The Sins home was nifty to say the least. A large stone castle atop a hill overlooking a cliff, sharp jagged rocks at the bottom. A small river of murky brown water went under the drawbridge. A full blood orange moon was made out of cardboard and stuck on a long metal rod so it appeared it was over the castle. A spotlight was stuck in the grass and angled up at the fake moon, there wasn’t an official light source in Òrìsà so the Sins had made do with what they had. The lawn was dead and unkempt, weeds sprouting up here and there. Vines as old as the castle itself wove around the stone.
Sloth sighed as he took in his home. “It’s a bit messy. I’ve been meaning to clean up but haven’t had the time.”
Destiny had to try not to laugh out loud at that. Sloth not doing yard work, go figure.
“Hurry up Boomerang, I just have to show you my latest invention!” Sloth declared as he and Karma sprinted through the castle gates.
Destiny and Chance followed behind at a far more normal walking pace. They quickly lost sight of the other two, but that wasn’t a problem. Chance knew his way around here fairly well, or at least he pretended to.
“What’s with calling Karma Boomerang?” Destiny asked partially out of curiosity, and partially just to fill the silence.
Chance grunted as he pushed open the heavy castle door. “Just a nickname he picked up. The whole what goes around comes around thing I think. Like a boomerang Karma will always come back to ya, for better or worse. Those two speak their own language when they are together. I have mostly given up trying to understand them.”
The castle was better on the inside, thank goodness. Well, at least it was cleaner and better lit. The walls were decorated in fire braziers and candles, the floors with long woven rugs. But that was probably the only decent decor in this palace. The rooms were each painted in different colors, the hallways blending them together. It was like walking through a neon rainbow. None of the furniture matched, all of it from different periods of time and a different shade of pastel. The Sin’s needed a new decorator.
Chance led them through the castle, heading towards the west wing. They began climbing yet even more stairs into a tower. Reaching the top where the stairs ended and led into the cold stone wall, Destiny blinked slowly. They had long since lost track of Karma and Sloth, their echoing footsteps disappearing with them. She was lost, and now she was beginning to believe Chance was too.
The Fate raised an eyebrow at the Coincidence. “You don’t know where we are, do you?”
Chance chuckled and reached behind a tapestry, pulling a hidden lever. A ladder slowly fell from the ceiling, leading to a secret layer. “Things are more than they appear my dear Des.”
She had expected Sloth’s room to be unexciting, maybe a bed. He was infamous for never leaving his room after all, except maybe for a few adventures that Karma forced him to partake in. Needless to say she was rather disappointed.
The circular tower room was covered in electronics. Some old, some new, and many that had yet to be invented by humans. Some of it was straight out of those futuristic sci-fi movies. Sloth sat in a chair on wheels, kicking off the walls and zooming all over the room. Karma followed, all the while telling a rather animated story with his hands.
Chance turned to Destiny, chuckling at her dumbfounded expression. “The day the rest of the Sins got their name, he didn’t even leave his room. He honestly is brilliant, don’t ever let him hear you call him lazy.”
“Would never dream of it.” At least that was true now. An hour ago it probably would have been a lie. The Fate was still trying to get over her initial shock. Until recently she had never even ventured out of the Fate Mansion. And now in half a month she had been to Ineôcâ various times to do her job and visit humans. She had explored Òrìsà and even been to two other Concepts homes. After a thousand years of solitude this was a lot to take in.
Finally, Sloth seemed to notice the two other Infinities had caught up and were waiting in his doorway. He kicked off a wall, spinning over to his guests. He smiled proudly, obviously proud of his room. “Pretty sweet, huh? Best room in the castle if I do say so myself.”
Destiny glanced around the room again, nodding in response. This seemed to be the only room in the castle that wasn’t painted a myriad of colors, thank goodness. “For one who is famous for never leaving his room you sure do have a lot of things from the humans.”
Chance shook his head, his eyes going wide as he nudged Destiny where her ribs would be in her purple Abbaxa. Apparently that was the wrong thing to say. She briefly worried that she had offended the Sin, but her anxiety disappeared with Sloth laughing it off.
“Oh, girly here is silly, yes she is. I made all of it, before the humans even imagined the idea. Who did you think introduced it to them?”
Karma grabbed his friend around the neck with his elbow, attempting to mess up his too-short hair. “Oh please, don’t take all the credit. Sure, you made everything. But you practically forced me to get the Muses to show the people.”
