In all directions there were webs. Webs with intricate patterns. Webs with strands as thick around as a warrior’s thigh. Webs so small a young’s teardrop was larger. Webs that glowed as bright as the sun at midday. Webs that were as sheer as gossamer. Webs that hummed. Webs that sang. Webs that were torn and half formed. They were endless, ever birthing and never dying. Only the paths and the pools were bereft of those threads and the lives their twists, knots, and loops depicted from conception to Crossing.
This was Their domain. None traversed these paths alone except Them, mindful not to disturb the webs and the spider-like creatures that wove them to Their exact description, unless things were dire in the Down Below. But even then seldom of Their brethren came here. The webs and the spider-creatures and Them were unsettling. Which was a fair assessment, They were the keepers of those intricate, beautiful things and the creatures who birthed them, and there were moments where They, too, were unsettled.
Now was one of those moments.
“We cannot do something? Anything but just watch?” They looked at Their sister and thought about how the Creator had come so close to deciding differently and making Her the one who ruled over this domain. Thought about how the All and Nothing had known She was better suited for something else, something that would see Her entrenched in the Worlds She had lovingly helped mold and rear and nourish.
They looked away and shrugged, feeling the collective awareness of Their pets dance along Their skin before focusing back on their individual tasks.
“Likely not. The Way of Things was never fixed,” They answered hesitatingly, only doing so because the original path Rhyshladlyn Nhulynolyn had been on no longer existed. Which was a shame, that web had been particularly beautiful. “As such, We cannot say exactly how things will proceed.”
“Wait…you mean you don’t know what the future holds?”
They looked at Their sibling. Stared at those endless eyes, saw through the shadows of the hood it wore, watched the way long, bony fingers idly twitched against the long handle of its Scythe. The match between it and Their sister was perfect; a Balance that reminded Them so much of the Greywalker being discussed.
“We do,” They admonished, looking away and walking down the path a bit more. There was a web They wanted to show Their brethren, the only three to ever brave this place of Theirs, to give manners properly at the entrance and speak soft words of encouragement to the spider-creatures and sing sweetly to the webs that hummed with the heartbeats of those they represented. “But the knowledge of the future We have at present matters not when he keeps jumping from web to web like a young who cannot get comfortable in bed.”
“He’s… jumping,” They looked at Their brother, at the face that was at once old and young and every age in between, “between webs? As in–”
“Aye,” They cut in, knowing it was rude but They were exasperated by Their Child and it bled into Their countenance. “Apologies, We are… distraught with him. But aye, he is jumping from one web to another. Sometimes to several in a day. Other times, it takes months to years for him to cross into another one.”
“That doesn’t make any sense. No Dhaoine should be able to do that,” Their sister whispered, breathless in a way She very rarely was. “Not without dying.”
“When have you ever known him to do what a Dhaoine should?” They countered, reaching out a hand to trail a few fingertips along a thick web strand that glowed a sunrise gold. “His birth web was the most intricate and beautiful We have ever seen. The mantle that We forged for his shoulders was just as beautiful. And yet… he has never done anything We ever expected.”
“Nothing except the events that saw him experiencing his first Awakening,” Their brother quipped to the snickers of Their sibling and sister.
“Aye, except for that,” They agreed.
For several minutes They and Their brethren traveled in silence. It was companionable, easy. Only interrupted by the soft chittering of the spider-creatures, the silk-whispers of new strands being created, the water over rocks noise of those strands being woven over and around and under each other. And over it all was the sound of Their footsteps and the counter beats of the footsteps of Their brethren. It was peaceful and They knew that it wasn’t going to last. Not because there was going to be another Worlds-altering event like what had seen the Original Seven Races dwindled down to the one. Not quite that drastic, but something was coming. And They worried what it would be never mind what would be left when it came to pass.
