Torga slowly blinked as he took in his surroundings. Everything was just... gone. Only an endless white expanse remained of what Torga knew used to be earth.
"Sarah! I have to find her!"
First, he tried to teleport... but nothing happened. Then he tried to fly... and he couldn't tell if it worked or not.
"Now now. There's no need to panic." A voice that sounded like a thousand different people speaking at once spoke up from beside him.
Torga swung his fist at the voice with all the strength his true form could muster. However, before his fist could move even a single inch, it was suddenly frozen in place. Torga tried to force his arm to move, tried to will it to move, he even tried to pull it with his other arm to no avail. As if he were having a nightmare, Torga was no longer in control of his own arm.
"You should be thankful." The voice said mirthlessly. "If you'd struck me as you are now, your body would have ceased to exist."
Torga glared at the owner of the voice, who turned out to be the stick-like man he'd seen on earth. But something in the man's tone kept Torga silent. Somehow he knew the man wasn't exaggerating or bragging about what would have happened. No, his voice was too calm for that. He spoke as if he were reading the ingredients in a bottle of shampoo, not warning someone of their imminent destruction.
"Who the hell are you, and where are we?" Torga asked angrily.
"I am..." The man tilted his head as if he were thinking of what to say. "I don't actually remember my name. As for where we are, well, we are nowhere... And everywhere. It's complicated."
"Why am I here?" Torga asked as his eyes began to glow brightly and the black hole he called a stomach began to spin. He strained against whatever force was holding him. With every second that passed, the black hole spun faster, and faster until a painful whirring filled the space between them.
Torga's arm didn't budge a millimeter.
As if he didn't notice the being strong enough to lift all of reality struggling, the man began speaking in that same bored tone.
"Because I can't allow you to interfere with Ragnarok."
That brought Torga up short. Out of all the reasons he'd been picturing in his head; revenge, greed, a sense of self-sacrifice. Not interfering with the supposed 'End of days' didn't even make the top five of things he expected to hear.
It was number eight on the list, actually.
"Hey, if all you wanted was to destroy the earth, then you didn't need to kidnap me for that. My wife and I talked about it before the battle, and she was completely in favor of just letting you 'gods' have it." He lied.
The man stared blankly into Torga's eyes. His eyes, so devoid of color they seemed to suck in the light of endless expanse. That, coupled with the fact that something appeared to be swimming beneath his porcelain skin, made Torga's skin crawl. But he stubbornly suppressed the urge to shiver and stared defiantly into the man's eyes.
"I'm disappointed in you."
"Most people are. Might I ask why I should care?"
"Lying is... Unbecoming of one such as yourself. You should have more pride than that."
"Pride is like honor. It's only good for getting idiots killed."
"Yes... And you're definitely not an idiot... Naive, certainly. But not an idiot."
"Glad you agree. Now, are you going to stand around insulting me all day, or are you going to tell me why you don't want me interfering with Ragnarok?"
"Why would I do that?"
"Dunno. That seems to be what all ego-maniacal assholes do before I rip their heads off and shit down their throats."
"How vulgar." The man deadpanned. "But no, my reasons for keeping you here are my own, and the current you doesn't need to know." He finished as he vanished in a blur of motion.
"The current me!? What the hell are you talking about!? Come back here you bastard and let me go!!" Torga screamed as he struggled against his invisible bonds.
Torga hung motionless in the air as the black hole at the core of his body spun wildly. Even at his true size, he remained unable to move an inch, so he settled for trying to dissolve whatever was holding him one molecule at a time... That he'd been completely unsuccessful so far was weighing heavily on his mind as his thoughts turned back to the earth.
Were Sarah and the twins okay? Did Ayla and Lokir make it away safely? Did Donna, Hali, Solon, and Talia protect them?... He even found himself wondering about Leon's fate.
"Hello." A young, girlish voice chirped from beside Torga.
He lifted his chin and glared at the young black haired human-girl he found standing there. She appeared to be somewhere in her tweens, but Torga seriously doubted that was the case... She was standing here, after all.
"Just came by to check on you."
