"My mother is dying," an unfamiliar voice interrupted Clotho's solitary silence, where she sat upon a nearby beach that evening, mind suffused with the warm honey hues of her own mother's gaze. The town that she was currently visiting was situated on an island; the coastline boasted stunning views, of a sea that her soul recognized as the Aegean, striking in the depth and darkness of its blue. The same sea that bordered the lands where she'd traveled with Rider. She had set her thread faraway from his, but not too far, for her second descent to earth.

She cleared away the fleeting memory of Rider, turning to greet the stranger who'd come up beside her. "I... I am so sorry to hear that."

The girl - who appeared roughly as old as Clotho would be, if her mortal form had an actual age - heaved a sigh. "She's been ill for some time. I reckon it would be too much to ask for... for another miracle..."

Clotho bit her lip. A part of her had been afraid of this: that once mercy was shown toward one ailing soul, others would come to seek the same. Understandably so. When she spoke, her words were hesitant and slow. "I truly am sorry, for you and your mother. But the gods meant this miracle not as a favor toward anyone in particular; rather, as a gesture-"

"To prove that you're a vessel of their power," the girl cut in. "So that we would believe you. Yes, I know. I'm sorry for asking; I just thought it might be worth a try. Couldn't live with myself otherwise, once she dies. I hope you understand the desperation of a daughter."

All too well, Clotho bitterly mused as her visitor excused herself, heart too hopeless to wait for an answer. The Fate looked out upon the sea again, her own heart heavy after what she'd just refused to do. But not every request could be granted. She could not afford to make a habit of sparing lives out of sheer mercy, whenever she wanted to. That would be an unfair imposition on Atropos, presumption of more power than Clotho was rightfully due. This much she knew.

The boy today had been saved for a greater purpose. That made it worth it. And the circumstances had demanded it. But his salvation had to be the rare exception, not the rule...

"I am sorry for not saying thank you."

Clotho nearly jumped in surprise. Apparently, these islanders often couldn't be bothered with the courtesy of a simple introduction, before interrupting.

This time, it was the very subject of her thoughts who'd interrupted them: the boy with springtime-colored eyes. She replied with a tense smile, remembering the shadows that she'd seen behind those eyes this very morning. "Oh, it's fine. You really don't have to."

"It's just that I'm afraid," the boy went on, standing beside her where she sat upon the shore, his clear blue gaze fixed on the twilit waves.

The Fate canted her head in concern. "Afraid of what?"

"Of life."

She blinked, feeling her heavy heart sink. "Why?"

The child shrugged, his voice as even as the motion of his shoulders, carrying the weight and wisdom of a man much older. "I don't know. I just felt that it was my turn to go. And now I'm here and have to face tomorrow. I have time, all this time to live my life, but it... it isn't mine."

And at those words, in that instant, Clotho lost all sense of certainty that what she'd done was right.

"I guess I should say thank you anyway; Mother told me so," the child reflected out loud. "At least she is happy about this. Maybe that makes it all worth it."

Maybe it did. Maybe it didn't. The Fate stayed still, silent. She had felt that the grateful rapture of a mother was worth everything, having witnessed it this morning. But now...

"May I just ask you something?" the boy inquired, proceeding after Clotho's head bobbed in a wordless nod. "If I had been conscious, yesterday, and asked you not to save my life - would you have saved it still?"

The answer should've been clear. She wished it were. But somehow it was not, to her. "Why do you ask?"

"I want to know if the gods care at all, about what we want," the child stated simply. "If we ever have a choice. If there is such a thing as free will."

The words struck her in ways that she was not prepared to handle. So she answered in the only way that she was able, in this moment: with a lie that weighed a ton upon her tongue. At least it was consistent with the role that she'd assumed, upon this isle. "I... I wouldn't know. I'm just a mortal vessel of their powers."

The child weighed the lie in his mind for a while. Almost as if he knew. "That's true," he granted at length. "Sorry for asking you."

Clotho didn't want him to regret a thing. Not today. Not in all his life, the life that she'd restored to him. Whether or not he'd wanted it. "Don't be; I understand..."

The boy turned on his heel to leave. "I don't think you can."

And the Fate stayed at the shoreline, still and silent as night fell across the island. The fine line between right and wrong ever shifting, disappearing, like the shadow of the tide upon the sand.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Any thoughts about the boy? How would you feel/what would you do, in Clotho's shoes? :/


Next scene, we'll check in with Charliese and Trevor in modern-day Athens...


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