Obscuring The Heart(Part 18)

“Thor Bonecrusher?” Hiccup muttered to himself, “This’ll be great.”

He flinched as he saw Fishlegs, or Thor Bonecrusher, heave a yak over his head with one hand, yelling out challenges to all those around him claiming to be the strongest man on Berk.

“Well,” Astrid chimed in, “It might be an improvement.”

Hiccup just sighed and pinched the bridge to his nose.

“Okay, we can fix this. Fishlegs thinks he’s the greatest warrior on Berk. We just need to send the actual greatest warrior we have against him and that should knock some sense into him, right?” He looked around the small group of vikings for better ideas.

“Uh, I have a question.” Ruffnut put in raising her hand, “Who here is the best warrior? Cause ‘the best’ is a little, hmm…”

“Subjective.” Tuffnut finished for his sister, who then nodded.

“Well,” Hiccup smiled, “Who do you guys think is the best warrior on Berk right now? And the answer can’t be Thor Bonecrusher, because we can’t send Fishlegs to fight himself.”

“Ohh.” Snotlout chuckled as he strutted forward, “You, my dear cousin, are far too kind.”

Astrid rolled her eyes before throwing the Jorgensen 15 feet from their position.

“I think we all know who the best warrior here is.” She smirked at the brunette who was now on the ground.

“Of course you prefer the blonde.” He muttered to himself.

“I guess we just need to go find her then.” Tuffnut shrugged.

“Shouldn’t be too hard,” Ruffnut shrugged back, “Last I checked she was bringing stuff to Gothi’s hut. If we’re in luck she’s there now.”

“Uh, who are we talking about?” Astrid hissed at the twins.

“Sigrid.” Hiccup smiled at her, Astrid’s face dropped into a painful scowl, “Everyone knows she’s an amazing fighter. She’s been taking on fully grown adults since she was 10. And now with her knowledge from training under Gothi, she knows just about everything about the body. Fishlegs will not stand a chance!”

“What do you mean she’s gone!?” Hiccup exclaimed hearing what his father had to say.

“Just that.” Stoik said grimly, “Gone. Last anyone saw her was early this morning.”

“But, but, where would she go? It’s dangerous out there! Didn’t she leave like a note? Or, or a sign? Or, something?”

Stoik just shook his head, “Nothing of the sort.”

“Not true chief.” Gobber cut in, all eyes then fell on the large, blonde man.

“You see, she was working well into the night last night on more arrows. Lass with never let me make any for her, says I never balance them right.”

“Gobber,” Hiccup all but snarled at the man, “Where is my sister?”

“No idea.” He told him, “But she left this on the bench when she left. I only found it when I went in this morning.”

He handed a rolled up piece of parchment to Stoik.

“What is this?” Stoik demanded.

“I believe it’s a wanted poster of Norman the Nimrod, chief.” Gobber explained, “Seems like Sigrid is taking that offer seriously.”

“What?” Hiccup cut in, “What offer? What poster? What happened? Who’s this Norman character? Where’s Sigrid gone?”

Stoik handed his son the piece of parchment for him to look over.

“A bounty hunter by the name of Philip came by a couple of weeks ago, when Sigrid was still ill. He was asking around for that man, had under good account that he was here. No one had seen hide nor hair of him. But children had been saying that there was a scauldron up in the deep forests of the mountain and were frightened. Sigrid seemed to put two and two together and went out to find this ‘scauldron’. She came back with this Nimrod chained to her saddle. Handed him over to Philip, who then insisted in splitting the gold with her. I guess when he came back she got that poster from him. And with the gold she received, she must have made her decision.”

“She was offered a position working for this bounty hunter?” Hiccup questioned, looking up from the parchment.

Stoik shook his head, “He said that she should consider a path in bounty hunting, she was good at it. She must have agreed.”

“I don’t get it though.” Hiccup breathed, “She was so happy learning to be a healer. Why would she leave?”

Gothi poked his arm to gain his attention then started scratching around in the dirt.

