her claws and teeth, since the water on her scales keeps her from igniting or breathing fire.

Hiccup watched dumbfounded and in horror as Nightmare twilight fell upon the infected dragons. The Zippleback screeched, snaking both its heads around and biting back, clawing with it's talons and curling its tail around it's wide, vulnerable chest and belly. The Grimoas held to it, repulsed by the saltwater on Twilight but not so much that they abandoned their host.

A tremendous gust of wind warned that the Gorecutter was joining the battle, head bowed and rack of a dozen deadly tips gunning for the Nightmare. In the back the Gronckle finally caught up and circled, looking for opportunity, while the two nightterrors and Hobgobbler nipped at Twilights wings and tail and legs whenever they got the chance.

Toothless jumped into action. Both buckets he'd snatched now full of water he focused on the Goregutter. 

"Sea dragons!" Hiccup shouted at the top of his lungs in Dragontongue, closing and opening Toothless' artificial tailfin with every slight but curcial turn. "COME!"

Twilight snarls as the combined attacks from the zippleback, the night terrors and Gorf, as well as her lack of experiance fighting while flying start to overwhelm her. While she does quite a bit of damage, the efforts of the mad dragons injure her quite badly too. She's vaguely aware of the rush of wind as the goregutter charges, but doesn't bother to look when the screech of grimoras reaches her ears.

 

Off in the barn, Ebony wakes up and yawns. She carefully gets up, without waking anyone - not even the chickens - and sneaks out of the barn to look for a snack.

Chief and Nightfury rammed into the Goregutter, throwing it off it's deadly course and splashing it with water.

"Stupid waterbites!" Toothless caught one of the leech like creatures in his talons as it fled, crushing it. "Take that!" Three others he swooped up with a flick of his tail, and swat them into the sea where they writhed and screamed to their salty deaths. 

 

"You called?" The smooth voice of a Sliquifier asked, inclining its head. He appeared to be spokesdragon of a small multitude of Tidegliders, Scauldrons, others of his own, Shockjaws, and a windwalker or two.

Hiccup had sliced through three of the troublesome bugs with inferno, and taking one of the halves now he opened his hand. "Grimoras, Glint! That Terrible Terror two days ago wasn't a fluke; they're on the island."

Glint hissed at the sight.

"I need you and any other dragons capable to shower the village with sea water- staring with these guys right here!"

One of the Nightterrors sped by, taking a chunk out of Toothless' earflap. He squealed angrily. Glint charged it, tackling the Nightterror into the sea. Three bugs abondoned him and with pinpoint precision Toothless blew fried them with three tiny blasts.

"Kill every last one of those nastly little things!" Toothless ordered

"We're on it, Alphas!" The Sliquifier nodded as the head of the nighterror bobbed out of the water. The little dragon keened an apology Toothless' way, and flew back for the village.

 

The sea dragons rising in unison against the infected dragons, Alpha and Chief turned their attention to the monstrous nightmare. Hiccup sighed, recognizing her reactive, fearful, angry behaviors as those of a ringfighter dragon. Yes, Twilight had A LOT of explaining to do... but all he saw before him was a beaten and broken soul doing the only thing she knew to do when hurt; fight back, survive.

"Twilight!" He called into the fray, beconing her toward the befuddled Gorecutter who, no longer under the grimora's control couldn't make heads or tails out of what was happening. "Twilight this way!"

Twilight pants and snarls as her attackers fall back and a lot of tidal class dragons fill the sky. She growls and snaps at any of them who come too close, but the facts that they aren't paying any attention to her and that there are so many of them make her hesitant to attack. "Twilight! Twilight this way!" Hiccup calls out to her and she whirls around. She snorts and shakes her head, struggling to make up her mind as to what she should do, or think at all for that matter. After several seconds of hesitation, she flies towards the night fury and dragonblood. "What do you want?" she growls.

He chose his words carefully, seeing she was just as ready to attack them as she was anyone else... or fly off on a wild tangent. What could he do to calm her? What could he say? He felt like he only knew one side of her... literally. "It's alright! We don't want to fight. I only want you to remember we're here for you, we care about you, and we'll protect you as I know you will protect us. Please, don't let the nightmares control you! That's not your home anymore."

Twilight hesitates, calming down a little. She bares her teeth again suddenly though. "Protection hasn't worked at all lately. I don't need protecting. I'm not sitting around like a helpless hatchling while Argos destroys everything. Stay out of my way" she growls. She turns to fly away, but the goregutter, deciding he's had enough and flying back to the forest to rest, accidentally knocks her out of the air with his tail as he turns. The sharp impact surprisingly knocks the hurt nightmare unconscious and she plummets towards the sea. The goregutter feels the impact despite it not having hurt him and he looks back. He gasps, startled, and quickly grabs Twilight before she hits the water. "So sorry, I really didn't mean to" he apologises sincerely to Hiccup and Toothless, then carefully puts Twilight down on the safety of solid ground.

"It's ok Bullwinkle," Hiccup patted the gentle giant comfortingly, resisting the urge to say he might have done them a favor. "It was an accident." 

Hurrying to the injured nightmare Hiccup looked her over. She was in no great shape, to be sure, with gashes and bruises from her brawl, but he didn't see anything dire. The young man breathed a sad sigh of relief.

"Ohh Twilight. We will get Argos. We will." He patted her snout. "Just work with me, and don't go it alone and get yourself killed."

"Hiccup!"

A nadder rawked overhead, turning one-eighty.

"Astrid!" He shifted back to full human.

Hofferson bound from the top of her nadder. "The dragons-"

"I know, Grimoras. I don't know how they got here but they are. What's the status?"

"Well everyone's awake; we've covered all the wells except one which we're straining. Nobody's allowed to go anywhere else for water until this is resolved."

"Great!" He smiled, loving that she'd done exactly what he would have. "Have vikings with Sea dragons go out and check the streams, see if that's where they're coming from or if it's strictly in town."

"Already on it." She nodded the unconcious Nightmare. "She attacked by infected dragons? Poor thing."

"...Yeah..." He scratched the back of his head awkwardly. "She's uhh... she's also Twilight."

Astrid blinked. "What."

"I don't really understand it myself but she appearently has two Dragon forms!" He tried not to geek out, so she wouldn’t scowl and call him Fishlegs and remind him there village was being threatened by rabid dragons. "Never seen or heard of that before."

She wanted to say he'd lost his mind. She wanted to wonder if while in dragon form he'd been infected, and this was one of the crazy thoughts some hallucination had put into his head. But no, he was serious. And they were talking about Dragonbloods after all. They were real enough; why should being able to shift between two forms be such a stretch?

"Weird. She ok?"

"I know right? She's mostly ok, surface wounds only but let's get her back to the village."

Another infected gronckle tromped mindlessly by, not even noticing the group.

"Sooner the better!"

...

 

Down in the village not so very far from Nora's home, a girl woke. "Bonny?" she rubbed her bleary eyes. "What are you doing?"

The Wardenrain, peering out a crack in the barn was sniffing and listening. "I heard a dragon roar." She grunted in dragontongue and of course Grace didn't understand.

"Hey looks like somethings going on," She stood up and headed for the door.

Bonny scowled, snorting.

"Ok sure," Grace answered with a cheeky smile. "You stay here, I'll go check it out."

And with that she slipped outside.

The newly flowered Dragonblood jumped to her feet, debating on if she should run after her little sister or wake their mom. She paused. What was she thinking? She was a dragon! She could run out there, censored Grace up in her maw and bring her back before their mother even woke to realize they'd both gone. "Slipping" out was a little trickier for the large dragon, but she managed.

All these smells! She felt like staggering back. they were like trails, stories all around her, telling her who had stopped where and done what, but they were SOO many! Focus! She shook her head and her doglike ears slapped her face, startling her. Think Grace.

Closing her eyes she sniffed, and out of the chaos of scents one became distinct. It was a mix of Grace herself, Bonny's own scent, and their mother.

Her eyes opened, envisioning the invisible trail Grace had left in her wake and following her nose. As she did another scent wafted her way. It was...alarming. A scent that was alarming. A scent that woke some deep instinct within her dragon form. Alone in the dark, she glanced around, not seeing anything or anyone, and the next moment the scent was gone.

Probably from earlier, she told herself, but hurried on her way to find her errant sister.

Ebony pads slowly though the village, a lot more jumpy with the grimoras around than she normally is, stiffening at every sound. She leaps really high in the air as she runs into something, but purrs in delight as she sees it's Grace. "Hii! What're you doing? Got any food? I'm starving" she trills, not caring that the girl can't understand her and nuzzling her happily.
.
A little while later, Twilight shudders and shifts to human form, then wakes up a few seconds later. She sits up slowly, feeling dizzy, sore and dazed. She shakes her head, trying to work out where she is.

"Ebony!" Grace trills almost as happily as the cat like dragon. "Where did you go I've missed you. You hungry? You look hungry, let me go find you some food."

"Grace!" Bonny hissed as she turned the corner and found the two. "There you are come back to the barn, you'll worry mama sick!"

"Bonny," Grace glanced toward the Wardenrain and hopped with unusual stubborness up onto Ebony's shoulders. No, she didn't understand, but it was more than obvious what Bonny wanted. "You should probably go back to the barn there's Grimoras out. Nasty leechy littly worms with wings that attach themselves to dragons and make them rabid. The first sign is itchyness. usually."

A scaley white paw stomped. "Come back to the barn. Ebony, tell her!"

"No." 

Bonny's focus flicked from Grace to Ebony. "What?"

"No. Because first of all I can't talk whoman. And because you should ask nice. I'll be skipping second dinner if we head straight back."

Bonny barred her teeth. "Please come back to the barn."

"Still not nice but better," Ebony sauntered by. "Ok we'll come."

"You," Grace stared down at the silky back dragon beneath her while addressing her sister. "You just talked to Ebony didn't you."

Bonny walked beside them, shrugging with disinterest. Grace said nothing more, but inwardly her heart was pricked. She wanted to talk to dragons.

 

...

Creak, creak, creak creak...

In the inky dark battered armor wheezed softly with every stroke of the deathgrippers wings. He carried in his talons Nora’s sleeping figure, slipping away unseen by anyone in the chaos of the dragons on Berk.

 

 

...Early Morning...

 

Bonny could have sworn that she hadn't slept a wink all night. However, the fact that the barn had grown around her, and that her mother and sister were now their usual size sleeping peacefully beside her with Ebony curled around them all made it clear that wasn't the case.

"My hands," She whispered with a refreshed gratitude, stretching her fingers and then balling them up in a fist repeatedly. She was back! Back to her normal self.

She didn't feel fully back though. There was a remnant of dragonish sense to her. Looking around in the dim light, she found a mirror (just gonna say those exist) 

Ordinary human, she looked herself over.

~Memory

Bonny gave him an offhanded look. "Why can't you change back, like this, this Twilight character, or Cutt or the others?"

"Because I didn't shift right the first time," Ian answered truthfully and sparingly at the same time, giving her a gentle smile. "Don't worry, I'll get the hang of it. And when I do I'll teach whichever of you are Dragonblood how."

 

Bonny stared at her own reflection, expression hardening as she hovered over yet another promise unkept. She wiped the thoughts away from her eyes and focused. Papa was broken. I'm not, I should be able to do this.

She scowled at herself, digging deeper into that dragony feeling.

She gasped, jumping away from the hybrid image replacing her in the mirror. She stepped back toward it glaring at the two floppy ears on either side of her face with disgust. A dragon was bad enough but THIS looked ridiculous... and eeewww did she have a tail?? No thank you! Focusing again, with effort, she shifted once more to the long necked, off-white beast she had dreamt of the night before. Head crowded into the roof of the barn the girl awkwardly pawed at the mirror to change its direction, getting the first look at her dragon face.

Her own crystal blue eyes stared back at her, pupils slits of changing width. Her snout reminded her of a garter snake, but the ears added an almost goofy look, making her overall appearance less intimidating and more puppyish. That was until she opened her jaws. Needle like fangs three inches long looked like they'd be useful in battle. 

The Sixteen-year-old dragonblood tapped the mirror back into the position it'd been in before.

Right, now here comes the real trick, shifting back.

In an instant the dragon was gone and she, Bonny Rain of Mykines, appeared once more before the mirror.

"Heh," she laughed at it.

Five minutes later her saw her wandering down the street, everything blue in that early morning light before the sun rose. She followed her steps from the night before, walking by Noras house.

...

 

"Twilight?" Astrid looked toward the Monstrous Nightmare, coming to. They were outside in one of the townsquares, guarding a well. Hofferson thrust her axe through another block of wood, sending the pieced flying and sticking the blade into the block. "How are you doing?"

Twilight takes a few moments to wake up. She shrinks back a little as she sees Astrid, her mind filling with dread. 'Explaining myself to Hiccup was gonna be bad enough, but Astrid might literally kill me... the secret's out now though, might as well try to get it over with' she thinks with a small sigh. "Hi Astrid" she says quietly. She pauses a Mon, trying to gather her thoughts. "I.. I'm sorry for keeping my nightmare form a secret, I was scared. Things never went well in my dreams when I told anyone about it, I didn't want any of that to happen here. When I stayed in nightlight form that first full moon, I thought my past really was over. But it came back yesterday on Dragonblood Island, triggered by grimoras, the same way I was forced to shift in the arena. Things got really chaotic yesterday after that and -" she stops as she involuntarily shifts to nightmare hybrid form, a result of her remembering yesterday. She sighs and shakes her head, trying to think clearly. "It doesn't want to be tamed, I don't think it's even possible, but everyone else seems to want just that..." she mutters, then falls silent, not knowing what else to say.
.
Nora wakes up slowly, stiffening as she realises that she's Argos's prisoner. Tears fill her eyes as she remembers last night's events. Her instincts scream at her to break free and fight Argos, but she doesn't move, not seeing the point. She just stays where she is, crying quietly.

"So. It really is you," The blonde muttered, fingers seeming to twitch for her weapon as she listened and processed. When Twilight finished, there was a long pause in stiff silence.

Stormfly, perched on a rooftop rawked, c.ocking her head to the side.

"Tamed?" She said at last with a little snort. "We don't "Tame" around here. We train. Why in the world should you give up the lean mean fighting machine piece of yourself? Whether people like it or not it's part of who you are... definitely train it, so you're not fighting with your allies, but don't ever tame it," She gestured Twilight's entire dragon form. "We are after all, vikings and dragons."

 

And as if to prove her point, she sprinted back toward her axe, ripped it out of the woodblock like it weighed nothing and chucked it toward a sneaking Spitelout.

"AHH! What the blazes Astrid!?!" He screamed like a girl, jumping out of the deadly blades' way and dropping his bucket for water. Kingstail, hiding in the background raised his head with a clueless look. "You could have killed me lass!"

"There's only one safe well and we have to ration Spitelout. Jorgensons will wait their turn!"

"Alright, alright!" He made a hasty retreat as she stalked toward him to retrieve her axe. "Fine! We'll wait until seven. But if Kingstail dies of thirst before then that's on you!"

 

Stormfly chortled at the other nadder as he complained to Spitelout, taking no heed of his petty hiss back. "Thanks for the heads up girl," Astrid nodded her teammate and the dragon's spikes and crest ruffled with pleasure.

"So," she wandered back up to Twilight, in her 'light conversation' tone. "What's this about wanting to run off and k.ill Argos?"

 

...

 

It's difficult to say any island in the archipelago was 'unfamiliar' to Argos. He knew them all, be it from a map, passing by, or actually visiting. This one was nothing special, just a rest stop along the way.

His battered armor lay on the ground in pieces some small distance from Nora, notebook open and not far from it all, a pile of freshly caught Arctic Char directly between them. Only one of the thin wires, or cords rather that he'd fashioned to string from the gronckle iron plates over his back to the tip of his wings was there on the ground; the other had been refurbished into a harness muzzle and was currently and thoroughly wrapped over Nora's snout. 

Pounding out the bent plate with a hammer he got from who knows where he sense her consciousness and paused, looking Nora's way.

"Ah. You're awake." He stopped what he was doing, picked up the book and walked toward her.

Twilight pulls her arms, legs and nightmare wings around herself in a defensive ball. "You think I want to fight? I've already been "trained" by those monsters in the dragon-fighting arena. That's where my nightmare form came from. They were torturing me to make me their champion fighter, my nightlight form just couldn't do it.. I was fine around my parents, but whenever those vile arena masters came into sight I'd just lose it. That manafested itself in my nightmare form" she snaps. She sighs and shakes her head, trying to calm down. "I know that's not what you meen, that's not how any dragons here are trained at all.. I'm just saying it can't be possible to re-train a dragon to behave completely differently than it was first trained to do. My human and nightlight forms are me, the me you've known the past few months. This, or rather the full dragon form, is a hate-filled beast that only knows how to kill, and I hate it" she says slowly, opening her wings slightly at the last sentence. She looks up at Astrid with a frown, busing her hair out of her face. "Argos is a huge threat. He killed Ian. He's killed loads of people, dragons and dragonbloods. Of course he has to be killed, or he'll never stop."

 

Nora flinches as Argos speaks and walks towards her. Her instincts continue to scream at her, but her grief overpowers them and she simply turns her head away, still crying silently.

 

"It's a strength as much as a weakness and like I said, a part of you whether you like it or not." Astrid crossed her arms, refusing backing down. "I can't imagine ignoring part of yourself can end positively but, that's just me I guess. As for dragons incapable of being re-trained tell that to Sleuther, and half the others on this island."

Initial, course reaction past General Hofferson's guarded compassion softened her stance. She offered a hand down to the Dragonblood to help her up. "You were friends with Ian weren't you?" She questioned, recalling Twilight had been asked personally by the man to help him bring his family to Berk. "I'm sorry."

Glancing around to be sure neither dragon or human ears were eavesdropping, she lowered her voice. "I wholly agree with you on Argos. I saw that book and what he's capable of and brazen enough to do on our own shores. Hiccup thinks we should at least try to take him alive, but personally? I think this world would be a better place without him."

 

 

 

In human form he came up to the deathsong, turning her muzzled snout toward him, a look of pleasant surprise in his face at her docileness. Surprise, but not trust. He was ready to leap into action in an instant's notice.

"This," He gestured to the page his notebook was open on, a well-defined sketch of some young man she had never met on it. "Is Tief, a Terrible Terror Dragonblood and master- well master thief as his name implies. He was twelve when I drew this and ought to be twenty-two now. He prefers his Dragonblood form over human or hybrid, and natural hide colors are reddish and green."

Flipping the page without further explaination he showed her another dragonblood. This one female, middle aged. Her sketch had been made twenty years ago and she was a Nadder with auburn scales a cream-colored belly and almost black spikes. Page after page he showed her, old, young, men, women, children until they came across a familiar face and its conterpart Stormcutter. Argos paused with the coldest smile, taking a charcoal pencil from his pocket and scratching out the one mark all the others he'd shown her didn't have; a checkmark.

Twilight opens her mouth to protest, then frowns a little. "Sleuther?" she asks. Her stiff posture vanishes as Astrid offers her a hand and comforts her about Ian. She gratefully takes Astrids hand and gets up, her wings now limp at her sides and her throat tight with grief. "Thanks" she says quietly, momentarily drifting away in thought. She snaps back to the present when Astrid lowers her voice and admits to agreeing on the subject of Argos. "R-really? So - so we can go and hunt him down?" she asks.

 

Nora looks at all the dragonbloods as Argos shows them to her, too emotionally empty to try and ignore him, and somehow fascinated with the level of detail in each drawing. Once they reach Ian's page and Argos adds a checkmark, she growls and pulls back, realisation hitting her. 'He's showing them all to me because he wants me to help him kill them' she thinks. She scrambles to her feet and backs away, still growling and baring her teeth as much as the muzzle allowes her to.

 

The wind blows the unlocked door open and the chair that Jason is up against gets blown over too. Though still unconsious and mostly dead, Jason is miraculously still slightly alive, due to the fact that he's in hybrid form and the stuff isn't supposed to be lethal to full deathgrippers. He lets out a weak groan.

 

Savagely Argos took her by the horn of her nose and thrust her back down. "Be the docile sweet thing you are," He hissed, practically rubbing her snout into his book, another innocent face staring back.  "Look, I'm showing these fourteen to you not to kill but to target with your amber once we reach the bowels of Dragon's Down. I'm not going to kill them, then or after."

...

"Sleuther," Astrid repeated, "Dagur's Triple Stryke? He was a full blown Ringfighter and killer, as far as I know born and bred. Those two are now both allies of ours and a force to be reckoned with." When Twilight asked about Argos she nodded. "It's under the table; Hiccup would never agree to a kill mission but he's never understood how sometimes that's the only choice if more innocents aren't to die." She snarled her frustration, not mentioning her own fear that Hiccup's ever hopeful, ever willing to give the benefit of the doubt attitude would get him killed. "But we'll talk about it later."

Toothless and the Viking in question landed nearbye. "Twilight!" Hiccup dismounted, looking exhausted. "How- how are you? How's your head?" He gestured the wound recieved by the Goregutter.

...

The creaking of an opening door and following crash of something stopped Bonny in her tracks. She stared at Nora's house with apprehension. The artsy young woman didn't seem the type that would rush off and leave her home with the door banging in the wind...

"N-Nora?" she walked up, peeking through the doorway her eyes adjusting to the dim light. What had happened here?!? The house was in shambles... pieces of a broken chair strewn about the floor, walls damaged and glass broken... it looked like, like a tavern in the aftermath of too many fishermen and drink.  

A groan made her stiffen, and she reeled back in terror spotting the Dragonblood incased in amber. He was young, with white hair and red, black and white wings.

"Are you alright??"

He didn't move or answer. 

Slinking into the room, afraid whatever had happened was still in the process of happening she made for the young man, finding him barely alive. Heart pounding in her chest she listened into the house, one hand on the Dragonblood's shoulder to let him know he wasn't alone the other groping for one of the glass shards to use as a weapon of defense. When she was sure no one else was there she put her focus back on him.

"Wake up," she shook him by the shoulder. "Whoever you are!"

When there was no response she stood. "I'll go get help, hang in there, alright?" she told the ailing Dragonblood. "I'll be right back!"

Bonny was out the door running down the road in a second. "Help! Somebody's hurt!" She shouted.

Nora struggles at first as Argos grabs her and pulls her back. As he explains that he won't kill any of the dragonbloods he'd just shown her, she stops, staring at him. Despite him being in human and her in dragon form and the muzzle probably preventing her from talking anyways, the confused and suspicious look in her eyes says it all: Why?

 

Twilight tilts her head as Astrid explains who Sleuther is. 'A re-trained ringfighter... maybe I need to talk to him' she thinks, carefully remembering what Astrid had told her about the triple stryke. Astrid goes on to say that they can't go after Argos yet and that they'd talk about it later. Twilight nods slowly. "Ok." She flinches a little as Hiccup and Toothless land nearby and the chief asks how she is. 'Just gotta get through it.. one more time.. on the bright side, Astrid didn't kill me, so telling Hiccup shouldn't be any harder, right?' she thinks, trying to cheer herself up and shift back to human form, and after a few tries it works. "Hi Hiccup" she starts, finding herself back in a similar state than when she'd just explained herself to Astrid. "I - I'm ok, I think.. L-look, I'm sorry for keeping my nightmare form a secret, I was scared. Things never went well in my dreams when I told anyone about it, I didn't want any of that to happen here. When I stayed in nightlight form that first full moon, I thought my past really was over. But it came back yesterday on Dragonblood Island, triggered by grimoras, the same way I was forced to shift in the arena" she explains, pretty much repeating herself word for word. This time she manages to stay in human form.

 

If he did understand her question he made no attempt to answer it, but kept pushing her to look at and memorize the faces and dragons in his notebook until satisfied she had. Once done he picked the other cord off the ground. "Shift back to hybrid, please."

 

 

"It's alright," Hiccup said gently. Not like he hadn't been hurt or even somewhat upset, but in his Hiccupy way he forgave her. "I just want you to feel like you can trust us, because you can. No matter how hard it gets we won't turn our backs on you. You're family," he smiled... and then, even in his weariness over a sleepless night chasing zombified dragons grinned wider. "And... I mean how cool is it that you have two dragonblood forms? I've never seen or heard of such a thing before. That's pretty special Twilight!"

Astrid shook her head in good humor, remembering how he'd rattled on and on and on that night about how that was possible and if all dragonbloods had that ability deep down or if only certain types and if having two dragonblood parents played a part in it. She ended up calling him Fishlegs nerding out, and reminding him in the meantime rabid dragons were rampaging through the village.

 

Bonny turned the corner to see who she thought was Ebony, and Twilight and the Chief and the crazy axe lady she was pretty sure was the Chief’s wife.

"Help," she ran up, out of breath. "Guy... Nora's house... white hair, stuck in amber, sick. I think he might be dying!"

 

Nora reluctantly looks through the rest of the pictures, hating her somewhat photographic memory. When Argos picks up the other cord and tells her to shift, she hesitates for several seconds, then reluctantly shifts to hybrid form. "If you're not going to kill them, why are you hunting them?" she asks quietly through gritted teeth, sitting up slowly.

 

Twilight drops her gaze a bit, relaxing a little more, but at the same time feeling more guilty. "Thanks" she mumbles. She huffs quietly as Hiccup comments on her having two dragon forms. "It doesn't feel special since it's just a rage-filled beast that I can't control. Besides, it's not natural, which is why it's so rare. It's caused by having pretty much two personalities, acting like a completely different person in some situations. That's what happened to me because of the torturous training the ring masters put me through" she says. She looks up as Bonny arrives, panting and wide-eyed. "Help. Guy... Nora's house... white hair, stuck in amber, sick. I think he might be dying!" the girl gasps. Twilight straightens, frowning and pushing all other thoughts from her mind. "Jason?" she wonders in concern, him being the only person she knows with any connection to Nora who has white hair.

The harness fell uselessly to the ground, no longer having a deathsong snout to wrap around. Walking behind her Argos worked to coil the rope; once to tie her hands behind her back and twice to pin her wings, purposing to ensure she did not shift without his consent. Turning dragon would only tear her wings because the coil was strong enough to hold, turning human, because he'd tied her hands as well would still leave her bound.

"Because I'm a man of my word." He said simply, nodding to something behind her. A ship; a ship with a red fist painted across the mast

Nora tries to struggle against being tied up, but her still slightly dazed state from the deathgripper venom keeps her from doing much. She purses her lips, finding the cords too tight so that they hurt a bit. "No you're not.. you promised Jason would be saved by the vial.. you promised no one would be harmed" she mutters, her mind still clouded with grief. She glances behind her, but the symbol doesn't mean anything to her.

Argos laughed at her, voice crisp and cruel... yet defensive at the same time. "Yes, I am. I promised the vial could and would save him and it did. He didn't d.ie of blue oleander, that much I can swear. If he survived the narcotic is another story entirely but one," He put up a finger, "that proves yet again my intent. I had no way of knowing what form you or he would be in when opportunity arose! I had to plan for worst scenario... as I always do."

There was a shout from the ship and the splash of an anchor. A boarding plank reeled out and onto the rocky shore, making a path for a distinguished gentleman with a half-dead face.

Argos put his hands quietly behind his back, standing erect, like a well trained dog at attention. It was a stark contrast to the domeneering aggression he had struck for Nora.

"And tell me;" the dark eyed man finished in an even tone, "who was harmed in the retrieval of my book? Anyone? If I had been forced to get it myself there would have been carnage in my wake, success or not."

Accompanied by four armed and alert guards, the distinguished gentleman with a half-dead face approached. 

"Argos, my favored trapper," he said cordially. "It appears the gods have not been kind to you. Are you well?"

Argos nodded. "Grimborn. Well enough."

"Never one to complain," Grimborn turned to his guards, some hint of amusement in his face. "A wise tactic. My own men could stand to learn it."

The faces of the guards grew that much harder.

Grimborn's one good eye turned to Argo's prisoner. He keenly focused on Nora, a look of delight and disbelief spreading over the good half of his face. "You found one!"

"Yes sir." The man in the black, mid-length coat nodded once more.

"Argos you never cease to amaze. ha! Punctual too. I believe our contract ends tomorrow?"

"Indeed. It is of no profit to me not to be punctual."

"Yes... yes your dedication to your word denies you payment if you can't deliver in time."

"And I wasn't able to on my last job. The King of Mykines had his throne at no charge."

"That is unfortunate. Einar fetch my purse."

Grimborn stepped toward Nora but in a sudden shift of behavior Argos stepped out in front of her, cutting him off. Three of the remaining guards raised their crossbows and Grimborn studied the bounty hunter very carefully.

"You can't have her yet."

"Why not?" Grimborn spoke with calm that was deceptive.

"Because I have fourteen others to deliver. Seven to you, two to Drago four to Griselda and one to our mutual friend."

"What are you talking about?"

"The seven I was unable to bring to you," Argos repeated as if it should be obvious.

Grimborn had to think it over a moment. "... you mean, over the past fifteen years?"

"Yes."

"What good is she to you in such endeavors?" He returned. "She'll bring in every dragon that can hear her song."

"I know the location of Dragon's down."

That got Grimborn's interest. "Do you now," He pondered... wandering the many fiscal opportunities such knowledge could render... and just as many wasted ones in the hands of a helpful idiot like Argos. 

"You see why I can't part with her yet." Argos gestured Nora, ignorant of Grimborn's true estimate of him, "Give me two more days. You'll have her and seven others at no additional cost... except the lending of a ship for transportation."

The man sent to get Grimborn's money returned. Viggo took the sack from him and as he did, weighing it in his hands he gave the guard a sudden sharp look. The man withered under it. "How difficult it is to find honest help in the Archipelago," he eluded, before returning to the subject at hand. "Fourteen aye? Not a bad number out of hundreds. What are your intentions for the others you might find in Dragons Down? And what is your plan of attack?"

"Is that any of your concern?"

"I'm a business man and this is a risky investment. I don't know that I'm willing to gamble you and the girl."

That unpleasant look crept back up the dark-eyed man's face. "I'm not asking, Grimborn."

Nora holds back the urge to say that all the Dragonbloods from the notebook would be harmed. As the men come off the ship, she instinctively shrinks back from Grimborn. 'Oh, if only I'd stayed on Dragonblood Island...' she thinks miserably. Tears silently fall from her eyes as she realises that there's no hope of escaping.

Viggo weighed his options as much as he weighed out what he owed the hunter. On one hand after years of searching, he'd finally located a deathsong dragonblood. A creature immensely valuable to him for its abilities, but travel size and capable of reason. He had no interest at all in giving her up, but on the other hand nothing short of murder would pry the girl from Argos' clutches now, and it was clear by his position he was ready to take her and everyone else down with him if Viggo double crossed him.

The businessman smiled ruefully. Stalemate. This was exactly why he liked Argos. Twisted as that mind of his was it saw what few others could.

"Well if you were, I would strongly advise against it."

A flick of his hand and the money he'd been counting out was returned to the bag, the bag returned to the ship. "I won't pay for something that is not yet mine."

"Payment can wait. So long as it's forthcoming later."

"It will be."

Another of Viggo's men stepped down the plank carrying a barrel. Viggo gestured. "As you requested. Arrows, bolts, and..." he reached into the barrel, bringing out three vials of familiar purple liquid. "What I could spare. It isn't much I'm afraid but our mutual friend can’t be troubled these days to process more. Can't you make it yourself?" He asked in an off-handed way.

"Of course, I just don't have the time." Argos took the vials and paid Grimborn for them and the barrel.

"Now now," Viggo spotted the tears flowing down Nora's cheeks, sounding almost kind. "Things aren't so bleak as they seem. Only a few more days with this barbarian and you'll be the guest of honor on my flagship, miss...?"

"I don't want anything to do with you.. I just want to go home..." Nora mumbles miserably, ignoring Grimborns question. She stiffens and takes a step back as she spots the purple liquid, her pupils turning to fearful slits.

"You will my dear, when you've come to terms with your alternatives. Argos," The man nodded Nora's captor, "A pleasure as always but time is money and I have engagements elsewhere. I'll send a ship to be at your services to this location, you my use it in your conquest or message it when your work is done. Happy hunting."

Argos bowed, behaving once more like a well-trained dog. "Thank you. On my life I will not disappoint."

Grimborn smiled cordially then turned away. The moment his face was against the dragonblood it fell dark and he had to make a conscious effort not to shake his head. That's what he was worried about.

Nora shrinks back, fear now breaking through her misery. Her eyes dart from Viggo to Argos to the new dragon hunting suplies.

 

 

 

 

...

 

Not natural? A different person? Hiccup pondered. Well yeah, she was definitely a different personality when she was nightmare, but the more he thought about it the more tragic it became. 

Bonny ran up, and Twilight stiffened as she listened to the girl.

"I think so?" Bonny said haplessly. "I've seen him around town with Nora but I don't know his name. He needs help right away."

Astrid and Hiccup exchanged worried looks, guessing by that description Nora had been infected after all. "Astrid get Gothi," Hiccup said, hurrying toward Nora's house. "Twilight, would you come with? Could probably use some monstrous nightmare gel for the amber."

Bonny sort of lead the way, until she realized Hiccup knew it.

Something was indeed amiss at Nora's home. Hiccup shifted to full fury, surprising Bonny. Toothless growled something and nose twitching slinked around to the back of the house. 

Twilight follows quickly. "I can't control the nightmare, I don't think I have any gel in nightmare hybrid form, and even if I could shift on command, I'd just end up hurting everyone. Besides, doesn't fire in general break deathsong amber?" she protests about Hiccup asking for monstrous nightmare gel from her. Once they get to Noras house, it takes her a few tries to shift to full nightlight, then she cautiously steps inside. She sniffs around, stiffening and snarling as she picks up a familiar scent, pain shooting through her as the nightmare tries to take over, fuled by her anger. "Argos was here. He did this" she hisses, her pupils furious slits. She pads over to Jason and sniffs at him, her ears flatening against her head. "But this was Nora's doing.." she mutters, then sniffs at an empty vial on the ground next to Jason. She snarls, then gasps in pain as she shifts to nightmare hybrid form, but luckily the lack of grimoras prevents her from shifting to full. "They both had this. Nora and Argos are working together!" she snarls.

Toothless made a full circle, ensuring that the culprit(s) were nowhere near the house

"What?? No," Immediate danger past, Hiccup too shifted to hybrid and kneeled beside Jason, finding the dragonblood holding to life by a thread. He felt his own blood boiling at the thought of Argos daring to sneak back into Berk, into the village after what he'd done! "I can't believe it. There must be some explanation Nora would never-"

He paused as he thought about the night before. Nora coming to him and asking him for the book. "...never do this of her own free will. We can figure that out later though."

Silently Bonny watched the three only picking up a fraction of their conversation. "Will he be ok?" 

"I... don't, know." Hiccup admitted sadly. "But we'll do everything we can for him."

"Who did this?" She said with a new cut in her voice. The Chief grimaced, hoping to avoid bringing that up.  

"Later?! They could still be on the island! We have to hunt them down, NOW!" Twilight shouts, glaring daggers at Hiccup. 'Hang on, why am I even waiting around for him to answer? He'll say no anyways. But I'm going, I don't need anyone telling me what to do!' she thinks. She storms out the door, only pausing for a moment as she hears Bonny's question. "Argos and Nora did this" she hisses, spitting out the names like they're poisonous. She spreads her nightmare wings and flies off, scanning the ground for any sign of where Argos and Nora could be.

 

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LissaFish
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Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 02/12/2017
Argos' end PT2

Ebony wakes up in the barn, yawning widely. She blinks the sleep from her eyes, tilting her head as she notices Bonny is missing. She stretches, gets up, nudges the door open and pads outside, sniffing the air. She looks back at Grace and Eleanor, wondering if she should stay with them or look for Bonny, then the smell of freshly cooked fish catches her attention. "Mmmh, breakfast... I can look for Bonny while I get something to eat" she tells herself, then bounds off through the village.

"Twilight!" Hiccups words were lost to the furious nightmare and by the time he thought to look, he found Bonny had disappeared as well. "Madness! Toothless I am the chief of madness." 
"Should I go after them?" The dragon inclined his head.

"No, we have to save Jason! Let's just hope Twilights not crazy enough to leave the island without backup."

Toothless said nothing, because he knew Jason really did need their help, and that when a nightmare got something in its head there was little anything in the world could do to stop it.

 

Bonny followed the nightmare at a cautious but determined distance, flying right over the barn her sister and mother were in... or so she assumed. But when she realized the nightmare wasn't on any particular trail, she snorted and turned away to go back, sneaking behind Noras house. There she did what she'd done to find Grace the night before, closing her eyes and letting the scents tell her who had been where the night before. The first trail she could make out had a fairly good smell to it, king of nice like mint tea on a cold, rainy winter morn. Since the house faintly smelled the same way she assumed that was Nora. Her tracks if they could even be called that dragged on the ground... appearing to be pulled by-

every one of the Wardenrains teeth gleamed as she recognized the long scuff made by a deathgripper pincer, unmistakably the same as the ones she'd found in the sand on that horrible beach. That scent was one she immediately loathed, too, and she took it in deeply so never to forget it. Ice blue eyes snapped open and she followed that scent, unfurling her wings and taking to the sky.

 

Grace stared up in surprise. Ebony had woken her when she "slipped" out the door and she decided it seemed a nice time to get up. "Bonny??" She blinked away the sleep from her eyes. Wasn't she supposed to be human again? Her sister disappeared from sight... but then doubled back.

 

 

 

Twilight, luckily still in hybrid form, looks back as she senses someone following her. She whips around sharply, startled by the sight of the wardenrain, then she frowns as the unfamiliar dragon turns back. As she hesitates, her normal personality peaks through for a moment. 'I'm not getting anywhere like this. I can't track very well in this form, but I can't shift to either of my dragon forms.. I should follow that dragon' she thinks, reluctantly flying after Bonny. She hovers above Nora's house, warily watching the big dragon as she sniffs the air, then flies off after a scent. Twilight tries to pick up on the scent too, but unfortunately she can't get much. She looks at the ground, the moment of clarity vanishing as she spots the clear deathgripper tracks. With a furious snarl, she follows Bonny as fast as she can.

 

 

What is going on? 

From the shadows Grace watched her sister land behind Nora's house, crouching just out of view as Astrid came rushing down with Healer in tow... or rather Stormfly's talons. The tiny old lady slapped the dragon with her stick and did as all who come to know Gothi do: the reptile ten times her size jumped back, crest and tailspikes rising. 

"Quick, inside!" The Chief's voice could be heard calling from within.

A woman, who looked strangely like Twilight in the face flapped to a pause over the scene with monstrous nightmare wings, watching Bonny who was slinking around on the ground. 

Grace felt a shiver go down her spine. Something was off. Unlike Grimora, who though jerks could easily be remedied by salt, there was a different kind of tension in everyone she was watching now and not unfamiliar. Bonny... whoever the Nightmare Dragonblood was, Hiccup, Astrid, the Healer. Someone had been hurt, hurt bad.

“It was Argos.” Someone said.

"Nora," She gasped in horror and ran to the building, fearing the worst. 

But her dash was cut short as a pair of giant white wings sent Bonny back into the sky with a surge of wind. The sister was torn in two; she had to know what had happened to poor Nora! But her sister... Bonny didn't seem quite herself since Papa died. A feeling, an intuition, whispered through the small curt comments from Bonny over the past weeks had her wondering what sort of crazy antics her sensible sister would come to if she ever had the chance to meet Argos face to face.

The nightmare hybrid above dove into pursuit of the wardenrain with a terrible snarl.

"Ebony," Grace took a step back from Nora's. Oh, Nora, she was so sorry! But Nora was getting attention, and Bonny needed her... her and Ebony. "EBONY!" She jetted back the way she came in search of that adorably dorky dragon.

.

Ebony lifts her head from the pile of fish she had stolen as she hears her name. 'Grace.. ok, one moment' she thinks. She gulps down a few more fish, then digs a hole and buries the rest. She rolls over the spot to try and hide the yummy fish scent, then runs off towards Grace's voice. She skids to a stop just in time so she doesn't hit the girl, then she nuzzles her happily. "Hi! What's up?" she purrs. Some strange noises and scents from Nora's house catch her attention and she frowns. 'Something's wrong in there.. I don't know what, but something bad happened.' She gently nudges Grace. "What do we do?" she asks, tilting her head, her eyes big and round.

"Ebony! There you are," Grace recieved the nuzzles with open arms, wrapping her hands around the dragon's head. The fury made concerned fury noises and Grace pulled back. "Can you follow Bonny for me girl?" She hopped on the dragons back and held tight.

 

 

Bonny followed the trail, sometimes faint, sometimes strong, and ever present that hint of mint tea. Eventually it led to the Northeastern edge of the Isle, where Bonny paused, trying to make up her mind. She shook her head and turned back with purpose-

that was almost instantly forgotten when she came face to face with Twilight.

"Twilight!" She screeched, faltering on her newfound wings. The wind took advantage and whipped her into the cliffside. When she got to her feet she spat a nice big clump of dirt from her mouth, then shifted. Gross, the clay and heather were still stuck to her tongue. "What," She continued to spit, "Why are you following me?"

A suspiscious look crossed her face as she wiped her mouth with a sleeve and stared at those wings. "And why are you........" The teen searched for the right word, "...different."

 

 

"Bonny? Sure" Ebony purrs. She pads around, sniffing, then takes to the air and follows the scent.
.
Twilight stops sharply, surprised as the wardenrain shifts. "Bonny? You're a Dragonblood?" She shakes her head. "You were following deathgripper tracks. I thought it might be Argos and Nora, the traitor. Why did you stop, scared of the ocean? And anything 'different' about me is none of your business" she says sharply, hovering.

 

 

Grace scoured the land as they followed Bonny's flight pattern.

"Oh," She sighed her relief, "She didn't leave."

As they neared though the girl scowled. "Uh oh. Ebony, let's land over there, Bonny looks like she's in one of her moods."

.

"Whoop de doo I'm the dragonblood." The teen said with a hallow edge to her tone, "and Grace isn't. Life's a bowl of cherries... or was that pits?"

Her eyes flashed with sudden defiance. "No, I'm not afraid of the ocean I have a hunch. But hey, don't let me stop you. What you do is none of my business after all."

She wanted to leave it at that, walk off and leave the dragonblood who was one person to her father, who trusted her completely, and quite another now.

But.

Her gate slowed.

"What would you do to Argos if you found him?"

 

 

Ebony's ears perk as she spots Bonny and Twilight, but she lands obediently. Once on the ground, she happily trots towards them.
.
Twilight snorts and turns towards the ocean. She pauses to answer Bonny's question though. "When I find him, I'll destroy him. Or d.ie trying."

 

 

"Shh!" Grace whispered into Ebony's ear. "Dont let them spot us. We goin' stealth mode."

"Ok if you saw those deathgripper tracks how did you miss that Nora was being dragged?" Bonny said almost with more confusion than snark. "But at least we agree on one thing- which nobody on this rock seems to understand or care enough to get moving on."

She watched Twilight look out at the sea. "He's not going that way. At least that's my hunch. Argos plays with peoples minds and he knows dragons. If I can track him then I'm sure some other dragon here could track him even better, which he would know, so it stands to reason this is the direction he wants us to think he went.'" 

Ebony gasps in delight and flattens herself on the ground, a grin on her face. She sneaks forward ever so slowly and quietly.

 

 

 

 

 

Twilight stops and her wing beats falter for a moment. "She was being dragged?" she asks, blinking. She slowly lands, frowning as Bonny goes on. Her mad rage slowly fizzles out and she automatically shifts to human form with a shudder. "Alright... so what do we do? Which way did he go?" she asks slowly.

Grace had to force herself not to laugh as Ebony did all the catlike things a fury does in stealth, crawling on her belly, wriggling her tail. 

.

"I don't know that's why I'm going back to the Village. Didn't he want Nora for something connected to a Dragonblood place? That's what I heard. And some guy called Teri gave him a fake map. My guess is he wouldn't risk coming here unless he was sure he knew where Dragon's Down is and desperately needed Nora." She pointed to the invisible scent trail. "We can find out from Teri where the fake map leads. If this direction matches up, then he figured out the fake map and is leading us on while still believing he knows the true location."

Twilight nods slowly. "Yeah.. that makes sense.." 'Patience.. I can't rush into this' she thinks and sighs. "Ok. Let's go back." She shifts to nightlight hybrid form. "That was really clever of you to work all that out, you know" she says quietly with a small smile, but it fades quickly and she shakes her head. "Sorry for snapping at you.. my nightmare form isn't sane."
.
Ebony perks her ears in an effort to hear what the two Dragonbloods are saying. As 'Twilight Two' suddenly shifts to nightlight hybrid form, Ebony gasps.

"It's fine," Bonny answers with her own tinge of guilt. "I'm... I know I'm not the friendliest person either."

She walks in silence for a moment, trying to get her words out. "You wanna team up? Just the two of us against Argos?"

There was a gasp nearby and Bonny jumped, shifting to hybrid instinctively. "Ebony??" She caught her breath, then scowled. "Grace! What are you two doing here??"

Grace was too stunned about Twilight to hear her sister. "You have two dragonblood forms?!" She gawked. "Buddy knows everything about dragonbloods- but he never told me about having two forms!"

Twilight starts to relax properly. Before she can answer, the gasp makes her jump and she spots Grace and Ebony, both wearing the same expression of shock and amazement. Ebony opens and shuts her mouth a few times. "That's so cool, Twilight! Can you turn into any dragon you want to? Why haven't you told anyone about yet?" the night fury asks, excited. Twilight sighs, wrapping her wings around herself. "He probably doesn't know because it's very rare and unnatural for a Dragonblood to have two dragon forms. It only happens when someone has two different personalities, as if they were two different people. I don't want to tell you how I got my nightmare form, it's a long and horrible story. Just be careful around me when I'm in nightmare hybrid form.. run if I ever shift to full nightmare. That dragon is pure rage."

 

"Oh." The girl said, feeling sadness for her friend. "If it's a bad thing then, then I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to bring up a sore subject." To the warning about her Nightmare form, the girl simply nodded. "Ok."

A moment later her eyes lit up. "Bonny you have a tail... and floppy ears!"

"Wha?? Oh!" She shifted back to human, looking embarrassed.

"What I like the floppy ears." Her sister continued to grin.

"They're dorky looking."

"But kinda cute. Like a bunny or something."

Bonny glared, then wandered back to her new goals in life. "How much did you eavesdrop into?"

Grace turned her gaze to the heather underfoot, stroking Ebony's neck (she's still sitting on top of Ebony) "Nothing much."

That was code for at least half.

"Well then here's your options. You can be super helpful and ask your pal Buddy about Dragon's down and the fake map, or we tie you and Ebony up somewhere with fish and water until we can escape Berk. Which sounds better to you?"

Twilight smiles a little. "It's ok. I've just had to explain it a lot lately, getting a bit tired of it, that's all" she says gently and relaxes. Ebony tilts her head, becoming more serious as she thinks. "So.. our options are to help you sneak off and get hurt, or not help and you do it anyway? I don't like it.. can't we come with you?" Twilight shakes her head firmly, but just then remembers her conversation with Astrid earlier that morning and her ears twitch in uncertainty. "Astrid knows I want to go after him, she agrees. We should probably talk to her, she can help" she says slowly.

 

 

"What about door number three," Grace said at nearly the same time as Ebony warbled her suggestion. "We go with you?"

Twilight started to shake her head, but then told them about Astrid.

"How can we trust her? She's the Chief's wife." Bonny countered uneasily, her plan now in the hands of her little sister and Twilight. If either of them decided to tuck tail and tattle now she was up the crick! There was no way her mother wouldn't keep her under lock and key for 'her own good'. "Let's just get the information and go."

She spoke in whispers now as they entered the weary village filled with exhausted dragons and vikings who had been up all night. They were almost to Buddy's house.

"She may be the Chief's wife, but I know she's on our side with this. Besides, it'll be a lot worse for us if she catches us sneaking off, we might never be allowed to go" Twilight whispers. "If Argos really is trying to lead us on a false trail, we need someone with real battle experience on our side."

That's fair, Bonny thought, knowing full well Astrid's skill with an axe. She seemed like the sort that had a mind of her own, and, if it was a matter of survival willing to do what it took to protect her people. Not that the Chief wasnt, but, he seemed to always want to take the least aggressive route which led to giving an enemy who knew him well the advantage. They make a good team, She suddenly realized. Between Astrid's 'oh heck no' and Hiccup's 'wait this one really is on our side now!' the two ended up covering both bases- hopefully at the right times.

"Ok. I... I trust you," She gave Twilight a hard look. Grace raised an eyebrow. "Let's go get her. Grace, you talk to Buddy and get that map from him. I know you can."

"On it." The younger sister nodded, cueing Ebony to Buddy's house. "He won't see me coming!"

Bonny looked to Twilight. "Where do you think we can get her, alone?"

Ebony grins, gives Twilight and Bonny a quick lick, then bounds off towards Buddy's house. "We're gonna get that map so sneakily, he won't know about it until we're off the island!" she trills in excitement.

 

Twilight wipes the night fury slobber off her face with a look of disgust and amusement. She shakes her head, turning back to the task at hand. "That.. I'm not entirely sure. We'll probably find her back at the well.. it should be relatively quiet there, but it'll probably be best to talk to her away from the village" she says slowly. She looks around to get her bearings, then leads Bonny off towards the well. "Thanks for trusting me.. it's nice to know someone does" she mumbles.

"Eww no Ebony down!" Bonny shoved the dragon away- but not unfortunately, before getting licked on the mouth. "Gross!" Her whole face scrunched up in disgust and she couldn't wipe the slime off fast enough.

 

Minutes later saw both she and Twilight approaching the well, the latter thanking her for her trust and commenting on it being nice that someone did.

"Papa did," she glanced over, again feeling a little guilty. She “trusted” Twilight… to be on her side when opportunity for revenge was at hand but not much else. "He gave so many, too many, the benefit of doubt but I can count on one hand the people -outside our family of course- he actually trusted. You're one of them and he would have kept trusting you even when you changed." 

Reaching the well they were met by a familiar sky blue and gold dragon Bonny couldn't remember the name of.

"Where'd you two run off to?" Astrid said atop it.

 

 

"Nice work distracting them Ebony," Grace patted her friend, a sack of bread and produce slung across her back. There was a troubled look on her face. "Now, let's head back to poor Erets destroyed house I have to get something from there."

She may have been young but she could see things others didn't. She could see that telling her mother what Bonny had planned would only make matters worse. She could see flying off without would leave their mother worried sick. She could see that Bonny and Twilight both were in very frail states of the mind, and somebody that enjoys twisting minds to their own cruel purposes could easily find a way to manipulate them both. Astrid was a bonus, and hopefully, hopefully she knew how to help Twilight if Twilight needed it, but her sister no one could help. No one but Papa.

Twilight sighs softly and nods. "I know.. that's why it hurts so much" she says in a barely audible whisper. "Where'd you two run off to?" Astrid's voice snaps her back to the present. Twilight quickly looks around, checking that noone else is within earshot. "We tracked Argos's and Nora's scents to the ocean. Bonny thinks it's a false trail. We have to go after him, but we need your help. Please."
.
Ebony purrs softly and gently nuzzles Grace, sensing that the girl is upset and trying to comfort her.

"Jason's still alive, by the way." The General glowered. "Stable for now, and they're trying very hard to keep him that way."

As before once she'd gotten her say out Astrid's posture shifted. "Meet me at Ravenpoint, I'll go get the map."

"Got it," Grace and Ebony came up, the latter trotting like a cat on a mission and the prior bouncing in her seat. "And some scurvy repellant; rhubarb and oranges."

"Scurvy pfft." Astrid rolled her eyes.

"It's real." The girl said with a deadpan expression. 

The Chief's wife looked her and her sister up and down, evaluating their value, or perhaps liability in battle

"Don't fight her on that," Bonny turned the subject. "Twilight you know of Ravenpoint? I don't know where it is."

"I do." Grace piped up. "I know where EVERYTHING is."

"Meet me there in half an hour," Astrid nodded, returning her attention back to Twilight. "I've got to get a few things to set in order here."

"Ok see you there."

 

 

Twilight puts her ears back a little as she feels a stab of guilt. 'How could I completely forget Jason like that?' she thinks. "I'm glad he's ok" she says quietly, relieved by the somewhat good news. When Ebony and Grace arrive and Astrid says to meet her at Ravenpoint in half an hour, she nods gratefully. "Come on, let's go" she tells the others, leading them off to the meeting place.

 

 

"I hope Jason will be alright, and Nora." Grace muttered as they reached Ravenpoint.  At some time or another she'd gotten what few answers she could about her friend. "I'm really worried for her."

"If we do this right she'll be fine. Unless she is working for that snake. Then she won't be so fine." Bonny growled back. "Give me the maps."

"She's not. I know she's not Nora would never do such things if she could help it." Grace slid off of Ebony, and pulled two parchments out of a saddlebag that looked an awful lot like one of Toothless's saddlebags, what with the Red Death insignia on it and all. "Would it hurt you to say please?" she handed them over.

Bonny rolled her eyes and smoothed the parchments out on the ground.

Since the small company had decided to walk to Ravenpoint, it wasn't long before Astrid joined them. Stormfly flew overhead and landed in the clearing, followed by a familiar Monstrous Nightmare whom Ebony adored and a Zippleback.

"Thorstons reporting for duty!" Ruffnut saluted.

Tuffnut smiled, but as always it came out more like a desperate sneer. "Macy hungers for justice!"

"We’re going to battle a psycho with two kids??" Snotlout gestured Bonny and Grace. "They don't look like they've had a day of training!"

Bonnys' fists clenched.

"Snotlout," Astrid said with tried patience, shaking her head as she wondered what in the world made her think bringing these muttonheads along was a good idea. "Bonny is the white dragon that destroyed Eret's house simply by opening her wings."

The Jorgenson blinked. "Ok but that doesn't excuse the other one."

"I can fight," Grace said.

"So can all the other kids in the village. Astrid she shouldn't come she'll endanger the mission!"

"I agree," Bonny admitted and Grace shot a deathglare her way. "But she knows too much. She's a bigger danger staying here."

Astrid looked between the two girls and Snotlout. "She comes," the Viking said after some thought. "She's a Mykines too."

Snotlout's attitude changed completely. That he could understand.

"So these are the maps?" The General studied the parchments Bonny was holding open on the ground. "Which one is fake?"

"This one," Grace pointed.

"Hmm. Looks like it says that Dragon's Down is Northeast of here. Which way did Argos' trail point?"

Twilight stays pretty quiet, simply nodding in greeting to Snotlout and the twins. She stiffens as Astrid points out the direction of Dragons Down on the fake map. "He was heading northeast" she says slowly, glancing at Bonny. 'So she's right' she thinks.

"Sounds like your hunch paid off. Bet he took a dip in the sea and doubled back to head Northwest," Astrid pointed the true map. She looked around at the team. "If any of you have any qualms about this, say so now. There's no turning back once we take off."

Tuff raised his hand.

"Define 'this'." 

"K.illing Argos!" Astrid snapped. "We are not taking him alive."

"Oh ok. I thought it was going to be something dark. I'm good."

"Anyone else?"

Grace shrank back ever so slightly, but she didn't raise her hand.

"Good," The General didn't seem to notice Grace's hesitation. "Let's ride. Bonny, you with Grace on Ebony. Sorry but you can be spotted from a mile away in your dragon form."

Ebony gently brushes up against Grace, sensing the girl's hesitation. "I don't really like this either, killing is bad.. if you need to do this though, I'm with you" she purrs softly, crouching down to let the sisters climb on her back. Twilight tenses a fraction, her fury ears having picked up what Ebony said. 'Ignore it, Twilight.. it has to be done..' she thinks firmly, shifting to full nightlight and spreading her wings as she pushes down all the sudden nagging words of many other people telling her similar things to what Ebony just said.

Bonny looked to Ebony, not exactly enthused. 

"I'll take the front," Grace said, grateful for the dragon's purrs as she put the maps back in Toothless' saddlebag, "I can guide her better."

"What's to guide we're all going to be flying together," Her sister returned, taking the spot for herself. 

"Come on Bonny, you'll get your bird's eye view. This is the only one I have right now. Besides Ebony and I are bonded."

"Bonded?"

"Yeah we understand each other and each other's cues. It's a really cool thing that happens between riders and drago-"

"Ok ok I get it."

 .

Both girls comfortably on the black dragon they joined the others waiting in the sky.

"According to the map Dragon's Down is a good, three day journey from Berk by dragon," Astrid turned back in the saddle to explain her travel plans, "We're going to make it four just to be sure we're all well-rested by the time we get there, hopefully ahead of Argos. Neither he or Nora are fast dragons, and though deathgrippers have plenty of stamina I've never seen how well a Deathsong flies over long distances. I've never seen a deathsong leave its territorial island by it's own will."

"Those butterfly wings aren't adept to long distance travel," Grace mused, "They're super pretty and all, but very large and I'm sure heavy, takes a lot of energy to flap them. ...which means They're probably going to have to stop a few times for food."

"Right. So take it slow, and keep your eyes open, we could intersect them anywhere along the route."

 

 

A blustery, storm-driven wind reminded them of the thunderheads they were headed towards. Many of the company grumbled, having spent the entire night fighting off Grimora infected dragons. It was going to be a long ride.

 

 

Ebony happily flies along with the others, not bothered by the storm up ahead as she got a full night's sleep. After a few minutes, she sidles up to Hookfang. "I'm so happy you're coming too! We haven't done anything together for ages! Did you know Twilight can turn into a monstrous nightmare too?" she trills happily. Twilight sighs quietly and moves towards the front of the group, not wanting to think about her nightmare form or anything connected to it for the moment.

 

 

"The better question is do I care," Snorted the irritable Nightmare. "About Twilight. Being a Nightmare. I don't in case you were wondering."

Rrraaawwkk! Stormfly's nostrils flared. "I smell deathgripper."

"Got something girl?" Astrid asked.

Bonny looked back. Berk couldn’t even be seen on the horizon now. She looked down at the sea below.

"Oh," Grace felt her weight shift. "Oh are you going to jump off?" She turned back, looking excited. 

"I suppose I am," Bonny swallowed. She knew she was a dragon, she knew she had wings and she knew she could use them. But the idea of dropping off something a hundred feet above the ground in human form was breaking her brain. The teen swung a leg over so they were both on the same side of the dragon. She took a deep breath, started, but then held back.

She took another breath, leaned a little further... then chickened out again.

Suddenly Grace's hand found her back and shoved her right off!

"Ahhh!!" Bonny shrieked, shifting to dragon and flapping wildly. Grace laughed hysterically.

"That wasn't funny!" Bonny snarled, her words coming out in weird sounds which made her naughty little sister laugh even harder.

Snotlout snickered. "I like this kid!"

Clouds that they were just beginning to enter curdled angrily. At first Grace assumed it was just the storm amping up... but the wind wasn't driving their motion, something else was. She looked to them, and back to her sister, oblivious of the weather and still stewing.

...

Cold yellow eyes glanced back at a monstrous storm behind them, then to the exhausted Deathsong starting to list. "Keep up." He ordered, "Only two more knots and you can rest."

 

 

Ebony shakes her head. "You're just saying that. Hey, let's play chase!" she trills. Twilight looks at Stormfly. "Deathgripper? We're already catching up?" she asks eagerly. She looks back in alarm at the shriek, sighing in relief as she sees that Bonny's alright. Ebony grins as she sees Bonny flying in dragon form, too absorbed with Hookfang to catch how and when Bonny had shifted. "You're getting really good at flying!" she says happily. Twilight shifts to nightlight hybrid form a little awkwardly as she has to adjust her flight. "Stormfly says she can smell deathgripper" she reports to the group, looking at Astrid.
.
Nora pants as she struggles to keep up. "Can't fly.. much longer... tired... hurts..." she wimpers through the muzzle. Her wings ache from flying. Her head swirls with the fog of the mind-controlling purple poison. Her thin-pupiled eyes gaze down towards the ocean as she longs to stop, to simply stop flying and let herself fall.

 

 

The Wardenrain's pupils turn to slits. She took in a few good whiffs.

It was... faint, very very faint but that loathsome scent was most definitely the same as the one on Berk. "It's him. We're on the right track."

Somehwere within the storm thunder rumbled in a manner that matched the look on Bonny's face. Then a cloud burst directly overhead. Rain came down in torrents, wind surged and billowed, and though it was a challange it was also nothing compared to the storms on Dragonblood Island. Grace curled in close, shivering as she tried to get warmth from Ebony's neck.

...

"Hey," The Deathgripper growled, "Hey no!" 

Argos twisted around and dove for the Deathsong following her gaze toward the sea, capturing her by clipping his pincers on her two wings. Carefully, so that when she was rested they wouldn't be damaged.

Nora's dragon form was bigger and heavier than he was. "Oof!" He gasped, struggling to keep them both airborne. "Alright shift! Shift!

 

 

Twilight shifts back to full nightlight, startled by the sudden downpour. She frowns a little as she looks at Bonny, wondering if the young Dragonblood actually made it rain like that. She blinks the rain from her eyes and nods grimly. "Let's get moving then" she growls, eager to meet Argos. Ebony drops below Hookfang, seeking comfort and shelter from the weather.
.
Nora shakes her head in a feeble no, but she obediently shifts to hybrid form, going limp in her master's grip, still conscious, but exhausted and hopeless.

