The doors to the throne room were thrown open and a pissed off Torga made his way inside. Some guards on the far left side of the room attempted to block his path, but they quickly found themselves slamming into the ceiling as Torga manipulated gravity with little more than a thought.
"Where. Is. He?"
Friga; Queen of Asgarn and soon to be mother-in-law to Ayla quirked a perfectly manicured eyebrow at the guards stuck to the ceiling.
"I'm not sure who you are or who you're referring to. But might I suggest you allow the guards to come down now? They appear to be having a mild panic attack."
Gravity almost instantly took hold of the guards and sent them plummeting towards the ground. However, just before they slammed into the ground, the queen waved her hand and a burst of wind sent them sliding across the smooth floor and into the far wall.
"Answer the question."
"Mr. Torga, I assure you that I have no idea who you're talking about."
"Fine, then let me refresh your memory. My daughter is about to marry your son... So, where the hell is he?"
"Ah... Well, you've just missed him, actually."
"Did I now?"
"Mmm, Yes, you did. The king and Lokir departed for the Greakian kingdom early this morning and won't return for at least two fortnights."
Torga's bright orange eyes briefly returned to their true appearance of two golden glowing suns as he narrowed them in suspicion.
"And, pray tell, why has my future son-in-law gone to visit the kingdom that threatened the life of my daughter?" His voiced echoed menacingly and the room vibrated from the minuscule amount power he'd unconsciously let seep into his voice.
"Well-" The queen tried to swallow around her now too heavy tongue. "I'd imagine it was to put an end to the contract between their kingdom and ours."
"Hmm... Very well, then I'll let it go this time. However, I don't need to tell you what will happen if they try that shit again, yes?"
"Of course not." The queen offhandedly replied as she took a sip of her wine.
Torga turned his back to her and headed for the door. And, as if by magic, the large double doors slowly closed behind him.
"Triple the guard around Ayla." The queen immediately ordered.
The lieutenant that had waited until Torga left to help his fellow soldiers snapped to attention and saluted. "Yes, ma'am!" he barked.
With Lokir: a few hours later
After his conversation with Ayla the previous night, Lokir had barged into his parents quarters and all but demanded they rescind the deal. It certainly took a lot of convincing on his part, but eventually, his mother grew tired of the argument and simply ordered her husband to comply. Which is what led to the two of them, plus a dozen or so guards, flying at break-neck speeds across the planet and landing just outside of the Greakian kingdom boundary to await a permit for entry.
But the last thing he expected to happen is exactly what did happen. Zeus the forty-second; a truly massive man standing over seven-feet-tall with tanned skin, salt and pepper hair, the heavily muscled body of a warrior, and lightning colored eyes. He was accompanied by his Royal guard and Athena; A beautiful young woman with tanned-skin, Rose colored hair and eyes and was Lokir's soon to be ex-fiance. They landed twenty feet behind the border to their country and dismounted their Pegasi; Snow white horses with manes and tails of the purest blue and massive, bird-like wings. They were all wearing the standard outfit of Greakian royalty, which consisted of snow-white robes, leather sandals, and a lightning bolt shaped pin just above their right breast.
However, instead of coming to greet them, the Greakians stood beside their horses and waited for them to make the first move.
"They're waiting to see what we do." Lokir said to himself.
He knew that if they crossed into their territory without permission, it would be a declaration of war. Which is what they ultimately wanted since the two kingdoms had been at war since the time of their ancestors and they were just looking for an excuse to eliminate them. But, on the other hand, their pride is preventing them from outright attacking them due to the contract they'd sworn to uphold.
The Greakians may have been a paranoid and incestuous lot, but they were honorable... In their own way.
Lokir took several steps towards them and stopped just before he crossed the border.
"Athena!" He yelled, "I beg of you! Please stop these attacks against my fiance!"
"Are you accusing my daughter of something, young prince?" Zeus asked in a falsely polite tone.
Lokir turned to look back at his father and with his eyes, he begged him to assist. But his father just ignored him in favor of stuffing his favorite herb inside his pipe. It was then that Lokir knew he was on his own and he would receive no assistance from Oden.
