Chapter 23

The next shot reveals Berks entire fleet of war ships fading into the fog of Hellheims Gate. Stoick is praying that they will all make it out alive; praying that his poor judgement doesn't cost him the lives of his loyal villagers.

When they are all finally enveloped in the fog that surrounds the Nest, Gobber plucks up the courage to poke his friend and Chief for a battle plan. Sadly, Stoick is not very forthcoming. In another situation, where people weren't contemplating potentially witnessing their own deaths, many Berkians would probably have found some humor in the friends exchange.

Gobber has always been a terrible liar, and his skills at seeming nonchalant are so minimal that if someone had ever bothered to strike a bet with him on whether he could convince them to believe of something that wasn't true about himself, he'd have fallen bankrupt before lunchtime.

But now was not the time for such issues. Stoick, in spite of his faults, or maybe because of them, was probably the one of the most stubborn individuals on Berk. If Hiccup, whom the villagers were learning was just as stubborn as his father, could not convince the Chief to rethink this assault on the Nest, they doubted anyone else could.

Suddenly the chiefs attention is drawn to the dragon chained behind them. Toothless' ear plates start twitching and a low rumbling emits from his throat. The sound is rather foreboding. While the Chief makes his way to the wheel, the teens start whispering amongst themselves. Ruff and Tuff bang their helmets together, excited to see the dragon fight. The ships maneuver around each sea stack effortlessly.

Suddenly, the picture changes. Hiccup is standing in the kill ring staring up at the monstrous nightmares cage. What in Loki's name?

"If your planning on getting eaten, I'd definitely go with the Gronkle." The audience chuckles, much to Fishlegs embarrassment.

Tuffnut stands on his bench while his movie self is pronouncing his greatness, and is about to speak when his sister kicks his legs out from under him and he falls backwards onto the floor. The other teens howl with laughter. Stoick and Gobber and a few other villagers turn to see what the fuss is about. Stoick just rolls his eyes when he sees Tuffnut on the floor. Teenagers. By the time the kids get control of themselves, Astrid is asking Hiccup what his plan really is. Many Berkians are actually anxious to hear it too.

But of course the pictures just had to turn back to the war ships as they approached their imminent death. As the rumbling from Toothless is amplified by more and more dragons, the ships pass an outdated Berkian war vessel that is sitting perpendicular between two rocks, its sail torn and scorched.

"Oh... I was wondering where that went." said both Gobbers. Stoick flips his gaze back and forth from the screen, to his friend sitting beside him in astonishment.

"Come now, Stoick. It's me. Or it will be, I don' know how these blasted picture thingy's work." Gobber groaned. Stoick, try as he might, couldn't help releasing a little chuckle at his friends grumpy nature. Gobber tries to push his friend away for laughing at him, but only manages to jostle Stoicks shoulder slightly.

Hiccup is calmly leading the once deadly Monstrous Nightmare, out of its cage with nothing more than a gentle hand near its snout. The sight was nerve-wracking for Stoick, who had just seen the beast try to kill his boy mere minutes ago.

Snotlout picks up the shortened end of a spear, but Astrid smacks his shoulder and he puts it down immediately. Astrid leans around Fish and glares at Snotlout as if to say, did you really think that would protect you? Snot tries to give her a cheeky grin, but when he realizes she's not amused he shrinks back with a frown. Fishlegs is so intrigued by the dragons display of affection when Hiccup places Snotlout's reluctant hand on the dragons snout that he doesn't realize until Astrid punches his shoulder that he'd been making the bench shake with his excited bouncing.

Snotlout is secretly thrilled and secretly terrified that he is the first among the teens, minus Hiccup, okay... and maybe Astrid too, that gets to touch a dragon. Of course his jubilation is gone immediately when Hiccup just up and leaves. "Where are you going?"

"Your gonna need something to help you hold on." Hiccup says as he picks out a coil of rope. The teens turn to see the other three dragons kept in the ring for training, released from their cages, and everyone (minus Tuffnut) comes to the same realization. Oh boy, Gobber thinks. Fishlegs squeaks loudly, in a very shrill manner that has his face turning beet red when some of the villagers laugh. Snotlout stands and starts flexing his arms, much to Astrids revulsion and she throws her cup at him to get him to sit back down. He gets the message pretty quickly. Ruffnut is yelling about how she's gonna get the best dragon and it's only then that Tuffnut seems to understand whats going on.

"Wait. We get to ride dragons now too?" he asks stupidly.

"Yeah. Wake up bro" Ruffnut teases, "but you're not getting anywhere near my dragon-"

But Tuff's not really listening to her anymore. He stands on top of their table and loudly pronounces to the great hall that he is the worlds deadliest weapon and that he's gonna save them all, much to Stoicks annoyance. The large Chief raises his head to the ceiling and silently pleads with the Gods to never allow the twins to own a dragon.

The hall groans collectively at the teens antics, but it doesn't escape their notice that Hiccup's plan is to steal the arena dragons and fly out to the nest and save them all; hopefully before their torched to death by that monster dragon. Stoick is trying not to admit to himself that having the teenagers show up might actually be helpful.

When the images change once again, Stoick is sternly giving instructions for the upcoming battle. The tactics seem clever, but the village knows that they are working with outdated information on the nest, and truly have no idea how this fight will turn out. Still, Stoick goes ahead with the plan and all does seem to be going well, at first. Even when the flaming boulder is launched into the nest revealing just how many dragons the archipelago is really home to, things seem okay; the dragons flee rather than fight and no one has been seriously injured.

Berk's hopes for a quick and easy victory are quickly shattered though with Toothless' panicked strains against the chains he's bound to. This fight is far from over. Not a second later, possibly the loudest, earsplitting roar to ever grace Berkian ears nearly brings down the walls of the great hall, or at least that's what it feels like the Fishlegs. Stoick shouts for his soldiers to run, and that's when the rest of Berk finally gets to meet the monster in the flesh.

This enormous destructive beast is at fault for every raid on Berkian soil, and Stoick can't take out his anger over the injustice because this beast just can't be beat. It's too big. It's claws can demolish their catapults by stepping on them for Thors sake, and the boulders thrown at it only seem to be agitating the damn thing. Stoick is ready to give up on himself when the monster destroys Berks entire fleet with one breath of fire, nearly killing his men aboard, and leaving them stranded, stuck on this Gods-forsaken island with this monstrosity.

In a last ditch effort to save his warriors, Stoick self-approvingly offers himself and incidentally Gobber as distractions. The thing seems to take the bait. The wooden log thrown at it's face does nothing to actually harm the monster, but it does bring it's full attention down on the blacksmith and Chief. Astrid gasps as it prepares to fire and kill her Chief. Gobber looks over at Stoick but the man has his eyes closed, knowing whats coming, and not particularly upset by it, but also not wanting to see his own death. The tension in the room rises ten-fold as every Berkian braces themselves.

Thank you guys for the lovely reviews! They really do make me smile. I struggled with getting this chapter to turn out well because I have run into a major road block with this story and am not sure what to do about it. The next step of Hiccups journey might have to be altered because the story I had intended to add next I don't have permission to use from the original author... Until I find a solution, I don't know how I'm going to make part 3 work. If this chapter doesn't live up to your expectations I apologize.