SELENE

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LissaFish's picture
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Yes.

It is definitely ok.

 

XD

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LissaFish
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Update:

 

 

Hi guys!

 

I am super super super happy to announce that there are indeed only 10 chapters left. I finially wrote those last two words- the end! Wooo!! Very excited right now  :D: D:D

 

 

Also, I'm going to be off-line for the better part of the week, so please know if I don't respond right away I'm not ignoring, just gone :3  I'll post the next chapter tonight sometime instead of my usual Wednesday.

 

 

And I know I've said this (and definitely will say it again) but thank you all so much for the support through your comments and interest. This story ended up being a 165160 word book, and I never would have gotten through it without you! So thank you! It is a wonderful feeling to finish a big project and you helped me get there! <3

 

~Lissa

 

PS: I was thinking about posting three chapters a week. Too much? Or are you guys game?

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I know I said it once already, but...

CONGRATULATIONS! 8D

I'm so happy for you! Finishing a book, especially one as long as Selene, is a huge accomplishment!

 

I've really enjoyed seeing the story progress! It's a pleasure to read your writing. ^^

 

I wouldn't be disappointed if you posted every. Single. Day. 8D I just want to know what happens next!

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:3

Thank you Ginger :3

ninjadragon
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Do you even need to ask if we

Do you even need to ask if we want to read more of your awesome book?

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Solveig the Fair
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Congratulations!

I know the feeling of accomplishment that comes with finishing a story! Although I've only finished one, but still XD

Too much? I wouldn't complain if you posted one every day! XD Three chapters a week would be great!

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Never fear, for Blobby's here!

Congrats!  I am excited to see the ending!  I don't know how you do it, I can hardly write a page before deleting it all and giving up.  YOU, on the other hand, wrote and actual, awesome book!  

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Chapter 49

 

 

 

 

Chapter Forty-Nine

 

 

Tumultuous Turn

 

 

 

 

ScccrrrreeEEEEEEeeeeeetttee!

Albion said again. He wasn’t sure why he’d stayed… but he knew he was sorry that he had. While all the humans were busy with their petty little battle the Piranharrow were edging ever closer, leaving bare the place of trees and forest, river and wildlife. In their wake there was nothing but dirt…and that wake was pressing, unnoticed, ever closer.

SssscccreeeEEEEEeeeettteee! SccccrrreeeEEEEtttEE ScccccccccccrrrrrreeeeeeEEettEE!!

The Gryphon abandoned the trees, cautiously approaching the battlefield where rocks and angry dragons flew.

 

 

 

“Okay, on my mark,” A captain in charge of the catapults said, hands on his hips and chest out proudly. “We’ll hit them again. Three, two-“

“Now wait just a minute!”

The men startled and looked around, finding the feminine voice had come from above. She and her dragon were resting on the beam of the center catapult.

“Throwing rocks is fun and all but there’s no sport to it. Shame on you little worms, aren’t you supposed to test your skill in a real fight before cheating?”

With precision her Rocket Ripper shot a leg of the catapult to their left; the one currently loaded and awaiting orders. It collapsed, and on the way down triggered, launching itself and the projectile into the other two catapults.

The girl and her dragon fluttered daintily over it all. “Your rock-slinging licenses are hereby revoked.”

“Miserable Celt!”

Several soldiers raised their crossbows. Five fireblasts from ‘Stormfly’ put them quickly out of service.     

“Dragon-riding coward!” The captain shouted angrily, drawing his sword. “Come down here and fight with your bare hands!”

“Aww, I thought you’d never ask!” She flipped off the dragon in flight and landed ready. “Was that figurative or are swords not allowed? Invincible wants in on the action.”

 

 

 

 

Hungry, hungry hungry hungry, hungry hungry, hungry hungry. Hungry, hungry hungry hungry…

Hotshot gnawed on the table in the upper room of the turret. Alvin had heard that word so many times over the last few months he hardly noticed it at first.

“You have a disorder. And thanks to your mumbling I can’t for the life of me remember what I was just thinking.”

Grrr. It was important, too… whatever it was.

Hungry hungry hungry hungry hungry hungry…

Great now I’m hungry too. Stupid dragon. He thought about those ten extra pounds he’d put on since getting Hotshot.

A shiver ran down the Piranharrows spine, seeming to ripple magically out to the swarm surrounding them. They began to close.

eat.

What? No not yet.

Eat.

“Not yet!” in alarm, Alvin watched the dragons crumble from order to destruction. “Not yet I say not yet!”

Unable to refuse Hotshot groaned and shivered again. The swarm faltered…

Then kept going.

What are you doing?? Stop them!

SQUEAK! Hotshot shivered harder. He didn’t look so confident all the sudden.

The swarm faltered once more, and slowly, very slowly appeared to stop. Alvin breathed a sigh of relief.

“Good. They’re fine where they are but they can’t come any closer.”

Hotshot bruxed. Not with pleasure, oh no. That was the first time the instinct of the swarm had overridden his rule.

He was losing control of them.

 

 

Muttonheads, I paced my breathing.

I’d tried explaining it to them, I really had. But they were either too stupid, proud, or trusting of that dastardly Outcast to hear me. Which meant it was time for another angle.

In the open their grip was still firm but their attention was scattered. Something that sounded like an explosion came from the wall and took just enough focus off me to do what I wanted.

I dropped low, putting my leg out in front of the Roman to my right while swinging my cuffed arms into the one to my left. At the same time I threw my head backwards into the chest of the one behind, knocking the breath out of him.

“Oof!”

“Ahh!”

“Hrrrrr!”

All three on the ground I slid the one to my right’s sword off him. Not my favorite weapon but it would do in a pinch. The one I took the blade from I conked with the hilt, the one back I kicked in the face -in his good eye for good measure- and the one to my right I swung my chained hands into once more.

“Hey!” fifteen others walking by rushed toward me, while more trickled into the fight from the buildings and around corners, many carrying crossbows. The situation was beginning to look bleak.

“Listen to me,” I backed slowly toward the wall of the turret. “Alvin is planning to destroy us all! Abandon this war you started and help me get the Piranharrow away from him!”

“Don’t listen! She’s just trying to save her own neck!” the guard who had been to my left coughed. “We are loyal soldiers!”

“Loyal to what, Alvin?? He doesn’t know the meaning of loyalty.”

“Justinian, and Rome represented in him!” One among those stalking toward me glowered proudly.

“Justinian’s no saint, he just killed Caliban. Some of you saw yourself!”

There was a noticeable hesitation.

“Only after he betrayed us.” Another countered.

Many here-heres echoed in the closing half-circle.

“Besides, what’s in it for you to turn us against him? Your people are dead. Seems these three are right, you’re only trying to save your own neck.”

My sword swashed back and forth without much grace but plenty of force. No more talk, it wasn’t getting us anywhere. I was ready… but not for what happened next.

Two startling cold, wet arms slid loosely around me, one hand setting a strange feeling metalish hat on my head. I would have turned my sword around and stabbed the culprit in the gut, had he not spoken.

“Astrid it’s ok it’s just me,” he whispered.

 

 

 

The sword dropped.

 

 

I dared not hope, but there was no mistaking it either.

Hiccup??

“We got her, guys! Phew, we got her,” His pitchy voice said in a tragic attempt to sound relieved. “Yyyyup, that’s… uh, that’s right. We got her. Y-you can all, go about your daily… business… …and we’ll just take her away…”

“Say it like you mean it…” Someone else’s vaguely familiar voice hissed. “You’re the one with the Captain’s uniform!”

Pallus?? My mind reeled. He too, was dripping wet. Last we’d heard he’d been eaten by the Piranharrow. How was he here now and helping Hiccup?

“Not so fast!” The three soldiers were back on their feet. “She’s our prisoner and we have specific orders from Alvin to kill her.”

“Kill-“ Hiccup started with fury but tried to recover. “…Alvin decided he wanted us to do it instead.”

“Really?” Suspicion crept in. “Why? And what’s with the hat?”

“It’s a symbol of humiliation… should be on you at the moment. Alvin thought we were more reliable than you are.”

“Too strong…” Pallus interjected again, “You’re coming on too strong…”

“Shut it.” Hiccup snapped.

“Is that so?” They seethed.

“Well we caught her again after you let her go.”

Anger rose up. They glanced his peg-leg. “Who are you anyway?”

It was obvious he hadn’t got to this part in his impromptu. “Who am I?”

“Let’s see some identification Captain.”

I’m- I’m-“

“…And you blew it.” Said Pallus.

A lot of white knuckles were forming around spears, swords and bows.

Hiccup’s body language changed. “A TROOPER, just like you,” he switched to Norse for the trooper part.

“What? What does that mean?”

TROOPER means what it sounds like. A TROOPER! Is a soldier, just like you. Us I mean just like us.

Pallus hissed as crossbows aimed him and Hiccup as well.

“Hands in the air, all of you!” They shouted.

“You dare to turn on your own?” My husband snorted. “Stand down!”

“No, you put your hands in the air or else in three seconds this arrow will be in your chest!”

PPEEWWWWW!!

Like a firework a terrible terror fireball shot out from behind a few nearby barrels. It rose straight up a hundred feet and exploded.

The soldiers surrounding us watched it in surprise… then blinked. Hiccup and Pallus switched from being cornered spies to dutiful officers.

“What’s wrong with you boys? Acting like you’ve never seen dragon fire?” Pallus shouted with very convincing condescension. “Put those weapons away fools and get back to your duties!”

The crowd startled and looked at each other, bewildered.

“Yes, sir!”

My jaw dropped.

“Wait,” One of the three pointed who were ordered to execute me. “We had orders.”

Hiccup stared. “Do you have a memory problem or are you just giving me lip?”

The man stepped back a little, looking unsure. “No sir.”

“Good. Now if you’ll excuse us we have a Viking Chief to execute and you have your new orders.” My husband turned, straight and proud as he could to walk away.

“…new, orders sir?”

Hiccup spun, eyes flashing. “Do I have to explain everything twice today? Apparently! Support the catapults, they’re under heavy fire! Go! Go!”

“Yes sir!” The three glanced pillars of smoke in that direction and scurried away.

Pallus grunted. “You are the worst liar I ever met.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

 

We rounded the turret out of sight and I easily spun out of Hiccup’s hold to face him. Pushing him against the wall I kissing him, and for a moment all the troubles in the world melted away.

