Brave Princess

Merida had to go back to the ruins, she had a nagging curiosity to see it up close. There had been many stories told about a monster that lived there, and those who ventured too close were never seen again. Merida had often scoffed at the stories, especially since the people telling the stories claimed they had ‘seen’ the monster and lived to tell the tale . . . every single one of them. Now, either to satisfy her own curiosity or to prove the stories false, Merida was nearing the ruins. She had been lost for a bit, until a few will-o-wisps showed her the way, making her wonder if her destiny was waiting for her. She certainly hoped it didn’t have anything to do with turning someone else into a bear. She chuckled, though it was unlikely. Angus neighed with nervousness as he slowed down, they were nearing the ruins, and he didn’t seem to like it. But Merida urged him on, and he went, albeit unwillingly. The fog cleared a bit, finally, and Merida could see the ruins.

“Whoa, this, this almost looks exactly like Mor’du’s castle.” Merida alighted from Angus and strode forward, slowly, and carefully. When they entered what once was the courtyard of the castle, a branch snapped. Merida checked her feet and Angus’, neither were anywhere near a branch or a stick of any kind. She slowly fitted an arrow to her bow and pulled it back as she glanced around for the source. It came, jumping in front of her and Angus, letting out a roar. Angus reared in fear as Merida aimed her arrow, but the black dragon didn’t take another step towards them. It simply paced back and forth between Merida and the doors to the castle. Merida lowered her bow, “You’re not going to hurt us, are you?” The dragon paused and glanced at her, blinking before shaking its head. Merida gasped as she returned her arrow to her quiver, “You, you can understand me?” The dragon nodded. “Are you under a spell?” The dragon blinked before nodding its head slowly. “Is there a way to break it?” The dragon nodded again before taking off for the castle, Merida quickly following. It led her up the stairs to a room, and straight to a desk where a book laid open.

“The witch told me that, in order to break the spell, someone had to spend three months in the castle and watch the battle every night without showing fear. Once those three months were up, that person had to spend three years in Berk and work hard without complaint. Why couldn’t she say to do something easy like turn around three times and lick someone? Dad will be worried sick. And I can’t tell him what happened, much less leave Scotland until those three months are up. But she said that was the best she could do considering another witch placed the spell on me. That, or, I could become a bear for almost good. I guess I have to take my chances, I just hope someone comes along soon to get me out of this.” There the narration ended, and Merida glanced at the dragon who merely nodded.

Merida closed the book and placed it back on the dresser, “So, someone has to watch the battle every night for three months? What battle?” The dragon left the room and led her through a trap door to the lowest level. She gasped, “This is Mor’du’s castle!” She glanced at the dragon, “Then the battle every night must a reliving of the battle between Mor’du and his brothers! I know that story! I’ll do it! I’ll stay and watch the battle for three months! But, you might have to help keep me awake, I always fell asleep whenever my mother tried to tell me the story.” The dragon grumbled and rolled its eyes, but for every evening for the next five months, the dragon watched the battle with Merida. She often talked about her family and the customs of her people, and even let slip a few of her own concerns and past experiences with witches while they waited for the battle to start. She tried to learn a bit about the dragon, but she could only ask yes or no questions. And every evening, just as the sun was sinking, the battle would commence for two hours. The final day of those three months ended with something different, Mor’du saw the two sitting on the steps, watching, and approached them. With a yell, he charged, and the dragon let loose a fireball that passed through the spirit. He raised his sword to bring it down on Merida’s head and, disappeared.

“Well, that was the easy part, now to try and find a way to Berk. And figure out how to explain my absence for three years, and . . . ah!” The dragon pushed her to the ground just as a fireball hit the spot where she had been standing. “What the?”

“What are you doing? You can’t free him! He’s a Viking!” exclaimed an elderly woman as she emerged from the shadows.  

“You’re the witch who put him under this spell!”

“Aye, and to keep him here, otherwise, we’d be swarming with Vikings!”

“We will be because his dad’s worried about him!” Merida pointed out.

The witch shook her head, “His dad doesn’t know that he’s here, otherwise you would have been right. No, I placed false clues to lead them astray, they would never think to look here.”

“What? But, what has he done wrong?”

“He’s a Viking! They raid us, murder us, enslave us!”

“But he hasn’t!” The dragon shook his head as if to agree with her.

“But he would, and his people does!” Again, the dragon shook his head.

“The Vikings on Berk are different!” The dragon nodded.

“That’s what they say, that’s what they all say! They’re nothing but lying, murdering, thieves!” The witch shot another fireball with her wand, but the two rolled out of the way. Merida shot an arrow, but it was deflected by another fireball. The dragon’s fireball just missed her, but the force of it sent her tumbling. The dragon roared and bounded towards the trap door. Merida shot another arrow before she followed. The two clamored out, and Merida jumped on its back before it bounded up towards the top of the castle.

“No! You cannot allow him to leave, he will bring his Viking tribe here!” the witch’s voice echoed throughout the castle.

Merida glanced back and noticed the witch scrambling over the ruins after them, “Hurry!” The dragon whined, causing Merida to turn and notice a low-hanging arch, giving her barely enough time to duck. A couple of fireballs crashed into the arch, causing the rubble to crash down around them, but they made it through.The dragon turned and shot a few of its own fireballs in return before continuing its ascent up the castle.

“You are no Scot, you are a traitor!” shouted the witch as she let loose another fireball. But the dragon jumped, and the two were flying over the ocean. Merida thought she heard the witch scream, but when she turned, there was no sign of her.

