The Incarnations: The Incarnal War (Chapter 8)

The Desire for Vengeance

“Send me after him,” the Duchess of Desire demands of me again.

King Good, he angrily denies the Duchess. “No! This is a suicide mission, pointless, and an excellent way for you to waste time and energy, again.” My son seemingly throws her previous failure in her face, a failure I am conflicted over.

“I agree with his Majesty for once in awhile,” Sir Gratitude adds. This should be saying something.

The Duchess, no longer casually sitting against my globe, came to me with a newfound conviction after her success with Lord Dread and Lady Love. Imagine my son’s surprise when she began to demand that I help her capture Sir Peace, and bring the war a step towards the end. She believes she can infiltrate her way into Sir Peace’s city.

As his Majesty, the Sir, and the Duchess continue to argue, I find myself sick of listening to them. There is a sense of hostility that was not there before so I yell out in a stern order, “Enough!” All three immediately stop and find themselves speechless. I move to rub my forehead and think on this idea.

I ask the Duchess, “How is this plan supposed to work?” The Duchess quickly develops a bright smile as my son’s brow furrows in annoyance.

The Duchess begins to explain with a question. “Do you remember what I made with my Pieces of Creation?” My grunt signals to her to continue explaining. “I made a cloak of invisibility. It shields me from being seen.”

His Majesty is quick to correct her. “Not from those with the ability to know everything.”

“Does the Sir have such an ability?” the Duchess questions my son even though she knows the answer.

My son falls for her trap of a question and answers, “No.”

“So why did you interrupt me?” she asks with much snark. My son is confused and speechless for a second, and before he can reply, she answers for him, “No reason? Then be quiet.

He then makes a face of agitation as he scrunches his nose. He restrains himself, believing that she of all people may have the right to speak to him in such a way.

She then ignores him and continues, “Since I can hide from both Sir Peace and his minions, all I need to get to him is for you to use your awesome power to move me through his barriers.”

The problem with invading the other lands is that we cannot transport our armies with flicks of our fingers. There are magical barriers that prevent other Incarnations from entering when they are not wanted.

Lady Justice’s barriers kept King Good from going to save Lady Love earlier, and why Lord Dread needed to physically move his body the old fashioned way. The Duchess wants me to transport her through such barriers so she does not have to walk through enemy territory, and doing that would take much power… though maybe less so against a weaker one such as Peace, and a physically weaker bullet such as Desire… it may not take too much power.

So, as I listened I also found a fault in the Duchess plan. This causes me to worry whether or not she wants to be given this mission because of overconfidence, or to avenge the Duchess of Despair. I keep that thought to myself to see if she has a response for her error first.

“There is a problem. While I may be able send you through the Peace’s barriers, the Sir will know immediately that another Incarnation has entered his domain.”

The Duchess of Desire rolls her eyes and gestures as if presenting herself. “That’s why I mentioned the cloak. Yes, he may know I will be there, but he will not be able to find or catch me before I do him.” I guess the fault would be fixed that way.

His Majesty is swift to point out, “If Life were to do this, and we have to fight Death, he will be at a significant disadvantage. It’s risky if something else goes wrong.”

“While I appreciate your concern and tactical forethought,” I first compliment my son, I then remind him, “you forget what I have told all who sided with me, I will not lay a hand on your mother, I refuse. It’s why I haven’t challenged her directly.”

The Duchess develops a small smirk hearing me repeat myself again. She asks me, “Having said that, Life, why do you think she hasn’t challenged you directly?”

It is a good question, and one I can only hope will never be answered outside of a simple conversation with Death. I answer for now that, “I hope she hasn’t because she feels the same way as I do.”

“Hmm,” the Duchess murmurs in response. “Well then, have you come to a decision, will you send me forth? I believe that I have given you enough reason to show why I will succeed.”

King Good reminds her, “You did the same before when we were sending you after my brother.”

