It was a gathering of three, as it always is. They arrived, one-by-one, in the wooded glade, as they always do. Their location didn’t matter, so long as it is near water and will have trees in a purer, more ancient part of the world.
The eldest had been the first to arrive. Though timeless and untouched by age, the difficulties of her duties had proven themselves on her features. Her hair had become somewhat more flecked with silver, her eyes wearier. She moved with an almost nervous energy, her arms crossed over her chest as she had waited for the others to arrive.
The middle sister was second to arrive. Punctual as the movement of the stars, she was never late nor early. Counter to her elder sister, she was seemingly unburdened by the weight of her tasks. If anything, the middle child was the happiest of the three, her clever smile growing to the edges of her lips.
The youngest is the last to arrive. Her face is like sunshine, a brilliant mask over a merciless and tireless interior. On her face is a warm smile promising comfort and kindness, but her eyes are far from kind. There is a cruel ambivalence in her visage, her burden the heaviest to bear.
“So here we are, now and again.” The Middle smiled as they once more drew into their circle. “We three, as we are and ever are. Let us hear our joys and worries now.”
“My worries, as you have called them, were endless.” The Eldest frowned. “People forgot. Their minds were withdrawn from the past we drew, so I have been drawing another from so much smoke and aether. Again, I have asked what sense is there when the future alters the past? Even the mortals have noticed.”
“Mortals will always notice things in small numbers.” The Youngest child smiled.
“What is it they are calling it?” The Middle asked. “The Cavallo-White Effect?”
“That is what they will call it.” The Youngest said. “They will not call it that for another year or so.”
“What does it matter what it was called?” The Eldest snapped. “It was pestilence upon my work!”
“I ask that you abide.” The Middle said in her calm diplomatic tone. “We are all struggling.”
“How has she struggled?” The eldest lost her temper, rounding on the Youngest. “She has been free to weave and wander, to play and toss the threads so loosely.”
The Youngest laughed an empty laugh. “I will suffer as I always have,” She said. “With dignity and grace. For while it will be your charge to measure the births and spin the threads for those who will tread the paths of history, I shall stand, shears in hand, to meet them at their end.”
The Eldest, though still in her petulant mood, silenced herself before the Middle spoke again.
“Still, we are making progress.” She said, gesturing to both of them. “The prophecies we spin from Fate are holding true. Rome is the center of mortal activity for the time.”
“As it will be.” Said the Youngest.
“As it was” Said the Eldest.
“But it is not all there is, is it now?” The Middle said. “We are beginning to see other lands with other threads of fate begin to rise alongside it.”
“Sicily…” The youngest marked them off, as if in order. “Germany, Japan, Aztlan, Carthage, Egypt. These will simply be a few of many.”
“Good, good.” The Middle smiled as the Eldest kept her sulking silence. “And how are our actors on this stage of Rome. Are their lines well-tended to?”
“The threads have been handled decently.” The Eldest spoke up. “The incongruities and oddities have been dealt with in large part. Several of them have been worked to their conclusion.”
“Already?” The Middle asked in false surprise. “We work quickly, sisters.”
“The Tale of Echo’s Curse has been concluded.” The Eldest said.
“Then it is time for young Nora to move to center stage in her own role.” The Middle smiled. “How is that coming along?”
“It will be in your domain momentarily.” The Youngest smiled mischievously. “The last details I will attend to will soon be falling into place.
Perhaps a thousand miles away, tugged perhaps by chance or the pull of fate, a girl rises from a weeks-long sleep. A girl named Lenore.
“Excellent.” The Middle said. “And fine time as well. And what of the youngest wolf of Rome? Is he being handled?”
“His work into the cult will continue some time yet.” The Youngest said. “Though he is moving to the wayside. The Hour of the Wolf will be over soon in Rome.” She added with an impish grin. The others did not share in her amusement.
Another thousand miles away, Giovanni looks wistfully out a window, imagining the fields and forests at his feet. The work he does now is better fit for human hands and human minds. The humans will need their protection for some time yet, but how much longer will they need their aid?
“And what of our little heroic upstart?” The Middle one finally asked. “How is she?”
“That will be your job.” The Youngest giggled. “We merely handle how she will be.”
“And how she was.” The Eldest added.
“Fine then.” The Middle huffed. “I can tell you that she is taking her first few steps.”
“As have many others.” The Eldest said. “We were mistaken before to put so much faith in mortal hands. Many have died.”
“As will many more.” The Youngest said. “But we will all know she is something special, though she will not accomplish much alone.”
“This is very true.” The Middle smile. “She needs accomplices.”
“Her adoptive Sister was a candidate.” The Eldest shrugged. “But she had her own tale to tell.”
“Then our work is obvious.” The Middle said. “With one potential hero in our hands, it is time we found others.”
“Heroes will be rare to find.” The Youngest replied. “It will be easier to find more specialized accomplices.”
“You have something in mind?” The Middle cocked her eyebrow.
“I will.” The Youngest said. “I will have many things in mind. Friend, lover, teacher, wanderer, all will find their way to her.”
“And to what end will all of this have been?” The Eldest asked.
“Now, now.” The Youngest wagged a finger. “That is not yours to know, only mine. Just as I will never cross into your realm. Once things cease to be “What will be” I shall never see them again.”
“Which was a troublesome distinction these past few months.” The Eldest frowned.
“Which will not be my problem.” The Youngest shrugged.
“Ahem!” The Middle brought their attention together. “Is there anything else?”
“Zeus was mad at us.” The Eldest said. “As we had ceased to pay him lip service as we so often did before. We failed to tell him how his once servile Moirai have become so unbound.”
“It is not the first time.” The Middle said. “And it shall not be the last.”
“And we know you have had your own dealings with Odin.” The Eldest glanced her way. “Though he has always been wise enough to know the Norns were never at his beck and call.”
“He is quite wise.” The Middle’s smile grew. “And we do have dealings in regards to the fates of one of his chosen.”
“That valkyrie, of course…” The Eldest furrowed her brow. “Has she not seen enough?”
“Which Valkyrie?” The Youngest glanced between them.
“You cannot know everything, dear sister.” The Middle smiled at her. “Some things are ours to decide.”
The Youngest frowned. There was very little she never saw, and she did not appreciate plans for the future to be hidden form her. Still, she held her own advantage, there were things she knew that they could not, and this bred plans of her own.
“Now I believe that is all.” The Eldest smiled at them as they rose once more.
“It was.” Agreed the Eldest.
“It will be all.” Said the Youngest.
Without any further words, each of them turned away and left in their own time. The Eldest was the first to remove herself as she had been the first to arrive, already weary of the sorting work she had to do. So many little threads to be realigned. The Middle followed her in turn. She had people to meet, and threads to nudge in the right direction. The Youngest left last, the heaviest burden hidden behind her laughing face. So many little threads to cut.
Their wheel was spinning quickly, and it would need all hands to tend to it.
The Cities Eternal©2016, Evan Murdoch, Ben Sousa