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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3. The Little Lady Loki

Astrid opened her fist slowly behind Fead's back as Fead staggered forward, gawking at the small pile of teeth in distraction. Silently, Astrid spread her fingertips before her wide blue eyes in hidden shock. There wasn't even a mark on her knuckles.

 

It didn't even ache.

 

Fead spun on his hooves, his blue eyes gleaming with alarm, “Astrid! Let me see your hand! It must be hurt!”

 

“Eh? Eh?” Astrid exclaimed, stepping backwards as Fead advanced determinately, “Oh!” She blinked in alarm before she shoved her hand behind her back, connecting the dangerous dots of her condemning hand suddenly, “Er..” Astrid started in explanation, stumbling over her own thoughts in a panic.

 

“I was nearly a healer before my charm broke-” Fead informed, dashing around Astrid in an attempt to view the injury hidden behind her back, “Let. Me. See!” Fead demanded in frustration as Astrid pivotted on her heels, firmly keeping him from her back. Growing anxious, Astrid grimaced to find that, as always, The Drifiting began to act up the moment that her nerves grew frayed.

 

“I- uh..” Astrid started, swallowing dryly as the resting leaves that were once settled upon the damp soil lifted into the air lazily, rolling over one another gently as they rose. Even punching Ivor in his smug face hadn't made her this anxious.

 

“You knocked out three of Ivor's teeth!” Fead feigned a wild dash to the left, before cunningly sprinting to the right side of Astrid quickly.

 

“Do you think he'll have a crooked smile?” Astrid asked hopefully, not falling for the trick bluntly as a wicked delight glistening through her gaze at the delightful idea of Ivor's new face. The only thing worse than blue eyes, was a crooked smile.

 

“At the very least.” Fead's incessant darting ceased as a sideways grin stretched across his boyish features, “I'm betting you gave him a red eye, too.”

 

“Like a Frost Giant?” Astrid dared to hope.

 

Just like a Frost Giant.” Fead assured happily. Bringing Astrid to giggle wolfishly at the prospect, as wicked as it was to do so.

 

It was high time that Ivor finally sampled what it was to be different, a crime he tormented others for mercilessly, Astrid reasoned with satisfaction. Finally, he got to bear the mark of a red eye and a crooked grin on his own, previously UnLoki features.

 

The Loki features would heal.

 

The lesson he'd learn from the experience ahead, however, would remain.

 

“Now,” Fead waved aside the floating leaves trivially before ducking towards the ground and balancing on the backs of his hooves in an attempt to become more nimble, “Lemme see your hand!” He instructed, dashing forward as Astrid cleverly stepped behind the wide trunk of the looming willow tree.

 

“Fead!” Astrid called as the pair peeked and darted around the trunk excitedly, “Fead!” Astrid poked her features out one side of the tree, The Drifting rusting the branches above mischieviously, “Oi! I'm not going to let you see my hand!” Astrid assured cockily.

 

“Astrid,” Fead poked his head out of the other side of the tree, his grey horns gleaming in the flickering sunlight that slipped through the rustling leaves, “You've got to watch what you say! If I see your hand NOW, that makes you a liar!”

 

“Which is why you're not going to keep trying to see it!” Astrid grinned cunningly.

 

“Ah,” Fead started before frowning in thought, falling silent, “Oh.”

 

“That's cunning.” Fead teased with a wicked, daring grin.

 

“Oi!” Astrid exclaimed with an easy laugh, pointing at Fead sternly with her off hand, “You watch your mouth.” She mock scolded.

 

Fead grinned crookedly in affection before tilting his head back, peering at the rustling branches above in fascination. “Alright, alright! Now let's have some fun and climb this thing!” He challenged thoughtfully.

 

“Can you even climb with goat legs?” Astrid teased.

 

“Can you even climb with raven hair?” Fead retorted easily.

 

“You have no idea what you've just started.” Astrid informed mock seriously, reaching into the air with her offhand to clutch the lowest branch in her grip. Resting her half barefeet upon the rough bark of the trunk for support, Astrid easily wove her way through the branches of the tree.

 

“Which reminds me,” Fead leapt clumsily, throwing his entire weight upon a low branch, shaking the entire tree as he did so, “Oof!” He gasped breathlessly as he recovered, “What did you even call him? Ivor?He inquired, getting his hoofs beneath him after a hard fought moment.

 

“He called you a Trickster!” Astrid defended sharply, slipping through the lesser branches naturally as she lifted herself to the higher, more precarious branches.

 

I remember! But that doesn't answer the question!” Fead argued, yelping as he slipped from the low branch, slamming into the ground with a dull, defeated thud. Groaning softly, Fead hauled his reluctant body upwards, What does Arg-

 

“Watch your mouth!” Astrid scolded bluntly, grappling random branches as the tree trembled from the movements of Fead's marvelous climbing ability.

 

“What does it even mean?”

 

“Uh..” Astrid swallowed, “It.. Uh,” She looked upwards through the tree branches above in a grimace, “Means.. Coward.” Astrid started, wincing guiltily, “If you're being polite.”

 

“And if you're not?” Fead insisted, frowning below as he battled with the nearest branch, lifting himself with uncoordinated movements onto the shaking limb.

 

Astrid drew her lips back in a grimace as she drew herself farther above the secure branches with arrogance that should wouldn't fall, “… It, well.. It means a man is sexually womanish.” She finished reluctantly.

