As I walk back into the HTTYD X DP section I notice everything is practically untouched and covered in dust, books and pages are littering the floor.
"Wow," I mumble as I look at the mess. "Seems like this place get's abandoned every time I leave for a while."
I walk over to the bookcase I pick up a particularly dusty book. It's a tad bit older than the others. I carefully lay it down on the table and run my fingers down the spine, before finally opening it to an empty page.
Gingerly, I put a pen against the paper, gathering all the willpower I can muster up. "Alright then."
"Let's give this another try, shall we?"
A/N: You waited long enough, beta check later!
A/N UPDATE: Hello everyone! I'm Stevie - username Elite Four Stevonnie - and I'll be editing this fine masterpiece from now on. This chapter has been tweaked, small mistakes fixed, and the general flow improved. I look forward to helping more as the story grows and the plot thickens!
16. The Thor'sday tournament
The village was very lively. Sure, it was lively on a daily basis, but this! Men and women were carrying around their goods and setting up stalls, or preparing delicious smelling snacks and dishes, children were playing in the streets and crafting little souvenirs. Everyone seemed to be excited.
I was walking around in the midst of this, trying to balance out helping people, stopping arguments and reminding myself to close my mouth again every few seconds. Stoick had asked Hiccup and I to assist him to make sure the preparations for the festival went smoothly, but even though I was helping to organize it all I was still amazed.
Dragons flew overhead with colorful banners in their claws, statues were cleaned and decorated, lanterns and torches had been placed and hung everywhere. It turns out they even knew about certain chemicals changing a flame's color (though I had had to explain to Hiccup why that happened) so I was really looking forward to seeing them lit.
I looked up at a pat on my shoulder. "Well, enjoying the view?" Hiccup asked with a slight grin. I reminded myself to close my mouth once again before answering.
"Yeah, I mean, this is amazing," I answered, glancing over at a Gronkle and a little boy working together to tie a banner between two houses.
"Don't they have any big festivals anymore in the future?" Hiccup asked, suddenly looking confused.
"Oh sure, they do. And believe me, those are even bigger than this one here, but…" I held up my hand and spun my wrist a few times, indicating to my friend that I was looking for the right words. "…They don't have the same feeling to it, you know? Back home they made it a habit to make everything bigger and better and most festivals have lost their feeling of tradition and the activities feel detached from the people. Everything here feels more like a group effort and people just doing their best to make it as fun a possible and it has its own charm to it."
At this moment a large flock of dragons flew over, flying in perfect synchronous. "And another thing, we don't have freakin' flocks of majestic, flying reptiles to do out airshows!"
Hiccup laughed at this. "True that."
For a little while we just walked in silence, until I noticed the tenseness in Hiccup's shoulders. "Hey, you okay?"
Hiccup looked up with a start, then he bit his lip as he looked back down. "Just two more days til the competitions," he mumbled, fiddling with his fingers.
I sighed and put a hand on his shoulder. "Dude, we've been training for weeks, you can do this!"
"But what if I can't?"
"If you can't then you can't, the best a person can do is their best. And I KNOW you CAN do this! And even if you don't do so well in the ring you still signed up for-" I quickly tried to remember what other competitions my friend has signed up for. "-the speed competition."
Hiccup gave a loud sigh. "Stormfly is the fastest Nadder on Berk, she could easily keep up with Toothless."
"The fire contest?"
"Actually, dad has banned me from that. Since a Night Fury never misses, people have requested to disqualify them."
"See, they're too scared to let you even join."
"They're scared of Toothless, I don't need to do anything."
"There is still agility. You have to do hella lot in that."
"Gronkles are masters of maneuvering, and you are also participating."
"As if I could win against my teacher!" I exclaimed, giving him a soft punch in the shoulder.
Hiccup's lips curled up a tiny bit and a huff of laughter came out. There we go. I dragged him a little closer, giving a pat on the un-abused shoulder. "Not everyone can get in the top ten, even if they all perform perfectly. Plus people that do well in class don't always do as good in war. And you my friend are the true warrior of us."
"After you, that is," Hiccup said, his smile a little less real now.
"Nu-uh, I have ghost powers, I'm cheating." Ah, there was the genuine one again. "Now, back to work and pay attention, you might need to do this yourself when you're older."
