About forty minutes after their rapid departure from the Druid homeworld, Findral and the group were waiting approximately three hundred feet away from the branch, for Torga's arrival.
Findral, Ayla, and Hali were, as usual, off by themselves while the rest of the group were gathered together. Lena was quietly handing out orders to the other elves in preparation for their journey. However, the two newcomers were giving her some trouble.
Said newcomers, were a couple of humans that'd joined them a few months before their arrival on the druid homeworld. They'd been attacked by a group of centaurs and needed protection, so they hired Fenris and Lena to protect them until they could get to a 'civilized' world.
The first male was a rather wealthy individual by the name of Samuel Asher. He was tall with olive skin, short black hair, and dark brown eyes with a slightly chubby build. He wore a long dark cloak with a white bird emblazoned on the left shoulder; the cloak most commonly associated with a priest of Forna, The Goddess of Life.
For the entire duration of their journey, Samuel had refused to speak with either Findral or Fenris for reasons unknown to Lena. Which wasn't necessarily a bad thing, as ever since the other goblins had offered to stay and guard Uriel, Solon, and Talia while they acquired the stone for Torga. Findral had been a bit... Touchy.
And with the priest's personality, Lena honestly didn't think he would've survived the trip if he'd annoyed the 'Flame Empress' too much.
The other human; also a male. Went by the name Hugo Rolft, and he was massive for a human; standing easily over seven feet tall and built like an ogre. He was dark-skinned with black eyes and a large scar across his nose. His steel plated armor that covered him from head to toe and his generally quiet demeanor often lead people to believe he was a mute... Or just as dumb as he appeared to be.
According to Samuel, Hugo and a company of soldiers were to escort him from planet Fosca to planet Azgun to preside over the royal wedding of the youngest son of the Mibian royal family... Which was a problem, because as far as Lena knew, the prince was engaged to Ayla and she'd said nothing of the marriage happening anytime soon.
The only saving grace of the whole situation was Samuel had waited until they arrived on planet Azgun before telling her his reason for being here, so she hadn't lied to Torga... At least, she hoped he saw it that way. Knowing her friend for as long as she had. She was one of the very few who knew just how spiteful and outright dangerous Torga could be when he put his mind to it.
He was the one who stormed a slave trader's citadel when he was only a Tier four basilisk to save her family; which meant he had to fight through an army of guards, griffins, and a Flame Cyclops to do so... And that was when he was barely seventy feet long.
"Only Orena knows how much damage he could do now." Lena thought.
"You haven't yet given us our payment for escorting you here yet, priest." Fenris growled from his place beside his Lena.
The priest's eye twitched from the accusation, but he simply ignored Fenris' words and focused on Lena.
"I gave you my word when we met, that so long as you got me here, I would give you your payment... Alas, I cannot do that here, as all of my gold was taken by the centaurs."
"So... You're only remembering this now?" Lena questioned.
"No, I knew this before I offered you the job."
"Then you Were planning on leaving without paying!" Fenris growled.
Again, the priest's eye twitched, but he held his tongue and only spoke to Lena.
"If you come to Asgarn, the capital of the Mibia later. Then I will have your full payment waiting for you. Until then, however, I must be going as I'm already several months late due to your... Detour."
"You were the one who claimed he didn't mind waiting... Are you saying you lied, Priest?" Lena stared into his eyes as she responded and once again noticed the twitch of his eye.
"Oh yeah... He definitely did mind. The question is, was it the wait itself he cared about... Or what we were waiting on?" She wondered.
"As a priest of Forna, I cannot lie lest our Goddess remove her blessing from me." Samuel calmly replied.
"Your Goddess." Lena immediately replied.
"Elves do not worship your 'Goddess of Life'."
The priest's eyes narrowed and he stared at her for only a few moments, then he slightly averted his eyes.
"Nevertheless, the fact remains that I cannot lie to any creature under Lady Forna's light."
