Smoke rose from the chimney of the house on the hill. That was Astrid's indication that someone was awake. She made the trek up the hill and snuck in through the door.
Her eyes darted around. "Jambo, Mwaba." She smiled when she saw the giant.
"Oh, Jambo, Astreed." He smiled, from his place brewing tea.
"Is Hiccup still sleeping?" Last night, after he had woken up, Goði told them in her silent ways to get lost, so they brought him back to his home.
Mwaba smirked at her, then shook his head. "He be asleep all mo'ning." Then he pointed over to Toothless who was curled up tightly, his wings wrapped around him.
"He's not…" Astrid giggled and peered over the dragon. The only indication that there was someone else there, was a bit of blanket sticking out from under the beast.
Then, from the bundle, she heard Hiccup's voice. "I am up Astrid, I just can't move."
In protest, Toothless pulled him closer. Astrid heard Hiccup groan. "Bud, injured, careful!" He pushed and prodded, "I have to get up, you oaf!" Finally got his head to pop out, his hair sticking up in every direction. "Good morning, Milady." He said with a yawn.
"A little overprotective, he is?" She quirked an eyebrow.
"He's scared that someone will come in while I'm sleeping." Some more shuffling and twisting, and Hiccup got an arm out. At the movement, Toothless finally got up and looked at his human. "Well, good morning Mr. Bossy."
In response, Toothless licked him sloppily across the face, and then everywhere else he could, possibly to bathe him.
"UGH! Toothless! Knock it off!"
The dragon, in fact, did not relent until he was satisfied. Unfortunately, it was when Hiccup was thoroughly saturated in dragon spit, and his hair stuck up straight, reminiscent of a deranged pineapple.
Astrid held in what would be uproars laughter, her face bright red. "I'm so glad Stormfly doesn't do that to me."
"Yeah, well…" He stood up, using the annoying beast as support, and attempted to wipe off the persistent slime. "It could be worse. Nightfury saliva has amazing healing properties. I guess he's just trying to help." He ruffled his hair.
"Come and sit down scruffy, you could use some help."
He knew what she meant as he rubbed his chin and felt the thin beard that had gone rampant in his coma. He balanced on his good foot, seeing his prosthetic leaning by the fire. He groaned and hopped on one leg until he could reach it. Astrid watched in amazement as he snatched up the metal contraption and collapsed next to her. He rolled up his pant leg to show his stump. From the prosthetic, he took a white wrap and did up his leg with practiced fingers. Then he stuck on the leg.
The design was much different from his old one, as it resembled a real leg. The foot was carved wood, a block shaped to look like a foot, and fit into a boot. The ankle was made up of gears, allowing for mobility. The calf was made up of strips of iron, forming a cage that ended with the socket. Finally, the socket was covered in leather, which came up above the end of the prosthetic, and tied like a shoe. Once he tied it on, he notice Astrid was looking at it in morbid curiosity.
"I made a new one. Cool, huh?" He lifted it a bit. "Not knocking on Gobber's work, but since I've had it for so long, I knew what style of leg would work best." He stood and shifted his weight, showing her how the gears responded to the changed of direction. It worked like a real ankle.
She watched amazed, but only a moment before she rolled her eyes and huffed. "Show off."
Regardless, he took a seat by the fire and allowed her to run a comb through his hair, slicking it back.
"I need a shave." He stated, as his eyes closed.
"Why? I like your…foliage." She grinned.
"It's itchy when I wear my helmet."
"Another downside to that accursed, dang blasted thing." She mumbled.
"What was that?" He teased.
She just stuck her tongue out at him, but he didn't notice.
"Would yoo like sum tea, Astreed?" Mwaba asked.
"Oh, yes please, that would be lovely." She finished with his hair and went to find the blade and soap she supposed he hid by the wash basin.
There was a knock at the door. Hiccup, too tired and lazy to get his helmet, haphazardly threw a blanket over his face and waved at Mwaba to get the door.
