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Everything boiled down to a bargain. Her mere existence depended on her intention to follow through with her promise to Wrathia. And Ava should have seen it from the start—that this bargain struck, was a harbinger of the carnage and chaos waiting to claim their, and everyone's, future. What short, unfavorable future was left for the few that survived the termination of the masses.

War. That was Wrathia's design. Her curling, poisonous web of vengeance required death to all that stood between her and Titan. In sum, that required complete and utter devastation. Glitz and glam and everything coated in a thick layer of crimson.

Perhaps Wrathia asked too much of little Ava. With no other body but Ava's to pilot, essentially, Ava would be the head of an army against the all-powerful Titan. Leading countless lives to their uncertain doom. This knowledge was not tangible yet left an unbearable weight on her shoulders.

When the time would come, and it will come, Ava did not know if she could uphold her half of the pact. She sat for uncounted hours to extinguish her doubt and find reason enough within herself to keep it. No matter the conclusion her internal battle wrought, her life—normal and full of chances, as she wished it, did not equal to Wrathia's demands. It was too small to balance the scales. Just as Ava was too small to be tasked with such a demand.

Fifteen years is enough, surely, Ava thought. Careful though, she treaded the winding roads of her mind. Wrathia waited for her there and thus, thoughts were a dangerous risk.

"H-Hey, y-you alright?" Odin materialized seemingly from nowhere.

Ava jumped slightly, turning as Odin sat himself tentatively on the ledge beside her. He swung his legs over the side of the cliff and landed with an audible whump.

"S-Sorry. Didn't m-mean to s-scare you."

"It's fine," Ava said quietly, "I was just thinking."

"You've b-been d-doing that a lot l-lately," Odin absentmindedly commented, staring at the infinite cosmos above them. It must have been two in the morning. "You a-also h-haven't slept v-very w-well either…"

Odin was hinting at something and Ava knew it. He wasn't exactly being subtle. She just couldn't tell him the truth. The truth: Ava didn't sleep as much as the others because of Wrathia. Sleep meant a traversable bridge to where Wrathia lurked inside and Ava did everything she could to make their probable meeting from becoming an actuality. She refused to sleep. She refused to visit Wrathia and risk her sniffing out the truth of her host's wavering loyalty to her cause. It was a game of cat and mouse, beneath her very skin. Of course the truth had to stay hidden—it was insane! Demons and pacts and the unknown result of a broken pact—Who would ever believe they were in question? Who would ever believe they were real?

"Do you have a problem with it?" Ava ensured her annoyance was the key indicator in her voice for him to shove off. He wouldn't understand anything. He couldn't. Ava was alone, and she was petrified.

"N-No," Odin leaned away as if she'd hit him instead, "You j-just don't y-yell at m-me as much anymore and I w-wanted t-to know if you w-were okay is all."

"Do you want me to yell at you? If you want somebody to yell at you, go find Maggie. I'm sure she would be more than happy to deliver."

Odin made a near scoffing sound. "Th-That's n-not what I m-meant."

"What did you mean then?!"

Odin took a deep breath. Perhaps it was his stutter that she found so loathsome and irritating and his talking only worsened her already sour mood. Or maybe Ava was just perpetually angry and she just chose to only release her unbridled rage upon him, the unlucky winner of an unlucky lottery. "Here w-we go," he muttered. Maybe he should have stayed in the shelter and let Ava to do her late-night simmer by herself.

Ava reconsidered her approach. It was like a slap in the face—her face, when she realized Odin was genuinely concerned for her well-being.

"Sorry," Ava said, making Odin glance up at her. "It's—It's kind of hard to say what's really been bothering me."

Odin shifted as if he were readying himself for a story, much like she used to do when she was younger. He said, "We h-haven't g-got anything b-better to d-do, b-being on the r-run and all."

Ava smiled, though it was sad and made it seem she was mourning something yet to come. Ava looked over her shoulder to watch at the darkened entrance to the landed spacecraft the four of them stole to escape capture. Covered in branches and dirt, it was indistinguishable from the rest of the forest if viewed from the sky. On the forest floor, it looked simply broken down beyond repair and uninhabited—which also served them well, because Maggie and Gil were fast asleep within.

"It's not something you would believe," Ava tried again to dissuade him. She looked to her feet dangling over the edge of the steepest cliff she'd ever laid eyes on.

Odin's expression went blank and blatantly sardonic. "You t-turned into a g-giant flaming monster and k-killed h-hundreds of p-people with an axe you p-pulled out of your chest. And the r-rest of us n-nearly died in an explosion y-you caused. T-Try me." Odin still wasn't sure how Maggie and Gil survived—they were both committedly vague about the subject.

"Okay, fine," Ava crossed her arms in her rebuttal. It was an action made to conceal the resurfacing fear and dread that happened after Wrathia released her hold on Ava's consciousness. It wasn't Ava who did those things—who killed those people without a second thought. But then, it also was. It was another reason why Ava was so terrified of this deal she had with Wrathia. Between the contract lines, Ava was signing over her mentality, her personality, her existence within her own body.

Ava kept on, "But what if I told you it wasn't me who did all those things?"

Oh, if you had been there. Everything was delightfully horrendous! I felt fantastic!

Odin gave her a look of disbelief. It almost made her drop the topic.

Then, there was the danger of Wrathia overhearing her. Who knew what would happen if she knew Ava was about to spill her life story to some kid who had no business in the matter. She'd tear Ava apart.

Odin had a haunting suspicion on where Ava was heading.

And Ava wanted nothing more than to reach out. Ava asked carefully, letting out a shaky breath. "Does the name 'Wrathia' mean anything to you?"

Oh no.

Odin's blood ran cold. That name was a bullet to the sternum. His eyes went wide with recognition, and he nearly gave himself away.


Pedri knew a Wrathia. Pedri was in love with a Wrathia. Married to her. Could they be, by some small chance, or miracle, or horrible unfortunate coincidence, be the same Wrathia?

"No," Odin answered, leaving enough silence to keep her from detecting his lie, "I've never heard of that name before."

Ava nodded, turning to hide her face. She blinked away a tear, letting it silently streak down her cheek. "Be glad you haven't."

There was an unfinished air surrounding them. Silence. Both Ava and Odin thought it best to keep the quiet's presence between them.

Though after time, Ava broke it by moving to lay her head on Odin's shoulder. Just loud enough for him to hear, Ava said, "Thank you for sitting with me, Odin."

Odin grew even more terrified at her touch. Ava was now being affectionate towards him. She even thanked him.

"You're w-welcome," he returned stiffly, looking directly ahead of him. Then, registering she wasn't about to move, he allowed his rigidity to flow from him and his tense muscles to melt, wondering how Ava could find the comfortable spot on his shoulder. She fit there perfectly. And she was warm. Very warm. Like home.

Ava closed her eyes, content enough to sleep without worry. No. Fifteen years is not enough.