North of Hopeless, South of Freezing: Chapter 1 – The Brown Haired Ambassador

 

       “Ugh, Mom!”

     “Don’t ugh me, Merida, you have to look nice for the ambassador. It isn’t every day we get a visitor from one of the further countries. Besides, you should on the bright side, this means that there’s more prospects for eligible young men.”

     “Well, there is that. Maybe he knows someone I might become friends with.”

     “Ah yes, I mean to ask him about the young women of his land as well, perhaps we may find you one just as high-spirited as you. There, done. Turn around . . . oh Merida, you look lovely.” Merida grinned as she turned around in the pale green dress. It fit much more comfortably than her mother’s previous attempts at dressing her in something fancy, she felt like she could actually move in it. Her mother opened her mouth to say something when a knock was heard at the door. Elinor went to open it. “Yes Maudie?”

     “The ambassador is almost here, milady, he was sighted just a few minutes ago.”

     “Thank you, Maudie. Come on, Merida, quick!” Elinor lead the way out of the room, the three dashing to the throne room where Fergus already sat.

     “Ah, there’s my lovely wife, and my lovely daughter. We’re all here, it looks like, except for the ambassador himself. McGuffin clan . . .” A cheer went up from the clan in response. “Clan Dingwall.” The Dingwalls responded just as loudly. “And clan MacIntosh.” The MacIntosh clan tried to sound louder, but they only managed to hit the same pitch as the other two.

     “Alright everyone, please move to the side, the ambassador should be here any minute now, and I want this to be a warm welcome. None of your fighting now, do you hear?”

     “Yes ma’am,” muttered several voices. Elinor glanced at her husband.

     “What? I’d only fight if they start it.” She raised her eyebrow. “Oh alright, Elinor, I promise I won’t start a fight.” She placed her hands on her hips. Fergus groaned, “Alright, alright, I won’t join in a fight that’s been started either.”

     She smiled, “Thank you dear.” Then she glanced at the three little mongrels sitting next to her, they nodded, grinned, and showed her empty hands. Then a guard came into the room, waiting until all eyes were on him and the room was completely still before speaking.

     “Milords, miladies, the ambassador has arrived.” He gave a quick bow of the head and moved to the side of the door. All eyes were staring at the doorway, each peeled for the arrival of the ambassador. The seconds ticked by like minutes before a brown-haired young man entered the room. Several gasps were heard as everyone noticed his garb, murmurs spread, concern over the Viking wardrobe. The ambassador merely smiled nervously as he walked towards Elinor and Fergus, Elinor rising to put him at ease.

     “Welcome, ambassador, to DunBroch castle. These are our friends and allies, the McGuffin clan, the Dingwall clan, and the MacIntosh clan. I am Elinor DunBroch, this is my husband Fergus, my daughter Merida, and my three sons, Harris, Hubert, and Hamish. And you are?”

     He cleared his throat, “Oh, uh, thank you, Lady Elinor, for the introductions. I am Hiccup Haddock the third, chief of Berk.”

     “Eh? That lousy little Viking village we’ve heard about from Viking raids?” Elinor shot the chief of the Dingwalls a glare, but the damage had been done. The murmurs grew louder, this was a Viking, a lone Viking standing in their midst, thinking that the two parties could talk of peace.

     “Oh, so you have heard of us. Great, I don’t have to talk too much about it then. That takes a load off my back. Well, then, let’s get to business then, shall we? I do have to get back and take care of my people. I am the chief, after all,” he chuckled nervously. The Scots glanced at each other, taking a menacingly step closer. Hiccup took a step back, taking him closer to the throne, this wasn’t working too well. Elinor stepped forward and placed a hand on Hiccup’s shoulder.

     “Chief Hiccup has given us the benefit of the doubt by coming here alone and unarmed. Will you attack him when he has made no move to harm any of us?” The murmurs began to agree with her, but Hiccup winced and ran his fingers through his hair, he had to tell them.

     “Um, actually, I didn’t exactly come alone. I do have one friend with me. May I introduce him?”

     “As long as it isn’t one of your dragon fiends, boy chief!”

     Elinor ignored the comment, “Of course, as long as he doesn’t attack.”

     “Oh, he won’t, as long as no one attacks me.” Hiccup grinned before turning and whistling. “Toothless!” A black, winged mass bounded into the room, running towards Hiccup amid the surprised gasps and shouts of the Scots, only to knock him over and begin licking his face. “OK, down, buddy, down! I’m trying to make a good impression here!” he chuckled. The dragon backed down, but his excitement was evident since his tail was flapping around like a puppy’s. Merida gasped when she saw his tail, then glanced at Hiccup.

     “Why, you’re missing a leg like Dad, and your dragon has part of a flag for a tail!”

     “Merida!” Elinor berated her daughter, while the triplets raced forward for a closer look.

     “That’s alright, Lady Elinor, this is proof of our friendship, we rely on each other, a lot.” He glanced at Toothless, the triplets were already climbing all over him, the four apparently having quite a blast playing together. Everyone gasped when Toothless took one of the boys and tossed him in the air, catching him on his back and letting the redhead slide down his back. There was an audible sigh of relief when the boy jumped up and giggled, telling the dragon that he wanted to go again while his brothers began to shove, wanting their own turn. Hiccup laughed, “Hey, guys, take turns. Like this,” He lined up the boys and let Toothless continue their game. Then one of the Scots got a close-up look at Toothless.