"Don't remind me."
(Two days later)
Gosh, have I ever been this excited? I can't remember. Nervous, yes, I have been that this much many times before. But now I was mostly excited.
All the decorations, stalls, and other stuff had finally been put into place and now everything was glowing in the darkness. Even though it was night everything was comfortably lit and people were bustling in the streets, joyful chatter and laughter filling the air along with the smell of food and hot snacks. I myself was holding a buttered and baked squid on a stick in my hand and only the Gods know how many honey soaked spareribs and oatcakes had fallen to the same fate.
Hiccup had left a few hours before to get everything ready for an air show and larger dragons weren't allowed down between the stalls. At first it was a little unnerving to walk around without the company of neither him or Sparky. Sure, my Skrill friend was following from high in the air and on the rooftops, but he wasn't quite close enough to be actually considered company.
At first I thought I would just get something to eat and get somewhere more isolated where the dragon was allowed to come down, but that didn't turn out to be really necessary. Now that neither Hiccup or any of the other teens or even dragons were occupying my time and attention a lot more people would come up to me for a chat. The men and women in the stalls would offer me different samples to try, people would get my attention and start some small talk, some of them I recognized from times I helped them out in the past. Even the younger kids would pull at my shirt to get me to look at something they made or could do. To be honest, I really felt at home.
Though, I did miss my old home. Maybe once this festival was over I could convince Hiccup to go and maybe find some clues to a way back home with me. I had no idea where to start or if it was even possible to find a way back. I mean, what are the odds? But still, I had to try something.
Maybe I could dig up some more legends or other kinds of information about demons. After all, if these guys had some pretty accurate depictions of the ghosts I knew, maybe there was some way this world and the Ghost Zone had a connection, however weak the link may be.
A sharp whistling noise suddenly started, getting louder and louder.
"Night Fury!" At that word a few people flinched or even ducked down all the way, before coming back up with sheepish grins and a few good hearted chuckles. At the point where the sound was so loud that I was tempted to cover my ears, one of the huge torches lit up with an explosion of bright blue light. Loud cheers erupted from the crowd as a black shape momentarily became visible against the bright glow.
Next, dragons of various species and colors dove down, dipping what looked like metal lanterns into the fire. They must have contained specific minerals to change their fire's color, and every species had a different one. Then they flew back into formation and proceeded to fly in different patterns against the dark night sky with the fire trailing behind them.
Many 'oooh's and 'aaah's rose up into the night sky as flaming lanterns swooped low over the crowd. I was watching the whole display with wide eyes and it was only when they started hurting that I realized I hadn't blinked since the first torches were lit. People were cheering and clapping at the acrobatics performed by the various dragons, only to remember they had to use their shields every time a little bit of burning Nightmare oil fell from the huge flaming dragons. Nonetheless everyone was laughing and smiling and I almost forgot I had a job to do.
A roar from up on the rooftops drew my eyes towards Sparky, who was frantically jumping over the gaps between the houses and getting some snarls of complaint from the watching dragons that weren't included in the show.
Oh no! It was almost time, how could I forget?!
Immediately I ran through the streets and toward the edge of the village. Only seconds after I left the crowded streets did Sparky down in front of me, lowering his neck to the ground. No words needed to be exchanged. I jumped and grabbed hold of the grip on the Skrill's collar and let myself be pulled into the saddle as he took off.
"Sorry buddy, almost forgot." The dragon gave an almost irritated warble and climbed as fast as he could, scalles rattling. "Don't worry big guy, we are gonna give these guys a great show! After all, it's not every day a viking chief asks you to help open a festival."
The dragon let out a slow sigh and I felt scales charging with more electricity. I lay my own hand in his neck, adding to the current. "Come on, just a little more." In the distance I could see Toothless dropping down his lantern, picking up two closed ones and flying towards us. He pulled up next to us.
"You guys ready?" he asked, holding out one of the lanterns toward us.
"Almost." I closed my eyes in concentration and channeled just a little bit more of my power through my hand.
"Wow!" My eyes opened at Hiccup's exclamation and an extra surprised yelp from Sparky to see the scales behind the Skrill's eyes and along his neck and body had turned a fluorescent turquoise in circular spots. "Okay," I gasped out. "I was going for something else, but this is a nice surprise."
