Their Sword and Shield
Hiccup was irritated. Why has he done that?! Kissing her on the cheek...That was just not something, that one does on a regular basis – especially not with somebody like Astrid, who just got used to...basically everything that regards emotions beyond wrath and anger... But there had been so many things in that very moment, which had led to his outburst of very present feelings for the young woman. He couldn't deny that.
And well...sure...he wanted to show her some kind of affection. Wanted to show her, that he cared about her and her feelings and that he knew, that she could handle a fight pretty well – even without an axe and maybe even on the back of a dragon. And therefore he had suddenly been in such a rush, to just do...that... There could have been definitely worse – like kissing her on the lips, which was quite a nice thought, as well as a disturbing one, regarding her possible frustration and anger afterwards. And of course some embarrassment as well...
But kissing Astrid...it surely would feel like flying for the first time – wonderful and exciting and so many things more.
He knew, that she would love to hear some explaining, once he has returned and surely she would be angry with him. Maybe even slap him, since she didn't have the chance before with his fast disappearance. Or she would craft an axe out of what ever she would be finding in Valka's cave – only to throw it at him. Well and he - he would understand that. Accept it...
And still...he couldn't help himself but smile about it like an idiot...Because above all – it had felt so right and nice...
“Can you focus now?!“ Valka shouted towards him, holding her staff tightly in preparation for the attack.
“I am focused!“ Hiccup shouted back, leaning in closer towards Toothless back to fly him faster. But he grinned widely. “Don't worry about that!“
Out of the corner of his eyes, he noticed the small smile that hang on the corners of Valka's lips, which made him roll his eyes. Nice – she must have noticed that as well, which would continue the endless circle of teasing... At least the gang didn't know about that, since that would be far more annoying – and he would make sure, that they would never got to know about that!
“There they are!“ Valka shouted, pointing with her staff towards a small ship in the distance. The flagpole did not hold a flag, that Hiccup knew and therefor he was relieved, that those were not a few of Drago's remaining men. And first he hoped, that those were no Dragon Hunters, either, hoping, that those poor people were only misled travelers or traders, that have lost their course. Some people that only needed their help, not seeking their attack.
But as soon as those people have noticed the two dragons with their riders on their back, they began to shout, words, which were quite hard to make out from the still very present distance.
Hiccup narrowed his eyes, his hand already twitching towards Inferno's direction, very well knowing, that they would not come out of this without a fight.
And by the way Valka has already positioned herself on Cloudjumper, with her staff held high in her hands, he knew, that she was sensing this danger as well.
„Ready?!“ She shouted towards her son, who only gave her a sharp nod, before they both let their dragons soar towards the ship.
The screaming got louder and they saw people running around on the deck.
And arrows soaring through the air, towards them, trying to hit any of the four. But they were no match for mother and son and their dragons, easily flying past them with a few masterly moves. And those, that came too clase were destroyed with the staff or the flaming sword without mercy.
They lowered towards the ship, Valka letting Cloudjumper grasp one of the men with his claws – and that even without any words, which still to that day amazed Hiccup. Then the two off them flew a little over the water, before letting the man down, landing in the icy water underneath, while Hiccup shouted for Toothless to give the ship a blast, before flying back up towards the sky. On the way up he cutted through the sail with Inferno to prevent them from getting away to flee.
„How many?“ Valka asked in a hurry, while they once again dodged the arrows while flying.
„Something like 20. Definitely more. I don't know, if there are still people inside the ship and will come up at any second.“
„Not sure – couldn't make one out right away!“
„Me neither...And I don't think, that they would like negotiation at all..“ Valka added, making Hiccup nod once more, while he watched the people running around on deck, trying to put out the fire – in which they shortly after succeed, since the Night Fury didn't use the full force behind it and had only resulted into a small fire.
