His first clue that he was going to have an adventure was perhaps too obvious to be believable.
"Felicity," said a deep, friendly voice from the hallway. He immediately recognized the voice of Instillness Asmile, a heavenly being of exceedingly high station in the Bureau.
Felicity looked up from the manuscript where he had been penning the minutes and complete transcript from a recent meeting. From memory. There before him was the familiar form of his first friend in the Bureau. The god stood casually and was holding a drink, as was his custom. His body was lightly shrouded in a mostly transparent gauzy material that obscured his facial features and his silhouette. As such, he appeared to have neither dark nor light skin, eyes of indeterminate color, and hair of something between blond and black. Despite his ambiguous appearance, the God of the Enjoyment in Making New Friends had the kind of personality that just set you at ease and made you comfortable. Felicity usually marveled at the approachability of a god whose rank allowed him to be a frequent spectator at the Games of Divinity.
"Yes, Instillness Asmile?" Felicity asked.
"You're going to have an adventure soon." The god promptly left before Felicity could process and respond to the statement.
The Serenity Caste sat quietly, considering whether Instillness Asmile had been spending too much time with the Journeys Caste, but quickly dismissed that foolish notion. He returned to work, drawing up the notes in Old Realm with flawless penmenship. Nonetheless, this was his first clue.
His second clue occurred just hours later, but was not apparent until later, in hindsight. On his way out of the office, as Felicity passed through the grand entrance of the Cerulean Lute of Harmony, one of his fellow Serenity Caste winked at him. This was not uncommon in the pleasure dome where Felicity worked, but this particular Joybringer was already "enaged" in activity with a minor goddess of adoration. Sapphire Tryst was his name, and Felicity had never had more than a few words with that mid-level Serenity Caste. Felicity assumed that the man had meant to signal someone standing behind him, and ignored the gesture.
When Felicity returned to his tiny Manse, the Gleam of Endearing Night, he stopped in the front hall to allow his servant to remove his outer robe. Felicity moved to stand in front of a mirrored wall, inspecting his appearance for the upcoming dinner engagement. The Sidereal smoothed out his silken shirt and pants, deciding they would be fine for the party. He evaluated his appearance, as he was often required: he finally had grown up enough to look like a young man with deeply tanned skin, black hair, delicate facial features, and piercingly azure eyes that gave people the impression that he could stare into the depths of their soul. Felicity changed his underclothing, donned his work garb again, and accented it with silvery ribbons and assorted fine jewelry. His selections were limited to pieces no richer than that worn by nobles in Creation. Felicity simply couldn't afford the extravagent works of the gods of Yu-Shan.
Felicity could view the grand palace that hosted the party several blocks before he arrived. He stepped off the transport skiff, paying his fare with what amounted to a sizable portion of his salary, and walked unaccompanied towards the fields of flowers that served as the entrance to the Palace of Triumphant Golden Tears. From his studies, Felicity recalled that few of the flowers now blooming in that expanse could possibly be in season, and certainly several species should not be blooming simultaneously. He smiled away the inconsistencies of Heaven, and joined a partygoer whose face he recognized, though he had not been introduced. The attractive goddess was one of the clerks in the Bureau of Heaven whom he often walked past when visiting his friend, Rano-Che, who was hosting the present party. As she was also unaccompanied, Felicity offered to escort her and she took his arm with affable poise and a warm chuckle.
They went their separate ways after passing through the massive gates that stood wide open, allowing a dozen celestial beings to enter abreast. A servant recognized Felicity immediately and drew him aside and whispered to the Sidereal the location of Rano-Che, encouraging Felicity to seek out the god presently.
Felicity climbed the long, curving staircase that led to a wide balcony that ringed the enormous main hall. Everything was draped in flowers lovingly crafted from quintessence by the hands of a thousand servants. He marveled at their plentitude and range of colors. Felicity was so absorbed with the sight and smells that he almost tripped over the robe of Nara-O, which would have been a major embarassment for his Division. Instead, he made a hasty amendment to his fate to include stopping and plucking a particularly lovely lotus. He would spent so much time selecting the flower that Nara-O moved farther away before Felicity could possibly slip on the trails of cloth. Felicity would later give the flower to someone who would make herself known to him but whom he did not yet know was here. Felicity was aware of this fate, while also knowing that it had almost been possible that he had humiliated himself before the head of the Division of Secrets.
