I really hope that this chapter makes up for the long wait that all of you loyal readers had to go through, considering it happens to be the longest chapter that I've ever written for this story, since it has a grand total of almost 11,000 words, so please enjoy!
Chapter 17: Unfriendly Faces
Two months later. . .
Today was finally the day when Rapunzel would accompany Toothless and Hiccup on an exciting trip outside of her kingdom to discover and explore new lands with them. Rapunzel had been anticipating this trip for so long, even before her parents gave their consent for her to go, and she wasn't the slightest bit worried that they'd say no. The only request her parents made was that the trip not be too long, but Rapunzel didn't want it to be too short, so Hiccup decided that the trip would last only one week.
Neither King Frederic nor Queen Arianna felt the need to ask Hiccup to keep their daughter safe because both of them knew in their hearts he would for the entire time. They were also confident that Toothless would protect Rapunzel from any harm, not just because he was a dragon, but also from the fact she never felt scared near him. After receiving their permission two months ago, Hiccup had begun to teach the kingdom's citizens how to ride a dragon, with sometimes even giving the lessons at night-time.
Hiccup genuinely thought this was a good arrangement, and it always gave Toothless a chance to literally stretch his wings, since he never liked to be on the ground for too long. The Viking would make sure to continue the lessons after they got back from their trip, considering the fact he's only taught a small fraction of the kingdom's population. Hiccup definitely wouldn't mind it if Rapunzel kept on joining him for more flights, not only because he enjoyed her company, but because he also liked to make her happy.
Knowing that the princess had a sense of adventure only made it that much easier, and Hiccup was certain that the trip would give Rapunzel a lot of new exciting memories. Since their daughter was just going on a short trip and not moving away, her parents decided no sort of party was necessary, but they'd inform the kingdom of her absence. The King and Queen didn't want them to leave on an empty stomach, so Hiccup and Rapunzel had a quick breakfast, while lots of dried fish were stored in a roomy stowage compartment of Toothless' saddle.
Now that they were in the summertime, Rapunzel decided that she would wear the exact same outfit she had worn for her very first flight with Hiccup, since she thought it made her look like a Viking too. Rapunzel didn't want to go through the whole trip without doing her favorite activity, and to the girl's delight, Hiccup had agreed to let her bring along a painting kit, with an easel, canvas, and lots of paint. At this very moment, Hiccup and Toothless, along with Rapunzel and her family were all outside at the castle's front doors, and the Berkians simply let the princess take her time with saying goodbye to her parents.
"We're going to miss you so much, darling," Queen Arianna said while embracing her daughter. "Make sure to stay close to Mr. Haddock while you're gone." She added.
"Mom, I promise that I'll stay close to Hiccup, and I'm going to miss you and Dad too." Rapunzel replied, before eventually pulling back from the hug with her mother.
"We obviously know that you're going to tell us everything that happened on your trip, so I don't think either of us need to tell you to do that." King Frederic assumed.
"Yes, Dad, that's right," Rapunzel responded with Pascal looking on happily from the top of her shoulder. "I won't leave anything out when I tell both of you." She added.
Hiccup already had himself secured to Toothless' saddle, but he remained patient as he waited for Rapunzel, since they weren't in any sort of rush to leave on their trip. As he watched Rapunzel hug her father, Hiccup started thinking of ways that he could make the trip more fun for the princess, even though they'd be seeing new lands together. It wasn't long before an idea had come to Hiccup's mind as he smiled and his eyes widened at the same time, and Hiccup was sure that Rapunzel wouldn't hesitate to do it.
The idea was for Rapunzel to take part in Hiccup's mapping project, meaning she'd get to not only name a new land they found, but also sketch out the land on his map. Even though it's something that Astrid's done with him, Hiccup didn't think that she'd mind so much, considering that he's let other Vikings add to the map themselves. Since they were probably going to discover more than one new land during their week-long trip, Hiccup felt confident that Rapunzel would want to do a lot of sightseeing.
Hiccup wouldn't mind them having a picnic, especially because it was Rapunzel's idea, and she already made sure to pack a basket with enough food for the two of them. None of it was dried fish, since that was already meant for Toothless, so Rapunzel had packed plenty of bread, butter, and fruit, not to mention a nice and long blanket too. The Viking's train of thought came to an abrupt stop as he noticed Rapunzel walking towards him and Toothless, so Hiccup quickly held out a hand for the princess to take.
"Thank you, Hiccup," Rapunzel said kindly as she took the boy's outstretched hand and carefully climbed over the Night Fury's harness before finally setting behind Hiccup.
"Your welcome," Hiccup answered back, and then he tried his best to keep from blushing as he felt Rapunzel wrap her arms around his waist. "Are you ready?" He asked.
"Yes, Hiccup, I'm ready." Rapunzel replied while nodding her head, since Hiccup must have been able to see most of her face, considering he had his own head half turned.
"Good," Hiccup said before turning his head to the front, then leaning toward Toothless' face and patting him gently on the top of his head. "Let's go, bud." He motioned.
Rapunzel held on tight to Hiccup while Pascal held on to her for dear life once again as Toothless shot off like a rocket into the bright blue sky, leaving Corona far behind them. Hiccup made sure to have his helmet on first before they took off, since he thought it was important to keep his face and head protected, and he was proud of his helmet. Not only did it have a dragon symbol on each side, but it featured a more classic Viking design with three rows of small spikes on the top to mirror those that Toothless had.
With the helmet on, Hiccup could be able to look more formidable, but without the helmet, along with the rest of his suit, Hiccup was just the same thin and gangly nerd. Even when he wasn't wearing his helmet, Hiccup looked a little ridiculous with his helmet-hair, the silky bell-shaped cut he'd had for years was now permanently tousled and frayed by all the helmet-wearing and riding he did often, but he never made much of an attempt to neaten it up. Right now, Hiccup wasn't focused on his unkempt hair or even his spiked helmet, but on what should be the first location for their trip, but he soon thought it'd be nice of him to let Rapunzel choose.
"Hey, Rapunzel, I figured since this is technically a trip for your birthday, I'll let you decide on where we should go first, and it can be anywhere you want." Hiccup declared.
The princess obviously felt quite touched that Hiccup would let her choose their destination, and so she took a moment to think of one before finally making up her mind.
"That's very sweet of you, Hiccup, but maybe we could discover a new land first, and then after that, we can go to one of the lands from your map." Rapunzel requested.
