The Test of Classification
Infinities don’t need sleep, not like the humans do. For mortals it is recommended to sleep every night in order to live a healthy life. Where a human had a soul — Uxarra — an Infinity had an essence — Abbaxa — and Creators had atmans — Xyaum — as their life force. They did not need to sleep, though it was a nice break from the job. The dedicated ones, like Fortune, would only sleep a few times a century as they felt they deserved it. Demise only rested once or twice a year, seeing as she was terrified of the dreams. On average, an Infinity would only rest once every few months or at least once a year, unless there was something important coming up, then they would sleep whether or not they felt the need to. So Syviis slept the night before her Test of Classification; she had to be as prepared as possible.
When she entered the Fate’s main office that morning, The Divine Provenance — the Creator of the Fates — had already arrived. Fortune stood to her right, talking pleasantly to their guest. Demise was in the corner, glaring at their Creator. Apparently she still hadn’t forgiven The Divine Provenance for her test results nearly a thousand years ago. Their Creator laughed at something Fortune had said, her melodic voice carrying gracefully through the room.
Her long, silky, black hair floated around the room, defying all laws of gravity. Small silver beads resembling stars were weaved into her thick locks. Her deep midnight blue dress was decorated with silver stars, twinkling around the fabric. The sleeves were a decorative lace, ending in points at the back of her hands. Her face was ethereal, far too perfect to be considered natural or human. Her skin was black marble, dark as night and streaked with white lines, like a galaxy in space. It was almost as though she were made from a real piece of space itself.
“Miss Divine Provenance. What an honor to stand in your presence, Your Majesty.” She projected her thoughts outwards, knowing her Creator knew the youngest Fate’s real name and would be able to hear her. Syviis nodded her hello to her sisters before approaching her Creator and kneeling before her, bowing her head as she did so. Everything had to go perfect today, she had to impress The Divine Provenance if she had any hope of having that mother daughter relationship Fortune had with the Creator.
“Oh silly child, you may rise. And there is no need to be so formal, you are permitted to call me by my name, Ziarre. You are a part of one of my Concepts after all. And we will know your new name soon enough. Are you ready?” Her voice was gentle as she grabbed the shadowy form of the youngest Fate’s shoulder and helped her get up.
Syviis nodded slowly, stunned by the Creator Ziarre’s behavior. She was so much less… intimidating than she had imagined. Of course, she still radiated power, she was still one of the four Creators, after all. And the young Fate knew that if Ziarre wanted to, all she had to do was snap her fingers and then her own Abbaxa would be no more. But still the youngest Fate sister was not afraid... not of The Divine Provenance, at least. She was still terrified of failing the test, but she did not fear the goddess before her.
“Okay then, Ziarre. I think I am ready for the Test of Classification. Let’s begin, shall we?” Syviis was ready to go out in the world, see these humans she had read so much about, and to make her Creator proud.
The Divine Provenance smiled down at the young Infinity. “Now that is the spirit a Fate should have, excited for the job. Prepare yourself.”
Syviis looked to her Creator curiously. “For what exactly?”
“Why, to go to the mortal’s dimension Ineôcâ of course.” Ziarre winked at the youngest Fate. She put a hand up to her mouth, extended as if to blow a kiss, and a small swirling black hole came pouring out of her mouth and enveloped the Fate.
She knew she would have to travel dimensions, but she hadn’t imagined it like this. Traveling to the mortal dimension, it was so different from anything she had ever felt. It was hot and cold at the same time, and it tickled a little up and down her arms. Of course, this time Ziarre was helping her, after the test she would be transferring from Òrìsà to Ineôcâ as easily as all the other Infinities.
