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Capricious, Goddess of beauty and whimsy danced above her temple garden unfettered by distress or gravity. Her flowing, white, translucent, semitransparent, finery streamed behind her as she danced to the subtle but resonant strains of a harp played by a large, bald eunuch. Two dozen castranos lined up against one wall provided a soprano choir which gently augmented the harp. A dozen agonizingly beautiful women of various colors and form tended the indoor garden while a few dozen worshippers watched from various points about the temple. Capricious danced under the light, which filtered through a magic glass dome, which covered the temple. The glass was magic because it could withstand the most vicious attack.

Capricious finished her dance in time to the music with a twirl that landed her in the center of the room. Her adoring worshippers applauded and some were moved to tears. Abalone, the high priestess of interior design, broke from a throng of devotees and ran to her mistress's feet.

"Sweet Goddess of Light, my heart is uplifted by thine dance. How thou dost give inspiration to us mere mortals."

Capricious smiled a radiant perfect smile and placed a loving hand on her priestess' head, "You are SO observant, Abalone. This is but one of the reasons I've chosen you for my right hand."

Capricious sighed and stretched to the heavens. Had the males in the room not been gelded they would have groaned at the sight of this intensely beautiful woman somewhat revealed through the transparency of her dress.

Capricious tossed back her perfectly coifed locks with the flick of wrist and sighed again, "I feel so beautiful today. I do so love the sun. Is that statue new?"

Abalone spun around to the Goddess's gesture to find a copy of Michael Anglo's David, "It's been in storage a while milady. It was recently set out."

Capricious frowned at the anatomy evident, "Its loins offend me. Have the royal sculptor remove them."

A couple of the eunuchs grimaced from past memories while Abalone nodded in ascent. The klaxons of announcement wailed at the far end of the temple and the massive white metal doors groaned from their own weight as they rolled back.

Two of Capricious' Amazonian guard escorted the finely muscled form of Freeja the warrior maid into the sacred chambers. She moved with a grace that would have made a panther jealous. Her chocolate brown skin fairly glowed with dark luster where it showed from under her various pieces of armor. It was hard to make out the finely chiseled and superbly symmetrical features of the dark warrior under that helm, but many a man groaned with desire when the headgear came off.

Freeja went down on bent knee before her mistress, "My lady of light I have come as you have bid to offer my life in your name.

Capricious cast another radiant smile, "I prefer that you preserve your life Freeja. You are one of my most valiant and valuable servants."

If one were to look closely enough they might have noticed a smile under that helm, "As you wish, Goddess."

Capricious waved a hand and a tastefully decorated loveseat, coffee table and set of chairs appeared around them, "Sit with me and have some tea."

Freeja removed her helm and set it next to the chair behind her (somewhere a man groaned), "Yes, my Goddess."

Capricious gestured at a servant and the eunuch ran off to gather the tea, "I need you to perform a great task for me."

"How may I prove myself to thee, Goddess?"

Capricious waved the warrior off, "You don't need to prove anything to me. What you need to do is prevent a war."

A surprised Freeja frowned, "Who would make war in Paradise, Goddess!? I will have their heads."

Capricious recoiled a little at the violent thought, "Not here Freeja. It's Balthon and Asshkaan who are about to come to blows. My spies have been bringing me disturbing reports and I'm afraid that the Nine Kindoms and the Machine are soon to be warring."

Freeja was obviously confused, "Why dost thou care, most high?"

Capricious suddenly snapped a forefinger at a lingering servant, "Homage! Move that sofa more to the right!"

A rattled servant hopped to the sofa sculpted from marble he was standing next to and began pushing it with all his might.

"We Goddess's and Gods have a common enemy in the demon hoards. It's why we have maintained the portals between our various kingdoms. If those two testosterone cases come to blows it's quite possible they could shutdown their portals as a defensive tactic. That makes the Pantheon weaker as a whole and thus subject to the threat of the scaley ones. You were not around during the early demon wars," Capricious shuddered, "They were horrific."

Homage shoved with all his might and the stone sofa moved a millimeter.

Freeja leaned toward her Goddess, "What would you have me do?"

"Asshkaan and Balthon have both chosen champions. They will both be tested for their worthiness. You are to see that they fail. You must always be in the background. Their failure must not be traceable back to me."

The servant returned with a tea set and poured the Goddess and heroine a cup. The servant grimaced at the sight of the sweat covered Homage struggling with the stone sofa.

Freeja sipped from her tea, "It shall be done, Goddess."

Capricious smiled. She knew her champion was quite capable, "Homage! That's good enough."

Homage collapsed in a pool of perspiration and exhaustion at one end of the marble furniture.

Caprice grabbed a tin, opened it and offered its contents to Freeja, "Sweet biscuit?"