Sloth pushed off Karma with a roll of his eyes. “Fine, they had a small part. But I invented it, so I deserve the credit.”
Chance folded his arms, smirking down at the Sin. “Careful now. Sounds like you have been spending too much time with Pride.”
Sloth frowned, obviously not thrilled with that. “You know as well as I do that my Concept’s curse only works on humans, not Infinities.”
Karma was quick to jump to his friends’ side, sending a warning look to his brother. “Don’t listen to him Slothy. There is a difference between conceded and confidant. You are most definitely the second one. Besides, you spent far too much time hating yourself, I’d rather you be a little prideful with your hard work. Love yourself, you deserve it.”
Considering his name was Karma, the inspirational speech was a little unexpected. But not unwanted or unappreciated. Sloth smiled and pulled Karma down, making him sit on his lap. “See? This is why Boomerang is my bestie, not you Mr. Dice.”
“Fine by me. I have other friends. Like Destiny here. The two of us, we are inseparable.” Chance wrapped an arm around the Fate’s shoulder and held her close in a half hug.
Sloth contemplated that for a moment and nodded. “Well at least you have moved on from the humans. Bout time you learned your lesson, the rest of us did hundreds of years ago.”
Destiny raised a questioning eyebrow at the Coincidence as she spun out of his arm. He was criticizing her for befriending humans, but by the sound of it he had gone and done the same. Of course she would like to be friends with other Infinities. To be as close with Chance as Karma was with Sloth. To be able to have a partner to go around Òrìsà with between jobs.
But that was not possible right now. Destiny was a Fate; her Creator was The Divine Provenance. And that meant responsibility, work, and order. Other Concepts could get away with slacking off, but not those who had a purple essence. They had to complete their ever growing to-do-list. Which was exactly why she was here in the first place.
“So about the pipe. Find anything useful?” Sloth pushed Karma off him, making him fall on his butt with a frown. Destiny handed the pipe over to Sloth’s outstretched hand.
He grabbed the case, flipping it over in his hands. Destiny hadn’t noticed until now, but the words MADE BY were also engraved in small letters on the bottom. Sloth opened the case, slowly pulling the pipe out of the purple velvet liner. His long bony fingers traced the designs, the die on the hourglass, the boomerang on the stack of coins, The four leaf clover hole, and the raven decorated steam.
He studied it with concentration, looking over every aspect. But he did it out of curiosity, not because he was in a trance. Whatever power it held over the Coincidences and Fates, it seemed to have no effect on the sin. At last he spoke.
“Thank you oh wise one, all our questions have been answered.” Chance replied sarcastically, putting his hands together and bowing his head mockingly. He turned to Destiny and cupped a hand over his mouth, whispering far too loudly, “See? Told you he was a smart cookie. He is all knowing.”
“Give me five days exactly. Class dismissed.” Sloth kicked off to the other side of the room, pulling out an expensive looking camera. He snapped several pictures of the pipe and the case from every imaginable angle.
Destiny counted the days in her head, turning and frowning at Chance. That would put them at December twentieth. “That’s Friday, I have to work on Friday’s.
Chance nodded, seemingly unphased by the exactness of Sloth’s demand. “Yeah, what’s your point? Don’t tell me that antique shop is more important than an Infinities job.”
Destiny shook her head slowly, looking at the stone wall. She would have to tell the humans the truth about her. She would have to quit Old Stuff. She would have to do her job.
Then Sloth kicked back to the other Infinities, handing over the pipe and case. Saying nothing he went back to his glowing screens, typing various things into various devices. Karma pouted at being ignored by his friend, but he left silently without argument. At least he seemed to understand just how important this was.
The three left Sloth to his devices. It was a little disappointing that she hadn’t gotten any definite answer, but at least it was a start. There was nothing wrong with getting a little help every now and then. They saw themselves out of the castle, Karma leading the way. Once they crossed the drawbridge Destiny was grabbed on her left by Karma and on her right by Chance. Within a second they were back to the Coincidences maze of tree houses.
From their spot on the ground she could see a corner of Karma’s colorfully painted house up in the distance. Destiny briefly wondered which of the many treehouses belonged to Chance. None of the others looked particularly noticeable, at least not that she could see. Remembering she still had his coat she turned back into her Rouhk and shrugged it off handing it back to the owner. “Thanks for that.”
