‘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.
The sun was high the next day when Long emerged from his camel-hair wrap. He checked the arrow shaft in his side and found that the area was incredibly sore but scabbing over. He was thirsty and began to seriously consider heading back to the outpost. After all, trying to cross a section of desert in two or three days without water could easily mean death. There were also the horse’s water needs to consider. He thought of the Supreme Rule of Three. A person can survive three weeks without food, three days without water, and three minutes without air. The question was, how far did he want to push his luck?
Wolf Boy knew there wasn’t much he could do to help Jenna with the Locum Tenens, but he thought he could try out the skills he had learned when he had lived with the wolverines in the Forest. And so Wolf Boy sat down about ten feet in front of Spit Fyre and very deliberately fixed his gaze on the dragon, willing him to stay calm and quiet. Spit Fyre caught Wolf Boy’s glance and quickly looked away, but it was enough. The dragon knew he was being Watched. He shifted about uncomfortably, but he did not move away. Spit Fyre sat unusually still in the soft drizzle, hoping that soon his Imprintor would appear and put an end to the unnerving two-legged wolverine who would not stop staring at him.
Later, after they had cleared as much brown goo out of the cottage as they could, Aunt Zelda surveyed the damage, determined to look on the bright side. “It’s really not so bad,” she said. “The books are fine—well, at least they will be when they’ve all dried out and I can redo the potions. Most of them were coming up to their drink-by date anyway. And the really important ones are in the Safe. The Brownies didn’t eat all the chairs like last time, and they didn’t even poo on the table. So, all in all, it could have been worse. Much worse.
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.