“I’ve missed you.” he hugged me with surprising strength, quiet tears forming in the corners of his closed eyes. “I was afraid…”

“I wasn’t. Because I knew you were alive,” I half laughed half cried. “If anyone could survive being marooned on Skullion Island it was you. How did you escape? Why are you soaking wet? And what just happened back there??”

“Long story, river, and Mindbender dragon makes everyone forget their last five minutes unless they’re protected by one of these,” He tapped the hat on his head.

I didn’t like the sound of that. “So when you say forget you mean-”

“Forget, gone. Like they never existed.”

“Okay,” I pulled mine down further. “Don’t lose the hat.”

“Right. Alvin-“

“Top of this turret,” I answered before he could finish.

“Hotshot-”

“- is with him.”

“A Pict named Epp-“

“-Is the key to Hotshot.”

“Yes! Where-“

“On the battlefield.”

“Alvin sent him out?!?”

“No I did- ironically to keep him safe. Alvin doesn’t know.”

“Then we have his best bargaining chip,” Hiccup beamed, stroking my hair and kissing my forehead. “You’re brilliant, Astrid!”

“Not enough; our only hope is out there witless and weaponless on the battlefield… along with everyone in Berk.” I said, and somehow felt by his reaction it wasn’t the worst place to be right now.

“The Wotādīni are on our side, darting people only to knock them out and drag them to safety without blowing our cover.”

“So they’re ok,” I breathed a sigh, feeling like a hot burple had been lifted off my shoulders. They were ok, even after my mistake. They were ok.

“I hate to break it up but if the soldiers remember their orders Alvin probably remembers giving them,”

With sudden ferocity I spun on and socked Pallus.

“Astrid! He’s on our side!”

“I know, but that’s for stealing my dragon and putting a bit in her mouth.”

“Fair enough,” Pallus rubbed his jaw. He held up a key. “Bygones?”

“No promises.” I swiped it out of his hand and undid my shackles.

“Hmph you’re welcome.”

“Where did you get that??” My husband asked him almost accusingly.

“One of the few things I keep on me at all times. Had it since I the day I enlisted, and I want it back.”

I dropped it in his waiting palm.

“Don’t trust your own people, huh?” Hiccup crossed his arms.

“Trust? In the Roman Empire? You’re funny Chief. Anybody have a plan??”

“Yeah it’s been five minutes. Trooper?” A purple terror flew up and landed on Hiccups shoulder. He fired another shot into the air.

“Good boy! That should buy us a few more seconds of planning.” He pat the dragon on the head.

“Trooper!” I said, “You made it!”

Scree? The Terror answered distractedly, licking an eye.

“Yes and boy has he ever lived up to his name. Do you know where they are keeping the furies?”

“South,” I pointed toward a colosseum dome.

“Ok.” He thought for a second. “Ok. We don’t have time to do everything, so we’re going to have to split up. Astrid, you go free Toothless, Pallus go with her, and I’ll deal with Alvin.”

“No Hiccup, he always has some crafty way of protecting himself. We should do it together.”

“Astrid with the village ‘gone’, and Epp missing his only bartering chip will Toothless to manipulate me. If Toothless isn’t where Alvin thinks he is then he can’t do that.”

“Wait! The kids!”

“Kids?”

“Yeah, our kids-“

“You two have kids??”

“No you dope the village does. They’re still under lock and key, and it’s not below Alvin to use them for bait or bargain.”

“Not at all.” The Chief’s brow furrowed. He snapped his fingers. “Do you have anything with Epp’s scent on it?”

“Well I grabbed him by the shirt coll- no that won’t work. It was Tuff’s shirt collar I made him wear Tuffs clothes. Oh! This,” I pulled the prybar out of my pocket. “I handed him this when I gave him Tuffs clothes. Caliban had it first but I’m pretty sure I rubbed his scent off.”

Hiccups nose wrinkled. “…Tuffs clothes?”

“Caliban? Is that why Justinian killed him? Was he helping you?” There was a wounded look in Pallus eyes.

“Long story, and yes. Will it do?”

Hiccup took the prybar and let the small dragon sniff. He snorted twice, the first time looking at me, and the second trying to smell toward the battlefield.

Scree!

“He’s got the scent. Now Trooper can find Epp on his own while I keep Alvin preoccupied until Hotshot is safely in Epp’s hands. Then I can go help the children… hopefully with Toothless’ help by then.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

“Wait wait wait. You’re saying if this goes side-ways you’re going to put all our hope of survival into that little dragon?”

“Yes, Pallus. I put my trust in you, after all.”

He took the point well.

“Anything else we need to cover?”

I couldn’t think of anything.

“Alright. Let’s do this.” He nodded to Pallus “Good luck!”

“Same to you.” He rubbed his jaw again. “Your wife can really throw a fist.”

Hiccup smiled. “I know.”

Pallus wasn’t all that dim. He took a hint and slinked across the way, waiting for me in the shadows of another building.

The soldier inside tore at me to get going, but the wife wanted to stay and enjoy whatever we had left in this uncertain war.

We hugged and kissed one last time.

“I… have to go.” I finally said. “Hiccup, be careful, that man is a conniving snake. He’ll do anything to keep his own hide. And I mean anything.”

“I know Astrid. All to well I know. Be safe,” he said, eyes glassy. All this time I was thinking how hard it was to let him go again, now I caught a glimpse of how he felt about letting me. “Be safe!”

My pride roiled. I was not going to let him think he was sending his defenseless wife into the fray, regardless of how things turned out. “Always. And for the record I just pummeled twenty soldiers with my bare hands. Like to see you try that.”

He gave a half-laugh, knowing what I was doing. “You always were the warrior my father wanted.”

“Maybe but he got something much better and he knew it.” I took him by the shirt collar and looked deep into his eyes. “Now go teach that weasel a lesson he’ll never forget. I’ll see you in a few.”

I ran across the road to join Pallus, looking back one last time.

Hiccup ducked around the turret to the other side as some guards marched by.

Five minutes after a month of not knowing if the other was still alive, and right back into a game that could take either of us in the blink of an eye. It didn’t seem fair.

“Ready to go free some furies, turncoat?” I turned my focus on Pallus and the mission ahead.

“Yeah that hasn’t gotten old in the last month.” The ex-soldier rolled his eyes but followed anyways.

ninjadragon
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Thank Thor. You didn't kill

Thank Thor. You didn't kill Astrid, but I did almost die. It was Hiccstrid that killed me. Ya really need to work on keeping me alive longer xD Besides the fact that I died, great new chapter! And also the fact that I died isn't a big deal because I really don't like Hiccstrid, so I'm sure everyone else stayed alive so it's fine. 

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B-D

Yeah... I knew you wouldn't like that. Sorry I'll try to keep you alive more Ninja! But, y'never know who's next... and there are nexts.

 

*Slinks away cackling*

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*Squints*Oh dear... what do

*Squints*Oh dear... what do you mean by nexts.... *Squinting intesifys*

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Awww, Hiccstrid! <3

Such a sweet chapter! It's nice to get a small break from the turmoil and suspense!

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^^

Gotta have a good reunion for those two! This is the first time in what, twenty chatpers? that they've been together. ^^

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Hungry little dragons want food... o.o

Okay, whew, no one else has died yet! Good save, Hiccup! 

 

Poor Pallus, getting socked by Astrid has to be pretty painful... XD

 

Giving us a little break from the battle will keep us from freaking out too much before you throw us right back into it. Smart. X)

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Hungry hungry hungry hungry...

Hehe yeah. Pallus' gonna feel that tomorrow XD

 

...yeah! Hehe I didn't even think about that, but it worked well ^^

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Never fear, for Blobby's here!

Hiccup really is NOT a good actor, is he?   Oh my, all the things that could go wrong in the next chapter...  Myrddin down, who next?   Mwa-ha-ha-ha!  >_>

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Mmmm no not really.

It's not one of his strongpoints, I think. hehehe ^^

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*spits out mouthful of Plot Soup* WHAT DID YOU JUST FEED ME???

Reading through these chapters? Beautiful. Amazing characters, lots of action but enough humor to make me laugh, plot lines weaving together and climax rising--really, I only have one problem with this.

You! Killed! Myrddin!

Let me rephrase for maximum effect:

*waves arms wildly in Justinian's direction* You! Let! Him! Kill! Myrddin!

Just--just--WHY??

Fine. If you want to *chokes* kill Myrddin, fine fine fine fine (not fine). But there better be tears and there better be wails and a properly mournful funeral. If you're gonna take such a lovable character away, his loss better be felt.

*huffs and sniffles away to re-read all Myrddin's chapters*

*still holding out for a sudden resurrection. If not, GUESS WHAT'S GETTING A FIX-IT FIC!!!*

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^my agent face^ He's not actually dead, guys xD

I'm sorry it had to be done, Justinian had to show his real colors. There will be some weeping. Glad you liked the rest of it tho, thanks Ness! ^^

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One word (again)

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

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XD

XD

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Chapter 50

 

 

 

Chapter Fifty

 

 

Duel, Yee the Heirs of Grimbeard

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toothless felt dizzy. What just happened?

He glanced around the giant cage. He was in the same place, and so was everyone else, but, it felt like… like something was missing.

Ping!!

Something shot by, dangerously to his head.

Glancing up the dragon suddenly cried out, jumping down and curling into a tight ball against the wall, back arched.

Griseomus stood in alarm.

“Hey what’s his-“

The soldier followed Toothless gaze and did nearly the exact same thing. “They’re out of control,” He pointed up at Piranharrow ricocheting off each other and into buildings like metal arrows. He was lucky he ducked when he did, otherwise the tiny dragon that bounced off the wall behind him would have taken his head off.

The red and black scuttleclaw jumped, his eyes wide with terror. He ran to and fro in a frenzy, then not knowing what else to do smashed his head into the dirt.

“They’re out of control! Griseomus?”

“Wait a minute,” The trainer’s voice rose from behind the stone wall. “They’re recomposing.”

Toothless, the soldier, and even the Scuttleclaw popped his head back out of the ground to see for themselves. All three sighed with relief.

“False alarm.” Tacitus sank down. “But what was that for anyway? Alvin just trying to keep us on our toes?”

“I don’t know,” Griseomus said, standing warily. “You stay here and keep guard at the horse gate. I’m going to find out what’s going on.”

“That’s right Tacitus,” The soldier mocked once he felt his superior was out of hearing. “Stand out here in the open and keep guard while I run away like the censored I am. Officers, am I right?” He asked the Scuttleclaw.

The dragon shrugged.

“How about a lift?”