“Happy as she thought she was,” Gobber translated, “That girl has the firey spirit of a warrior in her veins. There’s nothing to be done to quench it. I knew she wouldn’t be a healer since the day she asked me to teach her, she might have thought she wanted to heal but what she learned was for ulterior motives. Combine the knowledge of how the body works, with knowledge of medicines and poisons and her own fighting methods, she would be a lethal advercelery. Advercelery?”

Gothi smacked Gobber upside the head again.

“Ow! Sorry, adversary!” He corrected himself, “She really would be when you consider that. And the timberjack she’s got too. I wouldn’t want her on my tail that’s for sure.”

“Why would she want to become a bounty hunter?” Hiccup asked the old woman, “They aren’t good people! She knows that!”

Gothi kicked over the dirt before scribbling on it again.

“She knows that.” Gobber translated, “But we’re at peace now. There is no need for blood shed or war. Many of the people here have become complacent. Sigrid is not the kind of viking to sit idly by while the world goes on around her. The night she hunted that wanted man she must have felt something spark in her. The thrill of the hunt, finding your prey, the thought of an ensuing battle afterwards, the careful calculations that go into ambushes and traps. Sigrid is a good girl, but she is not for village life. She is a warrior, a fighter, a hunter. She is everything but easy prey. And the girl probably doesn’t even know that yet herself. That’s why she didn’t say anything about to anyone and just left. She needs some freedom. She needs some blood. She needs a healthy kick of adrenaline constantly. My only advice would be to support her. Believe me, she’s not the one who’s going to get hurt out there.”

Hiccup was furiously shaking his head, “We need to go and get her. Come on, bud!”

“Hiccup!” Astrid called after him, causing the brunette to pause, “We have bigger issues here first and foremost. Sigrid is a warrior. She can take care of herself.”

“But she’s out there!” Hiccup argued.

“And Shadowsplinter is with her. If this is what she wants she’ll know what she’s doing. Think of it as, she’s away on a hunting trip for big game.” Astrid gave a crooked, nervous smile.

Hiccup sighed and stepped back from where he was about to mount Toothless.

“I’m being stupid, aren’t I?” He asked.

“You’re not being stupid, son.” Stoik assured, “You’re worried about her. You’re protective of her. It’s normal when you care for someone. Sigrid and I actually got into an argument the day she turned Norman over to Philip. I knew she thought I was underestimating her abilities. And to be fair, in a way, I was. But she’s my daughter as much as she’s your sister. We get concerned when we think she might get hurt. But if there’s one thing I know, it’s we need to trust in her. She’s been your right hand when it came to dragon training, and she didn’t disappoint you then, did she?”

“No, but-”

“Then she won’t disappoint us now. She might come back with scrapes and burns, but she’ll come back. And we need to trust her to do that.” Stoik smiled at his son and Hiccup smiled back at him.

How could he think that? Sigrid had always taken care of all of them. Something like this she would take on easily. And with Shadowsplinter with her the world would soon be trembling before them.

“Besides, it would seem you have bigger issues to deal with right now.” Stoik nodded to where Thor Bonecrusher was strutting down the street with the red head’s ax in his hands.

“Uh, right.” Hiccup half laughed, “Getting on that


No Way Out(A HTTYD Love Story Part 24)

“Three bookings already?” Stoik asked in amazement as he looked over the log book.

Carstella nodded sheepishly before saying something else to the board.

“And each of them had said they wouldn’t mind giving feed back for us to work with.”

“It’s a start, definitely.” Spitelout admitted.

“We have to start somewhere.” Carstella told him.

“Carstella,” Stoik started, “I would like to put you in charge, for now, of tourism.”

“I accept gratefully.” She replied meekly.

Stoik nodded, “We’ll add an extension to the town hall for that work.” He told her, “I just hope this will go as well as we hope.”

The door to the second floor slowly shut trying not to disturb the other occupant living there.

“You’re home exceedingly late.” Tuff commented as Carstella jumped hearing his voice, “What held you up?”

