The Grendels laughed. Angles said in rough English, “No. We keep Dark for the Nell.”
Aries looked surprised. “Who is Nell?”
“Nell brown.” Angles pointed to Kalin. “Like him.”
“Calissa?” asked Bilbo in surprise.
“Who?” asked Kalin.
“That little Norn baby that got captured. You were living with your mother, then. Remember???”
“Oh! I thought she would be dead by now!” Kalin gasped.
Aries looked puzzled. “Huh? I never heard of this ‘Calissa.’”
“Oh, of course you wouldn’t know,” Bilbo said, turning around. “You weren’t born yet. You see, one day a Norn baby was at the beehives. Her father was the lookout guard. He let her into the mover, and it started. Before he could stop the mover she was it was too late. Her father called her, but she didn’t know how to work the mover. She ended up with the Grendels. Your father Jalin tried to get her back but it was far too late. Her name was Calissa. Nobody has ever seen her again.”
Angles punched Bilbo and the old Norn fell over. “Nell is staying HERE!” he shouted, his eyes red with rage.
Aries grabbed the Grendel’s arm before he could strike again. The Grendel was strong, but Aries was stronger. Angles tried to shove Aries off or twist his arm away, but to his shock he could not. Leadernorns were very strong, and Angles couldn’t punch the Norn because it was against regulations. Aries firmly held the Angles’ arm for a few moments, then suddenly let go.
“We came here to talk in peace,” Aries said gently but firmly. “There will be no fighting.”
Monica helped Bilbo up. “You know,” she said through clenched teeth to the Grendel. “You have a lot of nerve, pushing a Norn down like that at a peace meeting!”
Angles laughed terribly. A wicked, cold laugh. “I don’t care ‘bout that feeble old Norn. But Dark will make a good Grendel. We won’t trade for stupid plants. Grendels not need plant. Dey eat coconut. Coconuts are good.”
Aries shrugged. “Okay. What do you say about these?”
Aries held up a bunch of toys. A ball, a jack-in-the-box, a Norn doll and a spinning top.
Doris groaned. “Dum ‘Norn’ spend all time play,” she sneered. “Grendels smart. Not play like foolish Norn. Work survive. Grendels bibble thinking about how to kill Norn while Norn bibble playing. Norn not live long.” She prophesised.
“Hey!” exclaimed Monica.
Aries glared at Doris. “We are not ‘bibble’ playing all day,” he said. “We have to work, too. Is there anything we can get you that will make you free Dark?”
The Grendels all shook their heads and grinned their yellow teeth.
Angles stepped up. “We don’t want your junk,” he said. “Dark will make a good Grendel. Dark belongs here. Even his name sound evil.” He hissed. “What are you talking about?” Kalin demanded.
“You stoopid Norn,” Angles went on. “You didn’t think that Dark is not Norn like you, huh?”
“What are you talking about?” Kalin insisted. “I know he’s not my REAL brother!”
Monica looked worried. Kalin was glaring something terrible at the Grendels.
“You know, Kalin, maybe we oughta go,” she whispered as she tugged at his arm.
“Come on, Kalin,” Aries said. “We’ll find another way.”
“but, but,” sputtered Kalin.
“Come on,” Bilbo said to Kalin. He put his arm on Kalin’s shoulder. “Aries is right.”
“Very well,” sighed Kalin, and the Norns picked up their belongings and slowly walked away.
Kalin let Monica and Bilbo guide him to the lift to leave. But he did not stop looking at Angles, who’s eyes seemed to flash in the moonlight.
That morning, Dark woke up. His leg hurt and his head was still a little dizzy but he was feeling better. Nell was sitting beside the cage. “Oh, hi,” said Dark. He winced with pain as he tried to move.
Nell watched Dark without saying a word. She threw a coconut slice through the bars. It was supposed to be a guessture of kindness, although it didn’t work out very well for Dark. “Ow!” he exclaimed as it smacked his head.
“Ooh agam takium, Darkognim pah,” she said finally.
Dark shrugged to show her he didn’t understand. “I don’t speak Grendlish, Calissa.” he explained.
“Me Nell,” shouted Nell. Then she swung her arm and socked Dark in the jaw.
Dark’s jaw throbbed with pain. “I know,” he said. “You Nell. Uh-huh,” he agreed. “Man, you have a temper,” he added crossly.
Then she socked him again.
Suddenly, she stiffened. “Galywag agum!” she declared in the deep Grendel language.
Dark looked up. Sure enough, the Galywag was marching up to his cage, surrounded by a bunch of other Grendels including Doris and Angles.
Galywag and Nell rambled on in Grendlish. Dark struggled to understand, but he had fallen asleep during most of his high school classes on how to speak Grendlish. He could only make out a few words. Galywag’s expression constantly changed, so it was impossible to know what he was thinking. Nell raised an eyebrow once or twice during the conversation, but otherwise she just looked bored.
Finally Galywag walked over to the cage, yelling out orders. “You there! You guard the mover! Doris, move your fat hide and take care of the western lift! Angles, Bashm, I want you two to make sure that the submarine and boat to not go to the island. Sally and Trent, you guys get your sorry little selves over here and release this creature!” When the Grendels did not respond, Galywag shouted in Grendlish.
Two lazy looking Grendels sheepishly woke up from a nap and trotted over to the restraining cage, and Galywag’s stern watch. Nell stood close by, and she looked amused at all that was going on. Dark held his breath as Sally and Trent pushed the special lever that freed him from the cage. It worked, and he soon found himself standing on the ground.
“Why are you letting me go?” Dark said, his heart pounding. He look surprised, and, although he didn’t know it, defiant.
“I’m not,” said Galywag crossly.
Dark looked around for a moment, and hesitated. Then he bit his lip, turned, and ran. He ran as fast as he possibly could. Where he was running, he didn’t really know. If he could make it to the cable car, just maybe he could get on it…. But when he reached the cable car he saw that Doris was guarding it, smiling her idiotic smile. She held out her arms, to push him away.
Dark felt rage growing up inside of him. He let all of this rage go toward his arm, and he punched her in the jaw. As soon as he did so, relief flooded through him.
“Gruah!” Doris cried out in pain and anger. Just then Dark heard footsteps and turned around to see Galywag behind him.
“That was very good, Dark. Very, very good.” Galywag said. He sounded impressed.
Dark turned around to look at Doris, who was nursing her jaw and cursing him in Grendlish. Dark was surprised to see that she was actually hurt. Norns were usually not very strong, and could certainly not inflict very much damage. But Doris’ face was bruised and a small amount of blood was beginning to show around her lips. Dark gazed at his arm in shock. What had he done? He had never known he had such a capebility. But in spite of himself, Dark secretly felt pleased.
“Didn’t know you could do that, did you, Norn?” Galywag asked.
“No,” said Dark, still in disbelief. “I-I didn’t know that,”
“Welcome to the Grendel Trees, Dark.”