He nodded and slung it over his arm, having no need of a jacket now. Another crash echoed above them and Chance groaned. “Guess I gotta see what Luck broke this time. Bye for now Des, I’ll see you soon.”
He jogged up the carved in stairs and across bridges, easily navigating his way through the trees.
Destiny and Karma were left standing alone in silence. The Fate teetered on her toes and fidgeted awkwardly, trying to avoid eye contact with the Coincidence.
Karma let out a low whistle. “Well this is fun. Common, let’s turn your frown upside down darling.”
Destiny hadn’t even realized she had been frowning until she felt Karma’s tanned fingers on each corner of her mouth, forcing the edge up into a smile. She turned away, to hide her real smile, but it was no use. Karma seemed to be able to see right through her terrible acting.
Karma clicked his tongue and walked around the Fate until she was once again looking at him. “Oh you silly goose, don’t hide your pearly whites from me. You are allowed to smile like you mean it.”
So she did. And then she started giggling. And then she started laughing so hard her sides hurt. Karma joined in quickly, a loud guffaw that shook his whole body. His laughter was contagious, eventually they were just laughing at each other’s sounds rather than the smile thing.
Once she calmed down she rolled her eyes, “Hey, I have a question.”
“I have an answer.” Karma was quick to reply, but hesitated and held up a finger. “Wait, this isn’t about why Luck and I don’t get along is it?”
“No. Well, that too I guess.”
“Now I don’t mean to be a gossip, but golly do I love to gossip.” Karma chuckled, a small sad smile playing at his lips. “It wasn’t always like this. We used to be the best of friends. That was a while ago though, back when he would literally skip down the streets. We would have competitions you see, a fun way to pass the time while getting our jobs done. We would find a random human and follow them around for the day. Luck would give them little miracles while I would give them their payback. Then at the end of the day when they said if it was good or bad, we would know who won.”
“Humans aren’t toys.” Destiny protested half-heartedly while laughing and rolling her eyes. Of course Infinities made by The Luminary Virtuoso would find a way to treat their job like a game instead of the work it was supposed to be. “So then what happened? What changed?”
“He got in a relationship. It was cute at first, them being all over each other. It progressed to the point where they were literally never apart from each other. Being in a co-dependent relationship isn’t healthy. They broke up, as I’m sure you gathered. Luck turned into what he is, a pathetic mess. I had to create a thing called ‘good karma’ to pick up his slack.” Karma shuddered as though good karma was a terrible thought.
“You didn’t try and help him?”
“I didn’t know how.” Karma shrugged.
“So you just ditch him? You can’t just give up on others when they aren’t at their best.” Destiny crossed her arms and tried to mimic Fortunes disappointed face.
Karma opened and closed his mouth several times, trying to find the words to defend his actions. Apparently he couldn’t find one that was good enough, because he changed the subject. “What was your other question?”
Destiny sighed in defeat, she didn’t want to get in a fight with him. Besides, she had already called him out on his poor choices and he knew he had done wrong, that was good enough for now. “You mentally called Sloth here. Then you were able to go to his house without an escort. You told each other your original names, but why? He isn’t even a member of your Concept.”
Karma winked and turned around, pretending to walk away. He was just trying to be dramatic, so the Fate decided to play along and give him the show he wanted.
Destiny ran after him, clutching his arm and looking up at him with the best puppy eyes she could muster. “Please tell me. Pretty please with a cherry on top?”
Karma sighed in defeat, his shoulders slumping as he ran a hand through his hair. A smile tugged at his lips, he seemed to love it when others played along with his charade. He sank to the ground, falling back into the tall wild grass and looking up. “You just had to add the cherry didn’t you? How do you know my weakness? No fair, I proclaim you a cheater.”
Destiny smiled triumphantly. She knew she had won. Karma patted the ground next to him, gesturing for her to sit with him. She did, both of them leaning back with their arms behind them for support as they looked up to the many treehouses above. “Come now child, listen to the old man speak.”
Destiny shook her head, a small smile on her lips. She stretched out her legs, making herself comfortable. “Yes sensei. You have such wisdom in your eyes for such a young face. Tell me your secrets.”
“As you know our Creator The Luminary Virtuoso values talent and creativity above all else. We aren’t goody-two-shoes; we don’t follow the rules like you do. We find a creative way out, a loophole if you will. So the loophole to get to that castle was to find out a Sin’s name.”
“Okay, get on with it. I know that part already. What made you two so close?” Destiny nudged Karma’s shoulder, making him lose his balance and fall over.