"What about those not under her light, Priest?" Fenris asked.
A smile that did not reach his eyes appeared on the Priest's face, "All good creatures are under her light."
The priest then turned to his companion and motioned with his hand. "Come along Hugo, we have wasted enough time as it is."
The giant man didn't say a word, as he quietly followed along behind Samuel and the two quickly left the group behind.
"I don't like that man."
Lena turned to look at her husband as a smile graced her lips.
"You never liked him."
"Didn't like the way he looked at you, either."
Oh, Lena was fully aware of how the priest looked at the women of the group. Like a farmer inspecting his livestock, and becoming disappointed when a flaw was found. The priest started out looking at them as possible friends... But over time, as he got to know them, his eyes dulled and he withdrew more and more from the group.
By the time Torga had rejoined them, the priest barely spoke with anyone aside from Lena and, surprisingly enough, Ayla. Though now that Lena knew his reason for coming in the first place, It made sense that he would attempt to get to know the 'Bride to Be'.
It was also a good thing that she hadn't had the opportunity to formally introduce them to her 'father', as she very much doubted that Torga would put up with the priest's temperament for very long.
"You know he wouldn't have tried anything. I mean, yes, he's a bit of a creep. But I don't think he's necessarily a bad guy."
Fenris' eyes narrowed and his lips pulled back to show off his fangs.
"You only say that because you couldn't smell what I did. Harmless, he may be, but it's not by his own choice that he is so."
"You think he would've tried something if given the chance?" Lena asked. Her brow rose towards her hair as she did.
"I do. If it were just you here, I fear he wouldn't have been nearly so distance. I get the feeling, that beneath that priestly garb, is a man who's caused the death of more people than any murderer."
Lena shrugged, "You may be right. The followers of 'Forna' aren't exactly known for their kindness towards non-believers."
As she was saying so, the portal opened up and Torga was slowly pulled out.
Lena motioned towards Torga and patted Fenris on the shoulder.
"C'mon, I'm going to need your help for this one."
Fenris snorted, "I think what you mean to say is, 'Come stand in front of me, while I tell our overgrown jackass that his daughter is supposedly getting married within the next few days, and she didn't bother to tell us.' So he eats you instead of me."
She smiled over her shoulder at Fenris, "Hey, you said it, not me."
After exiting the portal and having a fairly lengthy conversation with Lena and Fenris. Torga called over Ayla to explain just why she hadn't thought it important to tell them she was getting married so soon... However, they were all rather surprised by her response.
"What're you talking about!?" Lena demanded.
"I'm not mad, Brat. I just want to know why you didn't tell me you were supposed to be getting married so soon?"
"I didn't tell you because it isn't true! When he proposed to me, I didn't even give him a solid 'yes'! But he wouldn't let me go until I at least told him I'd think about it. No date was set, and no wedding was planned!" Ayla yelled.
At her vehement denial, the group instantly quieted down as they heard a terrifying rumbling sound coming from Torga.
"Let me see if I'm understanding this correctly..." Torga began with a low hiss coming from the back of his throat. "Not only did he ask for your hand in marriage without meeting me first... The little shit had the balls to pressure you into answering him?" With every syllable said, the rumble got louder until it felt as if the very ground itself was trembling in fear.
"... Yes?" Ayla managed to squeak out.
At her admission, the rumble immediately stopped and Torga smiled down at her.
"Well~ That just won't do," Torga said in an all too sweet voice.
"Dad... What're you going to do?"
"It's not what I'm going to do that matters, Brat. It's what you're going to do."
"What do you mean?"
Torga leaned in until his eye was directly in front of her, and the rumbling began anew.
"You're going to tell me in five sentences or less, why I shouldn't eat this little bastard as soon as we get into the city... Begin."
Ayla looked around at the group, hoping and praying that one of them would step forward to assist her with calming Torga down... But all of them, even the elves sworn to guard her, Hali, and Lena with their very lives all took several large steps away from her.
