When Stoick and Gobber arrived upstairs they were relieved to see Hicca sitting up in bed, looking perfectly safe and well as she scratched Toothless under the chin. The large ebony dragon continued making happy gurgling noises.
“Hicca, are you alright? How are you feeling?” Stoick step forward and kneeled beside her bed, placing his large hand on his daughter’s shoulder.
“I’m fine. Sorry if I worried you.”
“Ay, you did. But it’s not the first time, and I doubt it’ll be the last,” Gobber chuckled. Hicca also gave a small giggle. Gobber’s laugh settled and his face changed to look more serious as he took a step closer. “Lassie, you remember what happed, right?”
Hicca’s laughter also stopped and her head dropped slightly, “I do... the crystal’s now inside me, isn’t it?”
“That seems to be the case given that you transformed into a goddess right in front of your friends.” Stoick said calmly.
“A goddess? Who?” Hicca asked nervously.
“Skadi,” Stoick said simply. “She’s the-”
“Goddess of Winter and the Hunt,” Hicca interrupted, her voice monotone and holding no emotion. Hicca blinked and snapped out of her daze. She looked at her father and mentor who both looked at her with concern and confusion, even Toothless took a step back at his rider’s unfamiliar voice. Hicca turned away slightly embarrassed and scared at her own voice, “S-She told me.”
Gobber seemed to understand. He walked over to Hicca and placed a comforting hand on Hicca’s head, “Don’t worry about it lassie. The two of yer’ share a bond now, it makes sense that you’d be able t’ communicate with each other.”
Hicca smiled, knowing that Gobber was trying to comfort her. “I’m not sure if it is actual communication,” she said. “I just know things about her without needing to ask, she knows about me the same way. That’s how she knew to attack Dagur and his men but not Astrid and the others.”
“Still, at least you have a connection. Just wait, it may come in handy,” Gobber laughed deeply. Just the sound of his deep bellowing laugh soon had Hicca laughing as well. Stoick stood a little behind the laughing pair, this was one of those moments where he was both thankful and jealous of his friend.
He and Gobber had been friends for many years, so at the birth of his first child it was no surprise that Gobber was his first choice as godfather. As Hicca had grown, she had opened up to Gobber more and had also picked up on some of his mannerisms, including his sarcasm. Admittedly Stoick had been a little jealous, but he understood that there were something’s that Hicca couldn’t talk to him about. Their relationship as father and daughter had been very strained in the past, especially after the disappearance of Valka. Gobber had been there when Stoick couldn’t, and he was happy that Hicca had someone around who could make her smile again.
Hicca’s giggling was soon interrupted by a yawn, it was then that the three realised just how late it had gotten. Gobber had said goodnight before going downstairs to tell the others that Hicca was alright, and that she would be at Dragon training tomorrow. Once everyone had left, Toothless made himself comfortable on his rock slab, Stoick made sure Hicca was comfortable as well before blowing out her candle and retiring to bed himself.
Although Hicca did feel tired she just couldn’t sleep. She had already taken off her prosthetic to try and get more comfortable, it felt weird without anything below her right knee, but the lack of cold steel against her leg was definitely what she needed right now. She rolled over to her side and glanced at Toothless through the darkness, his form slowly rising and falling with even breaths. Every now and then he would twitch and gurgle with a dopy grin on his face, possibly dreaming about catching fish. Hicca rolled on to her back and stared at the ceiling, she didn’t know what to think about today.
It was definitely real, no doubt about that. There was no way she or her friends had imagined it all. Even though she couldn’t remember much after blacking out, the images and words that flowed into her head gave her enough information. The goddess Skadi had appeared in front of her and with a single look she had demanded that Hicca stand aside and let her take control, whether she meant take over her body on take control of the fight itself, Hicca wasn’t sure, maybe both. It was almost like she had been watching the fight from afar, observing in awe as Skadi displayed power and control without lifting a finger or uttering a word. Her air of dominance and confident was something Hicca had never seen before, not even in her own father.
To be honest, she was jealous. Over the last year, Hicca had started taking lessons from her father about the duties and responsibilities of being chief, she wanted to make him proud and she wanted to do the best possible for her people and her friends. But something always troubled her. Her father had faith in her, so did everyone else in the village. They all knew that Hicca was intelligent, brave and kind, some even thought she was beautiful as well. But... she was still missing something.
Physical strength was obviously not her forte, but there was also the kind of strength that Astrid had, that every Viking had. A booming voice that could shake mountains, a stance that stood tall and couldn’t be moved, and the kind of look that commanded respect but at the same time it made you feel safe and protected. Hicca didn’t have any those qualities. Her voice was quiet, her posture was small and her eyes showed innocence not control. She wasn’t a normal Viking. She’d always known that. But now she was sharing her body with a Viking goddess, and it made her feel like a mouse in comparison.