 

 

At first Hookfang didn't mind the girl and fury beneath him, but as he thought about all the antics Ebony had pulled in the past and heard the way she was purring his eyes widened. 

"Nope," He said, trying to veer off. "Too close for comfort."

"Nuuu come back," Grace said, reaching toward the dragon as it put distance between them. "I could use a litte fire just about now."

 

...

 

With that deadly tail of his he plucked up the harness before it fell to the sea.

Nora in tow Argos flew over the first island they came across and the second, to one that he had cemented into his mind's eye the last time he'd been out this way. It had a hidden cove well concealed under the trees. He dropped the Dragonblood in the sand, and beside her the pile of smoked char.

Not bad for on the lam, he stretched his tired wings and back, feeling the gronckle armor fold the way it should. It didn't sound right but that could be dealt with at another time. At least it wasn't painful anymore.

Shifting to human he opened the sack, took a fish for himself and left the others to Nora. "If you eat these in your dragon form it will keep your stamina up for much longer," He said.

 

"Noo, Hookfang, come back! Grace needs to be warm and dry!" Ebony whines, quickly flapping her wings to get under the nightmare again.
.
Nora sits up slowly, staring at the pile if fish. Her instincts suddenly kick in and she sifts to dragon form. The deathsong gulps down the fish as fast as she can, afraid Argos would take them away before she can satisfy her hunger.

 

"Oh. And I suppose you'd like me to light up too?" Hookfang snorted. Then with a wicked look back to his rider nodded. "Ok fine."

Whhoossh! Flames licked across the dragon's body. Snotlout, all but asleep sat upright like a board and shrieked. "Hookfang!"

The Nightmare chortled.

"Ahhh," Grace warmed her hands. "Thanks Ebony," She said.

 

On the opposite end of the spectrum Bonny was feeling very strange in the steady downpour. Peaceful, she realized. Rain had always been soothing to her; a much apreciated respite of fresh, clean air as it washed away the smells of the sea. But up here in the sky on her wings it was more than that. She loved how it splashed onto her wings and rolled off, how it twisted and turned to her mind's eye, swirling clouds along with it. She almost wanted to shift to hybrid so she could hold out her arm and watch it wave up and down with the wind.

 

...

 

Argos blinked back another moment of mild surprise as a very hungry Nora wolfed down the fish. He shrugged, found a good rock to sit on and turned to his book, making notes as he had done in every spare minute he had since getting it back.

Ebony purrs in delight. "Thanks Hookfang!"

Twilight looks back as Snotlout shrieks. The nightlight smirks in amusement, but that's short-lived as she looks at the flaming dragon. She snorts and shakes her head, feeling a sudden pang of jealousy that he can light up when he's wet and she can't. She pins her ears and pushes on through the wind and rain, trying to rid herself of those thoughts.

 

Realising Argos won't take her food away, Nora manages to get a grip on herself and eats a little slower, savoring each fish. Once finished, she glances from Argos to the open sky longingly. 'No... I'm too tired to fly... and even if I weren't, what's the point in trying to escape? He'd just catch me again in no time.. and I don't have anywhere to go now either' she thinks sadly. With a hopeless sigh, she shifts to hybrid, then human form and lies down on the sand to rest.

 

Ever ardent, Argos noted Nora's resignation with satisfaction. At this rate she wouldn't need to be d.rugged to follow him on the 'morrow. It looked like he'd get to keep both the other vials from Viggo for his grand entrance at Dragon's down. He snaked a hand into his pocket, feeling those two and the remaining one of his own. That ought to be plenty.

 

 

The man stretched once more, then got his feet under him and stood on the rock to reach a bough overhead. Pulling himself up Argos leaned back against the trunk of the tree. He needed his rest too for the day ahead, it promised to be anything but dull.

"Nora consider yourself privilaged." He said contemplatively, realizing it might be wise to warn his prisoner what lie ahead so she didn't do anything foolish when faced with it. "Tomorrow you'll see something no dragon, human or non-deathgripper dragonblood has ever seen and lived to tell the tale. My hometown."

 

Nora turns her head towards Argos as he starts speaking. She shrinks back in fear as she listens, not sure what to make of this news. "W-why are you t-taking me there? I - I thought you s-said you wanted to use me at Dragons Down.. s-so why kill me tomorrow?" she stammers.

 

The day dragged on at an agonizing pace. Better acclimated to the weather Astrid gave Grace her coat which helped a lot.

Just past the worst of the storm the team finally got a peak at the sun sinking into the western sea. Astrid put everyon on lookout duty to find a suitable island to stay on.

"I can't trace his scent anymore," Bonny said, glancing Stormfly's way.

"Rawk! Storm blew it away." The nadder answered, even with her heightened senses not picking it up.

"Found one!" Tuffnut pointed between remnants of cloud to a patch of land below.

 

...

 

"I'm not k.illing you," He stared at her, "I told Viggo I would guard you with my life what don't you get about my word we are literally going to Dragon's Down' to make good on the only promises I've failed over the last two decades. I'm just making the layover to pick up some useful idiots" He paused, "...That said, when we get there do exactly as I say when I say it or you will be eaten alive."

 

Ebony yawns, smiling at the island below. "Mmm.. sleep sounds good" she purrs, her wings sore from the long flight and carrying Grace for so long. Twilight sighs, unable to stop herself from feeling disappointed. 'Wish we hadn't got caught in that storm.. we'll lose precious time while we rest' she thinks, but keeps quiet.
.
Nora hesitates, then nods. "Ok" she mumbles, dropping her gaze.

 

Bonny's centiments were leaning the same way as Twilights as she too, wanted to press forward. While the storm had worn down the others she couldn't explain the renewed energy she was enjoying. It was as if she'd gotten a good nights sleep and was just starting the day.

But everyone else was following Ebony toward the island. She sidled up to Twilight. 

"Want to keep going?" She asked quiet enough no one else could hear.

 

...

 

Argos settled back again. Yeah... tomorrow was going to be interesting.

 

 

Twilight looks at Bonny, curious about how bright and energetic she looks. While she certainly doesn't feel the same way herself, her determination will be enough to keep her going, right? "Shift to hybrid, it'll be easier to slip away unnoticed. We'll go in a moment, when they get a bit closer" she says quietly.

 

04/08/2021 - 21:46

"Ok," Bonny nodded, casting aside her indifference for that form and shifting. Her floppy ears flapped distragingly around her hair as she followed Twilight's cues.

 

It was a nice island, spacious and with signs of a village nearbye. The team landed in an unobtrusive clearing of a forest and set up camp. 

Grace slid off Ebony's back, removing her coat. "Thanks, Astrid."

"Go ahead and keep it, it's going to be cold tonight," The viking said kindly.

Nodding gratefully she turned back to the nightfury. "Time to share some anti-scurvy," The girl said, pulling a sack out of a bigger sack she'd strapped to the dragon. A bulky, carefully wrapped object pulled up with it but she quickly and  gently put it back in, checking it over to be sure nothing was out of place.

"Rhubarb and oranges all around! Come and get em'!"

"Oranges?" Ruff repeated. "What the heck is an orange?"
"Glad you asked!" She retrieved one of the fruits bounced it in the air, caught it and rolled it down one arm, her shoulder, and then to her other hand. "A rare and delectible treat fetched from the fathest and most exotic of worlds; Rome! Introduced to our fine friends in Wotadini they barter across Hadrians wall to have them shipped over. Soldiers guarding the wall make a pretty, tax free penny, and the Wotadini get pure deliciousness in the win-win situation. They in turn sell any excess to Eret son of Eret, who via chain express gets them up to Berk before the beauties can over ripen."

Once again she tossed the orange in the air- but this time with a sword she got from who know's where split it in half.

"Just try it! But don't eat the rind."

"Hey!" Snotlout realized his blade was missing. "Gimme that!"

With an ornery look Grace tossed that into the air, jumped up and with hands full kicked it his way where it buried into the earth beneath his feet. 

"Told you I can fight." Was all she said to the blank stares. "So who's hungry?"

 

As the group flies closer to the island, Twilight and Bonny drop further behind. As the others land, Twilight veers away, quickly leading Bonny northwards. Once they've gained some height and distance, she grins. "Great! Let's see how far we can go. We will have to rest eventually, but I'm sure I saw several more islands on that map, so we should be fine." 'Astrid's going to kill you when she sees you're missing...' a nagging voice in her head says, but she quickly pushes the guilt aside.
.
Ebony stares at the orange in Grace's hand, her pupils becoming slits. "Get it away! Get that evil thing away!" she hisses, arching her back and swishing her tail rapidly. "Nasty! Horrid! Evil! How did it get here?! Destroy it!" she hisses, flaring out her wings threateningly and turning side-on. She darts forward, swiping at it with her claws before retreating quickly.
.
Off in the deeper part of the forest, a small figure moves silently through the trees. Hidden in the shadows, it's hard to see what kind of creature it is, but it's clearly humanoid and has spikes.

 

Twilight followed the others, then at the last moment veered off when they fell below the treeline. Bonny's heart thumped in her chest. They were free, free of what anyone else had to say or warn or try to comfort them with. Free to do what she was so certain would give her peace.

"Don't know about you," Bonny flapped her wings, eagerly putting distance between the team and herself. "But I feel right as rain and could go for hours. Just let me know when I can shift back to dragon."

 

 

"Ebony no!" Grace pulls the orange away just before the fury can turn it to juice. "It's not scary it's just fruit! Here, see?"

She took another out of the sack and rolled it toward the dragon. "Just fruit."

Astrid recalled the first time Hiccup offered an orange to Toothless and too late to warn the girl, waited for Ebony's reaction, unable to keep the grin off her face. 

 

Twilight looks back at the island for a moment. "I think we're far enough now, you can shift back." 'This is a bad idea.. you're contradicting yourself.. this is too risky..' that little voice keeps nagging. 'No no no! This is fine! It is!' Twilight thinks firmly, pushing down her doupt and pinning her ears. She looks straight ahead with grim determination.

 

Ebony squeals and leaps back. She then charges forward with a furious hiss and slams her front paws down on the orange, smashing it. She freezes for a second, then stumbles backwards, shaking her orange juice covered paws. "AAAAHHHGETITOFFGETITOFFGETITOFF!!!" she shrieks.

 

Off in the forest, the creature stops as she hears the night fury's shriek. 'That's not right.. I need to find what's going on' she thinks. She runs through the forest, her footsteps strangely quiet, following an invisible path as she makes her way towards the sound.

 

 

Bonny gladly shifts back to dragon and shakes her head with a snort. She noticed the way Twiligh pinned her ears and looked straight ahead but thought nothing of it, settling into a stead pace.

 

"Oh no! No! Ebony I'm sorry, no don't- wait- Ebony!!" Grace tore after the nightfury as she screamed through the forest. "Come back!"

Nice. So there was the show, where's dinner?" Tuff snickered.

Astrid, vaguely familiar with the island had assessed there were few dangers on it and let them go. She walked over to the sack of rhubarb and oranges, picking the halved one up and tasting it. "Actually that's pretty good," She said, looking up and waiting for Twilight and Bonny to land...

and waiting... 

and waiting...

 

 

Twilight continues to mentally argue with herself, growing more and more frustrated. An unfortunate seagull happens to fly past and the nightlight takes it all out on the bird, firing a plasma blast at it and killing it instantly. She quickly catches it before it falls too far and starts eating it as she flies.
.
Ebony runs through the forest in a panic, trying to get the juice off herself.
Wisp slows down as she hears the approaching night fury. She frowns in confusion and ducks away into the shadows. 'What kind of dragon is that? And there's a human too..' she thinks slowly.
Ebony finally gets most of the orange juice off her paws and slows down. "Ooh, this is a pretty forest" she purrs. Wisp stays perfectly still for a little longer, then slowly climbs onto some low tree branches, gradually making her way up so she's above Ebony. "Hello, Dragon. You are intruding on my territory. Explain yourself" she says in clear dragon tounge, her tone sharp, but not exactly aggressive. Ebony jumps, startled, looking around quickly. "Oh, um, hi. Sorry, I didn't mean to, I was just trying to get away from the nasty oranges."

 

Maybe they went fishing, Astrid thought. Yes, fishing. That had to be it because Twilight would never... take off... on her own...

How was she kidding?

Making a mental not of the direction Grace and Ebony had just gone the General turned to her dragon with a growl. "Snotlout go get Grace and Ebony. Ruff, Tuff, guard the camp and DO NOT burn the forest to the gournd." She waved a warning finger. "If this licks any taller than Stormfly I'll chuck you into the sea and make you swim back."

"Where you goin?" Snotlout's eyes narrowed.

"To find out what's taking Twilight and Bonny so long. C'mon girl,"

 

"Eeeeebbbooooonnnnyyyyyy!" Grace caught up, panting and oblivious to the dragony conversation taking place. "I'm..." she said between breaths, "Sorry! I didn't- know furies- hated oranges! Whew! You can really move when you want to. Let me clean the rest of that off."

Bending down the girl took the paw Ebony had used to flatten her orange, and not having any other kinds of cloth wiped it on her shirt. "There. Better?"

 

...

Several hours into their journey Bonny's head jerked up at the sound of the blast and she watched Twilight, ears pinned flat back censored the falling bird in her jaws to devour it.

"EEWW!" she coughed, "You eat seagulls? Raw seagulls?"

If her face could have it would have turned green. "That's gross."

 

Ebony purrs and nuzzles Grace gratefully. "Thanks for getting rid of that nasty stuff. It's neighbours are, you didn't know" she purrs. Wisp listens carefully. "You're friends with this human, Ebony?" "Yup! Grace is super nice!" "And she understands you?" "Well, she can't understand the words I'm saying, but I can get her to understand a lot." Wisp nods slowly. Ebony finally looks up at the tree, having located Wisps voice. Wisp instantly slides down the tree, but Ebony spots her for a moment. "Wait, are you a human? Or, no, you must be a Dragonblood!" the night fury trills. "Wait, where'd you go?" "I prefere to keep out of sight of strangers. My name is Wisp, and some say that's what I am. My friends call me a dragon girl." As she talks, she quietly circles Ebony and Grace, keeping mostly to the shadows, though she does appear briefly when moonlight hits her. "So. Why are you on my island?" she asks, a slight growl in her voice now.

Twilight snorts, spitting out feathers. "I'm hungry. I don't really like seagulls, but it's food. And it's not entirely raw either, I killed it with fire" she says. She continues to eat, not wanting to let Bonny know she mainly did it out of frustration.

 

 

"It's all gone now. Just don't smell my shirt," The girl giggled as Ebony nuzzled; warbling away. "I don't want to end up like the oran-"

Something in the treetops warbled back.

"-ge." 

Grace's eyes darted here and there, searching for the other dragon but not seeing it. Ebony's focus turned upward and lopsided slightly to the right.

With a rush of leaves and branches whipping out of the way the other half of the conversation dropped from it's hiding place, and though Grace whipped around as fast as she could to see it she missed.

"Hi," she said, a bit tentively as the dragon growled. Hmmm. Not a growl she had heard so far... so not a Nadder, Nightmare, GronckleZippleback  Fury Terror Deathsong Scuttleclaw Rumblehorn Flightmare or Snaptrappers

Springing like a deer across a moonlit patch Grace finally caught a glimpse of the... girl??

"Oh, another dragonblood," She said. "It's ok I like dragonbloods! I am one actually. Just haven't learned how to do the whole switch thing yet." Grace took a few steps toward the last place she'd heard the girl. "You don't have to be afraid."

 

 

"It did look thoroughly barbequed," She couldn't help but agree as her own stomach roared at her. Bonny sent a quick glance Twilight's way, hoping she hadn't noticed.

 

 

Ebony hesitates, now a little nervous. "Um.. we were just passing by, we'll be gone by tomorrow. We just needed a place to rest, we've been flying so long.. Grace, no, wait" she says, stepping in front of her girl.

Wisp slows a little, trying to think of what to do next. 'The village children run when I try to scare them like this. This girl and dragon though, they think they know what I am... I don't think my usual tricks will work then. I can't threaten them either, I've never met a fury before, I don't know what she can do...' she thinks, pursing her lips as she realises she is a bit scared. 'Fine.. I'll just have to face them, I guess' she decides reluctantly. She pulls out a bit of string from a pocket, several old whispering death teeth attatched to it. She starts to twirl it in the air, making a sound somewhat similar to the typical whisper of said dragon. She stops circling and turns to face Grace and Ebony, still in the shadows. She smirks as she senses Ebony nudging Grace back. "You should leave. My home is not safe for outsiders" she says, now switching to norse, though she has a strange, growly accent, since she learned dragon tounge first.

 

Twilight's ears twitch as she hears the feint rumble. Catching the glance from Bonny, she guesses it's the wardenrain's stomach. "I'll catch something for you soon. Hopefully we're not too far from the next island" she says with a small smile.

 

 

"...What?" Grace blinked, thinking she'd understood Norse words over a strange, whispering sound and the girls' dragony accent. She didn't know dragonbloods could get an accent.

Ebony pulled her away, gently, and Grace took the hint and climbed up on the fury. "Ok we'll go. But can we stay the night?"

 

 

Oof. Twilight noticed. Bonny made a sad sound that she did not mean to at all, puppish in nature. Why hadn't she thought to snag one of the sacks of food from Grace before leaving? Swallowing her pride and a picky appetite she nodded nervously. "I can try to catch something myself," She suggested, looking down at the sea with resignation. "l hate it but I'm pretty good at fishing as a human. Maybe I can do it as a dragon too."

 

 

"Please, we're all tired, we've had a long flight" Ebony adds to Grace's question. Her ears twitch nervously at the whispering sound, instinctively knowing it meens danger. Wisp thinks for a moment, then nods slowly. "Show me where you want to stay. Then, if it is away from my home, you can stay. If it is too close, I will show you a better place" she says. "Ooh, thankyou! Come on, follow me" Ebony says, relieved. "I'm sure the others will be just as sorry we're on your territory and will be happy to move if we need to. And we really will be gone by morning, we just need to rest for the night" she explains, turning in the direction of the camp. She looks back to wait for Wisp to follow. Wisp steps out of the shadows, still spinning her toothy string a little bit. She has short brown hair and brown eyes, and she seems to be about Grace's age. Her clothes are a bit scruffy and patched, and there are whispering death scales and spines woven in here and there to give her an overall more dragonish appearance. Attatched to her back are a pair of folded wings, which look quite convincing at first, but up close it's clear they're hand made, not real wings. She walks forward, her bare feet light on the ground as she walks at Ebony's side. "Grace, if I am a.. dragonblood, as you say, and you say you are one too, why can you not talk to Ebony? What switch thing have you not learned?" she asks slowly, finding herself curious about the other girl and confused by the name of dragonblood that both Grace and Ebony gave her so quickly.

 

Twilight nods. "Alright. Come on, I'll show you" she says, diving down towards the ocean. She flies steadily over the water, searching for fish.

 

 

Further into the woods Grace watched with pleasant surprise as a girl her own age emerged from the brush, still talking to Ebony.

"Oh, ok we're moving." Grace found the dragon beneath her turning and heading back. "Oh. You know switching to dragon like you half are now." She looked over her shoulder. "I can't do any of it yet, hybrid, full dragon, senses, I gots diddly squatt. But your my age and already doing it so maybe you can teach me. Are you a whispering death? What's your name? I'm Grace but heh, you already know that. I guess Ebony told you..." Her eyes bulged. "But wait; Ebony can only say my name in dragontalk, so how did you know how to say it in human? That's pretty cool if you translated it through the name Ebony gave me in dragon! That's like really cool. It means that Dragon language is as complex as Norse. I learn something new about you guys every day," She patted the fury delightedly.

 

"Snotlout, go plug the wells. Snotlout, stop playing with that rabid nadder. Snotlout, go find the stupid nightfury," A Jorgenson whined tromped irritably through the forest, hacking down the branches in his path. It had been over thirty-two hours since he'd last slept and it was beginning to show in the way he often missed completely. And through his attitude of course.

Too lazy to joing him in the walk, Hookfang had decided to stay. He offered his services at the bonfire the twins were working on with every intent of setting a new record before Astrids' return.

"...Hey," he stopped griping long enough to listen. "I can't here Ebony screaming anymore. The kid musta caught up and cleaned the orange juice off. EBONY! GRACE! GET YOUR BEHINDS OVER HERE!"

 

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LissaFish
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Joined: 02/12/2017
Argos End PT3

Splash!!

Bonny swings low and in her maw snags a small shark. The creature writhes, biting and flailing but a slash of her talon puts an end to its struggle. 

"Plleehh," she plopped it into her paws, spitting seawater and shark slime. "Eww! Yuck! Gross!

She snakes her head down again and takes a big gulp, tears forming at the corners of her eyes from the salitiness but it was worth it to get the slime texture of her tongue. In a little fountain she spewed it back out.

"Ok. So how to barbeque," She stared at the dead fish.

 

 

Wisp frowns a little in thought. "I have heard the word 'grace' used before by humans, the meaning is the same in human and dragon. My name is Wisp. I am not a true whispering death, but my family are. Bramble, my brother, is with me now. ... I do not know what you mean with me teaching you." Just then, Snotlout's shout reaches her and Ebony's ears, making Wisp stiffen. "Don't worry, that's just Snotlout. He's bossy and a bit mean sometimes, but he's ok. And I really like Hookfang, the monstrous nightmare he rides" Ebony purrs, quickening her pace a little. Wisp frowns as she keeps pace with Ebony.

 

Twilight smiles sympathetically at Bonny's reaction to the shark. "You'll get used to that. About cooking it.. it's bigger than that seagull, so a little more complicated.. maybe we could try cooking it from the inside by breathing fire down its mouth? It won't be fully cooked, but we can try our best. Do you actually have fire? I haven't actually seen a dragon like you before. If you don't have fire, I'll try cooking it for you."

 

 

"Nice to meet you Wisp," Grace ignored Snotlouts shout, focused on the conversation she was having with this strange new girl. "Teaching me how to shift... to.. dragon?"

Close now, she could see that Wisp's wings weren't real.

"GGRRRAAAACCCCEEE!"

QUIT BELLYACHING WE'RE COMING!"  Grace belted out an impatient response to Snotlout. He must not have been expecting that because he went silent for a bit. "Your family is whispering death? Real whispering death?" She asked, inclining her head. "Like Ebony? I mean not exactly like Ebony but she's a real dragon."

 

 

"I have no idea." Bonny admitted. "I could try... but I'm not putting my mouth on this thing's mouth."

She turned it and opened it's mouth at a fair distance from her own, pursing her lips as if to whistle and blowing. Nothing happened, but it may have had more to do with her not even knowing how to find her firebreath; how to start deep, in her belly as if she was going to shout or sing loudly, but without the shouting or singing of course.

 

 

Wisp frowns, not understanding the word 'shift'. "Yes, my family is real whispering death, like Ebony" she nods, then turns to Ebony. "Ebony, what's she talking about? What does she want me to teach her?" Ebony tilts her head. "You know, shifting." "I.. don't get it." Ebony slows down, looking at Wisp in confusion. "Uh.. shapeshifting? Turning into a human, human-dragon hybrid and dragon?" Wisp stays quiet for a few moments. "Like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly?" "Yeah, but whenever you want and it's not just a one-time thing. Why don't you know about shifting?" "... How did you come to think I'm a dragonblood?" "Because you talk like a dragon and understand me. And because you've got wings." Wisps eyes light up and she grins as she finally gets it. "Ohh, thanks, I see where you two got confused now" she says to Ebony, then switches back to norse. "These wings are not real, I made them" she says, pulling on a string that opens her wings, then closing them again with another string, "to scare away humans that want to hurt my territory. I speak dragon because dragons have been my family since my human parents left me, when I was very little."

 

Twilight flies a little closer. "First, you need to open your mouth wide, you can't whistle fire - or anything dragons breathe, for that matter. Second, breathe from your stomach, like you're going to sing or roar. Then when you breathe out, just remember not to make a sound. It's kinda hard to explain fire breathing, but that's the basic idea. It might not work first try, so don't worry if nothing happens when you breathe out, it takes time and practice. Oh, and in this case, try to breathe out slowly. And maybe don't aim at the shark first try, your fire might come in a big burst and scorch it."

 

 

"You were raised by dragons," Grace put the pieces together even as Wisp and Ebony warbled back and forth. Wisp wasn't dragonblood, she was just an ordinary human... but who could still talk to dragons?

A different sort of mood fell over the girl. Not of hope for something she was clinging so desperately to, but comfort if it didn't... she didn't, have it in her.

She shook her head. No, no such thoughts! Away with them! She was a dragonblood she just knew it, she had to be.

Wisp spoke Norse again, explaining her wings.

"Right; not a dragonblood, but still cool." Grace looked at the girl with new eyes, this time admiring the craftsmanship of her outfit, and marveling at her wildness. "That's so sad your human parents left you, but how amazing to grow up with wild dragons and learn how to speak with them! I grew up where there weren't any dragons at all and yeah, now that I know they exist, not going back."

"Finally!" Snotlout grouched, his axe hacking away at a treelimb between him, the fury and the two girls. "Astrid wants you two woodland pixies back at camp pronto-o-ooohhh and now there's another one." He stared at the girl in Whispering Death garb. "The heck? Who is this? And what is she wearing??"

"My new friend Wisp, and she's wearing awesome," Grace shot back. "She made it herself, even folding and opening wings to scare off unwanted guests from her territory."

 

 

Bonny listened, nodding slowly. Picking a direction she tried doing what Twilight said.

Again, nothing appeared to happen... but she found herself licking back a strange and unpleasant taste on her tongue. "There are fumes in my mouth," She said, face scrunched. "I guess that's a good sign."

Her second attempt made a hopeful spark, and finally on the third the fumes in her mouth ignited and burned in a flash of light.

"Did you see that??" She beamed, "I did it! I just made fire!"

The wardenrain loop-de-looped her delight, spitting little sparks and flames here and there.

 

 

"Oooh, that's really cool! I didn't know whomans could learn to speak dragon!" Ebony trills in excitement. Wisp smiles and starts to relax properly, no longer spinning her toothy string as she listens to Grace. When they run into Snotlout, she stiffens a little and narrows her eyes. "It's ok, he's really alright, just grumpy and bossy" Ebony purrs softly, gently brushing against Wisp with her wing. Wisp jumps a little, but smiles, happy that both the girl and dragon consider her a friend. Her face hardens again as she focusses on Snotlout, slowly opening her wings. "Yes, I do not like humans who come along and use their weapons for damaging my territory" she says, her dragony growl becoming more apparent as she starts to spin her whispering string again.

 

Twilight grins, happy for the younger dragonblood. "That's brilliant! Great job!"

 

 

He looked from Wisp, to Grace, then Ebony with that  wide-eyed and clueless expression of hers, then back to Grace and Wisp again who was twirling a string of teeth to make that unnerving whisper noise. "Heheh," He chortled as she growled at him. "Allow me to make a hasty exit then because I know where this is going to end up; me begging for mercy. So Snotlout is out! There's enough coockoo's on this mission as it is. Grace, Ebony, come. Crazy girl it's been fun!"

He turned on a heel to head straight back for the camp.

"But she wants to see the camp-" Grace started.

"No she doesn't." The Jorgenson warned. "She won't like what she sees I left the twins and Hookfang back there."

"So?"

"So Astrid took off to go find your sister and gave those muttonheads explicit instructions not to burn the forest down."

Grace hadn't spent much time with the twins but she knew enough about them to blush. Or she would have, anyways, if that were the part of the conversation she picked up on. "Bonny isn't back at camp?" She said with sudden and intense interest. "Why?"

"I don't know! I'm out here chasing you two through strange forests as you play with creepy little whispering girls from who knows where!"

"You don't have to be so mean. And we're coming, all of us. Our camp might be in Wisp's territory and if it is >hmm once we put the fire out< we should move it."

 

 

Flying low again Bonny gut and cleaned the shark wrinsing it in the sea as they flew. By a string of firebursts she then cooked it beyond overdone to the point even her dragon's teeth had difficulty tearing into the meat/leather. Even so, once through she found herself licking her paws and hungry for more.

"If you see anything else let me know," She said, watching the water like a hawk, nose twitching. "I'm starving!"

 

...

 

The long tail twitched, tip flowering with agitation. Something wasn't right.

Argos blinked awake eyes falling immediately on Nora's resting figure in the sand below. No change there... so what wa-

His eyes snapped open as he heard it... an unfamiliar dragon's fire.

Swift and silent as a stalking cat he slinked off his branch, darted right past Nora and crawled toward the edge of the canopy, wildly searching the sky. Unfamiliar fire could mean only one thing; one very rare dragon was somewhere up there in that night sky!

He spotted it! A streak of white dipping down to the sea and back, burning something in it's talons. There was another motion ahead of it he couldn't see as well, but it had whit-

He froze, tail stiffening and ready to thrust into Nora if she dared even to roll over in her sleep. 

Twlilight, He breathed the softest growl, pupils slits as he felt both delighted and furious. What have you brought to me?

 

Wisp flashes a wild grin as she succeedes in frightening Snotlout. She follows the group even before Grace stands up for her, a determined look in her eyes. "Don't worry, Wisp. I'm sure he's just exagerating, they won't have let the fire get out of control" Ebony says. "If you say so.. I have made friends with a young scauldron, so we can put out the fire if there is one."

 

Twilight chuckles and nods. "Alright. Oh, look, we're at the next island. Should have a good amount of food there. Then we can rest." She quickens her wing beats, pushing through the ache from the long flight. The wind changes direction just a little bit, carrying the edge of a scent with it. Twilight stiffens, her pupils snapping thin and her teeth baring. Still, she tries to push the thought of Argos and Nora from her mind. 'I'm tired. I'm probably imagining it. And it's also very likely it's an old scent - from when they stopped some time before' she thinks. She looks from the island to Bonny. "Smell anything interesting?" she asks, trying to keep her voice casual.

 

They were going to need the Scauldron.

 

"Oh. Hey E," Tuff turned when he heard that particular fury's signature clomp. His arms were cross and he was admiring  a flames high up in the air. "Magnificent aren't they?"

"Best record yet," Ruff leaned back to continue their one sided talk with the dragon. "This puppy's pushing almost a hundred feet already."

"What in the world did you burn??" Snotlout gawked. "And what did you use to burn it??"

"About thirty small trees and your dragon."

"WHAT!"

"See for youself, he's right there in the middle ." Ruff shrugged, pointing to the barely visible figure in a tipi of inferno.

"Hookfang!" 

Snotlout charged between the twins like an nagry bull.

"Dude, he's like a friggin fire dragon what are you worried about?"

Well even fire dragons can get a little uncomfortable, as Hookfang was just deciding. He slithered out from under the concave burnpile and stretched pleasantly, ground simmering beneath him.

"Oh!"

"Ow!"

Grace turned to see In a rush of wind The Thorston twins had vanished. She looked up.

"I regret nnnoootttthhhhiiinnnnnggggg!!!"

"I regret soommmmeee thiiinnnngggggsss!!!!"

"So heh yeah, this is our umm, 'camp,'" she muttered, grabbing her sack of scurvy-repellant. "Here's an orange. But DO NOT let Ebony get too close or she'll squish it. She's got something against them."

The girl looked back at the fire, growing in height and roar by the second. Surprisingly THAT was not formost on her mind, but what was would have to wait.

"We sould probably take care of that."

 

 

"All I smell is shark. All over me," Bonny gestured, sending her a keen look. "Why? What do you smell?"

 

...

 

THWACK!! Argos struck Nora with his tail, bluntside. "Wake up," He hissed, "And be ready to fly if and when I say."

 

Wisp steps back from the sudden wave of heat. "Great" she mutters sarcastically. "Bramble!" she roars. A moment later, the ground rumbles and a medium sized whispering death bursts up from below. "Ow! Too bright" he hisses, blinking from the flames. Wisp runs over and grabs on to his tail. "We need to get Kettle" she says as she climbs up. "Make sure things do not get worse" she calls to Grace in norse, then Bramble flies off towards the ocean.
.
Twilight hesitates, debating if she should tell Bonny or not. She sniffs the air again, grimacing as the scents become clearer. "Argos and Nora were here at some point, not too long ago. I'm not sure if they're still here, their scents aren't strong enough to know for sure. Either way, we are NOT going after them. Neither of us are in any shape to fight, and even if we were, we can't go in alone without a plan or backup. Understand?" she says, looking at Bonny firmly.
.
Nora yelps and sits up quickly, shifting to hybrid form. "Oww.. fine, but why? What's going on?" she asks, rubbing the spot Argos hit.

 

Grace jumped away from the dragon and massive hole emerging from the earth. It hissed something , turning away from the fire and wincing.

"Make sure things don't get worse," Wisp called as they disappeared.

"Ok!" 

She looked back to the inferno, and out, toward the healthy trees still standing at the edges of the clearing. Their branches were beginning to curl and burn.

"Ebby let's dig a trench around the clearing, Snotlout cut the branches nearest the fire off the trees. Barf, Belch, and Hookfang can help... please?"

"Pfft yeah duh, that's already what I was going to do," The Jorgenson said, swinging himself over Hookfang's neck. 

Just as Ebony and Grace started digging, Stormfly and Astrid returned from chucking Thorstons into the sea... without the Thorstons of course. They splashed  a big bucket of water onto the fire, then flew back.

 

 

It's a wardenrain, The deathgripper studied intensely, A dragonblood wardenrain. He'd never seen even an ordinary Wardenrain, much less realized there were dragonbloods of them.

Every scrap of information he had heard or seen about Wardenrains he dragged to the fore of his memory:

Storm dragons... manipulate the weather... oxyhydrogen charge...large... not particularily agile... storm, dragons...

Thoughts settled on that bit, hovering over an alleged weakness. He glanced instinctively toward the south at a storm now long gone.

Nora's question brings him back to the here and now and he looks reluctantly at the purple dart in his hand.

"We're being hunted by your so-called 'friends'," Argos growls softly, spotting a shift in behavior from the dragons out there, and knowing that his and Nora's scent was being carried that way. He turned on the Deathsong Dragonblood with the dart. "I need you to fly, due north as long and as fast as you can while I deal with them."

 

Bonny's own eyes become slits as she leans, wordlessly, toward the nearest island. 

 

Ebony quickly starts digging, trying to make the gap as deep and wide as she can.
Bramble and Wisp soon come across a young adult blue scauldron. "Kettle! There's a fire on the island, we need your help to put it out" Wisp calls. Kettle lifts his head and nods. "Happy to help. Lead the way." The two dragons fly back to the island. Once they get back to the fire, Kettle sprays it with water.
.
Nora's heart races as she listens. 'They're here. Maybe they DO think I'm on Argos's side, but she still have to escape..' she thinks. 'I'll have to do what he says without getting darted.' Her eyes widen in fear. "They probably think I'm a traitor, they probably hate me and are after us for revenge.. o-ok, I'll go" she stammers. With a fearful look at the sky, she turns and runs a short distance, then shifts to dragon form and flies of due north as fast as she can.
.
Twilight narrows her eyes and quickly cuts Bonny off. "Bonny, I'm serious. I shouldn't have agreed to bring you out here. We can't take them on by ourselves, we need the others."

 

"Oh no you don't!"

Argos listened and took in her actions with perplexion and narrowing eyes; too eager, much, much too eager. Her words matched up with his hope that the dart wouldn't be needed... but since when did someone who was hopelessly ensnared, desperately wanting to prove that they were innocent, and surely, suffering to know if their beloved had survived, run so eagerly away from a chance to escape?

...Maybe it was genuine. To protect those friends who were coming for her? Because she really believed what she was saying? Or perhaps... perhaps to seem willing to do as he commanded.

Twilight and the Wardenrain's mere presense had shattered a good half of his plan; Berk wasn't just onto his little ruse, leading them astray with that phony trail, they were coming for him on faster wings than he or Nora had. There wasn't time to waste getting backup at his old home, and absolutely none to risk on Nora giving him grief.

 

He launched after her, crashing through the trees to stay out of sight of prying eyes, s.nagging her long Deathsong tail just before it left the canopy, trying to stick her with the dart

 

 

...

 

"We are here. We caught up; if we don't do something about him he's going to do something about us! Namely escape!" She hissed, but at the same time hesitated. There was an undeniable tremble to her voice and shiver across her skin, scales rising with anxiety. Such a mix of troubled emotions fought across her face; hatred, determination, purpose, terror, fury, pain, the cool outer shell she gave most people cracking under distress. She could taste that loathsome scent on her tongue now and stronger was the more pleasant mint one. Argos wasn't far.

Her eyes picked up a motion not on the island she was aiming for but a smaller one that didn't look like there was a place to land. Butterfly wings, her mind told her as her heart pounded.

"Look!" She pointed a claw.

 

Nora's heart skips a beat as Argos suddenly grabs her tail, slowing her down sharply. "W-what? Y-you told me to fly north, that's what I'm doing!" she says quickly, looking back at him. She gasps as he sticks the dart into her tail. 'Berkians are my friends, Argos is my enemy. Berkians are my friends, Argos is my enemy' she thinks over and over, desperate to keep some control. She shoots several lumps of amber at him, hoping to trap him and not caring if she gets amber on her own tail as long as some amber encases Argos. She roars a cry for help. She shakes her head as the poison threatens to take over her mind and she repeats her phrase louder and faster.

 

Twilight sighs, her own expression matching Bonny's. "I - I know. But -" "Look!" Bonny inturrupts, pointing. Twilight turns her head quickly, her ears pinning flat as she spots the deathsong wings. "Nora. They're still here" she hisses, struggling to keep a clear head as the nightmare fights to break free. She bares her teeth as Nora's cry reaches her ears. 'No. No, I can't shift. I have to fight properly, I have to think clearly, I have to be here for Bonny. And Nora' she thinks firmly, pushing down the pain and chaotic emotions to some degree. She turns her head sky-wards and fires a plasma blast, a desperate attemt at alerting the others they'd left behind. She then turns back to Bonny, trying to keep her voice strong. "We need to stuff moss in our ears. We won't make it through the battle if he uses Nora to hypnotise us. Dodge anything he fires at you. Avoid direct contact if you can, try to take him down at a distance. You'll probably need to shift back and fourth a few times. And.. if I shift to nightmare at any point and attack you, deal with me as if I were an enemy. Come on" she says, diving towards the island. She lands by a mossy tree, still a safe distance from where they'd seen Nora, shifts to nightlight hybrid with some dificulty and tears off some moss to stuff into her ears.

As Nora cries out for a second time, one of the lumps of amber splatters over a blood red wing and Argos curses bitterly. He shifts to full and with Nora's tail now in his pincer drops to the forest floor, dragging her with him and brutally pinning her down until the poison can take effect.

Up in the sky a nightlight distress beacon flares to life.

"Fly out!" He hisses into Nora's ear over and over, just beneath a whisper. "To the North at your best speed and do not stop! If you meet anyone keep to your course first, but kill them if the opportunity presents itself!"

 

 

 

Bonny nods vigorously, trying to take it all in. Deal with Twilight as if she was an enemy? That seemed extreme... but Twilight would know best what was neccessary for Nightmare Twilight.

Following to the island and mirroring Twilight's actions she too, shifted to hybrid and found a nice lump of moss. Unsteady hands broke it in two and stuffed the pieces in her ears. The feel was scratchy, there were undeniably bugs crawling around in it... but that wasn't the worst of it. They did exactly what Twilight said they would do- they kept her from hearing anything, and that was one sense completly down.

To compensate Bonny hightened her remaining senses and wondered, staring through the dark under the trees wide-eyed, if even a dragon had difficulty seeing through that. The teen took a good whiff of the air and an invisible trail became clear as day, leading them toward the heart of the tiny island.

 

Nora's eyes light up hopefully as some amber hits Argos's wing, but that hope vanishes as he shifts, drags her down and pins her. She struggles, panicking, but his grip is too stressful to escape from. He starts hissing instructions in her ear. She whimpers, try to block him out, but her own thoughts are slowly suppressed by the poison as it clouds her mind. Her pupils snap paper thin, her breathing slows and she goes limp. She nods a tiny bit, understanding Argos's order.
.
Twilight struggles a little as she tries to shift back to full nightlight. She manages after a few tries, then signals to Bonny to follow. She takes off and flies towards the scent of the enemy.

Nora's eyes light up hopefully as some amber hits Argos's wing, but that hope vanishes as he shifts, drags her down and pins her. She struggles, panicking, but his grip is too stressful to escape from. He starts hissing instructions in her ear. She whimpers, try to block him out, but her own thoughts are slowly suppressed by the poison as it clouds her mind. Her pupils snap paper thin, her breathing slows and she goes limp. She nods a tiny bit, understanding Argos's order.
.
Twilight struggles a little as she tries to shift back to full nightlight. She manages after a few tries, then signals to Bonny to follow. She takes off and flies towards the scent of the enemy.

The moment Nora relaxes Argos steps away, "Go," He clicks, repeating himself with urgency. "Go!"

 

He turned his focus to the faint sound of beating wings, and shook his own hoping to loose the amber. It stuck fast and forced his wing to remain in the half-folded postion it had been when Nora hit it. The fix was simple enough, a few minutes of practically drooling over it would do the trick since his skin had a protective coat against his acid. But could he spare those minutes and chance giving away his exact location?

Falling back into the shadows the deathgripper took a gamble and decided against; they might go after Nora after all, why should he stop that (just yet) by alerting them to his current vulnerability?

...because they could not, could not take Nora! He'd worked to hard and too long, made to many promises and put off too many other jobs to get that Deathsong where he needed it; and at this point he'd sooner d.ie than let them take her back again.

 

 

Bonny notes with worry how Twilight struggles to return to nightlight form, heart racing. She shifts to dragon as well and feels that much safer with teeth, claws and firebreath to defend herself and at the prior's silent bidding takes to the sky, following that loathsome scent.

Feelings raged war under the surface, but outside it was the calm before the storm, with only her rapid breath, slitted pupils and raised scales to signal all was not well.

Nora obediently gets up and flies off quickly, heading north as she was told.
.
Twilight narrows her eyes as Nora appears above the trees, flying steadily north without looking anywhere else. 'Something's wrong. I may not know Nora all that well, but she wouldn't be flying like that, so calmly, this soon after a distress roar, under normal circumstances. Argos did something to her' she thinks, feeling a little releaved that she can still think clearly, but equally concerned for the safety of Bonny and Nora. She sniffs the air, picking up Argos's stronger scent. She looks back at Bonny, motions to Nora and shakes her head, hoping she can make the wardenrain understand not to follow the deathsong. She slows down as the deathgripper's scent grows stronger, searching for a sign of a trap, or Argos himself.

 

Whenever she came too close to the trees, branches and twigs clawed at Bonny like clammy hands, everything wet and sticking thanks to yesterday's storm. It was hard getting used to being a dragon, but really hard being such a big one.

"Nora," She murmured, forgetting herself in the moment and instinctively turning toward the forward-staring dragonblood. Twilight gave a sharp and ardent shake of the head.

Don't follow. Her wings stiffened a little, but she readjusted to Twilights' course, closing rapidly on the spot Nora had just flown from. She nodded; they could catch up to Nora eventually, but for now, Argos.

He was just here!! he nose told her as they stared down upon a tiny little clearing. Patches of amber dotted the place, signs of a struggle shaped the muddy understory. Her eye caught the long, narrow print of a deathgripper pincer and she pointed to it with her snout

 

Twilight nods as Bonny points to signs of a struggle. 'Come on, come on, where is he?!' she thinks, circling above the little clearing from high in the air. Suddenly, she catces sight of red scales. Without a moment of hesitation, she fires a plasma blast at the spot, intending it to be lethal, or at least damaging.

 

 

From the spot where he's crouched Argos looks up, Twilight and the Wardenrain right on top of him! His eyes settle on the latter, taking in her- scent.

Two seconds he puzzled over what it told him and nearly lost his life for it. The dragonblood went to pull his wing in closer. The amber got caught on a branch, so he pulled harder and it broke away making him stumble just as a lethal shot from Twilight scorched the ground he had been standing on!

Less than a second later the wardenrain fired on him as well... or at least tried to. She blew out a stream of oxyhydrogen but didn't light it until it was a cloud in front of her face. It exploded in a powerful flash of light!

The deathgripper snarled, shaking his head, blinded for a moment and disoriented, a deep pain in his side. He shifted to human and ran while the two flew past to come around for another go, the wardenrain struggling to turn so quickly.

A small cleft of rocks stood exactly where he remembered it from his last visit to the island... ten years ago. Argos stopped in front of it, shifted to dragon spat acid over the amber on his wing then shifted back to human, ducking inside to a small cave.

 

 

The Wardenrain in question blinked back fury with herself in an attempt to regain her sight. Idiot! How could she have thought that was a good idea?? She didn't know how to use her firepower!

"Where'd he go?" Bonny growls, chucking the moss and searching the forest floor. "Where'd he go where'd he go!!"

 

 

The group eventually manages to put the fire out, without it causing too much more damage. "Thanks, Kettle. We couldn't have done it without you" Wisp tells the scauldron gratefully. "You're welcome. Need anything else?" "I think we're ok now. We'll get rid of these idiot humans" Bramble answers. Kettle nods. "Ok. Nice seeing you two again!" he says, flying back to the ocean. "You can go too, Bramble, I'll be home in a sec." Bramble hesitates, then sighs as he lands, letting Wisp get off. "Alright. Don't be too harsh on the nightfury or her human friend though." "What d'you meen?" Wisp asks with a slight frown. Bramble snorts in amusement. "Don't play pretend, sister. I picked up on it, you like them. And I don't mind, you know that. Wasn't their fault that the rest of their group are idiots." With that, Bramble turns and dives back down the tunnel he'd come out of.

 

Twilight hisses as Bonny's fire explodes in a flash of blinding light. She shakes her head and blinks, scanning the ground and sniffing the air. 'I missed. It was supposed to be a clean shot, now we'll probably have to fight' she thinks, frustrated. She just about hears the growl from Bonny, and though her words are too muffled to make out properly, Twilight easily guesses what the wardenrain is saying. She flies lower, following the scent and tracks. "There" she hisses, spotting some rocks with an opening the right size for a human to get in. She circles the rocks a few times, glaring at Argos's hiding spot. "Can't get a clear shot from the air, I'll have to land. DON'T FOLLOW ME" she growls to Bonny, having seen the girl get rid of the moss and knowing she can hear her. She swoops down and lands, still a short distance from the rocks but directly in front of the cave opening. She charges a plasma blast in her throat, ready to fire.

 

 

One eye on the remnant of burning cinders Grace drapped herself wearily over the Fury, stomping out with delight any hotspots that dared to raise their ugly heads.

"Well one disaster created and nipped in the bud," Astrid shook her head. "I'm sorry I ever thought bringing those two along was a good idea."

"It will be," two sopping wet Thorstons finally rejoined the party, "When we are free to lokify that deathgripper to our hearts desire."

...point.

"Sorry about this... who...ever, you are," The general turned to Wisp. "We'll leave in a few minutes. Have to, turns out two of our team took off without us."

"Say what?" Snotlout glared from where he was stomping on his own coat because Hookfang thought it was funny to stir up the fire again. He looked utterly exhausted.

"I knew it." Grace groaned, sitting back up. "Bonny's bent on one thing only and she can't think of anything or anyone else. C'mon, Ebony, let's go."

"Hold up!" Astrid said, not looking much more energetic than Snotlout. "We need a few minutes just to rest. Some of us are on nearly thirty two hours without sleep."

Grace nodded unhappily, understand, but, worried for her sister. Bonny didn't know anything about dragons, she had made such a point to not learn. Now she was one, a rare, big one and didn't know her own strengths and weaknesses. If they caught up with Argos Grace could lose more than just her papa to that devil.

So troubled at the thought she hopped down from Ebony and paced. "Th-thanks Wisp, we never would have gotten that under control without you," She gave a half-hearted smile, and a little bigger of one to the wild Scauldron and Whispering death. "And your friends. They're awesome."

 

...

 

 

For one fleeting moment Argos had time to catch his breath... and access. Twilight my not have killed with that shot but she'd done damage, he looked down at his burnt and bleeding side, grimacing. felt like a couple of cracked ribs.

Outside he heard the nightlight speak to the wardenrain before landing, then the all too familiar hiss of a ready blast on the tip of her tongue.

The human clenched his teeth with the most hateful look, crawling deeper into the cave, toward one of the three other exits. He picked the one that would lead him furthest from the dragonbloods out for blood.

 

"Don't follow you?? But-"

No use, Twilight was down and stalking toward the cave before she could even finish. Trembling uncontrollably, a relentless growl in her throat Bonny made use of the time circling overhead by practicing using her firebreath. A few more explosive misshaps and she finally got something mildly useful. Practically spout a stream of oxyhidrogent and then spark as fast as possible. It wasn't optimal, but at least she could point and shoot at short distances now.

 

Wisp nods at Astrid's words, but the rest of the conversation is lost on her. She smiles a little as Grace starts talking to her again, but she frowns a little too. "What are you afraid of? I don't fully understand what your friends are saying" she says, any sign of anger about the fire gone from her face and voice.

 

Twilight fires into the cave, snarling as she doesn't smell any more blood, or sense any sign that she'd hit her target at all. She runs right up to the cave and fires again, but still hits just rock. She stares inside, ridged and trembling with rage as she realises Argos isn't there anymore. "NO! GONE!" she snarls furiously. She doesn't even flinch as she shifts to nightmare hybrid form. She looks up for a moment at Bonny with a huff. "Fine. Come" she growls, then runs into the cave.

 

"It's my sister Bonny," Grace pauses, realizing how confusing the tid-bits of information must be. Not unlike her sister, she wraps her arms around herself, trying to surmise what needed saying and what didn't. "We're supposed to be on a mission to stop an evil deathgripper dragonblood together, but she and our friend Twilight kept going when we landed to rest."

She noted the others all sitting down for something to eat... and started pacing again. The longer they stayed, the greater the distance between them, Twilight and Bonny.

 

From where she sat peeling an orange Astrid watched Grace, a look kin to compassion softening her face.

Having wolfed down his meal, just as Snotlout leaned back against Hookfang for some shut-eye she chucked the peel his way. The Monstrous Nightmare glared suspiciously as his person snorted. "What, eww! Why??"

"Don't get comfortable we're leaving in five," She warned.

The Jorgonsen whimpered. "I. need. sleep!"

"You'll get it on Hookfang while we fly. I'll take the first watch."

"PFFFT have you met my dragon? He needs sleep too, and if he can't have it he will make sure NOBODY will."

Hookfang feigned an innocent smile and Snotlout glowered, waving a warning finger. "Don't you get cute."

"Ruff, Tuff you hear me?" Astrid looked around to find both the twins and their dragon had burrowed into the remaining ashes of the fire. "Oh yeah sure," Tuff appeared in a puff of smoke, Barf at his side.

"Just as soon as we've dried off." Ruff rolled, Belch grabbing piles of soot in his maw and dumping it like confetti over his rider. "Almost completely dried out. Astrid you should try this some time ash does wonders to skin after an icy saltwater bath."

Unable to resist Stormfly scurried over to see what all the commotion was about, scratching at the ground like a chicken.

"Hard pass." Astrid bit into the orange.

 

 

 

Bonny hesitates... only because she can't remember if Twilight warned her about just the Monstrous Nightmare form, or the monstrous nightmare hybrid form.

Rocks come cascading down in a massive heap right over the mouth of the cave, cutting her off from the other dragonblood! A scent of blood wafts her way, and the Wardenrain's eyes follow the trail of dust to it's origin, where two red wings unfurl and lifted their owner into a snag directly between her and the cave.

Argos lands with finess, any sign of pain carefully hidden as his cold yellow eyes lock with ice blue.

Bonny's blood freezes, she forgets to breathe for a moment and simply hovers.

"Greetings," The deathgripper practically coos while looking her up and down. "To whom do I owe the pleasure?"

"I," She could barely get out, nostrils flared and pupils like sewing needles. "Am the daughter of Ian of Mykines, who you murd.ered."

"Yes I gathered as much from your scent I was talking about your name. Points to the idiot for keeping you out of my sites until now, really. I'm actually impressed."

If Bonny had bothered to learn anything about dragons, she might have understood by the way his armor raised slowly and fell again that the thought aggrivated him. But she didn't, and all she could judge where the confident words out of his mouth.

 

 

Wisp nods slowly, lowering her head a little. "I'm sorry. I wish I could help" she says quietly. She hesitates a moment, then steps to and hugs Grace in an effort to comfort her.
Ebony keeps her distance, glaring at all the oranges everyone is eating.
.
Twilight whirls around as rocks fall behind her, separating her from Bonny. "No! she roars, dashing back and trying in vain to move the rocks. She can just about smell Argos on the other side, and along with the typical rage, a rare feeling of helplessness and terror grip the nightmare. She almost shifts to full nightmare, but she stops herself as the walls of the cave close in on her painfully and threaten to crush her. She looks down the tunnel that smells of Argos, trembling as she realises just how tight it is. "No choice. I have to help Bonny" she mumbles. A stab of pain runs through her as she shifts to human form. Fear pulses through her as she runs down the tunnel.

 

Grace is a bit surprised, but hugs Wisp back gratefully, some of the sadness in her soul streaming down her cheeks. There was something she couldn't quite put her finger on that she really liked about the wildgirl... aside from being wild, and she'd have to contemplate it on the long trip ahead. "You know, you're a very strange girl," She says, "I like it though, a good kinda strange and I'm glad I met you! Can I ever come back to visit? Meet your family?" She gestured the twins with a sniff and a ray of her spunky personality shined through. "They wouldn't be coming with me. Probably just Ebony. Or my mom, she'd think you're really cool."

 

 

 

Bonny lunges for the deathgripper.

He deftly springs sideways out of the snag, listening to Twilights' actions fainting further behind the rocks and deeper into the cave. As Bonny's tail zips past in the miss he reaches out a pincer, making a small, irritating cut with that one talon on the tip.

The Wardenrain whips around -with effort- and by the time she does he's flown out of her limited range, circling like a vulture. Wordlessly the dragon nicks her wing, twists masterfully as she reacts and dives under her, flipping to an upside-down position in mid-air and and slashing deep into her vulnerable belly. Though he could have just as easily ended the game right then and there he was careful not to do any lethal damage, both his tusks and deadly sickled tail carefully retracted.

The teen cried out in pain and spewed a puff of oxyhydrogen his way, but when the smoke had settled it became clear he had changed course and evaded with ease. Without knowing what she was doing Bonny shimmered her wings, the underscales glinting in the faint light of morning.

Argos eyed the motion, noting the mixed expression of fear and hate that was beginning to shrowd into animal-like instinct. He put distance between them and waited.

With two mighty and forceful beats of her wings Bonny ignored her wounds and flew after, closing that distance. In response the deathgripper retreated at urgent speed, ducking down beneath the trees just as she clapped her wings.

A burst of wind and she released a shower of beads of light, falling across the trees he'd taken cover in and scorching them. Some charges struck and tore holes in his wings.

Magnificent! He thought despite himself, trying to decide if the raindrops had been electromagnetic charges or something else. Above them clouds formed out of nowhere and curdled, and he hoped that was a sign he was doing what he hoped he was doing.

Giving an unearthly shriek she shot the charge at him again. This time the deathgripper shifted to hybrid, folding his wings in tight as he put the trunk of a tree between them.

 

Wisp nods eagerly. "Yes, please come back some time. It's nice talking to someone who isn't a dragon. My family might not all be very friendly, but Bramble likes you. And you can tell me all about your home" she says, grinning in excitement at the thought.
.
Twilight bursts out of the tunnel exit, panting. 'I'm out. I'm free' she thinks, relieved. She stiffens at the shriek and shifts to full nightlight. She flies towards the sound at high speed, unnerved by the storm clouds out of nowhere. "Are you ok?" she roars to Bonny as the wardenrain comes in to view.

 

"Alright, time's up," Astrid said, mounting stormfly. "Let's head out."

"Ok I will! And I'll be very polite to your dragon friends that don't like humans and leave them alone. Although I would like to see them if I can. Who knows? Maybe I'll know my dragonform by then." 
Grace looked around. "Ebony where'd you go?"

 

thunder rumbles out of the fast growing storm over Bonny, spinning like a vortex. She only barely hears Twilight who's back to her nightlight form but her every once of focus is on the tree Argos had ducked behind. She had turned it into a pillar of fire with that last blast, but yet again no Argos. 
A flash of red wing signaled his position further into the trees and without thinking Bonny clapped her wings again

 

 

but this time nothing happened.

 

"w-what?" She sputtered, still trembling. Repeating only gave her the same result, as did trying to fire her oxyhydrogen- nothing!

"I have never met a wardenrain," that snakelike voice said calmly with a hint of satisfaction. "But seems the reports are true, a dangerous creature in the eye of a storm but without it a sitting duck. Notice how you tremble so much? Certainly adrenaline, I'm sure fury, and a touch of fear perhaps but predominantly exhaustion. You're ten hours from the nearest storm and you have exhausted your energy reserves. The great and noble wardenrain will even lose the strength to fly in this state."

As if to prove his words Bonny’s wings faltered.

"You lie to toy with my mind, I can still fight you," she glances Twilights way, "WE can still fight you, I won't rest until your blood is staining the forest floor."

"You can and you will." He said still as monotone as before. "I don't lie I observe."

 

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LissaFish
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Joined: 02/12/2017
The end of Argos PT 4

Ebony jumps up and trotts over to Grace, crouching down for the girl to get on. "It was really nice meeting you, Wisp! We'll see you again soon" she purrs, briefly nuzzling the girl. Wisp jumps a tiny bit, but grins and gently pets the night fury. "See you soon" she says, still in norse for Grace's benefit. She steps back, then Ebony trotts over to the others and takes to the air, eager to get going. Wisp smiles, watching the group as they get ready, but her head stays locked on to Ebony and Grace.
.

Dragons complained about being on the wing again, though not very adamantly. They had a sense of the urgency of their riders and knew that they too, were longing for some rest.

Grace waves and watches her new friend until the trees swallow her up. It felt weird wanting to stay and so badly wanting to hurry up and leave at the same time.

"Astrid," She got up the courage to ask, "How far ahead do you think they are?"

"By now? At least an hour and a half. Nightlights are swift fliers and by all appearances Wardenrains can keep up at least with stamina. Until they land I don't think we'll catch them."

The girl sighs, playing with Ebony's ears absent-mindedly, thoughts leaning toward the books in one of Ebony's saddlebags. It was too dark to read, otherwise she'd be pouring over the chapter on Wardenrains as they flew.

.

Wisp stays where she is untill the wing beats fade from earshot. She then slides into the nearby whispering death hole, where she finds Bramble waiting for her. As they make their way back to the main burrow, Wisp happily tells Bramble all about Ebony and Grace.

 

“Bonny or Grace.”

Bonny scowled. What?

“Is it Bonny or Grace?”

“Is what Bonny or Grace.”

“For the love of- are you Bonny or Grace?” Argos cursed. “Are you here to avenge your beloved papa or simply redeem yourself by slaying his killer?”

The stunned look on Bonny’s face curled a smile up Argos’s.

“Ah so it’s Bonny then.” He shuffled his wings the way he always did when winning. “The troubled one heh figures you’d be the dragonblood.”

She knew better than to ask but couldn’t stop herself. “What do you mean by that??”

“When working your Papa into a mental state of instability, he ended up… delirious a few times and I heard a lot about you. Poor soul was at the end of his rope; such a confident, defiant, strong-willed indifferent and unsatisfied youngling. Or thus he perceived. So what is this, exactly?” The dragon changed subject, opening a blood red wing in gesture. “You taking out fury for your own actions against me? Why waste the time and energy we both know you were right in the first place.”

“Right??”

“To hold your dear Papa in contempt."

She looked as if he’d stabbed her. “That’s not true.”

Argos tilted his head, listening to her, soaking in everything about her body language. Posture, breathing, eyes, voice. “Yes it is.”

“Shut up. Murderer you don’t get to tell me what I think!”

You are telling me Bonny. You, and your father who I left with his guts falling out his side. If a man flees beaten and bruised from the strong, hides among children, looks back over his shoulder day in and out, and can’t defend himself when his slayer comes, tell me, what is that man?”

“You twist the truth!”

“I state it! Everything I say troubles the ordinary mind because it’s conditioned to hide from, cover up and ignore the truth whenever it gets ugly. Your father was a simpleton and a coward, you knew it and despised him for it that is a fact.”

All while he'd been talking, the mini-storm swirling around Bonny spasmed into the throws of death as if it were a living creature. Winds fought each other, the curdling clouds strung out in random directions eventually dissipating, and every time she tried to fire or clap her wings the whole of it shuddered until this moment.

When he lunged, she tried one last time to clap her wings. Around her the artificial storm collapsed into a sad little cloud of fog, blown into nothingness by Argos' wingbeats. Strength sapped she found her wings could no longer hold her.

Trees and great branches splintered to pieces as the large dragon crashed to earth. Stunned both by the impact and spent powers, she tried to stand but couldn't tell up from down and merely flopped like a fish on land. The teen panicked; she could hear his wings diving for her! He was there and she couldn't stop him from doing whatever he pleased! But she couldn't see straight! She couldn't see anything... she wasn't even sure if her eyes were open...

Bonny's mind spun as much as it felt the world around her was, and on her side she was completely vulnerable to attack.

 

Twilight snarls in rage and dives at Argos as he lunges at the helpless wardenrain. She shifts to full nightmare mid dive, flames coating her body. Her eyes light up in horrid, cruel delight as she smells the deathgrippers blood. She slams into him, throwing him off course for Bonny. She claws and bites at him in a wild frenzy, the heat of her flames making it all more painful.

