I Became the Plus-One to a Party of the Gods
Inside, Caisey’s eyes were overwhelmed instantly by the sheer number of strange things pasted to the walls. Paintings of no-eyed and one-eyed beings on oddly captivating backgrounds decorated the walls; mounted candleholders in the shape of eyeballs, hands, severed heads, and full human bodies made Caisey afraid to consider how they’d gotten there.
He hummed a silent prayer as he was shown deeper into the palace, hoping that his eyes, hands, head, and body didn’t become decoration by the end of his visit. He watched the creature’s loping walk from behind, noticing that the thing had hooves for feet, hairy legs, knobbed knees, and a lower half that was much smaller than his beastly upper half. This creature had a bull’s face and menacing horns poking out from his head. If Caisey was remembering this correctly, he’d say the creature was a minotaur.
The thought almost made him cry. Don and Lisa had better be damn grateful for my love. I might not make it out of here.
Eventually, the minotaur guard led him to a room with a large spool of thread and knitting needles engraved on its doors. He knocked twice, waited, and knocked three more times before stepping aside and sweeping his right arm behind him as the doors creaked open.
“Lady Clotho,” he presented Caisey in a cavernous voice and warned him to be on his best behavior.
Caisey was extremely terrified. Of course, he’d be on his best behavior.
At least, as good as he could be considering he was planning to steal the sisters of fate’s precious crystal ball. It was all according to Rina’s ridiculous and dangerous plan.
“You just go in there and snatch up the ball, Case,” his mischievous goddess had said. “Here’s the map of the palace. I think it’s right.”
“You think?!” Caisey had protested, but he had been waved off as Rina continued.
“The three sisters’ spiritual energy powers the crystal ball, and the sisters’ individual abilities give the ball its unique capabilities of foresight. However, human life and destiny are like storybooks and can be rewritten. That’s pretty much Lady Lachesis’ job. You need to steal the ball from her and win her over if you want this to succeed.”
“What? How?!!” Caisey had cried, and Don had given him a pat on the back with a ‘nice knowing ya’ expression on his face.
Rina hadn’t been discouraged at all. She was so sure it would work and told Caisey, “How is simple. Be pathetic. As pathetic as you can be. Works on women like a charm.”
Caisey had stared at her for a long time before saying, his voice somber, “You think I’m pathetic, don’t you?”
“Only sometimes. You’re okay. But look at Lisa for instance. There’s no way she doesn’t think Don isn’t pathetic.”
“Hey!” Don had yelled. Meanwhile, Lisa was emphatically nodding her head.
Caisey had been at a loss of words and shook his head. “You guys suck,” is all he could say, which made Rina laugh and squeeze his cheeks.
“Just do your thing,” she’d said.
In the present, Caisey was busy thinking about how he would ‘do his thing’ to make this haywire plan work when the minotaur impatiently grabbed him by the shirt and tossed him in. Caisey stumbled inside and was wowed by the workshop-iness of the room of the goddess who spun the thread of life. There was a large spindle at the center of the room. Yarns of multiple colors and sizes took up much of the space, and small knit crafts littered the floor and speckled the walls where they had been tacked up.
The room was, in short, warm and magnificent. It gave Caisey a really good feeling, and he was almost optimistic about meeting Lady Clotho until he saw her emerge from behind a tall stack of yarn.
She looked as dead as Caisey thought she’d look considering how her older sister had appeared back at the festival. However, something else was off about her. Very much. Like, it made Caisey wildly uncomfortable.
It was her personality. It was the most off-putting thing.
Lady Clotho’s personality was exactly opposite her appearance. Caisey could tell so the moment she gasped like a Broadway actress and made her way toward him with light footsteps.
“Hiii!!” she cried, her voice light and melodic. She behaved in a very normal and upbeat manner. She seemed like she’d fit right into Caisey’s friend group if she didn’t look so… nightmarish.
Her hair was a shaggy, brown mess, and her face was heavily wrinkled. Not in a natural aged woman way, but in a Halloween mask type of way that made Caisey shudder as he stood face to face with her. Adding that mask-face to the white dress robes she wore gave her a phantom’s appearance and it did nothing good for Caisey’s heart.
Lady Clotho was ecstatic that someone had come to visit her. She began treating Caisey hospitably. “Hi!!” she greeted him again, gesturing for him to find a seat anywhere, which he politely refused, “You’re here to see me? Who are you? Why? They call me Lady Cloth and take the ‘o’ off my name because I spin thread; neat huh? Are you here to marry me? You’re so cute. What’s your name? Did I already ask that?”
She was also a little bit crazy.