"I see. Well, I'll be much better if you'd LET ME GO!"
"Mmm... No." The girl cheerfully replied. A heartbeat later she was gone in a blur of motion, and Torga was left alone again.
"NO!! Let me go, you mother fuckers!! I've gotta get back to my family!!" He screamed. His screams seemed to echo off nothing as his words reverberated back onto him for several seconds.
"just... Let me go back to them... I promised..."
"Sup." A cracking male voice said from Torga's side.
This time, Torga didn't even bother to look at the owner of the voice. He'd been suspended in this place for what felt like hours, and in that time he'd seen well over thirty people pull this same stunt. They'd appear, refuse to tell him anything, then they'd disappear almost as quickly as they appeared. This boy would be no different...
"Hey, can you hear me?" The teenager asked.
"What do you want?" Torga finally asked.
"Oh, hey, looks like you can still speak." The boy said as he stepped in front of Torga. "How're you feeling?"
"I'm trapped in a void of nothingness with no idea how my family and friends are doing, or if they even survived... How the fuck do you think I'm doing."
"What?" The boy replied with genuine confusion in his voice. "Is that what you've been worried about all this time? Well, I can answer that for you."
That got Torga's attention. He lifted his head to look at the boy for the first time and... He had to pause at how familiar he looked. But Torga couldn't quite place just where he'd seen him before.
"Of course. All you had to do was ask." The boy said with a sad smile on his face. "They're all dead."
And just like that. Torga's entire world came crashing down around him. Logically he knew the boy could be lying. He could be saying that just to get under Torga's skin... But Torga somehow knew he wasn't lying. Something in the boy's tone, face, and body language conveyed nothing but the complete truth. Which meant, he was either the best liar Torga had ever met... Or he was telling the truth.
And from what he'd gleamed from the other beings he'd met in this place, they hated liars.
So Torga's mind raced, waves of energy flashed throughout his body like waves crashing against a shore, and the black hole began to spin at speeds Torga would have never thought possible... But he didn't notice any of it.
They're all dead.
They're all dead.
They're all dead.
These words echoed in his mind over and over again. Long after the boy disappeared in a blur of motion and several more people showed up to check on him, these words continued to repeat themselves inside his mind.
Over the course of what felt like days to Torga, but realistically could have been anywhere from ten minutes to a thousand years, his mind and body slowly began to change. Blood-red energy slowly began to leak into his bright amber eyes, the bright green lights his body was comprised of slowly lost their pigmentation and were bleach white. However, the most startling transformation wasn't a physical one... It was entirely mental.
If they were dead... Then why should the rest get to live?
"Hey." A familiar voice said from beside Torga. "How're you doing?"
He lifted his reddish-orange eyes to stare into the face of the man that brought him here. Torga's face was entirely devoid of emotion as he memorized this man's face. He would be the first to go.
"My family is dead."
"They're dead because you brought me here."
"Probably." The man agreed.
"I'll kill you."
Silence stretched out between the two men as they watched each other for several seconds.
"I know." The man said sadly before he vanished in a blur of motion.
Countless hours seemed to pass as Torga held onto the only thing that kept him sane.
He relived his time as a child with his parents before their deaths.
He relived his life with Sarah and the short, but wonderful years they had together.
He relived his life after her death as he raised their children alone.
He relived the days when he was just a small serpent on an alien world and the gorgeous moons that hung high overhead.
He relived his first conversation with Ayla and how startling similar she was to his sister-in-law when she was a child.
He relived the first time he realized just how alien this world was, and the moment he first laid eyes on the Titan holding up an island.
He relived his frantic retreat as the Leviathan chased him.
He relived the first time he met Lena, Fenris, Solon, and Hali.
He relived his fight to free Lena and Hali from the slave trader.
He relived the first time he met Findral, Siofs, Holstig, and Hogunn. His ever-loyal goblins... It was a shame he didn't get to see them one last time before the end.
He relived his anger as he stared into the heartbroken eyes of Ayla only days after she lost her grandmother to the hunger of a dragon.
