No Way Out(A HTTYD Love Story Part 26)

Tired scarlet eyes fluttered open to meet concerned, sea blue ones.

Carstella gave a sad smile to him as the blond rung out a cloth and put it on her burning forehead with a kiss on her nose.

“I’m sorry, Tuff.” She said weakly.

The man just smiled sadly at her, “It’s okay, Stell. Just please, don’t do it again. I can’t take losing you. Not again, please.”

“I know.” She smiled, extracting a hand from under her blanket to find his and grab it tightly, “I’m really sorry.”

Tuff smiled, leaning down to kiss her nose again.

“I think now’s a good time to talk.” He said after a moment.

Carstella nodded sheepishly. She knew this was coming, but at the same time felt very awkward about it as it could have easily been avoided.

“How long have I been asleep?” She asked, swallowing thickly.

“Little over twelve hours.” Tuff shrugged and help her sit up slightly before handing her a glass of water.

Carstella drained the contents of it before handing back to him. Tuff placed it back on the bedside table before laying the girl back down and readjusting the cold cloth on her forehead.

“I called Bucket and Mulch.” He started, not looking her in the eye, “Told them what happened. They said they’d talk to what’s his name about it and you won’t have to worry about handing in that report or whatever you need to get done.”

Carstella nodded, holding his hand tightly.

“I talked to Stoik and the others as well.” He coughed, “Told them all what happened and I guess the council had a meeting. Ruff and Fishlegs are going to take over the tourism.”

“But-” Carstella began, only to stop herself after a moment seeing as she couldn’t say anything about it.

“Fishlegs wanted out of teaching anyway. Ruff’s a great secretary so the work load’ll be easier on them.”

Carstella nodded, it made sense.

She waited for Tuff to continue, but he didn’t. He just sat there, holding her hand in his tightly.

“Tuff?” She asked gingerly, “There something wrong?”

The blond finally looked at the girl, his blue eyes misty and red rimmed.

“Tuff?”

He had been crying, she knew. But why?

“The doctor gave you the once over.” He began, “He said you were pregnant.”

Fear and ice seized the girl’s body.

“Did he say for how long?” She asked.

The blond shook his head, “Just your first trimester. And that the odds of it surviving right now are very slim because of the poor condition you’ve been keeping yourself in.”

Carstella shook her head as her throat began to tighten.

“I am so sorry, Tuff.” She said, “I shouldn’t have done this to you. To us. I am so sorry. It will never happen again. It should not have happened this time, but it did, and I am very sorry.”

Tuff took a shaky breath as he lifted her hand up and placed a chaste kiss on her knuckles.

“It’s okay, Stell.”

“No it’s not.” She sniffed, “I shouldn’t ever have put either of us through this. You deserve so much better than me, damn it.”

“I chose to love you everyday, Stell.” Tuff said, gripping her hand tighter, “I chose to be with you. And I chose to take everything that comes with it. I just want you to promise me you won’t ever do something like that again. You need to take care of yourself too you know.”

Silent tears slid out of her crimson eyes as she nodded.

“Promise.” Tuff reiterated.

“I promise.”

 

 

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Obscuring the Heart(Part 19)

I took a deep breath as Shadowsplinter glided above the clouds. I had talked to Phillip hardly two days earlier, telling him I wanted to try my hand at becoming a bounty hunter. He had taken me under his wing and talked to me for hours on end telling me all about some of the finer details of being a hunter.

Some of his hunting buddies came in and added to wealth of knowledge I was being served too.

I was given a handful of ‘easier’ leveled wanted posters and was sent back out into the world to try to find them.

The wanted posters were divided up into four main categories.

There was ‘easier’ which was for beginners, or people just looking for easy money. These were some people who were wanted for minor reasons: burglary, slaughtering a herd of animals that didn’t belong to them, stealing ships and heavy fishing equipment. Because they were wanted for relatively minor things their bounties reflected it, hardly going over 500 gold.

Phillip and his friends sent me on these so I could get a feel for how hunting worked for myself before I went for any bigger game.

Then there was ‘intermediate’ grade. These people were considered dangerous and violent. Norman the Nimrod had been in this category. These people were wanted for a variety of things, as this was where most people were placed: heavy theft, assaults, rapes, burning of villages, kidnapping, etc. Phillip wanted to give me some of those posters because he knew I could take care of myself, but his friends convinced him otherwise.

It didn’t matter how good you were in regular combat or when it came to tracking, bounty hunting was a class all its own and the skills had to be learned and honed by the user themselves. They tried to impart as much wisdom and advise as they could on me, but we all knew the only way I could learn was to go out there myself and try.

The third level was ‘dangerous’. This was where things got tough. Serial murders, full blown slave traders, pirates, mercenaries, even corrupt viking chiefs were not exempt from this. These were the ones most likely to give a hunter the most trouble and even managed to gain the upper hand on them and kill them. Their bounties reflected this though, easily reaching the tens of thousands in gold.

