This is an OC character story written to "adopt" an OC dragon species called the Koi Fury by NightmareRebuff, seen on the School of Dragons Forums.
A Pleasantly Mundane Day in the life of a Viking Homesteader Girl
The no-nonsense Viking girl
Gunnhild's hazel eyes fluttered open slowly, as her family murmured around the table below her loft. The roosters were crowing and had been for some time. The sun had not quite show itself over the high ridges of Berk, but the early morning light was more than enough to start the day. Gunnhild slid out of bed and shirked off her sleeping gown, replacing it with simple loose-fitting trousers and a long belted tunic an earthy brown color. Like many of Berk's women, Gunnhild was fairly stout - raised on a hearty diet of yak-milk and sheep's cheese. The belt had several pouches attached, roomy enough to keep useful knick-knacks in but without hindering movement. She released her chestnut brown hair from its nightly braid, combed it out, and decided to pin it in a bun. Like all Vikings, hair was prized - thick beards or mustaches on the men and a long head of hair on the women. Though braids did keep her hair tied back from her face, a bun was much more practical for her to carry out her work.
Gunnhild descended the stairs. Her father was just putting on his work boots to get ready and go out to the fields. Mother was stewing up something, and her toddler sister was playing with a wooden dragon toy. A bit of porridge clung to the corner of his mouth, forgotten. Mother had laid out a bowl of porridge for her, along with a wedge of cheese and a handful of cloudberries.
Grizzbone and Tumbler snuffled and grunted from their dragon room at the back of the house. They were the family gronckles and were stirring just as the rest of the family for breakfast and then a day's work. Many folks paired up with dragons, or at least accepted them as a part of Berk life, ever since Hiccup had shown they were intelligent beasts. Gunnhild liked her family's gronkles. They were amiable and helpful. Many of the Boulder class were valued by the farmers and crafters for their steady nature as well as their abilities with stones and the earth. Gronckles, because of their stubby bodies and small wings, could even be hitched up to a plow to till the fields. Given Berk's rocky soil, a gronckle would even eat the large stones that got in the way. They could also fit into a Viking home. Gunnhild sniffed - she'd like to see a flameable Monstrous Nightmare tolerate field work, or not accidentally light something on fire!
Grizzbone and Tumbler emerged, practically smiling, as Gunnhild's older brother, Ruberick, came huffing in from outside with a large basket of fish on his back.
"There ya go, ya big pigs!" Ruberick exclaimed, placing the basket down and tipping it over for Grizzbone and Tumbler to scarf down for breakfast. Later on, they could supplement with stones all around the landscape.
Her mother tsked loudly and planted her fists on her hips. "Honestly Ruberick, I didn't birth ya in the barn!" Her father snorted.
"But I have training!" Ruberick complained and darted back out the door.
Ruberick was around the age of the chief's son, and like many Vikings that age, was full of energy and bravado. He was training to join the Berk Auxillary. The chief of Berk encouraged all the people to learn basic dragon-riding skills, and all Vikings knew at least how to decently handle a weapon to defend their home, but some sought to become warriors and militant dragon riders. Ruberick preferred the fiery Nightmare or the swift Nadder over a plodding Gronckle.
Gunnhild's father called Grizzbone to him and rubbed his green-brown cheek. "Lets go boy and get the day started" and left for the fields.
Gunnhild's younger gangley brother, Korkbjord, swallowed the last of his yak-milk and headed out the door to shepherd the sheep to the craggy hills for the day.
"Mamma, if its okay, I might take Tumbler and go foraging in a bit?"
Her mother gestured to a cloth-wrapped package near the hearth, no doubt containing some lunch. "I thought you might be, so I packed some bread and cheese."
"Thank you Mamma! I'll tend the chickens and then go," Gunnhild smiled.
Gunnhild went outside into the crisp morning air, strolling to the chicken coop. The hens and roosters were chattering inside to each other, punctuated by shrill crowing. They were all variously shaded brown - the better to blend in with the ground and rock, Gunnhild thought - with white earlobes and golden-yellow scaled legs. She scooped out a seed mixture from a covered barrel and poured it down a long trough. The chicken clucked in excitement and fluttered promptly to the trough to peck up their breakfast. They were responsible for the rest of their meals for the day, after Gunnhild opened the coop door for them to go outside and forage for bugs, greenery, and whatever else suited their tastes. She pulled up a corner of her tunic to form a sling and reached into the nesting boxes to pull out fresh white eggs. One hen was still setting and puffed up all her feathers to appear bigger as Gunnhild approached. The hen pecked her hand twice in irritation, as she reached under the hen anyway and pulled out another egg. If the hen was still there tomorrow, she might be broody, and Gunnhild might decide to leave her a few eggs to hatch. She
glanced at the floor under the chicken roost - in a few more days she would have to shovel out the debris and cart it away for compost. Gunnhild left the coop after propping open the door for the day and returned to the house. She laid the eggs in a basket to be rinsed.
