Ragna: A young girl's failure to become a hero

by

YAK Edge

Chapter 63 – Level 1 "Heroes never fail": Perfection imperfect

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“My dear guests.” Eric took the microphone. His voice echoed from the surround-systems into every direction of Castle Gimli’s ivory banquet hall.

In the dark, the spotlight scattered in star-like patterns. It danced through the scenery and conglomerated at the stage’s center, casting Eric’s shadow onto the background.

In the dark, the spotlight scattered in star-like patterns. It danced through the scenery and conglomerated at the stage’s center, casting Eric’s shadow onto the background.

The shadow mimicked the body language of its owner, enlarging his performance into the movements of a titan. Every step he took, every finger he moved, the black giant would follow for the audience to see.

They raised their glasses, the liquid inside rocked. LED-lights swirled around and painted the scenery in blue and red hues.

“I welcome you to another night of excitement, faith, and pleasure.” Eric’s voice soothed into their ears. “And now, that the moon has replaced the sun, give into your carnal wishes till they’re gone.”

The audience applauded and sat down. Where once stood statues of heroes past, couches and stand-tables took their place and formed a parable.

And amidst that audience sat Ragna.

The scenario remained the same. That was good to know. It would have increased the difficulty of her task if she had to fulfill a different objective with each try. So, what should she do first? Assuming she had to prevent Aura’s death? Was it another ploy of Vaix? Who else could stoop so low and try to kill Aura? No, that was a logic bound to her reality. She was in a scenario either Geißel or the tower had created. The motive behind the murder didn't have to make sense. Still, in case it did, her first objective should be to analyze the scenario. Eric could give her information on why Aura was performing here.

֎

Eric had left the stage, and Altera began to play.

Ragna walked past the couch ring and sat next to Eric.

Huh, how strange. She had only noticed it now, but her wounds had stopped hurting a while ago. Did the abundance of Mana in the tower cancel all previous pain?

“She is quite talented,” said Ragna.

Eric turned around. “Ragna? Is that you? What are you doing here? Don’t tell me you are here to buy Au…Freya’s appreciation?”

Buying her appreciation? Did Aura become a prostitute?

“Nah, I don’t think I’m buy-curious. Just wanna see how she’s doing.”

“What changed your mind? You wanted to have nothing to do with her…" He shook his head. "That’s none of my business. I’m just glad to see you again.”

Eric leaned forward and hugged her.

“I still can’t comprehend what had happened,” said Ragna.

Eric let go and faced the stage. “Yeah, I remember my shock when I had heard the news. But what do you expect from a girl her age calling her father “daddy”?”

Daddy? Yeah, that wasn’t Aura at all. She only called him “father” or “President”. Whatever had happened to this Aura, it couldn’t happen to the real one. This was a false simulation, not an indication of reality.

“Her father had to boot her out personally and presented her as a scapegoat. With her reputation in shambles, we had to come up with an idea to keep the Wert going.”

“And you chose this?”

“You know how it goes. The higher they fly, the deeper they fall. And Freya’s at the top. It’s the only thing for her left to do. The world wanted to see her plunged into the depths of Hel. Her image of the perfect goddess turned out to be smoke and mirrors, and her worshippers refused to let her attain a modicum of her former grace. She’s a fallen goddess, and nothing will make Aes happier than to see her fall deeper and deeper. To see her humiliated and deprived of her pride.”

"I won't accept this."

"What can you do about it?” Eric asked. “It's how it goes for the one percent, the world leaders, the Paladins, Valkyries, and Knights. The common people worship, admire, and follow them. The weak subjugate themselves, and the one percent can carve their will into the world. But in exchange, one has to prove that one is worthy. And for that, nothing less than perfection is suitable. If the imperfect see that their faith was mistaken, they will not put you down to their level. No. That would be an insult to them. They want to put you far below. They want to see you as evil, as a titan, like dirt, or with the same eyes they see an animal.”

“That’s insane.”

“Maybe. We aren't exactly common folk, either. We don't have to understand their logic, but merely replace it with ours. As for Feya, her power was always borrowed. One mistake, the clock strikes midnight, and poof, the magic’s gone. And now here we are to make her fall further. ”

Ragna suppressed her words. This was just a fake simulation. She had to focus on the scenario and ignore her feelings.

“Singing in Gimli in an inappropriate dress while some creeps are fighting for her heels. That's the way to do?”

“Well, it can’t be sudden. Freya’s descent has to be organic. We’ve to orchestrate that she loses her grace piece by piece. The common man wants to savor every step of the show. We had to plot it out quite carefully.” He sighed. “Though not everything worked out as intended.”

“What happened?”

“I was supposed to sing alongside Aura. But then, Altera took my spot.”

Ragna let her head down. What a waste of time.

The song halted. Aura rasped for air, syllables forming in her mouth, and she fell from the piano. Her body plopped like a sack, and blood gushed out of her wound. A crossbow bolt stuck out of her throat.

The castle and the people faded away, and Ragna stood in a white void room.

Words started to glow in blue light within the void. “Mission failed. Do you wish to continue? Yes. No.”

Ragna chose ‘Yes’, and the room transformed into the banquet hall of Castle Gimli.

֎

“My dear guests.” Eric took the microphone. His voice echoed from the surround-systems into every direction of Castle Gimli’s ivory banquet hall.

In the dark, the spotlight scattered in star-like patterns. It danced through the scenery and conglomerated at the stage’s center, casting Eric’s shadow onto the background.