Toothless watched, baffled as neither dragon or soldier thought anything of it as the Scuttleclaw let him step onto his head, raising it so the man could squeeze back through the bars above the arena walls. He climbed back down and stood in front of the gate. The fury watched hopefully.

“Thanks. Wish I could release you but Griseomus would skin me alive and then chop me up in tiny pieces. Plus I don’t have any keys.”

Snorting, Toothless got back to pacing. He stretched his wings, making sure they were limber and ready for flight regardless of how well the flying would go without his tail. Things were very, very wrong out there.

 

 

 

Cyrus stood at the doorway with Alvin’s horse, peeking around every few seconds to see what he could of the dragons and battle.

This time when he turned, he was startled to find a small, purple dragon sitting on the ground.

“What the…?” He glanced around. Had someone lost one of the Berkian dragons? Or was this something the Wotādīni had trained?

He pointed his spear.

Trooper gave him a lazy eye, hissing.

“That’s right, little guy. Just stand right there…” He slowly pulled back for a thrust.

Prick!

“Ow!” He stopped short, looking down. To his shock a brown-haired, green-eyed, peg-legged Viking was on the ground, poking his leg with a dart.

“Hi there.” The Viking smiled up.

The spear dropped. Cyrus teetered a second; giving Hiccup just enough time to get to his feet and stop him from falling like downed timber.

“Oof!” His knees buckled under the deadweight of the unconscious man. Trooper rushed to his aid but was little help. Cyrus landed with a thud, to which Hiccup cringed and looked upwards the Turret staircase. When not a squeak or word was spoken, he breathed a sigh of relief.

“Nice work, Trooper,” He whispered to the dragon as he pulled his sword, a gift from Artorījos, from its sheath.

Trooper cooed up at him pleasantly.

“I have a new job for you boy, think you can handle it?”

The terror straightened his legs and stiffened his wings, sucking in all the air he could to puff up his chest.

“That’s the spirit! I’m going to climb up these stairs, and when you hear a commotion come join me at the top, but sneak through one of the loopholes.”

Trooper stared at him as he gestured, understanding most of his commands.

“Good boy. Wait here, and don’t let anyone see you.”

Nodding, the little dragon scurried into the tall grass around the turret and crouched so only his expectant eyes were visible.

The Viking Chief began his quiet ascent, gripping the sword tightly in one hand, fidgeting with his mindbender hat in the other.

In planning, he failed to mention the part where Astrid was wearing the mindbender hat meant for Epp, and was glad that neither she or Pallus noticed. Epp had to be protected from the charge at all costs… but that meant he would have to go without one. At least, he thought to himself, just like the Wotādīni soldiers, I have the benefit of knowing why I forget.

That counted for something.

As he neared the top Hiccup saw an entrance opening into a large room. His breath came faster. It had been two long since that ‘Poor but Honest Farmer’ had set foot in Berk; since he had tried to poison Hiccup, harassed Toothless, enslaved the village, fed the proud and historic island to the Piranharrow, and marooned Hiccup on Skullion. Now at last the time of reckoning was at hand.

 

 

 

 

 

“HEEYYY!!!” Dagur screeched in a manner not unlike Sleuther. He very nearly had his arm torn off by an angry zippleback. “Barf and Belch what is WRONG with you? WE’RE ON YOU SIDE!!”

Two Romans sat in Ruff and Tuffs places, urging the dragon into a blind and frenzied barrage of attacks.

“It’s no use Dagur, they can smell we’re not Berkian.” Camicazi, in a rare moment of wisdom spun a wild and evasive loop overhead. “They can also smell Wotādīni all over us.”

“Curse you dragons and your over-active sense of smell. YOU DO HAVE EYES!” He roared out with a fist.

Sleuther snarled beneath him.

“Oops sorry that was insensitive.”

Stormfly” hissed as Gothi’s swarm of angry terrors charged her, jaws snapping.

“Catch you later!” The Bog Burglar shouted as they rocketed away, out of control.

“Dagur!” The King and his Captain rode up behind the Tryple Stryke. All around them soldiers were running toward the safety of the trees.

“Stiùir na saighdearan air ais! Tha cus ann!” Artorījos said as Leon shot a dart at Kingstail. The Nadder roared angrily, turning from his target, the ‘soldier’ on the chestnut brown horse, and flicking a few small spikes the Captain’s way. They stuck to his shield, and seconds later Kingstail was on the ground, sleeping like a baby as his rider threw a fit.

Dagur stared at Artorījos blankly. “I have no idea what you just said.”

“Air do làimh dheis Leon!” Artorījos shouted.

A Roman archer had seized opportunity and was aiming Leon on his unprotected side. The Captain jumped his horse forward, only just escaping an arrow to his chest. He charged the soldier.

The King’s expression twisted in frustration. He pointed the Wotādīni farmers and soldiers and then Dagur. “You, go,” He said between his teeth, gesturing the trees. “Save!” He pointed the people again.

“Oh protect the soldiers as they retreat. No reason to get snappy, I gotcha covered. I’m like an expert on retreats.”

An arrow flew by at random and Dagur caught it.

“See?”

Artorījos shook his head and snapped the reins. Leon followed his lead and they both disappeared into the thickest part of battle.

A quick cue from Dagur, and Sleuther was off the ground. Whether the Berkian dragons recognized him or not they were mostly wise enough to avoid an angry Triple Stryke.

Mostly.

Another close brush with the jaws of death took Dagur back to a deranged place.

“BARF AND BELCH! DO YOU TWO EVER LEARN!!”

 

Tired horses cantered into camp, carrying five more wounded Wotādīni to add to the sixty Shattermaster already had. Further back Hookfang and Ebony were enjoying digging holes in the mud, and from some of them, the alarmed groans of already waking Romans could be heard.

“What’s going on out there?” Heather asked an infantry Captain wilst directing Shattermaster who to put where. “This looks like retreat.”

“It is. The southern end of the front was separated out and we haven’t been able to hold the line since.” He said as he helped one of his men to a resting place.

“Southern?” Liam’s face went just a touch paler. “Myrddin was down there. Do you know what’s come of him?”

“Couldn’t see a thing, but it was bad fighting. I’d be surprised if anyone made it out.”

Liam looked out to the field. From their vantage point on the north side of Ouse, the southern end couldn’t be seen.

“Stupid lad. Stupid, brave lad.” He said to himself, shutting his eyes tightly.

A golden horse with travois in tow made its fourth harrowing trip over the three tree-bridge.

“Heather, you must send Hookfang out to fight,” the Queen said. “And Liam, those cat things would be helpful just about now!”

“Yes your Majesty.” His answer was dutiful but hollow. Sucking in a deep breath he focused on the man next to the furry wagon waiting orders.

“RELEASE THE FURRIES!”

The tie was undone, and with hisses and mews and all manner of strange yowls the winged cats burst forth, excitedly heading toward the all-you-can-eat buffet in the sky.

“Heather, Hookfang??” The Queen repeated.

“I will I will, we’re still working on Snotlout.”

While she checked on a sleeping Fishlegs for the third time, propped comfortably against a tree and covered with a blanket, a nurse in the background dumped another bucket of ice-cold water over the Jorgenson.

“Hehe stop it that tickles.” Snotlout mumbled, rolling over.

“We don’t have time,” She said urgently.

It was true. Heather had held out as long as she dared in the hope that Snotlout would wake up and by some miracle be able to ride the Monstrous Nightmare. The Viking would be able to direct the dragon’s attacks to the most vulnerable enemy positions, and he, unlike Hookfang, could not be swayed by what the poor Berkian dragons believed.

“Alright. Hookfang!”

Head and body caked in mud all she could see of his face were his eyeballs. He shook it off and slithered obediently up. Ebony’s head popped out of the hole as she wondered where her buddy was going.

“Wow, Hiccup’s had a good influence on you.”

He snorted an insulted smoke-ring around her.

“Okay boy, we need you to protect the soldiers and show our dragons who the real enemy is.”

Hookfang cocked his head to the side.

“They’re hurting the Wotādīni soldiers. Get them to follow your lead and attack the enemy!”

Attack enemies and tell all his dragon friends to listen to him? Hookfangs eyes narrowed in pleasure. Now that he liked the sound of.

Heather held up one of the Roman helmets for him to get the scent. Hookfang studied it with a blank expression until Windshear cooed the explanation.

With new understanding he took a good whiff. Smelled like the south.

“Knock ‘em senseless boy!” Heather slapped him on the wing.

Teeth bared and smoke rising from his nostrils the Monstrous Nightmare combusted; running out of the trees at terrifying speed.

“Whoa whoa, no Ebony,” Heather and Windshear stopped the muddy nightfury. She trilled a worried word, wondering what sort of trouble Hookfang was getting into. “You stay here where it’s safe…and where you won’t blow our cover.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A chestnut horse. A chestnut horse. Blast why did it have to be chestnut? Half the horses on the battlefield were chestnut.

Justinian studied from his Nadder’s-eye-view. The Wotādīni were retreating to a stronghold in the northern forest, crossing the Ouse somewhere in the trees. He’d sent a cohort to destroy whatever they had there, but still, no sign from any of the retreaters made him think they were a King in disguise.

Maybe he was looking at this all wrong; he ought to consider, according to what he’d heard of Artorījos, where the King would be.

Noble, fierce, protective… a sucker for the underdogs, He thought. Hmmm underdogs; the peasants who volunteered to fight for their country, the stragglers. Hadn’t he just flown over some that his soldiers had cut off?

Stormfly hissed as he jerked her back around.

There was the little company of inexperienced fighters…

He focused.

…and a chestnut warhorse, nimbly running circles around the Romans encompassing the helpless farmers. The flaxen-haired rider with a build not at all unlike Carausius’s rode it magnificently, and took down five legionaries with a single swipe of his blade, then three more as he spun it on each side of the horse. Flanked, the attackers tore their attention away from their quarry and to the rider, while another rider who looked to be the Royal Captain broke through the line on the other side and freed the farmers.

“Alright dragon time to prove your worth,” Justinian focused on the Chestnut horse and tapped the back of Stormfly’s head.

She fired a single tailspike.

 

 

 

Artorījos knocked over the last soldier in the line by hitting him in the face with the hilt of the sword. He turned Calesvol for one more round before regrouping with the rest of the cavalry and soldiers.

Thudd!

The feisty chestnut squealed, tripping. He bucked for another five seconds before collapsing beneath Artorījos.

