- October 3, 2021
The Incarnations: The Incarnal War (Chapter 3)
A Good Sacrifice
The contest for Lady Love proved quite fruitful in many ways, both expected and unexpected. With Lady Love now under the protection of Lord Dread there should be little time before Lady Justice is utterly defeated and her lands taken over. Still, I highly doubt that will happen in time to help Madam Sadness.
Now, in my throne space stands my chosen son, his Majesty, and a Duchess whose task may turn the tide evermore in our favor.
I am about to speak about this task when we are visited by Sir Gratitude, who is anything if not worse for wear.
His Majesty becomes concerned and questions the Sir, “Gratitude, you should not be here. You are not well.”
The Sir replies, “And you are not helping me, so I must advise you to help myself.” When his Majesty moves beside the Sir to place a gentle hand on his shoulder, the Sir reminds him, “Being confined to a bed is not going to help me. My pain isn’t comparable to any mortal illness.”
My son looks to me for assistance in forcing the Sir to rest, but I admit, “Honestly, my son, it will not harm him to be with us… as long as that is all he plans to do.”
His Majesty gazes up at me disappointed, but since he doesn’t have a counter to my decree he does not develop a sense of anger or challenge. The Sir merely stands and looks upon us as if we couldn’t force him away anyway. With that decided I turn back to the Duchess.
The Duchess of Desire is commonly regarded as the most exotic Incarnation of them all, gifted with a charm that has made Death herself blush. She has the black pupils and irises of gold that draw inspiration of a lust for more than just the body.
Now her lips are glossed a dark blue, prepared for the task ahead.
Her dress leaves little to the imagination, she doesn’t need to be conservative with the task she has placed before her.
I reiterate to her, “Dear Duchess, please confirm to me that you understand how important it is that you sway King Evil to our side. With his allegiance, the war is all but won.”
The simple fact that he has not immediately flown to his mother’s beck and call tells me that something has happened between them, and that I must take the chance to capitalize on it.
My preferred son, King Good responsibly reminds her, “Let it not be forgotten how if my brother sides with Death, he will tip the scales, and the victor will be far more unclear.”
The Duchess rolls her eyes at this as she sits on the edge of my globe, her fishnetted legs crossed as she files her nails.
She smirks and comments, “His Majesty,” then with a look to King Good, “not you, has never denied my advance or wish before. He is quite gullible in that way. Though he does prove to be worth far more than the little hassle it takes. Maybe I have him addicted.” With that she chuckles to herself, and King Good rolls his eyes with disgust.
It is common knowledge of the close and sexual relationship between the Duchess of Desire and King Evil, as much as we all wish it wasn’t. Now we must use that to our advantage.
“If you have so much confidence in yourself and your mission, then be off,” his Majesty commands in an attempt to dismiss her.
With that the Duchess slips fluidly off the railing of my globe, and whips her hair from her face.
As she sashays past his Majesty she recommends, “If you wanted me gone, just say it. Don’t be rude while still having the gall to stare.”
His Majesty’s eyes and nose flair. “I did no such thing!” he claims.
But she is already chuckling to herself, and shrugs her shoulders. “Whatever you say.”
Before she can leave, Sir Gratitude questions our plan. He reckons, “Why must you bring King Evil into this conflict? Aren’t enough souls already being sacrificed? If he is neutral, leave him be.” The Sir specifically turns to the Duchess and recommends, “You are supposed to be his friend, and friends shouldn’t manipulate each other. You should want him to be safe. You should respect his choices.”
The Duchess rolls her eyes towards the Sir, and reminds him, “We are speaking about the King of Evil. Manipulation is part of our relationship, and we enjoy it in a way you wouldn’t understand.” As she is about to leave, she shows how the Sir has insulted her by venomously adding, “Also, if he joins our side, not only will he be safe, we will all be safe. This is for the greater good, so if you could stop acting as if we’re being selfish, we would all appreciate it.” In a puff of sparkling powder, she disappears to make her bid to King Evil.
King Good attempts to explain to the Sir with an open armed gesture, “We are at war, my friend, there are things that must be done to achieve victory.”
The Sir turns his head towards his Majesty unconvinced. He gazes into the eyes of his long time friend, and believes him a fool, which is quite hypocritical.
The Sir replies, “Why must there only be victory in violence? If you had not engaged Death when she first set out towards conquest. She would have seen the error of war when faced with being the slaughterer of millions of innocent souls. Death is not a merciless killer.”
Disapproving of Sir Gratitude’s logic, I assure him sternly, “If we had bowed to Death, she would be what warriors call, the winner.” Due to my stern tone, the Sir clamps his mouth shut, and stares into me with disgust.
