Torga's eyes snapped open to see a vast white emptiness around him. He lifted his head off the cool floor and slowly climbed to his knees.
"I'm back here again, huh?"
He looked down at his hands and saw the inky blackness that made up the majority of his body, though bits of emerald green light would occasionally flash across his body like a bolt of lightning.
"It's been a while, mortal." A deep baritone voice said from his left.
"Niabus... What's it been, Fifty years? or was it sixty?" Torga asked as he climbed to his feet and turned to the golden being.
"I'm not quite sure. Time becomes rather meaningless once you've been put in my position."
"And what position is that? Gatekeeper of hell?"
"Unfortunately not." The being laughed.
"Then why are you here if not to take me to wherever mortals go when they die?"
"Well... I'm not here. Not really, anyway. The form you see before you is just what remains of my magic after I gave you that little 'gift' way back when."
"So you've been... what? Just freeloading here ever since?"
The being tilted its head to the right and folded its arms across its chest.
"You're much braver than the last time we talked. Finally grown a spine, have you?"
"No thanks to you." Torga snorted.
"I've had to face death more times than I care to remember. Facing you down doesn't seem like such an incredible thing anymore."
The being unfolded one arm and lazily pointed at him.
"You know, part of the reason you died was believing you were invincible... Of course, It's expected since that's how we planed for you to think.
Torga's eyes widened.
"Let me be frank with you, Torga. Consider it a parting gift ... You were never meant to meet with your wife again. Hell, I don't even know where she is, let alone when she'll be reborn."
Torga suddenly felt the strength leave him and he stumbled back.
"What are you talking about?... No, You told me if I made it to the roots, then I could see her again. You promised me that!" He yelled.
The being shrugged.
"I cannot recall ever promising such a thing... But did you truly believe it would be so easy? That you would just show up to a place no one had ever gone and she would... what? Just be waiting for you with open arms? You're a monster and a damned good one at that. You've slaughtered countless people in your 'quest' to see her again, but... Did you truly never stop and ask yourself if I could have been lying?"
"Of course I did, but what else was I supposed to believe? You were the only lead I had, so of course, I was going to follow it!"
The being exhaled a deep sigh.
"Be that as it may. You have achieved your destiny, so I suppose congratulations are in order."
"Destiny? What fucking destiny are you talking about!? I. Died. How is me dying with meeting my wife 'completing my destiny'?"
"Simple... Your destiny wasn't to meet your wife again. It was to die here, now, in this very spot."
Torga stared at him for several seconds then he croaked out... "Why?"
The being shrugged.
"I made a deal."
"What kind of deal?" Torga asked in a weak voice.
"The kind where I get what I want and in exchange someone else gets what they want... But you want more specifics, don't you?"
At Torga's weak nod, it continued speaking.
"Very well, I suppose I can tell you. It's not like it'll matter much in a few minutes, anyway." As the being said so, a tremor rocked the ground and sent Torga stumbling to the ground.
"Ah ah ah, one thing at a time." It said while shaking it finger in Torga's face.
"You asked 'Why' you had to die here and 'What' was the deal I made... Well, they're one and the same. Long before I met and revived you. My sister Forna and I were mortals-" He saw Torga about to speak, so he held up one hand to silence him.
"We don't have time for interruptions, so please, be silent."
He waited for Torga to nod, then he continued.
"I am... was the Dragon King and she was a Royal Pheonix. Well, upon my ascension to God of Fire and Destruction and her ascension to Goddess of Life we kind of... drifted apart. I led my dragon followers farther down Yggdrasil than any being before or since and she-" He took a deep, ragged breath.
"She met him." He hissed.
"She never told me just what that bastard did to her, but it fundamentally changed her. She became cold, cruel and full of hate... But she stayed with him. She always assured me that her 'love' for him was genuine and that he, in turn, loved her... And I was all the more foolish for believing her.
The fact that I, A God of Destruction did not notice when my own sister was being slowly destroyed from the inside out... It almost broke me to see her reduced to that." He shook his head.
"So, I killed the bastard. Scattered his body to the four corners of Yggdrasil... But the damage was done. She no longer trusted men, and why would she? The man she loved entrapped her within her own mind while he treated her body like his personal toy and her brother was so focused on himself that he completely ignored her cries for help.
... I was locked within a temple on the very planet my dragons had claimed was their 'homeworld' as she and her pantheon destroyed all the work I'd done over the years.
Her way of paying me back for leaving her trapped within her own mind while her body was destroyed, I suppose." He took another pause, then continued.
"I scoured my personal library for eons for something- anything that could help her move past her hatred... And earn her forgiveness... I eventually found it in the Tribunal; an organization dedicated to upholding the 'Hero' system and ruled by the gods of Fate, Life, Death, and Rebirth.