 

 

 

"What the-??" 

Argos gasps in alarm as timid little nightlight Twilight turned full monsterous nightmare on him, fire jacket and all. Though he broke off his approached and tried to evade she collided, tearing at him with both delight and rage, nostrils wide and taking in what he soon realized was the scent of his blood.

A slash here, a snap there. The fire, though his skin as a deathgripper was well shielded felt horrible in his raw and already burnt side. She clamped down on the wing bits of amber were still stuck to and tore a chunk of membrane out.

He screeched, and no longer the cold calculated killer, tore with as much savage fury at her. In an unyeilding, mad barrage of twists and turns pincers struck out relentlessly and hindlegs with dagger-like toes kicked. Wings tried to stay a little further out of reach and the tear she'd made in them dampened his skill in flight, but only slightly. It wasn't the first time someone had ripped a hole in his wing and he wasn't going to let it be the last.

His tail thrashed, searching for whatever of her it could find while jaws snapped at her long neck, tusks retracted for the second she made a wrong move and he had a chance to gut her! If it weren't for the firejacket he would have shifted to hybrid to make use of his darts be it poison, dragonroot or controlling, at this point it didn't matter which. For his every intent was to so thoroughly destroy her no one would recognize the remains.

 

.
Twilight continues to slash and snap at Argos, using her wing claws to fight too, so she drags herself and the deathgripper towards the ground. Though the scratches she gets from him hurt, she hardly reacts. Arching her neck to try and avoid his jaws, she spots his venomous tail about to strike her side. She whips her head around and snaps her jaws shut around his tail, as close to the stinger as possible.

 

Nothing for it, as Twilight's jaws snap around his tail Argos does what he must to keep from losing his most valuable weapon.

He shifts to human. 

Plummeting to the ground without his wings, the dragon's fire burns his human skin to the second degree. But he made the most of the situation, now a much smaller target he evades her furious wing and talon slashes and saves his tail. He hits the ground in a tuck and roll that puts some space between him and Twilight, where he stops with crossbow in hand and sets a dart -which one he doesn't have time to know- bracing for her next attack.

"Two dragon forms," He hisses between burdened breaths, "I see now why you became their prized champion! Should have charged more when I sold you to the fights!"

 

Twilight snarls furiously as Argos shifts and drops, avoiding any more damage to his tail. She plummets for a few moments, her wings still in a slashing rather than flapping position, then she rights herself and whirls around, searching the ground for him. She spots him and dives for him, snarling in rage. She's flying so fast that she can't dodge the purple mind control dart Argos has ready to fire.

 

A few seconds. He always managed to put them to good use. In those few seconds he reaccessed new Twilight; finding nothing more than a ring dragon whose sole purpose in life was to survive and kill. There wasn't any reasoning with that.

As she careened toward him he leveled the bow- then snorted. Of course. Of course he pulled one of only two purple darts left! In split second descion he changed tactic.

Shifting and leaping so forcefully from the ground that he left trenches where his talons had sprung he met her in the dive, veering at the very last moment off collision and letting her continue toward earth in the divebomb. Once past, he twisted around and snapped at her wing, hoping to tear it badly enough she would no longer be able to fly.

 

Twilight's eyes widen slightly as Argos shifts and leaps into the air. She tries to pull out of the dive or at least turn to face him, but her wing suddenly burns in pain and she crashes with a shriek. She quickly turns off her fire jacket, as the flames are making the pain all the worse. She hisses as she risks a glance at her wing, seeing that it's badly torn, too much to fly, and even too much to put full weight on it. She looks back at Argos furiously, firing a stream of fire at him, trying to keep him at bay.

 

Argos dodged as best he could while her fire tracked, yet it still managed to catch up and find his raw ribs and side. He stifled a cry of pain by biting his own tongue, and for the first time his wings faltered in flight.

It was a small thing, but he knew it wouldn't go unnoticed. Weakness. HE had shown weakness! 

With both dragons down he was free to make his escape- neither would be up anytime soon. But if there were others, and Twilight had the chance to tell them of his weakness...

Flying out of range he shifted back to hybrid and exhanged the purple dart for something more deadly, aiming right between Twilight's eyes and firing.

 

Twilight grins nastily as she sees Argos's wings falter. She's just about to fire again when a dart comes flying at her, right at her head. She ducks quickly, but the dart still hits her at the base of her neck. In a moment of clarity, she turns her head and snaps at the dart, and after a few tries manages to pull it out. She drops it on the ground and turns to face Argos again with a snarl, then bursts into a fit of coughing and sneezing. She staggers and shakes her head, dizzy as the poison travels through her system.

 

Fire. Screeches, snarls, wings, tearing, snapping. Bonny could hear it all as she came back to. She snapped awake, looking wildly around for Argos.

Alone, only the light before dawn greeted her. The trees, some of which she was laying on top of had that early morning blue hue. A sharp pain in her belly made her look down, where she felt queezy at the sight of a great big gash, no idea how bad the wound is.

"Twilight?" The wardenrain staggered to her feet, vision clearing. "Twilight?"

A short distance off, a stream of fire rose over the canopy toward the deathgripper who for the most part escaped it. He moved out of range, shifted to hybrid and pointed a crossbow in the direction the fire had come.

"Twilight!" She stumbled into a run.

 

 

As Twilight tried to yank the dart out Argos came back around, waiting until she showed signs of the poison before landing. Back arched and tusks retracted he stalked her way.

"Twilight," he glanced around at the blue haze, "It's your hour."

From the corner of his eye he watched Bonny come crashing out of the woods... unintentionally. She'd meant to stay hidden but well, she wasn't exactly running on all cylinders and still a poor judge to her own momentum and even in this state, strength.

"Twilight!!" she croaks at the sight, Desperately sputtering another shot Argo's way. Nothing. He picked up his pace.

...What could she do? She didn't know how to fight tooth and claw and this monster did it for a living!

The wardenrain dove between predator and prey, teeth bared.

Argos snarled back but tried to side step her, still gunning for Twilight at the moment. Back arched Bonny hissed and spat and swatted and tracked with scales on end, keeping herself between him and the coughing sneezing Monstrous Nightmare. The first rays of dawn turned the trees overhead to gold, and for the first time she saw his wounds and the way he was panting. He's tired! She thought with the faintest of hope.

That was soon shattered when, patience spent, he struck her with his tail.

She didn't know anything about dragons. But she did know a thing or two about Deathgrippers, including what it meant if one was stung by one. Before the venom could take full effect she threw herself over Twilight in one final attempt to stop him from k.illing them both.

The Deathgripper snorted, surprised, but too worn out to care much as Bonny went limp. He came right up, circling the dragons and finding he had no way of getting to Twilight without moving Bonny out of the way- and she was twice his size.

His motions slowed as his tail hovered over the wardenrain to strike a second and lethal blow.

...the Wardenrain.

It fell back and he walked around the downed dragons again. "I've never seen a Wardenrain. Not even the dragon." He studied her wings, her tail, the stripe down her side that changed color to match her eyes. The floppy ears and snakelike snout. "Of all the Dragonbloods to sire one I can't believe it was that idiot from Mykines."

Able to do nothing more Bonny could only snort, tears forming in her eyes as he shifted to hybrid and lifted her head to meet his gaze. That tail slinged over to brush against the soft underside of her neck, threatening to stab into it. 

He held the position a few seconds, debating with himself. Finally he sighed. "Pathetic heritage and all, you're very likely the only Wardenrain dragonblood in existance. I can't waist that; there's so much that could be learned from you. So much I could learn from you, if I had only the time."

His tail pulled away and he dropped her head unceremoniously, dusting his hands.

One final time he accessed the Wardenrains' size. He could pull her off of and finish Twilight... rare as a dragonblood with two forms was, in theory, that could be done to anyone. Not anyone would survive it, but there was opportunity as long as there were dragonbloods.

The thought of trying to move the dragon exhausted him, he needed his strength just to catch up to Nora and deal with whatever antics she was going to throw his way. Not to mention time was of the essence! He had no doubt others were out there and coming.

 

Shifting back to dragon he opened his wings and vanished over the treetops in the same direction Nora had flown nearly an hour ago.

 

Twilight collapses, her injured wing feeling cold from bleeding, while the pain makes it feel like it's burning from within. She struggles to catch her breath, not really aware of much aside from the world going a little darker as Bonny covers her. She stays still for a while, tired, but wakes up a little more once she realises Argos is gone. "Get... off... me..." she hisses weakly, trying to move out from under Bonny. "Get... get off! Have to... go after him!" she growls, before coughing again a few times. She shakes her head in irritation, struggling to ignore the pain and the effects of the poison.

 

Even Grace was beginning to nod off now. She shook her head, glancing over at Hookfang. His eyes were all but closed. To her left one of the Zippleback's heads -Barf or Belch she could never remember which- was dangling along behind as the other moodily did the wing work.

...how long had they been flying, anyways? Surely dawn was almost upon them, and still nothing but a trail to follow of Bonny and Twilight.

Of a sudden a bright, purplish light appeared in the distance, high into the atmosphere and exploding like a popped bubble.

Was that-

"A Nightlight distress signal," Astrid and Stormfly flew in next to Grace and Ebony... who to Grace's alarm really was asleep. "They probably found Argos; I can't imagine what other reason Twilight would give their position away like that."

Grace's face paled. Bonny Twilight no... oh please no. "How far?" She asked.

Astrid shook her head. "At least an hour, maybe two."

The General made her rounds waking riders and dragons. Grace hugged Ebony. "She doesn't know what she's doing," The girl whispered into her dragon's ear, "Ebony, I'm scared for them both."

 

 

*Present Time*

It was a good fifteen minutes before Bonny managed to roll over and release Twilight. "Sorry," She slurred, still limp as a sack of grain. Flopping her head around and blowing one of her ears out of the way, she watched Twilight best she could, looking from the Nightmare to the crushed remains of a needle and vial. That couldn't be good.

 

 

....

 

Butterfly wings shimmered in the golden light of morning, beating so steadily, almost methodically and in an arrow straight line.

Contrasting in every way was the deathgripper just beginning to catch up. His path faltered with every whim of the wind and every motion made him grimace. No longer in the heat of battle his side and broken ribs were screaming out at him. Them, every muscle in his body, the maddening tear in his wing that let strings of webbing dangle in the most distracting way, his burns, his cuts, his burnt cuts.

 

It was becoming harder to ignore with every wingbeat and left him in the foulest of moods. He needed something to harm. Something other than Nora whom he HAD to keep in good health for his own benefit and the promise he made to Grimborn.

He pulled out in front of Nora, taking the lead and making a point of leaving any grimacing or other hint of how he really felt behind.

 

 

 

Ebony wakes up, blinking the sleep from her eyes as Grace hugs her. "She doesn't know what she's doing. Ebony, I'm scared for them both." the girl whispers. "Me too" Ebony rumbles, trying to make her tired wings beat faster.
.
Twilight lies still, panting as Bonny finally moves off. "Argos... must... catch... must... kill..." she growls weakly, trying to get up. She manages to pull herself up on one wing, but she snarls in pain as she tries to use the injured one. She shudders and collapses, coughing flames. "Gone... you.. should.. have.. stopped.. him... should.. have.. let.. me.. up..." she growls as soon as she stops coughing, glaring at Bonny icily.

 

 

 

Nora flies steadily, her mind trapped in the dense fog caused by the purple poison. She doesn't react outwardly as Argos shows up and takes the lead, but on the inside, her mind regains the tiniest sliver of control, her own thoughts. 'Oh, I hope the others got away alive.. wonder how bad those injuries are.. oh, what does it matter? I'll never get away now, he'll just catch me again. I'll never see Jason again.'

 

Grace watched the sky brighten, searching it, hoping for a white and black dot to appear on the horizong. Astrids eyes were on the sea, looking for land.

"There," She pointed, the first rays of dawn shedding light on an island ahead of them.

Rrrawwwk!

"And Stormfly's getting a stronger scent trail of Bonny and Twilight." 

The nadder raised her crest and tail spike, her eyes turned to slits. 

Not just Bonny and Twilight, Grace recognized and knew Astrid did too, the nadder's slightly aggrivated reaction. She had to be picking up Argos, too. "Be ready for anything Ebony," She righted in the saddle to prepare for some more complex riding if neccessary.

 

A few minutes more and Bonny can raise her head again. She tucks her wings and paws in, curling her tail around herself as for some reason she can't currently shift. Perhaps she's too upset. Ice blue eyes shut tightly.

"Right, like you could even get off the ground.That wing looks gnarly. " She says dully- but there's still some alarm mixed in as Twilight's condition worsens. "What do you think was in that dart that's making you sick?"

 

 

"Faster!" Argos snapped at Nora for the fourth time. "I know it's in you. Move!"

Out of the corner of his eye he spotted a Scuttleclaw who was flying ahead and below them, the same direction and hadn't seen them yet. Lips curled he tucked his wings in silently and dove for it.

 

Ebony pins her ears flat, getting really worried now. "Are you sure it's Argos you can smell? Couldn't it just be another deathgripper, a nice-ish one like Jason?" she asks Stormfly nervously, flying closer to the nadder.

 

Twilight snarls, looking like she might attack Bonny, but another fit of coughing and sneezing saps her strength and brings her back to her senses. She rests her head on the ground, panting, her eyes fixed on the broken dart. "Not.. not sure... lemme think..." she mumbles. She goes quiet for a few minutes, struggling to think clearly. "Maybe... maybe it's oleander... could well be..." she says slowly after a while. She goes quiet again as she tries to shift to nightlight form, but she only gets a painful shudder. She groans and coughs again, half closing her eyes. "Pretty pathetic end... for a ring-fighter, huh?... Sorry I couldn't... help more, Bonny" she says quietly, mentally back to normal as she looks up at the wardenrain.

 

Nora pants, trying her best to fly faster, but her wings can't do much more. "Can't.. we.. rest? What's.. the.. hurry?" she asks with dificulty. Her head twitches to watch as Argos dives, but as she realises what he's going to do she gasps and looks away again, not wanting to watch her cruel master kill an innocent dragon.

 

 

"Nope, psycho Deathgripper I can smell." Stormfly nodded very confidently. "Remember his scent on the beach. Remember his scent at Nora's house. It's the one."

"Look!" Grace pointed to another island just coming into view. A smaller one, hidden by the first.

"Great so we'll have to split up," Snotlout said tentatively, brandishing his axe already. He'd given the sword to Grace since she'd made it clear she knew how to handle it.

"No way. If he's still here he'll try to pick us off, we have to stay together." Astrid spoke firmly, trying to decide which Island to investigate. 

"We'll try the little one first. If we don't find anything then it's on to the bigger. Again, NO ONE branch off got it?"

All heads nodded, even the dragons.

The closer they got the more it became appearant Astrid's instincts were good. Small, with no obvious place to land there were suspicious chunks of trees missing out of it.

"Amber!" Grace said. "Nora was here!"

"Or a random deathsong. Just saying." Tuff shrugged.

"Check out the massive amounts of destruction," Ruff admired the spot where Bonny had gone down.

"Rrraaawk! Rawwk-rawwk!"

Stormfly turned sharply and the others followed.

 

"Blue oleander? Isn't that just a flower? ...Twilight? Twilight??"

Stiffly she stands and stumbles over when Twilight goes silent. The Nightmare groans, and coughs agian.

"No, not an end!" The teen says, eyes widening. "Just a rough patch we can figure this out right? You're tough, you can walk it off, right?"

Without thinking her Wardenrain instincts kick in and she starts cleaning Twilight's face. "You're going to be ok, I- I'll get help somehow. I'll signal somehow!"

She tried to fire into the air the way Twilight had when they first met up with Argos, but it was a futile endeavor and she knew it. Bonny looked around for another option and spotted some sticks nearby. She took a few in her maw and put them in front of Twilight for when she coughed fire, hoping they would light, and then she could make a fire and the smoke would signal the rest of the team.

 

 

The poor creature hardly had a chance to cry out before those tusks found their way into its heart. It was a better that way, for the deathgripper tore its body to pieces afterward. When he was through he wordlessly returned to Nora's side, every hint of his own wounds overwhelmingly masked by the stains and scent of lifesblood from the scuttleclaw.

"Keeep moving," He growled after a period, without looking at her. Still unsatisfied with her pace he pushed harder than ever, not giving an explanation. His mind was spinning like a top, recalculating, reaccessing, trying to decide if he could even risk landing and resting somewhere because like it or not HE needed the break even more than Nora did.

 

Ebony sniffs the air, trying to pick up the scent of whatever Stormfly has found. She can't help but wimper a little as she smells blood and flames. She gasps as she spots a black and white shape next to a black and red one. "Bonny? And.. is that Argos or Twilight as a nightmare?" she wonders out loud, glancing at Stormfly for confirmation.

 

"Deadly poisonous to dragons" Twilight explains weakly. She coughs a little more, but only a few flames come out as she starts to run out of fire and strength. Still, the few flames are enough to light the sticks. Twilight grunts and turns her head away, her eyes closing slowly.

 

Nora shuts her eyes, hating that she instinctively feels hungry at the scent of the scuttleclaw's blood. She flaps her wings as hard as she can, wishing she could out-fly Argos, at least to get away from the scent.

Stormfly eyes the black and red dragon, nostrils flared, then relaxes. "Twilight." 

 

"Ohh boy," Astrid grits her teeth and leads the group into a landing.

"Bonny!" Grace leaps off of Ebony toward her sister in Wardenrain form. "Bonny you're ok!"

She hugs the dragon but Bonny only pushes her away, whimpering at Monstrous Nightmare Twilight whose eyes were closing and breath was short. 

"Twilight," Grace turns, and strokes the weak nightmare's snout, flinching at the sight of her badly injured wing. "We're here for you."

Still not shifting, the Wardenrain looks up at Stormfly and Ebony.

"Blue Oleander," She says, "Argos shot her with blue oleander how do we tell them that??"

"Blue what?" Stormfly c.ocked her head to the side. "Ohhh you mean Puke Flowers. That's very bad. Puke Flowers make dragons die."

Astrid hurried over, looking around for the cause of Twilight's ailment. Stormfly beat her wings to keep from getting stiff. "Find the poke thing, maybe my girl will figure it out."

 

"Whoa!" Ebony grabs and drags Astrid to the crushed dart. She takes a piece and wipes her finger on the inside of it, smelling carefully. A faint, pleasant aroma rose to her human nostrils. "Blue Oleander," She mutters, going back to Twilight who is no longer responsive.

"I know the cure!" Grace bounced up. "Scauldron venom I can fly back on Ebony to Wisp's friend-"

"Grace," The General said quietly, "That's five hours one way. She doesn't have that kind of time."

"Let's spread out and look for any old Scauldron! There's bound to be a few in the area," Snotlout said, still atop Hookfang. "And as you all know I'm an expert at getting dragons to attack me. This'll be a breeze."

Astrid looked to Bonny. "What happened to Argos?"

The Wardenrain's ears turned back and she pointed north with her snout.

"He kept going? Nora too?"

She nodded. 
"Alright, see if you can find anything Snotlout."

He nodded. Hookfang slinked over to Twilight rubbing his head against her. "We'll get a Scauldron to help us even if I have to drag it back in my teeth. Hold on." He trilled to his fellow Nightmare before flying off.

 

Twilight twitches a tiny bit, having barely heard the end of Hookfang's words. Ebony nods gratefully to him as he flies off. "Is.. is there anything else we can do for her?" she asks, a fearful tremor in her voice.

 

After weeks of being comforted by the fury, Grace saw that Ebony needed comfort now. "We want to know if there's anything we can do for her," Grace asked, patting the black dragon and stroking the red and black Nightmare at the same time.

"Build a fire," Astrid gestured Bonny's pile of burning sticks that she was building off of. "It'll help keep her Nightmare fire going. I'm afraid that's all we can do, that and pray that Snotlout finds a Scauldron."

"Or," someone's voice rang out from just beyond the trees, "We could give her some of this."

At first everyone jumped. Dragons arched their backs and barred their teeth.

But that act was quickly dropped as a boot, followed by a metal leg stepped out of the forest and into the clearing, a black shadow with hazel green eyes behind the first figure. In his hands Hiccup Horrendous Haddock held up a vial of Scauldron venom.

"Ploottt tttwwwist!" Ruff gawked. "Dude you been here the whole time??"

"No," he shot her a frustrated look -and Astrid an even more furstrated one- "Right after the whole Jason incident I was given a relaxing cup of tea by the sweetest person on earth. VERY, relaxing. So much so I magically slept for eight hours straight even though the entire village was at my door."

He marched over to Twilight, brow creased with worry as she faded fast. While he popped open the vial Astrid raised the dragon's head and opened her mouth. He poured its contents in, tickling her throat in just the right spot to trigger her to swallow.

"How did you know to bring Scauldron venom?" Tuff asked.

"Jason was poisoned with Oleander. Stands to reason Argos would have more."

Astrid felt her face flush. She should have put that together! "Ruff, Tuff, go get Snotlout back."

"Sure thing."

Hiccup rubbed Twilight behind the horns, knowing it was a favorite spot for Nightmares. "I hope I was in time." He muttered.

 

Ebony trills and bounds over to Toothless. "Ooh, thankyou thankyou thankyou for coming" she says gratefully. Without waiting for an answer she darts back to Twilight and paces quickly, excitement mixing with fear as she waits impatiently to see if the venom will work. Nothing happens for a few seconds, then Twilight's breath grows stronger and her eyes flutter open. "Wha - When did you all get here?" she mumbles, still feeling a bit dizzy and sore, but that's just left over from the fight. "Twilight!" Ebony squeals in delight and smothers the nightmare in slobery kisses. "GAH - hey - oi - get off!" Twilight splutters, jerking her head back as she tries to dodge, only escaping Ebony once she snorts smoke at her. Ebony trills happily, bounding around the group and giving everyone a few happy licks. Twilight blinks a few times, trying to get her barings. After a few moments she realises the soothing feeling behind her horns is coming from Hiccup. She groans and looks at the ground, knowing she'll get told off by Hiccup and Astrid for flying off on her own like she did. "Couldn't you have just left me without the cure? Wouldn't have to face angry Berkians if the oleander had killed me" she mutters under her breath.

 

Bonny watches tensely, getting slapped once or twice by an excited Ebony's clumsy wings while the latter runs to and fro. 

Please work. Please work please work, She pleads inwardly, jaw tight. 

 

The Monstrous Nightmare's breath evened, and when her eyes fluttered open Bonny's frame softened with relief. Grace, like Ebony was all over Twilight in her delight to see her friend improve, Hiccup watched quietly, moving away to give her some space and Astrid, now that the danger was over turned her attention to the sky, waiting for the Twins and Snotlout's return.

"Couldn't you have just left me without the cure? Wouldn't have to face angry Berkians if the oleander had killed me." Bonny overheard Twilight.

Stormfly snorted indignantly. "What angry Berkians?"

Silently the wardenrain curled up into the tightest ball she could, hiding her face and wishing she could just disappear. She'd been this close to watching someone she cared about hidewithout anything she could do about it- and once again, she was partly to blame. She'd been the one to insist on coming. She'd been the one to insist on confronting Argos. Twilight had gone willingly enough but that's hard to remember when struggling with guilt.

 

As Ebony drooled all over Twilight's face Grace hugged her neck, then looked back at the Nightmare's injured wing. "What can we do about this?" she turned to Hiccup.

"We can find and cut some splints, and use saddle straps to bind them together. Saltwater might be painful but that would be a good way to clean the wounds. That, or fire." He answered her then turned to Twilight when Ebony finally gave her a break. "You ok? What else did he do to you?" He glanced Bonny's way too, certain he's seen her favoring her stomach. The Chief shifted to Hybrid so he could understand them both.

Astrid came back as dragons flew overhead. "What did you manage to do to him that sent him packing?" she asked, having noted earlier the red and black scales in Twilight's jaws and on her wing-talons. 

 

 

"What angry Berkians?" Stormfly asks. Twilight looks up, frowning slightly as her gaze darts from Hiccup to Astrid, neither of them looking angry. "I.. thought they'd be angry at us for flying off alone..." she says slowly. "You ok? What else did he do to you?" Hiccup's voice snaps her back to the present. "What did you manage to do to him that sent him packing?" Astrid adds. As Twilight thinks back to what happend, her rage comes flowing back through her and her pupils narrow, all signs of her normal personality gone. "Trapped me in a horrid tunnel where I had to be in my weak form to get out. I burned him very nicely as a nightlight. Almost ripped his tail apart too. He was so lovely and weak, if he hadn't grounded and poisoned me I would have easily ripped him apart and feasted on -" she growls excitedly, but cuts off there as Ebony slaps her on the head. "Stop it! I thought you said you hated fighting but now it sounds like you loved it!" she says, her eyes wide in horror. Twilight snarls and lunges forward, trying to attack Ebony, but the fury leaps back with a fearful growl, her ears pinned flat.

 

As Hiccup watched, the Twilight he knew slipped away and was replaced by something very different. When she turned on Ebony all the Berkian dragons growled.

"Whoa, whoa!" The Chief pulled Grace away who had missread Twilight's growls. She thought the nightmare was simply recounting the tale, not rallying herself a battlecry.

The girl a safe distance back he thought to jump into the middle of it but Astrid caught him by the hand and held him back. "Don't," She warned, regretting asking the nightmare to relive the fight. She of course didn't understand what Twilight had said but she got the idea. "Trying to force her to see reason won't help." The General pulled her axe out.

"What are you doing??" Hiccup stared at it in alarm.

"Not appearing defenseless." She said, leaning in a very non-aggressive way against it and waiting to see how things went.

Toothless leapt to Ebony's side with a warning snarl to the other dragons who, threatened by Twilight's aggression were taking up defensive and offensive stances. They would only escalate the matter. "Ringfighter," He muttered, back arched, "There is no ring." The fury made a strange trilling sound that was neither pleasure nor command, but soothing none the less. The alpha glanced at Ebony, gesturing she should do the same.

 

Grace crept over to Bonny who was now watching intently. Both sisters remembered what Twilight had said about her nightmare form. "Ebony," Grace called, "Come here, let Twilight be."

 

 

 

Ebony steps back nervously, her eyes wide and back arched. She quickly starts trilling like Toothless. Twilight snorts and shakes her head, not liking the sound at all. "I don't need a ring to be able to fight" she snarls. She tried to walk, but folding her wing makes it hurt more, so she stops. She growls in frustration and shoots a stream of fire at the dragons.

 

"Ebony!" Grace shouted, trying to run to the dragon. Bonny snaked her neck out and grabbed her by the back of the shirt.

"Stay back, Twilight is dangerous like this!" She grunted.

Toothless and Ebony leap out of the way of Twilight's fire, Toothless battling his own experiences with ringfighters as she tracks him. "It's Twilight," He repeated to himself, "Somewhere in there it's Twilight! Don't fire back!"

The other dragons didn't take it so well. "Hey! Nobody does that to our alpha and gets away with it!" Stormfly rawks, wings and tail raised.

"Yeah what she said." Hookfang ignites. Barf and Belch snort, shimmering their wings and sparking.

"Okay guys she can't fly- all we gotta do is draw her fire until she hasn't got any left-"

"Interventionnn..." Hiccup muttered, shifting to full dragon.

Again Astrid stopped him "I got this."

 

She walked between the riled dragons and Twilight, axe swung over her shoulder and free hand behind her back.

"Twilight cut it out or I'll make you, and you're not gonna like it."

 

Hiccup's fury eyes bulged. BAAAADDD IDEEAAA! What was she thinking threatening the Monstrous Nightmare with her axe!?? 

He started forward, then stopped with a worried grunt, paw raised. No, Astrid's gotta plan. Trust her.

Toothless face held much the same expression... but his conclusion was that Astrid had lost her marbles.

 

Ebony leaps back in fright and scrambles over to Bonny and Grace. Twilight snarls at Astrid and lunges for her.

 

Astrid slides to the side as Twilight extends her neck to snap her jaws shut. She waits until the nightmare recoiled, inhaling for another attack-

 

And tosses a big cluster of Dragon nip at her snout!

 

Twilight snorts and shakes her head, overwhelmed by the plants strong scent. The dragon nip gets caught on her nose horn and shaking her head doesn't move it. She collapses, her pupils widening and turning her eyes almost complete black. She lies still, her eyes half closed as she breathes in the calming scent. With a shudder, she shifts to nightlight form.

 

 

"Thought a sackfull of this might come in handy confronting Argos," Astrid explains, looking at Hiccup. "Sorry Twilight," She turns back and says gently.

"Ohh," Hiccup sighed, not-so-secretely relieved that she didn't try to use the axe to get her point across.

"Really Hiccup?"

"I'm sorry you just... I mean I knew you wouldn't... you scare me sometimes. In a good way! Kind of like my dad used to."

Astrid narrowed her gaze as he warbled. "I get the feeling you should be gratefull I don't understand you right now."

"Dragon nip?" Grace looked curiously down at Twilight just as she shifts to Nightlight. "It worked! Nice move Astrid. Twilight, are you there?" She looked for some hint of her friend in those eyes.

"DRAGON NNIIIPPP!?!" Barf and Belch squealed and came running... followed by Hookfang, Toothless and Stormfly. There was a brief scuffle where they bickered, Toothless as Alpha getting first dibs on the flecks that had fallen to the ground around Twilight. But soon a whole pile of extremely happy dragons were rolling around contentedly. 

"No! Hookfang!" Snotlout jumped off his dragon just before he rolled over. The Twins decided to ride it out, shortly after regretting that choice.

"Stormfly!" Astrid tried to stop her nadder before she went belly-up. "Don't- oookay. Guess we're going to be here for a while. Well, guess that's what I get for tossing Dragonnip in the air right hon?"

The Chief didn't answer. In fury form he found his nose was twitching. Oh no. No no no...noo...yes. yes yes yeesss!

"Hiccup!" Astrid laughed despite herself as he ran past. "Not you too!"

"I can't help it it's soo wonderfull!!!"  He jumped, all four legs spread and thudded to the ground making a dragon angel in the dirt.

 

Bonny's eyes widened. "What. IS. THAT,"  She rose, gingerly walking toward Nightlight Twilight. Like her, Bonny's pupils widened and she began to purr, rubbing her head all over the ground. She flopped, scooping up a pawful of the grassblades and rabbit kicking with her hind feet. "THE BEEST EVER. Where has this been all my life. TWILIGHT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS??" Her eyes bulged. "EBONY??"

 

Ebony trills joyfully and runs over, licking up some of the remaining dragon nip. Her pupils widen and she purrs at a high pitch. She starts running in circles, chasing her tail. "EEEEEEE I LOOOOVE THIS STUFF!" she laughs, then collapses and rolls around, purring her head off. Twilight starts to purr as the dragon nip pile shrinks and the scent is less overwhelming. She rolls around ond the ground too, still a bit dazed so she doesn't respond to anyone.

The humans could only watch as Dragon and Dragonblood alike succombed to the dragon nip, all acting incredibly silly. Tired and crabby as they all were this was probably a welcome relief.

"We aren't going anywhere soon." Ruff said.

"I know right?" Snotlout yawned. "But hey maybe we can FINALLY get some shut eye, with Hiccup here I don't think there's as much of a rush, and I bet a billion runes our mission has changed."

"The mission hasn't changed." Astrid said firmly. "We're still going to do what we have to to stop Argos and we're not going to put anyone into unneccessary danger doing it."

"...By that you mean trying to take him alive?"

She nodded.

It was more than an hour before the effects of the nip finally rubbed off. 

"What..." Bonny shook her head, ears slapping her face. The fire they'd built earlier was out, and Astrid, Snotlout and the Twins were fast asleep. "...What have I been doing??" She found herself covered in dirt and green grass stains.

"Grrrrmmmmm," A small thing stretched by her side. Bonny whipped her head around to find Grace nestled there.

Around her the regular dragons were beginning to stir.

 

Those cold yellow eyes were looking a bit dull now, and more oft than not were shut tightly as Argos flew.

He couldn't keep this up, he needed to land.

Just to the next island, He told himself attempting to block out the sight of the very pleasant looking one they were passing up. The fourth very pleasant looking one. It was soo tempting to fly down there and land, let his wings stretch out on the beach and soak in the sun in blissful sleep...

He shook his head, finding himself sinking toward the water and worryingly off course. "Nora," He snapped, certain she was going to try something.

 

Ebony lies on her back, still half asleep and purring softly. Twilight stretches and sits up slowly, shaking her head. "Dragon nip, I think... are you ok?" She winces as she puts weight on her right paw, the same side as her injured wing in nightmare form. She studies it, frowning sightly, then looks at her wings. "At least I can fly now" she mutters. "Bonny... I - I'm really sorry about earlier. I shouldn't have put you in danger by agreeing to hunt Argos alone, I wasn't thinking straight" she says quietly, looking away for a moment. She limps over to the wardenrain and sniffs her over for wounds. "What did he do to you? I can't remember much anymore" she asks hesitantly. "If I start acting like nightmare Twilight while you're telling me, just knock me out. Can't take any risks" she adds quickly.

 

"What?" Nora mumbles tiredly, blinking. The poison had worn off by now, but she's too tired, both physically and emotionally, to even bother trying to escape. She sighs as she looks longingly towards the island. "Let me guess, we're not landing yet?" she asks dryly.

 

"Dragon nip?" Bonny repeated, still studying Grace, who though leaned against her was also holding onto Ebony's tail, the double fins almost completely covering her like a blanket. "So like catnip or something?" Her face scrunched up and her scales rose slowly at the thought of something manipulating her so easily. "That's weird..."

"Ohhh man," Green-tipped wings helped the Dragonblood Chief get back on his feet, and as full fury, he stood and shook dirt and clumps of grass off. If it were possible his cheeks would have been red with embarrassment.

"*Snort* I didn't do it."

"*Snnnoooorrre!* It's not my fault."

Hiccup cast an ominous glare at the sleep-talking twins... not that they were at fault >this one time< but all other occasions he'd been thrown into that kind of spastic ecstasy he had their tricksterous ways to thank.

"At least I can fly now,"

Glancing over Bonny sees with surprise that as a nightlight Twilight's wound wasn't on her wing it was on her front paw. Still she squirms as the dragon limps, imagining how painful it had to be.

"Me too," her ears droop as she nods, the older dragonblood apologizing. "I'm sorry you got hurt so badly." Her face went warm and ice blue eyes cold as she remembered the whole thing. "You shot and hit him, then he trapped you under some rocks and... taunted, me." Her upper lip twitched. "And I reacted. Somehow that made me... stop being able to, like make that fire, or do the wing thing? Anyway then you came back, took a chunk of his wing and burned him a little. He grounded and then poisoned you, stung me and ran off." 

Tears threatened to cross her cheeks as she vividly recalled how he held her gaze, going back and forth on whether or not he should cut her throat. What he said about her papa rang in her ears.

She flinched, inhaling sharply when the Nightlight's nose found the deep gash across her middle.

"It's fine," The wardenrain said between her teeth, ears flat. "Just a fleshwound."

She shifted to human.

"Eep!"

With the wardenrain Grace was propped up against magically gone, she fell backward with a small thud.

Oops. Bonny winced.

 

....

Oh. So she hadn't tried anything. Well... good.

"Next one. We'll rest there."

 

It was past mid-day when the two alighted, Argos clenching his teeth as shock that hadn't been absorbed by his hindlegs traveled up his body to broken ribs. He growled at himself, sulking away from the open sand to a spot better protected. Colder, but protected. There he shifted to human, pulling that black mid-length overcoat off and using it to cushion his side as he leaned against the trunk of a tree. 

 

Twilight nods slowly as she listens, suppressing a growl. She quickly pulls back as Bonny winces and shfts. "Sorry" she says quietly, then looks around at the others. She winces a little as she realises Hiccup is the only other non dragon who's awake, but she turns to him anyway. "Um, Sir, Bonny's hurt, could you help her please?" she asks, unable to look at the chief directly.
.
As Argos shifts, Nora suddenly finds herself battling hunting instincts. Apparently in her deathsong mind, human Argos is much less dangerous than hybrid or deathgripper Argos. 'No! Still the same person, still just as dangerous!' Nora thinks quickly. With some effort, she forces herself into hybrid form, feeling like she'll explode at any moment. "Can I go hunting please? I'm starving."

 

“...huh?" Hiccup turned with a confused scowl. It was a few seconds before he sorted everything out again and remembered where he was and what he was doing.

"oh. Yes of course! What's the matter Bonny?"

The teen shrank back, not understanding him, but in her human form and his amplified dragon sense of smell he figured out what was wrong.  A stern paw pointed Twilights way. "don't you go anywhere that-" he paused,"-leg needs mending too."

he shifted back to human and went over to Toothless to get bandages and wraps.

"I cleaned the cut when she was resting," Grace said quietly from behind, making him jump, a somber expression unfitting for someone so young on her face. "And I tried to do it for Twilight... but she started growling... I got nervous."

"That's ok," he said kindly, "you did what you could, thanks."

She smiled a little.

On his way back Hiccup noticed what Upside down Ebony was sporting... and ruining with her delightfully careless ways. He looked from her to Grace. Grace didn't look up but her smile widened sheepishly.

"Ok the doctor is in." The chief said, wishing Orto or Fishlegs was there, he could manage in a pinch but those two just had a knack for making the patients feel comfortable. "Bonny, mind shifting back? It'll be a lot easier that way."

 

 

.....

 

"Sure." He said flatly, not even catching her predatory behavior. That oversight wasn't too visible beyond his foul disposition though. "Have at it. But try and run and I will make you suffer."

the man flashed a mirthless smile

 

 

Twilight nods, feeling her scales go hot with embarrassment as if she had been caught actually trying to sneak off. She lies down quietly and licks at her leg, going stiff every time it hurts. She stops after a few moments, frustrated as it seems to hurt more than a normal leg wound should. As Hiccup deals with Bonny, her eyes land on Grace. She frowns, concentrate for the girl, and after confirming with a glance that Ebony is still too out of it to help, the nightlight limps over. She lies down near Grace, her head tilted questioningly. She tries to shift, but once again it doesn't work.
.
Nora gulps and nods quickly. "O-ok, thanks" she mumbles, then hurries further inland. "Just stay away from dragons, I can hunt anything else.." she tells herself, then lets herself shift back to dragon form. The deathsong shakes herself, then, ignoring her hybrid selfs instructions, starts to sing and attract dragons. As dragons show up, she quickly encases them in amber and continues her song.

 

Grace watched Hiccup work; breathing in sharply every time Bonny grimaced or hissed. She knew it hurt bad because Bonny would never, never hiss if she could help it. She was above such things.

Regardless Hiccup kept at it, talking calmly, assuring her that it despite  it's depth Argos hadn't done any true harm.

 

The girl jumped when she realized Twilight was right next to her. "Oh, hey," she smiled, trying to understand the question her fury head was asking with a tilt. Grace looked down at her badly mangled paw. "Can I clean that for you?"

 

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LissaFish
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Joined: 02/12/2017
Argos End PT5

Argos' eyes snapped open on Nora's first note. He whipped the coat out from behind him and dug through the pockets. Aha! There they were, two white, dandelion rubber earplugs. Down in Alba some folk were exploring the uses of dandelion milk; a white, bounchy substance that could stop electricity from flowing. Those people were using it to race Lightsprinters, but he had a much simpler application; noise cancellation.

Stuffing them into his ears he felt for the vibrational pattern of her song through the ground, and slumped back against the tree. Nora could sing, capture and consume all the dragons she liked; it would just mean less wild dragon interferance when they arrived at Dragon's Down. And though reptile was no favorite meal of his, over the burning pain and exhaustion he knew he needed to eat. Better a dragon in the talons than two in the bush, as the old deathgripper saying went. 

fractured thoughts of how to assault the place without his backup, get there before the Berkians caught up with him and find his way to the center of the underground village without rousing suspicion with all his very recent battle wounds bounced around in that murky mind, until the dark eyes closed and he drifted into sleep.

 

...

 

On the other side of the island, shrouded by leaves and balancing precariously on a small limb was a terrible terror. His eyes were focused slits, tail and rear end wriggling in preperation for a lunge. 

His prey, a long-eared hare glanced up, nose and ears twitching as it backed away from the puddle of water.

The dragon sprang, wings spreading and shot! The hare screamed, bounced straight up and evaded the fire but fell squarely into the little Terror's talons. 

Hare fighting all the way the dragon landed on a perch opposite his last, furry remnants of about five other hares in the same spot.

"Hahaha I've been gunning for you since I got here," He snickered, letting it struggle fruitlessly. "Mean old critter I seen whata you do to the other hares."

The animal stopped fighting a moment and glowered.

"Hey, it's not that I LIKE eating you vermin. But you know what they a say;, 'a rabbit a day keeps the a’ healer away." He looked up in a dramatically contemplative way, holding the creature close, and raising his free paw in a sweeping motion for emphasis. "Here's to hoping itsa gonna keep everyone else away too. Cheers!" 

He threw the animal into the air and waited for it to fall, jaws open wide. Just the same moment, melodious notes wafted through the trees and to his ears.

The Terror instantly forgot his lunch- which dropped on his face and then out of the tree to the ground below, dashing to the nearest burrow. "A DEATHSONG?? Here?? Gotta get out!" He opened his wings to flee, but with a mind of their own they turned and followed the music. "No! Tief!" He fought himself. "Not toward the music! Not... toward..."

The terror's eyes turned to slits, and hypnotized he followed the sound of Nora's voice to the heart of the island. There he was greeted by an array of wild dragons, also hypnotized and blissfully unaware they'd been encased in what would soon be their coffins.

"Muuusssssiiiicccc..." He trilled, flying straight at her and bumping into her snout.

 

Twilight shakes her head. "No, it hurts too much. Don't want to risk hurting you" she says softly. To help get her point across, she licks her paw, wincing in pain and baring her teeth in a silent hiss. She pauses for a few moments, letting herself calm down again as the sharp pain subsides a little, then looks back at Grace. "Are you ok?" she asks, gently nuzzling the girl, then tilting her head.

 

As a terrible terror bumps into her snout, Nora pauses her song to eat him instantly, but a strange sense of familiarity makes her stop. She frowns, studying him, then realises he'll escape if he isn't hypnotised or trapped and she quickly encases him in amber. As the little dragon drops, she grabs him in her jaws and places him on a rock. Before she can get a really good look at him though, a young nadder snaps to its senses and rawks fearfully, which triggers her hunting instincts again. All human thoughts gone, she goes for trapped dragons at random, killing and eating ravenously, greed and hunger in her eyes.

 

 

Grace had to giggle when that nightfury nose wriggled an investigation over her face. "I'm ok," She leaned back a little, "But that paw is really badly injured. Please let me help? You'll feel better afterward."

 

 

Tief fell clumsily to the ground the moment her song stopped. The next he was just skidding to a mad dash out of there when her amber caught him in mid-run cycle. "No please!" He leaned his head back to see where the dragon was and what she was doing. "I'm not a true terror I can prove it I'm a human! Unless... unless you like to have human more than dragon... which I could understand I mean no tough hide, usually well fed, must make a good snack."

Shut up you're digging your own grave! That small warning voice rang in his head. A nadder rawked its terror and Nora leaned forward "No no nOOOO I'm too young and good looking to die! Oh. Eww," He grimaced as the deathsong fell upon one of the others ravenously. "Sorry mate, tough luck. If I get out I'll sing you a dirge."

Selfishly he hoped that all these bigger dragons would fill the killer dragon's belly before she got to him.

 

Twilight sighs in relief as Grace says she's ok. Her ears pin flat and she shakes her head with a snort when the girl insists on cleaning her paw. She pulls her paw back, clearly not wanting it touched. She shuts her eyes, trying to shift. After a few moments, she finally shifts to hybrid. "Finally!" she sighs in relief, wincing in pain as she accidentally puts her right hand on the ground. She pulls it back quickly, grimacing as she sees how badly injured it is. "It's fine. Trust me, I've had worse. I don't want to hurt you by mistake" she tells Grace, smiling a little.

 

Nora continues to eat untill she feels fit to burst. She yawns, tired out from having such a big meal and from the long flight. As she flops down, her instincts wear off and her normal personality comes back. 'Nooo... I ate all those dragons... I'm gonna be sick... but I need the food...' she thinks miserably. She struggles to her feet, walks over to the remaining trapped dragons and breaks their amber shells. "Get out of here" she growls to the terrified dragons, and they quickly obey and flee the scene. She turns to Tief, but she doesn't free him instantly. She circles him, studying him carefully as she tries to make sense of the weird feeling that she's seen this dragon before. "Who are you?" she asks after a few seconds.

 

"I believe you've had worse," Grace nodded; Twilight's many scars were one of the first things she noticed about the Nightlight Dragonblood when she met her. "But we're on a mission aren't we? You need to be in the best health possible."

"Okay, that'll have to do for now," Hiccup finished with Bonny. He treated and stitched up the open wound, so it was very stiffly with head low and ears back that Bonny slinked to the furthest corner of the clearing.

"Leave her alone Grace," The dragon growled, forgetting her sister didn't understand her. "If Twilight doesn't want your help don't force it."

 

"Grrrmmmm!! Mmmmm...k," 

The alhpa fury stood and stretched. "That was fun but wha'td I miss?"

It's a wonder what just a few hours of sleep can do for a dragon. Each one woke up happy and as rested as if they'd had a full night, getting back on their feet with contented trills, bruxing and clacks.

Humans not so much. Snotlout complained like a hybernating bear being poked by a stick... and no one was really sure that Ruff and Tuff were actually awake as they wandered like zombies aimlessly around the clearing, repeatedly falling over dragon tails and wings.

Astrid had woken sometime while Hiccup was helping Bonny and made her way to Grace and Twilight. "Sorry about the dragon nip Twilight," She said as Hiccup came with the bandages.

 

 

...

 

RRrraaawwwwkkk!

 

Argos found himself flat on the ground, startled awake by the very near miss of a nadder talon on his head. Instinctively he shifted to hybrid, pulling the earplugs out and ready to fight.

"Flee!" The bird-like dragon screeched, spreading his still partially-ambered wings and taking flight.

"Oh great," The dragonblood muttered, turning for the woods and following his nose. "If something's gotten the better of Nora I swear, I'll kill everything on this island." The earplugs he kept handy just in case.

 

"No one special!" Tief squeaked, terrified at the way she circled him whilst letting the remaining survivors go. "Just a srawny little not-even-worth-the-effort terrible terror, a French fry with bones. But you know I have a lot of shiny things. You seem like the kinda dragon who'd like a the shiny stuff, yes? Sparkly gems? Gold a runes? Stolen crowns? Wouldn't you look dashing with the crown of a King around your neck! That's a status right there; says' a you took on a King and if ya took on a King ya took ona his army, and if ya took a his crown, you a took it all. See already a great conversation starter."

 

Twilight purses her lips as she sees Grace's point, but she still shakes her head firmly. "I can barely touch it myself. If you try doing something to it, I could very well attack you and that's something I don't want you risk. Besides, it doesn't affect anything important, I can still fly and fight." She shrinks back a little as Astrid comes over. "Don't worry about it, I'm actually glad you did it... I'm really sorry ave yesterday, I wasn't thinking. If you want me off the mission that's ok, I'll just go back to Berk."
Ebony wakes up and yawns. "That was fun... where's breakfast?"
.
Nora circles Tief, only half listening. She stops with a small gasp as she remembers where she's seen him before: Argos's notebook. "Get off the island. Avoid Dragons Down. Argos is coming. Go now" she whispers urgently, then breaks the amber. Without wasting a moment, she lies down tiredly, trying to look relaxed despite her racing heart and mind.

 

"Ok." The girl conceded defeat. "But if you change your mind I'll be happy to help any way I can." 

Noticing the way Twilight shrinks back as Astrid comes up Grace thinks perhaps they needed some time to talk to themselves. "I'm going to hang out with Bonny for a little bit."

"While I'm still pretty upset about you taking off on us like that," Astrid couldn't help but fold her arms, frustration rising, "I don't want you off the team. You're a great fighter Twilight; we need you. Who knows what we're going to be up against at Dragon's Down. Heck, the residents might consider us enemies, if Gusto and Ogma say anything about the culture of the place."  

 

Tief's mind went numb and like a dope he just sat there even after being freed. "Argos is here?" He finally managed to choke, going cold all over. As Nora pretended to relax he opened his wings to fly.

A flower-shaped tail slammed the terror against the earth, letting the broken amber all around cut the little dragon badly. 

"I am in fact. Fancy crossing paths on this lonely little patch of land, Tief." The deathgripper turned the prize in his talons like it were some sort of gem, eyes bright with focus. He sniffed. ...a hare... gold... some gems... 

 

"But -" Twilight starts, then stops herself and sighs. 'I won't loose control like I did yesterday' she thinks firmly. "O-ok, I'll come.. but only if you're sure you need me."

(Let's have them travel a bit first, I've got an idea (might not work, but worth a try) to give Twilight a bad dream about loosing control and attacking the group, then Astrid decides to train her so that doesn't happen. What do you think?)

 

Nora's eyes snap open again and she fires multiple clumps of amber at Argos, then leaps at him, trying to trap and destract him from Tief.

 

"I'm sure." She gave Hiccup a look just as he came up with the bandages. "Right honey?"

"...I agree, the more of us there are the safer we'll be, and you can fight Twilight. You're also the only one who actually knows Argos." He gestured that he could take care of her wound, or she could, but care was unavoidable. "I think I'd like to go over what our 'mission' is before we press on."

"Of course." his wife returned evenly, arms still crossed. It was Hiccup's turn to give her a look as he relized she was just as determined and set on her way as he was.

"Look." He continued lowly so only they could hear, shifting to full human. "I'm not defending the guy, and certainly not saying that he won't go down without a fight or try to trick us... namely me, into making a goodwilled but fatal mistake. He attacked an innocent man on our own shores, and then had the guts to come back and kidnap Nora right in the middle of town, and get her to steal his book back. I read that notebook, and have some sense of his psychological dispostion and it's, frankly, nothing like I've seen before." He gave shook his head. "I can't see how this won't end in his death. But. If we kill him without a chance to repent, how are we better than he is?"

"It's war." Astrid shot back without a shred of guilt. "You don't tap the enemy on the shoulder and say 'oh hey, by the way we're here and going to stop you. Don't forget that you are famous; both for your victories and your mercy. He WILL use that against us."

"I agree," Toothless snorted from behind, listening in. Ebony asked for breakfast and his ears went back. "If you're hungry, go get some fish." He told her. Lazy dragon. 

 

 

 

Argos flung the terror at at least two of the incoming blobs of amber and the small dragon was encased once more. Tief could only watch as the deathsong and Argos clashed.

The deathgripper dragonblood didn't back down. He didn't even shift. He simply lowered his head and thrust forward as Nora came at him, tusks protracting in the motion.

 

Twilight huffs and reluctantly takes the bandages, stiffening as she starts to wrap up her arm, her teeth bared, ears pinned flat and pupils slits. "I don't know him that well.." she hisses, but stays silent throughout the rest of the conversation.
"Awww, ok" Ebony sighs, then scampers off towards the ocean.

 

"All I'm saying is we don't k.ill him in cold blood," Hiccup defended, "Not that we give him the upper hand with a forewarning."

"Sounds like the same thing to me."
"It's not! Say someone hits him with something non-lethal, and he's cornered and defenseless. We take him captive and hand him over to Dragon's D'own for judgement."

"And if they slay him right there without a trial?"

"It's their home and their rules. We have to do right by our own."

 

Grace wandered over to Bonny's side, but the Wardenrain, ears still back turned away from her. Trying not to be upset by the deliberate act Grace sat down next to her anyways. Where's Ebony going? She wondered as the fury left the clearing.

 

 

Twilight tries to follow along, opening her mouth a few times to add to the discussion, but she shuts her mouth silently every time, her own thoughts too chaotic to put into words. She eventually slips away silently and walks over to the sisters. "Hey, you two ok?" she asks, sensing some kind of tention between the two and hoping to get her thoughts off of Argos, even if just for a moment.

 

Ebony flies along the coast, close to the water as she scans for fish. Each time she spots one, she nose-dives for it and comes up soaked, with or without her prey. Whenever she catches a fish, she purrs in delight and wolfs it down on the wing before looking for more.

 

Nora barely dodges the lethal tusks, flinching as they cut her. She lets her instincts take over and fires several more blops of amber at Argos. As soon as the amber leaves her mouth, she starts singing again and whacks at him with her tail.

 

Back on Berk, Jason's eyes flutter open. He blinks and sits up slowly, finding himself on a bed in Gothi's house. "What ha-?" he starts, but cuts off as the recent events come flooding back to him. He stiffens and sits up fully. "How long have I been asleep? What have I missed? Where's Nora? Where's Argos? I'm starving, got any food?" he asks rapidly.

 

" I would be if we got moving." Bonny muttered in aggravated dragontongue, "instead of standing around talking about what we would do and how we feel about it."

Nodding half heartedly, Grace wrapped her arms around her knees and said nothing.

 

 

...

three of the blobs struck and stuck to his scales.

"ohh you poor fool," Argos spat venomously, making a strange motion by slapping his pincers against both sides of his head. White plugs in his deathgripper ears that had been loosely place fell securely as Nora began to sing. "Let's demonstrate the definition of insanity by doing the same thing and expecting different results! Here my turn,"

He spewed acid; at her, at the ambered spots on himself and at Tief.

"ahh! Ahh! Pfff! Pppfffff!!!" The terror squeaked as it splattered over spots in the amber and melted toward him

As he fired he also spun, aiming to hit Nora in the chest with his clubbed tail and knock the breath out of her.

 

Twilight nods. "Yeah, I want to get going too" she says in dragon tounge. She frowns as her eyes lock onto Grace. After a moment, Twilight sits down next to the girl. "Ok, what's wrong?"
.
Nora gasps and only just manages to dodge the acid. She hears Tief's squeak of terror and whacks his amber prison, shattering it again. She staggers back as Argos's tail whacks her, winding her.

 

Twilight agreed with Bonny, but then turned and asked Grace what was the matter.

"It's nothing. Just... well..." Grace sighed, doing her best not to hide her face in her arms. "When you both took off without us it scared me," She glanced first to Twilight's patched arm and then at Bonny, to the stitches she was trying so hard to hide. "You two are the only reason I came, and I was afraid to lose you."

"We're the reason you came?" Bonny huffed, "So you mean is you came to 'protect' us. What exactly did you think you would do facing Argos?? You're just a tiny little human."

As ever she didn't understand... but between context and Bonny's attitude she knew exactly what her sister was griping about. "You don't know anything about yourself, Bonny. I actually do because I like dragons and read the books there are about them," Grace grumbled back. "AND I'm a dragonblood too. The full moon will be in two days, maybe then I'll finally shift and not be completely useless."

Some of Bonny's attitude subsided, and she fell into a more reflective mood but didn't say anything more.

"...But anyways, I'm just glad you're both mostly ok." Grace conluded.

 

 

...

Scree! Two or three or ten terrors scurried away from his bed. They were all over the room, keeping company with a few other patients Gothi was tending to as well. Most of them had had unfortunate encounters with grimora-infected dragons.

The old lady watched him sit up and spout his barrage of words. She tried wildly to keep up with scribbled answers on the floor... but of course her floor was wood and in order to make pictures she kinda needed dirt. She paused, shrugged, and then with her stick slapped a middle aged woman helping her with the patients.

"Oh, ok," Eleanora said, leaving the person she was caring for to make her way to the Dragonblood, a touch of weariness in her voice and bags under her eyes. "Jason," She managed a welcoming smile regardless. "You pulled through! Well done. It's been three or four days and a rough ride between the oleander and deathgripper venom you were poisoned with, but you'll make a full recovery. Just sit back and relax for now. As for food I'd be happy to get you anything you like."

 

 

...

Tief screeched, with a burst of wingbeats finally taking to the air. But Nora down for the moment Argos focus was back on the little terror.

"Ahh!" he screamed when the Deathgripper's jaws clamped down on his tail and broke it. Argos tossed Tief up into the air and caught him again, this time his teeth threatening to crush the small dragon as he faced Nora.

Twilight sighs softly, relaxing a little. "Sorry for scaring you, Grace" she says quietly. Not really knowing how to respond, she hesitantly puts her good arm around the girls shoulder.

 

Jason leans back a little, feeling dizzy from sitting up so quickly. "Thanks.. can you get me some meat, please? And.. how long untill I'm fit to fly?" he asks, a little calmer.

 

Nora catches her breath, then freezes as she sees what Argos is doing to poor Tief. "Wait! You said you wouldn't kill any of the dragonbloods from your notebook. Leave him be!" she hisses, her eyes wide.

 

Grace shudders a little, leaning into the young woman and holding back tears. "Thanks Twilight." she said, Bonny still stiffly turned away.

"Alright nap time's over." Astrid spoke boldly, clapping her hands. Apparently she and Hiccup had come to terms. Stormflly crow-hopped over to Astrid's side, ready to be moving again.

"Let's go." Hiccup finished, already on Toothless' back. The fury went into a fit of back, wing, neck, leg and tail stretches, then shook them all off. "Fit to fly five hundred miles," He reported cheerily.

"Ooohhh it better NOT be five hundred," Hookfang sputtered into flames. "I'm sick of flying, I want to burn stuff."

Barf and Belch blinked. "YYESSSS." Was all they said, their eyes wide and delighted.

"Finally," Bonny stood, stretching her wings. ...they still felt strangely heavy.

"Ebby's still gone," Grace also got to her feet, though not half as energetically as usual. "I'll call her back."

The girl cupped her hands, "EEEBBOOONNNYYYYYYY!!!"

 

 

...

"Sure, how does Yak sound?" Eleanor said gently, watching him carefully as he leant back. She took a few pillows and put them behind him to help prop him up. "I couldn't say. Your wings don't look damage in any way, however, so my guess is as soon as you're strong enough to carry your own weight again, but it'd probably be best to check with Fishlegs, he's the one to go to about Dragon ailments when the Chief is gone I hear."

 

 

...

"I never said any. I said THESE." 

Argos rolled his eyes and spat the terror back out, then pinned him to the ground with a pincer. "...Of which Tief is one. Still, there's room in that clause to do damage if I so choose. Do you really need your wings, Tief? Nora wasn't so good as to leave me anything to eat... though she clearly took her fill." He had a chance to glance around at the fresh bones and broken amber strewn about, and snorted. "And you call me cruel. What is this, five? No, six. Night terrors don't have three femurs. You just slaughtered and ate six dragons! Why are you belly aching over my one whom I'm only bringing to justice?"

"I'm a dragonblood and you know it!" Tief spat a fireball, but couldn't aim his captor. Argos looked down and all his weight on the pincer that was crushing Tief he brought his other over and clipped it around the small dragon's left wing. "My wings!" Tief gave up scrambling under the deathgripper's clutch. "Not my wings. Please isn't there a drop of mercy in your depraved soul?"

"Obey me and I won't tear them off." Argos told Nora coldly.

Ebony perks her ears up as she hears her name. 'Oh dear, I forgot to grab some for the others.. better do that now' she thinks, feeling guilty, and hurriedly dives a few more time. She snatches up as many fish as she can carry, one for each dragon and dragonblood. She flies back as fast as she can, drops a fish in front of everyone before landing at Grace's side. Twilight gets up slowly and shifts to full nightlight, gritting her teeth in pain. She hungrily eats her fish and stretches. "Thanks Ebony. I'm sorry about earlier, I didn't mean to attack you." "It's ok.. but.. do you really like fighting or not?" "Well... as a nightlight, I hate it. The nightmare doesn't know any better." Ebony nods slowly, then looks from Grace to Bonny, sensing the tention just like Twilight had. "What's wrong?"

 

Jason nods. "Yak sounds great, thanks" he says, then sighs. "Ok, I'll ask him.. wait, the Chief's gone? Since when? I'm sure he was here before Argos came back."

 

Nora's eyes fill with tears and she shifts to hybrid, bowing her head. "O-ok, ok, I'm sorry, I'll do what you say" she says shakily.

 

"Thanks Ebony!" Grace's focus had all but been completely turned to the salmon her Fury friend plopped in her hands, and Bonny was glad of the distraction. It twisted and flipped and slapped and slipped with slimy scales from her hands but she kept catching it just before it hit the ground. Finally getting her finger's under it's gills she found a string and tied it to the side of Ebony's saddle.

"Heeyyy," The alpha sniffed Ebony's gear as she joined him and the others in the sky, Grace on her back. "...Isn't that my saddle??"

Still on the ground, Bonny beat her wings but for some reason couldn't get off the ground. Her wound hurt with every wingbeat, of course, but that wasn't the trouble. 

"You coming or what?" Snotlout, still an angry bear from being woken from his beauty sleep snapped.

"I'm trying!" She flapped harder, panting. Maybe if she climbed a tree...

Hiccup watched with growing concern.

 

 

...

Eleanora asked Gothi about some yak, and three of her terrors flew out to retrieve it. She grimaced at the slip of her tongue. "Aye the Chief's gone. He went after some rogue members of the clan to keep them from doing something they'd regret," Her expression fell with worry and helplessness. "My own girls among them."

 

...

"Good!" He said, fire all around him where he'd spewed acid. "Amber and carry him. We're going hunting."