Even though Hiccup had told her all about every single land that him and Toothless discovered in their map in the past few weeks, he still thought it really was a good idea.
"Okay, Rapunzel, that sounds like a good plan to me," Hiccup said, before he leaned closer to Toothless' face once again. "You think that's a good plan too, bud?" He asked.
Toothless snorted as he gave the Viking a grin, and Hiccup obviously knew that meant a yes, so he grinned back to the dragon before bringing his head up to the front. Usually, Hiccup and Toothless loved to do a lot of cool stunts while they were flying, but it couldn't get to happen this time, since they had company and a lot of luggage too. As much as Hiccup wanted Rapunzel to have a lot of fun, he didn't want to make her sick, so he thought it was best to leave out any dip, roll, dive, and spin from this flight. However, the Viking soon started to think if it was rude of him to assume what Rapunzel would like and wouldn't like to happen during this flight, and he decided the best way for him to actually find out was to ask her personally.
"Rapunzel?" Hiccup said, and he waited just a few seconds before speaking again. "This might be a silly question to ask right now, but are you getting bored?" Hiccup asked.
"Why would I be bored, Hiccup? This is the very first trip outside of my kingdom for me ever since I've returned home, so why would you ask me that?" Rapunzel inquired.
"We love to perform stunts when we're in the sky, such as diving and spinning, so I'd like to know if you wouldn't mind if we did some of them right now." Hiccup replied.
"If they make this flight a lot more fun, then I don't see why not, Hiccup, but I do think that Pascal should be somewhere else so we don't lose him." Rapunzel suggested.
Hiccup thought that was a good idea; Pascal might have been able to hang on every time Toothless took off into the sky for their nighttime flights, he wasn't sure that the chameleon could do the same during their aerial stunts. The Berkian knew how much Pascal meant to Rapunzel, so the last thing he wanted was for the green lizard to fall into the sea below and not be found for hours on end. Fortunately, it didn't take Hiccup that long to think of a safe place for Pascal, and even though it already had a lot of stuff inside, there must have been room for the chameleon.
"How about the stowage compartment in Toothless' saddle? It already has dried fish and your painting kit, but I'm sure there's bit of room for Pascal." Hiccup suggested.
"Great idea, Hiccup!" Rapunzel exclaimed before taking one of her arms off his waist and brought the palm of her hand up to her left shoulder, where Pascal currently stood.
"I don't want to lose you, Pascal, so I want you to stay in the stowage compartment. It's not forever, it's just until Toothless has done all of his stunts." Rapunzel informed.
As much as he didn't want to be cramped in a small space, Pascal could tell from the look on Rapunzel's face that it had to be done, so the chameleon nodded to her friend.
"I'm glad you understand." Rapunzel said kindly, then turned her head as she heard a noise, which happened to be just Hiccup opening up Toothless' stowage compartment.
Pascal didn't waste any time as he moved to the palm of Rapunzel's hand, then he stayed still as Rapunzel slowly brought her hand near the stowage compartment for him.
"Thanks, Pascal." Hiccup said genuinely just as the chameleon started to leave Rapunzel's palm, and once Pascal was inside the stowage compartment, Hiccup closed it up.
"Well, Rapunzel, both of your arms should definitely be around my waist and you must hold on tight the whole time because I don't want to lose you too." Hiccup suggested.
Rapunzel's cheeks suddenly blushed from what Hiccup just said to her, but she quickly did what Hiccup asked of her and brought her right arm around his waist once again.
"I'm ready, Hiccup." Rapunzel declared while resting her chin on Hiccup's shoulder, since she thought it was smart to stay close as possible to Hiccup during Toothless' stunts.
The princess didn't think Hiccup ever minded her chin being on his shoulder, considering that she's done it during many of their night-time flights over the past two months. Each time they were in the sky, Rapunzel always convinced herself that she did it because of the beautiful atmosphere, not because she wanted to be more close to Hiccup. From seeing an incredible view of her kingdom to feeling the wind through her hair and over her skin, Rapunzel couldn't see how anybody else wouldn't do the same thing.
Rapunzel's heart had suddenly begun to beat a little faster as she saw Toothless flap his wings more frequently, which caused the dragon to fly at a speed higher than before. Now, Toothless wasn't simply gliding anymore, and this meant he was about to do one of those aerial stunts he loved, but first, he looked up at his best friend for approval. Instead of saying a single word, Hiccup leaned toward Toothless' face again and he patted his head while giving a nod to show his dragon that him and Rapunzel were ready.
Toothless snorted happily as he brought them down much closer to the sea while flying at the same pace, and Rapunzel didn't hesitate to look at the ocean waves below. The surface of the ocean shimmered in shades of blue, as if it were a giant lake made of precious diamonds, with deep blue sapphires engraved upon its flowing surface. Light poured generously from the sun, languidly engulfing the ocean's vastness with a delicate and almost ethereal atmosphere, and it was like being inside an endless mirror.
"The ocean's so beautiful. . ." Rapunzel whispered, but not before fitting her chin between Hiccup's shoulder and neck to say it into his ear, and the temperature of her mouth made his hairs stand on end.
Hiccup felt glad that Rapunzel was enjoying the flight so far, but he knew that if he didn't respond to her right way, then she'd probably ask him if something was wrong.
"Yeah, it is." Hiccup replied softly, but he soon realized that he'd been so busy flying Toothless that he didn't actually take a moment to look at the ocean below them.
When he slowly leaned his head to the right and looked down, Hiccup's mouth suddenly went agape before he gasped, as he now felt captivated by the ocean's beauty.
"You know, Hiccup, I wish that I could do a painting of it, but I'll wait until I've found something more beautiful, because I probably will later on this trip." Rapunzel said.
"I'm sure you will, Rapunzel, considering this is a week-long trip, and the ocean's always beautiful under the sun, so it should be something very special." Hiccup reminded.
"Yes, Hiccup, but it has to be something that I haven't seen before, and I've already done paintings of myself, Pascal, flowers, birds, forests, and Toothless." Rapunzel replied.
Hearing his dragon's name caused Hiccup to look back on the time when Rapunzel requested to do a painting of the Night Fury, and fortunately, Hiccup didn't turn her down. It had been the day just after the Berkians' first day in Corona, and Rapunzel told him the reason why is because she suddenly felt inspired by his chalk drawing in the streets. Since she was obviously going to do the painting on a canvas, the activity took place inside the castle, and especially in a room that was big enough not only for Toothless, but for Rapunzel to set up her canvas on a easel.
