"How do I always get myself into these situations?" Torga wondered, for what felt like the hundredth time today.
It was high noon, the sky was a startling blue, and Torga had found himself in the center of a blood-colored box canyon. The walls of which were easily over four-hundred feet high, smooth as glass, and were about a mile away from the center in every direction.
He swatted at the air in front of him in time to block a bolt of lightning striking the ground. It was immediately followed by a large explosion as the body within the lightning slammed into his hand and was sent flying a few tens of feet away.
After hitting the ground and causing an explosion of dust to fly into the air, the body could be seen rising to its feet.
"Would you stop doing that..." He sighed.
A slim fist waived away the debris still floating in the air and from the dust, out stepped a human woman of about thirty years of age.
She was tall for a human and stood somewhere around six-five. Her long, flowing blonde hair seemed to vibrate from the electrical current that always surrounded her, and a deep golden-colored robe was draped over her shoulders with seemingly only a cloth belt holding it together.
However, what stood out the most about the woman, was her electric yellow eyes that seemed to radiate energy.
The woman smirked and slowly advanced on Torga.
She lifted one leg and leaped off the ground at the speed of a lightning bolt. Her lithe body spun at such speeds that the air around her began to distort from friction and she flew at Torga.
Torga frowned and tilted his head to one side as the yellow-eyed head opened its mouth and fired a beam of energy at the incoming storm... The only thing it succeeded in doing was to make the storm even bigger.
"Damn." Torga cursed.
Suddenly, the yellow head alone grew to massive proportions and bit down on the storm.
The energy dissipated and a beam of yellow energy snaked around yellow's body and slammed into Torga's chest before he could react... the woman screamed in pain as her hand was violently broken upon impact.
"I tried to tell you." Torga muttered as the woman's magic was destroyed by his 'magic immunity' trait and her bare hand slammed into his immovable body.
"Look, you're not going to win this, so just calm down." He said in what he hoped was a placating voice.
The woman growled and her body began to spark once again as she prepared herself for another attack.
Torga rolled his eyes and began to wonder about his choices ever since he arrived on the planet a little over a week ago...
Nine days before the battle
Torga had just broken through the final atmospheric layer when he saw something he hadn't seen in decades... A city. It was a large urban metropolis with towering gray-metal skyscrapers and a colossal golden statue of a Serpentine Dragon with a halo of massive jewels encircling its head standing proudly in the center of the city.
Its head was tilted slightly down and its ruby eyes were locked in a perpetual scowl as it stared at the city below.
Torga just shook his head and landed a few miles away from the city in a large, blood-red canyon. However, as soon as he touched down, the ground beneath him began to melt away.
"No, I need to control it... I am the master of my hunger, not the other way around."
Torga drew in his 'shell' as tight as he possibly could and forced his hunger down. This had the effect of stopping the ground from dissolving any further, but it caused Torga's stomach to cramp and his head to throb painfully.
"I need to find Rajah and leave... Quickly." He muttered.
He then started walking in the direction of the city and the large golden statue of what he believed to be his target...
2 hours later
Torga stepped out of the canyon to the sight of the city's massive walls bearing down on him. He'd managed to make it through the canyon without issue and even managed to catch a few bear-sized black rabbits with antlers to hold him off until he could finally relax again.
The problem was... They did nothing to satiate him. Despite eating several of the creatures, he still felt as empty as he had when he closed off his hunger.
At least the simple act of his eating them helped keep his mind off the void within... The fact he didn't receive a pop-up telling him what the creature was also helped to take his mind off it.
However, about an hour or so into his little jaunt through the canyon, both his stomach cramps and his headache grew even worse and he noticeably began to lose the fat around his stomach... Because his body could no longer draw in its surroundings to fill the void that was his stomach, it'd begun consuming itself in an attempt to keep him alive.
Which wasn't a good thing if he planned on staying here for any significant period of time.
Eventually, Torga would have to loose the reins on his hunger or else he'd most likely starve to death. However, to do that would alert his prey to his presence... And potentially cause the planet irreversible damage.
