The Monster from the Midden
"I'm telling you its real!" Ichor the Impossible said indignantly. Even his friend, Dillweed and Wilfred the Wacko, didn't believe him.
"You just want to get out of your chores," Dillweed replied.
"What about last year and the Blob Monster? You even Loki'd me and Dill. That wasn't very nice," Wilfred whined.
Ichor harrumphed. Well, yes, he had covered a sheep in dragon poo and set it ambling about the village. He had convinced a few villagers and even his friends their was a troll in the midden. It had been worth it, though. But this time it was real. Something black and green and angry had screamed at him yesterday when dumping off yet another cart of rotten refuse.
"You ought to stop Loki'ing people for at least a little while, or else you just might permanently be a trash boy and never get into the Dragon Academy," Dillweed sagely advised.
It was true - Ichor had been collecting all of Berk's garbage and tending the giant pit they used for a midden which was removed far away from the village, and more importantly, down wind. It was punishment for his trouble-making. There was egging houses, putting Nightmare gel in Gobber's bath soap, feeding Berk's Gronckles enough black beans for them to have flatulence for a week ... the list went on.
"Show us proof," Wilfred said hopefully. "Then we can hunt it and save Berk!" His life goal of being a Viking Hero running through his imagination.
"But its a real monster!" Ichor protested.
"That shouldn't be a problem for you," Dillweed said.
Ichor couldn't blame his friends. He had Loki'd them several times. They were generally more supportive when they took a role in his antics, rather than be the brunt.
Ichor dumped another load of disgusting sewage into the pit. Bones and fish bits and broken pottery and rotten veggies and worst of all - poop. The dragons ate a lot of the bones and fish waste, but there was a limit to even that. The midden had an awful unexplainable stench - rot, decay, infection, toxic, burnt, sour, stale, rancid, you name it, rolled into one complex nasty smell. Flies and beetles buzzed about laying their larvae and making it worse. Rain had made one end of the pit wet and sludgy. It bubbled and frothed, forming a toxic greenish soup.
Ichor looked around every which way. The Midden Monster wasn't always here. When it was, it screamed and charge in a black and green blur and Ichor ran as fast as he could in the opposite direction. He hadn't gotten a good look at it. It was almost like it was protecting the midden. Or claiming it. It could have the nasty midden for all Ichor cared. Well, maybe not; he didn't want to find out what other punishment he would receive if not midden duty. Something shiny caught his eye on the ground next to the pit. Sometimes a wealthier family tossed out something that broke and just needed to be fixed. Ichor picked it up. It was ovoid in shape and shiny black, with bright green on the edge. It was a scale and it wasn't from a fish - it was a dragon scale. Dragons rarely visited the midden. Usually it was smaller dragons like Terrible Terrors and Smokebreaths, picking around for trinkets and bit of food that might still be good. There was another midden elsewhere that was pretty much reserved as a dragon toilet - made good fertilizer (That did stop Ichor from having to pick up some to dump here, though).
The scale was a bit too large for those small dragon scavengers. Was the Midden Monster really a dragon? What dragon would want to live near a cesspit?
"But this could be a scale from any dragon," Dillweed said, examining the scale. "Fishlegs could tell from which species, but he's at the Edge right now."
"But it's too big to be a Terror's," Ichor explained.
Dillweed shook his head. "But you could have picked this up anywhere, and still be trying to Loki us."
Ichor sighed. He had a point. It was hard to believe a fibber.
If he was to get proof, he had to figure out what it was he was getting proof of. He was convinced it was a dragon. There just weren't that many black and green dragons on Berk.
So, one evening, after all the trash had been collected and the sun was low but it was still light out, he traipsed back to the midden and settled down behind some bushes to watch awhile.
The insects were still buzzing, There were two wild Terrible Terrors pecking about, and a few seagulls. Ichor amused himself by contriving additional Loki plans in the dirt with a twig.
Suddenly the Terrors and gulls screeched in alarm and launched into the sky. A grumbling form emerged from the shrubs on the far side. A jet black beast with bright green striping, snapping at flies and making its way to the pit. Ichor sucked in his breath in surprise and watched. It was a dragon! The dragon nosed amongst the newest refuse, pulling out fish heads and bones, crunching them up with sharp teeth. They looked mostly to be the salmon parts he had picked up from the docks, Ichor noted. The dragon moved down to the soupy foul and and drank. The dragon looked a little thin. Ribs were somewhat visible and there were patches where some scales were missing. Was he so hungry that he claimed the trash as his food source? But no other dragon, starving or not, would eat that sludge, that Ichor knew of. He did remember that some dragons just loved partially rotted fish, and all manner of fermented fish. Perhaps this was an extreme case? For that matter, some Vikings ate pretty decomposed stuff, too, before the advent of ice from ice dragons to keep foods cool.
