Bright, bleach white walls gleamed around the room. Matching white furniture sat around the room filled with clients. The soft buzzing of a tattoo machine could barely be heard through the wall. Like clockwork, each 18-year-old glanced at the large grandfather clock standing in the corner. Every hour, on the hour, another fresh adult was taken into the back room where there future would be permanently printed on their skin.
Along the far wall sat a family of ogres. The 18-year-old, Karolos, stared at the clock. He had been there since eight that morning. His family had tried to assure him that he had nothing to worry about. The Doyle family had long been given the fate of antagonizer.
Despoina, a fairy, sat with her family. She sat poised on the edge of her seat, ready to jump the moment she heard her name. She too had been assured that she would end up just like everybody else in the Nolan family. They were all destined to be famous. One of the vaguest fates a person could be given, yet everybody hoped to get it. One couldn’t ask for anything more than to be famous, and they didn’t care how they ended up famous. Despoina’s uncle had only recently reached is fate of being famous by murdering one of the high noble’s daughters. Ironically, the high noble’s daughter’s fate had been to die at a young age. Despoina’s mother and father had achieved fame through the family’s diamond business.
A family of sprites sat with their daughter, Pelagia. Again, she had been told time and time again that everybody in the Brady family had always been fated as a politician. None of these young adults found comfort in their family’s words. Maybe the past few generations had been given the same fate, but it all came down to what Amon chose.
Iris, an elf, sat between her mother and father and watched as everybody kept an eye on the time. She didn’t come from a long line of antigonizers, famous people, or politicians. The Quinn family held many different fates. Her father, Elias, was a prophet. He worked with the nobles when preparing for battle. Her mother, Thalia, was a writer. She worked with the nobles, politicians, and other people of importance to write their history, mainly in the form of a poem.
“Why do we still have to do this?” Iris asked.
“Its tradition,” Elias responded, “Since Amon first came to us he has provided us with our fates.”
“Amon,” Thalia started, “Is the son of the Egyptian God, Amun-Ra. He was in need of a home and he liked our aura.”
Elias told his daughter that Amon had powers much like a prophet, but he also had the power of influencing the future. While he didn’t write the complete future for everybody, he did influence it with his tattoos. Amon had left his Egyptian home because he was tired of being overshadowed by his father. He had discovered his powers 100’s of years ago, but nobody would let him use them.
When he left Egypt, he met a lot of new people that he didn’t even know existed. The Gods and Goddess controlled the types of people that were allowed to live in Egypt, and that had been limited to fairies and sprites. His first day on his own, he had almost been killed by an ogre, ran over by a giant, and taken in by a family of elves. The family of elves invited him to stay in the land of Inis. He agreed to stay and was soon swept into their world.
Inis was so different than Egypt had been. All sorts of people lived there; ogres, giants, sprites, fairies, elves, and more. They all worked with each, and their looks didn’t dictate their personalities. Elves, who wore dark, ominous colors, could be good people. And sprites who wore light, friendly colors, could be bad people. These things amazed Amon.
Once Amon had become use to his new home, he started offering his gift. His first customer has been an 18-year-old fairy that was struggling with her family. Raz’s parents had been grooming her to become a seamstress just like all the other women in their family. Raz despised sewing, and felt that she was destined for something more. Amon told her he could set her fate all through a simple tattoo. The catch was, she didn’t get a say so. He would speak to the Gods and Goddess’, and whatever the Universe told him, would be her fate.
Raz agreed. Even if her fate ended up being that of her mother’s and sister’s, she could say she at least tried to be her own person. Amon spoke to the Universe and began her tattoo. When he finished, he revealed a large white rose with eight petals. Confused by the symbolism, Amon explained to Raz what it meant.
The white rose meant that she would be a mystic, working closely with the nobles to help everybody understand what the Gods and Goddess’ wanted. The eight petals meant she would live an infinite life. Amazed and thrilled by her fate, Raz rushed home to her parents.
