Good evening, readers! I hope you're having a nice week so far! Are you ready to read more? Fantastic! Please sit back, relax, and enjoy this next chapter!
Merida clicked her tongue as her dragon, Chara, touched down onto the ground and allowed her to dismount. She went over to Hiccup when Toothless did the same, extending her hand to help him onto the ground. The pair approached five people standing upon the lush, green field that encircled the stone castle of Clan Dun' Broch; Fergus, Elinor, and Merida's three brothers, who were now older teenagers; Harris, Hubert and Hamish. They all joined with Merida in a hug, the three boys ruffling her hair in a silly fashion as she tried to shove away their hands.
"Knock it off, you beasties!" Merida cried, laughing.
Hiccup approached, he and Fergus clasping their wrists in a firm handshake before patting each other's backs briefly. "It's good to see you again, laddie." Fergus smiled.
"I'm sorry it has to be under these circumstances." Hiccup replied. "Any recent attacks?"
"No… seems our southern friends have been keeping at bay as of late." Fergus said, straightening up a bit. "We can't let our guard down; you've rejected their pathetic deal, so they are bound to retaliate."
"We need to keep our eyes open. We'll maintain our beacon posts, if anything happens on your end or ours, the other needs to know right away so we can aid one another." Hiccup said.
"Agreed. But I tell ye this, laddie… if that bloody coward thinks he's going to tread upon my land, I'll mount his head on a stake!" He exclaimed, stabbing his sword into the ground.
Inside the castle, the family gathered in the dining hall, speaking about their next course of action over a hearty meal. After they discussed defenses and fighting strategies as a unit, Elinor made the mistake of asking about Peter. At Merida's sudden pained expression, Elinor and Fergus looked at one another worriedly.
"Merida, dear… nothing has happened to him, right?" Elinor asked.
"Mom…" Merida shook her head. "He is a strong lad. He's got the spirit of a dragon, but… his strength isn't… it's different." She said, looking at her mother. "After we sent that dog running with his tail between his legs… Peter disappeared. I fear he's gone to England to defend the honor of his tribe and his family."
They both gasped, Fergus' lips tightening. Hamish then sat up straighter in his chair. "We've got to have faith in him. He's the future Chief of Berk. If he's going to lead, he's got to prove himself as a leader."
"If he is going to ensure the survival of his people, he has to learn to survive on his own, make his own way." Harris added.
"You're right." Merida replied. "Hiccup had to prove himself, and so will he, but… I'm afraid that he isn't ready."
Merida lifted her head when she felt a hand on her shoulder, looking up at her father. "Peter has the will and bravery of his mother… he's got the resourcefulness and determination of his father." He nodded to Hiccup. "He's got the spirit of the woodland Scots and of a great Viking king in his blood. He will hold his own, just like you did, lass."
"Thanks, da." Merida smiled lightly, Fergus leaning over to hug his daughter close. "I have no doubt that he will make his father proud… just as his mother did before him." Merida smiled in response, feeling reassured as they resumed speaking about how to address John's malicious intentions.
That night, Merida sat up a bit to draw back the curtain near them, moonlight pouring in. Her pointed ears barely stuck out from within a forest of fiery curls, Hiccup cracking an eye open as he lightly brushed his fingers against her bare thigh. "You're thinking about him."
"And you're not." Merida sighed, glancing back at him.
"Of course I am, Merida. But Hamish was right… we need to have faith and believe in him." Hiccup said.
"He's beginning to sound like a guardian." Merida chuckled lightly, but still maintained a degree of worry in her features.
"Maybe he is, in his own way." Hiccup said, sitting up a bit. He hugged Merida gently to him, her back flush against his bare chest as he placed a light kiss on her shoulder. "Just remember that if we are expecting him to be strong for us, we need to stay strong for him. We need to defend his homeland."
"Yes." Merida said, turning her head to glance back at him. "I just wish I knew how he was doing…"
Hiccup gently ran his fingers through her hair. "We will. The time will come soon enough, and when it does… he will prove to everyone that he has what it takes to be a true Viking."
Merida nodded once, the pair remaining silent then as they looked up at the moon glowing brightly in the clear night sky. Because of their connection with the guardians, they knew that this sign was certainly a good omen, that perhaps a small amount of luck was on their side.
~The Forest, England~
As night fell, Peter smiled as he set up a fire with Cubby and his friends, having finally found him as they met up in the forest. He had been introduced to the six other animal skin-wearing boys, all considerably smaller in stature than Cubby.