He relived the moment he devoured that same dragon inside their shared mind-scape and merged with its body.
He relived the ten years he spent as an elf, traveling and living with Ayla and the other elves of her tribe.
... He relived the first time he met Lokir.
Over and over again, memories of his two lives flowed unendingly through his mind... And then he relived the first time he laid eyes on Reina.
"I'll always love you."
Tears of white energy trailed down his cheeks as he relived their first night together.
Their first kiss.
Their first caress as they tentatively explored each others body. Both desperately wanting it to be real, but fearing it was all a dream.
Then, the moment they let go and poured their all into the other.
The tears continued to trail down his cheeks as he relived Ayla's wedding, and the fear of god he put into Lokir moments before.
The moment the twins were born and the look of absolute happiness on Reina's face as she held them close to her chest.
And then... It was over. He was back in the white abyss with nothing but his thoughts and the madness that accompanied them.
"Howd—" A chipper voice began.
Suddenly, as if it were all an illusion, the white abyss cracked. The chipper young man that was just standing beside Torga burst into a hundred-million particles as he was absorbed into Torga's body... But Torga didn't care. His world, his life, his very reason for existing... Was dead. Dead because he was too weak to protect them. Dead because he failed them.
For once... Just once. He wanted to have his 'happily ever after'. He wanted to live out his days peacefully with his family by his side.
But no. His happily ever after was stolen from him again.
The abyss cracked again, and an endless stream of rainbow dots began flowing through the cracks. The dots swarmed around his body like water, and was absorbed almost as soon as they touched him.
Fine. If he can't have his happily ever after... Then no one can.
A third crack appeared in the abyss, letting another stream of multi-colored dots flow into Torga's body.
At some point, the 'thing' holding him in place vanished under the onslaught of raw power Torga's body was expelling, but Torga was far beyond caring at that point.
Absently, Torga became aware of a tall, stick-like man standing on the edge of his peripheral vision.
"You're back." The man said with crystal-like tears trailing down his cheeks.
Torga turned to face him. His expression was frozen in a mask of absolute apathy as he stared the man down.
"Welcome back, Fath—" The man burst into particles and was absorbed into Torga's body, and with his death, the abyss collapsed in on itself and Torga absently found himself floating in complete darkness. Well, aside from the countless multi-colored dots that continued to flow into his body.
Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, millenniums, eons. None of those words meant anything to Torga anymore. The only thing that mattered was the lights, and his memories.
However, after an unfathomable amount of time avoiding thinking about his last day on earth. Preferring to live in the memories of the 'good' times he had. He finally relived his last day on earth... And the last time he saw Ayla.
He reached inside his body and pulled out a tiny acorn that glowed with a faint blue light. The string that once allowed someone to wear it around their neck was gone, having probably dissolved years ago.
His first thought was to destroy it. To rid himself of the one thing that reminded him of the last time he was happy.
But he couldn't do.
He stared at the acorn for what felt like seconds as his memories of Ayla resurfaced... He started to cry.
His tears glowed brightly in the darkness as the trailed down his cheeks and landed in his open palm, unknowingly covering the tiny acorn in his tears. He knew he should stop himself, throw away the acorn and release himself from this torment... But no, not yet. Instead, he gently squeezed the acorn in his fist and rested his hand on his chest.
"I miss you all... so—so much." He choked out.
He opened his eyes and his fist to look at the acorn one last time... And noticed a tiny seedling sprouting from the center of the acorn.
Before his eyes, the seedling rapidly grew. Within what felt like moments it grew hundreds of tiny branches covered in bright green leaves. However, no matter how long Torga waited, it never seemed to get more than an inch in height.
Though he could never truly forget his sadness, he temporarily pushed it to the back of his mind as he placed the tiny seedling on what remained of the white abyss at his feet, then continued to watch as it sprouted roots that took hold in the white shards.
"I suppose it's just you and me, now." Torga whispered to the seedling.
The seedling seemed to perk up at his words. Its trunk stood just a bit straighter, its branches raised a little bit higher, and it's leaves glowed just a bit brighter.
"Yeah... Just you and me."