“Your brother was a matter of recruitment. Recruitment is a complicated act. Violence is not,” she rebuttals with a sense of definity.

I think on, and find that I cannot in good conscience possibly send another Duchess to meet her end. I lean down from my throne towards the Duchess of Desire, and ask her point blank, “I must know, do you want to do this for victory, for reputation, or for vengeance? Vengeance is blinding, and so is a brazen sense of self.”

The Duchess answers without hesitation. “Victory. My confidence has already been lifted, and there is no vengeance to be earned for someone who will return to me with time. This is a war, and death happens. I’m telling you what I told Lady Love, that I’m not going to lose myself over the Duchess of Despair. She will Reincarnate.”

King Good looks upon her with surprise, believing that she may hold a grudge against him, yet she denies such feelings towards Sir Peace. I know she held them not hours earlier, but a strong will can overcome such things. Most of us are not as fickle as mortals.

I lean back into my chair and tell her, “Alright, I’ll do it, when do you want to go?”

As my son and the Sir bemoan in disappointment, the Duchess gestures her hands over her clothes. She changes her purple dress to that of dark leather trousers, leather boots, and a corset that actually has a shirt underneath. Then she gestures around herself to summon her cloak around her. Her cloak looks more akin to a cape and hood, as it flows long and wide to envelope the Duchess when she grabs at the sides. Right now, the cloak is pure black, but I know it will make her invisible when she wishes.

She answers with conviction, “Now would be preferred.”

“As you wish,” I tell her as I hold my hand above her.

I summon my power in my palm, and from it shoots forth a cone that envelops her. The cone is as if textured by the night sky of stars and galaxies, images of my plain. When my power ceases to stream from my hand, the cone stands in the room, and slowly shrinks out of existence.

My power starts to drain when the cone begins to force its way into Sir Peace’s domain. I feel my power exerting itself and draining from my form from across this plain of existence. I attempt to force the Duchess of Desire through the barriers so she does not have to face the army guarding the borders below. I must systematically use my own power to dismantle what I had created millennium ago.

Eventually I finish, and she soars through. The cone which now looks like diamond made out of a galaxy, releases the Duchess as it flies across Sir Peace’s skies. The Duchess is invisible now, but my eyes can follow her still. She falls a short distance to the top of a building as the galactic diamond keeps moving without her, drawing away attention.

She then looks on over Sir Peace’s small, but intricate city. Having been fascinated by the Dinorans peaceful matriarchy, when they fell apart the Sir modeled his small world after their architecture. By the end of their term as a civilization they had built floating metal cities, capable of going wherever a hive Queen needed to be.

The Sir’s city is an assortment of towns, metal squares with intricate markings of code that glow a lime green lining the walls. Towns will shift lower and higher in elevation to transport servants to work with other servants. The sky itself is now dark, meaning that the lines of code are what light the city.

The Duchess appreciates the architecture for a few glances, then finds the spire in the middle. The spire contrasts with the rest of the buildings’ architectural shape, seemingly a smaller version of a Lord’s castle. The texture and color is still the same muted gray with the glowing code markings, but the pointed peak makes it clear that someone special stays there. Undoubtedly, the spire is where the Sir stays.

The Duchess of Desire finds herself three towns away, or at least at the moment. One town might move out of her way or in her way sooner or later.

She moves silently but with speed, running towards the edge of the building and slides off, gripping the markings as they cave into the building. She climbs down with great agility and a prowess for parkour. I forget that her flexibility helps in many situations.

When she touches the ground she stands on one side of a street between two buildings. She crouches down and moves along the wall to her right, hearing the talking between two soldiers of Peace. She knows they are walking a path past her, so she starts splaying out her twine before them as a trap. I find her being overly cautious, or vengeful.

The Duchess’s twine acts as a web between her and the front door of the building across from her. When the soldiers walk through it, she glimpses their high tech armor. She especially glimpses the goggles over their eyes that see through the night. Their armor is in the same design as the buildings, though in a gold color to contrast with their bronze skin. The armor has code markings, and wool masks that cover their faces completely.

