The Masquerader

Based loosely after Ragnorak (The end of the world in Norse Mythology) we follow the story of a misplaced trickster in training, Astrid CrystalArmorer. Left on Ascent, the NEW city above the clouds after Asgard fell, Astrid finds herself the scapegoat for all of the woes of the city so cruel that they burn liars alive. In six days, Astrid must turn this world upon its head to save those who need her most, or burn alive trying.

All at the age of ten.

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5. Airborne

An ancient, mechanic hum sliced through the stagnant and forgotten air of the grand hall hidden far beneath the city of Ascent; The first noise to be heard within the abandoned hall since the End of the World ten years prior.

The grinding of dusted gears followed drowsily after, noisily bouncing through the staled air as a harsh, green light flickered to life reluctantly from a heap of cogs upon the ground. Bursts of blinking, hesitant light quickly flooded the forgotten hall with the harsh prize it had been so long without; Light.

The whirl of machinary assaulted the breathless air as a looming, waking creature of an immense size hauled its reluctant springs and gears to their full, groaning height. The unsteady gleam of the green light dulled into a steady glow as the creature adjusted its eye socket around the beam with a calculating clicking of gears.

Start up initiated. The machine whirled in a processing calculation as text darted through the inside of its gleaming green eyes, disappearing off the small screen at an unreadable speed. Last initiation estimated at… Calculating..

Calculation complete. Estimate at 3,658 days since last activation.

Scanning for primary requirements..

Imminent death of Ascent citizen detected.

Searching for user established exception barriers..

Imminent death of Ascent citizen by another Ascent citizen.. Unmet.

No user established exception barriers detected. The machine concurred as it stretched its rusted gears with a complaining whine emitting from its tired springs and joints. Operation 'RESCUE' initiated.

Contacting God of War..

Identifying self as; Goddess of Children. The machine known as The Goddess of Children clanked and clanged with calculation as the text slowed in its speed upon noting that the end of the program was imminent.

Goddess of Children: The Evelnii has stolen a child. Ensure that this does not occur again.

God of War: Message received. The Evelnii will fall. Ensure that the child does not fall with it.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

The Evelnii was decidedly not amused.

Screeching furiously, the giant eagle tumbled through the air in wild roll as it shook its claws mercilessly in an attempt to throw the dark haired girl from its talons and onto the ground far, far below.

“Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah!” Astrid protested, her voice shaking audibly with each of the sudden movements of the talons she clung to. “I'm- Gonna- Be- Sii-iii-ii-iick!” Astrid wailed, the stars strung within her hair clinging tightly to her fraying braid in utter and complete terror.

Shrieking with rage, The Evelnii spun and twisted within the air, forcefully flinging the child into the air with a final, powerful throw. Astrid bellowed a shrill scream of fear as she flipped upwards wildly through the air, a tangle of tangled black hair, gleaming gold stars and charcoal clothing. The Evelnii, pleased to find itself free of its passenger, ceased its wild tumbling with a cry of victory and stretched its wings widely to glide peacefully upon the winds of Ascent.

Astrid flailed as she fell, her open hands clawing and clutching at the gusts of air that tore at her through the fall. Unsurprisingly, the action proved to be absolutely futile.

“Woah!” Astrid screeched in alarm in her tumble before she landed bluntly on The Evelnii's feathered back; Upside down and face first. “Woah!” She yelped loudly as she flipped onto her stomach from the beating of the bird's wings, her position shifting unsteadily. Desperately, Astrid dug her nails into the back of the large beast, only to obtain handfuls of torn and tattered feathers, rather than a halt to the alarming rate in which she was slipping off the end of the bird's back.

Shrieking in pain, The Evelnii recoiled in mid-air before suddenly charging forward. determinedly throwing its legs behind itself in an attempt to become more streamline, and thus, become even faster in an attempt to loosen the child's waning grip upon its back.

“Woah!” Astrid offered shortly before plummeting off the tail of the bird promptly. Panicked, Astrid threw a slender hand outwards, clutching at anything in her desperate terror. By chance, in The Evelnii's attempt to rid itself of its passenger faster, it provided Astrid the perfect hold; its hanging claws.

Dangling once more from the giant's eagle's talons, Astrid groaned, swinging slightly as she attempted to claim a better hold. The Evelnii hung its head upside down to inspect the creature hanging from its claws in hostility, narrowing its gleaming eyes to the child in annoyance.

“Hello.” Astrid nervously attempted a charming grin.

The Evelnii screeched loudly in Astrid's face in response.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

The Evelnii threw itself weightedly into its nest; a pile of twigs and treasures that rested far above the city of Ascent and was nearly as large as the enormous bird itself. Strips of cloth were woven into the nest, paired with random, stolen objects rimming the domed nest, every object hidden within were lost beneath a thousand others. Staggering upon one leg, The Evelnii viciously shook the limb Astrid was attached to with a vengeful ferocity.

“Hey- yey- yey- yey!” Astrid complained bitterly, clinging onto the limb stubbornly.

Hopping backwards a step, The Evelnii absently dropped the stone in its violent attempts to shake the unwanted passenger from its talons. “I'm getting Dii-ii-ii-iizy! Stah-ah-ah-ahp it!” Astrid protested loudly, stubbornly adjusting her grip upon the leg of the beast in determination. Screeching in annoyance, The Evelnii turned its head upside down to peer at Astrid in seething hatred. Cocking its head crookedly in thought, the beast suddenly threw its beak forward, snapping it closed around the Astrid's heel and tore backwards sharply.

