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blinded by the sun

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As much as Hiccup thought he'd hated Berk, in the end, leaving was hard.

He'd never been anywhere else, never known anything else. He'd dreamed of adventure, of being a hero, of discovering distant lands.

He'd wanted the respect of his peers and to be something more than the village laughing stock.

He'd needed to see something other than disappointment in his father's eyes.

But he didn't want any of that at the cost of the life of a dragon, not when he knew that they were so much more than monsters. . .

He packed light: his warmest clothes, his sharpest knife, his sketchbooks and his best hammer. He grabbed a loaf of waybread and a wedge of cheese, a few dried apples wrapped in wax paper. It wouldn't last long, a few meals at most, but it was enough. Toothless could catch his own food.

Hiccup dug out the small pouch of gold that he'd kept hidden under his mattress, hard-earned coins from work he'd done around the village, chores and errands, naming-day gifts from aunts and uncles. A few had been left to him by his mother, years ago.

He couldn't help but wonder if his life would have been different if she'd survived, if her presence would have softened Stoick's rough edges. Hiccup could only remember her smile and the way her laugh warmed him like sunshine.

When he snuck out of the village, he forced himself not to look back.

Fiercefang. Native to the Sunfire Islands in the South.

The Fiercefang is a small dragon, man-sized, usually yellow and red, with two elongated "fangs" protruding down from the upper jaw. It feeds primarily on the crabs and shellfish it finds on the sandy beaches of the Sunfire Islands. The Fiercefang uses its thick claws to dig up clams out of the sand and crack open the hard shells with a quick and fierce rap of its tusks.

This dragon breed tends to be playful and friendly, but can scratch painfully if startled or provoked. They can be easily trained to hunt for shellfish and are good watch dragons, bugling out a warning when a stranger approaches what they consider to be their home territory.

In general, Fiercefangs get along well with humans and are not a bad breed to have around.

--The Revised Dragon Manual by Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III

The first few weeks were the hardest. They didn't see anyone else on the road as they travelled south, flying low over the trees.

Hiccup had never been beyond the borders of the island. In spite of their historical reputation as fierce Viking raiders, the residents of Berk rarely left home.

He'd never admit it aloud, but he was homesick.

Toothless did his best to cheer Hiccup up with his antics, and when that didn't work, Toothless curled around Hiccup and cuddled close, spreading his wing over Hiccup like a shield.

One morning he woke up to the sight of Toothless and another dragon romping through the grassy clearing like rambunctious puppies, mock fighting under the indulgent eyes of a older couple. They waved to Hiccup, friendly and smiling, before whistling for their dragon and heading down the rutted road.

The other dragon was bigger than Toothless and of a breed that Hiccup had never seen before. It bowled Toothless over and honked what had to be a goodbye before gallumping off to catch up with its people.

Hiccup watched them disappear around a bend in the road and wondered why his people had such a antagonistic relationship with dragons.

One village they wandered into mistook Toothless for some sort of exotic draft animal. Hiccup could tell that Toothless was terribly offended by the assumption, but Hiccup managed to bite back his grin.

Hiccup didn't speak the native language, but between gestures and talking loudly, he bartered work for food and shelter. It was amusing to hook Toothless to a plow and till the fields for a few days. He made a game of it to keep Toothless interested, and when they were done, they were both aching and sweating and exhausted.

It was the best night of sleep Hiccup had had since they'd left home.

In the morning, the villagers thanked them and packed a basket of food for them. Hiccup climbed into the saddle and Toothless unfurled his wings before leaping into the sky. When Hiccup looked back, he saw surprise and wonder spilling across their faces.

WheatWyrms. Native to the rolling plains of Centralia.

These dragons are small and sinuous, and have evolved to coexist with human settlements. WheatWyrms are found almost exclusively in grain silos, slithering among the grains of wheat, building up a slight electrical charge that they use to shock their rodent prey. They are highly venomous, but very shy around humans. They are one of the few dragon species that doesn't breathe fire; the dust levels in grain silos makes fire a dangerous proposition.

In spite of the danger, farmers tend to leave WheatWyrms alone, because they keep the rodent population down as well as lowering the chance of dust explosion by discharging the static build up common in silos.

----The Revised Dragon Manual by Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III

Hiccup wasn't sure he would have made it if it hadn't been for Toothless.

Toothless kept him sane as they travelled from place to place, with his silly faces and his loyalty and his unconditional love. Whenever Hiccup doubted what he was doing and his reasons for leaving home, he looked at Toothless and remembered.

Hiccup found work when he could, usually mending broken things, putting his years as an apprentice blacksmith to good use. He repaired plows, pots and garden implements, and rarely, the occasional sword or spear.

