68

“Why did you do it?”

They looked up from the web They’d been personally weaving to find Their brethren standing on the path, each one looking almost reproachful. Which would have been comical if They didn’t know that it was born of fear. They didn’t ask what Their sister meant. After all, the web They’d been weaving for the better part of a day thrummed with a vitality and power that filled this section of Their domain with a Song that came from only one other Dhaoine’s web in existence.

And what was the point of playing dumb when the Worlds over and every realm that existed alongside them knew of Nhulynolyn’s return?

Dusting Their hands off They rose slowly to Their feet and sighed. Trailed a loving finger along a thicker thread and smiled. This one would be almost as beautiful as Rhyshladlyn’s original web when it was completed, albeit not as complex.

“Fate, why did you bring him back as a Greywalker?” the Soullessly Heartfelt pressed when They remained silent, staring at the web beneath Their finger, one of the few that had not a single of Their spider-creature pets anywhere near it.

“We did it because it was better for Nhulynolyn to be living in the way his twin always was than for him to be returned as an Other.” It wasn’t a real answer but it was all They were going to give Their brethren.

“Sibling ours,” the Nameless implored, “that isn’t the whole of it. You know the risks of bringing an Otherborn back as a Greywalker when they were not born as that.” It sighed and shook its head, tone less pleading and more scolding. “There is a reason you stopped doing that ages ago. Why do it now and ignore all sense?”

It was right, of course. It always was, but They weren’t willing to admit that out loud. Not when the primary reason They’d brought Nhulynolyn back was that They missed the music and attention of the Greywalker race in whole, not just in part. That what lay ahead wasn’t something Rhyshladlyn could handle as the sole living Dhaoine of his kind. That it was just luck that events had fallen as they had and allowed Them to have an Otherborn both strong enough and connected enough to rebirth as the Greywalker Rhyshladlyn needed at his side. Was it an ideal plan? No. Were They going to reverse it? No, but more vehement.

“You are right,” They confirmed and moved carefully through the webs back to the path. “And while We cannot give anything more in answer than that it was necessary, We will admit you are right. We did stop bringing Otherborn back as Greywalkers for a sensible reason eons ago. But there were… extenuating circumstances.” That wasn’t the whole truth of it but it was not a lie either.

“Will this be the only one you bring back?” the Nameless asked, both hands holding its Scythe in a grip that would have been white-knuckle tight had it any color to its skin in order to blotch out. They stared at those bone-thin fingers for a long moment and marveled at the similarities between them and Rhyshladlyn’s own hands, so sure, so thin, so delicate almost, but capable of such terrifying acts and all before he ever used magick.

There was a reason the Nameless had physically god-Marked Rhyshladlyn first among the five who held Scionship of him.

They thought of the largest web in Their domain, the one They’d shown Their brethren weeks ago. Thought of how the moment Nhulynolyn’s heart had stopped and Rhyshladlyn’s grief had blanketed the Worlds the spider-creatures who worked on that web stopped adding more strands and instead had tied off those already woven. How the moment Rhyshladlyn had spoken the words allow me to remind you that a web that had been built across nearly three and a half centuries, comprised of thousands of possible futures for a singular Dhaoine, all built together was finally completed. No, not completed… there is merely no more possible futures to be added. It is now down to those shown in that web. Though which one will win out is yet unknown.

The answer wasn’t a simple one. Whatever was coming would need a full family of Greywalkers to keep the Worlds steady but unless Nhulynolyn produced young as he was now or Rhyshladlyn did, there was no way to ensure that more Greywalkers moved about the Seven Worlds. But They couldn’t tell Their brethren that. It was something only Fate Themselves was allowed to know but for all that They remained silent, Their silence was answer enough. It was clear on the faces of Their brethren as They reached the path and settled Their robes about Their legs.

The Soullessly Heartfelt caught Their hand as They walked by Her, kaleidoscope eyes more intense than They had seen in long while.