* * *
It was just as Demise had said: lonely and silent. She could feel the eyes of her sisters and Ziarre on her, watching her every move. But it wasn’t the same. Normally she could always hear her sister’s’ presence in the back of her mind, their voices always humming in a small corner in her head. The Fates discovered early on that they needed something to call each other besides ‘sister’ or ‘sibling’, so they broke the single most important rule; they told each other their original names. Ever since then, the three could communicate telepathically, share their thoughts and emotions with one another if they so wished. They could feel that they weren’t alone; they knew the others they were connected with were safe and well. But that was all gone now. Everything was silent, numb.
The youngest Fate took a deep breath to compose herself, unwilling to show weakness on such an important day. Syviis glanced around at her surroundings; tall buildings and crowded streets, a big city full of busy people. She briefly wondered how long she would be here. Demise had spent decades on her test, but Fortune had only used up a few years. What would her fate be?
She walked along the road, watching in awe as the people interacted with one another. An old man sat on a bench, throwing seeds to the few birds that hadn’t flown south for the winter. A young girl skipped along the sidewalk as she held her balloon. A teenager on a bike was hurrying too much to take notice and bumped into her, causing her to let go of her floating toy. He rushed off without an apology. A man in a suit was talking into a small mobile device and he got inside a yellow cab. There were too many people, too much was going on. How was she ever supposed to figure out what she had to do to complete her Test of Classification without the help of her sisters?
This must have been in the middle of the busiest part of the city; there were people all around. Too many of them. They walked around her Abbaxa, never through. Not like they would be able to see her (it was just the power of an Infinity). The humans wouldn’t know why they were all avoiding the same spot, they just did it. Far too many of them, and only one of her. After a thousand years of only being in the presence of two Infinities, this was overwhelming.
She sighed in defeat, she wasn’t going to get anywhere if she stayed here and did nothing. Having a panic attack during her Test of Classification was not how Fortune passed. And she had to do something memorable to impress Ziarre. She took a moment to try to relax before putting her game face on. Of course that would be so much easier once she actually had a face. For now, she was just a purple three dimensional shadow, but if all went well she would have a body by the end of her test. She had to act confident, like she was in control of the situation. She hoped that Fortune would be proud of her little sister.
The Fate wandered around the sidewalk, trying to look for anything that she could do. Her sisters had told her in one of the lessons about a list. Once a Fate was named they would have a to-do-list seared into their brains. It would tell them where to go and what they had to do in order to keep chaos from happening. But nothing popped out at her like she thought it would. The Fate had come to the end of the street and turned right onto West Main Street. If it was busy before, then now it was absolutely crowded. After a minute or so she found a quaint shop between an Infamous Tattoo Inc. and a Sully’s Irish Pub.
Entering the deep blue door, she was pleased to find that this place was empty, save the lone worker. It was an old antiques shop. It was small, but it was nice. Full of history, each little knick-knack had its own story. The clerk was young, late twenties at most. She looked so sad, so alone. The Fate turned away from her quickly, unable to bear the lonely look upon the clerk’s face. Emotions were hard enough to deal with when they were your own, let alone someone else’s. The Fate’s purple Abbaxa drifted down the aisles, observing all the artifacts. It was all the typical stuff, plates, clocks, furniture, decorative ornaments and the like.
Nothing out of the ordinary, but there was one thing in particular that grabbed her attention. Syviis felt as though she had to pick it up. Maybe this was the test, telling her what to do? So the Fate listened to her instincts and reached for a silver circular locket engraved with some vines and leaves. It was scratched and tarnished, nothing special. But the Fate was drawn to it nonetheless.
She held it in her palm, dull silver against a violet shadow. And then she froze. There was a feeling of eyes staring at her, boring into her Abbaxa and observing her every move curiously. That was impossible, humans wouldn’t be able to see her essence unless she wanted them to. That is what Demise had said at least. Unless…
Slowly, she turned around to come face to face with a white shadow. Another Abbaxa, an Infinity made by The Luminary Virtuoso. It lifted a finger to where it’s lips would be and began walking backwards. Then it just stood there, leaning against a wall, watching.
