In the morning, we headed out to keep searching for the cave. I was in favor of Jack and Derek paling around instead of ripping each other's throats out. Besides, I wasn't really worth it. I honestly didn't know why Jack didn't just drop me when I left him. I guess that made me special. At least, to Jack. Hiccup was getting really antsy. He insisted on keeping the map with him the whole time. After a while, he suggested we play a game.
"What kind of game?" I asked Hiccup.
'It's called 'Spill your Guts'. One of us asks another a question and you have to answer it fully and truthfully. I used to play this game with my mom. Hours of entertainment to be had with this game."
"All right then. I want to go first," insisted Merida. "Hiccup, it's high time you told us what happened to yer leg."
"All right, fine. It was about a month after I trained Toothless. It was on the island of the dragons. There was one mega-uber-chief dragon. It was about as big as this forest and it could have eaten me in one breath. Toothless and I fought it. We were almost winning; with the combined help of all the dragons there we'd managed to ignite a big enough fire to kill it. Unfortunately, Toothless' prosthetic tail fin caught on fire, and we fell. I fell right into the fire, but Toothless managed to get me out before too much damage happened. But not before my leg was burned off. That is what happened to my leg. Who's up next?"
"Jack, you tell us all about your sister Bitsy. Everything about her that you remember," I said to Jack.
"Ah, Bitsy. She was a sweetheart. She loved everyone and everything. She was beloved by everyone in the village," said Jack, smiling up at the sky. "She loved the winter, just like I did. She loved Vanessa too. She was always saying that she wanted to be like Vanessa when she grew up. Bitsy and Vanessa and I were always outside playing, whether it was spring, summer, fall, or winter. During the time we all got to be together, we made a swing set in the trees. Three swings cut exactly to fit only us. She loved it. She loved the woods, she loved the lake, she loved the birds and the butterflies, she loved the sunshine, she loved the cloudy days, she loved being inside, she loved being outside, heck, she loved everything!"
"Tell us about the day she was born," said Hiccup. We all wanted to hear more, even Derek seemed mildly interested.
"Okay then, although I have no idea at all why you care so much," said Jack, rolling his eyes. "The day that Bitsy was born, I was out in the woods. With Vanessa, actually. We were climbing trees. I believe it was summer. She challenged me to a tree-climbing contest, and I was not going to be beaten by a girl. Even at eight, I had my dignity. In the end, I climbed the tallest tree and hung upside down from one of the highest branches. Vanessa wouldn't do it. We climbed down and headed home to go eat some of Mom's fresh homemade bread. When we went through the door, we heard a baby crying. I dashed into Mom's room and there she was, lying in bed holding a baby with the doctor in the chair next to her bed. Vanessa came in after me and we ran to the bed. Mom let me hold her first. 'Her name is Bitsy,' said Mom. I handed her to Vanessa and said that I wondered what Dad would think of her. My dad had died a few months before that, but that's beside the point. I can't remember exactly the day, but it was July. When Mom went to take her from Vanessa, she started crying, which told me that she was going to love Vanessa like an older sister. Are we clear on this now?"
"Yeah, I think we are. Now, Merida, I insist you tell us why you liked Hiccup right away," said Derek, leaning back to look at her from behind Jack and me.
"Hmmm, I donnae think ye should know that, Derek," said Merida, smirking.
"Aw, c'mon Meri! I'm feelin' gossipy," said Derek, making me laugh. Merida rolled her eyes.
"A'right. I'll tell you. Hiccup, no need to be embarrassed about this, right?" asked Merida. He shrugged, eyebrows furrowed and eyes fixed on the map. "A'right, I originally found Hiccup interesting because of his dragon. I myself had never seen a dragon, so, yes; I became his friend because of his dragon. But when I saw him ride Toothless… I swear I've never seen such an amazing sight. I wanted to be like that, like a god on Earth."
"I wouldn't say god. Maybe hero, but I'm no god," said Hiccup, eyes still on the map.
"No, I would say god, you would say hero. Anyhow, I soon learned to ride Toothless and I ended up loving him. He was so kind, and patient. But he was a wee bit of a wuss. I knew that I could make him braver and better at what he does if we would just start dating. I pretty much forced him to start liking me," said Merida with a laugh. Then she suddenly hugged Hiccup from behind and he stumbled backwards. She caught him and she was holding him up. "Although we still have a few kinks to work out, don't we?"
