The dragons were once again attacking their small island of Berk and Arthur was finally going to take his moment; his father wouldn’t listen, so Arthur was going to make him see. For years now, Arthur had been the best trained dragon killer in the village, and yet he had not been allowed to kill a single dragon! No, instead King Uther, in his fatherly wisdom, made Arthur in charge of training the other members of their village so that they could go off and kill the vicious beasts. With Arthur’s expert training honing their skills, they were given opportunities to prove themselves to Odin and the Valkyries by protecting their hearth and home while Arthur was kept as far from the action as possible. Uther feared for the safety of his only son and living embodiment of his beloved Ygraine but Arthur, with his newest invention, Arthur had taken that obstacle away.
Gaius was too preoccupied supplying their fighters with weapons to notice Arthur slip away. Arthur was as good a trainer as he was a fighter, so the tide was steadily moving in the Viking’s favor as nets pinned down the roaring beasts, clippers ensnared the vile creatures’ wings, and the mindless animals’ greatest weapon—their fire—started to run out, allowing for close combat. His people’s efficiency made Arthur’s trek to the hillside relatively danger free but his steps quickened at the fear that all the dragons would be finished off before he could even see his baby in action.
As Arthur crested the top of the hill and loaded his flinger, he thought that may very well be the case and he was too late, as the stars twinkled peacefully in the night sky, undisturbed by flying, scaly monstrosities. Disappointment slumped Arthur’s shoulders but he kept on searching the sky, praying to the gods to let him have his chance, to prove he deserved a seat in Valhalla and, more importantly, to let his father see the man he was and be proud. Silence greeted his prayers and Arthur felt an overwhelming urge to smash something, perhaps his flinger, when he heard a high-pitched shriek that could only mean one thing. “A nightfury.” Arthur whispered, a delighted laugh bubbling up in his throat and his muscles zinged with excitement as a tower to the left of him exploded in a deafening roar of wood and flame. Arthur used the glass on his flinger to track the night sky, searching for any disturbance that could be the key to unlocking his destiny. Another high-pitched shriek, another explosion, and there!, flying away and obscuring the stars, a silhouette of long, devil wings. All it took was a single twitch of a finger. Arthur waited with baited breath then let out a whoop of pure relief and joy when he heard a pained roar fill the night air. He tracked the dark silhouette of the downed dragon to where it landed, memorizing the location then returning to the glass of his flinger, ready for what other offerings the night might have.
“You better run and hide,” a familiar voice said behind him, “the king is heading this way. I doubt you want him to find you this close to the action, not when you could get a splinter, or worse, a stubbed toe!”
“Or maybe a scraped knee.” Arthur countered, a smile on his face though he kept his eye trained to the sky.
“Or a sniffle, there is a chill in the air.” That forced out a bark of laughter from Arthur as half the village was still ablaze, giving the night air a rosy warmth to it.
It looked as if the dragons had retreated for the night and Arthur turned towards Morgana, though he had no intention of doing as she suggested and hiding. Tonight, he had felled a nighfury, the first Viking ever to do so. His father would have to acknowledge the asset Arthur was now.
“Arthur, tell me I’m not seeing this.” Uther said when he finally crested the hill and took in the scene before him. Arthur straightened his spine, trying to show determination in the face of Uther’s chilly tone and opened his mouth, only for Uther to continue, “Tell me there is some other explanation for what I am seeing here. Tell me that my own son did not directly disobey an order from his King.”
“Father,” Arthur tried to interject but Uther merely held up a commanding hand and Arthur felt his head lower.
“I know I could not have been clearer, so I must wonder at the gall of the boy in front of me, to think he can overlook his King’s command and needlessly endanger his life.” The dressing down continued and Arthur could only be grateful Morgana was the only witness to Arthur’s shaming. When it seemed as though Uther had run out of ways to convey his disappointment, Arthur asked, “If I might explain?” and held his breath for his father’s response.
“Indeed” was the low growl he got and Arthur was quick to say, “I know the danger of close combat as surely as I know the future of this village resides with me and I must stay safe. That’s why I invented this.” Arthur moved aside and gestured proudly to his flinger. “It’s a long-range flinger, so I can take out those vermin dragons without getting even within fire range. And it’s not just me,” Arthur said, excitement tinging his voice at all the possibilities, “we can set up a perimeter of flingers, take down the beasts before they even reach our shores. Imagine it, no more burnt houses, no more lost sheep, we’d be free.”
Uther was shaking his head before Arthur even stopped talking, “You think this contraption can turn the tide of war? It’s the toy of a boy. A naïve, disobedient child and it could no more set us free of those murderers than a doll could.” To his horror, Arthur felt the beginning of tears start to sting his eyes, but years of practice held them back before Uther could even notice. He would not further dishonor his father by letting a single tear drop.
“You’re wrong,” Arthur said, willing his voice to convey strength without being too confrontational. “I’m not a child anymore and my flinger does work. I brought down the nightfury with it! It landed just past Knuckleback Ridge.”
“If we just went there, you’ll see.”
“I promise, Father, I can do this. I’ve had the training and with this flinger, I wouldn’t even have to”
“Enough!” Uther shouted and Arthur did feel like the child Uther accused him of being as he once again fell silent and felt his shoulders hitch up as his head jerked down under the wrathful gaze of the king.
“I will hear no more of this. I have a village to repair, Arthur. That is our duty to our people. To help restore normalcy and safety after a night of terror and all you can talk about is yourself. You’re a selfish child and I won’t waste another moment with this foolishness. You are to return to our home. Morgana will escort you.”
“I know where it is.” Arthur grumbled but Uther was already gone. So much for his moment of destiny.