It is not long before serious trouble makes its presence known again. My globe abruptly signals that someone is trying to make contact.
King Good leans over the globe with his hands on the table to see. He gasps, “Madam Sadness.”
I wave my hand over the globe and she appears, in a tent with explosions blowing up the sands behind her.
Madam Sadness has a gray tone to her complexion, her hair contrasts with its shining silver color.
Her facial features remain sharp, they will likely grow sharper as this misery continues. Her eyes remain white as well,, with her pupils and irises shining gold, similar to her brother’s, but not as black.
The Madam’s silvery hair is in a ponytail behind her head, while her eyes are covered by a veil. A veil that reaches to the bridge of her nose. It makes her look like a forlorn bride, though no Incarnation has ever married, a mere mortal’s concept.
Her armor is basic and light to not cause swift over exertion in the desert heat of her sands. She covers her chest with a simple shining breastplate with no sleeves, revealing her shoulders and leaving her arms bare. Her padded leather leggings allow for optimal movement and swordplay.
Madam Sadness speaks first with alarm and exclamation. “Sir Happiness and Peace are at my back! I was unable to lose them in my sands!” Each sentence is a shout as explosions from artillery ring out in the distance. “Somehow they have been able to follow and find me at every turn, and I don’t have the numbers to hold them back any longer!
“I swear, with every step they encroach onto my lands I grow weaker… my people and I will not survive much longer as free women and men if I do not receive aid!”
His Majesty’s hand immediately moves to his chin in confusion. “How is that possible? They shouldn’t be able to do find their way in your realm. How could they know where to go?”
“Well it happened somehow!” Madam Sadness snaps. “I need reinforcements, did you hear me?! Or I am going to be overrun, and I need it them now!”
King Good tries to placate her demands by stating, “I’ll divert more angels from the fight against Lord Guilt to the ones already on their way.”
The Madam tells my son angrily, “Bring whoever you’d like, your Majesty, but I need you!”
“My place is here besides Life, coordinating attacks for everyone,” his Majesty tries to excuse himself. My son has not yet fought in this battle himself, and while he is quite proficient in war, he is no war dog. He takes no pleasure from fighting as many of his brethren do.
“Your Majesty, I implore that you-” The Madam is interrupted and raises her arms to protect her face as a sudden gust of wind blows away her tent, revealing her to the harsh sun. When she looks to her side at the battlefield, she gravely gasps, “Oh no.”
“What is it?!” my son asks her with great alarm. She doesn’t answer, her attention completely enraptured by whatever surprised her.
“Sir Peace, he, he has her. He’s holding her towards my frontlines,” she mutters in a hush, as if she is losing her will to speak.
His Majesty only asks, “Who?”
The Madam only answers, “Despair.”
This is not good at all. The Duchess of Despair has been missing since this war began, and now she is a pawn for Peace? This cannot mean anything positive for us, for while Despair is only a Duchess, her ability to destroy can easily send many and all to Oblivion if they are not strong enough to withstand her mind numbing abyss. Madam Sadness is not one of those individuals.
Madam Sadness turns to speak to us one last time. “If is not apparent at this moment, King Good, if you do not come to my aid now, consider me and this battleground lost. Goodbye.”
Then she unsheathes the Depression, the straight saber on her hip, and turns to her battlefield.
My son calls out to her with great distress, “Madam wait!” But it is too late before the image disappears. He places his hands on the edge of the globe in front him, and dips his head in aggravation. We both know what needs to be done.
I command him, “Go to her. It is time that the King of all that is pure, raze the battlefield.”
Sir Gratitude moves around to his Majesty to beg of him, “Please your Majesty, you must know that the Duchess of Despair is an innocent soul. You mustn’t hurt her!”
Before he can further burden my son, I tell the Sir, grave in tone, “He must do what is necessary.”
His Majesty then sighs heavily, originally hoping to avoid using his power against ground soldiers, but it was not meant to be. He stands tall, outstretching his long arching wings, and takes flight from my throne across the cosmos to the Sands of Sadness.
To the frontlines in the war between Sadness and the coalition of Happiness and Peace.
He soars over the sands and the suffering Soldiers of Sadness as the injured try to retreat while growing in numerous number. Those capable of fighting are at the front, and that is where he finds their Madam.
When King Good’s large shadow casts over her and the sands, she quickly turns her head to smile at him. When he lands in front of her, she bows her head and admits, “I wasn’t sure you would come, your Majesty.”
