Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Death of a Hero, the Destruction of a Friendship, and the Small Stones that Start an Avalanche

This next dimension splash Chronicle is where things actually start heating up. I hinted at these events in the last one, but this is really the beginning of the end of the story. That means that lots of the Chronicles after this will be more closely connected. This Chronicle is ten pages long. Unfortunately, this really is a terribly sad part of the story. It is the only thing I've written that I know has made a few individuals who read it cry. That was very encouraging for me because by the nature of this plot it NEEDS to be sad, and I tried hard to express that in writing. Don't worry though; this is not the end!

Dimension Splash Chronicles
Event: The Death of a Hero, the Destruction of a Friendship, and the Small Stones that Start an Avalanche
Pov: Link, Hiccup, Toothless, Astrid
Time: Year 10 of Hiccup and Link’s existence in the game

     His conscience was seething inside his chest. Hiccup paced back and forth across the soft mossy ground in the cove. He rubbed his hands nervously through his hair, looked at Toothless who was watching him quietly, and then continued to pace. This was probably the stupidest plan he’d ever had. He had kept it quiet because he knew even thinking about it was dancing with death. His own brother had told him not to tamper with it, but he had to, he just had to. This wasn’t some base curiosity driving him, it was conviction. Hiccup stopped pacing and breathed in deeply. This was probably going to get him killed, but after seeing such wickedness he was determined to follow this conviction at any cost. He was going to defy the Gemnodes, he was going to stand out against them. In just a few moments Link and Astrid would arrive, he would tell them his plan, and even if they wouldn’t help him, he was going to try because he believed that things could be made right...even if it was against all odds and against the all-powerful Gemnodes themselves. 

     Hiccup turned his head sharply as stones rattled down the side of the cove. Link was sliding down in his usual heroic fashion. After landing Link strolled up, but his gait quickly lost its causality when he saw the gravity in Hiccup’s expression. “It’s that serious, huh?”

     Hiccup exhaled. “Yes, it’s that serious.” He turned to see Astrid slip in quietly through one of the smaller ravines. She had her axe held deftly in her right hand, and she walked quietly up to Hiccup, Toothless and Link. She had caught Hiccup’s tone pretty clearly when he had asked her to come, and she knew now more than ever that what he was about to do was unimaginably dangerous. She looked into his face, it bothered her, he was nervous and she could tell, but she had never been more amazed at his courage. Was he really going to do this? It was suicide! Still...Hiccup was that kind of person, she had learned that ten years ago on that fateful day in the Kill Ring, and if Hiccup was going to risk death, she was going to risk it with him; she was going to support him one hundred percent. “Well, we’re here.” She announced, “So what did you want?” Astrid tried to sound as ignorant as possible, she knew the answer, but she was almost afraid that letting Hiccup know that would hurt him...He had been so obvious about trying to keep the whole thing secret.

     Hiccup reached into his vest and pulled out his journal. He flipped it open to a set of pages, stepped forward towards his friends, breathed in deeply, felt himself tremble slightly, and then stopped to think. Is this worth it? I’m gonna get them killed. No, they have to know what I’m doing, and I will leave it up to them to decide whether to help me or not. Ok, keep your cool...just say it. Hiccup looked up, opened his mouth, and said in a plain tone, “I know the motive of the Gemnodes, I know why they are doing this, and I want to stop them.” Link and Astrid exchanged looks. Astrid knew this was coming, and Link had suspected it. Link had even warned Hiccup NOT to meddle into this, warned him that he would get himself killed pointlessly, but apparently his adoptive brother wasn’t going to listen, so he might as well hear him out. “I’ve got an idea on how to do it,” Hiccup continued “but it will be, ah, well, extremely dangerous. I only want you two to help me if you are really, really behind this thing. I am talking to you three because I trust you the most, and I want advice here, I want help, and I need to get this idea off my chest.” Astrid and Link continued to watch, and Hiccup was deeply relieved to see that Astrid’s look was one of determination instead of shock. “Ok, here goes.” Hiccup took one last deep breath, “I’ll give you my idea. We need to--”

     Before Hiccup could finish, there was a blinding flash and an incredible, throbbing ringing sound. It was as if lightning had struck the center of the lake, and the small body of water boiled as something emerged from the terrible blaze of light. A resonating, harmonic set of tones shot out towards the stunned Hiccup, Link, Astrid, and Toothless, and those tones formed a horribly loud and clear meaning in all their minds: “SILENCE.”

