The Incarnations Chapter 1

The Lady and Her Lord

Lady Love, the epitome of beauty and grace. Her nature to care for anything is unmatched by anything else in Creation. Her power unlimited in capacity. Her knowledge limited only by her will. Her realm is a simple valley, full of life. Gardens and streams, animals and plants for her and her servants to care for. 

Many say that her domain is second in beauty and tranquility, only to Paradise. 

Many more say that she is the most beautiful being of all Creation. Lady Love, like most of the Incarnations, looks as ethereal as she really is. 

Her emerald dress flows with the wind, a gold celestial pattern etched into it. Spectacularly, the celestial etching moves and shifts, maintaining an ethereal appeal. 

Today, like so many days before, she comes to her own personal garden with servants created by her power. She had awoken with a new ploy in mind. 

Each and every day, Lady Love plays this game. Each and every day she set outs with the intention to hear two words come from her Lord’s mouth. ‘I love.’ Never has she heard him say such a thing of his own accord, and reading out loud doesn’t count.

Today, she goes to her personal garden. As she surveys the beautiful plants that live nowhere else in Creation, she looks for the one that may touch her Lord’s heart. 

Lady Love looks over flowers of pure purple, with pedals layered over and around other pedals. Physically impossible to exist outside of her realm. 

The wonderful Lady plucks one and turns to her loyal servant for her advice.

“Liefde, do you think this delightful creature could be to Lord Dread’s liking?” Lady Love asks.

Liefde, Lady Love’s closest servant and ungodly friend, has always wondered why her Lady makes these attempts on Lord Dread. Right now she wonders, and remembers, it is simply her Lady’s nature. Liefde is hesitant to be honest, to tell her Lady the truth, that the Lord will not take to it, as he takes to nothing.

Lady Love tells her servant with fondness and care, “Liefde, do not be afraid to be honest.” The Lady must say this, not because her servant may fear punishment, Lady Love could never harm another intentionally.

Liefde in actuality fears seeing the disappointment, however slight it may be, forming on her Lady’s face. Liefde knows that her Lady will feel disappointment when she loses her daily game as she has always done so, and does not wish to see disappointment any more than she has to.

If the Lady wants to, she can simply choose to know what Liefde is thinking. Lady Love can know anything she wants, as is the power of a Lady among the Incarnations, but knowing nothing is a power too.

But Lady Love asked for honesty, and Liefde will give it to her. “My Lady, you know he will not love any flower. You know he does not love.”

Lady Love shakes her head in her own humorous denial. With a shining smile, the Lady assures her servant, “Nothing alive is absent of love, and that includes my Lord Dread.” Then with a cheerful attitude and excitement, she announces to her friend, “If we cannot be sure which flower will be to his liking, we must simply make a bouquet of many, and wait for him to find the one he loves.” 

With that announcement, Lady Love and her servant spend the morning picking the flowers of her garden. When that is done the Lady and her servant take a walk through the walkway of her garden back to her castle. When they walk over a high hill, where the horizon is no longer blocked by the tall trees of a bountiful forest, they see Lady Love’s castle standing tall into the clouds alongside Lord Dread’s. 

Before the war between Death and I, Lady Love’s castle floated across the sky, visiting the domains of all of her fellow Incarnations, except for Lady Hate, who hated Lady Love, and Lord Dread. For before the war, Lord Dread and Lady Love had never met, and before then the other Incarnations warned her to fear of his dark pit of a heart, and inability to properly care for anything. They told her that he is the source of terrors. Then she met him and didn’t see what they all saw in Lord Dread. 

Immediately, Lady Love took to him, much to his and everyone else’s confusion. When the Incarnations needed to be paired, she jumped to his side, demanded to be his partner, and shockingly he did not refuse. After that union, she stopped flying her castle around the cosmos and planted it in Lord Dread’s realm.

Originally, his realm was eerily similar to the dead plains of Death, but once Lady Love’s castle planted itself in his land, beauty and life erupted from the earth and encompassed everything up to the Lord’s castle doorsteps.

Now the realm the Lord and Lady share seems conflicted in its appearance. There is a bountiful valley, a beauty unlike any other, and in the middle lie two conflicting castles.

One out of a fairytale, seemingly made of opaque glass, reflecting light and beauty. The architecture is sharp in its points and edges, but inviting in its many large and open doors.        

