The Magma Norn Story
The Lone Shee sat back engaged in a moment of quiet introspection and, not for the first time, wondered how long it would be until he finally caught up with the Ark. Keeping track of time was not his strong point and all this jumping through the Warp became a bit disorientating after a while. The thought crossed his mind that he still wasn't entirely certain that the reality he was in now was the reality he started in! This wasn't a new thought, but it still brought a shiver of fear and he couldn't shake it off.
Looking back the plan had been easy - simply make a ship and catch up with the Ark, he had so wanted to show-off the cool technology he'd been working on. He had been surprised to find no more Shee on Albia all those months ago (or was it years?) but things had been simple then; there was no room for fear when there was a plan to hatch. Grow a ship, thrust out of gravitational pull by blowing up the old island, follow the trail of the Ark, and hey presto - instant reunion and tea and biscuits all round.
It was only during the quiet times like these that the Lone Shee had time for feelings like fear, but now that he had started brooding a pang of guilt started to creep in too. The old island on Albia had always been a popular place for meditation and hedonism - the lap of the waves on the beach and the serenade of the love horn made for a magical place - but he had blown the whole thing up.
He took solace in the fact that he had given clear instructions to the Ettins he left behind but it wasn't enough. With a flash of determination he decided that the only way to be rid of this malaise was to attempt to warp to Albia and check up on the old place. Fear and guilt were replaced by focus and excitement as he calibrated his portal and stepped through the familiar blue swirl.
Warping to places you already knew was always more reliable, but he still had to do a double take when he found himself standing in what he thought would be the sanctity of the garden, but was now a barren land with poor sand-like soil. He looked in sadness at great Yggdrasil - the huge tree that had been the cornerstone of his youth - it was blackened and had no new growth to show.
Travelling across the ocean he had a good view of the island - and the cone of rock that now pierced the once tranquil beach. He walked across, stood on the rim of the huge crater and stared down into the molten core of Albia. The scale of devastation took him by surprise but he was pleased to see that at least some of his plans had been acted on. He could see the core had been capped with the vent design he'd given to one of the more reliable Ettins, and the new lift network had been created to allow travel between the surface and the underground laboratories.
Descending towards the red glow with the heat and radiation washing over him he caught sight of movement below - a brief flash of red and orange fur and then it was gone. Excitement gripped him again - how could he have forgotten?! The majority of the detailed plans he had given to the Ettins concerned structural work to Albia; capping the core, replacing the lift network, sealing up the gene labs ... that sort of thing. But at the time he had been postulating the effect of this heat and radiation on unborn lifeforms and so had asked them to pile up a stack of eggs when they'd made the place safe. Could the movement he just saw really have been a Norn? If so there was no doubting it was a descendent of the eggs placed here by the Ettins!
He reached the bottom of the volcano cone and hurried in the direction of the movement with glee. He was so pleased with himself that he almost ran into the Grendel - how he hadn't noticed the smell he would never know. The shock of almost bumping into the Grendel took second place though to what he could now see - the Grendel had cornered a beautifully marked Norn against a solid steel door and was laughing menacingly as it flexed and unflexed its fists in preparation for fun. Without thinking, the Lone Shee quickly fiddled with his portal controls and zapped the Grendel off to who-knows-where. The Norn was almost skeletal but had the most amazing fiery red and orange fur. It was visibly shaking from its near-death experience and the presence of the Lone Shee did not seem to calm it down at all.
Taking in his surroundings the Lone Shee saw that the cavern at the bottom of the volcano was surrounded by steel and rock - the huge door was locked and appeared to be the only way into the underground laboratories. Scattered around the floor were broken shell and bones - but they weren't fresh. Instantly the Shee realised the poor fate of his experimental eggs ... they had been placed here but the hatchlings had no access to food ... the poor Norns had probably starved to death in this fiery prison cell. Was this the last one? How many eggs had been placed here originally? The bones on the floor spoke of not tens, but hundreds of wasted lives. Cursing the Ettins (and himself for trusting such a responsibility to them in the first place) he checked his pockets for food.
He was interrupted by a huge crash behind him, and spinning round saw a Grendel picking itself up from the floor and grinning. Looking up he saw something that made his heart freeze, even with the heat of the core burning his face. Piled up on a raised platform were what were undoubtedly Grendel eggs - and from this platform dropped another two adult Grendels, and there were plenty more on the platform itself grinning down at him.
He could not take on all of these Grendels at once, so with a forced calmness he backed towards the Norn and groped for his portal control. The Grendels were advancing menacingly as he found the control, and three more dropped down to the ground behind them. They weren't quite as big as the Grendels who lived where he found the Fallow Norns, but with so many of them they were quite a threat!
His heart raced as a he dialed in the settings to get him back to Capillata and stared at the meanest of the green faces approaching him. It was within arm's reach now and the smell was terrible - he could see spittle dribbling down the Grendel's chin as it bunched its muscles and pulled a fist back ready to strike! In a flash the Shee grabbed hold of the Norn, activated the control and fell into the blue safety of the Warp.
Crashing back into the Capillata, the Shee shed a tear for the generations of Norn who had spent their lives trapped with the Grendels in that heat-hole but took a small amount of happiness from the fact he had managed to save the last of their kind.