"Bloody cowards, the lot of em!" She internally hissed.
"Tick Tock, brat."
At his words, Ayla began to panic and she started listing everything she knew about him that might impress her father.
"He's a hero!"
"Oooh, a hero, Eh? I haven't eaten one of them in a while."
"He's a strong warrior?"
"Good, I like a meal that'll fight back."
"He's incredibly brave?"
"Don't confuse bravery for stupidity, Brat."
"From what you just told me, it sure doesn't seem that way."
With each and every rejection, Ayla began to panic more and more until she could only think of one thing that might save him.
"Um... After I told him about you, He swore he would find me a serpent I could bond with, that would always protect me and would remind me of you..." Her face turned red as she said so, and she quickly looked at the ground.
Suddenly, all was quiet as seconds dragged by without Torga or anyone else saying a word. And just when Ayla couldn't bear the silence any longer, Torga spoke up.
"Has he fulfilled that promise?"
Without looking up, Ayla nodded her head and said, "As of my last communication with him, he has acquired the serpent and is waiting for me to return so I may bond with it."
Torga was again quiet for several seconds before he spoke up.
"What's his name?"
"Huh?" Ayla's head snapped up.
"The little shit's name... What is it?"
She showed him a small smile and asked. "Does this mean you won't eat him?"
"Not even close." Was Torga's immediate response.
Ayla and the others all face-faulted at Torga's statement.
"If you're going to eat him regardless of what I say, then why ask for his name!?"
"Just because he does one good deed, does not mean I've forgiven him for his wrongs. The little bastard still has quite a bit to answer for."
Ayla returned to looking at the ground.
Her head snapped up so quickly, those around her thought she'd just given herself whiplash.
"He's at least earned the right to explain himself... To me... In person. Got it?"
Ayla squealed and jumped up to hug Torga's nose.
"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you-"
"I'm still waiting on that name, Brat."
Ayla's face flushed red and she slowly climbed down.
"Spit. it. out."
"Lokir... His name is Lokir."
Miles away inside the Mibian Castle
Prince Lokir, the third son of King Oden and Queen Friga was sitting on his bed when he felt an uncontrollable feeling of dread settle inside his heart.
"Why do I get the feeling that I've just been sentenced to death?" He wondered.
Minutes go by before the feeling eventually disappeared and he returned to normal.
"Well, that was certainly strange. What do you think Jormy, am I in danger?" He looked over his shoulder at the little three-foot black snake laying on his bed.
Said snake simply opened one eye and looked at Prince Lokir, then turned his attention to the plate of food sitting on his desk.
"Oy, Don't ignore me Jormy. Just because you're to be Ayla's protected doesn't mean I won't turn you into a handbag instead!"
The snake ignored the prince in favor of slithering over to the desk and attempting to climb onto it. However, it instead just fell onto its back and glared at the prince when it heard him laugh.
"Okay, okay. You win." The prince laughed as he sat the uneaten slab of ham on the ground in front of 'Jormy'.
After ensuring the snake could properly eat. The prince turned his attention to something a bit more... urgent.
"I just can't shake the feeling that my father has done something that's going to make my life exceedingly difficult in the future... I really hope I'm just being paranoid and nothing with come of this, but knowing my luck?"
The prince turned to Jormy.
"I think we're in for some interesting times, my scaly friend."
The snake tilted its head at the prince in confusion, then decided it wasn't worth the effort and went back to eating.
"Seriously!? Is food all you ever think about!? I swear you have to be the only snake in existence that never stops eating!"
As the prince continued to bicker with his very own little glutton. Torga and the group were heading to the place Uriel, Solon, and Talia had decided was the best place to perform the bonding ceremony for Torga's very own Jewel.
"I wonder how Solon and Talia have grown since I last saw them?" Torga wondered as he carried the group away from the portal and into the mountains beyond...