Hiccup had almost asked Rapunzel if she wanted to do a painting of him, but he decided that would happen for another time, so Hiccup kept the idea to himself back then. However, the Viking went ahead and requested if he could do a drawing of Rapunzel sometime in the near future, and Rapunzel said yes as she smiled and gave him a hug. When Rapunzel had finished her painting of Toothless, it turned out to be a recreation of their chalk drawings, but with Hiccup, Rapunzel, and Pascal all on Toothless' saddle.
"Speaking of Toothless, that painting you did of him with the lanterns was amazing, Rapunzel, and it was really nice that you included us and Pascal." Hiccup complimented.
"Thanks, Hiccup, and I knew that my parents would love it too, so I showed it to them after the paint was dry, and they were both really proud of me." Rapunzel answered.
Hiccup was about to respond when he noticed a herd of titan-wing Thunderdrums swimming in the distance, so he thought it was a good chance for them to do a cool stunt.
"Rapunzel, I hope you're hanging on tight," Hiccup said, before looking down to see Rapunzel's arms still wrapped around his waist. "We're about to do a roll!" He announced.
Toothless had already spotted the group of Thunderdrums, but it wasn't until Hiccup said something that the dragon knew his best friend wanted them to do of their stunts.
"I don't want Rapunzel to get soaked, so it has to be quick. Okay, bud?" Hiccup requested, and Toothless burbled out a 'noooooo' type sound that Hiccup knew meant 'yes'.
Rapunzel couldn't resist letting out a gasp in astonishment as she finally saw the Thunderdrums for herself, as it felt excellent to see another dragon so early into their trip. The princess already knew that they were Thunderdrums since Hiccup had told her all about them back in Corona, as well as every other dragon that he and Toothless encountered over the past five years. Before she even took a chance to talk about the Thunderdrums with Hiccup, he locked Toothless' tail into gliding position, and Rapunzel squealed in excitement and held on tightly to Hiccup as Toothless did a barrel roll.
Pulling off that daring maneuver had caused the Night Fury to get low enough and dive right under the wing of a Thunderdrum, while Hiccup and Rapunzel got sprayed by the surf as a result. It was only small droplets of water from the sea, so both of the young adults knew that there was no need to make a big deal out of it, since their clothes were completely clean. Rapunzel took a bit of time to relax herself by taking a few deep breaths, but when she brought one hand to her heart, the princess' eyes widened as it was still pounding heavily in her chest.
Rapunzel quickly wondered if whether she should wait until they were all on solid ground before asking Hiccup for more information about the history between his father and a Thunderdrum he named Thornado. Just as Rapunzel decided to wait on asking him, she noticed that they were now heading toward the sky and the ethereal cloud-scapes in the thinnest part of the atmosphere. It seemed like Hiccup wasn't planning to have Toothless slow down for Rapunzel to touch and feel any of the clouds surrounding them, but the princess didn't mind not having the chance, considering that she's done it many times in the past.
"Hang on for this, Rapunzel!" Hiccup instructed, and before she could ask him to be more specific, Toothless flew upside down for about three seconds, which caused Rapunzel to squeal once again while holding on for dear life.
The dragon soon returned to flying the right way up, but still remained as fast like a rocket as he flew in between the clouds around him, and this lasted for another few seconds before Toothless climbed higher into the air. For the third time on this day, Rapunzel squealed as the Night Fury did a tight, dizzying spin, and the princess started thinking about how Hiccup could be able to do this stunt without feeling sick to his stomach afterward. Instead of doing a squeal once more, Rapunzel let out a loud whoop and hung on to Hiccup tightly as Toothless fell down from the sky with his back to the clouds below them, and he did another spin before flying the right way up again.
"Hey, Rapunzel, bring out your arms!" Hiccup requested, and the young woman looked at Hiccup as if he'd lost his mind, since they were now flying upside down again.
Hiccup didn't even wait for Toothless to fly the right way up before extending his arms out, and making it appear as if he was a dragon just like his black, scaly best friend. When Rapunzel looked around, she started to understand why Hiccup had his arms outstretched on each side; another group of dragons was flying near them in the sky. These high-flying dragons obviously looked much different than the Thunderdrums in the ocean; they had no legs, but a woody brown colored body, along with a long slender neck. It didn't take long for Rapunzel to realize that they were Timberjacks, who were known for being able to collect and chop up wood, use oil based fire, and make tents out of their wings.
Rapunzel quickly looked down to see that Toothless had his wings out completely just like this group of Timberjacks around them, like they were all soaring in formation together. The princess eventually closed her eyes and Rapunzel took a deep breath before slowly taking both of her arms off from Hiccup's leather-clad waist and extended them out. When she opened her eyes, Rapunzel gasped as she felt like she was actually flying too, with her arms staying up like wings and nothing in her field of vision but the bright blue sky and fluffy white clouds, as well as gigantic dragons and Hiccup.
"I'm doing it, Hiccup! I'm flying!" Rapunzel exclaimed as she leaned forward and arched her back, while Hiccup couldn't help but smile from hearing the joy in her voice.
It made Hiccup feel so overjoyed to know that Rapunzel was now experiencing the exact same feeling that he got every time that him and Toothless did these flights. The weightlessness, the thrill that zapped through his guts and bones, it was as addictive as a drug, and even though he'd been doing this for years, Hiccup never got tired of it. There was one more thing that Hiccup wanted to show Rapunzel, but he thought it'd be much better to do it way up here in the sky, so that it could actually leave an impression on her.
"Hey, Rapunzel?" Hiccup said, then waited a few seconds before speaking again, while Rapunzel still kept her arms up. "I'd really like to show you something." He added.
"Sure, Hiccup, what is it?" Rapunzel asked as she couldn't resist becoming more curious about what Hiccup wanted to show her, and she wondered if it'd be something new.
"It's a stunt that I can do with my flight suit, but it requires for me not to be on Toothless, so could you be able to hold on to his saddle the whole time?" Hiccup inquired.
As much as she wanted to say yes, Rapunzel believed that Hiccup should at least give her a lot more details about this stunt before she gave her approval for him to do it.
"If you don't mind, Hiccup, could you please tell me more about the stunt, because I think it'd make sense for me to know more before you actually go through with it." Rapunzel replied.