“Stoik made me minister of tourism.” She said softly as she put her bag down and slipped off her shoes, “I was at Miss Gothi’s cleaning up rooms with her, and making it presentable. Then I was drawing up plans for furnishings of luxury lodges.”

“It took you all night to do that?” He asked as he pulled something out of the oven.

Carstella shrugged, “We got three bookings already,” She told him as she brought her things into her office on the other end of the floor, “We are seriously considering building a hotel now.”

“I told you it would be good for you to put some energy into something good like this!” He called to her as he dished out a breakfast quiche.

“It is.” Carstella replied and entered the dinning room where Tuff just set down a large helping of steaming food for the girl who hadn’t eaten all night.

“Thank you.” The dark haired girl said as sat down in front of the plate.

“Eat up, you need your strength.” Tuff encouraged as he approached the table with his own plate.

The two tucked into their food in comfortable silence. When they were finished, Carstella cleared the table and started on the dishes.

“I have a couple of teenagers coming in this morning for interviews.” Tuff said as he leaned against the door frame.

Carstella nodded, “I’ll be down to man the cashier after I’m done.”

Tuff shook his head, “You should be getting some sleep.” He told her sternly.

It was Carstella’s turn to shake her head, “I can go a while without sleep and still be fine.” She assured, “Besides, I need to get ahead on my work for the government.”

Tuff just stared at her as she finished up the dishes, he let out a defeated sigh.

“If you’re sure.” He started.

“I am,” Carstella told the blonde with a reassuring smile, “But I appreciate your concern about me.”

Tuff stared at her for a moment before he took a few steps to close the gap between the two of them. His left hand wrapped around the shorter girl, resting his hand on the right side of her head, and pulling her closer to him. He pressed his lips against the other side of her head repeatedly as he gave her many loving kisses before he turned his head to rest his cheek against the place he had just kissed and wrapped his other arm around the girl.

“Tuff?” Carstella asked curiously unsure of how to react, she hadn’t seen him act like this before.

“Don’t push yourself, Stell.” He told her as he rocked them slowly back and forth, “You don’t have to be a superhuman anymore.”

Carstella reached up and grabbed his left arm since she couldn’t turn in his grasp at the moment and leaned more against him.

“I never was before.” She had told him quietly, “But the government needs the information from me to intercept other international criminals, distinguish between gangs, and now with tourism I need to be on the ball and doing everything I can to help you guys out. After all, you helped me when I was in need.”

“Stell.” Tuff started.

“Three hours of meditation a week and I’m always fine.” She assured.

“Really?” Tuff asked in disbelief.

“While going through therapy, I couldn’t sleep” Carstella started, “So, I meditated to keep my strength up, and it worked.”

Tuff and Carstella embraced each other for a while longer before Tuff reluctantly let the dark haired girl go. He turned to head down stairs to open up the shop, but not before placing a soft kiss on her lips.

Carstella watched the blonde go down stairs sadly. She knew he wanted her to be okay and that he cared for her more than anything in the world. She sighed sadly and turned to dry and put away the dishes.

“I think that’s everything.” Carstella told the employee she had just hired.

“I can take of it.” Freya told her with a smile, “You get to the town hall.”

Carstella nodded picking up her shoulder bag from the counter, “Tuff is downstairs if you need anything.”

Freya nodded and waved as Carstella left.

The red eyed girl sighed as she closed the door and hurried across town.

Thorston boutique had two new part timers, Freya and Bjorn. They both worked on the weekends together, they had two for sure days on during the week after school and alternated on Wednesdays. They were good kids in the middle of their highschool careers. They did good, hard, honest work. And Carstella felt right with leaving one of them in charge of the store when she had other work to attend to.

The brunette was just exhausted. On top of trying to organize, plan and update the tourism she was trying to push, she was researching heavily the tourism industry to gain a better edge. And the F.B.I had just sent her an even larger work load than she had before which she needed to keep up with. There were days when Carstella wouldn’t even make it to bed because of how busy she was, and it was beginning to take its toll.

“Hi, Ruff.” Carstella greeted with a tired smile as she entered the building.

“You look exhausted.” Ruff commented, “When was the last time you slept?”

