Ayla stepped forward to greet the soldiers while motioning for the others to stand back.
Though Holstig attempted to step forward and put himself between Ayla and the humans, but Siofs arm and quiet words prevented him from doing so. Which earned her a grateful nod from Ayla.
"Don't thank me yet. Save that for after lover-boy leaves here alive."
Ayla grimaced at her words but didn't otherwise attempt to refute them.
"She's right. Though I trust them not to intentionally cause trouble, I can't say the same for the humans... And should any of them get the idea to play hero and attempt to attack Holstig or Hogunn, then no matter what I say, they'll die a quick and brutal death."
"Ho, there! Is anyone hur- Ayla!?" The prince pulled his horse to a stop ten feet in front of Ayla and jumped off.
"Ayla!" He spread his arms out and attempted to take a step towards her, but stopped when she raised her hand.
"That's close enough for the moment, Lokir."
The prince froze and stared at her in confusion, then he slowly lowered his arms to his sides.
"Is everything alright, Ayla?" He asked while eyeing the less 'human' members of her party... Namely the two giants at the back.
"Everything is fine, I just want to make sure none of your men will attack my friends before I allow you any closer."
The prince watched them for several seconds, then he raised his hand and motion for the group of soldiers to stay back.
"But your highness! What if it's a trap!?" The soldier at the front of the group with the most ornate looking armor shouted.
"Relax, Felix. Ayla wouldn't harm me... Unless I did something to piss her off." At that admission, he slowly turned his head back to Ayla. "You're... Not mad at me... Are you?" He hesitantly asked.
"Not at the moment."
The prince turned back to the soldier and smiled.
"See Felix? Everything's fine!"
Though the soldier clearly wanted to protest, he settled for moving back with the rest of the soldiers and glared at the non-humans.
"I'm watching you." He mouthed at Holstig and Hogunn... To which they responded by promptly flipping him off, and Hogunn flicked a booger in his direction.
The soldier's glare intensified, but as he knew better than to disobey the prince's orders, so he didn't act further.
Ayla, who'd watched this interaction with a completely blank expression, breathed a sigh of relief.
"At least they haven't attempted to kill each other... yet"
While Ayla's mind was otherwise occupied, the prince used the opportunity to take several steps forward and stare at her face. Because of the height difference, he had to bend down to get a good look, which made it all the more comical to look at.
He; a six-foot tall warrior in leather armor with metal pauldrons and gauntlets. Looking as if he were a dog happy to see his owner while standing in front of this tiny elven woman.
"Ayla?" He tilted his head to one side and smiled. "Are you happy to see me?"
His words snapped her out of her reverie and she thought over his words.
"I... I'm not unhappy to see you." She admitted.
The prince's smile grew ever larger as he returned to his full height and discretely clenched his fists... well, he thought he was being discrete, anyway.
"He's such a dork." Ayla thought with a small smile appearing on her lips.
"You should smile more often."
His words surprised her enough, she took a step backward in shock.
"What are you talking about?"
"Your smile... It's very pretty, Ayla." The prince simply said.
Ayla blushed bright red at the prince's honest demeanor and glared at him.
"Stop, what?" He asked while taking a step closer.
"Flirting with me. Stop it."
"Ah... See, now that, I can't do."
"And why not?"
"Because then you might lose interest in me." Was the prince's straightforward response.
Ayla sighed, "No chance of that happening at this point." She rather morosely thought.
The prince attempted to take yet another step closer, though a growl from Holstig stopped him in his tracks.
"Warning acknowledged, big fella. Calm down." He said while taking a couple of steps back with his hands in plain view.
Ayla turned her head to the side at nodded to Holstig, then turned back to the prince.
"We need to talk." She said.
Just hearing those words was enough to completely wipe the smile off Lokir's face.
"I thought you said I wasn't in trouble?" He accused.
The smirk Ayla showed him sent shivers down his spine... What exactly those shivers meant, he had no idea. But he was eager to find out.
"No, I said I wasn't mad at you." Her smirk turned into a full-blown smile, "But you're definitely in trouble."