He smiled weakly and with a touch of embarrassment. Merida laughed and leaned forward to kiss him. Then she helped him up onto his feet and we continued walking.
"Alright. Derek, I want to know more about your home life, before the school," said Jack, seeming to already know the answer and just wanting him to admit it out loud.
"Well, my parents were… not the best. They were a bit of the neglecting type. I mean, they meant well, I suppose, but Giselle and I were barely paid attention to," said Derek, shrugging like he was trying to shrug off the conversation.
"Giselle? As in the eleven-year-old girl who is really wimpy and can't do a thing for herself?" asked Hiccup.
"Yes, her. I love her to pieces," said Derek, smiling a little bit. Jack gave him a teasing shove and Derek shoved him back.
"Uh, guys? This is fun and all, but you really need to see this," said Hiccup, stopping suddenly. He slowly pointed forward at a cave with the mouth blocked off by boulders. There were Latin words engraved on them.
Singultus Horrendum Asellus III.
"Translation: Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the third," said Jack, smirking. Hiccup ran toward the cave and started pulling at the boulders. Merida looked over at me and then ran to join him.
"Hiccup, there is no way ye can move all these boulders alone," said Merida. Jack flew up to them.
"Then he won't. Derek, Vanessa! Let's help them out with this. Besides, there's stuff for people other than Hiccup," said Jack
"I don't need to be bribed, he's my friend," I replied, rushing forward and tugging on the boulders.
We worked together at a fast pace and soon we had cleared the mouth of the cave out. Jack grabbed the pack off the ground and we went inside. As if by magic, all the boulders we'd worked to clear replaced themselves and we were plunged into darkness. Merida used her magic to light a ball of fire in her hand. The stony walls of the cave were eerily lit by the flickering blaze, just enough for us to see three feet in front of us and each other.
"Well, that was unexpected," said Derek, walking forward slowly.
"Yeah. I guess Mom didn't want anyone to follow us when we came inside. Or something else doesn't want us to come back out," said Hiccup. Merida smacked him.
"Don't say that! Bad enough I don't enjoy being inside caves, let alone in the dark," said Merida, her voice quavering a little bit.
"Scared of caves? You? Not what I expected at all," said Vanessa, smirking. Merida reached over and fake punched her.
"I can still gut you with my bare hands and don't you forget it," said Merida with a laugh. Vanessa shrugged, as though she were saying 'Can't argue with that.'
Soon, we came to a little side room. There was nothing in it but the chest. Hiccup dropped the pack and let go of Merida's hand. He dashed to the chest, fell to his knees and quickly removed the chain holding the key from around his neck.
"This is it. I'm finally going to see what Mom left for me," said Hiccup. He took a steadying breath, closed his eyes and inserted the key in the keyhole. He turned it and opened both his eyes and the chest. He looked inside and gasped. "Oh, Thor and Odin in heaven above. How did she...?"
"What is it?" asked Jack. We all took a step closer and Hiccup took the three things from the chest.
In the flickering light of the flames, I could see the letter and a bottle. There was also something that looked like a misshapen lump of coal. I got so frustrated trying to make out what it was that I reached inside myself for the brightest light I had. What came out was what looked like glowing golden dust. Everyone turned from Hiccup to me.
"You can create dream-sand too?" asked Jack, reaching out to touch one of the tendrils of sand. I shrugged and he touched it. It immediately dissolved from a tendril into dozens of snowflakes. Jack laughed. "Well, now we can see what it is."
"Vanessa, this bottle is for you," said Hiccup, tossing it to me. I caught it and it landed with a soft splashing noise in my hands. I stuffed the bottle into my coat pocket and knelt down to get a better look at the thing that had looked like coal.
Once I got a closer look, I saw that it wasn't coal at all, or even a rock. It was a little blue stuffed dragon, falling apart at the seams, but not to the point of it losing any limbs or anything. It kind of looked like a friendlier, more cartoonish Toothless. Hiccup sniffled with a weak smile on his face.
"She made this for me when I was a year old. I had almost completely forgotten about this," said Hiccup, tears forming in the corners of his eyes as he held it close to his chest. "Somebody else read the letter. If I do, I'll cry."