Rapunzel hoped that Hiccup wasn't too bothered by her request, but fortunately, that didn't seem to be the case, as she noticed Hiccup grin before nodding his head.
"You see these?" Hiccup asked, not before pulling up a thin, flexible leather wing attached along each side from his calves, up to his waist, and then just below his wrists.
"This is my own pair of wings, Rapunzel, and if my arms are spread out in the air, then I can soar like a dragon, although I can't flap and fly, but gliding's good enough, especially since it's all Toothless can do without me as well. My flight suit's most stabilizing feature is the dorsal fin." Hiccup explained.
After he said this, Hiccup pressed the release button, triggering the fin to pop up, and inadvertently causing Rapunzel to lean back from being struck by it in the chest, but it wasn't so hard that it actually hurt.
"I've tested the wings out before with varying results, and it's getting close to perfect, the only problems are the landings. I constantly lose height while gliding, so I have to be lifted momentarily by Toothless firing plasma blasts beneath me. Eventually, Toothless has to grab me or get under me, otherwise we'd both crash very sloppily, so what do you say, Rapunzel, could we show you the stunt?" Hiccup asked.
Even though he's done a lot of stunts already, Rapunzel couldn't think of any reason to turn down Hiccup's request, considering now seemed like the right time to do it.
"Yes, Hiccup, you can show me." Rapunzel answered, but she waited until Hiccup reeled the dorsal fin back in with the sensitive spring coil, which only took a few seconds.
"Great!" Hiccup exclaimed, and he quickly pushed down the saddle's handlebars, locked Toothless' tail into gliding position, and unhooked his metal foot from the stirrup.
"Just remember to always hang onto the handlebars right here." Hiccup instructed, and Rapunzel immediately leaned her head to see exactly what he was talking about.
"Okay, I got it." Rapunzel responded, while she started to feel sad that she wouldn't get to hold on to Hiccup for much longer, while the majority of her felt very anxious.
"Ready, bud?" Hiccup asked Toothless, who only snorted unenthusiastically, and just a few seconds passed before Hiccup slid sideways off of his dragon and into the sky.
Rapunzel's mouth went agape as she watched Hiccup's plummet, but her eyes got even wider as she turned her head, moved forward and grabbed onto the handlebars. It was a good thing Rapunzel remembered to do that because Toothless dove after Hiccup, and she couldn't resist squealing from the direction and speed they were going. The princess held on tightly as the Night Fury did a few twirls before reaching Hiccup, who grinned at Toothless behind his mask and the dragon returned the gleeful look.
Even though she's gotten a thrill every time Toothless has flown upside down, Rapunzel had to let out a sigh of relief when the dragon returned to flying the right side up. Hiccup slipped his forearms through a pair of tucked leather straps along his legs and pulled at the straps, which unleashed his wings right when he extended his arms out. His wings caught the air and Hiccup was suddenly lifted by a hundred feet so that he was once more above the clouds, while Toothless unfolded his own wings to catch up.
Rapunzel let out a short squeal right when this happened, and with a quick tap to his chest, Hiccup's dorsal-fin was out, and there he simply was, soaring among heaven. The freedom was palpable, and for the moment, everybody except Pascal was feeling the same rush of adrenaline, as Hiccup and Toothless plunged over cloud formations. Impressive as it was, Hiccup was gliding at a steep angle, and Rapunzel watched as Toothless launched fireballs ahead of Hiccup, which boosted the Viking higher with the expanding heat bursts.
"Whaddya think, Rapunzel? Isn't this amazing?" Hiccup asked, while making sure to speak loud enough for the princess to hear him, and he really hoped that she did.
Before she could say a word, a previously unseen landscape appeared right in front of them, a series of high, tottering rock formations that Hiccup was about to smash into.
"No longer amazing! Toothless!" Hiccup shouted as he tried to steer himself away to no avail, while Rapunzel's eyes widened and she gasped and at the sight before her.
Close calls occurred all the time, but as long as Toothless was around, Hiccup felt safe, but the Berkian's own eyes went wide as he remembered Rapunzel was with them. The last thing Hiccup wanted to happen right now was for Rapunzel to get hurt from the rock formations, so he quickly started thinking of a plan that would protect her. Only a few nanoseconds passed before Hiccup came up with an idea, and even though Rapunzel probably wouldn't like it, he didn't currently have anything else in mind.
"Toothless, bring Rapunzel to me!" Hiccup ordered, and the Night Fury instant poured on the speed despite his tailfin still being locked, and Rapunzel sitting on top of him.
The locked tailfin made maneuvering difficult for Toothless, since he was unable to pull up at a steep enough angle, but he had no idea of the next thing Hiccup would say.
"Rapunzel, sit on Toothless' head!" Hiccup instructed loudly, and Rapunzel didn't bother to ask him why as she moved herself up until she was on top of the dragon's head.
The princess couldn't resist wondering how she'd be brought over to Hiccup while still being up in the air, but she wasn't anticipating the solution that Toothless had in mind. Rapunzel became a little confused when the dragon brought his head down as low as possible, then suddenly raised it up, sending her flying off his head and toward Hiccup. At the last second, Toothless blasted the jagged rocks just ahead of them, then managed to catch Rapunzel, and wrap her and Hiccup in his wings as they flew through it.
The obliterated peak rained down around them as Toothless emerged through the cloud of debris from the rock formation and hurtled into the trees of a neighboring peak. Toothless tumbled down the uneven terrain, and finally came to rest on a small plateau, and only a few seconds passed before Hiccup emerged from the cocoon of Toothless' wings. Hiccup switched his prosthetic riding foot to his walking foot, stowed his leather wings, reeled in his dorsal fin and removed his spiked helmet all in less than a single minute.
He was about to walk over to the cliff's edge when he suddenly wondered if Rapunzel was okay after being caught by Toothless, and he quickly went back to where she was. His eyes widened as he saw that Rapunzel was unconscious and he didn't think that he could live with himself if Rapunzel had gotten hurt as a result of their actions earlier. The reason why Toothless hadn't moved is because Rapunzel was laying down against his chest, and Hiccup gently picked her up in his arms and he was relieved to know that she wasn't too heavy.
"Rapunzel?" Hiccup said softly, while hoping that the sound of his voice would be enough to wake her up, and not something drastic like having Toothless roar in her face.