It was only Gobber. "Mornin'! I brought Toothless breakfast, thought it might be a while before you could get it yourself." He said as he came into the house, a basket over his shoulder. At that moment, Gobber was the dragon's favorite human and he flocked to him like a sheep to fresh grass. "Keep your scales on, you overgrown lizard!" He pushed Toothless back by the snout so he could enjoy his food in the corner.
"Tea?" Mwaba invited.
"Sure, I'll take a swig." And the man joined the group by the fire.
By this time, Astrid had found the supplies and began to lather the soap on Hiccup's face. "So, what's the plan for today?" She asked.
"Well, I'm not supposed to do a lot, since I'm still healing. But I suppose I should meet with my men." He glanced at his friend as Astrid carefully swiped the blade over his jaw line. "What did you tell them?"
"I gave dem an update on yoor condit'n. But I haven't spoke ta dem since we brought yoo home."
"Okay, I guess that needs to be done."
There was a distinct whining from the corner and Toothless slunk over to his friend and rested his head on his lap.
"No, Toothless, we can't go riding until nightfall."
He whined louder.
"No, you spoiled reptile!" He chuckled as he scratched his nose.
"Hey, keep still, or I'll cut you!" Astrid scolded.
Gobber spoke up. "Shavin' yer beard aye? I would have thought you'd try 'n' grow it out."
"It itches in my helmet." Hiccup said, barely moving his lips.
"Well, at least you have a beard. I was never able to grow one. A mustache, yes." He grabbed Hiccup's hand and put it on his chin. "See? Soft as a baby's bottom. But come late winter, it feels as dry as a fifty year old yak."
"Y-yeah, I can see that…" Hiccup pulled away a bit too urgently, and subtly wiped his hands on his pants.
"Kwikwi," Mwaba spoke from his seat. "Unahitaji kwenda kuona…msaliti." You need to go see...the traitor.
"Yeye ni kutolewa hukumu ya haki, kama sheria Berk inaonyesha." He is to be given a fair trial as Berk law dictates.
"Ambao watakuwa wenzake?" Who are to be his peers?
"Utakuwa biashara wanaume sita ambao ni hapa sasa kwa ajili ya wafanyakazi mpya wakati wewe kwenda nyuma." You will trade the six men who are here now for a new crew when you go back. He paused as Astrid shaved his lips, not looking forward to a cut. "Astrid na mtakuwa mashahidi." You and Astrid are witnesses.
"I heard my name." She suddenly snapped, wielding the blade dangerously in front of him.
"Uhh, yes, well, we weren't talking about you. I mean, we were but….hhuuuuggnnnn." He honked nervously.
It caught the girl by surprise as she was suddenly cackling madly. It had been ages since he saw him so nervous. "Okay! Okay!" She reigned over her laughter. "I get it."
"Oh thank Thor…" He mumbled.
Astrid carried on her duty as she tilted his head farther back to get the underside of his chin.
"You're rather good at this." He commented.
"I have practice, I shave after all."
"What?" He suddenly looked at her wide eyed. Before he registered what was happening, her bare leg was thrust up in front of his face.
"See?" She said innocently.
He gulped. Gobber snickered.
Suddenly, there was a 'rap, tap, tap' at the door and Stoick waltzed it. "Mornin'!" But his initial reaction was cut short as he noticed his son, with half a foam beard, and his bride to be sticking her leg up in the air.
The large man bellowed a loud laugh. "On to shaving rituals already?" He chuckled. "Ah, yes, I remember when I used to shave your mother's legs for her."
Hiccup grimaced. "Um, dad, too much information."
Stoick paid no heed as he replied, "and she would pay me back by shaving my back."
It was Astrid's turn to grimace as her fingers curled into hooks. "That's so nasty!" Then she slugged Hiccup in the arm and replied, "I will not do that for you!"
"You're already shaving my face!"
Gobber rolled his eyes. "Fighting already. Seems like the honey moon is over."
"Tea, suh?" Mwaba asked.
"Sure, thanks." The chief took the last chair available.
"Did you need something, dad?" The young chief asked, his attention directed away from the irate blonde with a blade on his neck.
"Oh, just coming to check in on ya." He said smoothly. "How's the wound?"
Hiccup knew very well not to show any sign of pain or soreness, so he smiled and said. "I don't even feel it."
