Path of the Tempest, Book Two: Dawn of the Fallen

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Hyrra returns to the School of Dragons for her second year. With her, are her faithful friends Calder and Brey, not to mention her newest, most surprising ally: Axel. The year promises to be one filled with fun and adventure, as this year the Dragon Rider Games are expected to be the largest, and longest, ever, with many foreigners coming to participate and study the dragons, the school, and the riders. Among these foreigners comes new friends and rivals, but also a new threat. With Hyrra and Storm's fylgja skills constantly expanding, they've drawn the attention of a very powerful figure.

One that may just be their doom.

__________________

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♫                                Music                               

Story Theme Songs

Path of the Tempest, A School of Dragons

This is War | Become the Beast

Path of the Tempest, Dawn of the Fallen

Awake My Soul | Dark Storms

 

Character Theme Songs

Hyrra

Stand By Me | Save Me A Spark

Stormbreaker

Like Lions | I Of The Storm

 

Storm's Art Corner

 

Stormbreaker does not appreciate you staring.

(c) Wutend Bonfire

 

Stormbreaker only plays nice for Hyrra... and only occasionally!

(c)  Sky and Ocean

 

 

 

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Reference Page

Character Facts:
[Name/Species/Gender/Age (At the Beginning and Human Years Only): FirstName Meaning/LastName Meaning. Family History. Personality.] {Other Pictures}

* Edit by the wonderful Nessie!

* Art by the superb Spygirl!

* Art by the terrific TosiLohi!

 

Main Characters

Hyrra Boandi* /F/16/Scout: (Hyrr = Fire) + a/Peasant. Daughter of peasants Tropper and Gyda, has a two year old brother Midge. Fiesty, stubborn, cunning, and determined, but impatient. {Hyrra!}

Calder Arud/M/17/Warrior: Rough Waters/River Clearing.  Son of a fishing family. He is Hyrra's childhood friend, and the two consider themselves practically siblings. Calder has the ability to be both very calm and very animated, he is sweet and gentle, but can be lazy. Physically strong and a great swimmer, he thinks of Axel as a rival.

Brey Fettleston*/F/16/Engineer: Strength, Force/"Fettle"To Prepare. From the Southern Archipelago. Bubbly, optomistic, unassumingly intelligent and powerful. Though they are very different, she is Hyrra's best friend. {Brey!}

Axel Elklund/M/18/Warrior: Father of Peace/Oak Grove. Eldest son of the wealthy Elklund family. Brave, smart, and narcissistic. Excellent rider, great warrior, and a loyal friend, once earned.

Bjorn Clasharm/M/18/Warrior: Bear. Met Axel when they came to School, has been his loyal friend since. Intimidating, quiet, strong, but has a large heart and is surprisingly gentle. He is very literal and has almost no sense of humor.

Loder/M/21/Researcher: Giver of Senses. A newcomer to the School of Dragons, he is the youngest of the many researchers coming to study the school. Incredibly clumsy, but also very kind and understanding, he tends to be passive until something peaks his interest, then he fervently seeks out the truth.

 

Professors

Visst Groundshaker/M/61/Headmaster: Certain. Formerly a well-known warrior, he is now the well-loved headmaster of the School of Dragons. He is known for his jovial, positive attitude. He rides a Grapple Grounder named Ormr (Nordic word for ‘Snake’).

Korinta Aske/F/34/Scouting Expert: Peak/Ash. From a clan that was decimated by dragons, lived much of her young life as a thief before taming/being saved by a Timberjack that she named Viperra. Korinta became a dragon rider for hire, and became well known for it, until the School of Dragons enlisted her as a professor. She is serious, graceful, and very intimidating. Like her dragon, she demands respect.

Eret, Son of Eret/M/35/Warrior Professor: Mighty Alone. After the events around Drago and the trappers, Eret found a home on Berk, but often felt his extensive dragon and battle knowledge was not being used to its full potential. So when Hiccup offered him a teaching position at the School of Dragons, he readily accepted and has lived on the island since. He is reported to be married, but he is very private and none of the students seem to know who he is married to. He riders Skullcrusher the Rumblehorn.

Tic Lardsen/M/29/ Researcher and Dragon Specialist: Twitch/Unknown. Born into the infamous Dragon Slayers, to the tribe’s chieftess, while they were traveling the Far North, Tic grew up under the harshest conditions. The youngest of three, including Svigar ‘Stoneheart’, he was overlooked when the tribe was attacked by an enraged Doomfang. He abandoned his sister, and only surviving kin, in the north. In the archipelago he became well known for his clever mind, and his dragon, a goggle-wearing Whispering Death named Chaintooth. Tic was invited to be the main researcher of the school not long after its opening. He is both cunning and thoughtful.

Gobber/M/65/Smelting and Crafting Professor: Unknown. The first person to accept a job at the School of Dragons, he leads the engineers in their studies of saddlery, smithing, and dragon dentistry. He takes his job very seriously and has been known to be a tough teacher.

 

Dragon Rider Game Participants

Ase Ironhill/F/20/Warrior: God. The best warrior at the School, she and Thrain became good friends and rivals the moment they met. Ase is greatly respected and takes things much more seriously than her scouting counterpart. She is Axel's tutor and rides a Wooly Howl named Frostclaw. Leader of the Fearless Five.

Thrain Silvgard/Human/M/20/Scout: Yearner/Unknown. The best scout at the School. He is very kind and has a good sense of humor that has made him popular with nearly everyone. Due to his age and experience he often teaches the youngest Scouts and helps teach even the older ones. He is Hyrra's tutor. He rides a Snaptrapper. Member of the Fearless Five.

Ravn Shaderun/M/19/Engineer: Raven. Gloomy, brusque, and secretive, Ravn is not known for his personality. He tends to come off as rude and dislikes conversation. He prefers quiet research to racing or exploring, and is one of Dr. Lardsen's best students. Member of the Fearless Five.

Gaut Trolart/M/20/Warrior: Goth. While generally jovial, Gaut is also very competitive and this often overrides his niceness. Rides a Typhoomerang named Ruin. Member of the Fearless Five.

Mork/M/17/Engineers: Dark. A quiet bookworm and tactical genius. Rides a rare Giant Prickleboggle named Barbil. Member of the Fearless Five.

Vex/M/19/Warrior: Cause distress. Devilish and easy to anger. Rides a Boneknapper named Bane. Member of Gilded Wings.

Lex/M/19/Warrior: Law. Less attention grabbing than his domineering brother, but equally cunning. Rides a Armorwing named Steelwing. Member of Gilded Wings.

Thatch/M/20/Warrior: Matted layer of dead stalks/moss/etc. Quiet but dangerous. Rides a Moldruffle named Firestarter. Member of Gilded Wings.

Flare/M/20/Warrior: Sudden burst of bright flame. Considered an incredibly volatile warrior, he tends to use anything to get his way. Rides a Singetail named Blistera. Member of Gilded Wings.

Leik/M/17/Warrior: Little is known of Leik, except that he is generally more understanding and nice than his fellow team members. Rides an unusually aggressive Gronckle named Gobbler. Member of Gilded Wings.

Brant/M/16/Warrior: A fairly social Shaded tribesman. Rides a Shivertooth named Arctice. Member of Shadowclaw.

Einara/F/15/Warrior: A strong warrioress, and the only female on her team, she tends to scare off all potential suitors with her axe. She rides a Zippleback named Bubble and Squeak. Member of Shadowclaw.

Hillvi/M/18/Warrior: Laidback and relatively unknown, rides a Swordstealer named Bandit. Member of Shadowclaw.

Dag/M/16/Engineer: Like many engineers he is pretty lowkey, but is a master armorer already. Rides a Thornridge named Stille. Member of Shadowclaw.

Knut/M/14/Scout: The youngest participant in the Games, he is a charismatic young man who rides a Deadly Nadder named Sharpshot. Member of Shadowclaw.

Alva Vakker/F/21/Scout Alum/: Elf. Beautiful. Well known for her love of feeding and creating drama, not to mention her cruel and cunning demeanor, Alva is not a particularly popular figure. She rides a Triple Stryke named Barbaria. Member of the Alumni Team.

 

Main Dragons

Stormbreaker/Skrill/M/About 17/Scout: N.A. A formerly wild dragon. Independent and intelligent, unpredictable and aggressive to those he doesn’t know (And even to some he does). Stormbreaker or "Storm" does not generally play well with others, due to his dominating personality. Despite his apparent confidence, he's actually very unsure and terrified of bodies of water. Agile and quick. {By:Witcherforever}

Pearl*/Sliquifier/F/17/Warrior: N.A. Beautiful Tidal Class dragon, very calm and placid, but a fast flier and an even faster swimmer. Very protective of her rider and friends. Ridden by Calder. {By:Witcherforever}

Dizzy/Nadder/F/15/Fire Starter and Gatherer: N.A. Hyper, quick on her feet, and bouncy. Has a bad habit of making herself 'dizzy' when running around. Ridden by Brey.

Goldtyr/Monstrous Nightmare/M/17/Warrior: Tyr=God of War. Has been with Axel since he was an adolescent, around 6 years now. Very loyal, not fiesty like other Nightmares and is happy to follow Axel's lead.

Snaggletooth/Snafflefang/M/18/Warrior: N.A. A large, wise dragon that excels in teamwork and battle. Enjoys nothing more than a quiet nap after hardwork. Ridden by Bjorn.

Sage, Olive, Basil, and Mint "The Ladies/Sisters"/Snaptrapper/F/19/Scout: All are named for fragrant plants. A wild-born egg, the sisters were abandoned by their mother. Their egg was found by scouts and brought back to the school where they hatched and grew. Not many people wanted to deal with four large, high-maintenance dragons, each with their own personality, so they went overlooked for nearly a year before Thrain bonded with them. They are incredibly loyal to Thrain and dote on him constantly. Towards others, both dragons and humans, they tend to be aloof and snooty.

 

Another thanks to any artists who have contributed to this page!

 

Reference Pictures

(I made these in paint so they are not pretty, just wanted to give you a visual, for all those who need them. If anyone wants to redraw them be my guest!)

Fylgja (A review from the last book)

Island Map
School Up

 

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Index of Chapters
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Prologue

Prologue

            She stretched as she slipped off the energetic dragon’s back, rubbing her backside as she did so. The soreness from riding so long was radiating up her spine; meanwhile, despite the nearly half-a-day flight, Dizzy was bouncing around, checking out the school’s rebuilt buildings. It took her rider a moment to notice the changes, but when she did, she grinned.

            The Main Hall was larger, grander, and proudly stood in the center of the grounds, built with rich timber ornamented with elegant engravings of dragons and Vikings alongside each other. New buildings, she supposed they were classrooms, stood in a half-moon around the main hall and students were already busy milling round them. She knew she was one of the last people to arrive back to the school, but she was surprised to see nearly everyone back before her, “Cool looking, huh?”

            She recognized the voice almost immediately, “It is! How- Woah,” she snickered as she turned around, she hadn’t seen the young man in nearly four months and he’d changed a bit in that time, “What’s with the stubble?”

            Calder reddened and rubbed the blond whiskers along his jaw, “I’m growing a beard!” He pouted, “Real men have beards, ya know?”

            Sure.” Brey rolled her eyes, “So what’s up with the new buildings? Classrooms?”

            “I guess you didn’t hear,” He shrugged, “Those are guesthouses for the Dragon Rider Games. Apparently they’re going to be a lot bigger this year.” He continued, “We heard that they’re allowing graduates to participate this year, and they’ve invited chiefs, researchers, and traders to stay on the island throughout the whole month.”

            Brey gaped, stuck on the lengthiness, “The Games are going to last a month? Last year it was only a week! How are we going to find time to study?”

            He frowned, but he should have expected his friend to get peeved at the lack of study time, “This year’s pretty special,” It was her turn to frown, nothing’s so special that is should take a month out of our busy schedules, “It’s the tenth Dragon Rider Games and, by extent, the tenth year anniversary of the school’s opening!”

            “Oh… is the school really that old already?” Her frown flipped over, to think dragons and riders have been learning alongside each other peacefully for ten years…

            The blond nodded, “The Games themselves are going to be next month, but the guests will be arriving later this month.” Brey sighed, that seem's very early, “There’s going to be some new rules to keep the games fair and safe, but we probably won’t know what those are until next week.”

            “That’s a lot of people on the island at once…” She regarded the other students, “I guess it makes sense, we started building a crop field last year. I bet we were going to use it to help feed the surplus people… but I think most of it was burnt during the Slayer attack last year.”

            “Don’t worry about that! The field is fully operational now,” A certain mousy man strolled by, followed closely by a goggle-adorned Whispering Death, “Moreover, I’m putting you and Ravn in charge of it!” Dr. Tic Lardsen smirked knowingly at Brey’s crinkled nose, but she had no time to retort, as he swiftly walked away.

            She crossed her arms stubbornly, “He knows I hate farming! Plus Ravn’s awful company!”

            “Aw, come on! Cheer up! We’re back at school!” The fisherman threw a muscular arm around her shoulders, “I’m seeing a future filled with exciting quests!” He pointed to the horizon, maybe thinking he looked cool, uh huh.

            As they meandered towards the girls’ dorms Brey had to wrestle her dragon for her luggage. Dizzy danced around her just out of reach, enjoying the game of chase, until she finally retrieved her baggage from the dragon. They drew closer to the hall and Brey had already began chattering about her plans, “I’m just going to go drop this off, then I want to go see the forge, then I want to go to the farm… oh, hey Sola!” She waved at one of the blonde twins and immediately launched into a discussion with the younger engineer, “Are you going to be working the farm? I’d love some good company, you know how Ravn can be!”

            Chocolate eyes assessed the other engineer with an abnormal amount of circumspection, “No, I’ve been assigned elsewhere.” Sola then turned to leave with her sister, ignoring the irked look on the southerner’s face.

            “Well that was weird.” Brey grumbled under her breath, she was used to the twins being quiet and blunt, but not to that extent, “You’d have thought I’d offended her or something.”

            Her male companion shrugged, “Those two are always strange. They’re probably just tired from traveling, you know?” She yielded, maybe Calder’s right.

            After finding her room and dumping her bag off, she noticed that the door to Hyrra’s room was shut, but the fresh dents in the wall from a hastily thrown open door were an obvious sign she’d been there, I wonder where she’s at.

            Jogging back down the stairs, she saw a few faces she didn’t recognize, mostly newer girls, and a few she did: Freda was ascending the stairs as she descended, Ase was conversing with Bertha, and the twins were standing in a corner by themselves. But there was a distinct lack of red hair.

            Once outside, she found Calder lounging against the building, “Where’s Hyrra? She wasn’t in her dorm.”

            Calder straightened up, “She got drafted into doing the distance scouting today, but knowing her and Storm it probably won’t take that long.”

 

 

[Author's Note: Well I'm finally back! I took me a lot longer than expected to get my life together but I did it! I'm finished with applying to graduate schools, classes are officially in full swing, and my routine is back and so is Path of the Tempest! I'm hoping to get a chapter out every week on Saturdays!]

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Chapter 1: Return of the Red Reckless Scout!

Chapter 1

Return of the Red Reckless Scout!

            He crawled up the tree deftly, somewhat of a miracle considering he was carrying precious cargo. The branches grew thinner around him as he drew towards the top, where he found a sturdy branch to sit on comfortably. The squirrel rested, readjusting his grip, then began munching on the seed he had stored over the long winter. After finishing his meal, he licked his paws and set about cleaning his whiskers. His long, bushy tail twitched languidly as he wiped over his ears. Suddenly the rodent’s ears shot upright and he grabbed the branch with all his little might as something streamed by, the wind and static nearly knocking him from his perch. He recovered apprehensively, his formerly tidy fur now standing up along his body.

           Cool wind lashed against her cheeks as the land beneath them zoomed by in an earthy blur. Up ahead a tall peak jutted from the island, so colossal that the very tip was obscured by afternoon clouds. Gripping the saddle securely, they came within a few feet of the rocky sides of the mountain, before racing up its steep flank. They banked around tall trees with practiced precision and as they climbed those tall pines were replaced with craggy boulders… a few became the shattered victims of lightning as her dragon became excited by the speedy ascent.

            Her vision was masked by the fog, but then they crested above the haze. It seemed an entirely different world up here, a world with a pristine sky and white meadow, then the saddle beneath her twisted as the dark dragon rolled over. He twirled over the tip of the mountain, before plunging back down the peak. The clouds again, then boulders, then trees. Now going faster, thanks to gravity, she felt as if the skin on her face was being pulled by invisible fingers. She grinned through it though. The island below them gave way to ocean, still churning and chilly from the winter.

            Best head back, she thought as she saw the sea stacks nearing, meaning they were drawing further from their target area. Pulling a little at the saddle, Stormbreaker grumbled at the instruction but took a sharp turn, of course he couldn’t do it without orbiting a sea stack or two with the flick of his tail, “Showoff,” she chuckled. The Skrill tucked his wings and regained his lost momentum in a way only he could do, falling near vertically for a second or two and then resuming gliding. As they zoomed back across the ocean, Hyrra spotted a small pod of Submarippers, small is a relative term though, she reminisced as the tidal class dragons surfaced to watch them fly by.