Caisey was taken aback by… everything, and almost forgot what to say according to Rina’s script. But he found himself and said, “Hello, Lady Clotho, pleased to make your acquaintance. I’m a—”
Is the word magical or spiritual? Caisey thought for a second. The gods had this big thing about spirit whereas humans attributed everything to magic.
He went with spirit just to be safe, “—spiritual object inspector sent by His Lord Zeus. It has been brought to my attention that you sisters’ crystal ball has suffered a major malfunction and—”
“Hold it!” Lady Clotho screamed, holding up a hand to stop Caisey.
Caisey cursed under his breath. Darnit! I told Rina her plan was too kooky to be believable. She’ll be sad when her plan is what gets me erased from this world. Caisey waited bug-eyed while Lady Clotho’s expression went from frighteningly happy to frighteningly distressed.
“So, you’re telling me you’re not here to marry me?”
“Oh, NO!” Caisey cried too quickly and retraced the denial. “I-I’m sorry, I’m only here to check the crystal ball.”
“So, you’re only here for the crystal ball…?”
“Just to be clear… Not to marry me?”
How clear does she want me to be? Caisey thought, trying not to show the exasperation on his face. “Not to marry you.” He confirmed.
The sky seemed to fall in on the lady before him and he felt momentarily bad before a severely cold shiver skittered down his back. Rina flashed through his mind and he backtracked that last thought so hard he almost got whiplash.
How deeply are our spirits connected? Goodness! Caisey wondered.
Lady Clotho sank down to the floor and seemed to want to stay there forever, but Caisey knew this situation was time sensitive and decided to try something to cheer her up. He walked slowly over to her and knelt down in front of her.
“Lady Clotho, I won’t marry you, but I’d be honored to have you escort me through the palace until we reach my destination. Your… beauty…
“… -ful personality makes you the perfect companion for a house tour.”
Caisey hoped dearly that she hadn’t paid attention to the overly long pause he’d accidentally committed and breathed an exhale of relief when she smiled—a horrendous sight—and stood up. Caisey flinched hard when she grabbed his hand in hers, but quickly corrected himself to let her pull him from the room and throughout the palace.
Luck was on his side. The ‘Palace of Eyeballs,’ as Caisey was eager to nickname it, was mostly empty of house servants. It was entirely opposite Lady Rán and Rina’s residences where cherubs had been plentiful and helpful. Here, the dark gray halls were empty, the low candlelight flickered soundlessly in the hallways, creating ominous shadows that Caisey had to keep watching to make sure weren’t actually moving the way he imagined they were.
Then again, Of course, hardly any cherubs chose to live here and devote themselves to these three Fates. The palace is gloomy and the sisters are hideous. What’s there to enjoy?! Caisey thought as Lady Clotho pulled him down yet another corridor.
She gesticulated passionately, telling him about every little aspect of the palace. He listened intently, thankful that he was at her back. That way, she seemed like an average older lady.
“Is this the way to the crystal ball?” Caisey asked after a while, feeling that they’d been walking for much too long.
Lady Clotho laughed sweetly, but on her face, it looked like a witchy cackle. “Not really. I was showing you the long way around so I could spend more time with you.” Her voice and her actions mirrored her sweet words, but she tried fluttering her eyelashes at Caisey, and his mind folded in on itself.
Please don’t. He thought, disgusted. Then, out loud, he said, “I’m sorry.”
Lady Clotho looked confused and asked him with her head cocked sideways, “Why? What’s the matter?”
Caisey just closed his eyes and shook his head because he was thinking, You’re so ugly I can’t stop thinking about it and I feel so bad because you’re so nice. And there was no way he was going to let her hear him say that.
Instead, Caisey spoke after collecting himself. “I’m flattered.” He smiled, “However, I really must see the crystal ball now. It is of the utmost importance that the sphere is inspected to ensure that no malfunctions occur in the future.”
Lady Clotho beamed at him and said, “Okay! Sorry for keeping you waiting.”
Her lovely personality was making him feel horrible for lying. The goddess was just desperate for some love and company. Despite her appearance, she didn’t belong in this dreary palace. Caisey thought that maybe they'd become friends after this.
Lady Clotho led him to the crystal ball room. Before they entered, she whispered, “Let’s hope no one’s currently using the ball, especially since it's malfunctioning now, right?”
Caisey agreed and unconsciously held his breath as Lady Clotho rubbed the image of a crystal ball on the massive gray doors they stood before. The door made a click sound and swung open slowly, a burst of air escaping through the crack. Caisey grimaced, not yet ready to go inside.
But Lady Clotho grasped his hand again and pulled him through the open doors without hesitation.