A bell broke the silence; someone had entered the shop. The bell rang again as the door hit it again when it was closing. The employee jumped and whipped her head around, facing her customer with a big fake smile plastered to her face. From sad and lonely to happy and helpful in a split second, she must have been committed to her job to make her demeanor change so suddenly.
“Hi there, welcome to Old Stuff. What can I help you with today?”
The man shook off the water that had accumulated on his clothing. He glanced at the woman apologetically. “Sorry ’bout that, didn’t mean to startle you. It just started pouring, bit odd for this time of the year. It’s the second of December, it should be snowing not raining. You mind if I camp out here till it lightens up?”
She smiled kindly at him. “Not at all, make yourself at home.”
It was strange, they looked so much alike that they could have been related, cousins maybe? But they acted like strangers. Did humans not keep in contact with their families as Infinities did with their Concepts?
The guy shrugged off his dripping hoodie and draped it on a wooden coat rack modeled after a tree. Then he proceeded to wander through the isles casually, looking over all the ancient doohickeys. He paused a moment, picking up an old hand carved pipe, and carefully put it back on the shelf before continuing on his way.
The Fate quickly put the locket back in place as she noticed he was approaching her. He took no notice of her purple Abbaxa, not that he would have been able too. She hadn’t allowed him to so she was still able to see without being seen. But still she figured he surely would think it odd if he were to see a floating necklace for no apparent reason. The Fate got it done just in time, he turned down the aisle as she moved away from the locket.
It was all fine. But then the blank Abbaxa snapped its fingers. and the locket fell to the ground with a soft clatter. The Fate turned and glared at it, and the other essence merely shrugged in response.
“Huh, that is odd. Wonder what made it fall.” The man reached down to pick it up but stopped dead in his tracks once he got a good look at it. Slowly, as though in a trance, he walked over to the clerk, his eyes completely transfixed on the locket. “Where did you get this?”
She shrugged, not noticing the shift in his demeanor. “It was my grandmas. She was big on the whole family tradition thing and was dead set that everyone in her family had a matching locket with pictures of their parents in it. The vines are supposed to represent the whole ‘ties between family’ idea, or whatever. But she died a few years back and I don’t plan to have kids so thought I could make a buck or two.” She fingered her own identical necklace that was draped gracefully on her neck.
The customer’s eyes widened as he slowly reached into his pocket and brought out yet another silver locket. The clerk’s face was shocked to say the least. Together they opened their own respective lockets to reveal two identical pictures of their parents. Their movements were synchronized as they gasped and dropped their lockets, staring wide-eyed at each other in disbelief. They gasped again, memories flooding to mind.
“Sister? Liliana?” Felix let out a dramatic gasp.
Liliana laughed, still not quite believing this was happening. “Don’t mock me.”
He merely shrugged in response. “I have a lot of time to make up for.”
Ah. So that’s why they looked so similar. Same nose, high cheekbones, dimples, dark blue eyes. Felix had slightly shaggy brown hair while Liliana had the same color with dyed blonde highlights. Syviis was thrilled, family deserved to know each other.
“Tell me you aren’t staying at a motel; those things are so unsanitary.”
Felix shook his head. “Nah, I don’t really stay anywhere. I’m just a wanderer.”
Liliana shook her head and swatted at his arm. “Not anymore. My old roommate Miguel just found a place with his partner and moved out with her. I have an empty room and you are going to take it.”
He laughed and walked around the counter, embracing his sister. “You never did take no for an answer.”
“This… this is great! I thought I’d never see you again! After our parents died and we were sent to separate homes…”
“I haven’t seen you in fifteen years. And then I run into you here of all places. Well, they do say miracles happen in small towns. What are you now, twenty-three?” He laughed and ran a hand through his hair, overjoyed to see his little sister once again. “What a coincidence, am I right?”
Liliana nodded and hopped over the counter to hug her brother, unable to control her smile. “And you would be twenty-seven. I don’t know. I think it’s more of fate. This was meant to happen.”