Tumbler was still laying in the kitchen area in a beam of sun and grunted at her in recognition. Gunnhild unhooked the simple leather saddle from its post in the dragon room, as well as a few saddle bags and tightly woven baskets. She came back out and over to Tumbler, who jumped up, eager to be about doing something.
"Such a good girl. You'll have plenty stones to chomp on today," Gunnhild said, solidly patting Tumbler's warty blue-grey hide. She laid out the padded saddle on the gronckle's back, lacing up all the buckles and ties, secured the bags and baskets, then placed her lunch in one. She added other useful items - a small hatchet, knife, material for snares, more pouches. The baskets were roomy, and stiff enough not to collapse on its contents. Because of a gronckle's short wings, she could practically line Tumbler's whole length with bags and baskets.
Both human and dragon walked outside, Gunnhild climbed aboard and strapped herself on, and they set out toward the south, away from Berk. Like all gronkles, Tumbler's pace was steady and slow - relatively speaking when compared to the other more acrobatic dragon species - and Gunnhild was perfectly content with this safe and practical flight.
There were an endless number of islands in the Barbaric Archipelago, but they seemed to be more frequent to the north, northeast, and northwest, providing excellent opportunity for exploration and discovery. The islands thinned out southward, so most Vikings didn't bother going in this direction much. There few known islands there were, were only visited on occasion.
Gunnhild and Tumbler headed-toward a mid-sized island - not too far, but not terribly close, not too small, but not nearly big enough to support a robust community of Vikings. The north side was composed of high cliffs with many crannies and crevices. Petrels and auks and gulls screamed and cawed, dotting its surface, nesting and taking flight to go fishing. A group of Terrible Terrors congregated on a ledge, chattering amongst themselves about some mischief to get into. From the high sparsely wooded northern side, the island sloped downward to a small fresh-water pool, and continued down to a rocky shoreline with boulders and stones and many tidal pools.
Gunnhild and Tumbler flew low over the cliff and trees, much to the irritation of the screeching gulls and headed toward the freshwater pool. There were no large animals on the island, but plenty of small creatures, including some game like rabbits. The occasional visit from a dragon and any osprey or sea-eagles wishing for a little dietary variety kept their numbers in check just enough for the rabbits not to strip the island bare. Tumbler set gently down near the pool and Gunnhild slid off and pulled the snares from the saddlebag. Tumbler ambled over to the pool for a drink while Gunnhild set up a great many snares along several of the many games trails leading to the only fresh water source on the island. With that done, Gunnhild mounted Tumbler again to head to the island's southern rocky shore.
Tumbler grumped and huffed once - something reflected high in the sky over the island, perhaps a gaudy-colored Nadder with the sunlight glinting off its scales. Gunnhild sighed, nothing stealthy about such flashy-colored dragons. She also wasn't worried about any wild dragons - if you didn't bother them, they wouldn't bother you, and besides Tumbler would protect her human family.
Gunnhild and Tumbler arrived at the rocky shore and the gronckle bounced around excitedly at all the varying stones laying about. Gunnhild unharnessed the drooling and gurgling beast and securely draped the saddle and baskets on a boulder away from the spray of the waves.
"Now mind the bags, Tumbler," Gunnhild murmured, patting the gronckle to signal her to go feast. Tumbler trotted off, but not too far, and started grazing on stones. Gunnhild picked up a basket and inspected one of the many tidal pools. There were quite a lot of winkles about, so she took off her shoes and stockings and hiked up her trouser legs. Wading in, she quickly gathered up a large number of the invertebrates and put then in a basket. After collecting those, she shook off the water from her legs and put her footwear back on, switched out the basket with an empty one, and took the saddlebag with her lunch and tools. With the bag hanging on her hip and the basket across her back, gunnhild ventured inland in a wide loop to collect edible plants.
Many plants were flowering with small delicate blossoms of white, lavender, and pale pinks, bright colors that had the purpose of attracting pollinators to them. There were quite a few bilberry bushes ready for picking their small bluish fruits. The crowberries were not yet ready, but Gunnhild took some leaves and stems for Gothi to use. There was savory and angelica and sandwort aplenty, so that she could take enough but not decimate them. The insects buzzed lazily about and lemmings skittered away as she walked by. It was a warm day with a slight breeze from the sea, fairly quiet except for the small island fauna, and all in all rather pleasant and productive.