     A Gemnode, a Gemnode Hiccup, Link, and Tabuu had even met personally named Oninonix Ruby, sat floating over the lake. His form shone bright red and flames of energy sparked off of his head and shoulders. The evening light left most of the cove in shadow, and everything seem blackened by the Gemnode’s eerily powerful glow. This was an odd light, hot, wrathful, blazing with power, and yet at the same time comfortless and cold. Oninonix raised a hand, and Hiccup was lifted off the ground with a stammering shout. “Guys, whatever happens, please, please--” Hiccup was unable to finish the sentence, for as he was speaking another set of sounds blasted from the Gemnode’s form. “Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, you are to be deleted from the dimension for crimes against the Gemlord. Prepare for death, fool.” 

     That one sentence was enough for Toothless. Hiccup was still suspended in air, and Toothless leapt between him and the approaching Gemnode. The dragon fired a blast straight into Oninonix’s head, but it appeared to do nothing. He continue moving forward. The Gemnode reached his hand forward, Hiccup was trying to speak again. He lashed his hand sideways and sharp cords of energy appeared and slashed against Hiccup’s chest. They made whiplike swipes against his torso and stomach, and the pain shot through him like fire. He cried out, and Toothless looked back in horror. The Night Fury let out an enraged roar and leapt onto The Gemnode. He was at least three times larger than it, but it would not budge. Astrid had run up to Hiccup, and Link was fast approaching the Gemnode with sword drawn. Toothless clawed and bit the apparently unassailable creature, and Link took one, two, three powerful swings at its back. The third swipe met with nothing, and Toothless fell through the now transparent form. Then Oninonix solidified again, and with a bang and a flash he sent Link and Toothless reeling to either side of him. The Gemnode continued his slow approach. He was a mere ten yards from Hiccup now, and with an odd flash of his eyes another torturous assault was hurtled at the boy’s form. Four small shards swirled around the still levitating, gasping Hiccup, and with a loud buzzing crack each shard shot a blast of electricity into him. Astrid screamed out in protest, pulled her axe up and rushed in front of Hiccup. “You will not touch him again!” She yelled, and the electricity stopped. She hurtled her two throwing axes in tandem towards the Gemnode, but both bounced harmlessly off of him unnoticed. Her heart was burning with wrath, and she cartwheeled forward and threw her main and final battle axe directly towards the monster’s head, but he deflected it with a simple back hand. Then, as if annoyed with her, he gave her a moments attention. His eyes lit up in a blinding flash, and surging, burning energy shot from them in a continuous ray. The blast caught her in the chest and sent her flying backwards. Hiccup screamed out in panicked desperation, but another whiplash of energy silenced him. Astrid lay twitching on the ground with red electrical arches buzzing in and out of her.

     Link rushed forward and with every ounce of strength he had slashed Oninonix in the back. His sword made no dent, made no cut, just bounced off, but Oninonix noticed it, and once again he felt annoyance. He turned around with a pulse of energy surging from his crystalline chest. The pulse shoved Link to the ground, and before he could stand, the Gemnode reached his hand forward, flashed his fingers in an upwards grabbing motion, and dreadful spikes of purple energy shoved themselves into Link’s chest and lifted him up off the ground. Oninonix turned and left him hanging there, and now the Gemnode was only ten feet away from Hiccup.