"Because my father wants to meet you."
Sweat immediately started to fall down his back, and the air seemed to get just a little bit heavier.
"Oh..." He gulped.
"He doesn't know about the-"
"Marriage? Yes, yes he does."
"How about the-"
"Way you were so persistent? Again, yes, he's aware."
"And the uh... other thing?"
Ayla looked at him in confusion.
"What, other thing-"
The prince used the moment she began talking to quickly advance on her and pull her into a kiss. Though she tried to push him away at first, she eventually relaxed and kissed him back.
That is, until a loud growl caused the two to quickly separate. The prince looked over her shoulder at the source of the sound and saw Holstig drawing his axes from his sides.
"If you'd like to keep that tongue, I'd suggest you keep it to yourself for the foreseeable future." Holstig growled.
The prince slowly nodded and raised his hands into the air.
"Sheesh, calm down big guy-" The prince was interrupted when Ayla threw a hard right hook into his jaw. The impact knocked him to the ground and caused him to roll around in pain.
The soldiers behind him jumped off the horses and began to run over help him, but he waved them off and stood back up.
"I'm okay-" he groaned and rubbed his aching jaw. "I deserved that."
He turned back to Ayla and opened his mouth to speak, but had to stop to dodge another punch headed for his jaw.
"Whoa!" He yelled as he leaned away from yet another punch.
"Okay, Stop!" He raised his arms up to block the punches she was raining down on his arms.
Eventually, she tired herself out and he was able to speak.
"You done?" He asked from inside his guard.
She slowly nodded her head as she tried to catch her breath.
"Whew," He sighed. "You've got a lot of anger in you for a little wom-UGN!"
As he was talking, Ayla swung her right foot and caught him between the legs with all the force she could muster at the moment.
The prince dropped to his knees and hung his head as his eyes went cross-eyed.
"That..." he wheezed out, "Was totally uncalled for."
Ayla bent down to look at his face.
"Did you enjoy that kiss?" she asked.
The prince nodded his head, as he was currently in too much pain to speak.
"Good... Then now, we're even." She stood up and walked over to her group and leaving the prince in the capable hands of his soldiers.
"All done?" Findral asked, with an amused look on her face.
"For the moment."
"Good, then we should be getting back to Master soon."
"Tis a bit late for that, don't ya think?" A low voice asked from behind them.
The girls turned around and saw Fenris padding over to them with Lena riding on his back.
"Hi mom, Hi dad!" Hali waved.
"Hello, sweetie." Lena nodded to her daughter, then hopped off Fenris' back and made her way over.
"Did we miss much?" She asked.
Ayla glanced around at the still burning buildings and scratched her cheek.
Lena adopted a concerned expression on her face as she looked over their shoulders at the prince and his soldiers.
"And, just what part did they play in it?"
Ayla looked back over her shoulder at Lokir and winked at him, then she turned back to Lena.
"Oh~ Not much. Though Lokir did agree to come with us to meet father."
Lena quirked an eyebrow at the prince.
"Oh? Is that right, your-highness?"
The prince stared in shock at Ayla for several seconds, then he coughed and said.
"Yea- I mean, yes."
Lena watched him and his soldiers for a few moments, then she nodded her head.
"Come along then. We've got a ways to travel before we meet back up with old grumpy."
"Grumpy? Ayla asked.
"Oh yeah... He was furious when he found out I let you leave alone."
"I didn't get you in trouble, did I?"
Lena gently smiled at her and said, "No dear, I got myself in trouble by keeping it from him in the first place."
"I'll talk with him when we get back. I'm sure he'll forgive you if I explain it to him."
Lena just shrugged her off and climbed on Fenris' back in time for the other elves to show up on their horses.
"Don't worry about it. This isn't the first time Torga and I have gotten into an argument over the years and it most certainly won't be the last."
Lena patted Fenris on the side and he took off into the forest.