"Lord Zeus, please, you must convince her to stop!" He replied after returning his attention to the opposite group.
"I have no idea what you're talking about, Lokir." Replied Athena. The pleasant smile on her face would have given almost anyone else the impression that she was sincere... But not Lokir. No, he knew very well the mask she wore to hide her true nature.
After all, he used one to hide his nature as well.
"Athena, please, you have to listen to me." He took another step forward, which prompted her to do the same. "This is the only opportunity you're going to get to save your people from a senseless death."
"As I said, Lokir darling, I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Damnit, Athena! There is no chance! Not one opportunity or outcome in which you succeed in this! Now, maybe you do succeed in killing Ayla, and maybe I'm too weak to protect her from you... But in doing so, you will have doomed your people to extinction."
Zeus stuck his arm out in front of Athena and pushed her behind his body. "Are you threatening us boy? Need I remind you that it was your father that initiated this deal because you were losing the war?"
"Oh, spare me the 'I'm insulted' speech! My father offered me up like some kind of prize to whoever would listen. Just ask the Nornians. He offered me to them when I was still just a child!"
"Be that as it may." Zeus began after directing a glare at Oden. "You should watch your tongue, boy. We still have an army that could easily wipe you off the face of Yggdrasil."
"Yeah? Well, my fiance has a Torga."
"A... She has a what?" Athena asked.
"Torga, I believe, is the name of the elf girl's father." Replied Oden as he stepped to his son's side. "And I must admit, in all honesty, I'm in agreement with my son on this one. If you do somehow succeed in killing the girl, you will have only yourselves to blame when Ragnarok comes knocking at your door."
That finally got Zeus and Athena to show some emotion other than disdain as mild surprise flitted across their faces. And Lokir understood why; anyone who'd ever known his father as more than just 'King' of Asgarn, knew he'd never use the term 'Ragnarok' lightly. In fact, he was deathly afraid of the prophesied end of the world and just the casual mention of the word would often throw him into a fit of rage. So, for him to use it in such a way showed how serious this situation was.
"Then, let us hope your guards are as competent as you brag, or we just might get to see this 'Ragnarok' you so fear." Athena replied after a moment of silence.
"... Athena... What have you done?"
"What I swore to do if you tried to back out of our deal."
Lokir's eyes widened and his fists tightened to the point of his hidden claws drawing blood. "Gods damnit! Tyren, Contact mother and have her quadruple the guard around Ayla! No one gets to her!" He barked to the captain of the guard.
Lokir glared at the Greakians with unadulterated rage in his eyes. "If you cause her harm... You're dead."
"We'll just have to see about that. Now, won't we?" Zeus replied with an infuriating smirk as he mounted his pegasus and pulled the much shorter Athena onto the horse behind him. Then they took to the skies and within seconds were out of sight.
Reina, Donna, and Leon were just walking through the massive gate that protected Asgarn from the outside world when the sight of someone she recognized brought Reina up short. Sitting at a little table in front of what appeared to be a modern day cafe, was Findral; The dark-skinned elf with demonic looking horns that was traveling with Ayla the last time she'd seen her.
"You two go on ahead and find some lodgings for us, for the night."
"What're you going to do?" Leon asked after taking the proffered bag from Reina's shoulder and adding it to his own, which he carried on his back.
"I see someone I recognize over there and I'm going to go say, Hi."
"Oh, well, can I come too-"
"Will do, Reina." Donna interrupted and tugged on Leon's arm. "Let's go."
"Aww, but Donna~" He whined. "I wanted to go see Reina's friend~"
"Which is why we're going in this direction."
Reina just rolled her eyes at the by-play between the two and made her way over to join Findral. She was spotted almost as soon as she neared the table and the dark-skinned elf pleasantly smiled at her.
"Hello, Reina. It's nice to see you again."
"Same to you." Reina smiled back. "So, do you mind if I join you?"
"No, please, by all means." She replied while motioning to the empty chair beside her.
"Thanks." Reina sat down and stretched her legs out in front of her.