            Within seconds they were back in range, a mischievous grin settled on her face as they closed in on the other duo, “YO!” she shouted, then cackled as soon as she saw the unsuspecting rider, and dragon, startle.

           Axel twisted around to glare at her, “Don’t do that!” Even Goldtyr whined at the fright.

           The redhead stuck her tongue out at him, “By the way there’s nothing happening on Jore’s Throat, if you wanted to know.”

           “You need to stop flying off-”

           She cut him off before he could lecture her, “Sorry you’re so slow. We’re just doing our jobs.” The redhead shrugged as they hovered over the warrior pair.

           Her flight companion shook his head and sighed loudly, “And what happens if you come across trouble? That’s my job.”

           “You really think I need you to save me?” The redhead teased, gripping the saddle with her legs as Stormbreaker flipped over, posturing as he glided upside down, “Have either of you defeated a Doomfang?” Axel opened his mouth, but she interrupted him again, “Didn’t think so.” The electric team flipped back over and then flew ahead, leading the way back to school.

           She heard the brunet complaining under his breath before speaking up, “Whatever, don’t come crying to me if you get in trouble and I’m out of range.”

           “Well I guess I couldn’t really ‘come crying to you’… you know, cause you’d be ‘out of range’.” Hyrra quipped over her shoulder and he scowled back.

           He continued to yap, “Don’t forget: I can stop helping you with your training.”

           “Not like I need your help anymore, pretty sure I could beat even you now,” Hyrra stuck her nose in the air.

           But clearly he knew better, “Uh huh, go ahead and try,”… he was right of course, Hyrra knew she was still nowhere near as good a warrior as Axel. It annoyed her greatly.

           They hadn’t made it very far before she heard something over her shoulder, “What’d you say?”

           “Honestly, listen every once in a while,” He griped, “Ships to the right, they’re heading in the same direction we are,” She looked and, sure enough, there were three small ships sailing slowly towards the school, “Seem like trade ships, but we should go make sure anyways.”

           This time, Hyrra let him take the lead. As they drew in close to the ships, the deckhands seemed to recognize them, and waved, “Yup, merchants.” She muttered under her breath as they were invited to land on the deck. Stormbreaker growled.

           Axel stood confidently on the deck, looking nearly as comfortable as Calder would have been; meanwhile, Hyrra went green in the face, swaying back and forth with the motion of the vessel. She was trying to focus on what Axel and the captain were saying, but it did little, “Keep heading in this direction and you’ll run right into the school,” The captain asked how much further the school was, “…going this speed, I’d say it’d take another hour or so for you. If you catch a good wind if might speed you up a bit, but we’ve not had any strong breezes today.” A few of the sailors watched the nauseous redhead with mild concern, but most were too busy ogling the Skrill, which had unashamedly refused to stay on the boat and was instead flying in tight circles around the mast.

           “Hyrra, you okay?” Axel clapped her on the shoulder, smirking knowingly as she wavered from the contact.

           “Fin-” She burped nauseously and poised to run for the railing, “Can we go?”

           He nodded, “Yeah, let’s get going. Korinta’s going to want to know everything looks good.” The sailors waved them off, and soon the two were back flying over the ocean, “Feeling better, Queasy?” He called over to her after a few minutes.

           Feral amber eyes glared, “Shut up! And I don’t need another bizarre nickname from you!” She snapped, focusing ahead and relieved to spot the school’s volcanic peak looming. Hyrra noticed that the repairs to the caldera had held up, she knew that Tic had been nervous about the newly created obsidian not melding with the existing. But it had held, and truthfully you couldn’t tell where the new obsidian ended and where the old began.

           The new buildings filled out the once sparse looking school grounds, and with all the students back and excited, the grounds were a welcoming sight. They landed in front of the main hall, and immediately the two were surrounded by eyes, “Newbies.” Axel breathed under his breath as the new students eyed the two striking dragons land with ease.

           Hyrra dismounted, “You don’t like the attention? And here I was thinking you’d do anything to boost your ego.” She chuckled when he scowled at her.

           “I don’t like being stared at.” He complained, “Especially when it’s by a bunch of gawking fresh meat.” He said pointedly louder as his cutting silver eyes stared down the crowd.

           The students rapidly dispersed around them, “Oh, come on, I think it’s kind of cool! We’re respectable!” She nudged his shoulder but he didn’t answer, and instead just wrinkled his nose and led the way up the stairs. Inside the main hall they found Korinta sitting at a table, her head tilted to the map in front of her.

           “Report!” Her head never moved and the command caused Hyrra to flinch a little bit.

           “Um, r-right…nothing spotted as far east a Jore’s Throat, nor anything found near Dagger Pass. The South was quiet only a few traveling boats heading to Berk and Lucra. We did run into a group of traders on their way here, they were about an hour out.” She relaxed her posture a bit once she had blurted the last bit out.

           Korinta regarded her map for a second, “Relax Hyrra, I’m not going to bite your head off.” The scouting professor grinned and looked up.

           “Don’t know about that, pretty sure you’ve threatening to feed me to Viperra once or twice.” She said cheekily.

           “Don’t worry… I’d never feed Viperra something that would upset her stomach.” The blonde quipped back, “Now go on, fairly certain I heard that Brey’s arrived.”

           Hyrra perked up and sprinted out of the building, Axel on her heels. Almost immediately she saw Stormbreaker’s miffed face as a familiar Nadder was currently nuzzling him and squawking in his face. Without warning, Hyrra was accosted into incredibly strong arms, “HYRRA!” She was lifted off her feet by the over exuberance of her friend. After nearly blacking out from a lack of oxygen, she was finally put back down, “Sorry! It’s just so good to see you!”

           “Likewise,” She choked out as she regained her breath.

           “Woah Axel, you’re looking… different.” Brey scratched her head as she eyed the older warrior, who frowned.

           Hyrra watched him cross his arms, great, now his ego’s bruised, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

           “She means that your hair looks stupid.” Calder interjected, getting a glare from both Brey and Axel. Hyrra didn’t have much of a problem with Axel’s new hairstyle, it looked clean and neat… but it was a big difference from the mop of hair he’d had last year. Over the winter, Axel had cropped the sides of his head, leaving only the top intact. His wavy hair often drooped to one side, almost giving the appearance that he’d only shaved one side of his head.

           “This is a warrior’s haircut. But I wouldn’t expect you to know that since you’re barely a warrior, fish-for-brains.” The seething brunet snapped back, leaning into Calder’s face as he hissed, and now they’ll fight. Calder growled as he head-butted the brunet, then lunged at him. Within seconds the two were wrestling down the stairs of the main hall.

           Brey watched the two as they rolled around, “Should we do something or…?”

           “Or go find something to eat instead?” The redhead suggested as her stomach growled.

           “Yes, I’m starving! You’d think two loaves of honey bread would hold me over.” As they left for the mess hall, they could still hear the two warriors behind them as they continued their childish quarrel.

           “Let go of my wrist!” – “Apologize!” – “Never! Your hair looks stupid!” – “I’ll break your sword hand!” – “Whatever! You couldn’t if you tried!” – “Try me!” – “I fear NOTHING!” – “DON’T BITE ME YOU IDIOT!”

           “You sure we should leave them alone? Seems like they’ve already resorted to biting.” The southerner looked over their shoulders with some apprehension.

           Hyrra followed her gaze lazily, seeing the two, grown men, on the ground, covered in dirt. Axel was on Calder’s back, using one hand to pin the blonde’s wrist to his back, Axel’s other hand was firmly between Calder’s teeth, “They’ll be fine, they’ve been at it like this since Snoggletog… I think they’re getting along better actually.” Brey frowned, “Viking guys fight a lot when they start seeing each other as friends.” She explained.

           The engineer shook her head, “…that’s weird.”

           “And it’s one of the reasons women are superior to men.” Brey snickered at that as she followed the redhead into the mess hall.

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Chapter 2: Fresh Meat?

Chapter 2

Fresh Meat?

           “There’s a lot of new students.” Brey commented as they watched the school below, “I’ve only been here a little over a day and I’ve already counted at least thirty new students.”

           Hyrra leaned back against Storm’s leg, her own legs dangling off the stable deck, staring up at the lazy blue sky, “I overheard Eret saying because they expanded the dorms and grounds, that they were also expanding the class sizes.” Calder said from his reclined position on his petite dragon’s back.

           “Really? I heard a lot of the tribes are still reeling from the Dragon Slayer attack,” Hyrra finally chimed in, “Korinta was saying the tribes want more warriors and scouts, just in case there was a second army like the Dragon Slayers.”

           “It’s probably a bit of both.” Bjorn spoke up, his brightly colored Snafflefang nodding wisely next to him.

            “Bjorn, where’s Axel?” Calder cut in, it was a bit strange for Bjorn to be away from Axel for any major length of time.

            The clean-shaven young man regarded the shorter warrior, “Said something about helping Eret.” Calder shrugged off the vague answer, after all that was just Bjorn’s way of talking.

           “Hyrra!” Stormbreaker grumbled as a Snaptrapper and rider landed on the deck, “Korinta was looking for you, said you needed to meet her down at the Main.” She raised an eyebrow, not moving from her spot, “Pretty sure she meant for you to get down there now.

           Both Skrill and rider grumbled this time, “Thrain if you’re pawning scouting duty on me again I swear you’ll be doing my homework for the rest of the year.” Thrain smirked roguishly before he and his multi-headed dragon took off, shaking the deck as they did so. Hyrra stood up and tightened Stormbreaker’s saddle, noting that the leather strap was fraying and stiches were popping along the side, not to mention the gargantuan claw scratches on the seat, “I’ll be back… hopefully.” She sighed to the group as she swung into the saddle.

           Storm dropped off the deck and glided down to the Main hall, they both spotted Korinta standing on the steps. When they landed, Hyrra hopped off and began to walk up the steps, “Bring Storm with you.” Hyrra frowned but looked over her shoulder and motioned for the Skrill to follow her up the stairs.

           “Ugh, did Thrain back out of scouting?” She whined as they ascended, Korinta smirked as she ushered the duo into the Main hall, closing the door behind them.

           Hyrra was immediately face-to-face with a table full of teenagers, “Ah, sorry to keep you all waiting,” Korinta smiled pleasantly as she greeted the table, nearly all of the new students were staring openmouthed at the redhead and dragon, “Hyrra, this is our Nadder group this year,” Hyrra glowered, seeing where this was going already, “And Nadder group, these are your tour guides for today: Scout Hyrra Boandi and her Skrill, Stormbreaker. They will be showing you around the school grounds and answering your questions, should you have them. Now, I’m going to leave so you can get started.” Korinta leaned into her, “If I find out you don’t give a good tour, you’ll be doing distance scouting the rest of the month.” Hyrra sighed, but knew better than to argue with Korinta when she was clearly busy, and irritated, so she continued to sourly stare at Korinta’s retreating back until the door closed and she found herself standing in an awkward silence.  

           Almost instantly a hand shot up from the table, the redhead sighed, “Yes?”

           “Are you the one who defeated the Dragon Slayers?” Hyrra eyed the questioner, a round faced girl with heavy freckles and dark brown hair, looks like she could be related to Freda.

           “Nope, that was definitely the other Skrill rider.” She said dryly, turning around and heading for the door, “Well come on then.” She called, hearing the benches scrapping the ground as they were pushed back.

           Back outside, Storm put space between himself and the group of inquisitive students, Hyrra turned around and already saw hands in the air. This is going to be a long day, she nodded toward a pale haired boy with light eyes, “How fast can he fly?”

           “A little slower than a Nightfury, though he gets close to the same speed when we dive. Like other Skrills he can use lightning to travel at supersonic speeds.” Another hand was raised, “Yes?” She motioned at a gloomy looking dark haired boy, he reminds me of Ravn.

           “Wouldn’t riding a Skrill hurt a normal human?” Hyrra felt her face involuntarily cringe, yup.

She recovered quickly, “It would, if I didn’t have this saddle.” She patted the saddle, then feeling the scratched leather of the saddle.

           At that point she heard a chorus of oohs and ahhs, “Is that from the Doomfang?” The curly haired girl spoke up again, her eyes twinkling.

           Hyrra looked at the abrasions, only two but with a huge distance between them, exemplifying the size of the dragon that had caused them, “Yeah, I’ve got to get that fixed...” Another hand was raised, “Yes?”

           “When did those scratches happen? Were you in the saddle?” Hyrra could even see the questioner this time.

           “No, I wasn’t in the saddle, and…” When did those happen? The last time we saw Wrath, Storm wasn’t wearing his saddle. Oh that’s right! “We had a mission to an isolated island where a friend of mine and I encountered the Doomfang, Stormbreaker fought him off. Simple as that. Now, if you don’t mind we’re going to actually start this little tour…” Before she could even turn around more hands came up, “Does anyone have questions that doesn’t have to do with what happened last year or my personal life.” All hands fell, “Good, then let’s get started.”

           A half an hour later, they had just finished touring the dining hall, “Now remember, meals are served pretty much all day, but the best food will be gone within about an hour of the meal’s beginning.” Hyrra turned around to see another hand up at the back of the crowd, though she couldn’t tell who it belonged to, “Uh, yes?” She asked, a little irritated at the constant barrage questions.

           “I was wondering, when did you get so well-trained?” The nadder group swiftly split down the middle as Axel smirked from his place at the back, “Since when do you follow Korinta’s orders? Especially when it has to do with dealing with brats.” He added the last bit with a raised eyebrow at the gawping group around him.

           “Since I realized it makes my life easier. Now get moving, I’ve got no time for you today.” She waved him off, and then began to walk away, she heard the group shuffle into step behind her.

           A dramatic sigh, “Come on Ginger!” Then Axel was at her elbow, “I’m bored.”

           You expect me to fix that? “I’m not your entertainment, go away.” He huffed loudly, but followed Hyrra until they stopped the group in front of the laboratory, “Now if our intruder will leave, I can continue the tour.”

           The brunet grumbled loudly before he whistled, calling Goldtyr, who glided down the caldera’s face. The Nadder group watched the golden dragon land, awestruck at his size and garish coloring. Meanwhile, Goldtyr ignored his rider to greet Stormbreaker with a grunt, even as the brunet climbed into the saddle, “Let’s go, clearly we aren’t wanted.” The Nightmare whined sadly as he was spurred towards the sky.

           Back on the ground, Hyrra sighed, relieved at his departure, “This is Dr. Lardsen’s lab, you’ll likely have classes the next few weeks in this building. Until you get sorted, at which point you’ll never see the inside of it again, unless you’re an engineer, obviously.”

            Agna, the freckle faced girl, spoke up, “What is your opinion on engineers?”

            “Engineers? They’re very important and among the most creative people you’ll ever meet. In fact, my best friend is an engineer, she’s brilliant, even created a glaive for me last year.” She pulled her hilt out of her belt, and pressed the button on its side, the teenagers around her stared at the weapon with wide eyes, “No warrior or scout could ever create something like this,” she pressed the button again, one of the sides retracted, “It functions as both a long range polearm and a short sword.” After tucking the weapon back into her waistband she looked around, “So, in my opinion, being an engineer is something to be incredibly proud of, not many have the intelligence for that field.” A mass of hands came up, feeling a bit of impatience she reminded herself, just answer their questions so you don’t get stuck with scouting duties.

            She sat down on a nearby boulder and the Nadder group fell in around her, sitting on the grass, “Okay, first question?” Stormbreaker waddled behind her and laid down, wrapping his tail around the boulder she was perched on.

            “What about scouts? What do you do?” One of the softer spoken boys asked first.

            She propped her feet up onto Storm’s tail, he growled mildly at that but didn’t move, “Scouts tend to be the first responders… as in, when something seems amiss, or is simply unknown, we’re the first ones who check it out.”

            “Sounds scary…” A redheaded boy, who looked to be one of the youngest in the group, whispered just loud enough to be heard.

            “It can be, but we rarely go in alone. Normally we work with a warrior-” Something hit her on the back of the head with a plonk. Storm made a chortling noise behind her.

            The teens hadn’t seemed to notice the source of her irritation, so she also chose to ignore it, “When do we get our own dragons?” Someone in the group asked impatiently as something else plinked off the back of her head.

            She was gritting her teeth as yet another object hit her head, she gave Storm’s tail a kick when she heard him gurgle, “Ahem, after a few basic ‘how to train your dragon’ lessons, you’ll be taken up to the stables and get the chance to bond with one of the dragons.”

            “What kind of dragon? Do we get to pick?” Hyrra recognized the dark-haired boy.

            “Sort of, well… it’s hard to explain. Some people pick a dragon, sometimes the dragon picks you.” Just as she as she was about to stand up, something else stung the back of her neck. She whirled around, “Who on earth?!” But scouring the school grounds, she didn’t notice anyone who looked familiar, or anyone who would want to annoy her.

            “Um… Hyrra?” A chorus of giggles form behind her.