Taking one last turn They stopped and gestured at Their brethren to move on ahead of Them. Watched as Their sibling, brother, and sister, those fearless three, caught sight of the web They wanted to show them. Watched as recognition dawned. Watched as every emotion known to Dhaoine and god alike, and some that weren’t, passed across those ancient faces.
And when They were turned to, so many questions bubbling up on those tongues that they were palpable, They held up both hands and shook Their head.
“The oldest of us all walked the Worlds forty years ago. Moved as you three do among his children. Traveled in the wake of his namesake,” They dropped Their hands and looked at the largest web in Their domain, one that for all that its first thread was laid out three hundred and forty years ago was still growing with no sign of stopping. They stared at it and felt what They had often been told was apprehension, “and yet he never reached his destination.”
“And the Worlds over have no recollection of this,” Their sister murmured, turning away and reaching out a hand towards that web only to hesitate inches away. Which was likely wise, even They weren’t of the mind to touch this web, not when doing so risked altering a reality, a future, that was already in so much turmoil. “That’s why this web isn’t finished. The events it foretold, the ones that would see it completed, never came to pass.”
“No, that is not why it is unfinished, ” They corrected. “This web,” They motioned at it and the thousands of spider-creatures that swarmed it, making new threads and weaving them as they moved, “is the culmination of every web that bears Rhyshladlyn Nhulynolyn’s name. Every web. So it will happen, at some point, regardless of whether the future it depicts is set or not.”
“I hear a ‘but,'” Their brother looked at Them with eyes that were too wide but that was the only sign that He was afraid.
They chuckled and gestured for Their brethren to follow Them as They walked back towards the resting pools. “You are correct, brother Ours.”
Words failed Them then. Not because They didn’t know what They needed to say. They were Fate after all, the first Multitude, and so They saw things no other in Existence did. It was why the Creator had put Them in charge of this domain all those eons ago. Why the All and Nothing had given Them the power to see and create and draw the webs of the past, present, and future and every path in between those. But here, in this moment, while They walked with Their brethren, the three whom They liked the most, They didn’t know what to say. Moreover, They didn’t want to say anything.
For speaking things gave them power. And in this instance… what needed to be said had enough power as it was. It didn’t need any more.
We are stalling and needs must cease.
“But…” They sighed and fiddled with the robes that swirled around Their legs as They walked. “But the longer it takes to happen, the worse it will be.”
“It?” Their sibling queried.
“The outcome, the result. The aftermath. It. We do not know for certain,” They held up a hand before Their brethren could comment on that admission, “only because that web is not yet halfway formed so therefore We cannot read enough to extrapolate what is to come. We can only guess.”
“Wait,” Their brother spluttered, waving His hand at the web behind them, “so not only is it not completed, it isn’t even halfway formed? How is that possible?”
They stopped beside a web that glowed silver and gold with hints of crimson and gently plucked a strand. As that strand thrummed it emitted bass notes that were clear despite how low they registered. Among those notes were words that only made Them feel sorry for the Dhaoine who had to hear them.
“When the Worlds lost their memory and Rhyshladlyn Nhulynolyn was pushed back to how he was magickally, mentally, and emotionally prior to being collared by Lílrt and Relyt Greymend, his original web was destroyed. For the act that did such to him affected the entire Worlds at large, thus altering all of the future. But there was enough possibility that remained for all the webs that survived either in whole or in part to combine.” They looked away from that still thrumming strand and the web that now vibrated with other, softer notes, and stared at Their brethren. “And with each web Rhyshladlyn Nhulynolyn jumps from, We see more clearly what lays ahead, but it is not set yet. Not until that magick that brought this new reality to the Worlds is dealt with, is removed.”
“And if it isn’t ever removed?” Their Sister asked.
They didn’t know how to answer that. So instead They just shook Their head and shrugged in the universal response of, There is no telling the outcome.
“May the All and Nothing See us always,” Their sibling whispered.
They didn’t disagree. After all it was a frightening day when Fate knew no more than the Nameless, Soullessly Heartfelt, and the Faceless.