Hi everyone, I'm back with another chapter, enjoy!

Brothers

Chapter 44: A New Adventure

We returned to Berk by the late afternoon. The sun was approaching its descent into the watery depths over the horizon.

Berk was milling about as it always did, with the Dragon Riders doing their own thing (more notably Astrid Hofferson, who joined the Berk Guard…or something like that.) I mean, as stated before: Hiccup was the only active member of the Dragon Academy, and he considered closing it for good; however, that thought may be rendered inert after today.

We landed not too far from the Haddock residence. The dragons (me included) waited as Hiccup and Stoick engaged in quite an awkward conversation. As that was going on, Toothless (who was sitting on his haunches) looked next to me and asked, "how's the class with the baby dragons going?"

I chuckled back, "they're learning a bit, it is strange trying to teach dragons how to read…stranger…trying to teach them how to write if they can."

Spitfire the Nadder lowered his head toward us and squawked in response, "like me?"

"Yeah…" I admitted.

"It's fine, I don't need those things" he responded. Toothless decided to be a bit smug and asked, "how else are you going to ask Stormfly out on a date?"

Spitfire jumped at that and looked astonished, but he soon became defensive, "w-why would I do such a thing!?"

Toothless moved closer to him as the Deadly Nadder retreated a bit, "don't lie to us, I saw you with her during the Friendship Festival…you LIKE her!"

Spitfire sighed, giving up to the peer pressure from the Night Fury. I stepped in and gave a light chuckle, blocking Tooth from him, and said, "don't mind my brother here. He wouldn't know what love was if it was staring at him right in the face."

Toothless, in response…warbled in annoyance…eyes half-lidded toward me like he wanted to smack me a bit. I simply trotted toward Spitfire's side and sat on my hind legs…waiting for a response from the adult Night Fury. Suddenly, though, his confidence came back like a light switch, "I don't need that type of stuff, everyone is perfect as it is."

Before we could continue with our light-hearted banter, we heard a commotion coming up the hill: it was the twins (and they were carrying Johann the Trader!) His pain-stricken voice got the attention of Haddock and the Chieftain, "Dagur and the Skrill…they attacked…"

This statement sent chills down our spines…so it's true…Dagur has returned.

"They're more berserk than ever now…he spoke of you…Hiccup…"

Toothless, Hiccup and I soon looked at each other with despair at our expressions. Soon enough, however, Hiccup took the initiative and put on a brave face for everyone present, "we'll see what we can do."

Johann the Trader stopped him for a brief moment, looking directly at the young Berkian, and with whatever strength he had left in him the bearded man replied, "he's looking for something…you can't let him!" The boy simply nodded at this, giving a confident, reassuring face to the man.

Haddock soon gathered everyone at the academy for an emergency meeting. According to Johann: Dagur attacked his ship and took a map. It's a map that leads to a ship graveyard at the edge of the Barbarian Archipelago (a place hidden by fog.)

"So...what you want us to do is to go solve your problems, Johann?" Snotlout hissed before he was stopped by his cousin, Hiccup, "Johann, what's in this graveyard that Dagur is so obsessed with?"

"Well…"

"Just a short version if you will" Hiccup interjected. The older male looked at him specifically with great concern in his eyes, "it's where I store all my treasures…everything!"

"I-is that it?" Astrid crossed her arms, flabbergasted by the revelation.

"No, there is ONE place, one ship you must AVOID at all costs…it's called…the Reaper…"

Everyone fell silent as I leaned over and whispered in Tooth's ear, "appropriately named."

"Sounds dangerous" Spitfire gulped.

"You mean to say…exciting?" Tooth retorted.

Back to the humans, Johann explained how the ship was booby-trapped, but Hiccup smiled…he's not the least bit intimidated by the man's description.

"Alright then…let's go…unless of course the rest of you could make time out of your busy schedules to help us?"

Everyone in the group just looked at Hiccup before looking at each other.

And so, our group, for the first time in a long time, rallied and took to the skies in search of the "Reaper."

As we dove from the upper atmosphere, Hiccup moved his head closer to his best friend and then to me with a smile on his face, "isn't this just great? Just seems like forever since we all flew together!" He finished as I did a barrel roll across from Tooth-Hiccup.

"WildWing seems excited too!"

I grinned, I do miss having the others around, especially Astrid. I look behind, though, to see them all struggling, "let's see how rusty the riders are, buds."

Soon enough, Haddock tried to have the group make several formations to see if they remembered how and if they're able to adjust accordingly. Turns out, not so bad! We might have a shot at this after all, there's a bit of sarcasm hidden in there somewhere. Who am I kidding…we're basically main characters, I wouldn't be surprised if Dith one day told me this.

