The Incarnations Chapter 2

Chapter Two: The Lady’s Violent Compromise

“I have just the idea of how to prove that love exists!” Lady Love beams, her finger pointing up into the air. 

The Lord Dread crosses his arms in doubt as the astral image dissipates. “Do tell me your plan, Lo,” he asks of her. He knows not of what to expect as the Lord and Lady had set no rules to this engagement besides that he must be convinced, and that she has four tries to do it. He knows not whether she plans to showcase their servants, visit scripture, or venture to the realm of Man. 

Most importantly, he does not know the bounds and extremes she will showcase to him, for she knows that simple everyday signs of love and affection, are not going to sway him anymore then the flowers did.

The Lady offers the Lord her hand, and he takes it reluctantly. He asks to know, “Are you planning to take us somewhere?”

“To Earth, my love, but the important question you should be asking, is when,” she answers with a clever smile. The Lord had not considered venturing into the past. They cannot alter it, but they may go and view the landscape as if they were really there all they want.

In the blink of an eye, Lady Love pulls them across the cosmos, the castle around them disappearing in a blur. The stars and galaxies fly past them faster than any man can look. Only ones with powers beyond all other will notice that the galaxies and stars that fly past the Lord and Lady, are really the same ones that can be seen from Earth’s surface. The same view repeats over and over, as the two Incarnations pass through time. 

Eventually they find themselves in an old city blaring with music like the Lord and Lady were just dancing to. As the streets are filled with happy people, dancing and indulging, the Lord Dread inspects the buildings around them in an attempt to learn when and where they are.

He takes notice of the architectural style, how the buildings are lined with color, plant life, and tapestry to make a point to prioritize proportions, geometry, and symmetry above all else. At this point he can surmise where, but when he looks upon the clothes of the people, he knows when. Looking at the men with their plush upper garments, along with their tight scant trousers, the Lord notices how they contrast with the woman’s dresses which exude fullness, color, and etching designs.

“The Renaissance,” Lord Dread mutters, but not low enough that the Lady doesn’t hear.

“Yes! Isn’t Italy wonderful? The music, the people, the art, and the way everyone carries themselves!” While she cannot touch anyone, or have them recognize her presence, she begins to happily and fervently dance among the crowd. “Oh, what I would give to be able to live another year in this time again!” 

While his Lady remembers the setting fondly, the Lord relates it to a lack of control, ungentlemanly conduct. Not to mention how the people of the time allowed for their churches to become corrupt and gluttonous. 

Her Lord walks sharply towards her, phasing through the mortals as if they never existed. He walks up to her side to remind her of why they are here. “Lo, surely the festivities are not why you brought me. I admit, I see happy faces and people indulging in pleasure, but I do not see why this proves that the humans love.”

The Lady is broken from her dancing trance, and becomes befuddled for a moment, not remembering why they came here either. Then a light turns on and she remembers. 

She grabs onto both of her Lord’s arms to drag him forward, telling him, “Famous lovers should be in a bout of heat right now. That’s who we came to see! I will show you their love, the rawest form there is!” 

Lady Love’s purpose confuses Lord Dread greatly, not fully understanding or accepting what she intends to show him, but he has no choice. She whips them up and across the sky like two shooting stars, one blatantly outshining the other. 

They materialize on a terrace outside of a mortal’s bedroom. Swiftly, as if a curious child, the Lady dashes to her knees to press her face up against the glass to watch the people inside. As neither the Lord or Lady speak, the Lord soon begins to hear the loud and sexual moans coming from the room. 

The Lord leans his head to look, and even quicker than the Lady to the window, does the Lord look away covering his eyes in shame.

Lo!” he calls to her in disgust.

“Yes, Dread?” she responds with blatant delight. 

“Do you have no shame?” the Lord asks of her. Not only does her onlooking of human copulation repulse him, he finds it an invasion of privacy. He has never known her to do something so rude. “How could you spy on them in such a way?”

