Harry Potter Finally Graduates Book V -- Ginny's Quest Continues

Chapter 6

Chapter 6 – Frijjo and Odin, Before I Wanted To See Them

I contacted Frijjo. She was pleased to hear that Cho and I weren't ordering the immediate evacuation of our Quest team. She was less thrilled when I told her that we were still unsure about continuing to Quest on Vanaheimr, or work on Vanaheimr in any capacity. I explained that the final decision would be a joint decision of Hermione's committee and the Quest team, but that Hermione, Cho, and I all had serious doubts about the wisdom and ethics of our efforts on Vanaheimr. Things were not at all as we had been led to expect and her conduct deeply troubled us.

Frijjo repeated her justification for the slaughter of prisoners – she didn't have enough loyal guards to secure a prison, adding that she didn't trust the security of the former regime's jail building. She didn't know what secrets the builder had hidden in that structure, it was in the district of the City Vanir whose residents she trusted least, and even if she ignored all of that, it was a fourth position which her forces would need to guard. Hermione had apparently been listening in to at least part of this discussion, as she now inserted herself.

"The British view the killing of prisoners as a war crime. That is the society I grew up in. I agree with their revulsion at such behavior. I will not help a leader who engages in such a practice."

"We seem to be at a stumbling block, which the two of you and Frijjo are unlikely to bridge by compromise," Odin announced. "I must impose a solution. If I understand correctly, the Questers have killed attackers in battle, but have tried to avoid that necessity. Frijjo and her forces have used killing curses. The dispute pertains only to those of Frijjo's enemies, whom the Questers have been able to stun or capture alive. If the Questers didn't help Frijjo in her battles, these captives would still be free and may have won those battles for her enemies. I decree that their rules for treating prisoners be applied to those captured in the battle of the pyramid. Frijjo and I will plan their imprisonment. How many of them are there?"

"Twenty-six," I told Odin.

"They're dead," Frijjo admitted. "As we left Vanaheimer, I gave my captain the order to execute them as traitors."

"What?!" Hermione shouted through Yggdrasil. "They were unconscious, and unidentified."

"I can't change what is done," Odin declared. "I agree it is a disgraceful and cowardly action. My decree applies going forward, if the Questers should participate in Frijjo's fight. I agree that the Questers have ample reason to be upset. This is not the role Frijjo told me they would play. I think we must come to Britain, before the meeting of Hermione's committee."

"We're not ready for that," I complained.

"It is necessary."

"My committee meets at 4:00 in the afternoon. Come at noon. Meet us in the pyramid of our Black Stone. We can talk before my committee meets. Perhaps we can reach an understanding. I'm willing to try."

"That is what we must do. I trust Frijjo also agrees." She gave less than enthusiastic assent.

Hermione was in the sitting room of her house. She said we would meet there. I must bring Neville and Harry; she would summon Viktor and Ron. Neville was easy to fetch, "I was lying upon the floor of his office. I reached Harry right away and he said he would join us in five minutes. He did, but he wasn't alone. I wasn't pleased by his choice of traveling companion. "McGonagall! Why? I wanted a discussion with just the few of us, prior to tomorrow's meetings."

"Professor McGonagall is my Deputy and she convinced me that we needed an older voice in our meeting, if we were to fully consider the situation and reach the best conclusion"

"Mum, Hermione's or Neville's Mums. better choices, wouldn't you say? I saw this as a family and friends meeting."

"I'm sorry I brought her without asking first. She would have been part of your Quest if she wasn't my Deputy and she has experience with Odin and Frijjo. Please be friendly to her. That will help me."

Viktor finally arrived, giving McGonagall enough time to suspect I was complaining to Harry about her presence. "You wanted me on your Quest. I'm here to help. I won't try to take over your meeting."