 

Leon watched the King’s animal go down behind the line. The Legionaries took interest, while further on a blue and gold Nadder carrying what looked to be the Legionnaire turned sharply.

“Go,” He said as the rest of the wounded escaped their clutches. “Robin see to them!”

“Yes sir!” the master archer said between arrows. “This way soldiers!”

Using only his legs to guide his horse toward Artorījos, Leon strung his last Mimikoo dart and fired at the Nadder.

 

Ignorant of the dragon going down, breath returned to Artorījos lungs. He held back a groan as he put a hand on his side and stiffly got to his feet. It could have been a lot worse; the horse could have fallen on top of him. Instead it had unintentionally kicked him as he bailed.

“Calesvol,” he stumbled to the animal with a Nadder spike through its heart. It had died even before it hit the ground. “You faithful old friend.”

As he thought to put a hand over his horse’s still warm shoulder he heard the distinct sound of armor clicking. The Legionaries were circling; it was no time for sentiment. The King straightened, took a few deep breaths and spun his blade.

 

 

 

 

 

Hiccups heart beat faster with every step; his emotions a mix of desperation, determination, and fury. The fate of every man, woman, child, and creature of Berk and Wotādīni were hanging in the balance of his success over this coward.

A cowered yes. A fool? Not so much.

Reaching the last step, he held the sword ready. The room was large enough to hold twenty men, with loopholes all around for firing arrows and pouring oil. He couldn’t yet see Alvin, but the chirruping of Hotshot in the echoey chamber was all he needed to know the man was there.

Stepping into the room, for once in his life, Hiccup’s false foot did him a favor. It slipped on the smooth stone.

THUDD!

Splinters blew out of the oak beam where his head should have been. A bolt stuck three inches deep where there wasn’t one before.

“Y-you,” The man on the other end of the crossbow sputtered, his face ashen as he took a step back. Hotshot hopped up and down on his shoulder, spitting venomous things out.

“Alvin,” Hiccup growled, and didn’t sound unlike his own dragon all those weeks ago.

Without a word the Outcast madly tried to reset the bow. Hiccup rushed him, swinging the sword.

“It can’t be!” The man jumped away, dropping the weapon and cowering in front of the table, hand groping underneath it. “I left you for dead!”

“No you left me to Skullions, which are dragons. And as you said yourself I am the dragon whisperer!”

He swung the sword again. This time, it clashed with metal of an equal force. Just as Hiccup suspected Alvin had stashed away a sword.

“You’re right. I should have done the job myself!”

He broke their blade-lock and stepped away from the table, tapping the sword to his shoulder in salute.

“En-garde!”

Hiccup advanced with an attack which Alvin parried easily but retreated from none-the less. They made a slow circle around the room this way, Hiccup advancing Alvin retreating.

“How did you escape the island? Skullions don’t fly!” Alvin tested Hiccups’ offense with a second intention. The Viking didn’t take the bait.

“And they hate the water.”

“Who said I got off on a Skullion?” He tapped away a teaser.

“Well, what did you use?”

“Trade secret.”

The Chief noted Hotshot’s shiver. Company would no doubt be joining Alvin’s cause soon… but if he could only keep him busy long enough…

“Come now, you’ve piqued my curiosity. Don’t let a good story go with you to the grave!”

The outcast performed a baleastra, leaping forward and lunging on his dominant leg. Hiccup dodged and countered, tapping Alvin on the neck.

“Point,” He said coldly.

Alvin’s eyes blazed. “Touche’.” He bit out, saluting and stepping back. Both men swung their swords before setting again. “I see gloating’s not beneath you. You’re a lot more like your father than you look.”

“That’s one thing I picked up, yeah.” Hiccup let the smirk creep up his face. “I’m stubborn like him too. Won’t hidewhen I’m supposed to.”

The Outcast’s lunged with another second intention and Hiccup didn’t read it as well as he had the first. He parried, but uncertainty lost him the balance of his footing and Alvin took full advantage of that. On the defense now Hiccup retreated.

Between lunges, advances and thrusts Hotshot was getting swung all over the place. He could take it no more and flew off to watch from the table.

Alvin backed Hiccup into the wall.

“Seriously it’s bugging me how did you do it?” He asked the Viking at swordpoint. “You shouldn’t have lasted an hour, what with their sense of smell and that cut.”

“Sorry, I can’t trust you not to try it again. But thanks for leaving me that Terrible Terror, he was a big help.”

Hiccup blocked the thrust and slid out of harms way, tapping Alvin on the behind as the man’s sword sparked against stone.

“Point.” He said again, and this time he was gloating.

Alvin snarled. “So! You think I’ll make it out of this alive?”

Alvin thrust Hiccup parried.

“You might. I know I will.” Hiccup thrust Alvin parried.

“Oh don’t be such an optimist, my boy. We can’t both walk away from this.”

The swords struck with a resonating clang, both in mid-swing. Neither Hiccup or Alvin gave an inch for a good fifteen seconds.

“That’s your choice Alvin,” Hiccup grit his teeth, relaxed his blade just enough to let Alvin’s slip towards him, and spun them both until the momentum flung the Outcast’s weapon sideways. He tapped his opponent over the heart. “I will.”

For a moment Alvin just stared, wondering if the Son of Stoic the Vast had enough of his father in him to slay a beaten foe. An ugly smile spread over his charming face as he raised his hands and dropped his sword.

“Well, you are the better swordsman, I’ll give you that. But what purpose has it served, Haddock?” He gestured out to the swarm. “Your people are already lost, Hotshot will have nothing to do with you, and I alone control the swarm. We’re in the same predicament as we were all those weeks ago on Berk. Kill me, and we all die.”

“Are we though?” He returned with much more confidence than Alvin liked. “As I understand it I don’t have to bond with Hotshot to loose your hold on the Piranharrow. There’s somebody out there who already has.”

“W-what?” Alvin fumbled in an attempt to hide his alarm while trying to figure out if Hiccup really knew or was just bluffing.

The Viking grinned. Alvin had taken the bait.

SQUEAK!!

The Outcast’s eyes bulged. He spun to watch that very same purple terror he’d left with Hiccup on Skullion pounce on Hotshot.

“NO!” He shrieked, throwing himself at the little dragon. Hiccup tossed his sword aside and tackled Alvin to the ground.

“Trooper go!” He shouted to the Terror, pulling his hat off and throwing it. With a struggling, angry little Piranharrow in one paw he caught the hat in another.

“Find Epp!” He raised the prybar. “Find Epp Trooper find Epp!”

Scree! Trooper zipped out the nearest loophole.

Ping!

A small, black creature shot into the room like an arrow and ricocheted off the prybar, flinging it out of Hiccup’s hand.

Pew-pong! Ping ping! Pew!

“Whoa!” Hiccup ducked. More of the shiny black dragons either pinged off the stone walls of the turret or shot through one of the many loopholes to ricochet around the room. Hiccup grabbed his sword, deflecting what soon became obvious as a purposeful attack.

Fwwwwping! Pong pew-Pew! Pong! Ping!

Alvin twisted around and kicked the distracted Viking off. He looked out the nearest loophole.

There was Trooper carrying away a squealing Hotshot. The Terror was still within the average archer’s range but quickly putting distance between them. Glancing desperately over the chamber he poured his focus into the crossbow on the other side.

No no no! Hiccup realized Alvin’s intent, crawling to avoid incoming Piranharrow. He caught him by the foot, making him fall and drawing him back. They scuffled briefly.

Fwwwwwump!

“Ah!”

A piranharrow darted through, piercing the Viking Chief’s shoulder armor. He was thrown backward against the stone wall, stunned.

Alvin stumbled to the crossbow, setting the bolt.

 “Trooper!” Hiccup shouted, standing. Five tiny, deadly black dragons were fast approaching, aimed at him.

His throat went dry. He had time to dodge now, but if they countered and he forgot…

Finished, Alvin targeted the fleeing Terror.

“Trooper fire!”

 

 

 

 

 

Find Epp. Find Epp. Find Epp…

The Terror’s nose worked overtime. He could smell the celt, he could! But where was he?”

Squeak! Squeak squeak squeak squeak! Squeak! Hotshot sputtered colorful objections as he swung upside down from his long tail.

The purple dragon eyed a commotion near the wall itself. On the Wotādīni side five Roman soldiers were battling (well falling to really) a fierce middle-aged woman who smelled in her own way a little like Hiccup. She was holding onto a.. a celt, and he smelled like….

Epp!

The dragon screed his delight, changing direction.

“Trooper!”

Trooper glanced back, balancing his hold on the hat and a furious little white-nosed Hotshot. He could see Alvin standing in a loophole, crossbow set and leveling at him.

“Trooper fire!”

He opened his mouth- but five tiny black dragons speeding by cut him short.

They were aimed for Hiccup; all five. The terror’s sharp eyes could chart their paths; two would hit him in the chest, one the neck, another the head and if all else failed the last was dead center.

Hiccup could escape, if he made his move in two seconds the crazy fast little dragons wouldn’t have a hope of tracking.

But firing would make everyone forget; and if Hiccup forgot the Piranharrow were coming at him he wouldn’t stand a chance!

Trooper shut his mouth. He cupped his wings and broke his speed; calculating where he would fall if-

 

Alvin loosed the bolt.

“Trooper!” Hiccup dodged five would-be lethal hits. “No!”

The Viking Chief rushed to the loophole where Alvin was looking up with triumph. Outside, the little purple dragon’s body flutter toward earth.

“You hit him!” Hiccup said, pain in his hazel green eyes. Oh Trooper I promised you!

“I never miss, Haddock.” Alvin replied with quiet confidence. Unbeknownst to the Chief the Outcast had set another bolt, and was even now slowly turning the bow toward Hiccup.

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AaAAaGhHhhH HOW COULD YOU?!?!

NONONONONONO NOT TROOPER!!!!!!! Not sweet, brave, warrior Trooper!!! *cries* And poor Calevsol, spirited and fighting to the very end...

With Trooper unable to signal, there are sooooo many things that could go wrong...

I have a love-hate relationship with stories like this that are engaging and very well-written yet heart-wrenching.

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Artorijos loved that horse :'(

Calevsol translated to modern English is Excalibur.

 

Aww sorry Solveig, I guess as a I always liked stories where the stakes were high and write that way :P A few more rough chapters ahead, and things will start evening out :3

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I did too :(

Oh, really? That's so cool!

 

Nono, don't apologize for this awesome work!! I love stories that make me feel so strongly for the characters! I just wish nobody had to d.ie, even though I know it doesn't always work that way.

