Alvin, Stalka, Stoick, Hiccup
|Alvin is eleven when he comes to Berk. His previous tribe did not have chastenings, and he has escaped the humiliation that brings you to understand you are a small part of the tribe and must know obedience. It is a harsh lesson, but also a rite of passage. It is the event the shapes you into a reliable and trustworthy member of the tribe, and keeps your pride in check.
Alvin lacks this visceral understanding of his place in the tribe. Over time, he takes his relationship with Stoick for granted. He doesn’t realize he must take orders from Stoick.
During the battle with Oswald the Antagonistic, twelve-year-old Valka comes near the battlefield to help with the wounded. Stoick, nineteen, commands Alvin, age eighteen, to take her to safety. Alvin, a full-blooded warrior, resents being sent from battle to look after a little girl. He removes her from the battlefield, but thrusts her at fourteen year old Phlegma instead of getting her to the place of safety. Alvin thinks he hears something in the forest. Thinking it’s an ambush, and wanting to demonstrate his skill to Stoick, he leads a small group to investigate without permission from Stoick, who is leading this battle. The warriors following Alvin believe they are acting on Stoick’s commands. Finding people in a group, he leads an attack without investigating. Two of Oswald’s men have captured a group of Hooligans heading for the safe place. One enemy is captured, one dies of his wounds, but Hooligans are also hurt. One woman loses her baby, another loses function in his left hand, and the heir to Clan Jorgenson dies protecting the others. The other Hooligans survive, but Alvin’s actions have repercussions—Alvin is despised, and his clan pressured to cast him out. Stoick’s leadership is questioned, because the tribe believes Stoick gave him orders to act. Conflicted, Stoick tells any who ask directly Alvin acted without permission, but does not make a it widely known himself.
Stoick calls Alvin to see him at Haddock House. In the presence of Halvar, Gobber, and Spitelout, Stoick delivers a tongue lashing, excoriating Alvin for renegade behavior and telling him he’s facing solemn charges. Alvin, guilty but defensive, counters with his capture and killing of Oswald’s men. Halvar gives Alvin an exile of one year. Alvin, infuriated, blames Stoick, and brings up Stoick’s past wrongs against him. Stoick, who now knows he loves Valka, loses his temper and calls Alvin a renegade member of the tribe. Further words are exchanged. Alvin is cast out of clan Larssen and blames Stoick. He departs Berk, wanting to believe himself wronged, but knowing it is justified.
Halvar and Gobber counsel Stoick, reminding him that whether Alvin is his friend or not, he is a danger and detriment to the Hooligan tribe on Berk. Halvar’s decision may return to bite Stoick. Stoick knows, but hates Alvin for his actions, especially the risk to Valka. The friendship between Alvin and Stoick suffers enormous damage. Gobber acts as a sounding board for Stoick.
Stoick feels guilty, though only part of the blame is his. He failed to clearly state Alvin must deliver her to the safe place, not simply safety. He did not instruct Alvin to return immediately. He doubts his leadership and believes the relationship with clan Jorgenson cannot be repaired in his generation. Still, he wants Valka, and sets out to repair the damage, though he cannot undo the deeds. Spitelout watches Stoick ripping himself apart, and speaks privately to the Jorgenson clanhead, detailing the events of Oswald’s Battle. The clanhead speaks with Halvar, who affirms Spitelout’s account. Several months later, Stoick sees a thaw in the relationship between the Haddocks and Jorgensons. This is the first instance of Spitelout fighting for his brother. Spitelout unintentionally takes the place Halvar wanted Flint to have—that of a strong and worthy support for Stoick, and someone to fight beside him. Gobber has filled this spot for years, but Halvar sees his wish for Stoick come true twice, with Gobber and Spitelout.
Stoick, upon Valka’s birthday, learns clan Jorgenson will allow him to pick a bride from their clan if he so desires, a route Stoick feared was closed to him. He can now offer for Valka. Their betrothal further strengthens the bond between clans. Upon his ascension to Chief, the Jorgenson clanhead grants Stoick a boon, to be used at need. Astonished, Stoick receives the boon with humility, preserving it for the moment he has no other aid.