The Lady finally turns away to look at her Lord, finally noticing how he looks away from the lovers she indulges in. She giggles to herself over the embarrassment the Lord feels. 

“Dread, one does not so blatantly pound another with such passion if they did not wish to be heard, and one does not wish to be seen if they do not wish to be heard.” The way in which she shamelessly explains her logic, full of delight, astounds him. “Don’t be such putz,” she scolds. “Surely you have at some point seen the private parts of another.”

The Lord tries to reason with his Lady. “That is not the point! Respectable minds shouldn’t enjoy spying on others when they are fornicating.”   

The Lady shrugs her shoulders as part of her response. “Well, I guess I have a very, very disrespectful mind,” she replies full of humor and chuckles. Then drops a tidbit of information on one of her beloved pastimes. “You do know that in the modern age, the humans purposely sell this act for others to see, don’t you?”

Lord Dread’s eyes peek out from in between his fingers so he can seriously stare and answer her. “No, I did not, and wish I never did.” His response causes only laughter from his Lady.

The Lady then goes back to the reason for which they came, explaining that, “Such passion cannot exist without me here.” Then she clarifies, “Metaphorically speaking. I don’t have to physically be here, but without love, this man and woman couldn’t so vigorously and energetically show their devotion.” She brings her fists to her chests as she speaks. “The way they cling to each other acts as one of the deepest, most beautiful, yet simple examples of love between two souls.”

The Lord tilts his head with a face completely devoid of humor and acceptance. Unblinking, he stares her down and announces, “Rabbits do what these two are doing. Two simple cells did the same eons ago. The only difference is that these two work up a sweat.” The Lady purses her lips in childish anger over the Lord’s claims. He takes his statements a step further, by saying, “This is an adolescent’s idea of what love is.”

Obviously annoyed, Lady Love stands up with her arms straight at her sides, and yells at the top of her lungs, “Fine! I will find another example of love, because apparently you have to be picky.”

“Picky?” the Lord repeats unimpressed. “You’re keeping me from my desire to extinguish humanity through a contest, and my response to your failed attempt to sway me, is what you call…  picky?” He crosses his arms as he stares into her with disbelief.

Simply, and undoubtedly, she responds, “Yes.” Then she grasps hold of her Lord’s hand. With her other she taps her forehead, and flicks away this loss. “Now let us go somewhere for me to think on my next attempt and success.” With that she transports them back through time, the same venture of seeing Earth’s stars, albeit in the opposite direction. 

If the Lord and Lady were to pay attention, they would see the galaxy age, but alas the beauty is lost on them. 

They return to their shared realm, but this time not to the Lord’s throne room, but the Lady’s chambers.
The Lord Dread does not recognize it, and questions the Lady Love. “Where are we?” he asks as he swings his head back and forth, acting as if the door had just disappeared behind him. 

With a youthful step, the Lady leaps onto her large and expansive bed, one with an equally large red canopy to match the threaded sheets. 

Then she chides him for his lack of knowledge, but also secretly for never venturing to this place in her castle. “This is my bed chambers, Dread. You’d think every man who knows me would dream to know what my chambers look like.”

The Lord is at a loss for words, embarrassed and uncomfortable. In his failure to think of an appropriate response, he speaks of nothing at all. As his Lady thinks on her laurels of how to gain victory, the Lord inspects the items of her room. 

He glances over her heart shaped ottoman, swiping a finger against it, inspecting it, before awkwardly taking his seat. From there he looks around to find one mirror, but many paintings, drawings, pictures and flowers, representing how she sees her presence in the world and her castle. 

Eventually the Lord’s ghostly pupils fall upon a photograph. One he recognizes on a dresser next to the Lady’s bed. He moves to it, catching the Lady’s attention as he focuses in on it. 

Lord Dread sees the photograph of himself, sword in hand, bloodied from battle. He picks it up and inspects it, remembering when it was taken. 