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How could you!?!?!??!? You

How could you!?!?!??!? You hurt Trooper, didn't do anything with Astrid, and made Stormfly listen to a Roman! What has happened to your mind!?!??! Have you gone insane!??!?!

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Yeah I'm crazy! What made you think I was sane? ~Whiplash

Ahem. You may recall, in the episode of RTTE where Snotlout got Stormfly and Astrid got Hookfang for a day, that by tapping the back of a nadder's head, the dragon would involuntarily shoot a tailspike. So... not exactly listening... xD

 

Not to worry, Astrid's story is far from finished. There's just a lot of other stuff going on, too

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Uh... on a scale of 1-10, how

Uh... on a scale of 1-10, how much Hiccstrid is going to be a part of Astrid's story?

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mmm

about a 3 or 4... maybe a 5 depending on the way you scale it, but I try to keep it toned down :3

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I see... I don't quite trust

I see... I don't quite trust you...

 

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You are wise >.>

Well if it makes you feel any better I thought that previous chapter had the most Hiccstrid of all.

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Did you..? Or not...

Wait... Did Trooper just judge where he would fall to if he got hit and then let himself free-fall, or has he actually been hit by Alvin's arrow...? Because knowing Trooper, he's still alive. (Please still be alive, Trooper, we can't lose you too!)

I knew Hiccup was a better swordsman! >:D But Alvin's a sneak, so Hiccup better do something quickly... Or Trooper! If he's still alive, he can fire a shot now! 

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Sort of

Well that was his hope, but Alvin is an excellent shot and he did actually hit poor Trooper.

Y'know I think I'll post daily because from here on out everything happens so fast it'll be hard to keep track otherwise.

Yuuussss I been waiting for Hiccup and Alvin's duel forever! Glad you enjoyed that part! :D

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ARG, NOT TROOPER! o0o

AH, NO! HE DID?!?! 8O NOOO! I suppose it's no use hoping that the shot wasn't fatal...? o___o

That'll be awesome! Also painful for us readers for a bit, but awesome!

I did indeed! ^^

(Still can't believe he got Trooper... Poor little Terror... *Sobbing in the corner commences*)

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<.< Invisible Spoilage >.>

Fatal? I can't answer that. BUT HE ISN'T DEAD!! :D :D :D

ninjadragon
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Thank you for telling use he

Thank you for telling use he will survive.

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Ooh, muy interesante

*gasp* YAYYYY!!!!! :D :D *happy squealing*

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*Sobbing pauses momentarily*

YEEESSSS, HE'S ALIIIIIVVVEEEE!! Now, we just hope he can recover... o___o

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Oops

I can't believe I forgot to comment on the duel and how much I love that Hiccup never took the opportunity to strike a fatal or at least incapacitating blow, even though he had several chances!

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:D

Aww thanks! That's one of the reasons I like Hiccup; he gives an awful lot of grace

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Chapter 51

 

 

 

 

Chapter Fifty One

 

 

How to Break a Dragon's Bond

 

 

 

 

 

Grrrrr… grrrr, grrrr… grrrrr…

Ebony paced. The black-haired Viking told her to stay but went out to fight with those nasty Southerners herself! So selfish. And to top it off the tall human was keeping her from running out there to protect her monstrous friend.

Her little black dragon’s nose twitched worriedly, for between the disturbing smells of those tiny monsters in the sky, the Southerners, the Vikings, the Wotādīni, the angry friend dragons, and the stinky ant-eating mindbender she caught a very faint scent of something else...

Nightfury.

GRRRRRR… She grumbled again and resumed her pacing. Dumb Vikings why did they always go toward the furies? The furies were mean, nasty, and terribly rude… especially to monstrous nightmares.

“Oh no! OH NO! Oh no no NO!” Snotlout rose from the dead, boxing the air.

“Tha e ceart gu leòr, tha sinn nar caraidean,” A friendly Wotādīni said calmingly. “OWW!”

His words fell on deaf ears.

“You savages! It’s bad enough you poisoned everybody now you take who’s left for supper?” He raised his fists in fury after gesturing his drenched clothes. “I will not be marinated!!!”

“Pipe down lad!” Liam snarled. “You’re giving our position away!”

“What?? Old man Liam who lives on that weird cat-thing infested island and once tried to drown my dad?? You’re in on this too!?!” The Jorgenson’s face turned dark. “I knew you were evil.”

He rushed past the confused fury to the six-foot-ten Celt.

Liam put out his good hand and caught him by his hot head. The Viking swung his arms relentlessly but couldn’t reach far enough to actually hit. He thrust Snotlout back, who landed with a thud.

“No you idiot, I’m here with Chief Haddock!”

Snotlout narrowed his eyes. “I didn’t see you with the rest of us.”

“NOT THAT Haddock!” Liam clenched his fist. “Hiccup!”

“Hahahaha yeah Hiccup was left on Skullion there probably aren’t even any bones left of him. Nice try though. Ahh, ahh- AHH!”

The old man’s delicate temper snapped. He grabbed Snotlout by the scruff of his shirt collar. “That so? What’s YOUR dragon doing here then?”

All the fight left Snotlouts rigid frame.

“Hookfang?” He whispered as the butane beast wreaked havoc on what was left of a cohort.

“…Never mind the nightfury standing right here.” Liam noted the obvious.

“That’s Hookfang. That’s… that’s my dragon. He’s alive.” Snotlout pointed senselessly, beginning to laugh. “Haha, hahaha! HOOKFANG YOU’RE ALIVE!!”

“I just said to keep it down!” Liam groaned desperately.

“You’re alive buddy! You’re a-“

Ebony’s legs stiffened and she growled as the fiery dragon roared. A barrage of arrows flew up at him; They weren’t doing any real damage, but they did catch in his wings and his scales, sticking out and making it almost impossible to flap his wings. Slowly he glided to earth, where the enemy waited.

“Aliiiiiivvve oooohhh no you don’t!!” The Jorgenson’s face distorted with rage. He grabbed a nearby bludgeon.

“What are you doing?!?” Liam said in shock as Snotlout jumped on Ebony.

“Keeping my dragon alive! Ebony DESTROY THEM!!!”

He and the black dragon charged out of the forest, grim intentions for the Romans circling Hookfang.

“No! Ohhh!” Liam put his hand on his head. “There goes Ebony.”

 

 

Hookfang twisted one direction then another. Surrounded! And he couldn’t even remember how it happened. This was not advertised in Heather’s speech! Or… or well maybe it was he couldn’t understand most of what she said anyway.

The Monstrous Nightmare hissed, igniting; but it did little to stop the enemy.

Someone sent a spear sailing dangerously close to his head. He snapped in the general direction it had come from, catching a careless soldier in his fangs and throwing him so far no one heard the thud. A few others tested him and he retaliated, snaking in circles, lashing out when the humans acting like wolves got to close.  One man charged forward then stopped when he saw Hookfang had curled himself into an impenetrable ball, neck coiled back ready to strike when the man made a wrong move. As they kept the standoff for over three seconds, the marksman out of the lot made his move. He flung his spear at Hookfangs’ head!

CLANG! It met half-way with a bludgeon.

The Jorgenson hopped off of Ebony and before the marksman even had a chance to draw his sword knocked him out cold.

“RRAAAAAHHH!” Snotlout screamed, ten other soldiers rushing him while the others continued to try for Hookfang- but now the Nightmare had a dragon covering his back, and between the two the legionaries had no chance.

The Viking ran towards his bunch, spinning with the bludgeon madly. Five seconds later every one of those ten were down for the count.

“SNOTLOUT… SNOTLOUT?… OI… OI-OI.” He shouted dizzily.

Hrrrrrr! Hookfang purred and rubbed in rare and pure joy against Snotlout. He didn’t even care if his boy was soaking wet. The Jorgenson flung his arms around the red dragons’ head, misty-eyed. “You terrible, self-sacrificing disgustingly good boy! Long time no see. Bring it on in.”

Ebony watched, that clueless look on her face again…  but at least it was somewhat warranted this time.

Her nose twitched, making her lips curl back and her pupils slits.

Hookfang pulled away from Snotlout and brought a wing forward, pulling arrows out of it. His Viking working on the ones stuck in his other wing and two minutes later saw the dragon arrowless once more.

“A little help Snot-Boy!” Camicazi and a tired looking “Stormfly” whipped his hair back as they sped by.

“…Camicazi??”

“Get up here your dragons are trying to kill me and Stormfly!”

Thirty furious terrors and Lissa’s Shockjaw Sea Cucumber flew past in pursuit.

“Oh yeah. Come on Hookfang let’s go show em who’s boss!”

The dragon lowered his head so that Snotlout could get on. “Ebony follow us we’ll show you how the pros handle… this…”

Spinning a full circle, the Jorgenson saw neither hide nor scale of the fury.

“Aw well she can handle herself …right Hookie?”

The Nightmare sent him a dubious look, but joined the battle in the skies. He and Snotlout had a job to do.

 

 

 

 

 

Nnneeeeiiigghhh!

Stunned to find himself sitting on the ground, Leon watched his horse run off. It had leapt sideways while he did not.

The King!

He jumped to his feet.

Artorījos was still standing and the Captain gave a quick sigh of relief before running towards him. He lived, yes, but being surrounded by fifty legionaries wasn’t going to keep him that way for long.

 

“AHH!” Artorījos clashed blades with such force his opponent’s shattered. The man stumbled back to regain himself before lunging again using what was left of the sword as a dagger. The King crouched under his shield, letting the man trip over him and into a soldier lunging from the other side. As they dished out serious wounds upon each other he turned and blocked a blow that could have cut him in two. An instant later saw him battling the responsible soldier while kicking another in the stomach. Four others launched at him and he took them all with one fell swipe before returning his focus to the other two who had recovered.

Leon, pushing his way through was still thirty feet shy of being any help to his King. And he needed it; Artorījos finished-off his afore mention assailants but before he even had a chance to draw two full breaths a new blade tried to cut him down. He narrowly evaded, and the attacker flew forwards in momentum. He kicked the man in the rear sending him headfirst into the mud before three other soldiers, sneaking around behind made their move. Out of the corner of his eye the King saw the glint of metal and reeled away as they swung their weapons from different angles. He blocked the blows but could do little else in the wildness of their attack, retreating step by step.

The flash of a red cape and plumed helmet caught Leon’s eye. A Roman quietly stalked toward the King, who was unaware of the new threat as he defended himself from the others. Soldiers parted the way of this Roman, his sword swinging easily and readily in his hands.