My focus upon McGonagall forced Hermione to lead the meeting. She set forth the main complaint: "I feel less Quester, more conscript into Frijjo's army. Frijjo fights nasty, killing prisoners. I can't be part of that. She also seems to have almost no support among the Vanir. She doesn't understand her old world. I asked her how many of the prisoners and dead from the pyramid battle were royals. She didn't know. She said she only recognised a quarter of the living royals, although she was collecting pictures of all the royals, so she could commit their faces to memory. She admitted not having met more than three dozen of the royals. They've deliberately kept away from her. They're in hiding. Her guard is small. Our Quest team remains on Vanaheimer only because Odin forced her to send eight of her guards to reinforce the depleted number inside the pyramid. She wants us to do her fighting for her and do it on her terms. Fixing magic is a distant second for her.

"I took the purple diamond shards to Professor Spectra. He promised to tell me what he finds out before my committee meeting tomorrow. He wasn't super optimistic. He said most of the shards were burnt, but he'll try to find enough intact diamond to analyze. That reminds me, we didn't tell you. That reminds me, I don't think we told you that Arti, he seemed to be the royal in charge of the attack, had enough magic to do a wandless spell which was strong enough to cause the purple diamond to explode in Frijjo's hand. It practically took her hand off. He did this with his arms gooped to his sides - the Vanirs usually point their finger when they do strong magic. Also, and this is the big point, magic was still down when Arti did this. He must have had a physical connection to that diamond and used its stored magical energy to make it explode. Remember, Odin told us that we didn't do anything strong enough to cause his purple diamond in the circle of the pyramid between worlds to explode. This might be the same thing - a different magic than ours. I think it's a serious problem. Arti said his side has a secret purple diamond mind. Frijjo demanded its location. Then of course he killed himself - just like Lucius did, except there was active magic around Lucius for him to tap into for a wandless curse."

"It doesn't require any magical force," McGonagall corrected Hermione, "an experienced Witch or Wizard has enough control over their own body to kill themselves, or deaden pain, or enter a deep, almost unconscious trance. I thought you knew that. Search your memories!"

"I spoke to Cho," Viktor told us. "she's willing to stay and do some more magical engineering. She also doesn't want to fight to force Frijjo's rule upon the Vanir. She says it's not her battle. I agree. I do want all of you to stay on good terms with Odin at least long enough to learn more seid and to learn how to make or repair a White Column. We've lost the one at Azkaban and I suspect we really don't know much about the capability of the remaining one at the Durmstrang circle. I think it vital to our world's survival and independence to both learn more about seid and to find a way into seid space, which we can control without needing Odin's permission to enter seid-space. I also was thinking about Gna and how she spent so much time performing seid. Unless Odin or Yggdrasil was in league with her, she must have used an entrance to seid space from Vanaheimer. You need to find it. You need to study it enough to learn how to find an entrance from our world. I also don't think we truly understand how the dark Gods traveled to Vanaheimer. Cho said that none of you think there is a functioning transmitter on that world and their White Columns were destroyed and the Great Black Stone was certainly prohibited from transporting those Gods. There are so many secrets left on Vanaheimer. I don't want Cho fighting more battles. Keep that up and it won't be long before all of you are dead or the liquid luck has ruined your minds. That was an unmentioned problem with Minister Weasley forcing all of you back to Vanaheimer too quickly. You are all way to polluted with liquid luck. You are well past the danger point in terms of exposure. I don't know what to advise."

Score points for Viktor. He was right. It was important that we return to Quest for at least a while. Perhaps the main object of the Quest was our increased knowledge and our world's increased magical power. We had discovered many ways in which our world could be damaged or even disappeared. We had learned to defeat some of those threats. Some were vanquished. Other threats were at least warned away. No, that wasn't true. They had simply learned that we were stronger than they expected and that they couldn't just destroy us with a standard invasion. We were very vulnerable to seid attack. If we could Quest on acceptable terms, then we had a duty to Quest - at least a little longer. I said as much to the group.

