This is from Ruffnut's POV. I am not bashing characters, I am trying to stay in character from someone else's perspective. So here is How to Be Psychotic While Someone Else Trains a Dragon.
Explosions rocked the ground, homes crumpled under abrasive flames and people screamed into the night. Weapons flashed through the air, battling teeth and claws and hunger. The blazes ravaging their village blotted out the stars.
This was Asgard for Ruffnut.
She danced around a rolling Viking covered in Terrors, dove to avoid a comet of wild fire, and sprinted towards the water cask Fishlegs had just wheeled to a stop.
Ruffnut elbowed Snotlout out of the way to refill her bucket in record time.
"What gives?" he whined but she was already turning the corner. Her braids swung gaily at her back, her bucket clasped with both hands.
Fire brigade may have been considered elementary, but it was a necessary stepping-stone on her path to becoming a shieldmaiden. And sheildmaiden's didn't lose to their brothers.
Ruffnut scowled at Tuffnut, who had blindsided her and victoriously wrenched the bucket from her grip.
"Better luck next time, butt-boil!" he cackled, skipping backwards from her.
"Chickenshit!" Ruffnut snarled. She leapt forward, hands grabbing for the handle, and yanked until the bucket had returned to her. The sodden wood groaned under the strain. "Ha!"
She wouldn't give Tuffnut a chance to repossess it. Ruffnut turned toward the nearest source of heat just in time to see Astrid already there. The other girl tossed a laughable amount of water on a dying flame only for a Gronkle to have it rekindled. Astrid didn't so much as flinch, seemingly unaffected by the powerful temperature or chaotic noise. She continued onto the next fire, taking the lead so that Ruffnut and the others had no choice but to follow her.
Ruffnut wrinkled her nose. Was it necessary for Astrid to swing her hips like that? No. It wasn't. But then one never knew when a particularly strong and bride-seeking bachelor watched.
If Ruffnut's hips would grow out like her mother promised they some day would she'd surely be doing the same thing.
Ruffnut swallowed down some biting liquid in her throat and she tried to convince herself it was disgustnot jealousythat welled in her stomach.
Stupid, perfect Astrid.
The light from the new flare did more than make Miss Suck-up look good; it drew Ruffnut's attention to the forge where the blaze highlighted the face of the chief's son. Hiccup had the goofiest, dopiest smile Ruffnut had ever seen before. And he was looking at Astrid.
Something struck Ruffnut right between her shoulder blades. She coughed from the force.
"Come on, witch!" Tuffnut hollered in her ear. "You're falling behind!"
Ruffnut spun on her heel and landed a boney-knuckled punch on her brother's arm before his words fully registered. It was nothing personaljust a conditioned reaction to his voice.
"You're the one who's falling behind," she jeered. She left him rubbing his arm as she raced ahead.
"Guys!" Snotlout called from a higher elevation with hands cupped around his mouth. "They want us by the Northern Banks!"
"Ugh, you know what that means," Tuffnut griped just before he followed after his friend.
"All the fun stuff is happening at the lower banks," Astrid sighed, but she was never one to disobey orders and she too followed Snotlout's jogging form.
Fishlegs ambled behind them at a slower pace. "It'll raise our chances of surviving plus twenty and the likelihood"
"Shut up!" Ruffnut heard someone snap. It took her a minute to realize it was her own voice.
Usually one could tell when a raid had ended. A calming energy would sweep the village, one of relief and sobriety that always began with the fading silhouettes of flightful dragons and ended with a tally of how much livestock remained.
Unless, of course, Hiccup got out.
Ruffnut didn't know how it happened. By some means, just as the dragons were leaving, chaos ensued. Crashes, crunches, screams...
She and her friends returned from their assigned position to see a path of fire no dragon had ever left before. It crushed boardwalks and stables, took out the side of a fisherman's shack, and appeared to have ended right in the hull of a knarr.
Vikings gathered with heads that shook and murmurs rich with disapproval. Loudest of all was Stoick the Vast, deep in delivering a much-deserved public tongue-lashing to his son.
Their group gathered by the steps of the mill. It gave them a fair view of Hooligan Harbor, now riddled with the flaming remains of a former warship, as well as some measure of reception to Stoick's words.
"Wow..." Snotlout chuckled. "Just...wow. This has got to be a new record."
"Holy crap, he sunk a ship! He actually sunk a ship," Tuffnut cackled. Ruffnut felt the smile on her face stretch her cheeks.
