‘How shall I put it, to a brain so much smaller and less clever than mine… The thing is, we are all, in a sense, supper. Walking, talking, breathing suppers, that’s what we are. Take you, for instance. YOU are about to be eaten by ME, so that makes you supper. That’s obvious. But even a murderous carnivore like myself will be a supper for worms one day. We’re all snatching precious moments from the peaceful jaws of time,’ said the Dragon cheerfully. ‘That’s why it’s so important,’ he continued, ‘for the supper to sing as beautifully as it can.’
‘One… two… three…’ Four hundred Viking voices screamed as one: ‘GO AWAY!’ and added for good measure the Viking War Cry. The Viking War Cry was designed to chill the blood of Viking enemies at the commencement of battle. It is a horrifying, electrifying shriek that begins by mimicking the furious yell of a swooping predator, which then turns into the victim’s scream of pure terror, and ends with a horribly realistic imitation of the death-gurgles as he chokes on his own blood. It is a scary noise at the best of times, but shouted altogether by four hundred barbarians at eight o’clock in the morning it was enough to make the mighty Thor himself drop his hammer and blub like a little baby.
Although this is the part of the story that the bards tend to focus on as the bit where Hiccup was particularly Heroic, I do not agree. It is a lot easier to be brave when you know you have no alternative. Hiccup knew in his heart of hearts that the Monster intended to kill them all anyway. So he didn’t have a lot to lose.
He dropped the mackerel at Hiccup’s feet, did three somersaults in a row and landed on Hiccup’s head. He let out the dragon’s cry of triumph, which is a bit like a rooster crowing but a lot louder and more self-satisfied.
Although he wasn’t your usual mindless thug of a Hooligan, Hiccup wasn’t a wimp, either. Being frightened is not the same as being a coward. Maybe he was as brave as anyone else there, because he went to catch a dragon despite knowing what dragons are like. And, when he had climbed perilously to the mouth of the cave and had found that inside there was a long, twisty tunnel, he still went down it, despite not being too keen on long, twisty tunnels with dragons at the end of them.