The other is from a nightmare, black and bleak. Storm clouds always block the top tower from view. Each end and vertex seems ready to pop out and skewer any who oppose the dark reign. 

To always be connected to her Lord, Lady Love had long ago commissioned a bridge that connects her dining hall, where she eats among all of her servants to happily hear of their days, to Lord Dread’s throne, where he sits and watches over Man’s world day in and day out.

After creating the bouquet for her Lord Dread, Lady Love and Liefde travel into their magnificent home, greeting and talking to each servant they pass by through the castle. Together they climb to the top of the castle, and to the bridge that connects to the Lord.

Lady Love walks across the bridge with excitement and hope, but Liefde is afraid as always to enter the Lord’s home. Still, she pushes on to dutifully follow her Lady into the darkest place they have ever set foot in.

When Lady Love and Liefde enter the dark halls, Liefde always takes notice that they are lit by weak candles. As they enter the first hall, Lady Love stops suddenly, which confuses Liefde.

“Hello, my Lady,” a voice says from the darkness. Out of nowhere, scaring Liefde to death as he always does, is Lord Dread’s closest and most diligent servant, Vrezen. A dark and tall specter much like his Lord whom he draws life from, much in the same way that Liefde draws life from Lady Love. 

With delight, Lady Love looks up and greets him, “Hello Vrezen! Please tell me, is Lord Dread busy, or simply glowering as usual?” While Vrezen may not be a product of her power, but that does not make him outside her purview. She asks Vrezen of his Lord because she knows that he is always waiting on Lord Dread dutifully.

Vrezen appreciates the Lady’s respectful treatment of him and all of Lord Dread’s servants, but he never shows it with his demeanor. His demeanor, like most servants of Lord Dread’s castle, is only cold, and emotionless. A permanent face of normalcy only capable of showing surprise and shock on occasion.

Vrezen answers Lady Love respectfully, “The Lord is looking over humanity, my Lady. I must warn you that his mood is… more vengeful than usual. I believe the humans are upsetting him.”

Lady Love frowns, then smirks, promising Vrezen, “My Lord is angry? Let’s see what we can do to change that. Would you mind leading us to him, Vrezen? I always have trouble on darker days like this.”

Vrezen bows his head, and says, “Of course, my Lady.” Then seemingly out of nowhere, to Liefde’s shock and the Lady’s adoring awe, he pulls out a candle from nothing. “Please follow me.”

At a steady pace, Vrezen leads them to turn several times to get to Lord Dread’s throne room.

They come up on the large door from the right. Vrezen turns around and bows to Lady Love, not raising his head before asking her, “May I hold the door for you, my Lady?”

“Why thank you, Vrezen,” Lady Love says with a vibrant smile.

Vrezen then proceeds to open the large doors, and Lady Love enters from his right. There he is. The Lord Dread.

Lady Love walks in and stops to gaze at him from the side. Liefde stops out of fear. 

 Lord Dread, is a truly dark specter. His skin, white as snow, mostly covered in the long, sweeping trench coat he wears over his dark tunic. Every part of his apparel, from his hood to his trousers, is an enveloping void. 

Physical shadows stab forth from his being like smoke. His eyes, oh his eyes. Lady Love often finds herself lost in them as she is now, but most would become lost out of doom and gloom. 

For the Lord’s eyes are black, completely and truly. His pupils, a ghostly white, haunt all but one who gazes into them. One would be forgiven however if they cannot find anything but his pupils, for his hood casts a dark shadow to the bridge of his nose.

As the Lord slumps on his dark and cold throne, his face is his usual tired and hard demeanor. Though even in his laze posture his tall and large frame is obvious. 

And his expression is one that all of his servants know all too well, a face that claws at their souls because it does so rarely change. 

Lord Dread looks at the floor, where an astral image of humanity is projected, allowing the Lord to look on as the humans argue amongst themselves. The Lord’s fingers dig into the arm of his throne as he grows impatient and angry with the sight he sees below. His fingers itched to move ever so slightly to the sword leaning against the throne’s arm. The Terror, the double-sided blade with a sharp, flat tip, an executioner’s blade in the shape of a cross.

Lady Love calls to her Lord, “Dread, I’ve brought a bouquet for you.”