That was awesome.
"It's not funny," Astrid said in a low voice. "We need these resources to rebuild homesnot rebuild ships that are never the targets!"
Snotlout immediately began nodding. "You know, you're totally right, Astrid. I was thinking the same thing. Isn't it funny how we're always on the same page like that? Just...like-minded."
Ruffnut tore her eyes away from the scene of Stoick dragging a babbling Hiccup up the hill to give Snotlout an incredulous look. She wasn't the only one; she caught her brother's gaze overhead and he rolled his eyes.
"Why don't we just hide the sheep on the ship?" Fishlegs took up his earlier burble. "They never attack the ships...so when they come they'll just, you know, hover around the village all confused. That way we can shoot them out of the sky and save our food."
Ruffnut had to admit: it was a fair idea. Tuffnut began flapping his hands.
"Oh! Shhhshh! They're coming!" He gestured to the hulking, stomping figure of the chief. Stoick had one hand fisted in the shirt of his son, hauling the boy along like one would a day's catch.
"just outside of Raven's point"
The sky had brightened to the point where Ruffnut could get a readable assessment of the damage Hiccup had caused. Her eyes drifted from the ruined ship to the prattling, undersized teen while her brain tried to make the connection.
How could someone so tiny be so destructive? It was both horrifying and magnificent in its madness.
"Stop!" Stoick shouted to Hiccup's rush of excuses. Really, no one ever understood what Hiccup spoke of; for all Ruffnut knew, he could have been listing off bread ingredients.
"Every time yeh step outside disaster falls. Can yeh nae see I have bigger problems tae worry about? Winter is almost here 'n' I have an entire village tae feed!"
Should Stoick the Vast ever raise his voice to her like that, Ruffnut was not above admitting that she would probably wet her leggings. The same went for her brother and Fishlegs and Snotlout. Even Perfect, Pretty Astrid would cowerthough it'd be hard to tell how much of that would be actual fear and how much would be submission. The girl loved authority.
But not Hiccup. Hiccup shrugged as someone would when asked about a simple weapon preference.
"Eh," he leaned in towards his father, "between you and me the village could do with a little less feeding, don't ya think?"
Ruffnut choked on the laugh that struck her throat. She had some social etiquette. This was not the time nor place
A number of her neighbors had gasped and placed hands to their rotund bellies. Her father was right at the forefront, stupefied at the very concept of being overweight and batting his stomach in bemusement. She watched as he glanced down, perhaps just then realizing that he had not seen his toes in a good decade.
It couldn't be helped; Ruffnut doubled over laughing.
Tuffnut began his own low chuckle.
"Oh, he is so dead," he said under his breath as Stoick really began to lay into Hiccup.
Hiccup made a rather violent gesture with his handsRuffnut could no longer hear what he said due to an inability to breatheand the grin forming on Tuffnut's face filled with malice.
"Oooh, that was good," Ruffnut said as she wiped the wetness from her eye that came during her fit. "Did you see dad's face?"
Finally, someone other than herself pointed out that growing girthand it was during a public shaming at that.
Tuffnut ignored her; his attention had set on the pariah being marched past them by Gobber.
"Quite the performance," he snarked.
Hiccup didn't react; he kept eyes on the ground. Ruffnut felt a little bad. Just a little. He had mastered the doe-eyes.
With her chuckles dying, she knocked Tuffnut in the shoulder. He never lost the hard grin. He turned and met her reproving gaze, challenging her.
"If we don't kick him down he'll just keep doing it," he said without remorse. Tuffnut liked kicking people down a little too much.
"I've never seen anyone mess up that badly," Ruffnut heard Snotlout jeer. "That helped!"
"If we keep kicking him down, he might get used to it," she whispered back. "We want to be effective."
"Thank you, thank you. I was trying, so..."
Ruffnut grinned when Gobber shoved Snotlout to the ground with one hand. She planned on having that kind of power as well someday; it still took both arms for her to knock the stocky boy down.
Astrid sighedthe loud sort that clearly asked for attentionand stood.
"Come on, let's train." She spoke as if they were expected to follow her.
Snotlout spun on the spot and Ruffnut was bitterly reminded that it was a valid expectation with this crowd.
"Of course! Yes! Training!" said Snotlout eagerly. "Just wait until you see this new move my dad taught me with the sword. You're going to love it, Astrid."