"I very reluctantly agree," Hermione's eyes pleaded with Ron as she spoke these words. "I could die on Quest, but we all could be seided out of existence. That almost happened. Frijjo stopped a dark seid practitioner before we were involved. We stopped Gna just in time. We must negotiate very hard and draw red lines in stone. I'm afraid that to give up is to die. Perhaps that is how failed Questers die: someone goes into seid-space and writes them out of existence in a way in which they never did exist. I can't stand to face that. I especially couldn't stand for my failure to Quest to be the cause for the rest of you to be remotely disappeared. We are in a very scary place."

"I also reluctantly agree," Harry told me. "As Minister, I must urge what is necessary to save our community. I also think the Questers are likelier to survive by Questing than by quitting. We need to find a way around the liquid luck problem. I will ask Doctor Wright."

My brother added "if they don't fight, they won't need the luck. There is the possibility of ambush, but if they stay with Barb, she should be able to sense danger. We should insist that Bill also go with them. The more they travel about, the greater the danger, the greater the possibility of fighting. As I understand from Hermione, she has a big bottle of luck and everyone takes a sip from the communal bottle. Given everyone their own vial, to be used only right before a fight. You also won't pass all your germs around that way."

"There's no problem with germs! I do a sanitising spell after each person drinks."

"Don't you find all those extra spells a little debilitating? Don't look at me like that. You know my plan makes more sense. Does your ancient knowledge speak of any potions to rid your body of excess liquid luck?"

"For emergency use only, and I carry a bottle of that potion with me. It can save one's mind, but it can so drain a person of luck that they become extremely unlucky - almost struck-by-lightning unlucky if you take too much of that potion. It's very dangerous."

"You need to take some of the larger spiders with you to Vanaheimer," McGonagall demanded. "They would be good guards and a great surprise in a fight, especially if you use Weasley blackouts. You know that they can smell their prey at close range. They also might sense the location of an entrance to seid-space. Of course, Aagog could do that part for you."

"Do we just demand that Frijjo lead us into seid-space from Vanaheimer?"

"I think that would just put her on her guard against you and you'd be watched too closely to search for the entrance. Of course, she'll deny any knowledge of such an entrance. I predict she'll say that if such an entrance exists, it must be in the Village Vanir. Then she'll dare you to show enough courage to go searching with her in the village. Of course, that would cause a huge battle. I don't want you to risk that. I especially don't want you to risk that until it is safe for you to use the luck, again. I'm speaking as both your husband and the Minister of Magic. Neither parts of me want to see you take giant risks. Especially giant risks which are avoidable."

"Please use Percy and Callista. My government has them on Vanaheimer for a reason. Negotiation is the major alternative to warfare. I know you want to handle negotiations, but that is Percy's job. At least allow him to help. If it is safe for Percy and Callista to travel here from Vanaheimer, I'd like them to be present for tomorrow's meetings. Yes, I'd also like them to attend your meeting with Frijjo and Odin. This is as much government business as it is Quest business. You should also expect that I will discuss this topic with Shacklebolt and Mrs. Longbottom, although I won't ask you to include them in your noon meeting."

That was that. Harry was adamant. I didn't want to fight with Harry and I also knew that the Quest team needed our government's help. Harry would have to defend our actions to our own community and to Tony. I reluctantly agreed to Harry's proposal. The diplomacy was fine. Including Percy in the meeting with Frijjo and Odin was not. I would try to persuade Harry after we got home. That apparently would be right now. The meeting was already breaking up. A lot of details weren't worth considering until after the meeting with Frijjo and Odin.

We had to eat, leaving really no time left before I wanted to be in bed with Harry. I tried to nudge Harry's position while we ate dessert. Nobody had time to cook, so dessert was elderly short breads and hot cocoa. They weren't bad. I told Harry that I really needed to speak to Odin and Frijjo with just Hermione, before Percy joined us. With Cho in charge of the team back on Vanaheimer, I felt Viktor also needed to join us when Percy did.

"Fine, but I want Callista present also. After you negotiate the best deal you can, perhaps Percy and company can make it just a little bit better by asserting that your deal won't be acceptable to our government, or at least pin down details more firmly, in a way you may feel is too rude with Gods you work with."