"So you should be able to do this?" Hiccup wondered as Sparky took the lantern from his hand.
"Well I'm not sure if it can work like this, but here goes nothing." I called out as I steered away from my friend.
We did the routine as practiced, swirling around each other, weaving around as if we were trying to knitting patterns into the night sky. Finally we split up and I started counting.
Powerful wings beat against the air to get far away enough, but kept their pace steady and even to make sure he wouldn't get to far away.
I pulled at the dragon's collar to make a sharp turn and I felt my stomach do a flip as our bodies twisted around at a dazzling speed. "Fire!" I called out, feeling a pulse of energy running through the dragon's body as it was redirected and shot out from between his jaws.
The Night Fury followed suite, shooting a plasma blast in our direction.
Time seemed to slow as I watched. We had trained for days to do this. Hiccup told me about the effect of a collision between a Night Fury and a Skrill. For days we had practiced timing, cues and techniques. Sparky had been training and trying so hard to generate enough power for a true electric blast. And now we would finally see if it would work.
An enormous ball of blue light exploded in the dark night sky, momentarily lighting up the entire village. It was almost as if an electric version of the sun had suddenly came down for just a second to open the festival.
Roars came from the crowd below, amazed by the display of pure power. I felt the Skill below me heave a sigh in relief, before slightly turning towards me and giving me the dopiest happy face his crocodilian face could manage.
I laughed. "Yeah yeah, I saw. That was really cool, Sparky." I stretched out a hand in between the milky white spikes and ruffled them along the smooth scales on his forehead. The dragon pressed his head further against it, gurgling in content.
I looked down as a large viking walked up to the stage and raised his hands, silencing the crowd in an instant.
It was quiet for only a second. "This Thor'sday tournament is officially opened!" Stoick bellowed, immediately followed my more cheers and yells. I found myself whooping and cheering along with them.
I was really excited for the days to come.
"So wait, can you please explain me where we have to go so urgently and why? The junior contest flying isn't supposed to start until eight o'clock."
"Just follow me already, you'll see once we get there."
I groaned a little. I had barely been awake or Hiccup had suddenly dragged me out of bed...hammock and, with a huge grin, urged me to get dressed. On top of that he had also been fussing over my jacket, been fumbling to attach my sword to my belt and was now dragging me throughout the village, people following around us with cheers and chaotic yelling.
Wow, the games hadn't even started and they were already celebrating something. And I still had no idea what was going on. Now, if there was something that I had to be part of, I wouldn't mind too much, but I at least wanted to know what I was gonna cheer about.
My eyes widened a little as we crossed the bridge to the Dragon Academy. Wasn't the speed contest supposed to be held at the harbor? Or was Stoick gonna use the stage?
It appeared that he was, seeing him standing there with Gobber at his right hand and Gothi to his left. I was dragged along as we came to stand almost right in front of the platform. I noticed Astrid standing next to us and I turned towards her.
"Psst, Astrid," I hissed, "what's going on?"
"No idea. Stoick told that he had a surprise announcement to make before we started of the games." She threw a suspicious glare at the smaller viking to my other side. Guess she hadn't been able to get it out of him either.
Suddenly the crowd started growing quieter until there was a dead silence. Looking forward I saw that the cause was Stoick's raised hand. He stayed silent for another few moments to look out over the crowd before finally taking a deep breath.
"People of Berk, you know the kind of man I am. Stubborn, proud, steadfast, a warrior, your chief and a great dragon killer." I quirked an eyebrow at that last one. Why mention that in a festival that was all about the peace with the dragons?
"And then came the day that all of that almost caused me to lose everything: My life, my people, my friends, and most importantly, my son. And that same son saved me, saved all of us, on that same day. He even saved our future, because where would we be without our scaled companions?"
"Probably still fighting and ripping off each other's limbs." Gobber piped up next to him, causing a few chuckles to roll through the crowd.
"After those events, I swore to try and listen to that son more often." Stoick continued, causing the silence to return.
"A few months ago, he brought another new addition to our family. One that would change the look of my household for the better. One that to this day has brought Berk a great deal of fortune. One that gave my son more courage to come out of his shell and even broaden his mind on his own field. One that, though he was not one of us, helped our village in healing a creature that was broken. And with today, one year ago, as the day that Hiccup changed all of our lives, I've decided to invite change once again.
