“Here,” Kelda handed the rock-hard dough to Runa. “You try.”
Runa blinked, “What?” she asked, shaking her head. “I’m sorry, I–”
“You weren’t paying attention?” Kel laughed, “Oh, it’s all right! There’s not much to kneading, anyway. Just push your fists into the dough, like this,” Kel set the dough back on the counter and pressed her knuckles into it, putting all her weight into the kneading.
“All right,” Runa said uncertainly, stepping hesitantly forward as Kel stepped aside.
Runa rolled up her sleeves and pounded at the dough. Kel cringed, “You don’t need to hammer it,” she said as kindly as she could. “Just press on it.”
Runa shoved her hands into the dough, making barely a dent on the hard lump. She looked to Kel resignedly.
Kel smiled and took Runa’s place kneading the dough. “I’ll make this one,” Kel said, “and you can take the next order. They might want a softer bread. How’s that–”
Kel stopped as shouts rang through the streets.
Kel turned, startled, and found an empty bakery.
“Runa?” she called.
The slam of a door called her attention to the front room of the shop. She peered through the ordering counter window and saw Runa rushing out into the chaos.
“Oh, my,” Kel whispered, shivering.
A number of brawny vikings were running, their feet pounding loudly against the cobbled street. A few threw spears into the air. Kel heard a loud screech–the screech of a dragon! There was a bright light, and the familiar smell of burning wood and thatch met her finely-tuned nose. She gnawed on her thumb, watching with growing anxiety. Runa was her first apprentice: she prayed to Thor that Runa would stay safe!
Runa watched as the stampede of vikings ran past her. Their heavy footfalls shook the ground, and the rapid motion made her dizzy. She felt woozy, and had to take a few steps to maintain her balance.
“Look out!” a girl’s voice shouted, seconds before she was knocked off her feet.
She gasped, the wind knocked out of her lungs. Runa sat up and saw a dark-haired girl getting to her feet.
“Watch it,” the girl scolded before running off. “And don’t sit in the middle of the road–more people are coming!” she shouted over her shoulder
Runa glanced up and saw a large, black dragon descending upon her. She screamed and rolled out of the way. Its feet landed on the ground inches away from her. She stared up at it, half in awe, half in horror. Its piercing green eyes met hers and, for a second, she felt as if they were friends.
The call of the new wave of vikings shattered the moment. The dragon snarled and pushed off the ground. Runa scrambled away from the road, crouching at the base of the bakery’s front wall, breathing heavily. The dragon had definitely been a night fury, but it wasn’t Toothless!
She wanted to get up and go back inside the bakery, but she was afraid to move, lest she accidentally fall back into the stream of people.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the last of the vikings ran by. She was an odd girl, that’s why Runa remembered her so well. She was trailing behind the others, pelting them with rocks. “Leave it alone! Leave it alone!” she was shouting. As far as Runa could tell, no one was listening.
Runa shakily got to her feet and darted back inside the bakery.
“Runa!” cried Kel upon seeing her apprentice. “You’re safe! Thank the Gods!”
“Ooooh!” a shout came from somewhere. Runa looked around, startled, and Kel cowered behind her apprentice.
“Ooooh!” it was getting nearer! Runa dashed to the window and looked around. She recognized the voice–but from where?
“Oh, no! This is bad. This is very, very bad!” a redheaded boy was running down the street, his brown fur vest billowing out behind him. “Stop! Don’t hurt it! NO!”
“It’s Hiccup!” Runa exclaimed as a blonde girl ran into view. She wielded an axe, and had a determined look on her face. “And Astrid!” she added.
“Oh,” Kel practically melted with relief onto the ordering counter. “Are you sure? No more dragons?”
Runa nodded, breathless. She glanced back down the street; the dragon was nowhere to be seen, but faint echoes of shouts lingered in the air. “I wonder what that was?” she wondered aloud.
Kel shrugged, sniffing the air. “I don’t smell as much smoke–it seems they’ve got the fire under control.”