The crystal ball room wasn’t nearly as dreary as Caisey had expected it to be. Nor was it a mysterious, witchy-looking place. At least, no more than what he’d experienced in the booth at yesterday’s festival. There were blue and black curtains, rugs, throw blankets, and pillows all around the room, each with the image of bright stars and dust particles printed on the front. Caisey felt oddly welcomed in the room, convincing him that Lady Atropos was likely the problem sister.
Lady Clotho had a beautiful personality, despite her earlier craze which had died down, and Caisey realized he now had rather positive expectations of the second sister, Lady Lachesis. He realized he would be meeting her as the crystal ball room wasn’t empty after all.
She sat on the far-left side of the room, in a high-backed chair at an ancient-looking table. She had her head down where shaggy and unkempt strands spilled all over the place, her face obscured by the glowing ball she was looking into. Her hair was amazingly long and, Caisey imagined, would be beautiful after some hours of good TLC.
“Sister,” Lady Clotho called for her attention, “we have a visitor. This young sir is employed by Our Lord Zeus and has come to inspect our crystal ball, as it is malfunctioning.”
“Oh?” This sister said, her voice much older than the appearance of her hair. Caisey was, for a moment, afraid to see her face as she began lifting it from where it was positioned behind the crystal ball. Then, he gasped out loud and had to slap a hand over his mouth and pretend to cough when he saw her face. “Our crystal is functioning perfectly well, Clotho.”
Her face was indeed aged but was entirely refreshing to look at. She had few wrinkles, clear skin, and sharp eyes. In Caisey’s opinion, she had a perfectly average face and was undoubtedly the best looking of the three sisters.
His eyes instantly snapped back to Lady Clotho and, unable to stop himself, he recoiled. Poor Clotho, he thought. She was really given the shortest stick.
Encouraged by Lady Lachesis’ calm demeanor and less frightening appearance, Caisey stepped forward and inquired, “I hate to trouble you, but may I inspect the crystal ball? It’ll only take a few minutes, I believe.”
Lady Lachesis said, “Clotho, who is this?” as if Caisey hadn’t spoken.
“I’ve already told you, Sister, he is an inspector sent by Our Lord Zeus.”
“Is he a servant?”
“He must have wished to become my servant if he willingly entered my chambers.”
Uh oh. I take it back. This one’s trouble. Caisey thought as the conversation continued.
“But Sister, he hasn’t entered your chambers. He has only walked the corridors of the palace and has entered my chambers.” Lady Clotho said that last with a suggestive tone Caisey wished he had never heard.
Lady Lachesis waved a hand dismissively in the air, “Semantics. He’s here before me now, isn’t he?”
“Well, yes.” Lady Clotho answered.
“So then, he’s my servant.” Lady Lachesis said with finality and sweat tumbled down from Caisey’s temple.
“Oh-ho-ho, no,” Caisey sang with the most awkward laughter. “Sorry, not a servant. Ha. Ha ha ha.”
“Why are you laughing?” Lady Lachesis’ no nonsense voice sent chills down Caisey’s spine.
I need to get out of here right now! Caisey thought, sweating profusely now. He wondered if shouting mayday would bring his friends to come save him. But he knew better and decided to save his own hide.
“Oh! Look at the time!” He cried suddenly and rushed forward toward Lady Lachesis and the crystal ball before he could stop himself.
Meanwhile, the sisters were looking around going, “Time? What time?” as they had no instruments of time anywhere in their palace.
Caisey hurriedly fished eyeglasses out of the folds of his tunic, stuck them lopsidedly on his face, snatched up the crystal ball and flipped it over three times without so much as glancing at it, and shouted, “Welp, inspection’s over! This thing is certainly defective. I’ll have a new one delivered promptly in its place, let me just confiscate this one. Thank you.” He spit out in a rush. He was already making his way back toward the palace’s exit, walking faster than he’d ever had before.
And that included when he practically fly-walked with Sir Mimir.
“What are you doing?! You can’t just take that!” Lady Lachesis shouted, giving chase.
Behind him, Caisey heard Lady Clotho say in her sweet voice, “Sister, he’s already said the crystal is defective. Let’s just let him take it.”
Aww, Clotho! Caisey cried and bit his lips together as he quickened his pace.
“There’s nothing wrong with it, I tell you!” Suddenly, Lady Lachesis gave a horrid gasp and cried, “Wait. I thought he looked familiar! I KNOW YOU,” and the terrifying pitter patter of running feet filled the hallway behind Caisey.
“Ahhh!” he screamed and took off running without looking back. He mostly remembered the way through the palace but was plagued by longer routes thanks to Lady Clotho’s earlier tour. He didn’t know the fastest way out despite Rina’s probably up-to-date map.
“Mayday!” he cried, hoping somehow his crew would hear him. “Mayday! May-freaking-day, somebody help me!”