A Periodic Job Review
The Outset Islands
The hallway smelled like incense. It didn't surprise Her; everything here always smelled like incense. That and ambrosia... not that She minded the smell of ambrosia and incense and other such scents, so clichè in the way they always smelled like The Creator. Of course, The Creator had picked these smells. It was, after all, exactly the way He wanted His office to smell.
The walls were blank and white, the same colour as the doors, the same colour as the doorknobs, the same colour as the hinges. A human not trained in traversing these halls would have the headache of a lifetime trying to discern object from object on the basis of shading and depth alone, much less the incredible probability of accidentally opening up the wrong door and ending up in the fiery power plants of Hell or--even worse--the disgusting eroticism of Heaven. But there were no humans here; thus, the probability of error was next to nill.
Her fair skin proved the only distraction from the drab white of the hallway, Her shapely frame tracing the hallways in the same way it used to do centuries before. She was naked--formalwear of the Gods--and her long, full blonde hair fell neatly behind her, bouncing against Her arched back as She traversed the hall.
At last She found the door. It was every other door in this hallway, but it was not. She had been behind thousands like it, but never this one. As She reached forward her long, thin fingers and touched the knob, She felt the door's name in her mind:
DEPARTMENT OF DELINQUENT DEITIES
With a sigh, she turned the knob and pushes the door open. Before her eyes could even adjust to the return of colour, she heard a woman's voice, nasally and obnoxious. A secretary.
The Most Glorious Hack
Trogdor, the Taginator.
I best tag this, seeing as I need to know about the workin's up the big stair.
The Outset Islands
Great Gods, that voice, off-kilter and dissonant, as if the angle-faced secretary was scraping sand across Esmerelda’s ears. The Hoddess’s lips vented a guttural sigh as Her eyes adjusted to the sudden appearance of colour—greys, blue-greys, grey-blues, blue-grey-blues, dark greys, light greys, dark blue-greys…
Now I remember why I dread coming here every quarter.
Easing the creaking white door shut behind her (One would think they would spring for some WD-40 in this happy deified wonderland of theirs…), Esmerelda sauntered to the wide desk, the perpetual motion contraption clanking back and forth, silver orb striking silver orb, one, two, one, two…
And the secretary. In the name of He With Many Names, the secretary. She, too, was naked, her frame bony and withered with age. Esmerelda shook Her head, abruptly wishing that The One had followed through on His promise of new youth after death. There was an obvious disgust on the secretary’s face as she scratched the bridge of her proboscis with frayed yellow fingernails that probably had not been cut since the day she died.
“Here to see The Eye, I assume?” she squawked, chuckling before she gave Esmerelda the chance to answer. “Of course You are. You’re on my schedule, and I already know who You are.”
Yes. Thank you. You’re gifted with the second sight, just like the rest of us. You must be very, very proud. Esmerelda’s cringe turned into a sweet smile, Her eyebrows forced into an exaggerated arch.
“Yes, I am here to see The Eye,” She replied, her voice as high and sweet as She (She, who bore the burden of The Emerald Heights upon her shoulders) could force it. “If you could be so kind as to buzz me in, I would be eternally grateful.”
The secretary snorted, pressing her index finger against her forehead and closing her eyes. Esmerelda tapped Her foot, looking around the room for something, anything to keep Her interest short of watching the communiqué transmission, a process that could take eons (quite literally). This time, it only took a few seconds (minutes? hours? days? weeks? millennia?) for the secretary to extend her finger toward a dull grey door in the side of the room.
“The Eye will see You now. Try to treat Him with a bit more respect than I’m owed, hon,” the secretary muttered as she returned to whatever divine minutia held her attention this moment. Esmerelda offered a curtsey to the secretary (and a middle finger telepathically) before gliding off to the door.
With another sigh, She ran Her fingers across the cold platinum doorknob. She was not looking forward to this. And it was not as if She had not tried to regain Her dignity—even after being reunited after Her century-spanning Split, She had done Her best to pay recompense to the land She was charged to protect... the land She had tried to destroy.
It’s going to be all right. He’ll understand. He has to. The One hired Him personally. This will take all of five minutes.
She pulled the door open, peeking around the corner and into the room for just a moment before thoughts came striking back like lightning.
Oh, Gods… what if He hates this coy crap? Cut the bull, Esmerelda… get in there… suck it up…
She leapt around the corner of the door and peered into the room. There was nothing much different—no decoration, no pictures, no windows, no Heavenly Glory pouring from every crack and corner of the room. His was a room—an office. One desk, two chairs.
And there He stood behind the desk, arms akimbo, curly black hair forming an apparent widow’s peak across His dome. His eyes were clear as crystal and peered deeply into the soul, the aura, the chi… whatever metaphysical bullshit the Gods were touting this week. The transparency looked Esmerelda over, across the pale skin, over each perfect curve, through Her flawless hair, Her undulant white breast, Her slender legs, Her seafoam eyes that captured the beating beaches of The Emerald Heights in a manner greater than any artist could ever hope.
Then, with a chuckle, He returned to His seat.
“Gods, Es… you look like Hell. Please, have a seat.”
The Outset Islands
She might have been sitting there for a million years (would it have mattered?) as He flipped through the yellow file, the only item on His desk. It was a thick volume--not surprising, given Her history, and given that Her history was in this file, that Her history was this file. She tried to choke up a smile for Her old friend, The Eye.
