Thursday, December 18, 2014

Homecoming Hero

WARNING: The following story is certainly rated PG-13 or worse due to intense scenes of action and violence, disturbing images, and a sequence of torture. I don't glorify violence nor do I like it, but be warned that this chronicle is more intense than most of the others.

Alright! I know it has been a LONG time since I posted a Chronicle, but there is a reason. This one is very dark. Very, very dark. Possibly the darkest one yet, and when I do that, I want to be careful to keep it balanced. I don't want violence to be glorified or taken lightly. So, if you wish to read on, just be warned that things get rather grizzly. It will get less depressing in the near future, but I do just have to let you know that this is a real low point. The chronicle is about thirteen pages in length.

Dimension Splash Chronicles
Event: Homecoming Hero
Pov: Hiccup, Toothless, Link
Time: Year 10.4 of Hiccup and Link’s existence in the game

     Hiccup lurched forward, pushing hard against the stone floor with his prosthetic foot. He shouted out in anger as he was yanked backwards by the chains around his hands and he fell hard against the floor, the pain snapping up his spine on impact. “You have to let me out! You have to!” He scooted back, a hot tear streaming down his face. Hiccup was hoarse from shouting, but the graveness of the situation burned hotter in his heart than the burning of his throat. He looked up, and even though there was no one outside of his cell to answer him, he screamed out as loud as he could, “You can’t do it to him! You don’t understand! Bring him back!!”

     There was a loud clanking and the door of the dank prison opened. Two large vikings were dragging someone along the floor. He looked unconscious, but to Hiccup’s relief he saw that the figure was wearing a long green cap. At least he wasn’t dead…

     The guards opened the cell and tossed Link to the floor. “Link!” Hiccup shouted out, but the hylian did not respond. One guard grunted to the other, unmoved by the scene, but the other man looked at Hiccup, and gave his head a slow, sorrowful shake as he walked out of the cell and locked it behind him. Hiccup stared for a moment, his mind fixated on something unreachable and far away, but a moan from Link brought his mind back. Link reached up and held his head, having to use both hands to do so because of the heavy metal handcuffs. Hiccup noticed that a small trickle of blood was flowing from his forehead. He moved up as close as he could to Link, but he couldn’t reach him. The chains held him back, so he leaned as far forward as he could with his arms pulled uncomfortably behind him. Link opened his eyes weakly, and Hiccup breathed out in a stuttering, hoarse voice, “I’m so sorry.”

     Link sat up and grunted. He shook his head, focusing on Hiccup and then scooting towards him. Hiccup sat back, Link placed his back up against the wall next to Hiccup, and both of them stared off in silence for what felt like a very, very long time. Link finally broke the dead stillness, shaking Hiccup out of his bleak, confused, and angry thoughts. “Three.”

     “What?” Hiccup turned and looked at Link who was now starting to fully recover from the bash on his head. 

     “Three ships.” Hiccup cocked an eyebrow, not following where Link was going with this. The blonde haired boy looked off at the door with a quick double handed gesture. “I sunk three ships before they caught me.” Hiccup forced a smile. Link smiled back, but then both boys frowned. Link sighed deeply, and Hiccup voiced a question he almost didn’t want to hear the answer to.

     “What happened to Skari?”

     “I don’t know. I had almost gotten to him when they jumped me.” There was another long pause, and now it was Link’s turn to ask a difficult question. “Where is Toothless?”

     “They…” Hiccup’s voice grew hard and his eyes filled with hot tears. “They took him. All I know is that they put him on a ship, and now they are going to hunt him. It’s all my fault.”

     “No.” Link’s voice was firm. “It is the Gemnode’s fault, and their’s alone. Toothless will last a long time on a hunt… trust me, I’ve hunted him. All we need to do is find a way out of here. We’ll make this work.”

     Hiccup looked Link in the eye and nodded. As hard as it might be, he and Link would now need to escape this cell, even if it meant fighting the people of Berk.

