Let us pause for a minute, as they descend the great steps towards Destiny's banqueting hall, to consider the Endless.
Desire is of medium height. It is unlikely that any portrait will ever do Desire justice, since to see her (or him) is to love him (or her)- passionately, painfully, to the exclusion of all else. Desire smells almost subliminally of summer peaches, and casts two shadows: one black and sharp-edged, the other translucent and forever wavering, like heat haze.
Desire smiles in brief flashes, like sunlight glinting from a knife-edge. And there is much else that is knife-like about Desire. Never a possession, always the possessor, with skin as pale as smoke, and eyes tawny and sharp as yellow wine: Desire is everything you have ever wanted. Whoever you are. Whatever you are.
Despair, Desire's sister and twin, is queen of her own bleak bourne. It is said that scattered through Despair's domain are a multitude of tiny windows, hanging in the void. Each window looks out onto a different scene, being, in our world, a mirror.
Sometimes you will look into a mirror and feel the eyes of Despair upon you, feel her hook catch and snag on your heart. She appears as a short, pale, heavy woman. She wears no clothing. Her realm is very dull and grey.
Probably the most remarkable thing about her realm is that there is an infinite number of windows to the mortal world. We see these windows as mirrors. She is the twin sister to Desire and, in fact, once was one with Desire.
She keeps to herself most of the time.
Despair says little, and is patient.
Destiny is the oldest of the Endless; in the Beginning was the Word, and it was traced by hand on the first page of his book, before ever was it spoken aloud. Destiny is also the tallest of the Endless, to mortal eyes. There are some who believe him to be blind; whilst others, perhaps with more reason, claim that he has travelled far beyond blindness, that indeed, he can do nothing but see: that he sees the fine traceries the galaxies make as they spiral through the void, that he watched the intricate patterns living things make on their journey through time.
Destiny smells of dust and the libraries of night. He leaves no footprints. He casts no shadow.
Delirium is the youngest of the Endless. She smells of sweat, sour wines, late nights, old leather. Her realm is close, and can be visited; however, human minds were not made to comprehend her domain, and those few who have made the journey have been incapable of reporting back more than the tiniest fragments. The poet Coleridge claimed to have known her intimately, but the man was an inveterate liar, and in this, as in so much, we must doubt his word.
Her appearance is the most variable of all the Endless, who, at best, are ideas cloaked in the semblance of flesh. Her shadow's shape and outline have no relationship to that of any body she wears, and it is tangible, like old velvet. Some say the tragedy of Delirium is her knowledge that, despite being older than suns, older than gods, she is forever the youngest of the Endless, who do not measure time as we measure time, or see the worlds through mortal eyes. Others deny this, and say that Delirium has no tragedy, but here they speak without reflection. For Delirium was once Delight. And although that was long ago now, even today her eyes are badly matched: one is a vivid emerald green, spattered with silver flecks that move; her other eye is vein blue.
Who knows what Delirium sees, through her mismatched eyes?
Dream of the Endless: ah, there's a conundrum. In this aspect (and we perceive but aspects of the Endless, as we see the light glinting from one tiny facet of some huge and flawlessly cut stone), he is rake-thin, with skin the colour of falling snow.
Dream accumulates names to himself like others make friends; but he permits himself few friends. If he is closest to anyone, it is to his elder sister, whom he sees but rarely. He heard long ago, in a dream, that one day in every century Death takes on mortal flesh, better to comprehend what the lives she takes must feel like, to taste the bitter tang of mortality: that this is the price she must pay for being the divider of the living from all that has gone before, all that must come after. He broods on this tale, but has never questioned her about its truth.
Perhaps he fears that she would answer him.
Of all the Endless, save perhaps Destiny, he is most conscious of his responsibilities, the most meticulous in their execution. Dream casts a human shadow, when it occurs to him to do so.
And there is Death. She arrived in my head about a week after her brother. He had arrived brooding, quiet, pale and gaunt and while there was indeed a definate family resemblance, she was in many ways his opposite: sensible, delightful, nice.
There's a tale in the Caballa that suggests that the Angel of Death is so beautiful that on finally seeing it (or him, or her) you fall in love so hard, so fast, that your soul is pulled out through your eyes.
Destruction, the prodigal of the Endless, is nothing like one would expect him to be, given his namesake. In actuality, he is a very outgoing, fun, and caring individual. He loves relaxing by the ocean, staring at the stars, painting, writing poems, etc. In his "human" guise, he is a large man with fair hair and usually wears a broad smile. His dress is that of any normal human.
He does not keep many friends, although he is very personable. His sole companion was, until recently, a dog. He was a loyal, albeit cynical companion. In light of more recent events, he became the companion to Destruction's younger sister, Delirium, until she lost him. Not to worry, though.
She found him eventually