Chapter 4 – Odin
A minute passed and then Odin was standing with us in the library. He saw Frijjo and a female student with their right hands wrapped in white cloth. The cloth on the student's hand looked pristine. Frijjo's cloth had a reddish-brown patch, where her blood had soaked through the cloth. I was thinking that Odin always arrives almost instantly whenever Frijjo is hurt or in some sort of danger. I stepped aside to give him easy access to her.
Commenting to Frijjo "I didn't expect to see you again," Odin helped her into a seat and... moved past her to check out the injured student. "It's a pity to see one so young be injured in what clearly was a battle, when she was present only to learn how to repair a damaged circle. I apologise for that problem. Here, let me check that hand. Why, you've lost the better part of two fingers and lopped the top off a third? Fortunately, Odin knows how to fix this."
Odin expressed such sympathy as he applied multiple spells and cream from two bottles to the girl's injured hand, that I thought I would have to keep close watch, lest Odin try to hustle her off to his bed. He worked on her hand for half an hour before announcing "you're almost as good as new, but you need a session in my energising ovals to spur your body to complete the cure. I'll take you there and get you set up, before I tend to the more complicated case, which is Frijjo."
Hermione must have shared my thought, because she volunteered to accompany them, tend to the girl while she was inside the oval, and escort her back to the library. As soon as they left, Frijjo unburdened herself: "Now you see how I am regarded here. I told you the straight truth. The girl isn't bleeding, I am. Odin is done with me. You're his favourite now. We must work together to save our own and all of Odin's other worlds. Odin lacks the necessary energy and desire to make the effort to preserve his corporeal domain. As you know, I've lived thousands of your years. All but thirty of those years have been spent on Asgard. Many of those years not by my own choosing. I was required to sacrifice much for Odin. The only time I returned to Vanaheimer, when the people I knew before Odin seized me were still alive, was a brief visit of purposeful humiliation of me, by Odin. It was meant to show my people the futility of revolt, but it HURT ME. I've grown comfortable, even happy here. I didn't have a lot of choice. I knew nobody on Vanaheimer. I had so few choices that Odin allowed me to spend years rambling across your world and Venera. Your people saw me as Goddess. I know that was very long ago. I know that your people are wiser and more powerful now and that I'm only half the Goddess I was then. I am no better able to keep Odin's worlds safe than Odin is. Without the victory on Hel, all would likely be lost now. That was down to you and your friends. We must work together. Promise me that you will."
I mumbled "okay." I didn't know how deep a commitment I was prepared to make. I didn't want to fight Frijjo's civil war. I was fishing around for what more I could comfortably say, as Frijjo stared at me, her eyes begging me to promise my support. "I'll do the best I can. This last battle has unnerved me. I can't ask my Questers to fight your civil war, one you seem very ill-prepared to fight without us. I don't even believe in royal rule. Our government is elected. Our British Queen has almost no real power. I can say that there is zero chance I could ever have sided with Arti. I must think, my government..."
Odin was back and surprisingly cheerful. "Hello, Frijjo my love. Now let me attend to you. I had to get the girl squared away, before I could devote my full attention to healing you. You know how emotional and noisy injured children can be, although this one was remarkably stoic about her injury. You owe her. She fought and was injured on your behalf as well as Ginny's. I also owe her. It is a terrible thing to force children to fight. It's not at all why I sent the Questers plus two young students to Vanaheimr. Now, let me fix your hand."
He unwrapped Frijjo's hand, telling her "you really seriously injured this. It looks like a sword did this. This will take a little while, but I can fix it. While I work, why don't you tell me what happened. How bad are things on Vanaheimer?"
Frijjo told a very long tale. Fixing her hand took that long. She did not object to my listening to her tale. I believe she was completely honest with Odin and me. She showed the purple diamond shards to Odin and told him of its origin from a mystery mine on Vanaheimer. Odin at first thought it must be one of the original purple diamonds. Perhaps there were four full sized diamonds plus the smaller version which ended up in the royal pendant. Perhaps his diamond exploded in the circle of the pyramid-between-worlds because it was an inferior copy - my fighters hadn't done anything which should have caused it to fail that spectacularly, although he was still trying to fully understand my magic. Odin stopped work on Frjjo's hand, for the briefest time, to extract a magnifier and small calipers from his robes. After a quick examination, he reported: "you are correct. This diamond is a little smaller than the three original ones. One must determine the diameter implied by the largest pieces. It does appear that it was of excellent quality, but I can't know for certain without testing it in a circle, which is obviously impossible now. How did it die."