The dragon itself looked like Hiccup Haddock's Night Fury ... yet not. Despite looking underweight, he had a great big bull neck, and long lethal spikes running down his back.
Ichor shifted. The twig he had been using to etch in the dirt snapped. The dragon threw up his head and roared. Ichor gasped and stood up to run. The dragon spat a purple and green blast toward him. The dirt was kicked up from the impact, then started to sizzle and smoke as if it was being corroded away.
"But I'm telling you, he looked a lot like Toothless!" Ichor said sternly, getting irritated.
"But there is only Toothless," Dillweed explained, wondering why his friend was taking this prank so far.
"Well he wasn't exactly like a Night Fury. He had a thick muscly neck and green zig-zags on him, and, well, he likes to eat trash. I've never heard of Toothless slurping sludge like water ..." Ichor pondered.
"Oh boy! If you had a Night Fury, maybe you could beat Toothless in the dragon races! He always wins! Or, or, maybe you could be in line to be the next chief if you had a Night Fury!" Wilfred said excitedly, his imagination churning.
The other two boys frowned at him. "That's just silly," Dillweed said. "Besides, Ichor isn't a Haddock, Night Fury or not."
"Well, you are just going to have to see him for yourself. Then you'll believe me," Ichor stated. Dillweed and Wilfred looked at each other.
"Well okay then," Wilfred replied.
The next evening, the boys waited behind the bushes at the farthest midden. The bugs buzzed and the usual stench rose from the pit. The sun sank lower and finally disappeared behind the mountains. No Fury-like dragon appeared.
Dillweed finally stood up in anger. "Well now we've missed supper! It seems you've Loki'd us again!" He was actually feeling rather hurt, because a friend pranking a friend was just not very nice. Friends were supposed to Loki together, or perhaps at least not get each other in trouble.
Ichor tossed a few pebbles angrily into the dirt. "But I'm telling the truth, by Thor!"
Dillweed turned to go home.
Wilfred peered closely at Ichor. "Well, Dill, he really doesn't look pleased, as if he has just played a joke. And he's missed supper, too," Wilfred said quietly. "Real or not, perhaps he really believes it." Wilfred was not the brightest boy, but sometimes he spoke wisdom.
The boys were silent for a few moments.
Finally Ichor stood up and dusted off his trousers. "One day, I will show everybody that dragon, okay?" He stated with conviction. "Let's go get something to eat." The boys walked off down the slope back to the village.
The next day, Ichor set to work, collecting waste and carting it to the Midden. He had slept fitfully, as his mind churned about the Midden Monster. The dragon seemed a little underweight and hungry. Clearly he liked sludge and refuse to eat, and appeared to cause him no harm. He really liked the rotting fishy bits, especially salmon. He was also quite eager to chase of "intruders" to his pit. So Icho first needed to get the dragon to understand, Ichor was not taking away his yucky fish. In fact, he was bringing "food". So - it was like a lightbulb going off - he would make sure the dragon saw him leaving something tasty (to the dragon). Viking were notorious for their fermented fish dishes - rakfisk and lutefisk to name a few - as well as gravlax! So Ichor had ransacked some neighbor's stores of the buried salmon and planned on trying his hand at making some himself. Gravlax smelled awful, but actually wasn't too bad to taste, with some crispbread and soft cheese.
Ichor had also kifed someone's gronckle iron shield - he hadn't liked the way the ground sizzled and burned when the dragon had breathed his purple-green blast at him last time.
Ichor worked most of the day without trouble, other than some teasing from boys who were not his friends. There was a time when he was respected amongst his peers for his trickery. But now, all he did was pay for his actions. "Midden Maid" they called him, and "Trashy". "No dragon's gonna want to get near you, cuz you stink!" or "You missed some," and purposefully drop something gross on the ground.
Ichor was fuming about these encounters when he dumped a load at the midden. He heard a roar behind him as he was leaving, and quickly grabbed the gronckle iron shield and the bag of gravlax. The dragon emerged on the opposite side of the pit and started advancing toward him.
"Whoa boy! Are you hungry?" he said softly and tossed out a chunk of the fermented salmon, and then another. The dragon saw the pinkish stuff come from the boy's hand and charged. He spat out his plasma-acid blast and hit the gronckle iron shield. Ichor was thrown backward a few feet to the ground, but thankfully the shield had taken the brunt of the blast. Ichor sat there slack-jawed for a brief second, despite the advancing angry dragon. The gronckle iron shield was smoking a sizzling from the blackened streak across it and large pits dug into its surface. He wasn't so sure the shield could take a blast like that again, and he never heard of any dragon whose breath could damage gronckle iron so. Ichor broke out of his momentary amazement and ran, but kept peeking over his shoulder.
