~ Raided: A Mericcup Story: Chapter 06: Friendship
“We have a new problem. A really big problem,” warned Hiccup, leaning on his fists on the table.
“We already have a problem, are you saying there is a bigger problem out there we have to deal with? We took out a lot of dragons, finally.” asked Fergus. He had one of the boys on his lap. He was feeling pretty good, they had taken out a large number of dragons and the rest had fled. They had lost only a few sheep.
“Yes. Admittedly, you did really well out there today, taking down so many dragons so quickly is impressive, but you lost a lot of people,” explained Hiccup.
After the battle, they began treating the wounded in the Great Hall. Hiccup showed them that the best way to deal with a Nadder quill was to push it through rather then pull since it was barbed. There was the man with the charred stump of a hand--it looked like Gronkle burns--who they were plying with strong ale as two burly guys and a man with a saw were waiting for him to pass out. He should have a chance to tell the local smith how to make an interchangeable hand for the man, like Gobber’s. Hiccup had thought of a few improvements that might be handy, but right now, they needed to talk about what was out there.
Then there were the bodies of the slain warriors and their grieving families. Hiccup was sorry for them, but didn’t try to approach them. He had stayed close to Toothless and the guards. There had been some angry looks directed at him. The queen and the princess had been there to comfort them, which kept things calm.
Back in Berk, his father had opted for a strategy that kept the human casualties to a minimum. It killed fewer dragons, but it hadn’t seemed to make a difference either way on the dragon raids, but it saved nearly all of the people during a raid. Berk had been low on food and people. Training the dragons had saved them because the dragons helped get more food, mostly fish, by flying beyond the ice to open water. The dragons even helped keep the village warm during this intense cold.
Now that things had calmed down they needed to discuss what Hiccup figured out. They had finally cleared the Great Hall and now he was meeting with the Dunbrochs and the MacGuffins.
“But there’s a Death out there and it’s close. Close enough to control the raiding dragons. That’s why I couldn’t knock out that Nadder.” explained Hiccup.
“A death.... The way you say that, tells me we are not talking about the Grim Reaper.” said Elinor, with one of her boys on her lap, whom she kept kissing. He had mentioned the Death in that story of his the first night, but had never really explained it.
“Hardly. A Death is a queen dragon. Kinda like a beehive, she controls all the dragons and they bring her food. If they don’t bring back enough she starts eating them, to encourage them to get more food for her.” Hiccup stated flatly.
Fergus looked concerned at that news.
“We’ve gotten pretty good at taking down dragons. Mum and I should be able to take her down too.” said Merida confidently, bouncing Harris on her knee.
Hiccup gave a weak, slightly hysterical laugh. “A Death is not like the dragons you’ve seen. It’s bigger then this castle. My father threw my entire tribe at it. It barely noticed the boulders they threw at it! It decimated the tribe without even noticing and it would have wiped us out if the other dragonriders hadn’t distracted it long enough for Toothless and I to get into the fight! It’s the reason I lost my leg!” Hiccup was practically shouting, there was a panicky edge to his voice, gesturing to his metal leg.
“Okay, this is a serious problem then. How did you defeat that Death?” asked Fergus, though everyone was looking worried. Whatever a Death was, they knew they were getting the unvarnished truth from this boy. Hunk put his arm around Maudie.
Hiccup took a breath and ran both hands through his hair. “Toothless and I flew around giant rocks, that it flew through and they only slowed it down a little. We flew high into the sky, hiding in the clouds. It followed us. Toothless blasted holes into its wings, that just got it angry and the Death set most of the sky on fire. Then we dove for the ground. It was going to flame us on the way down but Toothless shot a fireball into its mouth so it started burning on the inside, then because we damaged its wings, it crashed into the ground and exploded. It left a hole in the ground that could hold my whole village.” Hiccup flopped into his chair, looking exhausted. The others were exchanging glances; there were some things in that story that were frightening.
“You won’t be able to do anything until your dragon is all healed up?” asked Fergus and Hiccup nodded. “So we are going to have to hold them here until then or get a message to your village.”