            “What?” Her eyes glared at the group.

            Agna shriveled at the stare, “You have…,” She pointed at the back of her own head, “um, rocks in your hair.”

            Her face flushed as she ran her fingers through the back of her messy hair, feeling the rocks as she dislodged them, “Anyways! Let’s continue on to the hatchery.” She rushed off, still red-faced, is Calder messing with me? Or Thrain? He would do that. Storm and the teens hustled after her as they neared the opening in the caldera wall that led to the hatchery. Hyrra took the steps two at a time in her haste to get out the sunlight. When she hit the bottom, she turned to see the teens lagging behind only just starting to tread down the obsidian steps.

           The cluster had slowed down to stare at the dark tunnel over their heads, at the head of them was a stockier young boy who, despite his stature, would probably not make a warrior. He hadn’t spoken much but when he did it was timid and quiet. She crossed her arms over her chest and gave an impatient exhale, “Sometime today would be great.” Almost the entire Nadder group jumped and began moving just a bit faster. Until Hyrra watched the hefty boy come tumbling down the black steps, Korinta’s gonna kill me if one of them gets hurt, “You okay?” She asked, flinching when she realized she sounded nonchalant.

           The boy recovered quickly, sitting up, “I…I’m ok-k-kay. I j-just s-s-slipped.”

           “Be careful coming down the steps, they must’ve gotten wet.” She advised as the rest of the group tip-toed down the steps, Hyrra turned to offer her hand to the fallen teen when she saw his boot. It was glistening along the bottom. Grabbing the boot, much to the surprise of the timid student, “What’s your name?”

           "T-the b-boots name?” She glared at the teen, that’s not what I meant, “Oh, I’m Svelte.” Svelte? That’s kind of ironic.

           She cleared her head, “Svelte looks like you should definitely avoid fire,” the dark blond stared at her, “you’re the proud new owner of boots covered in Monstrous Nightmare gel.” His face turned ashen, “Might want to take them off, I’d hate for one of the forge sparks to hit this.”

           A moment later and Svelte had rejoined the group with bare feet, so Axel’s throwing a temper tantrum because I won’t go training with him? How sweet. She thought bitterly, “So the hatchery first,” She pointed to them to the walls lined in eggs, “We have a resident Queen that helps take care of these little beauties,” her eyes scanned the hatchery, she normally doesn’t go very far, a faint glow towards the back of the hatchery gave away Lady’s position, “there she is, follow me, and do NOT touch the eggs!” The group shuffled behind her, “Lady Amber? I hope you’re not too busy,” she called as they came near.

           The beaming dragon bristled briefly before recognizing her visitor, “This is Amberglow, affectionately known as Lady Amber. This dragon probably raised the dragon you will get, and many of the dragons on this island, so you have to show her the upmost respect.” The female dragon must have liked that sentiment as she gave Hyrra’s shoulder a very warm nuzzle, “Ah, well we’re going to get out of her horns, so let’s head to the forge.” Rushing off before the Fireworm Queen could try to lick Hyrra.

           The rest of their tour through the forge was relatively tame, the teenagers were distracted by the lava, and then Gobber gushed about engineering and the best metal for making weapons. After being thoroughly lectured on the properties of Gronckle Iron, the Nadder group seemed more than ready to get out of the scorching hatchery. Up above, Stormbreaker was still waiting, and napping, but woke up with Hyrra tapped him on the head. He grunted at the rude awakening and tripped her with his tail.

           As she was growling and getting up a cross voice spoke up, “Did you actually defeat the Dragon Slayers?” Hyrra recognized it as the dark haired boy, the one who reminded her of Ravn, something about this kid… I really dislike him, “You seem like an idiot.”

           For a moment she couldn’t even formulate a coherent thought, I just got called stupid by a kid, “…and what’s your name?”

           He frowned deeper at her biting tone, “Slate.”

           She crossed her arms, “Just ‘Slate’?” What kind of name is that? Hyrra shrugged it off, “In one way you’re right, I didn’t defeat the Dragon Slayers. I defeated their leader.” She bragged, Stormbreaker growled, “I mean we defeated their leader.” Come on really you just couldn’t let that go? Her eyes glanced to the dragon next to her, who huffed.

           A flap of wings and then, “Wow Red that’s pretty egotistical… I’m so proud! I’ve taught you well.” Hyrra rubbed her forehead, I really can’t deal with him right now.

           “Who are you?” Slate seemed as annoyed by Axel’s reappearance as Hyrra.

           “Axel Elkund: the greatest warrior on this island.” She was pretty sure he was posturing right now, but she didn’t bother to turn around a check.

           Slate looked on skeptically, “Never heard of you… and I thought that Ase chick was the best warrior on the island.” She could almost hear Axel’s ego crumbling.

           The redhead decided to end the debacle and, maybe, send the thorn in her side scuttling, “Axel, I will be letting Eret know you tried to harm a new student.”

           “You’ve got no proof.” But you’re not denying it. Goldtyr must have landed because the ground rumbled underneath her feet.

           Hyrra held up a boot for the Nightmare rider to see, “I think one boot covered in Monstrous Nightmare gel will be enough, don’t you?”

           A moment of silence, “…not if you don’t have a boot!” eh? Suddenly the boot was snatched from her hand by a powerful jaw.

           Svelte gasped as the golden dragon took off with the boot in his mouth, “My B-boot!”

           The redhead huffed, jumping into the saddle as Stormbreaker took off, easily catching up to the stoker class, “Really? This is just childish!” She shouted at the other rider.

           “That’s pretty rich coming from the person who was going to tattle,” touché, still can’t outrun us though. Stormbreaker lunged for the boot and Goldtyr twisted away, but the Skrill didn’t stop and crashed into the larger dragon’s neck, dislodging the boot from his jaws, “Hey! Watch it!” Axel commanded as his dragon recovered from the jolt.

           Hyrra didn’t stop to chat, as the boot was currently plummeting towards the lake. Stormbreaker didn’t need any urging as he began to nosedive. The wind whistled as they fell towards the lake, catching up to the boot but then she felt Storm resisting as the water closed in, “Don’t let it hit the water!” He snarled, but grabbed the boot just before it could hit the lake’s surface. Stormbreaker beat his wings, hitting the water and sending mist flying as they regained altitude. He grumbled and shook violently as they landed, making a point to throw the boot, and her, then roar in her face, “Come on, it was a just a little splash you big baby.” He hissed, showing her his dripping wings and then stomping off to dry.

           The boot still had an awful lot of monstrous gel on it, “Svelte, I’m going to hold onto this until we can go see Eret, is that okay with you?” She looked to the Nadder group and was met with shining, awestruck eyes, minus Slate, who still seemed annoyed. Agna raised a suddenly confident hand, “Yeah?”

           “How does one become a scout?”

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Chapter 3: Dragon Rider Games: Rules and Regulations

Chapter 3

Dragon Rider Games: Rules and Regulations

            The mess hall was buzzing as students poured in for the busiest breakfast hour, “First day of classes!” Brey hailed as her friends drowsily flopped into the bench, “Aren’t you guys excited?”

            Hyrra stretched, weary from an eleventh hour cartography study session, “It’s the same as last year, but without the excitement of being sorted.” She spotted warm squash soup and ladled some for herself as Brey frowned, “What? It’s true… back to the daily grind.”

            She rolled her eyes, “Well, I’m excited to finally be taking Gobber’s saddling course! Speaking of saddles, you got a new one for Pearl over the break right?” Calder paused, pieces of chicken smothered across his face, “Really? Chicken for breakfast?”

            “Protein!” He grinned, both girls made faces at the bits of food stuck in his teeth, “Anyways,” He wiped his mouth on his sleeve, “Yeah, I had one our local blacksmiths make one that fit her better. I also wanted one that wouldn’t absorb so much water, you remember how the stitching on the other saddle was getting moldy? The new one is made from regular leather, but they sewed the edges really tight with this waterproof threading. I’ll have to show it to you, it’s really cool!” The table thumped as Axel threw himself down next to Calder, and across from Hyrra, who raised an eyebrow at his irritated face, “Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed.”

            “Shut it!” He seethed, “I didn’t get a lick of sleep, Eret had me polishing swords all night,” he then turned his glare on the redhead across from him, “And I wouldn’t have to do any of that if you hadn’t snitched!”

            “You were interrupting a very important tour, and nearly injured a new student. Honestly, you should be lucky that Eret’s going so easy on you.” Brey retorted as Hyrra continued to sip her soup, unaffected by the warrior’s attitude. The table thumped again when Bjorn sat down on Calder’s other side with his plate, which contained exquisite pastries, who knew Bjorn was into sweets?

            “He’s probably worried that he’ll mess up your delicate lady fingers with real work.” Calder quipped, showing Axel his hardened hands, built up from years of working on a ship and then another year of sword practice, “No man should have baby soft hands.”

            Axel had a rare blushing moment as he quickly hid his hands under the table, “My hands are not delicate!” He whined, but then Bjorn chuckled, “Shut it! See! They have calluses!” He showed the group his hands. Hyrra immediately grabbed one of them before he could retreat, “Hey!”

           “Oh wow they are soft!” She teased… but in all honesty they were incredibly smooth, “Brey feel!”

           “I’m not a cat, stop petting me!” He griped, trying to pull his hand back but Brey had also seized his hand. And her strength was impressive.

           “Do you use something? Lotion? Oil?” Brey urged as she felt the warrior’s hands, Hyrra watched with amusement when Axel’s face glowed brighter and brighter as people around them began to snicker at the sight.

           “N-no!” He finally managed to wring his hand free from the engineer’s iron grip.

           “Aw darn… I’ve been fighting calluses on my hands for a couple of years, I’ve tried everything!” Axel’s mortification only seemed to worsen at the thought of a woman having rougher hands then him.

           Their merry was interrupted, “Might I get everyone’s attention?” Hyrra jumped at the sudden booming voice, turning in her seat to see the headmaster at the front of the hall, running his fingers through his beard. The hall fell silent, “Thank you, we will be having a mandatory meeting tonight regarding the Dragon Rider Games. It will be held right after classes have ended, in the main hall, and, as stated before, it is mandatory. Thank you again, have a good first day of classes!” With that he gave a quick bow and then left the hall.

           “It’s probably about the new rules.” Axel mumbled, he was met with blank stares, “I overheard Eret saying the Games have a lot of new rules, but I didn’t hear anything specific.”

           Bjorn frowned, “I guess we will see tonight.”

           Hyrra was left with a headache after her cartography lesson with Korinta, but she was also proud that her studying had managed to impress the scouting professional. The sun was already setting when she began to climb the steps of the main hall alongside her fellow scouts. Inside the main hall was full of roaring conversation and benches scraping as people found places to sit, she surveyed the crowd for her own friends. It didn’t take long to find the towering form of Bjorn, and next to him Calder and Axel. At first she couldn’t see Brey but then she spotted her making her way through the crowd near the warriors.

           She was greeted with a tired grin from Calder, “Busy day?” Looking at the three of them covered in dirt, it was clear Eret had wasted no time in putting them back to work. All she got in response was a fatigued hum from the three. She squeezed in between Brey and Freda, who smiled warmly at her. The smile reminded her of a question she’d been pondering over, “… you wouldn’t have to have a younger sister, would you?”

           Freda blinked, confused, “Me? No… Oh! I bet you met Agna! I have a lot of cousins, but no siblings.”

           Hyrra nodded, “Ah, she was in my tour group last week… just reminded me a lot of you.” That made the other girl flush, catching the redhead off guard, and thankfully the headmaster walked across the front of the hall and the crowd grew quiet before Freda could open her mouth.

           “Alright everyone let’s simmer down,” he smiled and waved his hand to hush the last few murmurers, “As you are all well aware of this year’s Dragon Rider Games will be quite different, and as such we will have new rules. First the basics: this year the Games will start the first full week of April and continue until the first week of May. During this time our school will be visited by chieftains, researchers, and alumni” He paused, dark eyes wisely watching the audience, “That means I need you all to be on your best behavior.” For some reason Hyrra felt like the headmaster was staring right at her.

           “Now, for the games themselves we have made changes as to who can compete.” There was some mumbles, “The first, and biggest, change is an age limit.” What? Now the whispering turned into a full uproar. Hyrra shared a glance with Brey and Freda, but after a few moments of complaining the headmaster smacked his hand down, quickly reining the crowd back in, “I understand this is a big change for many of you, but don’t despair. The age limit is as follows: competitors must be at least 14.” The youngest part of the crowd whined, “I know it doesn’t seem fair, but this is for your own protection. As well as an age limit, we also are not allowing any beginner riders into these games. This means you must be over 14 years of age and also have been riding for a full year.” Hyrra sighed, well we all fit those requirements, looking to her companions, who seemed as relieved as her by that news.

           After the hall calmed down, he continued, “We set these admission rules because we are allowing former students to compete in these Games. They are all competent riders who have been flying out in the world for months, if not years.” Understandable, though she knew that people were still going to be irritated, “Next: due to the length of this year’s games, we are going to require that each team has at least five, but no more than seven, members. Teams have to register a week before the games begin or they will not be allowed to participate.” Headmaster Groundshaker took a breath and leveled a stern look to his students, “And finally, we wish for these games to be a way to bring the tribes together and a way to expand the dragon and human bond to other tribes. For that reason, I implore you to interact with our guests, to show them how well you work with your dragons. Thank you for your attention, if you’ve any questions please feel free to come up and ask. Goodnight.”

           As the headmaster stepped down from the stage a group of young students rushed to the front; meanwhile, Hyrra and the group she’d been sitting with made their way out of the hall and into the bracing early spring night. Outside the hall there was quite a bit of discussion, and Calder was quick to add, “I’m surprised but at the same time I saw this coming.”

           “It would be dangerous of them to put new riders into the same competition as graduates.” Bjorn agreed.

           Axel shrugged, “I plan on beating anyone who gets in my way. Graduate or otherwise.”

           She smirked at that, “You couldn’t even beat me last year, what makes you think you can beat graduates?” He went red in the face and then huffed as he walked off, Bjorn following with only a small ‘goodbye’. Calder waved before following the other two warriors off.

           “You’ve been quiet.” Hyrra looked to the tattooed teen.

           Brey frowned, “Yeah I was just thinking about the new rules… why do you think they’re allowing graduates?”

           She shrugged, “Don’t know. Maybe they want to drum up interest? It’s the tenth games, I doubt they wanted it to be the same-old-same-old.”

           “Maybe, it just seems weird to me.” Brey sighed, “Anyways, the new students are being sorted tomorrow night, right?” Hyrra nodded, “Great, that means in two days’ time I’ll be showing a bunch of depressed Vikings the engineering ropes.”

           The redhead flinched, “Are people so worried about being sorted into engineering?”

           “Last year I was the only one that actually wanted to be there. Everyone else was begging to be put in with the warriors or scouts.” She crossed her arms over her chest.

           “I bet this year you’ll get a bunch of excited engineers and I will get the depressed scout instead!” She jested, nudging the taller teen.

           Brey chuckled, “If that happens I’ll eat my own boot.”

 

[A.N: Decided to post today since I'm going out of town, hope you enjoy!]

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Chapter 4: We Merry Few

Chapter 4

We Merry Few

           Midweek rolled around, and Hyrra and Stormbreaker were strolling around the meadow waiting for the arrival of the new recruits; meanwhile Thrain sat nearby with his massive dragon, “Stop pacing.” He ordered, leaning back against the tree, “You’re giving me anxiety.”

           “Not pacing! Just… walking around.” She snapped back, looking to Storm who was slowly meandering with her, occasionally stopping to sniff something he found, “Hey Knut! I guess you guys aren’t going to be participating in the games year?”

           The young nadder rider stopped sharpening his dagger for a moment, “Um, no we aren’t… we aren’t mad though, the rules make sense.”

           “Just because they make sense doesn’t mean they’re fair.” Mani protested, she was sitting on a boulder, her Hobblegrunt, Vann, was sunning behind her.

           Confusion spread through Hyrra, “I thought you were 14?”

           A blonde head shook, “No, we don’t turn 14 until the month after the games.”

           “That’s tough.” She mumbled, “At least you’ve got next year.” All she got in reply was a ‘hmph’. She looked around at the other scouts, most were grumping around, or sleeping in the sun. Hyrra looked to her companion, everyone is in a sour mood. The scouts were usually a lively group, but today even their dragons seemed subdued, what’s going on?

           Tired? Hungry? Who knows? Just a bunch of weaklings. Hyrra turned and glared at the Skrill, that’s not nice. Storm looked at her with a deadpan expression, I’m not nice. She sighed, rubbing her forehead… she was slowly discovering that having a mental connection to a cynical, feral dragon was not an entirely good thing, “Everyone look alive.” Thrain called as Viperra appeared on the horizon, followed closely by three other dragons, “Look at that, we only got three this year.” The drowsy scouts gathered around as Korinta landed, elegantly descending from her dragon’s back as the newest scouts landed clumsily, “Well… at least they have cool dragons.” Thrain murmured when he noticed the trio’s complete lack of grace and training.