"Danny, Sparks, would you come up here please?"
I stiffened when he addressed me. Wait, what? What was he gonna do? Before I knew it Hiccup was dragging at my arm again. Vikings parted and made a path, but stayed close enough to give congratulatory pats on the shoulder.
A few bruises later I found myself in front of the stage steps, and Hiccup was urging me up them onto the platform. When I heard a slightly distressed whining I was surprised to see that Toothless was trying to do the same to Sparky. I swallowed thickly before following them until the four of us stood in front of the viking chief.
The man gave me a warm smile. "Danny, like I said before, you brought us great fortune. You helped where you saw people in need. You shared knowledge to help improve our lives. You protected my son. When a chaos threatened to drag us to ruins again, you came and saved all of us, even the creature whose mind was clouded by it.
"Speaking of which." He turned to said creature, who was cowering in fear of his words even though they were calm and void of blame.
"Sparks the Skrill," he started. "We had quite the rough start, but I understand you were scared and in pain, so there are no hard feelings." Sparky seemed to relax a little at those words, though the still tried to look as nonthreatening as possible.
"What's even more, you have been a great addition to Berk. You have shown a strong sense of loyalty towards not only your rider, but also the rest of us. You have fought and worked by our side.
"And that is why," he turned so he could face the both of us and spoke up, so everyone could hear loud and clear, "from this day forward you two shall be considered as part of the viking tribe, Hooligans, and members of my household!"
Suddenly Stoick pulled something from behind his back and, before I could make out what it was, roughly put it on top of my head. The force with which it came down flattened my hair and made the object slip over my eyes. The object was hollow and metal and caused the cheering of the other vikings to echo slightly. Hiccup's cheers made me grasp for the object's edge and lift it up. I saw the boy looking at me with a huge grin while behind him Gobber was pinning a sort of medallion to the straps of Sparky's saddle, right over his heart.
I slowly lifted the object off of my head and into my line of vision. It was a helmet. Dark metal with simple white yak horns, little spikes running down the middle and the Hooligan crest engraved on the right front.
'Wait, I actually got a helmet now?' was the first thought running through my mind, immediately followed by: 'Wait, I'm a VIKING now?!'
Before I could ponder this some more, Sparky suddenly bumped into me. He practically pushed me over as he let out excited whines and chirps. He curled around me twice, rubbing his head against me all the while, before taking a step back and attempting to look it his new decoration.
I look back to Stoick in question. He just smiled at me and grabbed my shoulder and turned me around back to the hollering crowd. I jumped a little at the man's voice suddenly booming right in my ear: "People of Berk, I present to you: Danny the Determined!"
I mutely looked at all those people clapping for me, before looking back down at my helmet. 'Well, might as well join the feeling of community.' I though as I slipped the helmet back on top of my head. Now it stayed on right. As soon as I started to lower my hands I felt Hiccup grab the one on his side and raise it up, provoking yet another wave of cheers.
I slowly looked out over the crowds. Many of them were familiar faces. My friends, people I helped, children that had ran past me in their games, friendly faces that had wished me a good morning, day and evening.
And I realized that, if all else failed, this might be home as well.
I walked away from the crowds and down towards the harbor, releasing a huff of relief. Sure, I loved it when people loved me, but all the direct attention was still exhausting. After the announcement of me being a viking now, Stoick had dismissed the crowd. They had quickly left with the thought of competition on their minds.
I took my helmet off of my head again to observe the piece of robust art. It was some excellent craftsmanship; no doubt that Hiccup was involved in all this.
Speaking of which.
"You sure got out of there fast." I turned back around to see that he wasn't alone.
"Remember what I told you guys about attention?" I said with a grin. The six teens grinned right back at me before the twins rushed forward and hoisted me on top of their shoulders, chanting: "We got Danny now, we got Danny now!"
I laughed along with their antics, while the rest just gave smiles and eyerolls.
"Wow Danny, this is a real honor." Fishlegs said, giving me a joyful smile.
"I know, right!" I answered with zest. "Who would have thought I'd be a viking one day?"