 

"Ummm... no, no, it can't be yours, you're wearing yours. Besides, this one doesn't have a tail thingy. Must have been made for a sand wraith or something" Ebony answers, a little too quietly with a slightly guilty look on her face. She licks her paw casually.
Twilight frowns in concern as she watches Bonny struggle. She glides down and lands, a short distance from the wardenrain. "Maybe your injuries are worse than Hiccup thought... shift, I'll carry you."
.
Jason listens carefully, suddenly going red with shame as he recognises Eleanora. He nods, looking away for a few moments. "Do you know when and where they went?" he asks after a pause.
.
Nora swallows the lump in her throat and nods, fighting back tears. She shifts back and carefully cocoons Tief, shutting her eyes tightly as she remembers being forced to do the same to Jason. She returns to the hybrid form as soon as possible and picks up the poor terror in shaky hands. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry" she whispers over and over.

 

Toothless narrowed his eyes. That was true... but his saddles didn't all have the tail thingy built in. He shrugged and let it go. "Don't touch any more of my stuff." He let her off with a warning.

Below, the Wardenrain leapt from a pine, fluttered toward the dragons in the sky and slowly sank to the ground. She hissed under her breath as the sudden jarring motions pulled at her stitches.

"It's not my cuts," She panted at Twilight, a stubborn look streaking across her face even has her wings dragged on the ground. "I can fly on my own."

"Bonny," Grace said, a thought hitting her. "Did you use up all your storm power?"

"...my what??" The tilt of the Wardenrain's head expressed her question. Hiccup glanced at Grace, light dawning in his face.

"Your storm power, you're firebreath and wing attack and storm building... did you use those up?" She repeated.

Bonny looked to the side, shrugging uncomfortably. "...Maybe, I don't know." Was her less-than honest answer.

"Well, try and fire real quick." Hiccup suggested.

Cringing Bonny gave it her best shot.

Nothing.

"Good call Grace," Hiccup nodded to her. "Bonny Wardenrains... according to legend anyway, are very, very powerful storm dragons, more so than Skrill or even Fury-"

Toothless squealed.

"Sorry bud- hey why?" He scowled down. "I'm a fury too get over it. ANYWAYS it balances out because unlike skrill and other storm dragons Wardenrains really need to stick to the storm; it's their source of energy."

"You can save some up," Grace added, "But you can spend it too."

Nooo, she felt a little colder. Argos was telling the truth. 

"...That aside," Hiccup got to the point he was going to make earlier. "I don't feel good about you flying with that gash and those stitches."

"If you shift," Twilight offered, "I'll carry you."

"You could ride with me," Grace said, missing Twilight's offer.

Bonny glanced around. She didn't want to ride with anyone. She wanted to hold her own but apparently she was incapable of that. Nothing for it she switched to human and cheeks rosey, refusing to meet anyone's gaze above her she silently went to Twilight's side. "Ok Twilight."

 

.

 

"They went to Dragon's Down to stop Argos from attacking it." Though softly spoken there was an icy edge to the spoken name. She thought about when Hiccup left, about setting up to go too and being told gently as possible that a human without combat training would be more of a liability than help. Which she understood, but those were her girls out there. "...And," she continued, not feeling right about withholding this piece of information from him. "To save Nora, who Argos took. By all appearances she's alive," the woman said quickly, "The Chief says Argos needs her for part of his plan."

 

.

"Ugh." The terror sighed, having a hard time making sense of the last forty or so minutes. One of his little paws was peeking just outside the amber case and he tapped her with it. "It's ok, I'm... pretty sure this isn't the real you... and I may or may not a had this comin to me. IN PART" he glowered Argos' way, then sneered. "Oooo you know you're a not a looking so great Argos. What happened? Fury drag you in? Thassa pretty one in your side, hoping your rib's aren’t a broken." 

"First things first. Where's your loot?" He demanded, ignoring Tief's jabs.

"...What loot."

Grrr he was hoping to save a little time. "Fine we'll do it the hard way. Nora, follow his scent back to wherever he came from." With a flick of his tail he gestured her to lead the way.

 

Twilight nods and crouches down so Bonny can get up. She twitches her ears, signalling that Bonny can hold on to them. Once the girl is secure, yhe nightlight takes off, though a little unsteadily. Once level with the others, she turns north, following the path Argos had taken.
.
Jason nods slowly. "Alright. Thanks" he says quietly, leaning back a little and looking at the ceiling as he tries to think of what to do.
.
Nora shifts to dragon form and sniffs the air. With some difficulty, she tracks Tief's trail back to the tree where he'd been hunting rabbits.

 

That went over much better than she expected. As Jason sank back against the pillows Eleanora checked his vitals and his temperature. "No more fever," She told him, "That's very good news."

"Someone order a side of yak?" 

Orto the fury Doctor stood in the doorway with half a hindquarter of meat. Rune took it. "Cooked, or uncooked Jason?" 

"Mykines," Orto glanced around the room, resting her eyes on Eleanor. "Other patients need your care."

Her words fell on Eleanora's ears as assertive warbles... but warbles nonetheless. Orto rolled her eyes and turned to leave, gesturing the woman to follow.

"Looks like I'm needed elsewhere, you going to be alright for a while?" she asks the young man.

 

.

"Oh noo, you found my stash of hares." Tief rolled his eyes. "Whatever shall I do?"

The rabbit who had barely escaped Tief darted away from Nora right into Argos. The deathgripper scooped it up in his tusks, raising his head until it fell into his waiting jaws. It's cry stifled, bones splintered as he chewed, taking up the trail. Another twitch of his tail. "This way." He swallowed.

"This way to where?" Tief sputtered again, sounding less confident. "I don't stash loot here!"

"Yess and you're not a liar and a theif either." Argos followed the scent, nose to the ground but ears on Nora. 

 

"Cooked, please" Jason says, pulled from his thoughts by the smell of meat. "Yeah, I'll be fine. Thanks" he nods to Eleanora gratefully.

 

Nora shifts back to hybrid so she can hold Tief more comfortably, then slowly follows Argos.

 

They flew into the later morning, riders who had only slept a few hours getting grouchier and grouchier.

"Guuuyyyysss," Snotlout groaned. "I can't take much more of this."

"When the Snothat is right, he's right," Tuff seconded, he and Ruff draped over the heads of their dragon. "We're pooped."

"Just.. a little nap..." Snotlout shut his eyes, and a moment later Hookfang's eyes widened as he dove for his viking the third time.

"WEEEE!!!" The twins pointed as he plummeted toward the sea, laughing.

Astrid shook her head. "This is getting ridiculous."

"I agree." Hiccup nodded. "A lot of good a team in this shape is going to do." He opened the map. "There should be an island about half hours distance from here. We'll stop there."

 

 

.

Rune nodded and got to work. 

"No problem, I'm just happy to see you on the mend," Eleanor smiled before she left. "Eat well."

 

.

The trail led them to some brush in which was hidden an old boat. Argos pulled it out, and found it filled to the brim with valuables. A chest of rare and colorful fabrics, gold and silver runes, pearl necklaces diamond rings and royal signets.

"Heh, would you look at that," Tief said sheepishly, blushing if he could "Must be Pirates."

"Must be Tief, up to his usual antics." The deathgripper shifted to hybrid and rummaged through.

"You won't-"

"Find this?"  Argos held up a triumphant hand, in it a golden crown plated with all manner of precious gems. "Nora, I present to you the Crown of Carausius, late king of Wotadini. This charming little fellow stole it from him ten years ago." 

 

Twilight huffs, annoyed that they're stopping again so soon, but she doesn't argue.
When the group lands on the island, she waits for Bonny to get off before shifting to human form and turning to Hiccup. "How long until we get going again?" she asks quietly, knowing better than to irritate the other riders by mentioning flying again.
.
Jason nods, then sinks back into his thoughts. "Do you know where Fishlegs is? I have to talk to him" he asks Rune after a few minutes.
.
"Ten years ago? Do you think they would really still be angry about that?" Nora asks.

"Soon as everyone's well rested Twilight." He said just as quitely, looking at the now afternoon sun and knowing she wouldn't like his guess. "Probably not until early tomorrow morning. But we'll all being making much better time that way."

 

.

"Not quite sure," Rune answered thoughtfully. "But if you like I can send a terror out to get him."

 

.

He looked at her, perplexed. In the still of the moment with no motion, threat, or prey to tear after, a hand unconscoisly covered his blood-stained shirt and tender side. It wasn't obvious under the black overcoat but it was there. "I don't know, I'm just finishing the job."

"They probably won't even pay you," Tief didn't miss that action, his tone changing.

Argos laughed, reaching into the boat and pushing the gold and silver runes around. "I'm abandoning your precious stash here, what ought that to tell you of my care for payment? You and the D'own, are a matter of principal."

"Or you a can't carry it all right now. I bet you'll come back for it later."

"Hmm." Argos nodded, that hallmark smile on his face but eyes dull.

With effort he shifted back to full deathgripper and shoved the boat into hiding, then stiffly spread his wings. "If you please, Nora."

 

"Psst. PSSSST Nora. That, that is your name right?" Tief whispered once they were in the air. "Did you give our 'dear friend' over there his battlescars? How long has he been like this?"

 

Twilight sighs and nods. "Ok.. guess you're right" she mutters, looking around at the group. "I.. need a minute, gotta deal with this. I won't leave the island. Tie up my wings if you don't believe me. I won't go far, just enough so I won't bother anyone."
.
Jason nods. "Yes please."
.
Nora hesitates before answering Tief. "He's had them since this morning. You saw how rotten I am at fighting back against him, I can barely shoot him, let alone injure him. I'm guessing he got them from some of my friends. They were tracking us, Argos made me fly on while he fought them. I.. don't know if they're still alive" she whispers.

 

"Wow." Grace's eyes widened. "I did not know people could fall asleep that fast."

Ruff, Tuff, and Snotlout were completely out only minutes after landing.

 

Tomorrow morning?? Bonny groaned inwardly, evesdropping as she look across the island rather pleasant island. There were several open fields, it looked like a small freshwater lake, mountanous cleft on the northern side and forest of deciduous trees spreading beneath it, plenty of space between them.

 

Hiccup grimaced at the thought of tying her wings. "If you say you won't fly off, then I trust you won't, nobody is tying anyones wings." He had to wonder what she meant by bother anyone.

 

.

 

"Can do. Trooper," he called to a purple terror that turned an intelligent eye his way. "Find Fishlegs?"

Scree! The dragon bobbed his head, spread his wings and was out the door a moment later. "The others are almost done roasting your yak... oh, finished now. Here you are."

 

.

"You poor thing," He said, a crack to his quiet words. "I'm sorry. I..." He wanted to say he was sure they'd escaped, but for once found he couldn't lie. "...I... I'm so sorry. But don't sell yourself short! You fought a him really well. Argos is very VERY good at hiding the damage he takes in battle. Has to be, he's a deathgripper. They kill the weak among themselves you know."

He glanced as far as he could over to see if Argos was hearing anything they were saying. 

The deathgripper was looking straight ahead, either deep in thought or just trying to ignore how he felt and focus on his goal.

"And he IS weak right now," He hissed almost inaudibly. "I'm sure those ribs are a broken, and remember how he fought? He didn't a do much moving, just tried to jab you with a the tusks, and splat acid everywhere."

Twilight smiles a little and nods. "Thanks" she says, then turns and walks off into the forest. Once she's out of sight and earshot, she shifts to nightlight form and starts to slowly walk up and down stretching her leg. After a little while, she starts putting weight on it. She hisses and pulls back instantly. "Come on.. what's wrong with you? You've been injured before, what makes it hurt more now?" she growls at her leg.
.
Ebony stretches and looks around the lovely meadow. She gasps as she sees a butterfly and happily gives chase.
.
(Trooper! :D)
Jason smiles a bit and nods gratefully, then starts to eat, struggling a little not to wolf the meat down.
.
"I... I guess... but even with all that, he still beat me" Nora whispers back, her eyes dull with hopelessness.

The Chief watched her go with a thoughtful look.

"Hey," Astrid came up behind him, "I'm going to get in some practice . Been sitting for almost twenty four hours straight and need some exercise."

"Not sleep?"

"I'll only sleep if I get a good workout. Stormfly seems content to play with Ebony for now so I'll leave her with you."

In the tall grass Stormfly silently stalked the fury, tail wriggling as she prepared to pounce.

"Alright. But leave some of the forest for the local wildlife."

"No promises." She laughed, swinging her axe over her shoulder.

(Feel free to lead Astrid into what you want, she'll be wandering until you give the word ^^ Also you can control her sometimes, I'm good with going with the flow ^^)

 

 

.

A little while later the purple terror returned, whirr of gronckle wings not far behind.

"Jason! You're ok!" Fishlegs beamed as Meatlug dropped onto the floor, making the whole precariously balanced house on the top of a giant cliff bounce. "Well, conscious and eating, which are really good signs. How are you feeling? How do your wings feel? Can you stretch them ok? It was a trick getting all the amber off and they'd been in a bad position when you were ambered, I'm hoping you didn't suffer any muscle damage."

 

 

.

Tief sensed her broken spirit. She must have been stuck with this creep for a while, now. "He didn't beat you, he used your good nature against you. Psycho here doesn't love anything so that's a card easily played without a backfiring. I for one am glad a you have a soul." 

"Souls are overrated." Argos appeared much closer than he had been only minutes ago. "You can live just fine without one."

"Oh yeah! I can see that!" The terror snickered, taking his intrusion in stride. "Living the dream aren't you?"

"And here I thought we were making light conversation to pass the time."

Yellow eyes turned to Nora with some of that old snap to them again. "If you know what's good for the oversized rat don't try anything stupid. I have no patience left."

 

Twilight snarls as she tries to walk on her injured leg again. "Come on! If I can't even walk, that makes me weak!" She tries again and again, but can't put weight on it for more than a moment. 'It's my wing. That's what the problem is' she realises suddenly, but that just makes her angrier. "So I'm weak forever then!" She grabs the bandages and shreds them in her teeth. "Twilight. Calm down and quit it, I don't want to have to use more dragon nip on you." Twilight looks up sharply and finds herself glaring at Astrid, axe in hand and a determined look on her face. Twilight shifts to nightmare hybrid form. "What do you want?" she snaps.
.
Stormfly pounces and Ebony squeals in delight, playfully rolling around and batting at the nadder.
.
Jason looks up and swallows his mouthful of meat. "I feel fine, I think. My wings -" he cuts off, suddenly scared as he can't really feel his wings. He looks at them carefully as he slowly stretches them and moves them in a slow flap. "A bit numb, but they should be fine with exercise. Speaking of which, how soon can I fly? It's not that I don't trust anyone else, but I have to go after Argos. I need to help Nora. And I need to beat him in combat. It's a deathgripper thing."
.
Nora drops her gaze submissively. "I won't try anything" she says quietly.

 

"Well I WAS out here to kill a few innocent trees, sharpen my blade and skills for the fight ahead," The General guessed what the former ringfighter had snarled. Champion, ringfighter. She put the time to use spinning the axe as they talked. "What do YOU want?"

.

 "Attack!" Stormfly fanned her wings and hissed in the game, gently clawing at the fury. "SNACK ATTACK!" The nadder nipped Ebony's belly to prove she'd won that round. Then with a raawk she ran like a chicken toward the forest, serpentining through the trees.

"Dragons have so much fun," Grace's face held a smile as she watched. 

"Sure, I guess. If they don't have the brains to know any better." Bonny mumbled.

"Excusez moi?" Hookfang's head shot up and he glared, matching Grace's expression.

"Don't humor her she's being human." Toothless roasted, "You know how much difficulty they have learning new tricks."

"Why do you have to be so mean?" The younger sister growled. "What's wrong with enjoying life? If 'not having brains' means you can see the beautiful things and not always think about the bad, then that's what I want to be."

"Well you would wouldn't you?" Bonny hopped down from the half-fallen tree they had walked up. "I'm going to go clear my head. Away from dragons."

"Fine."

"Fine."

 

.

"Let me take a look at them."

Fishlegs walked over and gently opened and closed first one black, white and crimson wing and then the other, checking carefuly the way the muscles moved as he did. "Everything looks ok to me, so whenever you feel up for it I'm not going to stop you. But I can't stress enough that if something doesn't feel right you shouldn't try it."

"Gothi," Orto returned without Eleanora and in a rush of wind. "We need you at my treatment center."

This time she didn't wait for the human to patch it together, just snagged her by the scruff of her shirt and spirited her away outside. As they flew, she scribbled wildly in the sky with her cane.

"...that happened." Rune blinked, barely making out "you're in charge now"

"Well I'm helping out at the great hall doing my best to keep the peace in Hiccup's absense... should probably get back to it," Fishlegs worried what Orto would need the healer so badly for. "If you have any questions send me a terrormail and I'll be back here in a gif. Right Trooper?" The Ingerman turned and scratched under the terror's chin. He closed his eyes and trilled, hindleg thumping. "If you get bored this little guy could tell you some stories."

 

.

"Rat!" Tief's eyes widened with insult. "Pfftt! Rat? RAT?? I'M NOT A RAT!" He screeched among other words. "I'm a fierce, fire-breathing high flyin' ball of fury and not a lettin anybodies, not even the likes of YOU forget it!"

"Splendid it has little dragon syndrom." Satisfied with Nora's answer Argos pulled away with that dull look once more. Forgot that about him, He thought to himself.

"LITTLE DRAGO- oh issa on now! You wanna to mess a with this? Huh? Huh? break me outta this cocoon and fight me like a real dragon you yellow bellied snake! I'll a give you a run for your runes."

"Do shut up."

 

Twilight crosses her arms, hisses in pain and lets her injured arm drop. "Trying to walk normally. Of course, it being a wing injury instead of a leg injury is making it harder. But I'm not weak, and it's really none of your business" she snaps, her overlapping personalities making it a little hard to hold a conversation.
.
Ebony giggles and chases after Stormfly, oblivious to the tension between the two sisters.
.
Jason nods gratefully and sighs in relief. "Alright, thanks." He looks at Trooper and smiles a little, reminded of his late sister Ella. "What stories do you know?" he asks in dragon tounge, then takes another bite of yak.
.
Nora frowns in worry at the exchange between Argos and Tief. "Don't make him angry, please, Tief. I know you're really tough, but he - weĺl - um.." she says softly, wanting to soothe the furious terror, but not finding the right words. After a few seconds, she shifts to hybrid form and quietly starts to hum a sweet melody.

Astrid listened; fascinated by the mix of the same person but such very different sides of her coming out at the same time. It was good though! this was the first time she'd seen any of Nightlight Twilight have influence on Nightmare Twilight.

"C'mon, you only got that this morning." Putting some uninterested swagger in her body language she went around the dragonblood and hurtled her axe into a distant tree, "Give it time to heal, you're not magical... nor are you weak. You're tough, Twilight, especially as a Nightmare. But what do you want?" She walked over to the axe and pulled it out. "Beyond the immediate, what will make you happy?"

 

.

"All kinds," The terror leaned forward and licked an eye. "What kinds would you like to hear? True? Outlandishly Untrue? Or my personal favorite, Outlandishly True?"

"Outlandishly true!" Some of the other terrors, young and old alike screed and fluttered over "Outlandishly true outlandishly true! Tell him about the time you saved the hooman alpha from the No-gooders."

 

.

Tief scraped that one free claw against his casing, doing nothing to break it. "If I could get my fangs in you..." He snarled, continuing to splutter all sorts of unsavory things. Nora shifted to hybrid, and when she began to sing his anger slowly subsided until he drooped into a contented, trilling puddle.

"That's lovely Nora," He purred. "Oh. Do you mind if I join in? Got that dirge to sing."

Not waiting for an answer, he cleared his throat:

"Ohh... Night Terror so ordinary, greyish and black, 

I got a no reason to give you flack.

Sorry your misfortune in our dragonblood wars,

I know in Valhalla you do now soar.

"Heh," Tief trilled all the louder. "Not bad for on the fly. Right Nora?"

He twisted his head to look for the deathgripper. "Right, jerkface?"

"Anything is better than your complaints." Argos returned evenly.

...He too, looked much more relaxed.

 

Twilight glares at Astrid as she throws her axe, then she snorts. "I don't have time to let it it heal. I -" she stops, Astrid's question sinking in. "Happy?" she asks slowly, a note of confusion in her voice. Nightmare Twilight's guard drops a little, seemingly baffled by the question, and she shifts to nightlight hybrid form. She shudders, rubbing her head, then looks up at Astrid again. "Peace. That's all I really want" she answers quietly, hopeless longing clear in her voice and body language.
.
Jason perks up properly this time and he tilts his head. "Yeah, let's hear that one."
.
Nora almost cuts off at Tief's contribution, as the word 'Valhalla' instantly makes her think of Jason. She continues to hum, though the tune becomes clearly sadder, as she looks up at the sky, tears in her eyes.

 

Astrid nodded, understanding. How do people who have had to fight for their survival every step of the way find peace? They eminate strife, struggle becomes a part of them they don't want and yet can't live without, she knew that first hand.

"You and me both," She picked chips of bark off the head of her weapon. "I don't have the answers to finding peace, Twilight, but I know a few tricks that can guide you closer to it. Like having a posative goal" The woman glowered. "Not to sound like Fishlegs or Hiccup, but if your life goal is set on destruction you're either going to be furious all the time or succeed... and need to find another target. Maybe, maybe try switching form all offense to some defense? Find things worth protecting instead of looking to what needs destroying. If you can channel that into what fights you pick, you might find there's a lot less to fight over." 

 

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LissaFish
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Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 02/12/2017
End of Argos PT6

Grace scowled at the setting sun. Still no Bonny. She'd been moping for a while now and it was making her sister nervous. "Ebony," She called to the fury, dying dramatically in Stormfly's talons. "Would you come with me to find Bonny?"

 

.

Mood set for excitement Trooper shimmered his wings and started forward for effect. "There I was," He swept the room with narrowed eyes, back and legs stiff. "Fresh out of a healing sleep, hungry like it was nobody's business, and a sitting gull on the most Good-Fer-Nothing island in the sea. How the Alpha got there and WHY is beyond my understanding, but that's how it is with most hoomans. In the night I could hear them stalking around the cave, past the stinkleaves, like soulless beasts with their dead eyes wide and empty, pathetic, wingless shoulders hunched, and open, panting mouths dripping syliva like it was their brains coming out." The little dragon snorted. "Pfft. As if they had any."

The others snickered.

"The No-Gooders would murmur occasionaly amongst themselves of the morsel that had washed ashor, and I knew we wouldn't make it through the night if we stayed. The Alpha (*adlibbing here*) had had his wings clipped, but like the good egg he is wanted for me to fly off without him. I was torn; I couldn't help him fend those monsters off, but he had cared for me when I was helpless and most in need"

"A life debt," One of the ancients nodded.

"Did you fly away?" A tiny tooth asked.

"I did. But not to leave the Hooman for the No-Gooders to pick out of their teeth, oh no. I flew fiercely, braving the strongest of winds and the dragons of night to reach his homeland and lead his pack into rescue. But do you know what I found when I got there?"

"Nothing!" That same tiny tooth and three siblings chorused, having heard many a time this part of the tale from their parents. "Because the Whirring Ratwings ate it all."

"Mmm close. Though it's true his home was reduced to dirt and rock at that time, there was something there."

Trooper looked around at everyone, eyes resting expectantly on Jason.

 

.

Unable to turn his neck upward Tief could only suspect the little break-ups in her pretty tune were caused by sadness. A moment later that was confirmed by a salty tear dripping down his amber shell.

"You have someone in Valhalla too?" He asked softly.

 

"I've tried, but it hasn't worked so far. It's like there's a mental block that stops me from fights properly in nightlight form. The only way my masters could break that was to make me shift to nightmare form. And as you saw last night, the nightmare can't tell friend from foe. If there were a middle ground, I'd use it, but.." Twilight sighs and smiles a little. "Thanks for the suggestion thought.. I really appreciate it. I'll just have to try harder."
.
"Awwww, ok. Thanks for the game, Stormfly" Ebony says, escaping the nadder's talons and trotting over to Grace.
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Jason listens, drawn into the story just as much as the terrors. "What was it?"
.
Nora stops singing as her throat tightens with grief. "Yes... Jason... I just wish we could be together again..." she whispers, tears now flowing more freely.

 

The General thought she might be on to something. "Training the nightmare in you might be the middle ground. It won't be easy; that side is a fight to the death kinda personality and for this to work I'd have to prove to her I'm just as worthy an opponent. But if I could do that without breaking her..." 

Astrid thought about the dragonnip in her sack, and a few other effective yet harmless tricks which Hiccup had had the sense to bring. They were good tools for training and all fine and dandy for the likes of Hiccup, but she'd need both them and her own combat skills at their finest if she was going to succeed with two tons of flaming ringfighter.

 

.

"Bonnnnnnyyyyy," Grace hollered as they wandered through the golden trees. "Bonnnnnnnyyyyyyyyy!"

The teen could hear her sister's call, and friendly warble of the nightfury, from behind a cold rock she was curled up next to. But she didn't answer.

"Ebony can you sniff her out?" Grace went out in front of the Fury and handed her a stick Bonny had been toying with earlier.

 

.

"IIIIttt waaaaasssss-"

He jumped forward, flinging his tail up. Several terrors jumped back or flew to different perches, ducking their heads up and down excitedly. 

"A Kyte! Bright orange, crazy dragon with more energy than they know what to do with. Likes to walk around like this."

Trooper did his best impression of the Kyte's light and bouncy gait, then dropped down and waved his little tail. "Where's your tail? You call that a tail?? This is a tail."

The little ones laughed and Trooper bruxed at his own silliness.

"This one called himself Loki... so aptly named even the hoomans figured it out. When we met I didn't know if he'd taken the Alpha's island in the absense of his pack... or had eaten them all. HE claimed he ate them. Well, I didn't have much time to sort it out, but guessing he was big enough the Alpha could probably ride, figured if anyone could get through to a Kyte it was him. All I had to do was coax Loki over.

So I says to Loki: "You couldn't have eaten all those hoomans!"

And he says: "Yeah-hah, AND all the dragons, too."

So I says slyly: "You're not fat enough to have eaten all of them... maybe just half."

And he starts to strut and go "I am pretty sleek aren't I? Been working out every day- hey wait, you're still saying I'm fat aren't you??"

I nodded. "Yes, but it's ok, your such a dusty, boring brown color that you blend right into the dirt and no one can tell."

"Oh," a pretty, turquoise blue terror said dramatically "The in-dragonity!"

"Loki thought so. It only took a quick nip of his tail and he was out for blood after that. I flew my fastest in the morning light, Loki hot on my tail! Those buggers aren't just show, they can really move!"

 

.

"Ooo that might be a while. Your new master is a very practiced keeper of dragon and dragonblood alike; I see many a year of humble service to him in your future, Nora."

"Shut up you eel." Tief defended, "Why you got to a beat her when she's down?"

Argos ignored him and looked out at the setting sun. "We're almost to our next stop, where you're to land," The deathgripper gestured an upcoming island, nudging Nora that direction. "And cover yourself with your own amber."

 

Twilight stares at Astrid, shocked. With a flinch, she shifts back to nightmare hybrid form and snarls. "Don't even think about it. I told you before, I don't want to be trained!" she snaps.

 

Ebony sniffs at the stick carefully, then puts her nose to the ground and starts sniffing. After a few minutes of searching, she finds the teen behind the rock. "Bonny! Found you!" she trills, then stops and tilts her head. "Are you ok?" she warbles, sitting down.

 

Jason chuckes softly at the image in his mind of a furious kyte chasing the terror. "Did he get you?" he asks.

 

Nora nods obediently, turning her eyes to the island. "Thank you Tief. You're really nice.. I'm so sorry for dragging you into this mess" she whispers. When they land on the island, Nora gently places Tief on the ground, tenderly stroking his head for a moment. She shifts to full dragon and lies down, then starts covering herself in amber. "Why does he even want me?" she asks Argos after a while.

 

"Hey, do you want the middle ground or not?" She snapped right back, realizing this could escalate very quickly. She didn't want to break the Nightmare's spririt by any means... buuutttt she also didn't want to be broken in a far more... literal, sense.

"It's one or the other Twilight you can't have both. Choose."

.

The Nightfury squealed her delight in this game of hide and seek, then sniffed and muttered her concerns. Bonny was glad she couldn't understand.

"Bonny?" Grace came up a little more hesitantly. "I've been calling you for a while now, did you not hear me? It's going to be dark and I thought you might want to come back to camp and get something to eat."

"I'm not hungry." She snorted and rolled her eyes. "I ate a whole shark this morning."

"...Well sharks is good eatin," The younger sister kind of smiled then sat down beside the older, padding the ground next to her for Ebony to join them in just... hanging out behind this rock. 

 

.

"He did. Ate me like a sardine and licked his paws clean." The purple terror teased, and tiny tooths looked at him in perfect confusion. "Just kidding! Kyte's aren't the only dragons with a few tricks up his wings, so whenever he got too close for comfort I'd do this,"

Trooper launched from his perch and showed off a couple of slippery moves.

"And this!" He loop-de-looped

"And one of these!"

Terrible terror heads watched, all turning and leaning the same direction as they tracked him. "And it may or may not have helped that Swancensored are ridiculously easily distracted. So in no time we were back- which was good because the No Gooders had pinned our Hooman Alpha down, ready to feast! Not a moment to loose I dropped like a rock onto his face and stared down the pack, searching their blank faces for the meanest, ugliest, biggest one I could find to spit in its face!"

The others gasped. "You spat a fireball in a No Gooder's face??"

"Legend says they'll not rest until they've torn the dragon limb for limb who insults their fireless breath!"

"I know," Trooper landed on one of the tresses and put on some swagger and his gangsta face. "But here I am, and they're all still stuck on that puny island eating limpets for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Anyways I spat in his face and lunged for him, chewing up his nose. He screamed like a wild banshee and started bucking like a boar fighting for its life! I was yanked off his head but dug my claws in deep to his back because I had to stay on, just until-"

He dove for a favored stick.

"Wham!" He squaked, "I jumped off! Loki used that signature dive of his and hit that No Gooder so hard he made a small crator in the sand and knocked the blue black dragon out. But it wasn't over. The NoGooders weren't sure what was happening but they were sure they had a good snack under their talons and didn't want to let it go.

"This," Loki boasted with a lopsided grin, "This is what Imma do to you ya little rat."

"I'd like to see you try!" I told him, then jumped for the only No Gooder with her claws still on the Alpha. Loki followed and she screamed and kicked almost the same as that first ugly guy, and finally the Alhpa got to his one foot and hobbled away. He found his other, stuck it on and once I thought there was enough space between him and the NoGooders I abandoned this crazy game of cat mouse and a whole lotta creepy sightless reptiles."

He shook his head with the memory. "Still not sure how I made it out of that one alive."

 

.

"Th-thanks..." Tief hesitated to take such a compliment. His heart sank for Nora as she buried herself in the amber, and he snorted his contempt toward their captor. 

"Why does he even want me?" 

Argos sat heavily watching only fromt he corner of his eye. The rest of his attention was on the southern sky, searching for followers. "To lure dragons into his traps that is his trade after all. But as a scientist Dragonbloods fascinate him and he wants to see if he can trace the roots to their cause. No doubt to replicate the fusion." The motion of a gull flying high above jerked his head. "An amibitious man, that one." he murmured, calming when he saw what it was, "If given the right cards I could see him ruling the archipelago."

"You must be talking about Grimborn." Tief bit out, choosing not to tell Nora the kinds of terrible things that man did to dragons... in the most practical and efficient way possible. "Great. Soooo what's a your plan for getting us back out of all this?" He wagged his head to gesture his and Nora's cocoons. 

"Green goo." Argos faced him and bared his teeth, letting acid drip from them and melt the sand beneath his talons to glass. 

"Won't us DYING from that interfere with what your doing tomorrow?"

"You won't die. I can be very careful when I intend to be, gentle even." The deathgripper turned moodily away-

and took in a sharp breath, staggering. Blast all that flying, he hissed to himself, shaking his head. The pieces of his broken ribs touched when he twisted, causing tremendous pain.

With Tief and Nora safely ambered to the point neither could escape, his guard crumbled just a little, and he shifted to human, stumbling toward a tree to lean against. As he did, he stiffly pulled out that book of his and sketched something. 

 

Twilight opens and shuts her mouth a few times, getting a headache as both sides of her fight over what to do. She staggers back a few paces, then leans against a tree as she shifts to human form. "Ok. Train me please" she says quietly, rubbing her forehead.

 

Ebony pads over to the girls and lies down behind them in a half circle. She closes her eyes and starts to purr softly.

 

Jason tilts his head, enjoying the story much more than he'd expected to. "What happend next? How did you escape?"

 

"I hate being a deathsong.. I'd rather be anything else" Nora mutters. She watches Argos as he shifts and stumbles away to rest against a tree. She looks up at the sky as the first few stars come out. Misery overtaking her again, she spits several clumps of amber onto the ground and shoves her snout against them, only to find them already hard. She tries a few more times to get her nose in amber, but eventually gives up and rests her head on the ground, crying silently.

 

"Ok," Astrid nodded, swinging her axe over her shoulder. "Let's do this."

She bade Twilight to follow, leading to a smallish cove hemmed in by smooth stone cliffs but otherwise completely sand and water "Saw this flying in. Think it will do?"

"Well," Trooper continued. "I miraculously escaped that pile of claws and fangs and beelined it for the Alpha, who as I've already pointed out had his wings clipped and couldn't fly.

"Hey Loki!" I shouted behind me. "Imma head out now, bye!"

"Oh no you don't! Come 'ere!" He forgot about the Nogooders and tore after me, zipping right over the Alpha's head.

Ok, I thought, just as Loki caught up, hopefully he got it. I dropped a wing and spun around, flying right over the Alpha again, and so did Loki in pursuit.

"What??" I sputtered, seeing him down there still running. The Nogooders were pouring down the sandune after him, and in the shallows was a Flat Head, curious about the goings on at the shore. How much more obvious did I have to make it before he realized he could catch and ride the Swanky??

In my frustration and exhaustion (this is after all the first thing I did on an empty stomach after coming out of a healing sleep) I miss a beat and feel Loki's talons clos around me. "Gotcha!" he chortled with a triumphant bark. "Not so fast!" says I, and chomp down! He yelped and I escaped just by the skin of my teeth. "If this hooman doesn't grab his ride on this round we're both chow." I watched the NoGooders come, then made eye contact with the Alpha as I passed. The light dawned in his face. "About time!" I rolled my eyes.

Loki gave another yelp and to my great relief was now flying at only half speed, weighed down by the viking attached to his paws.

"SSNNNAAAACCCCKKKK!" The Flathead leapt from the water for Alpha.

"No! Not a snack! Bad Flathead go away!" I squeaked. Loki's message came off more clear.

"Weird water dragon thingy! Take this!" He said, and spewed fire at the Flathead.

"RUUUDDDDEEEEE." Flathead hissed and returned to the depths.

"Well done Trooper!" Alhpa said gratefully, clamboring onto Loki's side. 

"Dude what even is he doing Imma snack- oh hey! Look a seagull!" Loki gave chase. Moments later his focus returned to the hooman who was now on his back.

"Selfish I didn't say I'd give you a ride. But since you're here, lemme give you the ride of your life! hehe. I won't be sorry if you fall to your doom."

He flipped and spun and twisted and dove at that amazing speed... then spotted me again.

"You!" he barked. "I'm not done with you!

"Oh here we go again." I groaned and began doing evasives. "Wonder how long it will take the Alpha to figure this one out?

Not long. "Head to Berk Trooper!" The Alpha put two and two together and realized I could control where Loki went. "Head to Berk!"

"Berk??" I chirruped. Why Berk?? There was nothing there now he must know that. But it was about the shortest distance any island is from Good-Fer-Nothin, so even though my wings were weary I set out and true to form Loki followed, entertained with his new passenger all the way there."

Trooper folded his wings softly into his sides. "And that is how I saved the Alpha from certain, gnarly doom. We landed in dead Berk and met up with some friends of his. They had food! Kippers and salmon and perch and herring. I tore into that treasure trove of seafood goodness and didn't relent until the last bone was picked clean."

"Yay!" The many terrors screed and beat their wings and bounced up and down on their forelegs. "The best ending of all, getting to eat a whole lotta food!"

 

.

 

"Nora what are you doing??" Tief said with horror. "It's not that hopless! Grimborn is a hard man but he's a fairly reasonable one too. Don't cross him and you could live a descent life," He glanced over at Argos. "And maybe even escape."

He jerked his head in gesture of the deathgripper dragonblood. "Look, he's out cold."

Indeed Argos was, the half finished skektch of Bonny's Wardenrain form, complete with scar across her belly staring back at the two. "Nobody's going to come and save us," Tief told her when he was certain Argos wasn't faking it. "We've got to plan our own escape. I think the best time will be tomorrow when he breaks us from the amber. Providing he doesn't go out hunting first he should be pretty weak and using up a good amount of his acid just to break up the clumps stuck to you. We strike then, you with song and I with tooth and claw. Are you with me?"

 

 

 

 

(this is super long, sorry, but it's something I've wanted to write for the girls for a while now).

They sat in silence, Grace twiddling her thumbs, Bonny staring up at an oranging sky.

"Red sun," The younger commented. "Guess that's both good and bad news. Good news we won't be flying through a storm tomorrow."

Bad news I wont be able to recharge, her sister thought sourly.

"Lets make the best of your down time," Grace leaned over to Ebony's saddlebag and pulled out one of the books Buddy had lent her. The page with the wardenrain had clearly been marked and opened multiple times already.

Bonny's lip twitched but she remained stubbornly silent, so her sister cleared her throat and began reading... or pretending to anyway. It wasn't lost on Bonny how easily the words flowed and how often Grace caught herself looking at anything but the book, she'd memorized this page over the evening.

"Wardenrain. A large species of white dragon said to ward off storms for Vikings. Of course that's not what they were trying to do, but the dragon can absorb the storm through the porous scales across its body, in essence consuming and storing massive amounts of energy. Isn't that cool Bonny? You can eat storms."

She went on jabbering about stats, attack, speed, armor, firepower, shotlimit, and jawstrength, the numbers meaning nothing to Bonny whatsoever. But when Grace finished raking her over the coals with all of that she moved on to the Wardenrains' weaknesses and Bonny could take it no more.

"Stop." she growled. "Just stop it I don't want to hear anymore."

"But Bonny," her sister stared up. "This is what you can and can't do. Don't you think that's important for heading into battle with someone who knows just as much or more about you than this?"

"I don't need you to tell me what I am and am not capable of."

"Yeah? well I could have told you about being away from the storm and what that would do to you," Grace returned with a flare of temper. "And the way you were trying to shoot fireballs? That's wrong; your flame comes out in a concentrated and consistant flow by pursing your lips together like this" she made a whistling shape with her mouth.

"I tried that and it didn't work!"

"Gee, that's strange. Wouldn't it have been nice if I was there to tell you what went wrong?"

"You little know it all," Bonny's eyes flashed. "You think your so smart, and you run around and play happy dragon friends like all the world is right and leave the rest of us to do the dirty work. I saw you shrink back at the idea of killing Argos. ARGOS! The beast who murdered papa and you want no part in it stopping him."

"I want no part in murdering him!" She returned sharply. "I hate him and what he did as much as you do, he was my Papa too."

"You don't act like it," Bonny's eyes were cold, "Laughing and playing games when he's been gutted and scalped by a psycho who got away scot free."

Graces eyes began to water and her cheeks turned red, her stomach knotted. "I laugh," she said brokenly, "And play games, and get to know new people and new things because I know Papa's heart would break to see us sad forever. And just because you don't see it doesn't mean I don't cry, too. You locked me out Bonny, me and mum, and everything else to be alone in your hurt. Please come back to us, don't you think we're hurting too? If we can share it we'll heal better."

"I don't FEEL hurt. I feel nothing." Bonny spat back. "Except anger. He lied to me Grace, he promised not to let anyone take him away agian. And then like an idiot he runs out BY HIMSELF to an abandoned beach and just let's the guy rip him apart." Pathetic, the words rang in her ears and felt so true. Pathetic.

"I was told he put up a pretty good fight," Grace muttered, trying to point out what she knew Bonny would have seen etched in the sands on that fateful beach.

"Yeah. And lost."

"We can try our hardest and still lose you know."

"What does that matter??"

"It matters because it means he tried to keep his promise! All the way up until you found him out there he tried, and he still tried-"

"Don't. Don't you even tell me what happened you weren't there you don't know."

"I wish I was! I wish I'd had a chance to say goodbye!"

"I wish you had been too! Maybe if his favorite daughter had been there he mighta tried a little harder."

"No." Grace said, her eyes fierce. "No, you get away with saying a lot of things but you don't get to say that."

"I call it how I see it."

"Then you're an idiot. That's right. I said that." she blew her top. "And you have the meanest, sharpest tongue I know that spouts things that aren't even true just to hurt people. I was not papa's favorite he loved us both equally. You just didn't take the time to cherish that love. How many times I went with him on a fishing trip because you snubbed your nose at it or to the market because you couldn't be bothered were angry at him for putting his foot down on something that you didn't like, I can't number. Those are on you, not Papa."

Her words hit their mark. "Oh sure dump that on me, like being a Dragonblood isn't bad enough!" she said, plotting the harshest comeback she could think of "You’re not one by the way. I know you aren't because when I'm a stinking dragon I can tell who is and isn't. You are never going to shift, you are never going to talk to dragons, and you are never going to fly on your own two wings."

Silence reigned as Grace stood tall under the painful truth and cruel delivery of it.

"Ok, this time, I'm leaving you." she said between hot tears. A blue haze fell over the forest as dusk came upon them. "But because I'm not a JERK I'm staying on this island. Come on Ebony, let's go."

Jason grins. "Great story! That's really impressive!" 'If this little terror can trick a kyte into saving Hiccup from NoGooders, I'll manage to save Nora from Argos' he thinks. He swallows the last of his yak and stretches his wings. "Thanks for that, Trooper. I'll look forward to more stories of your heroism when I get back. I've got to rescue Nora from a vile deathgripper dragonblood."

 

"But - but he's deaf to my song. He's got earplugs. And what about all his horrid darts and things? Even without his dragon form up to strenght he's still too strong" Nora whispers.

 

Ebony listens to the sisters fight, not understanding all of it but getting the basic idea. When Grace gets up to leave and tells her to follow, the night fury slinks after the girl. She sadly looks back at Bonny as she leaves at Grace's heels.

Trooper nodded, carrying himself quite well for a little terror. Coupled with the wisdom in his eyes and his character, it left one feeling he would have made a very noble bigger dragon. "Sounds like the makings of a new story. Go, and may the Creator's speed be with you my friend. I look forward to your tale upon return."

.

Tief was about to say he wasn't wearing them right now... but then remember Argos was human right now. The only thing Nora would do sining was lure a whole lot of wild dragons in.

Sighing he found himself out of good ideas. "Maybe after some sleep we can, can think of something," The terror murmured.

Lookig up at those first stars, Tief though over the catastrophic day. "I'm not really all that nice." He muttered at length, his eyes casting to the ground. "If you haven't guessed I'm a crook. I've stolen from the wealthiest tyrants and the poorest of farmers. From Kings to paupers, the good, the young and the old alike. And it wasn't for anyone but myself. That's why I ended up on a lonely island with all my treasure, a diet of hares and no friends."

 

Jason smiles and dips his head gratefully. "Thankyou. Hopefully I'll be as successful as you were." He spreads his wings and slowly walks over to the door. "Thanks for all the help, Rune" he tells the redhead as he passes him. With a deep breath, he takes off, shifts to dragon form in mid-air and flies off in the direction Argos had gone. "I'm coming, Nora. Don't give up."

 

Nora looks over at Tief. "I can be your friend if you like."

 

Astrid climbed halfway down the side of the cliff and jumped the rest of the way, tuck and rolling. Glancing around she spotted a large piece of driftwood. The axe came out, she cut it to down to the desired size and then wedged the blade of the weapong into it, making the weapon more like a very blunt hammer.

"Alright," she said, taking a deep breath. "Come on down, and let your Nightmare loose."

.

"Uhhh, bye??" Rune stares as his patient flies away. "Oooo I hope that won't make Gothi mad."

.

He smiled wanly. "Thanks. I'd like that. So friend, where you from? What's your story?"

Twilight takes a deep breath and makes her way down by the same way as Astrid had. She shifts to nightmare hybrid form as thoughts of her time in the ring, Argos, Ian's death and other angering events run throughout her mind. She snarls as she loses her grip on the cliff and falls to the ground, landing on her injured arm. With a roar of pain and rage, she shifts to full nightmare and spews a stream of fire at Astrid.
.
"Well.. I grew up on a small island called Talka. It was a really nice place. But I first shifted about two months ago and everyone wanted to kill me. My mom sent me away on a boat by myself to protect me.. I.. don't know what happened to her after that..... Um, I got caught in a storm and crashed on an island that everyone calls Dragonblood Island. A few days later I met a group of really nice dragonbloods, most of them from Berk. That's.. also when she met Jason. We went back to Berk with the others are started to settle there, but Argos kept causing loads of trouble.. there's really not much else to tell."

...ok she'd been ready for some excitement but not quite that ready.

Astrid leapt to the side, whipping out her shield and curling into a ball behind it. 'Of course she'd land on her injured arm,' the woman hissed, some of her golden locks singed around the edges.

 

.

"Ohhh yeah," the terror grimaced for her, "The whole 'town turning against ya' gig. Sorry, it's such a rude way of learning who you are and what people think of that."

He listened intently to the rest of her story. "You know, I've been to Talka. Nice place I love a all a your truffles. Do you perchance recall a truffle festival where the best truffle hunting pig went missing? Woulda been ten, fifteen years ago, I can't remember. Yeah... that was me. He was fantastic at finding them delecacies and I made out like the bandit I was. I planned on eating him too, but saw a small girl looking so hard and so sadly for that pig so I let him go."

 

Twilight starts towards Astrid, her eyes blazing, but her injured wing keeps her from Herr close. In addition to the pain of putting weight on it, sand gets into the wound and increases the burns pain. She snarls furiously and fires at Astrid again.
.
Nora smiles a little. "Told you you're nice. If you weren't you wouldn't have let the pig go.

It pained her to see Twilight hurting so much but there wasn't anything she could do about it yet.

 

"That all you got??" Astrid jumped away from the deadly fireball, dashing around behind the dragon. In the thickening darkness of she barely spotted a small boulder in her path and evaded.  "I've gotten better burns from a campfire!"

Inwardly she was on a very different track 'that's two,' she told herself, never staying long in one place.  'Only eight more to go before this gets really interesting.'

.

If he could blush he would. "I want to be. But when things get tough I always go back to my old habits." A look of frustration crossed his countenance. "Whish I had a different name, too. Tief, pfft. You know that's not even my name? I don't know what my name is, that's just what people call me everywhere I go."

 

Argos stirred, then blinked awake. It was dark?? How- how long had he been out?

He looked down at his notebook, half a wardenrain barely visible in the low light and picked up his pen to finish.

The man's hand hovered there, going back and forth between drawing the next line. Silently he pulled away, turning pages in the book until he was near the end. This time he didn't draw, he wrote, and thought very carefully about what he put down. 

When he finished he closed the book, put it safely in his satchel and made himself comfortable for the night, leaving his two captives to chatter away the night if they so pleased.

.

Crickets chirped and cold had settled in the sun's absense. Bonny lifted her head, face strained and weary beyond her years. She stood slowly, perhaps weakly and wandered through the woods after Nightfury tracks. They disappeared at one point and she sighed. It was Graces way of saying 'leave me alone'.

sccrrapppee, Her ears picked up a very familiar but out-of-place sound.

Scraappe, scrrrrape, scccrraaapppeee...

With resolve the teen navigated her surroundings to find the source of that agitating noise.

Twilight snarls and turns around to keep track of Astrid. She fires twice, trying to cut off and corner her opponent.

Nora blinks in surprise. "Oh! Well, I can call you something else if you'd prefer."

Get out get out get out! The Viking gripped her shield and axe tightly, feeling Twilight narrow the space that she could run in. Two more fireballs glowed brightly in the dime light; one she ran from but the other she went at anyway. It hit and splintered her shield into a thousand pieces, knocking her to the ground and the wind from her lungs, but she had slipped out of the pincer manauver and was free to move around again. Astrid rolled over thrice before bouncing back to her feet, her axe now her only ally against Twilight's fire.

 

.

He looked sheepish. "Would you... would you pick one for me?"

 

.

Sccrraaapeee!! Grace grimaced, sitting just beyond a cluster of trees on the edge of the northern cliffs, staring out at the sky peppered with a million tiny specks of light. How did one make this blasted contraption sing?? She lowered her gaze and the instrument in her hands.

"Sorry Ebony. I can't imagine what that sounds like to your ears." The girl said quietly, head still low as a hand reached out and stroked her friend on the neck.

Twilight grins wickedly as Astrids shield shatters. She tries again to get closer, but like before it proves too painful. With a furious hiss, she shoots two more fire balls in the same way as the last two.
.
Nora's eyes widen in surprise. "Me? O-ok, uh, let me think." She looks around slowly. "Pine? Spark? Ripple? Blaze?"
.
Ebony flicks her ears, sore from the discordant noise. "It's ok" she warbles, then licks Grace's face, trying to comfort her.

 

That was too close, Astrid caught her breath, flipping out of the way. But only four more to go!

She switched tactic and rushed toward Twilight hoping to make her react defensively and fire a few more on Astrids time instead of her own.

 

.

"Hmmm." he glanced down at his mottling of brownish and green. "I like Pine, it sounds pleasant, and woodsy. Thank you Nora."

Despite himself he yawned, worn out. "We should get some rest. Don't want cuckoo over there feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed when we're not." He sighed, wanting to wish her goodnight but knowing that was a stretch considering their situation. "We'll put our heads together in the morning, figure out something, ok?" The terror said instead, and slowly his eyelids fell.

 

Twilight shoots two more fire balls at Astrid, this time to try and keep her at bay. She's about to shoot a third, but pauses, holding the flames in her mouth. She then makes a ring of fire around herself in defence.
.
Nora smiles. "You're welcome." She nods slowly and yawns too as the terror suggests they get some sleep. "You're right.. see you in the morning, Pine."

 

One left!

A wall of flames rose between the two, casting eerie shadows against the angered black and red nightmare. Astrid ran even faster, and just before jumping into the fire she skid, spraying a blast of sand ahead of her. It quelched a small section of the firewall, and only for a few brief seconds but Astrid took it. She was in, and face to face with the furious, hurting dragon!

"I'm your friend Twilight," The Viking said boldly, staring into her hateful eyes.

 

.

The terror trilled softly back before drifting into a deep sleep.

 

.

Slobbery as it was Grace took the face-cleaning with open arms.

A twig snapped. She glanced back, somewhat tentative about the two of them being out alone but when she recognized who it was she turned away again.

Bonny came up anyway and like Grace had done for her sat down beside her. She was quiet for a long time and Grace by no means felt any inclination to break that silence. Instead, she unconsciously pulled the instrument in her hands close, strings making weird noises as she moved her fingers and they brushed agains her clothing. The bow too bounced with an odd hiss until she stilled. Then the only sounds were the crickets in the grass and the waves breaking against rock far below.

"Papa's violin," Bonny glanced sideways at it. "I... thought that's what I heard."

"Brought it," The younger muttered, "Because I wanted to hear it sing again."

"It sounded nice."

"I'm not deaf," she scowled into the dark "... though I should be after that racket." With a softening attitude she offered the instrument to Bonny. The teen took it as two parts of her fought fiercely with each other, one wanting to scream and chuck this painful reminder off the edge of the cliff, the other wanting to bury her face in it and weep.

"I'm sorry Grace." She whispered while staring down, "That I've been such a rotten big sister to you."

"I forgive you. And I sort of already knew about the Dragonblood thing." She answered, her posture witnessing to an acceptance of defeat. "Hoped against it at every turn but deep down I knew."

"Wasn't fair for either of us." The older felt her anger rise again; not at Grace but cruel irony.

"Would you play a song?"

"...What do you want me to play?" She asked with trepidation.

Grace looked out at the water, mostly dark, but with bright splotches of golden moonlight sparking off of some.

"Song of the Sea."

 

Twilight's eyes widen, and sat Astrid's words they soften for a split second. That familiarity vanishes almost as soon as it appears and the nightmare snarls. She rears up a little, avoiding putting weight on her injured wing, and slashes at the viking with her good wing.
.
Nora sighs softly and drifts off to slowly too.
.
Ebony twitches her tail a little nervously while the sisters are silent. As they start to talk quietly, the night fury relaxes.

 

Astrid dove underTwilight to pop back up beside her tail. "Still your friend," she said, tapping her gently with the blunted axe to let her know where she was.

 

 

.

Ohhh not that. Bonny lamented. Standing she tweaked the atrociously out-of tune strings and tightening the bow while she stalled, now battling what she wanted versus what Grace wanted.

"I just want to hear it sing again." Her little sister whispered.

The older looked down at the younger, moved with compassion for some else, for the first time since that day. Grace did hurt, and she needed this... Bonny knew exactly how that felt.

Wordlessly she tried the strings, casting a glance Ebony's way. Not one one of them screeched, but each softly, gently hummed the note it was meant to. Bonny took in a deep breath and played the introductory notes of the lullaby... they were meant for a guitar but she made due perfectly well on the fiddle. 

Soon the tune came to lyrics, but Bonny couldn't find her voice to sing them.

Grace closed her eyes, curling into a ball with her arms wrapped around her legs. When the tune approached the lyrics Bonny couldn't sing she filled the empty space.

 

Between the fiddle and Grace's words, they were swept toward sweet visions of their early childhood filled with warm lantern light. They watched him from their tiny shared bed, all geared up for another long night of deep-sea fishing. But was their a complaint on his tired face? No. His eyes danced as he played for the children he loved about the sea which called him. 

 

"Hush now, mo stóirín,

Close your eyes and sleep
Waltzing the waves!
Diving in the deep!

Stars are shining bright
The wind is on the rise
Whispering words
Of long lost lullabies

Oh won't you come with me!
Where the moon is made of gold
And in the morning sun
We'll be sailing!

Oh won't you come with me,
Where the ocean meets the sky!
And as the clouds roll by
We'll sing the song of the sea!"

 

Twilight snarls and whips at Astrid with her tail, trying to knock her over. 'Why isn't she attacking? Is this a test?' she thinks, having forgotten what she'd agreed as her human self.
.

Ebony closes her eyes and purrs as the song fills the air.

 

Two silvery, winged reptiles stretched peacefully on a shore under a partly cloudy canopy of stars, miles north of Berk. "That was a fine meal, darling," The larger of the two said, licking a few fresh bones clean. "I don't know how you always pick the tastiest whales."

"It's all in the mottling," She smiled. "That's how you tell it's ripe for the pickings"

"Grrr!" 

A small, and starkly orange, red and yellow version of the two chatting quietly dragged a log over. "Look what I found," He said proudly.

"Oh very nice Firefly!" His mother said encouragingly. "But that looks a little too big for you to carry on our migration."

"I can carry it!" The little one defended, puffing out his chest. "I'm strong, like dad. Pleaaassseeee can I keep it?"

"I don't know..."

"Oh it's alright darling. If he gets tired of holding it I can take over, since I am so big and strong after all."

The mother dragon rolled her eyes in good humor. "Alright. But we best be on our way."

All three fanned and beat their magnificent wings before taking off, Firefly's talons dug deep and determinedly in his new toy. He followed his parents huffing and puffing, mother checking every few minutes on his progress.

 

Some time later in the high altitude they traveled at, almost to their desired jet stream she started having misgivings. "How are you doing back there, son?" 

"Just... fine!" He wheezed. She sent a look to her mate.

"Right. Ok, sport, what say I take over while were in the Windriver."

The young dragon didn't argue, and obediently handed his precious log over. He tried to take it, but the little one's claws were so deeply set in the wood he couldn't get them out.

"Come on Firefly, let go,"

"I'm trying," he said, a little unnerved as his tired wings whipped so close to the wind river. Without warning a the jetstream snaked down and snatched the fiery shortwing, flinging both him and the log forward before chucking them back out!

"Son!!" Both parents cried in alarm, losing sight of him as he, with his talons still stuck in the hunk of wood plummeted into the clouds!

 

Jason flies steadily on sore wings. 'Ugh, maybe I shouldn't have set out so soon after waking up after all' he thinks, frustrated. 'No.. I didn't have a choice, I had to set out immediately. There's no time to waste, I have to save Nora.' A scream of terror rips him from his thoughts and he looks up quickly to see a flame coloured something dropping from the clouds. Jason hesitates, then quickly flies up to breaking the creatures fall. The force of the impact and the weight of the young dragon and log drag Jason towards the ocean, but at a slower speed as the deathgripper flaps hard. He takes a moment to look at what he's rescuing and frowns. "What are you?"

 

Astrid jumped over, then ducked back under Twilight to come out behind her injured wing, tapping the same way she had earlier. 

Don't forget she has one more fireball, She told herself repeatededly after seeing a flicker of hesitation in the Nigthmare. There could be no trusting her until that last fireball was used up One more, one more.

"Getting a bit slow there, girl." She teased, faking a yawn. "Past your bedtime?"

 

.

Firefly shrank back from this sudden face to face with a deathgripper. They rivaled each other in size, but as much as Jason was built for battle Firefly was built to soar, not fight.  "A-a-a Silver Phantom," the young dragon stammered through dry lips, "What- what are you??"

 

"...We'll sing the song of the sea." Ian plucked the strings pizzicato style. "Hush now, mo' stoirin, close you're eyes and sleep…"

"Papa you did it again."

"What am I doin," He continued to strum, "that's makin, you weep?"

"Sing the whole song" Bonny scowled as Grace giggled to his impromptu. "Don't a go back and sing the same part over and over sing the whole song."

"The rest of it's borin, and dare I say sappy..."

"Papa!"

"Alright! You win, but I play unhappily." 

Grace burst into laughter as he made an awful pouting face and kept it for this bit of the tune.

"Oh won't ya come with me-"

"Oi you're supposed to be putting them asleep not riling them up!"

"-Where yer mums a-face is red,"

"Ian!"

"Papa those still aren't the right words..."

"And in the morning sun, I'll be sailing fer my li-fe!" He belted over objections; Grace shook the bed she was laughing so hard and Bonny couldn't help but join.

"Oh won't ya come with me, Where the ocean meets the sky! And where the clouds roll by, there, I'll be safe from me wife."

...

A crisp wind made both girls shiver, warm memories fading into dark blue hues of night and the true words of the song.

"I had a dream last night,

And heard the sweetest sound.

I saw a great white light,

And dancers in the 'round.

Castles in the sand,

and Cradles in the trees.

Don't cry, I'll see you by and by.

 

Oh, won't you come with me,

Where the moon is made of gold.

And in the morning sun...

We'll be sailing free...

Oh won't you come with me,

where the ocean... meets the sky,

and as the clouds roll by...

we'll sing the song of the sea."

The tears did threaten but Grace pushed bravely through her part. "Rollin'... rollin... Rollin... ro-llin."

Bonny closed her eyes and set her jaw, determined to play the fiddle solo through.

And she did, all the way up until she realized with her eyes closed and his fiddle singing, it sounded just like he was there with them on that little ledge, playing for them one more time.

The poor girl finally broke. 

Grace spun in alarm as her sister, the bow, and the fiddle all dropped to the ground.

"Bonny!" She scrambled to her feet and over to the crumpled figure. 

"It hurts so much!" She wept, "I didn't. I don't know what to do with it. I locked it up and then there was nothing and that was worse. But it hurts. It hurts Grace. How do I stop hurting?"

"You cry," Her little sister hugged her, joining in her tears. "We cry, together."

As the sisters huddled, walls that had built up between them broken down, Grace reached out looking for Ebony... and similarily so did Bonny.

Twilight loses the tiny sliver of patience that she'd had and shoots the last of her fire at Astrid.
.
"Deathgripper dragonblood" Jason answers gruffly, struggling to keep himself, the silver phantom and the log from crashing into the cold water. "Let go of that log, you're too heavy."
.
Ebony curls around the girls protectively, wrapping them both up in her wings.

...well, Twilight may have lost her temper, but Astrid swore never to tell anyone just how close she'd come to losing her head. It shot by so fast that it temporarily blinded her, scorched the tip of her nose and her eyebrows.

"Hey Twilight," The Viking spun her axe out of habit, "You're out of fire. Guess that doesn't make this a very even match anymore does it? You want me to tie an arm behind my back?" She continued to rile, forcing her own flashbacks of a very different Berk back into her past. This was exactly how they k.illed dragons, back in that day: first draw all their fire, then wear them down.

The wearing down part usually had a lot more people involved but Astrid was determined to endure. Twilight's injury was a big advantage to that end, and though Astrid was not breathing particularly heavy she definitely wasn't breathing lightly either. Wind picked up; being hot from all that running around made the cool air feel good. 

 

.

"Dra- dragonblood?" Firefly gulped. "What do you mean by that?"

Before he could get an answer Jason moved on to the problem at hand. Or claw.

"I'm trying my talons are stuck!" The young dragon yanked, showing how deeply dug in they really were. He also beat his wings but there wasn't much strength in them at the moment.

 

.

Together under Ebony's sheltering wings the sisters felt something new: A quiet feeling, laced with sadness and the comfort of one another at the same time. 

Sweetly bitter, Bonny thought, drifting toward her first peaceful sleep sleep in weeks.