"Fine."

I had been away. I would be away again within a day. Our mutual desire for sex, while we could get it, precluded argument. We were both tired enough that delay was not an option.

Percy, Callista, Neville and Viktor joined the four of us for breakfast. We ate in our sitting room. Neville got us off to a pleasant if difficult start. "Mona and Bronwyn spent a few hours at home and returned to Hogwarts late last night. They say they want to continue Questing. They trust Ginny and Hermione and trust that actions will be taken to make the stay on Vanaheimer safer than they have been. They rushed back, because they were afraid, you'd leave without them."

"Which is exactly what I planned to do. I find their safety to be a very great responsibility, which takes up a lot of my thoughts and most of my nightmares."

"Please think about it. They've considered the risks. They think their future depends upon this. I was shocked by how much they felt like discriminated against outsiders at Hogwarts. Things haven't been smooth, even within Gryffindor."

Percy jumped into the quiet. It was instantly clear that he had closely studies the reports on Frijjo, her plans, her forces, and Vanir politics, which Hermione and I had written for him and for Harry. "It is scary that Frijjo feels too weak to insure the safety of three hard points within the City Vanir. The jail was built to be as easily defendable as the pyramid and Government House. I visited it. It's a little stone fortress. It would be very difficult to attack. It is a torturous narrow corridor passage between thick stone walls from the small entry room to any critical part of the building. I walked that path and I saw what must be hidden ports from which defenders can attack intruders. The building has an actual mote. The jail cells are in a sub-basement. If a prisoner break or an invasion to free them is serious, the contents of the moat can be drained into that level. There would be no possibility of escape, once two very thick doors, each with two redundant back-up doors, are sealed. Those doors are normally kept locked. If you saw that building, you would immediately realise how weak Frijjo is if she doesn't feel strong enough to make use of it."

"That doesn't disagree with anything we know," Hermione told him. "Since we are not eager to augment Frijjo's army or to engage in future battles, that means we restrict ourselves to the pyramid and Government House for now. It also means we must focus upon encouraging Frijjo to negotiate a solution. As we told you, and as you already knew from your own contacts, Frijjo appears close to a détente with the Council. Unless she is forced to make concessions to some of the royals, which Council can't stomach, I think that part of the picture will fall into place."

"Good. We come to the next problem. Frijjo plans to buy off the various small royal factions who lack any semblance of claim to the throne or even proximity to the throne. I understand she hopes they will settle for an allowance from the government. The problem is that takes money and apparently Frijjo has next to none. It is uncertain she can even keep her capital fed. That is a big problem. Could Odin be persuaded to gift her some gold or silver?"

"Don't know. It's her job to make the ask, not ours. That will be an indicator of just how supportive Odin. She told me she wanted to be Queen Frijjo to get the new government started and the economy well launched. Callista has researched Vanir history. Please tell them what you found, dear."

"I talked to several members of Council, two history guys from the museum, and I checked a half dozen history books. Only two queens in all of Vanir history. As a rule, the Vanir are unaccepting of queens. They believe in male rule. It wasn't always a royal family. In ancient days, Gods ruled. One powerful Goddess is said to have bested the ruling God in battle, after he rather erratically mistreated the common Vanir. She was fully accepted and ruled for over a hundred years, before she died fighting invading Aesir. The lesser God who replaced her started the royal family, probably because his sons lacked Godly powers. Until Odin conquered the Vanir, rule was by royal males and that rule was absolute. Almost all truly important government posts were held by lesser royal males - almost never a female in a key position. Males ruled, likely copying the pattern of Gods ruling. If the king died, they would go first to male sons, but unlike our British friends, they will then go to first cousins, before they consider daughters of the late king. Also, unlike the British, there is no fixed formula for which son, or which male cousin is the successor. The dying king chooses, but if the king dies unexpectedly... One queen was accepted, when no sons or first cousins survived a long period of warfare. It was a two-decade civil war, over three thousands of our years ago. It was just before Frijjo was born. The Queen lasted three years. She was murdered and the father of the man Frijjo married became the new king. Likely he was the murderer. As queen, Frijjo's role would have been to bear and educate royal children - males to rule, females to be wifed out for political or financial gain to the king. Apart from that, her duties would be largely ceremonial. She started Quest after a semi-secret marriage, attended only by royals and a few key others, such as the Servers. She took the risk of Quest to raise her status and independence a bit. She birthed her son in secret and left on Quest a month later. The Quest failed. After she left, the marriage and the heir became public. Two months later, which was close to three months into the Quest, the Quest failed, when Odin essentially kidnapped if the Quest had merely failed, without assignment of blame, and Odin had permitted Frijjo to return home, her position would have been weak. But, Odin blamed Frijjo for the Quest's failure, claiming she was determined to bed him, in violation of Quest rules.

