Toothless was the naughty pet dragon of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, the famous Viking Hero, dragon whisperer, and awesome swordfighter. But i...157 downloads 1161 Views 1MB Size
Toothless was the naughty pet dragon of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, the famous Viking Hero, dragon whisperer, and awesome swordfighter. But in this book, Toothless tells a tale from when Hiccup was a boy, and it looked very unlikely that he would ever be a Hero at all...
A big thank you to Andrea Malaskova and Judit Komar Text and illustrations copyright © 2006 Cressida Cowell First published in Great Britain in 2006 by Hodder Children's Books The right of Cressida Cowell to be identified as the Author of this Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. 10
All rights reserved. Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored or transmitted, in any form, or by any means with prior permission in writing from the publishers or in the case of reprographic production in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency and may not be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. A Catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 0 340 91746 6 Printed and bound in Great Britain by Bookmarque Ltd, Croydon, Surrey The paper and board used in this paperback by Hodder Children's Books are natural recyclable products made from wood grown in sustainable forests. The manufacturing processes conform to the environmental regulations of the country of origin. The text paper within this book was donated by Stora Enso Publication Papers and Paper Management Services Ltd
Hodder Children's Books a division of Hodder Headline Ltd 338 Euston Road London NW1 3BH
~ CONTENTS ~ 1. A Hunting Competition ................................... 11 2. A Proper Viking Doesn't Speak to Dragons ...... .18 3.Snotlout and Dogsbreath the Duhbrain ............ 24. 4 . What Happened that Afternoon....................... 27 5. Everything Goes Wrong .................................. 32 6. In the Dark .................................................... 39 7. The Strange Thing that Happened .................... 43 8. The Darkbreather ........................................... 49 9. In the Mouth of the Darkbreather ..................... 58 10. A Viking Never, Ever Gets Frightened? .......... 62 11. The End....................................................... 68 Epilogue .............................................................. 72
1. A HUNTING COMPETITION One summer's evening, when I was a dragon so young I had left the egg only five or six years before, ten Viking boys from the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans stood on a wild and lonesome beach on the wild and lonesome Isle of Berk. These ten boys were on the Pirate Training Programme and standing in front of them was their teacher, an enormous hairy Warrior called Gobber the Belch. Gobber had a helmet with horns that curled like a stag, and (like
most Hooligans), a brain the size of a tadpole. Perched on the shoulder of each boy was a dragon. Some were shielding themselves from the wind with their wings, others were hunched like bad-tempered ravens. These dragons were hunting dragons, and about the size of dogs. Hunting dragons come in many different breeds. There were everyday Common-or-Garden dragons, with the standard forked tongue and pointy tail, and fat mustard-brown Gronckles with horns like a rhinoceros and teeth like kitchen-knives. There were a few shiny, slippery Slitherhawks with watchful eyes and short tempers, and a friendly, spotted Basic Brown who was chewing the cud as she sat. There was even one enormous blood-red Monstrous Nightmare, rippling with muscles and extra-sharp talons. Monstrous Nightmares think they are the best breed of all, and they don't half
fancy themselves and put on airs. I was there too, snuggled down the shirt of my Master, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, the Heir to the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, curled up tight under his shirt where it was all nice and cosy. But nobody was quite sure what breed I was. I looked rather like a Common-or-Garden with a wart on the end of my nose, but of course, I was FAR too special to be such an ordinary dragon. I had been asleep for some time, but it was difficult to doze when Gobber was shouting his gob off, and his mad yelling had woken me up. 'OKAY THEN, YOU MISERABLE PIECES OF SHRIMP VOMIT!' yelled Gobber the Belch at the boys. (He always talked like that.) 'This is the HUNTING COMPETITION you've been waiting for. In ten minutes' time it will be completely dark. I want you to set
out in your boats, and see how many fish your dragon can catch you in half an hour... This is a test of how well you have trained your dragon by YELLING at it... for in the dark, your dragon will only be able to hear your voice.' These boys, you see, were learning to be Hairy Hooligans, and Hairy Hooligans trained dragons to hunt fish for them, and pull down deer for them. Basically, we dragons did all the work, while they stood around YELLING at us. 'Well, Hiccup is going to be even more USELESS at this than he is at everything else,' sneered Snotface Snotlout, a tall boy with skull tattoos and a face like a pig. 'Hiccup can't YELL for toffee.' This was true. My Master, Hiccup, wasn't a great Yeller. He was a small, freckly, skinny boy and he was surprisingly polite for a Viking. But Hiccup had a very unusual gift. He spoke Dragonese, the language we dragons speak to each other.
Learning to Speak Dragonese Dragonese can be rather embarrassing to speak because there are lots of odd sounds and accents like whistling, clicking and strange low, farting noises. Here are some common phrases: Pishyou na flicka-flame bum-support Please do not set fire to the chair Grab-claw di stink-fish or me do di heebi-jeebys Just hunt me a haddock, or I'm really going to lose it. Hoody wobble-di-gats in di bath-juice de mamma?