     Then came Toothless, and the dragon was furious. He had seen enough, the creature wasn’t just attacking Hiccup, he was torturing him. Toothless got directly in front of Hiccup and latched onto Oninonix’s chest. The Night Fury opened his jaws, and from the exploding anger of his heart he sent off blast after blast of plasma. Each blast generated enough force to kill even the strongest of men, but against the Gemnode they burned for a moment and then fizzled leaving no mark, no scar, no lethal hole in its heartless chest. Oninonix looked Toothless in the eyes, and Toothless’s rage met what he could only feel as a look of heartless arrogance. The Gemnode physically grabbed Toothless by the throat and threw him to the ground. Then octagon shaped bonds of orange energy latched around Toothless’s arms, wings and tail. The dragon struggled madly as the Gemnode continued to approach Hiccup, but he could not break the heartless, cutting cords. Oninonix held his hand above his head, Hiccup’s eyes followed, and with a flash Souldrinker appeared in the Gemnode’s palm. Hiccup tensed, and Toothless’s anger and fear reached a never before seen peek. He would not sit immobilized and watch as his boy, his friend that meant more than life itself, was stabbed to death in front of him. Toothless angled his head and fired. The blast caught Oninonix on the side of his face, but he remained unmoved. Toothless blasted again, and again, and again, and again. The blasts kept coming, each seeming to be impossibly hot and powerful. After five, Oninonix was done. He turned and spoke, “Cease this folly now creature.” Toothless would not stop, and the Gemnode suddenly turned and in a blinding second was leaning over Toothless with Souldrinker poised to strike. Hiccup, who was now conscious enough to speak, shouted out in utter desperation and despair, “NO! Bud, bud, stop! Toothless stop, stop! Toothless please stop! No, don’t hurt him, please don’t hurt him!” Toothless continued to snarl, but his shot limit was out, and he knew that the Gemnode was seconds away from sinking the cruel knife into his chest. Toothless had felt Souldrinker’s bite before, and as he lay helpless, he suddenly became afraid. This could not be just couldn’t. He would gladly die to save Hiccup, but all his effort, every splinter of his strength, and Hiccup still sat there pleading to this monster. How could his strongest efforts end this way? 

Oninonix paused, Toothless snarled, Link gasped in pain, Astrid tried to look up, and then in one swift motion Oninonix swept over to Hiccup, looked him in the eye and saw exactly what he did not wish to see: determination. This was the kind of character that could not be convinced, this idiot of a boy would never conform, and for his folly he would die.To Toothless’s mind destroying shock and horror, the Gemnode plunged the blade directly into Hiccup’s chest. Hiccup cried out with a rasping yell, and the Gemnode released the blade and let Hiccup fall gasping to the ground. Toothless shrieked the cry of a dragon whose soul had been broken, Link fell to earth as the Gemnode released him, and Astrid’s heart writhed and fell into her stomach. Oninonix floated back a few paces, and then let out the most wicked of sounds; Oninonix laughed, and with that one final token of contempt, he vanished as quickly as he had appeared. 

      Astrid staggered to her feet. Everything was blurring, her head was on fire, her vision was blackening, but she could feel it, she had heard it, and she knew that Hiccup had been wounded, stabbed right before her eyes. She tried to get to him, but her body would not follow her mind, and she fell again to the mossy earth. Toothless was free now, and he had rushed up to Hiccup, his eyes were wide with horror as he looked at the boy. Dark blood was flowing down the front of his tunic, and that horrible blade sat with its hilt jutting out of Hiccup’s shuddering, little chest. Toothless tried to do something, anything to help. He wanted to slam into Hiccup, wanted to bury his head into the boy’s little body and console him, but that was an impossibility. Link was now at Hiccup’s side, and the Hylian carefully lifted Hiccup and laid him against a nearby rock. It was the very rock where Hiccup had first seen Toothless give him that ridiculously gummy smile, and now it looked horribly like it would be the last place Hiccup ever saw Toothless again. Hiccup gasped out something undistinguishable, and Link lifted Hiccup’s chin and looked into his eyes. “Breath, keep calm.” He said. 

