The docks were buzzing with people. The ships were prepared, weapons and supplies were stocked, and the catapults were readied for battle.
The teens had managed to round up all of their dragon’s offspring to help pull the ships, the sky and cliffs around the docks were filled with adolescent Monstrous Nightmares, Deadly Nadders, Hideous Zipplebacks and Gronckles. Despite having only been born a little over 2 years ago, most of the young dragons were already very large. Soon Gobber had plenty of harnesses made ready for the dragons to pull the ships, they only things left to prepare were the Vikings themselves.
Most of them knew to be ready for battle, but they didn’t know what Hicca’s condition. All they knew Dagur had either gotten the crystal from her, or he was making her suffer. Most of them hated to consider the later, but it’s one of the many things that happened in war. The entire villager’s opinion of Hicca had changed so dramatically in only a couple of years. They used to see her as nothing but a mistake, a weak little girl who seemed nothing like her father. While he stood tall and proud leading a tribe of fierce Vikings, she was small and didn’t act like a Viking at all. Some of them honestly feared what would happen if she did become the next chief.
But then she changed everything. Despite the way they treated her, she had saved them. She’d formed a bond that went against everything they knew, and had ended a war that at times seemed hopeless. But she hadn’t stopped there. She had fought for her tribe and protected her people on more than one occasion, and she had put herself in harm’s way more time than they could count. But thought out all of it, she had stayed kind, fair and compassionate. She was the pride of the village, and after everything she had done for them, they planned on doing everything in their power to save her.
Stoick had made sure that everything was ready. He had double and triple checked everything, there was no way they were coming back without Hicca. But there was one problem, it seemed that some of the adolescent dragons were becoming restless. The dragon riders were doing their best but a couple of the Zipplebacks and Nightmares were already starting to annoy one another, and with two of the riders gone it seemed like too much for the four teens to handle. But just when it seemed like a fight was about to break out, there came a deafening roar and the dragons stopped dead in their tracks. Everyone look up from the docks to see a large ebony dragon creeping along the cliff.
Toothless jumped down from the cliff and growled at the younger dragons. Despite some of them being bigger than Toothless, they all backed away and flew back into their ranks. With the other dragon now much more docile, Toothless galloped across the pear to the main ship and jumped aboard, he stationed himself at the front of the ship and sat back on his haunches looking out over the sea.
As everyone went back to work, Stoick looked at Toothless for a little while before turning to Spitelout. “Could you take over for a moment?”
“Sure,” His brother in law answered.
Stoick trudged up the gang plank and walked to stand beside Toothless. They both just stared out over the ocean for a little while before Stoick spoke, “We will get her back.”
There was no hesitation in Stoick’s voice. Toothless turned to him and gave him a quick nod before turning back to the ocean, but Stoick noticed the small falter in his features. Toothless seemed to be frowning inwardly, his gaze now shifting to the deck at his paws. Stoick didn’t understand dragons as well as Hicca did, but he knew that look. “It wasn’t your fault.” Toothless jumped slightly in surprise and turned to Stoick again. “You couldn’t help that you were ill. Yes, things may have been different if you were there, but we can’t change the past now. Right now, we need to focus on getting to Berserk Island and getting our girl back.”
Toothless seemed to stare at Stoick with wide eyes before his features turned back into a determined look. He nodded his head again this time more firmly and rubbed his head against Stoick arm before turning back to the ocean. He didn’t just do it to thank Stoick for his words of reassurance, he also did it as his way of telling Stoick the same thing. Stoick did blame himself. When Hicca told him yesterday that she was going to Alvin’s, there had been a stray thought at the back of his mind. ‘Don’t let her go alone.’ But he had ignored it, and now his pride and joy had been taken away from him yet again.
But placing blame would have to wait. As Spitelout called out to Stoick that everything was ready, Stoick turned and look over the ships. All of his best fighters were ready on the ships, and the dragons were prepared to take off.
“Release the dragons!” On Stoick’s command, all of the dragons took to the sky the ropes attached to their harnesses. Five dragons to a ship, with the remaining dragon riders in front to lead the way, they soon picked up speed and headed west.