Those goggles can see thermal, and the Duchess must have realized this. Her cloak will shield her from normal eyes and hide her signature, thus making a place abnormally cool to look at. With the soldiers on alert they will certainly see her, thus why she needs to overcome them.

As the soldiers come close to walking through her twine, the Duchess holds her right hand out, the Passion secured on it. She curls her fingers inwards, halfway into a fist in preparation. When the soldiers walk through her twine she closes her fingers into a fist. They become ensnared, the twine unnaturally wrapping their arms and legs and moving to wrap around their necks. The twine chokes their limbs tight, restraining them into contorted positions off the ground and keeping them from calling out.

The Duchess considers opening her palm out completely, to manipulate the twine to tighten beyond survivability and sever their limbs and heads, but that would inform the Sir to her whereabouts.

She instead opens her pointer and ring finger slowly, causing the twine to slowly choke them unconscious. Their bodies grow limp in seconds.

The Duchess recalls her twine as the Passion spins atop of her hand. Then she runs into the street towards the next town.

She realizes that she spent too much time taking out those two on patrol as the town she’s standing in detaches from the one she needs to be on.

As the clamps become undone, she is nearly a block away. The Duchess knows she will not make it in time to jump on so in preparation she brings her right hand across her chest. With the Passion spinning, she flails her hand outward, throwing her twine ahead of her to form lines between several buildings in ascending order. As if a rope connecting two buildings for one to trapeze over.

The first is as high as her head, and she jumps on the twine to use it to spring herself upward. She jumps several feet in the air to the next twine, with the next town over already elevating in height.

She did not jump high enough to land on the next set of twine, and grabs onto it with her hands. She swings and pushes her legs forward and up to gain momentum when she lets go, flying in an upward arch towards the last string which is on the edge of her current town.

The next town over is now elevated to the same height as a building, which is the same elevation as the last string of twine.

She does the same thing as before and grabs the twine with her hands to swing forward to let go and propel herself to the next town. The Duchess flies towards the town, and slams her hand against the flat edge, narrowly missing a chance to grab on.

As she falls to what can only be describe as empty space, which would send her straight to Oblivion, she flails her right hand out again and throws her twine to stick to several buildings over the edge. They attach to the buildings to cease her fall. She hangs off the side of the town and calls on the Passion to gather up the twine to pull her up. She is pulled to the edge to then pull herself up.

Without missing a beat, the Duchess pulls herself up and over to the town’s ground and rolls back into a run near the closest alley. She leaves no time to rest to avoid being seen. When she gets to the alley she leans up against the wall to catch her breath and come to terms with nearly falling into Oblivion.

She pulls herself together quickly, and uses the code markings as hand and footholds to swiftly scale the building. Once on top, she notices that this town is floating towards the spire in an arch, as if it’s in rotation around it to go somewhere else. She needs to move to the other side as fast as she can to take advantage of this chance.

The Duchess finds herself running across the rooftops, being that the ones in this town are closer together. Crossing the gaps becomes natural until she comes to the center, and finds it to be under the watch of several guards.

The Duchess walks to the end, to look over them. She counts there to be five, with one joining in from the east, and they are each surveying the rooftops. She ducks down and away to avoid being spotted. She rolls backwards and thinks to run to her right, east away from the center, but then she notices that the town is now rotating, and to head east would be on the wrong end from the spire. She needs to cross the center to the opposite end to time her jump just right.

She needs to move over the soldiers.

In a prone position, the Duchess crawls towards the corner, and places her finger on the vertex. Then the Passion moves a string of twine down the crook of her finger to the buildings corner. Defying physics, it then moves straight towards the building diagonally across the town’s center. It takes too much time for her liking, but it connects in the same spot on the opposite building.

She then moves to her feet and gracefully walks along her twine, throwing out lines of twine as she walks over the surveying soldiers below. Her lines wrap around their torsos and necks, so that she can pull them together towards each other head first and knock them out.

