This story is written for adopting a fan-species dragon called the Gill Grunter. Concept for this dragon was created by infinity12356, and drawn by flower1, on the SOD Forum topic "NEW Altered Gill Grunter (Adoptable)."
Finngeirr Margrkind stared into the murky depths of the sea from the railing of the Vinstriskogr. He was out on an open sea fishing trip with his father, some relatives and tribesmen, as well as a twin ship, the Hoegriskogr. Between the ship the fishermen strung out a huge weighted gill-net made of nettle-hemp to scour beneath the surface in hopes of catching cod, haddock, and other edible fishes. The catch had to be cleaned, salted and packed in barrels soon after catching to reduce rot. Vikings loved their fermented fish, but rotted fish was a whole other matter.
His dark bearded father walked over to him and put his hand on Finngeirr's shoulder. "We're Vikings. We fish. Its in our blood, son," he said, knowing that Finngeirr was in poor spirits.
"But the Academy is ready for more students," Finngeirr replied bluntly. He was of an age to learn about dragon-riding. Even his much younger cousin Bogbert had be-friended a dragon for a play-mate. His father was slowly getting more irritated with his son's whining over this issue. He saw the appeal of flying through the air on dragon back, but people had to make a living. "Dragons don't put food on the table and support your family. Some of them aren't even worth the fish their fed. Which, by the way, we provide. Fish for Berk's people and their dragons," he said sternly.
"But dragons can be trained to catch fish ..." he didn't get a chance to finish because his father cuffed him on the same shoulder this time. "We need to pull in the net," he growled. It was not time for back-talk.
The truth was that Finngeirr did like fishing and providing for Berk and his family, but at his age, dragons were much more interesting. They were a bit of a fad. They were very useful, and Finngeirr had seen them fish for themselves and for people. But out here, a Nadder or a Nightmare, or most other species, were just outright too large to fit on a Viking ship. Or couldn't stay for days in the air or in the ocean (though they were good swimmers). If most of the crews of the Vinistriskogr and Hoegriskogr had their own dragons, where would they stay?
Finngeirr joined the other boys and med on the starboard side. The Hoegriskogr rowed in close with men manning the oars and essentially handed over their end of the net. Next time the net went out, the Hoegriskogr would pull it in while the Vinstriskogr released their end. Finngeirr and the others heaved and hoo'ed, slowly pulling in the water-logged net and revealing the day's catch. Cod, Haddock, Pollock, Mackerel, a few Eels and some other odds and ends.
The sailors carefully kept the net in order, while picking out fish and tossing them to the side to be processed. Finngeirr wore leather gloves for freeing the fish and gutting them, as the fishes' spines were sharp and the filet knives sharper still. Most of the guts and heads were kept as chum, except for the cod's livers - those were kept for cod liver oil of course.
The men chanted their raucous sailor shanties as they worked. It was hard to feel down while singing, so Finngeirr sang. None of them had exceptional voices, but that wasn't the point. It was to keep one's spirits up and the work tempo moving. Fish were processed and packed, the net checked over and mended, the small cargo hold packed, and the ship's sail and steer board tended.
"Oiy, Scauldron, port side!" One of the boys had shimmied up the mast to figure out what a disturbance on the surface in the distance was. The sailors of the Vinstriskogr flashed reflected sunlight from a mirror in a specific sequence to signal the other ship. The men on the Hoegriskogr quickly organized to haul in the net as fast as they could while the Vinstriskogr rowed in closer to release their end. Sea dragons were no casual encounter. They could wreak havoc on nets, or worse, an angry one could sink ships. And Scauldrons usually traveled in groups, which was even more dangerous. Even ones that had been trained could get moody and territorial, sometimes. And because they mostly stayed in the sea, most sea dragons were hard to even access to train.
The ships broke away from one another. Both rolled up their precious sail to avoid damage to it. Finngeirr and the fishermen each sat behind an oar and stroked the sea as fast as they could in the opposite direction. Finngeirr was already red-faced. His upper body was not yet as developed as the adults, but the rowing would surely get it that way. He dimly hoped that someone had packed some liniment for sore muscles. He kept looking over his shoulder though, trying to get a glimpse of the Scauldrons. However dangerous they were, they were still dragons and still a sight to behold. They were weaving in and out of the sea, part swimming and part flying - a blue one and a green one. They were probably a pair of young adult bachelor males who had yet to form pods of their own. The sea surface was breaking in front of them from something else. Whatever it was, it was headed straight for the Vinstriskogr with the Scauldrons in hot pursuit and gaining.
"Incoming!" Someone shouted. Everyone instinctively ducked. A body hurtled onto their ship and crashed into the railing on the other side. It was another dragon. The ship rocked to that side and then rolled back. Finngeirr could pretty much reach out and touch the sea. But Viking ships were well balanced, and - usually - righted themselves.
