Chapter 3 – A Larger Battle
As soon as Hermione was gone, Frijjo lectured me "What did you expect me to do? My fighters and I are greatly outnumbered, and I have no idea how quickly these," she pointed at the dead and comatose opponents, who had controlled this circle "will get reinforcements from the Village Vana. We are only guessing what this circle was expected to do after the pyramid circle was shut down. One miscalculation could bring a horde to attack us. Prisoners are a threat. I thought you would have learned about the danger of a catch and release policy, when you watched all the Death Eaters keep rejoining the fight and almost killing you and your friends. This is open rebellion and war, not a policeman arresting a shoplifter for prosecution. Your people lack a reliable jail. Well, so do I. But yes, we must question the prisoners. We must do it quickly. I erred in letting most of your fighters just leave. I assume you will only be able to un-curse those whom you personally cursed."
"That's correct. Hermione cursed your nephew, perhaps she…"
"Could be fetched, just like that, by thought alone…" there was awe in her tone.
"I Apparated here with Circe to tell you that the pyramid is under attack. They are using magic. You need to re-tune this circle to our standard, so that we can use it, but our attackers can't. Circe says that this circle is tuned for the way the royals are taught to perform magic. The Servers of the Great Black Stone prefer a different tune. Circe is here to help, but we must be quick. We have already used one of our arrays – twice."
Hermione and Circe both had viewers. They told Frijjo and me exactly what must be done. We worked very fast. We removed and replaced just a few strands of the gold wire weave between the inner calcites, turning off the circle as we began. Hermione helped us, so this was raced through in minutes. Next, Circe smashed two of the spodumenes atop the lodestone, adding white diamonds on either side of each crystal she had smashed. She replaced the purple diamond with a ruby. The circle screeched a little as we re-energised it. I could tell that I could draw some power from it. Circe looked satisfied with the result.
"Hurry!" she commanded. "Our friends die as we wait."
We Apparated together to the pyramid, taking our living prisoners with us. We came into the side of a dozen attackers. We cursed them before they noticed our arrival. More attackers were coming through the pyramid entrance. Cissy and Cho had one of the arrays pointed at them. They triggered the arrays and almost a dozen attackers collapsed. We began cursing the remaining attackers and their reinforcements, who hadn't stopped arriving.
Frijjo pointed and attackers collapsed. Then suddenly, Frijjo grabbed at her chest and fell to the ground, barely moving. The array was triggered a second time. This time I clearly heard Cho shout 'Kill!' Eight more attackers were on the ground and a couple more were teetering. One of Frijjo's fighters went down, as I fired an 'Off!' at his attacker, while pouring magical energy into Frijjo. I scored on my guy, but one of the two fighters protecting Frijjo and me collapsed atop Frijjo. I dropped his attacker and checked on his condition. He was dead. I was surprised the attackers had managed a strong enough curse; with the way their magic had been messed up by us.
The battle paused as most of the attackers grabbed at their heads with both hands. Then I felt a little faint and realised that the railway circle must have been turned off or died. It was swords plus the few remaining wands we had with stored magical energy.
An attacker approached me, swinging a heavy, wide sword at me. I ducked the slow sweep of his blade, thrusting forward with my own sword. I gasped. This wasn't like fighting demons. There were no red sparks, no wave of pain in my head, but I felt my sword push through approximately human flesh and crack ribs as it burrowed deep into my attacker. I saw his blood flow and had to jerk hard upon by sword to free it as he collapsed.
I sensed movement on my left and faded away from another attacker, who was approaching too fast for me to defend myself with my sword. I used a wandless 'Off!' curse to drop him. I slashed an attacker, who had cornered Hermione and knocked her sword from her hands. I swung high and half removed his head, blood squirting everywhere, including on both Hermione and me. Little time to think as another attacker approached with a spear. I had another 'Off!' worth of power left in that wand and used it to drop him. Even in the heat of battle, as I untaped my last wand from my torso, I realised how incongruous it was to use 'Off!' as I practically lopped off bloody heads with my sword.
I was surprised by a bright green flash. I hadn't realised that one of the arrays had enough magical energy left to be of any value. I was more surprised to hear Cho shout "aim at that group. I'm ready to fire again."
The attackers were fleeing the pyramid. I let them escape without trying to curse them. Circe hit the panel beside the pyramid door, causing it to slide closed.
"Tell the Great Black Stone that it must deny entry to any but the Servers, Hermione, and me. Nobody Apparates into the pyramid"
Circe looked questioningly at Frijjo, but Frijjo was still in no position to complain, so Circe did as I asked.
"You can add others one-by-one as you decide they are safe. Now let's assess our injured and do what we can to heal their injuries." I yelled to the Hogwarts students to get help and goop the attackers, whom we had 'Off'ed.
Captain Davies was bleeding from a sword cut at her waist, but the bleeding was slow enough that I knew the sword hadn't damaged any significant arteries or veins. I used magic to stop the bleeding and seal the wound. I was very grateful that I had been able to save my last pre-charged wand. I had been about to deplete its charge in battle, when Cho unleashed her wand array.
Hermione used a numbing spell along with her needle and thread and a 'Descuzzify Totalis' to cleanse the wound. Captain Davies would be fine in a week. Hermione was working on Frijjo, while Cho tended to Deestra, whose right arm hung useless by her side. Arce hovered beside them telling Cho how bravely Deestra had defended the Great Black Stone and its pyramid and how horrible it was for the pyramid to be attacked for a second time in little more than a week. Deestra was having none of that. She wailed "Melona is dead. She killed two attackers, then a third killed her. It was awful. She was very brave and very loyal. She would not allow this circle to be harmed."