"So, what's the plan?" Asked Slightly, a boy nearly as tall as Cubby, but was quite lanky and wore fox fur.
"Yeah, ol' king John's bound to start searching the woods for us." Said Toodles, the smallest boy of the bunch. He wore a skunk fur as he poked at the fire with a stick.
"Boy, does it feel nice to breathe fresh air again! Who would have thought a forest creature would have been the one to save us? And here I thought they were all as deadly and black as the night sky without stars!" Said Nibs, who wore the fur of a rabbit.
"Hey, what does everyone around here have against creatures of the wood, huh?" Peter said, putting his hands on his hips. "My mother was brought back to life by the spirit of the wood, that's how she became an elf in the first place!"
"You have a mother?" The twins, both wearing raccoon fur, asked in unison.
"You sure are lucky, Peter Pan." Nibs frowned. "What I would give to have a mother… a nice, soft voice to put my head to sleep each night."
"Among other soft things…" Slightly said, laughing as he playfully shoved Nibs.
"Oh, sod off, you mangy dog! It isn't the same thing! A mother what's soft an' tender, that's the way boys learn how to love in the first place, isn't it? The king thinks we're no good rascals, that's the reason, it is! The lot of us know nothing better!" Nibs exclaimed, crossing his arms.
"Did you lose your mother too, Peter?" Toodles asked, Slightly shaking him a bit when he started sucking on his thumb.
"No… she's back home on my island." Peter said, crouching down in front of the fire. "She taught me everything I know about archery, fighting…" His expression began to soften, a feeling of homesickness creeping into his heart. He shook his head, waving his hand. "Ah, enough of this sappy stuff! We have to figure out how we're going to avoid being caught!"
"Well, you said we're going to sneak onto a ship, right?" Cubby asked.
"Precisely." Peter said.
"But which one do we sneak onto, there's so many at the port!" Toodles exclaimed.
"It doesn't matter. Wherever it takes us, we can always get onto a different one once it reaches a new port far enough from England. Then we can get back to my tribe." Peter said.
"I guess that makes sense…" Slightly said. "So, when should we head off?"
"Just before the sun rises. It's good timing because it will still be dark, easier to stay hidden, but close enough to the general departure time where we won't have to hang around idly for too long." Peter replied. "We should get some shuteye; it's going to be a long day tomorrow, so we need as much rest as possible."
"Well, better than some dank cell, that's for sure…" Nibs smiled, showing off his large buck teeth as he stretched his arms in a yawn.
As all but Cubby and Peter fell asleep, the larger boy took the other by surprise when he hugged him suddenly. Peter was about to protest, but softened a bit when he heard quiet sniffling. "Hey, come on big guy, what's the matter?"
"Nothing…" Cubby wiped his eyes. "Nothing at all. I've never felt happier in so many days… I have my friends back- and it's all because of you." He said. "I can't thank you enough, Peter."
Peter smiled, chuckling lightly. "It was nothing. No pun intended, but we aren't out of the woods yet, Cubby. We're still being searched for. We've got to get out of here first thing in the morning, so stop blubbering and get some sleep."
"Okay…" Cubby gave him a nod, shifting a bit as he laid down. "'Night, Peter."
"Night, Cubby." Peter replied, resting back himself as he leaned his head on his hands. He looked up at the moon shining brightly through the treetops, thinking of his mother and father. He knew that somewhere out there, they were with him in spirit. He smiled to himself, beginning to realize the true importance of a family from those who had lived most of their lives without one. Through all of this, he realized he was grateful he even had a family to fight for… he hoped at the end, he could still boast this claim.
~The Following Morning~
Before sunrise, Cubby felt a light shaking as he blinked his eyes open. "Hey, wake up Cubby, Peter said we've got to get going." Toodles said, yawning widely as he did.
As the boys readied for their departure, Slightly stopped when he saw something in the distance. "Boys, boys, quiet down!" He hissed, ducking behind a tree. "Back there, I see lights!"
Nibs craned his head, gasping when he heard men shouting. "I- I- It's th- the-"
"Spit it out, will you?!" Slightly snapped.
"It's the Sheriff! I'd know that voice anywhere!" Nibs squeaked.
"We'd better dash out of here fast! Grab only what you can carry and let's make a run for it!" Peter exclaimed.
The boys scrambled, doing as Peter said and quickly putting out their fire. Toodles, being the smallest, had a hard time keeping up as they ran through the trees towards northern Nottingham, Peter eventually resolving to scoop up the boy and carry him through the air. They eventually exited through the northern part of the forest, seeing the docks in the distance. As they hurried along, the Sheriff finally reached their small campsite, dismounting his horse as he approached what was left.