Who has been sick in my mother's bath-water?
'I don't need to yell, do I, Toothless?' Hiccup whispered to me in Dragonese. 'We're right on top of this hunting business... you're going to catch more fish than Snotlout has ever seen in his ENTIRE LIFE, aren't you?'
'W-W-Well yeeees,' said I, a bit uncertain-like, but licking his face. I AM a truly MAGNIFICENT hunter, despite being just a bit smaller than the other dragons.* However, today I had this feeling that there might be some reason why this might not work... I just couldn't quite remember what it was...
* Toothless was the smallest hunting dragon anybody had ever seen, then or since.
2. A PROPER VIKING DOESN'T SPEAK TO DRAGONS 'SILENCE!' yelled Gobber the Belch, glowering at us like a bull in a bad mood. 'I do HOPE, Hiccup, that I didn't hear you talking to your animal in that filthy language, Dragonese...' He spat out the word like it was a bad whelk. 'We YELL at our dragons, YELL at them, Hiccup, and Dragonese is banned by order of your father, Stoick the Vast, O Hear His Name and Tremble, Ugh, Ugh...' 'Yes, sir,' muttered Hiccup sadly. He hated anyone mentioning his father. Stoick the Vast was the Chief of the Tribe. He was six foot seven and good at everything, and he expected his son to be the same. 'Now, let me get this absolutely clear,' said Fishlegs, Hiccup's best friend. 'You want us to go out to sea in our boats when the sun is going to go down in ten minutes'
time and get our dragons to hunt for fish in TOTAL DARKNESS? 'You've got it, Fishlegs!' roared Gobber the Belch happily. 'Ohhhh,' moaned Fishlegs. Fishlegs was even skinnier than Hiccup, and he had asthma and a squint. 'There could be all sorts of monsters out there in the darkness... Seadragons... Sharkworms... Darkbreathers...' 'Oh, DON'T BE SO RIDICULOUS, Fishlegs!' yelled Gobber. 'Don't you know that A VIKING NEVER, EVER GETS FRIGHTENED. Honestly, Fishlegs, sometimes I wonder whether you and Hiccup are Vikings at all...' Fishlegs and Hiccup looked miserable. 'Okay,' Gobber continued. 'You have half an hour starting from now, and the boys who bring back the MOST fish will be named MOST PROMISING HUNTERS and will have no homework for the next three weeks...'
'Yaaaaaay!' cheered the boys. '... and the boys who bring back the LEAST fish will be named MOST HOPELESS GOATS and will have to give the Dragon Toilets a thorough clean out...' 'Yuuuuucky...' groaned the boys. The Dragon Toilets were in a big pit just to the west of the village, and they were very smelly and disgusting. I never went there myself -far too pongy and revolting for ME. I always tried to find a nice, warm, private spot to do a poo. In the middle of Stoick the Vast's bed, for example. Or just behind the door of Valhallarama's food cupboard. As you can imagine, this often got my Master into trouble. 'I will light a bonfire on the beach so that you can find your way home in the dark... RIGHT!' boomed Gobber the Belch, 'FIND YOURSELVES A PARTNER, AND GET GOING!'
Bathtime When a dragon has spent the whole day in a mud wallow and they then want to curl up in your bed you have no option. YOU HAVE TO GIVE THEM A BATH. • Good luck. Dragon: Me na wash di bum. Me na wash di face. Me na wash di claws. Me na splishy oo di splashy ATALL I do not want a bath You are going to have to be cunning and use PSYCHOLOGY You: Na bathtime ever never ever never. Me repeeti. Na bathtime EVER NEVER. On no account are you to get in the bath Dragon (whining): Me wanti splishy splashy You: Okey hokey just wun time, All right just this once Hoody druntken di bath juice? Who has drunk up the bath water?
Toilet training The time has come to toilet train your dragon. You are going to have to be very patient about this. Here are some phrases you might find useful: You: Toothless, ta COGLET me wantee ta cack-cack in di greenclaw crapspot... Toothless, you KNOW I want you to poo in the dragon toilets... Dragon: O yessee yessee, me coglet... Yes, yes, I know... You: (pointing at terge poo in the middle of Stoick's bed) Erg... questa SA? So what, then, is THIS? PAUSE Dragon (hopefully): Ummm... un chocklush snik-snak?