Lady Love turns over onto her back, and holds her arms above her head to more readily stare at her Lord. She watches him as he looks into the photograph. She reminds him of why he stands in the photograph so stoically. “You had just fought King Evil, who was drunk out of his mind a few years back, and had insulted my pride. You cut off his nose, and I was inspired to use a camera for the first time.”

“I remember,” the Lord tells her. “If he was not drunk, I’m not sure I would have bested him.” That is no modest lie.  

To his Lady though, he seems solemn, not full of pride as she believes he should be. With admiration she affirms to her Lord, “You overestimate him, and underestimate yourself. The others fear you for a reason, Dread.” 

The Lord turns his gaze to her, as she sits up and gazes at him. He asks her, “Have you ever feared me?” 

At first the Lady believes it truthful to say no, that she could not have feared what she did not know, but then she knows that to be false. She does not know of world without humanity, yet she fears it. 

She admits to her Lord honestly, “Before I met you, I did.” Before the Lord can even feel a hint of disappointment, she informs him, “But then I met you, and since I have loved you.”

Lord Dread holds her gaze for a few moments, and then turns away to set her photograph down gently. He speaks reflectively. “If you were not Love, I would say you a fool for feeling such a way.”

Lady Love feels a sense of sadness from his words. To her, how can a being so trapped in noble codes and standards, not see himself as her valor protector. 

Then in that moment the idea comes to her. How the Lady can prove that humans hold love. By showing him a most valiant protector, the love of a truly protective father.

“I know what I must show you, Dread,” she announces as she climbs to stand on her bed.

Now with a face of interest, he waits for her to take him to another place. “I am ready to see your next attempt.” 

His interest and lack of patronization allows for her to grin with confidence. Prompting her to leap from her bed to her Lord, who catches her by the waist and sets her down on her feet gently.

“I will not fail,” she vows.

“For humanity’s sake, one would hope not,” he responds.

The Lady goes to grasp his arm and hand, but stops before touching him. She realizes that she has been dragging him through this adventure, and how doubtful it must be that he enjoys it. With a gentleness and care, the Lady hooks her arm with her Lord’s, and proceeds to take them to her next attempt.

This time it seems the Lady has chosen a setting in the modern era. Because of this decision the two are afforded the ability to physically interfere, and are punished with a trip devoid of the stars. Together they simply evaporate in a swirling smoke that spirals in on itself, and then spirals out in the location of Lady Love’s design.

Today, is Christmas Eve, the day after the war started. Protests have already begun, men and women have already volunteered, and battle lines are being drawn over seas and at home. 

But one would not yet see that from the beautiful home of the generally wealthy family that the Lady has taken them too. A large home in a seemingly friendly suburb, a home with a healthy family, who yet misses one of their own. Two parents and two children, celebrating a holiday despite the recent departure of their overzealous eldest, who has gone to fight in a war that the majority neighborhood doesn’t agree with.

Lord Dread is surprised, but not confused. He believes that he knows what the Lady intends. He believes that she thinks that by showing him this family, he will witness familial love. He doesn’t see that, he sees children greedy for the following morning’s gifts, a mother hiding her disdain for her husband’s prior actions, and a father, secretly boiling with rage. Rage that he could not force his son to stay home, but also that his last words were ones of hate when he now finds himself proud of his eldest’s will to fight for what he believes in.

Of course, this is what the adorably diabolical Lady Love knows he will think, and that he is wrong. For with her capability to know anything, she knows that the family is in for a dangerous encounter that will prompt the father to rise to be a valiant protector, which will hopefully form a connection between him and her Lord. She expects him to see the love the father has for his family when he protects them, and believes that once she has proven that love exists, her Lord will save them. 

It is too bad, that she didn’t think to know what the Lord’s reaction will be.

Silently the two Incarnations watch over the family, each waiting for something different. The family sits together by the fire, talking amongst themselves over subjects that lack in importance. When footsteps and murmurs can be heard from the outside, the Lord does not know to think anything of it, but the Lady does. 

