A tall, fair-skinned man with shaggy black hair sat with his arms draped over the back of a park bench as he watched his two young daughters play. The midday sun was shining brightly overhead, the sound of cars passing nearby and the laughter of his children filled his ears.
A smile of contentment spread across his face as he watched them play with the other children in the small park.
"Mind if I sit?" A raspy voice asked from the man's left.
"Knock yourself out." The man replied without looking.
"Thank you." The raspy voice replied. "I'm not the young man I used to be." It finished with a chuckle.
"I'm Father Ardent."
The first man saw a large, weathered hand enter his field of view.
"Torga." The first man replied while giving the hand a gentle squeeze.
"Quite the grip you have there." The old man chuckled to himself.
The two sat in silence for a few moments before the old man gestured to the two identical girls sitting nearby and asked, "Those yours?"
The man turned his head to look at the ancient looking, gray-haired man sitting next to him. He was wearing a pitch black priest's robe, minus the collar. And if the midsummer sun made it uncomfortable, the old-man did an excellent job of hiding it.
"Yes." The man replied.
"How old are they?"
The first man returned his head to its previous position and he continued to watch his kids as he spoke.
"They turn six next week."
"Ah... What I wouldn't give for my own daughters to be that age again." The man said wistfully.
"I thought priests weren't supposed to have kids?"
"I wasn't always a priest."
"Touché... So... How old are your daughters?"
"Old enough to know they want nothing to do with me."
"Ah... I'm sorry to hear that."
"Don't mind it. It's my fault. I left when they were young and by the time I returned... they had lives of their own."
Torga, sensing the topic wasn't a pleasant one, decided to change the topic.
"How long have you been a priest?"
"Hmm... Since before you were born." The father finished with a laugh.
"Somehow I doubt that." Torga thought sardonically.
"Father!" A girlish voice called from somewhere behind the bench.
Torga and the father both turned to see a young woman with bright green hair jogging towards them. She was wearing a snow-white sundress and appeared to be in her early twenties.
"Yes. My youngest."
"What happened to you being a priest since before I was born?"
"I have been... Never said I was a good one." The priest patted Torga on the shoulder and grinned at him. Then he stood up and turned to greet his daughter.
"Hello, my dear! I thought we weren't supposed to meet up for another two hours?"
The young woman wrapped her arms around the old man's waist and hugged him.
"We were, but I decided to come early. You're not mad, are you?"
"Of course not!" He laughed as the two of them began walking deeper into the park.
"See you soon, Torga." The priest called over his shoulder as they melted into the crowd of tourists visiting the city.
"Daddy!" Two young voice cheered as they slammed into Torga's knees. He stopped watching the two's retreating backs and looked at his two princesses.
Elizabeth and Hannah, as he'd told the priest, were five. Their bright silver hair hung down to their tiny waists and was pulled into pig-tails. Outwardly, the two looked like carbon copies of Torga's wife... Except for their eyes. Their bright, almond-shaped amber eyes resembled his before his ascension to god-hood.
As it stood. Torga believed they were akin to Demi-gods... But it was hard to tell since they didn't appear to have any powers.
"What is it?" Torga asked as he lifted them into his lap.
"Can we go see auntie Hali now?"
"Yeah, yeah. Can we?"
"I suppose we could. But I thought the two of you wanted to play here?"
"Yeah, we did. But Auntie Hali said she had our presents!"
"Oh? And what makes you think she'll give them to you now? Your birthday isn't for another six days."
"Because she said we could have them."
"Yeah, she did!"
"Well, hard to argue with that." He stood up, lifting the two of them onto his hips as he did, and vanished in a flash of light.
The three of them reappeared outside a three-story brown-stone in upstate New-New-York. Torga set his daughters on their feet and allowed them to run to the door.
Little Hannah twisted the golden knob while Liz pushed it with all her might... The heavy door swung inwards with a little prodding from Torga and the girls tumbled in with a giggle.
"Mom!" "Mommy! "We're home!!" They squealed as they rounded a corner and raced out of Torga's sight.
Torga closed the door with a thought and followed after his daughters.
He'd 'bought' the brown-stone apartment a few weeks after he and his group had arrived on earth. The previous owner, a young man with an annoying voice and an equally annoying attitude was wise enough to sell him the place for a pittance in return for a small favor.
After what he'd said to Reina and Donna... Not atomizing him in exchange for the apartment wasn't too much of a hassle.
And, at the speed Torga could move, it didn't take him long to rebuild the inside of the brown-stone in its entirety. In less than three weeks Torga had built Reina her dream home... And they'd lived here ever since.
Torga listened to the laughter of his daughters and the musical lilt in his wife's voice as he walked. They brought a smile to his otherwise blank expression and he stepped into the kitchen. Sitting at the six-person table with her long silver hair pulled into a pony-tail was Reina. She was laughing at something Hannah said and was hugging Liz to her chest.
"They were good today."
"Of course they were. They're my daughters." Reina replied with a smug grin in his direction.
"They're mine too."
"Mm-Hmm. And I'm forever thankful that all they got was your eyes and not that temper you're so famous for."
Torga shrugged at that. Now that he'd had a while to calm down... Well, seven years to calm down. He'd realized just how volatile he'd been. Granted, it was most likely because of all the stress he'd been under for the better part of three centuries... But even so, he was kind of a dick to people.