Just a tad bitter, but sweet, Grace felt a soft, not quite happy smile but a contented one come to her face.

 

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LissaFish
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Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 02/12/2017
Argos' End PT7

"I'll rip you to shreds!" Twilight roars, lunging at Astrid. Her tail meanwhile passes the the ring of fire and sets the gel on her scales alight. Her whole body soon becomes engulfed in flames.
.
"If we survive this I'll explain. Stop flapping, just spread your wings, it'll slow us down better. Call your pack while I try to get this log off your claws." Jason repositions himself and sinks his tusks into the wood, then yanks down, trying to pull it off Firefly's claws.

 

Astrid kicked sand toward the incoming dragon's eyes and started right, then switched directions and went left. 

"Whoa!" she stumbled, forgetting that the pieces of her ruined shield were scattered across the sand. 

 

.

"Ok." Firefly took in a deep breath, stretching his wings. They did just what Jason said they would do and it helped slow their descent very well. "Mama! Papa!" He called out as the Deathgripper yanked down. 

"Hey, hey I can feel my talons wiggle!" The young dragon said hopefully. "Do that again!"

"Son!" His parents cried back, appearing behind and a fare ways away. They made terrible shrieks as they spotted Jason however.

"SON WE'RE COMEING!"

"GET AWAY FROM HIM YOU SICK CREATURE!"

Warning shots were fired!

 

Twilight quickly closes her eyes and snorts the sand out of her nose. She shakes her head and blinks a few times to make sure it's all gone, then she whips around in pursuit of Astrid.
.
Jason growls as the warning shots zip by uncomfortably close. "Quit it! I'm trying to help him!" he roars at the furious parents. Turning his attention back to the log, he yanks down again, harder this time.

 

Astrid bounced back up, just barely in time to avoid both the nightmares scorching fire and her fangs. The ring had died down low enough that if she was fast she could get through without burning her skin or clothes so she made the jump, feeling in Twilights heightened fury the need for a little more space than the ring allowed.

 

Jason yanked and at last fireflys talons were freed! He spun backward in the sudden weightlessness of it before finding his balance again.

unfortunately both the motion Jason made and Fireflys made it look like the deathgripper had struck the young dragon. Neither parent in their terror and predisposition about Deathgrippers even noticed the log break away, and came flying. Papa for Firefly and mama with all the rage of a bear robbed of her cubs at Jason. She fired a much more lethal shot at the supposed enemy before clashing and locking talons in battle

 

Twilight snarls and tries to give chase, but her wing flares up in pain again. 'No! Must kill! Don't give in!' she thinks. With a hiss of pain and fury, she slowly limps forward through the dying flames after Astrid. Her eyes flash in triumpf and she snaps at the viking again.

 

Jason tries to dodge the mother silver phantoms fire, and succeeds in avoiding fatal damage, but his back crest gets burnt quite badly. Before he can regain his balance, Fireflys mother grabs and slashes him with her talons. He struggles to break free while also fighting his own instincts to attack. He does give her a few slashes before he gets control of himself, but they're not too serious. Suddenly he gets an idea and shifts to human form, plummeting towards the water. He grits his teeth as the pain from the burn on his back increases, but he curls up to avoid death on impact with the ocean.

 

She saw those long fangs coming. She twisted out of their way... and cursed herself and her stupid hair as it mirrored her actions and flicked right between those jaws! There was no time for clever moves or smooth words, Twilight would k.ill her if given the chance and she had the chance. With her blunted axe Astrid sruck at the dragon, side of the head and with all her might!

"No!" She snarled, "I'm still your friend but you're aren't getting a piece of me!"

Whether she knocked sense into it our out she didn't care at the moment, just as long as she could get away. 

 

.

"Ahh!" The mother dragon drew back in shock as the deathgripper turned into a human! Briefly taken off her guard she watched it fall toward the sea until her eyes went hard and she dove after. Human, deathgripper, narwal she didn't care anything willing to harm her son would be destroyed!

"Mama waaaiiitt! Don't do it!"

Firefly's plea was clouded out of her mind as she honed in on the curled figure, talons extended.

A flash of dark silver and the father dragon flew between her and Jason, catching the latter just before impact with the water.

"Nolan!" She shrieked, speading her wings to their fullest to keep from colliding with him. "Kill it!"

"Zephyr!" He gasped, clearly winded.  "He was helping Firefly not attacking. Firefly says so!"

Firefly came fluttering down to join them."Are you that deathgripper??" he hovered around Jason with fretful grunts, sniffing out the burn on his back. "You smell like him, and the nose doesn't lie like the eyes do. Are you ok??"

 

Completely caught off guard by the strike, Twilight staggers, puts too much pressure on her injured wing and collapses with a hiss of pain. She struggles to get up, her head and wing throbbing. Panting, her eyes fix on Astrid, but with a little less of that burning fury. 'Friend... fights... doesn't kill...' she thinks, trying to understand Astrids actions and intentions.
.
Jason instinctively shifts to hybrid form with a grunt of pain as Nolan grabs him. His eyes open slowly while Firefly's father defends him, then Firefly comes over and checks on him. "Yup, I'm the deathgripper. I'll live. Thanks, I owe you" he answers in dragontounge, panting a bit. "This is what I meant by dragonblood, by the way. A shapeshifter, born human with dragon blood in my veins."

 

The piece driftwood splintered away from Astrids weapon, leaving it bare and deadly once more. If she had to use it again she'd have to be very, very careful.

Twilight collapsed and as she struggled to get back up Astrid waited, not taking advantage of her vulnerability. She knew what she needed to do now, but bided her time. 'I have to defeat her fairly, beyond a question,' The Viking thought, catching her breath in the lull; 'she's fraying at the edges of her resolve, but only when she falls to the my complete mercy will she understand.'

 

.

Firefly gasped. "You ARE the deathgripper! That's really weird." He smiled and shook his head. "Are you kidding I owe you. Sorry about my parents, they're a little >cough< *over protective* >cough<"

"We are not!" Zephyr snapped, still in child-protection mode. "My son, you have yet to meet either deathgripper or hooman, both are dreadful creatures to be avoided or destroyed."

"That's untrue,"

"Oh you're not going to insist about that now..." The female dragon edged closer with head and neck coiled, looking for an opening to strike Jason like a snake.

"I was raised by a fine old hooman once. A small thing, lost and alone, never met my pa and my mother lost to ailment and wolves. He didn't know what I was and I didn't know what he was, and because of it we were closest of friends. I only left when him when I met you my dear, and he understood."

"Yes yes we've all heard that story." Zephyr bared her teeth at Jason. "I've had different experiences with the two legged kind. But aside, he's a creepy one and turns into deathgripper! You know what they say about deathgrippers."

"Yes... and I know what they say about hoomans and they're wrong at least... a third of the time. And see? Firefly is in perfect health- better now thanks to our friend here, who freed him from his toy." Nolan sent his son a sideways look and the young dragon returned it with a sheepish grin. "...maybe because he's both, he's different?"

The mother finally began to simmer down. "I suppose you're right," She relented, her eyes softening toward the dragonblood in Nolan's talons. "Th- thank you, for not harming him."

"Thank you for saving him," The father dragon added, loosing his grip. "Can you fly? How bad is that?" he curled his long neck downward to gesture Jason's burn.

 

Twilight stiffens at the sight of the axe. She bares her teeth, glancing around the cove for a moment before glaring at Astrid again. 'She's trying to control me. Just like the other humans in the ring!' she thinks. She roars angrily, then starts to circle the viking, her injured wing on the outside.
.
Jason relaxes and sighs in relief. "You're welcome. Thanks for not killing me" he smiles. It fades quickly as he slowly flaps his wings. Pain shoots through him, making him grit his teeth and suck in a sharp breath. "I'll live.. just.. have to rest a few days" he says, his eyes growing duller. 'I was trying to avoid rest.. who knows how far ahead Argos is by now? I'll never catch up at this rate' he thinks, worry and frustration showing on his face.

 

"hey I'm not not going to defend myself, prickly." She shrugged, and though she didn't like it backed away. The more Twilight had to move the more tired she would get, all the better for Astrid. She tensed, waiting for another attack. 

 

.

"Who is Argos?" Firefly blinked innocently. A moment later he was hissing an objection as his mother fussed over him. 
"Well which direction are you headed?" Nolan asked. "We're going north on the Windriver, maybe we can give you a lift."

zephyr sent him a look but didn't object

 

Twilight stops, desperation and fear making her try to think rather than attack instantly. 'I have to destroy her or she'll beat me and take control of me. But how?' Her eyes light up as she spots the broken piece of driftwood. She lunges, grabs the wood in her mouth and holds it against herself until her flame jacket lights it on fire. She throws the burning wood at Astrid.
.
"Argos is.." Jason starts, then hesitates. "A monster that I'm trying to hunt down." He looks up at Nolan. "I'm heading northwest. I would really appreciate a lift if it's not too much trouble. You.. haven't heard of a place called Dragons Down, have you?"

 

Baffled at first, Astrids eyes widen as Twilight chucks the flaming hunk of wood her way. Swinging her axe like a baseball bat she hits and splits the wood in two but part of it still struck and burned her in the arm.

She grit her teeth. The dragon was onto her game and it wasn't the type of game that Astrid could play indefinitely, desite what that stubborn, slightly egotistic side was telling her. 

 

.

"Dragon's D'own... no I'm afraid not. You dear?"

Zephyr shook her head.

"Sorry, no good to you on that end, but I'd be happy to give you a lift." Nolan gestured. "Climb on,"

"Nolan," Zephyr said nervously. Inviting a deathgripper, as in the dragon that clamps down on other dragon's wings and then stabs them in the back with their retractable tusks was either saying I trust you wholeheartedly or please just k.ill me now.

"We can take you as far Northwest as the Isle of Greed. (*Island Tief was on*) But I should warn you most dragons find it hard to breath in the Windriver, and it's very cold."

"And windy."

"Yes Firefly, and windy."

"Why are you hunting a Monster?" The shortwing asked. "I thought the rule was always fky away from monsters."

Twilight stalks closer, puffing herself up to make herself look bigger, tougher and more threatening. She tries her best not to limp. 'She can't touch me while I still have fire' she thinks, baring her teeth.
.
Jason nods. "Thank you very much" he smiles. Staying in hybrid form, to keep his instincs under control and not to worry Zephyr too much, he lands on Nolans back and holds on. "I'm hunting him because... well, he's too dangerous to be allowed to roam free. And he took my... mate away and is holding her prisoner" he answers Firefly.

Astrid swung her ace in impatient circles, deciding her next move.

... her axe. Oooo she didn't like it but the idea would more than likely get them out of this rut. 
she let the weapon fling from her hands and bury in the sand. "I am your friend," the Viking stood unarmed and yet fiercely bold against her fury

 

.

"you have a mate and she was kidn.apped?? What happened? Why did the monster take her? Do you guys have kids? How many do you have? Did the kids get kidna.pped too? Or did you leave them home by theirselves while you fight the monster?"

"Firefly," his mother scolded, "where are your manners?"

"What do you mean too dangerous to roam free?" Nolan didn't like the sound of that. "What is this monster that stole your mate?? Is it a hooman?"

Zephyr studied him. "Or a shapeshifter like you? No dragon would hold another prisoner."

"mmmm an alpha would." Nolan mused.

"well yes an alpha would... you aren't going after an alpha are you?" She wondered just how closely connected they wanted to appear to this stranger.

 

Twilight pauses, then heads straight for the axe, wanting to destroy the weapon. A particularly big wave breaks suddenly, splashing the nightmare. Her flames go out instantly and she snarls furiously. She quickly turns and changes at Astrid, but can't move as fast as earlier since her flames aren't there to keep sand out of her wound.
.
Jason purses his lips, trying to find the right way to explain. "He's another deathgripper shapeshifter. He hunts dragons and shapeshifters for sport. He's targeting Dragons Down, but needs a way to get his victims out of there without being attacked. He's stolen my mate because she's a deathsong shapeshifter. And no, Firefly, we don't have kids yet."

 

As Twilight beelined for the axe Astrid started in horror. No not her axe! Anything but her axe! A sleeper wave turned the tables on that, however, rolling the nightmare into its pull and snuffing out her fire.

The Viking blinked, eyes that had been on the fiery dragon readjusting to the dark of night just in time to see she had switched targets. Weaponless she met the charge with a sprint and a jump, sliding down behind Twilight over her good wing

 

 

 

.

"...are you going to have kids?"

"Firefly!"

"What??"

Zephyr trailed from the conversation trying to get her son into some semblence of order. It was just as well, she wouldn't have liked what Jason had to say.

"That's quite the story," Nolan muttered. A shapshifting hunter of sport with a deathsong at his command... and they were headed straight for it! He worked hard not to glance at his wife and son, "Sounds... terrifying. What is Dragon's D'own, that this creature cares so much about it?

 

Twilight whips her head around, snapping her jaws shut on thin air. She swipes at Astrid with her tail. 'Must kill, must kill, must know' she thinks, snapping at her opponent again in desperation, knowing that with the injury, lack of fire and long day behind her, she can't keep this up much longer.
.
(I was thinks along the lines of a Toothless vs Sleuther fight too. Nightmare Twilight will obey Astrid after that, but not trust her, so a gentle approach will be needed afterwards.
And nope, the phantoms haven't asked yet XD)
.
"I'm pretty sure it's a place full of shapeshifters. No-one knows much about it though, it's been kept a secret. From what I know, some of Argos's targets have escaped and hidden there for years. He's just found out where it is." Jason smiles a little as he looks over at Firefly. "Maybe."

 

Astrid dodges the dragon's tail, then sees where the boulder she'd nearly tripped over is. As the tail comes back toward her she pushes the large rock over it to pin it down, if only momentarily, and at the same time leap out of the way as Twilight snakes her head around, open maw bearing down once more. She then ducks under the dragon and comes out at her front, snatching up her axe again before Twilight can think to destroy it.

 

.

The dark silver dragon nodded slowly. Did any of that make sense to him? Not really. But he could tell Jason was being genuine... though the fleeting thought that perhaps this shapeshifting deathgripper was describing himself, and not another did cross his mind. "I hmm..." He cleared his throat. "If, if you need assistance in this confrontation, I owe you a debt and offer my services. But I don't want my mate or son to have any part of this..." He blinked, surprised at himself. "...I'm sorry, I don't think I caught your name."

 

Twilight shrieks and throws herself at the rock pinning her tail. Despite her best efforts, trying to free her tail just makes her more tired and sore. She gives up and faces Astrid again, panting, fear flickering in her hateful eyes.
.
"I'm Jason. Thanks for the offer, but... I don't want anyone else to get hurt."

 

Astrid approached cautiously. still ready for anything. Twilight could be faking it. She could be slowly freeing her tail, she could be stalling until she could recharge her fire. 

...But, unless she was mistaken, that was fear beneath all the hate in the nightmare's eyes. She wasn't feeling too confident at the moment. Astrid resettled her grip on the axe, holding it ready to swing with one arm, the other hand slowly moving to her pocket. She managed to get right up to the worn out, injured nightmare's neck.

"I'm your friend," the Viking repeated for what felt like the hundredth time, kneeling beside Twilight's bad wing. "I'm not here to claim you, to make you work for me, to harm you, or even fight with you. I'm here to prove you have friends Twilight."

The axe head came down-

harmlessly, into the sand, only it's handle resting against the tired dragon's body. Astrid brought forth the contents of her pocket; herbal plants that she'd picked up on the way to this little cove, with medicinal and soothing properties. She also brought forth... albeit now pretty badly squished, a special dragon treat. "Found this earlier. Was going to give it to Stormfly but I think you'd enjoy it better." She said, crushing the plantleaves in her hand and rubbing their juices into the wound. At first they would sting, but in only seconds the pain would disappate into more of a mild irritation.

 

.

"A pleasure to meet you Jason. And, as you probably already know by now I'm Nolan, and this is my mate Zephyr and son Firefly."

He nodded; and though slightly perplexed didn't pursue the subject any further.

"Hey look we're passing our island again," Firefly looked down at the thoroughly cleaned whale carcass, eyeing that long, unicorn horn of a tooth. "...cannn I just go grab that..."

"NO." Both parents said resolutely, wagging their heads. Firefly was a challange, that nobody could deny!

Slowly the dragons climbed, back into the upper atmosphere where the air was bitterly cold and the winds strong.

"Be careful to save your breath, don't do too much talking." Firefly told Jason. "If you talk a lot in the windriver you'll get tired and dizzy."

"That's right," Zephyr nodded approvingly, turning to Jason as well. She was a much nicer dragon when she wasn't worried for the safety of her son. "The air is very thin up here and harder to breath at the speed we travel, so you'll want to be careful."

"And we'll be sure to make extra stops if you need them," Nolan added, "Just tap me three times and we'll jump back out."

 

Despite a desperate part of her mind screaming to finish the viking, Twilight flops down, defeated. She flinches and bares her teeth in pain as Astrid rubs the plant juices into her wing, then blinks as the pain dulls. She looks at Astrid suspiciously, snorting a tiny bit at the woman's words. She cautiously sniffs at the treat, but doesn't take it yet.

 

"Ok, thanks" Jason says, flattening himself against Nolans back as much as possible. Breathing slowly and steadily, he studies the silver phantoms scales. 'If my vision blurs, I'm not getting enough air and I'll have to get them out of here' he thinks. 'I'm coming, Nora. Just hang on a little longer.'

 

Finishing up with the salve Astrid came up to Twilight's head, and as she'd seen Hiccup do earlier rubbed that itchy spot around the Nightmare's horns. She offered the slightly squished piece of dragonfruit again, risking her hand as it came near to the ringfighter's teeth.

 

.

The three silver phantoms... er, well two, silver and one fiery red yellow and orange approached the jetstream once more. Zephyr watched Firefly hop in, then followed suit. Nolan waited a moment longer seeming contemplative. He wanted to say something, to encourage the young dragonblood, but the words wouldn't come. So he too entered the stream, winds tilted to make the best of the current and quickly joining him with his mate and son. Clouds seemed to whip by below and occasionally around them, faster than they did for any dragon under normal circumstances and a distance that would take a deathgripper an hour to travel was only fifteen minutes here. They were making good time.

 

.

Green eyes glinted in the dark, the rest of the fury's body all but invisible as it stalked in the shadows of night. He'd followed his nose to a little cliff.

"Ebony?" Toothless trilled softly, noting how she was curled and her wing position. "My boy is looking for your hoomans." He sniffed. "Do you have them? Are they ok?"

 

Twilight growls softly as Astrid moves around to her head, but the instant she starts rubbing around the nightmares horns, she stops growling. She goes completely limp, her eyes glaze over a little and all emotion drains from them. As if in a trance, she carefully takes the dragonfruit from Astrids hand and swallows. Her pupils widen a little and she blinks a few times, surprised by how nice it tastes.

 

Jason stiffens as the freezing wind whips around him and snatches his breath away. He shuts his eyes, trying to focus on breathing. After a few seconds, he works out a rythm and opens his eyes a little.

 

Ebony lifts her head at the familiar voice. "Hi Toothy! Yeah, they're here... I'm not sure if they're ok though. They were angry at each other and fought, but now they're sad together, they're not fighting anymore."

 

... this was the part she wasn't so great with. Astrid was good at fighting, showing tough love, and defending but when it came time to just be there for someone she struggled. She was a doer, always at work always busy.

Yet contrary to all this she sat down next to the nightmare... next to Twilight who had suffered through so many unspeakable things, next to the dragonblood she had worked with since day one to prove she really did belong in Berk... and it wasn't so hard to just be still. She looked up at the beautiful canopy of stars, mind wandering to what ridiculous pose Stormfly was undoubtably posing in her sleep. That dragon, a smile softened her lips as she continued to stroke that spot on the nightmare

 

Twilight licks around her mouth, savoring the dragonfruit's flavor. As she starts to sink back into a trance from the stroking, her eyes land on Astrid. For the first time, she properly takes in everything about the viking. Her soft smile, kind words, the mercy she'd shown and the scent of dragons, but without any fear-scent. The nightmare looks up at the stary sky and sighs quietly. The ice in her heart slowly begins to melt.

"Oh."

 

hoomans. Toothless could never make head more tails out of their strange ways."as long as you're all ok, carry on." He scowled. "And maybe practice you're guarding a little Ebony, I wasn't trying to sneak up on you." In a flurry of wind he fluttered off to tell his boy.

 

Hazel green eyes watched from their vantage point in the trees above the cove, smiling. A green tipped wing stretched  and an ear flap rose at the barely noticeable movement of air. 
"Did you find them Toothless?" He asked softly in dragontongue.

"I found them," Toothless flipped, enjoying his solo tail. "They are ok, Ebony's keeping watch."

"...oh. Umm that's not particularly encouraging."

"I know." The dragon said, ornery twinkle in his own eye.

"Toothless," Hiccup couldn't help but grin. "Alright well as long we know where all the peas are I'm good with that."

"And I'll keep watch tonight, real watch not Ebony style."

"I can help," the fury shifted to hybrid and pounced on his dragon on the first swoop by.

"No, you sleep," Toothless trilled softly. "I can stay awake and alert for days, but your still human. You'll need all the rest you can get for tomorrow."

 

Ebony puts her ears back in a sulk as Toothless flies off. 'I'm great at guarding! I knew it was him so I didn't need to jump up! And I'm busy looking after these two, I can't be pacing up and down!' she thinks. Nonetheless, she keeps her head raised and her ears pricked from then on.

Words spoken and vivid images tore Bonny from her sleep. She woke, startled and confused as to the black wing covering her until the fog lifted and she remembered where she was. She looked down at the fiddle between her and her still sleeping sister. It was cold out now, and the ground that it rested on damp. No place for a fine instrument like that.

 

I promise sweetheart... Despite your pathetic heritage your quite something...I couldn't kill the only one in existance, imagine what could be learned from you. What I could learn from you. 

Bonny's peaceful sleep was short lived, words whispering back into her ears... vivid images streaming through her mind. Thoughts woke her from her slumber and she crawled out from under Ebony's wings, arms wrapped tightly around herself. She felt like an onion. A sad little onion with too many layers to keep track of, and none of them very good. Layers of callousness, anger, defeat, contempt, fear, and lastly, hurt. Hurt was the middle. She didn't want hurt she was afraid of hurt. Fear led to anger, and contempt lead to defeat, and all combined they led to suspicion and distrust, her cold outward persona.

Shifting to hybrid she continued to stare upward, that layer of defeat overwhelming.

She'd taken her home and family for granted back in Mykines. She tried to remedy that by being brave and taking care of her mother and sister, and when Papa came back, to mend their relationship. That went well... until she hadn't been there when he needed her the most. After that she failed her mum and sister, even hurting them purposefully like she had with Grace and the cruel truth tonight. Then she turned out to be the dragonblood, something she was absolutely sure she had no need to learn about, something she was absolutely sure she wanted nothing to do with. But it was what it was, so pushing aside bitter realization that she and her papa would have finally had something in common, when opportunity knocked, and she had a chance to face his murderer Argos played with her and and her mind like a rag doll. He could have k.illed me, Bonny scowled up at the stars. But he hadn't, and that, she secretly knew, felt worse. She wasn't a threat to him like Twilight, and she wasn't a waste of oxygen like her papa. She was a curiosity, something that he wanted to study. The thought sent a chill down her spine.  

 

 

She crawled out from under Ebony's wing, careful not to disturb Grace. 

Hints of color splashed her surroundings as the sky above ribboned in green streaks of the aurora, but Bonny paid it little heed.

"Don't mind me," The teen said, shifting to hybrid so she could speak to the fury. she found the blanket Grace had wrapped the musical instrument in and loosening the strings of both the bow and fiddle, returned it to the safe place in Ebony's >cough Toothless's cough< saddlebag. Her eyes flicked over to wide, clueless yellow. "I'm sorry I've been so mean to you," She muttered, self consciously fondling her floppy, dorky ears. "It wasn't right to take my anger out on you, or any of the other dragons. I... I was hurting, and scared." Her shoulders slumped defeatedly. "And for some reason whenever I fell either I seem to turn it to anger. Truth is I wish I was more like you, the other dragons, or Grace. I wish I could move on from painful things quickly or at least still see the beauty of other things even in their midst, but I'm just not wired that way."

 

 

The world fell eerily still. unnaturally so, even the waves below seemed to quiet. Under the dragon's wing Grace stirred, and every one of Bonny's senses tingled like something, or someone was near.

"Grace," Bonny said, looking around and seeing nothing.

 

"It's ok. I think Twilight's a bit like that. And you've got us to help you" Ebony purrs. She stiffens as she senses something nearby. She silently gets up, looking around carers and sniffing the air. "Wake Grace" she whispers to Bonny. "Who's there?" she growls loudly.

 

The air seemed to pause, yet in neither dragontongue or Norse was an answer forthcoming.

"Brrr," Grace curled into a chilled little ball, one tired green eye opening. "Bonny, that's the most beautiful thing I've ever heard,"

"What? What do you mean?"

"The music," Her brow furrowed and she sat upright, focus wandering to dancing ribbons of light in the sky. "You were just playing on the fiddle?"

"I wasn't playing any music." Bonny listened carefully. "And I don't hear any you must have been-"

Grace bounded to her feet and sprinted over to the cliff beside Bonny, eyes wide.

"Hey! What are you-" Bonny protested as her little sister drageed her to the edge.

"SHHHHH!" Grace hissed, still staring at the sky. Bonny felt ill at ease. "What is it? Can you tell?"

"I think-" her eyes darted to and fro, searching for movement. There! A distortion between her and the lights of night. A rythmic distortion.

"Papa's creature," she murmured.

"What do you mean by-"

 

The two hushed, Grace pointing at the spot that had been distorted as a sound filled the silent air. Melodious, soothing, inobtrusive, eathereal. It was impossible to tell from which direction it was coming, it seemed to bounce from the sky off the water and then back down again like a droplet of water.

Ebony warily pads to the edge of the cliff and follows the girls' gaze. Her eyes widen in wonder as she spots the creature. The fury sits down quietly, awed and relaxed as she watches and listens to the dragon floating through the northern lights.

The creature remained transluscent, but stars shimmered and the northern lights seemed to part the way for a body whose size should have been a terror to behold.

yet none of it's admirers felt fear, not even Bonny. "What is it??" she whispered her expression matching that of the nightfury, who she would find, to her own surprise, that she had reached out to and was petting.

"An Echo of Eden." Grace answered, piecing together a long, snakelike body and many fins according the the distortion of the stars and lights. She smiled. "Papa booped that things nose."

"...he what?"

"He told me. On a black night when the sea was glass and he was all alone and scared, it came down to investigate him, so he booped it's nose and it exploded into beautiful colors."

"That's amazing." She couldn't help but smile at the thought. Her father, her sensible, cautious father when faced with the unknown reached out and booped its nose.

"Doesn't it feel like a promise?" Grace whispered. "Like a reminder that the world was created right, and one day will be right again?"

Under the massive creature and its song a piece of Bonny's burden melted away. "It... it does." she stammered, and hesitantly wrapped her free arm around her.

Grace leaned into her, eyes glassy with joy. Her sister was coming back! It would be a slow journey, she knew, but she was still in there.

 

Ebony purrs softly and puts a wing around the sisters, her eyes still fixed on the beautiful dragon above.

 

Birds had begun to sing, coaxed the dawns arrival in that early morning bluish haze. The sea was quite and the tide out when Argos finally lifted his eyelids.

Stiffly, so very stiffly he got to his feet and forced himself to stretch and then shift. A chunk, missing out of his armor when Mareena had thrown the axe still throbbed, the pincer wounds from his, Mabin and Twilight's first encounters were better but not healed. 

His side was worse. Untreated, with hours of motion on top, it raged against him to abandon this homocidal, suic.idal campaign and recover, but he ignored.

He went back to human, taking his quiver and two satchels and laying their contents carefully in the sand, notebook open and in hand. Fifty ordinary bolts. Two puple darts. Thirty Oleander darts. A pouch of dragonroot. He checked these off a list. Woulda been nice if he'd had the sense to collect bandages or salve.

You didn't finish the drawing. His minds eye recalled of the half-sketched wardenrain. Finish the drawing...

He flipped to the point in the book and stared, releasing an inaudible sigh and strumming over to the page near the back he'd written on the night before. There was no time to finish it. There may not even be a point to finishing it.

Tapping the pencil against his chin he thought carefully before writing.

 

Tief's... or Pine's, as he made a point of remembering, eyes fluttered open with Argos motion. He watched warily as the man emptied his bags and did inventory, but from his vantage point couldn't see over the dune to what he had.

 

Nora wakes up to the sound of bird song. She stifles a yawn and blinks a few times. She smiles a little as she looks at Pine, but stiffens at the sight of Argos counting and taking notes of his weapons. She shrinks back as she sees how many oleander darts he has. 'And there are plenty of purple darts to keep me under control.. oh this is hopeless!' she thinks, upset.

 

Unaware, or otherwise uninterested in his captives waking Argos drank what was left in the waterskin, tied the empty vessel closed again shifted to dragon and stung it with his tail. The pouch slowly filled with venom until he pulled that dagger like end out, returned to human and carefully kept the contents from flowing out. One hand on the pouch he collected all his ordinary bolts, stabbing each tip, twice, into the hole he'd made with his tail.

"you are a sick creature," Pine growled, realizing the double dipping was the same dosage as two stings... and that was instant death.

"If I had a rune for ever time I heard that." He muttered back, somehow knowing exactly what the amber-covered terror had said.

"I hope you cut yourself on those."

"and then what?" He finally turned to face them, back to dragon once more and fanning his wings like he was readying to fly. "You two would hideslowly in your tombs of amber." 
"probably better than what you have planned for us."

"point."

without another word he took to the sky to scout the island for breakfast.

 

Pine waited a long while "hey," he whispered. "He's gone! We have to think fast!" He looked with his wide terror eyes at their surroundings., trying to put a plan together but struggling to get over the first part; getting out of the amber.

 

 

Twilight wakes up as the sun warms the sand in the cove. She yawns and sits up slowly, finding herself a nightmare hybrid form, having shifted in her sleep. She examines her injured arm, then looks over at Astrid. She smiles a little as last night's events run through her head. Staying put for the moment, she looks around and sighs softly, surprised to find herself content.

She didn't mean to say it... but they were both thinking it. Besides, Pine realized with a vengeance, he couldn't even turn his head far enough to shoot the amber.

How he wished he could give that hopeless deathsong hope! He always believed it wasn't over until the last breath... but slowly Argos' knack of stockholming was working its way into his doubts.

 

The sun was fully risen when Argos, blood on his fangs and a deer's leg between his teeth returned. He was using it's hoof like a toothpick and feeling accomplished and fed and in a moderately better mood. Spitting the leg out, he shifted to human pulled out his book and went over to Nora.

"Let's go through this again," He said, flipping through the pages to the faces he'd shown her last time. He stopped at the old nadder. "... did I show you this one last time?" He asked with brow furrowed.

 

 

Astrid stirred, stretched, and her eyes opened. "What," she scowled at her itchy, sand covered self. She'd fallen asleep on the beach?? Must have been more tired than she thought.

Well battling a dragon ten times your size will do that, A voice in her head muttered amusedly.

She flung herself upright.

"Suns up already??" She said with surprise. "Oh we got to get going!" She turned, no idea if Twilight had taken off or not and was pleasantly surprised by the dragonblood's calm demeanor. "Feeling better this morning?"

 

.

Bonny turned... and hissed, the stitches across her middle pulling suddenly in the new position and waking her. She sat up to find Ebony still guarding her with an extremely dutiful expression, and Grace wandered off.

"Grace?" She stood slowly, distracted by her floppy ears. Oh I'm still in hybrid, The teen realized. Meh might as well use it. "Where'd she go Ebony?"

 

Nora watches Argos flip through the book, full of dread. She frowns a bit as he shows her a page with a nadder on it. 'I don't remember properly, it's all jumbled.. but if I say yes, it might not be harmed too much' she thinks. She nods slowly. "Yes" she says quietly.
.
Twilight dips her head. "Yes. Thank you, Astrid" she says with a small smile. "The others.. will they accept me?" she asks warily after a short pause.
.
"Not far, said she was going to pick flowers" Ebony trills.

 

Argos stares at the picture hard, then mutters a curse when Nora nods. He'd told her he was not going kill any of the dragonbloods he had shown her...

I could send Tief after Thalius, he thought. ...no, she'd sniff a rat. Whatever he'd just have to get creative when he got there.

After going over the list again (except for Tief and Thalius) with Nora he gathered his things together and put them away in the satchel... all but one vial of purple liquid. 

Without warning he flung it like a playing dart at Pine! the terror screed in pain as it went through his right eye and blinded him.

"Nora," He rasped before the venom took his mind. "Fight him no matter what he does or threatens to do to me, while you still have the chance! Please for your own sake and for Dragons down. Between you and Argos.. they... don't...stand..."

He shook his head, blinking his good eye. A moment later Pine was gone and only a little mindless stooge in his place. Argos plucked the dart out of his eye. Seeing there was still some venom left he put it in a safe place for further use. He shifted to that hideous deathgripper and took Pine up in his mouth, salivating with remarkable care until the amber cracked. He then threw Pine on the ground, the amber shattered and the bigger dragon drop-kicked the terror out from under any wayward acid.

Pine tumbled to a boneless stop until Argos clicked. Then he got to his feet and came crawling submissively back, right eye tightly shut, and left a slitted pupil so small he probably couldn't see more than shadows and light.

"Alright Nora," Argos turned to her cocoon. "You can, by all means, listen to your little friend and get beaten into a submissive pulp. But if you do I'll order him to tear his own wings off."

He clicked and Pine turned and clamped his teeth to the base of one of his wings.

"What's it going to be?"

 

.

She was going to answer yes, naturally, but thought a moment longer. Nightmare Twilight was new to the gang she wouldn't understand Astrid just waving the question off. "If they dont," she decided to say the same thing but word it differently., effortlessly flinging her axe up and putting it in it's strap behind her back "They'll have to answer to me. Come on, let's go. I bet they've got breakfast."

 

They did have breakfast. Grace has snuck out onto some of the rocks where the sea dropped off. Therein was the best fishing and she managed to snag enough for everyoneincluding the dragons. She was roasting a halibut on a spit when Ebony and Bonny came wandering in.

"There you are," Bonny said, having returned to human form. "Why didn't you come back I was worried about you."

"Sorry, I was going to when I was done cooking this for you."

"I thought you went out flower picking."

"I did. and then I found some old twine and a bunch of worms. Here." Grace slid the finished fish onto a smooth, perfectly cleaned piece of bark. "Carefully cleaned, thouroughly cooked, headless and on my honor not a scale on the skin. Just the way you like it!"

"Thanks Grace," Bonny smiled and took it sheepishly. Put like that she really did sound picky. "What are you having?"

"SHARK!" she said with an almost maniacal glint in her eye. "I've been craving it since we moved from Mykines."

"Your- gulp - sister is the best," Ruff and Tuff... and Barf and Belch said, stuffing their faces. "She's a fishing wonder!"

"Yeah that's Grace for ya. Pretty epic."

Grace blushed. "It's easy, and all about patience."

"Nope sorry." Snotlout wolfed his down. "Patience, no can do."

A motion at the edge of the clearing caught Bonny's eye. It looked like Astrid and Twilight were coming back. She tensed a little at the sight of the nightmare hybrid.

 

Ebony drools a little puddle before Grace gives her a share of fish. She then stuffs herself.
Twilight's mouth waters at the smell of cooked fish. She stiffens as several eyes fix on her. She shakes her eyes and steps back, her fighting instincts trying to take over again. Standing next to and slightly behind Astrid, she cautiously looks around the group.

 

Nora stares in horror, everything happening so suddenly and fast. Her eyes dart from Argos to poor Pine, her mind racing. 'I can't let him get away with this.. I have to fight.. but that doesn't mean I can just let Pine loose is wings either..' she thinks. She suddenly fires at Pine, trapping him in amber once again, especially his wings. She then looks up at Argos, defiance and fear mixed in her eyes. "L-let me out and fight!" she hisses, trying to keep her voice from trembling.

If deathgrippers had eyebrows his would have raised. Instead Argo's eyes widened with surprise, and he donned a bizarre look of something akin to respect. Innovative, He thought... yes, the little dragonblood had been ambered in the last forty eight hours more times than most get in a lifetime, but frankly he hadn't even thought of that as a solution to keep the terror from injuring itself.

Pine gnawed mindlessly at his new prison, unable to get to his wings.

With Nora's words Argos snaps around and studies her with an icy stare. He snorted. "Are you invoking Deathgripper right??"

There was contempt to his tone, but also weight that implied he might feel obligated if she said yes.

 

.

"Looks like we're just in time." Astrid stepped boldly into the circle, daring the Thorstons or Snotlout to say something stupid. They didn't, they were too busy with their breakfasts.

Bonny saw the motion Twilight made... and knew something had changed. She sent the young woman a slight smile and nod.

Mrrrph, Toothless met them, earsnubs up with curiosity and head c.ocked to the side. You... you are different today, He told Twilight, giving her her space. A good different.

Rrraawwwk, Stormfly rushed over and pushed her snout into Astrid. "Gone for such a long time!" She tisked, fussing with the viking's hair. "Last time I let you go on night hunts."

"Hi Twilight!" Grace spotted the two and set her misfortunate shark aside. "Hi Astrid! I can cook anything up for you guys, what'll it be? Halibut? Herring? Shark?"

 

.

"Jason?" Nolan glanced back at his passenger. "Jason, we're nearly to the Isle of Greed. How are you doing?"

 

Nora nods, tries to swallow her fear and quickly tries to remember what Jason had told her about deathgripper law. "Yes, I am."

 

Twilight hangs back a bit, not quite comfortable in the big group, but she returns Bonny's small smile and relaxes a little. She lowers her head slightly as Toothless comes over, but doesn't really meet his eyes. "Yes.. I'm.. trying" she says hesitantly. She tenses as Stormfly rushes over, triggered simply by the nadder's speed, but Grace's offer of breakfast quickly destracts her. Her eyes light up and her mouth waters. "Shark! .. Um, please."

 

Jason blinks his half closed eyes, taking a moment to focus his oxygen-deprived brain on Nolan's words. "Mmmh? Oh, yes, good, great" he says and nods, a bit dazed.

 

...could a deathsong even invoke the right?? Argos had to wonder. It could under the title of pack member, which was the closest thing to his and her relation in deathgripper law. They generally didn't take prisoners.

"You are demanding a fight for your freedom according to pack law. To quote directly," Argos faced her squarely. "Any forced pack member, -not challanging the position of alhpa- has the right to fight fairly for their freedom. If they are victor they are to be set free, if they are conquered they must accept victor unconditionally as master and alhpa."

His yellow eyes met hers. "To invoke the law is to live by it. If I'm victorious you're no longer my prisoner of which there is no law, but my omega, and regardless your knowledge of the law you will be held accountable to it. These little defiances," He pointed a wing talon at Pine gnawing amber, "For example, are punished by death or dismemberment. Considering your track record, is that something you wish to risk?"

It wasn't something he wished to risk. Grimborn would undoubtedly be very disappointed if his deathsong showed up missing a paw or a wing... or a few of them.

 

.

"I'll take the rest of that Halibut," Astrid nodded as Bonny glanced around, looking full.

"Shark it is!" With uncanny skill Grace used the sword to slice her catch into steaks, balance them on the blade and plop them down into the skillet where they fell perfectly side by side.

"Hey that's not bad," Hiccup came up from the other side of the campfire, watching Grace at work.

"Thanks," She turned. "Are you hungry too?"

"No, I'm more of a red meats kind of guy thanks. Where'd you learn to use a sword like that?"

"Papa."

Ruff and Tuff's faces scrunched. "He could weild a sword?"

"Oh heck yeah. 'Was sort of hush-hush about it in Mykines because the Kings men didn't like peasants that could defend themselves."

Hiccup could see the stupid question about to fall out of the Thorston's mouths, as did Bonny if that icy death stare was any indication. Before they could speak Hiccup changed the subject. "I'm afraid anyone still eating or waiting to eat will have to make it quick," he said, "Toothless and I went scouting this morning and met a pretty rattled nadder that sent us to an island which had signs of both Argos and Nora's presense."

"Define 'signs'" Snotlout said pointedly as Grace tested the steaks and found them perfectly finished. She gave them to Twilight, listening intently.

Hiccup tapped his hands against his sides. "Dragon bones and amber."

"She's hunting dragons for him??"

"No I think her instinct took over. Half of the amber shells had been broken without the dragon inside getting eaten."

Astrid nodded, finishing off the halibut. "Once full her instincts subsided enough for her to see what she'd done and let the others go."

"Argos wouldn't have let her let them go." That sharpness was back in Bonny's tone. "For the very reason Hiccup has this information, they would talk."

Hiccup pointed her way. "That's exactly what I thought, and I theorize he wasn't there for the freeing of the others. He did show up at some point, and they seemed to fight over a terrible terror, but I retraced his steps to a spot under a tree where there was a pretty decent bloodstain and it looked like he had fallen over. Guys, he's wounded. Badly wounded."

The ugliest feeling rushed over Bonny. Good. If only she could see him wounded, see him suffer.

"That might sound like a good thing but it's probably not," Astrid joined Hiccup. "It's obvious he's still gunning for The D'own, even though he knows we're on to him and he's injured. That's despiration."

"And despiration in the talons of that... dragonblood, is going to translate to needless slaughter," The Chief made no pretenses. "If we're going to get Nora back in one piece and keep casualties to a minimal we're going to have to be smart about this. So first things first; get moving. He's probably not going as fast now as he was before there's a chance we could intercept him before the D'own."

.

"Daaaaddddd, he's going to the funny place," Firefly warned when Jason started giggling from oxygen deprivation.

"I told you we should have taken the last exit." 

"But it was just fifteen more minutes! That's a whole hour's worth of flying for him." Nolan ardently held. They leaned just slightly toward the invisible edges of the stream, and a minute later were gliding gently at a much better altitude for breathing.

"Feeling better now?" Nolan turned again, concerned. Below in the first rays of dawn was an island almost gilltering gold.

 

Nora pauses to think for a moment. 'I don't know how I'm even able to stand up for myself at the moment.. but I'm going through with it. For Jason, for Pine, for Berk, for Dragons Down and for all the other poor souls this monster has hurt. And... even if I lose, I'm sure Grimborn said I wasn't to be harmed, so Argos will get in trouble for that. And he's injured, so I have a chance at least.' She meets his eyes and nods. "Yes, I'm willing to risk it."

 

"Thanks" Twilight says quietly as Grace hands her the shark steaks. She eats, her eyes bright with delight at how good it tastes. She quickly gets destracted from her meal by the conversation though. She listens closely, a growl forming in her throat, but she doesn't let it out in case she inturrupts. 'So.. Nora is one of us..?' she thinks. Swallowing the last of her breakfast, she spreads her wings, still in nightmare hybrid form. "Let's go then" she says with a slight growl in her voice.

Ebony twitches her tail nervously, glancing at Grace. 'It won't be safe for her.. or for anyone else.. oooh, what are we going to do?' she wonders.

 

Jason stops giggling as it gets easier to breathe. He takes a few deep breaths to calm himself, then ducks his head in embarrassment. "Thanks. I, uh, I guess I forgot" he says with a sheepish grin. "Yeah, I'm feeling much better." He looks down as a flash of gold catches his eye. He tilts his head and points to the island below. "Is that the Isle of Greed?"

 

"... very well." Argos growled. Surrrre why not get into another fight when all he was this close to the D'own?

Pine staring mindlessly in the background, Argos carefully broke Nora free. He backed away from her, head low back arched and tail raised. 

"Rules of Conduct; no venom or acid. In your case that translates to song and amber."

The deathgripper sheathed his deadly stinger, waging his head and stalking slowly along the perimeters of their battle ring. "Challanger makes the first move."

 

.

Hiccup looked Twilights way and nodded. "Get your things together." he told the gang.

"Yeah, let's end this." Snotlout agreed with Twilight, he and hookfang blowing hot air.

"Death to tyrants!" Tuff raised a balled fist, hopping onto his half of the shared Zippleback.

"VICOTRY over tyrants." Hiccup amended authoritively. "If we don't have to we won't k.ill him."

"Right. Because if by some miracle he's alive when we win the peeps of Dragon's D'own will."

"No that's not why.. but very likely yes."

I've got a bad feeling about this, Grace couldn't help but think. She kept it to herself, the others would just think she was being young and childish. Wings were spreading around the girl she quickly put out the fire and finished cooking her piece of shark, glancing over at Twilight with a satisfied smile. She didn't have to ask to know the Nightmare dragonblood had approved of her meal.

Bonny looked around at all the readying dragons, vikings and dragonbloods. She fought another surge of feelings, knowing she still couldn't fly on her own two wings like the rest.

"Twilight," Hiccup came up by her side. Astrid looked back from tightening Stormfly's sinch. "You good?" He asked genuinely.

 

.

"Oh good. Uhhh... yes, that's the one." Nolan nodded, still descending.

"Vikings that used to pillage all the other villages around once lived there," Firefly explained. "And then, they all got eaten by an angry Compass who hoarded the loot and melted with liquid gold anyone that dared to tresspass until he died. After that dozens of dragons and vikings came, all scrapping for what they could find until there was nothing left."

The family touched down on a sandy shore, letting their passenger off. Zephyr sniffed with almost motherly grunts at the spot she'd burned on Jason. "Are you going to be alright? Is there anything more we can do for you?"

 

Nora shakes off the bits of amber and stretches, glad to be able to move again. She slowly starts to circle too, trying to come up with a plan. 'Oh, great, I forgot that he's built for battle and I'm not... I'll just have to rely on my instincts... Gotta focus on making his current wounds worse, more than giving him new wounds.' She spreads her wings and leaps into the air, then does a nose-dive for him. She changes her angle just moments away from hitting him, trying to tackle him and knock him off balance.

 

Ebony nudges Grace gently and nods to her saddle. "Don't worry, we'll be ok" she rumbles softly.

Twilight nods. "Yes, better than before. ..Why d'you ask?" she says, a hint of caution and suspicion in her voice.

 

Jason smiles. "It's got a fitting name then."

On the beach, Jason carefully flaps his wings, first in hybrid, then in dragon form. "I'll be ok, pretty sure the cold helped it." He bows his head submissively. "You've already done so much to help, I really can't thank you all enough." The breeze changes directions, carrying the several scents towards them. Jason quickly sniffs the air, closing his eyes in concentration. 'Wild dragons.. Argos! Nora! .. Terrible terror, Hiccup and Toothless?.. Blood. Deathgripper blood. He's injured!' he thinks, his sheathed tail twitching, eager to get going again. "I wouldn't have gotten this far without you. Again, thank you so much. And.. please stay safe" he says, turning back to the phantoms.

 

He hadn't tried battling Nora without her amber, and assumed that her tactics would be as basic as they had been then.

He was wrong. Nora came at him in a nose-dive then changed direction just as Argos was countering. He jumped forward into nothing, twisting painfully to avoid her tackle. When he landed his back was to his opponent and he tried to remedy that fast as possible.

It learns, he thought to himself, spinning.

 

.

"He's just making sure you're ok," Astrid answered before Hiccup could. "You're part of the team. Or pack, whichever it's an apt description either way." She looked over at the Twins and Snotlout.

"Can I check on your wing?" Hiccup asked.

Grace jumped at Ebony's nudge, but the dragons rumble comforts her. She hopped on.

"Mind if I tag along?" Bonny asked tentively.

"Of course not," Grace was quick to reply. "Err. I guess if Ebony's up to carrying us both." She pat the dragon, leaning forward so that if Ebony looked straight up they could be eye-to eye. "Up for that Monster Kitty?"

 

 

.

Nolan spread his great wings. He would have asked if Jason was sure he didn't want help, but was given the distinct impresson that it would not be wanted. That compounded with his own mixed feelings about getting his family involved in Dragonblood affairs settled his mind. "I'm glad we could help. Be safe, and victorious over your enemies!"

"Victory to you Jason!" Firefly spread his wings in imitation of his father. "Thanks for helping me with that log."

"Yes thank you," Zephyr agreed, giving him a kind nuzzle. "I'll be more careful not to judge a dragon by it's scales from here on."

The family returned to the sky, Firefly asking about a shiny rock and being strictly told no he could not have it.

"Goodbye!" The young phantom twirled through the air.

 

Nora lands on the ground, harder than she expected. Her instincts take over though and she lunges, trying to ram into Argos before he can recover.

 

"Oh. Right." Twilight says, dropping her gaze slightly. "Can I check on your wing?" Hiccup asks. Twilight hesitates, then glances at Astrid and nods reluctantly. She takes a few steps back for more space, then shifts to full nightmare form. As a dragon it becomes much more obvious how uncomfortable she is being surrounded by dragons and humans. Her whole body is stiff and she's crouched as if she were cornered. Her pupils grow wider and narrower a few times as she battles her instincts, then she fixes her gaze on Astrid and lowers her head submissively.

 

"Thank you, same to you! Goodbye!" Jason calls after the family. He watches as they fly higher untill they're out of sight. "Now the hunt is on" he says softly to himself, turns, takes to the air, and follows the scent of Argos and his prisoners.

.
Ebony looks up and purrs. "I don't mind at all! Hop on, Bonny!" she trills happily.

 

Argos feels the deathsongs' nasal horn jab into him, dangerously close to his broken ribs. Still in the motion of spinning his own instincts trigger, but he catches himself and retracts his tusks just before trying to ram into her. Using the momentum left over he swung his tail, aiming to sweep it across her feet and trip her.

whether it worked or not it left him balancing precariously on his own pincers

 

.

" she says yes." Grace translated the furious purrs. 

"Thanks."

bonny climbed on but looked back when she heard Twilight shift. She studied the nightmare so tense, so uncertain, wanting to trust but not knowing how, and she understood.

"Poor twilight looks really nervous," Grace said about the same time Hiccup walked over and checked the dragons wing. "...should we go over and let her know it's ok?"

"no." Bonny said firmly but not unkind. "We should give her space and time. She's just getting used to Hiccup and Astrid right now."

Grace nodded, surprised that she and Bonny had come to the same conclusion. One out of observation of dragon behavior, the other from personal experience. "We'll check on her when we're flying then."

"Good idea."

 

Hookfang snorted suspiciously at the nightmare and Stormfly gave the evil eye, both remembering and still holding slight grudges from the day before.

"All things considered it's healing really well," Hiccup stepped back after his examination. "You can probably fly on it now, but maybe not as far as we have to go."

"you could be nightlight for the flying part of the trip," Astrid suggested, "and nightmare for when we get to the down. The teams gonna need you at our side. Nightmare you."

 

Nora smells the open wound near her nose, but before she can do anything Argos rams into her. She stumbles back, then falls over as his tail swings at her.
.
Everything lifts a paw to go and comfort Twilight, but she understands enough of her riders' words to know that she shouldn't. She reluctantly puts her paw back down and stays put.
.
Twilight lifts her wings and gives them a few experimental flaps. It still hurts a little, but not nearly as much as earlier. She tilts her up a bit at Hiccups and Astrids suggestions, then nods slowly. She struggles to shift at first, then manages to get to nightmare hybrid. From there she shifts to human form, then nightlight hybrid. "Are - are you sure? W-what if I get caught up in the heat of a moment and.. and attack one of you?" she asks hoarsely, her eyes wide.

 

He was on her in an instant, pincers snapped arcross her wings, jaws wrapping around her neck, teeth puncturing. His clubbed tail rose overhead, threatening to strike if neccessary. 

"Yield," Argos snarled. "You've been bested fairly."

.

 

"I'll be there to keep you on track," Astrid assured. "And if you want, I have one more of those dragonfruits to settle your nerves before we get there."

 

The others were on the wing, beginning to circle in the sky. Bonny settle in behind, Grace gave Ebony the cue to join them

 

Nora gasps and struggles, clawing at him in desperation, trying to reach any of his wounds.
.
Ebony looks at Twilight once more, then takes off and joins the team.
.
Twilight nods hesitantly. "Ok.. thanks, that'll help." She shifts to nightlight form and takes off.

 

Argos struck at her with his tail then jumped off. He ran backwards, and with his teeth still firmly in her neck (though not in a deadly grip) turned and flung her at the nearest tree.

"Yield!" He came at her again.

 

.

Astrid felt like she should have said more to encourage Twilight, but the words didn't come. Stupid words. Why couldn't everything be explained by action? She trusted her, how could she say and show it so that Twilight understood and her confidence in herself was boosted?

"Oh- ok." Hiccup found the conversation over before he could add to it. He too wanted to encourage Twilight but had sensed his gentle approaches to her struggles not very effective, and the new bond of respect between Astrid and the Dragonblood was.

Mrrrrph! Toothless grunted, antsy to join everyone else.

"You'll do just fine Twilight," Hiccup said comfortingly as he and Toothless caught up. "I know it."

Nora struggles to her feet after hitting the tree, dizzy and panting. 'I can't beat him... I'm not strong enough... the best I can do is make his injuries worse. Even with just a few scratches' she thinks. As he comes at her again, she tries to ram him with her head and knock him over with her tail.

 

"Thanks" Twilight says quietly, looking at Hiccup gratefully. "I hope you're right."

 

He could only evade one.

Argos sucked in a sharp, painful breath as Nora rammed him in the ribs. He snapped at the tail coming in from the other angle, strength of his jaws enough that the bite would go down to the bone

Nora cries out in pain as Argos bites down on her tail with a sickening crunch. She fights her instincts to rip her tail free, instead she digs her claws into Argos's burnt side, trying to open the wound and make it worse.

Again Argos ran backward, away from the claws tearing into and reopening the wound, Noras tail held fast in his maw. he beat his wings to add speed and slingshot her into some boulders. But he didn't stop there, he continued to drag her by the tail, now backtracking, to repeat with the tree he'd run her into earlier and then back again to the rocks.

"Yield!"

 

with tragic disassociation Pine stared at the drama before him, awaiting orders. He was nearly trampled by the fighting dragons at least once

 

Nora cries out with every hit, the pain getting too much to bear. "Ok! I yield! Please.. stop.." she begs, tears in her eyes. 'I did injure him..' she thinks, though now that small victory feels empty.

 

Cruelly Argos rammed her into the tree one last time. 
"Good." He rasped, trembling. Blood trickled down his side to the sand in a few small droplets. "Now get up we're leaving."

 

Nora lies still for a few seconds, panting and crying quietly. She then staggers to her feet and stumbles over to Pine, feeling every painful spot on her body. She tries to bring her tail around to break the amber, but chokes on her tears as lifting it makes it hurt more. She carefully picks him up, still inside the amber, and returns to Argos, her head low in defeat.

Argos studied the stupefied terror in Noras paws. She'd challenged him, she'd don as her little friend suggested, he must require the wings of Tief at the work of his own fangs.

But he didn't have to yet.

"The Terror will lose his wings for this." He stated stoically, taking the little dragon and yet again releasing him. Pine immediately went for his own wings but a sharp click from Argos stopped him. "After. After the ordeal of Dragons D'own, if I have anything to say about it."

he shook the thought away with a ruffling of his black and red wings. Another click and pine was up and away, flying toward the down. Argos jerked his head to imply Nora fly after

Nora obediently flies after Pine. "Why are you taking Pine's wings? It's my fault, so hurt me, not him." she argues weakly.

As soon as Nora had turned her back to fly after Pine, Argos shut his eyes tightly in grimace. His wings seemed to dread their use, pain coursing through him as he beat them mercilessly to lift off the ground. But by the time he caught up with the other two he'd regained his composure.

"I told you what would happen if you challanged me and I'll see it through." The deathgripper said, eyes straight ahead and tone flat. "There's nothing more to it."

 

His mind moved toward their destination, and anticipation of what would go down there (literally) brought new interest to his eyes and quickened his pace.

 

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LissaFish
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Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 02/12/2017
Argos' End PT8

Jason lands on that island some time later, both to give his burnt back a break and to make sure he's still on the trail. "Ok.. where are you?" he hisses, sniffing around. He picks up the scents of Argos, Nora and the mysterious terrible terror and follows quickly. 'It's still pretty fresh, they can't be far now!' he thinks, excited - then he sees the amber and spots of blood. On high alert, the red, black and white deathgripper slowly approaches to investigate. 'She.. she fought him! She fought back! But.. it looks like he won..' he thinks, then shakes his head. 'No time to waste then!' With that, he grabs a handful of moss, judst in case, and flies off after Argos and his prisoners, pushing himself to fly faster than ever.

 

 

Dragonbloods.

A black and red nose twitched on the faint scent. Distant but unmistakable! Looked like opting to go the extra nautical mile even after a drenching rainshow had paid off; they were downwind of the stronghold.

"Tief," He clicked, "How many guards at the main entrance?"

"Five." The mindless little drone answered.

"And the rear."

"Five."

"And the escape?"

The terror blinked, some foggy part of his thoughts questioning how Argos knew about the escape. "Two."

"Standard sentries." He assumed. But if his coming had been announced prematurely those numbers could very well have changed. "Go, scout ahead and report back on posoitions and number. Report all that you see."

"Yes sir."

The terror veered off,and pupils becoming focused slits Argos fell slightly behind Nora and shifted to hybrid, pulling out his last dart.

 

 

.

After some light conversation with Twilight, Grace got up the courage to ask if Bonny wanted to look at the book of dragons with her, at the Wardenrain. The older girl swallowed her pride and conceded... and found that the book made a great deal of sense.

"So that's why I got so tired," Bonny read. "Because I used up all of my stored energy from that storm we passed through?"

"Yeah," Grace, ever owning up to her name didn't point out that she'd already told Bonny that. Twice. "And, I kind of don't think you even charged up. See how it says the Wardenrain drives rainstorms away? You probably soak them up. But the one we went through was still there."

"But I felt so much better coming out of the storm."

"It's just a theory. This time," She gestured the rainclouds they were nearing. "Try thinking about soaking in the storm. Try thinking about the clouds and the energy in them and the wind and the rain like... like you're trying to gather them all up to you like wool."

"So mental wool gathering."

"...I guess you could say that. "

 

It was all Hiccup could do not to intrude on the sisters conversation. Note to self; if I ever have a child I want it to be like Grace.

"Whatcha thinkin about?" Astrid and Stormfly came up at his and Toothless' right and he jumped.

"Nothing." He said sheepishly.

"You were thinking about kids again weren't you..." Toothless chortled beneath him.

"Zip it."

"What??"

"No not you oh nevermind. Hmm. How's everybody doing back there?"

 

Nora becomes more and more worried the closer they get. 'I don't want to do this.. I can't do this.. I have to get out of here, somehow' she thinks, but deep inside she knows she can't escape. As Argos falls back and gets out the last dart, she knows it's her last chance. She shoots amber at him, then dives towards the ocean in a last desperate escape attempt.

 

Twilights ears flatten at the sight of the rainclouds ahead. 'I just hope we're still far enough from Dragons Down.. and that being wet in nightlight form won't meen I'll be wet in nightmare form too. I could always try to ask Hookfang to dry me off.. but somehow I doupt he'll want to' she thinks. Hiccups question snaps her from her thoughs and she shakes her head. "Doing fine."

 

He evaded in such a way it was clear he'd been waiting for it. With a few swift, smooth motions he pulled out the crossbow out and fired at the fleeing dragon.

 

"Same." Grace answered. 

"Uhh, yeah actually I could go for some food right now?" Ruff raised a hand

"Yes please. I'd like the two for one whopper and a side of fries. No make that a happy meal, with a diet coke." Tuff added.

"Ready and raring to beat that stupid deathgripper into a pulp." Snotlout flexed.

Hiccup broke into his satchel. "If anyones hungry I have biscuits and yak jerky. Grace you have oranges?"

"Scurvy repellant."

"Right," He grinned. "Anyways, there's those too. But keep away from Ebony you don't want to know how she feels about Oranges."

Snotlout gave a hard laugh. "OH. We already do Hiccup. We already do."

Grace cautiously opened the saddlebag full of oranges. "Don't look Ebony," she put her hand out by the fury's eyes so it couldn't see back to what she was doing, and the wind, just beginning to pick up blew the scent of the fruit away from her. The girl dispersed them among the Vikings and everyone that took one gave Ebony a wide berth.

Bonny cast a sideways glance at Twilight, who looked to be struggling with inner thoughts. "What's the matter?" She asked. As they edged closer to the storm, she felt the urge to shift to hybrid.

 

'Nononono' Nora thinks, flinching as the dart hits her in the neck. She shifts to hybrid, pulls the dart out, then shifts to human form and plummets towards the ocean.
.
Twilight looks up at Bonny. 'Am I really that easy to read?' she wonders, shifting to hybrid. "It's nothing" she says, dropping her gaze. 'Trust. No lies' she thinks. She hesitates, sighs and looks up again. "Just worried about the fight. I can't use my fire when I'm wet as a nightmare, so rain isn't great. Then again, you need it, so it's good we're flying through it."

 

Argos dove for the dart, snatching it to safety. He couldn't go for both it and Nora and banked on her having enough venom to respond to a command.

"Shift to full dragon!" He clicked, "And pull up!"

 

.

Without meaning to or even knowing that she had, Bonny shifted to Hybrid. "Well," She said ponderously, "Maybe Grace is right and I can... 'eat' the rainstorm."

It felt ridiculous saying such things, but she was slowly accepting it. "I'll give it a go anyways. If not, but I'm able to turn back into Wardenrain you can fly under me to keep dry."