"The Great Black Stone helped us again. We couldn't have held out without us. It kept the attackers pressed into the far end of the pyramid for the first part of the fight. The attackers seemed to know which places on the pyramid walls must be damaged to stop our Stone from helping us. We Servers knew nothing of this. How could our attackers have known?"
I was beyond grateful that neither of the Hogwarts volunteers had been hurt grievously. Unfortunately, Mona had lost two fingers. I hoped that Hermione knew how to fix her hand. The students must return to Hogwarts as close to immediately as was possible under current conditions.
I knew that Frijjo had problems but hadn't imagined they were this bad. She wasn't even remotely in control of her world.
I had to discuss this Quest stop with Odin. I hadn't signed up to take sides in a civil war. This was very different than what had seemed a difficult, but necessary, fight on Hel at Odin's request. The spirits of our people, including Fred, had been rescued. I didn't feel badly about that fight. This one was leaving me sick to my stomach and totally questioning the wisdom of this Quest stop. I had a duty to protect my Quest team. I wasn't meeting that standard. Removing the Hogwarts students and meeting with Odin must happen within the day. I realised that one purpose justified the other. There was no way that Frijjo could reasonably object to a short departure to evacuate students from the threat zone. I had to steel myself for a very uncomfortable discussion with Harry tonight. Hogwarts students in a fight were trouble for him, likely very big trouble, if my grilling by the Wizengamot was a fair indication. Hermione shook my shoulder, drawing me back to real time.
"The wounded have all been cared for as well as we can, the dead are dead. Fortunately, none of ours, although Frijjo's guard is depleted and we lost Melona. What were you thinking, when I disturbed you?"
I told her, including my plan for the two of us to make a quick getaway.
"I agree. I want to stay for Frijjo's questioning of the prisoners. Especially her questioning of Arti. I'm not certain that our truth-telling skills can spot lies from a Vanir royal – I've tried to upgrade my ability since Miomor fooled us, but I just don't know. I think we must use my spiked Veritaserum. It just might work. I think we leave this day in any case. I'm sure Frijjo will kill the prisoners and I don't care to be around for that. I know I can't stop her, and I abhor her actions."
"Yes. I killed two of the attackers with my sword. It was awful. I'm trying to be a better Mother and Light Guardian priestess, but I just keep fighting and killing. I used an 'Off!' on Pisa and all the other attackers I faced, when my wand worked. It seemed humane, but Frijjo will just kill all of them, like she killed Pisa. I'm not happy fighting her battle. We will speak to Odin."
Arti was the first prisoner to be questioned. Frijjo agreed to use Hermione's Veritaserum. I think it worked - up to a point. It certainly seemed to loosen his tongue. He didn't try to hide his complete disdain for Frijjo, telling her that Vanir royalty had long since left her behind and that he viewed himself as the legitimate second-in-line to the throne. He had many supporters among the royals, although several others with 'lesser' right to the throne than his father, still felt they must rule. His faction was the strongest. Whatever happened to him, and if Frijjo valued her life, nothing bad had better happen to him, Frijjo could not win. Almost nobody liked her. Almost nobody felt she had a valid claim to the throne. Almost everybody thought her a traitor to the Vanir. She should be dead. He was unconvinced that she even was the real Frijjo. How could she have lived for such a long time? She was more a villain of legend than a real person to the Vanir. She had made a crucial mistake, which had set all the royals against her. How dare she propose to share rule with an elected council. The royals' rule must be absolute. They could appoint the occasional non-royal chief advisor, but any elected position was an abomination and a mortal threat to all royals. She may hold the symbols of royal power, quite illegally, but that gave her no precedence over legitimate heirs to the throne. Legitimate heirs with the balls to rule with absolute power. She'd be dead if these outsider mercenaries," he motioned to Hermione and me, "hadn't intervened. We were clearly better fighters than Frijjo and her guards. The trap had been perfect. She was damned lucky to still live. Her escape was another dark moment in the history of the Vanir."
He stopped for a breath and Frijjo cursed him for a minute, also describing all the vile things she would do to his person. Then Frijjo asked the crucial question: "where did you get the purple diamond, we found in the circle beside the railway tracks?" She waved the diamond in his face.
"It's ours. It's always been ours. Our side found a viable mine. The vein holds mainly tiny purple diamonds and white and yellow diamonds, but we retrieved a couple of wonderful, big, perfect purple diamonds."
"Where is the mine? I compel you to answer me."
There was a bang and the purple diamond shattered, really exploded, in Frijjo's hand. Her hand was bleeding, and one finger was dangling almost free of the hand."
I pulled my wand to prevent further attack, but Arti was already dead. I guess he knew the Lucius Malfoy trick.
We stopped the profuse bleeding from Frijjo's injured right hand and carefully wrapped the hand in a wet cloth, while we debated how best to repair it."
A shocked Frijjo demanded in tremulous voice: "take me to Odin. At once. He will be able to fix my hand."
"Okay, I had planned to evacuate the Hogwarts students today, anyway. There has been entirely too much fighting for them to stay here. The same is likely true for the rest of us, as well."
Hermione and I quickly found the two students and helped them pack their belongings. We held hands, with me holding Frijjo's good hand, and were transported to the library inside Yggdrasil. I messaged Odin to come quickly - we had injuries, including Frijjo.