Hephaestus is fed up with how Loki and Thor see Hiccup. AUgust day one ancient gods WIP
|“A downed dragon is a dead dragon.”|
Gobber took schooling seriously, and part of Hiccup’s work at the forge was pursuing studies. Everyone important spoke Latin, and Hiccup had to learn the language. He had advanced to Greater Calculating, learning the math of lines and shapes. He wrote informal letters to Camikazi and Thuggory, and strictly formal letters to their parents, telling them about his studies. He read up on the history of Berk and the Hooligan clans. Once a week Hiccup studied trade routes and treaties. Without fail, he learned about the gods.
Hiccup had doubts about the gods.
He never saw them help him, though others said it was only because of them he didn’t die at birth. He ought to be glad his dad returned from every nest hunt. Hiccup has no cause to complain when he had an apprenticeship, they said, and a father, food, a home. He was grateful, but still wished his dad would come home once in a while and they could eat together. It would be nice if people stopped saying Hiccup was only at the forge to sharpen and polish.
When it came to small things, like having people notice him, having his dad notice him, or not being picked on, the gods ignored him.
“A boy who believes in the Norse gods has received a Mark of Favor, but the local priestess couldn’t divine which god compelled her to do it. A few months later, he was freshly apprenticed to the blacksmith. Are you interested?”
Hephaestus gave Hermes credit—it only took two sentences to get his attention. A boy blacksmith with a destiny stuck with those upstart Norse gods.
“He carries a Mark of Favor?”
“The priestess sealed it in front of prominent members of the tribe. The boy is the heir to his island, a scrawny, brilliant child on an island full of muscle-bound warriors. His name is Hiccup.”
There was a single thing the Greek and Roman gods agreed on: Norse gods sucked.
Norse gods were fickle. They had followers who longed to go to Valhalla, feast, and fight. These warriors made certain to die in battle, holding on to their weapon. How many of them got to Valhalla? Fifty percent. Freya swiped half of them for herself. The flip-a-drachma attitude towards where their people went was bad, and become worse. If you weren’t a warrior, but lived a virtuous life, you wound up in the realm of Hel. It was dank and foggy there, afterlife for the reject crowd.
They liked certain humans, and ignored the rest of them. They answered prayers if they felt like it. A human had to earn their attention. They believed adversity built character, and took a hands off approach. They were snooty and apathetic, and gave other pantheons a bad name. Hephaestus didn’t trust them to assist a puny seven year old, favored one or not.
“Thanks for telling me. I’ll look into it.”
“Good. The child needs help, or he’s going to be wasted in that tribe. All his strength is internal, and the people on Berk care about brawn.”
He left a disk for the priestess. God forged metal was distinctive, and she deserved to know a god visited her tribe.
Hephaestus approved of the smithy. It was clean and well thought out, with enough room to move. The grubby boy beneath all that hair smiled as he worked, never sitting but not exhausting himself. He’d been working here awhile to learn that trick.
“What do you need? I’ve weapons, tools, utensils, and better items, unless you’re here to admire the smithy.” The blacksmith, a balding man with a knotted moustache, waited for an answer.
“I’m traveling with some traders, and stopping on islands to see what they offer. May I spend the night here?”
The man gave him an appraising look, then said, “You have the look of a forge about you. Come inside, and we can talk awhile; it’s not often I can speak with a fellow smith. My name’s Gobber.” He turned his back on Hephaestus and bellowed, “Hiccup! Get your scrawny carcass over to Gothi’s and ask for more burn salve.”
“Yeah, okay, got it.” He rattled off the answer, and ran to the door.
“Stop right there.” Hiccup halted and turned to face Gobber. “What do I tell you?”
“‘No running in the forge, Hiccup.’ Sorry, I forgot. Can I go now?” The last sentence came out in a rush, as if the boy lived his life in a hurry.
Gobber grabbed the boy’s shoulder and began walking him to the door. “Make certain to ask Gothi if her staff needs any maintaining. Now get.” Gobber released him at the exit and Hiccup sped off, presumably to find the priestess.
“That’ll keep him occupied. Now, find yourself a spot and I’ll close up.” The smith placed a large wooden rectangle in front of the hatch, then exchanged his hammer prosthetic for one that was a tankard. Gobber plopped a second mug in front of Hephaestus.
“This mead is Gerda Thorston’s special brew, and only comes out once a year. If you don’t like it, your sense of taste is dead.”
Hephaestus took his first sip; whoever this Gerda was, she made exceptional mead. “I haven’t had such a good drink of anything in a long time.”
“Aye, and a talk always goes better with a drink, especially on Berk. Our talks turn into arguments, and getting someone to shut up by pushing ale at them works a treat. They either pass out or forget what they were saying.” Gobber stoppered the mead. “I don’t have any wine for you. We get it from traders this far north, and I’ve no need for it. I know it’s popular in the southern lands; the weather there is warmer.”
Hephaestus expected his skin tone to give him away, and commented “A drink of this is worth thirty gallons of fine wine, and you can pass that along to Gerda.”
“I’ll do that. Tell me, do you have the Blacksmith’s Tale in your home?” Gobber’s voice was genial, but Hephaestus heard the note of challenge.
“I’ve never heard of such a thing. Is it a Northman’s tale?”
“They know it here and in Alba, but I can’t tell you more than that. I learned the story from my da, who was the smith before me.
“He told me of a man with a limp. He was ill-favored,” Gobber paused a moment, “but there wasn’t any weakness about him. He was covered in burn scars and had hair the color of flames. He came as a wanderer and always went to the smithy.
“It’s too early in the year for southern traders to arrive on Berk, but someone who could travel through volcanoes wouldn’t need to buy passage. Welcome to my forge, Master Hephaestus.”
Hephaestus broke into laughter. “You caught me, Gobber Borkeson. You’re the first man in centuries to call me by my name. The last man t9 spot something off was an Alban named Fergus.”
“Fergus MacKenzie was my great-grandda, and you told him your name was Heff. I’ve traveled as far as Miklagard and learned of the blacksmith’s god.