The dragons were already moving much faster than he had anticipated. With the added weight of the ships and soldiers, Stoick had assumed that their pace would be slowed down. But it was almost the opposite. It seemed as though the collective determination to rescue Hicca was passed to the dragons and their offspring, the air was filled with the sound of hundreds of strong beating wings. It would still be a while, but they would get to Berserk much quicker than they’d hopped.
On Berserk, Dagur was becoming impatient.
Hicca still hadn’t given into him and it was becoming infuriating. How had she been able to last this long? Was the crystal giving her strength or something? He sat back in the large chair in his home and lazily stabbed his knife into the armrest, he dragged the metal along the vein of the wood and watched as small shavings fell to the ground. In his head he was imagining it was Hicca, he wanted so badly to cut her open more and watch as her blood gushed out. But he wanted her alive. He wanted the crystals power, and he wanted to make her watch as he rained down terror and death on her home, and then the entire archipelago.
He had always wanted what she had. Now was his chance to have it, but she was still getting in his way. She never gave him what he wanted, the crystal, the dragons... he father.
Dagur winced as the thought entered his head, he hadn’t thought about that in a long time. He had always favoured Stoick the Vast over his own father, it wasn’t fair that a strong chief like Stoick was wasting his time with Hicca. If Dagur had been his son, he would have made the man proud.
When he was young, he had heard others talk about the great chief of the Hairy Hooligan tribe. Stoick the Vast, a strong and powerful chief who had led his tribe to being one of the most feared in the entire archipelago. When he was a boy, Dagur thought that if Hicca died then there was a chance he could take her place. He’d get that father he really wanted and Stoick would have the son he wanted. But it never happened.
Dagur wasn’t jealous, he just wanted Hicca to die. He wanted things to be different. He wanted his father to go away. Dagur’s father was a much older than Stick, his will to fight had left him long ago. he seemed more of a diplomat now. But the man also had his tricks, the tricks that had earned him his name.
Oswald the Agreeable.
It sounded tame, it didn’t strike fear into the hearts of men, but it did hide his secret. They said he was agreeable, they never said he was kind.
Oswald agreed that what he was doing was inhumane, he agreed that it was disgraceful for a Viking to resort to this, and he would only agree to make his victim’s pain stop once they told him everything he needed to know. Dagur’s father had been a master at torture.
It was a dark secret. Almost all of chiefs agree not to use torture anymore, they didn’t want any of their citizens going through that, so they agreed not to do it to any of their prisoners. Instead, the powerful Viking chiefs used sword and intimidation to get their way, not needles and burning pokers. To the other tribes Oswald seemed like a peacekeeper, who always agreed to whatever the other chiefs put in their stupid little treaties. They thought that was the reason behind his name.
It was because these stupid superficial appearances, that Dagur had to say goodbye to his younger sister. All because of some silly offhanded comments that daughters weren’t important. All because he wanted to keep up his appearance, Oswald had agreed with them and gotten rid of his own daughter and wife. Dagur’s sister was only a few years old, barely big enough to carry her shield, and Oswald had sent them away of a small boat never to be seen again. Dagur hadn’t been able to do anything, he’d tried everything to find them, but they were gone.
Dagur was then left alone with his father, and since the age of 7, he was used as his father’s human test subject for his torture techniques. Oswald pushed Dagur to his absolute limits every day, making him cry and beg for the pain to stop. But Oswald wouldn’t kill his own son like he had with his other victims, there would be too many questions asked. In the end it had broken him.
At age 16 Dagur had snapped and chopped his father to pieces. In his dying words, Oswald had said that Dagur was deranged.
Now that he was chief, Dagur didn’t want Stoick anymore. Instead he’d wanted the trained dragons he’d heard so much about. But once again, Hicca wouldn’t give them to him. And now she was doing the same with the crystal. Dagur hated himself for using such techniques on her, but he wanted the crystal so badly and he couldn’t kill Hicca, this was the only other thing he could think of.