"If it's that thing you did last night then I don't think she's going to be impressed," Fishlegs informed him.
"Shut up, Fish!" Snotlout snapped just as Astrid said: "Don't speak for me."
"Rather train than get asked to help clean up," Tuffnut said to Ruffnut and he followed after their gang, not bothering to see if she would accompany them.
Ruffnut lingered in their wake and watched Hiccup continue his trek of defeat. He looked so small next to Gobber, so beaten down by the weight of an entire village's disappointment, and Ruffnut would have found it easy to feel sorry for such an underdog...had the destroyed warship not been in her line of sight.
For the first time Ruffnut Thorsten saw an advantage in keeping Hiccup locked up all the time. He was a menace to society.
It was kind of hot.
"Welcome tae dragon training!"
Gobber's bellow had just the right amount of theatrics at just the right volume to stimulate the new trainees. Ruff shared a look with her brother and hoped she didn't reflect the same mindless face of marvel. She probably did.
"No turning back," Astrid muttered. She was the first to take a step into the area having pushed her way to the front of the group just before Gobber lifted the gate. Astrid liked to be the first to do everything.
Gods, did she have to take everything so seriously? Ruffnut quelled the urge to yank on the girl's braid. Stupid, stuck-up
And then the absolute magnificence of the Kill Ring struck her. It was huge and wide and spoke of sacred, bloody tales. Every champion to date had killed a Nightmare in here. Every hero praised in their traditional songs started out here.
"I'm hoping for some serious burns!" Tuffnut declared. He made a small fist pump at his hip.
Ruffnut nodded. "I'm hoping for some mauling like...on my shoulder, or lower back..."
Buttrumpet had the most beautiful array of scars on her shoulder. They splayed out in a pattern that sort of looked like a flower. She claimed it was from a Scauldron. Ever since she saw it Ruffnut wanted one.
What if dragons could take requests?
"Yeah, it's only fun if you get a scar out of it," Astrid added in. Ruffnut knew she also had Buttrumpet in mind. Astrid was present as well when the scars were shown off. There was no way in Hel Ruffnut was letting her get one before she could
"Yeah, I know, right? Pain...love it."
By Freyja's ballbusting grip.
Ruffnut's head whipped around so fast that one of her braids hit Fishlegs in the face.
For a moment, she could only stare in bewildermentin disbeliefwith her jaw slack. What was he doing here? What the hel was he doing here?! He was going to get himself killed!
And possibly them by association.
Her brother had a similar, albeit more disparaging, reaction.
"Oh greatwho let him in?"
Ruffnut didn't even hear Gobber's wordsdidn't care if they were instructions or insults. She watched, dumbstruck, as Hiccup stepped into the area carrying an axe with two hands. His grip near the head was strained in his effort to appear stronger than he actually was.
She wanted to massage the headache budding in her temple but she was still too shocked to properly move. Hiccup was a cute kidRuffnut had known, even acknowledged, this for yearsbut he was useless. He was disastrous. He was harmful. He was meant to stay in the forge and keep looking cute. In fact, as far as Ruffnut was concerned, Hiccup's only purpose in life was to be looked at. Occasionally put down to keep him from getting ideas, but on the whole he should not participate in regular Viking activities. He'd never survive out here. Who's idea was this?! Certainly not Hiccup's; she had rarely seen him look more mutinous.
Gobber did something with his hook and Hiccup flinched, curling in around his axe.
Ruffnut groaned. Damn it allhe was cute. This was like putting a kitten in a rink of dragons. It was going to be a meathouse.
"Hiccup already killed a Night Fury, so, does that disqualify him...or...?"
Ruffnut snorted into her handboth at the reminder of Hiccup's ridiculous claim and Snotlout's barb. Snotlout had his moments; she'd give him that.
Hiccup bit his lip and she had to turn away. She was here to fight, to prove how insanely badass she was, she didn't need his revoltingly adorable mannerisms distracting her.
Ugh, yet another reason why he shouldn't be around. Why couldn't he just stay in the forge where he belonged? If she were lucky, the boys would ridicule him back into the smithy to stay.
They lined up as Gobber introduced each dragon. Fishlegs yammered away facts no body cared about, her brother squinted at every gestured door as though there were instructional runes on each one, Astrid had her axe gripped tight and her legs in a readied stance. Ruffnut tried to mimic her...just in case.
