Author Topic: The Broken Spindle  (Read 463 times)

Ares of Olympus

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The Broken Spindle
« on: July 08, 2014, 07:10:58 PM »
November 22, 2012...

It seemed that at least one of the old Olympians and their order had paid attention to this modern world they now lived in. The search for Clotho had brought Gabriel and Ares not to some well-defended cave high in the mountains or some such, but to a well-appointed apartment block on New York City's East Side. The archangel had brought the God of War right to the door of the apartment in question, but could go no further. "Warded up to the skies here," he pointed out, leaning against the wall of the hallway with his hands in his pockets. "You're on your own, ninja kitty."

Ares wasn't entirely happy with this situation, but then, why should he be? It galled him a little that he'd had to depend on an angel, of all things, to track Clotho down, and now that he was here, that same angel was going to abandon him to the task. Had he known the last of the Fates was hiding in plain sight, he might not have come dressed in full armor and regalia. If any mortals were to see him, he'd most certainly cause a ruckus. "You could have told me where we were going," Ares scolded the angel, as the air around him shimmered, and he was clad in jeans and t-shirt, like his companion, the Hinds Blood Dagger still in his hand. He was unsure just what a ninja kitty was exactly, but he got the feeling the angel was poking fun at him somehow, which only irked him further. He had a feeling whether the place was warded or not, Gabriel had no intention of getting his hands dirty when it came right down to it. "Be off with you, then. I can handle her on my own."

"You didn't ask, bucko," Gabriel pointed out, pushing to stand upright once again. He eyed the door warily enough that it was at least evident that he wasn't lying about the warding. There was a powerful something in there. "Look ..." He paused, frowning at Ares. "Don't get dead. There's a little girl needs you now, though I don't see it myself. You get dead, she won't last, and neither will the kid. Just sayin'."

"I appreciate your concern, but I will be fine. I know what I'm doing," he assured Gabriel, a little defensively, pausing a moment as he softened at the thought of leaving Ayden all alone. "You will watch over her in my absence, will you not?" he asked, though he only intended to be gone for a few hours at most. He didn't want to ask the angel out right if he'd continue as her guardian until he could return, but that was the gist of his request.

The surprise showed in Gabriel's eyes as he looked at the Olympian, having never thought the god would ask anything so personal of him. It was bad enough they had to work together for even a little while, yet Ares evidently trusted him enough to put Ayden's life in his hands once more. "Not a minute'll pass when she's not watched," he found himself promising, remembering a similar promise to a mortal years before over the same girl. "But don't take your time."

"No, this is long overdue," Ares replied, perhaps misunderstanding Gabriel's remark or perhaps just commenting on the long-overdue end to the Fates. Whichever way he meant it, he wasn't about to explain. "Go now," he instructed the angel. "She is a danger, even to you."

The archangel nodded, casting one more wary glance to the door, and fluttered off, leaving Ares alone in the hallway. For all its warding, all the warning signs placed on that doorway against supernatural entry, the door itself was not locked, offering easy access. Was it a trap, or simple arrogance?

Ares got the feeling Clotho was expecting him, and though he was not foolish enough to think she would go down without a fight, he was not here to kill her, not if he could help it. He was hoping to offer her another way out, if she was willing to take it. He wasn't sure what had mellowed him so. Centuries ago, if he'd had this chance, he'd have finished all three Fates off without so much as a second thought, but things had changed - he had changed. As soon as Gabriel was gone, Ares turned his complete attention to the matter of Clotho, wondering whether he should knock to announce his presence or simply walk in.

Whether he knocked or not, it would have made no difference. Despite the opulence of the building, the beauty of the interior design, the apartment stank of sweat and cigarettes, stale beer and vomit. The living room was cluttered with rubbish, with empty beer bottles, empty cartons of cigarettes, half-eaten food containers. And at the epicenter sat a figure, shaking, rocking back and forth as she murmured to herself. In one hand was a lit cigarette, in the other lay a golden Spindle that shone with a queasy light. Her fingers caressed it, repulsed and attracted to its power, as tears dripped from her eyes. One Fate, to influence many billions of lives. It was too much for even an immortal mind to bear. Clotho was cracking under the strain.

Let it not be said that, for all his flaws, Ares was a god who lacked compassion. He grimaced as he pushed the door open and stepped very carefully into the apartment. Even he was a little shocked by what he saw there and though he knew they had done the right thing in killing her sisters, he could not help but feel pity for the remaining sister's plight. He was not foolish enough to think she might not wish him harm, but he thought she had far more to fear from him than he had from her. "Adelf?," he said, addressing her like the sister she was - or at least, half sister. She was a child of Zeus, just as he was, and though he had done what was needed of him for the sake of humanity, he had taken no pleasure in it. He had not, in fact, thirsted for blood or reveled in battle in many long years. "I am sorry for what befell your sisters. You should know that I took no pleasure in it."