The shadow mimicked the body language of its owner, enlarging his performance into the movements of a titan. Every step he took, every finger he moved, the black giant would follow for the audience to see.

They raised their glasses, the liquid inside rocked. LED-lights swirled around and painted the scenery in blue and red hues.

“I welcome you to another night of excitement, faith, and pleasure.” Eric’s voice soothed into their ears. “And now, that the moon has replaced the sun, give into your carnal wishes till they’re gone.”

The audience applauded and sat down. Where once stood statues of heroes past, couches and stand-tables took their place and formed a parable.

And amidst that audience sat Ragna.

Learning about the scenario had been useless. The motive could be anything and nothing. She should focus on finding the assassin. For that, she had to find the trajectory of the bolt. If she lightened up the hall, the sharpshooter would notice. So, how could she track the bolt without seeing it?

Ragna's eyes paced through the banquet hall, her pupils catching glimpses of the interior in the red and blue shines.

Yes, that could work. In the best-case scenario, she could prevent Aura's death, and if not, she could discover the bolt's origin point.

Ice formed within the banquet hall. Invisible to the human eye, Ragna shaped it into strings that connected through the entire place, transforming Gimli into a wire trap.

Thanks to the Mana in Ymir's Tower, creating this much ice became a non-issue. In the dark, no one should see the ice wires, but her connection to them should allow her to feel where the bolt hit and draw a trajectory path by connecting the impact points.

֎

The wires shattered, and the song halted. Aura rasped for air, syllables forming in her mouth, and she fell from the piano. Her body plopped like a sack, and blood gushed out of her wound. A crossbow bolt stuck out of her throat.

The scenery faded away. The castle and the people were all gone, and Ragna stood in a white void room.

Words started to glow in blue light within the void. “Mission failed. Do you wish to continue? Yes. No.”

Ragna chose ‘Yes’, and the room transformed into the banquet hall of Castle Gimli.

֎

“My dear guests.” Eric took the microphone. His voice echoed from the surround-systems into every direction of Castle Gimli’s ivory banquet hall.

Ragna cowered behind the couches and crawled until she had reached the one from where the bolt had originated.

The assassin had fired from behind the couch with the farthest distance to the stage.

Unbelievable. Could there be a worse hiding spot? Was this another plot hole of the scenario?

The lights of the hall lit up the area behind the couch. Red and blue tainted the place, yet revealing no person.

She couldn’t spot the assassin. Were they using a Fylgja to camouflage? In that case, she had to cover the entire area at once.

Ragna stomped on the ground, and the floor started to freeze. Ice covered the area in front of her eyes within a second. Spikes shot out of them, impaling anyone who might have been hiding behind the couch.

Ragna’s eyes gazed upon her creation.

An ice flower had grown from the ground, and in the lights, the spikes' points turned into vibrant petals. One moment, they sparkled in red, the other, they dazzled in blue, and in between, the lights mixed. Ragna's construct bloomed into a kaleidoscope of colors.

If the assassin hid behind the couch, she would have taken their life. Was this her first kill? Did it matter? Nothing here was real. Like in a video game, she wasn’t murdering real people, but NPCs.

A draft stroked her skin; an object swooshed past her.

Aura!

Ragna turned around and ran towards the stage.

The song halted. Aura rasped for air, syllables forming in her mouth, and she fell from the piano. Her body plopped like a sack, and blood gushed out of her wound. A crossbow bolt stuck out of her throat.

The scenery faded away. The castle and the people were all gone, and Ragna stood in a white void room.

Words started to glow in blue light within the void. “Mission failed. Do you wish to continue? Yes. No.”

Dammit. How could she be so stupid? If the assassin possessed a Fylgja, then it could allow them to disregard the law of physics and manipulate the bolt’s trajectory.

Ragna chose ‘Yes’, and the room transformed into the banquet hall of Castle Gimli.

֎

“My dear guests.” Eric took the microphone. His voice echoed from the surround-systems into every direction of Castle Gimli’s ivory banquet hall.

Ragna's eyes wandered through the room until they focused on the chandelier hanging from the ceiling’s center: a dingy consisting of oyster pearls with enough volume that a grown adult could hide inside.

If the sharpshooter didn’t care for a perfect path, then staying hidden had to be their priority. A Fylgja never had two unrelated abilities. If this Fylgja allowed the assassin the manipulation of trajectory, it meant that camouflage was not part of their abilities. They could possess one of the 16 routes not belonging to Midgard and gain the ability to hide that way, but she wouldn’t even know if such a rune existed. She was taking a shot in the dark, but her current guess was as good as any.

Ragna summoned water, formed it into throwing stars, and directed them towards the strings that suspended the chandelier on the ceiling. Their speed and rotation increased, and millimeters before hitting the construction, the water turned to ice. The frozen edges cut through the strings, and the chandelier crashed.

Altera stopped her play. The guests sprang from their seats, and pearls flew through the hall, ripping holes inside the couches and tables.

Where the chandelier’s main body had fallen, a humanoid black shape crouched on the ground between the pearls. Groaning, they got up.

A biker helmet covered their head, and a black biker suit the rest of their body. Their fingers rested on the trigger of an arbalest the size of their arm.

“Dammit. That hurt,” said the sniper in a feminine voice.

She cracked her neck and looked at Ragna.

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A note from YAK Edge

Not much to say about this one. I hope you liked the little discussion between Eric and Ragna.I promise, the next two weeks will have more action.

Anyway, as always thank you for reading, and if you want to show support please favorite, follow, comment, review or rate my story. 

 

See you Tuesdays.


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YAK Edge

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