Findral took a sip of her coffee; black with two sugars, and said, "So, Reina, what brings you to Asgarn? Are you on a contract or something?"
"No?" Reina replied in confusion and shuffled to the edge of her chair so she could pull a piece of white parchment out of her back pocket and handed it to Findral. "This was delivered by a guild messenger a week or so ago."
Findral sat her coffee to one side and took the paper from Reina's outstretched hand. After just one glance at the title written in opulent golden ink, Findral groaned and used her other hand to massage the bridge of her nose.
"What is it? Did I miss the wedding?"
"No, it's just that I forgot they'd already sent these out."
"But... isn't it normal to send out invitations before a wedding?"
"Yes, but not when the couple in question have yet to even set a date for said wedding."
"You're kidding! Then who sent out the invitations?"
"King Oden claimed it was Queen Friga and Princess Hena that sent them..." She leaned closer to Reina and whispered conspiratorially in her ear, "But I think it was the King."
"Figures..." Reina sighed.
Findral smiled at her, downed the rest of her coffee in one gulp, then walked over to the counter and ordered an extra large, extra strong coffee to go. Then she walked back over to Reina and motioned for her to follow.
"C'mon, Ayla will be glad to see you and I'm sure the master will be too."
"Oh... OH! I didn't think he would be here since the wedding wasn't happening yet."
"He returned from a trip just last night, actually. You do want to meet him, yes?"
"I mean, sure, I guess. Though I'm not sure how I feel about a man that has so many servants." She replied as she stood to follow.
"Servants?" Findral asked in confusion.
"Well, you do call him 'master' don't you? That makes you his servant, right?"
"Oh," Findral laughed, "No, he actually hates it when we call him master."
"Why do it, then?"
"Because in spite of his unwillingness to admit it. He deserves all the respect and praise we can throw at him. After all, how many men do you know that would search throughout the cosmos for a wife who may or may not even still live."
Findral stopped so suddenly that Reina walked into her back and bounced off, hurting her nose in the process. Findral spun around and began checking on her. Once Reina had assured her that she was indeed, fine, Findral sighed and said, "Please don't mention this to the master. He doesn't like talking about it."
"Sure, I can do that." Reina replied after wiggling her nose a few times to make sure it wasn't bleeding.
Reina just waved her off.
After a few minutes of walking in silence. Reina politely asked, "So... He's looking for Ayla's mother?"
"You said he was looking for his wife, right? I just assumed that was Ayla's mother."
"Oh, no, it's not Ayla's mom."
"He had her out of wedlock, then?"
"Nope, he adopted Ayla after the death of her last living relative; her grandmother."
"Oh..." She was quiet for a few more minutes as they wound their way through the throngs of people. "Does he have any other children?"
"He's mentioned that he and his wife had three children together."
"Are they here too?"
"No, and I've never actually met them either. He very rarely talks about his time before he was taken from them."
"What do you mean? How was he taken from them?"
"Master is a reincarnator. He was taken from his home planet by a god and basically dropped on some backwater planet on the other side of Yggdrasil."
"He's like me?" Reina wondered. She was getting more and more interested in this mysterious 'father' Ayla and Findral had told her about.
"What kind of elf is he?"
Findral burst out laughing at the question. Her outburst was so loud that it caused the surrounding people to glance at her in consternation.
"Sorry, sorry everyone." She apologized, then turned to Reina. "Sorry, but I'd forgotten that we hadn't told you much about him the last time we met. Torga; That's the master's name, isn't an elf."
"No... He's most definitely not."
"He's a human, then?"
"No, he's definitely not that either. You know, it's probably better if you just see him for yourself. I seriously doubt you'd believe me if I just told you what he was."
"I don't know about all that now. I've seen some pretty weird stuff in my travels."
"I'm sure you have." Findral replied with a smirk on her face.
Just as the two passed through the gatehouse leading inside the castle, the alarm went off and the massive iron gate slammed shut behind them.
"I... I don't know. C'mon, we need to go check on Mistress Ayla!"
"I'll be right behind you." Reina nodded.
Suddenly, it felt as if the entire world rumbled and Reina and Findral wound up sprawled on the ground.
