A Glimpse into DarknessBy: Sherri Wingler
Prequel of The Immortal Sorrows series
The woman before the mirror was as thin as a blade, and her beauty could cut like a knife. Long, dark hair twisted in elaborate Grecian knots about her head to cascade in a bronze waterfall down her back. She barely glanced up at the sound of my footsteps. Aisa. The Greeks called her Atropos. She who could not be turned, and she was the embodiment of Fate.
Her mismatched eyes were unsettling, even to me. One was the brilliant blue of a sapphire and the other was dark as the soil after a rain. It was said of her that one eye looked always to the heavens, and the other, always to the earth. Perhaps it was true. She certainly seemed to see everything.
“Hello, my darling, what brings you to us this lovely evening?” She had a soft voice with a musical lilt to it, but like everything else about her, it was a deceptive thing. She turned her smooth cheek up to me for a quick kiss. She smelled faintly of the woodsy incense burning in all four corners of the dimly-lit room.
“Nothing, mother. I just wanted to stop in and say hello.” Thousands of threads ran through her fingers and lay stretched across her lap in a rainbow display of color. They were special, those threads. Each one was attached to a mortal life. It seemed impossible that she should keep track of them all, but it was Aisa’s sacred duty to measure and cut each life in its due time. “You’ve been busy, I see.”
Her hands were rough from constantly working the threads. Such tedious work for one of her station. I wouldn’t enjoy it, personally, but as I was the eldest daughter of the reigning Fate, someday in the distant future, I would be expected to take her place. I would spin the threads and weave the destinies of mortals just as she did. I would also hold the power of life… and death.
She was a slave to her station, but the power she held was both terrible and beautiful. Life and death for every living soul. What must it be like to be Fate? Intoxicating, I imagined.
“Your sister keeps me company. She’s learning to spin quite beautifully.” I ignored the unspoken admonition. I knew the old argument. I should learn to spin as artfully as my darling sister, but then one of us being locked up in the dreadful dark with the acrid incense smoke seemed like plenty to me.
My sister, Melita came forward from her corner and dropped a curt nod in my direction. “Clotho.”
“Hello, little spider. How are you enjoying your day?”
She ignored my little jab at her expense. It didn’t surprise me. She would never rise to the bait as long as our mother was present. Later, when no one was near to witness, I would get an earful. It was ever her way.
We were like fire and ice, my sister and I. Her skin was as fair as cream, whereas my own was the color of raw honey. She was a lovely thing to look upon, no doubt, but something about her needled me. She was so sweet and good, depending on her mood or her company. In private she was another creature entirely. Spiteful and vindictive. She’d always been jealous of me. Always. From the moment of her birth she’d been a thorn in my side.
“There is a battle raging in Thermopylae.” She inclined her head towards the enormous bronze mirror as she set a platter at our mother’s elbow. “A paltry handful of Spartans against a horde of Persians.” She made a ‘tsking’ sound. “Fools throwing their already limited lives away.”
“They know no other way, daughter.” Aisa picked up her gilded dagger once more and began methodically slicing through the threads. One after another. Once sliced they fell to the floor like teardrops. It seemed a random pattern to me, but who was I to question Fate? Her hands moved constantly. Measure and slice, measure and slice. There was a peculiar rhythm to it, not unlike the music playing softly in the background.
Movement in the mirror caught my attention. At first glance, it reflected the room and the woman sitting before it, with myself and my sister standing behind her. On closer inspection, it became clear the mirror reflected not the room itself, but the mortal world at large, particularly a small space of it torn by battle. Armies clashed and men died. They tossed their lives away for want of women or land. For their pride. For their honor. For king and country. The list was seemingly endless and entirely tedious.