Hiccup searches for information on Stilton, but comes up dry. First draft.
|Toothless had a sneezing fit. Berk’s tribal archives were little-used, and the disturbed dust had Hiccup’s dragon sneezing. Hiccup’s coughing has ceased, and the mug of water helped. Berk’s crisp air was a boon. |
Hiccup had discovered little about Stilton Jorgenson: date of birth, the names of his parents and siblings, wife and children. He might have siblings remaining, but the only name of those that rang a bell was Floplout Jorgenson. Floplout was dead for decades, according to the records.
How was he supposed to give a eulogy for someone who made no mark? His dad said Stilton was ordinary, but this was ridiculous. He had no awards or accolades to his name, when Berk gave awards annually to its people. The greatest number of dragons slain, the best preserved dragon hide, the largest Nadder head.
There was nothing.
“Well, that was a waste of time, huh, Bud? I can ask his kids about him, but he’s dying and I don’t want to bother them. Besides, I think they would tell me what a good dad he was, and I want to say something else. I mean, Dad wants my best effort.”
Toothless cocked his head. “Umm.”
“Yeah, it’s a problem. I don’t suppose you have any ideas?”
Toothless lifted one paw and struck the ground with it. Thump, thump, thump, thump, as if he was hammering. “You think I should ask Gobber? He pretty much knows everyone, he’s got to have something to tell me. Thanks, Toothless.” Toothless nudged Hiccup’s side.
§ § §
Gobber’s morning began with Stoick’s arrival at the forge. Hiccup wasn’t going to spend more than an hour in the forge. He had to deliver a eulogy and was not going to ditch the research. No additional flying time with Toothless and no dragon academy work at all. Gobber responded with a “Righto,” and made Stoick an offer he refused to turn down. The smithy had been slow, and Gobber was happy to serve his Chief.
Now he heard conversation followed by a “ru.” The lads were here.
“Hallo, you two. Toothless, can you heat up the fire a little?” Toothless emerged from the back room, Hiccup behind him. He fired a precision blast, and Gobber ran his hook over the Night Fury’s scales. “What brings you to the smithy?”
“Well, I don’t want to fall behind in the work. It backs up, and I’m supposed to be here. That’s what an apprenticeship means, right?” Hiccup rubbed his neck, uncomfortable.
“This forge isn’t any busier than it’s been yesterday or the day before. You were grumbling about it yesterday. Are you hiding from your father?”
“No, no I’m not.” Toothless nudged him forward, opened and closed his mouth, then hammered on the floor.”
“Hiccup, what do you want to talk to me about? Is it the funeral?”
“Oh, you know about that, huh? Dad said it’s a dying man’s last wish, so I can’t turn it down. I have to give it my best effort. That’s fine, it is, I’m not going to shirk, but…” Hiccup slumped, “I can’t find any information on Stilton Jorgenson. How am I giving a speech on him if I can’t learn who he was?”
“Aye, that’s a problem. Have you learned anything from your father?”
“Dad said he was ordinary, a hard worker who minded his own business. He didn’t tell me the man was invisible. There’s nothing in the archive about him beyond when he was born and who his family was.”
Gobber listened to his lad rant. Hiccup had complained at him before, but rarely like this. The hand waving and drama was genuine.
“Hiccup. Calm down, lad, and we’ll see what we can do. So, he’s an elder—how old?”
“Grandpapa’s age, but they weren’t close friends; Stilton won’t be in his journals. Dad helped me, but most of what he said was no. Stilton never acted boldly in battle or won a contest. Dad didn’t recall him winning any awards. He’d come to Snoggletog celebrations and leave after a bit, so I can’t say he always drank mead or he was a good dancer, because I don’t know and can’t think of a way to find out. “
“Hmm. Have you asked his family?”
“No. He’s dying now and I won’t bother them while he’s still alive. Once he’s gone, I need to have the eulogy ready.”
Gobber hobbled to the wall and d swapped his hook prosthetic for the mug. “Did you speak with his clanhead?” It was the next reliable source after Stilton’s family, or should be.
“Crablout Jorgenson, the man who hates me? I can’t see him helping, when he won’t even call me by my first name.”
“Talk to Spitelout then. He ought to know something.”
“Uncle Spite? I actually think that’ll work. Thanks, Gobber.”