 

Justinian! Leon realized with horror. The King was being pushed back, right into the hands of Justinian!

Charging with his shield the Captain knocked soldiers down right and left; he jumped between Commander and King, halting the prior’s advance with a lethal swing.

CLang!

Justinian blocked it; holding the position as he studied the man.

Leon let his weapon slide away. He took three steps back and a guard position, ready to attack or defend. The Commander retaliated with deadly force.

Clang!

Cling-clong Clong!

Clang!

Though Leon was a good swordsman the Commander was far more familiar with the practice of it. Their battle lasted only seconds. In five motions Justinian sent Leon’s sword flying out of his hand.

The King started as a blade dug into the mud next to him. A familiar, Wotādīni blade. He looked back.

Almost before the sword had stuck in the mud the Legionnaire grabbed Leon by the shoulder and ran him through.

The Captain choked, stumbling backward.

“Leon!” The King’s attention broke from his own fight. He watched as a life-long, loyal friend bowed to death.

And as he did, an opportunist slashed Artorijos across the back.

 

The King cried out, falling on his hands and knees. His chainmail had preserved his life from the blow but it had still done damage. A shadow crossed over him as under broken armor a red stain began to spread.

Down, someone struck him with the hilt of their sword in his ribs and he gasped as several cracked. A few others took his weapon, a few others took his shield, then ten rough hands grabbed him and pulled him back to his feet, holding him up as Justinian approached.

“That was the Royal Captain, and he just laid down his life for you,” the Legionnaire grunted, studying Artorījos face with dark interest. “You must be one very special soldier.”

“Justinian.” The King nodded between gasps.

“Artorījos, son of Carausius. By your reputation I never would have taken you for a coward. Must have picked that up from your father somewhere along the way.”

A snarl twitched around the Artorījos’ mouth, but when he gave no defense Justinian raised an eyebrow. He took responsibility instead of blaming his men? That was at least something.

With a cue the soldiers pushed Artorijos back on his knees, into a bowing position as their Legionnaire came to stand directly in front. He toyed with his blade.

“I’ve waited nearly three decades to end the rebellion of Carausius,” He turned back his arm for a mighty swing. “More than half my life. So believe me when I say it, I will savor this moment!”

The sword came down in all the strength and hatred Justinian possessed.

 

 

“Tha thu às do chiall!” Epp jumped back as the last of Valka’s latest batch of soldiers spun in a senseless circle.

“Tot stellas,“ The Roman laughed.

“Cho toilichte gu bheil thu air mo thaobh. Mar sin uhh carson a tha sinn a ’dol air ais don ghearastan? Shaoil ​​mi gu robh sinn a ’teicheadh. Chan e gu bheil mi a ’gearan! Cha b ’urrainn dhomh a-riamh gearan, shàbhail thu mi mar trithead uair an-diugh. Chan eil mi a ’faicinn carson a tha sinn a’ dol air ais.”

“Astrid’s right you never shut up,” Valka grunted as another wave attacked.

Sqqquuuueeeeeeaaaaaak! Squeak squeak squeak squeak!!

Epp looked up just in time to catch a falling Terrible Terror. It had it’s wings wrapped tightly over it’s legs and body as it shuddered, eye’s shut in pain and breath coming sharp.

“An droch rud agad,” The young man said, his hand withdrawing from sticky wet as he found the bolt in Trooper’s body.

The Terror opened its eyes to look up at him, nose twitching.

Scree,

It said, and unfurled its wings. There, it protected a weird looking metallic hat.

“Mòran taing,” Epp placed it on his head unquestioningly. That’s when he saw the a small, silver-

“HOTSHOT!” The Pict shrieked, setting the Terror gently on the ground and taking the tiny dragon in his hands. “Valka! Hotshot! Hotshot!”

She kicked the nearest Legionary, setting off a chain reaction that left them all on the ground.

“What?” she turned sharply.

The Piranharrow opened his eyes to see Epps’ beaming face…

And hissed as his sail vibrated.

“Hotshot, nach eil thu gam aithneachadh?” The Pict’s words were wounded.

“He’s still under Alvin’s control,” Valka looked up. The swarm was in turmoil, but some of it was most definitely headed their way.

“You’ve got to break their bond!”

“Ow!” He bounced the dragon between his hands like a hot potato as its nose glowed. “Stad a bhith cho steigte san eabar!”

“Epp break the bond! We’re about to be impaled!” Valka got back to fighting Romans.

“Okay, okay.” He grimaced and caught the little dragon fast in one hand.

“Ow ow ow ow OW OW OW OW!” He hissed as Hotshot seered against his palm, but he didn’t let it stop him. Epp spun the tail around his arm, pressing the shard-like end against his wrist.

Hotshot snarled as savagely as he could burning and biting and clawing Epp until-

The little Piranharrow’s tail suddenly drooped.

“H- Hotshot?” The Pict opened his hand to find the tiny dragon limp, eyes half-closed and unresponsive. He tried to ‘listen’ with his mind.

The soldiers fighting Valka turned their eyes to the sky, and faces ash white, forgot their weapons. She knocked them all down before pivoting to see what they were looking at.

Starving and now without orders, the swarm lost all semblance of command and fell upon the land, devouring all in their path.

“CURRE!” Legionaries shouted, “Cover reperies!”

Many abandoned their shields and weapons as they rushed back into the garrison.

Valka turned to Epp in horror. “What have you done?!?”

“Chan eil fios agam! Cha do thachair seo roimhe! Hotshot a ’dùsgadh!” Epp prodded the tiny body, tears in his eyes. “Hotshot,”

 

..friend

Epp stared into the drooling little creatures glassy eyes, his own huge.

Hotshot wake up

…friend?

The dragon blinked and licked his tiny lips, getting to adorably small feet in a swaying fashion.

“Tha e beò! Tha e beò Valka!” He hopped up and down joyfully, looking for the words he needed in Norse. “Alieve? Uhh… Alive! Valka ali-Woooahhh!

The woman snatched him and threw him against the wall. Eight hungry Piranharrow jettisoned into the earth where he ought to have been. They didn’t care though; they just started eating the grass that was there.

“Let’s stay that way, too. Is he strong enough to tell the swarm not to attack?” She sent a compassionate albeit urgent look the little dragon’s way.

“I dunno I’ll ask.”

Hotshot was hopping up and down with the same delight that Epp had been. He trilled and rubbed against the young man’s hand.

Happy happy happy happy friend! Friend, yes friend! No Jerk!

His sail raised and he bared his buck teeth, scratching out fury in Epp’s hand.

EEEEvvvviiiillll….

Oww that hurts. Hey can y-

Hurt?

The dragon sniffed his burned hand with worried squeaks.

Sad. He began licking.

Eeeewwww that’s worse! No Hotshot I nee-

“Did you tell him yet?!?”

“Trying!”

Hotsho-

SQUEAK!!!

PEW! Pong pew ping pew pew pew pang pong!

Epp and Valka both ducked as the wall was sieged with the tiny shiny starving dragons. They too, landed and immediately began eating.

“Cloudjumper!” she shouted with fear. “Take cover!”

The dragon on the other side of the wall shook its chains and roared. Dust shuddered out of it as he slammed against it.

Hungry stop! The Piranharrow in their hands shivered his sail madly. Epp watched as those of the swarm nearby shivered back… and kept eating anyways.

Hungry stop! Eat done!

Still none of them listened.

Hotshot looked up, still sending the message. Bad swarm hungry. Eat alpha.

“They’re not stopping Epp…”

“What? They can’t eat you, you ARE the alpha! C’mon say it with me. You ARE the ALPHA!”

No stop, He returned helplessly.

“Then… don’t try and stop them,” Epp had a thought. “Tell them where to go for food. Tell them to follow you for food!”

He shivered the command. This time the dragons look up at him.

Follow! He shivered again. Follow, food!

“It’s working!” Epp gasped as they crawled toward him. “Uh oh it’s working.”

“What did he say?” Valka said in Norse, feeling her way to the breach in the wall as trillions of tiny black creatures all turned their attention to Hotshot.

“Follow me.”

“Follow? We’re just standing here!”

Yeah he realized that now. But at least they had the swarm’s attention again, if only just.

“At least this chaos has done us one favor, no one is guarding my dragon. Cloudjumper!” She shouted, turning the corner as he answered. “I’ve come for you!”

The Stormcutter rattled off a delightful cluster of dragonese sounds as she broke his chains.

Valka put her head against his and they both closed their eyes. “You Majestic and noble dragon. Cloudjumper, how I’ve missed you.” The woman hopped onto his back.

Epp and Hotshot stared up at the giant creature as he spread his wings to their fullest, scowling down into the Picts eyes to search his soul.

“tha e cho mòr suas faisg!”

“Climb on,” Valka spun the spear she’d been using to offer Epp the dull end. His heart skipped a beat.

“I ride?”

“Yes now hurry!”

He took the blunt end and joined Valka on the Stormcutter’s back. Butterflies shot around in his stomach as Cloudjumper launched. Words left him as they left the ground.

Fly?? Hotshot gave him a funny look. Never fly?

No Hotshot, I have never flown. Could you ask for a more epic first ride though??

The piranharrow raised his tiny wings and lowered them in a shrug.

 

Ginger and Jaxomis's picture
Ginger and Jaxomis
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Wait, what about Hikke?!

Yay! Oh no! And yay! But also oh no! Snotlout is up! But Ebony's gone and Leon died and who knows if the King is also dead... But Hotshot and Epp are back together! :D But they left Trooper behind! D: It's such a rollercoaster... o.O

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Solveig the Fair
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He’ll be fine. ...Probably.

I didn't comment on the chapter right away because I was still trying to gather my thoughts and didn't know what to say, but you just said it for me!

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Ginger and Jaxomis
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Yes, so we hope...

Glad I could be of assistance. XD

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LissaFish
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Tis the tipping point

@Ginger and Solveig,

 

Eeee it was wild writing this part out: I actually sketched maps and wrote and re-wrote the general events both as I went along and as as they had been plotted. Writing battle scenes is like knowing nothing and everything at the same time :P

 

This, and what's going on with Hiccup, and Astrid, and Justinian and Liam and Snotlout and Artorijos etc is all happening at the same time, that's why it's so crazy and it the chaos spans about four chapters, two of which we've just gotten through ^^

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Slargvarg
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Never fear, for Blobby's here!