Merida turned and placed her face on the cool scales, “Now I’ve done it, she’s no doubt going to tell my parents her side of the story. I mean, they won’t believe her at first, but when I don’t show up, they’ll come looking for me.” The dragon cooed reassuringly. She patted its head, “You could be right, everything could turn out fine in the end, I just hope they don’t come for me until the three years are up.” The dragon merely gave a low moan before the two lapsed into silence. They stopped at an island for the night, the two eating and drinking what they could. They woke up early the next morning, had a quick breakfast, and continued on. They stopped at two more islands before coming in sight of an island that made the dragon gurgle happily.

“Is that Berk?” The dragon nodded vigorously as he gurgled some more, sheer joy evident in his noises. It was getting dark when they landed, but that didn’t stop the whole village from crowding around them. One man stepped through the crowd to face her, and the dragon let out a soft moaning. Merida figured this was the dragon’s father.

“Who are you? And how did you get a Nightfury?”

“What? A nightfury?”

“Yes, a very rare species, we thought we had the last one!”

“A rare species? The last one?” Merida asked incredulously. “There are other dragons?”

The man nodded, “Yes, and you must have come far to not know that.”

Merida grinned sheepishly, “Yes, I’m from Scotland, this is the first dragon I’ve seen.”

“Scotland?” He paused, then continued with “Could you have seen my son? He’s not much taller than you, not much older, in fact. He’d have a peg leg.”

“Um, sorry, the only person I’ve seen with a peg leg was my dad.”

“Oh.”

“But, um, there are lots of other people on Scotland. Maybe one of them saw him? Though, there is a bit of a problem.”

“Yeah, he’s a Viking.”

“Oh, actually, I was thinking of the witches.”

“Witches?”

“Wait, there are real witches in Scotland?” asked a lanky blond.

“Yup.”

“Cool.”

“Shut it Tuffnut,” hissed a blonde girl.

“The thing is, these witches do have powers. One witch can turn people into bears, my mother was one of them.” Everyone gasped. “Oh, she’s fine, we got her back. But, there is another witch who could turn people into dragons.”

“You think she might have seen my son?”

“I think so, actually . . .” she pointed to her Nightfury.

“Wait, are you saying that Nightfury is Hiccup?” exclaimed the blonde girl.

Merida glanced at the dragon, “Wait, your name is Hiccup?” He nodded, and Merida began to chuckle.

“Wait, that’s . . . is that really you, Hiccup?” asked his dad. Hiccup and Merida nodded vigorously. “What . . . how . . .”

“I think you might want to sit down, there’s a lot.” Merida explained everything that night over dinner, even including the fact that her parents would no doubt come looking for her, considering that they left Hiccup’s notebook back at the castle. The Vikings agreed to the terms of the breaking of the spell, and helped Merida in any way to get through the three years. Toothless was ecstatic, though somewhat confused, that Hiccup had come back, in a dragon form. Merida took turns riding Toothless and Hiccup while the Vikings taught her everything they knew about dragons, even Hiccup taught her a few things. But even with all the hard work Merida had to do since Hiccup wasn’t human, she was enjoying herself a lot.  The years flew by, and they didn’t even think about the three-year mark, until one day. Merida was out flying Toothless, Hiccup accompanying them, when the three noticed sails off in the distance. Merida urged them on for a flyover, and gasped.

“They’re from Scotland! We need to get back to Berk, quick!” The two dragons raced back towards the island, the Vikings already having seen the sails on the horizon. Merida quickly explained the ships were from Scotland before she, Hiccup, Gobber, and Stoick made their way to the docks. The first people off wher Fergus and Elinor, and they wrapped their daughter up in a group hug.

“Oh, thank goodness you’re safe!”

“Are you hurt in any way, lass?” asked her father.

“No, I’m fine, but, there’s something I need to tell you.” She explained everything to her parents, introducing them to Stoick and Hiccup, ending with, “So, I can’t go back home just yet. I have to stay until those three years are up.”

Elinor and Fergus glanced at each other, “But lass, it has been three years.”

Merida blinked, “It has?” She glanced at Stoick and Hiccup, “But, Hiccup hasn’t changed back yet.”

“Well, we might be off by a day . . . Fergus, let’s go ahead and stay the night, we have been traveling over the sea for quite some time.”

“Huh?” Elinora gave him a look, “ Oh, right, maybe that’s it. Um, well, Stoick, if you don’t mind having a few Scots around for the night.”

Stoick shook Fergus’ hands, “I don’t mind one bit if it means I can have my son changed back.” He turned to Gobber, “Gobber, let’s go find out if we have some space for our guests.” How they did it, Merida wasn’t quite sure, but they had made some room for the visiting Scots, and offered not only to teach them about dragons, but also to include them in a few games. They were having so much fun that they didn’t notice it at first, but it happened as the sun was setting, Hiccup began to change. The dragon skin began to melt, as it were, a bit slowly at first, but it sped up, and by the time it had all melted away, everyone was watching in shock. In a few minutes, a twenty-year-old man stood before them, all decked out in black.

“Uh, hi,” he waved.

“Hiccup!” Stoick rushed forward and picked Hiccup in a bear hug.  

“Dad . . . a bit tight . . .”

“Oh sorry, but I’m so glad to have you back as a human!”

“Yeah, I can tell. Oh, hi Toothless! Hey, come on, you know that doesn’t wash off!” Everyone laughed, even Toothless.

“Well, now that that’s settled, we Scots can leave!” stated Fergus.

“Fergus, we’re still going to spend the night here!”

“Oh, right . . .”

“Maybe we could talk about an alliance between our peoples,” shrugged Hiccup.

Elinor beamed, “I think that’s a great idea! Fergus?”

“Oh alright. Can I get my own dragon?”

“That, I think, shall be part of the alliance. Come on!” Stoick led the talk, and the Scots stayed for a while longer. When they finally left, they had a new ally, and an engagement.

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