Two hours later

As Torga floated high above the darkened city, he scanned the busy streets for any sign of Reina and the others. After dealing with the hooded men he made his way to the inn in search of them, but they were nowhere to be found. And with the recent setting of the sun, the town was eclipsed by the shadow of the large mountain at its back and the forest at its front. The two acted together to completely cover the town from the light of the moon and cast the town into darkness, making it nearly impossible to spot them from the sky.  

"Torga!!?" A barely audible voice yelled into the night sky.

Torga's head spun to locate the source of the voice... "There." he whispered to himself.  

He dropped from the sky like a meteor and only slowed himself once he was fifty feet from the ground. After landing in a crouch he closed his eyes and listened to the noise of the still bustling town.

"Torga!?!" The voice screamed, this time more frantic than the last.


Torga vanished in a burst of speed in the direction the voice had come from. Less than a second later, Torga was standing outside the large rusted steel doors that lead to the mine at the base of the mountain. And laying just outside the doors with his face to the sky, was Leon.

"Torga!!?" Leon screamed. His voice hoarse from the constant screaming and his face was... blistered? Torga ran over to him and lifted his head so he could look into his eyes. 

"What happened!?" 

Leon flinched from the tone of Torga's voice... Or maybe from the blisters Torga's hand was touching.

"Reina— We— We were out shopping when she said she heard someone calling for help. We tried to follow her, but we were ambushed by the townspeople outside the inn... We— We had to fight through them to get here." Leon said through panted breaths. His eyes began to flutter shut, but when Torga applied pressure to his blisters they refocused.

"Where's Reina?" 

Leon's right hand twitched and he slowly, painfully, extended his index finger and pointed at the mountain.

"She—She ran in there with Donna close behind her."

Torga gently lowered his head to the cool ground and watched him for a moment.

"The thing that caused those blisters... Does it still live?" He asked after a moment.

"Heh... You're not the only spiteful bastard in this group." He slowly turned his head towards a mound of snow Torga had previously ignored. There, buried up to its waist in the snow, was a red-skinned humanoid: Its only defining feature was its two large glowing red eyes, as It had no nose, mouth, or ears to speak of. Its body seemed to shift and move with the wind, but the large claymore embedded in the center of its chest and the molten hot golden blood melting the snow around it showed its currently deceased state clearer than anything Leon could have said.

"Bastard exploded on me after I pinned it there."


"Ye—" he groaned in pain. "Yeah, the explosion is what caused the burns."

"I see... Do you need any hel—"

"Oh, just go already! I know you don't actually give a shit abo—about me." Leon laughed briefly before gasping in pain. "G—Go save Reina and Donna."

"... Don't die, Leon. Who am I going to annoy if you're not here?" Torga smirked at him before standing up from his crouched position.

"As—You asshole."

Torga vanished in a blur of speed and sent the heavy steel doors flying deeper into the mountain.

Leon stared up at the pitch black sky and laughed bitterly as blood began to fill his mouth. He slowly rolled onto his side and slowly pushed a handful of snow under his armor to cover the large gash over his stomach, then he flopped onto his back and closed his eyes.

"And I really wanted to see Reina naked." He sighed...

Reina slid between the legs of a large red-skin demon and fired two rounds into its groin. The demon wailed in pain and dropped to its knees in time for Donna's ice spike to slam into its face and remove its head from its shoulders. Donna sent the demon flying into another demon with a heavy kick to its chest.

"Reina—" An explosion rocked the tunnel as the demons exploded into a shower of flames and gore. "Are you sure they went this way!?"

"Of course," Reina flipped over a demon's head, planted her left foot on the low ceiling and used it to press the hidden button at the bottom of her boot causing a six-inch blade to swing out of her heel, while simultaneously firing a round into the demon's crown. Then, she completed her flip and slammed the blade into a demon' shoulder. The blade easily slid out of her boot and she ripped it down and out, taking the demon's left arm off at the shoulder. "I am!" She finished in a husky voice.    

"Are... Are you actually having fun right now!?"

"What—No!" She ducked to avoid the wild swing of an eyeless red-skinned demon with large ebony horns and fired a round into each of its knees, then one in between its horns.

"Oh, my gods... You are!"  Donna slammed her staff into a red demons head and knocked it off balance. The staff left a large green mark at the point of impact that immediately grew to cover the demon's entire body... A few seconds later, the demon's body turned to stone.

"Now's really not the time for this, Donna!"

After they'd temporarily cleared the tunnel of demons, a petite green demon with the lower body of a goat and the upper body of a rather well-endowed woman came sprinting around the corner at them with a staff in her hand.

The demon dodged the three rounds Reina fired at her as if they were in slow motion, then she slammed the butt of her weapon into Reina's stomach. 

Reina rolled with the impact to minimized the damage and quickly returned to her feet to fire two more rounds at the green demon, both of which were dodge with little effort.

"Little help here!?"

"But I've never hit a woman before!" Despite her words, Donna fired seven ice spikes in rapid succession at the demon.

The demon used her staff to block or parry six of the seven spikes, then caught the last one and sent it flying back towards Donna who yelped as she dodged out of the way.

"Yeah, I noticed!" Reina kicked the demon's legs out from under her, then slammed her heel into the demon's midsection and sent her flying into the wall. "Try harder!"