Er... a chocolate biscuit? You: Snotta chockolush snik-snak, issa CACK-CACK, issa cack-cack di Toothless NA in di greenclaw crapspot, may oopla bang splosh in di middling di sleepy-slab di pappa
This isn't a chocolate biscuit, it's a POO, it's one of YOUR poos, Toothless, and it ISN'T in the dragon toilets, it's right bang splat in the middle of my father's bed
3. SNOTLOUT AND DOGSBREATH THE DUHBRAIN The boys started running towards the six small boats that were drawn up on to the beach. But before they could get there, Hiccup got tripped up by Snotface Snotlout, and Fishlegs's face was ground into the sand by Dogsbreath the Duhbrain. 'LOSERS!' yelled Snotlout as the bullies ran off, laughing. Fireworm, Snotlout's dragon, sneered at me before she flapped off: 'YOU won't ca.tch any fish at all after what happened THIS AFTERNOON...' Now, this was giving me a BAD FEELING again. What had happened this afternoon? I was still feeling a little confused after my nap and I couldn't quite remember...
By the time Hiccup and Fishlegs reached their boat, The Hopeful Puffin, the sun was sinking fast and all the other five boats were way out in the bay with their dragons out fishing like crazy. Fireworm, in particular, we could see diving again and again. 'No problem,' said Fishlegs, in between shivers, as my Master Hiccup and he started paddling out to join everybody else. Toothless can catch them up. Toothless may be a right pain in the bottom, but Waistline of Woden, he can sure catch fish! In the last two weeks I've never seen anything like it... he is a truly gifted hunting dragon...' I ignored the bit about being a pain in the bottom (what could Fishlegs be talking about?) and I started swelling up with pride. 'It's t-t-true,' I said. "Toothless m-m-marvellous. T-t-toothless brilliant. Toothless the b-b-best...'
Hiccup said nothing. We had reached the fishing grounds by now. Hiccup rolled up his sleeve and put out his arm. I hopped onto it, still crowing. 'Toothless g-g-glorious! Toothless h-h-hunting genius! COCKADOODLE-DOO!' I gloated. Hiccup interrupted me. Toothless,' he asked seriously. 'What DID happen this afternoon?' I stopped. I looked into my Master's worried blue eyes. And I suddenly remembered.
4. WHAT HAPPENED THAT AFTERNOON That afternoon, four hours earlier, I was having a lovely time chasing rabbits, when SUDDENLY from a bush ten metres away there came the sound of slow clapping. I turned round, and it was Snotlout's dragon FIREWORM who was clapping. Fireworm is a bright red Monstrous Nightmare dragon who thinks she is the greatest. 'Oh, nice chasing; Toothless,' jeered Fireworm, 'but why aren't you EATING those rabbits after you catch them?' My tummy gave a sad little rumble. 'C-c-can't trick ME, Fireworm,' I retorted. 'Toothless n-n-not eating cos he's going to b-b-beat you in tonight's contest... Fireworm's gonna be TOAST tonight...' 'You don't mean to say,' Fireworm laughed, 'that you have allowed your Master to BAN you from EATING? I never thought of
you as a goody-goody Toothless...' I was furious.'T-t-toothless not a goody-goody!' I said. 'Oh, but you are,' purred Fireworm. 'All the OTHER dragons have been eating... Why, Seaslug and I captured a whole load of nanodragons and. had a real FEAST this morning... Ohhh those nanodragons were so TASTY...' I could feel my mouth beginning to water. Nanodragons are a species of tiny little dragons about the size of insects, and they are a real treat for us larger dragons. I know any humans reading this are a bit squeamish about us dragons eating other dragons... This is most unfair. Nanodragons are an entirely different SPECIES to us hunting dragons, as different as a human is to a chicken. And you humans eat chicken, don't you?
There you are then. There is absolutely no difference between you humans eating chicken and us eating scrumptious wriggly little nanodragons. 'Were they the c-c-crunchy kind?' I asked. 'No, they were the ones with the soft centres that melt in the mouth...' replied Fireworm, licking her lips. 'We ate so many we had to put some in a barrel in the Old Wrecked Ship to save them for later... but of course that wouldn't interest a GOODY-GOODY like you...'
Fireworm laughed nastily and slunk away into the ferns. I waited till she was out of earshot and then I shouted out: 'S-s-snob!' And then I flapped off in the direction of the Old Wrecked Ship. And there I found the barrel that Fireworm was talking about and I am ashamed to say, I ate EVERY SINGLE ONE of those nanodragons. And they were YUMMY. I ate so many I couldn't even fly home. I had to WALK back, groaning, and it took me several tries to climb up into my favourite spot in Hiccup's bed. Once I had managed it I fell immediately into a deep sleep. That was where Hiccup had found me, four hours later, and stuffed me into
his shirt to take me to the Night Hunting Competition. THAT was the Bad Thing that had happened this afternoon.