"That's not good."
"What's not good!?"
"Something must have pissed off the master..."
"What does that have to do with anyth—Wait, are you trying to say Ayla's dad did that!?"
"But that's impossible!"
"Ha! You'll soon find out just how little that word means in the face of my master's will." Findral replied with a grim expression on her face.
"You bastards!" Echoed a voice seeped in power. Every syllable caused the world to shake and fear to race down the spine of all who heard it.
Suddenly, an explosion rocked the castle as a wall on the top floor was destroyed and two masked figures in black clothes plummeted towards the ground, while a third leaped out of the hole after them. However, before they could reach the ground and possibly die on impact. Their downward momentum came to a halt as their bodies suddenly stopped falling and hung in the air as if held there by invisible hands.
Not long after they stopped falling a heavily muscled, pale-skinned man with long black hair and wearing nothing but a bed sheet around his waist, floated out of the hole. Held in a bridal carry within his arms, was the unmoving form of Ayla.
"Who is that!?"
"That would be the Master." Findral said, matter of factly.
"That's Ayla's dad!?"
Instead of answering her, massive wings of pure flame burst from Findral's back and she flew up to meet him. Leaving Reina to gap after her.
"Master! What happened!?"
"Ayla was ambushed in her room. I only made it in time to stop them because I was taking a shower next door."
"Is that why you're... um..."
At Findral's nod, Torga snorted and passed her the unconscious Ayla. "Yes."
He floated to the ground, which caused all of the surrounding humans to back away in fear, and redirected the forces keeping them in the air to slowly lower them to the ground. Then, just before they could get more than a foot from where they landed, he increased their own personal gravity by fifteen times. This caused their legs to snap under their own weight and for them to collapse onto the ground in intense pain.
He crouched over them and allowed the anger to drain away from his body so he wouldn't accidentally kill them, then asked, "Did the Greakians send you?"
The three men bit down on their tongues and attempted suicide, so they wouldn't have to answer... But their teeth simultaneously dissolved as soon as they made contact with their tongues.
"You will answer my question before you die."
"Master, I think they are ninjas."
Torga just blankly stared at her.
"Assassins that worship those of the Shinto pantheon?" She hedged.
Torga just snorted at that and pulled the mask off of the closest man. "More like nonjas." He said in a derisive tone directed at the three men. Then, he looked at Findral with a reproachful look and said, "And I'm aware of what they are, Findral."
"I thought I told you never to call me 'master'."
"Oh... Right, sorry."
Torga just sighed and lifted the first man's head so he could look into his eyes. His eyes glowed an even bright orange as he allowed his anger to show itself again.
"Did you use poison?"
Torga's eyes narrowed in suspicion and suddenly the man's left eye seemingly evaporated into black mist.
"You're already on my shit-list, so lying to me isn't helping your case."
"Heh, I knew I was already a dead man as soon as we were caught. Why should I bother telling you a damn thing?"
"Simple, because I-"
"I can find out for sure." Reina interrupted.
Torga let go of the man's head and turned to see an incredibly beautiful elf that stood somewhere between five-three and five-four, with silver hair, moon-like eyes, and a petite frame. The all-black bodysuit she wore made her curves stand out even more than they normally would have and Torga's eyes slightly widened at the sight.
"Do I know you?" Torga asked as he reached behind him to tighten the sheet, so it wouldn't slip off and show the crown more than they'd already seen.
The mysterious elf knelt beside Ayla and rested her glowing blue hands on Ayla's head and stomach. Because Torga was closely watching her as she worked, he caught her nervously glancing in his direction. After a few seconds, she seemed to catch herself staring and averted her eyes.
"Your name?" He asked again, this time in a more polite tone.
"Reina. I'm a friend of Ayla's."
"Reina? Could it be?" He wondered. Butterflies filled Torga's stomach as the possibility of this being Sarah raced through his mind... But that can wait. He decided.
Ayla came first.
Reina once again averted her eyes from the heavily muscled torso of the man claiming to be Ayla's father.
"No, down girl! You're happily married and he's searching for his wife. You don't have time to be drooling over him, so FOCUS!" She berated herself.
