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November 8, 2012
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The Roman Redress

Journal Entry: Thu Nov 8, 2012, 8:34 PM
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The Roman Redress: Poster by AvannaK

                The Roman Redress


Opening...

Nearly a year after the events of How to Train your Dragon, and Berk is barely recognizable.  Humans and dragon live side-by-side, managing, after much trial and error, to find a symbiotic existence.   The interspecies peace is maintained by Hiccup and his personally-trained peers through the Dragon Training Academy.  Astrid and Hiccup have grown closer over time; their teetering relationship slowly drifts from uncertain to comfortable. 
 
Things are well for the Hooligans but not quite smooth.  Already burdened by responsibilities no Viking has faced before, Hiccup’s father is now "gently" pressuring him to take on even more—the Becoming Chief sort of responsibilities.  His relationship with Astrid bears some strain from this; just as they feel more ready to stand strong as an official couple, outside stressors threaten to take them back a step.
 
Hiccup makes a habit of taking long flies to clear his mind—sometimes too long and often with only Toothless for company.  It’s a mild concern for Astrid and Stoick, something they see as a necessary indulgence for Hiccup, even as his stints last longer and longer.
 
One day Hiccup leaves for an evening fly and isn't seen again for several days—the longest he's ever been out, unaccompanied by another human.  The village—more specifically, the chief—grows restless in his absence.  A couple of search parties are sent out during this time, by ship and by dragon, all returning unsuccessfully.  Stoick is about to involve other tribes in the hunt for his wayward son when Hiccup returns.  He claims unexpected weather conditions held him back for so long, which isn’t a good enough excuse to save him from the tongue lashing by both his father and his girlfriend.  They take to keeping a closer eye on him, trying to become more involved in his life to stop him from pulling away.
 
At first Hiccup seems fine.  But soon his subdued and thoughtful manner turns testy.  He becomes increasingly agitated and distant over the next several weeks.  It reaches the point where Astrid ends things with him.
 
Two days later Hiccup is gone again.  He doesn’t return.

 

Four Years Later...

The Vikings are expanding their ground, exploring the world in ways that were previously unavailable before the use of dragons.  Now it's Romans that the Barbaric Archipelagoes see war with; and while the empire might be crumbing, Rome is still a force to be reckoned with.  Astrid won't say it out loud, but some days she's grateful for a new reason to swing an axe in her hand.  She connects with an old focus flying could never give her, and it helps harness the rage and confusion over Hiccup leaving she can’t quite quell.
 
The Meathead Tribe calls for Berk’s aid when they lose a handful of their Vikings to Romans after a battle turned bad.  Astrid and several Vikings under her command fly to Rome to infiltrate and rescue the captives.   Thuggory is among those in the rescue mission.  He flirts with Astrid on-and-off; teasingly trying to entice a strong woman like her into the Meathead Tribe (preferably through marriage).  Astrid is used to this behavior from him.  She bats away his offers and she otherwise gets along great with Thuggory.
Thuggstrid by AvannaK
The rescue mission is successful—battles and action scenes galore—but The Meathead-Berk rescue team needs to recuperate underground before daring to move back home; they’re still in the heart of Rome, after all.  Astrid, in garbed disguise, enters the city during the day to scrap together what she can of food and medical supplies.  In her excursion, she stumbles across the gladiator games.  The Meatheads they just rescued were meant to die in that very arena.  She peers through the gates, feeling disgust for the Romans and their barbaric pastimes.  Even the rowdy crowd leaves the island-raised girl feeling revolted and exposed.
 
That’s when Astrid sees Hiccup.
 
He’s not in the arena with the other slaves.  He’s in the Imperial Box, sitting amidst the Romans.
 


On the Roman End of Things… 

Hiccup blends in well with the Romans. He has the lithe build, tall and lean.  He can walk and speak like them, plays their logic games, admires their art, and quickly learns their politics.  It’s the sort of environment where he can thrive, where his wit is treasured.  Though he’s an outsider, Hiccup manages to attain the attention and interest of the wealthy Cordus family, who has several heavy ties with Roman senators.