 

“… And what does that mean?” Fead narrowed his eye in suspicion as he raised himself higher upon the quivering branches.

 

Astrid halted in her climb suddenly, whimpering as a sharp pain pierced the inside of her lungs.

 

She was pushing herself too hard.

 

“… It means-” She gasped breathlessly,That between two men mating,-” Astrid attempted once more before breaking off, moaning as she leaned forward in defeat, clutching at her hidden injury,

 

Astrid?” Fead cried in alarm, peering upwards in concern as silence hung in the air, “Just, just hold still- Don't move!” He demanded, clamoring upwards in a dramatic panic that snapped more than a few branches before dumping him on his back on the soil below pointedly.

 

Knightly Knight!” Astrid managed, a wince distorting her features as the soft laughter Fead summoned pounded against her seared lungs. “Be calm! I'm- I'm breathing! Look at me go!” She assured after a moment, coughing hoarsely with force that shook the thin branches she rested upon. “Ugh.. Icky.” Astrid complained, wiping the blackened blood from her lips with a thumb before continuing weakly, “The accused plays the role of the woman.”

 

Looming over the edge of the branches, Astrid peered at the recovering satyr below as her strength returned, “As it turns out, if you call someone it, they have full rights to kill you, without being punished by something odd called 'the law'.”

 

ASTRID!Fead shouted in bafflement at the grotesque and rather absurd new word,Who even taught you that?” Fead exclaimed in alarm before frowning in thought, And Knightly Knight?”

 

Knightly Knight!” Astrid exclaimed the nickname in complete affection, slipping through the clutching branches as she descended to the lowest of the limbs, Ynir insisted that I memorize Lokasenna. He thought it would teach me the consequences of lying.” Astrid explained trivially.

 

“What's a Lokasenna?” Fead inquired, huffing as he lifted himself from the ground before dusting off his shoulders. Astrid grinned sideways, offering Fead her off hand with open fingertips. “It's an agonizingly long poem about Loki accusing random people of random things in random insults.” She murmered as Fead locked his fingers in her own, “I never figured out why though.” She added, hauling Fead onto the branch with an alarming ease, “Or how it started. The text I was given was missing a few pieces. Loki was a coward, and an evil-face,” Astrid condemned, narrowing her eyes at the mention of the man,

 

“But he was pretty creative in his insults.Astrid nodded softly as she considered her own words. The branch below shook and trembled at every move the pair made as the two of them dangled their legs easily over the edge of the branch in contentment, their feet swaying softly above the ground.

 

“Maybe I can help, new pair of goat ears and whatnot.” Fead offered, gesturing grandly to his head with a good natured grin.

 

“I wasn't joking when I said it was agonizingly long.” Astrid warned.

 

Lemme hear it!

 

Mmmnn..” Astrid scrunched her nose as she hummed a single note droningly in deep thought. “.. How did it start..?” She scoured her memory with an intense expression compressing her adorable face, “Ah!” Astrid beamed with a breath, giggling with pride, “Now, I remember!” She declared before raising her hands, resting her open fingers against the crown of her temples.

 

“Speak now, Eldir, for not one step,

Farther shalt thou fare;

What ale-talk here, do they have within,

The sons of the glorious gods?”

 

“Why are you doing that?” Fead frowned, looking towards the odd gesture in interest.

 

“Loki's speaking, they're horns.”

 

“Ahh….” Fead breathed in understanding before blinking in surprised curiosity,What's Ale?”

 

“No idea. Bale of hay, maybe? Everyone talks to it?”

 

I remember that Eldir speaks next..” Astrid considered, lowering her mock horns in thought. “Sounds like a tough name for a tough guy.Fead decided. “Tough pose for Eldir's dialogue?” Astrid suggested quizzically as a crooked smirk twitched across her features.

 

“Rrrr!” Fead roared softly, hooking his fingers jokingly in the imitation of a roaring creature as a wide grin stretched across his features. Giggling softly, Astrid hooked her own fingers, baring her teeth and scrunching her nose in mock 'toughness' as she continued in a high pitched attempt at a low and gravelly voice, “Of their weapons they talk, and their might in war,

The sons of the glorious gods;

From the gods and elves who are gathered here,

No friend in words shall thou find.”

 

“The sons of the glorious gods. They don't have daughters?” Fead considered, baffled at the wild idea.

 

“Huh.. Guess not. Poor sods. Where was I? Oh yeah! Loki's turn to talk again!” Astrid declared, placing her imitations of horns once more at the crown of her head as she continued her dictation obediantly.

 

“In shall I go into Ægir's hall,

For the feast I fain would see;

Bale and hatred I bring to the gods,

And their mead with venom I mix.”

 

Venom in mead.. Didn't the Barkeep of Coal do just that to you? That's why you cough, and can't breathe if you move too much.”

 

“Ironically, it was because I looked and acted a bit like Loki.”

 

“You're like a Little Lady Loki!” Fead declared with a beaming grin pointed Astrid's way.

 

Astrid shoved Fead from the branch sourly before peering over the edge with a crooked grin, “Heh, heh, heh.” She chuckled wickedly.

 

 

- Fead's clothing concept; http://tinypic.com/r/2m26zcy/9

 

- Astrid's clothing concept; http://tinypic.com/r/fao89/9

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