She held the life force in her palms and smiled.
It was pure and strong.
It came from Yggdrasil. The tree of life. Its branches spread and hugged the whole land, each leaf a different world. It was the most powerful thing in Middle Earth.
Dew edged along the gigantic roots, the squirrel Ratatosk screeching gossip. Of course, the girl standing before Yggdrasil was waiting. Yggdrasil always kept you waiting.
The life force in the hollow of her hand was overwhelming. Inside, she was churning and jumping, ready to go mad. Experience it for too long and you will somehow find yourself in The Valley of the Lunatics, where all the failed bards came. It was where the life force was the strongest. At least the strongest after Yggdrasil.
But on the outside, she remained calm and indifferent. They were testing her.
The girl was ready to go crazy. Her body was the fragile shell that separated her from sanity, and insanity. It was starting to break and shatter into a million pieces. One crack, two cracks . . .
Then it stopped. The girl wearily scrutinized her hands. She nearly panicked. The life force was gone! Her head snapped around, trying to find it. But she couldn't.
It was in the hands of a Norn.
No one knew what Norms were, but they were indeed in absolute power. They controlled destinies and fates. With a single touch, things could wither and die. They made Ragnorak happen, where everything died, even the gods.
The thing was, they were all women.
'You have proven yourself worthy, young one,' a particularly pretty one uttered.
The Norns didn't speak. They never did. They thought to you. But they seldom did that, unless you were important. Like the girl.
The girl opened her mouth to speak, but quickly closed it. She had forgotten that the Norns knew what you were thinking.
She had encountered them before. You couldn't show fear, or you would be deemed a coward.
The girl nodded slowly.
The Norn held out her hand. 'Come,' the Norn thought. 'You will be granted immortality. You will be able to control the entire universe with a single touch. You will be one of us.'
The girl rummaged over this. Was she really willing to do this? Give up her family, her friends, her life, for immortality?
She knew the answer.
'No. Come get me when I have lost everything,' she replied. 'Then I will become one of you.'
If Norns could smile, the Norn smiled.
'We understand. We will come for you when everything is gone. Your life is something hard to give up,' the Norn thought.
Then they were gone in a flash of light so spectacular, the girl had to shield her eyes.
And gradually, she made her trek back to her village.
It turned out the girl did become a Norn. Only when she had lost her husband, her children, and her friends, who all died before her. She was very old when she became one.
But when she did, her youth was replenished, her immortality was gained, and she was happy again.
She got to visit her loved ones in death, and they would always tell her she made the right choice.
Not by becoming a Norn, but by never leaving them.