But Gunnhild's reverie was broken, shattered by a piercing draconic roar and the sound of something thrashing about ahead of her. She was startled at first, but then shrugged. Probably a couple of larger wild dragons bickering about something and probably crushing some good harvestable plants while they were at it. She stayed still for just a moment. There were not further loud draconic utterances after the first, as would be expected. She glanced back at the bilberries. Gunnhild was a Viking, but not one to foolishly seek out adventure and the accompanying danger (Ruberick would be dashing to the noise instantly), and in her mind, a waste of time that should be spent plying the land to survive. She sighed again and traipsed toward the freshwater pond. There were more berries there anyway, and she ought to check the snares.
Gunnhild arrived from the southwest and immediately saw the disturbance on the east side of the pool. A dragon sat like a donkey with nearly all of her rabbit snares looped around its toes, head protrusions, and one on a wing-finger. The beast was holding a dead snared rabbit in its jaws.
Some uncommon occurrences for a commonplace day
Its hide was as white and shiny as a young washed onion bulb, overlayed with large patches of the bright orangey-red of a ripe tomato. There were some smaller charcoal blotches on its wings and down the back. Two short bit of skin hung from its muzzle, like whiskers on a catfish. Though difficult to tell on dragons, it was a male. He was very much shaped like Hiccup Haddock's Night Fury, if perhaps his wings were shorter in length.
Gunnhild threw up her arms in exacerbation. "What in Thor's beard did you do?" as thoughts of not having a family meal of rabbit played through her mind briefly. Then she froze, alarmed at herself for such a foolish outburst in front of a wild dragon.
Perhaps the dragon would decide if he was having roast human for supper. But the dragon merely tilted his head to the left and looked at her. His pupils were only mildly dilated, and more importantly, he was not crouching defensively or growling or lunging or firing shots.
Just then Tumbler alighted nearby. She sat as well, grumbled a bit toward the new dragon and sniffed at the air. But her body was relaxed, if a bit alert. Gunnhild relaxed as well - no one was going to fight. She moved a little closer to Tumbler.
"Thank you, Tumbler," she murmured. "But should I get my snares back?" They were no harm to the dragon, a good shake would probably send them flying in all directions. As if on que, the dragon snapped his wings and the snare on his wing-finger sailed away into the brush. Then he held up his front leg and made a little gurgle as if asking her to step forward. She stared incredulously, for what wild dragon would do that? He ought to have flown away already. She glanced at Tumbler and Tumbler patiently glanced back as if to say the dragon was okay.
Though her heart was beating rapidly, Gunnhild stepped forward slowly, but confidently. She knew animals - you cannot approach fearfully. She touched the offered white paw, and absently wondered if the dragon had to worry about sun exposure during high summer.
She slid three snares off the dragon's toes. He set down his foot and placed the dead rabbit on the ground - it had a snare around it. The dragon had its teeth retracted, so the body was gooey with saliva, but didn't appear to have punctures.
Gunnhild patted his leg. There were two more snares on his various head nobs, so he lowered his head for her to get those, too. She gently grasped the nobs behind his head. The hide appeared a bit flaky there, and the dragon leaned into her hand, like a creature with an itch. Most likely it was a difficult place to scratch, so she rubbed the area. "Oh!" she said softly and slowly reached into one of her various belt pouches. She had a very small jar of lanolin! Her hands got dry and cracked and her cheeks and lips could get wind-burned, so she kept a little lanolin with her to rub on to help preserve her skin. Also, she thought a titch vainly, she had yet to acquire a husband and wanted to keep her skin fresh-looking.
Gunnhild slathered a little behind the dragon's nobs and massaged it in. The dragon groaned a little in pleasure and unconsciously twitched a rear leg in response, like a cat with an itchy ear.
With the snares removed and the lanolin rubbed in well, Gunnhild stepped away a few paces. The dragon glanced at the rabbit and then glanced at her, then up into the air. Two more brightly-colored dragons circled overhead, flashy colors glinting in the sunlight. Gunnhild stepped back further and the dragon lurched into the air to join its comrades. He circled around the others and then they set off to the southeast in a wide arc. They almost looked as fluid as swimming fish undulating through the air. She picked up the slobbery rabbit and that was that.