           Hyrra wandered in closer to Thrain, and saw the dragons, and riders, he was looking at. The most noticeable was an alarmingly bright orange-striped Hackatoo, the multi-legged dragon with a face like an axe was being ridden by a rather meek looking young man, probably only about twelve years old. Next to him was a pale girl with chestnut hair, standing alongside a bronze Sand Wraith with shining gold eyes. And next to her… “Oh you’ve got to be kidding me.” Hyrra spotted a familiar, grouchy teenage boy.

           Thrain nudged her, “You know one of ‘em?”

           “The Devilish Dervish rider... I believe his name is Slate. He was in my tour group and a royal pain in my rear.” Thrain grumbled something under his breath like ‘sounds like someone I know…’ Well at least his dragon made sense: a lead-colored Devilish Dervish with an ebon belly and bone-white horns.

           “Scouts, your new peers are going to introduce themselves, and their dragons, so BE QUIET.” Korinta’s voice had them all silenced in a second, “Good.”

           She motioned at the only girl of the three, “Hi! I’m Brine, I am thirteen, and this is Medallion,” The Sand Wraith seemed calm and already appeared to have a solid connection with her rider, sitting close and peacefully beside Brine. Cool name. It’s an absurd name. Be nice! “We’re really happy to be here and excited to get to work with you.” At least Brine seemed nice, the girl reminded Hyrra of a younger version of Brey.

           The boys shared a glance, with the meek looking boy quickly avoiding Slate’s glare, “Um…um I’m Gristle,” Well that’s a Viking name if I ever heard one, “I am eleven, and this is Chopper,” The Hackatoo, although large, looked young and was probably only about half its adult size, and reacted to its name by quickly looking at his rider and then nudging him, a good personality, but I’ve heard that Hackatoos can be brash, “I can’t wait to get to know you guys.” He’s young, but sweet, clearly the other riders thought so too as most of them could not resist making a collective aww that made the young rider blush and hide behind the leg of his Hackatoo.

           And finally there was Slate: standing with a scowl and arms crossed over his chest. Korinta cleared her throat when the dark haired teen didn’t speak. He sighed, “Slate, 14, this is Obscura,” a bit of a dramatic name delivered in a very undramatic fashion, “And honestly I think scouting is a waste of a profession.” Hyrra smirked, Brey’s going to be eating a boot, meanwhile, Thrain, and many of the other scouts, were grumbling at this new arrival’s insolence.

           Korinta, for her own part, just rubbed her temples, “We will be training today to better understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and to allow our new members to see how we function.” Her icy eyes glared at the back of Slate’s head.

           Nearly two hours into the training and the three newbies were all exhausted. They were laid out in the grass, with their dragons panting and grumbling nearby; conversely, the rest of the scouts only had a glimmer of sweat on their brows. Hyrra landed, leering at the beaten looking Slate, who had been running his mouth for the first ten or so minutes of practice until it became apparent that he and his dragon did not know how to work together, “Nice work Thrain, Hyrra good job on the tuck-n-dive. Freshmen!” The trio snapped upright, “Why are you laying down? We still have another hour of practice!” Their dragons whined loudly, “Except for Gristle and Chopper.” The timid young boy collapsed back onto the ground and his dragon took a deep breath, thankful.

           “What!? That’s not fair!” Slate growled, finding the strength to stand up and face Korinta, “I’ve worked just as hard as him!”

           But then the blonde professor turned a sinister glare on him and he appeared to instantly regret trying to pick a fight, “Gristle is eleven years old, his dragon is only nine years old. At their ages they cannot handle as much physical training as a fourteen year old boy and his fifteen year old dragon.” Slate was swift in avoiding Korinta’s gaze, at least he learns fast, but clearly the Timberjack rider was not going to let him off easily, as she prowled closer until she was leaning into the teenager’s face, “And I never want to hear such an insolent tone from a rider who can’t even perform a basic loop. Do I make myself perfectly clear?”

           The rest of the scouts were giggling, including Thrain, “Bringing back memories?” He nudged her, she wanted to tell him that she had never been berated by Korinta like that, but she was honestly a little afraid of the blonde woman overhearing her and rectifying that situation.

           “Yes, ma’am.” The dark haired boy ducked his head.

           Korinta moved on, but still obviously irritated, “Slate and Obscura will be flying loops until they get it right. Thrain and Ladies,” The emerald quad-headed dragon nodded wisely, “why don’t you supervise them? You’ve earned a small break.” She handed out other assignments, then turned to the resident redhead, “Hyrra, Stormbreaker,” both grunted lazily, one having nearly gone to sleep in the saddle, the other just not caring. But they both saw the irritated, raised eyebrow, and quickly snapped awake, “Don’t make me regret this,” She sighed, “I want you to stay here and teach Gristle and Chopper about basic scouting technique.”

           Hyrra perked up at that, “Really? That’s pretty easy… will do!” She sprung from the saddle as the professor took off to supervise the training sessions going on overhead. Marching over to where the blond boy was sitting in the grass, “Well, what should we talk about?” She asked as she flopped onto the grass in front of him.

           He jumped and his Hackatoo eyed her shyly, I didn’t realize his dragon was only nine, that’s young for a dragon, “She said something about scouting techniques?” He said quietly.

           “That’s boring.” The redhead waved it off, the boy looked at her with big eyes, “You’ll pick it up quick enough, but I guess while we are at it: Do you have any questions?” He stared at her blankly, “… about anything? Scouting? Dragons? Riding?”

           “What’s your name again? And where are you from?” He asked softly.

           Although it was not the topic she thought they should be discussing, she decided to indulge the bashful child, “Hyrra Boandi, from Berk, the Hooligan tribe. So Gristle where are you from?”

            He frowned, “Um… Rima… the Lopsided tribe.” He got quiet and wrapped his little arms around his knees, “I’m not supposed to talk to people from Berk.”

           That caught her off-guard, but she managed to catch her tongue, forcing a calmer tone, “Why not?”

           Gristle shrugged, “I don’t know, just something I heard before I left home… You’re good though, right?” He got quiet again, “I mean you defeated that lady right? The blonde one? She was scary.”

           Stormbreaker grumbled behind her, “Of course I’m good! Wait… you knew Svigar?” What the heck does this kid know?

           “I didn’t know her, but I saw her once. My dad owns trading ships and she was stealing them, but then one day she came to Rima and said she’d give my dad his ships back if he’d give her supplies…” A year later and I’m still learning about Svigar’s reach.

           “Well she’s gone now… why don’t we talk about dragons?” Hyrra steered the conversation away from Svigar, a bit afraid that someone might overhear, “What’s your favorite thing about Chopper?” This boy’s eyes lit up, and a lengthy conversation later she had learned that Chopper was a benevolent dragon, with a shy streak like his rider, and still mastering the use of his six legs.

           They were interrupted by the arrival of the other scouts, “Before you take off, I’m going to assign mentors,” Korinta said snappishly as some of the riders began to pack up their bags, “Mani will be mentoring Brine. Knut you’ll be with Gristle.” Gristle frowned looking at Hyrra sadly, she gave him a small smile, probably for the best. He and Knut are closer in age, meaning they’ll have more time together, “Hyrra: I want you with Slate.”

           Her attitude completely reversed. Hyrra jumped to her feet, “You have got to be joking!” Korinta looked measurably unimpressed with the hostility, “I am not working with that brat!” Stormbreaker fed off of her and began snarling.

            Apparently Slate wasn’t happy either as he fumed, “I’m not going to learn anything from that idiot!”

            “I’ve made my decision. You are working with Slate,” the intimidating woman met Hyrra’s wolfish gaze with a venomous glare, “and I should remind you that she is the reigning Finale Race champion,” She addressed that last bit to the irate boy, “You could learn something, considering you can’t even sit in the saddle properly.” Hyrra loudly grumbled as she stepped into the saddle, not bothering to fight anymore as Stormbreaker took off. They were barely off the ground when she felt her left stirrup snap, honestly!?

            At dinner she glared daggers at Brey who, as prophesized, had gained only happy-to-be-there engineers, “Maybe it won’t be so bad? You and Thrain didn’t get along well at first…” Hyrra continue to glower, “I guess I have to eat my boot now.” The southerner sighed looking under the table at her foot.

            That reminded Hyrra, “Actually we’ll be even if you make me a new saddle.”

            Brey pulled a face, “What happened to yours?” But clearly the idea of making a saddle elicited some excitement as she leaned forward.

            “Other than a Doomfang? Hm… oh that’s right! The Dragon Rider Games, a small war, and daily wear from an electrical beast… there are others but I am forgetting them right now.”

            Her companion rolled honey eyes, and then pulled out her journal, “I got it… so next time maybe less weight? Not as much wood to make it more flexible? Something tougher for the stirrups…” Hyrra began to tune out Brey as she got lost in her own thoughts, how am I going to deal with Slate? She heaved a deep sigh and slouched into the table. This year just got ruined.

 

[A.N: For those who were wondering, I don't mind if you track this thread! Just make a new post, so don't reply to any of the chapters/reference pages so I can continue to edit them if need be :) ]

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Chapter 5: Loder? Odor? Louder? Who's that?

Chapter 5

Loder? Odor? Louder? Who’s that?

            It was a misty, cool morning leaving everything gleaming with a sheen of moisture, even deep within the caves the walls were slick with dew. Her glaive was slipping in her hands as the moisture built up, she grumbled as she wiped the handle off on her shirt and ducked into the nearest cavern, Stormbreaker trailed behind her, okay Thrain where are you? Hide and seek was serious business when it was two scouts playing it, I didn’t see the Ladies outside. Did you smell anything? She heard him snort, as close to a ‘no’ as she was going to get, they could fit in one of the larger caverns, but somehow I doubt he dragged his dragon through here. He probably had them fly off so we couldn’t track them... but he doesn’t know about electroreception. Stormbreaker took his cue without a response. She felt the barest tickle of lightning at her arm as he began to sweep his head back and forth, it didn’t make much sound but the flicks of light might be visible if Thrain was nearby. After a few seconds Storm stopped, anything?

            Possible. This way. She rolled her eyes as the dragon took the lead, wait! We are working on two-way communication! Send me the directions. Although she couldn’t really see her dragon, she could imagine the disdain on his face. She expected him to fight her on this, he’d been becoming more and more resistant lately with this fylgja business, but suddenly she felt a pressure at the center of her forehead. Then, with a bit more pressure, she closed her eyes and saw the electrical reading Stormbreaker had found. Is this seriously how you see in storms? It was incredibly disorienting for her, she pressed the palms of her hands to her eyelids as she tried to ground herself.

           According to Storm’s vision, a shapeless black canal lie in front of them. Among the endless black there were small streaks of green, which she supposed were some form of electric signature, most were too small to be a human; however, amid this dazzling display of green, there was a larger, brighter jade blob.

            They shuffled quietly down the cavern. Every time she blinked she saw the blob growing closer… but ‘Stormbreaker vision’ was beginning to make her queasy. Only a few minutes into their hike and she had to stop, yeah okay, take your directions back. When the pressure alleviated, she was able to close her eyes and see nothing. Blissfully nothing. Shaking it off, she nudged Storm forward, being forced to follow him again as she could no longer see their target.

            There was a dim light ahead, did we go in a circle? But when Hyrra peaked around the corner she noted that the ceiling had a slanted hole, just big enough for a Snaptrapper to get through. Storm lit up for a split second, then bumped her urgently. The warning was obvious: something big was in the cavern. Now the question is: did he leave the Ladies here and then hide elsewhere, or are they all in there? Her amber eyes looked to Storm, just barely illuminated by the light, she noted that he seemed confused, too big.

            The Ladies? Big? Yeah, have you just now noticed? Too much. It took her a moment to understand his choppy dragon speak, Can’t you just learn to speak like a human? Honestly... then it hit her, oh! The ladies electrical signal is too big? It’s blocking out others? She didn’t get a confirmation but now she was wondering if Thrain maybe did know that Stormbreaker could see electricity. If that’s the case then he might have figured out that the Ladies’ energy could hide his own… but he’d still have to be nearby. They could run out, scare the Snaptrapper off, then find Thrain… but the whole point of this training was to find the target without causing a scene.

            Peering into the dimly lit cave she noticed the walls seemed honeycomb in shape, with many holes large enough to hide a Snaptrapper and definitely big enough to hide a man. First the ladies, looking at the pockets she had to wait for nearly a full ten minutes before a soft hissing sound filled the cavern, did they see me?! She resisted the urge to move as she saw a flicker of movement from one of the honeycombed caves to her right, at the topmost part of the wall a head popped up and hissed then another head rustled, they’re fighting each other, she fought back a giggle as the Sisters began to bicker in muted hisses.

            “Quiet!” Came a hushed command, Hyrra’s head snapped to one of the grottos on the opposite side, he picked a floor-level cave that is going to force me to either come straight at him, and risk being spotted by his dragons, or come in under his dragons’ noses but then, since his cave faces that way, he’ll likely see me coming. Clever. There was a reason Thrain was number one. I need a distraction.

            Ages of sitting in the dark passed. Waiting… then a soft flap of wings at the hole in the ceiling. The redhead watched as Stormbreaker landed on the lip, sniffing and growling theatrically as he lit up in lightning, then, with an excited huff, he bounded off again. She held her breath. Not seconds after Storm’s exit, the Ladies’ slunk from their cave and out the top, the rules are if he can find me before I find him. He wins… so of course he would tell his dragons to follow Stormbreaker if he appeared. But that left Thrain open.

            Thrain was bored, leaning on his bow and cramped into a rather narrow cave. He decided to chance a peek out across the cavern, but saw nothing but the absence of his dragon, who had now been missing for about a minute, “That better not have been a tric-” As he turned to look at the other side of the cavern and cold steel was pressed to the side of his neck, “Dang.”

            At the main hall, a pleased redhead and a vexed archer stood in front of their professor, “So who won?” Korinta asked as she scribbled into a journal.

           “She did.” Thrain grumbled, looking over to his pupil, who had a smirk on her face.

           “Really?” The blonde looked up from her writing, “It appears the student has begun to surpass the master.” She teased, noting the irritated look Thrain was sporting, “You should go rest up,” Hyrra began to follow Thrain out the door, “Hyrra I’m going to need your help with something so stick around. I’ll see you outside once I get done.”

           She had only been waiting for a few moments when a chirpy voice was in her ear, “Whatcha doing?” Brey greeted as she sat down next to the redhead, who was resting on the school’s edge overlooking the dock and lake. Freda flew by on Patina, obviously in a hurry, but she took the time to wave at the two older girls, particularly the redhead she often fawned over.

           Hyrra yawned, acknowledging Freda’s wave with a small one of her own, “Waiting for Korinta, she needs my help with… something.” She felt drowsy after the long training session-slash-hide and seek game, and ended up letting Brey take the bulk of their conversation.

           Suddenly though, Brey’s conversation shifted, “Are those researchers?” Hyrra looked down from the sky and towards the dock, where a boat had landed and was already being unloaded.

           “Just the first few.” Both girls jumped when Axel spoke up from behind them, “These are the early birds.”

           Hyrra saw at least five individuals who appeared to be researchers, being that they were all carrying bags filled with papers, “Some of them are kind of cute…” Amber eyes looked sideways at Brey.

           Axel grumbled, “Really? Half look like they’d blow away in a breeze, the other half would be lucky to outrun a Gronckle.” He wasn’t wrong, two of the five were hefty, and the others made Hyrra felt self-conscious about her weight.

           Brey spun to face the socialite, “What’s wrong with a thin man?”

           He rolled his eyes, as if the answer was obvious, “No muscle?”

           “You’re not exactly a masculine man either,” Hyrra added, turning around to see the brunet furrowing his brow, “I mean you are pretty skinny, not to mention the baby soft hands, beardlessness…”

           “I get it!” He hissed, “At least I can hold a sword, I bet most of these guys couldn’t even pick up a dagger without messing up their nails.” He growled loudly.

           “Try not to insult our guests too much Axel,” Korinta appeared, making them all jump again, “They might write about it later… you know? Writing? That thing you’ve been struggling with.” The scouting teacher teased.

           “But he’s not entirely wrong!” That was a new voice. Hyrra and Brey stood up and peeked over the shoulder of the scouting teacher.

           Brey made a strangled noise and Hyrra looked at her, stunned, “He’s cute.” The southerner giggled into her ear. Hyrra had to admit the stranger wasn’t bad looking. He was a fair skinned man, probably five or six years older than them but had a youthful face with clear blue eyes and tousled brown hair. A willowy man, he was wearing a simple orange tunic and tan pants held up by a utility belt with pouches of varying sizes all over it. Clearly he was a man of simple tastes.

           Korinta gave Brey a concerned look after her outburst, “Anyways, this is Loder, one of the researchers come to study the school. Loder, this is Axel, one of our best warriors... unfortunately.” Axel scowled at the professor and then at the new arrival, who nervously avoided the glaring eyes, “This is Brey, one of our fine engineering students.”