"Better hurry up everyone! You don't want to be left behind when Torga decided to come looking for you himself!" Lena yelled as she raced past the other elves, forcing them to bring their horses to a stop so they could turn around and follow after her.
"You heard the lady, get a move on!" Findral called out.
Ayla and her group all climbed on their respective horses, while Holstig and Hogunn stood off to the side as they were too heavy to ride a horse, they would simply run beside them.
Ayla glanced over at Lokir and smiled at him.
"I would hurry up if I were you, Lokir. It's not a good idea to keep my father waiting~" After saying her piece, they took off after Lena.
Torga POV: An hour after Lena left
Torga was watching Uriel busily carve a large magic symbol into the ground around his head. Though there were no words involved in his making of the symbol, Uriel would often stop to mumble something to himself and only after doing so, would he continue.
Eventually, Torga could no longer contain his curiosity, so he started asking questions.
"What's the symbol mean?" Torga asked while looking at the various lines and curves. There were nine in total, with each line ending in a circle around Torga's head.
"It represents the original nine worlds." Was Uriel's distracted reply.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, if you believe the humans, the gods created the worlds for the various races to inhabit. " Uriel walked over to a circle on the top right of the symbol.
"Niflheim; The world of ice, and birthplace of Dragons." He drew an upside-down triangle in this circle.
He moved to the opposite side and pointed at the circle opposite of Niflheim.
"Muspelheim; The world of fire, and birthplace of the Giants." He drew a square here.
He moved to the next circle down.
"Alfheim; The birthplace of the elves." He drew a small swirl inside the circle.
Again, he moved to its exact opposite.
"Svartalfheim; Birthplace of the dwarves." here, he drew a diamond.
He moved down to the next circle and drew a leaf inside it.
"Jotunheim; Birthplace of the Titans."
He moved to the next circle and drew two straight vertical lines.
"Midgard; The birthplace of the Humans."
Then he walked to the three circles in front of Torga's head and drew from left to right; Two horizontal swivels, that looked like a river, a sideways eight, and three interconnected circles inside the remaining one.
"Helheim; The final resting place of the dead." He motioned to the one on the left.
"Vanaheim; The first world of magic." He motioned to the one on the right.
And finally, he pressed his cane into the ground in front of the final circle and looked into Torga's eyes.
"Asgard; The home of the Gods."
"And, just how accurate is this?" Torga asked.
Uriel just shrugged and started moving again.
"No idea. These legends are so old, I don't think anyone actually knows the truth."
Torga's eyes glazed over for several seconds as he recalled his interaction with a 'God' and he began to believe in the story... If only slightly.
"You said the humans believed this."
Uriel just nodded as he walked over to his bag and started rifling through it for something.
"What do the elves believe?"
At Torga's words, Uriel paused and looked up at him.
"We don't believe the gods created the worlds at all." He reached into his bag and pulled out a five centimeter long, by two centimeter wide metal stake and walked over to Torga.
"We believe, that Yggdrasil itself, was the first being and it birthed the old gods to be its caretakers. They, in turn, created the gods we know today for much the same reason."
Torga adopted a confused expression and seemed to want to ask more questions, but Uriel silenced him with a shake of his head.
"The time for talking has come to an end, Master Torga. We must begin now, lest we wait for the next moon." He said while indicating the moon above.
"Very well, proceed."
"I will and... I apologize in advance, Master Torga."
"For wha- AGHH!!"
Uriel had waited for the moment Torga opened his mouth to stab the stake as far as he could into the bottom of Torga's head. The stake pierced in between two scales and then extended to dig itself even further into Torga's hide.
With every second that passed, the stake dug deeper and deeper, until it reached Torga's jawbone. Only then, did it stop and begin to return to its normal size.
During this time, Uriel had picked up the red jewel and pressed it into the end of the stake. The metal seemed to liquefy and pull the jewel inside it for several seconds, then, it shot the jewel into the hole it'd previously made and held it in place until Torga's hide was magically stitched into place around it.
After Torga's hide and scales were returned to a 'normal-ish' state, Uriel yanked the stake out and began to clean it off while he inspected his work.
