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December 6, 2011
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Chapter 4:

"Dragon Basics"

"Welcome to Dragon Training!!"

The sound of metal slamming against stone echoed through the carved atrium that sat upon the elevated cliff at the edge of the Berk Island. The ground slightly damp from last night rain, it let off a damp yet soothing smell as several younger Vikings walked into the circular alcove.

The Kill Ring...or rather, what was formally known as The Kill Ring, was where Snotlout's "Dragon Basics" class had met for their first lesson. There were seven of them, all of them them between the ages of 13 and 15. All of them took their time to walk to the center of the arena, looking at the changed ring. What used to be a place to practice the art of killing dragons in the best way possible, was now a place to learn how to bond with them and to learn a dragons ways. The reinforced doors and locks had long been removed, as had the chain netting that used to cover the top, giving the whole area an open air feel, instead of looking like a cage. With the doors removed, each of the alcoved acted as resting areas for each of the basic dragon types the students would soon be learning about.

Nadders, Gronckles, Zipplebacks, Nightmares and a group of Terrors were resting in the separate compartments; the ground of each one covered in a thick pile of hay and dirt, a combination of both of the turfs the dragons seemed to enjoy laying on and each of the doors that had been removed were replaced by either a sheet of vines, leather or cloth, hiding the dragons from sight.

A few of the students lagged behind the group, too busy starring at the dragons to pay much attention before realizing the group left them behind. Each of the boys and girls had three things with them; a small basket of fresh fish, a book under their arms and a shield. Before the classes started, they made sure to get Hiccup's new Edition of the Dragon Manual. Some of them read it cover to back, like a good little student should. While other were a bit more confident than some, knowing they could train a Dragon on their first day to class. However, they all remembered the first line written in the book about training a dragon: 'If you wanna befriend a dragon, start by feeding it.'

Moving to the center, all of the students circle around Snotlout, setting the baskets on the ground by their feet. Snotlout looked at all of the kids before them. Of the seven kids there, there were 3 girls: Thyra, Inga and Runa, and 4 boys: Ragi, Clueless, Edgar, and Dogsbreath. Thyra, Snotlout knew. She was a young girl with red hair that she kept in two short, low braids. Inga and Runa were both twin sisters with blonde hair, both in pony tails. They both dressed alike and the only way to tell them apart was from the color of their hair ties: one white and one black.

The boys were a bit different. Ragi was a somewhat...blank. He didn't really smile, or laugh or get upset about anything. In a way, he reminded him of Hiccup by the way he always had a sarcastic or snide remark coming out of his mouth. Clueless was...well...Clueless. Always misheard things, forgot things and had this dull look on his face that made it hard to figure out if he was listening or not. Edgar was one of the older boys there, around 15. He had black hair and brown eyes, and was the reading type. Even know he was giving the Dragon manual a quite read through before class started. And finally, a boy that Snotlout knew well, was Dogsbreath. His attitude seemed to reflect his appearance, having a "I already know I'm gonna be the best" mind set. He was also an old friend of Snotlout, making him the oldest member of the class.

Grinning, Snotlout rubbed his hands together as he began his introductions. "Okay guys, let's get going! Welcome to Dragon Basics! In this class, you'll learn the Basic's of Dragon which means: you'll learn the types of dragons, their classifications, and all that stuff! Now then, the first thing--"

"Hey Snotlout!"

Turning toward the new, a big smile grew across some of the students face when they saw the "famous" Hiccup Haddock walking toward the group. Following close behind him was his mother, a basket of fish and book in hand like the rest of the students. A look of concern was constantly plastered on her face as she eyed all of the dragons in their stone alcoves. It was obvious she wasn't comfortable there. She knew she had agreed to this, but Valhallarama was still unsure about this. Hiccup had told her to leave all weapons at home so she wouldn't seem as threatening toward the dragons. Even though she was allowed a shield, it was still unsettling.

Toothless wasn't following behind Hiccup, but instead choose to watch the class from the edge of the upper ring, looking down on the group. The Night Fury was sulking a bit, laying his head down on his forepaws. All of them had baskets full of fish with them and the smell was so strong it was making Toothless' mouth water with hunger. But Hiccup had told him ahead of time that those fishes weren't for him, but for the dragons that were part of the training program. Lucky bastards....

The the girls all smiled at Hiccup, as did Edgar, as Hiccup walked up to Snotlout. "Dude, you ruined my cool intro..." His cousin complained, although he didn't sound as convincing with that smirk on his face. "Heheh, sorry Snotlout...hey....weren't Ruff and Tuff supposed to be helping you with classes today?"

Snotlout waved his hand. "Nah, they got caught up in hunting duty so it's just me today...."

"Oh...anyway, I was wondering if you'd let me take over your class today? I just wanna make sure everything goes really smooth....if you know what I mean...." He glanced at his mother before focusing on Snotlout. Catching the sign, Snotlout smiled, holding his hands up as he backed up. "By all means, dude...go for it!"