5. EVERYTHING GOES WRONG As soon as I remembered what had happened, I could feel that nanodragon feast weighing down my stomach. I felt a little sick. I had been TRICKED. From the look of her, flying around like a buzzard that had drunk a lot of coffee, Fireworm hadn't eaten ANYTHING that day at all. She had TRICKED me. 'What happened this afternoon, Toothless?' my Master Hiccup asked me again, sternly. I couldn't quite meet his eyes, and shuffled down his arm, shrugging my shoulders. 'N-n-nothing...' I said. Hiccup looked relieved. 'Okay, then,' he said, getting excited now. 'Let's get going... we've got A bit of work to do to catch up with Fireworm and Snotlout. Now, Toothless, just hunt like you've been
hunting for the past two weeks and we should beat them, no problem. Keep the boat steady there, Fishlegs...' Fishlegs swung The Hopeful Puffin round a bit. It was really getting dark now. You could just see the five other boats around us in the bay. The other dragons
were climbing high, high into the air and then diving down into the water to catch the fish. 'Ready... steady... GO!' said Hiccup, and he quickly raised the arm that I was standing on. This was supposed to be the signal for me to THROW myself into the air. But nothing happened. Oh, I tried all right, flapping my wings, struggling to lift off, but that weight in my stomach just wouldn't let me fly. There I was, batting those wings up and down, still stuck like a limpet to Hiccup's arm. 'This isn't the time for mucking about, Toothless!' said Hiccup sharply. And he repeated, 'Ready... steady... GO!' This time, with a lot of work, I did actually make it off his arm and into the air. I rose about a foot or so, flapping desperately... and
then sank like a stone, hitting the deck of The Hopeful Puffin with a nasty thud. 'Toothless!' cried Hiccup, very worried now. 'What's the matter, are you all right? What's wrong with you?' I rolled around the deck groaning and holding my belly. Hiccup picked me up. 'What's wrong?' he asked again. I hung my head and covered my eyes with my wings. In a very muffled voice I told Hiccup what had happened that afternoon. 'S-s-sorry...' I said, miserably. I didn't dare look at him. 'Never mind, Toothless,' said Hiccup, sighing heavily. 'What can you do if people are going to CHEAT?' At that moment Fireworm came sailing over and perched on the mast. 'Flying problems, little Mongrel?' she sneered. 'Well, if you will be such a greedy little pig and gorge yourself on nanodragons on a HUNTING DAY...'
'Oh, buzz off, Fireworm, you BIG RED CHEAT...' snapped Hiccup crossly. 'What's happening?' asked Fishlegs, who didn't understand Dragonese, so he wasn't sure what was going on. Hiccup explained. 'Maybe HORRORCOW could catch us some fish,' said Fishlegs, turning desperately to his own dragon. Horrorcow was sitting singing to herself on one of the benches like a small, peaceful brown-and-white cow. 'Well, you know, boys,' she said cosily, 'of course I'll do my best... but I AM a vegetarian, you know... and hunting isn't my strong point...' She got slowly to her feet, and flapped off, still singing. 'Oh, for Thor's sake,' cried Fishlegs, 'this is TERRIBLE...' Hiccup tried to cheer him up. 'Oh, come on, Fishlegs, it's not that bad...' 'Not that bad?' said Fishlegs. 'Not that bad?? How could it be worse?'
He was so cross he got to his feet and glared furiously at the Heavens. YOU
ANSWER ME, THOR AND WODEN!' he shouted at the sky above, shaking his fist. 'It's so UNFAIR! Why do you always let the BAD GUYS win? Why do WE always end up in the Dragon Toilets? And HOW, oh HOW could this be worse?' And then the lights went out.
6. IN THE DARK It was a black moment. The sun had gone down and we were floating in total darkness. All around us were the cries and shrieks of triumph from the other boys and dragons. Almost drowned out by this racket, we could just hear the friendly, polite voice of Horrorcow calling, 'Coooeee, you guys, where are you, I think I might have found one... Oh I'm so sorry, Seaslug, did. I bump into you, I do apologize...'
Meanwhile, Snotlout's yells were the loudest of all as he bellowed at Fireworm. 'G0 FOR IT FIREWORM, SLICE THEM, FANG THEM, TEAR THEM TO BITS! THAT'S THE WAY, YOU'RE BEATING EVERYBODY ELSE BY MILES, KILL FIREWORM, KILL!' He was almost as loud as Gobber himself, and in that bad, bad moment, you could begin to imagine Snotlout as the next
Chief of the Hairy Hooligans. And then, in the darkness, you suddenly started to remember all those scary monsters that live in the oceans beneath you. They were always there, of course, but somehow, in the daylight they didn't seem so terrible. 'Seadragons...' moaned Fishlegs in the darkness. "There could be Seadragons underneath us...' Try and imagine a dragon the size of a MOUNTAIN, a great, evil, glistening mountain with a ravenous appetite and no heart at all, and then you'll have imagined a Seadragon. 'Or even Sharkworms?' groaned Fishlegs. Sharkworms were dragons that looked remarkably like hammerhead sharks, except that they had legs of course, being dragons, and therefore they could actually CLIMB ABOARD your ship to get you.
