Hiccup wanted – admittedly rather idealistically – to build a community of runaways that needed help, that had been rejected and discarded and left behind and abandoned like he and Astrid had been. He wanted to take them in a show them the truth about dragons and give them a home on Dragon’s Edge and hopefully, one day, they would grow to be larger than even Berk and they could push back the Queen – The Red Death – and then he could unite his own tribe with Berk and finally…finally...prove to his dad that not only was he not useless, but that he had seen and done what even Stoik the Vast couldn’t.
In reality, Hiccup’s new tribe consisted of an exiled Bezerker chief, his younger sister and an ex-dragon trapper.
It was Dagur who found them first. He and Heather had been looking for work – or food, they weren’t picky – in the Northern Markets when they’d overheard one of the traders – Joseph of Jonah or something foreign – talking about the brother and sister pair who often traded dragon scales for supplies. “Poor things, they’re probably orphans, I don’t think they have parents. They’re resourceful though, scavenging dragon scales to trade. Now that reminds me of the time I spent –” Dagur decided he’d heard enough; that particular trader seemed to ramble on about adventures he’d been on that weren’t actually all that interesting. The resourceful dragon-scale scavenging siblings however, those sparked his interest. Him and Heather could do with more than just each other, and he bet those two could also use more family. Four heads were better than two, plus, if they were still kids like Heather, then Dagur could help them.
He waited two weeks before the siblings with dragon scales showed up – a blonde haired girl with a fierce axe slung across her back – Dagur liked her already – and a skinny boy with Auburn hair who was sketching in a notebook and not paying attention to his surroundings.
“Hiccup,” The girl hissed. “Could you not do that here, we’re trying to be inconspicuous!”
“I just need to get this sketch right, it’s going to be- hey!” the blonde snatched her brother’s sketchbook and tucked it into a pouch at her hip, smirking while the kid whined about needing to finish his design. He was smart, Dagur could tell. Maybe not strong like him, but he and the blonde would be plenty of muscle. Heather would appreciate someone with more intelligence than strength around as well. She was going to love them.
Dagur watched the two siblings as they made their purchases; Hiccup (that must be his name, the blonde kept calling him that) dissuaded Astrid (that was the blonde’s name if Hiccup was to be believed) from purchasing another axe by promising her that he could make her a better one (he was a blacksmith?) and Astrid sneakily bought another leather-bound notebook, no doubt a gift for her book-smart brother. They were perfect. They clearly loved and cared for each other but they bickered like he and Heather did.
He approached them when the sun started to go down and they started to talk about leaving.
“Excuse me, could you two spare a moment? I need some help carrying my things to my camp.” The siblings looked at each other, shrugged and followed him. They were too guilable. He’d have to teach them to be more discerning. “My name’s Dagur, by the way.”
They introduced themselves as he loaded up Hiccup’s arms with fabric he’d managed to finally afford for Heather and Astrid’s with some firewood he’d collected and stashed. Then he lead them to the cave in which Heather was waiting for him at the edge of the island. The further they walked from the markets, the more agitated the siblings became.
“Listen, I have to confess, I have an…call it an ulterior motive for asking for your help.” Dagur laughed, before Heather cut him off with a flick to his forearm. “Hi, I’m Heather, thanks for helping him.” She smiled sweetly as she took the fabric from Hiccup.
“Ulterior motive?” Hiccup asked before introducing himself and his sister to Heather. He seemed a lot less suspicious of them than Astrid did.
“I want you guys to join us.”
The two teens looked at him wearily.
“What he means is that we know you’re the orphaned siblings Trader Johan was talking about, and well, we’re also orphaned and alone and we thought you guys might want help?” Heather smiled warmly at the two, and Astrid and Hiccup shared a look.
It took two weeks of visiting Heather and Dagur before Astrid and Hiccup confessed to them that they weren’t siblings. Upon confessing that he didn’t have any siblings, Dagur called Hiccup “brother” for the first time. When Astrid spoke about how much she missed her little sister, Heather called Astrid “sister” and their bond was sealed. It was only a week later that Hiccup and Astrid introduced the exiled Bezerker siblings to Toothless and Stormfly.
Dagur took to riding a Gronkle he’d named Shattermaster like a fish to water, while Heather was a lot more selective and thoughtful about the whole process. Eventually, she found and bonded with a beautiful razorwhip hatchling – Windshear.
The met Eret much later, and in reality, they captured him and he just didn’t leave.
Eret hadn’t been given his rations again – he hadn’t managed to capture a single dragon in the past month, and The Captain was big on earning one’s keep. So, when he and two other members of the dragon-trapping crew were sent ashore to capture a flock of Night Terrors on an empty island, well, Eret’s choices were capture them or starve to death. The Captain didn’t tolerate incompetence, after all.
Two hours in, though, and Eret and his crew members were beginning to lose hope. Patience was a necessity in dragon-trapping, but two hours without any sign of a dragon – especially on this island that was known for its Night Terrors was disheartening.
As the sun set, though, Birger spotted the shadow of a night fury soaring overhead, minutes before a deadly nadder swooped down towards them.
A gronkle roared from behind them and the most terrifying part wasn’t that three dragons that are usually never seen together were surrounding them. The terrifying part was that there were people riding them. In the twilight Eret could only make out shadows – silhouettes of armored warriors that bellowed terrifying battle cries as they rode on the backs of dragons. Birger and Calder were already in the boat and rowing back to the ship before Eret could even make it to the beach – the deadly nadder blocked his path and he screamed for his men as they left him stranded.
Two forms jumped off the back of the nadder – one was cradling a tiny silver sharp class – and approached him. Eret could barely make out their words as he processed the betrayal he had experienced. He knew, instinctively, the way people knew that they needed food to survive, that they would not came back for him. They’d tell some lie to his father, The Captain, probably convince him that Eret had been eaten by the dragons that attacked them.
Would The Captain even mourn him?
“Hey, the ladies asked you a question!” The man on the gronkle growled. The gronkle growled too, and Eret – who was not a coward – swallowed hard.
“I- they just left me.”
“He’s in shock.” The dragon rider on the damn night fury spoke. “let’s take him back – we can lock him in the watchtower or the store house if we have to.”
They didn’t lock him up. Instead they gave him food which he devoured so fast he thought he’d make himself sick – and then they offered him more - as if he’d done anything deserving of it.
They told him about how they trained dragons, how they befriended them and rode them and how ultimately the leader – the smallest boy there – wanted to change how all Vikings saw and treated dragons. Eret told himself they were crazy, and that he would leave as soon as he found a way off the island.
A week later, he was helping Heather cook and Hiccup in the forge and fetching fresh water for them and soon enough he was riding a rumble horn – Skullcrusher – who had saved them and their home from an incoming sidal wave. It took him six months to actually acknowledge that he’d made Dragon’s Edge his home, even if he still told Hiccup every morning that he’d eventually find a way off the island. No one ever pointed out that being able to fly a dragon was a pretty good exit strategy.
So maybe Hiccup wouldn’t manage to start a tribe. Maybe Astrid, Dagur, Heather and Eret were all he was going to get. Maybe these four people were the only people he would ever manage to convince about the truth about dragons, but at least he had managed to make their lives – and the lives of their dragons – better. His father might always think he was useless and that he betrayed him and the Hairy Hooligan tribe, but Hiccup had built himself a home and a family and he refused to let his father’s vast (ha, vast) shadow loom over the rest of his life.