Finngeirr jumped up and ran to the dragon. It was a brown Gill Grunter, sides heaving wearily and gills wide open. She looked to be a juvenile, large but not quite grown. He didn't have a moment to do much else, since two towering Scauldron heads rose out of the water and roared. Their prey was trying to escape on the ship of man. Finngeirr had seen and heard of penguins and seals and other creatures jumping right aboard a vessel to escape a shark or an orca. The immediate danger of being eaten was far more pressing than the caution for man.
Several men pulled out their fishing spears. A few more gathered around the Gill Grunter, ready to heave the dragon overboard.
"No! Don't do that! She's injured!" Finngeirr yelled, pointing at her wing. He wasn't sure if the Scauldrons had caused it, or it was why they were chasing her - injured prey was the easiest.
"This is not a quarrel of ours. We need to save the ship and ourselves!" someone said angrily. It was the truth, but it felt wrong to Finngeirr.
The green Scauldron blasted the boat with steaming water, sending sailors diving away in all directions. The ship stayed intact, but the pressure from another blast in the same spot just might break the wood.
The men started heaving the Gill Grunter as other brandished their spears at the Scauldron. The Hoegriskogr hung back, though Finngeirr could just make out the men pacing restlessly on the deck, holding their spears. It would do no good to have both ships damaged or lost.
The Gill Grunter gurgled out a weak cry and seemed to look straight at Finngeirr pleadingly. "Father! Please!" Finngeirr begged. His father sadly shook his head. "I don't like it son, but we need to survive." Finngeirr turned away, his mind whirring frantically. How to get the Scauldron to go away ...?
EELS. Most dragons hated eels. Gill Grunters were one of the few that ate them. Finngeirr grabbed up a spear of his own, dodging another hot blast from the Scauldron. They sometimes caught eels in their nets. Vikings ate eels, so they kept them. He pulled out as many as he could from the barrels. He put one on the end of the spear and waved it at the Scauldron. The others he laid out on the Gill Grunter herself.
His father watched his son - and the Scauldron of course - and figured out what he was about. Basically gross out the hunting dragons with eels until they left. So he grabbed a couple eels from a barrel and did the same. A few others did, too. Most of the sailors were packed around the injured Gill Grunter, whether with eels or not.
The Scauldron were taken aback. Already dead and salted or not, they knew what eels were and what they smelled like. And how sick they made most dragons. The little humans waved the nasty things at them and they balked. Their easy dinner of dragon meat was no longer easy, and above that, was now contaminated with eels laying on it. The two Scauldron weaved their heads uncertainly. Someone hurled an eel and hit the neck of the blue one with it. He squealed, and Finngeirr swore it looked like his eyes went wide with surprise and disgust. That did it. The Scauldron retreated reluctantly. They looked quite robust, so Finngeirr did feel bad about those two not getting their supper.
The fishermen were shocked for a moment, then hurrahs went up all around. The Hoegriskogr rowed in close to make sure all was well and peered at the Gill Grunter. The dragon sat up sternally. She looked a little thin, so Finngeirr thought her wing injury was not so fresh. Somehow she had gotten separated from her pod and became a target for predators.
"So what do we do with her?" One fisherman said.
The Gill Grunter rumbled. It seemed she was just realizing she was among men as she got her wind back from the chase. Finngeirr patted her gently on the nose. "Well, we keep her."
"What do we do with a dragon? She's taking up space," someone else piped up.
"Its only til we get back to Berk. I'm telling you, she could help us fish," Finngeirr replied matter-of-factly.
"But don't she need to be in the ocean?"
"Nope, not Gill Grunters. They love the sea, but can stay on land. So we can train her." Finngeirr really meant he could. He wasn't going to let this opportunity get pushed back into the sea.
"She'll get too big to stay aboard ..." the protests from some of the sailors were weakening.
"But once she's better she doesn't have too!"
Finngeirr's father quietly listened. He didn't like this bit of insolent rejoinders to Finngeirr's elders. But, from what he could remember hearing about dragons, Finngeirr's points were valid. If a dragon could help them fish, no one would go hungry come winter.
"Guess he's been reading that Book o' Dragons ain't he?" another bearded father elbowed him. "Aye, his mother taught him to read." Finngeirr's father didn't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. He finally spoke to his son. "Finngeirr, you feed that dragon or she goes overboard. She'll have none of our catch," he declared.
Finngeirr opened his mouth to say more, but his father crossed his arms warningly and frowned. There would be no "But's" on that account.
Finngeirr set his jaw determinedly and nodded in acknowledgement. His father hadn't said anything about the chum, so he got a few fish heads and offered them to the Gill Grunter. She sniffed at them cautiously and picked one up and crunched on it, then slowly ate the others. Finngeirr moved around to her side to look at her wing. She whipped her head around and growled warningly. Finngeirr was young and sometimes didn't have enough sense for wariness. But on the other hand, his confidence and lack of nervousness was steadying to the dragon.
She was still a bit bewildered, laying on desk amongst humans. But they didn't seem to cause her harm, and it was more dangerous to be in the sea right now.
Her left wing had a long horizontal gash in it, across a wing bone. Finngeirr was pretty sure the wing finger was broken. He tried to get the sailor who had some healer knowledge to take a look. "On the 'morrow, lad."
