Chapter 18 – Is There A Plan Forward?
"I understand that both of you thinking I already have one foot out of Asgard doesn't help the situation in general or your ability to work together in particular. I'm willing to stay a few more years, if that will improve the transition. After thousands of years, a few more hardly matter. I'm also still learning. The encounter with the dark God's has given me pause about going solo into space as a being of magical energy. I must talk with the Light Guardian."
"You favour Ginny. I need her Questers to help me fight the battle for a just government of the Vanir."
"You insist that she and her people install you in power. I do not favour Ginny. I have done nothing to make her the ruler of her people. Both of your people must choose their own leaders. If I choose, your people will revolt against my choice. If Ginny becomes your army, your people will not accept you and will kill both of you. You ask too much. You must win the support of your people. There is no other way. I won the support of my people long ago. I didn't win it as their God. I wasn't a God then. I won their support as a warrior-leader whom they trusted to treat them fairly and not selfishly advance only my own interests. I know it is harder for you, since you've been away from Vanaheimer for so long. That can't be helped. There are no shortcuts. You should be able to use your Godly powers to identify friend and foe and to prevail in skirmishes. You got those Godly skills through me and the opportunities I gave you to learn and grow. I have been far more loyal to you than you have to me. You have no complaints."
I expected an angry rejoinder, but Frijjo was silent. Perhaps she didn't trust her mind on Hermione's spiked Veritaserum.
Odin was reassuring Boldgog that the Acromantula were safe and under his protection. He and the other spiders were welcome to re-establish a colony in this time and protect the ancient seid-space.
"I listen. You only be here several years. Then she kill us."
"I'm willing to stay a little longer if that is necessary. Does that help?"
Apparently, it didn't help a lot. It also didn't please Frijjo. "So, I am to be barred from this portion of seid-space. You aren't helping me at all. You owe me for sort-of ruining my Quest and life, by almost kidnapping and raping me, when I was barely more than a young, kind-of innocent girl."
It can be iffy translating Vanir to English, but I think I faithfully captured the flavour of what she said. She clearly hadn't fully recovered her ability to lie. Equally clearly, the version Odin told me of this tale was the more accurate one. Odin again protested his innocence.
"I fully adhered to Quest rules. I returned to my bed after dinner and found you in it. That made you fair game. Be honest, you were desperate to avoid marriage to an ineffectual old king, whom your brother sought to over-throw. All the claims of wrongly capturing and bedding you were part of Freyr's plot - the real Freyr. You were a schemer from the day I met you. Admittedly an extremely beautiful schemer, but not in the least bit innocent or honest. You weren't a Goddess, you weren't greatly respected by your people - Freyr finagled you into leading the Quest, and you never intended to return to Vanaheimer after the Quest. Freyr didn't want you there. You had to be not the widowed queen, but a martyr. It would have suited your brother's purpose best if you were dead. I can tell by the way you spoke that you recognise all of this as truth. I made you what you are today."
"Yes, you made me, faults and all. And now you are in the process of walking away, leaving me with no good landing spot and no way to properly use my talents. What do you expect me to be when you are gone? It's nice that you want me to live, but I can't be anything approaching my best self if I can't study and work in seid-space. That is my strongest skill. The only one at which I am demonstrably better than you. I feel freest when poking around in seid-space."
"I certainly would not deprive you of the ability to visit seid-space. I want you to be happy. We all can benefit from your skill. Ginny and I both have lots of spots in seid-space that we want to investigate. I'm sure you've seen many of them and that some are new to you. You are welcome to join us. It should be a great adventure, as Cissy says. You just won't be allowed to enter seid-space without an escort, a rather large escort. I am not a complete fool. I know you have conspired against me and those under my protection. You will work toward agreed, common goals in seid-space, and we will all thank you for putting your skills to good use."
"It's hardly the same sense of freedom in a group and having to get pre-approval for what I do."
"Too bad, it's your own actions which prevent that freedom. I have others I am responsible for protecting. I will protect them as well as you."
"I might just prefer to die."
"You no longer appear to be under the influence of Veritaserum, so I, and I'm sure Ginny, will agree that you have the right to make that decision. Boldgog here remains willing to assist you, I'm sure."
I did not get a mental message from Boldgog, but all eight of her legs drummed excitedly on the stone floor.
"Would you like me to heal your eyes, while you think?"
Frijjo's sightless eyes stared at Boldgog. That likely gave her better sound directionality if she had to strike out to defend herself. "Yes, please repair them. I'll need them if I decide I want to live on your terms."
"It is important that you be completely still. This is very delicate healing. You must be completely flat. Then either Ginny can use her knock out spell on you or I can magically bind your head in place on the floor. What I must do is going to take close to an hour. Then you will need to be very still for several days, while Yggdrasil promotes your healing. I will have just about ten more minutes of work on you after that, followed by another day of healing, then you should be almost as good as new. You will have to stay away from bright light for about a week. Do you understand that."
"Yes, I know eyes aren't easy. I want to go ahead. I lean toward Ginny's curse, but fear nobody will remove it."
"I wouldn't do that," I protested. "Besides, the reason this is not an Unforgiveable Curse is that it wears off within a day, even if I don't remove it. That's a part of our law. Otherwise you could use the curse in a way that the victim just starved to death. That would make it a killing curse."
