Chapter 23: Search and Explore
'Dragons' - Dragonese
It was the morning of the next day when the two dragon riders along with Merida, who was riding with Cielo, decided to go and explore the woods of DunBroch. The King and Queen had sent out letters to see if any of the clans had seen Cielo's mother. Merida was their tour guide around the woods.
"I have to admit that there's a lot of woods to cover." Hiccup admitted as they flew over the trees.
"Are there any other places that someone could hide out?" Carlos asked.
"Yeah, head that way." Merida said as she pointed her finger over Carlos's shoulder to their next direction.
The dragon riders flew towards where Merida was pointing. Once they arrived, they were a bit curious as to why the place looked abandoned. The place looked a bit haunted and cold as they walked by some ruins of a building of some sort.
"What is this place, Merida?" Carlos asked, creeped out by the place.
"The ruins of the ancient kingdom. This is where Mor'du once lived," Merida answered as she lead them to a pit that looked to be a perfect place to rest and possibly live in, "Now that he's gone, it's possible that someone might have moved in here."
"Sounds like a possibility," Hiccup rubbed his chin, "But is there a river nearby?"
"A few miles west down that way." Merida said, pointing in the direction of the river.
"Let's head that way. It's also possible that there might be fish there as well." Hiccup declared.
"Meaning that a dragon would have a perfect water and food source." Carlos concluded.
"Exactly." Hiccup agreed as he mounted Toothless.
The group was off again and headed towards the west where Merida pointed at. The ride there was quiet as they landed in the forest. Once they landed, the group stopped in their tracks when they saw a small blue colored flame hovering in front of them.
"Merida, do you happen to know what that is?" Hiccup asked, pointing at the flame.
"It's a Wisp." Merida replied.
"What's a Wisp?" Carlos asked.
"They say that they're spirits that lead you to your fate." Merida answered.
"Interesting." Hiccup commented.
Toothless crawled up to the Wisp and slightly poked it. Suddenly it disappeared and a whole line of them appeared.
"Very interesting." Toothless said.
"Cool." Sharpshot and Cielo awed at the strange being.
"Where's it leading us?" Carlos asked.
"Let's find out." Merida said as she began following the Wisps with the dragon riders along with their dragons.
The Wisps began to disappear every time they got close to touching one. Then they all disappeared into thin air. Unexpectedly, they heard a roar nearby which caused everyone to jump at the noise.
"What was that?" Merida asked.
"That sounded like a dragon." Hiccup answered.
They quickly ran towards the source and ducked down in the bushes. Hiccup peeked over the bushes and took out his spyglass and gasped at what he saw.
"Hiccup, what's wrong?" Carlos asked.
"It's a Deadly Nadder, over by the river bank," Hiccup answered, "I didn't think there would be dragons way out here."
The rest of the group peeked over the bushes and gazed at the green and purple colored dragon that was laying down near the river, groaning in pain.
"Deadly Nadder?" Merida asked, brow arched.
"Yeah, it's a certain breed of dragon from where I'm from," Hiccup replied before looking back into his spyglass and spotted something on the dragon's left leg, "It seems to have an injury on its leg."
"Should we help it?" Carlos asked.
"We have to or else the dragon would have a hard time walking later in its life." Hiccup declared, worried for the injured Nadder.
"So what do we do?" Merida asked.
"We have to approach it carefully." Hiccup said.
The group began walking slowly towards the Nadder who sprung its head up when it heard their footsteps. Its pupils turned to slits and raised its tail where its spines stood up at the sight of the three humans and dragons. The Nadder growled at Hiccup and Toothless as they approached. Hiccup held his palms out in front of him, showing the dragon that he meant no harm.
"Don't worry, we're not here to harm you." Hiccup assured the Nadder.
"You speak our language?" The female Nadder asked, shocked that the human in front of her could speak her species language.
"Yeah, my friend here taught me." Hiccup gestured Toothless who was right beside him.
"It's true." Toothless added, nodding.
"Carlos is still learning though." Cielo commented.
"My friends and I just want to help you. Could you let us?" Hiccup asked.
"Alright. But don't try anything funny." The Nadder warned as her spines went flat against her tail.