“Ack!” Astrid yelped as her grip broke and she hung upside down from The Evelnii's beak by her half bare heel. “Lemme down!” Astrid demanded sharply, punctuating each spiteful new shake The Evelnii awarded her with an indignant shout.

Bored with the new game, The Evelnii spat Astrid's foot out of its beak in distaste before rearing backwards with a cry of screeching violence. Astrid, flat on her back, tore a stick from the nest, brandishing before her as a weapon. “Come at me, bro!” Astrid taunted from a lost age as she leapt to her feet in challenge.

Cocking its head, The Evelnii threw its head forward, easily plucking the weapon from Astrid's grip before it turned its back to the bitterly complaining child to correct the error in its delicately woven nest. Directing an annoyed glare at back of the bird, Astrid ran her fingertips through her tangled hair, adjusting the strands of the ruined braid into a slightly more manageable mess before she stopped to stare bluntly at the glittering stone at her very feet.

Grinning happily, Astrid plucked the precious stone from the nest's floor, bouncing it pleasantly in her palm with glee. “Ha!” She exclaimed in delight, “Take that!” Astrid boasted proudly, brandishing her prize to the back of the bird with giggling laughter.

The bird turned around abruptly, directing a venomous look Astrid's way.

Swallowing once under the seething, 'no more games' glare, Astrid slowly slipped the stone into a pocket, taking care to button the pouch firmly. “Uh oh...” Astrid murmured softly as her lips pulled back dreadingly in a wince as the bird lumbered itself closer intimidatingly.

Hopping forward in a rage, The Evelnii bellowed a painful cry that pierced the ears ruthlessly as it attacked at a terrifying speed. Gnashing its shimmering claws, The Evelnii knocked Astrid's feet out from under her before promptly digging its claws firmly into the back of her shirt the instant she landed on her stomach. “Yikes!” Astrid complained as The Evelnii lumbered to the edge of the nest, dragging the struggling child along before dangling Astrid cruelly over the endless drop at the end of the nest.

“That's a far drop!” Astrid exclaimed in terror as she threw her clamoring hands backwards in an attempt to grab at the talons that hung her by the back of her shirt over the seemingly endless abyss. To no avail. “Have I mentioned that I'm afraid of heights?!”

Screeching maliciously, The Evelnii carelessly tossed Astrid into the air, despite her screaming protests before easily catching her by the heel at the last possible moment.

“Uwahhh..” Astrid moaned, dizzily hanging limply from the creature's talons in a shocked and near silent stupor.

The Evelnii blinked calculatingly as it turned the object dangling from its claws in thought. “Bleh-heh-heh-heh..” Astrid groaned as she spun, sticking out her tongue slightly as she narrowed her eyes in a half lidded exhaustion.

The Evelnii cocked its head sharply, peering at the slowly turning child hanging from its claws in fascination before chirping once in sweet affection. Though its eyes still stubbornly glittered with lust for the stone that she hid.

Suddenly a rather large, rather weighted force slammed into The Evelnii's unprotected back, sending the giant bird plummeting towards the distant ground. Tumbling through air, the giant eagle fought to reclaim the wind beneath its clamoring wings desperately, distractedly allowing Astrid to slip through its talons in its moment of surprise.

Astrid belted out a loud, panicked scream as she tumbled through the air. Again.

The God of War, a mechanic dragon of clicking, whirling golden gears swooped low overhead, humming loudly in a mechanic growl as it charged into The Evelnii in a fearsome rage. The attack threw the two tumbling through the air, tightly locked in a gruesome battle filled with cries of injury and victory. Blood and feathers filled the air as The God of War bared his grand wings, tearing into The Evelnii without mercy with gnashing claws.

Diving low, The Goddess of Children, an eerily similar machine, obscured Astrid's vantage point of the battle, sweeping beneath Astrid's flailing form to collect the shouting child upon its cog lined back.

“Oof!” Astrid gasped as she landed backwards upon the mechanic dragon's back solidly in a tangle of limbs. Bouncing twice as she clamored for a hand hold, Astrid offered a quick, “Yikes!” before rolling off the side of the dragon promptly.

Blinking twice with a whirl of calculating machinery, The Goddess of Children peered at the falling child below in astonishment, processing a new line of text to inform The God of War of the event.

Goddess of Children: .. I dropped it.

God of War: … You're a Goddess. Act like it.

Astrid crashed through the hay roof of the CrystalArmorer's family home painfully before dropping into the center of the set table, scattering the plates and cups to the floor in a destructive mess. Iheia, wide at the belly with a child, staggered backwards in shock at the sudden event as Ynir dashed in front of his blonde mate protectively.

Astrid groaned, looking up at the gap in the ceiling with breathless fascination.

It had been an awefully long fall. Anyone else would have had a thousand broken bones, accompanied by burst flesh and split faces.

But her? She was simply winded.

“Hello, Ynir.” Astrid offered, turning her sweet eyes to Ynir's seething glare with a thin smile as The Evelnii blocked gap overhead in its dive off of the sheer cliff of Ascent.

Bleeding and injured, The Evelnii was lost beneath the white clouds less than a moment later.

God of War: .. I lost it.

Goddess of Children: …. You're a God, act like it.

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