'And what about DARKBREATHERS?' Fishlegs panicked. 'There are loads of DARKBREATHERS in the Inner Isles... We could bump into a DARKBREATHER...' Darkbreathers were blood-suckers that swam up from the bottom of the ocean like vampires and dragged unlucky Vikings down to the depths where they could do their bloodsucking in peace and quiet. But all in all, even thinking about these horrors didn't seem AS awful as listening to Snotlout's smug yelling.
'WE'RE GOING TO BE THE MOST PROMISING HUNTERS THESE ISLANDS HAVE EVER SEEN! I'M GOING TO BE THE GREATEST CHIEF THE HOOLIGANS HAVE EVER HAD! KILL, FIREWORM, KILL!' And there I was, lying with a bad stomach-ache on the edge of the deck, feeling so sad that I'd let everybody down, when a very strange thing happened. A very strange thing indeed.
~VIKING DRAGONS and THEIR EGGS~
The Glow-Worm The Glow-worm is a tiny creature, more like a worm than an actual dragon. These animals are a useful source of light on moonless nights, or in caves. Sometimes the Vikings even put them in lanterns. ~STATISTICS~ COLOURS: Grey in day-time, light in night-time. SIZE: Very small RADAR: None POISON: None ELECTRICITY: None DEFENCE: None SPEED AND FEAR AND FIGHT FACTOR: None
7. THE STRANGE THING THAT HAPPENED The strange thing that happened was that my stomach began to GLOW. It gave me a huge shock. First there was this little flicker inside, and then it got brighter and brighter, just exactly as if there was a light burning deep down in my belly. I was so frightened I ran up and down the ship shrieking horribly because I thought perhaps I was on fire... I mean, what would YOU do if YOUR tummy suddenly lit up like a bonfire? Then my Master Hiccup began to laugh. 'Toothless,' he said, 'what KIND of nanodragons were you pigging out on this afternoon? They weren't GLOW-WORM by any chance, were they?' I stopped running. "T-t-toothless not notice...' I said, but I breathed a huge sigh
of relief. Now I came to think of it, they might easily have been Glow-worms. Glow-worms are a curious type of nanodragon that look grey and boring in the day-time, but light up like lightbulbs in the dark. I had eaten a whole swarm of the creatures, so now that it was night-time they were lighting up inside me, turning me into a little Dragon Candle. Hiccup and Fishlegs laughed like anything when they realized what was happening. 'You must have eaten a LOT of those Glow-worms,' said Hiccup. 'Humph,' I said grumpily. And then Fishlegs stopped laughing. 'Look!' he said, pointing. I was perching on the rim of the boat, with my stomach sending out light into the darkness. And in the sea on the other side you could just see little dark shapes gathering. They were FISH, swimming towards the LIGHT my belly was giving out. You may not know this about fish, but they are
often drawn towards a light. And in this case, there were not just one or two fish, either. By complete chance, my belly shining like a torch had attracted an entire SHOAL of mackerel. 'Quick!' yelled Fishlegs. 'Let's get them aboard!' So that is what they began to do, scooping the fish out of the sea, first with their helmets, and then with an old fishing net that was bundled up under one of the seats of The Hopeful Puffin. You may not believe this, for if it hadn't happened to ME, I am not sure I would even believe it myself. All I can say is, the truth is often stranger than stories. Now it wasn't so much a question of ME finding the fish, as the FISH finding ME. I had never found hunting so easy in my life. I just hung over the edge of the boat with my stomach shining, and the fish swam up in their many millions and practically threw themselves on deck. Fishlegs and Hiccup just had to put
the net in the water, and a minute later it was heaving with a squirming mass of shiny fat fish. Within a quarter of an hour the deck of The Hopeful Puffin was knee-deep in mackerel. Fishlegs was so delighted he was hopping from one foot to the other in excitement. 'We're going to WIN!' he said. 'I just DO NOT believe it... for ONCE in our lives, we are actually going to win\ We're going to BEAT Snotlout! Fate is on our side and WE'RE going to be the HEROES this time!' Hiccup was so happy he turned quite white and his freckles all stood out. 'I don't believe it,' he said slowly. 'It seems too good to be true...' It was too good to be true. For it wasn't only mackerel that were being attracted by the light on The Hopeful Puffin. Something very large and sinister was swimming slowly up from the deep waters beneath.
8. THE DARKBREATHER The Something was a Darkbreather. A Darkbreather is a dragon that lives way down on the sea-bed, in a darkness so deep that the blackness enters its soul, if it ever had a soul. They have truly terrible jaws that are bristling with jagged fangs and seem way too large for their snake-like bodies. They lie for hours with their mouths wide open, waiting for the stupid fish to wander in, thinking they are entering an underwater cave. Darkbreathers cannot survive for long on the surface - too much oxygen poisons them. However their longing for the light, and their ravenous hunger, draw them upwards anyway, and they often snatch Viking fishermen who are leaning out to pull in their nets, and drag them down to the bottom to drink their blood in peace and quiet.
On this occasion it was ME the Darkbreather was after. One second I was peacefully leaning out, my belly shining like a star, gloating about how I was going to be named the best hunter and thinking of the stupid look on Fireworm's face when she found out. The next, this creature BURST out of the water, its jaws wide open like a Great White Shark, scattering mackerel in all directions. I was off the side of that boat and into Hiccup's arms like a streak of lightning. The creature's jaws closed on thin air, and a tiny chunk of The Hopeful Puffin's wooden rims, and the great Monster collapsed into the sea again, sending a wave of water over the side that drenched the three of us. 'Aaaaaaaargh!' screamed Hiccup and Fishlegs and I. Fishlegs made a grab for the sail and started to pull it up the mast.
~VIKING DRAGONS and THEIR EGGS ~
The Darkbreather Darkbreathers are dragons that swim up from the bottom of the ocean like vampires and drag unlucky Vikings down to the depths where they can suck their victims' blood in peace and quiet without anyone interrupting them.
~STATISTICS~ COLOURS: Dark ARMED WITH: Enormous mouth and fangs, coils like a snake ............9 RADAR: Very good, because eyesight
poor ............. 9 POISON: None .................. 0 FEAR AND FIGHT FACTOR: ........... 9
The Darkbreather carried on past us, moving in the same twisting, slithering fashion that a snake moves across the sand. It was already, however, beginning to turn round towards the boat again, slowly, because Darkbreathers don't like to use up too much energy. 'But it will still be able to outrun us...' I heard Hiccup whisper almost to himself. I could see Hiccup thinking fast. My Master may not be as tough and muscly as the other Vikings but he's a lot smarter. 'Halt, Darkbreather!' he yelled at the creature in Dragonese. The Darkbreather stopped for a moment, very surprised that a human could speak the Dragonese language. And then it carried on, easily catching us up and swimming alongside. I caught my breath. The animal was at least three times as long as The Hopeful Puffin and it was horribly ugly. When it spoke back to us, it was in a
voice so ghastly and wheezy that it was as if it were coming from the corpse of itself. It was a voice of terrible despair, that came from centuries of living in the dark with no hope, no colour, no warmth, no love. 'Give me the Star...' it rasped. 'I will leave you alone if you give me the Star...' I gave a yelp as I realized the Darkbreather was talking about ME. 'This isn't a star,' replied Hiccup, my Master. 'This is just a greedy little dragon who has eaten Glow-worms for lunch... he will no longer be light in the morning.' But the Darkbreather did not hear, or did not want to understand. 'Give me the Star...' it repeated with a dreadful sadness. 'No,' said Hiccup. 'I will NOT give him up.' Hiccup tried to hide me underneath his shirt, but the light inside me still shone out. 'If you want him,' said Hiccup, 'you will have to swallow the boat.'
'All right then,' said the Darkbreather, 'I will.' And the Monster disappeared underneath the waves. There was silence for a moment. The wind had really caught the sails of The Hopeful Puffin now, and we were skimming along quite fast. Without realizing, however, we had drifted a long way from the beach and Gobber's bonfire was only a pin-prick in the distance. 'Where's it gone?' asked Fishlegs in terror. 'What did you say to it?' 'I told it,' said Hiccup, 'that if it wanted Toothless, it would have to swallow the boat.' 'What did you say that for?' shrieked Fishlegs. 'Because I don't think it can do it,' answered Hiccup. Curled up tight against his chest with my eyes closed, I could feel him shivering. 'And I wanted the Darkbreather to try that rather than hole
the boat, for example. That way we DEFINITELY die. This way we only MAYBE die.' 'Oh, great,' moaned Fishlegs. 'Oh that's marvellous, that is...' Anyway, it seems to have gone...' said Hiccup. I peered out from under Hiccup's shirt. Hiccup seemed to be right. We were getting closer to the beach. Gobber's bonfire looked brighter and larger. Ahead of us we could just see the dark shapes of the boats of the other boys, coming in to land. All around us the beams from my belly shone on calm, shimmering waters. And then... About a hundred yards behind us, the mouth of the Beast reared up. It was extraordinary. For the creature was not SO much bigger than The Hopeful Puffin itself. But it could open its jaws so incredibly wide it did not seem physically possible.
Hiccup's mouth fell open also. "That's amazing...' he murmured. 'Darkbreathers must have jaws like a 'snake...' 'Don't go banging on about jaws NOW!' screamed Fishlegs. 'What are we going to DO???' 'There's nothing we CAN do...' said Hiccup. Now, I want you to imagine the sheer scariness of the situation we found ourselves in. There we were, in our boat in the middle of the ocean, and behind us there was this enormous MOUTH nearly as big as the boat. We were sailing quite fast, but the MOUTH was moving even faster. It was still some way behind us, but it was getting nearer and nearer... 'It's catching up!' screamed Fishlegs. It was catching up. Nearer and nearer it came, like an appalling moving cavern, until it was so
close behind us we could smell the cold, dead-fish stink of its breath on our necks. Fishlegs and Hiccup were both screaming now, and desperately paddling to make the poor old Hopeful Puffin go faster. Hiccup looked over his shoulder. 'I still don't think that mouth is quite big enough to swallow us...' I looked too. Terrifying as it was, a great yawning cave of Death, edged with a twisted mess of razor-sharp teeth, the MOUTH was not quite as high as the mast of the The Hopeful Puffin. But then there was a ghastly click, as the jaws stretched just a little bit wider, and then to my utter horror the MOUTH moved under and over us and took us in.
9. IN THE MOUTH OF THE DARKBREATHER It took us in whole, and the jaws began to shut. I closed my eyes, for I did not want to see the terrible teeth closing in front of me, shutting out the world forever. But then there was an awful shudder like an earthquake, and another, and I opened my eyes again, and the jaws were still wide open, but the Darkbreather that held us was screaming and jerking and bucking and lashing like a fish out of water. Hiccup and Fishlegs had to hold on tight so as not to be thrown out of the boat... ... and eventually all was deathly still. There we were, the boat still jammed absolutely tight in the mouth of the Darkbreather. But the Creature itself was as dead as a stone. 'What happened?' asked Fishlegs shakily.
Hiccup peered upwards. 'I think...' he said slowly, 'I think the mast of the boat might have been just too big for it... it may have pierced through the roof of its mouth and into its brain. That's AMAZINGLY lucky, because a Darkbreather's brain is particularly small.' 'Oh, thank Thor,' breathed Fishlegs. 'Thank Thor and Woden and Freya and Loki and pretty much everybody really. We're ALIVE... and tomorrow, I swear, I'm GIVING UP being a Viking, there MUST be a better way to make a living... looking after sheep or playing a musical instrument or making things out of raffia or SOMETHING... now, let's get back to the beach before I die of the smell of this creature's breath.' This was easier said than done. For The Hopeful Puffin was stuck so tight in the mouth of the Darkbreather that we could not work her free. So Hiccup and Fishlegs had to lean out of the front of the boat and the mouth, being very careful not to cut
themselves on the Darkbreather's teeth, and paddle this strange combination of Boat-Inside-Creature towards the beach. Which was hard going, before Horrorcow came flapping up and lent a hand, or rather a wing, by towing us with a rope made out of that old fishing net. She hadn't found any fish AT ALL, so it was a good thing that we still had the vast pile of mackerel that my belly had caught for us.
10. A VIKING NEVER, EVER GETS FRIGHTENED? In fact, in the end, it was all worth it. Firstly, as we just about reached the beach, we bumped into Snotlout and Dogsbreath the Duhbrain, using the last few minutes of the hour to get Fireworm and Seaslug to catch still more fish. It was such a pleasure to see the pure terror on their faces as we loomed up behind them. We must have been a ghastly sight, an awful Monster with jaws wide open, and me glowing weirdly in the heart of it. Fireworm screamed, Snotlout turned as white as a piece of paper, and Dogsbreath wobbled with fear like a big red jellyfish. They were all so frightened, that in their yelling and scrambling to get out of the way they managed to overturn their boat,
The Sparrowhawk, and they, and all their fish, tumbled into the sea. That was good enough in itself. But then, Gobber was waiting with the other boys in front of his bonfire... As Horrorcow pulled us up on to the beach, Hiccup and Fishlegs still paddling madly, the last little glow in my belly began to flicker on and off. And when Gobber looked up to see this Terrible Sight landing on his beach in the darkness, he too, turned an awful green colour. Gobber wasn't afraid of Monsters, or Dragons, or storms, or rival Warriors with axes, or pretty much anything really, but the one thing he was afraid of, was GHOSTS. And we did look rather like the ghost of some long-dead creature, with the light in my tummy flickering spookily. Oh, it did my heart good to see gigantic bossy Gobber shrinking and shivering and falling to his knees and calling out in a thin little voice that trembled:
'Whhooooo's theeere??' And Hiccup, my Master, decided to teach him a lesson.
'I AM THE GHOST OF THAT CREATURE YOU KILLED TEN YEARS AGO...' Hiccup called out.