The way Lord Dread’s head flicks to his right is so very unrestrained. For a moment, a desire to be distracted from his current task is revealed. When he looks upon his Lady, the tired and cold demeanor that the servants have grown accustomed to disappears for a face of interest, yet with a hint of complacency, with a slight dip of resistance. 

He speaks to her, a voice still monotone after the ages. “That’s very thoughtful of you, Lo.”

As the Lady begins walking to her Lord she turns to the servants, Liefde and Vrezen. She asks of them, “Would you mind terribly allowing us the room?” 

When the Lady Love first took to visiting Lord Dread, she would consistently ask to be alone with him. Servants used to hesitate and wait for Dread’s order. They learned after a servant met the Terror, that they are always to abide by Lady Love’s requests, immediately. If Lord Dread wanted them to disobey her, then he would tell them. So, Vrezen now so fluidly bows his head and shuts the door without a response from his Lord.

With the dark throne room currently occupied by the two, Lady Love skips to Lord Dread’s side. He holds his hand out for the bouquet, which she places in his hand carefully. He brings the bouquet to his nose to scent the flowers. He learned long ago the consequences of not graciously interacting with his Lady’s offerings.

As he takes in the aroma, she takes the time to walk around the throne to sit on the left arm. She slips her right arm along his back and drapes it over his shoulder, running her hand down his chest. She even rests her head on his shoulder. She does what no other in existence has ever dared to do. Touch him with affection.

It is too sad to think of how long it took for me to see such a thing. As Love touches Dread, the dark shadows are put out by her light. Neither ever takes notice of the phenomenon, but I still enjoy it so.

Lady Love asks her Lord, “How do you feel about the bouquet, Dread?”

“I quite like their smell. Thank you, Lo,” he assures her, though still disappointing her internally. He did not say that he loves them, which was her hope. Still, knowing that he will notice, she hides that disappointment, and simply clutches closer to him. 

The Lord rarely reciprocates her touch, for him to do so would be ungentlemanly. He would never dare to sour her honor, though she would never think that if he were to hold her of his own accord. 

“I sense that you are angry, Dread. What have the humans done to anger you so?” Lady Love inquires.

Lord Dread shakes his head slightly, but still conveys anger and annoyance. He informs her, “The humans fight once more. They all want from one another, they show no respect, no restraint. They are on the verge of another war on a global scale, for things they can all live without.” He snorts out of anger, prompting the Lady to lift her head. 

The Lord falsely thinks he disturbed her and apologizes. “I’m sorry, they enrage me, they fuel me with nothing but pettiness and hate.”

No,” the Lady cries in a whisper, “surely, they simply want more of what they love. They make mistakes, but it will work out in the end.”

The Lord remains doubtful in his reply. “I find that humans rarely do ‘work out’ anything. You don’t watch them as I do. You are protected from their greed, their wrath, and their envy. They don’t have love in their hearts. I find less and less reason as to why they deserve a world to themselves with each passing day.”

Slightly peeved by several notions he has made, Lady Love reminds him, “I look upon them often, Dread. It seems you have forgotten that I can look upon them in my bedroom the same way you do here. I know that I exist in their hearts.”

She removes her left hand from him to twiddle a finger in her hair. “Though, I guess you would forget about the private rooms in my castle, considering how little you visit me there.”

Lord Dread grows tense after realizing his mistake. To change the subject he decreases the size and clearness of the astral image with a command of his hand. He turns his attention to her, knowing that if anything important happens in the world of Man, the image will expand to tell him. 

The Lord apologizes again. “I should not have assumed such irresponsibility of you. You are anything but.” He removes her hand from him gently and holds it as he stands up. He looks into her eyes to ask her what she wants. “It is also rude of me to not pay you the attention you deserve. Tell me anything, what would make you happy?”

Now utterly delighted by his proposition, Lady Love stands up tall, and presses herself against him, making him obviously uncomfortable. She cheerfully says, “Unlike you, I’ve had an enjoyable morning. Only one thing can make it better. Dance with me.”

Hesitantly, Lord Dread reminds, “Lo, you know-”

“You said anything.” 

A Lord of honor and his word, Lord Dread solemnly submits. “I did say anything. If you want to dance, then you will dance.”

“With you,” she clarifies. With a slightly sly smile, she assures him, “You can’t escape me, Dread.”

He assures her, “I would never.” 

Then with a command of his hand, a chandelier appears over the large and empty throne room to light it. Somehow the light seemed lightless, at least very dim. Then a record player materializes in the middle of the room and begins playing a rather slow, sad, and solemn song. 