In answer, Frijjo simply held up her hand. "Arti made it happen, just by his mind." Frijjo surprised me by handing me the diamond pieces just as soon as Odin returned them to her and insisting "you must take these with you when you return the students to their home. Hermione must ask her professor friend to run all his tests on them. I know that Hermione will make at least one whole copy of the original. I don't mind. Ask her to make one for me, as well." I doubted that was within the power of even Adrienne and Hermione working together. Frijjo then angered me by suggesting "I fear you won't return to Vanaheimer, so perhaps I must visit your world to seek its return and Hermione's report."
"My Quest team is on Vanaheimer. How can you suggest that I would abandon them there to make their own way back home? Of course, I will return. I expect to return within the day, two at the most, depending how many meetings are demanded of me and how long it takes to fully examine your diamond. I am uncertain how long I will ask my team to stay on Vanaheimer. That will certainly be a topic of discussion with the governments of my world. I'm happy to build circles for you and to rebuild the white columns, once I am taught how to do that, but I don't wish to participate in a civil war of succession on your world. I especially don't want to participate as your mercenary troops, when you seem to have so few troops of your own. My Quest team is limited to a size that is not capable of winning a war. I don't think I'm willing to wage that war, even if my team were enlarged. Vanaheimer is not at all as I was led to believe."
"I never lied to you. Nobody was more surprised than I by Arti's treachery. I trusted that my position was far more secure than is obviously the case. I knew I had problems in the countryside but thought the pyramid safe. I will have to make changes. I still believe I firmly control Government House and most of the City Vanir. I would not ask you or your team to travel to Village Vana, until it is safe, and we have enough force to protect ourselves there. My life will also be at risk. I will be with you the whole while you are in that village. Please promise to return."
I realised that I had impetuously raised the subject I had planned to discuss with Odin outside of Frijjo's hearing. Worse, I had done so without Hermione present to assist me. I had been manipulated. The false accusation that I wouldn't return, even to bring the rest of my team home, had been an outrageous statement intended to goad me into blurting what I had just said. I had said it while Odin's attention was fixed on his poor, wounded lover - the worst possible time. I hoped Odin wouldn't respond. Frijjo's presence must inhibit a full response. Fortunately, Odin limited his response to "please play together nicely. This doesn't have to be decided right this instant."
Frijjo continued a long explanation of her status on Vanaheimer. I learned some things I hadn't known. Frijjo had known from the start that one branch of the royal family, the Altairs, was opposed to her. They were the largest group of royals, with over a hundred members and were known to back Miomor. They had a tendentious, sort-of claim to be legitimate heirs to the throne, although they had several key out-marriages in their family tree, which Frijjo felt were disqualifying to the very inbred Vanir royals. She thought Arti's faction, the Melani family, supported her. If the new royal leader were to be chosen from the recent generations, they had several legitimate candidates. She had been wrong to trust them, or perhaps Arti played his own game, apart from his family. His was not among the strongest claims to the throne and perhaps he planned to leapfrog others in his families. If that were the case, key assassinations would have begun very soon - some might have already happened, Frijjo didn't know the exact whereabouts of most of the royals. She hoped that the remaining hundred or so royals, scattered among three families, were as neutral as they seemed, but now feared this wasn't true. Their families weren't in line for the throne by any plausible theory of royal succession, so they might well stay out of the fight, or even provide a careful level of support, if given an allowance. That was a risk Frijjo was considering. She had met with the councilmen who hadn't supported Miomor. They were willing to work together if Frijjo was willing to let them have the greater share of power and renounce any royal right to rule. They knew that the royal charter from the Light Guardian was a fraud and demanded that Frijjo publicly admit this. She could keep the pendant. They would take the ring - on behalf of all the Vanir people. There would be an election, but until then Frijjo could be the third member of the ruling council. Yes, of course two members of these families were already on the Council. Yes, of course Miomor's allies had been thrown off. They were, in fact, already dead. Frijjo didn't mention who had been responsible for these deaths.