T. Cordus Priscus is the head of his long and noble family line.  Their money may have dwindled over the years but their reputation and influence have not.  Cordus’ second wife of twenty years has taken ill as of late.  His oldest son was killed years ago in a bar fight (reportedly by a Viking) and his youngest son is naught thirteen.  His most able heir at the moment is his flighty and indulgent daughter, Felicia Corda.  When Felicia becomes smitten with the young, interesting foreigner, Cordus is annoyed, thinking this is just another whimsy of hers.  But with time he is charmed by this ‘Hiksti’; the boy moves in as a permanent guest, and within a year is practically a part of the family.

Cordus knows he is taking a public risk by becoming so close to a foreigner—by allowing an outsider so close to his family—but the boy appears to have money and wit and, best yet, has proved himself a great tool for political and financial advice to have in his pocket.  He ropes Hiksti into his family through an engagement to his daughter—knowing the strange accent will fade with time, that the name can be changed (to Gnaeus), and soon people will forget Hiksti was never a part of Rome.  Felicia is pleased, her younger brother, Catallus, delighted, and Cordus feels with a bit more influence on the young foreigner he’ll have his family’s future secure.
 
The only person who isn’t open to the idea of accepting Hiccup is Verus Livius, a senior centurion and leader of his own cohort.  The second son of a Senator and close family friend, Verus had intentions of marrying Felicia himself for his own political means.  Hiccup’s presence put a stop to that.  What more, Very is deeply distrustful of foreigners during this time of war with the Vikings.  The more Hiccup is embraced by the Cordus family, the more spiteful Verus grows of him.  When the two are in the same room, there is often a trade of subtly dangerous words.

The Confrontation

Naturally, Astrid confronts Hiccup.  She follows him, asks around, and gathers information on him.  She's careful to hide her hair and clothing, struggles to refine what latin she does know.  She learns that he lives with the Cordus family as an honored guest. The no one knows much about him.  She learns of his engagement.  She’s hurt, angry and confused.
 
Astrid catches Hiccup at night—who, as it turns out, does meet up with Toothless at night to fly.  Toothless spends his days sleeping outside of the city and easily navigates the rooftops at night.   

To say Hiccup is shocked to see her would be an understatement, but he quickly makes the connection on who is behind the missing Viking captives.  Astrid’s fury grows now that she has Hiccup in her clutches again.  She rants at him, threatens to kill him, to reveal his birthright to his new “family”.  In return, Hiccup threatens to blow the whistle on the recovering Vikings hiding out in the city.  They part with ill tempers. Astrid is more upset and confused than ever; Hiccup seems displeased to have his old clan in the vicinity.

As the wedding draws near, Cordus’ wife passes.  What started as a simple cold progressed into something the healers couldn’t find a cure for.
 
Meanwhile, Astrid continues to watch Hiccup.  She makes arrangements to get all the Vikings home but she doesn’t want to leave Hiccup in Rome.  She wants him home and she wants answers.  She knows there has to be another explanation for him marrying into a Roman family.  A handful of Vikings stay with her—their old gang and Thuggory, who’s fond enough of Astrid to want to have her back for this.

Romanredresspics4 by AvannaK
 
On the day of the wedding, Astrid watches from afar—despite her peers urging her to leave and spare her own feelings.  Against her desperate hopes, Hiccup goes through with the wedding and officially becomes a part of the Cordus family.
 
Gnaeus Cordus.

  

Things Fall Apart

Thuggory convinces Astrid to return to the Archipelagoes and forget Hiccup forever.  However, on the eve of them leaving a new ship of fresh Viking captives arrives in Rome for the games.  The Viking gang decides to delay their departure home to break the captives free.
 
When the Viking-rescue-squad broke into the market in the early morning hours, they expected minimal guard and few patrons.   The auction platform was still being set up and bidding for prospective gladiators would not begin for hours.  The chained Vikings were resting against wall
What they hadn’t expected was for Hiccup to be present.  He was taking Catallus to look at the new slaves as a bonding experience to test the boy’s eye for spotting fighting potential.
 
