Chapter 2 – Dinner With Frijjo
A very sharply dressed young guard stopped by our room at exactly sunset and escorted the four of us to Frijjo's private dining room. I noticed at once that the room was too small to comfortably accommodate our whole party. Before I could raise an objection, Frijjo explained her plan.
"I need to meet with just the official government representatives. The rest of your two teams will dine in the Reception Hall. I know that you scared little Witches feel that you require Barb to protect you. She can stay. She has some rank in your Auror Corps, but Penelope is too junior to join us. She'll have to eat with the others. Cho will be joining us as the official representative of the European Wizards – no, I don't count Britain as part of Europe, and neither do you. Captain Davies, Percy, Aagog, Catta, and Tendra will be dining with us. I'm sorry both that this room can't fit Cantring and Pegasus and that their people never identified them as official representatives. You might want to see about correcting that problem."
The other persons she mentioned had been escorted into the room, before she finished speaking. Cho sidled up to me "we're ready to replace the calcites, whenever. We can get some sleep after dinner, or we can finish the project by mid-morning – your choice."
Frijjo directed us to our seats, telling us that it was pleasant chit chat only, until the servers left. I didn't see any servers, but they arrive with drinks and soup as soon as my bottom hit my chair. I saw that Arce had joined us. She sat right between Hermione and me. "I leave to be ambassador to your world as soon as the circle inside the pyramid is repaired and tuned. Deena will be your main contact after I depart. I believe that will be within the next two days."
The servers were gone and Frijjo quickly switched to business. "What must be done to get the pyramid circle working within the day?"
When Cho explained the state of affairs, Frijjo immediately instructed "then the work must be done immediately. Our situation is precarious. Are there objections?" She looked straight at me as she said that last part.
"As long as we tend to security, I have no objections. We brought swords and Cantring has a bow and arrows. Your loyal guards must be prepared to fight in the absence of magic. There will be no magic for half a day. You need to be able to keep at least this building and the pyramid secure during that time. I also think we must control the circle beside the railroad tracks. Part of our group and you or some of your most trusted guards must go there right after dinner, to secure that circle. We can boost its power as the pyramid circle is turned off. That way fewer of your people will feel the loss of magic. If there is trouble, we will be able to turn off the railway circle."
"Right after dinner, because you are afraid, I will contact supporters to ambush you there, if you wait longer?"
"No, right after dinner, because that is when the pyramid circle will be turned off for repairs. I have no doubt you can communicate through the Great Black Stone or even through Yggdrasil if you wanted to alert your fighters, while we eat, and that they would be at the railroad track circle, before dessert was served. Since you've touched on mistrust, I must take this time to tell you that Aagog discovered hidden quartz cylinders, ruby cylinders, and white diamonds near the ceiling of the White Column pit. I believe that Cantring is presently guarding them."
"And when had you planned to tell me this?"
"I thought Cantring would be here and we could just give them to you now, but since we aren't all together, I decided to just tell you now and we can both talk to Cantring after dinner."
The food was very good, and it was served with wine from a strange fruit, rather than the wood alcohol Miomor had served us. The wine was good, if overly sweet, and had a strong taste of cherry and almond. No worries – Hermione tested for poison, while I spoke with Frijjo.
Frijjo changed directions completely as the main course of a pungently aromatic vegetable stew was served. "We must speak of Odin. I know that he asked you to bring more of your giant spiders to Asgard. He wishes them to enforce his control of seid space. Despite what he told you after Aagog bit me, he now seems to believe that one of the older spiders could kill me…"
"My mother bite very, very hard," Aagog told her. "She bite, you die."
"That may be true," Frijjo lamented. "I'm not as strong a Goddess as I once was. Even the charging oval can hold back time for only so long. I believe Odin believes that I am vulnerable to the spiders. He means to end my practice of seid. That means he no longer trusts me not to interfere with his plan to become fully spirit. I'm convinced that he still loves me and wishes me well, but he will brook no interference with his plan to move on. He plans to leave you and me and our worlds in charge after he departs. That is why he insists that you and be friends. Our worlds will be responsible for everything and everything will end if we fight each other. Odin has little faith in his fellow Aesir. He is wise to recognise their degeneracy. I am not pleased to see Odin rush his departure; He will leave a very great mess behind. I love him too much to stop him if becoming a spirit is what he truly desires. I am unsure if I will ever see his face again. He gives me and Vanaheimer our freedom in order to be rid of us. He thinks your people are the future. If I am to do any more seid to help myself and my world, I must do so very soon.