His Majesty gestures with his hand and a shake of his head to stop her from bowing, knowing that others would follow suit. He tells her, “Believe it or not, I’m not willing to watch you die.”
Madam Sadness’s eyes flare up for a second, as if surprised by his statement, but she is swift to regain her composure and smile at him. “That is music to my ears.”
With that, his Majesty surveys the area and notices that the distance between the Madam’s army and the coalition between Sir Happiness and Peace is rather small. Yet, the coalition doesn’t push further. Not only that, the explosions have stopped.
My son inquires as to why this is. “Madam, why are they not attacking? Where is Despair? I can feel her weighing on my conscious but I cannot see her.”
The Madam informs him, “There was this strong pulse of dark winds that blew over many tents before, dark winds that could only come from her, but then suddenly they stopped. I’ve had a line drawn in the sand since, and the enemy refuses to meet it.” Then with a sideways look towards his Majesty, she admits with a tone quite grave, “It unnerves me.”
“Understandable,” King Good states. Together his Majesty and the Madam watch the enemy line like hawks.
Not before too long, the Duchess of Despair seemingly weighs more heavily upon her fellow Incarnations. His Majesty and the Madam notice a divide forming amongst the enemy soldiers, as if they are making way for someone.
Then they are revealed. Sir Peace walks arm in arm with the Duchess of Despair. The Duchess is consumed by grief as tears stream down her cheeks, and everyone’s eardrums are encapsulated by her sobbing.
Sir Peace, with his cascading sea green hair overtaking his face, walks with a sly smile for an expression. He has always had a rather lean build. His face straight until his chin, which is shaped like a block. His arms so thin, his pinky finger could wrap around his wrist. It’s why he cowers behind the ill and meek.
He is no true man, he seems more androgynous with his long hair. His appearance is as unseeming as his will to drive others to cower, his skin is bronze, not golden or cream, but bronze.
The Duchess of Despair on the other hand, maintains an illness, though that may be due to the company beside her. Her hair is violet like that of the other Duchess, though her tone of skin is a muted gray that only decays with her eternal frown. She must have tended to her eyes before this gathering, because something has now mixed in with her tears and makes black streaks down her cheeks.
I notice now that Sir Peace’s mouth is moving, silently and deviously into the Duchess’s ear. I make a point to listen, to know what curses and lies he spews into her conscience.
“You care for what happens to the Madam and Majesty don’t you?” the Sir asks her.
The Duchess responds with fear, honesty, and alarm. “But of course I do!”
“That’s strange,” Sir Peace whispers, each syllable sounding off longer than necessary. Each word ending with a venomous click of his tongue. “You care for them, but you are their doom.”
“No!” she gasp. “I won’t! I can control myself. I can control-!”
The Sir interrupts her. He is purposely trying to unnerve her, but to what end? “How can you speak of control when you woke up crying? How can you speak of control knowing that so many others are dead?”
“Dead? Who? Tell me!” The Duchess demands information from the Sir, and that is what she shall receive.
“I do not think it would help, but if you must know, the beloved Honor….” he says as he trails off, implying something that is not true.
The Duchess gasps, throwing her hand to her mouth as her knees come close to buckling halfway to Madam Sadness’s frontline. “No, not Honor…”
“But she did not go as terribly as Lady Justice did, she was consumed by Lord Dread, she had the greatest terror forced upon her.”
Sir Peace continues to lie, hardly concealing his grin from anyone but the Duchess. The poor Duchess is far too susceptible to such tricks, and far too inept at freeing herself from gullibility. Still, I do yet understand what the Sir is trying to do. If he goes too far, the Duchess will become overwhelmed.
With the false news of Lady Justice’s demise, the Duchess of Despair sinks to her knees in the sand. Sir Peace kneels down next to her, and takes hold of the Duchess’s chin with the fingers of his right hand. He makes her look him in the eye as he lies, “But worst of all,” then he turns her head and his own to Madam Sadness and King Good, before finally lying, “was what those two did to Desire. Butchered her.”
“No!” the Duchess shrieks. Sir Peace grins from ear to ear over how easy it is to manipulate the Duchess of Desire into becoming a deadly weapon.
Madam Sadness tries to run out across the sands to be by the Duchess’s side, to naively calm her before she explodes, but my son realizes that the time for action has passed with their excessive use of patience.
He wraps an arm around the Madam’s waist as she spreads her hand out to the Duchess, who now believes them both to be murders of the Incarnation she loves most.
Dark energy emits from the Duchess of Despair as she shakes uncontrollably. The black streaks on her cheek start to evaporate into dark and monstrous swirling winds. The sands around her slowly begin to rise and move in a tornado around her. Then all before it hits, Sir Peace looks up and smiles.
