Book 9 - The Mist in the Darkness - Chapter 33: A Sacrifice for Love

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httyyd
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Joined: 10/12/2013

This chapter is a long one, though not my longest one ever.  I have a hard time editing stuff out (mainly because this is my first draft.  I rather work on continuing the story than going back and doing a 2nd draft.  That's why I try to edit as I go, especially if I write the chapter down in my notebook and then type it up in Microsoft Word.)  I feel like I am writing for a video game.  Movies and TV shows have to edit out so much stuff due to time constraints.  But video games, more likely than not, they don't do a lot of editing unless the quest or part has little or nothing to do with the story or the player would get bored.  Single player campaigns are getting longer in total time played, especially if there is a difficulty mode applied.  The way in which I write my books, I feel like they could be video games with as much detail as I put into them.

In a sense, I have been thinking about what would I make my book series into.  Instead of a movie or TV show, I would do a video game series.  To have an open world, choose your own path, mystery, detective, action-adventure video game set in the world of How to Train Your Dragon, I would by that in a heartbeat.

 

I mean, its mine own book and I can decide how long I want to make things.  But, also, continually learning how to have good pacing and move the story along.  Above all else, I never want to rush the story.

 

So, you guys end up getting longer chapters from time to time.

 

I hope you all enjoy!

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Book 10 - The Shattered Axe

Chapter 17 - Back on Track

 

The Jarl Mollerson Mystery Series

All Chapter Links
 

 

Destiny in the Dark

Chapter 3 - Friends and Enemies

 

Proud Leader and fellow member of:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are links to the chapters of my fan-fic series.  The books go in chronological order.

 

The Clue of the Missing Socks.

Chapters 1 and 2                         Chapter 3                                       Chapter 4

Chapter 5                                      Chapter 6                                        Chapter 7

Chapters 8 and 9                        Chapter 10                                     Chapter 11

Chapters 12 and 13                     Chapters 14, 15, and 16             Chapter 17

Chapter 18                                    Chapter 19                                      Chapter 20

Chapter 21 and 22                      Chapter 23                                     Chapter 24 and 25

Chapter 26 - There is a hidden surprise.  Can you find it?

Chapter 27                                   Chapter 28, Part 1                         Chapter 28, Part 2

Chapter 29                                   Chapter 30                                       Chapter 31

Chapter 32                                   Chapter 33                                       Chapter 34

Chapter 35                                   Chapter 36                                       Chapter 37

Chapter 38                                   Chapter 39                                       Chapter 40

Chapter 41                                   Chapter 42                                       Chapter 43

Chapter 44                                   Chapter 45, Parts 1 and 2

 

The Mysterious Frozen Fire

Chapter 1         Chapter 2         Chapter 3         Chapter 4         Chapter 5         Chapter 6

Chapter 7         Chapter 8         Chapter 9         Chapter 10       Chapter 11       Chapter 12

Chapter 13       Chapter 14       Chapter 15        Chapter 16       Chapter 17       Chapter 18  

Chapter 19       Chapter 20      Chapter 21        Chapter 22, Part 1       Chapter 22, Part 2 

Chapter 22, Part 3

Epilogue/Preview for my Third Story!

 

Thoughts of Guilt

Chapters 1 and 2          Chapters 3 and 4          Chapter 5          Chapter 6          Chapter 7

Chapter 8          Chapter 9          Chapter 10          Chapter 11          Chapter 12, Part 1

Chapter 12, Part 2          Chapter 13         Chapter 14         Chapter 15         Chapter 16

Chapter 17 and 18         Chapter 19         Chapter 20         Chapter 21         Chapter 22

Chapter 23         Chapter 24         Chapter 25         Chapter 26         Chapter 27

Chapter 28         Chapter 29         Chapter 30         Chapter 31         Chapter 32

Chapter 33         Chapter 34         Chapter 35         Chapter 36 and 37

Chapter 38, Part 1         Chapter 39, Part 2         Chapter 40, Part 3         Chapter 41

Chapter 42, Parts 1 and 2         Chapter 43         Chapter 44

Chapter 45, Part 1         Chapter 45, Part 2

 

On the Edge of Mystery

Chapter 1          Chapter 2         Chapter 3        Chapters 4 & 5    Chapter 6, Parts 1 and 2   

