"Don't worry, Fishlegs," said Hiccup, "I know what I'm doing here."
"Okay, HICCUP," boomed Gobber in surprise. "Get up here, boy, and show us what you're made of."
"If I'm EVER going to be Chief of this Tribe," whispered Hiccup to Fishlegs, as he started taking off his jacket and buckling on his sword, "I'm going to have to be a Hero at something...."
"Trust me," said Fishlegs, "THIS IS NOT YOUR THING.... Clever ideas, yes. Talking to dragons, yes. But one-to-one combat with a brute like Dogsbreath? Absolutely NO, NO, NO."
Hiccup ignored him. "The Horrendous Haddocks have always had a gift for swordfighting.
I reckon it's in the blood.... Look at my great-great-
grandfather, Grimbeard the Ghastly. Best swordfighter EVER.... "
"Yes, but have YOU ever done any swordfighting before?" asked Fishlegs.
"Well, no," admitted Hiccup, "but I've read books on it. I know all the moves.... The Piercing Lunge ... The Destroyer's Defense ... Grimbeard's Grapple ... And I've got this great new sword. ..."
The sword was, indeed, an excellent one, a Swiftpoint Scaremaker with go-faster stripes and a handle shaped like a hammerhead shark.
[Image: A sword.]
"Besides," said Hiccup, "I'm never going to be in actual danger. ..."
The Pirates-in-Training practiced with wooden cases on their swords. "Mollycoddling, we never did that in MY DAY," was Gobber's opinion. However, it DID mean the Hooligan Tribe ended up with more live Pirates at the end of the Program.
Fishlegs sighed. "Okay, you madman. If you have to do this ... keep looking in his eyes .... keep your sword up at all times ... and say a big prayer to Thor the Thunderer because you're going to need all the help you can get...."
Hiccup stepped forward lightly and calmly, looking Dogsbreath straight in the mean, piggy little eyes.
Dogsbreath grinned nastily at him, and aimed a huge flailing swipe at his head.
"Yay, HICCUP!" cheered Fishlegs. "That's the way to do it!"
Dogsbreath looked rather surprised. He swiped at Hiccup again, even more violently.
And again Hiccup ducked.
This time he was so quick about it that Dogsbreath staggered and nearly lost his footing.
"HIC-CUP! HIC-CUP! HIC-CUP!" yelled most of the boys. (Hiccup was popular with the other boys at the time because a month before he had single-handedly killed a Sea Dragon that threatened the whole Tribe.)*
Hiccup felt a little bubble of happiness somewhere inside him.
This was great.
Now Dogsbreath was getting cross. He snorted furiously, and lunged forward straight at Hiccup's heart. Hiccup dodged nimbly out of the way and ... slipped on a slimy piece of the deck and ... Dogsbreath reached out one meaty fist and ... grabbed Hiccup by the back of the shirt and caught him.
This was not so great.
"Okay," thought Hiccup. "So he's caught me. What do I do now then?"
Toothless burst out from underneath the bench and hovered for a second or two, three inches from Hiccup's nose, shrieking, "S-S-SUBMIT! S-S-SUBMIT! S-S-SUBMIT!" at the top of his voice before zooming back to safety.
"I can't submit," said Hiccup indignantly.
"I'm supposed to be this Pirate Hero. Pirates don't submit."
"Oh goodee," said Dogsbreath happily before whacking Hiccup briskly on the helmet a few times with his sword. Hiccup tried to stop him, but each time he was too slow to protect himself.
"This is just embarrassing," thought Hiccup as Dogsbreath's sword clanged off his helmet for the third time. "Time to try a few moves."
He had a go at the Destroyer's Defense. He could see himself in his mind's eye, elegant, stylish. But when his brain tried to tell his arm what to do, his arm responded in this clumsy, fumbling way, and Dogsbreath grabbed hold of the fancy Swiftpoint Scaremaker and threw it over the side into the ocean.
There were hoots and jeers from the watching Vikings.
Fishlegs and Toothless winced. "Toothless can't l-l-look," moaned Toothless, with his wings over his eyes. "S-S-SUBMIT, you stupid human ."
[Image: A pirate.]
"What are you going to do, Hiccup?" sneered Snotlout. "Fight him with your bare hands? Or SUBMIT?"
"No way," said Hiccup stubbornly.
Dogsbreath moved in for the kill with a few breath-quenching jabs to the stomach. "Oh for THOR'S SAKE, Hiccup," yelled Gobber in exasperation. "You're fighting like an infant. You're not going to get anywhere by lying on the floor groaning. Bite him on the ankle or SOMETHING."
"He's USELESS," crowed Snotlout gleefully. "Hiccup the Useless, didn't I tell you? All that Dragon-Killing last month was just a fluke. USELESS, USE-LESS, USE-LESS...."
Boys are very fickle. Hiccup's popularity vanished on the spot. They started chanting, "USE-LESS, USE-LESS, USE-LESS...."
The dragons joined in eagerly.
"Scratch his eyes out!" screeched Brightclaw.
"Tear his wings off!" howled Fireworm.
"S-s-submit," moaned Toothless.
With a snort of satisfaction, Dogsbreath threw away his own sword and got down to the business he really enjoyed, hand-to-hand combat. Dogsbreath was
an artist in his own sweet way. He liked to get the feel of his victim's flesh in his bare hands, like a sculptor with his clay.
Dogsbreath began by sitting on Hiccup, to the huge cheers of the rest of the boys. He followed this by scrunching Hiccup's face into the deck and twisting his ear at the same time.
"Oh suffering scallops," said Fishlegs, shutting his eyes. "I can't watch this. YOU CAN STILL DO IT,
HICCUP!" he shouted. "USE HIS BODY WEIGHT AGAINST HIM,!"
"And just how," inquired Hiccup out of one corner of his mashed mouth, "am I supposed to do that with him sitting on top of me?"
While everybody was concentrating on watching this massacre, Snotlout sneakily picked up Dogsbreath's sword and removed the wooden case.
"SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT!" yelled Dogsbreath, gleefully bouncing up and down.