Chapter 17 – What Does Yggdrasil Know and What Will It Tell?
"We are a couple months back in time and Yggdrasil says I can't contact Harry without causing a dangerous time tangle, but I want to report to Harry, in case something awful happens to all of us. Also, we need to carry a lot of supplies back to Hermione, or the injured will die of their injuries and the rest will starve. I know that is what we must do, but I don't want Harry not to know what we discovered or to think I forgot to contact him."
"You can tell Yggdrasil what you want to tell Harry. It will remember and deliver the message at the proper time. Then we must eat to build our strength, think what to do, and then we can travel back in time to the others."
That made sense. I left a long message for Harry, telling him what I knew, what directions my speculation traveled in, and how much I loved and missed him. Yggdrasil confessed to some blank, or at least hazy, spots in its ancient memories. It was very interested in my tale, although it feared that just my telling might tamper with its own history. Still, Yggdrasil was disturbed enough to give me a list of questions to ask of its earlier self. Yggdrasil messaged all of those in Valaskjalf that they needed to move to Valhalla for a few days. He wouldn't tell us who was in residence.
We Apparated to Odin's Valaskjalf dining room. His Elves had a sumptuous dinner on the table almost as soon as we could arrive. There was a half dozen choices of everything: salad, soup, entrée, vegetables, starch, dessert. I assumed that the excess would make up part of what we transported back in time to our marooned friends. As I, and the others, ate, Odin talked. We had several possible courses of action. He thought we would maintain our knowledge of the God-ribbon and how to reach the Asgard and Yggdrasil of long ago. If this were correct, perhaps we could intercept all the damage, before it happened. He could kill or imprison Frijjo before she led our team way back in time. There was a danger of changing history. We had our new knowledge, that wasn't a change. Many Acromantula and Aesir had perished in the fighting and the fire. It would be difficult to prevent those deaths without changing history. We knew the very limited number of Acromantula who survived. He could do research in his library to identify the Aesir who died in the fighting - at least most of the Aesir. Even if he could identify and find all of them, what was to be done with them?
"Asgard is very short of inhabitants," Odin stated the obvious fact. "Would it actually change history if we somehow could isolate those who should have died and move them to another world, where they and their descendants could live and flourish? Would it change history if those saved Aesir were transported back to Asgard a year from now? The intervening history would be the same, or at least the same as we are able to make it."
"As same as we can make it is not the same as not changing history," I reminded our host. "Frijjo did not cause the deaths of either the Aesir or the Acromantula. She merely brought us back to that time and place so that we would die with them. Even if you imprison Frijjo before she can lead us back, the Aesir and Acromantula will still die, just as they did many thousands of years ago. You'll prevent the injuries to Boldgog and Frijjo. That's it."
"Perhaps we can match history close enough, depending upon how good a job we do. The people who are seen to survive must stay virtually the same as happened. The forest must burn. Asgard must experience the pollution and abnormal cold caused by those fires. Perhaps history will correct itself and the pollution and the cold will kill those who should have died, but we failed to remove."
"Okay, where can you take them. Is there a suitable empty planet which you have the ability to transport them to?"
"I don't know, that's the subject for more research. I certainly know that there are planets which were populated but lost at least their Aesir-derived population. I think the necessary transport ability still exists. I can ask Yggdrasil to work on that. We also need a planet to which we can ship the spiders."
"Okay, that sounds barely possible, but at the risk of a major disruption of history."
"What Frijjo has done in seid-space has probably changed history more. We may still pay the price for her adventuring."
"What other options have you considered?'
"The most straight-forward is to simply return to the past, feed our friends, wait for them to heal, and then return to our time. The dead stay dead. There are two twists on this. We can allow Frijjo to be free, assuming she survives, or we can imprison her or kill her. There are many dangers if she goes free. She has far too many dangerous secrets. She has already tried to murder you - more than once, as you have told me. Given all she has done, I can't believe she plans a peaceful Vanaheimer. I fear that she will try to invade one or both of our worlds. It seems silly to place her in power and increase magic on Vanaheimer. If we don't imprison or kill her, before she leads you to the past, it is also possible that when we return to that past, we find that she has overwhelmed and killed our friends. She is far more devious and nastier than I thought. She frightens me."