Much to the Duchess’s dismay, one soldier somehow notices, and reaches to the hilt on his waist. With a click of a button, a yellow laser sword shines bright, and he cuts the twine around him while also warning the others. The Duchess closes her right hand to bring the twine together and bring the other soldiers barreling into each other. She knocks them either unconscious, or too groggy to follow.

The remaining soldier then looks up and sees the lack of a temperature running above him. He takes his sword and throws it towards the twine she is walking on. The Duchess has only a quarter of the line left to walk and uses the twine as a prop to bounce and propel herself before her line is cut.

She jumps high into the air, but at an angle more direct than she would have liked. She is sent flying almost straight towards the building’s edge. She smacks into the building, just barely gripping the rooftop with her fingers, flailing off the side. As she pulls herself up, the laser sword lands in front of her, scaring her and causing her to squeak.

The soldier climbs the building after the Duchess, and comments, “Not a very manly sound.”

As the Duchess climbs over the side of the building she replies absentmindedly, “Well, I’m not a man at the moment.” She immediately regrets responding, and moves to her feet.

The soldier proves to be quite clever despite his general appearance. With the same strategic thinking as his Sir, he puts together, “You’re a woman, but one who does not always appear as one. The only Incarnations who are known to change sexes are the Duchess of Desire, and the Duke of Destruction do to flippant personalities. Being that you’re using stealth instead of wanton mayhem, I would bet that you are the Duchess.”

The Duchess is baffled by the soldier’s swift ability to deduce her identity. Now that he knows who she is, she corrects him that, “It’s not because I’m flippant, sometimes being a woman loses my interest.” Then she continues running across the rooftops west, which is turning towards the north where the spire is.

The soldier climbs onto the rooftops, and rolls to grab his laser sword while maintaining his momentum. As he continues to run after her, he calls out in an apology, “My mistake!” With his goggles he can see the Duchess running away, and follows without difficulty.

As she parkours over the vents and doors of the roofs, while also expertly moving between the descending and ascending heights of the buildings, the soldier follows with equal skill.

Realizing she’s not going to be able to lose this one until she makes her jump towards the spire, she thinks to call backwards and comment, “You’re quite adept for a mere servant!”

He replies, “Maybe I’m not so mere!”

She surmounts that he must then be Sir Peace’s right hand man, her poor luck. She runs up a wall and uses her arm strength to flip into a handstand. Here she asks, “You wouldn’t happen to be Vrede, would you?” Then in a show of her already proven flexibility, flips forward to her feet and continues running.

The soldier copies her movement and form as he confirms, “I am.”

She begins to wonder what the Sir’s right hand man was doing in the simple town, then she remembers he was the one who had come from the east. He was not originally part of the ones guarding the town, he was returning.

The Duchess of Desire then begins to attempt to discern this servant’s purpose. He was returning, possibly headed in the direction of the spire, likely to convene with Sir Peace. She must remember to ask the Sir that when she finds him.

The game of cat and mouse continue as the Duchess and Vrede make their way to the edge. The town they run through floats above the spire to connect with another, while also being close enough for the Duchess to jump to, but also Vrede too.

When the Duchess is a mere three rooftops away, she devises a strategy to stop the pursuing servant. When she is two rooftops away she brings the Passion to field. When she is only steps from jumping off the town, the Passion spins its twine.

The moment the Duchess steps on the edge she jumps without hesitation. She goes spread eagle, and grabs the ends of her cloak to control her descent. When Vrede jumps after her, he finds he can no longer see her, as the space between the town and the spire is as cool as her cloaked form, but he resigns to reaching the ground of the spire to find her.

As she predicts that he cannot see her in any capacity, she spins to face him, and tightens her fingers to use her twine. Vrede is unprepared for the twine that he ran through when he followed her off the edge of the town. Instead of merely wrapping her twine around his neck, she wraps his arms and legs in the twine, and attaches him to the town. He croaks when he feels the whiplash and he bounces back towards the floating structure’s underbelly, where swings and hangs under it.