"Frijjo's brother, his name was Freyr - but not the one Ginny met, commanded the Vanir military. The marriage of Frijjo to Bronek had sealed the throne for Bronek and the military leadership for Freyr. They became joined at the hip, but Frijjo's humiliation upset things. Bronek renounced Frijjo and took up with a younger favorite at court - the histories imply that an existing affair became open. Freyr was in an awful position and decided his best hope was to invade Asgard, rescuing both Frijjo and Vanir honor. Either he was an awful general, the few remaining Aesir were far stronger than he imagined, or Bronek betrayed him. He lost, badly. Thousands of Vanir, including many royals were killed. Freyr survived with the remnants of his invasion force, but Odin and several dozen Aesir followed him back to Vanir. Using what the historical text described as 'unknown, most fearful weapons', the Aesir defeated and killed Freyr, then quickly pounced upon a mass of royals, killing them and King Bronek. Frijjo's child was hustled off to secure refuge. Odin never found him. From that point on, Odin controlled Vanaheimer. He established the Council. They were largely independent in their actions but could cause nothing to happen outside Vanaheimr. It was in the interest of just about everyone on Vanaheimr, particularly the Council, but also the male royals, that Frijjo's memory be tarnished, and so it was and with Odin's active support. It is no surprise that she has gained so little traction on her world."

"That's interesting information, but what does it tell us that is at all useful. It says Frijjo isn't acceptable," Ron seemed annoyed that a long explanation ended thus.

"It tells us more than that," Percy objected. "It says that it would be very easy to provoke a lethal scramble among the likely claimants to the throne. That might occur without any outside provocation. Arti had an iffy claim to the throne but stepped into the fray. Others will do the same. Frijjo can work with this. If our government wants her to rule, which I'm not saying we do, we could give a push here and a push there to whittle down the ranks of her foes. It says that we need to plot out the succession tree. Those with the best claims are likely the major players. If Frijjo is very wise and very lucky, one of close-to-the-top contenders will ally with her to gain an edge over his better positioned rivals. Despite her problems with Arti, I believe Frijjo must ally with a leading Melani contender, if she is to survive. I also think it is wishful thinking to believe that she can be a transition placeholder for more than a year. She's not trusted enough for that and is too unnatural a choice. Vanir monarchs have only left office by death or total incapacity. They have had their equivalent of regents, when the only son of the dead king was very young. That has rarely ended well."

Frijjo and Odin showed up two hours early. We all hurried to the pyramid to meet them. We had no sooner taken our seats around a massive table Hermione and I had Apparated into the pyramid than Odin jumped right into the meeting, without pleasantries: "We have little time, so I ask everyone to state their position. Ginny and Hermione will go first."

"I can't give you our final answer until Hermione's committee meets. Our recommendation will be that we are willing to continue the Quest and build the purple-diamond circle and White Columns in Government House, but we are not willing to fight in Frijjo's civil war. Depending upon how safe Vanaheimer becomes, we will decide later about building a circle in the village Vana. That is consistent with the Quest assignment which you and Yggdrasil gave us."

