“Mer, are you sure this is good idea? Shouldn’t we wait for the boys?”
“They won’t get here in time, Punz!” hissed Merida. “Drago will be long gone with all of the evidence by the time they finally get here!”
“But . . .”
“Listen, you stay here and keep an eye out for the boys and the cops, let them know where I am, alright?”
Punz nodded, “A-alright, but be careful Mer, please. Drago is very dangerous!”
“I know! Which is why we have to stop him, now.” She gave her friend a quick hug. “If I’m not back in five minutes, they’ve caught me. You don’t stay in this house another minute, you get out and wait for the boys, no matter what.”
Punz nodded, cracking a smile, “Don’t worry, I always do.” Merida rolled her eyes before crawling over to the open study doors. She took a peek inside, no one was in the room, as far as she could tell. She crawled in a little further, eyes peeled for anyone or anything. Nothing moved, she couldn’t even hear any soft breathing. She slowly stood, checking behind doors and under the desk, no one was there. Heart pounding, she quickly looked through the papers on the desk. Just because no one was there didn’t mean that they couldn’t be on their way. She let out a soft gasp, she found several papers implementing Drago as a crime boss using exotic animals as a cover, and even as weapons. It was all coming together, Valka had thought she had recognized him, and Drago apparently recognised her. Merida’s hands trembled as she read more, he was planning revenge on the whole North family. She quickly folded up several papers and stuck them in the pocket of her plaid skirt before heading for the door. Three figures stepped from either side of the doorway, blocking her escape.
“Well, Miss Brown, you simply couldn’t let it be, now, could you?” asked Drago as he pushed her back into the room, his two henchmen closing the doors behind them. “But I had figured as much, and now I can take out two birds with one stone, to put it nicely.”
“Wh-what do you mean?” asked Merida, dread filling her chest at the sight of the rope in the hands of the henchmen.
“Oh, you’re a smart girl, I’m sure you can figure it out. I mean, who’s the most likeliest person to be the first on the scene to save you?” Merida blinked, what was he getting at? “What, you mean you haven’t noticed? You’re so smart, and yet you missed what’s in front of you. You missed the most important clue to my plan. I hit upon it the instant I noticed young Hiccup showing such interest in you.” Merida’s eyes widened as she sucked in a breath, no.
“No!” she screamed as she made a mad dash for the door. The two henchmen caught her, quickly binding her hands behind her back and stuffing a cloth in her mouth, tying another over her lips. They turned her around to face Drago.
“How sweet, you like him too. I almost wish I could be a fly on the wall when he finds you, but I’m afraid I have to be out of town before your bodies are found. And don’t worry about leaving him any clues, I’m leaving a very clear trail.” Drago smiled as he went to the desk. His hand went under it and pushed a button, the back wall opening up behind him. He pointed at one henchman, “You, bring her over here.” He then pointed to the other, “You go find the blonde, I want both North boys dead, one way or another.” Merida was dragged into the secret room, kicking and muffled screaming. The room wasn’t very large, so the light from the study illuminated it quite well, allowing Merida to see what it contained. There were two chairs up against one side wall, against the other side wall stood a large maze of tubes, with one long tube connected to a cage pinned against the far back wall. Merida realized with horror that it was a snake in that cage, just before its head rose from its coiled body, its red tongue flicking the air.
“Say hello to the Eastern Brown snake, Miss Brown, the most venomous snake in the whole world. I’ve trained it to attack moving objects first.” Drago nodded at the chair, and the henchman shoved Merida into it, roping her to it. He quickly tied her ankles together, wrapping the extra rope around her legs before tying it tight at her knees. “I apologise for how tight the rope is, but I must take extra precautions. I don’t care what happens to you, Miss Brown, but I must be sure that the Norths all die. It’s just a matter of time before Valka succumbs to the poison, any day now, in fact. I”ll give Nick as much time as he needs to mourn the loss of his family. I am not a completely heartless man.” That’s what you think, Merida wanted to say, but the the gag prevented her from doing that, only gargled sounds could come from her throat.
“Boss!” Merida was filled with dread, that was the other henchman.