           Brey laughed nervously, “It’s… uh… nice to meet you Brey.” Loder nodded politely to her while the tanned girl continued to blush and giggle, wow Brey get ahold of yourself!

“And this is your guide for the day, one of my scouting students, Hyrra.” I’m on tour duty? Again? Seriously?

           Hyrra cast a blank look over to her instructor as she reluctantly offered her hand, “It’s good to meet you-ah!” He had gone to shake her hand and then ineptly dropped one of his bags, when he tried to recover all he managed to do was drop all of his materials. Hyrra stared down, hand still extended, as he scrambled to grab his stuff, yup he’s all yours Brey, “So sorry! I get ahead of myself sometimes!” He bounced back onto his feet, now finally accepting her hand, “Loder! …though I guess you already knew that.”

           Korinta gave a sigh, “Right, I’ll leave it to you Hyrra. He’s staying at the first guesthouse.” The blonde added over her shoulder as she walked away.

            “Guess we should get started,” She gave a half-hearted wave to the other two as she led the researcher away. She showed him the basic buildings: the mess hall, main hall, and then his guesthouse, “And here we are, your room is somewhere in there.”

            “Ah good, I’d like to put some of this down.” She nodded, probably for the best. Loder had managed to drop, trip, and stumble his way around campus, causing a scene at the mess hall when he had knocked over a table with boiling hot soup on it. Hyrra was still smelling onions. Then at the Main Hall the terrible terrors had taken it upon themselves to relieve Loder of his papers. In his haste to retrieve the documents he knocked over Korinta’s materials and a weapon rack that Eret has spent hours polishing. She still felt Eret’s glare on her.

           Kyne swept out of the building, surprising the redhead out of her reflections, “Hyrra! And this must be our guest Loder, yes?” Not giving the man a chance to respond, the buxom woman took his many bags and papers, “I’ll put these in your room, the first one the left!” Loder almost fell over from the force of Kyne taking his luggage from him. Then she was gone.

“…well then I suppose that concludes our tour, unless you have questions?” Hyrra just really wanted to grab some lunch. Preferably something without onions.

            The lithe man jumped, “That’s right! I wanted to ask, and I hope this isn’t too-forward, if I might interview you? About the Dragon Slayers?”

            Why is everyone so obsessed with the Dragon Slayers? “It’s not a coincidence that Korinta picked me for the tour is it?”

            “Um, no, she and I are friends,” Hyrra stared at him blankly, “we met a couple years ago after my tribe was… erm… destroyed.”

            “I get it, so she found your island, decimated, helped you find a new home, a few years later you become a researcher, and a couple of years down the line you want to get an exclusive interview with one of her students so you trade in a favor.” He was staring at her with wide eyes, “Sound about right?”

            “Yeah… pretty much exactly what happened.” He scratched the back of his head, “So…”

            “Fine, lunch?” With that she turned on her heel, the journalist was quickly at her side again, easily keeping stride with his longer legs.

            The mess hall was quiet, not surprising given that it was after the usual lunch time, but there was still a good amount of food left, including the salmon that Hyrra quickly set about to eating. Loder sat across from her and was digging through his pouches, pulling out a small journal and pencil, then looking up to her, “Okay… I suppose I should ask how you came to learn about the Dragon Slayers. That’s the part of the story I’ve not heard.”

            Hyrra thought about it, after all it had been nearly a year, “Hm… I found a wood plank that washed up on the island with a message about destroying all dragons, but we all thought it was a tasteless prank. A few… I guess it was actually a couple of weeks later, there was a weird scouting report of a white island. When we searched it we found a bunch of dragons’ bones and another plank that Tic,” She stopped, noticing her interviewer was giving her a strange look, “Oh! Dr. Lardsen, sorry I don’t really call him by that very often… anyways, he recognized the symbol on the plank.”

            Loder looked up from his journal, “How did he know the symbol?”

            Because he is a reformed dragon slayer, “He’s a researcher, like you, but he’s always enjoyed histories and myths about dragons.” She lied effortlessly, wow that’s becoming just a little too easy. The notion left her troubled.

            The brunet nodded, writing something down, “So, what happened after that?”

            “There was another plank, the last one, which I found a few days later. Unlike the other planks this one was specifically written to the island, it said, basically, that the Dragon Slayers had seen us at the Dragon Graveyard and that they were ‘coming’.” She stopped to take a pick at the salmon.

            He kept writing, “Ah, I think I know the rest of the story: you were captured right? Then the outpost attack?” She nodded, do people really know all of that? “Now I was kind of hoping to ask… how? I mean, how do you go from new student to defeating one of the most fearsome individuals to exist in hundreds of years? By yourself? That’s amazing!”

            Hyrra blushed, not many people had called what she had done ‘amazing’. Most people had called it stupid, “Really it was Stormbreaker, my dragon. He’s very… feisty and strong, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of my friends, they helped me find out about Wrath’s weaknesses.”

            “Wrath? Who’s that?”

            She looked at him with a raised eyebrow, “He was Stoneheart’s dragon, did you not here about him? He was the, literal, biggest part of the story.”

            The researcher looked as equally confused as her, “I thought its name was Doomfang?”

            Then it hit her and she began to cackle, “No! Wrath was a Doomfang,” She took a deep breath to calm down, “It’s a rare polar-tidal species of dragon.”

            Loder began to scribble in his journal, crossing things out, and making Hyrra giggle more, “That makes much more sense!” He played it off, but his ears had turned red, “Anyways, your dragon, Stormbreaker, he’s a Skrill?” She nodded and he continued to write, “I’ve never heard of a Skrill being ridden, why is that?”

            She pushed away her finished plate, “They’re incredibly rare as is and most of the time you don’t see them because they tend to live and travel among thunderstorms… but they are also very stubborn, clever, and unpredictable, making them hard to tame.”

            “So how did you meet Stormbreaker?”

            Hyrra sighed, “First you should probably know that I’m from Berk,” She launched into how her pranking lifestyle left her with community service, that ended with her helping Hiccup heal an injured Skrill with a horrid attitude, “After he healed we took him for a flight, Hiccup thought I could be a good rider so he helped get me into the school.” Loder, perhaps due to his research background, was a wonderful listener and attentive. It was nice to talk to someone with a genuine interest in her dragon, “So… anything else?” As much as she had originally disliked the interview it had become quite interesting.

            “You were quite the prankster, huh?” He said as he finished jotting down his seventh page of notes. Yes she had been counting.

            “I was a terror if that’s what you mean.”

            He chuckled, “Well, so was I.” She raised an eyebrow, “I know, I know, I’m too clumsy to have done anything like that, but I was quite good at it when I was little!” He finished his last few notes with a flourish, “I’m eager to see the Games! Truth be told, I’ve been pretty much terrified of dragons since my tribe was attacked. Getting to come here and see dragons is exciting! And horrifying.”

            Hyrra snorted, “You are going to get your fill of dragons.” She looked around and noticed people were already coming in for dinner.

            Loder stood, smiling broadly, “I suppose I should let you go, it was a pleasure to get to speak with you. I hope to see you soon,” he gave a quick bow and then left once Hyrra wished him goodnight.

           She wasn’t even able to get up from the table before Brey swooped in, “What’s Loder like? Romantic? Calm? Funny? You two were talking for some time!” Was she waiting somewhere this entire time?

           Hyrra disregarded the wink that Brey gave her, “Awkward… but nice. And he just wanted to interview me about what happened with the Slayers.”

           “Everyone seems interested in that this year.” Calder also appeared from seemingly nowhere and sat down next to them, “I’ve had a lot of the new warriors ask me about it.”

           “It’s normal for people to be curious about such an event, we should be proud that we were a part of it.” Brey pointed out.

           Hyrra smiled, “You’re right, thanks to us, three new students, the school is still here and will remain here for ten more years.”

            They each grinned, until Calder spoke up, “So who’s this Loder guy?”

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Chapter

Chapter 6

Friction

            Brey had spent their lunchbreak asking Hyrra about the specifics of the new saddle, “What about less wood? Maybe a slimmer saddle tree that bends, rather than breaks like the slats? Pine bends pretty well…” She sighed, “But wouldn’t that put you closer to his electricity?”

            Hyrra pushed the mess hall door open, exiting the building, “Don’t worry tooo much about that, he’s gotten better at controlling his lightning,” She lied, Brey nodded, but then seemed arrested by something going on across the way. Following her gaze, Hyrra spotted the Shaded twins scowling at Freda and her cousins, Mork and Hock, “Let’s go see what’s going on…”

            “You menaces should just go back to your sad little island!” Freda snapped. Hyrra had to double check to make sure it was Freda, that seemed very out-of-character for the cheerful young woman.

            “Hey, break it up!” Hyrra and Brey stepped in-between the feud, Mork the engineer shrank from Brey’s glare, and Freda looked horrified at the redhead’s sudden appearance, “What in Thor’s name is going on?” Hyrra looked to the Shaded twins, who appeared to be the victims.

            Mani shrugged, “Don’t know, ask those yak-heads.” She took her sister by the wrist and dragged her off before Hyrra could question them further.

            Still somewhat dumbfounded, she heard Brey tsk-ing, “Seriously Freda? Bullying? I really thought you were better than that.”

            “I-it was just… th-they…” Freda stammered and stuttered as the two elder students scowled at her.

            “I don’t want to hear about anything like this again. Do you understand me?” Hyrra focused her strongest gaze on the warrior, who meekly nodded and scampered off with her cousins following her without a word, “What in the world was that about?”

            Brey shrugged, “They’ve never gotten along… but I’ve also never seen them go at each other like that! And Freda being the aggressor?” Both friends shared a sigh, “Well, as much as I’d love to hang around, I’ve to get going, smithing and all that…” Hyrra too had class, but the incident hung with her.

            The scouts were in their meadow practicing with their weapons. Thrain had all but demanded Hyrra work on her archery, something she had slacked on over the holiday; meanwhile, Slate was being barked at by Korinta as he practiced with a dagger, “Too stiff! Not stiff enough! Do you understand basic instructions?” Honestly she would have taken that over the exhausting and tedious archery.

            Other than the occasional tap on her arm to remind her to square her shoulders, practice was going swimmingly… for her at least, which meant she was hitting the target on most attempts. She was on her final arrow, her arm wavering wildly with fatigue, when she heard an angry shout and the arrow flew from her surprised fingertips. The arrow ended up embedded into the ground to the far left of the target, but she was more concerned about the scream than her poor archery skills, spinning around she saw everyone looking at the petite boy: Gristle.

            Hyrra and Thrain trotted over to see him red-faced and yelling childish nonsense at his instructor, Knut, the young Nadder rider looked shocked and humiliated, alongside this it was troubling to see Chopper, Gristle’s Hackatoo, acting like his rider, anxiously pacing and growling.

            “Gristle, what’s wrong?” Hyrra approached the small boy slowly, his dragon eyeing her dangerously, but a check over her shoulder and she saw Stormbreaker on a boulder, prepared to pounce if needed.

            The boy frowned, taking a few deep breaths to calm down, “I can’t work with someone from Solna!” Hyrra raised an eyebrow, Knut’s from the shaded tribe? But now that she really looked at him… his hair and skin were light, though not as pale as the Twin’s, and he was pretty quiet.

            “Why not? You’ve been working with him for a week-”

            “Well I just found out… and everyone knows they’re witches!” He spat, and she smiled softly, sorry honey, but actually I’m the witch here, she sensed a burst of sardonic amusement from Stormbreaker.  

            She shook her head, “I’m sure that’s not true… come on, he’s nice. You trust me, right?”

            Gristle frowned, “Sorta…” It was her turn to frown, “I mean… I trust you… for a Berkian.”

            Close ‘nough, “Well I trust Knut, as does everyone else.” She looked around her and gave everyone the nod-or-I-will-have-my-dragon-shock-you look.

            The entire audience nodded energetically, seeing the positive feedback seemed to resolve the situation, “…Fine.” Gristle hung his head.

            After the incident, Hyrra spotted Knut and Mani talking together, and despite her instincts, she stayed out of it. Instead she powered through the last hour of practice and then immediately went off in search of Calder and Brey. It took her a while, they weren’t in the mess hall nor the stables, but finally she, mainly Stormbreaker, found the two, plus Axel and Bjorn, eating down at the beach, “Dinner under the stars?” She teased as she slipped off the Skrill.

            “Had to get away from the squabbling.” Axel grunted as he stoked the fire in front of them.

            Brey tapped the earth next to her and Hyrra took the offered seat, “We took some chicken from the mess hall… want some?”

            Nodding, Bjorn promptly offered her a chicken leg, which she accepted, but then looked back to Axel, “Is the fighting about tribes?”

            Calder looked up, “Has stuff been happening with the scouts too?”

            “Just today Brey and I saw Mani and Sola being bullied by Freda… of all people!” She angrily gnawed on the chicken, “And then Gristle, our new kid, decided to call Knut a witch because he’s from the Shaded tribe.”

            “We’ve been having problems with prejudice and intimidation,” Axel threw his stick into the fire, “I’m not sure where it’s coming from, but people are singling out the Shaded tribe.”

            “Not to mention us!” Calder piped in, “We’ve had our share of attacks too. Just a few days ago those twerps from the Lopsided tribe tried to sabotage Pearl and Goldtyr’s saddles before our mission! I caught them though.”

            “You mean Goldtyr set them on fire,” The nightmare rider huffed as his dragon grumbled.

            “Xenophobia is the first sign of trouble back home.” Everyone looked to Bjorn with wide eyes.

            Brey broke the stunned silence, “… that kind of came out of nowhere, but he’s right. This could be a sign that the tribes themselves are having issues.”

            “Then we need to find out what’s happening.” Hyrra threw what was left of the chicken leg to Stormbreaker, who gulped it down, “We need someone who might be used to uncovering the truth…”

            After three knocks, the door opened to reveal Loder standing in a simple robe, he looked at the group on his doorstep curiously, “Oh, hello! Um… would you like to come in?” The room was large enough, fitted with a hearth, simple chairs, large desk, and bed, Hyrra found herself admiring the wool rug under her feet, “So… is this social or…?”

            “We need your help in finding out why everyone’s acting weird.” Hyrra broke her focus on the room’s décor.

            Loder leaned against the desk, “Weird? How so?”

            “Like at each other’s throats.” The scholar looked at Axel, “the aggressors are mostly from Frippery lands, like Lucra, and the Lopsided town of Rima.” Axel explained, “Basically the main islands.”

            “Much of the bullying is focused on people from Berk and Solna, but definitely more on Solnites.” Calder added.

            Loder frowned and then seemed to remember something. He turned around and dug through a trunk, recovering a weathered journal and began to flip through it, “Here! While I was traveling through Rima this winter it seemed business as usual,” He flipped the page, “but I happened to see that the chief seemed pretty irritated with some of the traders.”

            Axel scoffed, “You mean Chieftain Aft the Amusing had a disagreement? That seems hard to believe… I mean his title is ‘the Amusing’ for a reason.”

            “And why would he be upset with traders of all people?” Brey whispered under her breath, still shy around her newfound crush.

            Loder still managed to hear her, “I’m not completely sure, but I did write down that the merchants didn’t want to part with some of their goods because they were supposed to be coming to the school.”

            “Perhaps the chief is angry that resources usually reserved for his tribe are now coming here.” Bjorn spoke up from the back of the room, where Hyrra noted he was appreciating Loder’s sketches of wildlife.

            “It would make sense,” Calder agreed, “Still doesn’t explain why Berk and Solna students are being targeted. Also… you just write down everything you overhear?”

            Loder blushed, “Um, well this is actually my diary.” Axel snorted, “I try and write down everything I see during the day; after all, you never know what you’ll need to remember!” He continued to flip through the pages, “Some notes on Gronckles, lunch… dinner…ah! Here’s something else, I wrote down a conversation I had with this kid, he seemed upset so I tried to ask him what was wrong.” Suddenly Loder’s face fell, “how did I forget about this…?” He shook his head, “The kid said that his mother had told him he wouldn’t be able to go to the School of Dragon’s because… it might not exist by the time he’d be old enough to go.”

            “What?” Hyrra snapped, “What’d he mean by that?”

            He shook his head, flipping a few more pages, “I don’t know, that’s all I have written here.”

            Calder butted in, “Again: none of this proves why some of the tribes are singling out others. All this proves is that parents’ love to ruin their kid’s dreams.”

            “I never thought I’d agree with an idiot… but Calder’s right.” Axel admitted, Calder scowled at the backhanded insult.

            Brey didn’t look as sure however, “Still these are all worrying signs that something is going on between the tribes, and it may involve the future of the school.”

            “The chieftains are showing up in a week, perhaps we should ask them?” Bjorn pointed out, the others began to nod along.

            Hyrra, for her part, sighed, “I doubt they’re going to want to talk to any of us.” They all glanced her way, “Think about it, if there really is something going on, do you think they’ll want to talk to a berkian?” Calder and Axel frowned, “Or a foreigner?” Brey crossed her arms, “Or… wherever you’re from Bjorn.” He shrugged.