And so an accord was made between myself and a group of like-minded individuals within the Tribunal. In return for my help in freeing their king, they would convince the heads of their respective departments to give her another chance at life... A chance to be happy."
Torga's eyes widened.
"Yes." It laughed, "I suppose that wish would sound quite familiar to you, wouldn't it? Seeing as that was your wish as well.
You have No idea how much I had to restrain myself from bursting out laughing when you told me your 'dream'. How excited I was to find someone so like myself, and yet... so very different.
I knew you would do whatever it took to find your wife, so I simply pointed you in the right direction and off you went. Of course, I had to step in a few times to make sure you would survive some of those earlier encounters and I had to implant the idea to save that elf girl from the deer-"
"Ayla? Wh-What does she have to do with this?"
"As of this moment? Nothing at all. The elf girl was simply the backup plan in case you didn't pan out the way I'd hoped. I had to get you to save her so she would eventually meet the halfling and raise the next Serpent King."
"Is that what you call him?" It laughed.
"Yes, 'Jormy' was destined to be the next serpent king and, in a few centuries, would be walking the same path you are currently on."
Torga was silent as his mind raced...
"You're trying to free Orochi!" He accused.
"Me? No," he laughed. "I care not for the little worm. The four men I spoke of, on the other hand... Well, they would very much like for Orochi to be released sooner rather than later." He held out his arms.
"Hence why the deal was struck. I gave them an appropriate vessel for my power to control and they help my sister... This has the unfortunate effect of causing Ragnarok buuut- I'm a god of Destruction, so that's kind of my end goal anyway." It shrugged half-heartedly.
The ground was again rocked by intense tremors as a large black object began to rise out of the ground a few tens of feet away from them.
"How does my death help you then? I never had the chance to fight Orochi, let alone release him?"
"No, but when I brought you to Yggdrasil I stored approximately one-third of my power inside you. Out of your reach, of course, but your death will release it and the resulting explosion will almost certainly erase the other wardens from existence.
And with no more Wardens around to keep him contained..."
"Orochi goes free..."
The being chuckled as it looked over its shoulder at the large onyx colored circle floating inches above the ground.
"The time has come."
"For you to move on. You've done your part, now its time for you to go home."
"You said I could never go home..."
"Yes, I lied about a lot of things. Can we get this over with, already? I've had enough of this place to last me a lifetime... or two, in your case."
Suddenly, against his will, Torga was violently dragged towards the circle.
Just before he slammed into it, he lifted his arms and slammed them into the circle in an attempt to keep himself away from it. Though the circle continued to try and pull him inside, he was just barely able to keep a hold of its edges and keep from falling in...
"you're a stubborn one, aren't you?"
"What is this!?"
"Don't you remember? This is how you were brought to Yggdrasil in the first place. A little more violent this time, perhaps, but the premise is the same. You go through that portal and you're home... You'll still be dead, but at least you'll be with your family again."
Torga glared over his shoulder.
"You're lying. I go through this portal and I'll cease to exist, won't I? This was all just some sick fucking game to you, wasn't it!?" Torga screamed, his voice getting stronger with every word.
"A game you would have gladly played had it been your wife at stake."
This caused Torga to laugh a full belly laugh as he threw back his head.
"You know what? You're absolutely right... I would have." Torga's previously bent arms flexed and slowly extended...
"I would have done everything you've done and more." The white space around the circle began to crack...
"You say this is my destiny?" Another crack. "I say- You are full of SHIT!" Torga's body suddenly turned into his true form and an over four-thousand-mile serpent with three eyes was staring down at the portal.
"I decide my fate... And no one, not you, not the other gods, and not some 'Tribunal' lacky will ever tell me otherwise!" Torga's mouth swallowed the portal, the wide-eyed Niabus, and a large portion of the white space as his gluttony took over...
Battle POV (Round 2... Ding-Ding!)
Torga's eyes snapped open and he glared at the little God still holding his face.
|For defying the fates and rejecting your destiny you have unlocked a new trait.||Free||
Sometimes being free isn't all that it's cracked up to be... You are now free from the machinations of fate and are free to decide your own path.
*Note: This means you are no longer bound by the Yggdrasil system. All evolutions are now open to you and are based on Your will...
Good luck Torga... If we ever meet in person... I'll buy you a beer.
Signed; Shai, God of Fate
PS. Here's one for the road.
|Would you like to evolve?|
A transparent white shell formed around Torga's body so fast the god barely had time to pull their hand out of the way before it was sealed shut.