Chapter 7          Chapter 8         Chapter 9            Chapter 10       Chapter 11        Chapter 12

Chapter 13        Chapter 14       Chapter 15          Chapter 16        Chapter 17       Chapter 18

Chapter 19        Chapter 20       Chapter 21          Chapter 22       Chapter 23      Chapter 24

Chapter 25        Chapter 26       Chapter 27         Chapter 28        Chapter 29 Parts 1 and 2 

Chapter 30       Chapter 31       Chapter 32 and 33                         Chapter 34 Parts 1 and 2 

Chapter 35 Part 1         Chapter 35 Part 2        Chapter 35 Part 3        Chapter 36

 

The Secret Symbol

Chapter 1    Chapter 2    Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Chapter 5

Chapter 6    Chapter 7     Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapter 10

Chapter 11    Chapter 12    Chapter 13    Chapter 14    Chapter 15

Chapter 16    Chapter 17    Chapter 18    Chapter 19    Chapter 20

Chapter 21   Chapter 22   Chapter 23   Chapter 24 and 25

Chapter 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28    Chapter 29 and 30

Chapter 31    Chapter 32    Chapter 33    Chapter 34    Chapter 35

Chapter 36    Chapter 37    Chapter 38    Chapter 39

Chapter 40 and 41    Chapter 42    Chapter 43, 44, 45, and 46

 

The Legend of Shadow Mountain

Chapter 1    Chapter 2    Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Chapter 5

Chapter 6    Chapter 7    Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapter 10

Chapter 11    Chapter 12    Chapter 13    Chapter 14    Chapter 15

Chapter 16   Chapter 17    Chapter 18    Chapter 19    Chapter 20

Chapter 21    Chapter 22    Chapter 23    Chapter 24    Chapter 25

Chapter 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28    Chapter 29    Chapter 30

Chapter 31    Chapter 32    Chapter 33    Chapter 34    Chapter 35

Chapter 36    Chapter 37    Chapter 38    Chapter 39    Chapter 40

Chapter 41    Chapter 42    Chapter 43    Chapter 44    Chapter 45 & 46

Chapter 47    Chapter 48    Chapter 49    Chapter 50    Chapter 51

 

Teaser "Trailer" for Book 8 - Conquest of the Truth

 

The Crimson Storm

Chapters 1 and 2     Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Chapter 5    Chapter 6

Chapter 7    Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapters 10 and 11    Chapter 12

Chapter 13    Chapter 14    Chapter 15    Chapter 16    Chapter 17    Chapter 18

Chapter 19    Chapter 20    Chapter 21    Chapter 22    Chapter 23

Chapter 24    Chapter 25 and 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28    Chapter 29

Chapter 30    Chapter 31    Chapter 32    Chapter 33    Chapter 34

Chapter 35 and Epilogue

httyyd's picture
httyyd
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Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 10/12/2013
Drums R Round. Pi R Squared.

There are a lot of contrasting moods and themes in this chapter that I could not decide on on single mix.  While half the chapter would fit one certain mix, it would not in the other half.  The vice versa with the next mood.

 

So, I decided on no mix this chapter.  But I will say this:

Calm before the storm!

 

The Mist in the Darkness

 

Chapter 33

A Sacrifice for Love

 

Annabeth's Point of View

 

         Continuing to fly south, I wonder where Skygge’s base of operations is.  The direction we head, the more I do not believe but it makes sense.  We fly to Wengo Island and go to the secondary port on the western side of the island.  If there was on island to go to find all kinds of villainy, other than Auction Island, it would be Wengo Island.  Whatever Thorgunna says about Ondott, I do not like that guy.

         Arriving, Skygge had no intention in telling me where to stay or what to do, only that I do not leave “or else.”  On my own in an environment which could careless I am here.  There are more vikings here -if you can call them that- than the last time I was here.  Finding one of the secondary shacks down by the docks, away from everything else, I step into a creaky, cracks in the walls, dusty, just about to fall apart room which will be my home for the foreseeable future.

         There is barely anything here.  A cot, a desk, a table with an old shoulder bag, and two chairs.  After one of the worst days of my life, I flop on the cot and look up.  There is a knot in the wood plank in the ceiling which I stare into it as if to find some type of inspiration as what to do next.  It did knot have an answer for me.

