Ten minutes later, front garden of the castle: Torga's POV
Torga, now only slightly longer than fifty-feet, was enjoying the sunlight beating down on the castle's front lawn. Where he and the 'gift' had decided to land after the Valkyrie debacle.
Although Torga honestly didn't care that he'd been 'attacked' by the Valkyries. Because of his arrival with Lokir and Ayla, the commander of the Asgarn army was quick to apologize for any harm done.
"Actually, do you think you could have them shoot at me again?"
"I'm... I'm sorry?" The commander asked.
"The beams; despite being rather plain tasting, they were quite filling."
To his credit, the commander only looked surprised for a few moments before reaching up to stroke his short grey beard.
"I'll see what I can do."
"I'd appreciate it." Torga nodded and turned to an eagerly awaiting Ayla.
"Now, what is it you wanted to show me?"
Ayla bounced up and down in excitement for a second or two, then she pulled something from behind her back.
"Sup, old man... Has anyone ever told you, you were kinda fat?" The 'thing' asked.
Torga stared at the 'thing' she was holding for several moments, then he asked.
"Why does that noodle have eyes?" Torga asked.
Said 'noodle'; was a three-foot-long black snake with large black eyes and a gray belly.
Upon hearing Torga refer to it as a 'noodle' the black snake began to hiss at him.
"Who do you think you are to call the great me a 'Noodle'! I'll have you know, I am Jormungandal, the future serpent king!" The little snake hissed.
Torga tilted his head in confusion, then looked to Ayla for confirmation.
"It's the serpent Lokir promised me. Isn't he cute~?" Ayla squealed as she hugged the snake to her chest.
Torga watched as the little snake struggled to escape the death-grip she had on him... Then he smiled.
"He certainly is an adorable little 'Noodle'."
Jomungandal glared at Torga, "My name, is Jormungandal the great! I have no idea who this 'Noodle' you keep mistaking me for, is!"
Ayla, while completely ignoring the snake's hissing, looked up at Torga's use of the word 'noodle' and smiled.
"That's a great name, dad!" She brought the snake up to her face and happily said. "I'm gonna call you 'Noodle'!"
"Nooo! I'm not a noodle! I'm a big scary snake, who'll one day be king of the serpents!!" The little snake cried.
"Aww~ Of course, you are, my little Noodle." Ayla cooed, then hugged the snake to her chest.
"I'm gonna make sure you grow up big and strong... Just. like. grandpa." She whispered to the snake, then kissed it on the head.
Torga smirked at the little snake as it tried, in vain, to escape the clutches of his new 'Partner'.
"That's for calling me fat, you little worm." Torga viciously thought.
Lokir stared at Torga, Ayla, and Jormungandal through the window of his large, opulent bedroom. A deep frown was marring his normally charming visage as the woman standing behind him continued to speak.
"Sophia was asking about you, you know?" the young woman said.
Lokir turned from the window to the woman and growled.
"What does that have to do with me?"
The woman; with her long brown hair and unwavering blue eyes refused to flinch away from the much taller Lokir and she continued to speak normally.
"The least you could do is be mature about this."
Lokir rolled his eyes, "My apologies, Hena. Let me rephrase the question... Why should I care if she asked about me?"
"Well, you were supposed to be getting married to her."
"That was father's decision, not mine!" Lokir yelled.
The woman waited for him to finish yelling before she calmly responded.
"Be that as it may, it doesn't change the fact that we need this alliance, Lokir." She poked him in the chest.
"Xalasia has been itching for a fight ever since the tournament and the attack on you is only their latest attempt to harm us."
"Bah! If Xalasia wants a fight, I say we give it to them!"
"And we would have... After your marriage to the Norn princess.
Without their army, the number of casualties we'd suffer in an attempt at retribution would leave us open to attack for years to come."
Lokir turned back to the window and stared down at the group of three in silence for several minutes...
Hena raised an eyebrow and waited for Lokir to clarify.
"Ayla's father is...A monster... To put it mildly."
Lokir turned back to Hena,
"I'd be willing to bet money that if I told him who attacked us in the forest, he wouldn't be able to help himself."
"You're saying he would attack them? Alone?"
"Alone or not, he wouldn't be able to resist."
"... And, just what do you get out of this?"
"If everything goes how I want it to, then Ayla will see him for what he is... A monster that needs to be put down." Lokir said as he turned back to the window... Where he saw a black-eyed Torga staring up at him.
"He couldn't hear me... Right?" Lokir wondered.
He watched as Torga slowly bared his teeth in a parody of a smile...
The prince blinked and as if it were never there, Torga was back to normal and talking with Ayla.
"Be careful around him, Hena... He terrifies me."
Hena smiled gently at Lokir and nodded her head.
"Of course... brother." She left the room with only the briefest glances to the window, leaving Lokir alone with his thoughts.
"Lokir is planning something... I'll have my little 'friend' keep a close eye on him for awhile." He thought while using his third eye to keep an eye on Lokir.
Despite Torga trusting his daughter to not fall for someone who would hurt her, he didn't trust Lokir to not be taken advantage of... Yet.