This time, the massive ice spike Donna threw at the demon pinned it to the wall. Reina pulled out her spare pistol and fired a round into the green demon's face.  Reina sighed in relief and flopped onto her back to catch her breath.


"W—What?" She breathed in deeply through her nose.

"Now's really not the time to take a break..."

 Reina's head slowly turned to see what Donna was gaping at... A large hooded man with a massive axe resting on his shoulder was sedately standing not ten feet from them. Though, the most frightening thing for Reina was the fact that neither she nor Donna had seen him approaching or exactly when he'd gotten so close.

He stood over seven feet tall and was clearly heavily muscled as his large hooded cloak was pulled taut over massive pectorals and impossibly wide shoulders. The axe he carried was the size of a grown human: Its shaft was made from some type of light wood and strange runes glowed in a faint blue light, the blade was easily the size of a child's torso and was forged from some form of wickedly sharp black metal.

"I'm gonna need you wee lass's to follow me." A silky smooth voice said from beneath the hood.

"That's not gonna happen." Reina said through gritted teeth as she climbed to her feet and pointer her Mag-pistol at the man.

 "I wouldn't be so sure about that." Another voice, this one more childlike and clearly feminine said from behind them.

Donna slowly turned around and saw a small elf girl with porcelain skin, large black eyes, and blood-colored lips. Unlike her partner, who was still wearing his hood, she was wearing a full-body black and green suit of armor and an opened face helmet with massive deer horns on both sides.

"Ahh! Someone help me~" The girl said in a panic-stricken voice.

Reina's eyes widened at the sound of the girl's voice and she pointed her other Mag-pistol at the girl.

"You lead me here! Why?" 

A heavy blow to the back of Reina's head sent her into the ground and into blissful unconsciousness... 

The first thing Reina noticed upon regaining consciousness was the nearly unbearable heat surrounding her: every breath was strained and burned her lungs, her exposed skin was dried and cracking, and her body was drenched with sweat.

"Explains the dried skin... I'm dehydrated." She sighed to herself and opened her eyes. 

An uncountable number of gray-skinned people walking along an ebony-colored stone path lined with snow covered trees greeted her... Except they were on the ceiling. The snow was the purest white she'd ever seen, the trees were easily several hundred feet tall, and the people walked in a single-file line down the center of the path. Reina's gasp of surprise alerted her captors of her return to consciousness and the girl calmly made her way over to her.   

"Look who's finally awake." She said as she crouched down to look Reina in the eyes.

"Who are you?... Why do this?"

"It's nothing personal. We're looking for someone and we could really use your help."

"Then leave a request with the guild, don't kidnap us!!"

The girl clicked her tongue, "See, we would have done that... If we cared about your rules." 

She pulled Reina into a sitting position, which allowed her to see a bound and gagged Donna laying a few feet away. While she didn't appear to have been treated badly, her eyes were wide open and she was staring at something behind Reina. 

And Reina could probably guess what she was staring at as behind Donna was what could only be described as a hell-scape: Black clouds went on for an eternity in every direction she could see, massive fireballs fell from said clouds almost continuously, monstrous creatures of every shape and size soared through the sky on massive bat wings and crawled along the walls, and the wails of those unlucky enough to be grabbed by the creatures echoed in her ears.

"Where the hell are we?" She whispered.   

"Good guess, but Hell is actually a few thousand miles and a layer down from here. We're currently at the intersection of Tartarus and Hel: with one L."

"Why did you bring us here!?"

"Because~" She scoffed, "This is one of the few places in the realm where a mortal can survive... if only just. If this plateau we're on was two feet higher or lower, you would either freeze to death in seconds or you would boil from the inside out— "


Reina's head snapped in the direction of the voice and saw a large hole in the sky. Through which, she could see the cave and Torga.

"And so, the guest of honor arrives." The girl mumbled. She winked at Reina, then stood up and turned away from her. "Don't go anywhere."

Reina stared in disbelief as Torga, without pause or thought, jumped through the hole and fell the forty or so feet into the plateau. He managed to take two steps forward before the large hooded man stuck his arm out and halted Torga's steps... At least, it appeared that way. But Torga's left arm blurred into motion and smashed into the hooded man's face with enough force to send him flying at speeds fast enough to break the sound barrier. After which, Torga continued to march toward the girl and Reina.

However, before he could reach them, the large hooded man was suddenly standing in front of Torga. His hood was down, which allowed everyone to see the short brown hair and glowing yellow eyes of a rather attractive human.

"That wasn't half bad." He laughed, "Might I return the favor?" His big meaty fist slammed into Torga's face with enough force to crack the ground beneath them and for the first time in years... Torga felt pain and was sent flying off the plateau.  

"And with that, it's time for us to go." The girl said to Donna and Reina. She picked them up and hefted one onto each shoulder before turning to the large man.

"Magni, do you remember how to get out?"

"Sure sure." He laughed. He ripped the hooded cloak off, revealing his bare torso: He was wearing a rune-etched pauldron over his left shoulder, black leather cestus on both fists, and armored leggings. He picked up his axe from where he'd dropped it when Torga punched him and leaped off the plateau.

"Men, am I right?" The girl scoffed before she leaped back through the portal, threw Reina and Donna on the ground, and proceeded to close the portal behind them. Trapping Torga and Magni in the other realm...


A note from Kenaren

Next chapter is coming out in 1 hour. I'm putting the finishing touches on it now.

Support "A Snake's Rise"

About the author


  • The insane snake handler


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