“Woo…” Hiccup breathed, jumping down off of Toothless back and letting his partner shrink down into his tiny form. He held his arm out for Toothless to jump onto, looking around at the bright green land and the unfamiliar architecture, ideas spinning so fast in his head he could barely think straight.
“I don’t even know where to start.”
“Well…yeah, that would…work.” Hiccup shrugged, looking around for anyone. “Except I don’t see anyone.”
“A house would be good.” Toothless yawned.
Hiccup rolled his eyes and let Toothless crawl in his shirt and curl up, falling asleep before mounting his broom and taking off in search of anyone that could give him a clue as to what he should do from there.
He nearly passed the man outside his house, but quickly backtracked to introduce himself.
“Hello!” He called out, pleasantly surprised when the man turned and smiled rather than attacked.
“Eh…” Hiccup watched the man place the palms of his hands together in front of his chest and bow at the waist and wasn’t sure what to do.
“Toothless, a little help here.” He hissed out of the side of his mouth to the little dragon as the man continued to smile expectantly at him.
The little dragon yawned, crawling back up to Hiccup’s shoulder giving his master a withering glare.
“Wa! Lóng baobao. Duome ke’ài! Ni zài nali zhaodào tã?”
Hiccup just continued to stare at him flabbergasted.
“Why you no answer him?” Toothless demanded, scratching behind his ear.
“What?” Hiccup hissed back, glaring down at the tiny dragon.
“He asked a question.”
“I can’t understand him.”
Toothless rolled his eyes. “He said, “Wow! A baby dragon. How cute! Where did you find him?” Now what you wanna say?”
“How can you understand him?” Hiccup demanded to know, ignoring the man watching their argument in Dragonese.
“Dragonese translates all languages.”
“So how are you going to tell him what I said?”
“I’ve got an idea.” Hiccup grumbled, pulling out his sketch pad and a pencil.
Quickly scribbling, he showed the picture to the man of how he and Toothless first met. The man laughed in response.
He took back the sketch pad and began drawing again while the man waited patiently. This time he depicted his search for the ink created by the Empress.
The man nodded and pointed towards the town down the hill.
“Jìn chéng. Zài shì zhongxin, ni huì kàn dào yigè jiànzhú gilái de bù zhòu ji gè hàngban, ye jiùshì shigùle junduì de diàntáng. Zài nàli, ni huì zhaodào dá’àn ni xúngiú. Lái jiàn wo, yidàn ni yijing wánchén gle.”
Hiccup smiled and nodded in thanks before redirecting his attention to Toothless.
He yawned and rolled his eyes again, “He said, “Go in to town. In the center of town you’ll see a building up several flights of steps, that is the halls of the lost army. There you will find answers you seek. Come see me once you have finished.” So go now. I go sleeps.”
Hiccup laughed softly before heading in to town to find the hall the man spoke of.
He spent an entire day in there and he came out only with some pieces of pottery, jewels, and statues.
Doing as was asked, he returned to the man’s house with the bag over his shoulder and little Toothless in tow.
He handed the bag over and watched as the man dug through it, getting more irritated by the second.
“A! Zheli shi. Ganxie nin dui wo de jiansuo shenqi wo. Zai nide wenti, wo bu zhidao, ni yinggai xungiu qita da’an.”
Hiccup looked at the giggling Toothless, awaiting a translation. “He said-” Toothless broke into giggles again. “He said that,” He laughed so hard he snorted smoke. “thanks for getting his are-te-fact and he doesn’t know how to help you. “You should seek answers elsewhere.” He used you to get his toy.”
It was about that time that Hiccup’s fist smashed into the man’s face and the guy fell.
He turned and walked away, muttering quietly to himself. He mounted his broom at the road and went in search for someone who would genuinely give him his answers.
It was when he finally felt the exhaustion kick in and headed back to the camp that he found it. On the board there was a note taped there with his name on it. At first he was skeptical. After all, so far none seemed to be able to understand his language and this was clearly written in Norse. Second of all, it was just stuck there.
Pulling it off, he began to read in the dimming light.
No, you do not know me nor I you. I have heard of what you seek. Answers to the ink of the Empress. Answers I have. I will gladly meet with you, but for the information I require something in return.
At the top of the hill, there lies a cave, the opening shaped like the great head of a Chinese Dragon. The Dragon Maw holds something that once belonged to my family but has long since been stolen.
Return it to me and I shall give you the answers you seek.
Hiccup sighed, his shoulders dropping. He listened to Toothless’s snores and felt a pang of envy, but if the cave would get him answers, he’d do it.
