After dinner that night, the four new Guardians were laid down in beds in North's workshop while the older Guardians talked. Rapunzel and Jack fell asleep easily. Hiccup settled into a few nightmares, but managed to stay asleep, only tossing and mumbling something every once in a while. Merida fell asleep but couldn't stay that way. She woke with a start in a cold sweat after a nightmare about being attacked by something in the middle of the woods. She'd been lying flat on her stomach, defenceless and helpless as whatever it was tore away at her.
She couldn't bear to stay in the room any longer, so she crept to the stairwell and listened carefully to what the older Guardians were talking about.
"They're all so young!" said Tooth. "What do you think happened to them?"
"Well, Jack was soaking wet. Maybe he drowned," said North. Merida realized in alarm that they were saying that they were all dead. She needed more info, so she kept quiet and out of sight.
"That fireball grumby's dress was all torn up and bloody. Wonder what happened to her," said Bunny. He was talking about her. "And that sunray, her dress was bloody mostly around the chest. Think she was stabbed?"
"Possibly. But who would murder someone like her in cold blood like that? You think she ever hurt someone?" asked Tooth.
"Not on your Nelly. Didn't you say her hair glowed?" said Bunny.
"Yes, I did. But what does that have to do with it?"
"Maybe whoever stabbed her took her hair when she was dead for whatever magic it had."
"It's not possible. Once it's cut, she told me it turns brown and loses its power. Whoever killed her wouldn't be that stupid, would they?"
They little sandy guy raised a picture of a stop sign from the gold dust above his head. North sighed.
"Yes, I'd say it's time we dropped this train of conversation. Let's get down to business. What are their scepters of the seasons? What channels their powers?"
"For Rapunzel, I'm not sure. I'd say her hair, but Pitch couldn't take that from her without it losing all powers," said Tooth.
"Well, for my grumby, it's obvious. She can shoot like a pro and when the arrow leaves her bow it catches fire. If that boy ain't her scepter, we'll never know what it is," said Bunny.
Sandy raised an image of Hiccup, then of what looked to be a dragon. Next, he showed Hiccup riding the dragon, the sandy wings flapping every once in a while.
"He's a dragon rider?" asked North. Sandy nodded. "The dragon is obviously the boy's scepter. As for Jack, well I'm not sure. He never really showed an attraction to an object that would create a magic effect."
"Tomorrow, we should tell the kids about Pitch and their scepter and duties as Guardians," said Tooth. The other Guardians nodded in agreement. They flicked off the lights in the room as they left through a door on the opposite side of the room from Merida. Just as Bunny was about to shut the door, he looked over at Merida and gave her a thumbs up. The door shut and the room became dark.
Merida kept getting the feeling like something was breathing down her neck. She needed light. She concentrated on the comforting blaze of a fire and her palm instantly burst flames. It didn't even hurt her to have fire that close to her palm.
My little fire princess, said the voice of a woman in her mind. The woman had a Scottish accent like she did and her voice was familiar, although from where she didn't know. Merida went over to the window and opened it, careful not to light it on fire as she did so. She longed to fly out the window and dance in the water of the Fire Falls. She didn't remember much about her past, just little flitting images and voices, scenes she couldn't quite grasp. Fire Falls and archery were the only things that stood out in her mind as important things from her past.
She didn't know how to fly, but she imagined it was a bit like being like smoke. Floating slowly but surely away from the dancing tongues of flame. She closed her eyes and imagined herself rising slowly like smoke. As soon as she'd done that, she felt herself float off the floor. She opened her eyes. She was almost out the window. She'd never been afraid of heights which was good considering the fact that she knew she had a long way to fly. She leaned forward and she swooped out the window. Although she was in Russia, the roar of the falls was strong in her mind, leading over miles and miles of mountains and plains and countryside homes. She flew over Germany, France, England, and landed down in Scotland. She knew this country well, obviously because she was from there. She swooped over villages and a few castles (one of them beckoning to her as though it were a dear friend) and miles of wood until she reached a cliffside with a waterfall spouting down the side. One rocky ledge nearby was familiar to her. She remembered climbing it. She landed on the ledge and breathed in the clean woodsy air. She cupped her hands under the water and gulped up the little handful of water she'd managed to catch.
She smiled and laughed excitedly. Then, as though she'd been possessed by a spirit, she began to dance. She danced and danced and danced for hours until she couldn't dance anymore. By the end she was so exhausted that she just decided to go onto the ground. As soon as her feet touched the ground, she felt right away that something was wrong. She whipped her head either way, looking for the source of her discomfort. She found it. It was a little wooden cross stuck into the ground not far from her feet. There was a name carved in it. She stepped forward and was about to read it when she heard a scream above her.