     “The...the knife. Aughhhh! Get it, get it out!” Hiccup was about to writhe in agony, but Link put a firm hand on his shoulder and forced him back against the rock. Hiccup was in excruciating pain. It felt as if every nerve is his body was being sucked into this white hot gash in his chest and then throbbing back into the rest of his body. It went in and out, hot and white, sporadic, random, sucking pain. Toothless was whining pitifully, stepping anxiously back and forth, but he could think of no way to stop Hiccup’s pain. Link pressed hard into Hiccup, gripped the hilt of Souldrinker, and then asked firmly, “You ready?” Hiccup nodded stiffly with his eyes pressed tightly shut. Link tugged, and Souldrinker slid out of the horrible wound in Hiccup’s chest. Hiccup buckled forward and let out a horrible wail of pain as the blade slipped out. He then let himself fall back onto the boulder and looked up blankly at the sky gasping for breath his mind in a shock anguish. Link angrily tossed Souldrinker to the side, and the stains of blood on the blade vanished as the knife drunk them in. Souldrinker had been absorbing blood from Hiccup’s body, and now that the blade was gone, it became clear how serious the situation was. Blood flooded down Hiccup’s tunic and vest. Toothless wailed and shoved Link to the side. He moved his head up to Hiccup’s chest and began to lick the wound desperately. He lapped and lapped, horror filling his mind as the realization of the flavor of Hiccup’s lifeblood struck his senses. Astrid had finally recovered, and she walked up to the awful scene in shock. Hiccup was trying to speak to Toothless, but the dragon was too distracted trying to stop the flow of blood. Toothless finally stopped, his eyes blurring with sadness as he stepped back from Hiccup’s still bleeding chest. It wouldn’t stop; Toothless knew that from dreadful experience. Hiccup tried to give Toothless a comforting glance. The pain was subsiding, but Hiccup could feel his consciousness slipping away.  He needed to speak now, and for the first time Hiccup was hit by a wave of utter despair. He had died many times in Dimension Splash, but not like this. This was deletion, this meant an existence of endless torture. He had learned of its awful nature from Smaug, and he had been willing to face it for himself, but what would this do to Toothless?...How would that poor, poor dragon be able to survive watching him die? He had told himself before that he would face deletion rather than ignore this wickedness, but he did not want to see Toothless like this? How could these be their final moments?

      Toothless, Link, and Astrid now stood around him in silence, and that was what he needed. Hiccup gathered his last ounce of strength, open his mouth, and began to speak forth trembling sentences. These were his best friends in all the world, and he wanted to let them know that.

     “Astrid, Link...I’m, I’m sorry. I had hoped this wouldn’t happen, but-” Hiccup swallowed hard, “I guess it did. I want you both to know how much I care about you. Link, Link...everything I know about the-” Hiccup’s brow darkened, “-about the Gemnodes is in my journal. You’re sensible...occasionally a little more sensible than me, but I am so happy to have been your brother. If anyone could pick up where I left off it’s you. Link, are such a hero in your own way. Please, take the journal, read it, and decide what to do...maybe I was wrong...maybe this was a stupid idea, but I want you to decide for yourself, and I, I believe you will find that I was right and that this-” Hiccup’s voice was weakening, lowering to a whisper, “-was worth it.”

     “Astrid-” and at this point, Hiccup lost his nerve.Tears began to stream down his face, but he sobbed them back as best he could and continued. “It’s been ten whole years in this horrible world, ten years with you as my great friend, and I am sorry that we never aged...because, because.... I would have been so happy to, to...well, Astrid I do really care for you...more than you can ever see. Please, Astrid, you’ve always been there for me even in my stupidest-”

     “Craziest.” Interrupted Astrid.

     Hiccup smiled, she would do it. “-Craziest plans. Astrid, please...take care of Toothless.”

     “I will...I promise.” Astrid was incredibly grave. Her eyes turned glassy with a flood of tears, but she held them back for Hiccup’s sake. The last thing he needed to see was her breaking down. He needed to believe that she could handle this, that she could keep Toothless safe and happy after he was gone.