            “She’s right,” Loder admitted, “…but I might be able to help.” Back in the spotlight he shifted, “I’m a researcher and I’ve been a guest of most of their hometowns, so I might be trusted… I could try to talk to the chieftains when they arrive.” He gulped though, “There is one problem… Chieftess Sterka scares me.” Hyrra thought back and remembered the stern Frippery chieftain she had met at the Champion’s Dinner, honestly she scares me too.

            Axel raised an eyebrow, “She should scare you. Sterka the Unconquerable has defeated more dragons and men in battle than the majority of Berk’s chiefs. There’s rumors she’s got the blood of a Valkyrie.”

            Brey knocked him in the ribs, and Hyrra punctuated, “Not helpful.” He just rolled his eyes, “I should be available that day... if you want my help in talking to Sterka. I met her last year at the Dragon Rider Games, I think she might like me… maybe.” I honestly can’t tell.

            Blue eyes lit up, “That’d be wonderful! Perhaps you can serve as a minor distraction as well, that might help to bring her guard down.” He took a deep breath, is he really this nervous to talk to Sterka?

            Calder cleared his throat, “Okay I guess this is settled…? So we’ll get out of your hair.” The group backed out of the researcher’s room, “Man he’s a nervous wreck.”

            “He’s not a warrior or a dragon rider, so of course he’s scared to talk to a powerful chief about something so sensitive!” Brey defended him, Bjorn seemed to be on her side, and Hyrra herself knew how imposing the chiefs could be.

            This will either going to go well or horribly wrong.

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Tracking!

Tracking! Haven't been on in ages, but coming back to find this was definitely a treat :D

__________________

 * Credits to Gidgetech of Flight Rising for profile pic

                                                            

                                                           

 

                                                             ~Made by Rae Didgeridoo 

                

                   

                              

                                                                                                                                    

                                                               ~Neptune by Ren Roar

 

 

 

My Screenshot Comics

Dragon Trainers: Isle of Hunters

Dragon Trainers: A Bird's Eye View

 

 

 

 

*Credits to Gidgetech of Flight Rising

 

Aria Winterson

 

Name: Ariathena Winterson (mostly known as Aria)

Nicknames/Titles: Ari

Gender: Female

Age: 15

Height: 145cm/4'7

Weight: 44kg/97 pounds

Appearance: Straight red hair with dark streaks, bright green eyes, pale skin, a smattering of freckles across her nose and a small case of acne on her forehead. She usually wears dark pink war paint around her right eye. Her outfit has the wings and fins of Hiccup's flight suit designed into it for use at any time, courtesy of the original maker himself.

Home: Berk

Favourite Dragon(s): Deadly Nadder

Hobbies/Interests: Exploring, racing, flying with Brynhild

Dragons: Brynhild (female Deadly Nadder; also her first dragon), Neptune (male Scauldron)

Personality: If there was one word to describe Aria, it would be 'fire'. With a passionate heart and brave soul, she can get a bit carried away sometimes and charge into situations without thinking it through first. However, she only really loses her senses when someone she loves is in danger. This causes her to act rashly and on impulse, which although sometimes does help the situation, it usually just lands her in even more dangerous positions.

Some people describe her as 'wild', partially because of her love for exploring, but also because of her rebelliousness. While she does follow orders in serious combat situations, aside from that, she usually doesn't listen to anyone except herself, especially if they're in the way of her goals.

She's also a very competitive person; her fiery side is really shown during races and tournaments. She's a gracious loser, though, and doesn't hold a grudge against those who beat her.

She is neither extroverted nor introverted, but rather somewhere in between. Although around others she's usually more subdued, with her friends and family she's the life of the party. She like to view the glass as half full rather than half empty — especially when it comes to her usual dangerous experiments.

Strengths: Brave, passionate, optimistic, friendly

Weaknesses: Insecure. Not a good fighter. Also doesn't get along with most ice and Strike Class dragons.

Abilities: Skilled flyer and racer, good at exploring, expert dragon trainer

Weapons: Shield 

History: (TBA)

 

"I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me."

- Joshua Graham

 

 

                                                                     By Nessie

 

Brynhild by Witcherforever

 

Sunsong by Witcherforever

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adoptable of Cinnamon made by Nightmare Rebuff 

 

 

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Joined: 01/10/2014
Aw thanks so much :3 My break

Aw thanks so much :3 My break after the first book was much longer than it should have been and I apologize <3

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Ariathena
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Joined: 01/14/2014
That's alright, I wasn't

That's alright, I wasn't around for most of it XD Besides, taking a break from writing can be good for you :)

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Joined: 01/10/2014
Chapter 7: Tutelage

Chapter 7

Tutelage

            The cliff was secluded, cornered on three sides by lofty trees and facing the mostly empty western half of the island. It served their purposes perfectly, but the fun part was getting there.

            Stormbreaker was perched on a thick tree growing out of the cliff as he observed his rider climbing the rock’s face. She was about halfway up, but it was abundantly clear she was losing steam, “I’m so out of shape!” The redhead wailed exasperatedly. Back on Berk, Hyrra had become excellent at free climbing, but had had little time since returning to the island to practice. And it was showing.

            If I was anyone else I would’ve already fallen, she reminded herself while hanging by one hand, resting the other before slinging her arm back up and continuing upwards. Only a few minutes later and she was having to leap to the next few handholds. Every jump had her stomach doing flips and wearing her down faster than she wanted. She paused again, resting for another second. In the silence of the breeze she felt a tickle up her spine, she looked to Storm. He frowned at the stare, what? I’m not going to help you. It felt like someone was watching her, but the Skrill just shrugged his wings when she inquired about it. Obviously he didn’t sense anything, or anybody, nearby.

            A few -precarious- jumps later, and she was at the top. Her arms shook dangerously as she crawled to flat ground. On the other hand, with a creaking sound and an easy flap of his wings, Storm hopped up to the top, landing near her prone form. It took a while for her to gather her faculties, taking slow deep breaths before sitting up. Hyrra unwrapped the cloth bindings on her arms, then slipped the green arm warmers off.

            Her forearms burned as she massaged them, then she became preoccupied by the vibrant scars on her arm. Stormbreaker huffed at her fascination, “Shut up, they’re your fault.” He grunted, not giving her a real answer. Shaking it off, she slipped the emerald warmers back on and quickly rewrapped the bandages, “Okay, what should we practice today…” Looking around the bare cliff she spotted an already dead tree, large and barren, “Got an idea.” She motioned for the Skrill to come with her.

            Standing a few feet from the tree she fidgeted with her gelgja, trading it from her left arm to her right, then tightening it with her teeth before turning to Stormbreaker, giving his a check as well, alright let’s try this again. Using her right hand was more natural, although it was also her scarred arm and she had found herself reluctant to make the scars worse, but after multiple trials she had realized this didn’t cause scars or marks at all. It was incredibly unnatural, then again nothing about this, or anything that has happened in the last year, has been natural.

            Taking a deep breath she nodded over at Storm, he rolled his eyes but tensed his body, lightning slowly building around his scales. It seemed slow today. The gelgja on her arm only fizzled lightly, and she scowled at his lackluster performance, performance anxiety? She teased, Quiet, the silent command was accompanied by a growl as he focused. There hadn’t been a big electrical storm in months, which had begun taking its toll on Storm, still that’s no excuse, there may come a time when we don’t see storms for months and we still need to be able to defend ourselves. As the lightning suddenly spiked she had a feeling Storm had overheard her thoughts, and gotten a bit of a bruised ego.

            The gelgja now snapped with a brilliant blue lightning, though it still felt frail. The gnarled tree made for an easy target; but Hyrra had yet to fully recapture the first time she had experienced the lightning. It seemed easy enough: Stormbreaker makes lightning, the gelgja links them together, the lightning comes to her, and then she aims it. It was the aiming part that was difficult.

            Her arm was raised, she tried to believe she was aiming it like an arrow, but then again my aim with an arrow is pretty terrible too. With a deep breath she pulled her arm back and then punched it forward, about the easiest way to ‘shoot’ the electricity. She grimaced as the lightning rushed to her fingertips, then cracked as it arched. It hit the cliff face far above the tree, she yelped as gravel was spit back at her, but seconds later she was tramping around heatedly, “Son of a half-brained, runny nose yak!”

            Storm gurgled, then went into full on draconic cackling as his hot-headed rider glared at the crag, “Why doesn’t it just go straight?!” She turned from the cliff to her wheezing dragon, “Come on! Why can you shoot it straight and I can’t?!” He got quieter, reeling from her ire as she stomped over to him, “Hmm?” Teal eyes rolled, then she jabbed a finger into his chest plate, “Are you sabotaging me?” He huffed at the finger poking him, and despite the fact that he knew it wouldn’t work, he still conjured a small electrical zap to try and thwart the offensive appendage, “I guess we should leave or whatever… you can’t summon anything more than that sad excuse for a zap right now.” He growled, she saw him furrowing his brow as he tried to force lightning, “Give it up, we need to be going.” He deflated with a huff.

            Taking off they slowly made their way across the afternoon sky towards campus, until they flew over the meadow. Hyrra suddenly saw Korinta and felt her stomach drop, oh crud, “I was supposed to be training that stubborn ox today!” Stormbreaker dove quickly, dropping out of the sky and next to the waiting, and rightly irritated, Timberjack rider.

            “You are very late.” Her teacher seethed, behind her the normally broody Slate was snickering.

            Hyrra hopped off, her face bright red and sweat still clinging to her brow from the cliff climbing, she all but kowtowed in front of the blonde, “I am extremely sorry! I got caught up-”

            “Don’t care, just take Slate and start training.” Korinta hissed, Hyrra hurriedly motioned for Slate to mount up, feeling a distinctive need to get away from the scouting professor’s glare, “His flying position seriously needs work.” She added as the two mounted up, the redhead nodded at her before taking off smoothly.

            Hyrra looked over her shoulder to see Obscura and Slate lagging behind, wow he really does need to fix his seat and that dragon is annoying, “I can’t disagree…” Storm turned and hovered, waiting for the Devilish Dervish to catch up, although it seemed to be more interested in flying in any direction other than the one that Slate was pointing them.

            “No! That way!” The pale skinned teen growled, tapping the long neck of his oblivious dragon, who decided to dive suddenly, then turned around and began to fly towards the mountain.

            A sigh left her lips as she leaned onto her dragon’s head, I’m too tired for this nonsense, “Storm, get her attention.” He opened his maw, blasting a loud roar at the black dragoness. It seemed to work, Obscura turned back and flew to them. When she arrived, her rider was looking particularly angry, but she was focused on the Strike class, apparently awaiting her next instructions, “I can’t work on your seat until you’ve got control over your dragon.”

            “She’s fine now, let’s just go ahead and start,” He replied with a glare.

            Hyrra shook her head, “Storm, tell her to do a 360 turn.” The skrill grumbled and roared at the other dragon, and Slate ‘eeped’ as his dragon suddenly spun like a wooden top, “See? She’s not listening to you, she thinks Storm is her leader right now. Which means she trusts him more than you.

            “It doesn’t help that your dragon is the alpha of this island.” Slate groused, turning his nose up at her.

            She frowned, “Doesn’t matter, she should listen to you right out of the gate. Not because Storm forced her to.” Sitting up, she assessed his slouchy, uneven posture and distinct lack of balance, “Ugh, follow me.” They led the younger duo to the nearest patch of grass, landing a few feet apart. Hyrra motioned for him to get down, he gave a huff but dismounted. She didn’t move from her saddle, “How’d you choose your dragon?”

            “What does that have to do with anything?” He crossed his arms.

            “Did you go through the basics? Did you offer your hand? Or did you just grab the nearest impressive looking dragon?” He didn’t answer, “Thought so. I want you to actually look at Obscura.”

            He peered at his dragon, “Okay… I’m looking?” Hyrra watched as the Devilish Dervish saw Slate watching her and the dragoness growled at him.

            “Stop staring,” Hyrra grunted, “You chose a Devilish Dervish, an extremely unruly dragon with an attitude almost as bad as a Skrill’s… but thankfully not nearly as dangerous or she would have just taken your head off for offending her.”

            He huffed, turning to snap at her, “I stared because you told me to!”

            “If you had any semblance of a relationship she wouldn’t have felt threatened by your gaze.” Now she hopped from the saddle, “What do you know about your dragon?”

            “She’d prefer to chop wood over listening to me.” At the mention of wood, Obscura rushed off into the forest, “Darn it!” He smacked his forehead as the sound of trees falling filled the air, “Good riddance, I’m just going to go get a different dragon!”

            Hyrra dragged the stubborn rider through chopped down bushes and trees to his equally stubborn dragon, who had her tail currently stuck in a stump, “Shut up and watch,” she picked up a large log and approached the wood-crazed dragon, who stopped yanking her tail to regard the redhead with haunting black eyes, “Let’s see if we can get your tail free, hmm?” The stubborn dragoness hissed as Hyrra raised the log, “It’s okay, see?” She wedged the log between the dragon’s tail spines and stump, and gently used the stick as a lever. When the tail spines pulled free from the stump, Hyrra caught the dragon’s attention again, “Now, you can have this log okay? But that’s it, then we go back.” Obscura seemed to weigh her options, before eyeing the log, “Good.” Hyrra hurled the log in the black dragon’s direction, watching as she swung her tail and cut it into a neat four pieces.

            The redhead was surprised to see Obscura watching her intently, deciding to rub it into Slate’s face, she raised a hand to the tall dragon. The monochromatic dragoness seemed eager to caress her face into Hyrra’s waiting hand, murring softly, “Your dragon wants a rider,” She stated, look to where Slate was, he had an interesting mixture of annoyance and surprise on his face, “If you would take the time to actually work with her and not against her, you’d find you have a uniquely agreeable Devilish Dervish.” Now that she was done showing off, she looked to him and nodded for him to approach, he mumbled something before cautiously approaching. She took her free hand and grabbed his.

            When he realized what she was doing he resisted briefly, but finally went with it, his hand replaced Hyrra’s on Obscura’s nose, “Not so bad, huh?” She asked as she backed away.

            “Whatever.” He retracted his hand, crossing his arms again. At least that seemed to pacify Obscura.

            They walked back, Hyrra was intent on correcting his seated posture and then leaving for a nap, “Mount up,” He did so, a bit easier now that his dragon was not determined to throw him off, but he was still slumped in the seat, “Straight back, slouching is a great way to fall off.”

            “I haven’t fallen yet!” He hissed, but adjusted his posture.

            “Uh huh, that’s because you haven’t done anything.” She retorted, “Now, you should hang on with your legs more than your arms, they’re stronger.” He scrunched up his nose, “Put your hands by your side,” he let his hands fall, “Now use your thighs and calves to grip the saddle,” for once he didn’t give her a face and seemed to be actually trying, “it should feel comfortable, not too tense.” His seat seemed better, but it was easy in theory. It was another thing entirely in practice, “Let’s fly back to the school, I don’t want to see you use your hands to hold on.”

            “You’re joking… right?” He quickly found out she was, in fact, not joking. As they flew, Hyrra kept an eye on her apprentice and his dragon. Obscura was not nearly as distracted this time. She flew mostly straight, but occasionally she would do serpentine patterns, it appeared she was just jostling her rider playfully. For his part, Slate was sitting quite well now, though the sudden snaking did make him jump.

            Still it wasn’t perfect, he still swayed a bit too much in the saddle for her liking, “Tighten up your stomach, it’ll keep you still.” Much better. When they landed on the deck of the stables, she turned to him, “Better?”

            He grunted, “I guess.” Stepping down from the saddle, he set about to untacking the dragon, ignoring the irritated redhead. She just ‘hmphed’ and removed the Skrill’s saddle easily.

            Setting it on the rail nearest his stall, she spotted Slate rubbing Obscura’s nose, it appeased her frustration a bit, well at least their communicating now. Hyrra gave Storm a wipe down with a dry cloth, he blatantly refused to allow her to wet the cloth, before leaving. Slate had already disappeared.

            Stepping out into the sunset bathed island, she spotted the floating marketplace taking shape in the caldera’s lake, the chieftains should be arriving soon… and hopefully they’ll be feeling chatty.

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Sorry!

Sorry all! No chapter this weekend. I had a crazy busy week and no time to sit down a write. And, as many of you know, I hate forcing chapters out. So Chapter 8 will be coming next week!

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Chapter

Chapter 8

…Awkward.

            The next day Hyrra awoke to the loud chirping of Nadders outside her window, “Go away!” She grumbled into her pillow, squeezing it around her head in an attempt to block out the chatty dragons. My only day to sleep in and those things won’t shut up! The minutes ticked by, finally she caved in, throwing off the covers and lurching from her bed. She wiped the drool from her chin with a grimace, then grabbed a stray towel and her clothes, which she sniffed and then shrugged at the day-old smell, I’ll wash them later. Trudging down the hallway to the showers she was relieved to see that most everyone else was gone already. She hated fighting over the showers. After her shower she spent nearly an hour trying to, unsuccessfully, dry her hair.