“That’s good,” Runa said. But while Kel’s curiosity seemed to have run out, Runa couldn’t help but wonder what had happened.
“Hiccup!” Astrid practically knocked the door off its hinges. It slammed into the wall with astonishing force.
Hiccup jumped, startled. “Wha–what are you doing here?” he asked, turning quickly.
“The’ve spotted a night fury again. And it’s not Toothless this time.”
Hiccup laughed nervously, “But–are you sure? This has happened–”
A sudden roar of viking voices cut him off. He looked at Astrid helplessly, who shot him an ‘I-told-you-so’ look.
“This has happened before!” he shouted over the noise.
“What?” Astrid called back, frustrated. “Hiccup, just get out there! You need to talk some sense into them!” she pivoted and began to walk away, but stopped when she saw the endless onslaught of vikings pounding through the street. “On second, thought,” she shouted, “maybe we should just stay here.”
She shut the door seconds before a loud splintering noise split the muffled din of the mob. The blade of an axe was sticking through Hiccup’s door.
Astrid stared at the blade, her eyes wide.
“We’ve got to do something!” Hiccup sprung to his feet. “They’re going to kill it!” he ran to the door and tried to open it. Astrid stood firmly in front of it.
“Come on!” Hiccup groaned.
“If you go out there,” she said gravely, “they’re going to kill you.”
“No buts!” Astrid exclaimed. “If you’re dead, who’s going to speak up for the dragon?”
“You!” Hiccup exclaimed, grabbing the doorknob and tugging on it ferociously.
Astrid rolled her eyes, bracing her back against the door. “Right. They won’t listen to me!”
“Yes–they–will!” Hiccup tugged on the door.
“No, they won’t,” Astrid said sternly. “You’re the one who saved them–you’ve got credibility. I’m just the girl that fell off her dragon.”
Hiccup grunted and kept trying to open the door.
“You’re not going to win, you know,” Astrid said dully.
“Wait, listen!” Hiccup said. “I can’t hear them shouting any more!”
“Ha-ha,” Astrid scowled. “That’s not going to work on me.”
“No, I’m serious!” Hiccup said, exasperated. “Let me out!”
“No, Hiccup!” she said kindly but firmly. “I can’t let you go out and–go out and die! I know this dragon means a lot to you, but you mean a lot to me, and–”
“Astrid!” Hiccup cried. “Just listen!”
Astrid stopped short and listened. The rumble of the vikings outside was no longer audible.
Her ears flushed bright red and her looked at everything except for Hiccup, “Uh–right,” she said. “Go out and get killed or something. I don’t care.” She stepped away from the door and crossed her arms.
Hiccup glanced at her curiously before darting out the door. “Nooooo!” he shouted, running down the street as fast as his legs could carry him.
Astrid took a moment to compose herself, yanked the axe out of the door, and followed behind.
The familiar noise of a night fury’s fire resonated through the air.
“Snotlout!” Fishlegs shouted, wide eyed. “Wake up!”
“Get off,” Snotlout mumbled, wrinkling his nose.
“Snotlout!” Fishlegs cried again, poking him with a chubbing finger. “Come on! We’ve got to take care of the fire!”
“Fire!” Snotlout sat straight up. It was close; he could smell the smoke already.
Fishlegs ran outside and stared. It was the building across the way; the barbershop.
“Oh, man,” Fishlegs breathed, “oh, man, guys! We’ve got to hurry! This one’s pretty bad!”
Snotlout, who had followed him out, nodded. “I’ll go inside and save everybody,” he said proudly, puffing out his chest.
“No, Snotlout!” Fishelgs exclaimed. “Go get Ruffnut and Tuffnut–or, wait, first go get the water cart. Then we’ll worry about Ruffnut and Tuffnut!”
“Way ahead of you!” Ruffnut’s raspy voice was a welcome sound to Fishlegs. He turned to see the twins pushing the water cart in front of them.
“Ruffnut, stop!” Tuffnut shouted. “It slopes down here!”