"I've got this," I replied. I picked up the letter from Hiccup's outstretched hand and unfolded it. I began to read.
Dear Hiccup, Nuvola tells me that by the time you find this chest, I will already be long gone from your side. Only in the physical world. I will never really leave your side. The dragon is a reminder of that. I am here with you, not in body, but in spirit, and I am proud of you for all you have done. And yes, I know all about Toothless and the dragon-training and the fight with the Red Death. I know about what happened to your leg. I'm sorry I couldn't hug you and tell you it was going to be okay, because I wanted to. Nuvola told me everything that was going to happen to you and your father when I was gone. I wish I was there, but since I can't be, just know I am watching you, smiling down. I love you Hiccup. You could never disappoint me. Love, Mom.
When I was finished reading the letter, Merida and Hiccup were holding each other and crying. Jack and Derek both had tears in their eyes, Jack because he was probably thinking about his mother and Derek because he wished his mom would say things like that to him. There were tears in my eyes too. I hadn't seen my mother in months, or even heard from her. I wanted to go back to Canada and see her again. Jack saw me swipe my eyes and he wrapped his arm around my shoulder. He was holding back tears and that just made me cry. Derek lost it too. He fell to his knees and sobbed. Jack was still holding his back.
"It's okay, we're all crying. You can cry too," I said with a weak smile. He hugged me and cried too. In a matter of seconds, Derek hugged me. Then Merida hugged all three of us and Hiccup hugged her. It was my first real group hug.
After the tears had died down and we'd all had our laugh about it, I pulled the bottle out of my pocket. In this lighting I could read the label. It said 'Potion of Ultimate Healing'. I gasped and read it again, to make sure it wasn't a mistake. It wasn't. I had heard about this potion in magic class. It was extremely rare, only seven were brewed in the entire world in all history. They could heal anything and bring back the dead. If you were perfectly healthy and drank it, you would never be sick again. This was the most important thing I'd ever owned. Ever.
"Guys, potion of ultimate healing!" I exclaimed, holding out the potion. Hiccup gasped and took it from my hand. He looked at it in amazement.
"This could fix my leg…" said Hiccup softly. I took the potion back.
"If I let you drink this and someone really needs it, would you live with it knowing that it was your fault?" I asked. "You have an artificial leg and you've managed fine with it for a few years now. Just leave it at that."
Hiccup shrugged and we went back out the way we came in. When we were out of the cave, Merida, Hiccup, and Derek both turned back the way we had walked. Jack and I turned towards the general direction of the clearing Nuvola had told me about.
"Guys, wait!" said Jack. They turned around and looked at us. "We have to go this way first."
"Why?" asked Merida. So I told everyone about Mother Earth and the enemy and how we were going to get rid of it. They all seemed taken aback. "Wow…A…A willing sacrifice? Which…Which one of us is going to go?"
"I would go, and I'm guessing Jack would too, but we can't. We have to both survive to have our daughter," I replied. I didn't want to see anyone go like that, especially not one of my friends.
Derek opened his mouth to say something, but he looked up into the sky with a confused look on his face. I heard a screech and we all looked where he was pointing. It was his griffin, Danzi, carrying three girls on his back, one with auburn hair up in a ponytail, one with long orange hair, and one with short brown hair. Thimble, Giselle, and Rapunzel were riding on Danzi. They landed and Giselle slam-hugged Derek.
"Nuvola visited the tower. She told me and Thimble and Rapunzel that we could all come with you guys now. She said we needed to be here for something," said Giselle. Derek laughed and hugged her.
"I am so glad you two are alright!" exclaimed Rapunzel, hugging me and Merida both. We hugged her back, both of us equally glad that we were alright and to see her. I hugged Thimble because, honestly, who else was going to hug her?
We continued onward while Hiccup told the tale of our journey this far. Rapunzel promised that when we got back to Mickey's castle (he offered to let us all live there when we got back) she would fix his dragon. We finally came to the clearing, but the only thing in the clearing was a shrub.
"What is this? Where is she?" I asked, confused, we all heard a twig snap and our heads whipped behind us. We slowly started to walk towards the source of the noise when something stopped us.
"Are you children looking for me?" asked a kind woman's voice. We turned around and there, hovering above the bush and glowing with a faint green light, was Mother Earth.