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Rated: 13+ · Draft · Fanfiction · #2275734
Hiccup’s smithing is becoming excellent, and no one’s noticed until now.
The Chief knocked several shields from the wall. The entry to the forge was large enough for most in the tribe, but Stoick the Vast was called that for a reason, and the clatter was better than a shout to let Gobber know he’d arrived.

“Stoick? What brings you here?”

“I need you to help me answer a few questions, uninterrupted.” Stoick rarely asked Gobber to close the smithy for their talks; Gobber raised a eyebrow, but covered the hatch.

“Wait one.” Gobber swapped his rasp prosthesis for his tankard, and filled it. “First off, tell me what’s wrong, and does it have anything to do with what you’re carrying?”

Stoick ignored the question, saying “I want to look at your luxury items. They’re not for me, but this is important, and I want your opinion as a blacksmith.”

“And you couldn’t ask me at the hatch? Alright, I’ll bite, but you’ll have to explain yourself. Follow me.”

Gobber led him to another room, large enough to fit four people, and opened the door. Stoick squeezed in behind him. It was the cleanest space in the smithy, and the least cluttered. The walls were filled with hooks and shelves, and the shelves held the higher quality items available to those who had money to spend.

“I’ve been able to make a few more of these, now I’ve time and the demand for weapons has gone down. Look for yourself, Stoick.”

The assortment varied. Evenly spaced and displayed were engraved flasks, fine jewelry, and hinged boxes. Figures of Thor and Freya were there, and a delicate scrimshaw of the Bifrost bridge.
Weapons and armor hung from the hooks. Stoick had expected no different.

Stoick unwrapped the item he carried. He hands covered most of it, but he exposed an engraving in the iron, the image of a warhammer.

“I want your opinion of this engraving.”

“Well, whoever made this got the shape right, and the etching is mostly smooth. Do you know if the warhammer’s stone or iron?”

“It’s a stone hammer.”

“Hmm. If this was iron, the rough bits would be a drawback. I could sell it, but it wouldn’t be a luxury item. For stone, this is well done—engraving an item to look rough takes skill. It’s a decent piece of workmanship. Where’d you find it?”

Stoick turned the item, revealing another engraving—Stoick’s family crest. “This is an Haddock family heirloom. Would you look it over?”

“I don’t know why I can’t see the whole thing at once. You’d get a better answer, you know. I expect to see it after all this folderol. Hand it over.”

Stoick hesitated. Revealing the entirety of it was a mistake, but Gobber ran the forge, and his commands overruled even the Chief.

“Oh, for Thor’s sake, I’ve been handling iron since I was a tot, I’m not going to break the thing. Rewrap it, if that’s what’s holding you back.”

Stoick did wrap it up, leaving the clan crest uncovered, and handed it to Gobber. Stoick’s friend studied the etching, saying nothing for several minutes.

“Hmm. Well, that’s something,”, Gobber said. He scrutinized it for another few minutes, a payback for Stoick’s earlier fussing.

“So,” Gobber broke his silence, “come here and I’ll tell you what I see. First, it’s well-burnished, with no damage to the surface. It’s the work of one smith. You can tell when two combine efforts, like a master and apprentice. The cuts on the engraving are clear; no rounded edges where they should be sharp. The shield is well done. Anyone looking at this can recognize what’s on it.”

“Is it good enough to be a luxury item?” Thus was the test. Stoick was certain it qualified as such, but Gobber was the expert.

“From what I see, it’s a contender. If the rest of the piece is as well crafted as this, aye.”

“Unwrap it.”

It’s about time.” Gobber removed the cloth and turned the tankard in his hand, taking note of the belt buckle and the Chieftain’s cape. He furrowed his brow, then blinked. Stoick answered the question before his friend asked.

“Hiccup crafted that.” Stoick’s son made the tankard as an apology for the near week of aggravation he and his dragon had put Stoick through. “He made it yesterday and gave it to me last night.”

Gobber whistled.”He’s put Thornado on there with you. A Thunderdrum’s a disk with spikes when you look at one from the side, but you can tell the breed right away.” Hiccup had included the dragon’s saddle, an addition both men knew was unneeded.

“Aye. Look at the mug itself.”

The tankard was double the size of a standard one, with a wide handle that ran the length of the piece. Stoick, the most massive man in the Hooligan tribe, owned a tankard that fit his size.

“Hiccup made this to scale, to fit you. It’s not just larger, it’s Stoick-sized. How many fingers can you put through the handle?”

“All four of them. I haven’t been able to accomplish that since before Hiccup was born.” Stoick still marveled he could raise a mug using only his fingers, after gripping them for a long time.

“Did he take your measurements? No, he couldn’t have, not if he made this yesterday. You would’ve said something. It feels heavier.”

“He added weight to the base, and the heft of it—it doesn’t feel like a thimble in my hand. How he figured out I needed extra weight, I don’t know. He’s so small.” At sixteen, Hiccup hadn’t grown past a skinny 5’ 2” tall.

“I can’t find his initials.” Gobber peered inside the handle, searching for the angular runes his apprentice used as a mark. “Did he hide them?”

“He never marked it, said he wanted the space to engrave. I insisted he mark it somewhere prominent, so you’ll be seeing this again.” Gobber continued checking it over, and Stoick moved on to the real question. “I know you’re the smith, and this isn’t my business, but have you been checking his skills? Hiccup’s old enough to be a journeyman, if he has the ability.”

“Aye, the lad’s old enough. I haven’t tested him in awhile. He shows up and asks what needs doing, then gets to work. He knows the work and does it well. In between, he’s smithing his own things,” Gobber’s speech slowed, “and doesn’t need much help.”

“Look at everything he’s designed and built in the past, since the war ended.” Hiccup had made a prosthetic tailfin so Toothless could fly again. He’d come up with spy glasses, winches, and an amazing shield that converts to a weapon.

“No, I haven’t checked his skills. He shows up late,” Stoick snorted, “and gets to it. Whatever free time your son has, he works on his own things. I help sometimes, but the spyglass and the Thunderear are all his work. And the tail fin— Can’t go forgetting that.”

Gobber shook his head. “I need to check his skills and assign him practice pieces. It shouldn’t take too long before he’s ready to travel, he and Toothless.” Once aa apprentice reaches journeyman status, he travels, becoming a journeying man.

It all happened at once. Now Hiccup would take his real steps of if a tradesman’s independence. Now it was time for Stoick to become serious about Hiccup’s chief training.
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