Woah...  I come on the forum and find two chaotically happy and sad chapters!  WATCH OUT HICCY HE'S GONNA SHOOT!  

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LissaFish
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Chaos Galore!

Yerp, crazy climax! Everything is happening all at once, soI'm posting chapters dailyish now ^^

There are too many things going on in this story o.O 

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Hiccup!!! Why you no kill Alvin???

Oh, right, the Pirranharrow.

Oh no, is Trooper gonna make it? He's gotta, Ebony would be so sad! And she wouldn't be the only one :'(

Yaaayyyyyyy Snotlout and Hookfang are finally reunited! I bet they were so happy, poor Snotlout was suffering so.

Epp and Hotshot!!!!! YAAYYYYY!!!! And he gets to see Liam again!

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LissaFish
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...Also Hiccup is Hiccup. He merciful

Even to slime like Alvin >:I

 

Hookster and Snotlout had to have their own reuniting scene; I love the dynamics of that dragon and viking duo. Plus I just love Hookfang; my sister and I agreed her horse Bo hidewas a real life Hookfang.

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Chapter 52

 

 

 

Chapter Fifty Two

 

 

Imperial Fury

 

 

 

 

 

Justinain’s hand came down on Artorījos… but the sword did not! A four-legged, feathered beast flew off with the weapon.

“What the- Oof!”

Artorījos was nothing if not an opportunist. All the men staring up at the bird-like animal were paying no attention to him. He rammed his head into Justinian’s stomach and ripped Leon’s blade out of the mud, then waited.

The Legionaries jumped him again, though he made no move against them.

“A duel Justinian! A duel for the unconditional surrender of our troops.” He said as they pulled him back. “Why waste any more blood if you and I can settle this?”

Justinian straightened. “Let him go.”

Begrudgingly they obeyed orders.

“A duel? You still haven’t got the wind back in your lungs from your last fight.” The Legionnaire looked the tired man up and down.

“Well you don’t have much to lose then.” He sneered, taunting Justinian’s ego.

Now this was the Artorījos he’d heard of. A coward would have killed him when he had the chance, or at least bartered with his life, and certainly would be begging for his own at this point.

“Give me his sword and we’ll settle this like men.”

They threw the sword his way and the duel began.

It was nothing like as eloquent as Hiccup and Alvin’s. These men were warriors, used to very basic but extremely effective strategies with the broadsword, backed with strength as much as it was skill the sound of their steel could be heard over the din of battle.

For all Artorījos weariness he fought like a maniac! Justinian found himself on the retreat most of the time, only managing to get two or three offensive swings in for every five The King dished out. In the poor conditions they both made fools of themselves slipping in the mud.

Two long minutes later Justinian over extended, Artorījos swiped at his torso which Justinian blocked, but at the cost of his balance. As he tried to regain it he left his left leg exposed to attack. The King struck, cutting a long and deep gash into it.

The Commander roared and fell, Artorījos kicked his weapon out of his hand and held him at sword-point, panting heavily.

Justinian slowly rose to an upright position.

“What’s it going to be Justinian?” Artorījos demanded between breaths, holding his side with his free hand. “Surrender or death?”

The Legionnaire glowered, frustrated. “Neither… unfortunately for you.”

Soldiers circled once more, archers among them. Artorījos growled. “And you insulted my integrity.”

“What is integrity?” He snorted, standing again with a slight limp. Someone handed him the sword back. “But the downfall of all great men? Take a look around you! The world doesn’t function on such ideals.”

“Little corners of it can and do with the right compass.”

Exhausted, wounded, cheated, and without a clue how to escape, the strength that had kept Artorījos going buckled. They engaged, swords meeting thrice before the King went to block another of the Commander’s attacks. His weapon was flung from his hand. Justinian grabbed him by the shoulder-

SHHHHHHRRRRRIIIIIeeeeEEEEEEeeeeEEEEEKKKKKKKK!!!

The Gryphon gave his signature scream. Romans found themselves rooted to their place, including Justinian with sword just about to thrust through the Wotādīni King’s Armor.

Artorījos gasped as the creature landed on top of him!

Hackle raised to its fullest, body crouched it spread its golden wings and sent Justinian careening backward, then hissed at the vulturing legionaries. Helpless against him in the aftershock of his cry, they fell like flies to every swipe of his powerful forepaws or savage blow of his deadly beak.

Justinian regained his senses. He saw the beast standing on his prize, killing his men, and ran at it.

Albion sucked in another big breath, Artorījos in his talons below put his hands over his ears. Just as the Legionnaire got to the Gryphon it belted out a bloodcurling shriek, longer and louder than the last and directly into the Commander’s face. The man’s eyes bulged; his legs turned to jelly.

With a gasp Justinian the Great fell trembling to his knees in terror, sword useless at his side.

The soldiers were in no better shape. In fact many of them abandoned the cause and started running madly back to the garrison.

As the action lulled around them, the beast straightened and glanced at the battle-worn King in his clutches.

“Albion,” He looked up at the ever-somber face of the Gryphon and slowly raised his arms over his neck.

The creature reached down.

Artorījos fully expected his death blow. Instead, the same beak that tore through Roman armor gently preened mud out of his flaxen hair, making it shimmer once again.

Artorījos held his defensive position a few seconds longer. Then, coming to know the Gryphon meant him no harm began to laugh. “You overgrown b.uzzard,” He stroked the golden feathers, tension melting into relief. “I thought you only cared about my crowns.”

He stroked softer... softer… softer until his hand fell at his side.  

Satisfied with the condition of Artorījos hair Albion stepped off, nudging him to get up with encouraging clicks. The King tried but between exhaustion, cracked ribs and slash along his back he just couldn’t.

A growing humm turned one of those blue, eagle-like eyes upward to find the sky in tumult; Berkian Dragons desperately trying to evade tiny black creatures shooting down from all directions. One such creature shot through the feathers of his wing, leaving a perfect, scorched hole. With a hiss the gryphon dove out of the way, Artorījos in talon.

At the same time, Justinian broke out of the trance-like hold of terror, managing to block a few of the shiny black creatures about to hit him.

Albion glanced between the Legionnaire getting to his feet with a bloodthirsty look in his eyes, the Piranharrow eating everything in sight, and the King just beginning to get to his feet. Taking careful hold so not to hurt him any further, ignoring his objections the Gryphon took Artorījos, and their chances to the sky.

“No,” Justinian gasped, stumbling forward as the beast flew out of reach “No!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guards were spread all around the Imperial Cages. They looked to be on high alert, too. Special thanks to Justinian no doubt.

“I don’t see Griseomus,” Pallus studied the surrounding area. “Which is a bit off. He should be here.”

“Who cares if he’s not? Now what about that building? Is that storage?” I pointed… with a broomstick. Out of all the masses of weapons in this entire garrison I could only manage to sn.atch a broomstick on my way over. It was a new low I can’t deny it.

The Roman turned his attention to it and sighed with frustration. “I can’t tell. Why do you care so much about storage?? We’re here to rescue the Chief’s dragon!”

“Who can’t fly without his false tailfin. Find the storage, find the tailfin. Simple as that.”

“Oh.”

Now!

Double checking Pallus and I snuck to our next hiding place between the Guard’s beats. Almost there! I could actually see the dragons in their cages now.

“Hey, what does Toothless’ tailfin look like?”

“…Like a nightfury tailfin. Black for the manual, red and white for the one Hiccup has to use.”

“Okay, good knews is I just saw the red one hanging on the wall in the storage.”

“Great! I’ll grab it and meet you back out here.”

“Bad news too; five of my coworkers just went in there.”

“So?”

“So they’re good guys!” Pallus retorted. “Not just faceless enemies.”

“Well we have to get that tailfin Pallus. What do you suggest?”

“I go.”

All the red flags waved madly in my head.

“You? Oh ok, and I’ll just wait out here until you and your buddies finish having tea and catching up!” I hissed.

“It’s not like that! How many times to I have to prove I am with you people?”

“There are levels of trust Pallus. Hiccup is the first level, I’m the last.”

“I just… I want to talk to them. I think they’ll see reason, especially after what happened to Caliban.”

I felt a little sorry; my blurting Caliban’s murder out to everyone must have been a hard way for the guy to learn his friend was dead.

“And if they don’t?”

“Then I’ll knock them out and apologize later.”

“All five of them, huh?”

“You have your skillsets I have mine.”

That was fair.

“Ok but if you take longer than five minutes you’re on your own.”

“Understood. Where will you be?”

“Finding Toothless.”

He nodded and stood. “Oh, I almost forgot. Take this.”

“What is it?” I asked as he gave me a pouch.

“Salt. You might need it.” Checking, the soldier took a deep breath and strode over to the storage room.

I shook my head as no one gave him a second look. Brash move, but it worked.

what the heck would I need salt for?

A fury growl brought my attention back to where it ought to be.

 

 

“Oh.” The guard at the Imperial Gate pointed. “Just saw another one.”

“How close?”

“Definitely on our side of the wall. But I think it may have been Linus riding.”

“Ha. Typical Linus move fight where there isn’t any battle.”

Whoosh!

“Hey did you hear that?”

The two looked around.

Nothing.

“Must a been a bird… or some-”

Before either knew what was happening I conked their heads together. The stumbled, one even got out a ‘halt’ before he fell senseless to the ground.

Ooo, weapons upgrade, I traded my broomstick for one of their spears.

 

Cat-like eyes watched me from every cage.

“Toothless,” I whispered as I crept down the aisle of furies. Some hissed. Some cocked their heads to the side, but no one answered me with that happy warble I was hoping for.

I was surprised to find most having funny little white patches or spots, tiny scales, and varying amounts of ear nubs from four to six to eight, I guess it had always been my assumption that Nightfuries were… well, Nightfuries. Solid black. Maybe Toothless was an exception.

BAMM!!

I about jumped out of my skin.

“Oh. It’s just you,” I glowered at the albino dragon. Her ears trembled and she clicked softly, the same way a cat does as it watches a bird. I glanced the name on her cage.  “Selene.”

Diana, Stella, Kosmos, Adamas, Marceline, Stultus, Maximilianus… I looked up at each name.

“Ahh,” I came to the solid black, eight-ear-nubbed, scaley fury. “Aquilla. So that’s your name.”

Purple eyes followed my every move in silent, untrusting perplexity.

The last in the line was Aerthirn, but like the cage for Stultus it was empty. Stultus I had no doubt was Ebony’s Roman name, jerks as they were. But that left Aerthirn for Toothless, and if he wasn’t here then where was he?