Dagur took a breath to try and calm himself, before the memories caught up to him and tore open old wounds. He finally retracted his knife, seeing the large gouge he’d made in the wood. He didn’t want to think about his father anymore, he didn’t want to think about Stoick either, or the dragons. Just Hicca. She was what he wanted.
He knew he was running out of time. The longer this dragged on, the more time Hicca’s tribe had to come rescue her. He had to break her, but how? He had left marks all over her body, but marks could fade, was she able to hold on because she knew the pain wouldn’t be permanent?
So what would be permanent? What could he do to her that would scar her for the rest of her life?
And then he knew.
The one torture his father had never used on him.
The one that she would never heal from.
It was almost sunset when Snotlout finally arrived at Berserk.
He flew high in the clouds so that he wouldn’t be seen, before swooping down behind the mountain side. He found a small ledge on the mountain side and directed Hookfang towards it. Once they landed, Snotlout slowly climbed up the cliff face and lay flat on the upper ledge and looked over the edge. It didn’t seem as though anyone had spotted him.
From his vantage point he could see most of the village on Berserk island, he wasn’t sure if the village had a name like Berk, but right now it didn’t matter. The village was almost twice the size of Berk with thick trees growing around the perimeter, the village stood on a gentle slope that lead down to the long stretch of beach where a lot of large ships were anchored. Snotlout doubted that was the entirety of Dagur’s armada, but he couldn’t see much else with the trees and cliffs blocking his view. Around the edges of the island were high watch towers, they were almost as tall as Snotlouts perch, he scooted back a bit so that he was more concealed behind the rocks. Then he noticed something.
Just at the edge of the Berserk village, before the line of trees began, was a small stone structure. It almost looked like a well, but it square shaped with only three sides instead of four. And instead of a large hole leading down to the water, there was a flight of stairs. There were two guards stationed just outside of the entrance, why would Dagur post guards to watch a hole in the ground? He looked over the village again and compared it to Berk. He didn’t see any prison cells, none of the buildings had bars across the window or heavy metal doors. If the holding cells on Berserk weren’t above ground... maybe they were below ground. Then that hole in the ground was an entrance, leading to the underground prison.
Snotlout almost patted himself on the back for being so clever, but he soon snapped out of it when he spotted Dagur stomping towards the entrance. The guards immediately straightened the posture and allowed him to pass, Dagur trudged down the stairs and into the darkness bellow.
Snotlout turned and skidded down the cliff face to where Hookfang was waiting for him, he quickly mounted and they took off to the other side of the forest. Flying low so that Hookfang was almost touching the water with his belly, they stayed close to the island so that the trees and cliffs hid them from the towers, then they landed on a small section of beach. Instead of staying out in the open, Snotlout lead Hookfang into the tree line and off the sands. Hookfang had to keep very low and pull his wings tight against his body to squeeze through the trees, but they managed to hide a not far from the prison entrance.
“Ok, this should be close enough. Stay here boy, I’m going to check it out.” Hookfang gave a quiet gurgle and watched as Snotlout tiptoed forward and peeked through the bushes. They were a couple of meters behind the entrance and the guards at the edge of the tree line. There was no way he’d be able to get passed the guards, if Snotlout was going to get anywhere near that entrance he’d have to wait till either night fall, or till one of the guards left. Snotlout stepped back and thought for a second, if he could get rid of one of them he’d have a shot at getting past the other.
But for now, all they could do was wait.
Hicca sat curled up on the hard ground, trying to think everything through but at the same time not wanting to remember.
Everything hurt. Her arms, legs, back, front, her nose and lip had thankfully stopped bleeding, but her eye felt swollen, she'd most likely have a black eye. She ran her hand into her now short hair, in a flash she remembered the way Dagur had cut, burned and hit her. How he had pulled at her hair and cut it away until it barely reached her shoulder anymore. Right now she was more scared than she had ever been before. She was in more pain than she’d ever been before. She felt so alone.
But Dagur wasn’t finished yet, there was more to come.