"Sir, there's firewood here... small twigs and such, and it's still smoking." A soldier said, the Sheriff walking up to it and holding out a lantern. He poked at the charred sticks a bit, pursing his lip.
"This fire was just put out. No more than half of an hour past. We're practically right on their tail, we must keep moving." The Sheriff said, going back to his horse. "Give the hounds a moment to gain a lead, then we will follow. We still don't know for sure if Robin Hood is accompanying them."
Meanwhile, Peter waved the boys onto a ship, having quickly scouted it and found a good hiding spot on board. Once they found some boxes to settle behind, they crouched down, remaining as still and quiet as they could. Peter glanced over the side of the ship, chewing on his bottom lip.
"Okay boys, this could go one of two ways. The crew of this ship can get here, and we sail off with no problem. That's the best scenario. The crew could also get here and try to give us the boot or keep us hostage. If either of those cases happen, there is a rowboat on the right back side, it's pretty big. Hey, Toodles?" Peter looked to him.
"Yes?" Toodles piped up.
"How good are you at untying knots?" Peter asked.
"I've done my fair share, I guess." Toodles replied.
"Alright- if this crew puts us in a bind, the rest of us can distract them while you lower their rowboat, then we can make a mad escape. Now, the worst scenario, my fine gentlemen, is if the Sheriff gets here before this ship departs and demands a search." Peter said.
"Well, what if that DOES happen?" Slightly asked, putting his hands on his hips. "What do we do then?"
"You stay put, that's what you do." Peter said. "If the Sheriff approaches and we haven't left port, I'll divert him away. Remember, he doesn't know for sure if I'm with you lot, because he saw me running away with Marion."
"Boy, aren't you a lucky sod!" Nibs smiled crookedly.
They heard a sound then, Peter shushing them. The sun was just rising now, and he blinked when someone emerged from the captain's cabin. He heard Cubby gasp lightly, glancing back and raising a brow at him.
"Do you know who that is?" Cubby whispered.
"Uh… no?" Peter replied.
"That's captain Hook, that is…" He replied. "A feared pirate of the seas. There's only one thing he's afraid of."
"Do we need to worry about him?" Slightly asked.
"No. I'll handle this, boys." Peter said, telling them to stay put as he cleared his throat, handing his cloak to Cubby.
Just as Hook was setting up for the voyage ahead, a smaller man following him around and helping him as he babbled about something or other, Peter approached, nearly frightening the taller man out of his boots when he stepped up briskly, saluting him.
"What in blazes- who are you and what do you think you're doing on MY ship?!" Hook shouted.
"Peter Pan, reporting for duty, captain!" Peter said, flashing a smile. "My humble family of fatherless boys and I are ready to serve you ever so faithfully on your next journey, good sir!" Peter cleared his throat, motioning for the other boys to come out.
Toodles imitated Peter, saluting him. "Aye aye, captain!" He exclaimed.
"See, look at this little cherub! Ready to grow up and live the good life of a pirate!" Peter smiled.
Hook growled, shooting his first mate, Smee, a look. "You're not fooling anyone, Peter Pan. You aren't part of m' crew and I ought to turn you all right in to the king!" He then took out a parchment, jabbing his hook at it as he showed it to Peter. "I've got an official pardon from the very same man! He's asked me to lead one of his finest explorers on a land reclamation and expedition and I honorably accepted! I'm a veteran outlaw, so I know one when I see one, boy!"
Peter pursed his lip, pacing around a bit in front of him. "That would put us in a very bad position, sir." He said, making Hook gasp as he began to float on the air. "But you know that old saying about birds of a feather, right? I don't seem like much, I know…" Peter said, ducking down into the lower level of the ship, prompting Hook to start after him. He was barely down two steps when Peter popped up behind him from another passageway down, shocking Hook when he snatched the parchment from the king out of his coat pocket. All the boys looked at each other, mouth agape. "Well, well, well! Look at what I found!"
"I- wha- you give that back to me, you mangy rascal, or I'll gut you!" Hook shouted.
"Now hang on… first, we're going to make a deal, from one outlaw to another. Now, this crew you supposedly have, where are they? Shouldn't they be at your side, defending their good captain?" Peter asked.