     Things had not been what they expected. Almost immediately after coming out of the dimensional rift, they had been ambushed by a fleet of Berserker warships. Link and Skari had been shot down, and the hylian had only barely saved Hiccup’s skin by shouting at him to go for help. Hiccup and Toothless had landed in the village of Berk, and Hiccup had tried to sound the alarm. A Berserker fleet that close to Berk could only mean a full scale invasion. If only he and Toothless could have been more attentive… Berk was a shattered mess, and worse than the grey, burnt houses and the smashed dragon feeding stations were the stakes placed around the village with the skulls of fallen dragons impaled on them. Berk had changed. Hiccup didn’t know how, but in the five years of his absence the scenic little village had fallen apart at the seems. But it wasn’t just the village… the people had changed as well. When Hiccup landed, they had only let him speak a choice few words before a Berserker commander came charging out of the Meade Hall and ordered the vikings to seize Hiccup. Hiccup couldn’t believe it, but vikings he had known, Berkians who had been loyal to his father, grabbed up weapons. Toothless defended him valiantly, but before Hiccup could get onto his dragon’s back and take to the sky, a young, blonde Berserker jumped on him, pinning his arm behind his back. Hiccup had screamed out in warning as Toothless turned to rip this captor off of his boy, but Toothless did not listen. Before long seven strong men had Toothless’s head slammed against the hard packed dirt. The dragon struggled and fought, but he couldn’t get up. He writhed in bitter anger, his chest burning and his fire gasses hissing out of his teeth. He had killed Sardilic to protect his boy, and now he watched helplessly as guards drug him away. The young Berserker who had tackled Hiccup was praised by his commander, and the last thing Hiccup saw was the leader of these brutal vikings ordering Toothless away to a hunt… a hunt in which their King of the Wilderwest would participate. Who this man was, Hiccup did not know, but he struggled hard, screaming at the Berkians who were dragging him away. How could they? How could they? He was the son of Stoick, chances were he and Toothless had saved these very men from the jaws and fire of the Red Death, and now they were pulling Hiccup and Toothless apart… sentencing one to imprisonment and the other to slow, cruel, mind-destroying execution. Hiccup knew what being hunted did to Toothless.

     Back in the dungeon, Hiccup’s heart still stung with betrayal. How had this happened? In five years Berk had gone from being a place where peace between men and dragons was the jewel of their society, to a brutal island where his best friend could be captured and shipped off to be killed for sport. Hiccup didn’t want to know what they had done to Skari. Just as Hiccup’s mind could stand the questions no longer, a quiet tapping came from the wall to the right of him. Someone was in the other cell. They tapped again, and Hiccup put his ear to the wall. “What? Who is this.”

     “It is you…” a cracked old voice gasped. 

     “It’s Hiccup. Who is this?” Hiccup asked hurriedly.

     “It’s… it’s Mulch.” the voice on the other side of the stone wall broke into a long, hacking cough. “Can it be true? Can you really be back?”

     “Yes. Yes, I’m back. What happened here? Why have they locked me up… Why have they locked you up?”

     “I tried to stop what they did. Hiccup… dear boy, why did you leave? Why did you leave us?”

     “Please, I need answers, Mulch!” Hiccup didn’t have time to explain the Gemnodes right now. Toothless was in danger, and Hiccup still did not understand why.

     “No, Hiccup. You will answer me or I will tell you nothing. I have been loyal to the Haddock family all these years, and I need to know that I was not wrong.”

     “You’ll never believe me.”

     The wall echoed with a dry laugh. “Lad, I’d believe anything in these dark times.”

     “I was stollen. There were these… things.” The hair on the back of Hiccup’s neck stood erect as he even tried to think of a concise way to describe the Gemnodes. “Creatures who stole great warriors and imprisoned them. The other prisoner in the cell with me is Link, and they stole him as well. We just now have escaped them.” Hiccup knew this was a stretch.

     “So… you didn’t run away to save your dragon?”

     “No. Not directly. He was stolen too… along with Dad and Astrid. Look, Mulch, they still have my dad, they still have so many people from Berk. These thieves are the ones who have been making people disappear. You have to believe me.”

     There was a pause, and Link and Hiccup glanced at each other. The voice started again. “I believe you Hiccup. I always knew you would not abandon us. The people… they were not so loyal. When Toothless disappeared, we all grieved with you, but then you vanished. We worried… maybe you had run away to find him. We were left to try and train the dragons on our own. Our hero had left us. Then your father vanished… then Gobber, even Astrid and the other teens. You all left. People claimed your father had abandoned the village to go and search for you… the boy who valued his dragon above the lives of everyone else.” Mulch’s words were slow and grave, and Hiccup’s heart began to writhe in horror. “Soon the dragons were out of control. The example you and Toothless had given us had been poisoned by the seeds of doubt we were all feeling. We drove the dragons away, but without them and without Stoick we were left vulnerable…”

     Hiccup was breathing hard, his head pressed against the cold stone. This is what had happened? He had tried to change his world, and then Berk had fallen to bits because the Gemnodes had stolen everyone who would stand up for right. Link was more right than he could have known, this was the Gemnode’s fault. Still… the unfaithfulness of the people was shocking and hurtful, almost infuriating. Not because they doubted him, Hiccup had never wanted to lead, but because they accused his father of deserting them, and in the end they blamed all of Berk’s on Hiccup’s loyalty to Toothless. No wonder they were willing to ship him away. 

