Two weeks later: 10,000 miles from Asgarn; 600 miles from Yggdrasil's branch.
What used to be a forest that teemed with life and noise... Was now a quiet wasteland. Three-foot deep snow covered the ground and trees, even as fresh snow fell from the constantly overcast night sky. Beneath the snow-covered trees, Torga glanced over his shoulder and sighed in annoyance as he tightened the straps around his chest and continued to pull the covered wagon through the densely packed snow.
As he'd predicted, Winter had come almost overnight and practically buried the world beneath an avalanche of snow. Ports were closed down, Branches of Yggdrasil were swarmed with people trying to flee the oncoming winter and thus had to be locked down to prevent riots from breaking out, and strange monsters had been sighted in the forests and mountains. However, that wasn't the worst of it. In a letter carried via messenger-crow from Ayla. Torga learned that nearly every planet connected via the branches sent out emergency distress signals at almost the same time and they all said the same thing...
Ragnarok was approaching.
Torga thought it strange that only weeks after Orochi was freed, did Yggdrasil unleash its wrath upon them all. Was he truly so powerful that even Yggdrasil feared him? Or was some other, more powerful force at work here? Either way, whoever was messing with the lives of his loved ones was getting on his last nerve and Torga was becoming more irritated by the day.
It certainly didn't help that on the last line of the letter. Ayla said she received word that Lena and the other's needed assistance and she, along with Lokir and the goblins, were leaving Asgarn to help them... That was just after the snow set in and he hadn't heard from her since.
His worry for her increased every day he didn't hear from her and it was fraying his nerves.
"Are you okay?" Reina whispered from behind him.
Torga looked back over his shoulder and tried to keep his features calm so he wouldn't worry her... It didn't work. The words refused to leave his mouth and the irritation he was feeling was clear as day.
"She'll be okay, Ken. She's a big girl."
"Do...Do you want to talk about it?" She asked, hopefully.
"Okay." She sighed. "Well, we're awake, but we're running low on heating supplies. Any chance we could make a pit stop?"
"Donna says there's a mining town a few miles south-west of here. We'll have to wait until we find a new road and double back- WOAH!!"
Torga rolled his eyes and with a twitch of his finger, the wagon began to float.
Reina pushed herself back into a kneeling position from where she'd fallen and replied in the affirmative.
"Then we do this my way."
"Just...Uh... Remember that we're not invulnerable like you are."
"Believe me. The last two weeks have shown me plenty of your vulnerabilities."
"What's that supposed to me—AN!?"
Torga jumped into the air with a deafening *boom* and soared high above the treetops with the wagon following closely behind.
"Which way?" He asked after slowing their ascent.
"That way!" She exclaimed while holding onto the wagon as if her life depended on it... Which it kind of did.
At her direction, Torga, the wagon, and all of its occupants vanished in a flash of soundless light and reappeared miles away. As soon as he reappeared, he manipulated gravity around them until they weighed less than a feather, then he climbed up the side of the wagon and sat on the seat beside Reina.
"Reina!! What the hell was that!??" Leon yelled from the back of the wagon.
Reina sighed and mouthed the words, "I hate you sometimes!" To Torga.
"Love you too." He mouthed back.
"Reina!! Are we fucking flying!!??"
"No, we're falling-"
"Don't say it!"
"Oh... I'm going to start praying now... Stop laughing Donna! It's not funny!"
"You—You screamed like a little girl!"
Reina glared at Torga for a few seconds, then sighed. "Oh, god... Why, after all these years... Am I still married to a child?"
"Hey, I didn't hear any complaints the other night."
"You weren't behaving like a petulant child the other night. Now, were you?"
"Of course not... After all, I'd just been given my favorite treat to eat." He smirked at her.
"Donna... I think mommy and daddy are talking about sex." Leon whispered, conspiratorially.
Torga and Reina looked behind them at the smiling faces of the two humans poking out from behind the curtain.
"And 'daddy's' going to get the paddle if you don't stop eavesdropping."
"Promise?" Donna replied with a wink.
"Donna?" Reina said with a sweet smile on her face.
"You should sit down before you have an accident."
Donna and Leon both felt a chill that had nothing to do with the cold race down their spines.
"Gotcha," Donna replied. She grabbed Leon's head and pulled him behind the curtain.
"I miss when they were that scared of me." Torga complained.
"Maybe you should stop catering to them, then?"
"First of all, I do not cater to them. I tolerate them because you tell me to be 'nice'. And second, you cater to their whims all the time."
"Oh, name one time!"
"Two days ago you told me to make a detour because Leon wanted to take a 'real' bath and sleep on a 'real' bed."
"... That doesn't prove anything."
"Three days ago you told me to stop teleporting us because it was making them sick. So I've been walking us through the snow."
"Well, would you prefer I not tell you and have to clean up vomit later?"
"No, I'd prefer it if they stopped acting like children and man up."
"Hey! I'm a woman!" Donna yelled in protest.
"Fine, 'People up'! Happy now!?"
"... That didn't sound very sincere."
"It wasn't." He looked back to Reina. "Look, my point is, we can't keep making stops like this. The longer it takes us to get off this planet, the harder it's going to be later on."
"Alright... No, You're right. This'll be our last stop."
"Yeah, just one quick, simple stop."
"With no drama or issues-"
Torga covered her mouth with his hand and stared daggers into her eyes.
"Don't. Say. It."
"Say what?" She asked through the gaps in his fingers.
"Do not, under any circumstance, say 'What's the worst that can happen?'."
"Just... Just don't."
"Methinks there's a story here." Leon whispered to Donna.
"Leon, so help me, I will throw you out on your ass."
"Right, sorry, no eavesdropping! I forgot!"