“It was a dark and stormy night, rain was falling fast and lightning flashed all around —”
“That’s too cliché to be the truth, tell it right.” Destiny rolled her eyes, knowing he was just being dramatic for the fun of it.
“Okay you got me. For real though. It actually was drizzling, and it was evening. I was out doing my job, you know, the usual. So I’m walking through this forest, following this one guy. And his aura was red, like redder than a Coca-Cola logo, so I know I gotta get ’em. This was way back in the day, humans were still hunting with spears. So this guy raises his spear to a poor defenseless sloth, he prepares for the killing strike. Before he can throw the spear though an orange Abbaxa shows up behind me and says ‘did you know a sloth can starve to death on a full stomach? Its metabolism slows down so much that it doesn’t digest the food and it just dies. Sad isn’t it? And you were just going to kill it without a second thought.’ Those were the first words I heard him say.”
Destiny’s wide eyes blinked slowly. “Well that’s dark. Do sloths really die that easily?”
Karma nodded. “So anyways the human doesn’t see him because he is still just an essence, and throws the spear. Sloth jumped in front of it, guess he really didn’t want that animal to die unless it was natural causes. I snap my fingers and take care of the hunter guy. But he still has a hole in his Abbaxa, from the spear and all. Like, our bodies will go back to normal if we just switch from them to our Abbaxa and back, but it takes a bit more effort to deal with a wound as an Abbaxa. So I tell him I know a guy. Infinities know each other, we kind of have to because we are the only constant thing when the humans all die. I take my new orange friend down to Australia and we spend like a week searching for Survival. Good ol’ Val, usually chilling in some old cave. He does some voodoo with herbs, patches Slothy up just fine. He showed me his home and a while later his Concept got named. He hardly ever leaves his room and we needed to hang out again. So we told each other our real names, so I can visit him whenever I want.”
Destiny nodded, feeling slightly guilty. The fact that Karma would go and tell Sloth his name because they were friends and went through something together, but the Fates who were supposed to be all order oriented had gone and told each other their real name for no reason. Fortune was Aravae, Demise was Elasha, and they both knew Destiny was Syviis. They had broken one of the biggest rules for no reason whatsoever.
“Chance says we are so close we could be from the same Concept. But I think the beauty of friendship is that we got to choose each other. So I’m thankful he isn’t my brother.”
Destiny smiled as he talked. He had a good storytelling voice, and she genuinely liked his company. And Chance’s company, but that was different. She had yet to really get to know Luck, but he couldn’t be that bad when he was sober. So far she enjoyed the Coincidences and their variety of tree homes. If circumstances had been different she would have certainly considered being their friend. Unfortunately, it just so happened this was only business.
Destiny sighed and stood up, brushing off her jeans. “I’d best be off, Felix and Liliana are probably wondering where I am.”
Karma stood up as well, a frown now painted on his face. “So soon? Chance will be back any minute, then the three of us can go have a blast. It’s party time!”
Destiny smiled sadly at Karma. He was probably bored now that his best friend was busy and didn’t want to be disturbed. “Sorry but I have humans waiting for me and a job to do. Maybe next time.”
Karma held out his hand, pointing his pinky at her. He would not take no for an answer. “Promise.”
This was a big deal. As far as Destiny understood about pinky promises, they were something humans did and was unbreakable. There would be severe consequences if she didn’t hold true to it. She sighed and linked pinkies. “Promise.”
Destiny appeared back in Ineôcâ at the same place she had left, at the Four Corners memorial to honor war heroes. The sun was heading downwards, sunset would be in an hour or so, taking light and heat with it.
The town was mostly empty; it was a Sunday night after all. The few people that were out and about paid the Infinity no mind. She sighed, and allowed her Rouhk to form around her once more. For the time being she no longer felt the chill of the December air thankfully. But Liliana’s home was roughly a twenty-minute drive away, and Destiny was too worn out from all the stairs to walk home. So again she traveled through the dimension, this time landing on Liliana’s front porch.
Felix and Liliana were on the couch, bundled up in blankets and watching a movie, the fireplace ablaze with logs. Liliana jumped and Felix looked up in confusion when they heard the front door opening.
“You are home early.” Liliana pushed the pause button, scooting over to make room for their permanent house guest. “Felix made it sound as though you wouldn’t be coming home tonight.”