     The voice on the other side of the wall started again. It was slow and pained. “I stood up for your father, boy. So did Bucket… before,” there was a long sigh. “Before a dragon killed him.” Hiccup breathed out in horror. “It was almost certainly an accident, but after that I couldn’t keep the people from sending the dragons away… in fact I supported it.” The voice paused for a very long time, and Hiccup and Link exchanged worried glances. Much to Hiccup’s surprise, Link’s eyes were wet with emotion. It was not usual for Link to be openly moved to pity. Then Mulch started again. “Perhaps I was wrong to do it, but we were all so blind.”

     “Mulch…” Hiccup tried to talk, but Mulch kept speaking.

     “Then the Berserkers came. They had already conquered the Outcasts… Alvin had gone missing.”

     “That would be the thieves.” Link stated bluntly.

     Mulch continued, “Dagur conquered Berk. It wasn’t hard. He seemed to be the only capable leader left in our little world. He set up Berserker commanders to lead us and to protect us from the “dragon scourge”. As if Berk and the Outcast lands were not enough, he then went to Herkja. I don’t know for sure what happened there… but I think he murdered their chief. She was just a girl, Hiccup, she was your age. Rumors spread that he had challenged her to single hand combat and murdered her in front of her entire tribe. I hope the reports are wrong, but I doubt it. Dagur the Deranged is a brutal man. He declared himself “King of the Wilderwest”, and to be fair, Hiccup, he did own almost as much land as your ancestors. He rules now, but mostly he participates in the blood games. Captured dragons are still sent to Herkja for hunting.” Link looked at Hiccup gravely. 

      “He locked me up for speaking out for your father. He, he… gouged out my eyes and left me to rot here. But I was right.” Mulch’s voice began to fill with pride and confidence. “I knew you’d come back boy.” Hiccup looked down, still trying to take everything in. Things back on Berk were worse than he could have ever dreamed. Mulch had faith in him, but how could Hiccup do anything from this cell. His best friend could die at any moment, the Gemnodes could strike from out of nowhere, and he and Link were weaponless and locked in this cell. It seemed so bleak, so hopeless, and yet this old viking in the other cell still believed that things could change. Hiccup could hardly believe the faith the old viking put into him, but if Mulch still had hope after so much suffering, then Hiccup would do everything he could to live up to the poor man’s belief.

     “I’m so sorry, Mulch. I promise you, I will do what is in my power to set things back the way they were.” Hiccup turned to Link. “I don’t know how we are going to do it, but we are getting out. We are gonna save Toothless, and so help me we are gonna save Berk, too.” Link nodded, and he and Hiccup went to discussing how to escape. It wouldn’t be easy, but they had to try. So much was at stake. The Gemnodes were not the enemy directly anymore, but the Purpose had certainly destroyed Hiccup’s world, and it was up to him and Toothless to bring things back to the way they were.


     Toothless drifted slowly back into consciousness. His eyes were tight shut, and he was lying on something hard and dry. He breathed in slowly, his chest shuddering suddenly as he did so. His whole body felt sore and sick, but now he realized that the soreness was most prominent on the side of his head. He tried to open his eyes, but it hurt to do so, and he closed them firmly again, wincing as a dizzy spell made his entire body relax helplessly against the ground. He tried to breath slowly. The poor dragon could hardly remember what had happened, and he had no idea where he was. Slowly, slowly he started to feel life entering back into his limbs. The soreness lessened, but the pain became sharper on the side of his head. Toothless opened his eyes weakly and got to his feet, his legs wobbling pathetically under his weight. He moaned loudly. He could see caked blood was on his forelegs. Toothless knew that he was wounded, perhaps he needed help, but where was Hiccup?

     Then in a wash of horror, Toothless’s memory flashed before his eyes. He’d been drug away from Hiccup who had been pinned under that cruel soldier. They’d carried Hiccup away and tried to force Toothless into a boat. He’d fought them, and they’d beaten him. Had he killed any of them? Toothless could hardly remember. It was all just hot, red, wrath as he tried to get to his boy. Perhaps that’s why they managed to knock him out, perhaps he was too angry to pay attention. He remembered them striking him again and again with blunt instruments, trying to subdue him. Someone must have hit him in the head with something very sharp. But why hadn’t they killed him?