     “Why he is toothless, he got no teeth!” The relief was evident from the three clans.

     “Well, for now so he doesn’t hurt anybody, but he does have teeth, he’s just hidden them,” shrugged Hiccup as he petted Toothless. Everyone glanced at each other, a bit of worry starting to creep back in.

     “Well that is good to know. So, Chief Hiccup . . .”

     “Oh just call me Hiccup, please, Lady Elinor, I’m not quite used to it just yet,” he grinned nervously, running his fingers through his shaggy hair again. Merida groaned, they really weren’t getting anywhere with the niceties.

     “So, Hiccup is it?” Hiccup glanced at the princess, nodding. “Well, what do Vikings do besides raid other lands? Well, at least Berk since your people haven’t personally raided anybody,” she quickly added. Elinor shot Merida a warning look, but Hiccup grinned, he was starting to feel more at ease.

     “Well, at first we were busy defending ourselves from dragons and other Vikings.” Murmurs spread in surprise over this news. “Yes, even us Vikings fight amongst ourselves, but ever since we’ve befriended the dragons and have begun living together, we’ve been busy learning more about the dragons and coming up with new traditions to involve them, like our games.” The crowd oohed, the mention of games certainly had their interest. Elinor flashed Merida a grin, she was doing pretty well at getting Hiccup to open up so far, so she beckoned her closer.

     “I’ll let you handle the rest of this, sounds to me like the two of you know what to talk about,” she whispered in her daughter’s ear. Merida grinned and nodded, enough of the droll introductions and whatnot, time to get into the more interesting stuff and find what the two groups really have in common. They hit one already, games, time to find out what else Berk had that was interesting.

“So, what are these games like?”

“Well, we mainly have dragon races, some deal with speed, others use points, and some involve teams. It would take me a while to describe all of them, there are so many variations and others that we’re trying out, but one that we definitely like to play is one that uses sheep for points. You have a cluster of thirty white sheep and one black sheep, the racers have to get up to five white sheep in their baskets before going after the black sheep. Whoever gets the black sheep wins.”

“That sounds like fun, you’ll have to teach us how to play.”

Hiccup chuckled, “Yeah, well, our version requires dragons, maybe we can come up with a ground version.”

“Or you can teach us how to become friends with dragons.”

Hiccup looked at Merida, grinning, “That’s possible too. However I’ve only brought one dragon, all the rest are still on Berk. I’d have to go back and bring some here. That is, if you don’t mind me bringing a few of my friends with me to help train you with the dragons.” The Scots were getting a bit worried over that one.

“Why, so you can attack us with your dragons?”

“No, if I had wanted to attack, I would have done it already.” Hiccup realized too late that was the wrong thing to say.

“So you do want to attack us!”

“No! No, no, I don’t want a war with you, I want to become allies. We’ve had to change a few things to become friends with dragons, I figured it will be same with you. We can become friends, I mean,  if you want to.”

“Well no Scot ever had a problem with killing a Viking, I don’t see why that has to change.” The clans were getting threateningly close, Toothless stopped playing with the triplets to stand by Hiccup, baring his teeth.

“Mom, what do we do? He came here, trusting us!” Merida gasped.

“My lords!” Elinor’s voice echoed through the hall with sharp authority. All eyes turned to the queen as she stepped off the throne and towards Hiccup. Toothless growled at her, but Hiccup raised his hand to stop him, placing it gently on Toothless’ shoulder to reassure him. Elinor stopped a few inches from Hiccup’s face. “Answer me truthfully, Hiccup, do you have any intention of attacking any of the clans, even if we do not leave as allies today?”

“No, we will never attack the Scots. We have never attacked anyone else unless it was in defence of our homes.” He held her eyes for several minutes before she physically relaxed and smiled.

“I believe you, Hiccup, we will listen to your terms and we will present ours, in a civil manner.” She glanced at the men standing around who finally sighed and agreed. “Thank you, my lords, now, perhaps we can treat Hiccup to some Scottish fun. Let the tournament begin!” A cheer went up as the clans rushed outside, Hiccup and Toothless following with the DunBroch family.

“Um, thanks, Lady Elinor, if you hadn’t stepped in . . .”

“Oh, don’t mention it, we’ve been making some changes ourselves. Maybe you and Toothless could show us a few tricks?”

Hiccup glanced at Toothless, and the two grinned. “It will be our pleasure, milady.”

Aurora Madeville was born in Louisiana, where most of her Mom’s family still lives, and currently resides in Colorado. Her Dad’s family are scattered around the USA, clustered mainly in the South. She is the eldest of eight children, born and raised in a Catholic, homeschooling, very, very pro-life family. Ever since she was little, she has hoped to one day be a stay-at-home mom of a large family. She has yet to meet the “man of her dreams”, but is sure God will help her turn that corner when she gets to it. Aurora has a lot of interests and favorites, and loves to read and write. The majority of her favorite books and authors from childhood have had the biggest influences on her writing, so don’t be too surprised when you see a reference and/or similarity to Tolkien, Lewis, or Jane Austen. She is also working on several novels; it just takes time to finally get them done! To read more of her writings, please visit her pages on Fanfiction and Tumblr!

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