Hiccup smiled at his cousin, turning to face the class and look at the students. This group of students were small, but it was normal this time of year. A lot of the younger vikings got training done before the winter months, during the summer when it was a bit warmer. No one wanted to be out when it really started to get frigid. Hiccup's main focus wasn't on the quantity of the students, but rather making sure this class went smoothly. He really wanted his mother to warm up to the dragons like everyone else did...and he figured this class was the way to do it.

"...uh...hi, everyone. You guys probably already know me but incase you don't, my name is Hiccup, and I'm going to be teaching you today!" Receiving stares from the boys (and go-go eyes from Thyra), Hiccup sighed and walked toward the alcoves. "Okay, so...first things first. Everyone grab your baskets and get ready to get a work out!"

Confusion spread across their faces as Hiccup and Snotlout walked over to the first alcove. The boys both grabbed shields of their own, prompting the rest of them to get theirs ready. "Wh-Whao, wait a minute, I thought dragon you said these dragons were friendly!" Dogsbreath called out.

Hiccup had grabbed a grass and vine curtain before looking toward the others. "Oh, don't worry, they won't hurt you. But if you've read the manual, you'll know that dragons won't just warm up to you you have to show them that you aren't a threat that's why we're gonna start....with the Nadder."

Pulling the curtain back, Hiccup knocked on the rock with his shield, making a loud clanking noise. That was her cue.

At that sound, the Nadder popped out of the alcove and rushed toward the group, forcing them to scatter out of her way. It was a full grown Nadder, mainly a light purple color with gold and orange accents on its scales. Her spikes were erect as she whipped around, her eyes and head twitching toward each of the 8 people there.

Acting on instinct, Valhallarama rushed toward the Nadder and got right into her blind spot; directly in front of her face here her eyes couldn't see. 'As long as I stay here, she can't see me..'. Those were the words she repeated to herself. Not seeing any one in front of her, the Nadder, looked at the rest of them, frozen in place before turning off to look for something else to do. Once she did that Valhallarama sighed in relief, her attention turning away from the dragon to her son that had walked up.

"Very good mom! That's exactly what you're suppose to do if you catch a Nadder by surprise! If you get into her blind spot, it'll give her a moment to calm down and will give you a moment to slowly make your presence known to her! Glad to see someone read the book.."

"Oh...uh...s-sure son, of course...ha..." To be perfectly honest with herself, Valhallarama just did that out of instinct from her old Dragon Training days. If she had her axe with her, she probably would hacked the Nadder right across it's neck.

Hearing the voices, the wild Nadder turned tail, facing all of them down. They didn't dare to move though as Hiccup stood with the group. " exactly what I do!" The dragon's golden yellow eyes saw all of them in a battle stance, shield up, hearts racing. Chirping lowly, she rushed toward them; seeing their shields and they way they stood, she assumed they were challenging her.

"....wait...." Hiccup warned them as she got closer and closer. And just as she was upon them....Hiccup dropped his shield to the ground and brought both his hands up as eye level. The rest of them did the same...and the Nadder stopped in it's tracks. Instead, she opted to examining each of them with her keen eyes, her movement careful but calm. Hiccup stood in place, smiling as he watched the Nadder.

"Ha....who can tell me what I just did?"

Valhallarama, watched the dragon carefully, reflecting on the whole scene. She couldn't believe the Nadder just...stopped...just like that! Just by dropping their weapons? It was unheard of to her, to drop your weapon while a dragon rushed at you...but there it was...

"Oh, I know! She thought were challenging her, but when we dropped our shields, we're not threatening anymore!" Young Thyra spoke, receiving a nod from Hiccup. "Very good...that's exactly right....Dragons won't attack you if you approach them slowly and show them that you aren't a threat...if you catch a dragon by surprise, you have to stand your ground but also show them that you won't hurt them..." Slowly kneeling down, Hiccup opened his basket and pulled out a fish. The scent of the fish reaching her nostril, the Nadder suddenly got really interested in Hiccup and started to sniff and gently nip at him, wanting that fish in her mouth.

"Heheheh! And once you show her you're not a threat...always feed them right after! That's the first step of training them. By feeding're telling them that you equal good ya go, girl! Good job..." He tossed the fish up, letting the Nadder catch it in her mouth. She gave Hiccup an appreciative purr, nudging him gently before waltzing back to her alcove, laying down on the hay and laying out so that her head stuck out of the grass and vine curtain.

With a smile, Hiccup threw in another fish for her to snack on and gave her quick pat before moving onto the next alcove. "Alright, ready for the next batch?"


The group of vikings were sitting on the ground, slightly out of breath from the activities of the course. The class had gone as a brisk pace with Hiccup and Snotlout introducing the dragons in quick recession. Each dragon had a different method to greet them in the wild. Terrible Terror's required using something shining to make a small light to lead them away from their packs. Once they got close enough, you gave them a fish.

Gronckles where a bit...dim witted and didn't take to their naps being disturbed. But feeding them some dragon nip made them quick to forgive and forget. Zipplebacks were difficult. If they released their gas, you had to make sure to get out of the miasma and show them you have food. After feeding both of the heads, it was good to play a game with them. Finally, with Nightmares, it was all about be calm and collected. The Nightmares could sense peoples stress levels. If you seemed to nervous, they wouldn't bother with you. If you seemed apprehensive or aggressive toward them, they would be defense. But, if you were perfectly calm, cool and collected, and showed them the proper respect, they would allow you to gently touch their snots in greeting.