     Toothless tried to step forward, only to feel a rough tug on his back foot. He whipped his head around and saw that he was tied to the stump of a tree by a roughly knotted rope. He was in a dusty hollow, but he could see the ocean over a nearby ridge. The dirt smelled harsh and foreign, and as the Night Fury looked to the sky his heart sank in utter dread. He saw peaks of terribly high mountains shoving up into the sky like ghastly black teeth. Toothless knew these peaks, he’d seen them once before on a day he wished he could forget. His parents had fought and died around those jagged spikes of rock. This was Herkja.

     Toothless turned his head around and gnawed the rope that bound his leg. He glanced to see that, as he expected, his prosthetic tail fin had been torn to rags. The rope snapped between his teeth, and Toothless stepped away from the trunk he had been tied to. Deep in his heart, Toothless was beginning to feel certain that he knew what was going on. He had felt this before, experienced this kind of a thing almost exactly almost a year ago. He had been left crippled on a deserted section of an island. There was no escape, probably very little food, but Toothless felt sure he had not been sentenced to execution by starvation. No, this rough, horribly desolate landscape was a hunting ground, and he could already feel it closing in around him. He was going to be hunted here, he was going to be prey.

     Awful memories filled Toothless’s mind. The last time this had happened he had been hunted by the greatest trackers and warriors of the Gemnode’s world… even his friends. His heart snapped in panic as he remembered what being hunted had driven him to do. He remembered the panic in Link’s eyes when he had pinned the boy beneath his talons and prepared to kill him for what had seemed to be outright betrayal. He remember the shouts and chants of the dragon hunters, the screeches of Skari, the sting of arrows and the never, never, never ending feeling of panic. It was enough to drive a dragon mad. Would he suffer this again? Would he be hunted yet again? Hiccup needed him now more than ever before, but he couldn’t help him… he couldn’t get off this cursed island. Toothless turned and ran bitterly into the woods nearby. He rushed in farther and father, trying to find suitable cover, but never running faster than a casual jog. He would need the energy to sprint… the energy to fight and to survive later. 

     It would not take long for Toothless’s fears to be confirmed. By the time the sun set, the woods surrounding the Night Fury were filled with the harsh glow of torchlight and the gruff shouts of Viking hunters. Toothless could only guess at how many of them were out searching for him. As the Night Fury hunkered beneath a large pile of bramble, he watched as six or seven men in light leather armor stalked by. They were carrying throwing axes and long bows, and each one of them trekked along the dirty ground without the snapping of a single twig. These hunters were experienced. Toothless’s pupils contracted, and he forced himself not to throat a growl. He was not sure whether he was angry or afraid. Then he remembered how deadly and elite the last group of hunters he had faced were. Back in the Gemnodes world he had outrun and outfought men with guns, plasma weapons, magic, and swords that could have cleaved off his head in a single swipe. If he could survive that and if Hiccup could find and rescue him then, then he could make it out of this particular nightmare as well. As soon as the hunters were out of sight, he stood and jumped up into a nearby tree. The bark cracked and shattered beneath his talons and dead needles fell from the branches as Toothless swayed balancing himself. He looked out over the land around him, and every patch of trees, every scrap of cover had torch light and shouts coming from it. There was no good place to hide, nothing to do but run and avoid the light. Toothless bound into another tree, then another, then dove in deathly silence to the rough ground. He was in the shadows of the forest now, and there was no moonlight to glisten from his scales. He pelted into the shadows, his dark hide melting into the inky blackness. All that was left of Toothless were two green, burning, primal eyes, always rushing, never holding still. 


     Link paced around the cell, irritated. The guard should have been back by now. The hylian had come up with a plan, and even in his handcuffs he felt he could pull it off. It would have to be swift though… if this went wrong it might botch his and Hiccup’s only chance at escape. Link sighed and looked over at his shoulder to see Hiccup. The young man was staring off into nothingness, a grim look of determination flitting across his brows. Link knew what this was. Hiccup was weighing out realities, probing every possible way he could get to Toothless. Not going after the dragon was not an option. At one point, Link might would have questioned Hiccup in this, pointed out that they needed to regroup, needed to take time before rushing headlong to aid the dragon. But now was not the time to doubt Hiccup, now was the time to support him, and with all Toothless had done for both of them, the value of his safety outweighed the value of their own… even to Link. 

     The guard opened the door to the prison. He gruffly walked up to the bars. Link and Hiccup gave each other a quick look. This was it. The guard absentmindedly grabbed at a loaf of stale bread and tossed it through the bars, striking the sitting Hiccup across the face with it. The man laughed coarsely, and Hiccup made a mock laugh in return. “Haha, very funny. I’ll have you in big trouble for that as soon as this is resolved.” Hiccup tried to sound as serious as possible. The guard turned around and cocked his head.