     Hiccup looked at Toothless, and his dying heart broke. He did not want to do this, did not want to say goodbye to this dragon who he could never live without, but he didn’t have much choice did he? He locked his fading gaze on Toothless, and all he could get out was a breaking, pleading, “Bud...c’mer!” Hiccup’s tears flowed freely as Toothless shoved his head into his bleeding chest. Hiccup didn’t care about the pain; he threw his arms around Toothless’s big scaly forehead and held him as close as he could. “Bud,” Hiccup said through the sobs, “I am so, so sorry, but I’m going...I’m going where you can’t follow. Toothless, bud, I love you. You were my first friend, you’ve been my best friend, and you always, always will be. You changed everything, bud. Thank you, thank you for everything.” Hiccup sobbed once more and let Toothless’s head go. The dragon stared him in the eyes. The huge watery dragon eyes met the small quivering eyes of a boy. “Bud, Toothless...I really you more than... more than all the world.  Good ...bye ...bud.” 

     Astrid was kneeling next to him now, supporting his head so he could see Toothless in front of him. Hiccup’s breath slowed. He gasped in one last shuddering time, and Toothless, something inside that dragon felt it happen. Hiccup’s breath went in trembling, but no breath came out. Hiccup’s head fell back weakly, and there in the cove, in a foreign dimension, at the hands of cruel and heartless foes, and in front of his heart broken dragon, Hiccup died. His friends felt it happen. Something horribly familiar stirred in Link, for he had seen death many times before. Astrid’s heart fell cold and wished to never beat again. And Toothless, Toothless felt something in his deepest soul break and everything good and beautiful in the world grew dark and horrid. Toothless raised his head and howled a long, heart shaking howl. Nothing could ever describe the sadness of that cry, and after Toothless finished his head lowered again, his eyes shut, his ears drooped weakly down, and his nose twitched and his head shook occasionally in pitiful disbelieve as he sat there still and silent in deepest, most dreadful grief. 

     Astrid pressed her face into Hiccup’s limp shoulder and wept. Her back trembled up and down in erratic sobs. It couldn’t have just happened, not to Hiccup. Her heart twisted into a thousand tangled knots. She had bottled in her grief while Hiccup was speaking, but now it flooded out, and she wept and wept into the corpse of her fallen Hiccup who she loved so dearly, the one who she had wanted to love as so much more than just a friend.

     Link, Link stood stiff and upright, his brow furrowed in a painful contortion. One single, bitter, heart broken tear trickled down his cheek. He stood staring at the horrible scene of Astrid pitifully holding Hiccup and Toothless bowing his head in terrible sorrow. Then a glint caught Link’s eye: The Souldrinker. He kicked it angrily to the side, tears burning hot into his eyes. The knife bounced of a nearby stone with a clang. Link’s heart filled with righteous fire. The icy grief of death met with a surging furnace of wrath, and Link drew the Master Sword. He rushed up to the horrible blade that had stolen his brother, his friend, the one he had learned to love and laugh with, and he chucked it angrily against the cliff face. It ricocheted off the stone, and Link batted it to the side with his draw sword. He wanted to break the knife, to smash it. The coward of a Gemnode had left without a fight, but at least he could destroy the weapon that had destroyed Hiccup. He sliced down at the knife again yelling with rage, but it bounced up into the air unharmed. As it descended, Link activated his Triforce slash. A ray of light caught the curved knife in air, and then three gloriously bright golden triangles encircled it and held it in place. Link rushed up, slashed the blade over and over and over again. Twenty times he struck the Souldrinker, and then with one final surge he stabbed and burst the Triforce. The Souldrinker sailed backwards, but it was a blade forged by the Gemnodes themselves, and like the Gemnodes it seemed invincible. It flew out of the cove and stuck into a tree, and Link collapsed in an angry, sorrowful heap on the earth. His gear clattered against the earth and his heart burned as he angrily pounded his fist into the moss. He could not even destroy the weapon of his enemies, how could he ever hope to face them?