Even though he heard the sound of a sea stack they'd blasted through collapsing in the background, Hiccup didn't bother to notice, since Rapunzel's condition was his only concern right now. He knew that he'd probably lose the trust of Rapunzel's parents if they lost their daughter permanently because of him during this trip, so Hiccup prayed to the gods that Rapunzel would wake up. To the young man's relief, Rapunzel's face started to stir a bit before her eyes opened up completely, and it didn't take her long to realize she wasn't standing on her two feet.
"Hiccup?" Rapunzel's cheeks began to develop a red shade from how close Hiccup's face was to hers, but she still had a question. "Why are you carrying me?" She asked.
This caused Hiccup to blush himself, not only because their faces were in close proximity to each other's, but from the fact he was still carrying the princess in his arms.
"Oh, Rapunzel, I'm sorry!" Hiccup replied before carefully letting her down. "I only did it because you weren't awake and still leaning against Toothless' chest." He added.
"Well, thanks, Hiccup," Rapunzel said, then her eyes widened as something came to mind. "I think we can let Pascal out that of stowage compartment." She suggested.
"Yeah, that's a good idea." Hiccup responded, now believing that Pascal had been kept inside the dragon's stowage compartment long enough, and so he walked over to it.
With one hand, Hiccup opened up the stowage compartment, then he held up the palm of his other hand so that Pascal could come on top without falling on the ground. After the chameleon finally came out to stand on his palm, Hiccup closed the stowage compartment before getting up on his feet and making his way over to Rapunzel. The girl stood absolutely still and watched as Hiccup brought his palm right next to her left shoulder, and Pascal didn't waste any time in moving onto that spot once again.
"So, Rapunzel, how would you and Pascal like to see the view?" Hiccup suggested, then held out a hand for Rapunzel, but not before stepping back to give her some space.
Instead of saying a word, Rapunzel only smiled and nodded her head before taking Hiccup's hand in hers, and she stayed close to him as they walked over to the cliff's edge.
"What do you think?" Hiccup asked, and he felt like he already knew Rapunzel's answer after he'd taken a glance to see the girl's mouth go agape before she made a gasp.
In front of them was a whole new landscape, one they'd never seen before in their life; tall cliffs and sea-stacks adorned with swaying gold birch trees basking in the dappled afternoon sunlight, and white looming mountains in the background.
"Looks like we found another new land." Hiccup said with pride clearly in his voice, and he was already eager to get out his map, but instead, he turned to face Rapunzel.
Rapunzel's eyes widened a little as she believed that Hiccup wasn't referring to just him and Toothless, and she quickly looked down to see they were still holding hands.
"It's beautiful, Hiccup, and we may have crashed on this island, I'm completely fine, so you don't have to hold my hand, it's not like I'm gonna jump." Rapunzel replied.
"I know you won't, Rapunzel, but it's just that I promised myself to keep you safe during this trip, so I'm only making sure that you don't slip and fall." Hiccup explained.
Rapunzel was very touched to know that Hiccup was making her safety as a top priority for him, and she actually did feel a little more safe with Hiccup holding her hand. The princess started to blush while realizing that her face was dangerously close to Hiccup's once again, and the pair drew ever nearer, closer and closer, until finally. . .Hiccup flinched as a pebble suddenly whacked him on his head, which caused Rapunzel to gasp and they both looked back to Toothless who quickly averted his eyes. It couldn't have been Pascal, since Hiccup was the one who'd kindly brought the chameleon back on Rapunzel's shoulder, and the pebble was definitely thrown from a distance.
"Hey, bud, why'd you do that?" Hiccup asked as he rubbed the back of his head while he and Rapunzel walked away from the cliff's edge, but still held her hand in his own.
Rapunzel started to believe that Toothless was upset with Hiccup for not acknowledging the fact that the Night Fury saved their lives and he didn't even get a thank you.
"I think I know why, Hiccup," Rapunzel said, and she waited until the Viking faced her before speaking again. "We wouldn't be standing here if it wasn't for him." She added.
Hiccup had to admit Rapunzel did have a point there, and besides, there have been many times when Hiccup could've been hurt or worse if Toothless hadn't been with him.
"You're right, Rapunzel," Hiccup said in agreement, then he slowly untwined his thin fingers out from Rapunzel's own slender fingers. "I'm gonna thank him right now."
Rapunzel kept quiet and watched as Hiccup walked over to where Toothless sat, and it wasn't until he stood right in front of the dragon that he stopped right where he was.
"Hey, bud, thanks for saving us earlier, and I'd like you to know that I really appreciate every other time that you've done it for me." Hiccup said, expressing his gratitude.
Toothless knew that he couldn't stay at Hiccup forever, especially since he could tell from the boy's tone of voice that he was genuinely sincere and also meant every word.
"So, can I now have a hug?" Hiccup asked, and as soon as he saw the Night Fury nod his head to him, Hiccup quickly tackled the dragon and tugged him around the neck.
Rapunzel smiled while putting a hand to her heart because she was obviously touched by the moment happening in front of her, but she continued to stay silent for them.
"Since we're being honest, we really gotta work on your solo gliding, bud. That locked-up tail makes for some pretty sloppy rescue maneuvers, eh?" Hiccup told the dragon.
It seemed like Hiccup had ruined the moment by saying that, as Toothless suddenly made a deep frown before standing on his hind legs, lifting Hiccup off of his flailing feet. Rapunzel could only wonder what the Night Fury was doing exactly, but she quickly stepped aside when Toothless stumbled forward with the very same tottering walk he'd copied from Hiccup on the first day they'd bonded all those years ago. The princess instantly realized that the dragon was just trying to get back at Hiccup for what he said earlier, since Toothless must have thought it wasn't a very nice remark, and she had to agree on that, considering she heard it loud and clear.
"Bud, where are we going-" Hiccup immediately knew the answer to that question as he looked over his shoulder and one of his hands slipped off his friend's smooth hide.
There was a long, precipitous drop down below to nothing but rocks and ocean, and Hiccup was dangling right over it, so he though it was best to concede defeat right now.
"Okay, I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" Hiccup shouted, but not before yelping at the sight of the drop, and as he continued to slip, he could also feel Toothless vibrate with laughter.
The dragon continued to laugh as he finally backed away from the treacherous drop and flipped them over so that Hiccup was now lying down with his back on the ground.