Astrid raised a silent, judging eyebrow.
"Good to hear! But you're going to lay low, take it easy."
"Oh, I was planning on it." He shrugged.
Astrid rubbed off the left over foam with a rag. "All finished." She kissed his smoothed cheek.
He responded with a giddy laugh. Glancing back at the other three men, they all held knowing smirks and he cleared his throat. "I need to prepare for the rest of the day." Hiccup stated cooly as he stood. "Feel free to stay if you'd like." He was cordial. The teen snatched some clothes from a rack in the corner and went behind a curtain.
After rinsing out the brush and blade, Astrid joined the men back the fire for tea as well.
"This is nice," Commented Stoick.
"Very nice." Repeated Gobber.
Once again, there was a knock at the door before Mrs. Larson peeked her head in. "Yoo-hoo!"
She called. Then she paused when she saw the three men and Astrid, and no Hiccup.
"Is he not here, dear?" She asked the blonde.
"I'm in the back!" Called Hiccup.
"Come on in, Mrs. Larson. Everybody knows." Astrid offered up her seat.
"Oh thank you dear, but I won't stay long. I only came to drop off the little one."
"Tea?" Mwaba asked.
"Well, I might have a spot."
At that moment, Pippin, who was clinging around her neck, started to squirm. "Da! Da!" He babbled.
"Your daddy will be out in a moment." Mrs. Larson said as she set the babe on the floor.
"Tutu!" Pippin sang as he started crawling towards the sleeping dragon.
"Wait, just a moment," Stoick interjected. "Are you saying you know?"
"Know? Know that Wart is Hiccup? Why, yes, I do!"
"Hiccup! What's the meaning of this!? Did she know before me?!"
"Yes." Answered the boy from the curtain.
"How could you tell her, and not me!?" The chief stood.
Hiccup peaked his head out from behind the curtain, staring the man in the eye, "A father should do everything for his son."
Stoick sat back down heavily. The boy was right, of course. And that's what made it bite so much.
"Ouch." Said Gobber, sipping on his tea.
Pippin was climbing on Toothless, who had been awaken by tugging at his ears and projections. He growled a bit irately, but then when he found it was the babe, he purred.
"Looks like Toothless has taken quite a liking to Peregrin." Gobber grinned.
Mrs. Larson put a hand over her heart. "That's what I feared the most, that dragon being too rough with the child."
"Oh, come now. Do you think that useless reptile would harm a child?" Hiccup stated as he finally came out, dressed fully in his uniform, his helmet under his arm. His prosthetic was completely hidden by his boots and trousers. He stepped into the room, and smiled at his family. He was tall and proud, and looked like an official in his suit. Clearly, it did something for him, Stoick noticed. Hiccup's face contorted as he questioned, "Why are there so many people in my house?"
"What happened to taking it easy?" His father asked.
"I will, but I need to speak with my men." With that, Toothless brought over his son, still gripping onto his snout. "I see we have a new baby sitter." Hiccup smirked. He tenderly lifted the boy into his arms.
"Dada!" The infant reached out and grabbed his fathers cheeks.
"Are you having fun with Toothless?" He asked with a wide smile as the dragon in mention butted into his legs.
"Tutu! Tutu!" Pippin giddily waved his hands then dropped them back on Hiccup with a painless slap.
"Tutu!" Astrid cried. "That's so precious!"
Hiccup grinned proudly at his son, and then said. "Toothless is a dragon, did you know that?" Then he took a seat on the floor, allowing Pippin to crawl closer to the reptile.
"Tutu." Pippin babbled again. "Dwagon!" He blurted and shoved his hand in Toothless' nostril.
Hiccup smiled hugely and scooped up the boy, as Toothless snorted and shook his head.
"That's right! Dragon! You're so smart!" He kissed the boy's cheek.
Astrid looked onto the scene with tenderness in her eyes. In one instant, this boy who had stolen her heart had the ability to go from a stern chief to a loving father. All in all, he wasn't even seventeen yet, still he showed the maturity of someone twice his age.
And she was going to marry him.