She mentally prepares herself by clutching close to her Lord’s arm, for while she knows what comes next, she has no love for violence. She simply recognizes its necessity.

In a sudden shock, the front door to the family’s home is broken open, and individuals armed with metal tools and sports equipment force their way into the house, four in number.

Lord Dread’s eyes flare wide in surprise, for he could never have considered his Lady Love to attempt something so desperate.

The Lord and Lady watch on as the argument begins.

The father quickly stands tall on his feet, moving between his family and the intruders. He makes demands of them. “What do you think you’re doing in my home? You’re scaring my family.”

The leader answers the father, with a fierce and accusatory response. “John went off to fight. To steal from others some more. If people like your son didn’t support crooks and liars, the rest of the world wouldn’t have blown up New York!” 

With a heavy finger, another of the intruders points his digit at the father. “Your family supports a government that doesn’t protect us, and doesn’t feed us. They steal from us, and others. They bully everyone. You sit in this nice house and let them bully the rest of us. Help them trample and make millions. We all starve, but you get to huddle around and open presents?” This man points his weapon at the family tree, and shakes his head, but his eyes don’t lose their gaze. “No, that’s not right. That’s not fair. We demand justice, and you higher class schmucks aren’t going to keep kicking us down anymore.”

The father takes a deep breath, eyes full of anger, and addresses these men. “You’re all hurting, I get that. You don’t agree with my boy, I get that. Hell, I don’t even agree with him, but I stand by him, because he’s my son. Now you have come into my home, have talked down about my boy, and have threatened my family. I’m not going to stand for that. Leave now, before I hurt you, before I hurt you bad.” The threat stands tall, and for a second the Incarnations take the time to think on the situation, before the violence starts.

Lady Love addresses her Lord, “Look at it!” She points towards the father and announces, “The love he has for his son. The love for his family. Do you see how he protects his family as you once protected me from King Evil?”

Lord Dread looks upon her with great shock.  He asks to know, “Do you seriously compare me to him? I defended you out of righteousness. This man does not defend, he means to kill, he means to rage against these intruders.”

“How can you be so dense?” the Lady questions. “That man is putting his life on the line out of love!”

“That man has the same look in his eye that I’ve seen in others a thousand times across a thousand centuries. The eyes of normal men whose property and whose honor has been threatened. I’ve seen it in the Crusaders before they slaughtered Muslims. I’ve seen that look in the Union forces as they razed the lands of their own countrymen. I’ve seen that look in the eyes of Lady Hate, when she wanted to kill me, to then kill you.” The Lady now knows where this line of speech is going. The Lord still finishes. “Through the ages I can recognize that look anywhere. That father, that man, is not going to fight out of love for his family, but out of hate for the those who threaten him and all he has built. This is no act of love.”

Lady Love is speechless, finding herself a fool for not realizing that when love and hate exist at once, together entwined, that the Lord Dread can only see the one, the one that he will recognize without fail. 

She now realizes, “You won’t save them, will you?” 

He simply looks down at her, in a truth-telling stare.

Then the father charges at the first intruder, who fells him with a swing of his bat. 

“Dread please!” the Lady cries, the Lady begs, she clings to the Lord’s chest. “He does not throw his life away out of hate! I swear that he loves too! I swear it! I swear it! I swear it!

The Lord looks at her sullenly, and shakes his head. “You are wrong,” he says.

No I’m not! I promise! I-” The Lady’s screaming and begging is interrupted by the mother’s own screams.  

Jim! Leave him alone!” the mother cries out as she clutches her children. The intruders mercilessly beating the father on the ground.

The Lady knows she cannot let him die, she cannot doom this family, but she cannot save them. She cannot fight the intruders off.

But Dread can.

The Lady sinks to her knees before her Lord, astounding him, shocking him. She begs him as she clutches his coat, “Please Dread, please don’t let that man die! I’ll cede my attempt! I’ll cede!”