She didn't seem to hear him, her eyes fixed on the golden Shears that sat on the table before her, the tool of the Cutter, the first Fate to fall. Atropos, her youngest sister, the weakest of them yet the most courageous, who had played her hand too soon and gotten herself killed. Not only that, but her foolishness had robbed the life from Lachesis, the Measurer, as well, leaving the Spinner, Clotho, to stand alone against the weight of humanity.

"Do you know how many babies are born each day in this world?" she asked, her voice hoarse with pain. "Three hundred and sixty one thousand, four hundred and eighty one. Three hundred and sixty one thousand, four hundred and eighty one destinies to be spun, measured, and cut in the time it takes for this miserable world to spin on its axis. With my sisters alive, it was nothing to me. I Spun, and I did not trouble myself with what happened next. But now ..." She raised red-rimmed eyes to look at Ares, showing him the depth of her growing insanity. "Kill me. This is no life."

He looked on her with pity and compassion in his gray-green eyes, the hand that held the dagger anxious to drive the blade into her heart, and yet he found he did not have the stomach for it. He was a warrior, a soldier, a leader of men in battle, not a murderer or killer of women and children. "No," he replied. "I do not wish to kill you. There has been enough death and enough blood shed. There is another way."

The sound that broke from her lips at his denial of her request was a heartbroken wail, reverberating around the walls of the apartment in despair. "I cannot live like this! I hear them, every moment of every day, the lives born that are my responsibility, the deaths that are made by my hand, the decisions that lay the path of Fate before their feet. I get no rest, there is no respite from their constant demands. I cannot grieve, I cannot think, I cannot do anything but what I was created to do, and it is driving me insane!"
"Homer was a poet, not a historian."

Ares of Olympus

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Re: The Broken Spindle
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2014, 07:11:47 PM »
"Then I will free you of this burden," he replied, taking pity on her at both the loss of her sisters and the burden that she bore, through no fault of her own. "You have served your purpose, sister. You have done well, but the world has changed. Humanity has changed. They no longer need you to determine their fate. There are too many of them. They choose their own fate, for better or worse. We help them as we can, but we can do no more than that. Your Spindle is no longer needed by such as them. If you allow me to break it, then you will be free to live a peaceful mortal life of your own choosing for the remainder of your years. My mother, Hera, has decreed this to me and given me this task. The choice is yours."

"A mortal life?" Clotho let loose a sharp breath, shocked that she was being given this option at all. Mortality ... to have a fixed span upon the Earth, to be gifted with an afterlife of reward or punishment. To have silence within her mind. To be responsible only for herself. To have no more to do with the affairs of gods or men but by her own choice. It was more than she could ever have wished for. "Break it." The Spindle fell from her hand, falling with a heavy thump beside the Shears, both gleaming golden in the sunlight that streamed through the windows.

The decision had been made, and Ares was only too happy to comply with her wishes. "So be it," he said, and the Hinds Blood Dagger disappeared from his hand only to be replaced by a sword, ancient in appearance but bearing a sharp, heavy blade. He didn't bother to ask twice. She had made her choice, and he was only there to fulfill it. He stepped forward, brandishing the sword in his hand, lifting it with an arm that was accustomed to battle, but instead of drawing blood, this time he chose another path. He hoped his father would be pleased and not deem him a coward. With one stroke of the immortal blade, the spindle was broken, freeing the millions of mortal souls who clamored to choose their own destinies and the goddess whose heart was breaking before him.

The shocking separation of immortality from the being in front of him was painful to behold, twisting her slender frame as Clotho's long life was cut short. Yet she embraced it, reaching eagerly for the silence of her own thoughts and no one else's, for the sense of duty only to herself. It was swift and silent, the Spindle's gleam dulled as it fell in separated pieces against the table once more. And for a long moment, Clotho was still, her eyes closed, her expression rapt. For the first time in her millenia of life, she was alone in herself. There were no new names bursting into her mind to distract her thoughts, no destinies to dictate. No gods to appease. A smirk curved her lips as she opened her eyes, looking Ares in the eye. "Let Hades sing for his revenge," she said, her voice clear, the madness that had been overtaking her swept clean from her being. "Thank you, Ares. You are wiser than I ever allowed myself to believe of you."

"It is Hera you should thank," Ares replied, surprisingly and modestly taking very little of the credit for her freedom for himself. It was Hera who had put the seed for the idea in his head, though in the end, the decision had been his. "If you wish, I will summon Demeter to help you, though I do not believe she will take kindly to my presence."

For a moment, pride flashed in the former Fate's eyes, before she remembered that now she truly was nothing. A mortal, with nothing to support herself with. A mortal, with a mortal's worries. Perhaps her madness had been too overwhelming for her to truly consider the consequences of this new silence in her mind. She shook her head. "If I have need, I will summon her myself," she said a little stiffly. "My sisters meddled too much in the war. I will not follow their example."