"Is it possible to reliably Confund and Imperius a Vanir Goddess, or do you have a method of doing the same thing. We could learn what her other secrets are, including who her allies on Vanaheimr are and what she plans for her world and ours. We could then act appropriately based upon what we learn."
"Yes, we could do that. Yggdrasil and I have the necessary abilities. There is danger in this approach. Her allies may learn of her altered mental state and reverse it. Then we have a totally free and very angry Frijjo."
"I think she must have been very angry already, in order to do all that she has done."
We talked some more. We decided the safest approach was to go back quickly and in force. That gave Frijjo the least chance to cause trouble and our friends would have to spend the least time without more medical supplies or more food than Frijjo had brought just for herself. Once that was taken care of, we could return a second time and try to prevent the carnage, provided our joint research found a way.
We packed up the left-over food, plus a lot more. Odin brought four ravens, both wolves, and four Elves with him. Captain Davies and I had ravens. I brought two more Acromantula. Boldgog was cheered to see the additional spiders. We returned to Yggdrasil, stood in a tight bunch as it demanded, and found ourselves on the purple ribbon. We knew where we were going, and we moved fast. Odin left a raven at the point where we left the purple ribbon and a second at the point where the narrow path to the Yggdrasil cavern split off. I expected to follow that path, but Odin chose to exit the travel ribbon at the point where Frijjo had evicted us into the dark forest. "I have to see, or at least see through my birds' eyes, how bad the damage is. I know there was a lot of carnage, but I need to view it. I need to commit the faces of the dead to memory; in case we can save them. I request that you do the same."
We stepped off the ribbon. The air stunk and there was ash under foot. It still held some of its heat. It was necessary to be very careful where we stood or planted our feet, if we walked at all. I knew the direction to the well. Odin led us in the opposite direction. His wolves were complaining; they absolutely hated walking on the ash. I suggested that we halt and try to fashion cloth slippers and tie them to their feet, less they develop burn blisters. Odin thought this an excellent idea. It only took twenty minutes, with many of us working on the project. One wolf allowed me to grab its legs and tie cloth-lined soft leather to them.
Apparently, the approaches to the well were a locus of intense fighting. We passed many dead bodies, Aesir and Acromantula, before we covered the four hundred feet between where we left the ribbon and the point where the forest had ended. Now it was all ash. I had seen the well behind us. With no trees or bushes to hide it, the well was quite prominent. Some camouflage might be in order. Perhaps a mound of soil and ash. I walked past dozens of bodies, all too burned to identify. The demarcation between former grassland and former forest was marked by an arc of bodies. I had spotted several dozen bodies as I walked through the burnt forest. At the demarcation line, looking in both directions, I lost count of bodies, as I passed two hundred. They were split equally between Aesir and spiders. The faces of some of the Aesir bore recognizable features. I tried to commit these to memory, so that I would be able to Witch paint them later. I knew Odin would want that. But... there were greater needs he was ignoring.
"We must check in on our allies and given them our supplies. You can try to identify the dead, after we know our friends are alright. They can also tell us how much time has passed."
"I can tell than from the state of the forest. The fire burnt this area between three and four days ago. We left half a day after the fire started. I agree with you, we must check on our friends."
We contacted Yggdrasil and Apparated into an expanded parlour. The first thing I noticed was that Frijjo was propped up against a wall with a blood-soaked bandage wrapped around her eyes. "What happened?" I asked Hermione, pointing at Frijjo.
Frijjo tried to attack us; Fawkes happened to her. She hit me with pain worse than the Cruciatus and nearly killed the wounded female spider. I both 'Off!'ed her and treated her. For now, she effectively has no eyes. Fawkes got them both."
"Please wake her. Release your spell. I will protect you, although I think her harmless at present. I must speak to her. I must understand."
Hermione did as Odin requested. Frijjo jumped alert and almost fell over. Captain Davies caught her and propped her against the walls in one corner of the room. I saw that the gloves and the goop remained in place.
"Why, Frijjo? Why did you try to kill the Questers I sent to help you?"