My eyes followed an intricate corridor system behind Aerthirn’s cage, with rather warped looking gates that led into the side of a giant, rounded wall…

The arena. He must be at the arena. That would explain why Griseomus wasn’t here, he was probably overseeing whatever they oversaw with the poor furies.

Well I told Pallus I’d get Toothless, I thought of the storage room and hoped he was having success. Hadn’t heard any shouting, that was a good sign. So I’m going to get him.

Breaking into a run I started for the colosseum… but came to a stop as I glanced back at the dreary-eyed furies in their miserable cages.

No, don’t do it. You’ve got a mission! The soldier in me snarled.

Shaking my head I ran back, right up to Aquilla’s cage and did something no sane person ought to do.

I unlocked his gate and opened it.

“You’re free, Aquilla!” I whispered to the purple-eyed fury who arched his body. His lips turned back in a snarl, but his eyes were huge.

“Get out of he-Eere!”

He lunged out of the cage throwing the door against me so I got my breath knocked out. Wings unfurling in a single bound he launched into the sky and circled overhead.

Soldiers in the distance began yelling at each other as he was spotted. If I was going to go through with with this I’d have to be quick.

I ran to Diana’s cage. Surprised by my brazen confidence she growled and lashed out. I ducked the swipe… and decided after unlocking it, she could open the gate herself when she was ready.

As I moved down the line each fury reacted about the same as Diana. None of them seemed to know they were free at first, but slowly, cautiously when I was far enough away they pushed against their doors to find they swung open. Diana was the first, her stunned nicker of delight like music to my ears. Soon six furies were ambling freely down the aisle and on top of their cages, stretching stiff and aching wings. For all the savagery they had displayed in the Archipelago, to my great relief, none of the once-more free furies seemed interested in me.

From her prison Selene hissed and paced as dragons wandered freely about. Her ears vibrated madly when she focused on the ones ready to take flight. Their ears twitched and they looked at her, folding their wings and slinked back.

Then, her attention snapped to something else. Something I really really wish I had seen sooner.

“What have you done?!” Someone spat. I spun to face that rat-like officer I’d met on the ship all those weeks ago. He was standing in front of Selene’s cage, hand over the lock.

All the furies eyes turned to slits. Many gave excited trills and crouched, ready to pounce. Selene could smell their intent, and the place the ratty officer had his hand on. She growled a formidable warning to leave him be.

“What it looks like I’m doing. Oh and I’m not finished, by the way. These lead to the arena?” I said sweetly. “Pretty sure you have someone who belongs with us Berkians in there.”

“Slim chance you’ll get that far.”

With an evil sneer he lifted the albino’s latch and pulled the door open wide. Selene stalked forward and the same furies I had given freedom to all turned to watch as bystanders, death in their eyes.

“Are you crazy? She’s coming after you next!”

“Not if I move fast enough!” He hopped over the two unconscious guards and skittered out of sight, probably to get a team together to knock the dragons out again while they were busy picking me out of their teeth.

Twirling the spear in my hand and backing away slowly, I took it one step at a time. Cages on my right and left; I could climb them… but faster than a winged reptile? Yeah right.

Selene trilled something to the pack.

Snap!

“Hey!” I pulled to keep the weapon but Diana ripped it out of my hand with ease. She and Marceline had circled around behind, cutting off my escape. The prior chewed the spear to splinters.

Thu-thu-thump, thu thu thump, thu-thu-

The canter stopped short. I whirled, finding Selene in mid-air only about three feet from my face!

Talons slashed and missed as I dodged, then crashing to ground gripped to stop the rest of the body’s momentum. Those red eyes and vibrating ears honed in on my position once more, and I barely got three steps before she found her hindlegs and jumped again. This time instead of ducking I leapt, curling into a ball and rolling over her back as she got a face full of dirt.

The furies surrounding us bobbed their heads excitedly. I couldn’t tell if they were rooting for me or just enjoying the game.

 

“Oof!”

The Albino whipped her tail and I lost my footing.

She twisted around and yet again I dodged- but my stupid hair wasn’t quick enough. It caught in a single one of her claws and that was all it took.

The world flashed around me as I sailed through the air, meeting earth in a series of painful twisted somersaults. For a few seconds all I could see were stars, and by the time they cleared and I looked up-

It was too late.

Selene slammed me into the ground. She raised a paw.

THWACKK!!

It came crashing down- but not into me. A silent, snake-like silky black head took the beating in my place.

“Aquilla??”

He gently pushed Selene off and stepped over me, curling his tail and wings in a defensive crouch.

Selene was so stunned at his blatant rebellion she forgot to trill and just stood there, staring. I got the feeling this was the first real challenge to her authority any of these dragons had ever shown, for the rest were watching with an expression I’d seen on Toothless in only the most shocking of moments. Their eyes were wide and their mouths tight. Earflaps stiff and attentive they looked from Selene to Aquilla and back to Selene again.

She didn’t have to see the expectant, confused looks on their faces to feel them.

Hissssss, The Albino seethed, trill returning. Choosing to warn the old dragon before turning to more extreme measures she bared her teeth.

He lowered his head and earflaps, looking up pleadingly. But he did not step down to leave me to her mercy.

HISSSSSSSSSS, Her pupils turned to slits.

The black fury jerked his head back as she struck him, drawing blood.

HISSSSSSSSSSS!! She said again, and struck again.

Aquilla remained resolved, flinching under every repetitive and increasingly brutal blow from his alpha.

“Whoa,” his paw slid me out from directly under him to shelter under his wing. From here I could actually get to my feet and see the other furies again. They were watching, rigid, grimacing with every bitter blow, muttering among themselves, even Diana and Marceline.

“Fight back!” I begged him as he suffered under her barrage. “Aquilla for once stop being her patsy and pummel her! I know you can. Why won’t you fight!?!?”

Covering himself with his other wing, those purple eyes looked into mine with a better answer than words could give. It wasn’t cowardice, yes-manning, or even loyalty I found there. It was love. Unconditional, father-like love.

“Look out!” I pointed.

Selene rammed into him, bowling him over to expose his vulnerable belly and neck. I managed to jump out of the way before she had. She went in for a final blow-

But I was faster.

Rrraaaawwr!! The fury cried out as I hit her square in the jaw, making the whole upper half of her body swing left.

“Sorry Aquilla she’s gonna have to go through me first,” I told the old dragon who looked a bit frustrated. This was to be fair exactly what he was trying to stop her from doing.

The albino whipped her head back around, teeth glistening and that stoic expression replaced with pure hate. I met her with nothing but balled fists and an equal expression. Again she reared up, standing over me, twice as tall.

Someone hissed.

She snarled, glancing around to see who had objected.

Someone else growled.

She turned the other direction.

Two others snarled, and finally two threatening hrrrrrs came from behind.

Selene turned her head to see each of the other furies arching their backs and stalking…

Toward her.

 

The albino forgot me and Aquilla, slowly arching her back as she came to realize the tables had turned. Dianna snapped at her tail, taking a little chunk out of her tail-fan.

She roared and spun to face her, just as Marceline skirted by and nipped a vibrating ear. She roared again, jumping sideways as Marceline pranced with a snort to my side, standing tall between Selene and Aquilla.

Maxamilianus flew down from his perch on the cages to join us, pulling one of the albino’s wings on the way. As a result she curled them in close and crouched like a cornered cat, hissing and spitting in every direction as furies picked on her.

Adamas divebombed her, Cosmos ran circles making taunting sounds, and Stella merely hissed before joining our defensive between her and Aquilla.

“Shall we give it to her?” I looked up and down the line that had formed at both my sides.

As if we were a single being, the furies raised their wings and I my fists as we roared at the top of our lungs at Selene!

She stumbled back in what must have been her first experience with true terror.

Panting, the dragon searched our faces with her lips curled. Finding not a shred of pity, the albino roared the ugliest thing she could think of and slinked away, tail tucked between her legs!

“YES! Get out of here you rotten egg!” I shouted as she turned tail. “Go and never come back Miss Nasty!”

Furies all around me squealed, fanned their wings and tails proudly, and kicked mud in blissful victory at the fleeing tyrant. They were free! Finally and truly free!

That was something to celebrate.

I turned and kneeled in front of Aquilla. Stella and Maxamilianus were at his side, licking his wounds, Marceline was being helpful playing with his tail while Diana stood dutifully on guard until he could get to his feet. She hissed at me when I came close but he silently told her to stand down. She did… with the twitch of her tail.

“How does it feel to be free Aquilla?”

He shut his eyes and in the most happy way I’d seen any fury breathed a deep and peaceful sigh.

“I thought so. How about a new name for a new, free dragon? Sven sound good?” I stroked his head gently. “Silent Sven. Hight time you had a Barbaric name I think.”

Cosmos shoved me out of the way and taking Aquilla’s head in his paws violently licked his scratches. The older dragon jumped to his feet and escaped, shaking with an irritable look before grooming Cosmos’ slime off his face.

His ears twitched and he jerked his head toward the entrance of the Imperial Cages.

The Romans were coming. I chanced to look toward the southwestern sky, to see that foreboding mass of Piranharrow falling into chaos.

“You guys need to get out of here now,” I warned. “Go on, go, shoo!”

Pupils turning back to slits, the all-black fury snorted an urgent command and one by one the dragons jumped into the sky. As I watched, his tail curled around me, pushing me toward him.

“Ohh, Sven,” He was looking from me to his back repeatedly as he stepped in place, ready to get going. “I can’t come with you.”

Those keen purple eyes studied. He turned his head toward the arena.

“That’s right, I’ve got to save Toothless.”

He turned his head toward the battlefield.

“And Stormfly, yes.” I laughed, “and the rest of my people. You are a smart one.”

I placed my hand on his scaley little nose. “Wish you could come back with me to Berk, Stormfly would love you… y-y’know, once she got over you attacking us and everything. But that’s not where you or any of the others belong. You belong somewhere safe and free… from Romans, from Selene, and from humans in general.”

A thought streaked across his intelligent face as if he knew of such a place. Stepping back I let my hand fall away. He understood.

I pointed up. “Teach them how to be real furies, ok?”

“There!” Someone said in Latin, pointing from the gate.

“Go Sven!” I ran towards the arena as he took to the sky.

The old fury deftly spiraled up, evading arrows to join a circling pack awaiting direction. He looked to the west, the south, and the east, before setting his sights on north. An elegant twist of the wings and he led his six furies toward the sea, the archipelago, and home.

 I hope we meet again someday.