The newbie group was sitting on the ground, some in good condition and others worse for ware...mostly Clueless and Dogsbreath. They had gotten a few things wrong, like not feeding a Zipplebacks heads at the same time, and moving too fast to greet a Monstrous Nightmare. As a result, their fish baskets were destroyed by the Zippleback and they were slightly burnt from startling the Nightmare. That ended with their hair and clothes singed and Dogsbreath missing an eyebrow.

Aside from that, the class had gone...relatively well. And much to Hiccup's surprise...almost shock, Valhallarama had picked up on the class quite well. She even managed to get close to the Nightmare without incident. Of course, her "show no fear" attitude helped some with the Nightmare. But still, it was surprising to him. She had answered questions correctly and performed the right techniques.

Hiccup walked up to the group, smiling at all of them. "Nice job, guys. That's all for today. Go on and get some rest...and make sure you're at the dragon stables first thing tomorrow morning for the next course! Great job today." With the class dismissed, the young vikings gathered their things, ready to head home for the day.

"Umm....Mr. Hiccup....?" Hiccup turned toward Edgar, hearing his voice call out to him. "Yeah?"

"Aren't we, gonna learn how to approach a Night Fury also?" He asked, his eyes flickering up to Toothless as he spoke. The black dragon jumped down besides Hiccup, ready to "demand" his human give him some yummy fish this time. Hiccup looked at his dragon, rubbing his neck, and looked back at the group of Viking that had turned back to hear the answer to that question. " be honest with you, I...can't really teach you fully about Night Furies....see, Toothless is the only Night Fury I've seen around these parts and I can't just speak for his whole race with out studying others of his, sorry to disappoint you but I don't think you guys are gonna ride one anytime soon..."

The vikings groaned in disappointment before finally gathering their things, leaving Hiccup to chuckle at their reactions. He was used to this, by now. Toothless was, of course, the fastest, strongest and most mysterious of all the dragons they had learned about. The Night Fury was very popular around the Island and everyone wanted to learn more about Night Furies. But just as Hiccup said, since Toothless was the only one around, he couldn't write or tell much information about them with out seeing more.

Once all of them were out of sight, Hiccup walked up to his mother along with Snotlout and Toothless. "So...what'd you think, mom? Did I change your mind yet?"

Valhalla looked around the giant pen at all the alcoves, the dragons all retreated inside and resting from the day. Sighing, she shrugged her shoulders. "M'not sure yet.....I'll can see they're smarter than we first thought....but......" Looking back to her sons face, she could see the slight disappointment on his features. Her heart went out to him. She knew how much this meant to her son. But the prejudice she was raised with was clouding that desire to make her son happy. Smiling, Valhalla put her hands on Hiccup's shoulders. "....but I think I need to take the full course.....just to be sure....." Hiccup looked up to his mother, smiling as he nodded.

Hiccup wasn't blind however. He knew his mother was probably just saying that to make him feel better. But he didn't want his mother to just say she liked dragons just to patronize him. he knew his mother would love dragons if she just gave them a chance, just like his father and everyone else. So Hiccup felt it was his duty to change her mind for real.

"Thanks mom...come on....let's get home and get something to eat. I'm getting kinda hungry..."
"Hehehehe, me too. Maybe I'll cook us up some meat pies just for you and me!"
"That sounds great..."

With Toothless and Snotlout in toe, Valhalla and hiccup made their way back up the stone path out of the stone ring..


All four of them walking out of the pen, something was left abandoned at the center of the wet floor. It was small and white with a silver clasp in the back...and it was in the shape of a skull. An earring to be exact, dropped by Valhallarama during the Dragon Training class. It was sure to be lost for a great deal of time, it it's owner hadn't realized that it was lost...but someone--something had found it. His round yellow eyes watching the big woman leaving the ring, his head tilted cutely. He knew who this lady was. Just a few moments ago, she gave him some really yummy fish! But she only gave him one...he wanted another! And she was so nice..

Maybe if he did something nice for her, he'd get more fish! And that strange earring on the ground smelt like her. She must've lost it. He wanted more fish from the nice lady and she was sure to miss this. So it was his duty, in the name of all the yummy fish, to bring this white round thingy back to the lady to get another treat. Picking the skull earring up into his mouth, he scuttled his way toward the entrance of the large stone ring, following the scent left behind...
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With this chapter, I wanted to introduce Hiccup as a teacher of his new dragon classes. Usually, it would usually be Snotlout teaching that class, which I found funny to do. In the movie, Snotlout wasn't all about reading, but for his class, you have to READ the Dragon Manual in order to do well in his course.

With Valhallarama, I didn't give her much lines but I wanted to make her more like an observer, like Hiccup had originally planned. I didn't want one concept to over power the other but, I'm not gonna think too hard about this.

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How to Train Your Dragon © Dreamworks Animation & Cressida Cowell

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