     “What?” the guard slurred.

     “You realize you are holding me, the chief of Berk, without charge? What am I guilty of? As soon as everyone realizes their mistake, you won’t want me to remember you, now will you?” Hiccup did his very best to sound as cocky and arrogant as possible. He needed the guard to take the bait. 

     “Ah, yeah. You, I’d forgotten! You’re Hiccup, ain’t ya?” The guard walked closer to the cell bars, throwing his arms wide. “My apologies, your high cheifliness!” The guard laughed loud and long. “For your information, I’m no Berkian. You left your people, chasing after your precious gummy lizard, didn’t you? You ain’t no chief.” The guard’s face was practically against the bars as he spat the insults. “You’re a coward, always have been. A weak, soppy wet rag of a child who weren’t worth nothing but dragon bait. As if Berk could ever have been ruled by the likes of you.” Link leaned forward slightly, but the guard was fixated on Hiccup. “And now…” the guard’s face cracked in a cruel smile, “now your precious dragon’s been taken to the hunt. The real chief of Berk is gonna do what you never could, he’s gonna kill himself a Night Fury. That dragon’s head’ll make a glorious trophy for the king, and there ain’t nothing you can do to stop it.”

     Link sprang forward, grabbing the guard by the scruff of the neck. Without speaking a word he slammed the viking’s face into the bars, knocking his helmet to the ground with a clang. The guard tried to call out, but Link slammed his face into the bars again, knocking him unconscious. The guard’s body buckled, and Link had to used both arms to hold him up. He fingered around, trying to search the man for a key, but after a few moments he realized to his horror that the man had no key on him, nor knife, nor anything of use. Link yelled out angrily in frustration and slammed the man’s skull into the bars several more time before tossing him roughly back to fall onto the stone floor. Link collapsed to the ground, breathing hard. He looked back at Hiccup who was staring down at his feet. They couldn’t afford to make mistakes. Hiccup looked up, his face stern. “We’ll have to try something else.”

     “Like what?” Link asked, shaking his head. 

     “I don’t know…” Hiccup sighed. “I just don’t know, and we can’t afford to wait.”

     Link looked at the guard whose face was already beginning to show heavy bruising. “He’ll not be happy when he wakes up, but he deserved it.” Link sniffed. Hiccup hadn’t noticed it, but Link was fighting back tears. He knew what was at stake, and his plan to get them out had failed. He blinked hard and glanced over at Hiccup. “You didn’t seem to mind… you usually do.”

     Hiccup looked at Link feeling hollow. Link was right, usually he would have minded Link brutalizing a helpless enemy. Why couldn’t he now? He didn’t feel avenged, but he didn’t feel even a faint twinge of compassion. Everything was so awful, any feeling at all hurt, so maybe he had shut them out. Until he got Toothless back, perhaps this was for the best. 

     Link was right. When the guard came to serval hours later, he was furious. He left the prison without speaking a word. When he returned he had a dozen armed soldiers with him. Hiccup looked at Link, pleading with his eyes for his brother to not try and engage them in combat, but Link knew he would be out of his league. With the Master Sword, he would have vanquished these enemies without breaking a sweat, but with no equipment and manacles on his hands, he was practically helpless. The guards opened the cell and grabbed Link roughly by his shoulders. He fought against them, kicking one of them in the shin. They drug him out of the cell. Hiccup shouted at them, yanking at his own chains as he saw one guard punch Link hard in the jaw. “What are you doing? Where are you taking him!?” 

     The commander of the guards, a burly Berserker in a black fur cape turned and answered. “We’re going to teach him some manners, and then we’re going to request his execution when the King of the Wilderwest returns.” Hiccup and Link exchanged worried looks. Surely it couldn’t end like this, executed by a warlord leading a ragtag group of vikings after escaping omnipotent, inter-dimensional beings. The guards shoved Link roughly out of the room, and Hiccup’s heart felt as though a shard of glass had been pushed into it when he saw the last of the guards reach for a peg on the wall and remove a long, leather whip.

     Hiccup placed his head against the stone wall, curling up sadly into a ball. Outside there was the clear cracking of the whip and the sound of ripping cloth. Hiccup tried not to hear it, but he couldn’t block it out. Every crack made Hiccup feel as though he was going to vomit, his face was pale and his hands were shaking as he gripped his legs tightly to him. Finally one particularly loud crack sounded through the air, and Hiccup heard his brother cry out in pain. Hiccup shuddered, placing his face against he knees, and breathing out in a heartfelt sob, “How did it come to this?”