"I tell you what I believe. Odin does not wish to fight another Ragnarök. He thinks he can become full spirit without my seid interference. Both of us lose a lot if Odin departs. We both take part of our authority from him. You told him too much about my early seid attempts to weaken him, but it is Miomor and Gna who turned him firmly against me. His last goodbye to me was so… final. He is not the old Odin. What have you noticed?"
"I was surprised when he said it was right that his observatory and Valaskjalf be covered with forest and taken over by nature and the Acromantula. I agree that he sees an Asgard without himself. I didn't take his comments to mean he expects to leave within the year. It will take several decades for the forest to re-establish and the number of Acromantula to increase."
"That is very bad. It can be especially bad if Sigrun and the minor Gods of the Aesir quickly grasp Odin's intentions. If Sigrun thinks that Odin will no longer be on Asgard to support Valhalla and the Valkyrie, there is no telling what she would do. She'll certainly seek a new sponsor. The Aesir fear the spiders. There are many, many folk tales. They are remembered as nearly invincible demons. In the end, the Ancient Aesir burned the forest totally, then drove the spiders from seid space. Many Aesir died. It is their greatest nightmare. There is no telling what a people will do when forced to relive their historic nightmare.
"There are those who would free Odin's brothers and help them to depose him. I know Vili and Ve still live. Odin could not bear to kill them. It is like your people and Azkaban. You can't kill even your worst rebels and outlaws, but you can chuck them into the worst imaginable prison, where they are tortured daily, until they just die on their own."
"Or escape. We stopped using Azkaban. We stopped even before it was destroyed. You are right, it was just too cruel. I have received my third warning about Sigrun. You can trust me to be wary."
Dessert arrived and Frijjo left that conversation, as if it had never happened, although she did send a wink in my direction. I was sure that Hermione and possibly Cho, who was right across the table from us, had heard every word. They would analyse every word with me tomorrow. Worse, I would have to go through a repeated dissection of each sentence with Harry and Tony.
Frijjo was back to replacing the calcites tonight. "Yes, we definitely must control the circle beside the railroad tracks for the full time that the pyramid circle is out. One of my favorites of the youngest royal generation guards it for me. I wanted to control that circle to prevent an incident or attack, when my opponents found that your team had arrived. Many thought you wouldn't come at all; that Miomor, Gna, and I had spoiled the chance for our peoples to be friends. Others thought that if you came, your arrival was weeks away. Your appearance today must have come as a shock to many. No telling how they will react. My many-times-great nephew Arti agreed to guard the circle, with the help of his girlfriend, Pisa. Arti is one of the few royals who truly loves and trusts his Auntie.
"We must arrive in force to help Arti. Once magic fails in the capital, my enemies in Village Vana will come to seize the railway circle. You and several of your best fighters must come with me. I'll bring several of my personal guards. The rest of your group must defend the pyramid, while the repairs are in progress. As you know, the Great Black Stone can help them, but I know that you brought some of your special weapons with you. They must be kept at the ready. This may be a most dangerous night."
Hermione and I assured her that we were willing to help and could certainly do all of that. I told her that she must bring her pendant, so that she could kill the railway circle if that was required.
"I'll bring it. I trust you not to steal it, since you willingly returned it to me. But you must know that the pendant only works on purple diamond circles – on natural purple diamond circles. I'm not stupid. I know you would have fought returning the pendant if it were able to control circles powered by Hermione's purple diamonds. I don't know why Hermione's diamonds should be good enough to power a circle properly, yet sufficiently flawed that my pendant can't control them, but I'm certain that's the case."
"It is. I'm just not at all certain that we won't find the railway circle has one of the original purple diamonds, or that the attackers from Village Vana won't bring one with them."
"You are a cautious one. Finish your cake and we'll be on our way."
It was very good dark chocolate cake, but I wolfed down the rest of it. We collected Cantring and the others, distributing assignments and returning what Aagog had found to Frijjo. I wanted Hermione, Cho, and Cantring to come to the railway circle with us and then return to the pyramid. Scathach, the Caileach, Aagog and Barb would stay with me to help guard the railway circle.
"We need to transport into the circle cavern. I can land my team away from the circle. I'll aim for rear of cavern, toward right side looking toward the circle. Everyone use the 'Off!' curse if we meet resistance. Cantring will use arrows."
"I'll bring my guards in atop the central stone," Frijjo promised.
Each group arrayed itself in fighting position and held hands. "It will be: three, two, one, now - go on now." Frijjo ordered. "Okay. Three, two, one, now!"
It was instantly obvious that more than Arti and Pisa were in the cavern. I saw at least a dozen Vanir and quickly started firing off curses. I dropped three of the defenders. When I turned to find another target, the only defender standing was a young, adult, female Vanir, who was bent over with an arrow in her thigh. I thought it better to 'Off!' her before tending to her wound and did exactly that.