"Well, yes, that is pretty great too, but that wasn't what I'm talking about. I was rather focused on the 'member of Stoick's household' part."
"Wait, what?" I looked over at the rest of the teens. Suddenly they were glancing at each other with raised eyebrows and Hiccup's smile was slowly becoming unsure.
Seeing that the rest of them were hesitant to explain, it was Astrid who eventually opened her mouth. "Danny, I don't know how to tell you this, but you've been adopted."
"Wait, WHAT?!" The twins dropped me at my sudden jerk and I could see Hiccup flinch. As soon as I recovered from the initial shock I pinned the boy with a stare.
"I-it's just," he started nervously, "It, ah, sometimes seems as if you think of yourself as a stranger in my house. You...seem to miss having your family and you just look so lonely at times, as if you don't belong. B-but you do! Practically everyone here has come to see you as one of us. We love having you at our home and Dad already pretty much sees you as a second son."
He was moving his hands wildly and the stutters and pauses between his words seemed to get longer and more prominent. He clearly feared he had accidentally done something wrong.
"So, basically, we're sorta brothers now?" I wondered, lifting one eyebrow.
"Y-you can go whenever you want!" He hasted to assure me. "If you find a way home no one will stop you from living there again! You're still a part of your own family, but I just wanted to let you see that we will be your family as well."
I spent a few more second looking at him, before finally standing and walking over to him. He immediately shrunk back with a paling face and I had a hard time keeping my face void of any emotion. With a few large paces I stood in front of him. Every single one of Hiccup's muscles were tense, and all the teens around were on high alert.
I took another step forward, grasped his shoulders and dragged the both of us to the ground. I quickly grasped the younger boy into a hug-like headlock and started grinding my knuckles through his auburn hair.
"Warn me next time you plan to pull a stunt like that, lil' bro!" I snarled out with a wide grin on my face. Hiccup was starting to struggle against my noogie, but I could just feel the weight sliding off of his chest. Around us I could hear the rest of the teens heaving sighs of relief and a few snickers from the twins.
"Aaargh! Okay okay alright! I'll warn you next time, I promise!" Hiccup crowed, still struggling.
"Hm, much better," I finally declared as I loosened my grip. Hiccup wasted no time freeing himself and getting up. I followed after with a huge grin on my face.
I still wasn't completely sure what to think about the two of us (by Viking standards) being brothers now, but I would lie if I said I didn't appreciate the gesture. So I shrugged off the weird part of it all.
"Well come on then guys, still don't wanna miss the sight of some kids screwing up agility."
Most of the week was pretty uneventful, but loads of fun. Watching how dragons competed against each other in the different categories was really entertaining and taking part was even more so. Each of us was allowed to compete in three of the categories plus the big Dragon Rumble on the last day.
Before noon, the rest of the teens and I spent our days watching and snorting over children trying to get their dragons to what they wanted. My friends seemed to mostly be there for Gustav, a boy who apparently wanted to join the Riders of Berk once he was older. His dragon Fanghook (wow, so original) was a little too old to join in most of the junior contests while his trainer was to young for the higher ranks, and the obedience course, the only one he could do, was a disaster for the most part.
Afterwards, a Terror had accidentally flown into another Nightmare's face, it had started an all out brawl. Fanghook was luckily a lot milder in temper and smarter than all the younger dragons and Gustav pulled her out of the warzone with relative ease. In the end he got first prize because his was the only dragon who listened when told to stop.
In our group, there were also some prizes won.
Snotlout managed to get third place in the fire competition, but he only got so low because Hookfang had gotten impatient with the teen's commanding.
Fishlegs had been able to snatch a nice golden medal in obedience since Meatlug was just so eager to please her rider.
Astrid had got the shining silver spot in speed and gold in fire. The golden place for speed, and agility on top, were both for Hiccup.
I myself had signed up for fire, agility and fish hunting. I had been disqualified in the last one since Sparky's electrical shocks could paralyse a whole load of fish and we could then just scoop them up. In the fire range those bolts had also proven to be a bit of a problem. They were really unpredictable and hard to aim properly, especially with a huge, highly conductive iron cage all around. After that we tried to use those weird blue bursts of fire, which was like the difference between night and day. Turns out Sparky has a wicked aim with it. We already did get a quarter through our targets though, so we got silver with only one point over Snotlout.