The small black hole appeared yet again, this time out of thin air, swirling about the young Fate. She could feel herself being dragged back to her dimension, Òrìsà. Syviis tried to fight her way back, get back to that small little shop, but it was already fading. She hadn’t done anything yet; surely her test hadn’t been completed this quickly? And yet she could feel the galaxy carrying her away, back to her home where The Divine Provenance and her sisters would be waiting.
The tiny bit of space dropped her without mercy at the feet of the elder three test watchers. They glanced around uneasily as the young Fate slowly gathered her Abbaxa and stood back up. Their eyes were moving from one to the other, their facial expressions changing every so often. This let the youngest sister to believe that while her mind was still detached from her siblings, the other three were having their own mental conversation that she was not supposed to be a part of.
It was taking far too long and it was far too silent. The two older sisters eventually walked away, Demise storming away angrily and Fortune bearing an apologetic look upon her face as she slumped away. She was left alone with Ziarre, who was frowning in disappointment, much unlike their first meeting earlier that same day.
The young Fate was growing rather uncomfortable with those eyes staring unblinking at her, as dark and vast as a black hole. “Look, Mrs. Divine Provenance, Ziarre, whatever you prefer to be called, please tell me what happened. I mean, I didn’t fail, did I? How could I? I was only there for an hour at most, there is no way I could have messed up that badly in that short amount of time, right?”
Ziarre looked taken aback by this. “You mean you don’t know?”
“Don’t know what? Look, I didn’t even do anything. I didn’t have time to do anything. Can I please go back and finish my test? I didn’t make anything happen so I’m not sure why you dragged me out so soon but —”
“Your Test of Classification was meddled with.” The Divine Provenance interrupted the young Fate. Syviis had seen the white essence at the end of the shop but hadn’t really paid it much mind. Neither of them had done much of anything during the test, how could it have been meddled with?
“What happened, we are not sure if it was you’re doing or not.” The Creator spoke with a monotone voice, her eyes cold as ice.
“How is that possible?” She was panicking now, did that mean she would not be granted a given name or a job?
Ziarre sighed and shook her head. “The Coincidence brothers were there. Winchell’s rebellious children, never having their test watched by a proper judge. Getting their name from the other brothers instead of their Creator. Despicable. Anyways one of them was there, he was apparently testing as well.” She paused for a moment, as though listening into another mental conversation. “I have just been informed that Luck and Karma have decided to name him Chance. How lovely. I have to go deal with Winchell now, if you’ll excuse me.”
“No.” She didn’t know where she got her courage from, it was suicide to talk to The Divine Provenance like that, but she didn’t back down. “I went into my test, and obviously I did something or you wouldn’t have dragged me back here. So that means I completed it. And the rules say that once an Infinity completes their test they are to be granted a name and Rouhk and job. That’s how it’s been since the beginning, you can’t break that tradition now. You can’t break the rules.”
“You have no idea just how much like your sisters you are.” Ziarre smiled slightly with the corner of her mouth. “Very well. Syviis, your new name shall be Destiny.” And then she snapped her fingers and The Divine Provenance was gone, just like that. Back to the Creator’s dimension, Crëwr.
The youngest Fate blinked and slowly opened her eyes before glancing down at herself. Her lilac Abbaxa was slowly, for the first time, creating a Rouhk around itself, holding her essence within. Something tickled her forehead, bangs. She glanced up and could just see the red color of her hair. Okay, red hair and bangs. So far she didn’t seem to have been too misfortunate. At least she hadn’t disappointed The Divine Provenance like Demise had. Destiny, that is what she had been named.