Now that she was mortal, he had nothing to fear from her, and the sword he'd held in his hand disappeared once again as he willed it away. He bent down on a knee before her, not to worship her or even to ask for forgiveness, but only so that she could see that he was not without compassion or sympathy, despite his over-blown reputation for bloodlust. "Call on Aphrodite for help. She is, as yet, neutral in this war. Tell her..." He frowned thoughtfully, obviously still caring for the goddess who he had once loved more than any other. "Tell her nothing of me, only that you wish no part in this war."

The cigarette in her hand was dropped into a half full bottle of beer on the table, and she wrapped his one hand between both her own. "You have done for me what would not have occurred to any other," Clotho said softly. "So then, let me repay you. I have Seen the destiny of your bride. If she drinks of the nectar while bearing a babe in her womb, that babe will be lost, and there will be no more. Let her drink after the child is born, and let the child drink also, and there will be others to follow."

"You would do this for me?" he asked, more than a little surprised, considering he'd help kill her sisters. And yet, for some reason, there seemed to be truth in her words, and she seemed grateful that he had freed her from her own Fate, when he could have killed her instead.

She was silent for a long moment, finally choosing to lay out for him how special his choice had been. "Hades would have sought to use me, had he found me first. Zeus would have done the same. Those who call themselves neutral would have sold my location to the highest bidder between the two. Only you found me, and you gave me freedom. Whatever Hera said, it was your choice not to kill me when I asked. Thus it is you who holds my loyalty now, however useless I may be to you."

"You have lived with a heavy burden all these many years," he told her, letting her hang onto his hand as long as she wished. Though they might not be friends, they were still related by blood, and he thought he owed her a certain amount of kindness. "I am sorry for your sisters. It could not be helped. I cannot let Hades win this war, and they chose unwisely. You are no longer part of this. If there is anything I can do to help you, all you need do is ask. I owe you that much for what I've done. I know of a place, far from here, where it is peaceful and serene. You would be safe there, but you would also be isolated."

"And I would die," Clotho said softly, her eyes gentle. "I am no longer as you, Ares. I am mortal, and vulnerable. I know this place you speak of, and if I had power still, it would be perfect. But I have a place here, the beginnings of a life. I will persevere. If humans can do it, so can I."

"I would suggest you give up these vices," he told her, nodding his head toward the cigarettes and booze. "If you wish to live a long life. Still, there must be something I can do." He paused for a moment as he contemplated, glancing over at the broken spindle and the shears that still gleamed with gold. "If I take these to Hephaestus and ask him to melt them down into coins, you would have enough gold to live like a queen."

"Bars," Clotho corrected him with a faint snort of laughter. "But you are right. At least my sisters can provide for me still." She nodded, finally releasing his hand as she made to rise to her feet. "You have done me a great service I can never truly repay. There are men of letters who would not do so much for a beaten foe. War is not about killing, but about the brutal consequence of politics gone wrong. You are worthy of your title, for you do not seek blood, but justice. And you will have an oracle of truth by your side for all the years to come. I hope you win."
"Homer was a poet, not a historian."

Ares of Olympus

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Re: The Broken Spindle
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2014, 07:12:44 PM »
He, too, rose to his feet, reaching for her hand and brushing a kiss against it, not just out of gratitude but also reverence. She was wise in ways he could not fathom, and perhaps freeing her of her lifelong burden had also brought back some of the wisdom to her mind. "You are too kind to one such as me. I only hope that in the days to come I can prove my worth. If there is anything you require of me, you need only ask." She had given him a gift he could never repay, no matter how long she might live.

"Do not think I won't," she smirked faintly, looking around her apartment with dismay. "But unless you are handy with a garbage bag, I suggest you return to the life you have chosen to live. I doubt the God of War would like to do battle with beer bottles."

"It is a shame we do not have a God of Refuse," he remarked with a smirk of his own that proved he did, indeed, possess a sense of humor, however rarely it was employed. "I will take my leave of you then." He reached to take up the Golden Shears, intending to make good on his promise. It might not be him who returned with the bars of gold, but he would make sure his promise was kept, nonetheless. "Farewell, sister. Thank you, and I wish you well."

"Be well, little brother," Clotho told him softly, trusting him with the Shears as he took them from her. "Tell Athena from me that she can take her petty pride and stick it where the sun has never shone." She winked, and turned away, bending to begin the task of making the apartment liveable once more.

He smirked at that last comment from her. He and Athena had never seen eye to eye, and he would like nothing better than to see her humiliated for once, instead of himself. "I will keep that in mind the next time I see her," he promised. "Be well, sister," he offered again, and then he was gone.

((Many thankees to my awesome partner for taking on Gabriel and Clotho! Will the last of the Fates stay out of the war between the Olympians? Stay tuned to find out!))
"Homer was a poet, not a historian."