Agility went a LOT better than I expected.
As it turned out, even though Sparky wasn't as fast as Toothless, he is almost just as agile. When we first started training I was worried that the brisk swinging of his tail might throw him off balance. Turns out those quick swipes and lashes where the key to rapid twists and sharp turn.
We got silver.
The crowd cheered again as the two dragons collided with a loud crash of claws and scales. I would have been worried if not for the fact that I had watched this going on all day and seen not one dragon even limp.
Of course Sparky and I had joined in for the Dragon Brawls, so I knew everything was organized to be pretty safe.
First of all, dragons were just really tough creatures. Breathing fire and direct attacks to riders were absolutely forbidden. Time-outs were allowed at any time, in case the rider suspected their dragon was hurt. And just for these battles there were harnesses that protected the riders' legs, sides, and their upper arms, designed to be attached to any saddle.
Of course Sparky and I had joined in, and we had yet to lose! Now we were watching Hiccup go against Astrid. Afterwards it would be Stoick against me, Snotlout against the winner of this fight, and eventually the finale.
Both me and Hiccup were unsure wether he could win this because, well, this was Astrid we were talking about. Hiccup had done excellent this far, even without the use of fire or flight, but Astrid was just more experienced in terrestrial battle and Stormfly as a Nadder had a much faster responsiveness to minuscule signals from her rider and better mobility on the ground. The match was nail-biting to say the least.
Stormfly managed to throw Toothless off of her, quickly launching spikes his way. Toothless was fast enough to dodge those, but he was getting tired and didn't recover fast enough to get out of the Nadder's way as she rammed her head into his shoulder. He toppled over with a startled shriek. Stormfly jumped on top of him, one foot on his head, the other holding one of his hind legs, her wings trying to catch his.
The mass started counting down.
"10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 ,3-"
Not having managed to get the powerful wings under control, Stormfly got one slamming square into her chest, making her lose her grip and allowing Toothless to escape.
It had been a while since Toothless and Hiccup had managed to hold their opponents down, and the only thing they had done for the past 5 minutes had been trying to escape from the Nader's grasp.
Both dragon and boy were getting exhausted, and the crowd was half bored and half overwhelmed by how long the fight had been going on.
Hiccup actually managed to concentrate enough to make Toothless try and rush at Astrid, and Toothless was able to shake of his tiredness off and actually do it. Toothless was way too exhausted, however, and tripped over his own legs. He tried to get up, but Stormfly just rushed over and sat on him, easily restraining the Night Fury's limp wings.
"10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5-"
Toothless was still struggling, trying to get loose. He was to exhausted though, and stopped eventually because he couldn't keep it up for too long.
"4, 3, 2, 1!"
The sound of a horn echoed through the arena as cheers burst out, people chanting: "ASTRID! ASTRID! ASTRID!"
Both dragon and rider stood up tall, Astrid throwing her hands above her head in triumph. After soaking up the praise for a bit, Stormfly walked to Toothless' side and used her body to heave the black dragon back to his feet. There were a few more congratulatory cheers as the riders shook hands and walked out of the ring, side by side.
I ran over to the exit to congratulate them both.
"That was amazing you guys, that match gave me goosebumps! And you did an awesome job, Hiccup!"
"Eh, didn't really win though." Hiccup mumbled. He didn't look entirely defeated, but he was obviously tired.
"Hey! Don't be like that!" Astrid spoke sternly as she jumped off of her dragon and stomped him in the shoulder. "That was the longest match of the entire tournament. Plus Toothless isn't exactly a ground dragon, even though he is more used to walking. Now if this were an aerial battle, that would have been a lot harder for me to win!"
Hiccup managed to give a smile as he slid off Toothless' back, who hobbled over to where Sparky was enjoying the sunlight, and flopped down next to him.
"Believe me, the only way you could have disappointed me was by letting me win," she eventually admitted, as she pulled Hiccup into a crushing sideways hug.
"ATTENTION!" Stock's voice rang out over the masses. We couldn't see him from where we were standing, but his voice was loud and clear as always. "We will now have an intermission for all our contestants to recover and get their dragons ready! We will hold our last 3 battles in 2 hours! Dismissed!"