         The pun makes me smile yet reminds me of the journal.  Pulling it out, I start reading it and reading it.  I read myself to sleep.

 

         Bang, bang, bang!

         “Roll call, get up!” a gruff voice barked.

         Jumping out of bed and not realizing the floor is so close, I have no time to catch myself before I faceplant.  I grab the journal and stuff it in the old shoulder bag to take it with me.  My hair is a bit messy.  From one of the compartments in my belt, I pull out a foldable brush Cazi gave me.  No viking girl is without her brush.  The boys can never figure out how we always look pretty.  Well, it is not easy.  Give us a few minutes to an hour and you might be surprised what we can look like.

         All the vikings in the camp start to gather over by one of the main buildings, the one where I waited for Jarl to wake up.  There is also a new ship in dock which has no markings whatsoever, so it could be a new recruit.  Throst was supposed to be back, so maybe this is him.

         Skygge stood at the head of the gathering, at the front of the ship.  Calling for the attention, he began, “I know that each of you have been promised a bounty beyond anything you have seen before.  After finding some of the Notebooks of Deondre thus far, some of you can attest to what you might find.  Our trek is not over, not be a long shot.  All of you can leave at any given point.  Some have, but you all are still here.  And there are even newcomers.  Throst has returned with his report on Nikora Stormheart bringing with him a friend.  Throst would you like to introduce him?”

         Throst stepped forward from the side, “Thank you, Skygge.  It goes without saying that Jarl Mollerson has been a pain in our side for too long.  Some of you have had previous run ins with him, but as you know, he has always outsmarted us at every turn.  But that ends today.  I bumped into someone who might be of critical use to us.  Not only did he try and steal my own ship, but one of our notebooks we had.  Asking him why, he showed me this.”

         Throst held up…  The Notebook of Deondre which Val, Ali, and Michia found…  The one stolen as Sigvald said!

         “Turns out, he has been after the Shadow Dragon for longer than we have.  He said he had many encounters with Mollerson to the point, enough was enough.  In an attempt to take him out in his own home, he came across the Notebook instead.  Our fearless leader had already dealt with Jarl.  So, when I told this newcomer about it, he had to join us in our quest to learn more about the Shadow Dragon.  May I present to you, Azor Zadok the Silent.”

         Just then a figure jumps from the ship, front flips, and lands between Skygge and Throst.  Not gonna lie, the entrance is cool, better than some of the recruits Skygge has hired over the last week.  But doing a front flip with scum like this, no doubt he is a show-off and will be a pain to deal with.  At least he cannot talk.

         Throst goes into the guy’s achievements as I observe his looks.  Force of habit from…  Jarl.

         I sigh.

         Azor’s apparel does not stand out from anyone else here.  Kind of simple.  Black yak tunic, long sleeve, pants, and boots.  A basic belt.  Guess he likes black and mud brown for his colors.  The only thing attached to the belt is his short sword in its sheath.  Tattered and patched clothing from head to toe with splattered mud.  Guess the guy could care less if it is washed.  Though he wears a helmet, gloves, and a metal mask even over his nose, when he did his front flip, a flash of white hair caught my eye.  The look of the mask with the helmet is rather intimidating as it is all one piece.  The helmet is of similar style to the School’s Dark Battle Helmet, but the piece going over the front of the nose is connected to the mask which he wears.  The mask wraps around the back of his neck.  There is a latch back there, so Azor must loosen the mask to slip the full head helmet off and on.  The helmet looks to have its own stories to tell, each one begging everyone not to mess with the guy.

         If that was not enough for me to stay clear of him, some viking tried to challenge why Azor gets to step in and claim the rank of personal advisor, basically second in command.  The dude say he was too young and did not take kindly to receiving orders from a mute.  When he mocked Azor by saying he could not receive orders because Azor would not be able to bark them, Azor in one fell swoop, pinned the guy against the building, menacingly staring at the viking.  Azor brought his short sword to viking’s chest, then his arm, then his neck.

         Skygge joined in, “I think he’s asking you if you want to have one less arm, gutted, or simply relieved of your head because your obviously not using it.”  Skygge laughed before seriously ordering him, “Now get back in line.”

         Azor eased up, but as the guy took a step to go, Azor tripped him.  All the other pirates laughed.  That is the last we will hear from the viking in the meantime.  The new guy really knows how to make an impression on Skygge.