Soon all of Inis had learned of Amon’s powers and people began to flock to him for their fates. Amon became so overwhelmed by their response that he wouldn’t leave his home. He didn’t know what to do. Nobody had ever been interested in his gift before. How was he going to use his gift for the entire land of Inis? The Universe spoke to Amon and told him that he was to provide the fates to 18-year-olds only. Those that were going through the transition from child to adult. Those that needed the most guidance.
Amon went to the nobles and told them what the Universe had instructed. Within the next week, Amon had set up his shop and began seeing all of the 18-year-olds in Inis. After the current young adults had been fated, it became a ritual for every 18-year-old to visit Amon on their birthday. Parents would wake their children early in the morning and rush them to his shop to await their fate. Some only waited for a few minutes or an hour, while others were there all day. Amon only called them in when the Universe told him to.
After a century of serving the people of Inis, Amon was still an important part of their world. Raz was still working with the nobles, and if anybody ever spoke out against Amon, she was there to share the word of the Gods and Goddess’.
Nobody ever seemed to hold a grudge against Amon, no matter the fate he gave them. They all seemed honored. Iris couldn’t understand how somebody could feel honored after being told they were destined to be murdered. Raz could have simply bucked the system and told her mother that she would following her own dreams. Instead, she went to some stranger for a tattoo. That simple act of rebellion had set the future for every young adult in Inis.
“I can tell you what each and every child in this room will be told,” Elias informed his daughter.
Iris rolled her eyes. Elias enjoyed showing off. Predicting things was his favorite pastime, and his answer to any problem. Whenever Iris was sick as a child, she had to listen to her father tell stories about how sick her friends were going to get. If she felt upset about a grade she made in class, he would tell her the grades of her friends. Now, as she waited for her fate, he was telling her what the other people in the room would get.
“That child over there is going to be a servant. That young lady will become a mistress. Oh, and that…”
“Dad, please,” Iris interrupted.
“Your father means well. You don’t have to quell,” Thalia said.
The large white door that led into Amon’s office squeaked open. Karolos stepped out, stretching his left arm around trying to get a look at the tattoo on his tricep. On his arm stood a large black and white tattoo of three interconnected triangles. His parents started at the simple tattoo. Everybody in his family wore a tattoo that showcased a badger in some fashion.
“Karolos,” the receptionist called out.
Karolos turned to look at the purple haired fairy. She held out a piece of paper for him to take.
“You received the Valknut runic symbol for a warrior. The paper explains more of what you have to look forward to.”
Karolos glanced over the paper, and then over at his family. After being told time and time again that he would be just like them, he ended up being his own person. His mother and father trudged over to him. Karolos’ father threw a large arm around his son’s shoulders.
“Well, it’s been nice knowing you son.”
His mother slapped him on the back before following her husband out the door. Karolos’ uncle grabbed the paper out of his hands, ripping it. Karolos looked over at the receptionist. With a sigh, she handed him another paper.
“Avoid them at all costs,” she whispered.
Iris watched as Karolos trudged out the door. She couldn’t believe that his fate had just cost him his family. Letting out a groan, Iris banged her head back against the wall.
“See, he gets a better future than his family,” Elias stated.
“Maybe, but his family hates him now.”
“They don’t hate him; they’re just not allowed to like him.”
“That’s the same thing.”
“No it’s not. You need to quit being so distraught. Life is the luck of the draw. It’s not something they could have foresaw.”
Iris and her family sat in silence. In the months leading up to her birthday she had fought with her parents about her tattoo. Neither understood their daughter’s worries. They had both been ecstatic when it had come time for their tattoos.
What seemed like moments later, Despoina stepped out of Amon’s office. Despoina looked down at the side of her leg at the glistening golden apple. Her mother stepped over to the receptionist to grab her daughter’s information packet. She gave her daughter a peck on the cheek and handed her the packet. Despoina looked at the paper in her hand. She frowned. Her father led them out the door as her mother patted her on the back. Iris looked at her father.