     Link never returned to the cell, and Hiccup was left alone.


     Dawn broke through the fog over the ocean bay of Herkja. The red sun trickled through the grey pall of mists, dispersing the darkness of the forested isle. Toothless looked at it, shaking himself to try and ignore the weariness of his limbs and eyes. His head still stung from the gash, and the wound had reopened as he had sprinted through the night. That meant he was trailing very small drops of blood, and the hunters could track this. Daylight removed his cover and made him stand out distinctly against the bright, illumined world. He felt as though he was a big blot of spilled ink on one of Hiccup’s clean pieces of parchment. He needed to get as far from the hunters as possible, now more than ever. There would be no hiding in this light, but if he couldn’t hide, at least he could run.

     Toothless jogged into the woods, and he kept moving. Hour after hour passed, and still no one had found him. His keen senses jumped at every snapping of a stick of cry of a bird. If they snuck up on him, he could lose his life before he knew he was in danger. He kept running, going further and further inland. As he did so, the terrain became rockier, with deep canyons and high cliffs. Perhaps this maze of stone would prove to his advantage, after all he could still use his wings to make tremendous leaps. He climbed down the face of a rocky slope, sending pebbles skidding in all directions. Inside the canyon was much darker than outside of it, but Toothless also knew that this place could be a death trap. 

     Toothless began to pace into the canyon, when out of the corner of his eye he saw a flash of movement. He whipped around to face it, teeth bared, but his enemy was ready before he was. The hunter loosed an arrow from his bow, and the shaft whizzed towards Toothless. The dragon sidestepped it. Toothless had been shot at practically nonstop for thirteen years in the world of the Gemnodes, and it took a truly excellent marksman to hit him. He roared, preparing to fire on his enemy, but then stopped. If he gave away his position, dozens of hunters could flood down these canyon walls, and there would be no escaping them. Toothless growled and pounced at the Berserker who was drawing another arrow. The dragon landed on him hard, smashing his helmeted head against the canyon wall. Toothless felt the fight leave the body beneath him immediately. The hunter was either dead or unconscious. As Toothless stepped back, he heard the snapping of a bow, and though he leapt to try and avoid the shot, the arrow caught him cleanly in the shoulder of his wing. Toothless shrieked and twisted to see who had shot him, instinctively biting at the cruel shaft that protruded from his flesh. It was a group now, four hunters, but the one holding the bow was familiar. As Toothless landed, his shoulder stung as the barb dug into his flesh. The Night Fury shrieked a blood chilling roar. He stared at the one who had fired on him, debating what to do, but then he recognized his enemy. He was indeed familiar, he was the young man who had tackled Hiccup and kept him away from Toothless. The dragon couldn’t be mistaken, and his heart burned white hot.

     “In a hunt, the prey never wins.” Toothless hissed as the hunters prepared their bows. “So, if you’re going to survive a hunt, there is really only one way to do it.” Toothless growled hunkering down low. “Become the predator.” Toothless had learned this in the last hunt he had been in, and now the blood bath was going to repeat itself. The hunters suddenly started back in uncertainty. The dragon wasn’t running, he was bearing down on them. Toothless opened his maw, breathing in and out in heavy, rabid growls, his head vibrating in erratic anger. He paced toward the hunters in terrifyingly calculated steps, his pupils narrowed down to trembling, angry slits. 

     “What do we do?” A hunter asked the young man. The one who had tackled Hiccup glanced back at him, unsure. “What do we do, Friig? They don’t do this.” Another of the hunters was beginning to back away from the group, feeling the snap of panic enter into his heart. “Shoot it! Shoot it!” He yelled, drawing his bow.

     Toothless fired. The man who had strayed from the group was hit directly in the face by the blast which knocked his corpse back into the canyon wall leaving a grizzly burn mark. The three remaining men drew their bows, each firing in turn, but every shaft missed. Toothless had leapt up onto the side of the canyon wall and clung there, roaring hatefully at the hunters. Toothless’s black form appeared to be some nightmarish apparition clinging to the wall above the terrified men. One of them turned to run, and Toothless leapt to the other side of the wall, kicked off of it, twisted his wings, and landed squarely on the retreating viking. Toothless felt the bones snap beneath his weight, and the man stopped breathing after only a few gasps. Toothless turned slowly, he could hear the bows being drawn. Two more arrows snapped from their strings, and two more arrows clattered harmlessly against the canyon wall. Toothless fired again, without hesitation and without mercy. He hit the last of the men surrounding this youth who had hurt his boy and taken him from him. The man fell without so much as a shout of pain, the life ripped from him by the precise bolt of flame. Friig looked down at his fallen companions, fear making him breath hard and fast. He paced backwards, drawing an axe from his belt. Toothless continued forward, unwavering, unstoppable.