The kid was fairly easy to manipulate, as proven by his reaction to Torga threatening him.
The first thing he did, upon being told of how monstrous Torga could be, was to think of a way he could prove it to Ayla.
Which, oddly enough, Torga approved of. He liked the way Ayla was Lokir's first concern, so Torga let him believe himself hidden... For now.
Should Torga's 'little friend' discover Lokir doing something detrimental to Ayla or anyone else Torga cared about, then, and only then, would he take action.
Ayla may not like it, she may come to hate him for it, but Torga wouldn't allow any harm to befall his friends... Even if it upset Ayla for awhile.
"Dad, is everything alright?" Ayla asked.
"Everything's fine. I just have a lot on my mind, is all." Torga immediately replied.
"Oh... Alright. Well, I'm gonna go find Noodle something to eat." She paused for a moment, "I'll see you later, right?"
"I'm certainly not leaving until I meet the in-laws." Torga chuckled.
Ayla smiled at him, then walked away with a still struggling Noodle within her arms.
"Noooo!" The little snake yelled.
Torga smirked at 'Noodle' and waved his tail as if saying 'Good-bye'.
A few moments after Ayla rounded the corner and moved out of sight, Torga's smirk disappeared and he turned his head towards the castle... Or, more specifically, to Lokir's bedroom window.
"You better make this good, kid. If I don't get to finally satiate myself after putting up with you for so long, then I'll satisfy my hunger on you and yours." He laid his head down and closed his eyes. "And consequences be damned."
That night, Outside the royal dining room: Ayla POV
After riding for most of the day, Lena's group finally arrived and joined up with Torga, Ayla, and Lokir at the palace... Though they didn't bring with them the best of news.
"Do you truly have to leave so soon?" Ayla asked Lena.
The two of them, along with Hali, Solon, and Talia, were standing by the doors leading to the dining room. The hallway they were standing in was covered in gold tiles and gold, silver, and bronze nic-nacs from all over the planet; A ornate silver vase here, a golden, ruby-studded bookshelf there... Truly, it was an opulent display of wealth.
Lena solemnly nodded, "We do," she said.
"I received a letter by carrier eagle from Shatal; the newly elected elder of the tribe. She believes the elven tribes have been isolated for too long and has sent out missives to the other elders, requesting a meet."
"Where and when is the meet?"
Lena shrugged, "I don't know all the specifics yet. All the letter said was her plan and a request for us to return to the tribe."
"Can you wait until dinner is over, at least?"
She turned to her children and, after seeing the looks on their faces, she nodded her approval.
"We can stay until the morrow, then we have to leave."
"Good, that'll give me time to prepare, as well."
"Torga... You can't come with us. Although our tribe is used to you being around and is no longer afraid, the same cannot be said about the others. To allow you to come would cause an unnecessary panic, we just can't afford right now."
"Fine... But you'd better send me a letter with your location after you arrive or I will come looking for you."
Lena smiled, "Alright, I can do that."
"What're you all waiting for?"
The group turned to see Lokir, Uriel, and a 'Human' Fenris walking down the hall, towards them.
"We're waiting for you three." Ayla stepped forward to greet them.
Lokir smiled and gave her a once over; She was wearing a pale green dress that hung down to just below her knees, with a lower than average collar.
He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close to him, "You look beautiful." He whispered into her ear.
Ayla's face turned bright pink and she looked away from him, "Thank you..."
Suddenly, the two of them heard a low hiss coming from just behind Ayla's head, prompting them both to look. Of course, they were expecting to see Torga staring at them with an angry look on his face.
What they got, was an irate Jormungandal glaring at Lokir.
"Don't touch Mom, she's mine!" The little snake hissed from his place around Ayla's neck.
Lokir, who couldn't hear the snake's voice, smiled and reached out to pet him.
"Hey, Jormy~ How's it going buddy- Ouch!" Lokir quickly pulled his now bleeding hand away, after Jormungandal had sunk his teeth into a finger.
"I said, No touching!"
Ayla pulled out a handkerchief and pressed it to Lokir's hand to stop the bleeding.
"Sorry! Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." Lokir laughed, "He just surprised me, is all."
"It's the bonding process. Sometimes the partners can get a bit... Protective."
Ayla looked at his still bleeding hand and frowned.
"Are you sure you're not mad?"
"Ayla, I'm fine." Lokir once again pulled her close, "He's protecting you as he should... Though I could do without him acting like someone else I know." Lokir whispered while glancing over at Torga.
Ayla turned her head and saw Torga talking with Uriel and Findral.
"He's truly not as bad as he seems, Lokir. A jerk, he may be, but he's not malicious."
"I'll believe it when he proves it to me." Lokir sighed.
"All I ask is that you give him a chance."
"If I do, will he give me a 'chance' in return?"
Ayla giggled and motioned to Torga with her head.
"If he wasn't giving you a chance, do you really think he would allow us to stand like this?"
Lokir looked down at their touching bodies and how close their faces were, then he smirked.
"Are you sure he just hasn't noticed yet?"
They glanced back over to see... Torga staring at them.
"Regardless of how 'old' you think I am, I can still see and hear perfectly well, thank you."