Then we get to the ‘S’ ranked. These were the worst of the worst. Only the strongest, most cunning, most skilled hunters even dared to try their hand at capturing them. Usually wanted posters dictated they wanted them alive, or dead or alive. A lot of the time, what I saw with these anyway, was they were wanted dead. These seemed to be the people who were the heads of large, illegal organizations, or were just really bad people who others were willing to pay an arm and a leg for them to be out of the picture. This was also reflected with their bounties reaching hundreds of thousands of gold, sometimes more. I was warned to stay away from these as much as possible until I was entirely confident when dealing with the ‘dangerous’ ranked targets.

I was happy for the help though. I wouldn’t have known where to start or what to do. But they were great, telling me the best places to go to for information, taverns were usually the best place, and the serving staff and bar keeps were always keeping their ears out for any sort of information that wasn’t the usual crops and fish which they were happy to share… for a price.

I adjusted the scarf part of my cloak that would keep my face covered and reached into my belt pouch for a wanted poster.

I wanted to keep my face and gender askew so that nothing would eventually make its way back to Berk or Outcast Island, and so I could be taken seriously.

I knew from experience that a little girl, like myself, was rarely if ever considered to be dangerous or a serious threat and was often times belittled or overlooked in places of interest. I didn’t want that to happen here.

I had managed to gather enough information in my first two days and had located my target. He had taken up residence on a little farming island, easy enough to access and probably easy enough to find him.

My target was a thief by the name of Bjorn the Bludgeon. An odd name for a little, stick of a man who the poster presented him as. But I knew from experience that the little guys were the ones to watch the most, they were always easily overlooked for their larger counterparts making them even more dangerous.

I smiled to myself and rolled the parchment back up, tucking it away in my belt pouch.

We would get there soon, and I would try my hand at it.

I felt my heart rate increase and I took a few deep breaths to try to steady myself. I wasn’t nervous. I had been into battle too many times for something like this to effect me this harshly.

I was excited. My adrenaline had been stagnant too long, my blood was finally pumping. The fire in my soul was reignited.

I was once again the predator I was forged to be.

No Way Out(A HTTYD Love Story Part 25)

Carstella groaned and rubbed her eyes furiously to rid them of any sleep that dared to impede her scarlet orbs from doing their job.

She glanced at the clock siting on her desk with a yawn and flinched seeing that it was almost 7 in the morning. Last time she had checked the thing, it had hardly been past 2.

The dark haired girl let out a whine as she looked back at the half written report for the government she needed to get in. She desperately wanted it to get done as soon as possible, as that would be the last thing she needed to do for that for the week.

She sighed and stretched out in her chair for a moment before picking herself up and stumbling out of her office and into the kitchen to make another pot of coffee.

Carstella yawned again and rubbed her eyes as she waited for the liquid to brew. She hadn’t gotten any sleep over the past couple of days.

She had mountains of research into the tourism industry, submitted reports to Stoik about what was done, had to be done, and further ideas to make things run smoother. She had estimated and explained various results of encrypted letters and had even found time enough to make a key for them to make life a little easier. She had identified previously unknown drug, sex, and weapon traffickers, and had busted a shipment of illegal substances.

Despite doing all this good, however, the girl felt like absolute garbage.

She leaned against the counter to keep herself upright. Her head started to pound and she grew slightly dizzy.

You finish that report, and then get some sleep. She told herself.

You can’t. She argued, Bjorn isn’t going to be in today until 3. You have to make it until then.

Carstella opened her eyes and saw that the coffee was done. Resolving herself to sleep once Bjorn was in, come hell or high water, she took a step towards the coffee pot to fill up her mug that sat on the counter next to it.

She never made it there, unfortunately.

Her knuckles turned white as she gripped the edge of the counter, bent double over the sink emptying her stomach into the stainless steel bowl.

She choked and coughed as she did, trying desperately to keep it down.

The yellow, brownish substance quickly became red as her mouth filled with a copper flavour. Her mind swam and her vision blurred. The red eyed girl fought to keep herself upright, putting all her weight on the counter as needed.

I’m still not recovered, am I? She asked herself as she turned the tap on to clean out the sink.

The attempted execution still had more than a few lingering effects on her, despite her best efforts to keep them hidden.

Carstella felt her hair get lifted back from her face and a gentle hand begin to rub lightly on her back.

“Are you okay, Stell?” Tuff whispered to the girl, worry and concern were all too apparent in his voice.

She opened her mouth to reply but stopped.

You just threw up blood. She reasoned, you can’t see straight, and I wouldn’t trust your legs right now if your life depended on it. If you tell him that you are alright, I’m smacking you.

“No.” Carstella choked out as she spat to remove the taste from her mouth, “No, I’m really not.”