He says, “Let’s see if your favorite has what it takes, Life.” Then in a bloom of gold dust he is no longer beside the Duchess when she erupts.
At one moment there is only her, and the next there is the vortex of darkness that erupts from all around the Duchess. A vortex that reaches up into the sky to blot out the sun. The only sound that can be heard over the violent winds is her sobbing and tears.
The Vortex of Despair isn’t only a powerful tornado, but the epitome of misery and self-deprecation. It’s so destructive in its nature that it calls upon the obliterative powers of Oblivion.
Anything not powerful enough to stand against its power is wiped from existence. They don’t just die, their very soul, the conscious that should go to Death, ceases in all entirety.
My son forces Madam Sadness behind him, ordering her to retreat. “You must run, as fast and as far as you can! You leave those who must be carried, there is not enough time!”
The Madam berates him for his order. “I will not abandon you!” The Madam puts on a brave face backed by her strong will. It is disappointing that her physical strength and dexterity does not match that of her will.
“You will do what I tell you to! You cannot enter the vortex, you will die! I and I alone can help Despair!” Then with both hands on her shoulders, he tells her, “You must survive, it is not your place to die here due to the sadness of your friend!”
Madam Sadness shakes her head as she places her hands over his. “I am no coward,” she states.
His Majesty nods in agreement. “You are not, but sometimes it is braver to retreat than it is to fight to the end.” Then he points her to leave through her camp. “Now go! While you still can.”
Finally, Madam Sadness starts taking her hesitant steps backwards, away from King Good, and when he nods his head towards her, their hair each blowing wildly with the wind, she nods back, and runs along with her soldiers.
My son turns his eyes to the great vortex before him, and stands alone, as he alone is able to brave the Vortex of Despair. Only he can hope to reach the Duchess within.
Even as he takes his first step, the Majesty already feels the Duchess’s power fight against him. He cannot attempt to solve this problem with leniency, he cannot hold back. Once again King Good outstretches his wings, not to fly, but as a necessary change to call upon his own massive amounts of power.
Under each feather of his wing, his power can be seen oozing out in a glorious light. His wings do not flap or flutter with the wind, and his Majesty finds himself walking towards the vortex with modest control.
When he reaches the surface, he tries to enter right hand first, only to be caught off guard by the gusts that cut like razors. He now knows the pain he must withstand to reach the Duchess of Despair inside.
His Majesty places his hands into the Vortex of Despair and feels razors against his skin. Courageously, he still fights through it, pushing his way inside, feeling blades slice against his skin all over his body. He never suffers an open cut, the winds are not strong enough, but the pain he feels is as if blades are being raked against him and his skin will not open.
Before too long he is encompassed in darkness, able to see the physical wind gusts themselves in their unnaturally black color, but he does not see the Duchess. He only hears her sobs.
He calls out to her, but finds that he cannot hear his own voice. He tries to follow her cries, but every direction he faces, he hears her voice as if it were coming from behind him.
His Majesty must think of a solution quickly, for if he does not, Oblivion will surely overtake him. I myself can only think of one solution, and when I see a tired expression on his face I believe he has come to the same one.
King Good first tries outstretching his wings to let his own power flow freely, creating his own tornado inside the vortex. He creates his own shining wind gusts to surround him and push the dark vortex away from himself. As he releases more and more of his own power, he finds that he creates an epicenter that allows him to actually see the sands below his feet. He fights to expand this effect, yelling in exertion and finding that he can hear himself once again. As he pools more and more of his power into creating his own vortex, he fears whether or not he can reveal the Duchess of Despair.
As his radius of visibility grows larger, his faith that the Duchess maintains a physical form starts to fade. But once it seems like his radius should have blown away the vortex, the hem of the Duchess’s violet dress comes into view only barely.
In a last ditch effort, his Majesty fuels a significant portion of his power into one last go. He places his faith and power into his own winds to force the Vortex of Despair to reveal the Duchess’s full and sobbing form. In that same moment, his Majesty only has seconds to lunge for her as the vortex starts to close again around them.
As it closes fast, my son reaches his hand out for her, and when she sees him she leans away in terror of him. In the seconds leading up to this moment of fate, the vortex begins to consume the Duchess again, and his Majesty’s hand is inches from grasping hold her dress. Merely inches, and as his fingers move slowly towards her, the vortex, the void swiftly eats away his chances. Just when he thinks he can grab hold, the vortex consumes her.
I see the look of conviction in my son’s eyes, the second he believes he may have lost the Duchess he will give in. He once again creates his winds to directly attack and eat away at the Vortex of Despair from within. He creates his Winds of Purity, and they spray out of every pore on his body, and from his hand.