That night, Hicca fell into a fitful sleep.
It was dark.
Not the normal darkness of a simple room with no light.
The space around her felt as if it had never been blessed with light, it was just an empty void.
She took a step forward. As her foot hit the ground, the floor shattered upwards reliving an intense blue light. When she eventually pulled her arms away from shielding her face, she found herself in a temple. It was a tall and immaculate temple with marble walls and beautiful woven tapestries hanging from the ceiling. Hicca turned in place to admire the room around her, this was obviously a dream so she took her time to take in the scenery. Hicca also started to notice ghostly shapes all around her. The shapes slowly became clearer and took the form of people, men and women all clad in armour and grasping magnificent weapons.
As they chatted silently amongst themselves, it began to dawn on Hicca that these people around her just might be Gods and Goddesses. It would make sense. The connection she’d formed with Skadi must have open other pathways in her head, allowing her dreams to take hold, was she dreaming of Skadi’s past?
As the thought struck her, Hicca heard a fierce galloping from behind. She turned to see a horse running through the throngs of people who were desperately trying to get out of the way. As the horse approached Hicca at the centre of the room, it slowed to a trot before stopping completely. The horse was a beautiful white with shades of crystal blue in its mane and tail, its armour was a complete contrast with its pitch black shine. Hicca’s eyes slowly followed the body of the horse until they finally rested on the rider, Hicca was not surprised to see Skadi in the saddle of the white steed. But what did surprise her was the look of murder on her face, her ice eyes ablaze with fury.
From still atop the horse Skadi called out to the entire room. “I am Skadi, goddess of winter, and I am here for Odin and his fellow gods!!” The venom in her silk voice making Hicca wince.
“I am Odin, what has brought you to Asgard?” Hicca heard the deep voice behind her. She didn’t dare look round. She did not feel it was right of her to look upon Odin himself, even if this was a dream, so she kept her eyes fixed on Skadi.
Said goddess dismounted and drew one of her swords. A few people closest to the commotion took a step back, while others readied their own weapons ready. “I am here for revenge for my father, and I want to know why he had to die! If you can’t give me a good enough answer, so help me I’ll take your heads back to my mountain with me!!”
The shear hatred in her words was deafening. Hicca truly felt scared of the woman in front of her. Then the word around Hicca began to fade as a series of loud thumping noises sounded, distant at first then slowly becoming clearer as Hicca awoke from her slumber.
Oddly enough, the pounding sound was rather comforting. Hicca soon realised why. Despite what had happened yesterday, Toothless was up there bouncing on the roof demanding to go flying just like any other day. That’s exactly what she needed right now, some normality.
She yanked her blankets off and reached over the side of her bed to strap on her prosthetic. She finished strapping it on and rushed over to her window, not wanting her dragon to knock any more tiles off the roof. She pushed open the shutters and leaned out slightly so that she could see onto the roof. Sure enough, Toothless was looking down at her with wide exited eyes.
“I’m up, I’m up. Just give me a minute to get ready, okay bud?”
Toothless gurgled happily and jumped down from the roof. He sat on his haunches in front of the front door and waited patiently for her. Hicca quickly brushed her hair and tied it back in a high ponytail, she then changed into her usual green tunic and fur vest before quietly making her way down stairs. Her dad was usually an early riser, but that didn’t mean he enjoyed being woken up by his daughter and her excitable dragon. She grabbed an apple from the kitchen and headed out.
Soon enough the two were flying high in the clouds. Hicca leaned back and took a deep breath, the cool air seemed to wake her up and calm her down all at once. She adored flying. When she and Toothless were connected like this they were a truly formidable force, they could float across the clouds gracefully and then suddenly crash down in a fury of fire and thunder in the midst of battle.
But then her thoughts pulled her back to reality. Thinking of battles made her think of Dagur, and that brought back all of the events from yesterday. And along with it, came all of her worries from the previous night.
Toothless noticed his rider had been quiet for a while. He looked over his shoulder to see the worried look on her face, he then gave his body a gently but firm shake, as if telling her to stop her worrying and get back in the moment. Hicca’s eyes snapped to Toothless as he gave her a reassuring gummy grin, Hicca laughed slightly and patted her dragons head in thanks.
“I’m okay boy. So, are you ready?” Toothless roared happily indicating he was. Hicca unhooked herself from the saddle and then released her metal foot from his tail controller.
Then... she jumped.
She slowly spun backwards in front of Toothless she then straitened herself out and rocketed towards the ocean below. Toothless wobbled for a second before he also angled down and dived parallel alongside her. The wind whipped past they as they fell for what seemed like hours, then they broke through the layer of clouds and the dense blue of the ocean started to look more ominous. They angled towards each other and reconnected. Hicca hooked herself in and clicked her leg into place. They twirled and skimmed the surface of the water and soared back to Berk, all the while yelling and roaring with joy.