A man sits in the darkness. Shadows caress his face like long forgotten friends. In his chest, there is a pain and grief that is slowly turning to rage. A sinister smile played on his lips, baring his jagged and yellow teeth. Savage waits in his cell, knowing that one of his affiliates would be there at any moment.
As if on cue, the guard, Bucket, was knocked unconscious and two men came into the jail.
"Sir, we've brought what you asked for. She was coming out of the chief's house earlier." One of the men, a burly demon named Sven, had Astrid gripped by the arm. A babe clutched desperately to his mother, ugly sobbing coming from it's mouth. Astrid stood fast, not willing to back down to this man. After all, he was behind bars, and this was her turf.
She was just casually leaving Hiccup's home that afternoon, after he had left to go meet with his men. Her plan was to feed Pippin and put him down for a nap, and then to go flying for a little while. She never expected two more traitorous crew men to jump her in broad daylight.
"Perfect." Savage stood and came closer to the bars. "And the others?
"Still have no idea. Our only threat is the dark skinned giant."
"Keep him alive, he'll make a wonderful slave." He popped his neck. "After we break him all over again."
"Whatever plan you have won't work, you insane murderer!" Astrid bit back.
"I'll take that as a compliment."
He snapped his fingers. One of the men leered over the blonde and then mercilessly ripped the child from her, Pippin wailing all the while.
"No! You can't take him! Stop it!" Astrid grabbed the man's arm and twisted, making his joints crack in pain. But, she was subdued as Savaged grabbed her hair through the bars and yanked her back to the cell.
"Listen here, you whore. You're going to do exactly as I say or I will slit your throat."
"I would rather die then take orders from you, monster!"
"That can be arranged."
Still, she stood steadfast, not showing any fear as a knife pressed into her throat by the other man.
"Hold on, I think I can convince you." The man holding Pippin came closer, and gripped the babe by the throat as he flailed and cried.
"No! Leave him out of this!" Astrid was instantly vulnerable. "Children should not be involved in this fight."
"You want to keep him safe? Do what I say."
She was silent as her lip quivered. A knife was thrust into her hand.
"Go to him now, seduce him. In the heat of the moment, I want you to slit his throat. Then, cut out his heart and bring it back to me. If you do this, I will spare your precious little baby."
Heartbroken and devastated, she had no words. Finally, in much too small of voice, she said, "I won't do it."
He narrowed his eyes. "You will."
The grip on the child grew stronger and Astrid could hear Pippin gasping for breath. "Alright! Fine! I'll do it! Just…don't hurt him."
"That's a good girl." He let go of her hair. "Now go."
Astrid spared a glance at the child, weighing her options. Attacking now would be no good, he would be hurt. Conflicted and confused, the girl left without a word.
"What are we going to do next?" Asked the soldier, sloppily holding the child.
"We wait for the heart, then, we send for the armada."
Astrid sat waiting in Hiccup's home for what seemed like hours. She bit her fingernails clean down to the stub in nerves. Then, the door opened and Hiccup came in, oblivious to her presence.
"Dang, stupid, ungrateful, low lives. Can't trust a dog around here." He sighed and took off his helmet and jacket. He then turned and noticed her sitting by the fire. "Astrid! Whoa, didn't see you there!" He laughed feebly. "Not like you to be quiet."
She chuckled in response.
"Wait…" Her closed off posture, her fake smile, the fact that she didn't punch him for calling her loud. "They got to you, didn't they?"
"What?" She was bewildered.
"So, what? You went to interrogate Savage and got threatened? Because, I should have warned you—…"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa…" Now she was sitting up at attention. "You knew about this?"
"Knew that Savage was out to get me the whole time? Knew that mutiny was in our mist? Of course, I'm not stupid. I just didn't tell you about it, because I didn't want to scare you."
"Well, you should have said something! I've been sitting here in quiet agony for the last hour!"
"What happened? Any threats he put on you are no good, he's locked in a cell, and one of the men who's 'helping' him is actually loyal to me."
"He's got Pippin."
Hiccup was silent. His mouth screwed up ever so slightly before he replied, "Well, that changes things."