         Speaking of which, he concludes the roll call, “Me, Azor, Throst, and Annabeth will use the clues from the new Deondre book to locate the next key.  A messenger arrived this morning to tell us the Mysterious Figure wants to meet with us.  He had some urgent business to attend to and was sorry he missed me last night.  If you all are getting tired of the boring stuff I want to accomplish, the main reason I hired you all is to give this opportunity of working for a man who could get you riches beyond your wildest of dreams.  Power, you could only dream of.”

         The words swayed the crowd, “Now, scrub this place.  Then report back and I will tell the location to for the meeting.”

         Riches and power are two words which sound the dessert horn for pirates, bounty hunters, and mercenaries.  They all forgot about Azor.  Now I have to play it as if I already knew what Jarl was going to do, not as if I just read it from his journal last night.  The past week, I did distance myself from Jarl in hopes of going to the banquet by myself.  If I could stay away from Jarl, Skygge could not use him against me.  That was the reason I worked with Skygge.  Skygge threatened to kill Jarl if I did not cooperate, willingly.  Whether Skygge wanted to kill Jarl or me to use against the other, that does not matter anymore.

         The very table I waited beside to see if Jarl would wake up is the very table Skygge is using to lay out his three Notebooks of Deondre.  Sure, I knew he is ahead of us in the mystery, but three books ahead…  The one he just got from Azor, one he probably had to start, but the third I would not know where he got it from.

         Skygge asks Throst, “So, what’s your report from Stormheart?”

         “She did not want to divulge anything about her book of Deondre, so she still has it,” Throst replies.  “But what I did find out later is a conversation she had with Jarl a little bit before you let him finally have it.”  He paused as he glanced at me folding my arms.  Clears his throat, “Nikora told him that her family heirloom is a cryptic key in deciphering specific words on any given page in the notebook.  While some pages may repeat or have common wild plants, this was to hide the words used on each page to be used as a clue to something else.  Each notebook is different.  So, with Azor’s book he swiped, we might be able to finally piece something together.”

         Skygge wonders, “Do you think you can go back and use the heirloom on these books?”

         Azor then slaps Skygge in the side to get his attention.  Azor waves his hands back and forth.  From a pocket inside his tunic, he pulls out a small notebook.  Setting it down on the table, he turns to a page and points out.

         Skygge mumbles as he reads before clarifying, “So there’s more than one heirloom?”

         Azor nods his head.

         “How’d you get this notebook?” Throst demands as he seizes the book, inspecting it.  “Hey, this has Nikora’s handwriting in it.  I’ve never seen this before.  How’d you come across it?”

         Going back to his tunic, Azor takes something else out.  He reveals a blue gem.

         “How’d you-?” Throst starts but stops.  “What did you do, break her staff?”

         Azor shrugs, then Skygge smiles, “I’m starting to like you more and more.  Having the guts not only to steal from Nikora Stormheart but the gull to break her weapon?  You’ve come to the right place.”

         I roll my eyes, “Just kill me now.”

         Skygge looks at me, “Be careful what you wish for.”

         A thought occurred to me, “Is this what it feels like to say a joke at the wrong moment?  Jarl, your humor is catchy.”

         Now I am sad.  Well, sadder than I was before this moment.

         I had not been paying attention and Azor suddenly points at me.  Looking behind me, I hope he is not pointing at me.  Azor then points to the book Valkarik found and then back at me.

         Skygge questions, “Where did you find this notebook?  Could there be anything else there?”

         Though I do not want to help them, until I figure out this mystery, I got to play along, “On an island actually close by, northeast of here,” I point it out on the map beneath the books on the table.  “Three members of our crew found the notebook.  There could be more clues there.”

         Skygge about to say something, Azor waves his hands.  Turning to a page in the book, he holds up a section that talks about the heirloom being able to attach to something, but it does not go any further than that.  Azor keeps pointing at me and the page.

         Throst figures, “There must be something more we are missing.  Too bad Azor can’t just say it, I can see the frustration in his eyes.”

         Skygge then looks to me, “Maybe we don’t have to,” he walks towards me.  He comes to me, stopping to my left, talking softly in my ear but loud enough to be heard by the rest, “Is there something more you would like add?”

         Am I intimidated?  No.  Scared?  A little.

