Three sisters sat around a worn worktable with a glass of brandy at each of their elbows. The table was plain but sturdy, clearly crafted by basic tools and competent hands. There were candles flickering listlessly in evenly spaced sconces. The table faced a large stone hearth sporting a roaring fire that radiated light and warmth. One sister read a seemingly endless scroll listing countless names. Spread out before them were three piles of ancient drachmas, bearing the faces of men and buildings fallen long ago.
An old abandoned loom sat in the corner of the room, bearing a seemingly incomplete tapestry. The threads were covered in dust and frayed. Moths and mice had eaten through the once vibrant threads. Time had taken the splendor of the dyes, leaving it faded and dull. However even time could not cover the glory the tapestry once held. For The Tapestry it truly was. Mankind’s entire history was shown within its weaves. Every man’s life was portrayed in a single thread. Every separate thread was woven together to tell the history of the world. Or rather, every life that had existed a certain point. With the rise of Christianity the weavers of the great tapestry had simply stopped their work and moved on to other things. Leaving The Tapestry to fade into legend and become a quaint metaphor for poets to use.
“You cheated!” one of the sisters declared loudly, as the other passed her the scroll and nine strange dice. Two of the dice were average looking, with dots on each side ranging from one to six. Six more had no numbers, but simply coloration; three sides of this set were white and the other three sides black. The ninth dice was the most peculiar of the lot. On its surface were four engraved pictures, a noose, a sword, two cliffs, and two skulls.
“You can’t influence the power of the dice!” the accused sister protested before stealing a look at the list of names. “Now roll. Young Mr. Green needs to have his fate chosen.”
“What’s your bid, Roe?” The holder of the scroll asked her other sister, who had once determined the nature of a person’s death.
Atropos sighed thoughtfully, “I’ll give him till his sixtieth decade, with an even split life, and a gruesome illness to seal his fate.” She said the last bit with a gleam in her eye, as if truly planning the man’s death.
“A goodly life with much of joy, one black to five white.” Lachesis, who had been accused of cheating earlier, declared, “A tragic illness shall end him in his fifth decade.”
“That’s my wager!” Atropos protested.
“Precisely! And since you are the one who dealt death, I could never disagree with you.”
Athropo snorted, “Says she who measured the life thread, I only dealt death. I had no say in the length of a man’s life.”
“Normal wagers?” Clotho, the Fate who spun the thread of life, asked over their bickering. The other two sisters agreed and she cast the dice. They rolled across the table and stopped. Clotho, examined them and declared the results. “Three and three get’s sixty years.” She said reading the number dice. “He’ll lead a happy life with a light dark balance of five light, and one dark. Finally, the skull reveals he dies by illness, but which illness and in precisely what year is unknown.” Then she dropped the mystic act and said, “Since both of you were incorrect, and since neither of you were closer to right, no one wins the round.” She passed the scroll to Lachesis and the game continued with Clotho and Atropos making wagers on the next soul’s fate.
“Who’s next Sis?” Athropo asked.
“A young Alexander Smith.”
“Oh! That reminds me of our Alexander!” Clotho exclaimed. “Do you remember drawing Alexander’s fate, sisters? The one they called Great? Of, course we knew that he would be great before the Greeks even knew his name. We wove him to be so in the tapestry.”
“Yes, Clo.” Athropo responded, “His life thread was a strong one. It truly held The Tapestry together, but even he could not defeat my shears.”
“None could Roe.” Clotho agreed hastily, fearing another remembrance of the glory days.
“Until the falsehood came.” Lachesis spat. “They painted him to defy the very nature of life and death, called him man’s savior. They said he could offer them eternal life if people only believed, and they did. We fell then. The makers and keepers of humanities Fate forgotten, replaced with the belief of one false God. As the mortals turned a blind eye to us, we also turned a blind eye to them.”
“Yes,Sis.” Clotho interrupted. “We remember our fall as well as you do.”
“In the end we prevailed.” Lachesis continued, obliviously sipping at her brandy. “We left them to the chance they seemed to value so highly, and ceased to care for them, as they had ceased caring for us.”
Atropos sighed and stopped her sister’s rant by reminding her that they still had to work. She reminded them that while they had abandoned humanity they could not, in good conscience; abandon the world to complete chaos. Instead they had taken the power from the loom, the life giving force of the thread, and the undeniable judgment of the shears.
They had taken the power from their old tools, and placed it in new ones. Tools those were much less decisive, and often led to conflicting patterns in the world. They created nine dice. Two to determine how many decades one would live, though they no longer defined the exact year of death, that they left to the chaos mortals had chosen to rule their lives. Six dice allotted the good and evil a life would hold, though they did not dictate the nature of either force. The last determined the general mode of death. The Sword for murder, The Cliff for accident, The Noose for suicide, and The Skull for illness or old age. Again chance chose the exact method that each general mode of death received.
“The new way creates disorder, yes.” She finished. “But it keeps the world on a semi-ordained path, and keeps chaos from completely taking control. If the mortals wish to live in uncontrolled disorder let them, but the world should not be punished for their choices.”
“I like this system better anyways.” Clotho said massaging her knuckles and trying to change the subject. “It doesn’t make my hands sore, as all the constant spinning did.”
“Oh, don’t I know it!” Lachesis agreed.
“Alright you two.” Athropo interjected. “Enough chat. Place your bet Clo.”
“Three decades, Four dark two light, accident.” Clotho said shortly setting her bet before her.
“Two decades, all but one dice dark , Suicide.” Athropo said placing a considerable heap of coins before her.
“Have something against people named Alexander, Roe?”Lachesis asked as she rolled the dice.
“I don’t like people sporting great names, and false beliefs.”
Lachesis nodded to acknowledge her sisters answer and then read the lot she had cast. As she spoke the sisters steadily grew more horrified. “One and One makes two decades, he dies in his teens. All dark, he leads a life wrought with peril. He dies in murder.”
Clotho voiced her horror first. “Such a dark cast cannot happen! It will destroy the balance of light and dark! Every man must have one light point in his life, even if it’s dying in his sleep. This! This is unprecedented!”
“There’s nothing we can do.” Athropo said with a hint of what might have been remorse in her voice. “The dice have spoken.”
“Is there truly nothing we can do?” Clotho asked, the rare emotion of concern creeping into her voice.
Her sisters shook their heads resignedly, and she moaned, “What have we done?”
The Fates sat, starting aghast at the dice laid out before them. For the first time in a millennium they doubted their decision to turn their backs on mankind, because they saw that they had failed as the weavers of history and allowed the world to irrevocably yield to chaos.