As he leaned against the balcony to recover his breath after briefly altering the Tapestry, a refreshing tonic was instantly placed in his hand by an observant servant. Somewhat later, Felicity found Rano-Che amidst several prominent gods and Sidereal. He waited for that conversation to conclude and passed his time telling a brief poem to a pretty goddess of windows whose transparent body allowed him to continue to watch the host of the party while entertaining the minor divinity. As a competent Joybringer, Felicity delivered the prose with elegance and style such that soon everyone within hearing of his quiet voice turned to listen. He concluded and bowed to the scattered applause of otherwise overly-entertained deities.
"Quite beautiful, Felicity," said Rano-Che as he stepped near. The God of Heartfelt Solicitation and the Serenity Caste bowed to each other with respect and then clasped hands with friendship. The Master and Keeper of Prayers held an esteemed position in Heaven, but had taken the young Chosen under his gold-tipped wing when Felicity's questions brought him to the god in charge of organizing every prayer made by every being in Creation.
"You thought so?" Felicity said with a slight smile.
"I only caught the last part, but yes. You have certainly polished your diction since I last attended one of your performances."
Felicity grinned his thanks and replied with a slight tinge of bitterness, "Yes, well, I do seem to have all the time I could ever care to allot to any diversion I choose."
The tip of one wing dipped slightly in sympathy. Rano-Che understood all too well Felicity's position, more than even the young Joybringer knew. Felicity had been confined to Heaven since the time of his Exaltation at the age of seven. Taken forcibly from his family, the boy had immediately been placed in training to master astrological interventions so as to avert the major disasters caused by Felicity's predecessor. Now, ten years later, Felicity was still not trusted to leave Heaven, nor provided the opportunity to earn that trust.
Felicity shook off his discontent and reminded himself that he was there to enjoy the party. "Nonetheless, my friend, I would be quite pleased to provide some distractions later on, if you would wish."
"Oh, that would be very agreeable, I am certain," said Rano-Che, relieved that the subject was changed. "Perhaps you could deliver some of those song-dances from the South. We scarcely ever are entertained by someone from your region of Creation."
"It would be my pleasure."
"In the meantime, I would like to introduce you to someone," and Rano-Che led Felicity through the throng of revelers. It took some time for the two to make their way as Rano-Che was frequently stopped with compliments concerning the drinks, food, and decorations that he was too proud not to acknowledge.
They approached a goddess who reclined on a sofa that, despite its prodigious length, just barely supported her long furred tail. Other than the crimson tail and pointed, fox-like ears, she appeared as an extraordinarily beautiful woman in her late young adulthood. She turned as they approached and inclined her head.
"Forgetful Thirst, please allow me to introduce the Felicitous Garland of Clovers Ever-Blooming. Felicity, I would like to introduce the Goddess of Serendiptious Outcomes of Struggle, of the Division of Battles."
Felicity smiled and took the woman's offerred hand and lightly kissed it. Although she was not of his Division, Felicity recognized her title and position. She smiled faintly and looked at Rano-Che questioningly.
Rano-Che explained, "Forgetful Thirst, Felicity here has quite an appreciation for the politics of your position. He has made a study of revolutions that quietly turned out better than expected."
"Is that so?" she asked Felicity, pleased.
"Yes, mistress, I find the large-scale spread of joy to be a fascinating and often underused possibility."
"Well, I am surprised, I must say. Usually you Courtesans of Heaven seem content in matchmaking and... shall we say, personal diversions?"
Felicity blushed in spite of himself. Although he worked in a pleasure dome, he was himself rather inexperienced in the "perks" of his workplace. He was regularly teased for it, and assumed that half of Heaven already knew of his prudence.
"Yes, well," Felicity cleared his throat. "I was given to understand that you played a role in the founding of Chaya. If it's not a bother, I'd be interested in hearing more..."
Rano-Che left the two to chat, feeling satisfied with his introduction. Without any substantial alliances with the Sidereal, Rano-Che valued the political advantages of having a friend in the Bureau of Fate. As well, he truly felt that Felicity had never been given the chance he deserved. Little did he know that his young "apprentice" would soon get the chance he had been waiting for. For even at that moment, the Secrets Caste named Navia was observing Felicity carefully. She scrutinized the Serenity Caste for any indication of the qualities that had led someone to specifically request his assistance with an upcoming mission in Creation.
To be continued...