            Stepping outside, she glared up at the brightly colored Nadders on the roof. Grumbling under her breath, she walked across the bridge. The redhead always felt the need to stare down through the wooden slats when she walked over the bridge, sometimes she had a fear that they’d fall out from beneath her. “Hyrra!” She jumped at the voice, looking up quickly from her feet she saw Loder waving at her.

            “Oh hey, what’s up?” She stepped off the bridge.

            “I was just heading down the lake to look around,” He nodded to the floating marketplace, “Would you like to come?”

            Hyrra thought it over, “I don’t have class today and I’d like to get some breakfast so… sure, why not?”

            They strolled down to the pier, stepping off it and onto the boards. Hyrra was pleasantly surprised by how sturdy it was, and her sensitive stomach was particularly pleased. They made a line for the food stalls, where Hyrra found a sandwich filled with smoked salmon and egg to munch on as they meandered.

            They paused at a few of the more exotic placed, including a stall selling dragon-themed trinkets. Loder wandered down the stalls to, what appeared to be, a bookshop, while Hyrra was arrested by the man’s wide variety of species, including a cute wooden charm carved in the shape of a skrill’s head. It fit in the palm of her hand, “I don’t sell many Skrill items, they aren’t as popular as the Nadders or Gronckles,” the shopkeeper nodded at the item in her palm.

            She grinned “Still, it’s really well done! Looks a lot like my dragon,” When Hyrra looked up at the older man it seemed a light had gone off for him.

            “Oh! You’re the one who won the finale race last year! Hytta? Or was it Hyara?” The graybeard frowned in thought, and she raised an eyebrow, “Anyways, it was a fantastic race! Are you going to be competing this year?” Hyrra nodded, “You know what? I’ll give you the totem for free, maybe it’ll bring you good luck in the Games.”

            She sputtered, “Really? You’re sure?”

             “Like I said, Skrill items don’t sell very fast… though maybe people will be buying more if they see you wearing one.” He winked at her and she chuckled.

            “Thank you!” Fame with perks! She nearly cheered, eyeing the figure in her hand as she walked towards the stall that Loder had disappeared into.

            “Chief! It’s so wonderful to see you again,” Hyrra froze when she heard Loder’s voice, peaking into the stall she saw Aft the Amusing, the stocky, bearded man reminded her sharply of Stoic the Vast, the last chieftain of Berk. Unlike the former berkian chief, Aft almost always sported a wide grin and a belt buckle with the symbol of the Lopsided Tribe: a face split down the middle, with one half appearing with an almost demonic mask.

            Today the chieftain appeared in good spirits, a far cry from how Loder had described his last sighting of him, “Ah, Loder! I see you made it here nice and early! How are your studies?” Hyrra eavesdropped as they passed pleasantries, come on Loder! Ask him about something that matters!

            Now that it was later in the day, the marketplace was beginning to fill up, and when Hyrra leaned in to hear the conversation a young girl bumped into her back. She stumbled forward, “Hyrra, there you are!” Loder called her over as she fell out of her hiding spot.

            She quickly recovered, shaking hands with the chieftain, “Hello sir,” The chief seemed to remember her a bit, “We met last year at the Champions Dinner?” She hoped that would jog his memory.

            He nodded, “Of course Hyrra, from Berk right?” She nodded, “I remember you won the finale race,” there was an edge to his voice though that sounded less-than-pleased at her arrival, but he hid it well behind his rosy-cheeked grin, “Will you be participating again this year?” Forcing a benign smile, she answered affirmatively, “Good luck, we have our greatest team in this year’s games.”

            “Thank you," There was a very uncomfortable silence, "Are you out enjoying the market?” She inquired, wondering if he would talk about his tiff with the traders.

            His jolly attitude did visibly shift, “Erm well… these traders have nothing that interests me.” Something caught the stout chieftain’s attention, “If you’ll excuse me…” Before Hyrra or Loder could get his attention again, he had moved away.

            Hyrra tsked under her breath, “Where does he think he’s going?” She watched him make a straight line through the busy marketplace towards a man with dark brown hair, “Who’s that?”

            Loder followed her gaze, “I believe that is the chief’s newest assistant, Finny.”

            The childish name did not fit the intimidating man, who loomed over everyone else in the marketplace, “Finny? Seriously?”

            They both looked away when the man named Finny peered in their direction, Loder shivered, “he gives me the creeps, let’s keep moving.” They stepped further into the market, “If Aft is here, Sterka and the other chiefs can’t be far behind…”

            “As in a few minutes behind?” Hyrra pointed to one of the stalls, where a handsome, pale headed man was peering at elaborate weapons. Loder didn’t appear to know the man, “He’s Svit the Virtuous, chief of the Shaded tribe.” She explained, “He might actually be a good person to talk to about what’s been going on.” Hyrra took the lead this time, approaching the chief that had tried to seduce her at the Champion’s festival the year before, “Chief Hvit,” He raised steel tone eyes to her, very obviously not recognizing her, “Hyrra? This is my friend Loder,” Nothing, “I was the guest of honor at the dinner last year…?” Still a blank stare, “You kissed my hand and kept asking me to dance?” And it was seriously creepy.

            “Ah! Yes, yes! I didn’t recognize you through all the… dirt.” She frowned, I just took a shower, “How are you?”

            “Good,” Get straight to the point, “Though I would be doing better if my favorite scouts weren’t being harassed during practice.” Loder gave her a concerned look at her forwardness, but she shrugged it off.

            Hvit’s polite smile fell with a sigh, “I had a feeling someone would ask about that.”

            “So you know?” She pressed.

            The young chieftain stroked his chin, “Indeed, most of our students have sent letters home about it. Their parents are quite upset right now.”

            Loder popped back in, “I can imagine, though I don’t see why your tribe is being singled out.”

            The arctic chief hummed, “Well you’re not alone in that, it’s actually part of the reason I came.” Despite his composed tone there was clearly a lot of pent of frustration as he gave a sudden huff, “If I find that this has something to do with that ludicrous belief that we are witches or jötunn or fylgja I’ll…” he took a deep, calming breath, “Well let’s hope it’s just a misunderstanding, a big misunderstanding.” Hyrra and Loder were both staring at him with nervous smiles, he’s a lot more menacing than I originally thought, “I apologize for rambling, but I’m glad to know we aren’t the only ones who have noticed these injustices.”

            “Uh huh, of course,” Loder nodded, “We actually have to be going now,” Hyrra nodded along with him.

            “I hope you enjoy the rest of the market!” Hyrra added as they stepped away.

            Once they were out of earshot, Loder looked to her, “Okay, he seemed as shady as Aft.”

            The redhead shook her head, “I think he was just angry.”

            “Yes, but it felt like he knew something else… he just wouldn’t say it.”

            “I guess we can hope Sterka knows something.” Hyrra sighed, rubbing her temples, we’ve learned nothing!

            “Know something about what?” Loder and Hyrra froze when an armor clad woman stepped out in front of them, she regarded Loder coldly, “Who are you?”

            His mouth opened and out spilled his nervous blathering, “Um, Loder, ma’am, I visited Lucra two years ago to study the trade of dragons’ egg-”

            Sterka ignored him after he said his name, “And you’re Hyrra, correct?” Of all the people to remember me it had to be Sterka, “What am I supposed to know?”

            Well this is certainly awkward, “Why are students from Lucra bullying those from Solna? And why do we have children believing that the school is going to be closed?”

            The other woman seemed unbothered, “As for the first part: children are cruel.” Sterka’s stern eyes met Hyrra’s without flinching, though Loder was hiding behind her, “…those from Solna must just make easy targets,” She clinched her jaw as the woman clearly talked around the question, “And the second query: that is something I’ve not heard of.” Hyrra felt her face growing red with irritation, it was very obvious Sterka knew more than what she was admitting, “Now I have more important things to be doing than entertaining a child and a coward.” Hyrra bit the inside of her cheek as Sterka swept off, “Wait, you’re probably participating this year… correct?” The elder woman looked at Hyrra, “I’d watch your back, asking questions like that it going to get you in trouble.” Then she was gone.

            “Did she just… threaten you?” Loder squeaked from behind the redhead.

            Hyrra shrugged, “That or she was just warning me to keep my nose where it belongs.”

            Her tall companion chuckled nervously, “You seem pretty calm for some who just faced down Sterka the Unconquerable.”

            “She’s not the first, not even the scariest, person I’ve had tell me to keep out of their business,” She looked around though and noticed a vast amount of people sporting the Frippery tribe symbol, “Still maybe we should go.” They skirted the rest of the marketplace, quickly escaping to the quiet Stables.

            Stormbreaker looked up from preening his wings when they arrived, “So we learned nothing!” Hyrra groused.

            “Not quite, we’ve learned they are all hiding something.” Loder took out his notepad, “We know Sterka knows something about the rumors around the school’s future, which leads me to believe that the school actually is in danger... why would they hide it otherwise? Aft seemed reluctant to talk to us at all, and I’m surprised to see his assistant came with him, most of the chiefs left their assistants to help run things.” Loder was jotting his notes down, “Then we have Hvit who seems to know about the bullying but refused to tell us the reason.”

            “He may not know why.” Hyrra proposed, “At least that’s what he claims.”

            The researcher leaned against a barrel and they both fell quiet when the Lopsided boys Alf, Uni, and Bui, ran by. Once they were gone, Loder took a deep breath, “I think you should take Sterka’s advice and keep to yourself and people you trust… right now you’re surrounded by enemies with unknown motives.” Stormbreaker eyed them both, clearly knowing he had missed something.

            The redhead shoved her hand in her pockets, “Ugh, I hate just waiting around,” she felt something in her pocket and retrieved it. The wooden Skrill head totem stared back at her, Stormbreaker sniffed the object curiously, “Looks like you huh?” She held it up side-by-side with Storm’s head, who huffed at the comparison to such a tiny thing.

            “We’ll keep digging but I think we should try to avoid garnering more attention.” Loder stood up and stretched, “The less attention on us, the more they’ll reveal.”

            “Makes sense I guess.” Hyrra was mostly moving on to a new topic, “Now I’m wondering where I should put this?” She held up the totem, “Should I make it into a necklace or attach it to my bracelet?”

            The scholar seemed flabbergasted, “You’re not bothered by the threat… at all?”

            “Why should I worry? What can they do to me that didn’t happen last year?” She was still trying to decide on where to put the totem, she looked to Storm and held it to her throat, “Necklace?” He shook his head, “Or bracelet?” She moved it to the gelgja, the Skrill regarded it coolly, then shrugged, “You’re no help,” she mumbled.

            “I guess I hadn’t thought about it that way.” Loder sighed, “So what’s your plan?”

            Hyrra looked up, “I’m going to find out why they want to close the Games, stop the bullying, and win the tenth Dragon Rider Games. All in a few months.”

            He scratched the back of his head as the redhead posed dramatically, “Well they always say go for the stars…”

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WolfMunster
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Joined: 01/10/2014
Chapter 9Dragon Rider Games:

Chapter 9

Dragon Rider Games: Find your team!

             The poster had been up for five days:

Team Sign-ups for Current Students

In the Main Hall

All Week

Dawn to Dusk

Must be at least 14 and have 1 year of Riding Experience

5 Person Minimum

             In another two days the deadline would pass. Hyrra had yet to sign up for the Games, having had a lack of time and teammates. It’s not like she didn’t know two strapping warriors who were both without a team. She had yet to ask because every time she tried she got nervous. Nervous they’d say no, mostly that Axel would say ‘no’ just to watch her flounder or beg.

            “Have you signed up yet?” Hyrra jumped when Ase appeared at her side, when the redhead didn’t reply, she continued, “Or are you still hoping you’ll find someone else to be on your team?” Hyrra knew that Ase had snatched up Mork from the Engineers to join the Fearless four, though they were now going by the ‘Fearless Five’.

            “Just haven’t gotten around to it, I’m going to do it today,” Hyrra brushed past the blonde with a huff, noticing that Ase was already sporting her team’s signature bright blue sash around her waist. She stomped off towards the Mess Hall, it was lunch and the Warriors should have returned by now.

            If the raucous laughing was any indicator, they’d been back for some time. Stepping into the hall she noted sashes of varying colors already taking shape, green, yellow, silver… she didn’t bother trying to figure out who was on who’s team yet. She needed to find her own.

            “Hyrra!” She flinched at the familiar voice, “I don’t see a sash! Are you not participating?”

            Gaut, the Typhoomerang rider from the illustrious Fearless Five, had caused a scene on purpose, if his smirk was any indicator. Not to mention the amount of Warriors now staring her down, she tsked, “You wish, I’ve just been taking my time to find the best team to take you guys down.” She didn’t look his direction for too long, instead stalking off in the direction of a hulking warrior, “Bjorn, where’s Axel?” The ursine teenager grumbled as he pointed out a table where Axel was currently talking to some other warriors, all wearing yellow, though she was relieved to see Axel was not yet sporting one of those sashes.

            She caught part of the conversation as she walked up, “…well we could really use someone like you.” Hyrra vaguely recognized the warrior speaking, a waspish senior by the name of Vex, his brother Lex sat next to him nodding.

            “Axel, I need to talk to you,” Vex gave her a glare, which she happily returned as she grabbed the brunet by his ear and yanked him away, “What are you doing talking to the enemy?”

            “Enemy?” He swatted her hand away, “What are you-”

            “Obviously they want you on their team, but you’re on my team. You and Bjorn are my last two picks and you’re not allowed to say no.” She hissed.

            Bjorn perked up from his breakfast, “Really? You want us on your team? Even after our mediocre performance last year?”

            Axel seethed, “My performance was stellar, but the rest of you couldn’t get your acts together!”

            “Sure… Mr. Third Place.” She nudged Bjorn who grinned, but Axel hissed at the reminder of the finale race, “Now let’s go sign up, where’s Calder?” Bjorn pointed out the blond, who was stuffing his face as usual, “Grab him,” Hyrra realized too late that she probably should have been more specific, as Bjorn literally grabbed the other warrior and threw him over his shoulder. Calder, surprisingly, seemed okay with it, though it could have been because he still have a chicken leg in both hands.

            They ran by Tic’s laboratory and stole Brey, who seemed more than eager to get out of the class, “So we’re finally doing this? We’re going to compete in the greatest Dragon Rider Games EVER?” She skipped and hopped ahead of the group all the way to the main hall, she turned and jumped, “Uh Bjorn… I think you can put Calder down now?” The blond frowned as he was unceremoniously dumped to the ground.

            Suddenly it struck her, “Name!” The group stopped and looked at the redhead with surprise, “We need a new team name!” She sighed, “What is everyone else going by this year?”

            “Vex and his team are calling themselves the Gilded Wings.” Axel frowned, “Honestly it’s a bit tacky.”

            “Sounds like your team name from last year.” Brey pointed out, much to his chagrin.

            Hyrra disregarded them, “So we have the Gilded Wings and the Fearless Five. Is that all this year?”

            Bjorn shook his head, “Brant’s group.”

            Axel must have seen her confusion, “They just signed up. They’re the ones walking around with silver ribbons I believe.”

            That’s right I did see a few silver ribbons, looking around she spotted a very surprising person wearing a silver ribbon, “Knut?” She didn’t mean to say it so loud, but the younger scout jumped and looked at her, “I didn’t think you were old enough to participate?”

            He smiled nervously, “Well I turn 14 a few days before the Games begin so the headmaster said I could participate.”

            Before he could scamper off, “What’s your team’s name?”

            “Shadowclaw,” He beamed, “I came up with it!” She nodded, it’s better than Gilded Wings at the very least. He waved as he walked off.

            “So let’s recap: Shadowclaw, Fearless Five, and Gilded Wings. That leaves us, so what do you think?” Hyrra rubbed her eyes as she tried to come up with something.

            Everyone mulled it over, trying to come up with a new team name, minutes past with no suggestions, “The difficulty here is that we’re an incredibly diverse team,” Brey pointed out, “So maybe we should think about what we have in common?”

            “We’re all dragon riders?” Calder chuckled.

            Axel snapped his fingers, “We all ride pretty quick dragons, even Snaggletooth.”

            Suddenly Brey spoke up, “Dawn Fliers!”

            “I like it,” Hyrra smirked, looking to the three young men in their group, who each considered it briefly before nodding along.

            “Ah, so you are participating this year?” Inside the Main Hall the Headmaster quickly jotted down their names, “Dawn Fliers, a nice name! Are you going to be red again this year?”

            Axel snickered, but Hyrra shrugged it off, red was her color after all, “Sure,” The headmaster handed over five ribbons colored vivid red, they each took their ribbons as they back out of the hall. Hyrra wrapped the sash around her arm, Brey tied her short hair up with hers, Bjorn wore his like a gauntlet, Axel followed his example, and Calder tied his around his forehead.

            “Now can I get back to lunch?” Axel grunted.