     Friig threw the axe, but Toothless slapped his talons sideways, timing the swipe perfectly. The axe was knocked to the side and buried itself in the pebbly ground. Toothless focused in on the form in front of him. The dragon felt so hot. His mouth was dry and sticky, his chest was burning, the arrow in his shoulder gnawed and stung, and his mind felt white and throbbing. This was the young man who had hurt Hiccup, who had taken him from him. Toothless’s throat rippled in an angry, almost mindless snarl. It was this boy’s fault that this was happening, this soldier’s fault that Toothless had been ripped away from Hiccup. He had hurt Hiccup, for all Toothless knew he had doomed Hiccup to death. After losing Hiccup to deletion Toothless had sworn to himself to protect Hiccup at all costs, to never lose him again, and this wretched dragon hunter had hurt him. He had hurt him. He hurt him. 

     Toothless pounced, pinning Friig to the ground. He shrieked angrily in the terrified human’s face. Friig struggled and kicked, screaming for help. Toothless couldn’t make out the words, they were panicked and fast… probably pleading or threats. It didn’t matter. He could call for help all he wanted, Toothless was not going to let him harm Hiccup again. Toothless snarled, baring his teeth and staring into the glassy blue eyes of the soldier beneath him. Toothless tightened the grip of his talons, feeling them cut into the flesh of the young man’s forearms. Almost without knowing what he was doing, Toothless felt a deep urge to open his mouth. He did so, and then in an angry, cruel movement he clamped it sideways onto his victim’s head. Toothless had been stuck for years in a world where death meant nothing. His enemies would hurt Hiccup, torture him, murder him in front of Toothless’s eyes, and even if the dragon killed them they would return to hurt his boy again. Over the years Toothless had learned that, in the world of the Gemnodes, death did not matter, but pain and suffering did. And now Toothless was so angry, so furious at what this boy had done. Images of Friig slamming Hiccup to the ground flashed again and again before Toothless’s mind as he felt the head struggling between his teeth. Kill him. Toothless thought. Kill him for what he did. Crush him. Toothless began to tighten his bite, but he didn’t do it quickly. Make it hurt, make him hurt like he made Hiccup hurt. All the hatred that had festered in Toothless’s heart began to boil. Hatred and hurt not only for this soldier, but for every being who had hurt Hiccup. Toothless’s mind was roaming now in this hate filled state, focusing no longer on Friig but on the Gemnodes. Toothless slowly increased pressure, the head caught between his jaws screaming, until with a sickly crunching sound, Toothless’s jaws closed completely.

     Toothless stood there, breathing hard, and then he realized what was caught dripping between his teeth. He stepped back in horror, spitting the remains out of his mouth. The body before him was lifeless. It was horrible. Toothless looked around panicked, afraid, guilty. The dragon’s soul had returned from its hate filled journey, and now his pathetic heart was sickened with the sight of his own handiwork. Hiccup would never have allowed him to do that. He had convinced himself he was doing it to protect Hiccup or to avenge him, but Hiccup would never have approved of such an action. Toothless had just killed his enemy slowly, he had avenged himself, not his boy, and now he was mortified by his action. Toothless tilted his head skyward and shrieked out in grief. The high, sad roar echoed across the canyon. It was happening, the hunt was changing him, and it had only taken a day. Perhaps this was the result of what the Gemnodes had done, perhaps they had won after all. Perhaps they had made Toothless into themselves. He felt as though something black and horrible inside his mind had shown itself, had whispered to him, and he was afraid of that terrible thing. Hiccup had saved him from being like that, he had shown him a way to live that was so much better, but now in the name of protecting that boy, Toothless had broken every belief Hiccup had about him. He was a monster, and the worst thing was that there was nowhere he could go to hide from himself. He rushed off down the canyon, no longer caring to be quiet. All he wanted to do was run from the heinous scene, run from the smell, run from the terrible taste still clinging to his teeth. Which was worse, to die being what Hiccup believed he was, or to live and lose everything that Hiccup had faith in? Toothless wailed and continued running into the blackness. Sorrow welled in the dragon’s sensitive soul, and he promised to Hiccup that he would never do it again. It was as if he could feel his boy’s disappointment in him, and it tore Toothless’s beating heart in two. 