Though now that she'd gotten a better look at him, she could tell that his 'skin' was actually almost completely transparent-green scales. Which led to him looking very pale in comparison to other people.
"Are they as rough as they look or are they soft like a snake's?" She wondered and then had to shake the thought from her mind, so she could focus on the task at hand.
"There appears to be some form of mild anesthetic in her blood stream. Not enough to fully paralyze her, but enough to make it difficult to move. I'm also detecting traces of dendrotoxin in her system. My guess is the anesthetic was used to hide the symptoms of the toxin. Very clever. "
"Can you remove it?"
"I can flush out her system, but we'll need somewhere quiet so I can focus and she'll need plenty of fluids afterward."
"Right." Torga scooped Ayla into his arms and began floating a few inches off the ground, which made his already tall six-four form tower over her even more. "Findral, find the others and tell them what has happened. I want them to report to Ayla's room in no less than ten minutes."
"Understood." Findral nodded and took to the skies to find the other goblins.
Then he held out his hand for Reina to take. "You coming?"
"You know... Normally, I'd make a guy buy me dinner before I went home with him." She reached out and grasped his hand, which caused her body to slowly lift off the ground until she was able to look into his bright orange eyes.
"I'll be sure to make it up to you later."
The three of them smoothly lifted into the air and went into the hole Torga had made earlier.
Hours later, after an exhausting use of her magic to flush out Ayla's system and ensuring the girl would live to see the sunrise again. Reina awoke to find herself in an ornate bed with plush pillows and incredibly soft sheets. When the smell of a spinach omelette, raspberry jam covered toast, and coffee hit her nose she leaped from the bed and practically devoured the meal. It was her favorite breakfast meal, after all.
A soft knock on the door alerted Reina that she had company, so she hurried over to the door was taking that last bite of toast with her. When she opened the door and saw Ayla's dad standing there wearing a baggy white shirt and black trousers she almost choked on the toast.
Torga just smiled at her.
"Oh, um... Morning."
He leaned in and peaked around the door to see an almost clean plate and the smile on his face grew even larger.
"Enjoyed your meal, did you?"
"Yes, you can give my thanks to whoever made it."
"You're welcome." he shrugged, then motioned towards the door. "Mind if I come in?"
"Sure, I guess, but what do you mean 'you're welcome'?"
"I did say I'd make it up to you, didn't I?" He replied with a polite smile down at her.
"Wait... You cooked it!?"
"I'll take that as a compliment towards my cooking skills and not an insinuation that you believed I couldn't cook." He laughed as he made his way over to the table Reina had eaten her breakfast at and sat in one of the chairs.
"What, pssh, of course, I didn't think that." Of course, that was exactly what she'd thought, but she wasn't going to tell him that. She moved to join him, but before she could sit down, he stood up and pulled a chair next to him out and turned it towards her.
"Of course." He replied as he easily pushed the chair closer to the table and retook his seat.
"So... What's up?" She asked to fill the awkward silence that followed.
"Mind if I ask you a personal question?"
"After that breakfast? You can ask me anything you want." She joked.
He grinned at her, "Are you married?"
The smile she'd been wearing all morning was instantly wiped off her face as a memory of husband flashed through her mind. The memory was like a bucket of cold water and quickly sobered her up.
"Do you love him?"
"That's a stupid question. Of course, I love him."
"When was the last time you saw him?"
"That's none of your business, is it?" She snarked.
"Please, humor me."
"Fine!" She yelled. Then, after a brief moment of hesitation, she admitted. "... It's been a while."
Torga just quietly watched her with those golden-orange colored eyes of his.
After a few minutes of silence, Reina couldn't take it anymore and pushed her chair back so she could stand up. As she was walking over to the bed to grab her gun belt so she could leave, Torga spoke up.
"Are you a reincarnator?"
"Were you reincarnated into Yggdrasil?"
"What if I was?" She snapped. She snatched up her gun belt and fastened it around her waist. But she soon had to take a step back as Torga was standing in front of her.
Her head snapped up and she glared at him. She drew her pistol and aimed it directly at Torga's face.