Lady Love shakes her head, and says, “No, no, no, we cannot dance to this.” Then, with her power of knowledge, she digs deep into the world’s mind with a thought to remember a song she wants to dance to. “I remember a piece, lost to humans. From the Renaissance! It starts out slow, and methodic, slowly becoming more and more sensual before speeding up to a graceful delight. It came to the artist’s mind only once, in the heat of the moment. Never heard again.” 

The Lady releases her Lord to walk over to the record player and lays her hands on it. It immediately becomes more colorful, and more lively, and begins playing the song she just described. “I remember, it was called, Euphoria, only once.”

Lord Dread walks up behind her as she turns around to meet him. He rests his left hand behind her waist and clasps his right hand together with hers. They prepare to dance properly as if the modern age was still a time of lords and ladies. 

Quickly, they begin to dance to the music. He leads her through the motions the best he can. The Lord is a fine dancer, but simply too disciplined. If he lets the Lady lead, surely she will try to lead them down a road of wild and swinging motions. For now, thankfully for him, she is content to lean her head against his chest and let him lead her. Ironically, as the music speeds up as the Lady had foretold, they begin to dance slower and slower, until they are merely spinning in a circle.

At this moment Lady Love cannot picture something more perfect. She hopes to do this all day, sleep, and repeat it all again. If only perfect moments like this can stay forever unruined.

But they don’t. 

Suddenly the music stops, and the astral image expands to encompass the whole throne room. The floors and the walls around the Lord and Lady expand to show a new conflict among the humans.

“Dread!” Lady Love cries. “What is happening?” 

War,” Lord Dread growls. They find themselves in a city, covered in snow, with people screaming and yelling in fear.

She clutches to him, not realizing that they are only being shown an image, they are not at the location they appear to be.

“Another World War has begun,” the Lord informs her. “Look in the sky.” He points and the Lady looks up to see an object soaring across the sky. “Nuclear armageddon,” he mutters. 

Together they watch on as the missile comes down over the heavily populated city. People run and scream in terror, but there is nothing the poor mortals can do. Lord Dread and Lady Love look on and watch as the missile descends to the ground.

When it makes contact the detonation is wide-reaching and blinding. The light quickly encompasses the Lord and Lady, prompting the Lord to command the astral image to change. 

Now they stand among the stars, the Lord gazing down at Earth as an angry god. 

“Those fools, those degenerates, those ingrates!” Lord Dread yells in a fit of blind rage. Lady Love’s hands fly to her face in shock and fear of her Lord’s rage. “All they do, all they’ve ever done, is destroy. They respect nothing they have been given. They can’t even share. Children, deplorables, scum.” His fingers restlessly clenching and unclenching, the Lord thinks of what to do. Then he looks to his throne. He looks to the Terror. “I’ve had enough. I have waited long enough, given the human race several chances too many.” With the idea in his head the Lord walks to his throne to grasp his sword.

Still not fully comprehending the events that have taken place, Lady Love calls to her Lord in confusion. “Dread, what do you plan to do?”

The Lord grasps his sword in his hand and turns back to face the Lady. Grave in tone and voice, he tells her, “I’m ending the scourge known as the human race, once and for all.” Then he starts walking to stand over the astral image of Earth. While the world of Man cannot touch that of the Incarnations, the same is not true of the opposite. 

“What?” the Lady gasps. Then in a scream, “No! You can’t!” She moves between the Lord and the Earth, clinging to his chest.

“I must, there is nothing worth saving in them, now move aside,” the Lord commands.

“No, I refuse. Please, Dread, you do not think of all the good that will be destroyed if you kill them!” the Lady pleads. 

“The only things humanity has to offer are greed, pain, and suffering. Even the innocent are not spared prejudice, death, and cruelty. I shall put them out of their misery.” Lady Love looks up at Lord Dread pleadingly. His face reveals nothing, and his expression speaks only of Hate, her dreaded enemy.

The Lady does not yet believe her efforts pointless. Still, she pleads for humanity’s worth. “You ignore the good in them! Their sense of honor, happiness, and love.”

The Lord is taken aback by her claims, surprised even. He tells her, with complete certainty, “Love doesn’t exist outside of this realm. Love is not something humans can possibly understand.”