"You know, Master Torga. I'm impressed you managed to stay conscious through that."
Torga, though he was still in a lot of pain from having the jewel inserted, managed a glare at Uriel.
"Don't underestimate the willpower of a guy who willingly jumped into lava, Uriel."
Uriel nodded his head in agreement.
Uriel walked back over to his bag and began to put everything back into its place, then he turned back to Torga.
"You should get some sleep. The jewel has to sync itself with your magic before it'll be of any use to you."
"And the carvings?"
"They'll help regulate the flow of magic around you, so the jewel will settle faster."
"Understood, wake me if anything happens."
"Will do." Uriel acknowledged, then he made his way over to a tree and sat down to rest.
Torga closed his eyes and was soon fast asleep...
Late into the night: Ayla POV
Ayla and the others had decided to make camp for the night and would continue making their way to Torga at sunrise. However, their plan was interrupted when just as they were getting settled in, Holstig alerted the group to the fact that they were surrounded.
"Why didn't you tell us this earlier!?" Findral yelled while conjuring three flaming knives that began to float around her.
"I did not smell them until now! They must've been using magic to hide from me!" Was his rather angry response.
"Regardless, we need to come up with a plan." Lena said while preparing herself for combat.
"I say we go get the Fatass and let him deal with them." Fenris yawned and stretched out his back.
"That would not work. From what I can tell, these humans have all directions blocked off... save for one." Holstig said while marching over to guard Ayla and Lokir.
instead of replying, Holstig simply pointed up.
"Oh... Does anyone think we can handle them alone?"
"I don't know..." Siofs quietly said, then she turned to look at Holstig. "How many can you smell?"
"That's hard to say... the smells are mixing together, which is preventing me from getting a solid count. But it's at least thirty men."
"Not including the magic users hiding behind them."
"What does that mean for us, exactly!?" The lead soldier asked after growing annoyed with their almost casual back and forth.
"Simple, It means we can easily kill them while suffering only a few casualties." Siofs callously said.
"And pray tell, just which of us are you willing to sacrifice!?" The soldier yelled.
"All of us are prepared to die... though I'm pretty sure she means you lot are going to die." Findral said while indicating the soldier and his ilk.
Suddenly, Fenris and Holstig both turned to face the same direction and Fenris involuntarily released a low growl.
"What is it?" Lena asked Fenris.
"The magic users are conjurors." Fenris growled.
"You don't think they can summon anything powerful enough to break our defenses... Do you?"
"Most likely not. The only country capable of summoning something higher tiered than your friends here is Xalasia and they wouldn't dare attack us-"
Before Lokir could finish speaking, the ground began to shake and a loud roar echoed through the trees.
Everyone in camp turned to glare at Lokir.
"Okay... Maybe they would attack us." He admitted.
"Isn't that an act of war, though?"
Lokir nodded, "It is, but Xalasia has been at odds with us for several months now."
"Why? What did you do?"
Lokir looked honestly hurt by her accusation, but he responded anyway.
"My brother killed their crown prince in a mock tournament last year... They've been rather cross with us ever since."
Fenris snorted, "I can't imagine why."
"Enough talk... They're coming." Holstig said whilst staring into the darkness of the forest.
Heavy footfalls were among the first sounds they heard coming their way. The second was the thwang of multiple bows being fired from the treetops.
The soldiers all raised their shields to block what they could, while the druids caused the ground to raise up to meet the arrows in the air.
After a few seconds of this, Lena and Ayla waved their hands and sent the raised ground rocketing in the direction the arrows had come from. They heard a few shouts of pain and a couple of thuds from something falling to the ground below, but they knew the ground had missed the bulk of the shooters, as the arrows kept coming.
"Holstig, Hogunn, Fenris and the humans, You're up front!" Siofs barked, causing them to quickly obey her orders.
"Lena, you, Hali and Ayla are in charge of deflecting those arrows!"
"Right!" they said in unison while directing their energy to form an earthen shield above the group.