"No! Questers are required to serve the local Gods and Goddesses. I am the major local Goddess. Your mission was to serve my needs. I need to gain control of my world. I do not wish to be a tyrant, only to restore magic and order for my people."

"You ask too much help and expose them to too much danger, for purposes which are not mine. In the end, their mission is what I say it is."

Our meeting turned more contentious, with Frijjo demanding that Odin order us back to Vanaheimer, under pain of forfeiting our Quest and being seid-written out of existence. Her demeanor as much as her words screamed that she was losing it. The stress of trying to seize control of her world was proving too much for her. Odin looked at her with pity but refused her request.

"No, Quest is not a civil war. Ginny and Hermione have behaved well. I will not permit you to write their deaths. If they are to help you, then you must agree a plan that is acceptable to them. You must fight your own war. This is just one more reason why I won't allow you to return to seid-space. You are a Goddess and you are on Vanaheimer, but it seems your people do not accept you as their Goddess. You can't alter that by civil war. You must win the support of your people, just as you must win the support of these Questers. By law, they may withdraw from the Quest without penalty. This is an extension of their Durmstrang stop, forced by multiple emergencies. They never heard the formal speech of renunciation and never formally vowed their acceptance of the second half of Quest. They are under my protection. You remain bound by the requirement not to harm my Questers. Is that clear?"

Frijjo's expression said this was all too clear to her, as she softly replied "yes."

"You need purple-diamond circles and the Questers have agreed to build one immediately. They greatly improved the circle inside your pyramid. Aren't those actions a big help to you and your people? Isn't that what you requested me to ask the Questers to do for you?"

"Yes. I admit that helps. It just doesn't help enough. I must first secure the capital and then secure the Village Vana. I am the Goddess at this stage of the Quest. They owe me their support to accomplish these very vital goals. My people are at risk of being ruled by charlatan royals who demand absolute royal authority. They aren't even the rightful royal rulers. I trusted Arti and he betrayed me. Now it appears that I also cannot trust Ginny and Hermione."

"We will never accept you as a superior being to ourselves. We will never believe we owe you servitude. You are not our Goddess. Even your own people seem not to accept you as their Goddess. We've researched your people's history. There was only one female royal ruler in your history, and she was murdered almost at once. You are not considered a legitimate royal ruler. You can't raise your own army, so you demand that we fight for you. It's not our civil war. We won't do it. If Quest demands that, then we won't Quest."

Frijjo stared at me in anger. "Who would you have rule the Vanir. They haven't had their independence in millennia. They must be eased into it, lest charlatans take power and do great harm to Vanaheimr and all of Odin's worlds. You heard Arti. Do you think better Arti than me? He would surely attack Terra, once he secured Vanaheimer. He was not at all better than Gna, Freyr, and Miomor."

"Yet Miomor is the only one of the four you didn't support. You have threatened to invade our world. You have threatened more than once to kill us. You would do so in revenge for Freyr, whom you now say was very bad. The truth is you hardly understand your world any better than we do. You are a stranger to it. Listen to yourself: even now you refer to the Vanir as 'they', not 'we'. Tiy think of yourself as an Aesir Goddess, not as a fellow Vanir to your people. You think of us not even that well and certainly not as allies. You see us as your very great inferiors, whom you can command to do your bidding. Well, you can't. We will not work with you on those terms."

"You are too ignorant to even realise how much you don't understand. You came to Odin and me with no knowledge that seid even existed. You certainly had zero capability to perform seid. You didn't know that Yggdrasil existed, that Odin and I are real, that there were inhabited worlds other than your own."

"Our introduction was to Vili and you. Vili only impersonated Odin. And yes, we had travelled to other worlds. Not worlds with humans, but worlds with Unicorns, Elves, and Goblins. We were already learning rapidly. We are not going to get along unless you are willing to treat us as equals. You have never been our Goddess. We have learned enough to know that you've used the technology of the ancient Aesir to live very long and learn very much, but you started life as no better than us."

"I was a royal. I was to be queen of my people."