Torga threw one last glance Reina's way, then he stood up and stepped off the side of the wagon. He fell sixty-feet to the snow-covered ground below and landed in a crouch.
"Why do I get the feeling I stopped her too late and we're already headed for trouble?"
After slowly lowering the wagon to the ground. Torga dissolved the ground beneath the wagon to form a twelve deep, by nine wide, and fifteen-foot long hole. Then he and Leon covered it with snow to hide it from any 'curious' eyes while Reina and Donna collected their belongings. Once they were finished. They started walking through the snow... Well, Torga started walking through the snow while the others followed closely behind him. Like a 'human' snow-plow, Torga easily pushed the snow out of the way and walked as if he were out for a morning stroll through the woods. That is, if the woods were at sub-zero temperatures, crawling with man-eating monsters, and the constant complaining of a woman...
"Oh, wait, that's just Leon." He thought while looking askance at Leon.
"Why do I get the feeling you just thought something rude about me?"
"Because I did."
"You wanna go, snake-boy!?" He said through chattering teeth.
"Go? As in, leave your ass here and take Reina-"
"And maybe Donna with me to the town? Then, yeah. Let's do that."
"...On second thought... I'd rather you not do that."
"Mmm-Hmm, I'm sure."
"Will you two stop, please!? The town's right there!"
"Yeah... I'm calling it now. We're about to be up to our necks in shit."
"Why do you say that?" Donna asked, curiously.
"Because it's been quiet for the last week and I'm due for a headache."
"Are you psychic too, now?" Leon said derisively.
"No. But if it looks too good to be true... It's probably going to be a pain in my ass."
They rounded a snow-covered bend and saw the gates of the town standing wide open. Through the large steel doors, they could see people milling about, smiling, laughing, and drinking as if a celebration was taking place.
"And that? That looks waay too good to be true."
"Oh, c'mon~ No one's going to get hurt." She scoffed.
"...Welp, it wasn't nice meeting the two of you. But rest assured, I'll most likely kill whatever abomination she just summoned to kill you." Torga briefly put his hands on Leon and Donna's shoulders and gave them a reassuring squeeze... Before wiping his hands off on the legs of his pants.
The four passed through the town's gate and maneuvered their way through the throngs of people. As they walked, Torga was intently watching the crowd for any sign of danger.
"Doesn't look too bad so far—" A large, pale-faced man wearing a heavy, hooded brown cloak bumped into Torga and interrupted his train of thought.
After bumping into Torga without a word. Torga's eyes tracked the man as he ghosted through the crowd of people without touching anyone else. Once through, the man walked down a darkened alley on the left side of the main street where four more hooded individuals were waiting for him.
The man turned around and said something to the smallest hood while keeping most of his face hidden. Then he pointed in Torga's general direction... No... Torga traced the line from his finger to his target and realized he was pointing at Reina's back.
"And so, mealtime approaches." Torga mumbled to himself.
"Did you say something?" Reina asked after noticing that Torga was no longer trailing behind them and returning to his side.
"Nothing important." He reassured her. "Hey, why don't the three of you go on ahead and get what we need for the trip. I'm gonna look around for a bit."
"You sure? I can come with you if you want?"
"Nah, don't worry about it. It's like you said... No one's going to get hurt."
Torga grabbed the man by his hood and easily lifted him into the air with one hand. "Who sent you?" Torga growled. His eyes glowed with suppressed rage and the black hole within his stomach began to spin slightly faster in response to his anger.
Unfortunately, by the time Torga had relocated the man, two of the hooded figures had departed and only the large man and two smaller male figures remained within the alley. At speeds faster than the human eye could track. Torga vanished from his position, grabbed the three men, then reappeared miles from town only a moment later and released them. The other two men were sent skidding across the snow-covered ground before an intense burst of gravity halted their momentum. Their legs snapped under the force of gravity bearing down on them and they opened their mouths to scream, but another localized burst of gravity buried their faces in the snow before they could scream.
"Wha— Who are—" His face was slammed into a tree with enough force to shatter his teeth and break his nose.
"Who. The. Fuck. Sent you!?" Torga growled as he slammed the large man's head into the tree with each word. After several more slams, he spun the man around and pinned him to the tree by his throat.
"I'm—I ain't telling you nothin!" The large man gasped. His pale face now a collage of dark blue and purple bruises and most of his teeth were missing.
"Fine, then you're useless to me." Torga snarled.
The other hooded men watched in horror as Torga pulled back his fist as if he was in slow motion, then their friend's head exploded in a shower of gore and the tree behind his head was reduced to splinters.
They never saw his fist move or the moment it made contact.
"Next." He lifted the second largest man into the air by his long dark hair. "Who sent you?"
The man's only response was to angrily spit in Torga's face.
"... Alright." Torga wrapped his fist around the man's throat and quickly moved his arm up... The result was his head being ripped off as if he were made of paper. Blood gushed from his headless corpse and showered Torga, the snow, and the surviving hood with warm blood.
"Do I really need to repeat the question?"
"I—I'm not telling you anything! I won't betray them!"
Torga lifted the small man into the air by the back of his neck and glared at him.
"Then I'll just have to ask the rest of your friends the same question... Maybe the woman?" Torga guessed.
The man's beady eyes widened in panic and he began to sputter.
"Yes~" Torga decided. "She'll do nicely. Maybe I'll make her scream the answer as I slowly—painfully, end her pathetic life... Would that get me the answers I seek?
The man's eyes seemed to glow red with rage and steam began to pour from his nose and opened mouth. "Don't you touch her—" The man was cut off by the sickening sound of his neck breaking like a dried twig.
"Thanks for the information, my friend. You were most helpful." He said as he allowed the corpse to fall from his hand and land with a *thump*
With barely another glance in their direction, Torga focused his hunger on the three corpses and dissolved them into nothingness...