Hiccup had heard the shouts of amazement and greed, when he had flown Toothless close enough, knowing very well, that they wanted to have the Night Fury in some kind of collection – but for now he didn't know, what exactly they were persuading with hunting down dragons anyway.
„No...they seem to be far too interested in our dragons!“ The young chief shouted, seeing that they were preparing two catapults with trapping nets.
„Then lets fight them more!“
Hiccup nodded about that, and let Toothless follow his mother, with both dragons gripping onto the mast, while flying straight ahead, until the ship tilted to the side. Screams emerged from the deck, while the dragons flew away and the ship heavily rocked from one side to the other, making it impossible for the people to stand or to shot their nets in the correctly – thankfully missing the two dragons and hitting the mountains behind them.
Hiccup really hoped, that those attakers had enough and would retreat – but no – they started with their attack again, shooting a wave of arrows once again. Clearly – they hadn't enough!
The young chief looked over to his mother, seeing her nod at that, before she let Cloudjumper fly lower and lower even more, dodging the arrows with ease, before they both landed on the deck, fighing the men there hand to hand, with Cloudjumper launching at them with his wings, tail and teeth. Valka easily fought the men with her staff with graceful moves.
Hiccup followed her close behind, taking his place by her side, while Toothless worked together with Cloudjumper – his back, fin and forehead glowing in a bright blue to demonstrate his status as the Alpha dragon, making the men on deck shout out in fear once more. A few of them even ran away and inside the ship, to be save from the frightening black dragon.
The young man on the other hand took his flaming sword once more, fighting two men – one large and thin, while the other was quite small and bulky – at once, dodging them and attacking them at the same time. But he immediately noticed that they were trained well and probably wouldn't go down in an easy fight.
But still he hadn't figured out where they came from, or what they wanted – with or without their dragons. And nobody yet had themselves revealed to be their leader, from which he had hoped to get a few answers about this.
Yet – in that very exact moment he had different things to care about – like that the should have brought a shield with him, to dodge one weapon, while trying to parry the other with Inferno. Still – they were not getting too close, making it difficult to land an actual strike and – sadly enough – due to his past months of chiefly duties, he wasn't in the same shape he had used to be, neglecting his skill in combat all along. Skills, which would have come in handy in this particular fight. But he would handle them – all of them – who would dare to harm any dragon. Those two, which were fighting alongside with them, and also those, who were hidden in the mountain behind them.
And just as he had taken out the two – sadly in a far too long fight – he had turned towards the next, who had wanted to avoid a fight with the two enraged dragons and instead had tried to focus on Hiccup instead. This very muscular man held two maces high in his hand, his teeth bared and with a look of fury in his eyes, coming closer towards the young chief with big and heavy steps, forcing his two weapons down onto him, which the young man dodged, by jumping and rolling to his side, holding Inferno up and against the man's handle. The man drew away from the immense head, but started to look more angry because of that.
But just before he had been able to come back up from the wooden deck, the man had turned around and swung his two maces, about to strike once again – with a force that wouldn't be easy to take for the young man.
So he held his flaming sword high, holding tight onto its handle, hoping, that Inferno would cut through at least one mace with ease.
But the contact never came, though a loud, crashing sound echoed towards his ears, as well as a piecing scream of fury. A female scream...
That was the moment, when Hiccup noticed, that he had closed his eyes for the impact and immediately opened them back up again – only to see the back of the young woman that magically had captured his heart.
A few of the attackers shouted irritatingly, asking loud, where the young woman has suddenly emerged from, while a few others cried, when the blue Nadder, that had come along with her, shoot its sharp spines towards them, capturing them, or making them dodge them with their weapons and shields.
But this irritation had been enough for Astrid, to knock out the muscular man in front of her, who had probably seen her as weak and an easy target. She had smirked at that, before her foot had come in contact with his head, making him tumble backwards, only to crash into the wooden deck and now laying the unconsciously. She even gave him a good, second hit with her fist, just to make sure he would stay that way.