"You are soft, because you plan to leave us. They weren't going to be much help to me, or my people and they sought our secrets. You are foolish to trust them. I'm sure you have just seen, close and smelly, the problems the spiders caused for your people. You plan to leave us, so you don't care anymore. You invited the spiders into your world and into seid-space. That all but destroys me. These are the suppliers of the lethal spiders. These are the ones who would bar me from seid space. I had one last trick that Gna left me. I could go to the deep past. There weren't spiders there yet, at least not spiders who would exist after the fire. They were out of ancient seid-space for the briefest time, when the fighting before the fire picked up. This was the one point in time to make my stand. To save all your worlds - worlds which will be my responsibility when you leave. But you chose Ginny over me. you made me do this."
"Ginny saved your life."
"After she destroyed my future. Look at me! What is the point of being alive now?"
"I can repair your eyes."
"But I won't be allowed in this part of seid-space, just as I am barred from our own time in seid-space. This is how I fight. You removed my weapon. You and Ginny have removed my allies. Gna was impossible to control, but she helped me. She gave me this last chance."
"Well, luckily for the rest of us, you wasted your last chance in a failed attempt to kill Ginny."
Hermione grabbed her head, dug fingers into her cheeks to force her jaws apart, and poured half a bottle, at least three or four doses, of spiked Veritaserum down her throat."
"That hurt. You dare to harm a Goddess."
"You used a pain curse upon me. Part of me wants to hurt you a whole lot more, but I'm a Light Guardian priestess."
We didn't learn a lot. She genuinely did not know the location of a possible entrance to seid-space on Vanaheimer. The normal entry point on any world was via its Black Stone. That was her understanding of royal Vanir legends. If an alternative route existed, it must be in the Village Vanir. That was where the other great magical circle had been. Yes, she now had one spot to which she believed she could Apparate into seid-space. We had done the same.
She gave the names of a half dozen key allies. We already knew half of them. The pathetic count of supporters she had told us about earlier was correct. She hadn't walked into Yggdrasil from the side ribbon she had woven the barrier across. She thought it simply the spot from which to Apparate to Yggdrasil in order to avoid the spiders of the forest. She had done so once, but there were spiders in the cavern, and she had hastily departed. She had travelled the purple ribbon far enough to find another purple ribbon which led to other worlds. She had visited Venera. It was where the dark Gods had come from. She hadn't known how they had traveled to Vanaheimer, but then she learned that Gna had discovered a transporter on the lowest level of the White Column chamber. Miomor had found and transported the dark Gods who had attacked us. The Questers couldn't be allowed to find the transporter. It was broken but might be fixed.
She was convinced that we would never help her, if we found the transporter. She feared we would never show her the respect she was due as the second-ranked God or Goddess on Odin's worlds. Odin would leave us in noncorporeal form quite soon. Then, by right, she should be the primary deity. That was the natural state of the universe. Frijjo had not sided with the dark Gods. Miomor truly was an opponent, if not the bitter enemy she claimed. The inhabitants of Village Vanir really did hate her. She really did wish to help her people and was willing to limit her rule to a few years, if that's what the Vanir wanted. She had no plans to invade Terra "at least for the immediate future, certainly not during your or your children's lifetimes, even with the life extension I know you already practice." She didn't think of it as invading Asgard. She would have waited for Odin to leave and then taken control. Who else could do it? The Aesir were both few and largely inbred dolts who killed each other off in family feuds. The spiders put an end to her plan. They barred her meaningful presence on Asgard. Perhaps Odin could control them. She could not. The only value of an Asgard without Odin was as an access to Yggdrasil and seid-space. The spiders would prevent that. She was terrified of the spiders. She knew she had failed in her mission to establish herself and her fellow Vanir in their proper position. It had been her plan to be a very kind and understanding ruler. She would improve the worlds. She thought she deserved that chance. Damn us and the spiders
"I don't need your pity. I don't need you to repair my eyes. It's over. I'd just as soon die. Why don't you just kill me.?"
Boldgog approached to do exactly that. "Please, don't. It shouldn't end like this," I beseeched her. "Nobody should voluntarily die with a mind possible addled by Veritaserum. There may be a way forward, which is acceptable to all, although I agree that way should not include her unsupervised presence in seid-space or her ability to destroy your people."