It took forever, or maybe it seemed so because Ruffnut kept sneaking glances down their line to see if Hiccup was still there, but Gobber finally announced the Gronkle. He gripped the lever to its door.
"Wha!" Snotlout's gasp broke Ruffnut's concentration. "Whoawhoawait! Aren't you gonna teach us first?"
Craphe was right.
"I believe in learnin' on the job."
And suddenly there was a huge Gronkle flying at Ruffnut's face. The line broke and the teens scattered. Ruffnut could hear Gobber saying something but she didn't rightly care; she only cared about staying on the opposite side of the arena from the Gronkle until she could figure out the best way to attack it.
"Quick! What's the first thing yer goin' tae need?" Gobber shouted the question and it had a calming effect over the group; Ruffnut felt her head clear. Her brother and Snotlout were on either side of her, both stooped and staring at the rolling Gronkle. They weren't in any immediate danger.
"A doctor?" Adorable. But idiotic.
"Plus five speed?" What does that even mean?
"A shield." Astrid didn't pose her response as a question. She spoke it with finality, crouched and ready to dash to the shields because she knew she was right. Trollop.
Ruffnut saw the shield she wanted right at the top of the pileorange flames and two skulls. She dove; her fingers touched the metal rim just as her brother grabbed it from the other side.
"Let go of my shield" Tuffnut snapped. He yanked. She yanked back.
"There are like a million shields!" she snarled. Here she was, trying to show the world her prowess as a shieldmaiden, and her stupid brother tried to steal her thunder.
Tuffnut did not relinquish. "Take that onethere's a flower on it. Girls like flowers."
Ruffnut didn't question why Vikings would even have a flowered shield. She ripped the shield from Tuffnut's grip and slammed it on top of his helmet. His knees buckled.
"Oops," she simpered falsely, "now this one has blood on it."
She held it out to show the invisible blood and Tuffnut latched on once more.
Damn it allwhy did she just give it back to him?
Then something slammed into her, sending shockwaves up her arm and spinning her on the spot. Her knees collided with the groundher face collided with the ground. It hurt.
The world still spun even when she thought she stopped moving.
"Ruffnut, Tuffnutyer out!"
"What?" she mumbled. How could they be out?
"Crap," her brother hissed. "Com'on..."
She allowed Tuffnut to pull her out of the danger zone.
Crap, crap, crapout already. The first ones out!
She stomped to the side of the arena to stand by Gobber's side. The hulk of a man didn't spare either twin a look, too busy hollering at the other trainees. Ruffnut tuned him out; she wanted to stew. Her legs hurt from landing on them and her arms hurt from having the shield wrenched from her hold so forcefully.
She watched the other trainees circle the Gronkle without actually seeing anything.
First out. How embarrassing.
Fishlegs had a dopey grin on his face for answering a question right. He was taken out next.
Snotlout had directed his attention to Astrididiotand it cost him. He trudged to Tuffnut's side, rubbing his butt from a hard fall. Ruffnut's attention was now on the "survivors".
In an echo of his cousin's behavior, Hiccup attempted to chat up Astrid in the middle of the exercise. The only two left in the ring were huddled together, making it all too easy for the Gronkle to direct its attention on them.
Astrid realized the error almost as soon as she came to a stop by Hiccup's side. She left him as quickly as she came.
Ruffnut curled a lip. The trull just rolled away!
Would she have done the same? Probably. But it was so much easier to direct anger at Astrid when the other girl was still in the game.
Ruffnut soon found it hard to direct her anger at anyone because, rather than pursuing Astrid, the Gronkle continued to trail Hiccupwho happened to chase his run-away shield into a corner.
"Oh no," Fishlegs whimpered.
Ruffnut felt the same horror she heard in the large boy's voice. She couldn't move, too fascinated and too horrified to do anything more than watch the Gronkle give its cornered prey a couple of sniffs.
Its mouth opened and Gobber acted.
Ruffnut had never seen anyone move on a prostatic so quickly. One minute Gobber was just feet away from her and the next he had his hook in the Gronkle's mouth, re-directing its blast to a spot just above Hiccup's head.
Gobber continued to tug the struggling dragon to its cage, exposing Hiccupwho was still cowered on the ground with thin arms to cradle his head.
"Shit..." Snotlout breathed. He voiced the sentiments of all the onlookers, including the relief no one expected to feel. Seeing someone killed by a dragon wasn't quite as fun as hearing about it.