         Letting out a sigh, I reveal, “One of our crew found a staff which had a similar looking heirloom of Stormheart’s on it.  There is more than one heirloom.”

         Throst gasped, “She was going to have us go all the way to that island for nothing.”

         Before Skygge could say something to me, though his look tells me he knows why I did it, I correct, “While the staff is back on Berserker Island in my house, I really do think we can find some more things about why Deondre put the book there.  Our friends were stopped short from exploring more on the island due to a Shellfire attack, so there might be something they missed.  I didn’t lie.  If we can find out more about the island the notebook was on, it might help us find something more in the book let alone find the other notebooks because there are more than these.”

         I stare at Skygge for a few moments, both of us trying to read what they other is up to.

         “Well,” Skygge turns back to the other two.  “Throst, take Azor and Glint back to Berserker Island and find that staff.  Me and Annabeth will sail to this island, since it is close by, to see if we can find anything else.  Meet us at Wengo Island sometime after nightfall.  From there, we will go to the meeting place.  The meeting is set for tomorrow night, so while we have some time, we need to be quick.”

         With things set, Azor and Throst leave and Skygge and I set sail for the island.  Since Skygge is pressed for time, he takes a larger manned ship, so the sailing time is reduced from the rowers.

         Speaking of time, it is easy to forget how long it takes to sail even a short distance.  While Skygge is tending to the command of the ship, I am on the landing below the main deck overlooking the sea behind the ship.  Leaning on the railing, I become mesmerized by the white bubbles from the ship cutting through the sea.  Several random thoughts come to mind about the future.  And the one which suddenly makes me think differently is:

         If Jarl…  Why am I saying if?  Because Jarl is gone, does that make his crew mine?

         Sure, I am prepared to lead the Berserker Nation when it is mine turn.  Being a leader I have trained to do for a nation under Dagur’s stewardship.  But Jarl’s crew.  I always thought of it as his and I was merely a part of it.  Just like it was since the beginning.  Though a crew and him the leader, we are all equals and could all lead in one way, shape, or form.  But now, they will need someone to look to for guidance.  And right now, with me working with Skygge, I do not know how they could.  It would make sense for me to be the next in line to take over, but…

         I grab for my locket, though I realize I left it with Jarl.

         Sighing and leaning my head down on my hands.  A sea of tears flood from my eyes as I finally stop holding back.

         Jarl is gone.  But for the life of me, I cannot give up on him.  Against all the clues I witnessed with my own eyes.  Feeling his cold hand in mine limp after reaching for my locket, hearing his heartbeat no longer…

 

         “I cannot give up on him.  He never gave up on me.”

 

         After weeping for who knows how long, I finally straighten up, “What am I still denying that I cannot face the truth?  Why am I hoping against hope?”

         Trying to find peace, I close my eyes…  But I see Jarl’s eyes closing and his body losing life in my arms.  Every.  Time.  I.  Close.  My.  Eyes.  I always try to think of something else, do anything else when I close my eyes.  But working through this grief I am feeling, I have to face the truth some time.

 

         “Land censored!”

 

         Talk about getting knocked back to reality, I nearly fell to the floor from the announcement.  Trying to clean myself up a bit to not make it conspicuous I have been crying, I return to the deck and watch the sailors bring the ship to the island and expertly anchor offshore.  I guess even the bad guys can be good at their trade.

         Skygge takes me in a landing boat to the shore.

         I suggest, “You go search the houses and this half of the island.  I’ll go search the other half.”

         “Don’t try anything.”

         “I’m about fed up with you saying that,” I throw my arms up in the air showing him what is around me.  “What do you think I’m going to do?  Where do you think I’m going to go?  Escape by swimming?  Sprout wings and just fly away?  Could you please stop threatening me?  You’re not intimidating me at all.  In fact, the more you do it the less impact it has on me.”

         “Meet me back here in a half hour.”

         Glad to finally get away from him, I make a beeline for the cave where Val, Ali, and Michia went into.  However, I try not to make it obvious there is somewhere I want to go.  Thankfully, Skygge is not even looking this way for he immediately went into one of the shacks.