With that in mind, he looked up and groaned. He could just see the top of the dragon statue from here, up the hill and all the way over there. It would take him all night just to ride his broom up there, let alone hike.
With that dreadful thought in mind, he started trudging back towards the road and up to the cave.
It seemed like forever before he reached the bench in the zen garden halfway up the mountain. He sat down for a rest and before he knew it, it was past dawn with the sun shinning down bright on him.
“Why you no wake?” Toothless hissed, pawing at Hiccup’s cheek in an attempt to wake him.
“Ga awa.” Hiccup grumbled, swatting at Toothless and rolling over.
“Ofh.” All the air was pushed from Hiccup’s lungs while Toothless hovered above him, giggling.
“Shut up, Toothless.”
“Why we no at camp?”
“Cause, I got another lead. At the cave shaped like a Chinese dragon.”
Toothless nearly swallowed his tongue.
“I sleep.” And he dived into Hiccup’s shirt.
Hiccup rolled his eyes but got up anyways and started back on his way up the mountain.
It was as he was passing the garden by the pond that his stomach sounded. He realized that he hadn’t ate a single thing since he got there.
“Oh well, might as well.” He shrugged, heading over to the patch and began harvesting, greedily devouring the food as he removed it from the vines until he was full sated. What seemed like hours later, he finally sat back and looked at the mess that remained of the fruit and shoved a few pieces in his pocket.
“Might as well take some for later.”
It wasn’t long after he reached the cave though.
He stood at the entrance, the smoke billowing around him and felt a small quiver in his stomach. Whether from him or his dragon, he would never know. After standing silent for several moments, he finally moved inside, dreading what was to come.
The first room he entered was thankfully dull compared to the next one. As soon as he stepped in the door, flames burst out of the floor and he felt his heart seize staring at the wall of flames before him.
Just how was he going to get himself out of this one?
He arrived at the house covered in soot and dust. Entirely disgruntled.
“Hello Hiccup.” She greeted him with a smile in Norse.
He was too tired to really care though.
“I have it. Now, the answers you promised.”
“Of course.” She nodded, gratefully taking the stone from him. “Someone you know has been cursed, correct?”
“I am sorry. What more can you tell me about the curse on her?”
“One day I woke up to my mother screaming with a Nig-nigstash? I’m not sure what my mother called it. Anyways, it was this pole with the head of a dead horse on it and it had this ancient writing on it with supposedly the ink of the empress.”
“And the writing? Where is it from, do you know?”
“My sister said that it appeared to be from a southern tribe.”
The woman sighed. “It is as I feared.”
“What do you know of Voodoo?”
“Yes, Voodoo is a religion that is practiced in the deep south, unlike any other religion I know. Their curses are powerful things, especially if done correctly. We, however, are in luck. The caster of this curse sounds to be rather inept at what they were doing and managed to mess up the casting of the spell so that it’s not near as dire as it could have been.”
While she was talking, the color had slowly drained out of Hiccup’s face leaving him whiter than snow.
“Worse…” He croaked, but she paid no mind.
“For this, we should be extremely thankful. As to how to counteract this curse, though, I could not tell you.” Sensing Hiccup’s anger, she continued. “I can, however, direct you to someone who will. I can help you with the additional curse of the ink though.”
Hiccup sighed in relief, feeling as if things were finally looking up for him.
“With them using the ink to write the words-you may want to look in to how they got the ink by the way, it’s not easy to come by-he added an additional, albeit pointless, power to the curse. At the local market in town, you’ll want to purchase a specialty drink there and take it home to your daughter and have her drink it immediately. It will remove any and all effects that were caused by the ink. After that, I would suggest spending a little time resting and with your daughter before you head to the southern tribe.”
Hiccup nodded gratefully, unable to believe that he was so close to his goal. At least one of them.
“Now the woman you’ll be meeting in the southern tribe is named Acacia Nadira, she lives in Kanem-Bornu. She will be easy for you to find. She is…unique, shall we say.” The woman laughed. “Just ask for Priestess Acacia and they’ll take you to her.” She kindly patted him on the arm and headed back inside. “I would suggest you get plenty of rest before heading back home. It will be a long trip, if I dare say so myself.” She laughed and closed the door gently.
(THIS IS NOT HISTORICALLY ACCURATE! While I tried to keep it close, it was impossible and since HTTYD isn’t really accurate to begin with, I felt a few liberties was okay. The Voodoo practice actually didn’t originate until about 1500 as far as records indicate. However, the practice does seem to have still been in play long before this it was just never named as such and was simply their way of living is my guess.)