The dragon chased him off, but stopped short near the tossed gravlax. He sniffed the air and found the pinkish bits of salmon. His tongue darted out for a taste, then wolfed both pieces down. It seemed the dragon enjoyed fermented fish!
Over the next several weeks (Ichor had earned more midden duty for stealing the gronckle iron shield), Ichor continued collecting the garbage. Though he still got teased and called "Midden Maid", he owned it and considered himself a "Midden Master." Berk was clean because of him. But most of all, he had a focus, and that was dealing with his Midden Monster. Actually the boy shortened the title to "Mid-Mon" for ease. Ichor was much less idle and spent less wasteful time on trickery. Instead his energies went to his work and taming this dragon.
Ichor left the dragon fermented fish quite frequently. It wasn't always gravlax, but the Mid-Mon ate whichever type fish, anyway. Ichor even pleasantly surprised his mother when she caught him burying gutted salmon in the dirt to make his own gravlax.
The dragon eventually realized that the boy was not taking his sludge, but leaving tasty sort-of-rotten fish morsels. Occasionally he would sit upon a boulder nearby the pit and just watch closely, only giving a warning growl when the boy approached with his cart.
A few weeks more, and Mid-Mon would jump down from his boulder and inspect the cart, after a little menacing to make to boy step back. The first time the dragon had advanced sedately toward the cart, Ichor had grabbed a large yak bone and defensively threw it toward the dragon. His aim was quite off, and as soon as Mid-Mon saw it fly through the air, he lolled his tongue out, bounded after it, and snapped it up. The dragon looked rather happy for just a moment, but then returned to grumbling, with the bone in his mouth. The boy hoped very much that the dragon couldn't fire off a shot with a bone in his mouth. But the dragon merely retrieved the bone, inspected the cart, and returned to the boulder and watched, knawing on the bone. Would he play fetch like some other dragon liked to do, Ichor wondered.
Ichor made sure to start talking pleasantly in Mid-Mon's presence. Sometimes it was just nonsense. Sometimes it was about the garbage. Sometimes it was about how great of a dragon he was. After awhile, Ichor found himself confiding to the dragon about his feelings and frustrations. The dragon listened. Or maybe not. But Mid-Mon didn't tell the boy he was a screw-up or call him names, and he certainly wasn't going to gossip to anyone about it.
Ichor did talk with his human friends Dillweed and Wilfred, but only occasionally about the Midden Monster. When he did, his friends listened and didn't egg him about proof any longer. Whether the monster was imaginary or truly real, didn't really matter anymore. It sounded like if it was real, they would meet him one day anyway, and it sounded a tad too dangerous to just go and gawk at.
The weeks rolled by - or was it months? The Dragon Academy had been weighing upon Ichor's mind lately. Dillweed and Wilfred were growing excited. He and his peers were getting of age to start some training with dragons, and maybe even be paired with one of their own. Some had already been accepted. Three such boys, rather large and burly specimens for their age, at this moment followed behind his cart as he pushed it along. There were always a few people who just had to make someone else feel small, and Bulljorn, Goongory, and Scampr were three such persons. Ichor was an easy target these days.
"The Dragon Academy is great! Monstrous Nightmares are so cool! But you'll never know," Bulljorn snickered.
"Yeah, yeah, the instructors said they don't accept Midden Maids. They'd only trash the place up," chimed in Goongory in a gravelly voice.
"Yeah, you smell," Scampr added in, rather uninventively.
Ichor sighed in irritation. Responding got him nowhere. They usually let off the closer he got to the midden pit. Ichor had actually gotten used to the smell long ago, but it was still a good deterrent for everyone else. Unfortunately, the three boys were in especially mean spirits today, and followed him up the path, hurling insults.
Out of site of the village now, the boys felt a little freer. Goongory jabbed Ichor's shoulder blade with his finger. "YOU won't get into the Academy, like us! You are just going to be cleaning up after our dragons till you die!"
"We'll make sure to feed them black beans to make their poo extra stinky for you," Bulljorn said.
Scampr looked confused. "But we haven't our own dragon's yet," he said.
The other two glared at him. "That's because none are awesome enough. I'm going to catch a Skrill!" Bulljorn puffed up.
Ichor snapped. "Vikings don't catch dragons anymore. We train them! Do you want to be a Dragon Hunter or something? Are you too stupid to know what you are learning in the Academy?" he spat vehemently.
"We're in the Academy and you're not!" Bulljorn turned red, and upturned Ichor's refuse cart. Trash rolled out across the path. Goongory balled his fist up and stepped closer to Ichor. Ichor wasn't a bad fighter, and he had developed a lot of muscles hauling trash each day. But he wasn't sure he could take all three of them.
But it turns out he didn't have to. An angry roar filled the air, and a black and green blur appeared next to the toppled cart. A black paw flashed out and Goongory went sailing into the brambles. Mid-Mon roared right into Bulljorn's frozen face. A plasma-acid blast started forming in the dragon's throat.