“She’s following in her families footsteps. She’s going to be famous, but because she is going to be a mistress to someone of great importance.”
“That’s horrible,” Iris mumbled.
“Look on the bright side, it could have been matricide,” Thalia assured.
A little while later, Pelagia shuffled out of Amon’s office. On her shoulder stood a while lily wrapped in an orange noose. Pelagia’s parents ran to her, tears in their eyes. She took her paper from the receptionist and trudged out the door. Iris looked over at her parents.
Elias explained that the lily meant that she would forever be a virgin. Not because she was going to be alone, but because she would stand up for what she believes in. The orange noose meant that she would commit suicide one day for something noble. Iris knew her father wasn’t telling the whole story, but she was okay with that. The less she knew the better.
The receptionist stood.
“Iris Quinn, Amon is ready for you.”
Iris’ parents patted her on the back as she stood. She eased her way to the far white door. As she made her way closer, the door eased open. Iris stepped into the dark room. The smell of sage and rosemary filled the air. A partition was set up in the corner for Amon to meditate. A large black tattoo chair sat in the middle of the room. A stainless steel table sat next to it. Tiny plastic cups were lined up on the table. The closer she walked to the chair, the more she could smell alcohol and soap. The sound of snapping gloves came from behind the partition.
“Please remove your shirt and lay face down in the chair.”
Iris watch as the chair moved itself into a reclined position. She did as she was told. The black vinyl chair crunched as she laid down. Her skin stuck to the seat, ripping up as she tried to find a comfortable position.
Amon sat down and squeezed cool soapy water onto a paper towel and cleaned Iris’ upper back. Next, he cleaned her back with alcohol. Amon grabbed transfer paper with an intricate design drawn on it. With smooth precision, he laid the paper across her back and smoothed it out. He peeled the paper away, leaving behind the outline of her tattoo. Amon picked up his tattoo machine. He foot pressed a button on the floor, bringing drilling sound from the machine. He dipped the needles into black ink. As he eased them out, black ink slung across the blue paper towel that line the table.
Once he had his machine loaded with ink, he lined over Iris’ back and drew a permanent black line. Iris craned her neck trying to see what he was doing. All she could see was the blinding overhead lights. The needles tickled across her back drawing line after line on her skin. She tried to follow the lines to figure out what he was drawing, but just as she thought she had figured out the pattern, Amon would switch positions.
What felt like a century later, Amon squeezed the cold soapy water across her back, wiping the excess ink away. A warm, stinging sensation remained on Iris’ back.
“You may get dressed and leave,” Amon said as he stepped back behind the partition.
As Iris sat up, she could feel the swelling in her back as she moved her arms to slip her shirt back on. She glanced around the room for a mirror, but nothing hung on the walls. Again, as she walked towards the door, it opened to let her out. She stepped out into the glaring light of the waiting room. Faces turned towards her, a mixture of concern and worry spread across them. She glanced over at the receptionist who held out a piece of paper. Iris blindly took the paper, and without looking at it, walked over to her parents.
Iris turned her back to them. Her mom eased her shirt away from her back to reveal her tattoo. On her back stood a majestic peacock with its tail feathers spread. Bright blues and greens popped out of the drawing. The peacock wore a chain of bright purple irises. Tahlia spun her daughter around and wrapped her in a hug.
“What is it?” Iris croaked through her mother’s crushing embrace, “Am I going to die.”
“No,” Elias started, “Far from it. You’re going to be an Elvin ruler.”
Thalia pushed the information sheet up so Iris would read it. Across the top, written in gold script, were the words ‘Elvin Ruler.’ The only other words on the paper were clan leader. Iris had hoped the paper would explain everything. Even though it bothered her not knowing how she was going to reach her destiny, she liked having a bit of uncertainty left in her future. Her parents wrapped an arm around her shoulders and led her out the door.