The crowd slowly started to move back to the town, wanting to get more snacks or just talk for a bit before they would have to get back to the crowded place. A few people that had been assigned to help take care of the dragons started to bring around tubs of water and fish and putting them down in front of every dragon that looked like they needed it. Hiccup walked up to Toothless as some fresh, clean water was set down in front of him.
"You did a great job out there buddy, thank you." The Night Fury gave him a weak little grin before sticking his nose into the huge wooden bowl and started lapping up his drink. "You just stay here to rest, I'll be right back."
With that he turned to me, looking a bit excited.
"Come on Danny! There is something I want to show you, and someone I would like you to meet!"
"So, a sale, huh?"
"Yeah, Johan said that the last day of the games he would bring out all the wares he has. He always brings around some interesting stuff, you have to check it out before it's all gone." Hiccup called back to me, enthusiasm in his voice. "Just… don't…get him started on one of his stories, they're not as interesting as Gobber's."
"Okay, got it," I answered with a nod as I walked up the gangway.
Hiccup wasn't kidding; there were knickknacks everywhere and just as many vikings busy investigating them. Weapons, music, and other sorts of instruments, jewellery, even some stuff that looked like machine parts. I was a little impressed by this guy's collection.
"Ah, young master Hiccup." Speak of the Devil, I guess.
I looked at the addressed boy with a grin. "Young master?"
"Chief's son," he reminded me quietly before turning to the lean, bearded man making his way to us. "Hi there Johan, how are things?"
"Oh, things are going just great, my friend! This festival has really been a joy to my wares. So many new things to spread around." Then the man's eyes fell on me. "And I guess you must be young Master Danny. Nice to meet you." He was smiling widely as he shook my hand.
"Nice to finally meet you too, I heard a lot of things about you around the village."
"All good things, I hope?"
The three of us gave a light chuckle at that. "I already heard a lot of things about you too. A strong, kind young man. Trained a Skrill on his own. Adopted by the chief himself. Completely integrated into the viking life even though he came to them as a foreigner. And may I ask, that name, Danny,"
Johan's eyes narrowed slightly as he licked his lips and formulated his next sentence.
"Might it be derived from the name Daniel?"
I stiffened. He had just spoken English. It was thickly accented, like from one of those old books Lancer made us write reports about, and for the first time in my life I was actually glad about that. It made understanding this guy a bit easier.
"How…how did you...?"
Johan's smile turned triumphant. "I travel many places outside the Archipelago, Master Danny. All the way to the British Islands. By the way, did I ever tell the story about the time I helped -"
"Uuuhm, by the way, Johan!" Hiccup quickly interrupted. "Did you bring any ink again?"
"Why of course, I always grab some extra with you in mind." Johan looked not too disappointed to have his story interrupted with a potential trade.
"Great! And how about I trade it for -"
"Another spying glass, master Hiccup?" I could hear him sigh in exasperation.
I tuned out as the two started talking about business and started strolling around the ship, looking at all the stuff. There was a nice variety of stuff from a number of cultures, but I did recognize some of the stuff from cultures along the northern European coasts.
Some objects were obviously from other viking tribes, but then there was stuff like elegant wooden tug-toys, or spinning tops. I saw the twins scavenging through a few boxes with stuff like clothes, before moving on and pulling out diamond shaped shield and hauberks. I even found a barrel on deck that held english broadswords and french rapiers. I eventually ended up at a table and wall that displayed a collection of jewellery, both simple and extravagant.
I was just idly running my fingers along a collection of necklaces on a hook when one of them caught my eye. On a leather cord hung a wooden pendant, half the size of my palm, in the shape of a raven. It was beautifully cut and I could even see tiny grooves that formed the texture of the feathers. The wood was slightly burned to give it a blackish color, yet when I ran my thumb along it there was no ash on my hands. Sam would definitely love this.
"See something you fancy?" I turned to see Johan standing there with a friendly smile. Behind him Hiccup looked a little disappointed, but Johan still had the bottle of ink in his hand. Looks like they hadn't been able to make a deal yet.
"Uhm, it's just that this reminds me of someone pretty dear to me." I answered vaguely as Johan's eyes traveled to the pendant still in my hand.
"Aha, quite a nice craft isn't it? Those Bog Burglars sure are excellent woodworkers. Would you like to get it?"