     Astrid stood, sucked in a trembling sob, and then turned to Link. “I’ll tell Stoick...” her voice raised and cracked as she said the dreadful sentence, and she turned and ran out of the cove. Toothless was still sitting silent, and Link stood and gathered himself. He looked again at Hiccup’s bloody, motionless body, and then looked at the journal. It had fallen next to Hiccup, and Link walked up, grabbed it, flipped open its pages and began to read. He walked as he read, not knowing where he was going, but not caring. He stumbled across Souldrinker yet again, and though it pained him, he knew he could not leave it there, so he shoved it into his satchel and continued to study Hiccup’s journal. He read, and read and his mind and heart burned as the tiny, messy notes told Link the motives of the Gemnodes and of their great and terrible purpose. Link would follow in Hiccup’s footsteps, he would challenge these monsters, and if he died like his brother, then so be it.

     Back at the village, everything was a hubbub. The Vikings had seen the bright flash of the Gemnode’s arrival, and after so many wars and conflicts they were very nervous about yet another invasion. Questions shot back and forth.

     “What was that?”
     “Do you think we’re under attack?”
     “As if two years under Loki wasn’t enough...”
     “Quick! Gather the weapons!”
     “Not again!”
     “Where’s Hiccup?”
     “I thought I saw Link going that direction.”
     “Do you think we’ll be defeated again?”
     “Those boys really should be more responsible.”
     “Not again! We just got a minute’s peace!”

     “ENOUGH!” Stoick boomed. “This is Dimension Splash! Pull yourselves together. Strange things happen all the time and I’m sure this will easily be explained. Just keep calm everyone.” Stoick’s presence was powerful, and the town fell silent, and then in seconds that silence was broken by the desperate cry of Astrid. “Stoick!” She rushed up to the crowd, tears still streaming down her face, and Stoick’s face and shoulders fell. “The Gemnodes,” Astrid sucked in a sobbing breath “They’ve deleted Hiccup. He’s dead!” Stoick breathed out a unbelieving, “No...” and then he rushed towards the cove. Gobber shook his head in sickened horror and ran off after his friend and chief. Astrid looked after them through her tear blurred eyes, and the village fell silent and would not speak again for days.


     Toothless opened his eyes weakly. Days had past, but he had not left the cove, he hadn’t eaten, hadn’t slept, hadn’t cared about anything or anyone but his dear boy. He had watched as Stoick ran up and fell weeping before his dead son, he had listened as people debated what to do with the body, and he had witnessed as Frodo stood weeping silent tears as Gandalf cast a spell over the corpse to stop decay. Toothless’s brow creased again as he remembered Hiccup’s soft voice, remembered the gentle touch of his fingers, remembered those confident whoops of joy as they sailed through the air together as one. They were one, they still were; Toothless knew it. Hiccup had to come back. It was a simple fact, so he would sit there and wait until he did. But then reality struck the dragon. He caught himself as he began to gurgle and coax. He was trying to wake Hiccup, but Hiccup wasn’t asleep; he was dead. The shock hit Toothless all over again, he sucked in a deep breath, and a cold, painful, awful wave of sadness washed through him as he once again lowered his head. Thoughts, memories, joys, love... it all came to him, and it all hurt. His whole life, his whole purpose, it had been sucked away, and it left an aching void that he knew nothing could ever, ever hope to fill. Everything that had once brought him joy, now left him in bitter, chilling sadness. He wished he could die, wished he too had been deleted, if only to have been with Hiccup. No one could replace him, not Link, not Astrid, no one. And so he would sit and grieve and break his dragon’s heart as he looked at his fallen friend, at his slaughtered soulmate. All he could do was wish for Hiccup to stir, but as soon as that wish came, bitter reality would slam back into his broken soul...Hiccup was dead.