The slamming of a cage door told the trainees they were safe once more.
"Remember!" Gobber barked at them. He was back at Hiccup's side, dwarfing the boy much in the same way the Gronkle had. "Dragons will always, always go for the kill. Off with yeh now! We'll meet for náttmál tae discuss yer miserable performances. I expect all o' yeh tae be there!"
The trainees needed no further instruction and accepted the dismissal.
"Whoa..." Tuffnut grinned as he gathered his spear from against the wall. "Did you see that? That was insane!"
Astrid frowned and followed after him. "It almost took his head off. He shouldn't be here."
Ruffnut held back the urge to voice her agreement. Astrid got enough mindless acceptance from Snotlout.
"What do you think the chief would say if he came back from the hunt and Hiccup was dead?" Fishlegs asked in undertones so that Gobber would not hear. The very thought of Stoick's reaction distressed the blond with nervous fidgeting.
"That I'll be next in line," Snotlout boasted with a tone that suggested the answer should have been obvious.
Ruffnut followed the group at a slower pace and, with her curiosity becoming too much for her, risked a look over her shoulder.
Hiccup stood where Gobber left him, his face leaned towards the scorch mark's cooling embers. He faced away from her so Ruffnut allowed herself to openly observe himsomething she felt compelled to do from his very expression because Hiccup didn't look scared at nearly having his head blasted in. He didn't look embarrassed for failing so horribly in front of his peers. He didn't look angry for letting a Gronkle get the best of him. He looked...intrigued.
And this intrigued Ruffnut because it took a certain sort of mentality to analyze a near-death scenario, as he appeared to be doing. She'd know...she was bat-shit crazy.
"Alright yeh sorry bunch o' Nadder nuggetslet's talk about how horrible yeh are at handlin' Gronkles."
"Yipee," Ruffnut muttered under her breath. Her brother knocked back the rest of his mead to express a similar opinion.
Fishlegs raised a hand.
"Yes Fishlegs?" Gobber deadpanned, half expecting the boy to bring up something completely unrelated.
"Where's Hiccup?" Fishlegs asked and Ruffnut felt the strange, practically foreign sense that he was picking up her thoughts. She wanted to know the same thing, but no way would she ask it.
"Cannae find him," the blacksmith grunted. "But whit we need tae focus on now is you. Disgraceful! All o' yeh. You two"
Neither Ruffnut nor her brother reacted to the thick finger pointed at them. Gobber opened his mouth and froze.
"Ah, nae even worth it," he settled on.
"'Loutwhat did yeh do wrong?"
"He wasn't focused," Astrid intoned. She sounded annoyed and likely found Snotlout's flirting with her absolutely inappropriate. Which it was.
Tuffnut volunteered the answer. "He screamed and ran like a"
"I won't do it again!" Fishlegs swore. He swore that every time. He never followed through.
"Right," Gobber sighed. "Where did Astrid go wrong today?"
"I mistimed my summersault," Astrid answered, brusque and solemn. "It was sloppy. It threw off my reverse tumble."
Ugh, even when she was critiquing herself Astrid sounded like she was bragging.
"Yeah, we noticed," Ruffnut muttered sarcastically.
Not everyone cares about what you do Astrid.
"No, noit was so Astrid," Snotlout fawned. Ruffnut thought her eyes would roll back into their sockets if she could roll them anymore.
Good gods, man, have some pride!
She faced away from the group and rested her cheek on her hand. It was going to be a long meal.
Loki himself answered her silent prayer. There was Hiccup, wet, somber, and materializing from the shadows of the Hall like a draugr.
Ruffnut shivered at the thought and felt a predatory urge spark within her stomach. She sat up, bewildered and piqued by his appearance.
Hiccup grabbed the single, untouched plate of meat and kept walking, not giving any of their group a spare glance. Snotlout looked positively delighted.
"Where did Hiccup go wrong?" Gobber asked. Hiccup would clearly be punished for his late arrival.
"Uh, he showed up?" Ruffnut snarked. She couldn't help it; that idiot boy had a death wishand looking at him now, so wet and hunched and frail, he was stupid for ever stepping foot in that ring. What was the fool thinking?
"He didn't get eaten," Tuffnut added.
"He's never where he should be," Astrid said in an amazing voice replica of a chiding parent.
For once, Ruffnut had to audibly agree with her.
Gobber smacked her in the back of the head.