After a good while, we arrived at the graveyard that's filled with capsized warrior ships that were hidden in a foggy sea. It's quite unsettling, to say the least…

"I've never seen ships that looked like this before…" Astrid muttered as she and the others looked around. Hiccup nodded in agreement, he felt it was time to collect information, "alright everyone…fan out! If you happen to find any sign of Dagur, send a signal. Don't engage him alone!"

And so, the group splits up and I decide to go off on my own to look for the "Reaper." Most of the teens made quippy remarks about their situation, some were more amused by their responses than the others.

Eventually, I found something quite out of the ordinary (as out of the ordinary as this place can be) and I warbled for Toothless who hears me. He swooped in, he and Hiccup can see the ship that I found.

"I think…this must be the Reaper…good job, Wild!" Hiccup complimented me before I barked in return.

A minute later, after gathering everyone on the deck, we huddled in a circle (teens and dragons alike.)

Hiccup made a long, drawn-out, sigh, "no sign of our acquaintance, Dagur."

The twins didn't seem to understand what that last word was, Fishlegs was busy writing in a quick entry into a little journal of his, and Snotlout was trying to stick his nose into what the former was doing. Astrid noticed this and took the initiative, walking forward toward our leader, "at least we'll be ready for him if he shows up."

"So…what now?" Snotlout asked after he tried to look closer at what Fishlegs was writing; however, the latter quickly pocketed his journal, not willing to give Snotlout the satisfaction of taking it.

"We'll wait."

"Really, y-you sure that's a good idea Hiccup?" He turns to his female Gronckle, "I think this fog's making Meatlug nervous…"

"We obviously can't wait here forever…" Hofferson interjected.

The twins scratched their heads at this.

"Yeah…I don't think we brought food with us…"

"So, who are we eating first?"

"Obviously you!"

"Not if I eat you first!"

"Stop" Astrid growled at them as Ruffnut and Tuffnut both quit what they were doing. Hiccup walked toward them, "we can't leave Johann's treasure undefended."

"I think we should have put more thought into this plan, guys…how are we so sure Dagur would come…and when?" Fishlegs added.

That's when I thought to myself…what if we brought some sentries from Dragon Island? That way, if Dagur, or someone else, comes snooping around we can be ready for them. Toothless had a similar idea too. It's funny how he used to lower his head to talk to me, but now that I'm near his size we're just about equal height.

"What are you thinking, Flint?"

"Making an outpost here" I explained simply to the Night Fury. By the way, my voice deepened considerably. It had just about the same timbre as Toothless when he was fifteen years old…just slightly younger (just a little fact.)

"Sound's good, maybe the humans would be up to it."

"Not like I can just tell them" I rolled my eyes.

"Ditto" Tooth laughed back playfully.

"We can write to them though" I winked.

"There you go, using that big head of yours again, I see!" The Night Fury retorted.

"You wanna do the honors? You ought to show what you've learned so far" I asked the eighteen-year-old dragon, and he was excited by the idea.

It would have to wait, though, because we directed our attention to Hiccup, who had the idea of finding the treasure first before Dagur. It made sense that should be our first plan before we do anything else. Hiccup explained to the group with Astrid's help. We can't risk leaving and then coming back to find the treasure stolen, so Dagur could fund an army or something. Just because he was on our side (barely) that doesn't mean he doesn't have the desire to take over Berk (or worse, exact his revenge on Hiccup and Toothless.)

Then, in an amusing twist in the conversation…the twins (mostly Ruffnut) proposed we STEAL the treasure first.

"What kind of idea is that!?" Stormfly squawked in the distance.

"It's the twins, why are you so surprised?" Toothless added in.

Hiccup, however, agreed…much to the surprise of both dragons. His plan was to take the treasure back to Berk. We had to move quickly, especially when we started hearing noises in the water below. We all went to the edge of the boat to see what was in there. There are eels here!

Stormfly and the other dragons got spooked and flew off without their riders…stranding them on the ship. Sure enough, one rather large eel made its way onto the deck of the ship…snarling at us! Toothless could smell my fear, he looked behind him to see me backpedaling…completely overwhelmed with emotion.

My thoughts went back to the eels that tried drowning me…then I thought about the water that had filled my lungs…the hallucinations…the nightmares that followed…it's as if it's all happening again!

The world around me seemed to blur and I was frozen in place as if held by magic. Soon enough: I panicked…taking off to escape. Toothless almost cried out to me, but inside he knew I was better off with the others for now.