"Heard anything from Lena's group? Hannah and Liz were asking about 'auntie' Hali."
"I'll bet she'll just adore that title."
"Isn't that why you told them to call her that?"
"No..." She told the girls to go play in the other room for a bit. And, being the hyperactive children they are, Hannah and Liz raced away.
"It's because she kissed me. Isn't it?"
Reina pursed her lips at that and folded her arms across her chest.
Torga lifted both her and the chair off the ground with one hand and turned them to fully face him.
"It seems like that was the reason."
"Well, you're obviously mistaken."
The two stared at each other for several seconds... Then Torga pecked her lips and sat her down.
"Okay. I'll believe you."
Reina visibly relaxed and, after a moment's hesitation, grabbed Torga's hand before he could turn away.
"A letter came in today. Hali says she'll be here before nightfall."
Torga pecked her lips again. "Thank you."
"Mm-hmm" Reina interlaced her fingers with Torga's and she glanced up at him.
"You know... We do have a few hours before they get here."
"So... Maybe... We could—" Her words were interrupted as Hannah and Liz came racing into the room screaming.
"I didn't do it, momma!" "No, I didn't do it!" The twins began bickering back and forth while pulling on Reina's clothes.
"Rain check." Torga leaned down and gave her a real kiss on the lips. "I've gotta go to work in a minute, anyway."
Reina was noticeably disappointed at that. But she acquiesced and lifted the twins into her arms so they could each give their father a kiss.
"Bye, babies. Take care of your mother, okay?"
With that, Torga vanished in another flash of light and reappeared two-hundred miles above the Earth's surface. His body quickly dissolved into an ocean of microscopic green lights as he shifted into his natural form. The green lights swirled around the Earth, Yggdrasil's branch, the solar system, and beyond at speeds many times faster than light.
Two colossal suns, each a thousand times larger than the sun at the center of the Earth's solar system, appeared in the sea of green lights several hundreds of thousands of miles away. The two suns swayed and darted as they scanned the depths of space for something only they could see.
"There." The unbelievable light construct opened its maw, and everything outside of the 'dome' created by the lights seemed to shake violently for several minutes. Hundreds of thousands of tons of space debris flew across the stars, and into the construct's waiting maw. Then, as if it were merely a trick of the mind, the suns disappeared and the lights faded away as quickly as they'd appeared...
"How'd you fare?" A rotund man with a balding head and a bushy mustache asked Torga without looking up from the stack of papers on his desk.
"Same as usual." Torga crisply replied.
He held out his hand and set an onyx sphere on the edge of the desk. Though it was only the size of a marble, the man behind the desk knew its appearance was deceiving. That so-called 'marble' was easily as heavy, or even heavier than most buildings. And it was only through the power of this... 'creature', that looked oh-so-human, they were able to move the damn thing.
However, it was also thanks to this 'creature' bringing minerals from far off worlds that the Earth's natural resources were being spared.
"I'll make sure the money is deposited into your account, presently." The portly man said with a nod of his head at the marble.
Torga vanished without another word.
Several hours later Torga reappeared in the entryway to his brownstone apartment. He shrugged off his dark-gray jacket and tossed it onto the nearby coat rack, then called out to his family.
"Daddy!" The twins cheered as they raced around the corner and leaped into their father's arms.
"Hello, girls. Were you good for your mother?"
"Yea!" Hannah cheered. "We're always good!" Liz pouted.
"Of course you are." Torga chuckled. "Where's your mom?"
"She's in the living room with auntie Hali." "Yeah! And she looked mad."
"Did she, now... Well, suppose I better get in there and cheer her up, eh?"
Torga, with one twin on each hip, walked into the living room with a genial smile on his face. And, sure enough, he immediately picked up on the tension in the room.
Reina sat in her favorite place; a modest, red-leather armchair that sat perpendicular to the fireplace. While Hali, Solon, Lena, Fenris, and a not so little Talia sitting on the extra large couch opposite her.
Lena and Fenris, the elf and warg parents of the three others, hadn't looked as if they'd aged a day since he'd last saw them. Though the tired expressions on their faces told an altogether different story.
Hali, Solon, and Talia, on the other hand, had finally grown up... Some more than others.
Solon was taller than his father by a head, and though his long-sleeved tunic made him look thinner than he actually was. Torga knew the boy had the chiseled body of a warrior.
Talia was tall like her father and brother. However, unlike the men in her family who wore their scars and statuesque physiques with pride. She covered her body with baggy clothes to hide her presumably chiseled frame.
And then... There was Hali. Her waist-length red hair was pulled into a braid that hung over her right shoulder. Her body was all curves and soft skin beneath her too loose Druid's robe... And, as usual, her eyes locked onto his as soon as he entered the room... As did his wife's.
Before they could open their mouths and drag Torga into whatever dispute they'd been arguing over. There was an urgent ringing of the doorbell that caught their attention.
"I'll get it." Torga immediately said.
He set the twins down, then turned on his heel and quickly made his way to the door.
"It's finally happened!" The buxom raven-haired woman at the door exclaimed as she forced her way in.
"What? What's happened, Donna?"
"Ragnarok!" Donna yelled over her shoulder as she rounded the corner at the end of the hallway. "It's finally made its way here!"