"He told me to slit your throat and then bring back your heart as proof."
"Ew." The boy scowled. Then he sighed. "Poor Savage, so predictable. There's a way out of this. It's actually simple."
"Really, because I've been thinking about it for the last hour and have gotten nothing."
"You underestimate me, my dear. Here's what we'll do…"
Night fell, and Astrid made her way down to the jail, a bloody sack in her hand with a once beating organ inside. She snuck inside.
"Here," she threw the sack on the floor of the cell. "It's done. Now give me back my son." Her voice was raw and breaking.
Savage sat against the wall, his face shrouded in shadow. It seemed to Astrid that he kept his right arm behind his back. He snapped his fingers, and Pippin was brought back in, not much worse for wear. She scooped him up in relief.
"I'm afraid I can't let you leave though. A murderer has to be detained though, right?"
Even though the command was implied, Sven didn't move a bit.
"Idiot, grab her!"
Sven looked at his commanding officer and said. "Nope."
At that moment, the doors to the jail swung open in a flurry of smoke. The other solider, loyal to Savage, was suddenly grabbed up by a pair of black, back breaking arms.
The traitor heard the click of the chief's prosthetic and glanced up a bit. "He lives." He smirked. "Long live the chief."
Hiccup smirked behind his mask and gave Sven a fist-bump. "Thanks for the tip."
"No problem, chief."
Astrid came up to the bars and hissed at her abuser, "I hope you like nuts, because I'm about to kick yours into your throat!"
A heavy hand laid against her shoulder and Stoick pulled her back.
Savage had to admit defeat. It was fun, the little game they had played. "What's in the sack?"
"Pig heart. Surprised you didn't guess that."
"You got lucky. I almost killed you the first time."
"I guess I was foolish for thinking you would stop trying to kill me after the first attempt." He hummed. "But it seems loyalty won in the end."
"Oh please shut up, you and your stupid morals." The man rolled his eyes.
Hiccup adjusted one of his gloves. "Now," said he, his voice echoing in the stony silence. "What are we going to do about you?"
Savage was mute as he stared at the authority figure.
"You have nothing to say for yourself? No defense? I'll take that as a guilty plea."
"Haven't I been punished enough?"
"Really? You've been locked in a cell, what kind of punishment is that?"
"They didn't tell you what they did?" Savage asked, seemingly already knowing the answer.
"I expected that you would simply be confined until a proper trial and sentence could be delivered. As our law dictates."
Savage chuckled darkly. "If only anger worked within the realms of the law. Boy, you are more cared about then you think."
It was then that Hiccup took a keen notice to the man's arm. He, in fact, was not hiding it behind his back, but had it out in plain sight.
His arm was gone.
Hiccup opened his mouth to speak, but the words died.
"At first, that accursed dragon just took off up to the elbow. Then the chief cut away the rest of it."
Hiccup was stunned silent. "You should be thankful." Hiccup's voice was plainly heard, but it was hollow. "I know the devastation that a Night Fury can relinquish," he gazed pointedly down to his left foot. "Be glad that he only took your arm and not your life." The tone in which he spoke, leered on the side of warning, invoking a threat that would be carried out if he tried anything malicious ever again. The soldier was quiet in contemplation, hushed fear churring in his blood.
"So, jealousy was it?" Wart unlocked the cell and went inside, shutting the bars behind him. "You should have become chief."
"I should have!" Affirmed the prisoner. "There's no reason for you to have taken up the title."
"Do you think I was incompetent?"
"Well..." The man shook his head. "Your ideals were not the same as ours."
"'Ours' as in the Outcast tribe, or just you and Alvin?"
Savage was still.
"He was drunk, you know, the night you killed him. He was completely inebriated when he appointed me as heir. You're right, I shouldn't have gotten the title, but I did. And I decided to use it to my benefit. Ask any of the other men, and I'm sure they'd agree with me that the Outcast's are in a better position than they had been."
Savage sat up to look at the boy better. "You fooled everyone."
"I made everyone believe that I could do good. There was no trickery."
"You bastard! Of course you lied! You aren't Wart, you're Hiccup!"