And so, the Night Fury went on the defensive…jumping in and lowering his sleek, black, form like a panther. Sure enough, he unleashed a blast toward the eel…causing it to back off and retreat back into the water. That, unfortunately, wasn't the end…

It was a big eel, the biggest one we've all ever seen and now it started to latch onto the ship to sink it. Hiccup got on his best friend to try and intervene, but the other Vikings began sliding off the deck. The others held onto Snotlout, the strongest, who managed to hold on. Astrid, however, slipped and fell into the icy waters below…

"Astrid!" Both Haddock and his dragon exclaimed. The female Berkian ended up underwater where several eels managed to find her. She took out her battle-ax in a vain attempt to hold off their advance. Thankfully, the duo dived under, and Tooth blasted away the slimy vermin.

Damn eels, Toothless thought, scowling.

Next, he pulled Hofferson out to safety…back onto the boat, which leveled evenly soon after. The fish backed off finally and it was a moment of respite. The three members of the gang panted from exhaustion…relieved that it was over for now.

"Thanks for that" she said to both Hiccup and Toothless, her voice shaken.

Then, they heard a grumbled voice in the distance, "uh, excuse me fellas…but…don't you guys think that Johann could have told us, WARNED US, about…you know…GIANT HUNGRY EELS!?"

"I guess he didn't know" Astrid mused before Hiccup nodded in agreement, "Well…with the dragons gone…we'll just stick to the plan. We'll find Johann's treasure" the leader instructed to everyone. Hic-Strid turned their attention to the larger ship not too far away: the Reaper. Sure enough, they decided to explore it.

That MUST be the Reaper…not this old rickety thing. I guess Flint wasn't right…oh well. I hope he's doing alright, Toothless thought to himself as his partner and Hofferson mounted him, and they went for the other ship.

As the trio surveyed the deck, Hiccup somehow knew that this ship was not from the barbaric regions…Toothless could smell it: wherever this ship came from, no one on it was friendly. So then, why was Johann's treasure on it?

It would have to wait.

Meanwhile, the other Dragon Riders checked out the other ship they were still on…finding hidden treasure maps, scrolls, books of many different entries, and such (Fishlegs was definitely excited by those.)

As for me, I was on top of a sea stack not too far away. There was thunder in the distance…and the rising sun was obscured by clouds. I had been quietly shaking…trying to dispel the horrible images of that fateful day on Eel Island. The only dragon nearby to see me in my state is none other than Meatlug. She hovered across from me, sensing just how distraught I was, "Flint…"

I whimpered, shielding my face with my front paws, quivering madly.

"You want to talk about it?" She asked in her calm, motherly, voice. She had known about what happened months prior and tried her best to comfort me.

I finally looked up at her…meeting her reptilian gaze, "I just…I should have listened to Toothless when I met him…"

She finally landed next to me, sitting next to me, "it's still fresh in my mind" I added. She placed a thick paw on my black, scaly, shoulder to comfort me and I guess that worked. She always had this ability to calm us down in such situations…

Between my whimpering, I said to the Boulder-Class dragon, "I can't do that…I know Toothless and the others are okay now, but I can't run off like that again…leave them in danger…abandon them like that…"

"No one blames you, Flint…nor will they" Meatlug reassured me.

With my stuttering I shake my head to her, "I-I should face my fears though…"

"And we will help you. Look dear…you saw how we fled. It wasn't just you, and Toothless and the others are strong…and so are you." Sure enough, she stood up and nudged me with the back of her front paw, "come on, let's rejoin the others-" she stopped…pupils thinning before mine do the same.

"You smell that?"

"I sure do…" I growled in response. Meatlug and I had to get back to the others, something MORE DANGEROUS is about to present itself!

Hiccup, Toothless, and Astrid had been exploring the Reaper from the inside…knowingly and unknowingly setting off old traps along the way (thankfully none of them got hurt in the process.)

The same couldn't be said for what the three found inside cages in the lower deck: corpses…dragon corpses. Dread filled Hiccup, he knew right away the people who used to be onboard this ship captured dragons…and possibly had them executed. It would explain the disappearance of those dragons on the island not too far from Dragon Island. Those reptiles were still missing, and hopefully they weren't going to meet the same fate as the poor beasts in these cages!

After making it through yet another trap, the trio finds the captain's quarters, and inside they find an item of interest: a cylinder-shaped device on the desk. Hiccup goes to grab it.

Like a scene out of any adventure film, a cascade of traps descended on them. The three quickly made their way out: eventually ending up outside again on the main deck.

There, they are met with surprise! Above them is a large gray beast…and a mysterious human who jumps down from it to meet the three. He is muscular in appearance, wearing a sleeveless brown tunic and a spiky kilt to match. The tattoos on their arms and face were hard to miss, so too is the all too familiar deranged smile on their face.

"Hiccup! Long time no see: we've missed you!"

It's Dagur…and the Skrill is with him! For Hiccup, Toothless, and Astrid Hofferson…they realized the rumors were, in fact, true after all…