The Lord looks down at her, clutching to him. He regrets, he feels guilt, and he is saddened. Never has he ever, never shall he ever, wish to see his Lady in such a way. 

Still, he asks her, “You’ll cede?”

I swear, Dread! I swear!

With a single gaze that they share, he promises to save this mortal, and she cedes that her second attempt to prove that love exists, has failed.

The Lady releases the Lord from her grasp, and his right hand reaches for the Terror’s hilt.

She moves from his path and by his first step forward he has raised his mighty sword. In that same step he appears like a ghost before all in the room. His dark presence and his looming shadows catch the fear in the souls of all conscious. His glowing eyes masked by the darkness under his hood.

In that same moment, Lady Love appears before the mother who clutches her children ever closer upon feeling dread. The Lady holds her arms open to the mortals she loves. The sight of such warmth, such safety, such love, blocks the innocents’ view of the Incarnation of fear itself. The mother and children know that they will never come to harm in Lady Love’s arms, and so they lean forward to accept her protective embrace.

Lord Dread, in the split of a second, plunges the Terror through the first intruder, splaying the walls with the mortal’s blood. The bravest of the intruder’s swings his tire iron towards the Lord. It shatters on contact, it does not bend, it does not snap, it shatters, like glass. Such a meager weapon should not have dared to believe it could harm a god.

The Lord then plunges his hand into that same intruder’s chest, and rips out his heart, only to crush it, and feel the blood drip through his fingers. 

The remaining intruders feel more dread than most mortals can survive to stand.

One attempts to run as the other is frozen on the spot. This one, who does not think to run, is beheaded by the Terror, the blade does it in one slash.

The last intruder makes it outside. He runs and slips through the snow, not daring to look back. A fool he is for being so blind, for not knowing that he has no chance. For when he trips and dips his head, he looks up to see the Lord Dread, standing before him with his friend’s head in his hand.

The Terror is not this man’s fate. The Lord Dread opens his cloak, no longer revealing a tunic, or trousers, but the deep dark abyss. The Lord consumes the last man in his cloak, trapping him, forcing him to see terrors that even I dare not look upon. I do not wish to see how this mortal suffers his fate, one worse than Death. 

The Lady Love cares for the mother and children, but she promised herself that the father would not perish this night. She releases the family, but somehow they understand that Lady must tend to the fallen man, the valiant protector. 

They watch as the Lady, their radiance, their light, their hope, walks to the fallen father on the ground. With a wave of her hand she moves her Lord’s gruesome killings to exist outside of the house, and for the blood to stain the snow instead of the walls.

The Lady then kneels beside the father, who fades fast. He lies on his back so she brings her hand behind his head, and lifts him to her as she bends her head down. She plants one kiss upon his head, and her light fills him. Her light heals him. Her light tells him of her love, and that Death cannot have him just yet.

When his eyes open the Lady is gone, and his family swarms him with their embrace of love. So terrible it is that they are too late, for the Lady has already ceded.

Lady Love appears outside the house beside her Lord Dread… as he empties himself of a husk. She puts her arm through his, and rests her head on his shoulder.

The Lord takes her hand in his and tells her, “Lo, you are tired, and you deserve rest. Let us go home, and continue this contest in the morning.”

She nods her head against him, and he brings them home. They evaporate in a puff of smoke, the bodies of mortals lying in their wake.

Lord Dread takes them to Lady Love’s chambers, where he picks her up, and moves to lay her in her bed. “In the morning, or whenever you are ready we will continue, Lo.”

“I failed,” the Lady cries in a hush. She clings to her pillow as her Lord lifts the blanket to her shoulders.

The Lord cannot deny her claim, but he tells her what he can. “You did your best. Because of that, a part of me wishes to be wrong. A part of me wishes I was not Dread.” With that he leaves the same way he came, and she thinks on what he said.

Asides from me, Lady Love is the only one who hear her say, “But what I want the most, is my Dread.”

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