This was her Rouhk now, the one she would have to live with for the rest of forever. She could change it if she wanted; she could change her hairstyle or gain weight or get a tattoo. It would never last though. As soon as she reverted back to her Abbaxa from all that would go away, and next time she put on her body it would be exactly like it was now. An Infinity had to give up their Rouhk when traveling dimensions, and considering Destiny would be doing her job in Ineôcâ and her home was in Òrìsà, she would be traveling dimensions quite often. Of course she would have clothes on next time though, whatever she was wearing would travel with her. Her sisters had mentioned that in a lesson about a week ago, trying to prepare her for being out in the world. This was her Rouhk so she might as well love it.
Soft pale skin with freckles scattered about. She was taller than Demise but shorter than Fortune. In all honesty she didn’t hate it, it wasn’t nearly as bad as Demise. Though with Demise’s hair and oversized clothing it was hard to tell what she actually looked like.
There was a light knock on the door behind her as it creaked open. Fortune entered first, her eyes wide and for once, she was speechless. Demise came in close behind, draping a robe around her sister’s new body. They were both staring at her, waiting for something.
The youngest Fate faced her sisters, a smile beginning to form. For the first time she opened her mouth, using actual verbal words. “Destiny. My name is Destiny.”
Fortune took a few steps closer, her powder blue dress pooling around her feet as she reached out to take her sibling’s hand. “Oh my darling little sister, I am ever so sorry. This is all my fault. If only I would have trained you more, this would have never happened. This is obviously the worst thing I have done! Oh, you can just imagine the pain I feel!”
The youngest Fate resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “Woah sis, calm down. I passed, remember? I got a body. I got a name. I’m fine, really.”
Demise shook her head slowly. “No, you’re not, Destiny. Huh. That was odd. I guess I am not quite used to calling you by an actual name. Anyways, it is not all hunky-dory ya know, there is an issue here. My test mess up was my fault, yours was what’s-his-names fault. But it does not matter. Two fails from the same Concept, this is not going to end well.”
Fortune sighed and took Demise’s hand with her free one and started leading her sisters towards the front door. “We can dwell on that tomorrow. For now, it is Destiny’s turn to paint her mailbox.”
The painting of the mailbox was an old tradition amongst Concepts. Each home in Òrìṣà had mailboxes, one for each Infinity that lived on that land. Delivering mail was just one of the many services Òrìṣà provided for it’s Infinities. After completing the Test of Classification and being given a name, the Infinity could then paint their new name on their mailbox to symbolize they were officially in the Concept business.
Fortune’s was painted to resemble the sky, the majority a light blue but along the bottom were long blades of grass. A tree was painted on the back with a branch holding a bird’s nest reached around one of the sides. Flying around the nest was a beautiful hummingbird, watching over its three newly hatched babies.
Demise wasn’t as skilled at art, so her mailbox was a little rough looking. It depicted an old abandoned water mill next to a frozen lake, covered in snow at night, with the stars and moon brightly shining.
Destiny had thought about what she wanted on her mailbox for years. She had come up with so many ideas and sketched out some plans, but she always changed her mind almost immediately after creating a new design. Now the day was here, and she had no idea what she wanted. Sure, she could always change it later, but she wanted it to be perfect.
Òrìṣà had already set up several paint colors and brushes. Destiny eyed them as she grabbed a brush and handed one to each of her sisters. “Will you help me?”
“Obviously sister, that’s what we are here for.” Fortune smiled. “What’s the plan?”
Destiny shrugged. “There is none. Go wild. Have fun.”
Fortune gritted her teeth while Demise chuckled darkly. Not having a plan was the complete opposite of what all of them had been trained. Regardless, eventually they all took some colors and started painting. In the end it turned out to be a colorful collage of a background— courtesy of Fortune and Destiny— with random shapes and stick figures drawn in black, courtesy of Demise. It didn’t make any sense and was by far the craziest mailbox at Fate Mansion, but at least it was interesting to look at. With a final touch Destiny took the purple paint and wrote her name on the part that opened.
She had her own mailbox at her own home. Her Concept might have their disagreements, but this is where she belonged.