Gunnhild tied the wet rabbit to the outside of her basket, and continued to the sparse tree line, picking more berries and plants. She found some creeping thyme to pick and then stopped at a copse of small juniper trees laden with berries. They would go good with rabbit, had she snared more! She picked enough for cooking, and then some more - perhaps father would like to add it to his next batch of ale.
She met Tumbler back at the pool, and carefully laid herself belly-down on the gronkle's back. Gripping her tightly with legs and arms, she muttered "Let's go back to the shore." Tumbler lifted a yard or two into the air, and skimmed the surface back to the rocks and the sea.
"Leave that alone, you ... you ... offspring of Loki!" Gunnhild yelled, for at the shoreline was the flashy dragon nosing at Tumbler's saddle, bags, and baskets.
Tumbler twitched just the slightest bit: she was used to the strange outbursts of Vikings.
Gunnhild scowled and clung on to the saddle-less gronckle until she landed safely. The saddle slid off the boulder it was perched on.
"Shoo! Shoo!" Gunnhild snapped, waving her arms. The dragon lowered his shining orange-red head and tucked his wings and head nobs, looking very much like a scolded puppy. He whined once, then took to the skies again.
Again, Tumbler was indifferent. There were a few tasty pebbles to eat before they headed back. Gunnhild re-positioned the saddle and its bags, cleaned the rabbit and washed it thoroughly in the salt sea water (dragon spit was not a seasoning), and placed it in another basket. She called Tumbler over and saddled her back up, attached the bags and herself, and off they went home to Berk.
A week or so went by uneventfully. Gunnhild did her chores as did the rest of her family. Washing the linens, making cheese, tending the chickens, milking the yaks, shepherding the sheep, weeding the garden, planting and harvesting and cooking and preserving foods and all the other daily activities around the farm.
One day, it seemed the Terrors left a grouse at the door, for it was freshly dispatched and dragon sputum matted its feathers. Though the feathers were of no use, the bird made a lovely addition to the evening meal.
Ruberick helped around the farm some days and others he was out training with the Auxiliary. One these days he would come home and dominate dinner-time conversation with all the boastful tales of dragon riding - new maneuvers he'd learned, visiting Dragon's Edge, seeing some rare dragon flying around Berk that was perhaps a sand wraith or wayward snow wraith, and finding an abandoned Dragon Hunter camp on an island to the northeast.
Gunnhild sometimes shepherded the small flock of fluffy white sheep to Berk's rocky hills. Typically Korkbjord tended the sheep, but his interests lay with blacksmithing. Gobber the Belch was perhaps the most senior blacksmith on Berk, but there were other fine blacksmiths, too, and plenty of metalworking jobs to keep everyone's forges burning.
On this day, Gunnhild sat on a low-laying boulder, opening up her lunch pack of dried yak, cheese, and flatbread. The sheep were browsing on the vegetation growing between the rocks contentedly. The birds were chirping, the sun was warm, and a breeze was blowing - no, that was the draft from dragon wings! Gunnhild looked up as that flashy dragon can swimming down from the sky. The sheep scattered just a short distance, mostly to make space for the landing dragon. Gunnhild sat her lunch down quickly and sprang up. "You!"
The dragon settled down a few yards away, and dropped something from his mouth. It was a slobbery rabbit. Gunnhild looked at it quizzically. "How did you catch that, eh?" she asked. What Vikings perhaps did not realize, was that most prey animals were totally or partially colorblind. This dragon's contrasting colors served as a visual confusion for those that could not see color. And good stalking technique and knowing the habits of your prey reaped many benefits. Even the colorful calico cat can bring home her dinner.
The dragon sat down, as if waiting for something. He uttered a low single bark-like sound and waited. Gunnhild was not sure what to do. Tumbler or Grizzbone were not here, should this dragon decide to act rashly. However, he looked relaxed and unafraid, and almost as if he wanted her to see what he'd caught, or even to take it. After a moment, the dragon held up his paw, the same one that had had the snares looped on the toes. It looked perfectly fine. Gunnhild sighed. Even the sheep were less anxious than she.
She paced slowly to the dragon, keeping her hands visible in the least threatening way possible. "Is something wrong with that foot?" she whispered softly. "It looks okay from here. Do I need to look at it closer?"
Gunnhild reached the dragon and gently touched his paw. It really looked just fine. Nothing swollen, nothing caught in it. No broken nails. She placed her hand underneath. The dragon shoved his red head into her chest, such that she had to take a step or two backwards to maintain balance. He proceeded to rub his head up and down, like yaks did on fence posts or trees to alleviate an itch.
