So there we were, on our way to find a chest that Hiccup’s mother left had left for him. We had just gotten Derek from his evil little fortress. I really didn’t like the idea of him coming along, but if Nuvola said he had to be there, then he had to be there. He looked like he didn’t want to be there either, and honestly, I didn’t blame him. He agreed to come only because he promised Vanessa that if she needed him, he’d do anything for her. He packed a bag, jumped on a griffin, and flew off with us.
Vanessa kept looking like she was forgetting something. She had this confused look on her face. Then her eyes widened and she turned to me.
“Jack, I forgot to tell you something!” she shouted over the wind.
“What is it?” I shouted back.
“Nuvola told me to tell you that late is late! She said that one day you’re going to be late when it really matters that you’re on time!” she shouted.
“I feel so loved!” I shouted back. She smiled and rolled her eyes. Then Hiccup rose up to join us on our level of altitude.
“So how long exactly do you think this will take?” shouted Hiccup. We could barely hear him over the wind.
“It looks like it might be two or three days at most, even with horses and dragons and griffins and flight,” replied Vanessa. Hiccup nodded. Then he looked down at Merida. She had stopped riding and was waving her arms frantically.
“We should see what she wants!” shouted Hiccup. We nodded and each swooped down to the ground. We each landed around Merida.
“I know that we were making good time as we were, but there’s something on the map I think you should read,” said Merida, holding up the map and pointing to a little paragraph by where we were. It was Latin. I had learned how to read Latin over the years.
“Fili, oportet te hinc ire dracones equi sine adiutorio. Credo in vobis. Oh. That’s a shame. Except for the last part,” I said after reading it.
“What does it say?” asked Hiccup.
“It says ‘My son, from this point you must walk without aid of horses and dragons. I believe in you’. So that means that from here, we can’t have dragons or horses or griffins I suppose. So that must also mean that Vanessa and I won’t be able to fly either. What about our packs?” I said. Derek scooped up my bag, which was attached to his griffin, and tossed it into my arms.
“We carry them,” said Derek coldly. I glared daggers at him as he handed Vanessa her bag. I stopped when he turned around. “Carpo, I want you to fly home. Wait there until I blow the whistle.” The griffin took off back in the direction we had just come from.
“Toothless, I need you to go back to the tower and keep everyone safe until I whistle for you, okay?” asked Hiccup. Toothless seemed to have nodded and then took off after Carpo. Merida simply had to spur Angus and he followed them off over the hills.
“Well, now what? We have no form of transportation and we have huge bags to carry,” said Merida. Hiccup put a hand on her shoulder.
“We have to keep going. I need to know what’s in that chest,” said Hiccup. Merida looked up into his eyes and then sighed.
“I know. How about if we just take the food and other necessary supplies in one bag. That way we don’t have to carry so much. We can store anything else in that hollow tree trunk and come back for it after we find the chest,” said Merida. That actually wasn’t a bad idea. We each opened our bags and scooped out everything. We took all the food, sleeping bags, pillows, matches and anything else that we would need and put them in Hiccup’s pack. After that, we stuffed the bags and anything left over into the tree trunk. We started kind of arguing over who would carry the bag, until Merida suggested something. “How about as soon as your arms get tired and you’ve been carrying the pack for a decent amount of time, you pass it on to the person on your left or right.”
“But who’s gonna carry it first?” asked Vanessa. Merida rolled her eyes and picked up the camping pack.
“I am not a sissy prissy little girl, if you want to fight over who’s gonna carry it, I will instead. Let’s get a move on, we’re wasting daylight!” said Merida. She handed the map to me and we went into the forest.
I thought that there wouldn’t be very much of a path, but there was actually a cobblestone road throughout the whole time we were in there. I thought that it was going to end, but apparently it didn’t. We kept to the trail, passing around the backpack and map every twenty minutes or so, but Hiccup kept the key around his neck the whole time. The fourth or fifth time that I got the map, I noticed something. We were on the wrong path. I looked up.
“Um, I know that this is a cushy walk, but this isn’t the right trail,” I said. Everyone looked at me in shock. I looked back at the map and pointed slightly to the left. “That’s the way we have to go to get to the cave.”
“Seriously?” said Vanessa with a groan. I nodded. She sighed and gave the pack to Merida. “Let’s get going then. We have about twenty minutes to nightfall.”
I passed the map to Hiccup and we reluctantly followed the girls and Derek into the grubby underbrush. We walked for the remaining twenty minutes of daylight we had left and came to a clearing. There was a sign on a tree, but the words weren’t English. They were Danish runes. I hadn’t learned how to read those, but Hiccup read them just fine. Here’s what they looked like:
I have made this clearing for you, Hiccup. I trust you’ll have arrived here by nightfall. I love you son.
This is what it actually said:
I have made this clearing for you, Hiccup. I trust you’ll have arrived here by nightfall. I love you son.
“Well then, I suppose we’re meant to stop here for the night. If Mom cleared it, then we should be here,” said Hiccup. “I’ll start the fire. You guys should get out the food and set out the sleeping bags. Somebody should go gather the firewood.”
“I will,” offered Merida. “I’m not scared. Vanessa, we should both go.”
“Kay then. You boys be good, okay?” said Vanessa, staring directly at me and then at Derek.
“Alright, I understand. I’ll be good,” I promised. Derek rolled his eyes.
“Alright, alright, I’ll be good. We’ll play nice,” said Derek.
“I’ll make sure they do. And if I lied about it, Merida would know and probably whip me for it or something,” said Merida.