     Link sat up in the Haddock house. He was sprawled out on his bed fiddling angrily with one of his inventory pouches. His swords were strewn all over the floor of the upstairs room, and random sharp objects had been chucked into the wall in times of despairing rage. He laid his head back on the bed and thought of Toothless, Stoick, and Astrid. These people, they were not even from his world, but he had learned something from them, learned the joy of life as a real person and not just some questing hero. He had learned to love, learned to laugh, learned to be part of something bigger than himself. Hiccup had taught him what it was to be part of a family, and now that family was broken, smashed, shattered, and he could see no way to fix it. He had watched Stoick sit night after night staring into the fire. He knew what was going through the man’s mind. Valka, she had disappeared so many years ago, and all she had left Stoick was a tiny son, a puny child who was destined to be a misfit. But Stoick loved Hiccup, and had learned to love him more and more over the years. Hiccup was all Stoick had left, and he had tried his whole life to protect him, and now look at what had happened. Hiccup had died, and Stoick had been miles away and completely oblivious. He had failed, failed to protect what Valka had left him and what he cared about most. Stoick sat night after night muttering sad apologies through the tears. He wouldn’t let the tribe see his grief during the day, but when he thought he was alone, when Link peeked down the stairs at night, Stoick cried before the fire. He missed his son, and he would have given anything to get him back. 

     So Link sat up in his and Hiccup’s room thinking, grieving, plotting, his heart boiling against the villains who had been so cruel. He stared up at the roof and tried to think, tried to plan, but nothing would work. The Gemnode’s system was flawless, fool-proof. Link gave up. It was late, and none of his plans would work. He tried to remember the things he and Hiccup had done together. Ten years...had it really been that long? He tried to force himself to smile thinking back at that scrawny boy he had helped so long ago, that ridiculous little viking trying to carry enough fish to feed six full grown dragons. Link thought back, back far and deep into what he and Hiccup had been through. Hiccup, he’d led them against Darth Vader so long ago, he’d gone with Frodo and destroyed the Ring of Sauron, he’d helped Link in that desperate sword fight with Lord Shen, and he’d even found a way to escape from a shape-shifting shadow in a mysterious Mirror. Link’s mind began to wander, and then he remembered what he was just thinking and sat bolt uprighting in the bed. That Mirror...there was something incredible in that place wasn’t there? The Mirror Pool...was it possible? That pool had transformed any item he and Hiccup had dipped into it into the exact opposite of itself. They had tossed in an ice gem and gotten a fire gem back, hadn’t they? Link leapt to his feet and ran toward his satchel, stumbling on his sword in the process. He fumbled into his pack, felt the hilt of what he was looking for, and felt his heart sink sickly but then harden into a block of adamantine determination. Link yanked the Souldrinker out of his pouch and stared into the blade. This horrible knife, it had taken Hiccup, but could it bring him back? Link was going into the Mirror, he didn’t know how he would pull this off or keep the Gemnodes from noticing, but he was going to plunge headfirst into that realm of nightmares. If he touched Souldrinker to that shimmering pool located at the heart of that frightening realm, maybe, just maybe, he would transform Souldrinker into a weapon not even the Gemnodes would imagine, a weapon that could bring Hiccup back from death. The one weapon in the world that caused permanent death might become the one weapon that could in fact cheat death. It was a ridiculous plan, a hopeless effort, the chances of survival were minuscule, and the Gemnodes would be watching, but it was a ray of hope, and Link was going to grasp that ray. 

     The next days were terribly tense as Link tried to communicate his hope to Astrid and Toothless. After much difficulty, he found a way to tell them in a manner that the Gemnodes would not be able to decipher, and once given that tiny ray of hope, Toothless allowed Astrid to feed him, left the cove and Hiccup’s corpse, prepared himself for battle, and followed Astrid and Link with grim, terrifying determination. He was going to save his boy, and the Gemnodes with all their power would be wise to steer clear of him now, for he would do anything for Hiccup. The hope of saving Hiccup had freed Toothless from a torture cell of bitter grief, and he was determined never to enter it again. If the Gemnodes discovered this plot, he and Link and Astrid would be deleted, but Toothless did not care. Hiccup was worth risking death, pain, horror, fear, and even an eternity of torment for. That was his boy, his little, loving Hiccup, and he would sacrifice everything in order to get him back.

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