         I zone into clue finding mode the moment I take a torch off the inside of the entrance.  Using a Cracker Bomb, I make a light.  Moving my way into the tunnel, going around some debris from the epic fight Val, Ali, and Micha had, I thoroughly study the artwork on the walls.  Briefly going into the first room before starting at the front of the main tunnel hallway, I check to make sure the area is still secure and will not collapse on me at any moment.  Though there is standing water about six inches deep, a much larger hole in the ceiling, and the door to the other room caved-in, this part of the tunnel and room is still structurally sound.

         The artworks are well painted, meaning you can see detail in people’s faces, hands, and clothing.  Sometimes we forget that in generations past, the arts had talented people too.  Some say those then were the masters for we had to learn from them, but in the same breath say art today is more refined.  Of course, it will look more refined because you learned from the master and picked up where they left off.

         There were a people who saw, what we assume the Shadow Dragon is, to be their protector or guardian.  The Shadow Dragon is pictured having a black aura making their wings and legs somewhat obscured.  The dragon is also always between them and their threats.  The imagery is how Val described it.  But the eyes of the Shadow Dragon have a red glow to them, a small gem reflecting light.  Not sure if it is a ruby or a simple colored gem.

         I cannot tell if these people are Hyrith’s ancestors or not.  No distinguishing marks or symbols connecting them to The Golden Isles, except the look of the Shadow Dragon.  Pitch black, red glowing eyes, and a black cloud seemingly coming off the dragon.

         The pictures on the walls and in the first room depict the Shadow Dragon in pretty much every facet of their lives.  It was between them and their threats.  The basics of protection against storms on their crops, their homes, or their ships, as well as foreign enemies.  Furthermore, they thought the dragon would bless them during an abundant harvest, a wedding, or the birth of a newborn both viking and animal.  However, the dragon would punish them in a drought, a disease, a divorce or separation, or for someone in their midst committing a crime.  Crimes from threat all the way to murder.

         This dragon meant everything to these people.  No picture in the tunnel or on the first floor shows them ever having war or a long conflict with any other tribe or clan.

         The viking history to this point had for many generations been defined by war, raids, and pillaging.  Times are changing.  Travelers from far away lands have brought news of peace to the outskirts of the viking world.  But even in our own number that have worked to bring about the idea of peace for each viking.  More and more vikings broke away to start their own clan, their own tribe, their own nation.  Berkian, Defenders, Wingmaidens, and a few other smaller tribes.  Berserkers were a peaceful nation, but in their own Berserk’ed way.

         Through efforts of many leaders, my father, Oswald, Bork the Bold, Hamish II, Lilah, Lyra, Valka, and Stoick created a change in culture to work for peace with fellow vikings.  Their work stuck as the next generation did the same.  Hiccup, Atali, Mala, Throk, Garth…  And Jarl…  Showed us all that peace can be extended not only to vikings no one thought could change but to the dragons who for so long were thought to be an enemy.  Because of their work, the Berserker Nation is forever changed for the better because of what my father started and Dagur is finishing.  Had it not been for vikings like Hiccup to challenge the status quo and uncover new things to help both viking and dragon, the Berserkers may have never been allies with Berk.

         Jarl’s work has changed lives of all of our friends yet has meant to world to vikings such as Ohmarr, Aiyana, and Vixxen.

         To see reminders in the form of these paintings on the walls of how the old world used to be, it is a stark reminder of what else is in this world.  How the Shadow Dragon is being depicted, these people are raising the dragon and putting it on a pedestal.  Which begs the question, “How far did they take this?”

         Pulling out Jarl’s Journal, I review his notes he wrote over the last week which led me here.  According to both he and Aiyana had figured out a part of the pattern in Notebook of Deondre we had.

         The reason why a page would repeat, or the content of words would be reused is because either the plants are clues at indicators to what island these plants are found, or the repetition of overused words are important.  The heirloom cryptic key could have told exactly what to look for but noticing the pattern the key uses is half the battle anyway.  Jarl found the pattern without the key.  And with Aiyana’s help in translating, they identified the important herbs to note and the words to heed.

         Jarl assumes the reoccurring plants are pointing to clues to confirm if you have found the Shadow Dragon’s home.  The details of when to plant them, how far apart, how much sun or shade, and how much water they need are not consistent across the book and are probably the numbers needed for the cryptic key to measure the correct clues to find the direction to the Shadow Dragon’s home.  But because of the scattered numbers, he did not know where to start.

