Stoick the Vast remembers... chapter one
|The chill air bit Stoick’s cheeks as he hunched his shoulders against the wind. He had finished the meeting several hours ago, then had to inspect the damage done by last night’s raid. The dragons came again, this time at sunset, and carried off seventeen more sheep, nine additional goats, and most of that day’s fishing catch. The men on Berk worked at their assigned tasks; Stoick’s father drew up the plan for raid aftermath and Stoick still used it. Berk’s women often filled in for the men at these times. Just as they tended Home and family, so too they readily picked up the labor their men left undone. Berk was their Home, too.
“We all work to protect Berk. This is our home and no dragon raids will defeat us. I shall never entertain doubt; I owe it to everyone.” This was Stoick’s mantra and certainty. He showed himself as a strong chief and the tribe breathed easier because of it. Any problem that came his way was solved, and any struggles the people encountered eventually landed before him. Stoick projected confidence to those around him, and only in one place did he struggle: raising Hiccup.
Hiccup had always been different. Bright, brighter than the other other village children, Hiccup showed a quickness to learn and develop ideas no other children could at that young age. Stoick watched him learn to read, write, and figure. He persevered, even after the death of his mother and his reliance on other villagers to teach him what Stoick could not. Running the village was a constant effort, and his impatience with Hiccup’s questions led Stoick to approach the village women for help.
Stoick told Hiccup his new schedule that evening: three mornings of instruction at the Gothi’s hut, then four afternoons with Gobber working at the forge. Hiccup listened, silent for once, as Stoick outlined the new regimen. After a moment, his son looked up at him and grinned.
“I’m gonna work hard, Dad. I’ll learn everything I can and work for Gobber as much as you want. I can do this, you’ll see.”
Stoick was proud of Hiccup then. His son, at age seven, had the drive and determination to become a good chief. It was Stoick’s task to ready him for the task. The learning would still his questions and satisfy his longing to know everything, usually at once. Work in the smithy would strengthen him in body and mind, and tire him enough to sleep at night. Satisfied, Stoick wrapped one arm around his boy’s bony shoulders.
“I know you will, Hiccup. You’re my son, and you’ll make me proud.”