"When I was with the Outcasts, I was never that boy. Don't you understand? Regardless if I wanted to or not, I never acted like myself."
Savage gazed at him quizzically.
"There was never a moment that passed that I did not fear for my life. By putting everyone else's needs and wants before my own, I survived and thrived." He had Astrid unlock the door and left. Savage's accomplice was pushed into the cell as well. Before he closed it, he looked over his shoulder and said. "You should have taken a note from me. I'm not going to be chief of the Outcast's forever. After all, I have an inherited responsibility to the Hooligans. I was planning on having you take over after the treaty was settled and peace was made." He chuckled darkly. "Doesn't look like that'll happen."
Savage met his face with wide eyes. "Really, you were—…"
"Yep, too late now though." He closed the door behind him. "You will stay in this cell for the duration of one week. In that time, Mwaba and crew will travel back to the Outcast Atolls. The elders will be gathered, and your trial will commence upon your return."
Mwaba then approached the bars, and Savage soon found he would rather be unable to see the eyes staring at him, then this giant boring holes into his head. "Yoo showed 'im no mercy. Yoo shall receive none ida."
After the message was made clear, Savage felt a sinking in his bones. The stench of death clung to him, and hope all but abandoned him.
"Dear Thor, what have I done?"
Later that evening found Hiccup, Astrid, Stoick and the free Outcasts on the docks. Astrid threateningly spun her axe in one hand, promising to use it if there was any funny business. The Berk men were asked to stay up in the village, for a reason unknown to them. Finally, everything was packed up and ready to go.
"My friends," Wart spoke as he took off his helmet. The Outcasts were familiar with his face, but some of them still did not connect his identity. "I thank you for your patience. It's been a long extra few days, hasn't it? I'm sure you are eager to get home."
Murmurs of 'amen' and 'you have no idea' came from the group before someone spoke out, "what about Savage?"
Wart smiled. "That is what I wanted to talk to you about." He straightened his back and paced back and forth before the group. "Many of you know me as Wart. That is the name I introduced myself as, and the name I have used the last nine months. But as you must know, this was not my birth name. Savage's attack was inflicted because he figured out my identity."
Astrid gripped her axe tighter, pensive in fear.
"I am Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the third, hope and heir to the Hooligan tribe, and son of Stoick the Vast."
Absolute, unadulterated silence.
A soldier from the back, one that Hiccup knew as Alderan pushed forward and took heavy steps. The man had a thick black beard that spread like a lion's mane. His cheeks were rosy and his nose budding from his excessive drinking. He stood a head taller then the young chief, and looked him in the eyes.
"Chief," He stated, holding out his hand. Wary, Hiccup gripped it, only to be pulled into a hug that was tight and sure. "We will follow you to the end of our days. Your loyalty to us has dissolved our differences."
"That's just it, Alderan," Hiccup pulled away and grasped his upper arm. "I'm not loyal to the Outcast's, or Berk really, if you think about it. I just did what was best for everyone. War and violence only result in death and despair. And I've had enough of that for one lifetime." He then looked to the rest of the crew. "So then, now that you all know the truth, who shall strike me down?"
Another man spoke up, a crooked smile on his face. "May the man who is perfect be the one to throw the first stone."
Grins broke out on everyone's faces.
"Three cheers for the chief!"
And so, he Hiccup was showered with affectionate punches and butt-slaps to last a life time. Before it was time to set sail, Mwaba once again placed a huge hand on his friend's shoulder. "Yoo stay safe. I mean et des time."
"You know what? I'm not going to make any promises, because I don't even know anymore."
"Well, sum good came out of dis, at least."
"Yeah," he glanced over to his father. "It could have gone better, but at least the air is clear." He huffed.
"Yoo should tell ya friends, if not the village."
"Yeah, yeah, I'll work on it."
Mwaba flicked him in the forehead and boarded the ship. Men bustled about, releasing the sails, and getting oars in place.
"Hey," called Hiccup one last time. All the men were at attention.
"Stay safe. All of you." Then he narrowed his eyes at the giant. "Especially you, sir."
"I'm not makin' any promises."