Frijjo cried as she reported that four of her most loyal guards were dead - the two whose deaths I had witnessed, one who died during the first attack upon the pyramid, and one who was murdered while shopping for food in the main market place of the City Vana during his day off. The attacker had not been caught and the police had few leads. Her police force in the capital was only a third the size of Miomor's. Vetting loyal staff was a slow process. Her truth-telling and mind-reading skill was good enough to determine lack of malice toward her, even a level of support, in the moment, but the situation was fluid and loyalties could change quickly. She was determined to hire only those whose loyalty was unlikely to change. The guard staff at Government House was close to full strength. The Servers of the Great Black Stone had proven most worthy - loyal, intelligent, and surprisingly good fighters. She had been foolish not to immediately give them her full trust and support. She was still learning. Freyr and Gna had shown her a very limited, and largely false, view of Vanaheimer. She had not set foot in the Village Vana since the start of her Quest. By tradition, Quests always began in that ancient village. Her government was short of money. Food deliveries from the countryside were erratic. She was considering which approach would gain her more support: basically renouncing the right of royals to view and become a very diminished monarch who gave Council the biggest share of power, pledging to rule for only a several year period to get Vanaheimer back on its feet before stepping aside for a royal successor from the largest royal grouping , but the rising prices of food and other goods hurt that effort. She was frustrated and worried. She wouldn't deny that. She sought Odin's advice, and mine.
Hermione returned with Mona. "My fingers are back, and I can actually make them work!" Mona was jubilant. "That's the worst injury I've ever had. It was terrifying, but I would fight again, to protect our team, if given the chance. I know I'm being sent back home, along with Bronwyn. I know the danger likely hasn't passed. I want to come back when you think it's safe enough for us to do so. I learned a lot in a couple of days. I also learned how much I must learn. I really care about the Servers of the Great Black Stone. They are so brave, and smart, and dedicated. I want to be like them. They treated both Bronwyn and me very well."
"I can only promise to try to bring you back, when the time is right," I honestly told her, "given what has happened, my husband and your parents will likely have a veto over that. Bronwyn was here on our last trip to Vanaheimer. I caught a lot of abuse from the Wizengamot for taking her somewhere so dangerous. I've wondered, why did you want to return; why did your parents allow you to return?"
"A lot of reasons. It was the most excitement I've had. I want to do something important with my life. I know there is a lot of prejudice against Muggle-born Witches. Hermione understands that. What she didn't understand is the prejudice in the English community against Welsh-born Witches. Wizards society is frozen in the old English view of we Welsh. Put the two together and I didn't have a super happy time at Hogwarts, even though most of my fellow Gryffindors helped me as much as they could. As a Lebanese immigrant, Mona had it a little worse than I did. I don't say this to malign your father or your husband, but I expect to find just as much prejudice and suffer just as much if I work for the Ministry as I have at Hogwarts. The Minister and Deputy have been good, from everything I've heard, but you need to get past so many lower levels with nasty bosses who don't like you, before you can come to a Minister's or Deputy Minister's attention. I hope you will put in a good word for me, when the time comes. The Ministry is in England. I'll have to fight my parents to be able to stay in England."
"It seems we all have to do better," Odin summarised. "Since these brave students did far more to protect my Frijjo and Ginny's Quest than they agreed to do or any of us expected to be required, I feel that I owe each of them a reward. For Bronwyn, I have a reward of a hundred gold galleons. Since Mona was injured fighting on my behalf, even though I think I made her good as new, I have a reward of one-hundred-and-fifty gold galleons. I always collect pockets full of galleons on my trips to your world. If either of you wants to return, you have my support. If you want to learn, I will help to teach you - right here on Asgard. Ginny needn't worry, I will behave myself. Now it is time for Ginny and Hermione to deliver you home. I will meet with them and ask Yggdrasil to begin their instruction when they return - hopefully in a day or two. This isn't your vacation, just a few days instruction, then off to Vanaheimr again. Your vacation comes after you clear the rubble from the White Column chambers. I think you've thoroughly explored the pit. Frijjo will clear the rest of the bodies and rubble, while you're away.
I reached through Yggdrasil to tell Harry that we were returning for a day or two. There had been a large fight. One student was injured but was fully repaired. I knew we needed a long talk. Could he and Ron meet us at our house in an hour?