“What?” Ruffnut asks. “Stop going so fast, Tuffnut! I can’t keep up!”
“I’m not going any faster than you are!” Tuffnut shouted, panicked. “We’ve lost control of the cart!”
“Lookout!” Ruffnut cried as the cart picked up speed, bouncing a bit on the rough road.
“Ahh!” Fishlegs and Snotlout shouted in unison as the cart careened towards them.
“Move!” they were both knocked off their feet. The cart rolled by, missing them by inches.
“The cart!” Exclaimed Fishlegs, staring at the Barber shop, which was quickly going up in flames. “How’ll we stop the fire now?”
Snotlout shook his head, “Sheesh, man! What did you mean to do, knocking me over like that? Now we–”
“But I didn’t knock you over!” Fishlegs protested. “Someone knocked me over!”
“You’re both lucky I got everyone out of the barbershop,” a girl’s voice scolded. “Your whole team’s pretty useless.”
“Lola?” Fishlegs said staring up at her.
“Lola!” Snotlout exclaimed, getting to his feet and dusting himself off. “I mean–I’m not useless–it’s just the rest of them,” he gestured to Fishlegs and the twins, who scowled angrily. “I’m the best firefighter there ever was! I–”
“Will you please stop talking?” Lola snapped. “My mentor’s shop is on fire. He left me in charge, and if he comes back to find ashes, he is not going to be happy–” she glared at them–“so I’ll be sure to tell him that I had to save you.”
Ruffnut and Tuffnut exchanged glances, “Sorry about that,” Ruffnut said, staring at the toes of her boots.
“Don’t just stand there,” Tuffnut elbowed her in the side. “Go get the cart!”
“Ouch!” exclaimed Ruffnut with a frown, “You go get it!” she shoved Tuffnut.
“You get it!” Tuffnut shoved her back.
Ruffnut stumbled, her lip curling. “Oh, it is on!”
“I could kick your butt any day–” Ruffnut swung a punch that hit him squarely in the jaw. “OOH! I am hurt! I am very much hurt!” Tuffnut fell to the ground, rolling around and clutching his jaw.
“Seriously?” Lola exclaimed, staring at the twins in disbelief. “You chose to do this now?”
“I’ve got it!” another voice cried. The cart was headed towards them, pushed by someone obscured by the bulky thing.
“Thank you,” Lola sighed, running to grab a bucket. She filled it up with water and threw it on the crackling flames. The fire hissed, spitting acrid smoke back at her. This was a good sign.
“Hurry up and help her!” cried the newcomer–a girl. “I’m really sorry, Lola, but I’ve got to go. It’s something bad this time.”
“Are you sure Toothless didn’t just steal more fish?” Lola asked as Snotlout and Fishlegs grabbed buckets.
“I’m sure,” the girl nodded. “It’s not Toothless.”
“Another night fury!” Lola exclaimed. “Oh, I’d love to have a night fury,” she said wistfully.
“Anyway, I’m sorry I can’t help–I’ve got to go!” the girl waved and ran down the road.
“Thanks, Scratch!” Lola waved, filling her bucket again. “Ruffnut, Tuffnut, if you two don’t get over here right now, I swear to Odin you’ll pay!”
Hiccup and Astrid were soon joined by a third.
“Scratch!” Exclaimed Hiccup. “You’re here!”
“Hi, Hiccup,” Scratch panted as she ran, “Hi, Astrid. What’s going on?”
“I’m not sure,” Astrid said solemnly. “But it’s definitely not good.”
“If it’s as bad as you’re making it out to be, this could definitely be grounds for Steinhart to make his move,” Hiccup said, sounding winded.
“You’re right!” Scratch gasped.
“Come on,” Astrid said, her face even more troubled than before, “we’ve really got to move!”
End of Chapter 1
I do not own How to Train Your Dragon, any of the dragons from How to Train Your Dragon, or any of the characters from How to Train Your Dragon, nor do I own any other third party material in this post.