After Skadi’s announcement of alliance, the meeting in the grand hall had soon turned into a celebration, the mead was broken out and soon people were yelling and chatting merrily.
After a short while of Skadi watching the commotion she turned to Stoick, “I’ll be taking my leave now, you may want to get ready to catch her,” Stoick looked confused for a second, but as Skadi vanished in a flash of light, Hicca was brought back and looked ready to faint, Stoick caught her and was relieved to see that she was only sleeping.
Suddenly there was a scrapping coming from outside, Stoick and some others turned to see Toothless scrambling through the window, from his ungraceful perch he looked around until he spotted Hicca in Stoicks arms. He then scrabbled through the window and jumped down.
“Nightfury!” Someone yelled “Get down!” A couple of years ago a yell like that would have been met with terror, but now as Toothless lumbered through the tables occasionally bumping into people, it was almost like a greeting to the ebony dragon. People moved to give him room as he made his way towards Hicca, all knowing just how protective he was of their heiress, when Toothless finally reached Hicca he sniffed her and gurgled worriedly.
The chief placed a large hand on his head, “She’s fine Toothless, just resting,” the dragon made a soft growl almost like he was sighing in relief. Stoick loosened his grip on Hicca and allowed the dragon to curl his body around her, her upper half leaning against his side with his tail and head resting on her lap; he then carefully folded his wing around her. Once he knew she was safe the dragon yawned and fell into a light slumber around his rider.
Despite all of the noise and banter, Hicca slept soundly for a few hours, when she finally woke she was surprised to find herself in Toothless’s grasp, wasn’t Toothless supposed to be outside with the other dragons? “Toothless?” she mumbled.
“He climbed in here just after Skadi left, he’s refused to leave you since then.” Her father answered, Hicca looked over to see him sitting close by, he couldn’t help but keep a close watch on the two of them.
Hicca rubbed her eyes tiredly, “So everything went well with Skadi?”
“You had nothing to worry about, she’s given us her word to protect this island and you, all you have to do is ask,” he father said, he was obviously pleased with the results.
“That’s good,” Hicca started to sit up slowly trying not to wake her dragon, when suddenly a thought struck her, Toothless seemed to be sleeping a lot more than usual recently.
Stoick noticed the look of concern on her face, “Is something wrong?” Her father asked.
Hicca turned to him in worry, “It’s strange, Toothless has been flying just fine, but he’s also been really sleepy these past few days.”
Her father just chuckled, “He’s just caching up on sleep, he’s been staying up most nights to watch over you.”
As her father said those words Hicca realised that it was the obvious answer, Toothless was as protective and stubborn as she was, he’d been staying up all night and then acting perfectly normal in the morning so as not to worry her. Hicca smiled down at her best friend and scratched behind his ear, the large dragon gurgled happily and waged his large tail in his sleep, her father watched in amusement, it was hard to imagine sometimes, this powerful creature could be turned into an adorable lap dog at the hands of his daughter in a matter of second.
His thoughts were interrupted when Gobber and the rest of Hicca’s friends walked over, “Well good morning, sleepy head!” Gobber bellowed happily despite it being almost midnight.
“How do you feel?” Astrid asked
“I’m fine, how was Skadi?”
“It was pretty cool, she told us about the history of the Valhalla Crystal,” Fishlegs said excitedly, he really wanted to be the one to retell the story to Hicca.
Hicca could tell that Fishlegs wanted to tell her, so she asked, Fishlegs happily sat down and recited word for word what Skadi had told them, Varan and his eight children, the gods creating the crystal, and how the descendants formed the eight main tribes and fought over the crystal until it fell in Hicca’s great great grandfathers hands.
“Wait a second,” Snotlout interrupted
Fishlegs turned to him with a look of annoyance at being interrupted, “What is it, Snotlout?”
“What about the Outcasts? How come Skadi didn’t mention them?”
“Because they’re not one of the eight main tribes,” Hicca answered, remembering all the lessons from her father about the other tribes, “the Outcasts were formed by a group of people who were banished from their own tribe, any new banishments were sent to their island, they might actually be the only tribe we don’t have to worry about when it comes to the crystal.”
“Why?” Ruffnut asked, “That thing’s awesome, why wouldn’t they be interested?”
“’Cause they won’t be able t’ use it,” Everyone turned to see Alvin behind them.
“How do you figure?” Snotlout asked, being the most comfortable to speak around Alvin.
“The crystal can only be used by those who carry Varan’s bloodline, that bloodline was passed through ‘is children and t’ each of the following ‘eirs and ‘eiresses, anyone who isn’t a current chief or ‘eir can’t use it. Simply put, Outcasts don’t ‘ave the bloodline, so we can’t use the crystal.”
“But that doesn’t make sense,” Astrid said, “with all the marriages and multiple siblings in a family, how would the crystals power be limited to just the chiefs and heirs?”
“Yeah,” Snotlout jumped up excitedly, “Hicca and I are cousins, does that mean I can use the crystal as well?”