“Do we need to warn him like we did before?” She asked and They felt dizzy at the implication that such a catastrophic thing as when Rhyshladlyn’s first Companion died would happen again. It meant that They had misjudged how much attention Their brethren paid the goings on in Their domain.

They smiled and patted Her hand. “No, precious sister. Not as things sit at present.”

“You’re not telling us the whole of it,” the Faceless muttered. “Why leave us in the dark when we are the eyes you don’t have in the living realm?”

They stared at Their brother until He shifted from foot to foot before falling still the moment He realized He’d done it and instead bowed His head in deferment as was proper. For all that Fate often treated Their brethren, these three in particular, as equals, They were above all except the Creator. That was how things were intended, for the only force in all Existence who was truly omniscient was the one who created it all. But They were the All and Nothing’s voice in instances where it could not speak. And while the Storyteller race was largely absent from the Worlds’ stage and the Otherborn race wasn’t nearly as far reaching or revered and open as they once were, Fate was not blind in the living realm. Merely much more cautious than They had been in times long gone by.

“We leave you in the dark, as you say, brother, for doing so protects you and those Scion to you,” They said finally. “But We caution that you think carefully going forward how you,” They glanced at Their brother and sister, “how you all, speak to Us.”

The tension only eased when all three nodded.

“Good. Now,” They moved the Soullessly Heartfelt’s hand to Their forearm and patted it cheerily, “come join Us for a meal and drink before you leave.”

It wasn’t a dismissal but it was a clear refusal to answer further questions on the matter, to discuss it further. As They walked with Their brethren down the paths, They chattered about new webs as They came upon them, pointing out a particularly strong one that was still in its early stages, all swirling hazels and greens and ice blue tones. It wasn’t as companionable of a walk as the last time Their brethren had visited right before Nhulynolyn had sacrificed himself to save Rhyshladlyn, and subsequently the Seven Worlds as a whole, but They were still happy for the company despite that. After all, it was a rare thing indeed to have visitors so often in such a short time.

That and the company made Them less uneasy about presence of the shadow that moved just outside the light that illuminated the path and the glow of the webs that stretched between branching paths. A figure, half solid and half a state of being even They had no words for, that carried the weight of Else so strong They were surprised the spider-creatures hadn’t tried to attack it yet. Perhaps, though, they knew better. After all, that figure was not unknown to Their domain, it had just been absent for several decades and several thousand millennia before that.

They let out a shaky breath when that figure finally took a path that led it in the opposite direction, its movement only sensed rather than seen. They didn’t wonder where it was going, it was safer not to question the movements of that god. And so They pretended as though They hadn’t seen it. Kept up the charade as They poured sacred tea and wine and set out food from a basket They always had tucked away beneath the table.

Creator, They questioned for the first time in eons, what is it You plan?

The answer came in the form of a pair of orange-amber eyes surrounded by the deepest black that stared at Them from behind a web that glowed silver and gold with hints of crimson. Eyes that stared unblinking as a shadow that took the vaguest form of a hand lifted and plucked one of those glowing strands, making the web emit a note of high, ringing distress before that figure disappeared from sight with a smile that sent chills down Their spine.

“What was that?” They didn’t know which of Their brethren asked and didn’t dare look away from that web and where They’d seen that god.

“Was that one of the webs?”

“I believe so? But what could possibly make it ring like that?”

The figure didn’t show up anywhere else and eventually the web it had touched — defiled — fell still and silent as spider-creatures swarmed it, checking for the reason it had cried out in such a manner.

“Fate?” Their sister queried, tone making it clear She had been calling Their name for a while, and a hand touched Their shoulder gently, cautiously. “Are you alright?”

That was such a loaded question, was it not? What are We if not okay? Slowly They turned and looked at Their sister who recoiled at whatever shown on Their face and in Their eyes and They knew the answer in that reaction. Afraid. We are afraid.

6 thoughts on “68

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