Imagine the most graphic display of sensual lust, ravishment, exploitive relationships, and duplicitous use of "favors" and "exchanges". Imagine sexual politics being taken seriously as an all-consuming game taking place in the context of an orgy. Now, at least quadruple that mental image, and place the setting in Heaven with the full sanction of the Division of Serenity.
Some people would call this scene "a good time". Others might call it "a most disgraceful state of Heavenly affairs".
Felicity always thought of it as "going to the office".
He had learned to handle the gods, slaves, and Sidereal who were partaking of drink and drugs and often openly engaging in activities well-suited to the pleasure dome. Making promises to join later on that no one believed, politely declining, and excusing himself on account of his duties were all useful strategies, but his inventiveness in abstaining was constantly tested. When he had first come to work, his fellow Serenity Caste had taken it upon themselves to "educate" Felicity in the ways of serenity and lightened his workload. When they discovered that he would make up work to do in order to avoid the perks of the job, they ceased struggling and resumed attending to their own pleasure. This was a great relief for Felicity. He rather preferred the bureaucratic minutia that took time and concentration to complete over the alternative.
So, Felicity sat at his jade and ivory desk, enameled with precious metals and gems, trying to focus on his work. He had decided not to heed the warning he had been given because he did not want to set the precedent of being weak-willed or submissive, as so many Serenity Caste seemed to be. He felt himself apart from that. However, he did not come to work completely unprepared for trouble.
Then, he received the third clue that he was about to have an adventure. A tiny god of dark-hued inks flew through the doorway and deposited a missive before fluttering out, leaving behind a trail of wet liquid that quickly dried and stained the desk and floor. Unfolding the note, Felicity saw that it was a summons to Instillness Asmile's office.
Smiling in anticipation of visiting his friend, Felicity's heart seemed to suddenly grow cold. What if this was an enemy luring him into a trap?
He debated it with himself for a few moments. Then, with a weary stride, Felicity rose from his desk and proceeded down the hall towards the stairwell. He had come to work, so this was just the consequences of that decision. One way or the other.
He approached the stairs and looked about. There seemed to be no one in the vicinity watching or waiting. Ascending unaccompanied, Felicity kept alert. On the first landing, Felicity suddenly heard someone begin to draw a quick breath behind him. He spun around and brandished his reaper daiklave, The Keeper of Splendid Hopes.
The man who stood there grinned, "Sheesh, Felicity. Aren't you a jumpy one today?" It was Sapphire Tryst, the mid-level Serenity Caste of the Bronze Faction who had winked at him yesterday. Felicity did not know if he could trust that man, but he knew that he was no threat.
"I apologize, Sifu, for my grievous error. I hope I did not greatly offend," Felicity said as he bowed low.
"Not at all! Come, you don't want to be late," and Sapphire Tryst ushered Felicity upstairs and to Instillness Asmile's office.
The god relaxed on a multitude of plush cushions, nursing a glass of fine wine that passed easily through the gauzy material that covered him and into his thirsty mouth. He smiled in welcome.
"Felicity! Good news! You're going on an adventure soon!" exclaimed the god happily. This was the fourth and final clue, but was like the first clue and was too obvious to be believable.
"What?" said Felicity.
Sapphire Tryst leered at the god, "That's right, Instillness Asmile, he does suit the job well."
"What?" said Felicity.
"Felicity, you have been assigned to Sapphire Tryst to aid his current mission in Creation. You embark in the next few days."
"What? Where?" said Felicity, his mind grasping at context.
"Both great questions," said Sapphire Tryst, "We're required to interfere with an upcoming slave revolt and prevent the widescale loss of life and disruption to an entire region. We'll be going to the Varang City-States as that is the focus of the destiny. It's going to be a lot of fun!" the man said coaxingly, temptingly.
"I don't understand," Felicity responded, finally caught up with the discussion. "I thought I was on permanent assignment to the Cerulean Lute of Harmony until otherwise ordered by the Division."
"Well... technically that's true. But, as I have the authority to act with the approval of the Cerulean Lute of Harmony, I am allowed to make your assignment be as my personal assistant," the older Sidereal said. "Wherever I might go. Including Creation."
Felicity looked between them, and sensed no malice or threat or danger. Therefore, the most pertinent question was, "Why me?"
"Isn't it about time?" asked Instillness Asmile.
"Indeed, yes," replied Sapphire Tryst. "You need to get your feet wet and I definitely need assistance from someone who can be trusted with sensitive information about members of the Division."
"What does that mean?"
"We'll talk more later, but for now, get your things ready to travel. How long do you need?"
A strong sense of anticipation and excitement began welling up in the seventeen year-old boy as he considered the adventure before him. "Let's go now!" he bubbled.
"Really? Don't you need some supplies? Make preparations? Fabricate an appropriate Resplendent Destiny? You know... stuff?" quizzed Sapphire Tryst.
Felicity grinned at his eagerness, "Certainly. How about tomorrow, first thing!"
"Ooph, that's not going to work for me. I'm not sober until at least noon. How about you meet me at my place at about that time?" asked Sapphire Tryst. "We'll leave then, and expect to arrive in Yane within the week?"
"Sounds good!" Felicity smiled.
Sapphire Tryst nodded to both god and younger Sidereal as he stepped out.
Instillness Asmile continued to sit unperturbed and unmoved by the excitement. Felicity considered the god's role in this. When he came to the Division, Instillness Asmile was the first one to open up and reach out to the newcomer on a non-sexual and informal level. Felicity had heard once that the god used to be a confidant of Felicity's predecessor, Nuche Keru. That had initially made the Sidereal nervous, but the god had always done right by him. He had even aranged for Nuche Keru's broken and abandoned sword, The Keeper of Splendid Hopes, to be delivered on Felicity's desk when he arrived that day. Little was known about his predecessor's demise, but Felicity wondered what force could destroy the enchantments of a daiklave while leaving the physical substrate intact.
Bringing himself back to the moment, Felicity took Instillness Asmile's composure in stride and asked, "Do I have you to thank for this?"
"No, Felicity. It was Sapphire Tryst's idea. Or rather, he agreed to someone's suggestion."
"I don't know who."
"Oh, I see," Felicity said somewhat dejectedly. There were a great many unanswered questions about the situation, but as he bowed to his divine superior and friend, Felicity nonetheless decided he was really looking forward to his adventure.
To be continued...