While he didn't actually care if the planet was destroyed, or its people killed... As he wasn't capable of breathing in the vacuum of space, it was in his best interest to not destroy his only source of oxygen until he had his prey in hand and he was on his way.
This, of course, led to another dilemma.
Torga understood, without hubris, that he was... noticeable. Standing a little over thirteen feet tall in his smallest snake-man form and over one-hundred and thirty feet long in his smallest serpent form... Well, let's just say the days of him sneaking up on his prey had long since passed and a new strategy was needed.
So, after stepping out of the canyon and taking a few steps towards the city, Torga began scanning the road leading to the city for signs of life.
It was simply the bad luck of the group heading towards him that he saw them before they could see him...
"Hey, Wait up damn it!" A young man who appeared no older than fifteen with shaggy brown hair and a scruffy face yelled to the group of adventurers.
"Go home, steven." The tall blond woman at the front of the group replied without looking.
"What? But-but you said I could join you. You promised me that last night, Karen!" Was Steven's response as he caught up to them.
"Did you really promise the boy that?" The towering man at the back of the group asked.
"That's a lie! You swore you would help me get revenge for my brother!"
"No, I didn't!" Karen yelled in his face, then continued in a softer tone.
"I told you we would get revenge for all those Rajah has imprisoned here and forced to serve as his slaves... We, not you." She turned on her heel and motioned for the others to follow her.
"Go home steven and leave this to the professionals."
Her traveling companions had mixed reactions to her refusal of the young man, but they all followed along after a few murmured words of encouragement to him.
"Was that really necessary, Lady Karen?" An older woman of elvish decent asked; Her head was completely shaved and a yellow robe with the symbol of the elven goddess of life; Ysvarna, emblazoned on her chest.
"Aye, that seemed a bit harsh even for you." The towering man; Standing well over thirteen feet tall and as wide as three men standing abreast. He had a leather shawl draped over his bare chest and a pair of loose cotton breaches as his only protection from the elements... Not that a cyclops needed much protection.
"Better his feelings get hurt than his life be taken." The fourth and final member of the party; A Yellow-scaled Dragon-man said. He was wearing a thick layer of chainmail over his entire body with only his face exposed.
Karen, the leader of the group; a tall Amazonian woman with resplendent blonde hair and wearing a loose-fitting yellow robe, rolled her eyes at Q-shan; the dragon-man's apparent agreement.
It was no secret that he'd been attempting to mate with her for decades and part of his latest attempt at getting into her pants was to be as agreeable as possible... As if she were attracted to that.
While she hadn't known Agronok; the Cyclops, and Sheena; the Elf for very long. At least they seemed to have noble intentions.
Q-shan, on the other hand, she'd known since long before she was brought to this cesspool of a planet. As the first warrior of an Amazonian tribe, Karen... or Ka-reen as her tribemates called her, was the strongest warrior in the tribe and was in charge of training the younger generations.
The problems only arose when they sent her out to find a group of men to father the next generation. As first warrior, she was exempt from this, as she needed to be combat ready at all time. A fact Q-shan dutifully ignored after he and several other dragon-men were offered job and unfortunately for Karen, he'd been after her ever since.
After several hours of traveling in near silence with only Q-shan and Sheena attempting to hold a conversation, the group began to notice a strange sensation in the air... Like an oppressive force was bearing down on their shoulders and attempting to drive them into the ground.
"What on Yggdrasil is that?" Q-shan asked trepidatiously.
Karen glared at him out of the corner of her eye but didn't rebuke him since she felt it too.
"I don't know... But we should remain cautious moving forward. This could be another of Rajah's tricks."
After saying so, she slipped her hands into the ebony-colored gauntlets at her waist and tightened them to the point they wouldn't slip. After making sure they were fastened to her satisfaction, she slammed her palms together which caused spikes to jump out of the many small holes dotting the backs of the gauntlets and lock into place.
The other members of the group all readied their own weapons within seconds of Karen; Q-shan drew a massive Longsword from his back; It was easily as long a Karen and almost as wide, with a plain ebony hilt on the end.