"So how is work?" She asked, running Her fingers through Her hair. The Eye did not look up or even feign joining Her nervous gaze.
"Busy," He replied. He mumbled something that He knew She would hear: Thanks to you... Esmerelda sighed quickly, looking desperately for anything in the room to hold Her attention. There was nothing--the room was just as vacant as it was five seconds ago. She tried conversation again.
"So how is The One?" She asked. The Eye stopped flipping through the folder, but did not look up. A small snicker escaped His lips.
"Patient," He answered. "The One is always patient." Esmerelda tried to join in His laughter, but was cut off by the slam of the file closed. The Eye looked back at Her, His smile all but faded.
"Well, Es... this is Your first time here in... what, three thousand years? So much for centurial visits, huh?" He folded His arms across the desk, leaning towards Her. "Where've you been anyway?"
Esmerelda began to speak, but She bit Her tongue. Looking away from His penetrating gaze, She sought the answer instead in the ground. "You know where I've been. It's all on file."
"Oh, for God's sake, don't start with this 'You know the answer' bull, Es," He snorted, shaking His head. "God, You sound like one of those Matrix movies those mortals love to pay eight bucks to see..."
"I've been split," She interrupted, quickly looking back up into The Eye, into His eyes, into that deep transparent gaze. "It was a Class 3 Deitical Split associated with Rampant Boredom. Offense #583,281-J, if I'm not mistaken?" The Eye leaned back in His chair, sending a warm smile Her way.
"You haven't lost Your touch, Es," He said. "Nor have You lost Your knowledge of the books. Indeed, We were dealing with a 3-Split rooted in RB..." He looks down into the file once more, flipping toward a specific page, peering down into it deeply as if He was looking at tiny lifeforms under a microscope. "...and it appears You dabbled in Creationism, is that right? Your own boredom caused You to create not one, but two different races?" Esmerelda tried to open Her mouth once again, but The Eye slammed the folder shut again, silencing Her. "And THEN, to make matters worse, You place the two races in a war against one another? And THEN You split, lose all contact with Your Mate, Mason, and force Him to imprision You underground... an act which later resulted in His death?" Esmerelda dared not speak. She hung Her head, letting Her long blonde hair hide the tears forming on the corners of Her eyes. "And then, just to top it off... You instigate an attack on the land You were charged to protect."
Esmerelda nodded. It's true. It's all true. Mortality again for Me...
The Eye tapped His thick fingers against the front of Esmerelda's folder, His eyelids lowered. He forced a warm smile.
"Well, hey... at least You're back together," He cooed. "So tell Me, what caused the Reunification?"
Esmerelda sniffled. "Enchanted Item. Associated with Mason. Our wedding ring, specifically." She held up Her hand, revealing the plain gold band on Her left ring finger. It brought Me back together, and it made Me remember why I was given these gifts to begin with. Your Grace, I am truly..."
"You're sorry," The Eye interrupted. Esmerelda looked up, Her vision blurring behind the tears. "And You want one more chance." Esmerelda nodded slowly, and The Eye let out a quick puff of air between His teeth. "Well, fortunately, Enchanted Items Associated with Mates have been 100% effective in the past at preventing future Offenses. And having reviewed Your activity for the past few months, I can say with all honesty that You have clearly reformed. You handled the Monolith situation with remarkable ease, You have taken significant strides toward normalizing relations with The Emerald Heights--The SLAGLands specifically--and You have taken a wonderful, almost parental role toward Your progeny, Il Adib and The Brethren of Shade. Honestly, were I to strip You of Your full position now, I believe things would turn out for the worse."
Esmerelda's eyes widened. She wiped the tears from Her eyes, Her face beaming. "So... You mean... I'm not fired?"
The Eye nodded. "Not fired, but consider Yourself temporarily powered down. I'm stripping You first of all of Your avatar and Your access to Blue Beam--that nasty little combination caused plenty of damage in The Emerald Heights invasion. Your total access to Our Power will also be reduced by 15.358% until such a time is deemed appropriate for You to regain it."
Esmerelda nodded quickly, leaning toward The Eye. "So what must I do to regain Our Power and prove Myself to My Superiors?"
The Eye looked over the folder again. "Well, for starters, You can begin catching Yourself up on the State of the Ethereal in the world today. It's an increasing presence nowadays, as more Deities, Demideities, Angels, Demons, and God knows what else are popping up all the time. A good place to start, of course, would be the mysterious appearance of this place called Enyalius in The Emerald Heights." The Eye reaches under his desk and produces a new--much thinner--folder, sliding it toward Esmerelda. "We've traced this appearance to a Mercenary Deity by the name of Ainulindalion. I want You to find this Ainulindalion fellow. Question Him about His motives. Find out who He is and what business He has in The Emerald Heights. Above all else, make sure He is not hostile. Do not attempt to combat Him; if You encounter problems, report immediately to Me."
Esmerelda nodded, her hand quivering as it pulled the file toward her. "I'll do my best." Mercenary Deities in The Emerald Heights? Geez, how long was I split? Esmerelda stands, kowtowing toward The Eye. "Thank You very much, Your Grace. I assure You that I will not fail My Superiors again."
The Eye grins. "Hey... nobody's perfect."