     Hiccup lay against the stone wall of his cell in uneasy sleep. He twitched once, then squirmed, until finally he awoke screaming. Nightmares. Toothless usually kept them away, soothed him in his sleep, but now he was alone. Hiccup was angry. This was complete idiocy, and the people of Berk had been completely taken in by it. They had betrayed his father, they had betrayed him, and they had bowed to the rule of a blood-thirsty madman. How could they think so little of his father? Was the memory of Stoick utterly poisoned? This little island had been such a beautiful haven of peace when he left it, but now it was impossible to tell that peace had ever been possible. Hiccup hit his fist and the floor, his chains clattering. The metallic clanking made him all the madder, and he got to his feet and tugged at his fetter. He yanked again and again, his wrists suffering from every tug. He shouted again, kicked the wall with his metal leg before finally dropping back to the ground. He breathed out hard and locked his jaw. If he ever got out of this cell, it would not matter what rules he had to break or what forces he would have to face. He would save Toothless, and then he would save Berk.

     Suddenly there was a shrieking, whirring sound. It was so loud and piercing it caused Hiccup to jump. He looked up, startled, and then heard a desperate, “Shhhh! Shhhh! C’mon, c’mon, c’mon!” Hiccup jumped to his feet, unable to believe his eyes. The lock on the barred door was smoking, and standing behind the lock, pressing his sonic screwdriver into it, was the Doctor. The lock caught fire, and the Doctor swung the door open as quietly as he could. “We don’t have much time…” he breathed.

     “You’re telling me.” Hiccup held his chained hands out to the Time Lord, who pressed his sonic device into them. “You have no idea how happy I am to see you. What happened?” Hiccup asked.

     “Long story. We need to get out of here before the guards return. Where is your brother?” The Doctor looked up from the smoking lock on Hiccup’s wrist’s into the eyes of the young viking.

     “They took him. He’s hurt… or worse. I don’t know where he is. We need to get him, and then we need to get off this island. They’ve taken Toothless, they’re going to kill him, Doctor.” The manacles fell smoking from Hiccup’s hands, and the Doctor looked worriedly at his own sonic screwdriver. It was smoking, and it usually wasn’t this noisy. It was hard to be stealthy when your lock-picker screamed like a banshee.

     “We’ll get them, and we’ll get your equipment back as well. You’d be amazed at how lax security is around here. It seems the only thing they worry about is dragons.” The Doctor glanced behind his shoulder. “Still, we need to get moving. I won’t allow anyone else to die today, not if I can help it.” Hiccup glanced at him, concerned at what the Doctor had said. Had others died in the last hours?

     “Then let’s find Link.” Hiccup said firmly. He and the Doctor sprinted as quietly as they could out of the prison door and around the corner. As soon as any of the guards returned, Hiccup’s escape would become all too evident. It was night again, and the cover of darkness played to the escapees’ advantage. As soon as they found Link, they could find some way to get off the island. After that, it was all Hiccup could do to hope that Toothless would still be in one piece. 


     Toothless had escaped three more groups of hunters. In his grief he had been unwilling to fight them, so he fled at top speed. His mercy had cost him, and he had several wounds and three arrows sticking out of his black hide. After hours of running, the shouts and torchlight had finally fallen behind him and he had lost the Berserkers in the dense blackness of the canyon. Toothless nearly collapsed from exhaustion, and soon he was curled up in a dark corner. He knew it was dangerous, but he couldn’t run anymore. Perhaps sleep would relieve him of his grief and fear. The green eyes of the Night Fury slowly closed, and soon he was fast asleep.

     A faint clicking awoke him. He opened his eyes and strained to put them into focus. A low growl in front of him made Toothless’s spine tingle and brought him into full awareness of his surroundings. Stooping in front of him, only feet away, was the silhouette of a Skrill. The early morning light had not entered into the canyon, and the sun’s orange haze made the blackness of the canyon appear stark and impenetrable. The yellow eyes of the Skrill were latched onto Toothless, and the dragon breathed in heavy excitement. Toothless stood to his feet, almost certain that Skari had escaped and found him. But then the Skrill in front of him clacked loudly, “We meet at last, Dagr.”

     Toothless’s heart leapt in his chest. This was not Skari; the Skrill was too small and lacked the distinct banding scars along its body. But this dragon looked like Skari, sounded like Skari, and he knew the name that few dragons besides Skari knew. This was a Skrill poised to strike, with a mind full of hatred and hurt. This was the legacy of the blood feud. 

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