"No," Ichor said quietly and placed his hand on the dragon's side.
Mid-Mon's jaw snapped shut and he whipped his head to look back at Ichor, growling. "It's alright," he patted the sleek hide. The dragon glared back at Bulljorn and thwacked him soundly into the bushes. Scampr just stood there stupefied for a moment longer, then squeaked in fear and ran away.
Mid-Mon sat down, grumbling, foolish mammals were not to interfere with his boy and his food cart. Ichor didn't really care what just happened. He was just amazed he was touching the dragon. Mid-Mon made a half-hearted attempt to snap at Ichor, but let the boy keep his hands on his hide. Besides, his scales were a bit itchy, and the little fingers worked quite well to soothe and itch.
Academy or not, he was going to be a Berk Dragon Rider ... eventually.
Mid-Mon is very territorial like most Septic Furies, particularly about his Midden Pit and his (eventual) rider. Usually pretty grumpy, but once and a while relaxes completely and plays. Not particularly interested in other dragons, but doesn't hate them. As long as they don't bother him, its fine. Don't put it past him not to fry an annoying Viking. Ichor has to keep a close watch to make sure no one irritates Mid-Mon and gets dissolved. Mid-Mon loves Scandinavian fermented fish dishes, as well as pickled things. He even thinks sauerkraut is pretty good! He will defend Berk well if needed, but isn't interested in traveling very far on quests or missions, and leaving his septic pit unguarded. He will do so if their is ample food reward, though! Eventually, Ichor gets him to fish for fresh - yuk! - fish, as he realizes Ichor can turn it into yummy fermented dishes. For this process he has no problem leaving Berk to get ingredients. He is a very fast flier, but gets highly irritated around crowds and invasion of his personal space, so does not do so well in the Dragon Races.
- Gravlax translated literally means "Grave Salmon". Historically, prepared Salmon was buried in sand to ferment as a way of food preservation. Modern Gravlax is only salt-cured, not fermented any longer. Lutefisk and Rakfisk are two other fermented fish dishes. Lutefisk uses whitefish and lye, while Rakfisk is typically Trout or Arctic Char raw and fermented for months before eating. Burying fish to ferment goes back at least 9000 years.
- Middens are basically historic trash pits. They are a treasure trove of archeological information. Much of what we know of daily Viking life comes from studying their middens. The term Midden actually derives from early Scandinavian. There are also middens containing exclusively shell refuse from shellfish processing.
Information About the Septic Fury:
Attack: 17 Speed: 20
Shot Limit: 6
Jaw Strength: 7
Appearance: Usually found with some sort of green scales or markings. Eyes are yellow, green, blue, or sometimes a bright red. Coloration is abnormal for Night Furies. Spines are longer and sharper than a NF's. Teeth are razor sharp as well as talons.
Personality: Energetic but deadly. They are reckless and attack without warning. Hate small spaces.
Trainable: Yes, but nearly impossible.
Fire Type: A purple plasma blast, with its core being septic green, which is filled with a lethal acid or sludge. It burns anything in its path, even Gronkle Iron. The more blasts it uses, the less acid it has in its blasts.
Behavior: Usually show aggression to other dragons and vikings, but stick together with other Septic Furies and protect each other. Once you get to know them, though, they are very energetic and are like the dragon version of puppies.
Favorite Food: Salmon. Also love to eat septic sludge. Their insides have an immunity to the acid, and it is what fills its blasts with green acid.
Alpha Mode: Septic Furies rarely get this mode, but if they do, its at quite a young age. 10 years old to 17 years old. Their glows are usually either green or blue, but every blue moon, a red glow. This automatically makes them stronger. Shot limit increases to 10.
Size: Teens are slightly smaller than a Night Fury, adults are the same size as NFs, and titans are about 1/4 bigger.
Weaknesses: Septic Furies are known for having terrible tempers and going on rampages. Also, their abnormal colorations make them easy to spot during the day and night, decreasing their stealth. They are not the stealthiest or the smartest and tend to get distracted easily.
Venom: Their venom is in their plasma blasts. The sludge is extremely toxic to other dragons and can even make them sick. Any being hit with one of their blasts turns a bright green. If the blast hadn't burned your skin, it will make you weaker and perhaps sick too.
Fun Fact: When in Alpha Mode, a Septic Furies eyeballs will look like their cracked and acid trickles out. This doesn't harm the Fury because it has immunity to it.
Genders: Males are more common than females. 75% are males while 25% are females.
Habitat/Location: Most Septic Furies can be found near sludge pits. There is a pit by the Ship Graveyard that belongs to a small pack of Furies. Warning, do not look directly at the sludge; looking at it can burn your eyes. The extreme radiation that it gives off can burn your flesh and absolutely anything it touches.