 

Nora shakes her head as the venom starts to take effect. 'Can't understand him.. need to shift.. no, no, don't..' she thinks, shifting to hybrid and half spreading her wings to slow down.

 

Twilight looks surprised, then smiles gratefully. "Thanks."

 

"Pull up pull up!" Argos demanded, holding tight to the dart. "Shift to full Deathsong!"

 

.

"No problem," Bonny smiled back. The smell of rain reached her nose and she couldn't but turn to it, eyes brightening. Off-white, wardenrain wings tried the the breeze and the teen drew in her legs to stand on Ebony's back, crouched like she was surfing.

Wind caught, and she lifted weightlessly off the dragon.

Grace watched her wordlessly, a bit of a sad smile on her face. Bonny never saw it, she was too enraptured in her freedom to and Grace was glad of that.

The teen followed at a short distance, soon shifting fully to the large beautiful dragon she was. Gracefully she dipped under and soared over Ebony, twirling; the gash in her belly only a dull thought in the back of her mind. That wonderfully soothing feeling came over her again. Like finidng the missing piece of her lifes puzzle, finding the place that she belonged, and for once, knowing what it meant to be alive!

"Whoa!" Hiccup and Toothless moved to the left a little as without warning Bonny charged into the clouds!

They curdled in her wake, whisping toward her. From the outer rim of the storm, if one was paying attention, it could be seen that the billows had stopped on their windblown path as if waiting for command. Some of them began swirling in odd spots, others seemed to draw back into the gale, toward Bonny.

"Remember!" Grace shouted as the sky dimmed around them. "Think about keeping the clouds, collecting them to yourself like woolgathering!"

"Ooookkkaaaayyy!" The dragon responded in what was as close to delighted as Bonny could get.

 

Nora shakes her head, trying to resist. "No! No.. yes - no.. yes" she hisses. She shifts to full deathsong and pulls up, her pupils still flickering between slits and ovals as she tries to fight the venom. With her last seconds of freedom, she slashes at Argos's face with her claws. Her face then becomes empty of any emotion as the venom takes over.

 

"Yay Bonny!" Ebony trills happily, watching the dragonblood finally enjoying herself as a dragon. Twilight smiles too as she watches. 'Freedom. It's a wonderful thing... can the nightmare be that happy?'

 

Noras claws ripped across his human skin. He managed to save his eye by jerking back, then stabbed into her jaw with the rest of the venom when she had lost control. Making certain she'd received the full dose Argos then shifted back to deathgripper and let her be. Blood flowed from the two ugly gashes in his face and down his throat.

"Follow me." He muttered, turning toward a patch of land.

 

.

Deep into the storm Bonny flew, a fair distance ahead of the rest. Was it... was it happiness? Bonny wondered at the airy feel of her heart. It had to be! It was wonderful! She loop de looped, then spun around some clouds, swirling them with a wing into an ice cream shape. Pausing a moment She stated at her work.

"eat the storm," she thought. What better way to do so than with a visual like that? She opened her mouth and I hailed.

some of the cloud seeped her way... but she soon learned the real meaning of Graces words. It wasn't to literally eat it with her mouth, it was... like soaking it up the way a sponge soaks up water. Cloud, rain, strange invisible bits of energy, and wind all came and pooled around her, spinning. The clouds became angry as positive and negative charges collided, little flashes of lightning zapping around her. Yet strangely Bonny had no fear of them! They felt like playful little sparks of light, not dangerous, merely tickling her wings when they succumbed to her call. She closed her eyes and focused on her wings. 'Soak it in' she thought, 'soak it all in'

Hiccup stared as the storm retreated into itself, roiling objection to its new master.

"Its shrinking!" Grace spluttered, ecstatic. Moments ago where they'd been flying into rain, it was now sunny. "This is the coolest thing I've ever seen!"

 

Nora flinches slightly as Argos stabs the dart into her again. The extra venom robs her of the last sliver of freedom. She obediently follows him, landing as he does. She stays still, blankly staring ahead as she waits for orders.
.
Both Ebony and Twilight stare in amazement as the storm shrinks. "Yeah, you're doing it!" Ebony cheers, while Twilight just watches in awed silence.

 

It was becoming clear that the Deathgripper prefferred to lurk in the shadows of the trees. He landed, Nora in tow, and listened carefully to their surroundings for a full five minutes. 

There was no indication anyone had seen them.

Breathing a sigh Argos turning his focus to Nora, shifting fully to human the work she had done on his face became starkly obvious compared to it hiding on a camoflauge of black and red scales.

The man in black mid-length coat pulled the satchel off his person and opened it to retrieve...

his notebook.

He kneeled down, in exhaustion or just to do what he intended it wasn't clear. One hand reached out and rested over the book for a long period. Silently he shifted for a moment back to dragonblood, eyeing it carefully and lining one of his retracted tusks up with a corner.

The tusk jutted out, piercing it through. He went back to human, strummed through the book with the puncture in it, and strung a long piece of twine through the hole.

"Come, lean down." He told Nora and she did so. He placed the string over her Deathsong neck and the book rested over her chest like a necklace.

"If I'm killed give this to Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third." He said, cold and feelingless as ever. "There is no poison on it, no danger in handling it whatsoever you have my word. There's only a message I want him to send that will be to the benefit of both our peoples."

Scree!

Pines familiar figure came fluttering down. Half blind he hit one of the trees and fell to the ground.

"Right on cue." Argos said, sounding almost amused as the terror got up and shook it off. "Did anyone spot you?"

"None a your business. No sir, they didn't."

Argos reached into his pocket, bringing forth the last tiny bit of venom from the vial he'd already used on Pine. He stared at the terror, weighing it in his hands.

"How many guards, front, rear, and escape?"

"Five, five, and two."

"Good they haven't been alerted."

 

.

When Bonny opened her eyes again, she was surrounded by clear skies.... and she felt AMMMAAAZZZIIINNNGGG, like she could fly eternally. Ice blue eyes turned to the allies flying toward her.

"Hey Grace, I ate the storm." She grinned, eyes flicked over to Twilight next. "Forcast is sunny for the rest of today."

 

Nora nods, the venom overpowering even her confusion about what the message could be. She straightens up a little, waiting for the next order.

 

Jason flies steadily across the ocean, the scent of his enemy becoming stronger by the second. 'I'm close. Very close' he thinks eagerly. Spotting an island, with the scent wafting up from it, he roars loudly and dives for it. "ARGOS!!!"

 

Ebony does a barrel roll in delight, then quickly catches Grace and gives the girl a sheepish grin. "Sorry."

"Great job, Bonny!" Twilight grins.

 

"Shift to human." He switched to Hybrid and commanded the girl, pulling out his crossbow. "Tief lead the way to the escape."

"I won't!" The little dragon said desperately, but began crawling through the underbrush in forced submission anyways. 

"How did you even know about that entrance anyways?" He aksed bitterly.

"Fraya, a skrill I took the spine from. She was very informative up unto the actual location of the D'own. Now keep your mouth shut unless I tell you to open it." Argos growled.

The Isle of Dragon's D'own was nothing particularly splended nor did it stand out in an archipelago of islands, though at one point it must have. It's shores and mountainous center spoke of a once mighty volcano, thousands of years extinct yet looming dauntless over a thriving eco-system of woods and game.

They made through the lush forest. Though subtle Pine could be heard brushing against foliage, occasionally a small paw stepping on a twig, but Argos carried himself with uncanny silence so not even the deer knew he had passed them by. It didn't seem possible that where a terror couldn't get through without making noise a human could, but he was so very practiced in the art of stalking prey.

"Stop," The man whispered, eyes focused. They were nearing a hillside.

He shifted to dragon for a moment, taking advantage of that form's sense of smell.

Two dragonbloods were near; hybrid form. They're scent wasn't particularly tense or alert, but they weren't giving off a relaxed smell either. Argos watched from where he was hidden with branches as they listened to the forest, toyed with their spears or aces, stretched, or spoke a quiet word one to another from time to time, looking up every so often at the sun in anticipation of their beat being over. It was clear by the one's spikes and the other's resting wing position and shape that they were a nadder and thunderdrum.

"Will either recognize you?" He asked Tief softly, without taking his icy cold stare away from the guards.

Pine glared up hatefully, his mouth firmly shut. Argos glared back. "You will answer me. Quietly."

"Yes." The terror bit out.

"In human form?"

"Yes."

"Friend or foe?"

"Friend."

"Then shift to human step out there and keep their attention."

Tief's one eye stared up, knowing by that look what Argos had in mind and begging with all his soul that the Deathgripper not make him do this.

But there was no mercy in Argos. Pine shifted into a rather handsome young man and walked toward the guards while Argos, human again, crept around the forest's edge to get as close to them as possible.

"Oi!" The nadder dragonblood spun his spear, crest raised. "Who goes there?"

Having been given permission only to answer Argos Pine's mouth was sealed shut. He stepped out of the forest, hands up and eye downcast.

"Hehh, Brutis," The Nadder hybrid snorted, his tension going slack. "It's you're old pal Tief!"

"Tief??" Brutis snorted, wagging his head. "What are you doing here?"

"Aye good question you got some guts coming back here after what ya did."

Brutis' brow furrowed, at first with confusion then alarm. "What happened to your eye??"

Argos slipped in behind the two and Pine stared at Brutis, tears forming.

The thunderdrum hybrid sensed something was off oh so very late. He only had time to turn his head and see Argos shift to full deathgripper, dagger of a tail through the Nadder hybrid and tusks in Brutis. The two fell to death without more than a sharp gasp, and when they were still Argos set both in against the sides of the caves, weapons in hand like they were sleeping on the job. He stung each body thrice before returning to human.

"Go," he gestured with a jerk of his head toward Nora and Pine. The latter, who had sunk to the ground picked himself up, unable to look upon the Thunderdrum as they passed him.

The moment Pine set foot within the darkness of the cave Argos stuck him with the rest of the venom in the dart. All grief melted from his face and he was once more a mindless stooge.

"Head to the main entrance. Kill the guards and if it's possible seal it off, but if not hold it to your dying breath. If you encounter a Nightlight, a black and red Nightmar... no you shan't encounter that," the psycho amended, "She's not fit to fly. If you encounter a nightlight, or a nightfury Dragonblood that goes by Haddock, or any dragon riders send an alarm down to the main market square."

"Yes sir." He said as calmly as though he were taking a meal order, then shifted to terror and flew off.

There. A distraction, alarm system, lifeblood punishment for Nora's disobedience and way to be rid of Tief without ki.lling him himself. Two birds pfft how about four?

Again he beckoned to Nora, and silently they stalked through the cave.

 

“Ahh!"

Grace gave a shrill cry, half delight and terror. Safely on the fury's back again she cackled. "Do that again when I'm not expecting it."

"Carefully," Hiccup scolded, knowing Ebony and her absent minded ways too well. "And Twilight, would you mind helping me catch up to Bonny and bringing her back in with the rest of us? We need to go over strategy." 
The Wardenrain was off again twirling though the air, having gone from grounded to aerial artist in half an hour.
That aside he worried about Argos noticing a rainstorm vanishing into thin air... perhaps having been somewhere in it. He couldnt see the deathgripper anywhere and neither had Toothless, but all the same they were getting closer. Sticking together was paramount.

 

Jason shakes himself out of the daydream. 'Are you mad? He'd use Nora against you in a heartbeat if you announce yourself like that!' he scolds himself mentally. He sighs, still not seeing any land or dragons as he flies.
.
"Ok!" Ebony trills with a grin, missing Hiccups warning.
Twilight nods and flaps faster to catch up with the energetic wardenrain. "Bonny, come back. There's planning to do" she calls. Still, she can't quite keep the smile off her face as she watches the happy young dragonblood.

 

The escape as Argos called it, was a small entrance and a long, narrow tunnel carved ages ago by lava. It was strangely smooth to walk as were the walls to the touch, and gradually, so gradually, slipped further down into the bowels of the extinct volcano.

Around every turn Argos' ears were straining, crossbow on a hair trigger and deadly poisonous bolt in the draw. He slinked around the current bend and paused, waving Nora over.

They had reached a massive chamber whose center was an ominous, darkened lava tube straight down without an end in sight. He shifted to hybrid.

"Ordinary sized dragons can't enter the D'own, only dragonbloods." He stalked around its edges eagerly, ignoring the complaint in his side as the hole seemed to breathe up at them. He smelled the smells of a market; food, drink, and dragonbloods. A faint murmur of the crowd caught in his ears too. "All entrances are too small. And at the same time, no man may enter, for to survive you must have wings. Come along," 

Black and red wings spread, allowing him to glide gently down. He held that bow ready knowing somewhere along the way would be another watch.

Light began to flicker on their slow descent, and by it he spotted a black gronckle picking its teeth. Argos continued to slowly fall opting not to beat his wings and alert, eyes scouring the seeable foreground as he let the dart loose into the dragon. 

"Ow!" It hissed with casualness unfitting to his dire situation. "Stupid bug bit me again."

"Jerk." A feminine voice came from behind him.

So it's a small cleft, Argos set another deadly bolt even as the gronckle slumped.

"Ye...eeaahh..."

"...Angus? Angus are you alri-"

Quick as he set it the deathgripper dragonblood took it back out.

"Argos," A young, yellow dramillion croaked at the sight of him, shrinking back. She was one of the fourteen faces in his book.

"Nora Amber!" He shifted to full and clicked, diving for the dramillion- but out of Nora's line of fire of course.

 

.

"What?" Bonny eased into a lazy glide. "Planning for..."

Cloud nine seemed to fracture as the Wardenrain remembered what they were out there doing. "Yes, right. Of course."

"Twilight," Hiccup said (btw he's flying on his own rn) in a low tone Bonny couldn't hear and thanks to her continued gliding couldn't see. "I wanted to ask you something privately. You absolutely don't have to do it but I'd like you to consider."

He glanced back to make sure no one was catching up quite yet. "Bonny and Grace, they know nothing of battle or war and I promised to keep them safe. Argos and whatever he's planning is of course a danger but The D'own, though vicitm in this case is by no means innocent. Many of the Dragonbloods that end up there are crooks and criminals. I worry that we're about to enter a somewhat sticky situation... in which we'll have no help from the dragons."

He nodded back to Toothless, Ebony and the others. "They can protect from the outside, but once we're in we're on our own and I get the feeling between my reputation in the D'own and what I found in Argos book I'm going to have my hands full." 

The Chief looked to her fervently. "Would you keep an eye on them? Keep them safe? I could in theory leave them with the dragons above but doubt they'd stay there if I did."

 

Nora instantly shifts to full deathsong and fires at the dramillion. Thw whole thing feels a bit like a dream from her foggy point of view, like she isn't really there.
.
Twilight nods. "Of course, I'll be glad to watch them. Might be good for the nightmare to have someone to protect." She pauses and looks up at Hiccup, concerned. "What do you mean, the dragons can't help? Why not? What about the riders?"

 

Stunned by suddenly being incased in amber the dramillion caught her breath and Argos took advantage. Clapping a pincer over her snout to keep her from firing and sounding an alarm, he stung her then waited. A few seconds later she went limp. A few minutes later and  the two infiltrators landed at the bottom of the tube.

"Human," Argos clicked before shifting to the form himself, sound of the large underground market still a distant murmur but much louder now that they were within the main chamber. The man straightened his black coat, returned his bow to its place behind his back and strode confidently down the corridor toward the ever growing light. 

Chamber was an understatement for the D'own. This was a cavern. Enormous, easily fitting the whole of the village of Berk with all its many levels, perhaps even the isle of Berk... save for Gothi's rock. Buildings etched out of stone crawled up the walls and across the valley-like floor, hunks of glowing crystal were scattered all around, often coinciding with large dragon statues of an unfamiliar species.

High above on the ceiling was a gigantic net posatively filled with the glowing rocks. They watched as a Night Terror dragonblood seemed to dart between the net and the ceiling, carrying a brightly shining rock on the way in and what appeared to be a burnt out one on the way out, dropping it into a hole not visible from where Argos and Nora stood.

"Lavalouts," Argos tilted his head to the side, noting two of the closer dragon statues. They were in resting positions, one sitting and one lying down next to it, stone eyes staring blankly down at the floor. He shook his head and focused on the village. Not the time for curiosities!

Cold eyes scanned their surroundings for symbols of power... finding it in the form of a Gryphoenx skeleton set up to appear to be watching over the village with its somber birdlike skull. There were buildings along the back of it, between the bones of its wings, and people milling around.

"Thalius," he hissed. "Alright. You make your way to the center of town and await your orders from me. Speak to no one, do not reveal your dragonblood form... and this place is crawling with lowlifes like Tief so if someone messes with you just push back and they're like to leave you be. I will give the command when the time is right."

Argos slinked quietly along the wall, making for the Grypheonx skeleton.

* uh that was supposed to be thousand ft drop not hundred*

 

.

He nodded gratefully. Those two had to be protected, he couldn't bear to let any further tragedy fall upon their family.

"The dragons won't fit through the entrances, that's why the D'own was chosen for Dragonbloods." Hiccup explained, a look of frustration streaking across his face. "Humans can't get in either because it's a sheer, thousand foot drop... which Astrid and the rest of you would have known if I'd been consulted before your departure. But there wasn't time to change the team up so we've got to make due with who we have, and frankly impossible odds and war are the Twins and Snotlout's elements. Those of us with wings will just have to carry the rest who will fit down."

 

Nora, now in human form, nods and walks off towards the middle of the cavern. Keeps her eyes locked on her target and her mouth shut, she slips the the crowd unnoticed. After several minutes, she reaches the center of the town and waits, a blank expression on her face.
.
The wind changes directions, suddenly blowing from behind Jason. 'Great, that storm had better not be following me now' he thinks, irritated, and looks back. He grunts in surprise, not seeing a single cloud anywhere. 'How did that thing vanish so fast - and - are those dragons?' He slows down, then turns around to get a better look. 'That's.. that's a group of Berkians!' he realises, catching their scent on the wind. 'Yes! We'll stand a much better chance against Argos if we outnumber him!' He roars a greeting.
.
Twilight nods, worry and guilt mixing. "Sorry.." she mumbles, dropping her gaze. She stiffens and bares her teeth at the distinctly deathgripper roar. Spotting a dark shape in the distance, her ears flatten and her pupils snap thin. "It's him!" she snarls, flying at the deathgripper at high speed.

 

Like a rat in the wall Argos slipped unobserved along the borders of the D'own, careful to keep the fresh wounds on his face away from light and passers-by.

He paused a moment at the base of the giant skeleton. He'd been right, this was command central or at any rate the closest the D'own had to one. Here lived or worked the powerful, wealthy, or wise. The dragonblood made for a line at the gate, kept by four sets of guards, the first three hybrid and the last full dragon. The first were on the ground manning the proper entrance, the second scattered across the ribs of the Gryphoenx with crossbows at the ready, and the third up above in the spreading fingers of the dragons wings or the plates of its raised tail, watching the happenings below like hawks. They were mostly scuttleclaw and nadder, he noted of the top teir, while the second wave were predominantly monstrous nightmare and the ground crew several bould class species. A practical use of all three's abilities. The forth teir, the very top, were sentinels at rest.

Falling into file Argos took in the distance between himself and the guard in the line opposite him, weighing out a dart he had pocketed. This would either work or it wouldn't, but he'd give it a shot anyways.

"Name and business." A snafflefang hybrid droned, though his eyebrows raised at the sight of Argos' face. "Been brawling have we?"

"Not by will," Argos said as if defeated, pulling his hand out of his pocket. The dart fell, subtly hidden in the motion of his hand and rolled exactly where he aimed it to roll, directly underfoot of the guard opposite.

"Ha! You chose the wrong place to take refuge then, friend."

"Aye, I’ve noticed."

"Name and business."

"Ian of Mykines, here to see Thalius." 

"Type?"

"Stormcutter."

It was all he could do not to look over when the guard opposite stepped back, and immediately pulled his foot up again, brushing away a sharp pain.

"Do you have an appointment?"

"No sir."

"Then wait over there." He gestured to a scurvy lot loitering in a corner. "And hope you can muscle your way to the top of the list."

"...is there any chance I could make an appointment?" Argos glanced with forced tension at the group. “I have urgent business, and news.”

The guard opposite began to cough.

"Depends," his Snafflefang said thoughtfully. "On whether or not your name means anything to Thalius."

This time he couldn't help but allow a small smile. "With the stormcutter bit, it should."

"...uh...huh," the guard said distractedly, glancing over at his coworker bent double in a fit of coughing. He started to write a note, but the other guard stumbled to his knees.

"Is he alright?" Argos asked with concern, disturbingly similar to the way Ian might have. The rest of the crowds’ interest turning to the ailing dragonblood no one noticed that the Deathgripper dragonblood had slid one foot into the protected area.

"I- I don't know." His guard stammered. The other collapsed. "Excuse me!"

In the same motion of the snafflefange moving to help his coworker Argos slipped his other foot into the protected area. 

No alarm from the watchers above; though they were trying to keep an eye on everything happening below they weren't studying Argos line, they were studying the one opposite for trouble. 

He backed out of the situation without a single question asked and made straight for the Grypheonx's spine, fashioned into a staircase. As he went he spotted some crates, clearly needing to be carried up and delivered to different structures along the way so he took one and read it's list as he climbed.

 

 

 

.

Bonny's eyes snap to the approaching dragon, heat skipping a beat and every scale raising. Despite warring emotions she flies after Twilight. 

Hiccup's pupils also turn to slits, he and Toothless both close on Twilight's heels as they rush to face the deathgripper.

"Keep your distance," Hiccup yelled to Twilight, and behind him as well, voice sounding hopeful. "We're faster and our has better range than even his crossbow, there's no reason to even fight, either he surrenders or we blast him!"

 

Ebony freezes for a moment, completely caught off guard by the sudden appearance of the deathgripper. She gulps, looks up at Grace, then flaps quickly to catch up with the others.
Twilight slows down a bit, seeing sense in Hiccups order. She fires a warning shot.
'Oh no..' Jason thinks, his eyes widening as he realises his mistake. 'They think I'm Argos!' He shifts to hybrid form and dodges Twilight's plasma blast. "Hey! I'm Jason! Not Argos!" he shouts, holding his hands up in surrender.

 

All but completely blind, a woman leaned into her deep and comfortable chair, sipping a cup of tea in the quiet respite between members of the D'own seeking council. Her gentle and calm demeanor didn't feel like it belonged in a market of thieves, but Thalius was nothing if not resilient. Besides, she had a heart for these people. Like her, they had no place left to go.

"Thalius!" A Night terror flew into her chambers, shifting to human and stumbling toward her. "There's trouble at the gate."

"What sort?"

"Tief! He's gone completely mad! He collapsed the main entrance on the guards then tried to pick them off. They're trying to reason with him but so far no luck, he won't even speak to us. Arthur's about ready to give the kill order."

"What do his eyes look like?" She sat upright, sensing something was more off than poor Tief being out of his mind. Earmark crest and wings of a nadder formed at the crown of her head and shoulders.

He blinked, surpised at her question. "One of them's destroyed and we didn't do it. Thinking maybe whatever hit him did brain damage."

That wasn't the answer she was expecting but it didn't draw away from her suspicions either. "Has Odell been informed?" she set her cup to the side.

"As we speak." He jumped, eyes bulging, but to the old nadder hybrid he only appeared to jerk sharply.

"If you haven't already secure all the entrances. Check each one thoroughly and double the guards. This really could be nothing more than a freak accident but-" 

Thalius went completely rigid, nose twitching. "Dante get out of here."

"He cannot." A voice she struggled not to hate answered back. Her bad eyes finally saw that another man had snuck in behind the first, and was slowly resting the limp form of the first to the floor.

"Is he dead?" She returned just as calmly.

"Soon." Argos answered truthfully. "How are you Thalius?"

She closed her blind eyes and bent down, pulling Dante in to hold him close as he drew his last breath.

"I am well." She said tearfully, "I have lived a full and beautiful life."

"Oh, even in exile then?" He pried. "In hiding? In this pit as a slave?"

"In all circumstances." Her gaze lifted up to Argos, and though she couldn't see her eyes pierced through hollow of his soul like no one else could. He looked away. "I don't fear for my life." she said.

"I know. You've said before. But you'r still living under a rock to protect it soooo...."

"I'm a slave I have no choice."

"Even slaves can run-"

"What do you want?" She cut him short.

"To take your life. But by oversight I promised another not to harm you so I'll have to make due returning you to your master."

"He's still living?" She looked almost amused.

"Unfortunately yes." Argos glowered, knowing what she was thinking. They both knew he wasn't just her master, he was their master. He shifted fully to deathgripper and slowly, almost gently the large dragon pressed the tip of his tail into the old hybrid.

“You’re in a state." she said, nose still twitching as she smelled his blood and slowly slumped. "Haven’t met up with any Stormcutter Dragonbloods have you?”

“As a matter of fact I have. One from Mykines even. But I’m afraid I left him on some beach stripped of his crown and in a pool of his own blood so no, he won't be joining us today if that’s what you were hoping.”

“You killed him?”

“Pray tell O wise one, how will a dead man claim this hide?” With all the arrogance he possessed he raised his head. “Some God you have, I’m better at keeping my word than He.”

“For your magnificent visual recall your ability to remember the spoken is tragic.” She spat. “Four wings of the south, low in stature and hunted by Kings will sweep bare the work of your hands Argos: four wings and a broken crown will raise a cry to Heaven’s Courts, and the call will be answered in the breaking of tusks.”

“Yes.” Argos stared. “He failed miserably and I slaughtered him.”

“He raised his cry to Heaven's courts, and Heaven's courts answered. It was never the stormcutter who would see to your destruction.”

 

Grace squeezed her legs around Ebony, whipping backwards a little as the dragon jumped forward. She sat back up and stared, blood running cold at the sight of... the...

"Wait," She squinted, "...Is that the reflection from the sun or is it white on him?"

...Argos didn't have any white on him, far as she knew only Jason did. But Jason was back in Berk, hopefully recovering from an overdose of deathgripper poison.

 

Hiccup's first thought when Jason shifted was that Argos was readying his crossbow. The nightfury bared their teeth, the three of them with identical expressions on their faces. Hiccup opened his mouth allowing the blue glow to build in preperation of fire.

"Hey! I'm Jason! Not Argos!" the hybrid waved his arms in surrender. 

Too late to swallow back the blast Hiccup shot it over the Deathgripper dragonbloods head. "Cease fire!" 

Toothless had noticed something was off before Hiccup had, and thankfully he was able to swallow his fire.

"That can't be Jason!" Toothless growled despite his hesitation. "Even if he could heal up that fast there's no way he could have passed us!"

"You got a point there bud," Hiccup slowed, thinking. "This could just be a lure to get us in closer so he can shoot."

"But why would he pick Jason??" Bonny joined the group, taking a place beside Twilight. "He knows as well as we do what state Jason was in when we left."

"...That's also a good point."

 

On the outside, Nora looks just as emotionless as ever. As tensions begin to rise and the dragonbloods of the Down start whispering about what they'd heard, the venom starts losing its grip on her. 'This isn't fair. I can't bare this.. Pine was right, they don't stand a chance..' she laments.
.
Ebony narrows her eyes, now also seeing the white on the deathgrippers wings, and now his white hair too. "He's got white on him! Only Jason has that!" she announces as she catches up. "Could be some kind of disguise to trick us" Twilight growls. "If it is, it's working on me.." Ebony wimpers.
.
Jason holds his breath, knowing his call was at least somewhat successful. 'Ok, they've stopped. Now I've just got to convince them it's really me.' He wracks his brain for ideas, then clears his throat throat and calls out again. "Ok, what makes more sense: for Argos to go through the trouble of turning his hair and scales white, just to trick you guys, even though he's way outnumbered and there's really no point in risking his life like that, instead of going straight to Dragons Down? Or that Jason recovered, took off immediately, ended up helping some silver phantoms on the way, who in return brought him to the last island?" He waits for their response, his heart pounding.

 

The stinger released. It was difficult judging the proper dosage for a frail old dragonblood such as Thalius but by injecting the venom slowly, he'd managed. Argos stared down at the not merely paralyzed by unconscious hybrid on the floor, some bizarre part of his sick mind unhappy with leaving her there. Tenderly as deathgripper possibly can he sheathed his tusks, picked her up in his teeth and placed her in her chair, pushing her back into a comfortable position with a nudge of his snout. There. With her out of the way there wasn't anyone left in the D'own who knew him well enough to see through his plan.

For one fleeting moment those cold yellow eyes softened.

"I never understood you," He muttered to her sleeping figure. "Your devotion to your God or your kindness to those who neither deserved or ever returned it. I thought it was a weak will, bent to the strength of others but I have seen you stand in the presence of the mighty and speak unflinching truth. I still don't understand, but I do respect it. And if I could have had my way I would let you slip into death peacefully, not force your old and broken body into a grueling journey across the sea to be torn to pieces by my kinsmen."

Pain in his side which he was working so hard to ignore pulsed to the fore of his mind, and that faint flicker of empathy left his being with hiss. Something in him wasn't right, beyond the broken ribs, and what he was about to do out there in the D'own wasn't going to make it any better.

"You may be right about that ridiculous prophecy after all." He conceded through grit teeth. "But know this; if I fall today I will take as many with me as I am able."

"Thalius!" A new voice called over the beating wings of yet another nadder dragonblood; this one full dragon. He came straight to the window of the old woman's home "Thalius we may be under attac-"

The nadder careened to a halt at the sight of Argos, Thalius' slumped figure, and Dante on the floor. Argos' eyes locked on this new target, and he lunged through the window for the dragon.

"Dea- dea- DEATHGRIPPER!" It shrieked, trying to deter his attacker with a few well aimed spikes. The deathgripper bowed his head and they merely ricocheted off the gronckle iron armor. Black and red wings unfurled. He caught the nadder and stabbed it with his tail before kicking it toward earth, continuing on a course to the center of the D'own at a height too great for any ground weapon, aside dragon fire itself, to harm him.

There were cries of alarm as the nadder crashed to the floor of the cavern.

"What happened??" the now thoroughly unnerved Snafflefang rushed from ailing guard to the wounded nadder.

"Deeaaathhgripper," He goraned before succumbing to the venom. "Someone tell Odell!"
No one needed to tell Odell. Argos made no secret of his presence and thousands of eyes locked on those black and red wings above with hatred. The word deathgripper rippled throughout the chamber in angry rawks, grunts, snarls and shouts.

That's right, Argos watched the D'own stir like an angry hive. Dozens of furious dragonbloods took wing. That's exactly right.

Letting them think he was the hunted Argos gave that unearthly deathgripper shriek, putting to rest any remaining doubts the locals might have as to who and what the commotion was about. He then made a strange motion by slapping his ears with his pincers.

Arrows hissed by, as did blasts of gronckle, nadder, nightmare, thunderdrum, grapplegrounder, night terror terrible terror snafflefang and at least a dozen other common and uncommon types of dragon fire.

It was a deadly game he couldn't hope to keep up with but there was a goal. Reaching the center of the D'own he changed course at the sight of a new front of enemies, leading the residents and guards on. He took another direction, quickly abandoned it when faced with more angry dragonbloods, then another, and so on spiraling upward in a full circle. The swarm that followed each wanted a piece out of the intruder, those below in the streets and markets watched with trepidation... and all, or very nearly all, were in hybrid or dragon form now.

They had donned the forms for their own defense, after all a dragon is a far more capable warrior than a human, but it was calculable action and more than anticipated; it was welcomed.

The deathgripper had flown up until he was stopped by a mountain of glowing rocks. Here he paused and turned to his pursuers with a snarl. They ceased fire in part not to cause damage to or collapse their light source, and because they had him cornered. 

Glistening white wings of a lightfury cut through the pack, their owner looking Argos up and down.

"...Who are you?" He demanded suspiciously.

Earplugs in his ears he guessed the question. 

"I am Argos," the deathgripper nodded. "Here to make war with the D'own. You must be Odell."

"Argos??" the name roiled the swarm.

"Mur.dering scum!" A thunderdrum shouted.

"Dragonblood killer!" A terror shrieked.

"Soulless beast," A scuttleclaw snarled.

The dragonbloods circled ever closer as Argos hovered in place, bloodthirst in their eyes and jeers on their lips. He met them with an icy smile, yellow eyes turning toward the ground below where a young woman with a blank expression awaited orders.

"Nora, shift to full dragon" He clicked in the tongue none of them knew, "And sing."

 

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LissaFish
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Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 02/12/2017
Argos' End PT9

The Mykines sisters' faces fell into the same suspicious expression. 

"Neither of those sound likely," Grace said before Bonny could, watching every move "Jason" made in their little standoff. Or flyoff. Or... whatever. "But he does sound like Jason."

"There's a sure-fire way of telling," Hiccup muttered. "Somebody get downwind of him."

"The nose never lies." Toothless nodded.

 

 

'No..' Nora thinks, trying to shut out his command. But she shifts to dragon form before she can even shake her head. 'I'm sorry!' she thinks miserably as she begins her hypnotic song.
.
Twilight opens her mouth to offer going, but Ebony beats her to it. "We'll go" she says, flying around Jason in a very wide circle. She hovers at the same height as him when she gets downwind.
Jason watches the nightfury and her rider nervously. 'What are they doing? Surrounding me so they can attack from all sides? Or - oh, oh she's just getting my scent.' He turns to face the pair, then remembers that the rest of the team are now behind him. Quickly turning side-on, he turns his head left and right, keeping a nervous eye on both sides.
Ebony sniffs the air carefully. 'He's scared.. he really smells like Jason..' she thinks. "I think it's Jason!" she calls, flying back around to the team.

 

Odell's eyes widened. He tried to seal his earflaps and shout, but the song was already in the air. Many others recognized it and thought to turn human for one fleeting moment, but they were hundreds of feet up! No wings would make for a nasty fall at that height.

"...What??" That same thunderdrum who had called Argos scum gasped in disbelief as all the others turned from the deathgripper to stare at the ground. As one mind they set off gliding toward the center of town.

"Have you all gone mad??" he yelled. The flock swirled like leaves on a whirlwind around the the beautiful, singing form of a deathsong.

 

The motion of wings beating furiously toward him snapped the thunderdrum away from the sight. Argos rammed, making him spin around that he could clip his pincers over the thunderdrums wings as he had to Ogma on Dragonblood Island.

Only this time he wasn't threatening he was doing.

Even as the dragonblood fluttered stunned and fatally wounded to the ground Argos fiercely searched for others of his kind among the throng, spotting a mother thunderdrum hybrid and her child. On the ground she couldn't see what was mesmerizing the rest of the dragonblood but her little one could, and wanted to know what was making such a beautiful noise.

The deathgripper swooped down. The mother saw him coming and shifted to full dragon, drawing her child in under her to protect him. She bellowed at Argos relentlessly but he evaded and the earplugs helped some. A short scuffle later and she was stung. 

"Mom!" the little boy cried as she told him to run. Argos stalked after. "You haven't yet learned to shift," he said with a tilt of the head as the child stumbled away in terror. Stinger retracted the deathgripper snaked his dexterous tail out and caught the boy.

"Amber this one," he plopped the screaming child at Nora’s feet with a glance at the mesmerized flock. "Amber them all, but don't break your song long enough for them to fall out of the trance."

With that he was off again on the hunt for dragonbloods either in human form or else immune to the call of the Deathsong.

 

.

"Ebony!" Bonny said tensely as the fury carried her sister away from the safety of the team. She started after the two but Astrid cut her off.

"Stay here Bonny," the Viking said, eyes glued to the deathgripper. "Ebony won't let anything happen to Grace."

The Wardenrain bared her teeth, floppy ears turned slightly back but she listened anyways. It wasn't like they didn't have eight dragons (Barf and Belch excluded) with long range fire all trained on the very limited deathgripper.

"Ok we're moving," Grace fel the dragon jump forward again. She hadn't picked up that conversation between the furies but as her dragon came around and she felt the direction of the wind and saw the way Ebony's nose twitched, she figured it out. From this angle the white on his wings and hair was unmistakable, neither did it look tacky like it had been painted on.

"I think it really is Jason!" Grace said as Ebony warbled upon their return. Bonny gave her sister a scolding, almost motherly look as she grunted things in dragon tongue and fussed with the girl's wayward hairs. Grace pushed the dragons snout away. "Oi it's bad enough when you do it as a person," She grinned slightly. "I like my hair just the way it is!"

Hiccup nodded to Ebony. "Alright. You guys cover me I'm going in to see if it really is."

"Let me do it," Toothless objected.

"No bud you cover my back ok?" Hiccup said with a soft smile. He was NOT going to risk Toothless over this, considering how little Argos cared for ordinary dragons.

The fury nodded, albeit nervously, and flew around to the right, deadly fireball on the tip of his tongue. Bonny watched him go, thinking to take up a position herself when Grace tapped her on the neck.

"Let the furies and nadder deal with this," she said, "You have a very powerful long-range fire, but it's not concentrated."

"Fine." She growled, hating to feel helpless.

 

Nora nods and ambers the poor boy before he can escape. Picking up her song again before it can wear off, she looks around at the enchanted flock of dragonbloods. She pauses her song every few seconds, just enough to shoot amber and trap one of them. It takes her a few tries to work out the timing, but while some of the dragonbloods break free to start with, they don't have enough time to recover before she ensnares them in her song again. After about 20 dragonbloods are trapped in amber, she has it timed so that none of them break free, even for a moment.
.
Twilight watches Hiccup fly towards the deathgripper. She nods gratefully to Ebony, then takes up a position about halfway between the girls and Toothless, ready to fire if needed, but acting more as backup.
.
Jason gulps and grins nervously as Hiccup comes at him. "Hi Hiccup - er, Chief, Sir. Sorry about roaring, I slipped up, should have known better. But it's really me, Jason, and the thing about silver phantoms really did happen. Look, I can't be Argos, I don’t have any weapons on me." He risks turning around, showing his burnt back with no crossbow on it. Knowing he's vulnerable like that though, he turns back to face Hiccup.

 

Argos returned periodically to the masses dropping like flies at Nora's feet. Sometimes his tusks had fresh blood on them, other times his tail or pincers. New wounds appeared on his scales and arrows accumulated in his armor. "Ramus." his interest piqued at the sight of a downed Rumblehorn. The colors of it matched exactly one of the fourteen dragonbloods in his book. Clamping jaws around its tail Argos dragged with noticable difficulty the heavy, ambered dragon over to where the boy was. 

"No harm comes to these," He ordered Nora, not a clue if she'd revert to instinctive behaviors either then or afterwards.

Click!

The deathgrippers attention tore away and he searched the foreground for a human.

Snap!

A bolt loosed, going straight for Nora's heart! Argos threw himself out in front of it letting his armor take the beating. The next moment he was gunning for the spot the arrow had come from, violent intent in his eyes.

 

 

.

Hiccup studied carefully, noting the burn mark. Could that be his injury? He wondered. No, no it's only a burn not an open wound.

Recalling all that was told to him about the encounter with Argos on Dragonblood, he also noted the deathgripper wasn't sporting an censored in his back armor. Or scars on his pincers from nightfury teeth.

"It really is you Jason," he visually relaxed, then his face brightened. "You're alright! ...And, here."

The Chief shook his head, really wanting to hear this fanastic tstory about the Phantoms but kind of in a time crunch.

"Stand down! It really is Jason!" He called, turning his own back toward the deathgripper to prove his trust in him.

"I knew it!" Grace said with relief.

Bonny flew cautiously forward, picking up his sent. Faintly similar to Nora's, not loathsome.

Not wanting to waist any more time Hiccup gestured everyone over. He had some battle strategies to talk through. ...New ones to make too, now that they had Jason.

(Edit: Argos turned jerked when he caught the gline of a crossbow in the corner of his eye, because I forgot that he has earplugs in and wouldn't have heard it set xD. Also instead of flying toward the shooter he fired back with one of the double tipped venom darts, that way he can stay and protect Nora if anyone else shows up)

 

Nora nods obediently, then continues to take down dragonbloods. She remains blissfully unaware that she'd almost got an arrow through her heart.
.
Jason sighs in relief, bowing his head gratefully to Hiccup. He stays in hybrid form for the moment to avoid any trouble with instincts - those of the other dragonbloods and dragons, but also his own.
"Hi Jason!" Ebony warbles in greeting, all suspicions gone. Twilight nods hesitantly, but smiles, relieved to see him alive. They all gather around Hiccup with the others, eager to hear the plan.

 

The first archer down Argos fell back toward Nora, remaining in human form with his eyes on the tops of the buildings and nearest clefts. He spots another archer before the woman has a chance to fire and sends a deadly dose of venom her direction. Other human dragonbloods began trickling in, all aiming to silence Nora. It wasn't necessarily an act of courage; the only way out of the D'own was on wings just as Argos had planned. No one who was human could escape and no one who was dragon/hybrid could break away from Nora's song.

He just had to make sure the human dragonbloods didn't stop her.

Another arrow came sailing, and not quite as quick to the draw the Deathgripper had to fan a wing out in front of the Deathsong's face. The arrow pieced through on its course toward Nora's eye but he twisted the wing and changed its direction. It sailed harmlessly over her head.

 

.

The Chief shifted to hybrid for ease of communication, and beckoning his dragon dropped down on top of him.

"Alright. Let’s keep moving." He began in Norse, glancing around to be sure he had everyone's attention. "I'm sure we all have loads of questions for Jason I know I do, but there isn't time to ask more than the basics. First," He turned to the young man, opening one of Toothless' saddlebags. "Are you alright? I assumed so since you're on the wing, but that burn looks painful."

He tossed him some tideglider salve.

"Next, you need to know that the D'own is very antagonistic toward deathgripper and deathsong dragonbloods. Those are two of only five species not welcomed to the refuge/black market, the others being mind-controllers like red death and bewilderbeast, Mindbender or Piranharrow."

Grace and Bonny's eyes widened, and they exchanged glances. ...Piranharrow were real??

Again Hiccup jut his hand into the saddlebag, this time rummaging around for several small pieces of something. When he pulled it back out he offered each rider and dragonblood two wads of wool, not much bigger than the size of a cottonball.

"For us and the dragons." Hiccup nodded the dragonbloods of the group. "Snotlout, Ruff, Tuff, Astrid, Grace, you guys will have to be our ears since you’re not affected by Nora's song. Hopefully we'll get there before she's begun to sing, but it's best to be prepared."

He looked at what was left in the saddlebag then snapped it shut, turned to the other side and opened the saddlebag there. From it he brought forth a vial of Oleander antidote. "I brought everything we had in stock, which was twenty vials." he told them. "If he used Oleander on Jason I'm sure he's got more and he'll be using it again today. I'm going to give each of you one vial, but I need someone to take the rest and administer the antidote to any dragonbloods suffering the effects of the poison."

"Why can't you do it?" Snotlout demanded, not wanting to get stuck in nurse duty when there were axes to be thrown.

"Because I'm not a fan favorite of the D'own." Hiccup admitted. "They're not going to be happy to see me, though maybe less so if Argos has already done damage. Also, if Nora is being controlled by him I'll be working interference so that Jason can break his hold. A deep bond is capable of pulling someone out of the Deathgripper trance."

...he suddenly had flashbacks to Alba. It was in a way strangely similar to having to break Alvin and Hotshot's bond with Epp.

Grace had to this point been listening quietly. Suddenly her hand shot up. "I'll do it." she offered. "I'll take the scauldron antivenom and give it to the sick dragonbloods if there are any. I'm quick and small, I'll be able to sneak around without being noticed."

"I'm with Grace," Bonny added.

Hiccup thought about that. He thought about Bonny's strengths, the fact she was in pretty good shape right now, and what he'd asked Twilight.

"Ok," he said tentatively, "I can't see why that would be an issue, but remember you are a dragon and you're going to react to things the way a dragon will react, so do not step on any darts or anything."

Bonny nodded.

"Twilight you're with Bonny and Grace?" He asked. "Maybe you can do the scouting and let them know where to go. Snoutlout, Astrid, Ruff Tuff, like I said your out ears and ground team. Toothless I want you running cover for them, and anywhere else if you see it."

He looked around at the group. "There's no way to know what we're going to face down there so this is could all be through the window when we arrive. But at least its something to start with."

 

Nora sees the arrow this time and stops singing, frightend enough to snap her out of the venom's control for a few moments and her pupils widen a tiny bit. As some of the dragonbloods start shaking their heads and waking from their trances, she quicky picks up her song again, this time more instinctively than mindlessly.

 

Jason nods as Hiccup tosses him the salve. "Thanks. I'm alright, but this'll definitely help" he answers, carefully putting some of it on his back as best as he can. He nods slowly as Hiccup warns him that neither deathgrippers or deathsongs are welcome in the Down. "Ok, good to know" he says quietly, starting to get worried, but he quicky hides it. "If they're destracted with Argos, they might not pay attention to me, especially if I stay in hybrid to start with."

Twilight shifts to hybrid form and both she and Jason pocket the wool for safekeeping.

Jasons worry shows on his face again as Hiccup explains why he can't help with the oleander-poisoned dragonbloods. 'So saving Nora is up to me.. and keeping Argos and anyone else away is all up to Hiccup... I really hope I can save her quickly' he thinks.

Twilight hesitates for a split second as Hiccup asks her to help scouting for the girls, the nightmare side of her complaining that she won't be fighting, but she nods, determined. "Sounds good."

Jason hesitantly raises a hand. "I really don't know if this'll help, but Buddy told me there's a slightly more secret entrance, the escape. Maybe we can use that instead of the main entrances, we might be able to slip in more easily" he suggests.

 

"I've... never heard of the Escape," Hiccup blinked back surprise. "Only that there a main entrance and back. But if that's what Buddy told you he would know and perhaps Argos won't. Let's try it."

"Oh. And Snotlout, there will undoubtably be ambered dragons so monstrous nightmare could really come in handy."

"Got it," The Jorgenson nodded. "Hey I'll try and release monstrous nightmares first so they can join the cause."

"Great idea."

Having shifted and done the same as Twilight and Jason Bonny sends Hiccup a dark look. "That's all fine and dandy, but we're treating symptoms and not cause. What's your plan for Argos?"

Hiccup's expression changed as more than one set of eyes studied him intently, Astrid's included.

"My only plan for Argos is to keep him from escaping by whatever means neccessary."

"Works for me," Astrid muttered, thinking how much leeway was left in that statement. Bonny on the other hand shook her head so slowly it was almost unoticable.

 

"Land ahead!" The twins pointed to a lush island and extinct volcano on the horizon.

"The D'own," Hiccup murmured.

 

 

Almost as if on queue, pain shoots along Twilight's spine. She growls and shakes her slightly aching head. 'He's close. Finally I can rip him to shreds! But no, I can't, I promised to watch Bonny and Grace!' she thinks. She looks up as she notices the others watching her. "What?!" she snaps. "Are you ok, Twilight?" Ebony asks quietly, her eyes wide. The nightlight pauses, shudders, then shifts to nightmare hybrid. "'Course I'm ok. Just impatient to finish this."

 

Astrid and Stormfly came in closer to Twilight. "You and me both," she told the nightmare hybrid, "Hiccup as long as he's fighting back all's fair," She sort of asked/demanded, "And anyone with the opportunity to take Argos down should do so right?"

"Yes," Hiccup admitted, "As long as he's fighting back it's still war, anyone that has a chance should take him down- but don't take any unneccessary risks! Our edge is his very limited range since most of us are long-range."

As the team neared the island it became evident something was amiss. Unnaturally still, there were no animals, wild dragons or dragonbloods that could be seen. Not a particularly open place to visitors the main entrance was hidden in among the trees.

"Something's definitely up," Astrid growled at the sight of the rockslide completely barricading the entrance while they passed it by.

"Lead the way Jason," Hiccup nodded, toying with the puffs of cotton in his pocket. 

"I don't like this," The dragon grunted. "I don't like this at all, you and the other hoomans and dragonbloods going down there alone."

"It can't be helped," Hiccup said, trying to sooth his friend with a pat. "We'll be ok."

"You'll be careful," He amended grunting nervously. "You'll be very very careful." 

"We will be."

The Chief took two pieces of cotton and stuffed them into Toothless ears.

 

 

Jason nods and leads the way, based on the description Buddy had given him. After a few minutes, he sees the cave opening of the Escape. He stiffens as he sees the two guards slumped against the wall. Shifting to dragon form, the scent of Argos and Nora fill his nose.
Twilight snarls as she sees him in deathgripper form, but the look of alarm that Jason gives her stops her from doing anything else. "Might need that dragon fruit after all" she mutters to Astrid, not meeting anyones gaze.
Jason sniffs warily at the dead guards. "Don't touch them, Argos poisoned their bodies" he warns.

 

Everyone gave the guards a wide berth. Hiccup hissed at the sight, in hybrid form to fit through the entrance.

Astrid inconspicuously pulled out the piece of sagefruit and passed it on to Twilight. "Only if you think you need it, you're doing really good," she pats the dragonblood, seeing what kind of a trigger Jason's deathgripper form was.

"I can't get through," Toothless cooed uneasily to his boy in the tunnel. "Come back."

Stormfly, Hookfange and Barf and Belch were lined up behind him to try their luck... even though Toothless was smaller than all of them.

"Then, this is where we part ways for now." Hiccup tried to comfort him. "We'll be back in no time. Meanwhile, you four be on your guard and stick together! Maybe try digging out the main entrance from that rockslide."

Having something to do turned ears slowly drooping downward back up again. "Ok. Maybe we'll fit through that way too."

Hiccup doubted that but he didn't have the heart to say it. 

Bonny tried to keep her eyes to the ground, not wanting to see any more of Argos work but Grace, not watching where she was going stepped out in front of her and nearly tripped them both.

"Grace!" She snarled in Norse.

"I'm sorry," The girl looked sick to her stomach and tears were in her eyes.

Her older sister grimaced. Stupid! Here she was again thinking only about herself and not protecting Grace. Bonny wrapped a wing around Grace so she couldn't see the guards anymore.

The deeper the team traveled the darker it became. Every footstep, quiet as they tried to make it seemed to bounce off every wall. There was little chatter now and everyone with a weapon had it in hand.

Swoosh!

Darkness was pierced by the light of inferno, up next to Jason in the lead. 

"...Hiccup has a fire sword??" Bonny leaned toward Twilight, eyes glued to the flames. 

 

"Thanks" Twilight mumbles, taking a bite of sagefruit. Some of the tension fades from her body as it starts to take effect, even more so when Jason returns to hybrid form. Ebony tries to squeeze in after the riders and dragonbloods, but fails just like the other dragons. "Please be careful!" she calls after them sadly, flopping down at the entrance.
Twilight grits her teeth, barely holding back a growl as they travel down the dark, narrow tunnel. Forcing down memories, she takes a few more bites of sagefruit and moves more towards the middle of the group.
Jason jumps a little as Inferno lights up, then he looks at it, curious. Twilight nods and smiles. "Made it himself. I've always liked that thing" she tells Bonny quietly.
After a while, Jason spots some feint light up ahead, not coming from Hiccups sword. "I think we're almost there" he says softly.

"That's... impressive," Bonny had to admit... finding she too liked the blade. It felt strangely comforting or familiar.

"I think you're right," Hiccup answered Jason moments later.

the team enter a large chamber, in the middle of it a deep hole with no visible bottom.

Hiccup stared down, reaching Inferno in as far as he could. "Looks like the walls narrow as it goes, but dragonbloods should do fine. Humans pare up with a dragonblood so we can-"

He stopped, eyes dilating and then refocusing once or twice as the gaping hole carried musical notes on an updraft.

"Whoa there," Astrid caught him just as he was readying to abandon the group and follow the song. She pulled him away from the hole and in a few seconds he shook his head and was back to his normal self. Snotlout sneered through the darkness and it was a very good thing Astrid didn't see it.

"Time for earplugs," Grace turned to Bonny and Twilight.

 

 

Twilight purses her lips as Hiccup says the hole will probably get narrower. Despite already being reasonably calm, she finishes the sagefruit, just in case. With a sigh, she shifts to nightlight hybrid. Her ears instantly censored up at the few notes, but they're gone before she's can react. She getting our her earplugs, but hesitates. "Wait, you humans outnumber us dragonbloods, how's that going to work?"
Jason stands by the hole, looking into it longingly, despite the few notes of song having faded. "Twilight's question wakes him from his thoughts. "Either two trips or someone has to carry two" he answers, grabbing his own earplugs.

 

"I'll take you two." Hiccup rather ordered than answered, pointing to the Thorstons. He looked at his earplugs a moment. "We're probably going to have another advantage over Argos; he'll be wearing earplugs too when some of us won't be."

He looked around the little group one last time. "Alright let's do this. Improvise if you need to or even if you just see that there's a better way. Stay sharp and stay safe."

He put the plugs in and collected the twins who were arguing about some thing or another, the down the shaft he went.

Bonny put her earplugs in too. Just like when she and Twilight had confronted Argos at that island, she didn't like them. She didn't like having one of her senses taken away.

"Ready Grace?"

"I'm ready."

 

Down they went, and it felt like ages though it was only minutes. The tube slowly grew brighter and all the human ears were picking up on the deathsongs tune now. Grace sent a questioning thumbs up to Bonny and Bonny nodded her head in agreement. Like them or not the plugs were working.

 

They passed the second set of guards, Gronckle dead but Dramillion incased in amber and apparently stung. Hiccup thought about setting the twins down on the floor of the cavern and coming back, but realized until Noras song had been stopped any dragonblood freed would only find themselves trapped again in a short time.

 

 

 

.

dozens of dragons still fluttered overhead but just as many werer scattered all around Nora in amber cocoons. In a lull between archers, Argos went out to inspect their catch, dragging back two night terrors, another nadder and a scuttleclaw. Ramus, Thalius, Sunbeam, and Tief down, add to it the other four and he had eight of his fourteen.

Another arrow came speeding toward them this time aimed at Argos. It stuck into his deathgripper shoulder, but his hide was too thick for the standard bow to do any real damage. Shifting, his head jerked in that direction, crossbow trained on the human trying to find cover. Just as he let the bolt loose he turned his aim up and it sailed harmlessly by.

"Nora amber!" He clicked toward the woman.

 

Twilight, carrying Astrid, and Jason, carrying Snotlout, follow after Hiccup and Bonny. Jason bares his teeth angrily as he sees the ambered dramillion. 'He'd better not be hurting her to make her do this!'
.
Nora turns her head at Argos's click. Seeing the human, she fires her amber at her target.

 

Grace's feet met the rock floor of the cavern, and despite their mission she couldn't help but stare up, into the place with wonder. The giant net of glowing rocks, or crystals whatever they were, the buildings etched into the walls, statues of strange boulder class dragons all around, and the skeleton of something once giant standing guard over it all.

Poorly at guard, as the swarming flock of dragonbloods might bring one to think . They were all flitting toward the center of town where Nora was singing. 

Astrid pulled her axe out. "Well it's not going to be hard to find Nora but she's not the real problem. She studied the flock, looking for red and black wings that weren't in sync with the rest.

...Nothing.

"Probably guarding his dragonblood trapper," Tuff said, casually swinging macy. 

The General nodded. "She's his key to success and survival. Let's go."

Bonny shifted to full dragon keeping close to Twilight and Grace, eyes darting to and fro for any sign of trouble

 

Trapped the archer could only watch as Argos walked up and dragged her toward the sorry lot at Nora's feet. 

 

Twilight looks around, then turns to Grace and Bonny. "We need to find and cure anyone who's sick" she reminds them and herself quietly. She shifts to full nightlight, the effect of the sagefruit too much for the nightmare - for now. She spreads her wing and flies off quickly, sticking as close to the ground and walls of the cavern as possible so as not to attract unwanted attention.
Jason barely notices what the others are doing. His eyes remain fixed on the massive flock, searching for Nora. His heart aches when he sees her in the middle of it. He spreads his wings, ready to fly to her, but he gives Hiccup a questioning look, cleary asking if he can go yet.
.
Nora looks at the newest prisoner sadly, but she continues to sing and shoot down dragonbloods, knowing she has no choice.

 

Grace glanced down at the satchel of antidote, gripping it tightly. "Ok. I'll follow you Twilight."

Spreading her wings the Wardenrain thought to follow Twilight until she remembered just how big she was. The deathgripper would easily spot her! Undoubtably he'd know my wings from any other dragon too, since I'm the only wardenrain he's ever seen.

Landing agian, and falling in behind her sister Bonny took up the rear guard. Her eyes drifted toward a thunderdrum that Astrid was checking for signs of life, two terrible gouges through its back.

Wings held stiffly half-out, her tail curled and her neck extended until her head was directly over Grace. 

 

"Too late for him too," Astrid muttered, leaving the thunderdrum behind. Hiccup and Jason were making there way toward the center of the market so that's where she was headed as well.

 

Nodding Jason his answer, the nightfury with green-tipped wings slinked through corridors of the village, eyes and nose on high alert. Occasionally he'd pause and listen to the vibrations of Nora's song course through the ground to his feet. Directly ahead was the market square where, between buildings he glimpsed a black and red wing. The Chief made eye contact with Jason.

"Stay hidden," He gestured and mouthed, "Until I've got his attention."

Cautiously he snuck forward.

 

.

Just moving the small dragons over and that one archer left the deathgripper short of breath. He stood in front of Nora a few minutes catching it back... until the ache in his side began to rise. Then, as he'd done so many times already he got back to work.

It's wearing off, He glowered up at her compassionate look to their newest prisoner. There was still plenty of time before she could put to action any of her own thoughts, but he didn't like cutting this so close. Sort of throwing himself back toward the ambered dragons he waved his tail in thought. Nora would be out of the trance in about an hour, and these masses would regain their minds and find ways to escape. 

That couldn't happen. 

His yellow eyes looked around at the captives and rested on a white dragon.

"Odell isn't it?" He stalked, gesturing out with a wing, knowing that beyond the transfixed expression on the Lightfury's face some part still understood him. "The efforts you've put into keeping this place out of talons like mine is impressive. I've spent nearly two decades trying to find it and reclaim those who belong to me."

The deathgripper's pupils turned to paper thin slits. He looked up at the overhead light feature, then down toward the pit unto which he'd seen the burnt out stone thrown. "And now I have. Them, and the D'own itself. I intend to destroy it completely, that it may stand testimony not to refuge but reproach."

Argos stung him once.

"Starting with you. Chaos is my ally and there is no better way to make it than killing the head. Personally I’d like to see you watch it all burn but one must be reasonable. Goodbye Odell."

 

Twilight scans the ground for fallen dragonbloods. Each time she finds one, she circles to make sure the area around it is safe to land on, then lands and checks for signs of life. Most of the time she finds them dead, either by injury or by a deadly arrow. On the few occasions when they are alive though, she quickly loops back and guides the sisters to it. She always stuffs something into the victims ears, then takes off again.

After a while, they get up to the gryphoenix skeleton and the sick snaffefang guard. After helping to block his ears, she looks up at the skeleton, somehow feeling drawn to it. She quickly makes her way up and in, then pauses as she looks are the room. A man lies dead on the floor, next to him sits an old nadder hybrid in a chair. Twilight carefully moves over to check on the latter. 'There's something different about her.. I can't explain it, but she'll special and important. Not just in the Down, she's clearly a leader of some kind.. just.. she's different as a person' she thinks, then frowns in confusion at her own thoughts. She checks for signs of sickness, but realises she's simply been stung. Twilight turns and leaves the skeleton, then leads the sisters off to look for more dragonbloods to cure, with one last look back towards the skeleton holding the mysterious nadder.
.
Jason nods, a worried look on his face. 'This really is a life or death situation..' he thinks with a shudder. "Be careful" he mouths to Hiccup.
.
Nora continues to work, unaware of how close she is to freedom. With the speed at which she's shooting down dragonbloods, ambered ones slowly begin to outnumber the airborne ones.

 

NO! Hiccup thought, slinking into view just as the deathgripper stung his captive prey the second time. Dang it that was Odell too. Whether or not they'd seen eye to eye on subjects such as dragon hunting he still regretted the loss of the D'own Leader's life.

Argos, unaware yet of Hiccup's presence whipped his tail out and stung the next dragonblood twice, then started on the third. Hiccup ran at him, not caring what sort of noise he made as long as he stayed out of Nora's line of fire and Argo's line of sight. The killer was just going for the second sting on his third victim when he spun, deadly tail now flying toward Hiccup!

The fury gave a squeal and narrowly dodged, speeding by and running into one of the ambered dragonbloods.

"Took you long enough to get here," Argos sneered, eyes bright and senses heightened as he listened to the patter of human feet same way as he'd "heard" Hiccup rush him, through vibration in the ground.

Shaking the crash off the Chief snarled, wings half open and plasma blast in the back of his throat.

Undaunted by Haddock's threat the deathgripper's own wings half spread in agression, tail flowering and body crouched. He knew Hiccup wouldn't fire, not with the chance of harming the dragonbloods behind him. 

Which was something Argos couldn't care less about as he spewed a stream of acid at the fury! 

Hiccup leapt out of the way, horrified as the corrosive liquid melted through amber toward a gronckle dragonblood. With a fell stroke he shifted, whipped out Inferno and sliced through the spot, freeing the dragon... who of course promptly flew straight for Nora and got ambered again but at least he was safe from the acid. Two others were in the same condition and he treated them the same way before spinning to meet the deathgripper again.

But Argos wasn't there, he was retreating in flight toward Nora.