As Agronok was far too large to wield ordinary weapons, even those made by the Dragon clan; who were known for their ridiculously oversized weapons. He instead opted to use his natural weapons... Teeth, horns, and sheer overwhelming might to beat his enemies into submission.
And Sheena, as an elven priestess, she began whispering prayers to her goddess to grant her allies 'buffs' and to weaken her enemies.
However, the monster stalking them was too intelligent to let her do more than give her party a few enhancements. Once she started asking her goddess to affect him, personally, he suddenly appeared behind her and a serpent with a large brown eye and three horns coiled tightly around her body.
"Don't take this personally." The monster said in a dreadfully terrifying voice that seemed to echo multiple times before coming to an end.
The adventurers spun on their heels and almost instinctively charged the monster... But the sight of Sheena being hoisted into the air by the odd-looking serpent gave them pause.
Better to find out what it wanted and possibly convince it to let her go than to piss it off by attacking and guarantee her death.
After all, it had spoken... So it had to be intelligent enough to bargain with, right?
Karen raised her hands with the palms facing the large Snake-man.
"Hey, easy now... You don't want to do this." She said while taking a few small steps towards the towering creature.
Actually, now that she had the chance to get a good look at it... It didn't look too hideous.
It had short black hair, three almond-shaped eyes; two of which were a deep red color and the third was an onyx color, and while it wasn't quite as large as Agronok was, it was just as tall.
"Who here knows of a serpent named Rajah?" The snake-man asked in that eerie voice of his.
The sudden question put the group on edge and caused Sheena's eyes to widen even further than they already were and she began to struggle.
The snake-man glanced at her and said, "If you answer my question, I have no problem with letting you go...But only if you stop struggling."
This caused Sheena to struggle even harder as panic began to set in and her higher thought processes were overridden by the fear she felt.
Before Karen could say anything to Sheena, to tell her to calm down, Sheena suddenly began screaming in pain as the snake tightened around her.
"I said... Stop. Struggling." The snake-man said in a tone which brokered no argument.
It was a combination of the sight of their companion in pain, the snake-man's voice, and the overwhelming pressure they'd been feeling for the past few minutes that ultimately led to the groups first mistake.
"Let the lass go!" Agronok roared as he swung his meaty fist over the other's heads and slammed it into the snake-man's cheek.
The snake-man's head was turned slightly to one side and the snake holding Sheena loosened its grip enough that she slid out and collapsed to the ground.
Karen, in a flash of yellow light, was suddenly holding Sheena to her chest over twenty feet away from the rest.
"It's alright, you're oka-" she began, but before she could finish speaking she was interrupted by Shenna...
"Lady Karen... I... I don't feel so good-"
Before Karen's eyes, Sheena's body, clothes, and jewelry seemingly evaporated into bright blue particles of light and slowly drifted their way back to the snake-man.
"I... Apologise for your friend. I didn't mean for that to happen." The snake-man mumbled.
"What did ye do!?" Agronok yelled as, in a fit of rage, he began swinging.
Each hit slightly turned the snake-man's head from side to side. However, that was the only reaction they received as not even the look of apathy on his face changed to reflect the damage he should be feeling.
An adult Cyclops like Agronok was capable of bending steel beams with his bare hands.
As such, no matter how large the snake-man was, there was simply no way he wasn't feeling Agronok's punches... Right? Karen wondered.
Suddenly, as if in answer to her unasked question, the snake-man began walking towards Agronok in spite of his punches and a faint blue light began to surround him.
"You should have just listened to me." the snake-man sighed as he stepped around a now armless Agronok.
"Those lights, they were Agronok's arms evaporating!" Karen realized as panic truly set in.
As the snake-man walked past Agronok he pulled the shawl from his shoulders and wrapped it around himself just before Agronok, with a pleading expression on his face, reached out for Karen to save him...
"You would have lived longer."
Agronok pitched forward and dissolved into blue dust.
After seeing the imposing Cyclops reduced to nothing more than dust in the wake of the snake-man. Karen's mind was flooded with fear and her fight or flight response kicked in.
She ran with all the might her legs could generate and in a flash of lightning, she left Q-shan alone with the monster that would come to haunt her dreams...