“How can you keep saying that?” Lady Love gasps, a hand over her heart displaying to him how he wounds her. Almost angrily she disagrees. “Of course, love exists elsewhere! I do not contain all the love in the universe. We Incarnations feel it, and so do the humans!”

Lord Dread shakes his head in disappointment, saddened by what he perceives to be naivety. He reckons to her what he believes to be the truth about the concept of love. “Not even Life and Death, two beings bonded since the beginning of time, show a hint of love for each other. Maybe you were born from what used to exist between them, but you are all that is left. Among the Incarnations, not one truly loves another, besides you. Such an emotion does not exist outside of your form.”

“No,” the Lady gasps. “That is simply not true.”

“Name one of our brethren whom you believe loves another,” the Lord challenges her.

The Lady thinks, she reaches into the depths of the world’s mind for answers from the universe. She tries to find the fact that she so desires. She means to learn of her brethren outside of her realm, of the feelings they contain, but when she looks at them, she cannot find proof that they love each other. It’s as if walls have been raised so that others cannot pry. In actuality, the emotions the others openly reveal tell the Lady that they don’t feel many positive feelings for each other. Immediately, her heart is saddened by the bonds she believes she has failed to build between her own. 

Then she finds one inkling of what she desires. She discovers that her own kind, do love doing what they do best, being themselves, they don’t hide that. They love things they have, things they do, and things that make them feel complete. Even Lady Hate, has activities she loves partaking in.

With a triumphant demeanor, Lady Love informs the Lord Dread, “Our brethren have many actions they love to partake in, as all humans do.”

The Lord actually partakes to roll his eyes. A disrespect he has never paid her before. Angrily and unfeeling, he shares his thoughts with her. “Love for doing something is two-dimensional, a fraud, fake and meaningless. Are you trying to tell me that you love picking flowers with as much meaning as you love Liefde and your servants?”

The Lady is somewhat at a loss for words, not fully understanding his reasoning. “Well, of course not.”

“That is because it is not the same. Picking flowers is simple euphoria as was our dancing. That is not love, that is not the love that you are made of.” The Lord then attaches the Terror to his hip, causing the blade to dissipate until summoned. 

He places both of his hands on his Lady’s shoulders. “Lo, you are the only form of love in existence. That is why I protect you, why you can never be allowed to come to harm. Without you, there is no love.”

At this moment, Lady Love looks into her Lord’s deep dark eyes and becomes lost. Her love for him blinds her to what he is about to do. She is considering letting him ravage humanity, considering abandoning her duties. 

I think I should give her a little push.

Suddenly, Lady Love recognizes that she cannot let Lord Dread destroy the world. She must think of something, some way to convince him to spare the people she loves so dearly.

“You’re wrong, Dread. I promise you.” She thinks her word alone is worth that much to him.

It is not. 

“You cannot promise such things, Lo.” The Lord’s words cut deep, striking at her heart yet again.

“I can, Dread! I can!” she pleads, almost childlike. Tears forming in her eyes. There is nothing her Lord despises more than humanity, but seeing her cry makes him question that fact. 

He envelops her in his arms. He pleads with her, “Don’t cry, Lo. We can try again, you can make them this time. Make them in your image, maybe then, another can know what it means to love.” 

Again, the Lord Dread taunts her almost. Touches her mind with an offer she so desires. She knows in her heart that it is wrong, that life is precious. She should not simply throw away one humanity so she can play with another. 

This time without my help, Lady Love refuses and pushes Lord Dread away. The Lord seems, strangely hurt. 

“No, Dread. If you cannot believe me, cannot trust me, then I must prove it to you.”  

The Lord now looks upon her with doubt, believing that there is more meaning behind her vow, than just the simple words. “I will not play the fool, letting you endlessly show me the world until our era is over.” 

The Lady honestly hadn’t considered that. The Lord overestimated her. She lets it go.

“Fine, but humanity deserves-,” then with a stark realization, she corrects herself, “I deserve a chance to prove you wrong. Would you deny me this?” 

Lord Dread looks at his Lady as he hesitates to move, shocked by her tenacity and claim. He knows not where this fire in her eyes comes from; he knows not where her bravery and will exist within her. For once in his eternity, he feels a hint of fear of what she may do. That hint alone, allows him to commit one action he never would have before.

He cedes to her peace, her challenge.

“I will give you four chances,” Dread promises her.

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