"How... how do you know, though?" Clotho asked. The question of whether or not their mortal forms were fertile - capable of conceiving, carrying and bearing human life - had crossed her mind at certain times before. But as to the answer, she wasn't sure.

Admittedly, Atropos wasn't either. "I don't really know, but I'm assuming. And hoping. In any event, as for your plan - it makes perfect sense, and I can certainly see why you asked me," she acknowledged. "But there is one problem. Unfortunately."

The youngest Fate canted her head, chestnut hair gleaming in the torchlight like her same-hued eyes, curious and bright.

"People are paranoid pansies with superbly stupid superstitions. Many of them, at least. So this plan is much too morbid for their taste," the deathly Fate explained. "If you appear out of nowhere and predict a slew of deaths, which they then witness, they will probably presume that you are channeling occult forces. Dabbling in demonic darkness or something to that effect. So you would inspire horror, fear, rather than faith. You'd gain their hate, not their respect."

Clotho bit her lip, effectively silenced.

"But I bet you had already thought of that," Atropos reckoned, evergreen gaze ever perceptive, "and that you just tried to ignore this inconvenient fact, because you would much rather interact with me for this - as opposed to Lachesis."

Well, shit, Clotho conceded in her head.

"Look, little sis," Atropos addressed her in a spirit of affectionate exasperation. "I won't pry or so much as try to advise on this bad business brewing between you and Lachesis. I get that whatever it is, you do not want to talk. But in this instance... I think it's worth it."

Clotho heaved a deep sigh. Her sister was right, and she knew it.

"In general, people feel much more positively about relationships than they do about death. Though I can't for the life of me understand why," Atropos declared with a roll of her eyes. "Death is so much easier than the sentimental mess of interpersonal connection."

A soft laugh slipped past Clotho's lips. She could tell that her sister was obviously overplaying her disdain for all the 'sentimental mess' - love, sex, or whatever - but if the Fate of death was determined to maintain such a facade, at least for now, then Clotho supposed she would just have to let her.

"Anyhow," Atropos continued, "if you predict that certain mortal souls are set to intersect in certain ways, and if those pairings come to pass, then I'm sure people will be glad to place their faith in what you have to say. So if you're set on this approach, then talking to your other sister just may be the only way."

Clotho nodded in assent, thanked Atropos again, and then began across the Cave, loathing each step.

Arriving at the middle Fate's station, she stared at Lachesis's thread. Bitter words crossed her mind, and she thought them out loud. "I see you've not moved from your place on the Loom, for some time now."

The weaver's wide blue eyes blinked in surprise. Her sister's voice came as a somewhat foreign sound, now that it'd been so long since the last words they had shared. "Yes," she stammered at length. "I... I've been happy there."

"Good," Clotho murmured, gaze fixated on the mortal thread with which her sister's was entwined. A thread all too familiar to her. "And your..." her voice faltered.

"My husband?"

Husband. Each of the thousand shards of her broken heart broke into two. "Has he been happy, too?"

Lachesis paused, but only ever so briefly. "As happy as can be."

Oh, gods - really? That happy? Clotho bowed her head in defeat, burying the part of her that was unable to believe it. "I see."

Her sister blinked at her again. "Did you need something from me?"

Clotho cleared her throat. Hoping to clear away the heartbreak that she feared had been too transparently shown, shifting to a practical, impassive tone. "Well, as you might've known, I recently made the mistake of imposing on our sister, for help to keep a promise of my own. I was desperate, in the circumstance at hand. But it was wrong of me to ask. So since then, I've devised a different way to carry out my task, without imposing on either of yours. Rather than requesting anything of you, I simply have to ask what you intend to do."

Lachesis evidently failed to comprehend. "What I intend?"

"Yes, with just a few pairs of threads. If you could indicate to me certain intersections that you've set in motion, to come into effect on the morrow, then I can take that knowledge down to earth with me, and use it to better fulfill my task."

Clotho went on to clarify further.

"Oh," Lachesis uttered quietly once all had been explained. "That's... very clever."

"It's not a perfect plan, but I'm just... doing what I can. How about you?" Clotho turned to ask. "How have you been faring with your task?"

Lachesis had not been prepared for that. "I-I'm still just learning, I suppose." Her voice was tense. "How to even distinguish between the good souls and the bad. Sometimes I find it difficult to tell the difference."

Her sister's head dipped in a pensive nod. "I understand. I also find the lines between the two to be quite blurred, but the extremes are often easier to see, on either end. At least in my experience."

"Oh. That makes sense."

"At any rate," sighed the youngest Fate, "the task at hand is difficult for all of us. But I hope Mother would be proud, if we're at least doing our best."

Lachesis forced a smile, though her heart frowned in her chest. "Yes."

Soon after Clotho had returned to her station to resume her routine spinning, Chaos approached, and eventually spoke. "Do you think she is telling the truth?"

Clotho did not turn to meet the goddess's grey gaze. "About what?"

"About anything."

The Fate looked blankly at each newborn life that formed in her immortal fingers. "She is my sister. Even if I don't always believe her, I must trust her."

"And why is that?"

"Weren't you the one who told us that is what sisters must do, when they have nothing but each other?"

"Indeed," the deity affirmed. "So you now have nothing else, besides your sisters' love? Beyond this Cave?"

"You have no business knowing what I have," Clotho snapped, "or what I've lost."

"You mean what you gave? Gladly taken away by the sister you trust?" Chaos cooed, primordial greys aglow in the long, heated pause that ensued.

She then turned to leave, each word of hers roiling the restless shadows of the cavern, stirring up dark heaps of unsettled dust. "Not my business, is it. Carry on as you must."


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


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