“No,” Stoick said, taking over the conversation, “the crystals power can only be used by the chief’s bloodline not other extending family members, Hicca has something that symbolises her as my heir, the same way I have something that symbolises my role as chief. From what I’ve heard, the crystal is somehow able to detect this and only works for those with that symbol,” Stoick looked at Hicca, silently asking her if she knew what he was talking about.
And she did, she had a symbol of her right as heir, she had been wearing it for as long as she could remember and never took it off, she sometimes forgot it was there. She reached to her neck and pulled out a long thin rope hidden under her tunic’s neckline, she pulled it forward to show a pendant dangling in front of her. It was a small silver disk engraved on both sides with their tribe’s crest, Stoick pulled out his from under his beard, it was the same as Hicca’s except in gold and slightly larger.
“These pendants have been passed down through generations,” He told the others, “every chief and heir has them, each engraved with the mark of their tribe, this is the key that allows the crystal to work.”
“So Dagur has one of those as well?” Astrid asked.
“Yes, but despite being a chief, he still wears the heir’s crest until he produces an heir himself,” Hicca answered, tucking her pendant back under her tunic and making sure the rope was hidden.
“Dagur with kids? That’s a bit of a scary though,” Astrid murmured.
Suddenly Tuffnut’s eyes widened, “Whoa, whoa, wait a second!” he shouted making the others jump, “if Varan’s bloodline is carried through every tribe from chief to heir... does that mean Hicca and Dagur are related too?”
There was a long pause, Hicca then gave a shudder and look very ill, “I really don’t want to think about that,” the others soon joined her in laughter.
That night as Hicca slept, her dreams turned into memories once more. She found herself on the top of a snowy mountain, there was a slight wind but thankfully the chill didn’t touch Hicca’s skin, this was her dream after all. The crisp whiteness around her was beautiful , it reminded Hicca of when she and Astrid would go Dragon Sledding. Hicca looked at her feet and realised that she was actually hovering just above the snowy surface. It was a pleasant feeling knowing that she could wander and not disturb the untouched splendour of her surroundings.
Suddenly there was a yell of pure joy from behind her, Hicca turned just in time to see Skadi rocketing towards her, the surprise made her forget that this was a dream and she dived wildly to the left, she just managed to avoid the flash of white as it shot passed her. As Hicca rose to her feet, she found that she was moving, it was a very surreal feeling, she wasn’t moving her feet at all and yet she was keeping up with Skadi as she flew down the mountain side.
Hicca then realised that running along Skadi was a pack of wolves, their powerful muscles propelling them along through the white powder, Skadi herself was standing on two thin wooden planks, despite her breathtaking speeds she moved with grace and elegance as she weaved through the trees. Her hair was fluttering behind her, looking like white silken strands and her armour glinting in the sun’s rays, but what struck Hicca the most was the look of pure bliss on her face, she even laughed delight as she jumped over a small snow mound making a graceful spin as she did so.
Hicca realised why the smile struck her so, in all of the other dreams she’d seen, Skadi had been angry, frustrated and even sad, this was the first time Hicca had seen her truly free and happy. Her smile seemed to make her skin glow, and her eyes shone brighter until they looked like blue tinted diamond, it made Hicca smile to see her like this, and Hicca knew that this was a feeling they shared in common.
The feeling of freedom that Skadi felt while skiing, was exactly the same as Hicca felt while flying.
Hicca felt well rested the next morning, when she went down stairs she found her father already up, “Good morning,” she greeted.
“Morning Hicca, you look like you slept well,” he noted looking up from his papers.
“I did, I had a great dream last night,” she said with a smile as she grabbed a few apples from the counter. They didn’t have any dragon training today, she had no lessons with her father and the forge didn’t have any major orders in so Gobber didn’t need help. For the first time in ages, Hicca finally had a day off, and she was going to spend it flying with Toothless.
They had been flying for a few hour already, stopping once to catch some fish for Toothless before they took off again, at around midday they found themselves flying high in the cloud line, Toothless running his wings along the clouds and Hicca doing the same with her hands, feeling the light chill that ran across her fingertips, she was truly happy.
But then she spotted something, “Toothless, wait a minute” she called, the dragon slowed and gave a high pitched growl in question.
From the corner of her eye she spotted a small black dot on the ocean’s surface, at first she thought it was just a fishing boat, but then she saw the many shields with black ink painted on in the image of a Skrill, it was a Berserker ship. Hicca flew up higher so they wouldn’t see her, she took out her spyglass and looked behind her, from this height she could just make out the grey form of her island, it would take them 6 hours to reach Berk from where they were now. It took almost an entire day and night to sail between the two islands, needless to say dragons could fly the same distance in half the time, but why was the ship below them just sitting there?
Through her spyglass she could see people wandering on deck, so the ship wasn’t abandoned, but they had dropped anchor and were just floating there, the crew members were just sitting around, they weren’t preparing weapons or rope, just... waiting.
Hicca didn’t like it one bit, she decided to turn back so that she could report this to her father, “Toothless, let’s go!” Hicca pulled slightly on the reins, Toothless tilted his body and beat his wings hard as they flew towards Berk.
When Hicca arrived back on Berk, she found her father at Silent Sven’s farms on the edge of the village, “Dad!”