“You catch the blonde?”
“No, the North boys are here, with the cops.” Merida’s spirits began to soar, but sunk once Drago let out a growl and opened the cage, the snake slithering into the maze.
“They’re a bit early, but they’ll still come for her. Let’s go, the snake will do its work. Good day, Miss Brown.” Merida’s eyes glanced between the retreating men and the approaching snake, her heart thumping like a rabbit. What should she do? What could she do? Her eyes widened as she started to panic, they were closing the secret door, leaving her in complete darkness with a venomous snake! They didn’t close the panel all the way, as Drago must have planned, letting a sliver of light shine on a certain part of the maze, the rest was still shrouded in darkness. Merida saw the snake pass through the light before disappearing into the shadow again. She struggled against her bonds, her muffled screams probably getting no further than the panel, they did their work well, she could barely move and she wouldn’t be able to warn Hiccup in time. Unless he got to her before the snake did. Her eyes kept flitting back and forth between the panel and the maze, hurry Hiccup, hurry! The panel slowly opened, but dread filled Merida’s heart when she realized that the door was opening because of a string attached to the snake’s door. It had made its way out of the maze, and now towards her. The panel was now completely open, in full view of whoever walked into the study. Drago had planned it well, if Hiccup hadn’t arrived by the time the snake got out, he would get to watch her die. She stiffened, the snake had found her feet and was slithering up to her lap. It coiled up on her lap before raising its head, their eyes meeting. Merida was trying to calm herself down, but she kept breathing hard. The snake flicked its tongue, lowered its head and raised it, as if it was looking for a spot to bite. Merida’s eyes widened as it reared back, and watched with surprise and relief as the snake was thrown off her lap.
“Uh, Hiccup, that thing’s going to come back,” pointed out Jack. Merida glanced over, Jack was standing in the doorway, Punz clutching his arm as she watched the snake’s movements with fear.
“I know.” Hiccup pulled out a gun, and shot the snake.
Jack gasped, “Hiccup, you took dad’s revolver?”
Hiccup shook his head, “He gave it to me, thinking I would need it. Boy, was he right. Mer.” Hiccup grabbed at the rope, cutting through with his pocket knife like an enraged lion, but he helped Merida up with gentleness. She fell into his arms, trembling like a leaf. “Are you OK?”
She nodded, “Yeah, good thing you were early. Drago might have had both of your bodies to show to your dad.”
“Oh wow, glad we dodged that bullet.”
“What were you thinking, coming here without waiting for any back up?”
Merida sighed as she took the papers out of her pocket, “He might have taken these with him.” Hiccup took the papers, Jack and Rapunzel getting closer for a look.
Hiccup’s eyes widened at one paper, “Mer, this is the antivenom for the poison in mom!”
“What?” exclaimed Jack, trying to look at the paper.
“Jack, we’ve got to get this to the doctor, quick!” The group rushed out of the study, nearly bumping into the sheriff on the way out.
“Oh good, you’ve found Merida! I’m sorry, but we’ve lost track of Drago and the Stabbingtons. They hightailed it out of here when they saw us coming. What you’ve got there?”
“An antivenom for mom’s poison,” began Hiccup.
Chief Alvin’s eyes widened, “Well what are you still doing here? Go get that to your mom! We’ll wrap it up here, now get going!” The four didn’t need another word, they took off. They ran pell-mell down the wooded hill to the boys’ motorcycles. It wasn’t long before the boys had their bikes running and were off, the girls hanging on tight. They sped past the few cars they encountered before they had miles of open road separating them from the hospital.
“Hiccup!” came Jack’s voice over the din. Hiccup glanced at his brother, he nodded his head at the rearview mirror, indicating he wanted Hiccup to look. Hiccup did look, his mouth dropped. Drago and the Stabbingtons were bearing down on them! Rapunzel gave a shriek when she noticed them. Merida thought fast.
“Can you take these bikes through unmarked short-cuts?” she shouted.