"What in Thor's hair ... ?" Gunnhild exclaimed, then she realized, the dragon wanted her to scratch his head nobs. Maybe even soothe the dry skin there. So she rubbed and kneaded the knobs and his skin. He grunted in pleasure and twitched a rear leg. Gunnhild pulled out her small jar of lanolin from the belt pouch and massaged it in. The sheep were content, and Gunnhild was working her hands over the dragon's neck and shoulders. The dragon sank down to the earth. His grunts strung together into a rough choppy sort of purr. For that little while all was copacetic.
Eventually though, Gunnhild used up all of the small lanolin jar. She sat back and patted the dragon on the head. He stood up and shook himself out of his reverie. He nosed the rabbit in Gunnhild's direction, then jumped into the air, and he was gone.
That night at supper all the way until bedtime, Ruberick peppered her with questions. His brows were knitted together in thought.
"But it has patches, you said?"
"Yes - red like a tomato and some smaller black ones," Gunnhild rolled her eyes again at the repeated question.
"So its not a sand wraith," Ruberick stated.
"How should I know? I don't think I've seen one before!" Gunnhild snapped.
"And you really pet a wild dragon?" he asked incredulously. There was just a tinge of jealously.
"I already told you, yes! Except he wasn't really wild, or seemed afraid of people, or maybe it was just me," she added a titch smuggly.
"Well then, maybe me and some of the Auxillary trainees will just have to catch him and train him ourselves!" he shot back.
"You most certainly will not! He's fine as he is!"
And so the sibling bickering continued.
For the next two days, some of the young riders beefed up their patrols and scoured the island. They found no sign of the dragon. Gunnhild was a little glad, but also a little dismayed. The dragon was brightly colored and hard to miss. Perhaps he went back to wherever he came from. She wondered at her own feelings. What use was such a dragon to farm life? It seemed he could catch rabbits by some elusive method, that was something.
Gunnhild rolled the wheelbarrow up next to the door of the chicken coop and entered with a rake and shovel to clean the debris from under the roosts, and freshen up the nest boxes. The chickens were outside, puttering about the farm. She pulled the old hay from the nest boxes one by one and dumped it in the wheelbarrow. Then she raked up, then shoveled the floor under the roosts. This also went into the wheelbarrow, and then it would go to the midden heap for compost.
Just then Gunnhild's mother yelled loudly and the chickens started cackling in distress. Gunnhild dashed out of the coop to see that dragon pounce on a chicken, killing it instantly. "No! You flashy fish, no!" Gunnhild cried. The dragon saw her, dropped the chicken, and sat down. He lifted his paw.
"No, not the chickens!" Gunnhild threw up her arms. The dragon set his foot back down and cocked his head to the left. This was not the response he was anticipating. Gunnhild pointed at the chicken and scolded him verbally. "No! No chicken! Rabbits are okay, but not chickens!" Then the thought entered her mind: it was probably this dragon that left the grouse several days ago. Probably from a dragon's stand point, there wasn't much difference between a grouse and a chicken.
Gunnhild's mother strode up to them, hands on her hips. "Gunnhild! You better train your dragon quick, or I'll take the broom to both of you if he kills another chicken!" She snatched up the dead chicken and strode to the house. They would be eating chicken for dinner.
Gunnhild and the dragon looked at each other in a little shock. How do you train a dragon? Certainly not by yelling at it. Her parents had done well with Tumbler and Grizzbone - would they help? "How do I train you ... you ... Flashfish?" she murmured. The dragon blew out a sigh, as if a verbal shoulder-shrug, and lowered his head to be pet.
Wait, her dragon?
Viking: Gunnhild Grongaard
Viking: Gunnhild is a hard worker, practical, doesn't like too much change as it makes life sloppy, content with a farmer's life. She is not a dreamer or a warrior, but will defend her home fiercely if needed and does occasionally give in to a sense of adventure. She definitely gets irritated with nonsense.
Dragon: Flashfish is little showy, but not as self-centered as a nadder. He keeps himself neat and preens his fanciful wings and fins. Friendly with people and generally with other dragons because of his upbringing, he can become fiercely loyal since he is derived from a Night Fury, after all. Though his wings and fins are somewhat abbreviated, he has graceful fish-like gliding, flight, and swimming. He likes eating fish just fine, but does have a taste for land animals. Flashfish will tag along with his person and try to be helpful. Like most dragons, he will defend his home. Flashfish is pretty non-aggressive, but still has the Night Fury abilities (though to a lesser extent) and will use them if provoked, such as the plasma blast. He is a quick learner and takes to training quickly because of his desire to please, but can be clumsy depending on the task.
See story above!