"Understood." Hiccup agreed.
The group slowly went around the Nadder. Hiccup carefully treated the wound with Carlos's help while Merida gently stroke the Nadder's cheek which soothed her, causing her to purr. To the Nadder's point of view, she was slightly confused as to why she was letting the untamed red haired girl touch her. There was something about her that made her feel…connected to the girl.
"There, done." Hiccup said, finished with the bandage around the Nadder's leg.
He gathered his materials and stood up next to Carlos. The three humans backed away as they watched the Nadder carefully get to her feet. She squawked happily as she stood on her two legs. The group could tell that she was happy to be on her feet again.
"Thank you for your help." The Nadder said, bowed.
"You're welcome." Hiccup said, bowed, "But go easy on your leg for a little bit."
"Take care." Sharpshot prayed as he sat on Hiccup's shoulder.
The rest of the group turned around and headed back into the forest. But they stopped in their steps when they heard a squawk behind them. They glanced over their shoulders and saw the female Nadder following them.
"Um…why are you following us?" Sharpshot asked.
"What's it like?" The Nadder asked.
"What's what like?" Toothless asked, confused.
"To have a rider." The Nadder replied.
The dragons and their riders were confused by the Deadly Nadder's words. They never expected a wild dragon to ask that sort of question. Even the dragons at the dragon sanctuary never asked that question. It was mostly because some weren't very keen on the thought of having a rider.
"It's a great feeling." Toothless warbled, happily.
"Indeed. It's almost as if you're riding with the other half of your soul." Cielo added.
"A connection that's almost impossible to describe." Toothless said.
"Is it really true?" The Nadder asked with dilated eyes.
"Yes." Toothless and Cielo replied.
"Then I wish to have a rider." The Nadder decided.
"Really?!" Hiccup, Toothless, Sharpshot, and Cielo asked in unison.
"What did she say?" Carlos asked.
"She wants a rider." Hiccup answered.
"Really?" Merida and Carlos asked in unison with excitement.
"Yes." Hiccup replied.
Then the female Nadder walked up to Merida who stared at the dragon with wonder and curiosity. She pondered on how to gain the dragon's trust, but then she remembered the moment when she first met Toothless came to mind. She held her palm out, closed her eyes, and turned her head away. The female Nadder tilted her head to the side and sniffed the girl's palm. She smelled of the earth and water which was strange. But she could tell that the girl had a strong and free spirit much like her own. So she closed her eyes and pressed her snout against the girl's palm. Merida softly gasped when the Nadder's snout was pressed against her palm. She felt a spark between her and the dragon. She placed her hands on both sides of the Nadder's head and gently rubbed her cheeks.
"So what are you going to name her, Merida?" Hiccup asked.
"Her?" Merida asked.
"It's a female dragon." Hiccup pointed out.
"Oh," Merida realized, "How about Aileana?"
The Nadder looked to be pondering at the name until she nodded and pressed her snout against Merida's chest which made her hug the Nadder's head.
"I like it." 'Aileana' agreed.
"She likes it, Merida." Hiccup said.
"I'm glad." Merida said, smiling as Aileana purred against her chest.
Soon after, the group decided to explore on foot. These woods seemed to be a little bit bigger than the one in Corona. However there were fewer villages and more of woodland areas. Hiccup couldn't help but admit that these woods reminded him of Raven's Point back at Berk. The place where Toothless had landed after getting tangled by his bola launcher and freed him. He chuckled quietly at the memory.
The walk was still quiet as they followed Merida down the forest path. They only things they saw were trees, bushes, forest critters, and birds. Once they spotted a clearing up ahead, the group decided to take a break. During that time, Hiccup educated Merida about everything on Deadly Nadders which she was very interested in. She wanted to go riding, but Hiccup suggested until after Aileana's injury is healed and that he'll have to make a saddle for her as well. Merida and Aileana reluctantly agreed to his reasoning. So in the meantime, the two were practicing with their aiming which meant Aileana's tail spikes and Merida's arrows. The two dragon riders could instantly tell that they were enjoying themselves. They soon noticed that the sun was going down.
"Merida, Aileana, we have to head back." Hiccup called out to Merida and Aileana.
The dragon riders mounted their dragons as Merida got onto Cielo's saddle behind Carlos. Aileana flew between the two dragons. The three flew off back to Merida's castle.
The group then arrived back the castle's courtyard. Most of the castle staff were shocked to see another dragon land in the courtyard. The dragon riders and Merida got off the dragons and began to plan for Aileana's training and saddle making while Aileana would recover from her injury.
"Here, you can stay here while you heal." Merida said as she lead Aileana to the empty horse stall.
Aileana entered the stall and carefully sat down in the hay and squawked at the tickling feeling of the hay brushing against her scales.
"Comfy." Aileana purred.
"She likes it." Carlos stated.
"I'm glad." Merida said, smiling.
"Tomorrow, we'll do measurements for her saddle." Hiccup informed.
"Good, but how long will her healing take?" Merida asked.
"Possibly two weeks or maybe shorter if she takes it easy during that time." Carlos stated.
"Well, that's a long wait." Merida complained.
"In the meantime, we can teach you more about dragons." Hiccup offered.
"Maybe even train with us as well. We don't want to get rusty on our fighting skills." Carlos added.
"Works for me." Merida said as she smiled with her hands on her hips.
Then a female servant walked up to the group. She looked really nervous once she saw Aileana who tilted her head to the side when she saw the servant.
"Pardon me, princess, gentlemen. The King and Queen would like to speak with you." The servant said.
The group glanced at each other, wondering what the majesties wanted to talk to them about. The thought of the clans responding to the Queen's letters might be what Elinor wanted to talk to them about. So the riders and Merida left the dragons behind near the stables and followed after the servant.
The three teens were in the throne room with King Fergus and Queen Elinor once more.
"I'm afraid I have bad news for you boys." Elinor announced.
"What is it, your majesty?" Carlos asked.
"None of the clans have sited Cielo's mother anywhere." Elinor confirmed.
"But they promised that they'll inform us if they see anything related to her." Fergus assured.
"Thank you, your majesties." Carlos thanked the King and Queen as he and Hiccup bowed.
"You're welcome." Elinor said with a nod before she paused, "The servants have informed me that you have brought another dragon to the castle."
"Yes, your majesty. The dragon was injured and we brought her here to help recover." Hiccup explained.
"Not to mention that she wants Merida as her rider." Carlos added.
"The dragon chose her?" Fergus asked, brow arched, "Doesn't the rider choose?"
"Yes, but it's always up to the dragon or the rider to choose. However, Aileana chose Merida on her own free will." Hiccup defined.
"I see." Elinor said.
"So what do you think of DunBroch so far?" Fergus asked.
"I have to say that it's more vast and bigger than of Berk." Hiccup admitted, smiling with his arms spread out.
"Not to mention that the land is so green and beautiful." Carlos added, smiling as well.
"I'm glad. We take great pride in taking care of our land." Elinor stated.
"I also admit that the forge here is quite different from the one on Berk." Hiccup said.
"Aye, we have great blacksmith here who make excellent bows and arrows." Fergus commented.
"I fully agree to that." Merida added.
At that moment, Hiccup and Carlos came up with an idea. One that Merida would easily agree to, but her parents would have a hard time.
"Your majesties, can Merida come with us? She could help us find Cielo's mother." Carlos suggested.
"We could use some more help. Besides, she's an excellent archer and looks like she can take care of herself. Not to mention that Aileana will look out for her as well." Hiccup added.
King Fergus and Queen Elinor looked towards each other with worry and indecisiveness. They were both worried about their daughter leaving DunBroch. Especially on the back of a dragon. They could easily tell that Merida wanted to go with the two boys. After all, she did help protect Elinor when she was a bear and is able to hunt on her own. But the fear of letting her go was very hard.
"How about we think about before we make the decision?" Fergus suggested.
"That's fine with us." Hiccup agreed.
"In the meantime, you do dragon training with Merida and see how well she is with Aileana before we fully decide if she's able to travel with you." Elinor offered.
"Yes, your majesties." Hiccup and Carlos bowed.
Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit. - Frank Borman