“Watch your defense, my Chief!“ She shouted over the noise around them, sounding a joking and sounding serious at the same time, hurriedly helping him back up to his feed, before she raised the shield in her hands for both of them, to hide from a few arrows, that were targeted at their heads.
He smirked a little at that, before they moved, standing back to back and waiting for the next attack.
“I am sorry, M'lady! I should have brought a shield for this fight! Aaand...I might not be in the best shape!“
“Then let me be your shield!“
“And my personal coach for future fights once we have returned to Berk?!“
“What?! You know, that this is not the best timing to discuss anything but the fight?!“
“Sure - Forget about it!” He said, immediately regretting, that he had said that „Then just let me be your sword then!“
“Alright – then – move!“
And he did, launching into the guy in front of him with a fierce battle scream, making him move backwards, towards the railing. Astrid moved around him, dodging a cut from a sword from the left and a blow of an axe from the right.
They both were amazed on how well they worked together, moving in the fight as if they were one being. They didn't need communication for that, just their trust and knowledge about the way the other moved, having witnessed this on their own, when they had been fighting the other. Having learned more than expected from the Dance of the Maiden. Hiccup could force a few men into the water without worrying to get hit by any weapon, since Astrid functioned as his eyes and ears for those things, he wasn't noticing on his own. The young woman on the other hand was just too amazed about the way Hiccup made the flaming sword work – enlightening shields and weapons, that were not protected enough and he had a perfect hit on. And his technique was excellent as well – nearly fore sighting the attacks of their opponents. Just the way he did back there, when he was fighting her.
Sure – their fighting style hadn't changed much in the past months and ever since they had encountered the other, but fighting now for the same thing – on the same side – was a whole new experience and Astrid even thought, that she was even better, now with all the fury and anger gone, that had clouded her perception. And she felt the same change for Astrid – fighting even harder now, that he fights for something he actually believes him, not just something that he had to do to keep everybody happy.
And soon enough they have lowered their attackers to only five people, with most of them being forced by human or dragon into the water, while the other half laid unconscious on the deck. And thankfully enough their side didn't seem to be hurt at all.
“Where is your leader?!“ They could finally hear Valka shout, just as she had yet another men pushed towards Cloudjumper, who had packed him with his claws, flying high and letting him fall in some distance over the water, before the dragon returned.
With them finally being in majority, the attackers finally noticed their incoming defeat, retreating from their attack, yet with their weapons still held high. But Hiccup, Astrid and Valka didn't lower their guard either, with his mother still holding tightly onto her staff, as she stood next to Cloudjumper, patting him lightly on the head, and the two young Vikings with sword and shield still tightly in their hands, their eyes narrowed and panting from the effort.
“Alright...“ One man with a helmet finally said, raising his shield and mace into the air as a sign of defeat. “...you guys win...“
Hiccup immediately knew, that he must be the leader, since all the other men raised their weapons up into the air as well and he decided to confront him, by getting closer, Inferno pointed towards his face.
“What do you want?! Why are you here?“ He asked loud, while he felt Astrid's presence close behind him and saw Valka standing behind the group of men in the middle of the ship.
“Dragons...“ The man said and one could hear his loud gulp, when Toothless growled angrily at him. “We are just traders! We do not harm dragons!“
“Well, that doesn't mean, that we won't harm you, if you don't spit, who you are hunting the dragons for...“ Valka said, while Cloudjumper leaned closer to the men, sniffing on them, as if the big dragon wanted to make sure, that they won't be dangerous anymore. And the men shuttered because of that – most of them in fear.
“Who are you the dragons hunting for? A guy named Drago?“ Hiccup repeated, nearly shouting with the anger, that suddenly filled him.
Valka narrowed her eyes at the sound of that name as well, but stayed nonetheless quiet.