She looked up and barely had enough time to react before Hiccup came tumbling down into her arms, knocking her off her feet. She lay there, dazed and moaning, Hiccup splayed out on top of her. She could see the dragon from Sandy's sand picture slowly descend next to them. Hiccup got up and put his hand to his forehead. Then he helped Merida up.
"I am so sorry!" apologized Hiccup as Merida brushed off her skirt.
"What happened?" asked Merida. Hiccup gave a nervous laugh.
"I kind of fell off of Toothless," said Hiccup, staring at the ground sheepishly.
"The dragon's name is Toothless? Why did you name him that?" asked Merida, cocking an eyebrow.
"Because the first time I saw his mouth, I thought he didn't have teeth."
"Oh, he has teeth. They're just retractable. Kind of like...cat claws."
"So, how'd you fall off?"
"Wire snapped. The harness disconnected from the saddle. I'll have to fix it later."
Merida looked Hiccup over. "You don't seem like someone who would fix things."
"I get that a lot. Not a lot of people actually think I can do anything. All because I can't really carry a heavy blade."
"What does blades have to do with anything?"
"I came from a Viking town. Blades and strength are everything to Vikings. I wasn't strong or talented with blades."
"Neither was I really. I knew how to use a sword, but my shot was the best in the whole country."
"I take it you mean this country. You seem pretty comfortable over here."
"Yeah. These are the Fire Falls. Fitting that I should like it here, considering..." Merida got a blaze started on her palm. Hiccup gasped and backed up into a tree. She thought it was out of shock, but there was another look in his eyes. Merida rather thought it was fear. She put out the blaze and looked at him in confusion. What was he scared of.
Hiccup cleared his throat and moved away from the tree. He looked around for a distraction from what had just happened. His eyes settled on the cross a few feet away. "Hey, you were looking at this when I fell on you."
"Oh, yes. I was just about to see what it..." She read the name and her blood went cold. It read Merida, Princess of Dun Broch. Archer, Daughter, Friend. R.I.P. "...says."
"What's wrong?" asked Hiccup.
"That's my name," said Merida, pale as death.
"Well, it can't be you, because you're standing right in front of me," said Hiccup, trying for a reassuring voice.
"Hiccup, I was eavesdropping on the other Guardians earlier. They were talking about the clothes we got our training in. You know, the ones that were burnt and torn and wet and bloody? They said that...that they told how we died."
Hiccup's blood seemed to have drained from his body. "Died?" squeaked Hiccup.
"Yes, died. Don't tell Jack or Rapunzel. I don't want them panicking."
Hiccup seemed to have nodded, although Merida couldn't be sure or if it was more of a mechanism to stop choking. Toothless seemed to be aware of what was going on. He nudged Hiccup. Hiccup climbed on Toothless, but his movements were robotic, like he was simply going through the motions. Merida climbed up behind him. Then she remembered why Hiccup had fallen on her in the first place before Toothless could lift off, Merida got off.
"Hiccup, the harness can't attach to the saddle. If we ride, we'll fall off," said Merida.
"Oh, right..." said Hiccup, climbing off like he'd just woken up, even wobbling around when he hit the ground.
"Hiccup, I'm sorry that I told you what the Guardians said," said Merida, putting her hand under his chin and tilting his head up. "It doesn't matter if we died before Hiccup, everything's alright. We'll get answers from the Guardians tomorrow. Everything will be fine."
Merida wasn't expecting it at all, but Hiccup took a step forward and wrapped his arms around Merida. Merida stood in shock for a second, and then she wrapped her arms around him as well.
"It's not that. I get the weird feeling I had to redeem myself for something," said Hiccup. "Now I'll never know what it was I did wrong."
"We'll find out. I swear I'll make it my personal mission." Merida felt a drop land on her shoulder and reached up to wipe away his tears, only to poke him in the eye.
"Ow! What the heck?" said Hiccup, rubbing his eye.
Merida let go and backed up. She held her hands up in the defensive position. "I didn't mean to!"
"I totally believe you. Moment's ruined. Okay. How are we going to get back to Russia?" asked Hiccup, still rubbing his eye.
"I can fly. I think I could carry you," said Merida. She picked him up with ease.
"I'm going to have to punch a hole through a wall to feel manly again after this is over."
"If you can." Merida laughed and they took to the sky, Toothless following close behind.
It was dawn by the time they got back. They dove into their beds just as the Guardians opened the door to wake everyone up.