The Vikings barely hesitated with their plan—Hiccup had crossed lines no Hooligan would dare to.  With the guards so unaware, their attack on the unit is successful.  Only one captive Viking is killed along with seven Roman guards.
 
Somewhere in the scuffle, young Catallus is killed as well.
 
Once more, Astrid is reluctant to leave.  In spite of everything, she doesn’t want to give up on Hiccup and is afraid the young boy’s death may get him in trouble.  But she sees him at the memorial looking solemn, with his arm around his wife.  He is the remorseful brother-in-law—not stared at with contempt, but embraced as grieving family.
 
The Viking captives—some Bogs and Peacables—are cared for, nursed to health, and sent back North in small, unsuspicious groups. For the second time Astrid prepares herself to head home for good when shocking words reach her.
 
Felicia Corda is found dead in her marriage bed.

Romanredresspics3 by AvannaK


Shit Hits the Fan...

The news is terrifying and bewildering.  Astrid puts her information gathering skills to the task, picking up pieces of information here and there as the city around her is in an uproar.  The young Roman woman passed in the night from suffocation.  For the briefest of moments and against all reason or judgment, Astrid fears for Hiccup.  But Hiccup was the one who found her body, and was reported as being across town at an inn during her time of death with wealthy friends who can attest to it.
 
Astrid manages to find Hiccup on dragon-back the very next night.  Unlike in the daylight, amidst the Romans, when Hiccup is equally as grieved as Cordus, he is stony-faced and unresponsive.  He won’t talk about what he’s feeling or what happened; he only tells her—repeatedly—to leave Rome.  Astrid can’t tell if it’s because he wants her gone or if he is worried about her.  He has never been so unreadable to her before.  A part of her wants to blame Roman politics, but another part of her starts to wonder if she ever knew Hiccup at all.
 
Astrid Hofferson can’t stand suspicious behavior—especially from Hiccup.  She doesn’t leave.
 
Cordus, with nothing but extended family left, moves to make Hiccup his heir.  He’s fond of the boy, and he’s put far too much mentorship into him to trust his lineage with anyone else.
That’s when Verus’s aggression towards Hiccup becomes alarming.  He shadows Hiccup, whispers accusations and feelings of distrust.  He becomes, all in all, quite troublesome.
 
Two days after Felicia’s death and Hiccup comes to Cordus with a disturbing discovery.  He’s found Verus’ earring in his and Felicia’s bed.  He also reports that Felicia once confided in him that Verus scared her—that he had shown aggression towards her...
 
When Verus is confronted about these accusations, with Hiccup standing at Cordus’s back in a place he once coveted, he loses it.  He curses Hiccup, moves to attack him, and is quickly restrained.
 
Cordus is so deep in his grief, so endeared to Hiccup, that picking sides was never an issue.  Verus is put on trial.  He can’t deny that it is his earring Hiccup found.  A handful of friends and acquaintances can agree that he desired Felicia after some manner and many know his distaste for Hiccup.  Worse still, Verus can’t remember what he was doing the night Felicia died. He can’t recall drinking, but he can’t recall not drinking either.  His mind is blank.  No one can attest to his whereabouts that night.
 
Verus is ruled guilty of Felicia’s murder and is sentenced to the games.  The next morning Verus fights against Vikings once more, but this time he does not have his legion with him.  He is alone and weakly armored.
 
From the imperial box, Hiccup watches him die.  And from within the crowd, Astrid watches Hiccup.
Romanredresspics2 by AvannaK

The Big Reveal... 

With his new wife dead and tensions running high in Rome, Astrid tries to get Hiccup to come home one more time.  This time, instead of in the night air where Hiccup and Toothless can out fly her, she confronts him in an area better suited for her: in his room, with an axe in hand.
 