Stoick looked up at her, as Toothless landed, Hicca jumped down and rushed over, “Hicca? I thought you were going flying all day?” Her dad asked slightly concerned.
“I was, but I saw a Berserker ship, it’s a six hour sail away from here”
“What? Was Dagur on it? Did they see you?”
“I didn’t see him, and I stayed out of sight, but also, the ship doesn’t seem to be moving at all and the crew is just sitting there, they’re not getting ready for battle or anything,” Hicca answered.
Her father paused and thought for a moment, “It’s very possible they’re waiting till cover of night, but still, just one ship is rather strange” he thought aloud. He paused again and thought a little more before nodding, “I’ll inform the watchmen to light the torches and keep a lookout tonight, you and the other riders check on it later tonight and see if it’s changed course.”
“Right,” Hicca nodded and ran back to Toothless ready to fly off to tell the others.
“Hicca,” Her father stopped her, “If Dagur is onboard and he’s here looking for you, I want you to go to the cove and hide there, understood? Even if you do have Skadi’s help, I don’t want you engaging his soldiers.”
Hicca turned with a sigh of annoyance, “Dad, this won’t be the first time I’ve been in a fight, and unlike last time I encountered Dagur, I’ll be ready.”
“I know that, I just want you to be careful,” her father told her, he knew she was right, but it didn’t stop him from worrying, what Skadi said yesterday had been right on the mark. It’s very possible that if Hicca was separated from Toothless, she wouldn’t ask Skadi for help, it just wasn’t something she was comfortable with. She did have that shield of hers, but Dagur was a fierce fighter none the less.
“I will,” Before he realised it, Hicca mounted Toothless and took off.
Needless to say, some of the other riders weren’t very pleased with being called to the academy on their day off, Snotlout was the first to complain.
“Seriously Hicca, if this is another of your stupid attack drills-” he started.
“It’s not a drill, trust me, I’m just as disappointed as you with having my day off spoiled,” Hicca told him.
“So what’s going on?” Astrid asked.
“I spotted a Berserker ship, it’s already more than half way here and my dad thinks it might be waiting till dark to attack.”
“Seriously? Is Dagur really stupid enough to attack an island that’s protected by a goddess? And with only one ship?” Ruffnut noted, she actually had a point.
“That’s exactly why we need to check it out tonight, Dagur may be unhinged, but he’s not stupid,” Hicca said sternly, “he’s definitely up to something.”
The other riders shared a look, they knew she was right, Dagur had already proven himself to be a powerful leader, undeniably he did so through fear and intimidation, but he was able to lead a tribe despite the fact that he wasn’t thinking straight most of the time. Hicca knew how, Dagur was determined. When he set his mind to something, he always found a way to do it, even if he was defeated most of the time, he still got much closer to winning than most. Determination was a powerful thing indeed.
The others agreed to meet up with Hicca later, as they were leaving the arena Hicca noticed Alvin walking towards her, waving to catch her attention.
“Alvin, what are you doing here?” Hicca asked.
“Honestly, Ah’ need some ‘elp with some dragons,” he said walking closer to Hicca.
However Toothless moved in front of Hicca, he didn’t growl or make any other noises just stood and watched Alvin with narrow eyes, Hicca placed a hand on his head, “Easy boy, it’s okay,” she turned back to Alvin, “he’s still a little wary of you” she said. She understood completely, Hicca didn’t fully trust Alvin yet, she accepted him as a part of their tribe, but outright refused to let him ride a dragon. “What kind of dragons did you need help with?”
“Just some Terrors, they keep climbing on me’ roof and making ‘oles and keeping me up at night” Alvin said annoyed. Terrible Terrors were still the most troublesome of the dragon species on their island, they were obviously too small to ride, so messengers and pets were the only real jobs they had, this meant that quite a few were still stealing fish and wrecking stuff.
“Well... the one thing I’d suggest is eel oil,” Hicca said after thinking about it for a little while, she didn’t tell Alvin exactly why eel oil would work, but she didn’t want to just dismiss him, Astrid was constantly saying Hicca was too kind for her own good.
“Ah’ve tried that, it doesn’t ‘elp” Alvin said with a shrug, “Ah’ don’t suppose you could come take a look tomorrow could ya’?” he asked.
This time Toothless made a small but menacing growl at the back of his throat, “Um... I could, but...” Hicca said nervously.
Alvin took the basket he’d been carrying off his shoulder, “Now Ah’ know you and Toothy ‘ere don’t fully trust me, but if you could ‘elp me out Ah’d really appreciate it.”Hicca realised that the basket must have contain some kind of peace offering, sure enough Alvin lifted the lid to reveal a mountain of cod. Needless to say Toothless’s growl instantly turned into happy panting with his tongue hanging out, he dived head first into the basket and devoured the contents the rest of his body hanging out with his tail wagging. When the basket was finally empty, Toothless pulled his head out and licked his lips happily, he then turned back to Alvin, eyes narrow but still purring. Hicca sighed knowing that regardless of what she thought, she was going to help Alvin tomorrow.