Aries heard the news and quickly decided what they must do. All the Norns came to the Garden where they held a quick meeting. Aries yelled out orders— “Bilbo, you guard the temple! John, I want you at the cable-car/lookout post! Zelda, you guard the entrance to the Shee City from the mines! The rest of you come with me. We have to organize a rescue mission for Dark.”
Now Kalin was watching as Aries handed out Grendel-zappers. Aries handed Kalin one.
Kalin put his hands up. “No, no, not me,” he protested. “I don’t like guns.”
“I didn’t ask you if you liked them, Kalin,” said Aries as he dropped it into Kalin’s arms.
“Shouldn’t you give it to one of the guards?” Monica asked. “Bilbo doesn’ t have a gun!”
Aries shook his head. “I know something about Grendels, and my instincts tell me that they aren’t going to leave their territory for a while, because they will be taking care of Dark.”
Gordan, a nasty old Norn spoke up. “I don’t agree with Aries!” he exclaimed. “What does he know about Grendels? He’s still an adolescent for goodness sake!”
“I’m a young leader but I am still the leader.” Aries said to Gordan. “My father was the leader before me and my father’s father was the leader, too. I inherited it, and I think that I have proved that I can rule you all properly, despite my age!”
Gordan refused to back away. “Listen to him speak! He is only a child! How does he know what to do?”
Aries didn’t say anything and he turned away, angrily. Monica felt sorry for Aries. He was the best leader they had had in a long time, but because of his age, nobody gave him any credit.
Gordan followed Aries. “Walkin’ away on me, eh? There was a time I could have been king—when your father’s father was chosen. Not picking me was the biggest mistake Norns could make.”
Monica glared at Gordan. Then she saw Kalin put his hand firmly on the old Norn’s shoulder. “Now is not the time,” he said, but with a harshness that Monica had never heard in Kalin. It made her want to put her arms around him and ask if he was alright. She knew he was worried about Dark.
Day came. Dark woke up to find himself in a cage. His leg was tightly bound with some sort of crude bandage. It had certainly swollen up. He tried moving it, and to his dismay found it hurt far too much. He looked around, but the Grendels were not near him. He could hear them talking rough English in the distance.
Then he heard a voice. “Foo agam org,” it said in Grendlish. But it was not a Grendel’s voice. It was high and soft, like a girls’ voice.
Dark tried turning around. “Huh?” he asked. “Who’s there—OW!” Pain shot through his leg like a rocket. Irritated, he lay back down. He felt too sick to do much else but lay there, anyway.
Then a girl Norn stepped in front of him. Her white hair was wild and wavy and looked like it hadn’t been combed in a year. She looked pretty strong, and her fur was tanned a little bit darker then a Norn of her color should be. She was holding a coconut and a bottle of milk. Curiously, she peered through the bars and hurled a coconut slice at his face.
“Thanks, I guess,” Dark muttered, peeling the oozing coconut off of his cheek.
“Yaya,” said the girl.
“Coconut,” corrected Dark crossly.
“Caca?” she asked.
“Coconut,” Dark replied, a little more clearly this time.
“Co-co-nut,” repeated the girl slowly.
Dark picked up the slice and sucked the juice out. It reminded him how thirsty he was.
“Could I have something to drink?” he asked hopefully.
The Norn looked confused. Then she pointed to Dark. “Dork,” she said.
“Dark,” he corrected.
“Nono,” the girl Norn said with a laugh. “Dork!”
“Dork?” Dark asked. Then he understood. “I’m not a dork!” He said with mock dignity. The two Norns laughed.
Then the girl Norn pointed to herself. “Nell.”
Suddenly, Dark remembered the story about the Norn baby, Calissa, who had been captured by the Grendels when she accidently got on the cable car. Aries’ father, Jalin, had been the leader then. He had talked with the Grendels, but they refused to free Calissa.
Dark had only been a little baby himself. He could barely remember Astrid talking about it. Now this strange adolescent Norn that lived with the Grendels—Calissa?
“You’re Calissa,” Dark said slowly, clutching the bars on the cage.
Suddenly the Norn’s smile faded away. She gave him a funny look, and her lips quivered, as if she was about to say something but decided not to. Nell turned away. Dark looked at her curiously. She glared, not at anything in particular, but as if she was remembering something sad or painful. Then she sighed, and the angry look intensified on her face.
“Aren’t you,” Dark asked softly.
Nell snapped out of it. “NONO!!!” she screamed, throwing the bottle of milk at his face. “Nell here!” She glared at him, then ran away into the trees. Dark watched her go, milk trinkling into his brown, spiky hair. He was surprised to find that he was not angry. Instead, he felt sorry for the strange Norn, whoever she was. Dark sighed and whiped some of the milk out of his hair.