"Hiccup! Are you okay?" Rapunzel asked as she ran over to where Hiccup was and quickly crouched down to get closer to him, but not too close so he still had some space.
"Oh, yeah, Rapunzel, I'm fine," Hiccup replied while briefly waving a hand to her. "My best friend just hung me over a cliff, but I'm still in one piece." He added sarcastically.
Rapunzel knew that Hiccup wasn't being serious or even making a joke for that matter, but she still couldn't help but giggle for a bit since she thought it was a little funny.
"What's so funny?" Hiccup asked, as he could be able to hear Rapunzel's giggles since she was right next to him, even though she was covering her mouth with one hand.
"Just the fact that your dragon is still on top of you." Rapunzel answered before giggling again, and Hiccup took this as a chance for him to have some fun with Toothless.
"He's down! Agh, and it's ugly!" Hiccup declared while throwing mock punches at the Night Fury, and Toothless playfully retaliated by making feline taps to Hiccup's head.
Rapunzel had already stood up on her feet, taken a few steps back and she looked on as Hiccup batted playfully at his stronger companion, fondly kidding around with him. Toothless and Hiccup might be two entirely different species, but they really were like two adorable twin brothers, play-fighting with only the utmost love at the moment. Their bond had truly become unbreakable with all the adventures they had of soaring through the skies and above the sea to discover uncharted lands and new territories.
"Dragons and Vikings, enemies again, locked in combat to the bitter-" And that's when Toothless had dropped his large weight onto Hiccup, squeezing the air out of him.
Even though Rapunzel's eyes widened a little upon seeing this happen, she knew that Toothless wasn't really trying to hurt Hiccup, and he'd only done it just to have fun.
"Hiccup, are you okay? Rapunzel asked concernedly, and instead of saying a word, Hiccup slowly made a smile before raising one of his hands before giving a thumbs up.
Rapunzel let out a sigh of relief, but before she could say something, Toothless then suddenly started to groom Hiccup by licking at his face and covering him in slobber.
"Gaaaaagh!" Hiccup cried out as he fought to get free while Rapunzel couldn't resist giggling again, but she made sure not to be too loud so that Hiccup couldn't hear her.
"You know that doesn't wash out." Hiccup reminded the Night Fury, but not before finally springing to his feet and shaking off as much of the viscous saliva as he could.
Toothless began to laugh, as he was obviously pleased with himself, but he stopped when he got hit in the face with some of his saliva, and he started to lick himself clean. As the dragon's saliva dried on his flight suit, Hiccup brought his attention back to the new land that was stretched out before them, then he reached beneath his chest plate and took out a leather-bound book. Hiccup unfolded and flattened it out to reveal an explorers' map, modified with added strips in every direction to accommodate their ever-expanding world as the drawings indicated new lands, new tribes, and many new dragons.
Rapunzel stayed quiet and watched as Hiccup peeled a fresh page of paper from a hidden fold in the flap under his right gauntlet and held it out for Toothless to lick with that otherwise-useless saliva to glue a new section onto the map in the far southeast. Even though Hiccup had already shown his map to Rapunzel many times in the past two months, seeing the map always left her in awe and a little bit envious of Hiccup for getting to have so many adventures over the past five years. Hiccup affixed the moistened page to the map's outer edge, then he sharpened his charcoal pencil with a dagger from his left gauntlet, and checked his compass for alignment.
"So, what should we name it?" Hiccup asked before turning his head to face Toothless, who quickly made himself preoccupied as he gnawed under his wing for a moment.
It didn't take Hiccup that long to think of a name upon seeing that, and it usually never took him a while, and so the name that came to his mind this time was "Itchy Armpit". Hiccup had clearly inherited the Viking propensity for giving terrible names to things, although he didn't realize it, even though he should have realized it ever since he named Toothless. He was about to declare that "Itchy Armpit" be the name of the new land when he noticed Rapunzel sit down next to him, and he began to wonder if she had a name in mind.
"Rapunzel?" Hiccup said, and it wasn't until Rapunzel faced him before he spoke again. "We found this land together, so what do you think the name should be?" She asked.
The princess quickly got up on her feet and walked closer to the cliff's edge, since having another good look of the landscape would really help her to come up with a name.
"Foggy Fall." Rapunzel announced proudly while being loud enough for Hiccup to hear her, but she thought it was necessary to explain to Hiccup why she choose that name.
Toothless and Hiccup both kept their eyes on Rapunzel as she made her way back over to them, then sat down on the same spot near Hiccup's side before speaking again.
"I can tell the trees have the same colors as the trees you see in the fall, such as red, orange, and yellow, and they're all surrounded by a thick fog." Rapunzel explained.
Hiccup had to admit Rapunzel's name for this new land was a lot more creative and than Toothless' name, even though they named many new lands together in the past.
"Hey, bud?" Hiccup said as he turned to look at Toothless, who quickly gave his attention upon hearing his nickname. "You don't mind if we use Rapunzel's name?" He asked.
When the dragon only tilted his head, Hiccup believed that Toothless didn't really understand his question, so he knew that he had to be more specific for the Night Fury.
"I don't mean that we call the land "Rapunzel", but "Foggy Fall", and the name makes more sense, with the autumn trees and the fog around them." Hiccup explained.
Hiccup began to assume that Toothless must have been upset when he didn't respond, but kept his eyes on the dragon as he made his way over to where Rapunzel sat.
"So, Toothless, do you like the name I came up with?" Rapunzel asked curiously while she reached out slowly to stroke Toothless, who soon was purring at the girl's touch.
"I'm guessing that's a "yes"." Hiccup said before he started to carefully draw Foggy Fall's outline as he still felt the energy he got from their adrenaline-fuelled flight and silly playtime with Toothless.
Eventually, a smile appeared on Hiccup's face as he felt quite astounded by Toothless' affection for Rapunzel once again, and he'd become very happy to see them get close. Hiccup always became amazed every time he remembered it was only two months ago that they met for the first time, but managed to have a strong bond ever since. The dragon rider believed that if he didn't say something, then it would soon become awkward between the three of them, so he cleared his throat first before speaking.
"Whaddya reckon, bud? Think we might find a few Timberjacks in those woods? The odd Whispering Death or two in the rocks? Who knows. . .maybe we'll finally track down another Night Fury." Hiccup supposed.
Hearing this from his best friend had suddenly caused Toothless to stop purring and start sniffing hopefully at the map while a question instantly came to Rapunzel's mind.