From his hand he blasts his wind gusts, which as if a curtain being pulled to the side, destroy the vortex’s hold on Despair, revealing her again in full. With this chance, his Majesty grabs hold of her and doesn’t let go.
King Good reigns her in and holds her close as she struggles against him, believing that she has much to fear from him. She screams out for help. “Unhand me! Peace help me! Save me! I don’t want to die like Desire! Like Honor!”
In this moment, my son realizes the poison that Sir Peace has poured into her mind. He informs her that nothing the Sir told her was true. “Despair! Despair, I swear to you, I would never hurt you! I will not kill you, I did not kill anyone!”
“No! No!” she still yells as her head shakes back and forth like a child.
My son brings his arm behind her waist and his other to her cheek, to show her both the gentleness and the warmth of his touch, to show her the hands of a savior, not a murderer.
He attempts again to tell her, “Sir Peace has lied to you. None of our kind have died. Not Honor, nor Justice, and especially not Desire. Your beloved Duchess is alive and well, safe and healthy, you have been deceived.”
The Duchess of Despair begins to calm, attempting to understand her own mistake. She mutters, “But Peace, he wouldn’t lie to me.”
“Sir Peace is a viper, and he preyed upon you to force you to commit the first murder of this war. To be the first to slay another of us. You are so close to killing Sadness, don’t you realize? Sadness your beloved friend, his enemy.”
As he explains all of this, he moves his hand from behind her waist to both of her cheeks, trying to wipe away the tears that have scarred her face.
The more he explains, the more she believes him, but the more guilt she feels. Then comes shame, the more shame the wider her eyes grow.
He finally asks her, “Please Despair, stop this, before it is too late!”
The Duchess can only look him in the eye, and then she shuts her own so tight and tries. The poor girl tries so hard to stop the vortex, but her despair has not dissipated now that she knows the truth. The reasoning and pain that fuels the vortex simply comes from her own shame instead of grief. The Vortex of Despair slows for moments at a time, but it keeps starting again. It grows faster and the radius larger with each of her attempts.
When she looks up with eyes full of terror, it becomes clear. “I can’t stop it,” she whispers, “I can’t control it, I can’t stop it.”
King Good, my dutiful son, looks into the Duchess’s eyes with so much pain. He looks at her as his fingers tighten around her cheeks, and one hand moves lower on her face. He tells her, “I can.”
The Duchess knows what he means, she knows what he can do, what he must do. “Do it. Stop me, before I hurt anyone.
His Majesty tilts his head and grinds his teeth in frustration, in pain. He tells her, “I’m sorry.” She doesn’t respond, and stares in terror from anticipation. He gasps again, “I’m sorry.” Then he does it.
He takes back the power he used to create his Winds of Purity, and pools it into his hands. With those hands he snaps her neck with a signal crack.
With one snap, the vortex goes back to the Duchess’s now limp form. Her dead form.
The sands start to fall back to the ground, and the destruction around them is revealed to my son’s eyes. Both armies still cower as the vortex is over.
For my son’s sacrifice, we have gained nothing. The battlelines have not changed, they have not moved nor advanced. My son only has the innocent Duchess, dead in his arms.
All King Good can do for the Duchess of Despair is hold her head in his hand as he places another under her legs. All he can do for her is lift her body from the sands, and look to the sky, to look for me.
As he holds her frail body in his arms, he cannot accept that he has killed an innocent to achieve nothing more than a place equal to where he started. He howls to the sky in sorrow.
It does not take long for his howls to become ones of rage. It does not take long for him to spread out his wings one more time in this place.
My son, as a King, has unlimited amounts of power, unlimited amounts from which he can create. That means nothing when another power will consistently eat his away, but no power exists here in this moment. Now there is only his, and his will calls for an army.
His Army of Angels.
As he screams in anger, his wings shine bright, so bright they blind the armies of Peace and Happiness before him. They do not see the winged beings that emerge from that light. They do not see the thousands of reinforcements that come from that light, and descend upon them.
King Good’s angels fall upon the enemy in a blind fury of swords that amputate and behead the lesser soldiers.
The Army of Angels does not wait for Madam Sadness to lead her soldiers to assist, they demolish the opposition themselves, and drive them back from the sands that they have invaded.
Quickly, it becomes a victory. Quickly, comes the end of the battle and the battleline no longer lies in the Sands of Sadness, but that matters little to his Majesty. All that matters is the Duchess dead in his arms, and the Despair he feels because he cannot bring her back.