The Duchess grins over her accomplishment and spins back around to glide towards the spire. The spire is thin at its base, likely only containing stairs or another elevator. The Duchess however has no desire to slam into the metal side of the spire. She throws out twine aiming for it to attach to higher points so she can swing around to lose her momentum.

She succeeds and pulls on the twine with the Passion. She stops gliding and swings so her momentum slows to move around the spire instead of straight into it. She feels accomplished and full of glee as she swings, finding it to be an exhilarating experience she may do for fun another time.

As she slowly wraps around and around the spire she loses momentum, and prepares to crash into the spire without fear of becoming paste. When she first skins across its surface she bounces and rolls, a strike of pain shooting through her arm, but hangs onto the twine. She scrapes her arm several times more, and eventually finds herself hanging alongside the spire.

The Duchess then finds a grip to hang from the spire exterior, and points the Passion straight towards the structure’s peak. She sends forth a twine to attach to the top, and waits for it to reach. Once her twine is connected to the spire’s peak, she lets the Passion pull her to the top so she can avoid climbing.

Once she reaches the spherical tower of the spire, she finds grip holds and climbs around the side to the top. She only now needs to find her way in.

When she surveys the ceiling, the place has no windows. She unreels some of her twine and positions it in a large square at her feet. She presses into so it flattens out as if putty or clay, and then snaps her fingers.

The twine lights, then begins to fizz and melt through the roof. It takes some time. Anyone inside would surely hear it and know something is coming through, but it was a necessary risk.

After some waiting, an opening is created and the square she melted falls down inside. The Duchess slips her head down to see if anyone is now looking to attack her with her cloak still on. She inspects the observation room to see that no one is here. In the observation room is a large globe similar to that of any other Incarnation’s. Nothing else besides the doors are in here.

She then slips inside to investigate further with a greater field of view. The Duchess still discovers that this room is painfully empty. Last time she was here years before, this was Sir Peace’s quarters. He must figured that he should change that once the war started.

The Duchess, while waiting then makes preparations for when Sir Peace will surely arrive. She first removes the proof of her entry, putting the newly made hatch back in the ceiling, using her twine make sure it sticks in place. Then she takes the time to inspect the globe. I cannot see it, its contents becoming blurry from my sight, but the Duchess can see it just fine in person.

She looks upon his layout of the war, and inspects the battle plans. With only Lord Guilt, Lady Justice, and his own armies, it can’t be that difficult to decipher. Then when the Duchess of Desire develops of face of shock, she speaks out loud. “I know you’re watching Life, and if you can’t see, heed this. Sir Peace, his plans, they count upon Lady Justice breaking through his Majesty’s forces. Not her army, just her.” Well, if she doesn’t have armies, what would be the point? She is quite powerful, but to take on the numbers that King Good has lined against her… that’s suicide. Then the Duchess continues, “The Sir has a path marked for her, a path that leads straight to King Evil.” I realize the plan before she says it. “Lady Justice must be planning to make a hard escape to his lands to gain his help.”

It dawns on me the importance of this. My lesser son may have declared himself neutral, but can he maintain such a position against all who come to ask for his sword? The Duchess of Desire may be the best manipulator I have at my disposal, but Death has several better. Lady Justice being one of them, as with her it’s less manipulation and more inspiration to do what is right. It has always been difficult to challenge her on morality, and even the King of all that is vile and hollow may not stand against her. Unlike the Duchess, the Lady doesn’t back down, and is not intimidated by anyone, if her struggle against both the Lord Dread and King Good has been any indication.

I cease my watch over the Duchess, and turn to his Majesty in my throne room. I warn him, “My son, you must hurry to Lady Justice’s borders, and defeat her. End the battle against her and assure that she herself can no longer fight us.”

His Majesty turns away from his overseeing position in shock and asks with concern, “Why father? What has happened?”