Her appearance catches him off-guard and for once Astrid has the advantage.  They argue again, their voices pitching between heated whispers and sharp volume spikes.  Hiccup still won’t leave and Astrid doesn’t understand why.  If it wasn’t for love then why was he still here?
 
That’s when Cordus walks in to see Hiccup with Astrid.  He recognizes her Viking garb and suddenly Hiccup’s origins spring to mind.  He demands to know what is happening.
 
Astrid’s axe is up in a second and Cordus turns with every intention of calling the guards.
 
Hiccup pulls a dagger from his belt—the very same dagger he’s had since he was nine—and throws it.  It lodges in the Roman’s throat, cutting his voice before a sound can be made.
 
The room is still with shock.  Astrid can only watch as Cordus slides down the wall, staring at Hiccup in horror and betrayal.  Cordus has just moments of life left in him—he is quickly bleeding out—so Hiccup crouches down before him and uses that time to explain.
 
He reminds Cordus that he is from a northern Viking tribe, and then speaks of a centurion he chanced upon in a bar.  They shared drinks—a few too many drinks—and spoke of many things, of life and death.  The centurion even boasted of the first person he ever killed—a beaten and broken slave.  A mere tool to prepare him for greater lives he would someday end. 

‘You never forget your first kill’ he said, and he described the slave in greater detail, sloshing his drink with his gestures and laughter.
 
The centurion became Hiccup’s first kill.
 
Cordus chokes out ‘son’ and Hiccup nods.  He killed Cordus’ eldest son.  Then Hiccup asks Cordus if he remembers the slave his son spoke of.  The ‘mere tool’.
 
He doesn’t wait for an answer—he doesn’t want to know.  He can see in Cordus’ face of dawning horror that he understands. Romans, despite their many flaws, were always clever.  He yanks the knife from Cordus’ neck and the man in dead in seconds.
 
Hiccup stands calmly, wipes the blade on his clothing, and comments to Astrid that his mother gave this dagger to him.  Just before her ship was captured by a Roman fleet.
 
Astrid hasn’t moved since Hiccup threw the dagger.  Her eyes are on the body of the man Hiccup so mercilessly killed.  Her thoughts are on the centurion he claimed to have killed four years previous.
 
She thinks about Catallus—how no one quite saw how he died or what happened to Hiccup during it all.
 
She thinks of Felicia; how getting from one side of a city to another would take seconds at night on dragonback.
 
She thinks of Hiccup’s impassive face as Verus was killed, brought to sentence by Hiccup’s accusations.
 
His blade clean, Hiccup turns to Astrid.  For the first time in four years he smiles at her.
 
"Now I can go home."

                      The End

 

Up next:  The Guardian Ring ;)

   

Journal Skin designed by: FalconArts
So that was the synopsis for the Roman Redress—A story of revenge and hope, of how the dark seed of vengeance can change a person.

Could I have just said, ‘Hiccup marries into the family that ultimately killed his mother for the purpose of killing them all’? Sure. But once I started the details began spilling forth and I knew I had to tell it right.

It’s not all a happy ending. Hiccup became so involved in the lie and revenge that it left him changed. Will Astrid be able to bring back the boy she loved? Can she learn to love him as he is? :shrug: Who knows, I never thought it through.

Even with laying it out like this we lack the real play on emotions. The connection between characters, the depths that can only be seen through interactions.

:bulletred:The sentimental moments between Hiccup and his Roman wife, the teasing hints that they could be happy together.

:bulletred:Astrid and Thuggory—the friendship that grows; the temptation Astrid faces of leaving all the heartbreak behind to lead the life she once thought she could before Hiccup entered her world.

:bulletred:Hiccup’s relationship with Cordus—how, despite his dark intentions for bonding with the man, appreciates the mentorship and praise.

There's so many dimensions I could put in this story.

