The Heavenly Winds of Fate
“Friendships multiply joys and divide griefs. Adversity is the only balance to weigh friends.” - Plutarch
The white marble halls gleamed brilliantly in the divine light shining eternally through the heavenly city of the Jade Emperor’s palace. The scene was one of unmitigated peace and tranquillity. Indeed to all residents of the celestial palace there was no other place that they would prefer to call home….
‘Where the hell did he run off to this time?’
Takumi Yamamura, the newly appointed court attendant who had been in the midst of completing his application submission to the palace literary department, jumped in startled surprise, causing the ink to blot on the page of his masterpiece. Artistic annoyance aroused he rose to his feet, indignation radiating off his short form.
‘How dare you disturb me? Don’t you know….’ Takumi’s voice drifted off in horror as he turned and saw the owner of the harsh voice. ‘L-Lord K-Konzen,’ he stammered. ‘My Lord I apologise, I did not realise it was you.’
Lord Konzen Douji, nephew to the Merciful Goddess, Kanzeon Bosatsu, and renowned for his taciturn and frosty personality was storming down the corridor, violet robe swirling in rage, his tall golden-haired form radiating with frustration and amethyst eyes blazing with divine fury. Takumi quailed with fear as the wrathful eyes shot towards him.
‘That damn monkey must have come by here, did you see him?’
At the god’s question Takumi stammered uncertainly, ‘M-My Lord, t-there are no a-animals allowed in the p-palace.’
If possible the amethyst eyes grew even fierier. ‘Idiot, I know that, but try telling it to the old hag who saddled me with the little pest. He’s nothing more than a damn nuisance.’
‘Oh come now, Konzen, just because he messes up your precious documents now and then, and treads a few muddy footprints on your lovely clean floors doesn’t make him a nuisance; more of an adorable pet!’
The mocking voice held a genuine note of amusement, and Takumi, looking behind Lord Konzen, felt as though he must surely be blest as he perceived the dark-haired woman adorned in a revealing sheath of white silk with golden bracelets on her wrists. He was standing in the presence of the Merciful Goddess herself!
‘My Lady.’ Dropping to his knees, Takumi genuflected reverently.
Kanzeon Bosatsu stared at the young attendant kneeling in front of her before a smile twitched at her mouth. Throwing a mischievous glance at her glowering nephew, she pointed toward the bowed figure on the floor and said with a smirk, ‘now, see there my dear, Konzen. That is how you should behave toward me. Proper respect and a bit of obedience thrown in. I am after all the Merciful Goddess.’
‘Merciful! Sadistic more like! You dump all of your problems on me and then expect me to respect you! That damn chimp causes nothing but trouble. He’s just ruined a whole set of documents that took me a week to get through. He eats enough to feed the entire Heavenly Army twice over and he’s always getting into trouble. I’m days behind in my work and I never get a moment’s peace.’
By this point Takumi was beginning to have serious concerns. This monkey sounded dangerous and certainly an unseemly pet for such a divine personage as Lord Konzen. Thinking quickly, Takumi decided that maybe he could do something to win the approval of both deities before him, and then if he won the favour of the Merciful Goddess and her nephew every door would just about be open to him.
‘Excuse me, My Lady, but may I offer my assistance.’
At the sound of the obsequious voice the Merciful Goddess and Konzen stared down at the humble court attendant.
‘What is it?’
At the Merciful Goddess’ encouragement Takumi raised his head, and, pasting an obliging smile on his face, offered, ‘if My Lord Konzen wishes to be relieved of this monkey, My Lady, then may I offer to take care of him myself. I have some experience with handling wild animals and would ensure that he did not bother Lord Konzen in future.’
Smiling in what he hoped was a sincere enough way Takumi waited for the praises that would surely fall upon his head for his unselfish proposal.
‘Who the hell do you think you are?’
At the abrupt question Takumi’s smile faltered, and he found himself confronting a furious golden-haired god who glared at him in contempt.
‘I have no interest in helping you raise your position in the social ladder of this place, and I’ll be damned before I let that stupid monkey get into the hands of some smarmy little toad like you! He may be a major thorn in my side but I’d sooner have that little brat screaming in my ear for all eternity than hand him over to a snivelling little upstart like you. Now get out of my sight.’
Scrambling to his feet, Takumi bowed hastily and then scurried away as quickly as he could, unsure of how he had messed up his chance to impress two of the most influential gods in the heavens. Determined to avoid meeting either of them again, Takumi set out to find his uncle and request a transfer to another palace in the heavens where it was unlikely he would ever see the Merciful Goddess or Lord Konzen for a very long time.
‘My dear Konzen, was that really necessary?’ Kanzeon asked calmly, even though her violet eyes glittered with a similar fury to that displayed in her nephew’s amethyst ones as she watched the hurriedly retreating figure. ‘Surely a simple “no thank you” would have sufficed to such an impertinent suggestion.’
‘Hn, I have no patience for pretentious little worms like that. If I’d agreed to let that stupid chimp go to him the little brat would have been dead within a week from starvation, whilst that moron was out bragging of how he’d helped us with our “wild animal” problem.’
Kanzeon glanced at her nephew and saw that the cold mask he habitually wore when he was disturbed was once again veiling his expression.
‘Is the little tyke such a burden, Konzen?’ she asked, her tone strangely serious.
‘He’s more a noisy, bottomless pit of a child who won’t sit still for two seconds than a burden,’ Konzen replied with an aggravated sigh. ‘I can’t afford to take my eyes off him and if I do he makes a mess that takes me all day to clean up, just like he left in my office just now.’
The Merciful Goddess smiled, not her usual sardonic one but a genuine one filled with amusement. ‘But you certainly seem a lot more relaxed these days, my dear nephew, and you can’t say you find him boring can you?’
Konzen’s only response was a low growl.
‘Besides,’ Konzen’s aunt added with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes, ‘you make such a wonderful daddy, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, and he does liven the place up a bit, don’t you agree?’
‘If you think so why don’t you take him back,’ Konzen retorted. ‘You’re always complaining about how bored you are! Why don’t you look after him yourself if you’re so anxious to find something to do?’
Kanzeon widened her eyes with the pseudo innocence her nephew found extremely irritating, and exclaimed, ‘I! Look after the earth child! My dear Konzen, were I to do that you would surely return to your state of perpetual boredom and that would not be very merciful of me to condemn you to that fate, now would it?’
‘Do you have nothing better to do than torment me!’ Konzen spun around and began storming down the hallway again. ‘Why don’t you go back to your spying on the Lower World and leave me in peace, you old hag!’
‘My dear Konzen, what on earth could compare with the entertainment afforded to me by your delightful personality and sparkling wit?’ Kanzeon grinned as she watched her incensed nephew sweep down the hallway, his long golden hair swinging violently in the air. ‘Life in this place certainly is more interesting these days,’ she commented lightly. ‘This is the most fun I’ve had in two hundred years!’