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Even though Spitelout is part of clan Jorgenson, Halvar considers him as a blood son. To Halvar, he is Spitelout Clan Haddock Clan Jorgenson. It is never stated, but all the Haddocks treat him as such. Even before Floplout’s death, Halvar saw Spitelout as another son, and upon Floplout’s death, Halvar considered him blood kin. Veronika saw him as the same. Spitelout and Gobber are Haddock children, and Gobber was recruited to be a big brother to Stoick. After Spitelout’s birth, Ragna gets new insight into having and raising children, and after her husband’s death, begins considering the Haddock children her own, too. Veronika and Ragna, once rivals, become increasingly close, with both women knowing the children are shared. As Veronika falls ill and declines in health, they become the closest of friends. Ragna protects Veronika, continues the pretense that she is fine, and spends a lot of time at the house. Steered by Veronika, Ragna instructs Brenna in her women’s work, and encourages all the children. The boys she gently prods into line, under a facade of sternness. She helps Veronika fulfill her final desires. Veronika orders weapons made for all four of her sons, to be presented to them at certain times. She teaches them to dance. Flint is too young to properly remember the steps, but the women drill them into the older children, who can teach him and Spitelout.
Veronika teaches Ragna her secret recipe for cider, so she can make it and continue to pass it down. It is a family secret, brought from Meathead and given freely to Veronika’s dearest friend. They form a bond, one they agree will transcend death. Veronika tells Ragna that she is overjoyed Ragna will look after their family. She then insists Ragna “take and enjoy” Halvar, the man they both love, who loves them both back. She wants them to marry, and gives her blessing.It comforts them both. They work to keep the children nearby, setting up a training ground for Stoick close to Haddock House, but do not trap them. Brenna has a hiatus from formal lessons to focus on women’s work. Stoick assists tradesmen, learning how to mend nets and haul fish, make nails and sharpen weapons, and other such tasks. He trains, and his schooling becomes centered on things an heir needs to know. All his reading, writing, figuring, geography are based around this. He can do this at home, where the material, records, and Chief’s family live. Flint is given more responsibilities when at home. Veronika no longer helps the women of the tribe. The cannier ones know why, and create a network of women within Berk to do as she did to serve the tribe. Ragna is used as a pipeline to provide for the Haddocks in this time, bringing items into their home. As Veronika’s time shortens, Ragna and Spitelout spend nights at Haddock House. She and Veronika are friends as close as sisters. Veronika has occasional visitors, and chases the children and sometimes everyone, out of the house so she may speak privately. Coalie comes and she places weapons orders for the boys and an excellent staff for Brenna. The seamstress purchases and holds in reserve beautiful fabric for Brenna, for her wedding gown or other special event. Everywhere she leaves traces of herself, and commissions a family portrait, with Ragna, Spitelout, and Gobber included. She spends hours writing and sewing, especially for Halvar. She loves her family with all she has, while both women watch Halvar’s heart break a bit at a time.
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Spitelout is a member of clan Jorgenson, and Halvar makes certain Spitelout knows about his clan. The history, the heroes, the warrior tradition, and the place his clan holds in the tribe, are all taught by Halvar, with assistance from Ragna and Stoick. Spitelout learns about the drive to succeed, the will to fight, and the search for justice and parity clan Jorgenson embodies. He learns of his clan’s generosity in bringing Valka’s family into the Jorgenson fold. He hears how his father Floplout and Ragna sacrificed for the good of the tribe. (The truth is more complex. Floplout should have prospered; as a fisherman, he could easily feed his family. With the ongoing dragon raids, the tribe expected him to give up more of his share to them. He did, but received no support from his clanhead, because he had no children to feed). Spitelout is trained, much as Stoick, in the history and culture of the tribe. Spitelout learns things outside of a typical child’s education, because Halvar is Chief. Some in clan Jorgenson are wary, thinking the chief will want him to join clan Haddock. One of Halvar’s generals is a Jorgenson, and doesn’t challenge Halvar’s intentions, but questions remain. The most recent clanhead is taking a wait-and-see attitude, and does not question what goes on.
One day, the clanhead decides to speak with Spitelout and suss out the situation. Spitelout is respectful, stopping, standing in the manner Halvar taught him: feet planted firmly, shoulders squared, chest forward, spine straight, look at the person in front of you, don’t fidget. He calls his clanhead sir, and inclines his head in a fitting manner. Spitelout refers to Halvar as the Chief, not his father. Over time, the clanhead meets multiple times with Spitelout, and realizes the Haddock Chief is raising his stepson with chieftain training and a thorough knowledge of his clan.
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