"Talia, Solon, and the elves are to guard the rear. Don't let them flank us!"
Said people quickly moved to obey her orders.
"Findral... Findral!?" Siofs looked around the camp for her, but all she could see was a burnt patch of grass.
"Did she really run away!?"
"Findral wouldn't do that!"
"She just did!"
"As much as I hate to admit it. Findral is the last person on this planet that would leave Ayla's side."
"Oh yeah? And why is that!?"
"Simple," Fenris interrupted. "Because she would never betray Torga's trust." Fenris growled out.
"Incoming!" Hogunn yelled, as three groups of humans came charging towards them. Each group had a minimum of ten people and they all had a glowing yellow shield around them.
"They've been shielded!"
"Damnit!" Lena yelled as her portion of the earth shield slammed into the ground ahead of them.
"What're you doing, mom!?"
"It's not me!" she fought to raise the shield back into the air, but no matter how hard she tried, it wouldn't budge.
"That's because... It was I who lowered your shield, elf." A man stepped out of the darkness and into the light of the campfire.
"I knew you were trouble, ya damned Priest!" Fenris growled after seeing Samuel walk out of the forest.
"Oh, come now beast... You didn't actually think you could get away with it, did you?"
"Do you know this guy?" Lokir whispered to Ayla.
"He traveled with us for awhile... He's also the one who claimed to have been hired to marry us."
"What!? But we didn't even set the date yet!"
"You think I don't know that!?"
While Ayla and Lokir bickered back and forth, the rest of the group were preparing for battle.
"What is it you think I've done!?" Fenris yelled.
"You've corrupted these beings of light with your foul nature, Warg!"
"Who the fuck are you talking about!?"
"The Elves you dull creature!"
As Samuel spoke, the wind began to pick up.
"Not only did you corrupt the women with your foul presence, but even the children have been corrupted. Look, those two have been so corrupted they've begun to take on your appearance!" Samuel yelled while pointing to Talia and Solon.
"Those are my and Lena's children, you daft Cunt!"
Samuel was taken aback by the admission and his previously pitying eyes turned to scorn as he looked at the women of the group.
"Have you all been taken to bed by this foul creature?" Samuel whispered, "Have you all become whores of the demon spawn!?"
Following his words, the wind began to spiral around the area as multiple loud thuds racked the area.
"See, even the gods are so offended by your corruption that they've offered their power!"
Samuel face twisted into one of extreme anger as he glared at Fenris.
"Smite the heretic with your awesome power, Oh mighty God!"
As quickly as it appeared, the wind ground to a halt and a deafening silence racked the camp.
"What?" Samuel asked aloud as he turned around to face the voice he'd heard... What he found, was an abyss staring deep into his soul.
"You not only called my friends 'demon spawn', But you called my daughter and her friend's whores, as well... But, do you want to know what ultimately decided your fate?"
Samuel felt a feeling he'd never felt before travel down his spine... a feeling, of complete and total powerlessness as he stared into the abyss.
"You did all of that, while I was starving!"
Suddenly, the abyss immediately replaced with a set of fangs and rows of razor sharp teeth...
"Thank you for the meal~"
Lokir watched as the easily one-hundred-foot-long snake easily snatched the Priest off the ground and crushed him within its powerful jaws.
He went to take a step back, to push Ayla away from the giant serpent... But she wouldn't move.
And, just as he knew it would, the serpent then turned his attention to the camp and began moving towards them.
"Ayla, come on, we have to run away-" She clamped her hand over his jaw and slowly turned his head to face the serpent, as a creepy smile blossomed on her face.
"Why?" She asked, "I thought you wanted to meet your future father-in-law~"
Lokir's eyes grew wide as his mind put two and two together.
"Daddy~ Meet Lokir, my 'fiance'. And Lokir... Meet my father, Torga."
The serpent lowered its head down to meet Lokir's eye and said...
"We're going to have a Very Long 'chat', you and I."
Lokir's eyes rolled into the back of his head as he fainted from the shock. The last thing to pass through his mind were the words, "I am so fucked!"