“Couple days ago.” The brunette replied, “Where’s Stoik?”

“His office.” She said slowly not fully understanding what had been said to her.

“Thank you.” Carstella said and hurried to his office.

The dark brunette pushed open the door and entered to see the red haired man reading over papers. He looked up, his green eyes meeting her red ones. Before he had a chance to say anything Carstella dropped a very large file folder on his desk and said;

“These is everything I have gathered so far, for the program. You requested copies when I was done.”

Stoik said nothing for a moment as he looked at the girl, “You look exhausted.”

Carstella shrugged, ignoring the question, “I hope everything is up to the standards of Berk.”

“I’m sure it will be.” Stoik said leaning back in his chair and looking at the brunette in front of him, “Have you been sleeping well?”

“As well as I can.” She told him, “I believe we should also market a special travel pack during Thawfest time, Christmas, and when the Arvandil’s Fire occurs. But I wanted to speak with you about it first.”

“I think these are fine ideas.” Stoik told her, “I will present them to the committee later today, for now you should go home and get yourself some sleep.”

Carstella said nothing as she nodded and turned to leave the office. However, she did not go directly home. They needed groceries, and she needed to double check with the farmers about the hay rides, and several other people about guided tours, boat rentals, fishing expeditions, etc.

By the time Carstella got home it was almost 8 pm.

“I thought it would be a quick thing.” Tuff said as she entered, bags in her hands.

“Quick with Stoik.” She said toeing off her shoes and walking into the kitchen to put away the groceries, “Had other things to do.”

“Like what?” Tuff asked as he started putting food away.

“Double checking on things mostly.” She admitted as she put groceries away too.

“You look exhausted.” Tuff told the brunette.

The red eyed girl shrugged but didn’t say anything as she finished putting everything away.

Tuff eyed her suspiciously.

“You know there’s a difference between good and bad stress, right?” He asked her.

“I have good amount of stress right now.” Carstella smiled at him, “Some things are just taking a little longer than I hoped they would have.”

Tuff scratched the back of his head, not really believing her but not wanting to call her out on her bluff either.

“If you say so.” He shrugged.


Obscuring The Heart(Part 17)

I ladled a healthy helping of thick, lamb stew into a bowl and set it on the table in front of my father. I was still thinking about that poster that I had seen earlier that day. I knew there was something familiar about it, but I just couldn’t place it.

I ladled out some stew for myself and took my seat across from my dad.

“Sigrid, is something the matter?” The red head asked me.

“I was talking to Philip today.” I saw his confused face, “The bounty hunter.” I clarified, “And he showed me the poster of the man he’s been hunting. And there’s just something really familiar about him, but I can’t put my finger on what it is.”

“Well,” Stoik shrugged, “He’ll be out of our hair tomorrow, so it doesn’t gain any time still thinking about it. Besides I need you in top spirits. With all the other riders gone, many of the children have been terrified that there’s no one around to protect them from that monster in forest.”

My eyes lit up, finally remembering what that tattoo reminded me of.

“Didn’t they say that monster looked a lot like a scauldron?” I asked.

Stoik nodded, “Children and their imaginations. No matter how many times any of us tell them there is no way that a scauldron would be up in the mountains they insist they’ve seen one.”

I pushed away from the table and stood up, heading for the door and picking up my ax, quiver and bow along the way.

“Sigrid, where are you going?” Stoik called out to me.

“To hunt this monster.” I told him, flashing him a genuine smile before bolting out of the house so he wouldn’t be able to stop me.

“Are you sure this is where you saw it last?” I asked Gustav who was trembling under Shadowsplinter’s wing.

“Yes.” He squeaked out, “Can I please go now?”

I tilted my head to examine the tracks a little better. These footprints were way too large for it to be any of the other children in the village playing a prank on the others. It was a grown man, maybe about the same size a Mulch but I couldn’t be certain.

I nodded finally, “Take Fanghook and go home. You did as I asked so I don’t need you here-

I cut myself off as I turned around slightly to see he had already taken to the sky on his dragon and was heading home.