"Married to a very old king, consigned to child-bearing and ceremonial tasks, and to have died millennia ago. As queen, you would have had no power. You have no real power now. We have helped you. You would have lost both battles if we hadn't done most of the fighting. You murdered prisoners whom we had stunned. You are far too blood-thirsty for our taste. How can we trust you? We were supposed to have an easy, pleasant Quest stop after defeating the rulers of Hel for Odin. Instead, we've had battle after battle on your world. It now seems pointless. And to answer your question, we would have an elected Council rule Vanaheimr."

"Yes, you have been a great help. Yes, I truly am grateful for your help. But yes, if you abandon me this all comes crashing down and we all get a Vanaheimer not at all to our liking. You do help your own world by helping me. I thought Odin explained that to you. That's why you were sent here to serve, let's agree to say... help me. Odin thinks it important that I guide my people to a peaceful, magical future. I do not seek to rule for my own benefit. I will accept whatever position works for my people and allows me to guide them toward a bright future. I am not a tyrant in the making. I admit, I was wrong about Gna, Freyr, and Miomor. You were right about them. I bear you no ill over their deaths. I've said that before. I took back my threats against you. Odin will attest to that. I am now fully cooperating with you."

"You are keeping vital secrets."

"Such as?"

"The size of your forces, the size of the opposing forces, the fact and location of your world's entrance into seid space, which presents an extreme vulnerability."

"There is no entrance to seid-space from Vanaheimer, only from Asgard."

"You know that can't be true. Neither Odin nor Yggdrasil would have allowed Gna to repeatedly enter seid-space from Vanaheimer."

"I certainly would have denied her entry. I also never taught her seid. Yggdrasil would do no such thing. The dark Gods must have taught her. I assumed they had their own route into seid space. They were on Vanaheimer, but they must have come from elsewhere. Yggdrasil says that Vanaheimer's Great Black Stone denies allowing them entry to its world. Yggdrasil believes it, so I also must believe. There may well be an entry port to seid-space from Vanaheimer. I've spent a fair amount of time there and never encountered it. As you know, I destroyed the White Columns, thinking that confined the Vanir to their own world, where they couldn't carry out their schemes against the rest of us."

"That's unfair," Frijjo complained. "Most Vanir only care about restoring magic and prosperity to our own world. Freyr, Miomor, and Gna had allies and plans which I and, I'm sure, virtually no other Vanir knew anything about. We don't know that Arti wanted anything beyond ruling Vanaheimer."

"Maybe so. To an old Aesir the numbers of you Vanir is quite frightening, when coupled with the drive for conquest we just saw in your fellows. I don't wish to raise the level of enmity. We must work together. You must treat the Questers as equals. I see all of you as my rightful successors. We must find a way for the Questers to help the Vanir, without fighting and killing those who oppose you. You must find a peaceful way to guide your people. Only you can gain the acceptance and support of your people. If I intervene, that just makes you more foreign. Your people have no experience or love for the Questers. There is no way they can set you up to rule your people. I returned you to your world to help your people, not to kill them and force them to accept your rule. You may be right that you know better than they, but that means nothing if they don't believe that.

"You know I tread lightly on Asgard, despite being more powerful than you and having far fewer to rule The Aesir must know that I accept their fundamental rights and protect what is most dear to them. Without that, I am nothing. You must win the support of your people. You do that by being trust-worthy and by providing peace and improving their lives. The Questers were sent to help you improve the lives of your people. You told me that restoring magic was the most important thing for the Vanir. The Questers are willing to do that, but no more.

"That must be the objective of this afternoon's meeting. I think Ginny and Hermione have tried to tell you what the limits of acceptability are to their people. This afternoon, you must listen before you argue and demand. Ginny's people are as proud as you are. Your approach has failed you. Too many of your people have played you for the fool - a very powerful fool, but a fool, nonetheless. Don't be upset. I know Ve and Vili did the same to me. We are the better fighters, but trickery nearly beat us. Now Ginny and Hermione think that you have tricked and manipulated them. You must fix that."