So what do you think? Opinions on characters? Should I have written this instead of Hitchups? :meow:

:phew: I think this is how I should tell stories from now on.
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:iconthiefqueen200:
ThiefQueen200 Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2014  Hobbyist
Love this synopsis, and I would love to read his as an actual fic. :)

I also really like the name. To begin with, I thought it was a play on words to show that Hiccup had "re-dressed", as in given up his Viking roots to live as a Roman, but when I'd finished reading it I realised it was actually to show that Hiccup was out for revenge. Not sure if this was intentional, but I thought it was pretty cool. :P
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:iconavannak:
AvannaK Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Actually, someone is writing it!  I gave them permission and have been collaborating with them on it.   It's right here: www.fanfiction.net/s/9737392/1…

And wow--double meaning XD I hadn't thought of that first one!
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:iconalexjohnd:
AlexJohnD Featured By Owner May 15, 2013
I just read this "story" for the umpteenth time, and it is still so amazing, exciting, and interesting to me!! This actually feels like a full story, just shorter XD. I just had to tell you because I have the urge to constantly tell you how awesome you are :)
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:iconavannak:
AvannaK Featured By Owner May 16, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:love: :hug: Hahahaha - thank you! :glomp: Awww, getting a message from you on anything these days always manages to brighten my day. :heart: I keep meaning to put this on tumblr - so thanks for the small reminder that it exists!
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:iconalexjohnd:
AlexJohnD Featured By Owner May 16, 2013
Yay, i brighten your day! I feel special XD!
And i still find it amazing how this is better than some fics i read that are actually written out. You have a gift my good woman.
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:iconalexjohnd:
AlexJohnD Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2013
OK, as always, I seem to find your masterpieces WAY after you post them. By the way, for reference, I also read your stuff on fanfiction.net; I have the same user name and profile pic there (maybe you remember me from that essay of a PM I sent you not too long ago lol). ANYWAYS!!! OMFGWTF THIS IS FREAKING AWESOME!!!!! This goes right up there with Hitchups, and this is only a brief little thing!!! I saw from the comments below that in your conversation with RoselynJade (not to stalk or anything though :P) that you were considering doing more with this. I REALLY hope you do. The whole "at war with the Romans" thing is a really good story idea, and I love the fact that Hiccup is avenging his mother. This actually reminds me of another story I read on fanfiction called When in Rome (it's a sequel to a shorter story, and both are by Determamfidd) and I really enjoyed that. I always thought that one day Hiccup would go off on his own and do something crazy like this (you know, other than befriending a dragon XD) and just OMG I WANT TO READ MOOOOAAAAAAARRRRRRRR!!!! In my books you are still the most amazingly awesome-ist epically fantastic author EVER!!!
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:iconavannak:
AvannaK Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh I do remember you! You've found my little fic-turds over on this account I see! :XD: I'm really, really glad you found this! You are so kind and generous with your enthusiasm! It makes me so happy! :love: :heart:

Sadly, it doesn't seem to be in the stars that I continue this. It was a nice outlet for a full story I had in my mind but didn't have the heart to write out fully. It is a shame because… well, you read Hitchups, I would have gone all out with the subtle character relationships. Daaamn, the more I think about it the more I feel that pull of regret that I'll never write it out. DX

Though, I have read When in Rome! All together I found it planned and enjoyable (though, despite the handful of parallels to Hitchups, I still enjoyed the first one more :XD:), but it was Spartacus that inspired me to write this. All the sneakiness and plots and fighting. :dance:
On tumblr I made a bunch of fic recs (fics people may have missed because they've been buried under the years) that I've been meaning to put up here. Determamfidd is on it. :nod:

Thanks for the comment! It was so sweet! :heart:
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:iconalexjohnd:
AlexJohnD Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2013
Awwwwww :( It's OK though, I'll just have to read this 5000 more times to make up for it not being in depth XD. Oh well, qui sera sera. Now if you'll excuse me, I must go stalk your profile until I've dug up everything you've ever written and fall in love with all of it!!!!
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:iconroselynjade:
RoselynJade Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
That was amazing. O.O
I mean, seriously, AMAZING!
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:iconavannak:
AvannaK Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:glomp: Thank you! I love that people actually read through the entire thing. :heart:
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