            “Of course not, we need to figure out who we’re competing against!” Brey nodded along with Hyrra’s outburst, “We’ll meet up back at the Mess Hall, so Axel go talk to Lex and find out who’s in his group,” The brunet huffed a sigh before stomping off, “Bjorn go find out about their dragons,” He was much happier to set off than Axel had been, “Brey and Calder I want you to go find out about this ‘Shadowclaw’ group.” The two nodded as they took off, “And I’m going to go figure out who this newest member of the Fearless Five is.”

            “Who?” Hyrra almost punched the researcher when he popped up out of nowhere, he squeaked as he jumped back, “Sorry!”

            “Loder! Don’t sneak up on me!” She glared at him, but calmed down quickly, “We’re trying to find out about our competition this year.” She though she had spotted Mork leaving the Lab and heading to the lake when they picked up Brey.

            “Ah, so who’s the new member? Of the Fearless Five?” The lanky man kept stride with her, not without tripping of course.

            “Mork. He’s from the Frippery Tribe and he’s an engineer, to be honest that’s all I know about him… but he must be pretty good to have been invited to join them.” The lake’s edge was only a short walk’s away. Looking around she spotted Mork down near the lake’s shore, reading. He was fairly average looking, truth be told. Average height, weight, brown hair, brown eyes. No particularly interesting marks. Boring, “Well… maybe he’s very smart?” She shrugged, or they were just that desperate to find another teammate. Then something moved in her periphery.

            She spotted a bipedal, tan dragon with a head of crooked horns hop over to Mork. The dragon was similar in size to a Nadder, but with a lankier dragon, Loder oohed, “A Giant Prickleboggle? I’ve never seen one before… though I’ve also never seen a regularly sized Prickleboggle.”

            Hyrra had only ever heard of the Prickleboggle, “How did I not know there was a Prickleboggle at this school?” He’s an engineer, so I guess we just never really cross paths…

            “But that would explain why he made it onto such an illustrious team, his dragon may not be much for combat but they’re quite good with complex problem-solving and teamwork.” That does make sense. Brey probably knows a little bit about Mork as well…

            In the Mess Hall, Calder and Bjorn were already waiting, Axel arrived a few minutes later and Brey was right behind him, “So Axel? You want to go first?”

            Axel sighed, “Vex’s team is made up of only Lopsided tribesmen.”

            “It’s the same with Shadowclaw, Brant’s team. It’s only made up of people from the Shaded tribe.” Brey added.

            They all shared a frown, “The group is all warriors too: Vex, Lex, Thatch, Flare, and Leik.” He continued, “They’re all very capable warriors, Vex and Lex are not exactly known for fairplay so we can expect them to use tricks, then there’s Flare.” Calder shivered at the name, “Flare is… insane, likely. His brother Thatch is quiet but he’s dangerous. Leik is the only one who seems normal, likely he joined just so the group could meet the minimum.”

            Bjorn spoke up, “Vex rides a Boneknapper named Bane and Lex rides an Armorwing named Steelwing, both have almost impenetrable armor. Leik rides a Gronckle, who’s surprisingly aggressive, named Gobbler.” Bjorn rubbed his bruised hand, he probably tried to pet the dragon, she thought with a sigh, “Thatch and Flare both ride stoker class dragons,” fitting, “Thatch rides a Moldruffle called Firestarter, Flare’s dragon Blistera is a Singetail.”

            Calder shivered again, “Flare and his dragon freak me out, creepy eyes that watch you all the time!”

            “Flare or Blistera?” Brey questioned.

            “Both!” Calder breathed, “Well Shadowclaw is made up of Brant, Einar, Hillvi, Dag, and, obviously, Knut.”

            “Knut’s the only scout and Dag is the only engineer, the rest are warriors.” Brey added, “I know Dag pretty well, he’s not as quiet as most Shaded members and he rides a Thornridge named Stille. We know Knut, he’s probably the most social shaded member ever to live and rides a Nadder named Sharpshot.”

            “Then we have Brant, Einar and Hillvi left. Brant, of course, rides Arctice the Shivertooth.” That’s right, he’s an impressive dragon but I rarely see him since he tends to sleep in the woods. “Einera is pretty scary when she has an axe in her hand, but otherwise she’s pretty nice, and she rides a Zippleback named Bubble and Squeak,” He paused, “Hillvi’s really quiet, in fact I don’t know much about him. His dragon is Bandit the Swordstealer, which is pretty cool.”

            “A bunch of warriors this year… well Mork is the newest member of the Fearless Five.”

            Brey raised an eyebrow, “Really? He’s extremely smart but I didn’t see him being interested in the Games.”

            “I don’t know if Ase gave him much of a choice.” Hyrra admitted, “He rides a Giant Prickleboggle, though I don’t know the name.” Brey informed her that his name was Barbil, “Okay… is that all the teams then?”

            The group nodded, “Except for the Alumni, I think they’ll be arriving late next week.” Calder added.

            “They’re the ones we need to be worried about,” Axel hummed, “This school has created some really amazing dragon riders.”

            “We’ll see about that.” Hyrra leaned onto the table, “Personally, I doubt anyone will be able to compete with us. I’ve got my eye on the Fantastic Five this year.” This will be Ase and Thrain’s last Games as students. This maybe my last chance to beat them.

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WolfMunster
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Joined: 01/10/2014
Chapter 10: The Wicked Alva

Chapter 10

The Wicked Alva

            Where on earth did that oaf wonder off to? Axel fumbled with the hilt of his sword as he prowled through the busy school grounds. Right now he was supposed to be at the training dome, but his exercise partner had never shown. He had waited for an hour. If there was one thing he did not do well, it was waiting.

            Now he was about to find his thickheaded friend and give him an earful, and possible a whack with his sword as well. “Honestly…” He growled before he spotted a familiar duo in the crowd, quickly making his way over he surprised the shorter warrior by grabbing him on the head. He chose to ignore the girly squeak, “Where’s Bjorn?”

            Calder smacked the hand off his head, the other half of the pair, Brey, snickered from her spot next to him, clearly she wasn’t going to let him live down the screech, “I haven’t seen him,” he seethed, before adding, “maybe ask Ase?” He motioned to his right vaguely, “I think I saw her over there.” Brey and Calder turned to leave; meanwhile, Axel was back on the warpath as he stomped through the crowd, keeping an eye out for an impossible tall and intimidating woman.

            He spotted her snapping at Thrain. For a split second Axel considered just not getting involved in the lovers’ quarrel, but then his own indignation returned, “Ase, a moment?” Aforementioned woman turned on him with a glare, for what it was worth Thrain was mouthing ‘thank you’ at the distraction.

            “What?” She snapped, before grabbing Thrain’s shirt as he tried to sneak off, “You’re not going anywhere.”

            He had to swallow the lump forming in his throat, “Have you seen Bjorn?”

            Ase couldn't help the small grin that formed on her face, “Funny enough he was asking for you too, he went off in that direction.” She pointed a metal finger towards the Mess Hall. He stepped away from the irritated blonde as she turned back to her argument with the scout. Axel only made it a few feet before he saw his target heading in his direction with a stern face.

            Before he could open his mouth or swing his sword at his friend, “The Elf is competing this year.” His anger was replaced by horror within seconds.

            Axel stood stunned for a second, “Y-you’re sure? Where’d you hear this?”

            “I overheard the headmaster talking about the alumni coming and her name was one of the first on the list.” Bjorn was not a liar and did not enjoy practical jokes so Axel knew, despite the growing dread in his stomach, that it was true.

            “Maybe she’s changed? Maybe she’s…” less crazy that she used to be, “calmed down?” The messenger frowned, “Yeah I doubt it too.” He ran a hand nervously through his hair, pacing as he tried to come up with a plan, “Do you know what day she will be here?”

            The hulking teen shook his head, “They made it seem like it could be this evening.”

            Now panic really set in, “It’s already midday! I need a plan, or a distraction… or…” He caught sight of a red head and Skrill, “Or both.” 

            Hyrra had just gotten done with class and was busy stuffing her face with a leg of chicken, her first meal of the day. She was sitting on a boulder, picking off pieces of chicken and feeding them to Stormbreaker as Axel rambled about something. She was tired and hungry though, so she barely listened. He had accosted her on her way back to the dorms, where she’d been hoping for a shower but now she had to listen to him go on and on about how they were ‘friends’ and ‘friends’ help each other or some nonsense like that. She cut him off, her mouth still full of food, “What do you want Axel? I’d like to go shower at some point today.”

            She took another hefty bite out of her lunch, “I need you to pose as my girlfriend.” The chicken leg smacked Axel on his forehead when she threw it. Even Storm sat with his mouth open for a second, but once he recovered he got up and retrieved the chicken leg, eating the rest by himself.

            The redhead glared, “You want me to what? Is this your idea of a joke?” Storm chuckled mid-chew and got an elbow jab from his rider.

            She looked posed to hit the brunet, “Listen, I don't want to do this either, trust me, but there’s an alum that’s returning to the school and she’s insane.” Her brows furrowed, still unsure what this had to do with her, “She’s always had this obsessive crush on me, to the point of stalking. I found her hiding under my bed one time!” Hyrra flinched, okay maybe this isn’t a joke.

            “Go ask Brey or someone else,” Hyrra glared, she didn’t like the idea of being Axel’s girlfriend, even if it was a sham.

            He shook his head, “I need someone who isn’t going to be intimidated by her. Please be my fake girlfriend?” He pleaded dramatically.

            She glared at the begging silver eyes, then looked around at the school grounds. With the sun slowly setting, most people had moved to the marketplace or the mess hall for dinner; though a few students were still conversing or playing around the lakeside. Hyrra spotted Ase, would Ase do something like this…? “No. I won’t. Just tell her you aren’t interested, if she’s even still interested in you.” Hyrra stood up, “Now I’m going to go take a shower.”

            She hadn’t even made it a few steps away before a distinct, loud roar rang out over the lake, one she had never heard before. Storm growled lowly, snapping his jaws a few times as he caught the scent of the foreign dragon. She caught Axel’s anxious stare, then saw Ase’s face settle into a grim line as Thrain let out an exasperated sigh. A unique silhouette appeared on the horizon, nearly blending into the blood-tinted sky, but Hyrra caught a glimpse of pincers and a long, sharp looking tail. Is that a Triple Stryke?

            Hyrra found herself drifting closer to Axel and Bjorn as the insectoid dragon landed with a violent huff. She looked around a noticed that many of the students had fled indoors, so this is her? The redhead had a picture in her head of an ogre-like woman with insane eyes, but the figure that jumped off the back of the Triple Stryke was tall and calm.

            The mysterious, much feared stranger was a graceful, beautiful woman. Hair black as a Nightfury’s wing framed a sculpted face with keen, stormy blue eyes. Those eyes were currently surveying the few students who had not run from her arrival, “Well Barbaria, looks like we’re home,” The woman smirked, her eyes caught sight of Thrain almost immediately, “Oh and look some of my favorite people showed up to welcome me back!” She approached the clearly uncomfortable Thrain and equally annoyed Ase, “Have the scouts behaved in my absence? I hope you’re using everything I taught you...” Was she Thrain’s mentor? Thrain didn’t talk about his mentor very much and it was starting to make sense why.

            “You mean threatening them with a venomous sting if they didn’t do exactly what you wanted?” Thrain spat back. Red eyebrows rose quickly, she’d never seen her tutor look so cross.

            Ase growled, “Move on nobody wants to talk to you.”

            The newcomer stared at the armor-clad woman with a cunning gleam in her eye, “Oh I’m sorry, I forgot Thrain was your toy.” Thrain’s face went bright red, but Ase just continued to shoot daggers at the argumentative woman, wait are Thrain and Ase a couple? How did I not know that!? “Well you can have him. He’s pretty, but oh so dull. Which is why you make such a wonderful couple together, all good looks and no sustenance.” Hyrra felt like Ase was about to assault the woman in front of her, but she somehow managed to control her anger, instead grabbing Thrain by his bow strap and dragging him off with a growl.

            Bjorn nudged Axel, “Maybe we should leave while we still can?” As the venomous stranger watched smugly as Ase and Thrain retreated.

            Before Axel could even respond the devilish woman turned on her heel and skipped over to them, “Shut up fatty,” Bjorn recoiled like he’d been physically hit, “Axel, my darling how are you?” Hyrra decided to try to blend into the background to avoid the woman’s gaze. She watched as the woman played with one of the two braids that framed her face, the rest of her long ebony hair was strapped back into a ponytail.

           Axel flinched at the gushy tone of voice, “Good-”

           Suddenly the woman was petting Axel’s hair, which almost made Hyrra giggle, if it weren’t one of the creepiest things she’d ever seen, “I love what you did with your hair,” She swooned, “You know I considered cutting my hair too? What do you think?” She posed momentarily.

            “You should do whatever you feel best.” The brunet stated bluntly, “Now we need to go we’re pretty busy prepared for the Games-”

            Alva practically jumped on him, “Oh you’re in the Games?” Hyrra was actually starting to feel bad for Axel, this chick really was obsessive, not to mention callous, “What’s your team’s name? I’m sure it’s fantastic, since it’s your team after all.”

            Hyrra caught Axel staring at her for help, she sighed but nodded, curse it, “We’ve called ourselves the Dawn Fliers, and it’s actually my girlfriend’s team.” Up until the last half the woman was nodding along happily and hanging onto Axel's arm, then she stood up straight and her face went hard as stone as she followed Axel’s glance towards the redhead, who had to fight every instinct to run when the stranger looked at her like a bug needing to be squashed, “Alva this is my girlfriend Hyrra Boandi. Hyrra this is Alva Vakker.” She really wished he would stop saying ‘girlfriend’, since every time he did the murderous tension in Alva’s body tripled.

            Storm growled as Barbaria moved closer, she was scarlet red with orange points and a wicked look in her fiery eyes, “Uh, hello,” Hyrra wasn’t sure if it was safe to shake hands with this woman but she felt it incredibly rude not to, so she offered her hand.

           Alva accepted the handshake but the grip was so strong Hyrra felt her knuckles pop painfully, Stormbreaker growled when he heard the sound, but held off when his rider motioned for him to stay back, “Boandi, that's a peasant's surname right?” Hyrra shivered, but the woman thankfully let go of her hand, okay I can smile and wave until the Games are over, “A peasant? Seriously Axel!? She’s kind of plain, don’t you think?” Nevermind.

           Both Axel and Hyrra gawked, “Excuse you?”

           “Come on! She’s a mess, I mean just look at her hair!” Hyrra unconsciously tried to fix her nest of curls, well I was going to take a shower but someone kept me from it! “And all that dirt! Is she an engineering grunt or what? Is she even a student or just a servant?”

            “Actually I’m a scout, and currently the best, so maybe you should learn to hold your tongue. Also if I’m so horrible and peasant-ish," she wasn't sure that was a word but she was too mad to think about it, "and Axel still chose me, what does that say about you?” Hyrra spat, but realized quickly by the look on Axel and Bjorn’s faces that she had likely just made an awful mistake.

            The woman hissed and, with a clicking sound, her dragon’s tails uncoiled aggressively, Stormbreaker ignored Hyrra’s instruction to stay back as he glared down the Triple Stryke, daring it to try and make a move, “Hyrra, correct?” Now they were basically nose to nose, though Hyrra stood a good head shorter than the other woman, “Watch your back because I’m going to crush you in these Games and show the world what a worthless little worm you really are.” With that the woman turned, heading to the main hall with her dragon on her heels.

            “Why would you say something like that to Alva Vakker, do you want to be poisoned in three different ways?!” Axel wailed, “That didn’t help at all! In fact, I think you just made it worse!”

            “I’m hungry.” Hyrra announced, ignoring Axel’s ranting and fuming, “Come on Bjorn, let’s go get something to eat.”

            In the mess hall, she noted Bjorn seemed reluctant to eat and Axel was still in a state of panic. Calder and Brey arrived not much later, both equally confused by the trio, especially after they explained what had happened, “So Alva thinks you and Axel are dating?” Brey asked, watching as they both nodded, “I think you’ll have to keep faking it now.” Axel paled, so Brey explained, “Say you come clean and admit you actually aren’t an item: how angry do you think she’s going to be then?” Hyrra watched her faux-beau sigh heavily as he sunk onto the table.

            “Also why would she called Bjorn a ‘fatty’?” Calder punched the large teenager’s shoulder for emphasis, “He’s all muscle.”

            “When Bjorn first got to school he was pretty… rotund.” Axel mumbled into the table, “A few months of training though and he was right as rain, but Alva’s always liked to bring it back up.”

            “Bjorn you’re not fat and she’s a jerk, so go ahead and eat.” Hyrra pushed the plate towards him, “I need you at your strongest for the Games because we are going to be beating Alva into submission.” Her group gave her a concerned look, “Oh come on! She’s horrible! If anyone deserves it, it’s her.”

            “Honestly I agree,” Axel mumbled, “She could use a friendly reminder that she isn’t the ruler of this school anymore.” Bjorn was now eating with gusto, while Calder and Brey shrugged and agreed, from what they had heard the woman was anything but pleasant.

            Hyrra smirked, “So we’re going to: defeat Alva, take down the Fearless Five, and figure out how to save the school. It’s going to be a busy year.”