I sighed to myself and shook my head. He could ride a five ton flaming war machine like it was nothing, but at the prospect of facing a ‘monster’ he turned tail and fled.

I had to suppress a chuckle as I followed the tracks by lantern light. His reaction was probably the most logical to take. I was being the idiot.

I followed the tracks, weaving in and out of bushes, around trees, over a small creek. But the tracks were ever present. It was like whoever left them either wanted themselves to be tracked or had no care as to whom found them.

I took a pause to suppress a cough and to examine the tracks more thoroughly. There were overlays of other tracks on top, the same feet but they were much more fresh. I made the decision to extinguish my lantern and take a few moments to let my eyes adjust to the night. There was little light from the half moon filtering down through the trees, but it was enough for me to make my way.

I motioned for Shadowsplinter to stay where he was until I knew exactly where these were heading. I had a feeling that the tracks were leading to a small cave close by. It was mostly covered by a fallen tree, fresh saplings, bushes. It was something so out of the way that you wouldn’t know to look for it if you didn’t know it was there.

How did I know it was there? Simple. We all used to play in the forest as kids. Especially when Dagur came for the treaty signing. On one such occasion, when Dagur was here, we had wandered pretty deep into the woods. Shortly after a fight between the two of us broke out and we wound up on the ground wrestling. Eventually we rolled down the small hill, crashing into bushes and small rocks and who knows what else, eventually winding up down at that cave. Our previous fight had been forestalled due to our curiosity to investigate the small opening.

I was correct in my assumption and stepped forward carefully, making sure to avoid making any kind of unnecessary noise. Once past some of the further bushes I began to see the dim glow of a fire. I stepped forward a little more, making sure to move slowly and deliberately so that I would maintain my element of surprise. In all my years of hunting and fighting I knew this was crucial thing to maintain.

I grew within a few feet of the entrance of the cave, I could see him clearly thanks to the flames of the fire. He was about Mulch’s size, maybe a little taller. He had blonde hair and a long, scraggly mustache and beard combination. His brown eyes were both tired and hard, as if he’d seen more than his fair share of carnage yet he longed for a soft bed. His nose was big and unbroken, or at least it was set back properly, but what drew my attention the most was the tattoo on his right cheek. It was the tail of a scauldron.

I assessed my options. The cave was small so there wasn’t any room for a full on scrimmage between us, and with the small opening and all the foliage around I was on my own because Shadowplinter couldn’t get in this far. He was a big man too so I wouldn’t be able to overpower him. I could have run back to the village and gotten Philip or another adult out here to help me, but the odds of them being as silent as I was were slim to non.

I watched carefully as the flames began to die down into low embers. Norman hadn’t moved in the entire time I was there, and after a few more minutes I realized why that was. He fell over from his sitting position onto his side with a dull thud. He was breathing heavily and evenly. I was in luck.

I waited a few more moments before making my move, I wanted to make sure he was in a deep sleep. I pulled my bow and quiver off of my shoulder and set them down silently on the grass, they would only hinder me.

On my hands and toes I slowly advanced into the cave careful to not make a single sound. I knelt right in front of the large, sleeping man and carefully brought his hands together in front of him. I then carefully wrapped the ball end of my chain scythe around his wrists and secured it so he wouldn’t be able to wriggle loose. Then, being careful not to make a single sound, I slowly backed out of the cave on my toes. Once back out into the open night air I straightened myself up to my full height and sent Shadowsplinter a hand signal to come forward and land on the fallen tree hanging over the cave.

He did as I signaled, and the second he had touched down I had secured the scythe end of the chain to the guards on the back end of the saddle. I double checked to make sure that was secure before scurrying back into the gave to check on Norman. He was still asleep, chain firmly secured around his wrists.

Satisfied I left the cave silently and picked up my bow and quiver, hanging them on my shoulder like before. I then climbed up fallen tree and mounted Shadowplinter.

“Alright, boy.” I started, patting his neck softly, “We’re gonna have some extra weight here, but all we have to do it get him to the village. If you can manage that, there’ll be a bucket of apples waiting for you once we hand him over. Alright?”