"You've never found any Night Furies?" Rapunzel asked curiously while looking at Hiccup, who only shook his head as he continued to stare off blankly into the distance.
Five years, they'd been looking for any possible trace of more Night Furies, and. . .nothing. Were they really that rare? Sure, the Berkians had classified them as Mystery class for so long, but he'd assumed that was just because they were stealthy and elusive and never came close enough to being taken down. It worried Hiccup, though he'd say no such thing to Toothless. They'd just have to keep looking. Stubbornness and perseverance, he had in spades.
"Hiccup, I'm sure that there's more of them out there," Rapunzel encouraged as she slowly placed a hand on his chest. "Maybe you haven't searched far enough." She added.
Rapunzel was tempted to kiss Hiccup on the cheek, but she decided not to do that when she remembered that Hiccup didn't wipe off any of Toothless' slobber from his face.
"Maybe you're right, Rapunzel, but. . ." Hiccup trailed off as he eyed the horizon keenly. "Y'know, there is something out there right now, and it's not a Night Fury." He added.
The princess gave Hiccup a questioning look as she wondered what he meant by that, but it seemed like she knew the answer right away when she turned to see what he was looking at. A column of black smoke rose in the distance, and since their interest was obviously peaked from seeing this, Rapunzel and Hiccup didn't see why they shouldn't go and investigate. Toothless quickly got up on all fours while Hiccup took his map from off the ground and folded it up before putting it back into his chest plate before he stood up on his feet and got on Toothless.
After he'd done that, Hiccup kindly held out a hand for Rapunzel to take, and once they were both sitting on Toothless with her arms around his waist, they took off into the unknown. They flew over the fjord, winding deep through undulating crimson and gold forests until the autumn colors suddenly gave way to charred timbers with nothing but ash and wafting smoke. Rapunzel started to feel a little uneasy from seeing these tall spindly black skeletons were all that was left of massive sections of the forest, but it only made her much more curious.
Hiccup and Toothless flew deeper through the hazy terrain until they happened upon something the likes of which none of them have ever seen before: a massive, splintered tower of blue ice. The sight of this icy explosion caused everyone's eyes to widen in astonishment, but Toothless continued to fly closer and go through the suspended remains of the buildings, which were frozen in mid-destruction. Toothless spotted a pair of footprints that were practically the size of houses left in the muddy shoreline below, and Rapunzel seemed to notice them too, and gently patted Hiccup's shoulder to get his attention.
"I think a dragon might have done this, Hiccup," Rapunzel assumed before she pointed to the large footprints in the mud. "You see those footprints down there?" She asked.
"Yeah, Rapunzel, I see them, but honestly, I don't just want to know what kind of dragon it was, I'd really like to know what would cause a dragon to do this." Hiccup replied.
As they crested the ice formations, Hiccup became so deep in thought that he didn't notice a crew of men at the stern of a moored ship below, but Rapunzel did spot them.
"Hiccup, look out!" Rapunzel shouted as she quickly pointed to the crew, and Hiccup saw that a few of these men were standing right behind a stern-mounted cannon.
"Fire!" One of the men shouted, and a projectile was instantly fired from the cannon, and it soon unfurled into a net, which was fast-approaching Toothless and Hiccup.
Although the Viking and his dragon had managed to dart out of the way, Rapunzel wasn't quite so lucky as she got tangled in the net, causing her to fall off of Toothless.
"Rapunzel!" Hiccup exclaimed, but not before he turned around to catch sight of Rapunzel hurtling toward a collision, and he pulled Toothless into a turn and dove for her.
The dragon managed to grab onto the net with his claws, but since Rapunzel was still caught in the net and falling at such a great speed, they only went down with her. Hiccup really didn't know who these men were, but he believed that they didn't shoot this net to catch a princess, and they probably didn't even know who Rapunzel was. If that was the case, then Hiccup needed to take a leap of faith that these men wouldn't hurt Rapunzel if she fell into their clutches, so he had Toothless let go of the net.
He figured that once those men had gotten Rapunzel out of that net, then he and Toothless would get her back and they'd just fly away and simply return to their trip. When they circled back, Hiccup was a little relieved to see that Rapunzel didn't hit the ground and she'd been caught by these men who were now starting to get her out of the net. Hiccup became a lot more angry and disappointed that these men refused to let Rapunzel go even after she was finally free from the net that was shot at them recently.
"Stop!" Hiccup shouted as Toothless landed on the splintered platform with a ferocious roar, and it didn't take long for most of the men to draw their weapons at them.
Hiccup quickly got off Toothless and bravely stepped forward before taking out and igniting Inferno, and it seemed these men were impressed from the looks on their faces.
"Back again?" This question came from a large, raven haired man, who Hiccup assumed was the leader of what looked like a group of Sámi men from the clothes they wore.
There was no doubt in Hiccup's mind that these men were dragon trappers, so he knew they'd want to get Toothless, since their leader had begun staring at the dragon.
"Soil my britches. . .that is a Night Fury. Thought they were all gone for good." The leader said before taking a glance at Rapunzel before turning to face Toothless again.
"Looks like our luck's had a turn for the better, lads! Don't think Drago has one of those in his dragon army." The leader told his fellow dragon trappers, who all sounded out in agreement.
"Dragon army?" Rapunzel said quietly in a confused tone before she tried to get herself out of the dragon trapper's grasp, but to no avail, since her own arms were stuck under the man's big arms.
"Look, we don't want any trouble." Hiccup said as he still hoped these men could be reasoned with, despite the fact that each of them, including their leader, looked very unfriendly.
"Ha! You should've thought of that before you stole all of our dragons and blasted our fort to bits!" The leader shouted before pointing up to the icy destruction above them.
"Wait. . .you think we did this?" Hiccup asked, and he almost felt tempted to tell these dragon trappers they were in Corona, but decided not to, since he didn't want to risk putting Rapunzel's family and all their citizens in any danger.
"Dragon trapping is hard enough work as it is, without do-gooder dragon riders sneaking in to rescue them." The leader revealed while still sounding as hostile as ever.
"What do-gooder. . ." Hiccup trailed off as he took a moment to take in what the leader of dragon trappers had just told them. "There are other dragon riders?" He asked.
"You mean, other than your thieving friend from last night? You tell me." The leader said as he walked a little bit closer to Hiccup, while Toothless snarled protectively.
