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Rated: ASR · Fiction · Fanfiction · #2265798
Some backstory on HttyD's greatest Berserker, and why he treats Hiccup the way he does.
Dagur had always thought of Hiccup as his younger brother. Oh, sure, he chased him and tortured him and maybe even tried to kill him... But he didn't hate him! That was just his way of showing his love! You don't understand? Let me put it this way:

All Vikings fight with rage. It's part of who they are, part of their culture. Odthr- passion, I guess you would call it- is a state of such an emotional extreme that there is no room in your body for anything else, and it is the closest mortals can get to the divine. All Vikings find some way to lose themselves in the emotions generated by the pursuit of that which they think will ensure a seat at their God's banquet tables. All Vikings build, craft, fight, love, and die like nothing else in the world is of any import, past present or future.

Each tribe has something they excel at more, though. Some of the tribes are more intelligent, losing themselves in their crafts. They work for days on end, hardly stopping to rest. Some tribes are more industrious, farming great swaths of land and excavating deep mines and quarries. They build resplendent altars and temples, and always have some project they are dedicating every moment towards. Each tribe, and each individual therein, has a different path, a different level of devotion, and a different state of passion.

The Berserkers, though, they are different. All Viking tribes seek a state of emotional overload, it is true, but some would say that none find it nearly so intensely as the Berserkers. These feared Vikings enter battle-rages that are the envy, and fear, of all other Viking tribes. In the throws of such fervor, the Berserkers have unbridled strength and stamina, capable of unbelievable feats of bravery and daring. They truly lose all sense of anything else, however. No fear, no pain, and no restraint. Berserkers lost in the throws of bloodlust will throw themselves into fights they have no hope of winning, exert such force that their bodies are irreparably damaged, and even turn on their own kith and kin in pursuit of glory.

The Berserkers, because of this, are loved and feared by the rest of the Archipelago, even as they love and fear themselves, and each other. No man can keep up such a rage forever, Berserkers included. They live their lives knowing that any strong emotion could be enough to set them off, and that any rage may be their last. Those who exhibit more control over themselves are respected, not because they are better Vikings -far from it-, but because they can be trusted to help guide their brethren, to prevent the other members of their Tribe from killing each other. Those who do the opposite: those who are lost deeper into their rages, and who survive longer periods of rage, are revered and feared. Revered, for they are closer to the Gods, and because it takes a powerful mind and body to survive what they endure; but feared, for they are the least predictable, often little more than animals.

Dagur was born the son of Oswald, of the line of great Berserker Chiefs. Most of the best -or worst- of the berserkers of past generations were offshoots of his family. His second-great-uncle Ruthar, in fact, was renowned as the fiercest warrior their Tribe had produced in nearly a century. Dagur put all his ancestor's brothers to shame. Most Berserkers experience their first rage at thirteen, as part of a coming-of-age ceremony. They get themselves drunk on ale and mushrooms, and push themselves to greater and greater lengths, until at last they snap, unlocking the part of their minds that is their birthright. Dagur was four. His father told him to go to bed early, and was unable to contain the resulting temper tantrum. Dagur, lost to rage, ripped his sturdy oak bedframe to pieces, then continued to vent his rage on the rest of the buliding.

For the next couple years, Dagur lived as most Berserkers do: living mostly normal lives, but knowing that, at any moment, they might fly off into an uncontrollable rage. He only lost himself once every month or two, holding his own against anyone who tried to stop him without joining him. The depth and power of his rages were found only in warriors who trained for years to embrace their rage.

At ten, Dagur woke up, opened the door of his bedroom to go get breakfast, and screamed in pain. His mother, who -cautiously- came running, found him lying on the ground, clutching his broken arm to his chest. He had woken up on the verge of a rage without knowing it, and opened the door -which was now lying on the other side of the room, where he had accidentally thrown it- with such force that he broke his own arm. For the next few years, Dagur lived almost constantly in a state that few Berserkers could even dream of: Half-Rage. He had to pay attention every moment of his life, because he could not always tell if he was raging or not, and the consequences of any... mistakes... were extreme.

By the time he was eighteen, his sane moments were as rare as his comrades rages. He learned, though. He learned to cope, to avoid destroying his own body, to avoid killing friends in angered reactions, and to avoid the emotional extremes that sometimes sent him into even deeper rages. When that did happen, the entire Berserker Tribe ran in terror. It was so very hard, though.

Anger is the key to unlocking a berserk rage, and the emotion that typically triggers and rules them, but it is not the only emotion Berserkers feel. Love can only in the rarest of times create a berserker, but it is far stronger than anger. Sadness too, and jealousy, envy, desire, pain, or even guilt can cause someone who has already snapped to enter a rage.

Love. Dagur loved Hiccup. He always had, ever since they first met when he was six and the Berkian heir was two. But Dagur's love manifested itself through the rages it always triggered, and ruled. Dagur knew that Hiccup was weak- too weak, perhaps, to survive in the Barbaric Archipelago. He also knew that he could not always be their to protect him. Dagur knew that Hiccup was not safe, and so he tried to teach his brother strength, endurance, and the other traits that protected a berserker from his enemies, and even nature itself. He did not know, however, that the way he was trying to teach Hiccup would very likely kill him. If he had, he would have stopped at once, perhaps even in the middle of an angry rage,

As it was, though, Dagur was always in a state of emotional unbalance around Hiccup. He loved Hiccup more fervently than anyone ever imagined the angry child was capable of. The other Berkian teens quickly learned to treat Hiccup well when the Berserkers visited, because Dagur was very clear on what would happen to anyone who gave Dagur any reason to defend his 'little brother.'

Any time Hiccup succeeded in some new accomplishment, Dagur was blown away. He was in awe of the things his brother could understand: it was almost as though Hiccup's mind was like Dagur's body: in states of constant exertion. Dagur rarely understood any of the things Hiccup was talking about, but he felt the emotions very keenly, and he reveled in his little brothers mysterious triumphs. He thought very little of the Berkians for treating their heir's magical brilliance so disgracefully. It was okay though, he was proud enough for an entire village! He even managed to express it, sometimes. He just wished that he could find some way to help his brother defend himself.

He knew that the other teens on the island, and -deplorably- even most of the adults, treated him terribly when he was gone. He made no secret of his displeasure, but he also abided by a code of honor. He would not punish anyone for things done in his absence, mostly because he couldn't prove them in a Great Thing *council of law.* Hiccup was safe with him, though. Safe- from everyone and everything... except themselves. Dagur rarely dissuaded Hiccup from any of his 'clever' plans. Mostly because he couldn't understand them. Sometimes, he would ensure that he was in the most danger, but usually he let his brother live free of the restraints his village imposed upon him. And sometimes... sometimes Dagur forgot how to be gentle, how to treat those who could never match him -or any other Viking, for that matter- in strength.
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