         The words, however, are a different story.  While there is a specific arrangement the heirloom can reveal, Jarl and Aiyana worked backwards to take note of the most used words.  Then cross referencing them with the duplicate pages, they found a few words which stood out:  Pictures or images, pottery or clay jars, walls, shadow, and dragon.  Never used the plural of shadow or dragons.  The variance of words in Greek are specific to point out the difference in what they are describing or how they were used in the sentence to hide the clue.  Pictures or images pointing to the pictures on the walls or the images on the pots.  The specific use of “shadow” and “dragon” cannot be a coincidence.

         There are two other words they found which brought me here based on something Valkarik said, “Based on what they were doing, you might think that they were serving the dragon and offering gifts, young and old alike.”  Connecting this with the additional repeated words of “offering” and “sacrifice,” I had to see this place with my own eyes.

         The two words may seem interchangeable at times, but Aiyana says the Greek will always use a different word if the word could mean something else.

         Her example, “There are different words for the word “love.”  Just taking two for the word “love,” “agapao” and “phileo.”  Agapao means a selfless love for someone they care deeply about.  Phileo only means a love for a friend.  Simply using the word “love” for something or someone we like, some meaning behind the statement is lost.  For everything good in this world, I hope Hiccup agapao loves Astrid, not phileo.”

         I totally agree with you, sister.

         Back on topic when Deondre uses “offering” and “sacrifice” they are two different Greek words.  Offering is always used as a gift of non-living things such as Bread or yaknog.  Sacrifice is always used when dealing with living things such as bulls, goats, or boar bacon.  Jarl notes, based on Val’s description of the artwork in the tunnel and first room, the difference between the two words Deondre used could mean the key to either freeing the Shadow Dragon or controlling it.

         If the legend of the Shadow Dragon is true from Hyrith’s own knowledge and research, the Shadow Dragon could very well be the rarest of dragons.  A Titan Wing Alpha Class dragon, a descendant and close relative of the Night Fury, which is also an Alpha Class.  Whether such a dragon could be trained or controlled, if this dragon is anything like how Toothless was in the beginning, by Jarl’s own nervous handwriting, he fears things could be worse than Berk’s long war with the dragons.

         To stop this dragon let alone all the vikings involved in finding it, he wondered, “What will our children’s future and others be like if we do not take a stand here?”

         Jarl’s next words cut me to the heart, “Skygge and this dragon must be stopped, no matter the cost.”

         These last few pages in his notes I had not read yet because I did not want the last words, I hear him say is when he thought I no longer loved him.  But reading this now, he has always loved me no matter what.

         Reading those last four words…  I have never heard Jarl speak this way.  We have never had to face such an unknown threat in the Shadow Dragon.  Sure, there was the Gale Heart, but it had no intentions in fighting unless it was threatened.  To have a dragon which seeks out death and destruction and enjoys it just for the sake of it, no principle, ideology, or philosophy can stand against something that does not care.

         I close the journal for now as I use the ladder to look around the second floor.  Not sure if Val and them were able to take a closer look at these pictures because I do not remember them talking about them.

         There are again the people offering gifts, but all the people are at a clearing of some sort, but far off on the perimeter, opposite where the Shadow Dragon is on the outside.  Some of the people have their hands raised with gifts next to them or raised up.

         The next pictures on the wall zoom in on the center of the clearing where there are two vikings, facing the dragon.  One leaves and one stays as the dragon comes closer.

         On the back wall I see…  I see…

         The Shadow Dragon enveloping the viking and the next picture, the viking is gone!

         My hand slowly reaches out to touch the cold rock where the viking once stood.  The coldness of the rock seemed to lash out at me, making me flinch, dropping the torch and the journal.  It startled me.  The light nearly went out on the torch and the lack of light changed something on the wall.

         When I look back up at the picture of the Shadow Dragon, the ruby red eyes stare back at me!  Pupils looking at me!  Every pictured Shadow Dragon bearing down on me.  When I turn to see the final picture on the wall, the Shadow Dragon returns to the darkness, leaving a set of prints going to the center and leaving.  Going back to the people, I see two sets, yet one set returning and only one set going to the center of the clearing.  Only one returned!

         I shake my head and whisper a “No.”

         All I can do now is run.  I grab the torch and journal and run, run as fast as I can to escape.