It was work that he was good at, and most of the villages they visited were happy to see a new face for a little while. Hiccup would take the time to restock his supplies and study any local dragons that he wasn't familiar with.

He created mechanical contraptions that sometimes worked and sometimes exploded messily, spewing bits of leather and metal and wood. Away from the constant expectation of failure in the eyes of his father, he found he could laugh at himself.

It wasn't a bad life for a boy and his dragon.

Sometimes his missed his old life, heartache and loneliness combining in the worst way.

Toothless would nudge him until he took out the flight harness, laid it over Toothless' back, tightened the straps and climbed on. They would explore the skies, chase gulls and clouds, see the ground move under them like water, perch impossibly high and watch the world go by.

Hiccup would lean against the solid bulk of Toothless and somehow, it helped. In those moments, he didn't feel so alone.

Fearserp. Native to the Deserts of Doom in the West.

The Fearserp is a tiny nocturnal dragon, about the size of a man's fist. It is yellow and brown, with tiny wings that flap at a very high speed, causing a loud buzz. The Fearserp feeds on flying insects and eat many times its own weight in bugs in a single night.

When threatened, the Fearserp sends out a pulse of psychic energy, causing a feeling of absolute stark terror in larger animals and people. Only the most brave or foolhardy can withstand the Fearserp's attack.

With a great deal of care and patience, Fearserps can be tamed and make great pets, once their trust has been won.

----The Revised Dragon Manual by Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III

They 'rescued' a honest-to-Odin princess, a dark-haired, dark-skinned girl from the Southern Reaches who had mostly saved herself. Toothless and Hiccup arrived just as she had finished tying up her captors. When Hiccup tried to gallantly help her up onto Toothless' back, she flung her curly hair over her shoulder and sneered at his hand before jumping and settling into the saddle.

Toothless chortled at him and Hiccup did his best to ignore the draconic laughter. Her mother, the Empress of their land, rewarded them handsomely and invited them to stay for as long as they liked. Eventually, wanderlust pushed them onward.

A wealthy lord hired them to fly him to the top of the Lost Mountain, just so he could brag about it to all of his lordly friends. Toothless rolled around making snow dragons while Hiccup looked out at the horizon, amazed and humbled by the panoramic view of the Misty Mountains.

Toothless snorted and flipped a tailful of snow at Hiccup.

They helped relocate a family of Brambleclaws that had taken up residence in a church steeple, once the town had promised to make an attempt to tame the dragons. It hadn't been easy. The Brambleclaws were grumpy and ill-tempered at being disturbed, but by the time Toothless and Hiccup left, the dragons were well on their way to being spoiled by the townsfolk.

Changewing. Native to the jungles of the Westerland Wastes.

The Changewing is a medium-large dragon, known for its camouflage abilities. It hangs from the branches of the extremely tall Stoutwood tree, watching for prey on the forest floor below. When it spots a deer, the Changewing lets go of the branch it's hanging from and dives for its prey, striking soundlessly.

The Changewing is lean and maneuverable, enabling it to fly nimbly between the trees in pursuit of its prey, on the rare occasion it misses with its dive maneuver. They are solitary, but friendly, and are easily tamed. They make great pets, as long as they are kept well fed and treated with respect.

----The Revised Dragon Manual by Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III

One day, Hiccup woke and realized that while he hadn't been paying attention, they'd traveled back toward Berk. Full circle. It'd been years since they'd left home and somehow it felt like the right time to go back.

Hiccup debated with himself about the wisdom of dropping out of the sky with a splash, high on Toothless' back, versus hiding Toothless in the forest and showing up to Berk dragonless. Toothless interjected his opinion with rumbled growls and purrs.

In their travels, they'd run across so many villages and towns where dragons and people lived together, cooperating with each other, helping each other. Hiccup couldn't understand why it was so different in Berk.

Maybe it was time to take a stand.

He remembered the first wild flight with Toothless, soaring high through the sky, above the clouds, his stomach swooping with a curious combination of fear and excitement. Hiccup felt like that again as they landed in front of the chieftain's house. He kept one hand on Toothless' head, projecting calm, as people started to pour out of the buildings.

Toothless tensed, and his tail swished back and forth as the citizens of Berk surround them, their eyes wide with fear.

Or maybe it was wonder.

"Hiccup? Hiccup, is that you?" The voice was just as he remembered it, deep and powerful, the sound of a Viking chieftain. "Son?"

Hiccup closed his eyes and breathed in and out slowly, until Toothless nudged at him. He blinked. "Hi, Dad," he said, and smiled.