He didn’t let out a roar, knowing silence was best here. Instead he let out a lot of air through his nostrils along with small amounts of smoke to let me know he was up for it.

“Alright.” I said more to myself that time, “Sky.”

Norman the Nimrod’s back his the deck hard. Philip the bounty hunter towered over him with a grim smile on his face.

“I owe dis all to you, miss Sigr’d.” Philip smiled at me.

I shrugged, “One less thing for the people of Berk to worry about.”

“If’n it’s alright’n wit you, I’d like’n to come back her ‘nd share with you the bounty I get off o’ him.” Philip offered.

I shook my head, “I was doing a duty to the people.”

Philip shook his head, “Wouldn’t be righ’ta leave her and take all the treasure for myself. Sides, you’s the one who found ‘im in da fir’t place.”

I shrugged again, “If you feel the need to do it I can’t stop you. But he’s your prize.”

“Dat he is.” Philip agreed, “You known, miss Sigr’d,” He said more thoughtfully this time, “If’n you’d evar consider a differ’nt path, bounty huntin’ might’n be it for ya. You seem to be a real goodin’ at it.”

I shrugged again, “I know how to track. It’s not really a be all, end all skill.”

It was Philip who shrugged this time.

“Just a sugges’n.”

I shrugged once more.

“Well, thank you for taking this, nuisance off our hands, Philip.” Stoik cut in. He had been there the entire time and decided now was the best time to speak.

“Thanks is mine, chief.” Philip replied with a polite nod, “I won’t’n be botherin’ you ‘nd your people no more.”

“Safe travels.” My father bid as Philip boarded his ship and shoved off.

We waved until he was well out of ear shot.

“He seemed nice.” I said more to myself than to anyone else. I knew what was about to come.

“Nice?” Stoik growled as he turned his attention from the disappearing boat to me, “He seemed nice. A bounty hunter? A man you only barely know the name of, that you risked your life to go out and find him his target. All because he seemed nice!”

“His target, ” I started, “Was a man who was terrorizing our children. At least now you have one less thing to worry about.”

“Sigrid!” Stoik boomed, “I don’t care about that. You could have been hurt. You were hunting a wanted man for heaven’s sake! You leave, in the dark no less, without much of a word, force young Gustav to take you to where this monster was seen and then proceed to track it alone!”

“I had Shadowplinter with me.” I shot back.

“Oh, and having your dragon makes all the difference?” Stoik snapped.

“Yes.” I seethed, “He wouldn’t let anything happen to me!”

“But what if something did happen to you?” Stoik demanded.

“Nothing happened!”

“But what if something did? What if it was a dragon out there that posed a threat and not a heavily sleeping man? What if it was someone much more alert? What if-”

I cut him off, “What if Norman started stealing children? What if he started wrecking crops and stealing farm animals and ruining our livelihoods?” I demanded, “What then? Had I not acted as I did we could potentially be have a much different conversation right now. We can stand here all day and talk about what ifs and what could have been and how stupid I am for doing what I did. But at the end of the day dad, nothing bad happened. I ran off in the middle of the night, that’s not odd for me. I tracked someone in the forest, we all do that from time to time. Yeah, maybe it could have been a dragon, but it wasn’t. So, how about instead of continuously going over all the things that could have gone wrong and obsessing about my lack of safety, can you not just be happy that I solved something for you and came out of it okay?”

Stoik looked almost ashamed, he had learned how to better talk to Hiccup and myself over the past few years instead of just yelling at us about our mistakes and what we should be doing. He’s learned to listen and see things from our point of view, but that didn’t mean he liked it.

“I know you’re just concerned dad,” I assured him my placing a reassuring hand on his arm, “But I’m not a kid anymore. I know how to handle myself.”

“I thought you were still sick?” He all but whispered back at me.

I shrugged again, “I’m mostly over it. Besides, I think that clean night air really helped me.”

He could only half smile at me, which I mirrored back. Somethings were getting really hard for him to accept. My strength and intelligence seemed to be among them.