You may have an ice-spitting dragon on your side, but we still have a quota to fill. How do you suppose we explain this mess to Drago Bludvist?" The leader inquired.
"Drago what-fist? Does anything you say make sense?" Hiccup replied as he now thought that everything he'd been told so far from this man was all kinds of weird.
"He's expecting a new shipment of dragons for his army by tomorrow." One dragon trapper informed, while another told them "And Drago don't take well to excuses."
"This is what he gave me last time I showed up empty-handed." The leader said, but not before he parted his tunic, revealing a large branding-iron scar on his torso, in the shape of a dragon skull, split by a sword.
Seeing this scar caused Hiccup to grimace, and the expression on Toothless' face didn't change at all, while Rapunzel couldn't help but feel some sympathy for the man. It also made Rapunzel start to believe this leader of dragon trappers didn't really like working for this Drago Bludvist at all, but was more in the job out of fear than loyalty. Rapunzel was actually tempted to ask him if that was the truth, but he'd probably just deny it, and the man who was currently holding her tightly would most likely tell her to be quiet.
"Look, we don't know anything about a dragon thief, or an ice-spitting dragon, or your lunatic boss and his dragon army, okay? Just let go of my girlfriend and we'll . ."
Hiccup suddenly froze from what he just said as his eyes widened and his cheeks began to blush, and he turned to see that Rapunzel had the exact same look on her face. The Viking wanted to tell all of these dragon trappers that he already had a girlfriend back on Berk, but he wasn't so sure they were interested to hear about his love life. He remembered that he still had one specific goal to accomplish right now, and that was to rescue Rapunzel so they could get as far away from these men as possible.
"As I was saying, just let go of my best friend and we'll go," Hiccup said, while correcting his grammar. "Strange, hostile person whom we've never met." He added.
"Oh, where are my manners? I'm Eret. Son of Eret," The leader introduced as he bowed playfully before pulling a dagger from behind his back, and waved it cockily.
"Finest dragon trapper alive." Eret continued as his men readied their crossbows and net cannons. "After all, it's not just anyone who can capture a Night Fury."
Eret pointed his dagger right at Toothless, who roared a warning, and Hiccup took that as the dragon telling him that it was about time they all got out of there.
"And this is Toothless. He says we're going, now." Hiccup declared before taking a glance at Rapunzel. "When we do, you won't have my best friend either." He added.
Hiccup felt very relieved that neither Eret nor any of his fellow dragon trappers had given him a hard time for calling Rapunzel his girlfriend by accident not so long ago.
"Rush 'em, lads!" Eret ordered as he lunged toward them, and Toothless quickly shot a plasma blast, which brought down a massive spire of ice from high above them.
It shattered as it hit the ground, forcing Eret and his men to dive out of the way, and fortunately, this included the dragon trapper who'd been holding Rapunzel. Making quick use of the distraction, Rapunzel wasted no time in running over to Hiccup, but then she heard a familiar squeak, causing her to turn back, look down and see Pascal walking toward her on the ground. By the time Eret got back up on his his feet, he saw Toothless take to the air, carrying Hiccup, Rapunzel, and Pascal out of reach of the volley of their swords and arrows.
"You will never hold on to that dragon, you hear me?! Drago is coming for them all!" Eret announced, and Hiccup couldn't help feeling a little unsettled from hearing that.
Although the whole experience left him a little shaken, Hiccup was sure that he'd recover for the most part, but there was someone else that he was more concerned about.
"Are you okay, Rapunzel?" Hiccup asked, and he instantly felt a bit dumb for asking that question, since he thought no person would really come out just fine after going through a situation like that.
"Yes, Hiccup, I'm okay," Rapunzel answered while she nodded her head, before eventually turning to face Pascal. "What about you, Pascal, are you okay?" She asked.
To the girl's relief, the chameleon made a small smile as he squeaked in a happy tone, and he hoped that him and Rapunzel wouldn't ever have to see those men again.
"Pascal told me that he's okay too." Rapunzel informed as she felt grateful to Hiccup and Toothless for getting them out of there, but then a question came to her mind.
"Hey, Hiccup, there's something that I'd like to ask you." Rapunzel said, and Hiccup immediately assumed that he knew exactly what Rapunzel was going to ask him.
"Wait, Rapunzel, if it's about me calling you my girlfriend, then you should know that was just a simple mistake, and I'm sorry if I embarrassed you." Hiccup responded.
"Actually, I was going to ask if you really think those men enjoy trapping dragons, because I don't think they would if their leader got that kind of scar." Rapunzel said.
Hiccup felt a little ashamed that he was wrong about Rapunzel's question, but he wasn't going to let that stop him from answering the question she asked him just now.
"I don't know, Rapunzel, that guy seemed to be quite arrogant and hard-headed, even when he showed it to us, but I do know where we're going now." Hiccup replied.
"Really, and where are we going, Hiccup?" Rapunzel asked curiously, and she had a feeling that they weren't off to discover a new land like they'd done earlier today.
"To Berk, my home, because if there's men out there trapping dragons and bringing them to some guy for his dragon army, then my dad needs to know as soon as possible." Hiccup declared.
"I wonder if your dad will even remember me, Hiccup, because the last time I saw him was three months ago, since he did want to meet me before leaving my kingdom." Rapunzel revealed.
Hiccup's eyes widened as he realized this would be Rapunzel's very first trip to his village, and so he couldn't resist thinking about what everybody's reaction would be when they saw her with him. With the outfit Rapunzel was wearing at the moment, they'd probably assume that she decided to live on Berk and become Hiccup's wife, but he'd make sure to tell them that was completely wrong. The dragon rider was absolutely sure that one of the villagers, perhaps Gobber, would take her on a private tour through Berk and show her all the contributions that he's made to accommodate the dragons.
"Who knows, Rapunzel, maybe he will, since you do look like a Viking, but when we get there, I have to tell him about the dragon trappers right away." Hiccup reminded.
"Okay, Hiccup, but here's another question," Rapunzel said and waited a few seconds before speaking again. "Will you introduce me as your best friend or your girlfriend?"
"My best friend, obviously." Hiccup replied before making a sheepish laugh and he tried his best not to blush as he focused on reaching their destination before it got dark out.
Hiccup prayed to the gods that Rapunzel wouldn't talk about his blunder to anyone, especially Astrid, because if she found out, then Hiccup would never hear the end of it.