         As I feel the sun hit my face upon getting out, as if I just woke up from a nightmare.  I did not watch where I was going and tripped over the rock.  Stumbling and rolling over, I come to a rest, feeling paralyzed looking up at the skies.  Hearing the torch flip, I then hear the journal take a tumble, then a clink-clank sound!

         Jumping up to face whatever it is, it was only something metal falling out of Jarl’s Journal.  It came out of the back felt cover.  What it is, is something which makes me confused…

         One of Jarl’s mini bowcaster darts.

         With only the back cover opened, the journal is turned to the final page.  I thought the previous entry was the last as there were several pages left blank.  Jarl intentionally wrote this on the last page, almost as if he wanted it next to where he hid the dart.  This entry is dated the day of the banquet.  Having not read it and searching for guidance from anywhere, I bring myself to read Jarl’s final written words.

         “After learning all this from Deondre’s Notebook and preparing for the banquet, trying to find the reasoning behind what Skygge is doing and what the Shadow Dragon is doing, I find myself stuck.  When someone or something is evil, they never care about who are what they go against.  But maybe that is the point.  If something or someone is so evil not to care and if good is one moment face to face with it, would good let it by to save itself and those around him, or stand firm and reach out in hope, willing to sacrifice itself?  Ali downplayed her role in fighting the Shellfire, but she nearly died trying to connect with it.  A dragon known to only know pain and violence.  She was able to make it think twice about what it did next.  Even if it reverts to its old ways, in that moment, it hesitated.  This moment is an opportunity to conqueror the darkness, but each side must be willing to see it have the light of day.  Though the moment may be fleeting as mist reflecting the sun for a moment, we must seize it and not let any one stand in our way to protect our own or else it will take us out.”

         “I thought about this long and censored Izar:  Would I kill to protect a family I may never know?  Sure, I will do anything for my own, but if I will not do it for a stranger, will I do it for my own Heart?  It worked out for the final battle of The Dragon War that I did not have to make the choice.  But the thought of some Izarians friends and loved ones makes me think I could have done more to prevent it, even if they volunteered to face down their enemy so that others could take it out.  Now faced with the same choice, I feel the darkness hovering over me of:  Can I take a life to protect another?  It is something I have driven far from me initially wanting to take revenge on whoever would do such a thing to Annabeth’s home.  But the thought of taking out the evil myself so that someone else can live in peace, has been a conflict in me since then.  When faced with an impossible situation of a threat intent on killing my family, I can confidently say I would put my life on the line no matter the cost to me.  Any sacrifice of my life if it gives someone else the opportunity to finish what I started; I’ll take it.  When I show this to you Annabeth, there is no need to cry.”

         As tears stain my shirt, I chuckle, “Too late for that.”

         “Because I know in my Heart you have always been ready to do the same for me.  Whatever the reason between us, know I already gave my life to you when I said, ‘I do, and I will.’  That includes me dying so that you can have the opportunity to live.”

         I put my hand over my mouth, barely able to read through the flood of tears.

         “We all have our reasons for what choice we make.  These next few days will test our bond and stretch it to its breaking point.  There is one thing I ask of you.  Put all of your trust in me, as I have towards you.”  Had there not been more words to read, I would break down right here.  “I’ve never told you this, but the moment I found a certain scared girl on the shores of Berk, something in my heart changed.  I knew nothing about your past, only what my heart told me.  Thoughts of revenge went through my mind but seeing your example in how you were taking it taught me a lesson I shall always cherish.  For that reason, I figured out what I felt…”

         “I have loved you since day one.”

         “With anything I do, I never wanted to push or hurry up things, but wanted to see if the love was what I thought it was.  Not to mention, I wanted to take the yak out for a spin because I didn’t want it to turn out to be a boar with a yak skin on it.  Nothing and no one can take that away from me.  Trust me.  Not the yak, the Heart I gained that day.”

         Overwhelmed with emotion, I let my body lean my back against the wall just inside the tunnel.  Sliding down, embracing the journal to my heart.  Jarl always had a habit of capitalizing “Heart” when he referred to me.  He never really said why he did so.  I never understood…  Until now.

         All of my doubts of our relationship melt away after learning this.  Yet, how good is it?

         I cannot even thank him or say I love him.

         Closing my eyes and squeezing the journal, I promise Jarl, “I will always trust you, just as you always trusted me.”