They nervously chuckled as Torga went back to his conversation.
"Maybe he's finally coming around- OUCH!" Lokir yelled as Jormungandal sunk his teeth into his nose.
"I said, No Touching!"
Inside the dining room: Torga's POV
"Why haven't we seen your parents yet?" Torga asked From his place beside the table.
The inside of the dining room was as grand and luxurious as the rest of the castle. The walls were lined with photographs, the table was made of carved gold, and a massive diamond crusted chandelier hung from the fifty-foot ceiling.
Because of his lack of arms, the servants had been confused as to how he would eat with the other guests... At least until Torga told them he would go hunting later, so they shouldn't bother trying to feed him.
"Besides, I'm more likely to eat one of them, than the food at this point." Torga thought as he grew more annoyed with each passing minute.
They'd been inside the dining room for thirty-minutes already and yet, aside from the staff, they'd not seen anyone. No parents, no siblings, hell the Commander had never even bothered to return to fulfill Torga's request.
"I... I'm not sure. When I spoke to dad earlier, he said he was eager to meet you all."
"And I am. However, something has been occupying my attention until now."
The group turned to see a short man with a full gray beard walk through the open doorway; He wore a large yellow cloak over an expensive looking black suit. He had a scar that began just above his left eye and ran the length of his face, before disappearing into his beard.
Lokir quickly stood up and walked over to stand in front of the man.
"Hello, father. How are you?"
"Famished." The man replied as he walked around his son to an open chair.
"Oh... Well, might I introduce you to-"
"I know who they are, Lokir." he sat down on the far side of the table and patiently began to wait.
"Ah, of course." Lokir smiled, then returned to his seat beside Ayla.
The King stared at the table in front of him. His brows were knit together in concern and even after receiving his food, he never looked up at his guests.
This was seriously starting to annoy Torga.
"What has him so distracted?" Torga mumbled just loud enough for Lokir to hear.
Lokir stopped watching Ayla feed 'noodle' and said, "I'm not sure."
Torga left his place and headed over to the king.
"Hey, is there something we should know?"
Oden barely glanced at Torga, before he went back to eating.
The group felt the castle shake as Torga's annoyance grew stronger after being ignored.
"Are you deaf, 'your highness'?" Torga sneered.
Oden gave Torga an annoyed look, then looked around the room.
"Would someone get their pet snake away from me before I have him turned into a purse for my daughter." Oden gruffly replied, then went back to eating.
... Silence; The room, which was so full of life and conversation a minute ago, was now as silent as the grave. They all stared at the king with open shock on their faces, while the smarter ones; namely Lena, Fenris, and their children, left the table to stand on the far side of the room.
"Pet...Snake... You say?" Torga calmly asked.
"Yes, yes. You're very intelligent for an animal. How long did it take your master to teach you to speak?" Oden asked offhandedly.
"Master? Oh, right! My 'master'~." Torga's voice took on a too sweet tone. "Well, at first it was very hard and my 'master' punished me often."
Oden nodded, "As well they should have."
"So~ I tried my very best to make them proud. I practiced E..very. day~, And, eventually, I was able to do this~" An arm of stone burst out of the ground and grabbed Oden's throat, lifting him out of his chair and into the air.
Oden gasped for air, and the servants rushed forward to help him.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you." Fenris mumbled.
Stone pillars formed a prison cell around the table and blocked their approach, so they started calling for the guard and trying to chip away at the pillars with anything they could get their hands on.
Oden frantically looked around the room at his servants, before finally looking Torga in the eye.
"What... Are... You?" He breathed.
"Me~? I'm just a 'pet' snake... Oh!," The arm dragged Oden to his knees before Torga.
"I'm also the father of the bride, 'Your Highness'." Torga sneered.
"Release... Me!" Oden yelled.
He swung his fist into the side of the stone arm, smashing it to pieces and allowing him to breathe.
"Seize him!" Oden yelled.
"Fuck you." A stone fist slammed into Oden's face with enough force to send him crashing through the bottom of the pillars and into the far wall.
The servants all stared after their king for only a moment, before they burst into action and quickly carried him out of the room.
"Well~ That was fun."
Ayla and Lokir sighed in unison as tens of guards charged into the room and surrounded Torga with their spears.
"Don't move!" One of them yelled.
A blast of air slammed the guard into the ground, as a large stone block flew past Torga's head to slam into the line of guards.
The remaining guards all watched the block slammed into the wall and pinning the guards beneath it, then they slowly looked back to Torga.
"Hey... Guess what?" Torga asked.
"W...What?" one of the guards stammered.
Lokir watched as Torga magically tossed the guards around for a few moments before he stood up from his chair and started towards the door.
"Lokir, where are you going?" Ayla grabbed Lokir's arm and pulled him around to face her.
He sighed and pointed over his shoulder at the door.
"I'm going to get mom, she'll understand what happened."
"Is dad in trouble?"
"As long as he doesn't kill anyone. Mom doesn't tolerate people insulting guests in her castle, so he should be forgiven."
"Oh, did I forget to mention?" He pulled her towards the door and mumbled, "Asgarn is a matriarchal kingdom..."