"I'll kill that traitorous Arti", Frijjo yelled from atop the lodestone. "The girl with the arrow is Pisa. I don't care if you heal her or let her bleed out. She and Arti betrayed me. Yes, of course you can save her, but first we must bind and disarm all who have fallen. I don't know how long your curse lasts. Ours are good for almost an hour."
I made certain that Pisa was thoroughly gooped, before magically removing the arrow from her thigh. "Remove your curse," Frijjo ordered me.
I quickly complied. Almost immediately, Pisa was screaming as Frijjo cauterised her wound with a screwdriver she had magically heated. The wooden handle was smoking, and it burst into flame as Frijjo tossed it aside.
"Unless you want to find out what I can do with a hammer, you had better start talking," Frijjo shrieked at Pisa. "What is this? You and Arti were supposed to guard the circle alone. Who are all of these... others?"
"They're friends. They were just helping us to protect the circle, as you ordered. They're all on your side. Why do you torture me? Arti will be very angry at you."
"Nonsense, I recognise that one over there." That comment was punctuated by Frijjo throwing the hammer at the defender in question. It bounced off his leg. I think he was one of the defenders whom I had Offed. If so, he would know nothing of this and would awake, after I removed my curse, wondering how he hurt that leg.
"Alright, I'll tell you. You aren't wanted here. You don't even count as Vanir. You are Odin's whore and a traitor to true Vanir. You also should have died centuries ago. We weren't going to allow you to come here and live another life lording it over us. Arti should rule. He was educated for that. He is very brave and a proper Vanir. Also, smart: he knew you would come here, when repairs on the pyramid circle were to begin. We came. We waited. We almost had you."
Frijjo pointed her finger at Pisa. Pisa became silent and still. I hoped that Frijjo had used her equivalent of 'Off!' but something about the way Pisa had gone rigid, prior to becoming still, suggested that a more lethal curse had been used. I also realized that with just over a dozen prisoners and with Frijjo in such a deadly mood, I couldn't send as many back to the pyramid as I had hoped. I decided to keep Hermione and Cantring with me, sending the others back with the message that this circle was secure and that they should start work on the pyramid circle.
I turned back to find Frijjo standing over Arti. "Stop! Just please stop!" I yelled at Frijjo.
"Do you really mind that much if I kill this traitor? Your Mother ethics are making you weaker than you need to be. This is a war."
"Bloodthirstiness clouds the judgment. Certainly, you want to question Arti and find out what he knows and why he did this."
"I agree. It may be fun to question him. I know why he did this. He is far too ambitious and only pretended to like and support me. You were right, by the way: I did find a purple diamond at the center of this circle. I can't tell it it's Hermione's or an original."
I felt a shiver. The pyramid circle had been turned off. "Should we power this circle higher, before magic is missed?" I suggested to Frijjo.
"I don't think quite yet. Let my enemies think their plan is working and find out what comes next. Let's give it one of your hours and then power this circle fully. It will be a good test for this purple diamond. You might want to take cover, when I do that."
"You don't know what the opposition's plan was. Perhaps this group was supposed to crank up this circle, as soon as the pyramid circle dropped out. Perhaps they were supposed to re-tune it for dark magic. I think you should test whether your pendant can control it. That should tell you what sort of purple diamond powers it."
"Good idea. I'll tweak it just a little. The pendant is capable of more than a crude on and off. Yes, it works, so the diamond isn't Hermione's. I wonder where Arti got one of the good ones. I am now very pleased that you stopped me from killing him. It seems that he has far too many secrets. I was certain that I had more than enough skill to determine when one such as this lies to me. He fooled me. That is not at all good. Truth telling was one of my best defenses. That leaves me in a grim spot. There are several hundred royals who could lie to my face and I'd never know it. Several hundred rulers who dream of they or their clan ruling the Vanir. I may have to end the monarchy. I make hundreds of deadly enemies if I try to preserve it. End it and they will fight for the survival of their privilege, but they will be neutered. When you return home, you must take the ancient parchment with you. It is like a dagger pointed at my back."
"We'll take it and keep it safe, but it's not really nearly as old as you claim. It's about a thousand of our years old. I'm certain it has been re-created multiple times since you left Vanaheimer. Even if each copy was accurate, who would ever believe that. Now I must get back to help our friends defend the pyramid. Ginny, Barb, and Cantring will be enough help here." This was addressed to Frijjo. To me Hermione said "you don't have nearly as many prisoners to guard, as you believe. I think there are only six. Frijjo and her guards were not using 'Off!' They are not Light Guardian Priestesses. We must remember that."