Finngeirr was about to protest when his father glared him into silence. The wound wasn't fresh, and why waste suture if she slipped overboard at night?
So he set about laying a long fishing line with baited hooks to trail behind the ship, talking to the purple-speckled dragon the whole time, explaining the process. The dragon seemed to somewhat listen, but stayed alert and watched everything else going on, as well.
Finngeirr's father was happy to see his son excited and evidently he had learned a thing or two about fishing, listening to him prattle on to the dragon. He really hoped this odd arrangement worked out.
That evening, the main net was pulled in on the Hoegriskogr and reset for overnight. Finngeirr pulled in his line and found a few mackerel and one small tunny dangling from it. He dispatched them and presented them to the Gill Grunter. She ate them readily, having found nothing amiss with the fish heads. Perhaps humans were useful.
Finngeirr insisted on sleeping near the dragon and talked himself to sleep while the dragon listened and dozed.
The next day, Finngeirr's father was surprised to find the dragon still on board. His son coaxed the sailor-healer over and stood by the dragon's head while he nervously stitched the gash. Fortunately, there weren't too many nerve endings in a dragon's finnage. She would need a splint somehow fashioned on her her broken wing finger, though.
The day wore on. The dragon was rested and shifted around on deck. She seemed to have a good sense of balance and didn't rock the ship too much. She watched as the fishermen went about their business catching fish with the nets, cleaning them, and packing them. Some of the sailors tossed her the heads which she readily ate. She like the fresh fish Finngeirr pulled up on his line the best, though.
More days passed and the boy kept inching closer at night until he was nearly sleeping against her hide at night. It was odd, but he seemed pleasant enough and brought her good food.
One day, the dragon was peering over the edge grumbling to herself, then slipped into the sea and disappeared.
Finngeirr immediately cried out. "No, Gilly, where are you going?"
"You gave her a name, son?" his father said. His son had gotten too attached. He patted his shoulder. "She wanted to go back to the sea."
"Of course I named her," he snapped. "She's not healed yet and might be in danger!"
A brown shape flashed near the surface of the sea and disappeared again.
"She's gonna scare the fish away!" Someone yelled angrily. Gilly could still swim, just not very well.
"Look!" Finngeirr yelled back excitedly. There was a flash of silver beneath the surface that disappeared again, as well. It was a whole school of fish! Gilly was driving the fish into the net.
"See? I was right! She's so smart!" Finngeirr said triumphantly, proud of Gilly, but a bit too boastfully. But the sailors paid no heed as the net anchored to the boat strained and pulled. The men and boys hauled in the net as fast as they could before any fish worked their way out of the net. Gilly leapt back on board and sat down. She looked quite pleased with herself. Cod after cod was pulled out of the water, flapping in the air. Finngeirr grabbed one and held it out to Gilly. She took it delicately, then swallowed it whole. Finngeirr patted her for a job well done and grinned happily. His father looked up and smiled. Maybe he was a bit precocious, but he was a good lad with a good head on his shoulders. Perhaps he ought to go to the Academy and learn a few things, just for a little while, then return to the sea.
Older Juvenile - not full grown but getting close.
Gill Grunter Species Information:
(As told by Creator Infinity12356)
The Gill Grunter is a Tidal class dragon. This dragon swim's/fly's with a pod of 15, this dragon maybe a Tidal class dragon but its a agile and swift dragon. The size of this dragon is the same size as the Shockjaw but the wings are bigger then the Shockjaw, the size of their wings are built to fly/swim fast in and out of water.
Gill Grunter are very protective of their other Grunter's, so be careful around them, they may charge if they feel threated or if you pose a threat to the pod. Gill Grunter's like to live in deep water's but when its fall they come to Hobblegrunt island to breed and hatch their young. Gill Grunter's like to eat Eels, Fish, Clams and Shrimp. Gill Grunter's can go on land and water, their feet are fin's but their built for land, their tail has a Spear-like spikes. They do have Gills on the side of their neck and near their nose.
Breed: Gill Grunter - Class: Tidal Class - Speed: 9.2 - Wing Size: Bigger Then The Shockjaw's - Venom: 0 - Body Size: Same Size As Shockjaw
- The two ship names, Vinstriskogr and Hoegriskogr, mean "Left Wood" and "Right Wood", respectively, in Norse.
- There is evidence that Vikings employed gill netting, that is, nets with openings large enough for a target fish species to swim into and get stuck. The fish would try to back out, but then get the net caught around its gills.
- There is also evidence that netting and fishing lines were made out of the fibers of nettles that grow in Scandinavia. The most known nettle is Stinging Nettle. Cooked, it is also a nutritious potherb and used medicinally.
- The name "Finnegeirr" is a name found in Norse stories. The Surname of "Margrkind" is cobbled together from the Norse words for "many" (margr) and "offspring/kin" (kind). Meaning, this is a big extended family!
There are a number of other stories about members of the Margrkind family and their "adopted" dragons including: