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The Costs of War: Respite, Chapter 5 HTTYD2
Probably my last one-shot for this collection. I’m starting a very demanding and time-consuming job on Monday so I won’t have the time (or energy) to write anymore. I am sad about it, but hopefully I can find some time to write here and there. Thank you again to everyone who has read/reviewed my stories!
This occurs between Stoick’s death and the funeral scene.
Silence permeated the air, once filled with the cries of battle, the clanging of metal, and the guttural roars of thousands of dragons. The army of foreigners, pirates, criminals, and even vikings had taken to the seas again with cheers for a victory meaningless to them. The dragons were dragged away with invisible chains, slaves to an accursed behemoth. Their former sanctuary stood fractured and dull, its magnificent brilliance overshadowed by the thick incoming fog and by the death of its sculptor. Only the waves crashing onto the frozen beach provided a small amount of background noise.
Astrid did not dare to break the forlorn quiet. She tip toed carefully on the beach, feeling as if the world was trapped in a perpetual state of slow motion. Everything that was left behind in the battle lied still. Bodies of hundreds of men and dragons lied strewn around her like a minefield.
She swerved and slalomed past the soldiers, avoiding their pale limbs as well as the red pools that continued to fill around them. Yet, she grazed her fingers along the dulled scales of fallen dragons, their inner heat snuffed out by machines of war built solely to trap and harm them. They had merely protected themselves from a lifetime of servitude and all they received was death in return.
This was what war looked like. This was the first time Astrid had ever actually seen the results of a true battle, of a true power struggle. Berk had seen its fair share of destruction during the dragon and viking war but the casualties remained minimal and armies were not involved. This battle grew to a scale the shield maiden had never witnessed before.
Astrid began to question her ideals, her own lifestyle. Yes, she had eased her aggressive and violent instincts since peace settled over Berk, but she still enjoyed fighting and practicing with her axe. Looking upon the glassy gazes and torn bodies of the dead around her, she felt sick and unnerved by what violence and fighting could actually do. The pain, the devastation, the horror. Was it worth the power only a tyrant wanted to gain for himself and no one else? She didn’t think so.
The shield maiden held her breath as she came upon a familiar shape. A Deadly Nadder, with paled purple and blue scales, lied on its side with its wings still extended. Several arrows jutted from its flank and seemed to have been enough to end its life. Reaching out a shaking hand, Astrid touched its head and stroked along to its beak. Her heart clenched as she imagined Stormfly in the purple Nadder’s place. She had helplessly watched her fly off at the command of Drago’s Bewilderbeast, unable to do anything to bring her dragon back. She could only hope Stormfly remained unharmed.
Glancing at the arrows, Astrid remembered why she was out on the battlefield in the first place. Gobber requested she round up eight bows and a dozen arrows for the funeral. Their chief’s funeral. She agreed without question, willing to help in any way she could to make the preparations as painless as possible for the chief’s best friend, for his long-lost wife, and for his son.