The walls of the Darkbreather's mouth made Hiccup's voice echo in the most satisfactory ghostly fashion. 'I HAVE COME TO REVENGE MYSELF ON YOU, GOBBER THE BELCH, AND THE WHOLE OF THE REST OF THE TRIBE OF THE HAIRY HOOLIGANS... WELL MAY YOU TREMBLE, FOR I SHALL MAKE YOU SUFFER..: Behind Gobber, the six tough young thugs, Clueless and Sharpknife and Wartihog and everybody, didn't look so tough any more. They also fell to their knees. 'Have mercy, Ghost!' begged Gobber, clasping his hands together, and starting to sob. 'I didn't mean to kill you... I'm so clumsy, my hand must have slipped... Oh help me, Mummy, help me...' 'Just kidding,' said Hiccup, hopping out of the boat and over the grim lips of the Monster. 'It is I, Hiccup Horrendous the Third, who one day will be your CHIEF.'
Hiccup strolled over to where Gobber was kneeling, and looked his teacher straight in the eye. 'And as you can see, Gobber,' said Hiccup sternly, 'it is not true that A VIKING NEVER, EVER GETS FRIGHTENED. Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, is frightened of something'
11. THE END There was an awful silence. Nobody had EVER dared to speak to Gobber in this way before. I held my breath, and the last dim little blaze of light in my belly went out entirely. The expression on Gobber's face changed from fear to embarrassment to RAGE. He staggered to his feet, his brow like thunder, his fists clenched. And just as he was about to ROAR at Hiccup, something about the royal way the boy was looking at him made Gobber stop. And instead of being angry, to everyone's astonishment, Gobber's great shoulders heaved, and his mouth twitched, and Gobber threw back his head and laughed.
'HA HA HA HA HA!' bellowed Gobber, 'oh you had me there, Hiccup, you had me there! Ghost of something I'd
killed, indeed!' And everybody else began to laugh too. In between gusts of laughter, Gobber went over to The Hopeful Puffin, still caught in the jaws of the dead Darkbreather. He admired the great heap of fish on the deck. 'It looks like Hiccup and Fishlegs are the winners of the Hunting Competition!' boomed Gobber the Belch. 'THREE CHEERS FOR HICCUP AND FISHLEGS!' The boys were just in the middle of cheering for Hiccup when Snotlout and Dogsbreath staggered out of the sea, having swum to shore. 'You're late!' glowered Gobber. And where is your boat and your fish?' "The boat turned over...' muttered Snotlout. 'THE BOAT TURNED OVER?' boomed Gobber. And you call yourselves Vikings? It looks like we've found the
LOSERS of our Hunting Competition... SNOTLOUT AND DOGSBREATH THE DUHBRAIN WILL BE MUCKING OUT THE DRAGON TOILETS FOR THE NEXT THREE WEEKS!' Snotlout groaned and Fireworm and Seaslug stuck their tails between their legs and wimpered. Dogsbreath nearly cried. It was the perfect end to a day that had turned out fairly perfect after all. The boys began to rush about getting things ready for a midnight barbecue of all those fish we'd caught. All together, with Gobber's help, they managed to release The Hopeful Puffin from the jaws of the Darkbreather. Her mast was slightly bent, but then it had always been a bit wonky, anyway. I had finally digested my meal of Glow-worms, and so at last I was hungry again, and could do some victory somersaults in the air, and even more
importantly, look forward to a nice big mackerel supper. And it was only I who heard Gobber mutter to himself during the cheering, 'Hiccup was right... EVERYBODY is frightened of SOMETHING... Perhaps that boy will be Chief of this Tribe one day
EPILOGUE Gobber's new-found respect for Hiccup did not last. A couple of days later, when Hiccup dropped the ball for the seventh time in a Bashyball game, Gobber started shouting at him again: TOR THOR'S SAKE, HICCUP, YOU'RE PLAYING LIKE A FIVE-YEAR-OLD, HONESTLY, MY GRANNY COULD DO BETTER THAN THIS AND SHE'S NINETY-SEVEN AND' ONLY HAS ONE LEG...' and so on. And within a fortnight, as far as Gobber was concerned, it was as if the Hunting-at-Night Competition had never happened. But I never forgot it. How could I forget that glorious time long long ago in my childhood, when Snotlout and Dogsbreath the Duhbrain had to muck out the Dragon Toilets for THREE WHOLE WEEKS? I visited them every single day. Wasn't that kind of me?
And even now that I am an old, old dragon I still sometimes dream that I am shining like a star again, and through the deep waters of my sleep the great despairing Mouth of the Darkbreather comes swimming up to swallow me... and Hiccup says again the quiet words: "... I WILL NOT give him up...' And he never has.
Read more of Hiccup's memoirs...
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON by Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III Translated from the Old Norse by Cressida Cowell
Hiccup was known throughout the Viking kingdom as 'the dragon whisperer' on account of his power over these terrifying beasts. But it wasn't always like that... In the beginning, Hiccup was the most put-upon Viking you'd ever seen. Not loud enough to make himself heard at dinner with his father; not hard enough to beat his chief rival, Snotlout, at Bashyball, and CERTAINLY not able to control his lazy dragon Toothless!