I inform him that, “Sir Peace has directed the Lady to seek the help of your brother, and it is imperative that we make sure that he does not join your mother.”

King Good forms an expression of annoyance, very much doubting any ability of his brother to betray his own neutrality, and states so with anger. “That is unnecessary. Let her go to Evil, and he will reject her.” My son’s naivety and underestimation of Lady Justice is most undoing.

“My son, we both know through billions of years of experience, that that Lady has the ability to move nations and species towards her goals. No one can inspire a cause like she can, so do not be a fool, and go after her.” I hope I made myself clear.

King Good looks at me, and I can tell in his eyes that he vehemently disagrees, but he will follow my command. He outstretches his wings, and tells me before he goes, “I will do this, but because I would not have her waste my brother’s time.”

As he flaps his wings I wave off his childish comment and say, “Whatever you need to tell yourself, just go, and do not stop until she is either dead or in your capture.”

Sir Gratitude warns his Majesty, “Do not underestimate her. She will outthink you at every turn, your Majesty. Your best option are words of peaceful intent.”

“The time for words has long passed, Sir,” I remind him.

Then I can tell by the look in my son’s eye as he leaves that his Majesty has no intentions of killing her, and would probably see himself killed before letting that happen.

Once my son leaves, I look back to watch over the Duchess of Desire, who now lies in wait for Sir Peace. She does not have to wait much longer.

Then the doors open and Sir Peace enters, with his bronze complexion and his sea green hair, which seems to have been trimmed.  He is dressed in a leather tunic of some sort that wraps over his chest, but trails down to the floor to also cover his legs.

The Duchess leans against the globe with her arms crossed and her cloak down, her eyes dead set on him.

He doesn’t respond in any excited way to her presence. “My apologies for the wait. I had more important matters to attend to.” Her eye twitches.

She responds with a similarly lifeless tone. “It’s alright, there are people who like to be kept them waiting. I don’t know any of them, but I’m sure they exist.”

The Sir then continues to walk to his globe, and when he sees himself coming up to her, he stands besides her to look over the world as if she doesn’t exist. He then has the gall to ask the Duchess, “Can you move over?”

The Duchess grinds her teeth and replies coldly, “No, I was here first.”

The Sir smirks, seeing how easily he’s already gotten under her skin. “Well, technically I made the place, and come here most days, so I would reckon that-”

The Duchess loses her self-control much too soon, and interrupts his sentence to bring her right forearm to his neck. She brings him down forwards atop of the globe, causing it become a flat map. She brings her face close, and speaks in a growl through her teeth so that she is spitting all over his face.

“You stand here and try to make small talk? I’m the enemy. We’re at war, and you act as if you’re going to be able to get breakfast in an hour!” she berates him.

Avoiding the Duchess’s attempts to drive the discussion, he humorlessly informs her, “Actually, I already had breakfast, I’m an early bird, really don’t sleep very often.”

With rage the Duchess raises her fist and brings it down near his head, which doesn’t intimidate the Sir at all. “You think this is game? After all that you’ve done to win this war, you think I came here to make jokes?”

“I don’t think you came here to kill me, but what do I know about you? I don’t know what you want, never did. Probably why you rarely visited me before. So please if you would, tell me what it is you are here for.” Sir Peace has the Duchess of Desire where he wants her, in the emotional state I feared she would be in.

The Duchess of Desire breaths heavily in and out as she finds it difficult to contain her emotions. Then she closes her eyes, and breaths in one more time.

She then leans back and releases the Sir from the globe. She steps back and turns away from him to rub her forehead. As she thankfully collects herself, she informs the Sir that, “I am here to capture you, and bring you to stand imprisoned with Sir Happiness, to restrain you and force your armies to stand down. Without you, this war is essentially over.”