"Oh no you don't," Hiccup set his jaw and he flew after, gaining easily. The deathgripper was in a small section where there were no dragonbloods that could be harmed by Hiccup's blast, so the Chief aimed.

His target glanced back and shifted to human, shooting not Hiccup but one of the dragonbloods still flocking Nora in the air. 

It cried out and fell to the ground, coughing, but not before Argos had shot three more. He returned to dragon just before meeting the ground.

"Astrid get Grace over here!" Hiccup shifted to hybrid long enough to yell then went back to fury- missing his opportunity to shoot without harming anyone else.

"Clever devil." 

Hiccup sped past and landed between Nora and Argos, ears back flat, but eyes widening when the deathgripper didn't stop and instead collided into him, throwing both to the ground!

Mano a mano the fury has claws and teeth, but the deathgripper has claws, teeth, pincers, tusks, wings that can tear and a tail that can be used to stab, sting, or club. Not to mention they're immune to their own acid so that can be used at close range too. Hiccup writhed in the deathgrippers talons, escaping his tail here, his tusks there. A wing felt the painful clip of a pincer, a moment later the other was clamped down on as well.

Hiccup waited until he felt the dragon move his mouth into position to deliver the killing blow- then shifted to human!

Argos tusks jutted into the ground on either side of Hiccup, and momentarily stuck, the Chief slipped out and kicked himselftaway, only barely escaping the acid that followed.

 

Jason flies as fast as he can at Nora. In full dragon form, he knocks her off her feet, momentarily cutting off her song. She shakes her head and gets up, picks up her song again and looks around, coming face to face with hybrid form Jason. "Nora, it's me, Jason. I know you can hear me. Please, please come back to me" he says, slowly stepping closer. Nora blinks and shakes her head, trying to fight off the venom. Jason gently places his hands on her scales, his throat tight with emotion. "Jason!" Nora gasps, finally beating the venom and shifting to hybrid. She hugs him tightly and breaks down into sobs. He hugs her back just as tightly, also crying quietly. For a few precious moments, the world feels right again.

 

"We weren't in time" Grace said tearfully as the exhausted and shallow breathing of the guard came to a stop. They'd already passed so many they couldn't help, she thought this time, finally, she could do some good.

But no, instead she'd waisted a vial of the precious antidote. "We've got to save someone, we've just got to!" 

Bonny lifted her to her feet,. "C'mon. Twilights on the move again, maybe the next one will be different."

 

.

...Get Grace where even was Grace?? Astrid turned in a circle. There was Twilight, just coming out of the home etched into the rock between the wings of the Grypheonx. The Viking waved her axe, making it glint in Twilight's direction while pointing to the dragons falling to Oleander poison as she motioned.

 

 

Whaaamm!

The daggerlike tail came down where Hiccup had been less than a second before.

Wham!

Wham!

The Chief rolled out of the way and finally out of range, scrambling to his feet.

Argos' eyes narrowed. He sprayed another stream of acid Hiccup's direction, covering six or seven dragonbloods this time. Some screeched as it spattered over their un-ambered heads or tails, burning into their flesh.

Hiccup did what Hiccup so predictably would; unable to ignore their cries or plight he turned his back on the deathgripper and began slashing amber with Inferno. 

The Chief properly preoccupied Argos spun, free from the fight at hand to defend the deathsong.

A flash of black, red and white, and his eyes widened.

"Jason??" he stammered in disbelief. Nooo... but was it?? It couldn't be!

There had always been a chance that Jason would survive, but... how was he here? He was in no condition to travel, let alone race across the archipelago on Argos' tail! It' didn't make sense!

But it was Jason. Only a bond as deep as his and Nora's could pull the Deathsong out of the trance she was in, and it was doing so even as Argos processed what was happening. 

The echo of Nora's song bounced off the walls of the cavern for a few moments, and then, the first time since he'd announced his presence in the D'own, there was silence.

"Jason!" Nora gasped, breaking down. The two embraced in tears of mixed relief, joy, pain, and comfort, while above those left of the swarm shook their heads and came to.

"D-D- Deathsong??" One gronckle grunted with wide eyes.

"D-D-DEATHGRIPPER!" A terror screeched.

Eyes darted between Jason, Nora and Argos, momentarily confused.

"Argos," the ambered Rumblehorn groaned, unable to see but remembering. "It's Argos! Kill him!!"

 

"Macy PUNCH!"

Whhaaam! 

Focused on the quickly changing scene above, the dragon flinched as Tuff hit him with Macy on one side and Ruff with spear from the other. He whipped both wings out, throwing at least the latter off-aim in defense of his wounded side, and both off their feet. 

"Snotlout NO!" Hiccup shouted from where he was dragging a dazed scuttleclaw out of a pile of smoking amber. The Jorgenson was going for that deadly tail with his axe but it found him first!

"SNOTLOUT!"

"Ohh," he gasped in mid-upstroke, dropping his axe. "That's gonna leave a mark."

The young man sank to the ground as Argos took to the air, dragonbloods swarming him like sparrows on a hawk. Shifting to hybrid he made the best of both worlds; stinging and shooting anyone that dared to leave themselves open to attack.

 

Twilight turns her head, following the glint of metal. Her eyes land on Astrid, then she looks towards the growing chaos that the viking is indicating. Her blood runs cold and she looks back at the sisters. 'I can't possibly take them there, they'll be killed!' she thinks. As she looks back at the fighting though, anger boils inside her. 'They need help.' She shifts to nightmare hybrid and pulls out her earplugs. "Come on, they need us! Don't you dare get yourselves killed, either of you!" she shouts to Bonny and Grace, then shifts to full nightmare and flies off towards the battle.

 

Nora and Jason are pulled from their reunion far too soon as chaos breaks loose. Jason quickly pulls out his earplugs and the pair looks around. "Th-this is all my fault" Nora whispers, starting at all the trapping dragonbloods. "No, it's Argos' fault. Come on, we've got to help break them free" Jason says. He quickly walks over to the nearest cocoon and shifts to dragon form. The razorwhip starts charging up his fire, but Jason clamps his mouth shut in his pincers. "I'm not Argos. I'm on your side. So is the deathsong. Argos was controlling her" he growls. Still keeping the razorwhips mouth shut, he carefully uses his acid to melt the amber, making sure to avoid the dragons scales. The amber shatters and he steps back, then quickly moves on to the next prisoner. Nora hesitates, then shifts to dragon form too and starts breaking the amber cocoons too.

 

Bonny s.nags Grace and plops her on her back, spreading her wardenrain wings in pursuit of Twilight. Seeing the lattter pull out her earplugs she eagerly does the same.

"Grace look!" Bonny pointed with her snout to a coughing dragonblood. They landed and Grace administered the antidote, and the dragonblood immediately began to improve.

"It works!" Grace lit up, wildly searching for someone else to help.

 

.

"Snotlout!" Astrid ran over to the downed Jorgenson. "Are you alright??"

"I'll finn, ust fin. Ou ooo figh tha jer, o-ay?" He slurred.

"Don't worry we got this Astrid. Ruff and Tuff, doctors extrodinare are on the job."

"Why do I get the feeling he's better left alone than with you two?"

"Maybe because Macey is my favorite surgical instrument."

"Stop." Astrid snarled. "Just guard him and make sure he doesn't hideor anything." Axe in one hand she took the monstrous Nightmare gel from Snotlout and ran for the trapped dragonbloods

"Got it. I think. Stop just guarding him and make sure he doesn't lie or anything. Pfft You know there's a better statistical chance that pigs will fly than Snotlout stop lying?"

"Well. He could if he died."

"Huh true. ...Wait did she want us to ...y'know..." Tuff gestures Macey then Snotlout's head. Even in this state the Jorgenson's eyes dart back and forth. "Nuh uh. nuuuuuuhhh. NUH!"

 

 

.

He wasn't the only one able to shift and best utilize his arsonal; the others did it too, some evading his darts others his tail or tusks as they grew ever bolder, nipping at his wings and pincers. arrows and darts ricocheted off the gronckle iron armor on his back most of the time; but the weaker arrows and some darts made their way to his wings, shoulders and tail. A few of the nadders caught the scent of his blood and it brought them into a new state of frenzy. 

Black wings tipped in green dipped in and out of the crowd to get ahead of the fleeing deathgripper.

"Argos stop!" Hiccup demanded, hovering over the hole Argos had seen burnt out rocks thrown in. The Chief was ready for the tackle this time around and braced.

It didn't come. Argos spread his wings to break, panting as he looked down the hole.

"Kill him! Kill him!" the D'own hissed, slithering in like a pack of hyenas against a single lion.

"It's over, surrender!" Hiccup demanded.

The deathgripper sent him and those closing in another stream of acid, an inordinate and disturbingly large amount of it.

Dragonbloods were hit, screeching or screaming in pain, but even though it tracked Hiccup he easily evaded, leaving most of the corrosive liquid to fall to the ground. 

Argos spat what was left out of his mouth and shook his head. "You're probably right," He admitted about the 'over' part anyways.

"Ssurrender then."

"Can't. Deathgripper Code." His cruel spirit flashed forward again. "Besides I like it better this way."

He thrust himself backwards to the alarm of those edging closer. Catching a raincutter by the neck the deathgripper flung it toward Hiccup who dodged- and a moment later found a blue oleander dart in his chest.

Immediately he began coughing so hard he couldn't fly straight or even see. The fury crashed, and shifted to hybrid to bring out his one vial of anti-venom.

 

Argos beelined the light fixture, flying over it to avoid any more ground fire. Flying past one of the supporting ropes of the massive net he clipped on with his pincers and sling-shot himself back at the dragonbloods. Most parted the way, now wary of his antics but he still managed to take down one or two. He sped to the other side of the net and did the same thing there.

 

 

Freed, the razorwhip snarled something in dragontongue with the most ungrateful look and took to the air. He flew straight for the main entrance.

Astrid joined the duo in amber-shattering, rescuing the trapped dragonbloods one by one. It was slow work but they made progress. Many of them shifted to hybrid the moment they had the chance and took off to escape the D'own or gather their loved ones together and then fly. A few of them turned to the angry flock after Argos, and even fewer still stepped out of themselves and helped Astrid, Nora and Jason free the rest. 

"Nora!" Bonny landed and Grace ran up and hugged the dragon with butterfly wings tightly. "You're ok! I'm so happy to have you back."

"Grace we got six more that need your help," Astrid didn't miss a beat, "That way," She pointed opposite of where Bonny and Grace had just come. "He's really letting them have it now."

"I'm on it!"

 

Limited space above the net and rock light fixture got too crowded for a large dragon such as Argos to even turn. He flew out from over it to under as did naturally, his followers. 

Far below Hiccup checked on the raincutter. He was stunned but given enough time looked like he'd come out of it. The Chief watched their enemy, still coughing but able to breath again, empty vial on the ground. Every attack he's made had two strike options... like in swordfighting, He thought A second intention.

Nearby a scauldron dragonblood with bits of amber still stuck to him flew up to join the chaos. He paused and aimed Argos, who met his stair with an icy one of his own, hovering in front of a supporting cord of the fixture. The deathgripper hissed.

"DON'T SHOOT!" Hiccup shouted, seeing what the conniving deathgripper was doing.

Too late! The scauldron fired with as much fury and strength as he had. Argos shifted to human and fell out of range, but the blast went on, shocking the cord of the massive net.

It snapped. 

Ordinarilly all that would come of such a miss-fire would be the loss of a few of the glowing rocks... but when he'd clipped his pincers and sling-shot back earlier, Argos had compromised the other two holding the same weight. They also snapped,  and from a distance the rocks appeared to pour out of one end of the net slow motion!

"Gangway!" dragonbloods scattered.

"Sorry!" Hiccup s.natched the dazed raincutter up by the neck and much like Argos chucked him... this time to his safety though. Still coughing he gathered whoever he could find that was ambered or unconscious and in danger of being crushed

 

Twilight flies up towards the angry flock surrounding Argos. She arrives just as the scauldron fires. Argos shifts and drops out of her way and Twilight follows. She hears the rumble of falling rocks and the fearful cries to flee, but doesn't pay them any attention and simply dives after Argos, bursting into flames.
.
Nora and Jason look up and their eyes widen as they see the glowing rocks tumbling out of the broken net. Working quickly, they try to get as many trapped dragonbloods to safety.

 

Fortunately few of the ambered dragonbloods were in the way of the massive cascade, which predominentally crashed down that giant pit, leaving the cavern dark and shuddering, the pit in light. Human eyes such as Astrids or the Twins struggled to see; they could make out what was directly in front of them but anything at a distance was just a shadowy form.

"Ooh," the psychotic deathgripper blinked callously as Hiccup struggled to pull a hobblegrunt to safety. He had to shift to human and use Inferno first because the dragon and amber were too much to move. "So they have brought Oleander antivenom. Good to know."

The sound of a firejacket igniting came from behind him.

Argos shifted to hybrid and growled a dozen curses under his breath as he veered off of Haddock, Twilight close on his tail. Her as a beacon to all the rest of the flock it wouldn't be long until they were at his throat again, nevermind that she could not-so-metaphorically slaughter him in battle herself. He had to chose his targets sparingly and wisely.

Spotting the team releasing his captives he pulled out what he had left of his darts; three oleander and two venom. Knocking one of the oleander and trying to stay just one step ahead of the gaining Nightmare Argos picked Nora and aimed between the eyes. If she went down, he'd have Jason's attention pulled from free dragonbloods, Nora, obviously, no longer freeing dragonbloods, and that young girl with- with the Wardenrain preoccupied administering antidote.

He fired, then shifted back to his stronger form, focus turning to the pile of Dragonbloods from his book. No he couldn't kill them but he could sting those he hadn't yet. 

 

Nora collapses in a fit of coughing as the dart hits. "Nora!" Jason cries, at her side in an instant. Shifting to hybrid, he quickly pulls out the dart. "Hang in there, I've got you, just breathe" he says, stroking the choking deathsong with one hand and grabbing his vial of scauldron venom with the other. He quickly opens it and makes her drink it, his lips pursed with fear. Nora relaxes as it becomes easier to breathe. "Thanks" she pants, half closing her eyes. "Any time" Jason whispers, staying at her side to make sure she really recovers.
.
Twilight snarls and flies faster. She flies up above Argos, then swoops down, trying to tackle him out of the air.

 

"Nora!" Grace started for the Deathsong.

"Grace look out!" Bonny screeched in dragontongue

Grace looked up to see a flaming Twilight and... and Argos coming straight toward her!

Bonny leapt out, stretching as far as she possibly could and scooped Grace up in her paws like a football, rolling her to safety. The two dragons in the air crashed into her wardenrain frame and she yelped, flung off her feet and onto her back.

.

Argos' saw it coming, he tried to escape; but he was already giving it everything he had. Yellow eyes widened as the nightmare tackled him out of the air! He plotted their crash course toward the least dangerous of his enemies, the small human girl. They collided with that Wardenrain and the deathgripper felt his tail dig into flesh, unintentionally releasing a tiny bit of venom. Then they were passed her and hit the ground  Twilight on top; and what little breath was left in his lungs was knocked out of him. The momentum of both their speeds sent them tumbling even further still, Argos biting his own tongue at the surge of pain it all caused his wounded side. He couldn't show weakness. He couldn't show weakness!

The wardenrain whipped herself back to an upright position, looking bewildered. She had a few scorched scales, and her stitches had torn loose making her middle to bleed again. she teered dizzily.

"Bonny!" Grace squeaked, her sister sinking into a heap. Before she could think any further though, Twilight and Argos rolled by and came to a stop beside her. This was Grace's first time ever seeing him, let alone being this close to the dragonblood who brutally killed her father, caused all the carnage they'd found in this once beautiful place and whom she'd heard so many other horrible stories about. The girl froze when she realized that dagger-like tail was within arms reach! One fell twist of it and she was dead!

Fortunately he had other things on his mind. The deathgripper remained still, scales and wings scorched and body completely limp for one fleeting, hopful moment. But the next he rose to his feet, shook it off violently and locked eyes on Twilight. "I'm going to kill you." He murmured in measured breaths, bringing his tail up-

Shwwiinng!

The yellow eyes bulged. There was a sharp pain, but still on the warpath toward Twilight his tail became horribly light, and when it rose over his head all that was there was a stubbed end.

Twisting fiercely around he searched for Haddock, or Astrid, or Jason, maybe even the Wardenrain. But no. The only person standing there was that small human girl, stained sword in hand.

"You won't be killing anyon with that again." she hissed, the daggerlike end of his tail on the ground in front of her.

"You worthless little piece of trash," Argos sputtered back, insensed. All thought of Twilight, all thought of anything vanished as he stalked toward Grace; as he stalked toward this pathetic little human who had stolen his most prized weapon. "Ian's worthless little piece of trash!"

Color draining from her face as he loomed over her, she backed away. But he was a deathgripper and she was just a girl with two small legs so he gained. She pointed the sword at him and he snapped his jaws shut around it, not caring what it did to his mouth as he yanked it out of her little hands. "Thalius was right that idiot stormcutter has been the death of me. At least I can take solace in being his slayer as well... and that which he loved so dearly, trying to protect from me. We'll fail together won't we?"

He lunged forward, tusks thrusting for her!

 

Jason studies Nora carefully, his eyes widening as he suddenly notices all her cuts and bruises. "You're hurt! What happened? When? Who?" "Argos. I challenged him and lost." Nora answers quietly. Jason feels anger rising and he snaps his head around as Twilight and Argos tumble by. "Are you sure you're feeling better - cough-wise?" he asks Nora quickly. "Yeah. I'm just a little tired, but I'm alright, really." "Ok, good. Stay here, I'll be back in a moment. Got something to finish." He shifts to full deathgripper and stalks after Twilight and Argos.

 

Twilight hisses in pain as she and Argos crash to the ground. Her wing injury opens up again and she puts out her flame jacket. She winces as she slowly tries to get up, baring her teeth at Argos' threat. She braces herself, ready to dodge - then her eyes widen as Grace appears and cuts off the deathgrippers stinger.

"No!" she snarls as Argos lunges for Grace and she shoots a jet of fire at him. What really stops Argos' tusks from impaling Grace though is another pair of tusks blocking them. "It's over, Argos" Jason snarls.

 

Instinctively Argos put his wing between his vulnerable side and Twilight. The blast burned it badly, so much so he probably couldn't get off the ground now if he tried.

But Argos' mind wasn't on retreat. Tusks clashed with that almost wooden clank sound. 

"It's over Argos," Jason snarled, threatening the tired older dragon with a deathmatch by his position.

...Tusks locked and pupils slits Argos accepted. He pushed forward in surprising strength, trying to trample the girl underfoot and grind Jason into the ground at the same time.

Grace dodged a pincer here, a claw there, a wing there. A deathgripper deathmatch was NO place she wanted to be but it was tricky getting out of the middle of one! She managed, and ran toward Twilight and Nora.

"He's acting like a wild deathgripper," Grace gasped, trembling and thoroughly shook up but still thinking about what she saw in Argos eyes. There was intent and hate in them when he tried to kill her... but when Jason stopped him, it was... it was like the intelligent, or if it could even be called this the 'human' side of him flickered out; leaving only the violent instincts of a regular deathgripper.

Hiccup flew in, landing on one of the stone buildings and watching the two battle. He knew a thing or two about Deathgripper Code, and though the opportunity was staring him in the face he didn't fire on Argos.

Reflexively Argos thrust his tail toward Jason, regretting it the next moment. He kept up the strenuous charge until he'd run them both into one of the strange boulder-class statues, making it teeter on its pedastal. He backed away and paused just a moment, catching his breath as he waited for Jason to retaliat. Armor on Argos back pinched and cut into him, broken arrowtips and darts stuck deep inside or half through. He writhed and tore it all off, clawing with a wing or gnawing with his bleeding teeth. 

The D’own realized their enemy was no longer aware of them and they had every intention of taking advantage of that.

"Stand down," The fury with green-tipped wings ordered in a threatening hiss. "This is Jason's fight!"

Some eyed him suspiciously, some defiantly, but in the end no one moved on the deathgrippers.

 

"Nora how bad is that side of his?" Grace asked suddenly.

 

Twilight and Nora both shift to hybrid as they watch. Like the Downs dragonbloods, Twilight wants to attack Argos, but obeys Hiccup and stays put.
"It's pretty bad. I'm sure Jason's noticed it by now" Nora answers quietly.
.
Jason braces himself as Argos rams against him. As Argos flails to remove his armor, Jason uses the dragon statue to launch himself out of the corner. He strikes at his enemy with his tusks, then deals several hard and fast blows with his pincers to Argos' head. His eyes land on the nasty wound in the other dragons side and he angles himself to strike there next.

 

Jason's tusks coming at him, Argos tried to shift but found he could not; so he met the attack head on with his own tusks once more.

There was a loud crack as someone's tusk was compramised, but who’s it was one couldn't tell.

With each blow delt the charade of invinciblility Argos had kept up from the very first fractured. He shuddered when they met head on, trembled in the waiting, panted... no, gasped while his opponent was only breathing heavily. And finally, when Jason's tail whipped by and hit him in the side Argos staggered and fell halfway to the ground. He tried to turn his wounded side away from Jason, but wasn't able to move fast enough. 

The older deathgripper hissed as he watched Jason's eyes fall on the vulnerable spot; he cupped his burnt wing over it and clicked aggressively. 

Time was up.

In a last-ditch effort to gain victory Argos jumped, beating his ruined wing and good to get above Jason. His pincers snapped, partially clipping over one of Jason’s wings and trying for the other so he could do what deathgrippers do best.

 

Jason barely gets his other wing out of the way in time. He sees Argos' next attack coming and slashes up at him with his now unsheathed stinger.

 

It hit it’s mark.

 

There was no need for venom, that dagger-like tail pierced through Argos' vulnerable side and up into his heart.

Argos went rigid, pincer cutting into the one wing it was holding on. His tusks jutted out but only found air.

A moment later his grip fell slack, and he dropped off of Jason to the stone floor of the cavern, breaking off not one but both of his own tusks in the fall.

For a moment the D'own was silent, watching with either eager hope or malice as the deathgripper's frame shuddered in ragged, failing breaths, blood pouring out his side. He growled softly, cold yellow eyes setting in place and body going limp.

 

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LissaFish
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Joined: 02/12/2017
Argos' End PT10

Jason steps back to catch his breath and make sure that the monster really is dead. Seeing no signs of life whatsoever, he breathes a sigh of relief and shakes himself. His eyes widen as half of one of his own tusks falls to the ground with a thud. 'Oh.. I thought that was one of his..' he thinks, a bit stunned.

 

"Is he...?" A nadder dragonblood sniffed, turning her head. 

That same terror who had done so much screeching about Argos crawled forward and sniffed.

"HE DEAD!" He screeched again, daring to slap the deathgripper side of the head.

A mighty shout of triumph rose and fell like a wave throughout the cavern. The dragonbloods returned to human or hybrid forms in the wake of the good news, feeling secure.

"Well done Jason," Hiccups wings folded quietly to his sides. The fury hopped down and sniffed at his ally's broken tusk, grimacing. "That doesn't hurt does it?"

Astrid lowered her axe but cast snake eyes at the shady dragonbloods surrounding them. Once they got over the victory Hiccup would without doubt be their next interest; he was a bit infamous as the ringleader of pulling dragonbloods (Gusto and Ogma for some) out of Dragon Hunting and other such shifty businesses.

In the back, where Grace was watching in a strange state of mixed feelings that came out as none, Bonny's wardenrain head lifted up behind and rested on top of hers. She turned.

"Bonny." the girl whispered in relief, first hugging her sister's neck, then slipping back to check her over for injury when she saw how focused the teen was on Argos.

"You were right." The wardenrain whispered, locked on the dragon. Was she relieved that Argos had been stopped? Yes. Glad that her father had been avenged? Of course. Did it satisfy her or fill her?

Absolutely not.

And she knew in her heart even if she'd been the one to fell the final blow, it wouldn't have made a difference. Grace was right: Bonny didn't want Argos' blood she wanted to heal, and his death had little to do with that. She cast a look Twilight's way, wondering if she felt the same.

 

Twilight, still in nightmare hybrid form, folds her wings, only half relaxing as her eyes move from the dead deathgripper to Jason. She sighs quietly, feeling relief mixing with several other emotions, much like Bonny and Grace, but with the addition of a strange feeling of loss and confusion. She looks around, tilting her head as her eyes land on the Gryphyinx skeleton. She quietly flies off towards it without a word.
.
Nora hugs Jason, then steps back, worried. "Are you hurt? It looked like you were hurt, how you just sat there." "No, I think I'm ok. It's just my pride that's a little hurt, I lost a tusk. Does it show in this form?" "No. Does it hurt, physically?" Jason smiles and shakes his head. "Just gotta get used to balancing. Could have been a lot worse, like losing a wing or an eye or my tail or -" "An eye? Oh no, Pine!" Nora gasps, suddenly remembering her terror friend. "Pine?" Jason asks, confused. Nora nods, worried. "Argos sent him to guard the main entrance, but I haven't seen him since.. come on, I'll explain more on the way, we've got to find him." She flies off in hybrid form towards the main entrance. "Back in a minute, Nora just remembered someone who needs help" Jason quickly tells Hiccup, then follows her.

 

As the two fly past Hiccup does a double take, seeing the book around Nora's neck for the first time.

"Wait Nora Jason they might-"

They were too far gone to hear him. ...Might think you're the same Deathsong and deathgripper that took the D'own." He launched after them.

 

.

"Listen," a guard said, standing over the still form of a young man with sandy blond hair, arms tied behind his back. "Someone's coming."

"Can you tell who?"

"Yeah." the dragonblood shifted to full rumblehorn and bared his teeth, nose taking in the scent. "It's the deathsong and gripper!"

The guard snatched his spear, then shifted to Jabberjaw every quill on end. "I'll distract you aim for the kill. Don't worry about hitting me these two have got to go down!"

 

.

"Where's she going??" Grace watched Twilight leave. Bonny shook her head, floppy ears whipping around her face. "I don't know. Let's find out." The wardenrain lowered to let her sister climb aboard.

"You sure you can fly??" 

The teen beat her wings, felling the surface wound on her stomach tighten. "Maybe not," She shifted to her normal self. Grace nodded.

"Up for climbing then?" She pointed the stairs.

"Sure."

They hurried toward the skeleton.

 

.

The more bloodthirsty residents of the D'own came at the dead deathgripper. Each wanted a piece of him, each wanted to be able to boast that he/she had slain the terror of the D'own, and each fought savagely with the other to do so.

"I get his tusks!"

"No I GET THEM!" 

"Give it here!"

"Mine!"

"Back off muttonheads!" Astrid jumped into the middle of the mix, putting a claiming foot over Argos and swishing her axe so dangerously that they actually listened and stepped away. "What's wrong with you? Nobody's getting nothing!"

"Oh yeahh??" One voice challenged and shoved his way to the fore.

"...Snotlout?" Astrid said in surprise. He seemed... improved.

The Jorgenson rushed up and kicked Argos in the face. "Jerk!" He said, then walked away. "Ok I'm good now."

"Hey Ramus found the stinger! Say's he's going to turn it into a dagger."

Eyes widened. A deathgripper stinger for a dagger? That would be epic!

They all rushed the freed Rumblehorn who held onto his prize like a quarterback plowing through the endzone.

 

"I can smell him! We're almost there. Pine! Pine can you hear me!? It's me, Nora! Argos is dead!" Nora calls out as she and Jason get near the main entrance. "Wait, Nora, maybe we shouldn't be so loud. I can smell a rumblehorn and.. something else. Still here, and they smell angry" Jason warns. Nora reluctantly slows down. "What should we do then?" she asks. Jason hovers, thinking. "Listen! We're not enemies. Argos is dead. We're just looking for a terrible terror dragonblood who you might know as Tief. That's all we want" he calls.

 

Twilight hesitantly enters the room where Thalius is. Her wings twitch uneasily at first as she walks in quietly. She looks carefully at the old nadder dragonblood, then sits down on a box, leans against the wall and half closes her eyes. She sighs quietly, feeling a bit better by just being in the same room as Thalius.

 

 

"Lies!" The rumblehorn snarled back. "Wait Thaddeus! what are you doing?"

The jabberjaw (one of Chames fan dragons), a stubby legged thunderdrumish dragon in shape covered head to tail with quills like a porcupine peeked over the side. "You want Tief do you? That's interesting, deathgripper I've never met claiming not to be the only deathgripper to ever breach the D''own. Because Tief was under the effects of deathgripper venom when he attacked us."

"Guys," Hiccup joined the two. "What's going on?"

"Chief Haddock??" Thaddeus's eyes bulged, looking back and forth between all three in thorohg confusion. "What is going on down there??"

 

.

It was several more minutes before the old woman's eyes opened... though, it didn't change anything for her. the D'own was dark so what little she could see before was gone. Sensing she was not alone Thalius took in a deep, slow breath. Remenants of Argos' scent fluttered distantly around the room, on her person, and the place that Dante had fallen. But there was another. A strange scent, split between the same person three ways, Nightlight, Nightmare and human. ...was that even possible? Or was the venom playing tricks on her nose? The scent was active, as her ears told her moments later by the sound of a slight motion, and the person... the young person had a sense of intense curiosity about her. Curiousity. Curiosity... curious... but... 

She closed her eyes. There it was. Not curious. Seeking.

"Peace to you young one." She said gently. "I would rise to greet you but am yet unable. Please tell, where is Argos? And what has he done to the D'own?"

 

 

"Is Tief ok?" Nora asks Thaddeus. She and Jason both turn, relieved, as Hiccup arrives. "I'm trying to find a terrible terror dragonblood who Argos captured and controlled like he did me. We became friends, I'm worried for him" Nora explains. Jason nods and sighs. "It was probably a bad idea for me to come too.. but I just didn't want her to get hurt either."

 

Twilight straightens a little bit and tilts her head. "Argos is dead. I'm not sure how many dragonbloods he's killed, but he captured a lot using an innocent deathsong. As far as I know most of them are free now, either still here or fled the Down. He tore down the net of glowing rocks." She pauses, looking around the room. "You.. you remind me of my parents. Of my childhood. Which is saying something, since I don't remember much of it. But.. I haven't felt.. this, in years. Not this strongly, at least... Sorry, I know I'm probably not making sense, but.. it feels right to be in here" she says quietly.

 

 

Thaddeus didn't understand. But he did know enough about the Chief of Berk to give the three a nod of acceptance. "He's ...mostly ok over there. Had to knock him out. And he’s got a bad eye but we didn't do that."

 

.

Thalius listened in silence. If she could have she would have sunk back in relief and remorse but as it was the deathgripper venom had her plenty relaxed. She felt anxious to know who had been lost, since few faces in the down were strangers to her. there was another feeling difficult to understand, and she wouldn't blame anyone for not, but a part of the frail old woman's heart ached for that ill dragonblood. contrary to every sign Argos did have a soul, and she rather mourned than feared for where it was now.

"Right to be here," her eyes brightened a little, "Or right to be here, with Him? It's not I who gives peace but He who is with me, walking me through the valleys and over mountains, through the fire and the flood."

 

 

Nora sighs in relief, her fear that she'd caused yet another death, the one of a friend, melting away. "Can I talk to him please?"
.
Twilight nods slowly. "Yeah... my parents belonged to Him. I.. think I did too, when I was little. And.. I'm sure, back in - in the ring.. m-maybe it was Him who kept me from going completely insane... it's just that you're the first person in years that I can feel belongs to Him."

 

The Jabberjaw sent a look Arthur's way, who responded by lumbering over to see for himself that it really was the Chief of Berk... annd to be sure he didn't have slit pupils and was being controlled.

"Sure," He finally nodded, noting the white on Jason. Argos was described by escapees as having standard Deathgripper colors. "He'd really dead?"

"Yes," Hiccup flew up behind Nora and Jason, looking at them and they young man on his face on the ground.

"Hiccup!" The squeal of a nightfury echoed through the entrance. Toothless flew down from where he and the other dragons were hauling large boulders away.

"Hey bud," Hiccup smiled, letting his dragon tackle him and lick his face. "Told you we'd be ok."

 

.

"Oh dear, The Ring." Thalius grimaced at the thought.

Painful memories traveled across the plains of her mind, showing on her sightless face. "It is terrible to pick up the pieces of those who lost their lives in that place, but more terrible are the broken pieces of those who survive. It's almost like, though the body is free the mind is still trapped in that cage, waiting for someone to push it through a door into endless fighting. I'm sorry, child. So very sorry." 

 

The old woman found the strength to reach a comforting hand out to Twilight. "You still belong, child," she soothed, "And you are never alone. Our Savior is a gentleman; He holds the world in His hands yet knocks at every door, never pushing it down, never zapping it into non-existance... though driving away the wolves who also wait outside. Unyielding and longsuffering He calls, that we might let Him in. He's waiting now, you only need to answer."

 

 

"Thank you" Nora says gratefully and flies over to Pine. "Pine? Can you hear me?" she asks quietly, shifting to hybrid and shaking him gently. Jason joins her, also in hybrid form. "Nora! Jason! Are Grace and Bonny ok?" Ebony asks excitedly, following Toothless. "Yes, they're fine" Jason answers with a smile.
.
Twilight hesitantly walks over and shifts to human form, trembling as she takes the hand offered to her. "I - I want to... but what about the nightmare? I mean, I was born a nightlight, but I just couldn't bring myself to fight, so they tortured me until I shifted into a monstrous nightmare, one that lives to fight. It - it stopped showing up after I was rescued from the ring, for months everything was fine. B-but when Argos showed up, it came back.. everyone's been trying to calm it down, snap it out of that killer mindset. It's worked a little bit, but it still wants to fight... it scares me. What if - what if He doesn't want the nightmare? How - how do I get rid of it?"

 

Thaddius shifted to hybrid and sliced the bounds holding Pines’ hands together.

“Nora,” The sandy blond came to, rubbing his head. The guards had kindly wrapped his eye with a bandage, probably right after giving him a migrane. He stiffened at the sight of Jason but soon relaxed. “You’re not Argos.” He murmured, noting the white. His brow furrowed at the way Jason put his hand over Nora’s shoulder and the way she responded. “Aww man, you’re that Jason aren’t you? Welp, there go my chances.”

He sent up a mostly kidding grin.

 

Thalius thought long and hard before answering, trying to wrap her mind around having two dragonblood forms. Able to now move her other hand she put it over Twilight's trembling one and patted

Argos tore down the glowing rocks... he tore down the glowing rocks...Why would he tear down the glowing rocks? 

The woman shook her head, surprised at the sudden thoughts. They didn't seem hers and felt urgent...

She returned to her and Twilight's conversation.

"What is your name child?"

 

 

Jason nods and smiles, not taking Pine’s last comment to heart. "Yeah, it's a miracle I survived and got here. Thanks for being good to Nora."

"How are you feeling?" Nora asks.

"Like trash. But I'll be alright. I take it you defeated Argos," He said eagerly. Then, gathering his wits about him he realized how callus his earlier comment must have sounded. "I'm glad you pulled through Jason."

One of his hands reached out to the small notebook dangling from Nora's neck. Pine scowled. "Nora, why are you wearing this accursed thing around your neck??" 

 

"I'm Twilight" she answers quietly, relaxing a bit again as Thalius pats her hand comfortingly. "What's yours?" In the dim light she sees Thalius shake her head. "What's wrong?" she asks, a nervous edge in her voice. She instinctively shifts to nightlight hybrid form.

"Twilight. A lovely name, and so fitting for a nightlight." She smiled. "My name is Thalius."

She measured the weight of their conversation and the word she'd been given. "It can wait for the moment. Twilight please tell me, if a man lost his ability to walk, would the Lord cast him out? If a woman was struck with leprosy, would He turn His face? Does a doctor turn the injured away because though he can heal the patient, the injury will have permanent consequences? He didn't come for the proud and capable He came for the sick and wounded. He came for those who have Monstrous Nightmares inside of them that they can't control in their own strength.”

Twilight nods slowly, tears falling from her eyes. "Ok" she says quietly, her voice trembling. She closes her eyes and falls silent for a little while, praying from her heart. She lets out a shaky breath, feeling a huge weight fall from her heart as she feels His Love through her. "Thank you" she breathes, finally relaxing fully. Thalius hugged her.

 

Jason dips his head. "I'm glad you're alright too."

Nora looks down at the book, startled to see it there. "I.. um.." she stammers, then gulps, bites her lip and goes a bit red in shame as she takes it off. "I forgot it was there.. Argos made me wear it when he sent you off scouting. He told me that if he was killed, I.. I need to give it to you" she says, turning to Hiccup. "He promised me it wasn't dangerous to hold in any way, and I never caught him breaking a promise, but I'll hold it anyway if you want me to. He said there was a message inside that he wants you to send. In his words, the message 'will be for the benefit of both our peoples.'"

 

 

 

It was Hiccup's turn to scowl. If he was killed? Far as he knew just contemplating defeat in deathgripper society was weakness. But Argos wasn't an ordinary deathgripper.

"It's ok. If he promised then it's safe at least to hold."  Hiccup took it from her hands, pulling the string out that was keeping it shut to cautiously flip through the pages. He found another surprise in the form of a half-finished sketch of Bonny as a Wardenrain.

Page after page, some faces now looking familiar like Ramus and Tief/Pine, flipping by. Hiccup didn't stop at any of those he knew exactly which page to go to if Argos had a message for him. He paused and opened the book fully in the spot dedicated to Valka. Two pieces of paper fell out, one folded neatly and address to "The Matriarch" and the other a map.

"You probably don't know this, but Argos turned down a job from Drago to k.ill my mom," He muttered absent mindedly, picking up the pieces of paper. "'Back when she was at that ice sanctuary. Didn't want to get involved in the affairs of dragons and bewilderbeasts. Still profiled her in case they had a chance meeting."

A section of Valka's page, dedicated to notes that was empty the last time Hiccup thumbed through Argos' work got his attention. The Chief cleared his throat, reading aloud.

 

"'To Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the third, Chief of Berk:

Victory to the strong. In the event of my death, to which would own the only reason you are holding this book, I make requests beneficial to both of our peoples. The first is to you. In as much as you are reading you have survived that in turn translates to the survival of others of the D'own. News of my death will reach Khalznroth through boastful tongues and they will be moved to retaliation of complete dessimation, as is required by Deathgripper Law when a member of the Code is killed by outsiders. If not the D'own, then against Berk. 

They do not know your number or your strength. I risk their honor and mine in telling you this but we are a small community. Strong, but small. I harbor no fantasy of victory against Berk and the law requires that every member fight to their dying breath. You will sustain heavy losses but they will be wiped out of existance.

So I present my plea; take my tusks, the letter enclosed, and the one that slew me to Khalznroth (marked on enclosed map, Nora can verify) present them to The Matriarch and have my slayer express in detail the way in which I was brought down. If in honor, all the better. Regardless the presentation of my tusks will be recognized as an act of strength and honor, requiring the respect of my clan and for those who set foot in Khalznroth to leave in peace. But it is the letter that will stay the coming blow. It is my last request. I have lived according to the code so it shall be answered to the best of my Tribe's ability.

 

Hiccup opened the letter. It was covered in weird dashes and the writing looked sloppy. But then, the writing was progressively sloppier in the notes too. Argos must not have been fairing well when he wrote it.

 

"'Clan Khalznroth. Hail Matriarch, strength and glory to never leave your side.

I, Argos, demand that Clan Khalznroth wage no war against Berk. I have made my battles with them and Dragonblood alone, standing in my own strength against these and releasing you from retaliation. 

Victory to the Strong!"

 

The Chief looked back at the notes. 

 

"'All that is written to here is truth, of that you have my word. But if it isn't enough make haste to seek out a deathgripper, ordinary or dragonblood to affirm our ways and my words. Make haste, for if word falls to Khalznroth before you, it will seal the fate of my people to death at your hands.'"

 

 

And in true Argos form that was it. No footnotes or anything, just a few sketches of the D'own's light fixture with all those glowing rocks from the hidden world, and that pit with question marks around it.

"Well, Jason, he obviously wasn't expecting you to be here. Can you confirm any of that?" Hiccup asked. He was knowledgeable in Deathgripper Law, but nothing like Argos. 

Jason nods slowly, his tail - sheathed of course - twitching. "I don't like it, but yes. That's the Code." He sighs and grits his teeth, picking up the map. "Looks like we're visiting Clan Khalznroth" he mutters.

 

"Ok then. Let's clean up here and-"

Before Hiccup could finish everyone was thrown off their feet in a great tremor.

"Oof! Second time today?!" Toothless stood and shook. "What kinds of crazy games were you guys playing down there?"

"Second? What do you mean second?" Hiccup turned to the fury.

He blinked. "I mean second. That first one made cracks in the mountain."

Hiccup's eyes widened in horror. He looked back at the paper with the sketch of the cavern rocks and pit.

"Oh no,"

"Hey wait! Where are you going come back! Hiccup!" Toothless ran to the shaft, pawing at his boy who had jumped back in. "Get that entrance cleared all of you! We need to evacuate the island!"

 

 

Ambered dragonbloods save them Thalius

Thalius pulled out of the embrace suddenly. "Twilight I don't think Argos' game is over yet. How many dragonbloods are still ambered?"

Twilight frowns, worried. "Twenty maybe? I'm not sure. I bet the others are still freeing them." She stumbles as the ground shakes. "That's not normal, is it?" she asks, shifting to nightlight form to steady herself.

.

Jason and Nora exchange confused and worried looks. "Why? What's happening?" Nora asks. "The cavern probably doesn't do well in earthquakes" Jason says, following Hiccup.
.

"Whoa," Astrid stumbled as the ground shook, still in a heated confrontation with the rest of the D'own over Argos.

"What about those pincers?" a grapplegrounder bobbed his head. "He don't need those,"

"Oi they'd make a lovely pair of pinking shears."

"You idiot who would- wait actually that's not a half bad idea."

Wiping the sweat from her face she hardly heard the conversation as her eyes strained to see through the dim red light. Was that a crack creeping up the wall??

""Pinking shears... or vice?" Ruff and Tuff entered the conversation.

"You two? Where've you been?" She snapped harshly. "I had to send Snotlout out on his own to keep looking for ambered dragons and I don't know what happened to Bonny Grace and Twilight, either!"

"OH. WELL EXCUSE US if we stopped to smell the Sulphur and free a poor, innocent boy from an amber cocoon and gently lead him to his mother just coming out of paralysis." Ruff crossed her arms defiantly.

"GO FIND THOSE GIRLS! There's still sick dragonbloods out here."

"Ok fine. But don't say we didn't warn you that the floor's on fire." Tuff backed his sister and whipped his hair indignantly.

"..What?"

"Yeah the floor's on fire."

 

.

Only a short ways from Thalius' home the girls found themselves flailing treacherously as the spine of the Grypheonx swayed.

"Whoa-whoa whoa whooaaa BONNY!" Grace stumbled right off the edge!

The teen immediately shifted to wardenrain and lunged forward, snapping up her sister by the back of the shirt. 

"That was close," the younger gasped.

"No kidding!" Bonny growled, but Grace didn't even notice.

"Oh no, we have to go back. Look!"

Bonny's eyes widened and she crouched, wings cupping fearfully over her body.

 

.

No. no no no no no noo! That miserable Argos!

Hiccup navigated the shaft and flew back into the D'own, making a beeline for the pit glowing angry red.  A slowly growing lake of lava bubbled out its sides and crept toward the village.

Funny thing about 'extinct' volcanos. they're never truly 'extinct', just indefinitely dormant.

Genius, he recounted how the deathgripper had first spewed every drop of his acid into the most compromised spot of the volcano while making it look like he was firing on his enemies. The acid, melting deeper into the ancient lava tube combined with the shock of a massive rockslide and the resulting earthquake made way for the lava below to trickle back up the long dormant vein. Not only that, but as the second earthquake suggested it had started a chain reaction!

 

 

The tremor had sent Thalius to the floor. "No, I'm afraid not. Rather a very very bad thing for a cavern carved from lava."

The woman tried to stand, wishing Twilight's moment could have been so much longer but knowing other lives and even their own were in danger. "We must help evacuate and get those ambered dragon's free! There's only three exits out of the D'own and each is very narrow, if we don't calm the people and send them out in an orderly fashion there will be chaos and even more tragedy."

She reached out for the hybrid nightlight. "First things first I'll have to reason with Odell. Will you take me to him? He's the Leader of the D'own, a lightfury, probably somewhere right in the thick of things."

 

 

Nora and Jason follow Hiccup as closely as they can, their eyes widening in horror as they see the lava. "Hiccup what do we do?" Nora asks, her voice higher than normal in her fear. Jason growls furiously under his breath and picks up spead, flying towards Argos' body.
.
"BONNY!" Graces scream makes Twilight jump and look around. She quickly helps Thalius to her feet as she starts explaining what needs doing. "Right, climb up" Twilight says, trying to keep the fear out of her voice, shifting to full nightlight and gently nudging the old woman onto her back. Once she's sure her new friend is safe, she gets out of the house and into the air. She looks around quickly and sighs in relief as she sees the sisters, scared but in one piece. She motions for them to follow, then she quickly flies towards the centre of town, trying to keep her eyes off the rising lava.

 

From the pit came a hiss of deadly steam, along the walls cracks split carved homes in half. Dragonbloods cried out, gathering their families and valuables in a frenzy.

"The only thing we can do. Evacuate! Nora, Jas-" he glanced back to see Jason had gone. "You and Jason knock down whatever you can to slow up the flow so it doesn't reach the exits or our ground crew. The leader here, Odell, is dead, so I'll try to keep these people from panicing in his stead."

He flew off in the direction.

 

 

'Stupid Deathgripper Law.. how am going to help stop the lava if I'm busy with these stupid tusks?!' Jason thinks in frustration. Carrying one of Argos' tusks in each pincer, he tries to find a safe place to put them.
.
Nora struggles with moving boulders towards the lava, trying to slow it down. 'Jason where are you?' she wonders, panting with effort.
.
Twilight flies through the Down, searching for Odell. She finally spots the light fury and dives down to land next to him. "Odell, what are -" she starts, but doesn't get any further, seeing the marks of Argos' stinger and how perfectly still the Downs leader is. "He - he's dead. I'm sorry Thalius" she says in a hushed tone.

 

Scree! A reddish greenish terror with a bad eye fluttered down toward Jason, coughing on the toxic smoke beginning to fill the place. As dragons it wasn't terrible but it would be soon. "I can take one of those! I'm not much good for carrying anything bigger."

He offered all four paws to take one of the tusks.

 

.

Thalius nodded. There wasn't much strength to her grip but what was there waned a little more. "Then we rescue whoever is still trapped in amber, that was the word I recieved that's what I'm called to do."

"Twilight!"

Bonny flew down and met the lightfury and her new friend. Grace was on her back- though she didn't stay there long. As soon as they were close enough to the ground it wouldn't hurt her the younger sister hopped off in a tuck and roll and dashed off to a spot she'd seen someone battling Oleander venom.

"What do we do the whole place is filling with lava!" Bonny trembled, too distracted to ask or even wonder who the old woman was. "Grace don't you dare run off on me!"

"Bonny I have to! I have a job to do!" The girl shouted back between coughs. She whipped her shirt sleeve over her hand and put it against her mouth and nose.

Wait. Wait did she just understand me?? 

"GRACE!" Bonny started for her sister, then stopped, looking back at Twilight. She... she didn't know what to do! She had to chase Grace down but Grace was off chasing down sick dragonbloods... who might heal from their poisoning but would only then find themselves in a deathtrap! To her practical mind, the gesture though goodhearted was empty headed. They ought to be fleeing for their own lives, if that was even possible now.

Behind Twilight a stream of lava seeped out of an alleyway. Bonnys' pupils turned to slits. She was terrified.

 

Thalius blinked, perplexed by the Wardenrain's scent. She'd never sensed it before; either dragon or dragonblood.

There wasn't time to ask about it thought.

She slid off Twilights back and shifted to a nadder. Scales that had once been auburn had faded to grey with age now, but her belly was still a warm cream and the tips of her spikes were black. Taking a good wiff she snorted sulpher and smoke from her lungs and trod determinedly up the street, knowing every corner, crack and stone so well she needed no guidence. 

 

 

.

"Stay CALM!" Hiccup roared again, "People of the down listen to me and we can all get out of here alive! I want you to start three lines right here, the first make your way to the main entrance, second to the exit and third to the escape. The entrance has been collapsed by we have dragons digging it out as I speak. Wait your turn at the gates! I COULD REALLY USE VOLUNTEERS TO GUARD THE GATES!" He shouted at the top of his lungs over screeches and snarls. No one was listening! They had all gone every man for himself.

"Hiccup!" Astrid coughed.

"Astrid!" He swooped down to her and shifted to human as she staggered, taking her hand. "Hiccup, I hate to say it but we have to get out of here," she gasped, lungs feeling like they were on fire, eyes watering as the ash stung. "We humans." 

His eyes widened in fear, looking at the congested exits and squabbling residents. "Here," He gaver her a handkerchief. "Breathe into this and stay put I'll gather the others."

"I can help-"

"No! You'll only make your lungs worse. I'll be right back!"

 

 

Jason nods and gives the terror one of the tusks. "I want it back as soon as we escape. Not a scratch on it, you hear? Don't let go of it, it's important for the safety of Berk and the Down" he growls. He turns and flies off, trying to get an idea of how far the lava is. Spotting Nora trying to slow its flow, he dives down to help. "Nora! This way!" He calls, leading her to one of the dragon statues. Together they start pushing it over in an attempt to block the lava.
.
Twilight looks from Bonny to Thalius to the panicking dragonbloods of the Down. Not feeling entirely confident, she turns to the wardenrain. "Stay with Grace. Try to save as many dragonbloods as possible, direct them to the exits." She shifts to full nightmare and flies off. 'Please... show me what to do' she begs. Twilight's eyes land on the chaos around the tunnels to the entrance, exit and escape. She flies faster and ignites to get more attention, then hovers above the main crowd. "QUIIEEET!!!" she roars. "If you keep panicking and fighting you'll all d.ie! So line up and leave through any of the tunnels one by one! NOW!!"

 

Pine nodded solemly. "I'll keep it with my life. YOU take care of Nora."

He flew off, just catching the last part of what Hiccup was telling the dragonbloods.

"Sir!" The terror followed the fury as he raced the streets looking for humans. "I'll man the escape," A pained look came over his face. "Argos killed and a poisoned the guards there, if not a warned some well meaning soul might reach out to help them."

"Good point. Do that." Hiccup nodded distractedly. He noted the tusk. "Where's the other?"

"Jason has it." Pine clenched the one in his talons tighter. "Told me to be very careful with this one."

Oh so that's where he flew off too. "Ok great. Do what he says he knows best on the subject." 

The little terror made at his best speed for the escape.

"Make a way!" He shouted- but no one listened! He tried to push through, but the others shoved and hit back, all clawing to be the first out and none getting through.

"Make a way! I'm trying to help you!" He screeched. The only response he got was a hybrid nadder tail slashing his way. "Oh!" He ducked and covered the tusk in case they let loose any spikes. He would have retreated then if not for a Monstrous Nightmare flying up over the main crowd and demanding they calm down. It got there attention... and him a chance to slip by everyone so much bigger than he was to fly up the shaft. At the top near the caves' mouth he paused, shifting to human. He held the tusk out in front of the lifeless eyes of his friend. "They got him. They got him a gooood. I wish you could see it." He murmured mournfully, wishing he could put a hand on the dragonblood's shoulder but knowing he can't. "I'm so sorry Brutis."

"Out of my way!" A scuttleclaw hybrid whipped past Pine, throwing him backward and nearly knocking him over onto the dead Nadder guard. "Whoa!" he flailed, gaining balance just in the nick of time!

More panicked dragonbloods trickled through. "One at a time!" Pine snapped, holding the tusk out to point and making circle motions with his other arm. "Slow and a steady we do this right and we all have time. Nobody come near the guards they're poisoned!"

 

"Snotlout!"

The nightfury spotted Jorgenson. He was trying to free a nightmare but couldn't swing his axe strong enough. Hiccup shot the tiniest fireball at it, shattering the amber cocoon and s.natching Snotlout up in his paws before turning back toward Astrid.

"Hey!" he wheezed, "Hiccup! Don't steal my thunder like that I was just warming up!"

"Cover your mouth this smoke is toxic to you!"

"You know I can't understand you when you talk like that."

Fury ears pinned flat back. With a paw he grabbed Snotlouts' furry vest and shoved it up to his mouth and nose.

"MMMghmmm hmmmfff!!" 

 

 

.

"Get up," Grace was telling a dragonblood trying to catch his breath. "Get up! Go toward the exits, the D'own is filling with lava!"

At that last word his eyes bulged. The hybrid stumbled into a running start and took off.

Even through the cloth of her shirt sleeve Grace was coughing now

(Oh oof forgot to say Grace helped the hobblegrunt and she flew away)

 

"Ok," Bonny tried to calm her breathing. "Ok, help Grace. Everything is on FIRE but help Grace."

In her heart she knew it was the right thing to do, she was just terrified what it would mean for her and her sister.

We won't get out. We'll be melted alive. Thoughts tormented her... but they disappeared when she heard the signature choking cough of oleander poisoning.

The Wardenrain pushed away some debris to find a hobblegrunt "Grace!"

She picked the dragon up in her maw and followed her nose- but instead of meeting up with Grace she found Thalius, standing in front of an ambered snafflefang.

"Who's there?" The nadder asked, chipping away at the amber. 

"Bonny," she answered, "My sister has Oleander antidote have you see- er, um," she stuttered to a stop at the sight of the Nadder's eyes. "Have you noticed a human girl anywhere?"

The dragon's crest rose with interest. Her nostrils twitched but she didn't stop what she was doing. "Yes, she should be coming around the corner any moment."

"Grace!" Bonny rushed to her sister. "I told you not to run off like that!"

Both girls started as a building collapsed, sending a splash of molten rock into the air. A large blob came flying toward Thalius and the trapped snafflefang!

Bonny jumped to Thalius' side and spread her wing over the two. The blob cooled mid-air and bounced off her wing, rolling to a stop behind them. Bonny and her wing were fine but every scale stood on end.

"Thank you," The Snafflefang breathed a sigh of relief.

"Can you help me release him?" Thalius asked.

"I can't I don't have-" 

Her eyes widened, then sort of crossed as she focused.

Like whistling, but from my belly, she remembered both Twilight and Grace's advice. A flame sparked! Her firebreath, though nothing spectacular came out in a blueish whiteish, consistant and concentrated flame.

It's working! ice blue eyes widened even further. She leaned over the snafflefang and carefully, easily cut him free.

"Brilliant Bonny!" Grace said, "Your fire is perfect for this!"

"Thank you!" The snafflfang said again, staggering away from the west side of the village square where lava was beginning to seep through doorways and streets. "You saved my life! What can I do to help?"

"There's chaos at the exits Kristoff, and the Chief of Berk is trying to calm but he needs guards." Thalius explained quickly, having already told him the news of Odell. "An ally, Twilight, is addressing the crowd at the main entrance. Will you tend to the back?"

Kristoff straightened. "I will go immediately Thalius." 

He was off like a rocket.

"Help," somone called feebly though the smoke. Grace turned a circle. Which way...?

"This way," Thalius pointed with her infallible snout. 

 

.

Hiccup found Ruff and Tuff standing on the top of a building surrounded by lava. They were coughing uncontrollably had fishing rods on their hands. Crispy looking fishing rods.

He landed and shifted to hybrid for a moment. "What are you two doing??"

"Oh. Hey Chief. We're roasting marshmallows want one?"

"You muttonheads you're killing yourselves these fumes are toxic!"

"You're toxic. For cramping our style."

Tuff hi-fived his sister. "...weren't we supposed to be doing something?"

"Yeah but I can't remember what it was so it couldn't have been importan- whoa!"

Hiccup shifted back to fury and picked them both up by a leg , muttering the whole way back to Astrid. "Ok. Ramus!"

The rumblehorn who had offered his services to the Chief nodded. "Take them through the main entrance I only have to find one more."

And she would undoubtably be somewhere close to the Wardenrain, so it wouldn't take long to get her. He paused a moment, listening and watching Twilight. "Heh," He grinned as the crowd subsided. 'Well done Twilight!'

Twilight nods, satisfied as the crowd quiets and gets itself a little more organised. She swoops down to the front and hovers by the hole. "Right, through you go. One at a time!" It takes a little while for the frightened dragonbloods to stop bickering for position, but a few threatening growls from Twilight sets them straight.
.
Nora and Jason continue to try and block the lava by piling up rocks, both loose ones and bits of buildings. After a while, the heat and fumes start to get too much for Nora to she starts coughing. Jason looks at her fearfully. "Go, get to safety, I -" "No, I'm staying with you and helping" Nora insists.

 

Twilight nods, satisfied as the crowd quietens and gets itself a little more organised. She swoops down to the front and hovers by the hole. "Right, through you go. One at a time!" It takes a little while for the frightened dragonbloods to stop bickering for position, but a few threatening growls from Twilight sets them straight.
.
Nora and Jason continue to try and block the lava by piling up rocks, both loose ones and bits of buildings. After a while, the heat and fumes start to get too much for Nora to she starts coughing. Jason looks at her fearfully. "Go, get to safety, I -" "No, I'm staying with you and helping" Nora insists.

 

"Bonny!" Hiccup flew to the Wardenrain. "Where's your sister she needs to get out of here."

"With the silverbrownish nadder right there," Bonny pointed to the two, who were currently helping someone up. She was just finishing another aireal search for stragglers and had come up empty handed. Between the three of them, Bonny breaking amber, Thalius finding, and Grace giving antidot they had made quick work of the dragonbloods still trapped, sick or injured.

The fury landed just as their rescue spread her wings and took off.

"Grace," He shifted to human and said between the girl's coughing, Bonny landing beside him. Thalius had a wing over Grace to protect her from smoke and heat. "It's time to go."

 

Another earthquake, bigger than the two before rocked the D'own to it's core. A powerful vent of steam spewed terrible smells and ash from the infuriated pit! The lava stopped seeping; It spewed, making Hiccup feel like they were the contents of an upset stomach.

the village structures either melted or collapsed, making waves in the molten river. The giant Gryphoenx skeleton came apart, its bones splashing down and dangerously flipping end over end before disintegrating in the magma. One came hurtling toward the little crew, but Bonny instinctively leapt into the air and beat her wings toward it, the charge forcing it backwards again.

"You alright?" Thalius asked the girl, flicking painful splotches of molten rock from her deformed wings.

"Yes," Grace wheezed, "Thank you."

Bonny didn't even bother to land. She shifted to hybrid, grabbing Grace and flying for the way they'd come in.

"Can you fly?" Hiccup asked Thalius, noting her wings. He turned dragon again and cringed under the cloud of burning ash currently in the top of the chamber and soon to be coming down. 

"I can not." Thalius shifted to hybrid.

"Then climb on," Hiccup answered, pulling the blind woman away from some magma creeping up behind her. 

"How congested are the gates?" Thalius asked him as they flew, listening to panic rise again.

"Pretty bad," Hiccup grit his teeth. If everyone would just stay calm they had a chance! But you try telling people to wait in line when a wave of lava is lapping at your feet.

Thalius closed her eyes in prayer. She wasn't afraid of death, not even this type of death... in fact compared to some that had been presented to her this wouldn't be such a terrible way to go.

Her blind eyes snapped open. "We must drop all the statues into the lava." She said suddenly.

Hiccup blinked. "What?? why?"

"I don't know why but we must. As many as you can you must. I'll help calm the people, they know my voice."

He shook his head, dropping her off at the main entrance where Twilight was. Nora and Jason weren't far behind. "Ok but I'm going to need back up. There's a lot of statues in here."

 

"I'll help" Twilight says quickly. "Help with what?" Jason asks, panting as he and Nora arrive. "Dropping the statues into the lava." "Why?" Twilight shakes her head. "Don't know, but it's important." "Want to help.. but not sure.. if we can" Nora says between coughs. Jason nods in agreement, looking tired. "Sorry... we can help look for volunteers though" he says.

 

Hiccup nodded. "Sounds like a plan."

A plan. A plan?? Yeah right! Molten rock was hastening toward dragonbloods all crammed as close as they could be to the exits, and he was going to knock down statues because some old lady told him to even though she didn't know why herself. He paused in front of a sculpture. A stocky beast, with smooth skin, cow-like horns and a daunting club of a tail. It and all the others he would soon notice, had strangely calm postures. Most sculptors attempt to capture a moment of strength and power in their but these guys looked pretty chill as they lounged; every stone eye looking downward at the rising lava.

"Such beautiful craftsmanship," The Chief murmured, unable to spot a single chip in the sculpture from carving tools. Flying around back he rammed and it toppled into the magma to sink out of sight.

He moved on to the next, this one was bigger and a struggle to pull down.

.

"Let me through! Let me through she has to get out of here!" The teen shouted to the others all trying to push their way out, Grace in tow and struggling to breathe. "Let us through! Please!"

It was no use. After that last earthquake and the surge of volcanic flow, the people of the D'own were thoroughly undone.

She shifted to dragon again and dashed toward the main entrance hoping someone would have compassion.

"...The Chief's words are wise! Heed them and live."

"You!" she spotted Thalius, surrounded by fearful dragonbloods. "Please help no one will let us through."

Thalius listened. "This child is human. Let her through, the ash we’re breathing we can handle but her lungs are human."

"I'm not sacrificing my life for an insignificant human!" A monstrous nightmare hybrid snarled.