Hiccup glanced back at her and grinned, “You bet we can! Come on, Jack!” Jack grinned and nodded, following his big brother off-road and through the trees. They traveled uphill a ways before leveling off, weaving between the trees. Rapunzel and Merida checked behind them periodically before Rapunzel shrieked.
“They’re following us!” The boys glanced back and gasped. The bulky car was maneuvering as fast as it could between the trees in pursuit of the motorbikes. Jack and Hiccup swerved around the obstacles in the forest easily, the car had to find another way around, or it just barreled through the obstacles.
“Jack, to the road!”
“Right!” Revving up their bikes, they lurched forward, the gap growing with every minute. The two bikes were fast approaching a ditch. “Hang on tight!”
“What do you think we’ve been doing?” retorted Punz.
Jack laughed, “I love you.”
“Tell me that when we’re on a date, not when we’re being chased by criminals!”
“Jack, the ditch!” Jack glanced at Hiccup before glancing at the ditch, it was coming up real fast. A mischievous grin spread on Jack’s face and went faster. “Jack! What are you doing?” shouted Hiccup. But he soon saw as Jack’s bike went airborne, completely clearing the ditch.
Hiccup groaned, “I swear, between you and Jack, I’m going to die of a heart attack.” Hiccup cleared the ditch easily enough, though he had gone slower and went down into it before coming back up. His bike screeched to a halt next to Jack’s. “Don’t ever do that again.”
Jack rolled his eyes, “Yes sir, Captain North.” They heard the tires of the car come to a halt, and four pairs of eyes glanced up at their adversaries. The car had been turned in such a way that the three men could see the four, but Hiccup’s and Drago’s eyes locked. A silent message was in that look, from there on out, the two would become mortal nemeses, but also, the chase was over. The car turned and went back into the forest. Drago’s message was pretty clear, the Norths had won this round, but he would be back, and he would have his revenge.
They were able to get the instructions for the antivenom to the doctor in time, saving Valka’s life. A few nurses insisted on checking up on the group, making sure everything was fine. Hiccup soon joined Merida out in the waiting room.
“Well, today was certainly interesting,” began Hiccup.
Merida sighed, “Yup, nice motorcycle driving back there, and, um, thanks for saving me.”
Merida rolled her eyes, “Again.”
“You know, you really ought to stop getting yourself caught like that, I mean, I’m beginning to think you might like it.”
“What? Do you really think that I get caught on purpose?”
“Why not? I mean, with a handsome war hero who always saves you, why wouldn’t you enjoy getting caught?”
“What? That is seriously the thanks I get for saving your mother?”
“Well, about that . . . I guess something besides a mere thank you should be in order for something so important. But really, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” Merida and Hiccup had gotten extremely close, but Merida knew she could get this close, they had done it so many times and not once did they kiss. But then Hiccup fell forward, and their lips touched. It was for a short while, but that little moment felt like heaven.
Hiccup whirled around in his chair, “Jack!” Jack was leaning against the row, nonchalantly playing with his pocketknife while Rapunzel gave a smile and a wave.
“What? It’s about time, I mean, come on, man, stop with the suspense! When you get that close to a girl, you’re supposed to kiss her!”
“Argh, you little . . .!” Hiccup bounded from his chair and reached for Jack, but Jack moved out of the way and led his big brother on a merry chase around the waiting room. Merida couldn’t keep the sparkles from her eyes when she remembered that they had finally kissed, while Rapunzel kept out of the way of the rampaging brothers as she giggled at the hilarity of the scene. Hiccup finally managed to catch Jack, just as two teens rushed through the doors.
“Hiccup, Jack, Punz, Mer! Elsa and Anna need our help!” blurted the girl.
“They just uncovered a clue that’ll take us into Europe. It’s big, guys, real big!” panted the boy. The four looked at each other, smiles spreading on their faces, excitement in their eyes.
“Who’s up for another spine-chilling mystery?”
“I’ll only go if you keep my spine warm, Jack North.”
Jack grinned and pulled Rapunzel in close, “I’ll be more than happy to oblige.” Hiccup glanced at Merida, who merely nodded, grinning wide.
He turned to the duo, “Count us in.”