"My crew has been assigned by the king, they were supposed to arrive at half past six! Give me back that-"
"It would be pretty bad if something happened to this… so. If you agree to make us fine young gentlemen your new crew, I'll give this back!" Peter said, laughing when Hook sputtered and shouted angrily. "Time is running out, captain… if the Sheriff finds us, we'll both be in big trouble-"
"Fine, fine! Very well, but you're going to do everything I say, and all the hard labor will be yours to have!" Hook snapped, snatching the parchment out of his hand. "I'm going to be keeping a very close eye on you, Peter Pan… any funny business will result in me throwing you overboard and sinking you to the bottom of the ocean!"
"Understood crystal clear, captain!" Peter nodded, maintaining a playful smirk. As he approached the other boys, Slightly grabbed his shoulder.
"Are you crazy?! You nearly got us killed for one, and none of us know how to even RUN a ship!" He exclaimed.
"Just trust me on this. I have experience with ships, so I'll help you guys. It's a cinch, you learn as you go. And besides, this is better than some dank old dungeon, right?" Peter smiled. As Hook began to depart from port, Peter glanced up over the side of the boat, catching the sight of the Sheriff searching for them with his men in the distance. He laughed to himself, knowing they would never catch them now.
~Later That Day~
Slightly groaned as he slapped a sudsy sponge down onto the deck, grimacing as he scrubbed. "Oh yeah, this is MUCH better than some old dungeon! Scrubbing my fingers to the bone is a far better outcome!"
It was high afternoon, the boys ordered to scrub the entire deck. Slightly blinked, growling when Peter whisked by them effortlessly as he was seen wearing two sponges on his feet like skates, leaving suds all over the ship. "Cubby, more water!"
"Coming, Peter!" Cubby laughed, the large boy taking a bucket and tossing the water out of it. Peter glided through, snickering as Toodles, Nibs and the twins howled with laughter as they scrubbed.
Inside the captain's cabin, Hook growled to himself as he and another figure kept being interrupted by the boys' laughter out on the deck. Smee cleared his throat nervously, sitting quietly to the side.
"The king has a rather… odd taste in his selection of a crew, does he not?" The other man asked.
Hook grumbled, shaking his head as he looked at the map. "At these winds, we should have less than two days' time before we reach the states."
"Excellent." The man replied. He had long black hair tied back into a neat ponytail and a well fashioned purple hat. He dressed luxuriously, showing off his societal and monetary status and rank.
"M- Mr. Ratcliffe, sir…" Smee raised his index finger, the man raising a brow at him. "What will we do once we reach the states?"
"They have requested our assistance in helping them to excavate land inhabited by the native savages there." He replied. "This will be the key to ensuring the King can purchase enough resources to win his wars." Ratcliffe replied.
"Won't the savages… fight back?" Smee asked.
Ratcliffe laughed. "They have no chance against us. I have much backing by the King, for my father is a well-known lawyer in London. At least, he was, before he departed to relocate in Japan."
That night, Peter inhaled deeply as he looked up at the night stars. A part of him thought that maybe he could fly up to them, right now, and forget all about the tasks that were weighing him down like an anchor. No, he deduced; if he did that, a heavier weight would make him sink, make him reach for those stars to no avail.
He knew that somehow, he was different than his mother and father, his village; but he still had the blood of a Viking, and they never turned back on their kin. They were loyal to the end, and Peter knew he had to follow through with this. He had strayed from the path somewhat, but he knew in his heart that somehow, he would find his way back to his initial focus. In the meantime, his heart felt light by the fact that he had given a group of homeless boys someone, something to believe in.
Maybe, he thought, just maybe… the things that he dreaded; responsibility and obligation, did not have to be dreaded. Perhaps, these things that seemed to bind him to something, restrict him, didn't have to be daunting. Perhaps, he could add his own tweak to it, just enough to make it more enjoyable on his part.
There had still been a sense of adventure in this, a sense of fun. And most importantly, he felt like a leader without having to really be one. He made his own choices in this, and so far, everything had gone swimmingly.
He had no idea what the future would bring him… but for now, he would make do with what he was given. He glanced over, smirking lightly at Toodles sucking on his thumb while he slumbered. The youngest of the group of boys reminded him of himself; full of enthusiasm for the unknown, rather than fear or hesitation. Just then, he saw something, furrowing a brow as he noticed a light coming from somewhere. He quietly got up, peeking up from under the deck to see that the source of the light was coming from under the door of the captain's cabin. He tilted his head, wondering why he would choose to stay awake so late at night. Peter shrugged, deciding not to care as he settled back down, getting onto his cot to drift off to sleep himself.
Going to end this chapter here, the next scene is too long to add on to this update! So, what did you think of this one? Are you excited for what's to come? Please let me know what you think, and I'l see you next time! Thank you for reading!