When the two arrived at the academy they were surprised to see the others already there. Still, at least they could start their lesson now.
“Morning” She called to everyone. She expected the usual wishes of good morning from Astrid and Fishlegs and then almost complete disregard from the others. What she didn’t expect was form the two twins to drop whatever argument they were having and race over to her, both skidding to a halt inches from her.
“So have you spoken to the Goddess yet?”
“What’s she like?”
“Did you have any weird dreams?”
“Can you shoot ice again?”
“Can you make your eyes glow?”
“Did you dream anything weird last night?”
“Hey I already asked her that!”
“So? Why would she wanna talk to you?”
“Me? I’m not the one smelling like a dragons’ dinner!”
“At least I don’t look like one!”
As the twins turned their attention to each other, Hicca used the opportunity to sneak around them.
“You okay?” Hicca turned to see Astrid behind her, an amused smile on her face.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just wasn’t expecting a bombardment of questions.” Hicca replied with a nervous laugh.
“Well what did you think was going to happen? We go on crazy adventures a lot, but what happened yesterday was huge.” Astrid explained. Hicca knew she was right, but a small part of her was still hoping for a bit of normality. Just then Hicca noticed Fishlegs peeking out from behind Astrid, looking far more nervous and shaky than usual.
Hicca walk towards him wandering what was wrong, but as she got close Fishlegs quickly turned and tried to look busy. He grabbed the Book of Dragons from Meatlugs’ saddlebag and buried his face in its pages. “Fishlegs, are you okay?” Hicca asked with concern.
“Huh? Oh me, yeah fine... nothing going on here, everything’s perfectly fine.” He answered hurriedly, his eyes darting everywhere except at Hicca. He fumbled over his words and quickly looked back to the book, Hicca doubted he even realized he was holding it upside down.
She frowned and walked forward until she was directly in front of him. “Fishlegs?” she said in a soft but firm tone. “Why won’t you look at me?”
“Why? It’s just, well... is it okay if I- I mean... am I allowed to?” Fishlegs stuttered, still avoiding her gaze.
Hicca frowned more, “Allowed to? Why wouldn’t...” And then she realised. His shifting gaze, the stuttering, wondering if it was okay to even look at her, she had only seen him act this was once before.
When they had been very young, long before they had become friends, on one of the few time Hicca’s father had taken her around the village with him. They had been walking for a little while by this point, when they came across a young Fishlegs and his mother, Termagant Ingerman. Hicca liked Terma, she was a large and very sweet woman with a great skill for weaving. The two adults greeted each other and Hicca had also given a polite greeting, Terma had then prompted her son to also say hello. Fishlegs had looked up at his mother worriedly and had whispered and shuddered a polite greeting while looking at his feet, he then turned and ran.
He had the same look on his face now, and he was unable to look up or talk without stuttering. Was it possible? Could Fishlegs be...? Hicca had to know. “Fishlegs?” She asked with a slight hint of worry in her voice. “Are you scared of me?”
Fishlegs’ shoulders tensed as he finally made eye contact with the girl in front of him. “No, no, no. It’s not that I swear,” he reassured her franticly. “I’m not scared of you, I know you. But...” He paused and took a deep breath to calm himself. Neither of them had realised that his commotion had drawn the attention of the other four dragon riders, the twins had even stopped their fighting to join Astrid and Snotlout in listening intently.
“But...?” Hicca encouraged.
“But... I am scared of the other you,” Fishlegs admitted quietly.
The silence was deafening. Hicca didn’t know what to think. Skadi was not her. She was a completely different person, Skadi wasn’t even human. Of course, Snotlout had to go and open his mouth.
“He has a point, you know.” The other riders turned to him in surprise, “How do we know you’re not going to lose control or something? That other you was terrifying.”
“Stop saying that!” Snotlout shut his mouth immediately at Hicca’s outburst. It was frustrating to keep hearing her friends say it, there was no ‘other her’. “There is no ‘other me’. Skadi and I are not the same person and I don’t intend on using her or the crystal again. So can we please just forget that yesterday ever happened?” She looked at each of the other teens in turn. The look on their faces was hard to explain. They all seemed concerned, confused, and a little worried all at once.
Hicca sighed. It seemed clear that her friends couldn’t just forget what had happened, maybe they just needed some time. Hicca trudged over to Toothless and started leading him away. “Hicca? What about today’s lesson?” Astrid asked with unease.“Let’s just take a break today, we’ll reschedule for tomorrow.” Hicca said, her voice slightly sad as she and Toothless walked out of the arena.