“That won’t happen until the ice breaks up in the Spring, which might take a while given how cold this winter has been. It took half a day to fly to open water due to all the ice locked in around Berk.” stated Hiccup.
Fergus nodded with a sigh. Furs had been fastened over windows and everyone was wearing thick layers of clothes, but they were still going through firewood at a tremendous rate.
“Is there anything you desire, my Queen, Princess?” asked Lord MacGuffin again.
“No, thank you. You have been more then generous. You are so solicitous tonight, my Lord. Why?” asked Elinor. He had brought a pile of sweets, blankets, pillows and a little stool for her feet that the Clan Lord had brought for her and Merida personally. Merida shook her head as she and Harris munched on a cake.
“Because you protected my home, my Queen.” said Lord MacGuffin evasively.
“Indeed, but we did that already, but today is different and the question remains.”
“I am trying to honor you and frankly I am not sure how to treat you after what I saw.”
“What did you see?” Asked Elinor, things had happened rather quickly there at the end of the battle.
“We had engaged a few dragons on my side of the keep and then we heard you scream. The dragons leapt into the air and flew towards your position. We thought you were in danger. I was wrong; the dragons were the ones in danger. I saw it rain dragons like ripe fruit in a windstorm. The two of you dealt out death like you were Brìghde incarnate.” The Clan Lord said in wonder.
“Oh, I was just trying to protect my boys because they were in danger.” She gave Hammish a squeeze.
“Truly a mother’s love. With the two of you nearby, there is no fear of armies,” said Lord MacGuffin.
# # #
Merida slowly woke up. The angle of the sun in her windows told her it was after noon. She felt like she weighed tons. She rolled onto her side and pushed herself up with her left arm. Her right arm hurt so much it made her gasp as sharp pains jabbed into her arm and shoulder. The floor was icy cold but she didn’t even bother with slippers and just wrapped the robe over her shoulders.
Merida was starving and she shuffled toward the kitchens. As she passed her parents room, she could see them and the boys piled onto the bed. She wished she was young enough to join in.
Taking the first step down to the Great Hall, she jolted her body and spots of darkness floated in her vision for a moment. Carefully, she made it down the rest of the stairs.
“Merida, are you okay?” Hiccup said as she came down. He stood from his spot next to Toothless.
“I’m starving. I need some food,” said Merida tiredly as she shook her head. A great rumble came from her stomach as she clutched her belly.
“Okay, I’ll get you something. You stay here.” He guided her to a bench at a table.
“Thank you.” said Merida gratefully as Hiccup ran to the kitchen, as a guard followed him. Soon he returned with a platter of meats and a pot of tea. Merida grabbed the first thing that came under hand and bit ravenously into it. Hiccup edged back a little as Merida devoured much of the food in moments.
As a serving girl walked past, Merida said, “Send up three platters of food to my parents, they’ll be waking soon and hungry.”
“Feeling better?” asked Hiccup.
“A bit. Thank you, for the food and my brothers. You did something I never expected from anyone, especially a Viking.”
“No, no. It’s okay. I understand now how you could end your war with the dragons. I just wish it could end the raids on us,” said Merida.
“I’m feeling much better, thank you. Let’s check the bandages on Toothless,” said Merida to try and change the subject after a long period of quiet eating.
She watched as Hiccup looked into Toothless’ eyes and said, “You’re going to be alright, buddy. You are healing just fine.”
She could see the intense love they shared in their eyes. It looked deeper then the love she felt with Angus and almost as strong as what she felt with her Mum and Da.
“Yes, I’d say so too. We’ll leave the dressings off now, and wait for the scabs to fall off. Then he should be as good as new,” said Merida. She could see long stretches of scars running around Toothless reminders of when Hiccup had captured him.
“Thanks.” Hiccup said.
Hiccup turned and picked up his helmet and he paused for a moment, looking at it, rubbing his thumb along the side and she saw that loving look again, then he put it on and his face was the blank mask again. She was beginning to suspect something.