As she heard Dagur’s footsteps coming closer, she pulled her knees closer to her chest and wrapped her arms around herself and buried her head in them. She heard the door unlock and open with a loud creak, she could feel Dagur’s eyes on her and herd him smirk. Then she jumped as a loud clang sounded near her, she slowly looked up to see a canteen on the floor near her foot.
“You should drink some water, we wouldn’t want you getting dehydrated now, would we?” Dagur smirked again. At first Hicca thought this was another torture method, offering her water and then ripping it away from her. She would have refused, but she hadn’t had anything to drink since she’d arrived on the island, and the dry air was making her throat feel raw.
She decided to risk it. Despite the pain, Hicca slowly reached out for the canteen while keeping her eyes on Dagur, but he just stood there and watched her. She undid the lid and took a small sip to make sure it was in fact water, when she confirmed that it was she gulped it down greedily, allowing the liquid to sooth her throat.
She heard Dagur chuckle at her and quickly composed herself. Then he threw her a rag towards her, “Clean your face too, you’re a mess.”
“Whose fault is that?” Hicca asked under her breath, wincing at how raw her voice still sounded. This was very strange, Dagur had to be up to something. Again, while keeping her eyes on Dagur, she reached for the rag. She wiped away most of the blood and dirt from her face, the rough fabric hurt a little on her skin, but wiping the blood away made her feel a lot better.
She turned back to Dagur. “What are you up to Dagur? I thought for sure you were going to beat me some more?” She knew Dagur wouldn’t stop until he got what he wanted, so why was he allowing her to drink and clean her face?
“I want to be able to see your face,” Dagur said casually. This was really starting to worry her. He wanted to see her expression so badly, what kind of torture was he planning?
But then Dagur did his usual thing, removing the chains from the wall and hanging her from the ceiling hook. But he didn’t reach for his knife or anything, he just stood there and stared at her hanging form. In a way Dagur’s silence was even more terrifying than his violent actions. He slowly raised his hand and touched the bruise on her cheek, making her flinch as he touched the tender flesh. “Pretty soon your tribe will realise that you’re here and will come to save you, so I’m going to break you now and finish this. You’ve held up quite well considering, I must say I’m surprised.”
Hicca tried to move away from his touch, but her chains prevented her from moving. Hicca desperately wished she could cover herself, with the amount of holes in her clothes and the way Dagur was staring, she felt on display. “W-What are you going to do, Dagur?” She asked trying not to shake.
Dagur slowly ran his hand from her cheek and ran it through her hair, before grapping a fistful and yanking her head back. She winced a little but did her best not to cry out. “I realised that the reason you’ve been able to hold on this long is because I’ve been too soft on you. Bruises and cuts will heal and your hair will grow back eventually.” Dagur stepped a little closer, forcing her to look at him. “I’m going to give you one last chance. Summon Skadi so I can get the crystal and all this will be over.”
“No, I won’t let you get the crystal.” Hicca said one again.
Dagur sighed, “Fine.”
Hicca grew more scared as Dagur’s grin became more menacing. He moved his hand from her hair to her belt and tugged at it slightly, “W-What are you doing?” Dagur ignored her, he quickly undid her belt before throwing it behind him where her boot still lay. Then he turned back to her and moved closer, almost close enough to smell the fear dripping off her.
“You know, I was actually hoping that I wouldn’t have to resort to this,” he confessed as he placed his hand on her hip. “But you just wouldn’t give in. By the end of this, whether it’s the crystal or part yourself, you will lose something you won’t be able to get back.”
Dagur ran his hand down her thigh to the edge of her tunic and slowly began to pull it up. Hicca’s brain ran wild trying to decipher Dagur’s words. He wasn’t going to hurt her in any normal way this time, and he wasn’t reaching for a weapon, so he probably wasn’t about to take one of her limbs. What part of her was he going to take that she couldn’t get back?
Then it clicked.
Dagur clearly felt that just hurting her wasn’t enough anymore. He wanted her to feel shame, fear and pain all at once.
Hicca promised herself she wouldn’t give in, she had to stay strong. But if Dagur was planning on doing what she thought he was going to do... would she be able to hold on?