"How the hell do you know that name!?"
A golden liquid seemed to pool in Torga's eyes as he stared down at her. "It is you..." He whispered.
Reina pulled back the hammer on the gun, "Answer me!"
Torga slowly reached up and wiped the liquid from his eyes. "I know I look different than you remember, but c'mon, don't you recognize me?"
"What're you talking about?"
"Jeez, and to think you used to complain about my memory." Torga said in mock consternation.
"Again, what the hell are you... you... Huh?"
The gun fell from her hand as the dots connected themselves. Her eyes widened and she tried to take a step back in surprise, but she tripped over the bed and fell onto her back.
Which caused Torga to genuinely smile at her in a way that made her heart skip a beat.
"I've missed you, Sarah... More than you could ever know."
"I've gone by Torga for a little over a century now, but yeah, it's me."
"A century?" She whispered.
"You've been gone a long time, Sarah."
"But it's only been ten years!" She climbed to her feet and glared at him.
"For you, maybe. But for me? Well... You died when I was thirty-six, right?"
"I was eighty-seven when I died."
Reina collapsed to her knees and unshed tears filled her eyes. "No...No, that's not possible. I wasn't gone that long. It was only for a little while..." She whispered to herself. "Please, tell me you're lying? Tell me I didn't miss out on my babies lives?... Tell me I didn't leave you to raise them alone."
"Hey, I think I did a great job raising them. Thank you very much." He joked.
She just stared at him.
"I'm sorry, Sarah."
"Were they happy?"
"They missed you, of course... But yeah, they were happy."
"Oh, thank God!" Right there, in front of the husband, she'd been searching for, she broke down and cried about the life she'd had stolen from her.
Torga moved around to the side of the bed, sat down and leaned against the headboard, then pulled her into his chest.
"It's alright... Let it out."
His words made her cry even harder. She spent the rest of the morning crying into Torga's chest and only stopped when she'd exhausted herself and just laid on top of him to watch the clouds outside of the window.
"So..." She sniffled, "What happens now? Are you going to just leave me here to go find your wife or can I come with you?"
"You know," Torga said after a moment of silence. "For a doctor, you can be really stupid sometimes."
"That's mean. I just wanted to know if-"
Torga pulled her onto his lap and kissed her as deeply and passionately as he could without hurting her. And he didn't let up until Reina was gasping for air.
"You were the one I've been looking for, you dummy. I've waited for damn near two centuries for you to be in my arms again and I'll be damned if I let you go that easily."
"Oh..." She panted.
"Now, if you'd told me earlier that you no longer loved me? Well, I probably wouldn't have said anything and just would've stood back and let you live your life... But now that you've told me? I'm not leaving your side for anything."
He picked her up and sat her on his lap.
"In fact, you'll be lucky if you can walk away from me after I'm done with you."
"What do you-" She felt something poke her in the butt and her eyes widened in surprise. "Ohh~ So, that's what you meant." She finished with a sultry smile as she leaned in to kiss him again.
Outside the door
Findral and Ayla sighed in unison as they heard Reina moan in pleasure.
"I'm not sure how to feel about my new mom being my age." Ayla muttered.
"I mean, technically she's older than you if we count her other life."
"Yeah, I guess so."
Another moan caused the two of them to flush bright red.
"Want to go get something to eat?"
They stood up and hightailed it away from the door as fast as they could without disturbing the two inside the room.
"So... What do you think dad's going to do about that Leon guy?"
"The really horny one?"
"Not sure. I guess it depends on how tired he is after he's done 'reuniting' with Reina."
"Think he'll kill him?"
Findral shrugged, "Who can say, really. Though, I wouldn't want to be in either his or that Zeus dude's shoes come morning."
A chill went down Ayla's spine at the thought and she glanced back towards Reina's door...Right as Reina screamed so loud the castle almost shook.
"Hmm, apparently she's a screamer."
Ayla couldn't stop the laugh that burst from her chest as she broke down into a fit of giggles.
End of Season 1 of; A Snake's Rise.
I hope to see you all back here for season 2!