"Oh ho~ He had an evolution hidden up his sleeve."
|You will evolve in... ??????||WARNING: Yggdrasil magic detected!|
Torga glanced down at the little black ball still floating around his wrist and smiled... The little black ball floated from his wrist to his head and began to glow in an ultraviolet light.
|Commencing absorption of excess Yggdrasil magic....|
Torga watched as the ball began to rapidly dissolve and merge with the shell surrounding him.
|Magic absorbed!||Remaining time until evolution completion is.... 10 seconds|
Gluttonous Elemental Hydra
Major Stealth, Heat detection, Absolute Durability up, Absolute Strength up, Major Speed Up, Supreme Regeneration, Petrifying/Killing Gaze, Detect concealment, Energy Store/Release, Fly, Supreme Elemental Resistance, Multi Puppet maker, Body possession, Magic Enhancement, Elemental Manipulation, Shapeshift
Gluttonous = MAX, Growth +20, Venomous, Aquatic, Strong Willed, Immunity to mind control, Magic Manipulator, Magic Eater, Three-pronged tail, Three-eyed, Immunity to Magic, Free
Snake-man King, Leviathan King, Destroyer, The Devourer
The influx of power flowing through Torga's veins causing him to scream in pain even as his body was forcefully shifted back into his serpent form and returned to his normal size... That's when the real pain started.
His head was separated by nine very thin lines that started in the center of his third eye and continued to lengthen until they reached the middle point of his body, at which point they stopped and began to widen.
They continued to widen until nine heads, each identical to the next were all laying beside each other inside the shell... The only way to differentiate one head from another was the color of its third eye; white, yellow, blue, red, orange, purple, green, brown, and black.
Each head also had varying numbers of horns; The first head, the one with the white eye, had only a single small horn on the tip of its snout, the second, yellow eye, had a horn on either side of its head, the third, brown eye, had a large horn just above its third eye and two smaller horns on its snout, the fourth, red eye had four large horns circling its neck, the fifth, orange eye, had two horns on either side of its head and a thin curved horn on its snout, the sixth, purple eye, had three horns on either side of its head, the seventh, green eye, had six long 'whiskers' just above its mouth and a small thick horn on the tip of its nose, the eighth, blue eye, had eight extremely long tentacles hanging from its chin, and finally... The last head, by far the largest of the nine and positioned directly in the center of all others. Its eye was the color of the abyss and nine large horns formed a 'crown' on top of his head.
All twenty-seven eyes locked onto the small god and in a flash of intense white light... Torga was free.
"Alright you stupid little bitch, its time for Round two!" Nine voices said in unison.
"Umm..." The little girl looked at Torga weirdly. "I'm a guy."
"Oh... Then I don't feel nearly as bad about doing this." Torga 'shrugged' and each head fired a cataclysmic beam of elemental energy directly into the god's face.
However, just before the beams came into contact with him a shimmering golden shield appeared around him. The beams hit the shield and sent the little god flying into the other god, knocking them both to the ground and causing dust to obscure their vision.
The little god hopped back to his feet and with a gentle slash of his hand, the dust was cleared... And both Torga and Naunet were gone.
"What the hel happened to you?" Naunet asked as he stared at Torga's form from his position slung over Torga's shoulder as the flew through the air; Though Torga had kept most of his Snake-man features, the 'crown' had transferred from the Hydra from to his human form... And eight long serpents were wrapped around Torga's torso with their tails ending inside his waist.
"It's a long story..."
"I imagine so... You know what? Nevermind, It can wait a while."
"We need to get out of here."
"Correction, You need to get out of here. So long as a challenger doesn't kill me, I'm immortal. You, on the other hand, are decidedly not."
"Where would I go?"
"How about you go do what you were meant to be doing?"
"Slaying the wardens?"
"And acquiring their titles for yourself, yes."
"Okay... But what about that favor?"
"Simple, when you get to that planet." He pointed at the large planet the moons were orbiting. "Find the serpent known as Rajah and, once you have him in your custody, you put him in this." Naunet held up a black cube about the size of an apple. "Then you bring him back here... To me."
Torga took the cube from Naunet and hung it from his neck via a string attached to its side.
"How do I get him inside it?"
"You smash it into the little fuckers head."
Torga finally stopped flying and sat Naunet down.
"I don't suppose you'll tell me the reason for this, eh?"
"He killed my wife and since I am forbidden from flying to his world and ripping his head off... I have to ask you to bring him to mine."
"So you can rip his head off here?"
Torga stared at him for a few seconds, then shrugged and slowly lifted off the ground.
"Then I'll be back once I've lost the gods."
"Yeah, a word of warning, Torga... Don't underestimate the big one. He's completely immune to damage from what I could tell."
"Of course he is." Torga exhaled a sigh, waved to Naunet, then shot off through the sky and up Yggdrasil's branch....