“Damn right I will,” said Merida with a laugh. Merida and Vanessa waved and turned around, heading deeper into the woods. Derek immediately turned to me.
“Okay, I want to know right here, right now why she went back to you. You clearly don’t deserve her,” said Derek. I raised an eyebrow.
“Okay gentlemen, settle down,” said Hiccup.
“No, it’s fine. I can answer that. And I’ll do it nicely. She came back to me because she loves me. And, yeah, I don’t deserve her. Frankly, she should be with someone much better,” I replied.
“Yeah, I know. I really don’t deserve her either,” said Derek. He seemed to not be angry, just being honest.
“But if she loves you, then I’m not going to make her stay with me. If she really wants you, you can have her,” I replied.
“No, she loves you. Well, technically, she loves us both. She told me so, actually. Many times.”
“I guess that means we’re kind of lucky.”
“Yeah. I just wanted to have someone who loves me. All I had my entire life was my sister. My mother and father were always disappointed in me. I could never do anything to please them. Nothing was good enough for them.”
“Dude, that is awful, but I was invisible for three hundred years. Do you know what it feels like to be lonely in a room full of people? Sure, snowball fights were fun even if the kids couldn’t see me, but that’s just it. They couldn’t see me, it was barely fun.”
“Yeah, that does sound rough. Giselle and I may have had an awful home life, but at least we could get away from it. For you, it was everywhere.”
“Giselle’s your sister?”
“Yeah. She’s a doll, isn’t she?”
“A bit lacking in the mental department, if you know what I mean, but other than that, I can agree with that.”
He laughed then. I suddenly felt awful for thinking that he was evil. There must be some reason as to why he killed and kidnapped a bunch of us. I thought that maybe I should ask.
“As a man-to-man thing, why did you kidnap the princesses?”
“Oh. Well, believe you me, that wasn’t my idea. It was Pitch’s idea. He told me if I kidnapped the princesses and went to Vanessa, It would bring her to me. I didn’t realize he just wanted her to get to Thimble. Do you think he wants to hurt her?”
“No, man. She’s his daughter. Didn’t you know?”
“No. Wait a second! Pitch? Has a daughter? Who…who slept with that guy?”
I shrugged. He shrugged back and Hiccup looked down at the ground. Derek and I both looked at each other, to Hiccup, then back to each other.
“Hiccup, do you know who it was?” I asked.
“Well, yeah. It was about a hundred and thirteen years ago, but my great-great-grandfather knew the story. Her name was Madison. The story was called ‘Fear and Love’, because Pitch is the embodiment of fear and Madison was the embodiment of love. Well, I shouldn’t say they were anything, they still are. The story goes that one night Fear and Love met. Fear instantly was mesmerized by Love, and Love found Fear to be quite interesting. Love could find something to love about everyone, and so they fell in love. A year or two later, they had a daughter named Thimble who was later blessed to know everything, past and present, but none future. That’s about the whole story. Except that later on, Fear knew he had to leave before his actions influenced the child. He vanished into the night and Love married a king. Twelve years later, the king and all of Love’s children with the king were murdered. Love thought she had escaped with Thimble, but she discovered that Thimble wasn’t with her. The guards found Thimble next to the bodies of her brothers and sisters and they sentenced her to be placed in a diamond for eternity, believing she was the one to blame. Nobody’s heard tell of her ever since. Until we found her, then they heard tell of her. And by they, I mean we...”
“Okay, that’s enough. I’m way too old for story time,” said Derek. I rolled my eyes.
“You’re still a child.” He looked over at me in confusion.
“No, I’m not.”
“You’re only fourteen.”
“I’m not a child.”
“There are certain ages under which you are considered to be a child. You are still a child. Next year, you won’t be.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I am one of the immortal Guardians of childhood. I know things like this. From birth to the age of fifteen, you are a child and therefore under the protection of the Guardians. If you don’t want to be considered a child, you won’t be. But by law, you are still a child.”
“Okay, thanks for confusing me. You confused more than you clarified.”
“No, actually, I didn’t.”
“Okay boys. We’re done here,” said Hiccup, plopping down in between us. “Let’s talk about something else. So, what do you want to do until the girls get back?”
“You don’t have to do a wee thing until the lassies return. We’re already back!” said a familiar Scottish voice. Merida and Vanessa came out of the shadows with their arms full of twigs and bits of branches.
“Did they play nice?” asked Vanessa, plopping her wood down on the ground.
“Actually, yes. This guy ain’t half bad,” I replied, wrapping my arm around Derek’s neck, yanking his head over and proceeding to noogie him until he slapped me.
“He’s not so bad either. But he needs to work on that feisty little fun-demon part of himself,” said Derek.
Vanessa laughed and smiled with a tinge of pride at me and Derek. She sat down on a rock next to me while Hiccup and Merida lit the fire. We held hands and she told me that she and Merida had seen a possum family and their eyes had scared her.
“I’d have paid to see that,” I said with a laugh. She rolled her eyes and then kissed me on the cheek.
In about half an hour, when tales had been told, stories exchanged and campfire songs sung, we spread out the sleeping bags. Vanessa, Merida, and Derek passed out almost the second their heads hit their pillows. Hiccup looked over at me.
“If this trip was for something my mom left me, would you still have come?” I asked Hiccup. I just felt the need to say something. It was too quiet.
“You know I would. Not just ‘cause we’re friends, but because I know what it feels like to not have a mom. I wouldn’t want you to stay behind from this trip, so I’d assume you wouldn’t want me too either,” said Hiccup. I saw his smile in the flickering flames of the fire. I smiled back. He rolled over. I did so as well. I was asleep in seconds.
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