I shrugged. "I don't have any money."
"That's no problem at all," he informed we with a smile. "Most of the time I just trade different kinds of wares with the Vikings, I actually sell my wares in the coastal cities in the south. So if you have something nice you don't need or can craft something yourself you can always offer that."
'Craft something myself, huh?' I chewed my lip as I thought before blurting out a "Be right back!" and jumping over the side of the ship. I jogged a little ways to a calmer part of the docks and ducked behind one of the posts, my hand glowing blue as I got to work.
A few minutes later I looked up at the sound of footsteps and continued as Hiccup crouched down next to me. "What are you making?" he asked when he saw the soft glow in my fingers. I opened my hands a little more for him to see. I had made a tiny lily, white snow in the centre of the leaves to give it colour and tiny orbs on the surface to simulate dew.
"Do you think it's okay?" I wondered softly. Hiccup grinned.
"I bet Johan will be willing to trade half of his ship for that if you got difficult."
We were greeted by Johan again as we walked back onto the ship, his eyes going wide as he saw my work. "You - you are absolutely sure you want to trade this?" he stammered. "For a wooden pendant?"
I nodded. "Sure, I can always make another later if I want. There's a little loop on the back, so you can turn it into a necklace or weave it onto a hat or something."
"He made my armband." Hiccup piped up at Johan's look of disbelief.
"B-but still, I wouldn't feel right to trade that for this necklace." Johan mused softly.
"How about for the ink AND the necklace then?" Hiccup suggested with a hopeful smile.
Johan's eyes lit up. "Excellent idea!" He reached in a box to the side and handed me the necklace and Hiccup not one, but 3 of those bottles they were discussing over before.
"So anything else I can do for you two?" Johan wondered.
"No, maybe next time, but for now I'm good. This was just an impulsive bargain."
Johan looked a little disappointed, but didn't push. I really like this guy, especially for a salesman.
"Then, Danny would you maybe mind telling me where you come from? Your accent sounds a bit strange. Different from the the accents I've heard in the Britain harbours. Are you perhaps from a village more inland?"
I didn't even have the time to craft a good twisted truth as I could hear Ruffnut cry out.
"Wow, cool!….what is it?"
I turned to see what the twins had found and felt my entire body running cold. There, in the boy's hands, was a metal cylinder with green accents and a cup-like lid.
I could feel myself panic even more as his sister turned to see what he was holding and took interest.
"Cool, lemme see!" She took a hold of it with both hands.
"Nu-uh! I saw it first, it's mine!" He tried to pull it back.
"You didn't even buy it. Now gimme!" Pull.
"No way!" Pull.
I realized I had just been standing there, completely frozen. I quickly forced my body into motion as I ran to the twins, my arm outstretched and ready to snatch it away.
"Hey, what does this thing do?"
It opened with a hiss of cold steam.
"AAAAAARGGG, finally! Now, how long has it been."
Vesper walks over to me, looking exhausted. "Uhm, about 2 years I think. I mean, you watched Gravity Falls, Steven Universe, and played and got obsessed with Undertale. You actually thought yourself to draw humans just to make fan art of it."
"Well holly God."
"Oh, and you got accepted to an animation school, good luck."
"Holy shit," Stevie whispers as their phone screen lights up blue with a new email.
NEW CHAPTER FROM "HOW TO BEFRIEND A GHOST."
They scramble to unlock it and press the link so hard they could swear their phone cracks, and they bounce much they're almost vibrating as the page loads.
"I have no idea what's going on," Stevie realizes aloud when they finish the first few paragraphs. "It's been too long.
"Time to start from the beginning…"
A/N: Uhm, guys, I just wanna apologies for how long it took to write this, and the crappy fight scene. I wanted to write something longer, but I've been stuck on it for like, 9 MONYHS. Making it shorter and scrapping another one literally gave me the biggest relief and made me able to even finish this.
Still, I wanna thank all those wonderful people that have been messaging and reviewing in my absence, this chapter is thanks to you. I haven't been feeling that great lately and I lose energy before I can even do anything, but you guys believing in me and the thought of all the waiting fans of this story have kept me going.
Thanks, and let's hope the next chapter won't take as long.
A/N: Thanks a bunch Stevie!