“Drago? No – we don't know a Drago! Or does anybody know a Drago...?!“
The few remaining men around him disagreed, but then were quite again, when their leader suddenly pointed at Astrid. A strange urge went through Hiccup to stand right in front of her, so the man wouldn't be able to look at her at all, but he suppressed it, by just clenching his hand even tighter around his sword.
“You – I know you!“
“Me?! How could you know me?!“ Astrid asked out loud in a hissing tone, pushing past the other man to pull off the helmet from their leader. It was an older man, with a greyish beard and many wrinkles and age spots all over his face. She immediately noticed him – for he was one of her father's more frequent traders and she probably should have known the flag, once she flew past it.
“Halvar...“ She hissed, laying her hand on his throat in case he would try to make a move at her and to demonstrate her strength.
“Yeah – you are indeed the little Hofferson-Girl. Well...not so girly anymore, as I see!“ He coughed a little when she clenched his throat harder, not quite liking the fact that somebody would call her 'girly'.
“I have grown up. And-“ She looked over to Hiccup, making a quick decision, so the older man wouldn't ask too many questions. Sure – Hiccup and Valka would have enough questions by the end of the conversation, but she was willing enough to give them those, once they had enough time for it. And so she sighed, before she continued: “-I am married now! I am married to the Chief of Berk – Dragon Master Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III. Ringing a bell somewhere?“
The pale eyes Halvar looked over towards Hiccup for a minute, gulping once more, before he answered:
“I might have heard off him...“
“And so you might know off his people and that they don't accept any form of dragon hunting? And so do I. And my father as well...“
“Chief Hakon of Hranafall is no longer interested in any dragons to sell...“ Valka said calmly.
„Indeed. And of what I have heard, any form from it is now under punishment. So I would suggest, that you from now on search for other things to trade – my father is also very font of any kind of crafts...And he like to sell them to other traders as well!“
“Oh I will do that, I will do that...!“ He pleaded, nodding the best he could under her tight grip.
“And Halvar – If I ever hear, that you continue your dragon hunting and selling, then I will hunt you down personally and make sure, you won't ever do that, again!“
She pushed him away from her, standing with clenched fists in front of him, demonstrating her strength, that one couldn't quite tell with their bare eye.
“You heard her, men – gather those other idiots out of the sea and try to wake the unconscious ones! And repair the sails! We will be turning the ship! No more dragon hunting for now-“
“Ever!“ Valka added, to which the older man nodded. “Ever...Yes! I won't ever touch a dragon anymore – just like these guys. Right?!“
They all agreed.
“And we will be traveling East. And maybe a little down the South. I have heard the Anglo-Saxons have a few nice crafts, which they like to sell for a low price.“
The men hurried away, to prepare the ship for a longer voyage, while Halvar shouted commands for his people.
“Is he trustworthy, Astrid?“ Valka asked out loud, while she walked to Cloudjumper and mounted him.
The young woman nodded.
“Off what I know about him – he is. Halvar might be only after profit, but he knows, when he makes a mistake. I will let father know about him, once we have returned to Berk.“
“And there might be a few things to talk about?“ Hiccup asked, raising his eyebrows, finally speaking up again after such a long time, not being quite sure, how he should feel about the whole deal of 'selling dragons'. Something, that nobody has ever told him before and that Hakon seemed to participate in.
Astrid felt his concern and felt her heart beating faster because of it. Therefore she gave him a tiny smile, before she walked over to Stormfly as well, to jump into her saddle.
“Yeah...there are a few things, we should talk about...“ She mumbled, following Valka, who was already flying high with Cloudjumper in the sky. Hiccup's eyes followed her, wondering, if there could be more things, that she was hiding from him. Not...that something would change the way he felt about her. But he guessed, that there still were things, that he needed to know about her.
“Can we both agree, that women are difficult and complicated and full of mysteries?!“ He asked out loud.
And thankfully enough Toothless agreed with a nod – together with one of Halvar's men, who loudly mumbled: “Oh you are so right, Dragon Master!“