"Then you sentence to death a child who has put her life on the line for you Tannar." The woman shifted to nadder, spikes raised.

Tannar, surrounded by scowls only shrank under Thalius' stare, eventually unable to meet it. "Alright but move your tail!"  she relinquished.

"Thank you!" Bonny sped past, moments later opening her wings and flying up the shaft. "Hold your breath if you can Grace the smoke is bad in here!" she blinked away the burning sensation in her eyes.

 

Twilight pushes against the big statue alongside Hiccup. She watches it fall into the lava like the first one, then she dashes over to the next, feeling a sense of urgency. She briefly looks at the few helpers Jason and Nora were able to find; a gronckle, a rumblehorn, a few night and fire terrors and a boneknapper. 'Please let this work, whatever it is you're planning' she prays as she pushes the next stone dragon into the lava.

 

Working together the terrors drop another statue off it's pedastal, while the rumblehorn managed on his own. The gronckle went for the smallest one and it took him time but he did it.

Five down...

about forty more to go. Some of them in that deadly cloud of ash.

 

.

 

Grace gasped for the fresh air, her eyelids half closed and little body dreadfully limp in Bonny's wardenrain paws. Steam, smoke and ash vented from the mountain, the ocean roiled and the sun was being blot out by growing pillar of debris churning in the sky.

"Ebony!" Bonny cried out for the dragon, setting her sister down but not daring to leave her there. She had no wings to save herself with! "Ebony where are you I need you to take care of Grace I have to go back down!"

 

.

 

"Hmmm," 

The Chief studied the statues. He fired on a pedestal holding two and they fell.

"Aim the bases!" Hiccup said, shooting down five more pedestals either holding two or three of the sculptures.

 

 

Ebony zips over at Bonnys call, nuzzling Grace fearfully. She sits down and meets the wardenrains gaze solemnly. "I'll take of her. But please be careful" she says, putting a paw on Bonnys shoulder.
.
Twilight does as Hiccup says, careful not to damage the stone dragons themselves. She sighs in relief as the work becomes easier and faster.
After a little while, she looks up towards the growing cloud of ash. 'There are more up there.' She looks back at the rest of the team, who are all fearfully avoiding the deadly cloud and working on the statues lower down. 'Fly up. I am with you.' Twilight nods, feeling fear being drained from her, and flies up towards the dark cloud, taking a deep breath.

 

The fury came to the last statue below the deadly cloud overhead, the one Argos had been killed under. It had a funky looking chip in its horn.

"Thirty down. That's all the ones we can reach," The Chief spat, angry. Angry at Argos, angry at his own helplessness to save anyone, angry at the seemingly pointless task.  "Hope that did something useful!"

Twilight's wings beat past him. 

"Twilight!" Hiccup saw her fly toward the ash with horror. "No!" He started after her but wasn't able to catch up before she reached the cloud. Putting on the breaks just outside the deadly rim he could only watch, "Twilight, why??" He repeated, mind numb. Why in Nifleim would she sacrifice herself like this to finish this purposeless task? He didn't understand it!

The dragonblood was a Berkian, one of his own. He felt responsible for her.  

 

But just as he determined to follow her in and drag her back out even if it killed him to do so, the walls shook and split, portions of them falling like glaciers into the sea. Screeches and roars came from the dragonbloods still waiting their turns to escape. Lava flowed toward them in all earnestness now.

He couldn't. He couldn't turn his back on those at the gate who needed him just as much or more.

"I'm sorry Twilight." The Chief turned and flew down to them. He landed between the lava and the dragonbloods. "Follow my lead, you brave!" Rearing onto his hindlegs and beating his wings powerfully toward the magma, it both slowed and cooled. Not enough to stop but at least it hindered the progress. Thalius was at his side doing the same a moment later, as was Ramus, and Kristoff, and a handful of others. The action was exhausting and the heat unbearable, but still they worked to keep the lava from the exits.

 

 

Nora and Jason, having joined the line last which puts them at the back, join Hiccup and the others in fanning the lava.

 

Twilight hears Hiccups call but pushes on through the dark ash, holding her breath as long as she can and keeping her eyes almost shut. Guided by the Savior she finds the first of the ten remaining statues and by the light of her flame jacket sees it well enough to push it off its pedastal. She makes steady progress, but by the time she gets to the 7th statue she's couching badly. She successfully pushes the last three from their platforms, then her fire jacket goes out. She half falls, half glides out of the ashes, vaguely angled towards the entrance but getting steadily closer to the lava.

 

 

Temperatures were nearing two hundred degrees. The lava pressed forward the toxic ash crept down, narrowing the survivable area between by the second. 

A statue fell! Then another! on down the line until all ten of the missing ones were dropped.  How the young woman could even find them in that thick cloud was beyond Hiccup.

"Twilight!" 

Thoroughly exhausted and now crammed into a corner with the rest, he didn't have the strength to even get off the ground as the young woman who'd fought so hard to turn a new leaf, to break away from her painful past went fluttering down toward death.

"Pull up pull up! Please!!" He shouted, not wanting to watch.

 

 

 

Bonny nodded, choking back a fearful sob. It was no small amount of trust she was putting into Ebony.

"I will be."

Not lingering she twisted around and sped back to the D'own, a stark contrast to the steady stream of others escaping it.

The teen shifted to hybrid and dove headfirst through the hole, masterfully maneuvering around those coming up by shifting back and forth between hybrid and human. She reached the base and spread her wings to the full, shooting like a rocket into the smoke-filled cavern back in Wardenrain form once more.

"Why did you come back??" Thalius said in dismay, feeling the whip of her wings overhead and catching her scent. Time was short for those still trapped; those frantic and selfish enough to scratch and bite their way to the front of the lines were long gone, leaving a much quieter group that was beginning to resign itself to a fiery end.

Why had she come back? Bonny thought, still speeding toward the middle of the D'own, ash burning her. She didn't know!

Ice blue eyes widened as the Wardenrain found herself on a collision course with a mounstrous nightmare, half falling half gliding toward the molten rock. She caught the dragon and spun to a stop.

"...Twilight?"  Bonny sniffed in alarm. "Twilight??"

Hssssss! A cinder fell on her nose.

"Ow!" the wardenrain growled and glared up at the deadly cloud descending. "Yeah? Take this." 

She angled herself just so, cupped her wings and beat them upward in a powerful stroke. 

A wind that seemed to come from nowhere joined her cause, forcing the whole cloud back up into the ceiling of the cavern!

 

Jason continues to beat his wings at the rising lava in desperation, hardly aware of anything else. Nora flaps as hard as ever too, but she looks up with wide eyes at the retreating ash.
.
Twilight opens her eyes a fraction. "Bonny?" she rasps, then breaks into a fit of violent coughing that shakes her body. She relaxes as she feels the rush of cool wind, but in her barely conscious state that's really all she can do.

 

"No not you too!" Bonny flew back toward the exit but veered off-course a moment.

What was that?? Her scales raised as she searched. Something had moved beneath her!

"Ahh!" The teen shrieked, holding Twilight in a deathgrip and reeling backward. A face! A molten face broke the surface of the lava, large nostrils snorting out rock and taking a whiff of air. It made a strange guttural honking noise before sinking below the surface.

"There's something alive in the lava!" She flew to the  group of about seventy but couldn't find a place to land.

No one had a chance to wonder nor probably did anyone care at the moment, seeing as they were backed against the exit and out of options.

The next moment they cared, but weren't wondering.

Magma parted the way as a smooth skinned, red-hot dragon with black patches waded toward them, determination in its eyes. It was slightly bigger than a rumblehorn, extremely solid, no wings. There were cow-like horns on its head

"What is that thing??!" Some Nightterror hybrid pointed.

Hiccup gawked- once again forgetting it's not always a good thing when a wild dragon is charging at you. "That's one of your statues," he recognized a chip in the creature’s horn. Exactly the same as the one he'd toppled where Argos had been! "That's... I've heard of this... that's... that's a Lava Lout!" He glanced around the chamber at the abandoned pedestals. "They were all lava louts!"

The beast snorted like a cow, trotting with heavy thuds through the rising shallows. Lava lapped and splashed playfully around the stocky feet like it was some hippo walking up the shore. As Hiccup was the only one making any noise it turned toward him.

"We come in peace. We come in peace!" Hiccup told it.

 

Noras and Jasons eyes widen as the Lava Lout comes towards the group, clearly not pleased to see a group of unfamiliar dragonbloods. Jason looks up at Bonny carrying the coughing nightmare. "You should go, getout of here."

 

"But- but-" Bonny looks to those she knew wouldn't leave until the last dragonblood had escaped. Jason, Hiccup, Nora, that strange old lady one.

"Do what he says Bonny, that's an order." Hiccup backed Jason. "Your family's had enough heartbreak."

The strange old lady turned toward her with a comforting smile. "Save who you can save, and let us do the same."

She nodded tearfully. "You- you're all so brave. Please be safe,"

Guilt tearing at her, the remaining dragonbloods let her skip to the front of the line. Keep them safe, the teen prayed. Keep them safe save them all.

 

.

 

Grunting all the way, the strange dragon suddenly stopped in its tracks and lay down. Just when the group were about to sigh there relief another came up, same intent on it's face, same focus.

But this one too lay down!

And then another came, and another and another and another. Every Lavalout that they had freed was being drawn toward the group about to be cooked alive.

"What' are they doing?" Thalius asked. Her eyes couldn't even pick the reptiles out from the lava.

"I don't know." the boy who loved dragons murmured, watching them come from every angle to nestle next to each other.

"We do what our Maker says to do," One of the dragons overheard her question. "What only we can do."

Thalius beamed. 

The large bodies of the dragons, somewhat piled onto each other made lava-resistant wall between the last few stragglers and the advancing magma flow.

 

Ebony nudges and licks Grace, trying to get the girl to wake up. Her eyes widen as Bonny comes back, carrying Twilight. "W-what happend to her?" she asks fearfully, wanting to rush over to the nightmare but dutifully staying at her riders side. Twilight continues to cough just as badly as before, but her eyes open a little more as she feels the cool, fresh air.

 

Jason blinks, stunned speachless by the wall of lava louts. Nora stares, wide eyed, then her face lights up for joy. "Go on, hurry and get out of here" she calls back to the other dragonbloods.

 

It took all forty five lavalouts to build a wall big enough to stop the magma. They lay, each one in its place patiently with hardening moletn rock on one side and a rising level of it on the other. New hope brought new energy to the dragonbloods still trapped! They continued to file out one by one but with greater efficiancy. Only fifteen were left when the lava breached the louts!

"Go go go!" Hiccup urged, stepping in place as it came. They were down to ten! "Jason Nora go!"

Thalius shifted back to hybrid, looking so stunningly peaceful in such a harrowing moment and murmuring what sounded like... praise, to some God. 

 

Grace's hand went up and pet the sliky black dragon's nose.

"I'm- ok- Ebony," She said in deep and more regular breaths, "Just needed- some fresh air."

 

The girl was just getting to a sitting position when Bonny flew up with Twilight. "Grace!" Some tension left Bonny's body as she saw the improvement. 

"W-What happened to her?"

"She went into the ash cloud," Bonny told the fury with a trembling voice. "Which is poisonous and deadly hot! I don't know what she was thinking!"

Laying the nightmare in the grass, the wardenrain put a paw over Twilight's heart. She didn't want to, it was too familiar an act that had only a few weeks ago shattered a world she had just started to hope in. "Please be ok Twilight!" she told the dragonblood she'd begun to look to as an older sister, "Please. I can't watch you hidetoo. I can't!"

Grace looked on with growing dread. Twilight noo, not you too.

 

Jason shifts to hybrid and dashes up the tunnel after the dragonblood in front. Nora looks back once more before following quickly.
.
Ebony gives Grace another loving nuzzle, then leaps to the barely breathing nightmares side. "Please wake up, Twilight.. please" she whimpers, then starts to lick Twilights face.
Twilight coughs violently, freeing some of the ash from her lungs. She opens her eyes slowly, confused as all she can see is dark, blurry shapes. "Where am I?" she croaks. "Outside the volcano" Ebony answers, struggling to keep from getting over excited.

 

Shifting to hybrid, Hiccup s.natched Thalius up in his arms and started up the shaft. His wings were worn out but between being so close to escaping, and what little Thalius' wings could do they made it!

He flew out the shaft at the same time as a disturbing noise came from the D'own, like massive amounts of rushing water. Smoke and ash funneled through the shaft without ceasing now, beneath them a red glow approaching far to fast for comfort.

"Get out of here!" The Chief kept flying and shouted at Thaddius and Arthur, still waiting so dutifully at their stations.

 

Oh to be able to breath again! Hiccup panted away the heat from the volcano and scoured the land at the same time, spotting a woman in nadder-themed garb.

"Astrid!" 

He flew down to meet her, gently setting Thalius on her feet. The old woman quickly shifted back to nadder and tested the air. Injured dragonbloods were everywhere, but at the moment she had to know what had become of one in particular. One who had only just found home after being lost for so very long. "Twilight," she hurried to the place her nose told her to go, and there, listened to the Nigthmare and sighed in relief. Not at a point where she would have been noticed, the old nadder quietly steps back, allowing the friends some time to themselves and hurrying to the next injured dragonblood.

 

 

.

 

"Oh thank goodness," The wardenrain pushed her forhead against Twilight's Nightmare one, unable to express her relief with words. "Yes, like Ebony said outside the Volcano. I'm... not sure how safe that is, but right now, it's ok."

Grace fell over in the quake and ended up crawling the rest of the way toward the Monstrous Nigthmare.

"TWILIGHT!" She sqealed -and coughed- "Oh my gosh don't scare me like that! When Bonny brought you over all limp I thought you were dead."

The threesome flopped over the nightmare and panted heavily, Bonny shifting to human. Grac began to laugh. "We... made it." She pat the nightmare, "We all made it! I can't believe we all made it!" She pointed to Bonny, "You when they ran into you and you got stung!"

"-YOU when you cut off Argos tail! I can't believe you did that!" Bonny returned.

"'T'was nothing my dear," Grace waved ridiculously. "And you going back to save Twilight! How did you know??"

"I didn't." Bonny then pointed to Twilight. "And SHE, she's all smokey now -and getting that all over us but meh- because she went up into a thousand degree cloud of toxic ash and dumped lava louts into the lava, saving a bunch of us including the Chief from getting melted."

Thinking the entire event over, her eyes widened in wonder. "We shouldn't be alive."

A reddish greenish terror carrying one of Argos' tusks flew over. Bonny sat up, watching him fly toward the group congregating around the Chief... who seemed to be trying to make his way over to Twilight.

 

.

"Jason? Jason?" Pine hovered over the crowd. "Jason where ar- AHHH Thalius what are you doing?"

He screeched in alarm when the nadder leapt up and caught him in her maw. She spat him back out and shifted to hybrid instantly. "What happened to your eye?"

"What? Nothing it's a fine lemme go!" The terror squirmed, questioning how she knew there was something wrong with it.

"Tiieeefff,"

"Nothing see?" He flung the side of his face with the good eye into her palm so she could feel it. "Everythings a great let me go I have to get this tosk somewhere before someone tries a stealing it. And it's Pine now, by the way."

"Oh that's a lovely name," she went all sweet grandmother on him... but to his almost child-like frustration kept him in her clutches. "Does that mean you're reforming?"

"Uh huh yeah can I go now...."

"Well reformed thieves don't usually lie to little old ladies. It's rude you know."

"What? No! Don't touch it don't touch it DON'T TOUCH IT OOOOWWWWW!"

Pine squeeled like she was murdering him as Thalius so gently felt to see what needed doing. "Oh stop your fussing T- Pine! I'm trying to help you."

"By a stickin' your fingers in my brain!"

 

 

Twilight smiles as she feels the sisters flop against her. She still coughs every so often, but with each cough some ash gets released from her lungs and throat, making it easier to breathe. "I hate to ask this.. but I have to be sure... is it dark out here?" she asks between coughs. 

 

"We're finally safe!" Nora cheers, shifting to human form and hugging Jason. "Safe and together" he agrees, shifting to human form too and hugging her back, but still holding the tusk. They look up as they hear Pine calling for Jason. The pair heads towards the terror, only to find him being fussed over by an old nadder hybrid. "Are you ok Pine?" Nora asks, shifting back to hybrid.

 

"Dark?" Bonny repeated, having shifted to hybrid to understand but only catching the last part. "What do you mean dark?" Her brow furrowed, looking at the nightmare's eyes. "Twilight can you not see anything?"

 

"I would be if Thalius would let me go!" He continued to resist, clawing at the dirt. Eventually he gave up and let her do as she wished.

"Here," The terror handed off Argos' tusk. "Not a scratch. You two smell a bit smokey, how'd things go down there?"

 

Twilight blinks a bit more, trying to clear her vision, but since there's nothing physically on her eyes, blinking doesn't help. "I can see a bit... kinda dark and blurry... It sure it's not too serious" she explains, coughing again as she talks. Ebony gently licks the nightmares face and tries to lick her eyes too, but Twilight pulls back with a hiss. "Ow! Stop it! ... Sorry.. don't worry, I'm sure it'll be fine soon."
.
Jason shifts to hybrid and takes the tusk. "Thanks" he smiles. "It was a really close call. Those dragon statues turned into lava louts and lay down in the lava. If it weren't for them we wouldn't have made it out in time" Nora tells the terror, relief and joy in her voice.

 

"That doesn't sound good." Bonny muttered as Twilight reels back from Ebony's slobbery heal-all remedy. "Maybe we should get the Cheif to have a look at th-AT!" 

She jumped, having stood to turn and found herself face to face with Hiccup and Astrid. 

He jumped too. Astrid did not because Astrid is Astrid and she enjoys scaring people.

"Sorry! Didn't mean to sneak up on you!" Hiccup apologetically raising his hands. "Just coming over to see how Twilight's fairing."

He came up and stroked that spot behind the Nightmares' horns. "And tell you thank you, for saving all our lives."

 

"I think," Grace was slowly waving a hand in front of Twilight's eyes without much response from her, trying to see into the retina. The nightmare's pupils were fully dialated and there seemed to be a film over them. "I think the ash burned her eyes." the girl said worriedly.

Hiccup knelt down and took a good look. "Definitely the outer layer's been destroyed," He grimaced, "But I can't tell if there's any further damage. I think you should shift to human and have them bandaged."

 

.

Pine blinked his one good eye. "Wait... you are tellin' me the statues were alive??" He shuddered, thinking about how many times he'd perched on them, drew mustaches on their faces or chewed at one of their stone horns to sharpen his teeth. "I'm glad they saved you... but that's a creepy. I hope they dont' a remember much about being statues."

 

The earth shook again, more angrily than it had the three to four previous times. Many of the dragonbloods turned their gaze toward the mountain, watching lava ooze from the entrances to the D'own.

 

It was gone. One psychotic Deathgripper, given half a day had laid to ruin the stronghold of the dragonbloods.

"Where are we a gonna go now?" Pine muttered.

"We??" Arthur snarled. "YOU are an outcast, Tief. Wherever WE go you won't be joining us."

Pine stuck his tongue out. "I meant literally. This mountain is a done for I think, and we might be too if we stick around."

"I agree." Thalius nodded, finally letting Pine go once she had carefully cleaned and wrapped his eye with a fresh cloth from Hiccup's pack of bandages. "The D'own is merely a shell of the former glory of this volcano, which has been dormant over a thousand years. Now that she's alive again, she may rise to new heights. Best we make our rest here brief and find elsewhere to camp."

Pine, feeling a bit more like Tief at the moment, almost said nothing. But he couldn't not with Thalius and Nora there. "I," He started, shuffling. "I know a place. The Isle of greed. Sorta... sorta stocked up everything I stole from here and put it there, there's all kinds of food, clothing, weapons and supplies in the caves there."

Arthur growled. Thalius sent him a look but said nothing.

Pine growled, back arching a little. "Yes." He bit out.

 

Twilight goes limp as Hiccup strokes between her horns. Before she can reply to him though, he and Grace start discussing her eyes. She listens with growing dread, nodding as he tells her to shift. Once in human form she braces herself against another coughing fit. "Oh Twilight.." Ebony whimpers, sitting down behind the dragonblood. Twilight leans gratefully against the nightfury as she recovers. "It was Jesus who saved us from the volcano, Hiccup. I was just following His instructions" she says quietly once she gets her breath back.
.
Nora and Jason both nod at Pines suggestion to head for the isle of greed. "Don't worry, it'll be ok" Nora tells the guilty terror comfortingly.

 

"Easy Twilight easy," 

Ebony bracing against the dragonblood's back, Hiccup and Grace were both at her side trying to sooth her as well.

"Here," Astrid leaned down and handed a canteen of water to them to give Twilight.

 

"Jesus?" Astrid repeated with a frown, once Twilight had recovered enough to talk again. She recalled that name, it was the name of the God of King Artorijos. 

"No, Twilight that was all you. Don't sell yourself short." Hiccup insisted. "Can someone bring Toothless saddlebag of bandag- oh. Oh thanks." 

Thalius handed the wraps to Hiccup. The old woman stiffly found her way to her knees. She hugged Twilight, then gently cleaned ash and soot from around the young woman's eyes.

"I didn't know about the Lava Louts," Thalius admitted to Hiccup quietly, "All I did was pray and what I told you was the answer I got back. Twilight may have done the same."

Something inside of him stirred. Irritation...  embarrassment... or, or perhaps a touch of defiance? 

Thalius recognized his silence. She pat him on the shoulder. "Thank you Chief, for all that you risked for us today."

Hiccup wrapped the bandaging carefully around Twilight's eyes. The tension in him softened. "No problem. I just wish we'd gotten here sooner. How's that Twilight?" The Chief finished wrapping the bandage over her eyes. "Not too tight I hope?"

 

 

"Heh thanks" Pine says guiltily... because his begrudgment was more about wanting to keep all that money for himself than feeling bad about having it the first time around.

 

Twilight dips her head slightly. "Thanks, it's great" she says quietly. She stiffens at the next earthquake, trying not to collapse into coughing again. "Where are we going now?" she chokes.

 

“The Isle of Greed?" Thalius more asked then said. Though in Odells loss she'd inherited the job of leading the D'own, she looked to Hiccup for his discision first. "Tief-or I mean Pine has stored up provisions there."

"sounds good. We'll head that direction, eat and rest. Thalius is it?" He turned to the old woman. "Is anyone missing from the Down who wasn't killed?"

"yes, quite a few fled when the opportunity arose."

"Any after Argos was killed?"

"Yes."

"undoubtably," he got to his point, "they will be spreading the news like wildfire. We don't have any time to lose."

he hated to do this to his weary team but there wasn't a choice. "We Berkians will go with you to this Isle, rest and eat like I said but then we're off to Clan Kalznroth."

Thalius eyes widened. "Argos' clan? But why?"

He made a few final requests in this book of his," Hiccup brought it forth, "and the consequences of not doing as he asked are too risky to ignore."

It was clear that Twilight was in no shape to fly on her own, so Bonny offered both her and Thalius a lift. Still energized from that storm she took in earlier she was probably in the best shape of any dragonblood present. 

Grace of course rode Ebony.

 

*Two hours later*

 

Nora sighs quietly as the isle of greed comes into view. She suddenly gasps as she remembers the dragon remains that are probably still there from her hunt. She tries to fly faster, but it doesn't make much difference and she can't fly faster than the rest of the dragonbloods. "What's wrong?" Jason asks, noticing her scared expression. "I - I went hunting here" Nora stammers. "Well, if they try to hurt you because of that, they'll have to go through me first" he hisses.

 

"Don't a worry about it." Pine told Nora, shamelessly eavesdropping. "These uh, these dragonbloods are a bit of a rough crowd. Dragon remains won't bother most of them and the ones it do don't a say much about it."

He landed in a snag.

"Alright," Arthur rumbled, "So where's all these supplies you were talking about?"

Pine tilted his wings and wordlessly lead through the forests... away from the place Nora had hunted earlier.

Some ways behind them was Bonny and some of the others.

"T- Twilight you're slipping," The Wardenrain twisted her head back to help her rebalance.

Thalius, sitting behind Twilight reached out and helped her steady. 

"Just a little bit more, hold on and then you can rest." She said.

 

Nora and Jason drop back a bit, but follow along with the crowd anyways as they don't know the island.

The group landed and immediately began snapping up the many things Tief had "borrowed", often bickering with themselves.

"Heeeyyy there's nothing but beans in this here cave!" Someone complained. "Food wise, anyways."

"I said there was food. I never said it was good food."

The dragonbloods groaned.

In the hustle Pine was himself pushed toward the edge, where Nora and Jason were more than obviously being excluded. On one end it was somewhat fair, they'd literally just lost their home to a deathgripper, Nora working with him. But on the other they were already so thoroughly steeped in bias even if these two were the only ones they ever met (undergood circumstances) they'd still reject them.

Pine stood in human form and brushed off, setting his fine golden locks in place. "Hahaha," He snickered, letting them fight over stolen loot, stealing it from each other again. Not all of the residents of the D'own were bickering like so, but it was the majority. "Just wait until they find the rest of it."

Hiccup landed, as did Stormfly and Astrid, the Twins and Barf and Belch, and Hookfang and Snotlout. The Chief nodded Jason's way. "Still have the tusks?"

 

 

Bonny beat her wings rapidly to land as gently as possible. 

 

 

Jason nods and dumps the tusks on the ground. "Wish I could just get rid of them" he sighs, glaring at the only remains of Argos. Ebony lands along with the rest, watching the Downs dragonbloods in confusion. "What are they fighting over?" "Gold and other treasure" Nora answers. "They're weird.." the nightfury snorts.
Twilight sighs and nods tiredly, leaning against Thalius.

 

"Same." Hiccup nodded. He wished they could forgo Kalznroth all together, even if some small part of him was morbidly curious about who lived there and what it was.

"Hey Ebony," Toothless watched from where he was perched in a tree, addressing his fellow fury with twinkle in his eye. "You know what they are being? SELLLFFFFIIISSSSHHH!"

 

Grace hopped off Ebony and made her way to Twilight, Bonny and Thalius. She reached up, a wheeze still in her own small lungs but not nearly like the Nightlights, and helped her and Thalius get down.

Bonny stretched and shook, shifting back to her human self.

"There's a nice spot over here Twilight," Grace offered, gesturing a fallen tree. "Nothing pokey there and the bark is soft."

The nadder dragonblood cast a glance to her leaderless people all fussing over trivial things. Ordinarily it would call for immediate attention, but after the scare of the morning, panic of escaping the mountain and the long flight to the Isle of Greed the energy in their bark wasn't leading to any bite.

Good.

For the time she could stay with Twilight instead of sort out their tiffs. Being worn out herself, Thalius leaned against the soft, moss-covered log. A tune came to mind and ishe hummed.

 

 

Jason sighs and pulls out the map, recalling as much of Argos' letter as he can while he studies the map. "Let's just hope they don't find any other laws I've missed" he mutters.
Ebony nods firmly. "Very selfish... mmmh, fish, I'm starving."
Twilight lies down against the log, relaxing into the moss. As Thalius starts to sing, tears leak from her bandaged eyes as she's overcome with emotion, just like earlier when she'd come home back at the Down. She lets out a shaky breath and smiles gratefully as she's able to rest

 

At the mention of fish Toothless' stomach gargled. "Me too let's go get some. Hey Stormfly we're going to go catch some fish want to come?"

"Of course! Any excuse to use my talons." She beat her wings and rawked.

"Barf and Belch? Hookfang?" The alpha asked, not liking to leave any of them behind with these... dragonbloods. They had no interest in the riders but he'd seen more than a few sizing up him and his dragons with greedy, fortune filled eyes and plans.

"NOM." was the unanamous vote of the Zippleback.

"Sure I'll come," Hookfang trilled. "I'll supervise."

 

.

"Here's the message," Hiccup handed the book to him. Jason already had the letter to the Matriarch.

.

"Thanks" Jason nods, taking the book and scanning the message again. "Suppose I do count as an 'outsider' in a way.. oh well, no getting out of this so I guess we'll just have to see what they throw at us." He hands the book back and glances up at the sky. "How long until we go?"

 

 

Hiccup too, sent a keen look at the oranging sky. "Afraid I can only give us an hour tops. We won't arrive until tomorrow morning, but that'll give us all of the day to get back here."

The Chief stretched, one more harrowing, death-defying day behind him and another on the horizon. "I'm going to try and wind down for a while anyways. Really glad we had you with us today Jason, you did great." He paused, blinking as he remember it was only a week ago that Argos had taken Nora and left Jason next to dead. "How are you doing, by the way?? Feel like I've checked on everyone else but the guy who came out of a coma! ...Would love to hear how you ended up being well enough and able to catch up with us! Phantoms you say?"

 

.

 

Jason nods. "Alright, an hour sounds good." He smiles and shakes his head. "It's honestly hard for me to believe that I got here. I set out pretty much immediately after waking up.. or, well, after eating and hearing Troopers story of saving you from the No-Gooders on Good-for-Nothing - that's a story I'd love to hear more about. Anyway, the first few hours were pretty straight forward. Then suddenly this young flame-coloured silver phantom fell out of the clouds. I'm still not sure why I did it, but I grabbed him. He had his talons stuck in a log and he was terrified, so we were still falling pretty fast. Not sure why I thought it was a good idea, but I told him to call his family while I tried to get the log off with my tusks. As soon as I got it off, his parents attacked me, probably not realising that I'd got the log off and hadn't hurt him. That's when my back got burnt. I escaped being killed by shifting to human form, and by the time the parents had caught me, Firefly, their son, explained everything. I mentioned that I was heading north after Argos and they offered to give me a lift on the wind-river. They dropped me off here. The cold air and rest had helped my back, so I flew on immediately until I ran into you. If it weren't for the phantoms I wouldn't have got here so quickly."
 

.

 

Hiccup listened, amazed by the tale.

He reiterated his thankfulness for having Jason there for battle, then sent him off to rest up, doing the same himself.

 

Elsewhere the dragons fished, returning with a splendid array of char, salmon, perch and more. Dragonbloods, even the ones who had been eyeing the dragons with a price for their hides only an short time ago welcomed them back with a change of hear, thankgul they weren't stuck having to eat dry beans for dinner!

The group foraged the land for anything else they could add to their dinner, finding some edible plants, carrots, truffles, the hares, and a harvest of clams in the shallows. Within an hour they had were putting together a simple but bountiful feast, boiling water to drink on one fire and cooking their catches to perfection on the other. Even the dreaded beans, now that they had other things to go with them, were added to the mix.

 

.
During the meal, Jason puts an arm around Nora, who's been quiet ever since talking to Pine. "Hey, you alright? You've seen awfully quiet.. if it's about the trip to Kalznroth, there's really nothing to worry about. We'll be fine, and we'll also be back before you know it." "Last time you told me that you came back with your arm all ripped up" Nora points out, then smiles at Jason's sheepish grin. "Of course I'm worried for you. But that's not what I've been thinking about." She looks over at Thalius, then Pine, then back at Jason. "Thalius was singing a lovely song, promising healing and forgiveness and things like that. Pine seemed to know a bit about it so I asked him, and he told me..." she says, going on to repeat to Jason what Pine had told her. "... I just haven't been able to get it out of my head.. and I'm not even really sure what I think about it all." Jason nods silently, looking thoughtful and a bit wary too.

 

The hungry people ate their fill, and Pine, feeling particularly good-willed in the moment went off with Arthur to return with three crates of the finest wine he'd ever stolen. Very pleased with this addition the dragonbloods found cups... that had also been stolen at an earlier date... and distributed the drink.

"To the death of Argos!" Astrid raised her cup.

The D'own and allies toasted victory. What prejudices they held against Jason's kind folded back for a moment as they looked to him for striking the final blow, nodding.

Thalius hesitated, then stood just as the group finished that toast. "To life," she said, thinking of all who were around the table, safe and for the most part healthy. "That we can fight another day for."

"To life!" They agreed.

"And to our fallen. Odell," She raised her cup, weight to her words. "And Dante"

"Brutis," Pine raised his.

"Terrace," Kristoff joined.

More than a dozen other names were added, Thalius knew them all and each one seemed to weigh her glass down a little further. "And to the stormcutter, whose cry to God was heard."

The group toasted once more, a much quieter, contemplative toast, and she sat back down.

 

Nora and Jason join in with the rest, lowering their cups and heads at the mention of Ian, though they can't help feeling surprised that Thalius knows about him.

 

Bonny stared at Thalius, cup of water up to toast rigid in her hand. "What do you mean by 'the stormcutter'?"

Table busy once again in celebration and eating, Thalius had no clue how much it meant to the teen and her sister who held the same intent expression. She set down her own cup and explained. "He was part of a prophecy, a warning against Argos:

'Four wings of the south, low in stature and hunted by Kings will sweep bare the work of your hands: four wings and a broken crown will raise a cry to Heaven’s Courts, and the call will be answered in the breaking of tusks.'"

The old woman sighed. "I thought that it meant this dragonblood would prevail over him, but Argos killed him."

"That was our Papa," Grace whispered when overwhelmed Bonny couldn't speak. "Ian of Mykines."

Thalius full attention shifted to the girls, surprise in her blind eyes. "You're father?" She repeated, running through her mind what that meant. "From Mykines?? And his name was Ian?"

"Aye." Bonny found her voice. "He was a fisherman, and a stormcutter dragonblood but didn't know it. Argos found and forced his dragon form out of him, then sold him to the King of Mykines. He escaped and the King, mad because the King of Faroe was visiting, ordered Argos to hunt him down and get his- his crests to make a throne."

Grace nodded, tears rolling down her cheeks. "He fled Mykines to lead Argos away from us, and accidentally came across more Dragonbloods that brought him to Berk where he told them about Argos."

"And later brought us to be safe." Bonny choked out. "Turning Point is what I named the beach that Argos found him on."

For a long moment Thalius couldn't speak. These girls, the stormcutter, Kings, telling Berk about Argos, the broken crown, Ian, from Mykines, who was a fisherman!! Nolan! Dear brave Nolan. Her mind went back to that wild Kyte who had pointed her toward hope so many years ago. How suddenly and perfectly interwoven her path had become with these two girls!

She hugged them both and cried with them. There was so much to tell them! But it could wait.

 

Hiccup and Astrid, not so very far from the three listened in dead silence.

"Should we-" Hiccup started.

"No." Astrid answered before he could finish, gentler than when she spoke to most people but just as firm. "It won't change anything."

"You're right." He admitted and stood. "Well, Jason, It's time. Toothless!"

"PReshent!" His fury answered, in tug of war with a D'owns dragonblood over a halibut. He let go and the other flipped backwards.

"What?? I- I won??" The fire terror stared at the fish over his eyes. "WOOOO feel the burrnn!"

The fury laughed good naturedly.

Kissing Astrid the Chief stepped away from the table. 

"Be safe Hiccup," She said, concern on her face. 

"Always. You get some rest. We'll be back by tomorrow evening."

She nodded as he walked away, off to check on Twilight one more time.

"Toothless," the Viking glanced his silky black dragon. The Alpha murphed, tilting his head.

"Watch his back."

He trilled and nodded, following Hiccup.

 

 

Jason nods, then hugs Nora. "I'll be back, I promise" he whispers. They look at each other lovingly for a moment, then Jason gets up and follows Hiccup.

Twilight wakes up from her half-sleep, hearing footsteps. She straightens a little and shifts to nightlight hybrid, pricking her ears as she tries to work out who it is.

 

 

"Hey," Hiccup watched her shift and her ears pick up to listen.

"Hi Twilight," Toothlees came up and gently bumped her nose in nightfury greeting.

"How are you doing? Can I take a look at your eyes again now that they've had some time to rest?"

 

 

Twilight relaxes as she hears Hiccup and Toothless. "Hi" she says, gentle pressing her forehead against Toothless in greeting. She then nods. "I'm doing a bit better, I think. Yes, please do."
Jason hangs back a little, not wanting to crowd around the sick nightlight hybrid.

 

 

Hiccup takes the bandages off, studying her injured eyes. He holds his hand at a distance. "Can you see this?" He asks, waving.

 

 

Twilight blinks a few times, then her eyes lock onto Hiccups hand as he waves. "Yes!" She looks around slowly, then looks up at the chief, relieved. "Everything's still kinda dark, but it's a lot less blurry now. Thank you!" she says, a lot brighter than a moment ago.

 

 

Hiccup's countenance brightens almost as much as Twilights. "That's great! With this kind of improvement over only a few hours I'd venture to say there's a very good chance it's not permanent Twilight. Now as long as your lungs hold up after all that ash, I think you'll be good to go. Maybe shift to nightmare, that will be the best form for them- if you can manage it."

Night had fallen, and the moon was just cresting the horizon in the east. Hiccup did a double take. "Full moon," he stuttered, noticing Jason had followed him over. "Forgot it was the full moon tonight."

It didn't matter if it was, but he liked to keep track of the one night he couldn't be human, none of them could be human.

"Alright, rest easy, we'll be back tomorrow night." the Chief pat Twilight on the shoulder and grinned. "I expect you to keep up the good work." He tossed the wrap that had been over her eyes into the air. Toothless knew what to do, and desintigrated it with a tiny plasmid blast.

 

 

Twilight's smile fades a little as the words 'nightmare' and 'full moon' are far too close together for her liking, but she nods. "I'll try."
Jason takes a last look at the map, then puts it away and shifts to dragon form, holding Argos' tusks firmly. He looks towards the slowly rising moon, then back at Nora. For a moment, he feels dread about the flight, his old deathgripper instincts tugging at the corners of his mind. He shame his head and looks back at Hiccup. "Let's go."

 

"Ok." The Chief shifts to full fury and lets Jason lead the way. 

"By Twilight!" Toothless churruped, taking a running start to join the other two.

Ok clan Kalznroth, Hiccup murmured. Lets see just what sort of people you are.

 

 

Nora makes herself look back at her food after the group of three leave. She misses Twilight's struggle, but she feels the familiar tingle of the rising moon. 'Oh dear.. How's this going to go?' she wonders nervously, glancing around at the Downs dragonbloods.
.
'Think of Nora. Think of her, and it'll all be fine' Jason thinks, flying along with the two night furies.

 

Red. In the light of the rising sun The Isle of Khazaron was starkly red. Not with rich soil no, it was sandstone in every strange and magnificent shape it could possibly come. Each formation cast a shadow that incontrast to the pale red rock was nearly black. Few things bothered to stop at this barren waistland and even fewer had the fortitude to stay.

"This IS Khazaron isn't it??" Hiccup leaned toward Jason. They could finally shift again now that the moon had fallen and was he thankful. He didn't like being unable to access the map for so long over unfamiliar waters. 

"Certainly looks the perfect place for Deathgrippers, but I can't make out any structures or sentry stations. How about you?"

"I see something," Toothless spoke up, eyes narrowed. "Through the center of the island. The rocks don't look right."

"What do you mean bud?"

"I mean some look much closer than the others."

"...so a gap."

"Yeah. A long gap, it goes through the entire island."

Hiccup studied the middle of the island. At first he couldn't see what Toothless was talking about but when he looked at it long enough...

"Good eye bud," He blinked. "I think your right. Looks like the top of a long, narrow canyon. Bet you Berk's reserves that's where they live."

Toothless growled, not a fan of deathgrippers. He was a good dragon who always tried to give those that wanted a chance to prove themselve the benefit of the doubt, but overall, he'd just had too many bad experiences.

"WhoaNO, bud. We can't do that." Hiccup warned solemly. "Growl, hiss, or show any sign of aggression. They count it all as a challange."

"Then what do we do?? I'm not going belly up for these insects!" His eyes widened and he bit his tongue. "Sorry, Jason."

"Of course not, going belly up is as much a gaurantee of getting torn to pieces or more. They see you as weak or just plain fodder. The best action is being bold and not reacting- to words or taunting behaviors. If someone steps into your space though, lash out at them severly."

He breathed in and out deeply, gesturing the island below to Jason. "Shall we?" 

 

Jason had been finding it surprisingly hard to control his instincts all night, though he hadn't let on about it to the alpha and chief. He shifts to hybrid form as soon as he can, just in order to calm down and set his mind straight. As they get closer, he shifts back to full deathgripper and nods grimly. "Let's get this over with."

 

The thrreemsome coast downward, closer they get the more appearent tha canyon becomes. Its top is narrow, only allowing single file entrance, but in the shadows below it looked like it widened. Hiccup takes point and Toothless back, both with heads held as confidently as possible, appearing to be escorting Jason.

Soft clicking told them they had indeed found the right place.

In passing the strange red rock formations they are wordlessly joined by an unfamiliar deathgripper. He eyes the furies hungrily but keeps a respectful distance, so they ignore him.

Ordinary deathgripper, Hiccup thought with some surprise. He expected Argo's clan to be made up strictly of dragonbloods.

The first dragon is joined by another, and then another, and another, all silent, all keeping their distance. 

The two furies and Jason dip under the shadow of the canyon. It is, as Hiccup thought, much more spacious than it appears overhead. The entrance is very narrow but widens by over a hundred feet once through. And finally, signs of deathgripper activity show in the form of scattered bones. Dragon, human and animal alike.

"Greetings strangers," A fifth deathgripper came out of nowhere, bigger and older than the four before him. "You seem... lost."

He's definitely dragonblood, The Chief decided as the large dragon flew up beside him, matching his stride. His tusks were bare and extended to their fullest, showing even the beginnings of the second pair coming in. Hiccup finally slowed. "We're not lost. We seek the Matriarch."

His head jerked a little in his surprise. "The Matriarch?" The dragonblood feigned ignorance.

"Of your clan Kalznroth. With a message from Argos." Hiccup insisted with an air of tried patience.

The leader of the pack fell into dead silence, spotting the tusks in Jason's pincers. Soft clicks bounced between the members behind him until he gave a short, sharp hiss. They stilled.

"Follow me." He said at last, tilting his wings in a new direction.

Here goes nothin, Hiccup turned likewise, inwardly thinking and rethinking every word out of his mouth. Each one mattered, the difference between "Your clan Kalznroth" and "THE Clan Kalznroth" could spell their fate. If he was wrong, the deathgripper would know he didn't actually know what he was talking about. If he erred on the side of caution the deathgripper might sense the hesitation, translating it to weakness.

Toothless did well not to growl but his earflaps where flat against his neck and gaze rigidly forward.

 

The pack escorted them to a village not unlike the D'own in that the buildings were made of the walls and materials already existing there, making it difficult to differentiate between a home and the natural formations. The sameness of it's color would have made it invisible to any prying eyes that passed over from beyond the cliffs.

Deep under the canyon walls the village experienced very little daylight, and had next to no growing trees or plants even though the river ran through it's middle.

 

Jason flies in the middle of the night furies and deathgrippers, keeping silent and holding the tusks firmly and carefully. He glances at the village briefly, but his mind is fixed on the meeting with the matriarch, running through as many options as he can think of. 'If I'm lucky, she's only want to hear about Argos. If not, she'll ask things about me.. like my white patches and broken tusk.. and I'd rather avoid that' he thinks.

 

With crooked grins people leered at the three coming in. What were little lambs such as these doing so far from home? They murmured among themselves, joining the growing party of onlookers, shifting to their deathgripper forms.

Hiccup just hoped that they'd stay onlookers.

The deathgripper leading them landed in town square, bowing with tusks touching the dirt to another, a titan. She sat in a large, thrownlike chair, wings folded tightly, posture perfect and proud. Her second set of tusks were fully in, her scales worn and weathered.
"Darius." She said, to the point and with ice. "What have you brought, living into my presence?"

"Messangers, Matriarch." He remained prostrate. "Of Argos."

With a different sort of interest she studied them, Jason in particular with his missing half tusk and the tusks he held in his pincers. No word left her mouth or any of the personalities congregating around them. Tension was in the air, a readiness from the pack surrounding to leap into action at a single click from the Matriarch.

It was a long and aweful silence. 

I should speak! I'm an alpha, and we're messangers, maybe she expects me to. But if she doesn't?? If I'm supposed to wait?? Hiccup struggled to decide.

"Matriarch," He took a gamble, speaking boldly. The ordinary deathgrippers snickered at his voice. "I am-"

"Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third." She said sharply. "I'm very familiar with you and your 'great' works, Chieftain of Berk... both yours and your pets."

Toothless eyes were paper-thin slits. Both sides of his mouth were twitched back the barring of his teeth and the ordinary deathgrippers continued to taunt. Knowing he had good ears they threw their quiet insults his way.

"Then you must know what we could do to Kalznroth, if we saw fit." Hiccup returned calmly, but with surprising force.

Her eyes narrowed as the comminity rippled in growls and whispered threats.

"Do you intend harm for my people?" She asked after a point.

"No. We are here at the bidding of Argos."

"A remarkable turn of events." The deathgripper alpha said, almost amusedly. "Why has he sent you to Kalznroth?"

"To deliver these," Hiccup moved out of Jason's way so that he could present the remnant of Argos to the Matriarch.

 

Jason takes a step forward, places the tusks on the ground and gently pushes them over to the Matriarch. "Argos took my mate by force and left me for dead. He flew to Dragons Down to capture and destroy it. He fought several battles along the way, always winning but gaining injuries. At the Down, we Berkians fought against him, along with the Down. I set my mate free, then challenged him to a death match. He fought in his own strength, as did I, and if he hadn't been so wounded, he would have won, as you can see by how he broke my tusk. He was about to end me when I stabbed him in the heart. He died with honour." He pauses for a moment, then shifts to hybrid form and takes out the letter for the Matriarch, places in on Argos' tusks, then shifts back to full deathgripper.

 

As Jason recounted the tail, the ordinary deathgrippers bobbed their heads up and down with excitement. When he had finished they clicked between each other.

"Those are the tusks of Argos!"

"He found the down??"

"He's dead. He's finally dead."

Faintly, so very faintly that even Toothless' ears could barely hear (still not understanding of course) one of them clicked "Good riddance."

The dragons next to her widened their eyes and shuffled nervously a few steps away.

Hiccup watched and listened. Jason presented himself and the victory very well he thought, but he wondered just what it was the deathgrippers where saying among themselves. Even more so what the Matriarch was not saying at the moment. Her expression was unreadable and every dragonblood deathgripper seemed to be holding their breath.

"Darius." She commanded.

He fell a bit further into his prostrate position, then straightened, shifting to hybrid. He took the letter and the tusks to her for examination.

She looked them over carefully, finidng chips and old cracks from battles long ago, observing the new ones and where the tusks had been broken. Then she read the note, scowling at the sloppy writing and odd marks.

Again the waiting was next to unbearable and clearly not just for the unwelcome guests. 

"Victory to the strong." the titan alhpa said at last. "Your words stand. These are Argos tusks, and this is his writing. Young deathgripper I commend your will in battle, as no other has stood against him in the best of health and the worst." She stood, addressing her people. "Argos has fallen, strength be to the white deathgripper!"

"Strength be to you," They repeated, nodding to Jason.

"For your honor, for returning his tusks to Kalznroth that they may be added to the brave of our fallen, I grant you and those with you peace in your departure."

Darius clenched his teeth and the ordinary deathgrippers sulked, but all predatory behavior previously displayed was cut to the quick with a relaxed shuffling of wings, righting of crouched postures and licking of lips.

"What is your name?" The Matriarch asked Jason.

 

Jason bows his head low, swelling with pride and relief as the Matriarch and other deathgrippers praise him and she promises him, Hiccup and Toothless safe departure. "Thank you, High Matriarch. My name is Jason" he says, raising his head again.

 

 

"Jason to you I extend an invitation to stay and rest. These furies, on the other hand, are not welcome."

Wouldn't stay if you begged me to, Toothless thought, still tight lipped and on his guard.

"Tell me though," She continued. "Why would Argos steal your mate?"

 

 

'Oh great. Should have known she'd ask.. I doubt that invitation will hold up if she tell her.. but I can't lie' Jason thinks. "My mate is a deathsong dragonblood. Argos stole her to use her song and amber against the Down" he answers.

 

The other dragonbloods cast judgemental looks but the Matriarch seemed somewhat pleased with his answer.

"I would have been suspicious if you told me she was deathgripper dragonblood. It wasn't in Argos nature to disrespect the females of our kind."

Back to full deathgripper she opened one of her red and black wings, gesturing the village to Jason. "Stay, if you please." Her gaze turned back to Hiccup and Toothless. "And leave, if you value your hides."

...Hiccup was more than happy to go, but he worried about leaving on such a note as that one. "We will leave," He said, back straight. "Because we have done what we have come to do." He bowed. "Matriarch."

She returned the bow, accepting his response. "Chieftain."

Hiccup, in full fury form turned with opened wings. He sent a sideways glance Jason's way, wondering what the deathgripper dragonblood would choose.

With a leap and powerful downstrokes both furies lifted into the air and returned the way they had come. Darius followed, as did his troop.

'Oh. That deffinately wasn't what I expected.. but I'm glad it didn't go as I though it would' Jason thinks, a bit surprised by the Matriarch's response. He watches as the furies are escorted out of the village, then he looks back at the Matriarch. "Thank you for the offer. But if I may, I'd like to return to my mate with the furies. She'll worry for me if I don't come back with them."

 

"Then go. You have earned our respect."

She looked down to another deathgripper, this one also titan stage, and showing his age. "Vivian."

"Yes Matriarch," He bowed to the unspoken request, voice a bit raspy. Opening his wings he flew up and waited patiently for Jason.

 

Jason bows one last time, then spreads his red, black and white wings and follows Vivian.

 

As soon as the young deathgripper was out of hearing the village came alive with conversation. Worried conversation, though no one would admit it.

"Matriarch," The young but promising dragonblood at her side said, trying not to look down at the tusks at her feet. "What of the code. This Jason might be a deathgripper but he's still an outsider allied to our enemies. They leave in peace today, but law dictates full reliation. And it's Berk."

"I know.." She shifted to human, an old woman not much youner than Thalius with streaks of black still clinging to her silver hair. Her expression was unreadable as she re-read the message. "But it looks as though for once in his life our wayward warrior may have put his clan before himself. Gather the council we must discuss our course of action."

"Yes Matriarch." She nodded, having little difficulty spotting the better half of that group from her position.

 

 

"Jason!" Toothless said with relief. "Phew for a second I thought you were one of them, sneaking up behind us."

The three were well outside of at least tresspassing range of the dangerous little clan of Kalznroth, and the two furies had slowed their pace in hopes that Jason would be able to catch up.

"I'm glad you decided to return with us. That went WAY better than I thought it was going to go," Hiccup let a chill leave his spine and breathed a tremendous sigh in relief. "But at the same time if you stayed, I'd be worried they'd find something to accuse you of. How are you holding up?"

 

 

Jason catches up, shifting to hybrid form simply for comfort. "To be honest, I was worried about that too. They probably wouldn't have, since I was the one to finish off Argos - and they praised me for it! But yeah, I wasn't sure how they'd react to my colour or tusk or that I'm friends with you guys or that I don't have a deathgripper as a ma- er, girlfriend. Even if I didn't have Nora to go back to, I probably wouldn't have stayed. But to answer your question, I'm great" he grins. "Are you both ok? They didn't threaten you on the way back, did they?"

 

"Yes we're fine. The worst they did was continue their silent treatment."

"Which was fine by me." Toothless snorted.

Hiccup listened, head wagging. He didn't understand it either and each one of Jasons points were very valid. Flying over Toothless, he shifted back to human and landed on his fury's back. "They did seem bothered about the deathsong thing, but the Matriarch sort of brushed right over it," He pondered, "Talking about how Argos wouldn't disrepect a deathgripper dragonblood female. She was more focused on what Argos would and wouldn't have done than she was on you and Nora."

"They weren't happy about Argos being dead," Toothless looked over to Jason. "At least not all of them."

 

Jason nods, his relieved grin fading. "Can't really blame some of them for not being happy he's gone, he was part of their clan after all.. I feel like the Matriarch was one of the few actually glad about it, the rest seemed like they were just holding their tongues." He looks back to check if they're being followed, relaxing as he doesn't see anyone. "Maybe we're overthinking it, maybe deathgripper packs aren't all that bad.. not that I'd join one, but still."

 

"Well, everyone deserves a chance I guess. Maybe your right. Maybe Argos was an exceptionally bad egg." Hiccup agreed. A frown crossed his face, as he realized she had said nothing about that note.

He glanced toward the sun. "Almost ten. We'll be back to the Isle of Greed before supper is served." 

.

On the Isle of Greed the dragonbloods were not even up yet. There had been a good deal of celebrating done by the healthy the night before and the injured were still resting.  Most of them anyways. Bonny in her Wardenraing form was resting beside Twilight, keeping watch. She didn't know why she felt so compelled to guard, it was probably something in her dragon instinct.

 

 

.

Mika, the young promising dragonblood watched tensely for Vivian. "There you are!" she snapped as the member of the council flew into view, fresh from escorting Jason off the island and Darius at his right wing. "The Matriarch has called a meeting. Your presence is comanded as well Darius."

"You don't say," Darius returned flatly, both he and Vivian changing to human forms as they landed.

"Maybe you would like to end up like that unfortunate soul," Mika gestured a member of the pack being ripped to shreds. "He came in with news of Argos death while you were gone."

"The penalty of a late messanger," Vivian shook his head wearily. "And all thanks to a few more sips of the bottle no doubt."

"Like I haven't been a part of that frenzied pack, little angel," Darius sneered, pushing into Mika's space. She glowered and shifted to hybrid, but stepped back. He snorted. "You'll never be a Matriarch." The man brushed by her arrogantly.

Vivian watched the exchange warily as they stepped through a door in the canyon wall. 

"Unwise," the older warned, leading, Darius directly behind him and after Darius, following a respectful distance Mika. She couldn't hear him from where she stood and how quietly he spoke. "To taunt the prodigy. You will have to answer to her some day, perhaps sooner than later."

"I have no respect for that runt and don't see how the Matriarch can. It will be a miracle if she lives to become our next alpha.” He hissed. “I'd rather have my throat slit than do her bidding."

"Darius you leave yourself no options." 

"I don't need options. They cloud resolve."

"And you wonder how Argos beat you in every fight."

The younger of the two sent his elder a vicious glare. "Your awfully frail to be making quips like that old man. Might find someones' tusks in your guts when your out sitting on your cleft enjoying the sunset."

Vivian turned and met Darius' gaze with an icy stare of his own. "How very dog like and cowardly of you." 

Another bold remark was on Darius' tongue, but he shut his mouth. Vivian was right, it was a dishonorable notion. Not the killing of his elder but the way he had suggested doing it. 

Darius bowed, exposing his back and neck to attack. Vivian simply nodded and turned forward into the room awaiting them.

"Matriarch," He bowed as he entered. Darius did the same, and so did Mika, closing the ornate red oak doors behind her. Two ordinary deathgrippers stood outside, both with their eyes paper thin slits.

 

The room was lavishly furnished with colorful rugs, wall hangings, a table, and seven chairs. Skulls, racks, antlers, and horns of two dozen species of dragon hung from three of the walls, each of trophy size and painted in the colors of the deathgripper who had bested them. On the forth wall were a hundred small boxes carved into the rock, each wide and deep enough to hold two deathgripper tusks. Many did, some ancient and dry as bone, others losing their color, and a few very fresh, like the ones being placed in a box right now.

The five council memebers dared not to utter a word as the Matriarch placed them there, lighting a candle. Mika, head held high came and stood at her side.

For a very long time the old woman stood, one hand lingering on that remnant of Argos.

She let go, and straightened. "We meet to discuss the days events. The death of Argos, our part to play in avenging his blood as an... unorthodox but honorable member of the clan, and his final requests."

The woman turned smoothly and in a few short strides was at the table placing Argos' letter there, Mika following.

"What is there to discuss?" A member of the council said dully, arms crossed. "The law is clear; he was killed by outsiders; therefore retaliation, decimation complete on the heads of his slayer and the clan of his slayer. Which in true, dramatic Argos form is that treacherous Isle Berk." The man glowered across the table. "I warned you. I warned you all that that renegade would be the death of us."

"So you did but what were we to do? That renegade clung just enough to code to never be condemed. Were we to just turn our backs on him? Kill him ourselves?" Vivian returned with that weariness back in his voice. 

"I would have if you'd given me the chance," Darius muttered under his breath.

"He remained within the law, even when testing its' strength. If our ways; if our very core is not to rot from the inside out we must respect that."

"Look, it is grievous to lose a strong member of the clan, especially one with such cunning," a different one of the council spoke, eyes darting back and forth between the others. "But we must face the fact that he was insane. All those tests, experiments, examinations. It went to his head. Is there no law to protect us from the work of a madman?"

"None." The Matriarch said, listening and judging. "But there is no need for one either. Not in this case, as you might have known if any of you felt so lead to read his final words."

New, intense interest fell on the letter. Vivian took it and read it aloud.

"...He, he released us?" The first to have spoken sputtered, eyes narrowing. "Is that even possible?"

"Yes, Lars, it is." The Matriarch cooed dangerously. "It is the only way to release one's tribe from the blood oath honorably. This renegade madman had the wits and descency to keep Clan Kalznroth out of his private wars."

A wave of relief washed over the table. The Matriarch watched it, an icy smile creeping up her cheeks.

"And this is his handwriting?" Vivian gestured the poorly written note with chicken scratch all over it.

"I would know it anywhere, it's his."

"How is this good news?" Darius growled, gesturing the paper in Vivian's hands. "Argos is suggesting he doesn't believe we're strong enough to defeat that clan."

"Are we Darius?" The Matriarch turned her gaze to him.

"Of course. We are deathgrippers. They are a rats nest of mutts, ordinary dragons and humans."

"That 'rat's nest' deafeated two alphas we've been servants of for five generations."

"They were one. We are many." Darius insisted. "The people are ready for the task at hand, so are the tributaries."

"The are not ready. We are not ready you underestimate the cunning of that fury chief and his pet, the dragon alhpa. Berk has an army of innumerable number available at their becon call. We would be wiped out in an assault."

Vivian nodded. "I've seen it with my own eyes."

"Sooo... Argos final request holds, and we don't actually have to do anything?"

"Oh I didn't say that." The Matriarch glanced toward the speaker. "IThe D'own is gone, and that witch Thalius who cursed Argos all those years ago now flushed from her hiding place. Scour the lands seek word for the remnant left of Dragon's D'own, she will be with them. If any find her bring her to me alive I personally wish to cut off her life."

The elder of the counsel shrank back ever so slightly. They had witnessed the Matrairch in full fury before, it was not something they wished to see again. "And  furthermore, leaving his private wars be was not Argos only request."

Vivian blinked, glancing back down at the paper. His eyes widen as he sees another message of a very different nature than the first. He struggles to decipher it, then to be sure he understood he rereads it again, looking up at his Matriarch, stunned.

"This could change everything."

She nodded. "For far better, or far, far worse. But we are honor bound to present and I will do just that." The cold smile was still on her face but there was a tinge of remose in it now. "I leave in a few hours."

 

 

Jason glances back the way they'd come for the third or fourth time in the last ten minutes, once again seeing nothing out of the ordinary but unable to shake the strange uneasiness. 'Come on, what's wrong with me?! What's so bad about the meething with the Matriarch going so well?' he wonders. 'Something wrong with the letter.' Jason frowns, thinking back to the letter to the Matriarch and the one to Hiccup. "Hiccup can I see that notebook please? I can't explain it, but there's something bugging me about Argos' letters.. I don't know what, but.. just, you know, something's not right" he says hesitantly.

 

.

"I know what you mean." Hiccup pulled the wretched book from his satchel. "Here. I looked his note to me and that letter ten times over and as far as I can tell everything is right as rain." He gave a half hearted chuckle. "Maybe we're just paranoid."

 

.
Jason takes the book and flips through to the right page. 'Not the words' he thinks - though it doesn't really sound like something he would think. "... Surely he won't have written this or the other one long before the Down. He references the other letter here, so they must have been written close together.. so why was his writing on the other one so much sloppier?" he wonders aloud, asking that little voice rather than Hiccup. He shuts his eyes, trying to remember what the letter for the Matriarch was like.

.

"Point," Hiccup agreed, not, really realizing he wasn't the one Jason was talking to. The Chief watches as Jason as he closes his eyes.

"What is he doing?" Toothless tilted his head and cooed, one ear up and one down in his usual manner.

"I don't know bud," Hiccup guessed his question.

.
"Thinking" Jason mutters in answer to Toothless. His eyes snap open and he bares his teeth with a groan. "The writing itself wasn't really much sloppier, it was covered in those little dots and dashes. It was a second message, written in that clicking language we use. I have no idea what it was though.. ugh I'm sorry Hiccup I should have been paying more attention.."

.

Hiccups' face turned a shade paler. So that-that- that ratstinger had an ulterior motive that he didn't want Hiccup to know about! Not know about but hand over. "Alright I've just about had it with this lunatics antics! It's a good thing he's already dead." The chief snarled. "We're almost to Greed now. I was going to give everybody a break and rest there a few days but who knows what Argos told the Matriarch. We've got to get back to Berk."

.
Jason flies stiffly, barely holding back a growl himself. He shifts back to full deathgripper in order to fly faster.
.

Toothless matched his pace and Hiccup, putting the book back into his satchel went over the letter in his mind. He remembered the strange dashes and dots but not their order, and of course, he had no clue how to understand the Deathgrippers' clicking language and that didn't help. So. It would be that harrowing game of wait and see to learn what was told to the Matriarch, and what clan Kalznroth would do with it.