"That's what I choose. Although you contradict yourself. Your 'Kill!' is both legal and a killing curse. I also fear that you and Odin will go exploring in seid-space while I am incapacitated."
"I don't know about Odin, but I do intend to do that. We need to learn as much as we can as fast as we can."
"What if you make a very serious error which I could have prevented? Small errors this far in the past can devastate our time."
"I'm willing to promise not to make any edits, unless we find something that is such an immediate danger that it can't wait."
"There is something which you may find, which might look immediately dangerous, but really isn't. Changes could be dangerous, without my help. I promise it's safe for at least a month."
"We'll bear that warning in mind. Where is this spot?"
Frijjo was silent for too long, if her goal was to be helpful. She finally gave us directions to the spot and told us what we would find there."
"Who will care for me while you're gone, and will I at least be awake."
"I promise to wake you before we go."
"I will stay and care for you," Odin explained that this was his duty.
"No! Cho or Hermione will care for me. Hermione and Ginny are not as adept at seid as they think they are. They will mis-read the situation and make an error. You must go with Ginny."
Odin pronounced his efforts to heal Frijjo "most successful". I woke her. She seemed a little surprised by both of our actions. It seemed that she expected to be killed and had wanted to be "Off!" when that happened. Her mood gradually brightened. Not for long.
As I gathered our team for exploration of seid-space and Odin and we packed everything we thought we would need, Frijjo's mood dimmed considerably. "Please don't think too badly of me. We each have our dark fears."
That's all she said, but it increased my certainty that what we found in seid-space would be bad.
Our traveling party was Odin, me, Boldgog, Aagog, Captain Davies, Barb, and Cissy. We took the route through the cavern and the narrow pathway back to the main travel ribbon. From there we had to walk only several hundred feet. There was a lot of weaving in this area. What looked to be the obvious main path was woven shut. That seemed the obvious place to start. We decided to just cut the weaving at the right edge and bottom. That would be easy to repair yet let us all pass through. Aagog and Boldgog agreed that the smell attached to the knots was "Frijjo. She do this. We must see what she change."
There actually were a few of the moving pictures along this section of ribbon. There were two groups of pictures within a hundred feet of Frijjo's weaving. The first section we reached showed the forest afire. Small groups of Aesir were lighting the fire. A picture showed Acromantula fleeing down the well.
"That's different," I pointed Odin to that picture. "Some of the spiders escape in this version. I think there also are fewer fire starters," I pointed at the first picture I had found, "and it's very clear to me that they just lit the fire from blazing torches they carried. I see no evidence of Fiendfyre."
Odin agreed with me. He urged me forward, as if he needed to know all the changes immediately.
The second group of pictures showed Aesir and Acromantula quarreling, but with violence limited to swords and Aesir being shoved to the ground. A few Acromantula seemed to be short a limb, but I saw no dead.
Odin led us back to the midpoint between the two picture groupings. "The rest of you must stay and guard this spot. Ginny, Aagog, two Elves, two ravens and I will explore."
I matched Odin's boldness as I stepped off the ribbon. Odin lofted his raven toward the treetops. Our Elves were in invisibility mode. We walked toward where the well must be. I realised that the ribbons we were on now and before must just meander around a small section of forest, since the well always seemed to be very close. We had moved in time rather than space. I urged Blacky into the air in the opposite direction to that chosen by Odin's bird. We didn't have to walk far before we encountered to medium-sized Acromantula. I could 'hear' Aagog's mental greeting echo in my head.
Hello, brothers. I am friend and these humans are friends. We come to learn what is happening here and stop fighting.
The answer came back from the lead spider.
They drive us from the ribbons of time. They say 'leave our world, or we kill' - leave now. They say there is new world for us. We are too dangerous."
I asked Aagog how the Aesir thought they could move to another world. Aagog asked and the answer came back: Yggdrasil! We have one day.
Odin told us that he must visit Yggdrasil to learn what he could. We must explore the alternate history weaving which changed the story from moving to another world into one of total carnage. He explained to the two Acromantula the future created by "a bad interloper from another world, who looks like my people, but is not one of us. A vile creature I brought to this world. You must take me to Yggdrasil quickly. I know it in a far future time and tomorrow."
I recalled Blacky. He landed quickly and I read his birds-eye view. He showed me scenes of a forest surrounded by Aesir, but obviously far fewer than must have fought in the battle, where Odin and I saw hundreds of dead Aesir in just a rather narrow wedge of forest and surrounding pasture. I also saw a dozen streams of spiders flowing toward the well.
We walked onto the ribbon. I thought a summary of what we had learned to Boldgog as he led us to the rest of our party. They had followed the narrower path, half of a right turn, from the direction of the path Frijjo had sealed. I saw a group of pictures. It showed a very large number of Aesir mounting a Fiendfyre attack upon the forest. I found the main group of our party two hundred feet farther down the path. They were studying a grouping of pictures. I had passed another grouping without stopping, finally heeding Boldgog's insistent command: Hurry!
Cissy pointed at the central picture. Gna and Frijjo stood with a tight knot of perhaps two dozen Aesir. They obviously were instructing them on something. I could guess exactly what magic the Aesir were learning.