The Sir then starts to gather himself back to his feet, with a suspicious hand behind his back. He then speaks to reason, “I wouldn’t be so sure. Have you not inspected the battle plans, or are you more polite a guest than you appear?”
The Duchess reveals to him, “Your plan to gain King Evil’s help, won’t work. I’m sure that Life has already dispatched someone to stop her efforts. Whether it be Lord Dread or King Good, Lady Justice doesn’t stand a chance.”

The Sir smirks, then his smirk turns into a devious smile. He shouldn’t be so happy about the news he’s hearing. Then he slips his dagger from behind his back as the Duchess’s back is still turned. He reveals his dagger, the Pacification, as he slowly walks towards her. He tells her, “I wouldn’t underestimate her, that always leads to ruin.”

The Duchess removes her hand from her forehead, but doesn’t turn around. As she admits, “Maybe so,” the Sir already has his hand raised, and is close enough to plunge it through her back.

Before he makes to strike, the Sir compliments, “At least you admit your flaws.” Then as he brings down his dagger, the Duchess closes her fist.

Without warning, the Sir is ensnared, trapped and entangled in a web of twine that captures each and every limb, even down to his fingers. As it tightens around his body he croaks out in pain and drops his dagger to clang against the ground.

The Duchess of Desire giggles, turning around with a sadistic grin of her own, her fingers twitching to manipulate the twine into causing him pain. She walks to him and bends down to pick up his knife, and inspects it.

As she does so, Sir Peace questions, “I thought you used a whip, the Sadism.” Then his own gasp for breath ceases his speech.

She plays with the Passion, twiddling her fingers to randomly cause him pain, and show off a weapon that he did not know of.

“I decided to make a change. The Sadism hurt, but it didn’t make anyone grovel or bow, as I’ll make you.

Sir Peace actually chuckles in his pained state. He admits, “I should have heeded my own advice.”

“Yes, you should have,” she says as she brings the blade of the Pacification to his chest, and proceeds to cut open his tunic. Then in a more threatening tone, she brings to light my deep fear about her.

She demands to know, “Now tell me, tell me what you did to her, what you did to my Despair.” The grin on the Sir’s face, while happening through immense pain, only shows the satisfaction for how much he has damaged the Duchess of Desire. At least, until she carves a line down his chest with his own dagger.

After he breaths in and hisses in pain, she drags the dagger down his chest. He eventually calms himself enough to answer in a gasp, “Do you really want to know?”

The Duchess merely glares, and with a look of murder, without twitching, drags the knife down his chest again. He understands her answer, it’s not a matter of true want.

“I lied to her. What broke her, caused her to implode, was telling her that you were killed… she couldn’t take it.”

The Duchess of Desire eyes only open wide with pain, and the expression of loss consumes her. Her beloved, the one she must now admit she cared for more than any other, died all because Despair couldn’t bear the thought of losing Desire. The Sir looks down upon the Duchess of Desire with a grin and look of superiority, even from his ensnared state.

Then with the same expression of loss, the Duchess brings the knife to his abdomen, and pushes it in him, causing him to lose his fulfilled smile and gasp in pain.

The Duchess promises him, “I’m going to make you feel terrible,” then she places a finger over his heart, “right here. And if you don’t, I’ll make everything else feel terrible.

Then she rips the blade out as Sir Peace’s gold blood begins to pool out. “Don’t worry, Life wanted you to live, so I won’t kill you, you’ll simply suffer in agony.”

Sir Peace coughs blood and lean overs in physical defeat. For some reason, he chuckles. The Duchess raises her knife hand to grab hold of his hair, and pulls his head up to look at her.

“What reason do you have to be happy?” she demands to know.

Sir Peace explains, “No matter what happens to me, King Evil will join Death, and they will face King Good and Life. Because of you, Life is handicapped, and Death will defeat him. I win, no matter what you do.

The Duchess plays with her fingers, and squeezes all of the twine to dig into the Sir’s skin, making him bleed all over. “We’ll see,” the Duchess says. “Don’t underestimate your enemies. We both know where that has gotten you.”

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