Destiny tilted her head in confusion as she collapsed onto the couch. “Why wouldn’t I be coming home?”
Liliana and Felix both blinked slowly at each other before turning back to their friend. Lili raised her eyebrows, a disbelieving smile on her face. “Exactly how innocent are you?”
Destiny was at a loss for words, not sure how to answer. Thankfully she was saved by Liliana’s phone ringing, so the human excused herself to answer the call. “It’s Miguel, I’ll only be a minuet.”
As soon as she was out of earshot Felix turned to Destiny excitedly, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively. “Okay, my nosy little sister is gone now. Spill the details, kiss and tell. He was a cutie, don’t tell me nothing happened. I saw the way he was looking at you.”
“And you call Liliana nosy.” The Fate squirmed somewhat uncomfortably under the overeager stare of her friend. She knew she wouldn’t be able to lie to him, the guilt of not telling the humans about her world was enough. So instead she opted to tell half-truths. “He took me to a place with a lot of trees. I met his brothers. Then we went to one of his friends’ homes for a while. Then I came back.”
“Oh. So nothing actually happened then. I’m disappointed Red. I leave you alone with a seemingly decent guy and nothing happens.” Felix frowned and shook his head. Felix was a wonderful human, though he could be a bit of a gossip at times. And Destiny coming back with no story to tell was apparently not the most desirable outcome.
Destiny laughed lightly. She had technically met Felix on the second of December during her Test of Classification, but the Taveras’ had no idea she existed until the tenth. She had been living with them for less than a week. “Oh please, it’s too soon for you to be playing matchmaker.”
Felix pouted, crossing his arms and sinking into the couch. “Friendship had no limits. Sometimes you meet someone and you just click. Five years or five minutes, we are unbreakable. And that gives me the right to try and set you up with someone. He acted like a good enough fella, a nice guy. Not the fake ‘oh I held the door open for you and you smiled at me so we should be dating already why did you friend zone me’ kind of nice guy, but an actual legit nice guy.”
Destiny rolled her eyes and walked over to the kitchen. She hadn’t known Chance long enough to like him like that. “Just because he’s a guy and I am a girl doesn’t mean we have to be in love. Platonic relationships are a thing you know.”
“Sure I know, that’s what we have. But I can still tease you about your romantic life.”
Destiny smiled sweetly at him. “That means I can tease you about yours. You got a date with that customer yet?”
Felix blushed and tried to hide his face. “Touché. Next topic please?”
Destiny opened the fridge, searching for leftovers. “What did Liliana make for Mexican Sunday? I want food.”
“Burritos larger than your face and rice and beans. Not all that creative but it’s homemade, and tastes wonderful.” He sounded distracted, only half listening. As soon as he had been left alone on the couch he had whipped out his phone, playing the same game he always did.
Destiny popped a plate in the microwave, waiting till it beeped and took the steaming plate back to the couch. “And you lost again. Is it even possible to win that thing?”
Felix glared at the screen, as though that would make the score change. “It’s possible. And I will get it, I just can’t concentrate with you looking over my shoulder like that. Tell me about Charlie. How long have you known him?”
Destiny was taken aback, for a moment forgetting Chance’s cover up name. She didn’t really get the point of it, Infinities were named for their jobs. It was logical, and seemed unnatural to have to change it to fit what the humans called normal.
“I’ve known Charlie since I came of age, and met his brothers Leo and Kevin not too long after.” That wasn’t a complete lie. Humans became adults when they were eighteen, Infinities when they took their Test of Classification.
“That’s not a lot of information. I need to know more if he wishes to win the heart of my beloved Destiny.”
The Fate wanted to correct Felix, tell him there was no way that was what Chance wanted. They weren’t even friends for crying out loud. but part of her liked this, Felix getting all protective. Like a friend, or an older brother.
“Whatever. I’ve had a long day; I’m going to bed. Tell Liliana goodnight for me when she gets off the phone.” She left her untouched plate on the table by the couch, knowing Felix wouldn’t let the food go to waste.
Felix nodded, a silent promise that he would. Destiny headed back down to her bed in the basement. The night wasn’t too long, eventually the hours began to blur together. Infinities perceived time the same as humans, when they were bored it went slow and when they had fun it went fast. Only difference was Humans died, Infinities were eternal. Like a year to a one-year-old was its whole life versus a year to a seventy-year-old was only a seventieth of theirs, one night to one who lives forever seems like nothing at all.