The low rumble of the volcano shook Ana out of bed; she woke dripping sweat with soot staining her clothes and skin. Another tremor rocked the ground, the volcano frightened her, she recognized the unyielding power it held and she scrambled back in bed terrified. Her room was a dark cave, the volcano heated the walls and it was like being in an oven. Her bed was a bundle of furs and straw. A pale light flickered, thrown by the river of flowing lava outside her door.
There was a bright shape moving through the river, it broke the surface ever so slightly as it moved, then suddenly it rose from the depths, lava cooling around its body in rivulets. It was a beautiful site. It walked calmly on top of the lava, which hardened were ever it touched it. Ana recognized this creature as the leader of the strange tribe she found her self amongst.
She called herself Caliente, but explained she never thought to give herself a name before Ana said her’s. She was a completely different kind of intelligence than anything Ana had ever come across. She seemed to come completely from the earth; her body was made up of molten rock that was in a constant state of heating and re-cooling. Her life force came from the volcano, she and all the others called it mother. Some days when the volcano was particularly active Caliente would be nothing but a vague shape of red-hot lava, slithering across the earth.
Right now however she retained her bipedal shape, she looked like a volcano stuffed into a human figure. Her extremities were extremely long, her arms sometimes trailing into the lava. She was over seven feet tall, but very thin and delicate. Ana found herself staring and decided to get out of bed; it was obvious Caliente was coming to talk to her anyways.
She went to look at herself in the mirror, it wasn’t a real mirror just a clear blue stone polished and stuck into the wall. She had to ask for it special when she first arrived, and it took some explaining before any of the fire monsters were convinced that she just wanted to look at her self. It was very beautiful and reflected her perfectly, although in blue. She looked tired, black soot covering her face. Caliente stepped into her cave and seemed amused that she was looking in the mirror. Her body was scaled down now, changing to soldering black, only her arms remained active dripping lava on the ground.
“Admiring yourself again?” Caliente’s voice sounded in her head. Although she had a mouth it seemed to be only for looks and not for functionality.
“Hardly.” Ana turned to look at her, she didn’t seem solid. Flames spurted out randomly from her body like solar flares. Ana didn’t stand to close.
“I think we found what you have been looking for.”
This shocked Ana, a smile broke across her face and she laughed full-throated. She never thought this day would come. She remembered watching her ship burn in the lava, the gleaming gold melting and swirling into the molten rock. She thought about killing herself on that day, just flinging herself into the volcano she was so desperate. Lost and alone on a strange planet.
She managed to drag her self to the mouth of the volcano; it must have been over a mile wide, she felt small in its presence. That was the first time she saw them, gliding across the lava, hundreds of women dancing. She decided not to kill herself; all of a sudden things didn’t seem so bleak.
“How can you be certain?” the memory of the stinging sulfur at the top of the volcano was still vivid.
“I felt it; the power it has scares me. I think it scared mother too. She pushed it far down into the earth. Far, far down, further than any of us have every gone before.”
“It’s just alien to you, your mother scares me in the same way, because we’re two different kind of things.”
“But mother comes from the earth, mother is the earth. What you are seeking seems unnatural.” Her eyes burned a bright red, and smoke rose from the top of her head.
“It’s magic, wars have been fought over it for millions of years. It’s destroyed entire worlds with its power; someone must have tried to destroy it by throwing it in the volcano. That’s what we thought when I was first sent here. The story goes that Thor him self tried to do away with it even though it gave him his godly powers.”
Ana stepped back in front of the mirror and tried to flatten down her hair. Then she moved to the far wall were she hung her armor and sword every night. When Caliente saw what she called a primitive weapon she asked if she could borrow it. At the end of the day when she returned it the blade was red hot and never seemed to lose intensity. Ana treasured it. Caliente watched her don her armaments with curiosity; they were both a mystery to the each other.
“Must you have it? We all love you very much. We don’t want you to go.” Their eyes meet, Caliente’s red rings of fire, burning bright and unable to read, her gaze was sincere.
“But this is not my home, I am not like you. I’m just flesh and blood.”
Caliente reached out to her, her arm quickly turning to stone. Her touch was smooth, like glass and warm to the touch. She would miss these creatures; they were capable of beautiful things.
“I will get this treasure for you, if you think it’s what you need.”
“It’s the only chance I have of getting home.”
Caliente did not reply, rivulets of lava burst open from her body and started to slither toward the flowing lava. All that was left was an ashen hunk that looked like her. Ana could tell she was depressed but her excitement was too much, she might actually make it home, to Asgard.