Sisters of Fate

The three sisters sat in their cave, spinning, weaving, and sewing. They worked without pause, without rest. One spun the thread — made of wool or cotton or flax — and one wove the thread into a cloth and one sewed the cloth into a garment. And in that garment lay fate’s answer for the person who had brought in the material for that garment.

The spinner was a young woman, long and thin like the thread she spun; the weaver was a broad, middle-aged woman, like the spread of a cloth; and the sewer was a dignified-looking old woman whose word was law. They were eternal, sitting in their dark cave whose walls were not seen, concentrating on their work to the light of eternally burning torches.

The cave was situated at the bottom of a slope in a hilly country, its opening turning toward the west; only at the end of the day a shaft of light would penetrate it, lighting up the finished garment to show the judgment of fate when it was worn by its owner.

Thus they worked one day seeking the answer to a young girl’s question: the fate of her lost lover. As they worked, a figure appeared at the entrance to the cave; three pairs of eyes lifted from their work and saw its silhouette on the background of the hills outside. It was tall and broad-shouldered, covered from head to foot with heavy armor.

The Spinner said, “Welcome, stranger. Come in and tell us your question; but have you brought us the wool or cotton or flax necessary for our work?”

“I’ve brought you some flax from my sister’s garden, and I need you to work in a hurry for me.”

“Can’t you wait a day or two? We are busy at the moment, working for another person.”

“No other person can have any question more urgent than mine, Sisters. My enemy is waiting at the door of my house and I must have your answer before I go to meet him.”

“Yes,” said the Sewer grimly, “war is always more important than love. Sisters, I’m afraid we’ll have to comply with the man, otherwise we ourselves might be in danger, as his sword is thirsty for blood no less than that of his enemy’s.”

“As you say, Sister,” said the Weaver. “Here, Warrior, my spinning Sister will take your flax, as we all clear our instruments.”

Following her words, the Spinner removed the ready thread from the spinning needle; the Weaver removed the unfinished cloth from the weaving frame; carefully and lovingly they put everything in a dark corner. The man then produced a bundle of flax, and handed it to the Spinner.

“I’ll wait outside, by the entrance,” he said. “It’s too dark here for my liking, and I must be ready in case my enemy has followed me here.”

He then stepped outside, and the sisters set out to work up his fate. The Spinner soon produced a certain length of yarn, and the Weaver began making it into a cloth. Hours passed, the Sisters worked continuously, and the sun had done its course across the sky and down toward the west. When the Sewer was beginning working on the cloth, and the first sunray was approaching the cave’s entrance, the Warrior stood there again.

“Are you going to finish the prophetic garment today?” he asked in his rough voice. “I fear my enemy’s getting closer, I can feel it in my limbs.”

“Here you are!” the Sewer cried out, taking the finished simple garment from the table. “Come over and I’ll put it on your body, so that it will tell me the answer to your question.” Because, although all three sisters worked on creating the prophetic garment, it was the Sewer’s task to pronounce aloud the fate worked into it.

The man approached the eldest sister carefully, fully apprehensive of his fate. The woman picked up the garment, raised her arms and threw it over the man’s head, crying aloud, “Beware your fate, Warrior!”

At that moment the Sisters heard a strangled cry, and the warrior fell forward, his face hitting the table before his body slipped to the floor. In the shaft of sunrays, the long shaft of a spear was seen, protruding from the man’s back. A stream of fresh blood sparkled in the sunlight.

“The prophecy has been fulfilled,” said the Sewer quietly and shook her head. Her Sisters looked silently at the fallen warrior, then rushed to the cave’s entrance. In the light of the setting sun they could see the shining armor of a man speeding away on his horse.

The three Sisters looked after the killer until he vanished from sight, then turned their eyes to look at his victim. “No one can escape his fate as it is told by our work,” said the Spinner finally, as they set out to remove the body from the cave.

[Tala Bar is a writer and artist who lives in Israel. She studied Hebrew and English languages and literature and holds a Master of Philosophy degree in literature from London University. She taught these subjects before before becoming a full time writer. She is interested in anthropology in general and in mythology in particular and writes accordingly. She is also interested in fantasy and science fiction and has written many stories and essays, some novellas, and three books in those genres, many of which have been published in print and/or on the Net, both in Hebrew and English. A list of her published works in English and some of her artwork can be seen at Tala’s Space Window Live.]

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