Through the Eyes of the Blind:

BY : VladimirHarkonnen
Category: Comics > The Sandman (Vertigo Comics) > The Sandman (Vertigo Comics)
Dragon prints: 414
Disclaimer: I do not own Sandman, the Books of Magic, Wonder Woman, or any characters connected to Vertigo and DC Comics. I make no profit from this story.

The End of Time:

For a moment, the Second-Sight that saw so very clearly stared at Death of the Endless in confusion. Only four entities in existence left, himself, the boy, Destiny, and Death. And as Destiny faded with a sepulchral moan, now there were three. Her gaze looked at him with a mute impotent hatred and defiance, though when he turned away, she gave him briefly a smile dark and cold and monstrous, a window to some of the other faces she could bear. She lifted up her shirt to reveal deep things like scratches. He paused for a moment, then a sudden well of chill and sorrow rose, at the hatred, and what seemed undeniably like stretch marks. He turned back. It was a long way to walk back to the 20th Century, and back to the Earth. In the course of that walk he would lay low a temptress, with the help of his own shadow-self, and it gave him that much more of an idea, or the shadow of one.

Each step increased his hatred and his willingness to see Death as humbled as she'd made him.

The Twentieth Century:

He had returned and called himself the Eremite and captured her mortal self with an insufferable dipshit with ennui issues which his egotism turned into a suicidal cry for help. The accursed entity had escaped his clutches even as he held the body of her mortal self, and it was with a strange look of stupefied nature that he walked out with the body of the mortal shell that had been Death of the Endless in her mortal guise from the morgue. Attempts to revive the body to re-ensnare her had occupied his time for a few years and then it failed. And then came someone much more dangerous than the boy, that insipid transexual gender-shifter who'd reached originally her third body, this time. A being deeply and as toxically obsessed with Death as he.....and the revelation of the wonder left over from his confrontation with the boy.

Mr E., now the Eremite, stooped down to grasp a paper and smiled coldly. Oh, this........it was of nothing to capture the mortal shell if he could humble Death herself, and so he would. It was his destiny.

Gardens of Destiny of the Endless:

Destiny stalked the garden, gazing at his book. He had his suspicions about what had turned Delight into Delirium, though the Delight in not knowing was something he held onto. He would not have suspicions here. He stared at a page and tried to refuse to turn it, then tried to grasp it and tear it out. What had happened to Delight, to the first Despair, to Destruction, to Dream? Those he could not prevent, and it was the knowledge that his conclave had brought about his brother's suicide, that he had killed his own brother that led him to try. His fingers grasped the page and tried to pull. The unstoppable force met the immovable object and a tremendous anti-sound echoed in the garden and he removed his hands. He could not do it. He was a watcher, doomed to watch. The mightiest and most knowledgeable being in creation, and it was through the eyes of the blind doubly that events set in motion began to unfold.

Atchafalaya Swamps:

He had found it in London, but it was here in the swamplands of Louisiana that the Eremite had ventured. After crossing through the infinities of time until he'd reached an era of apocalyptic war on a galactic scale with entities from a timeless realm that permitted him to step into it, to cross the more deeply through it without having to finish the last forty millennia, to cross an ocean and thousands of miles within the United States was nothing. He was in an area mercifully free of superheroes, and their insipid actions, and in a region where powerful wards bound away each of the other Endless by the time they became aware of what he was to do. He'd formed a broader summoning circle, one intended to work in a way that was also learned.

He smiled coldly. That Slaanesh had been deeply helpful in teaching him ways to hurt that which could not be harmed, and likewise with the kaldeioscopic flames of Tzeentch. Daemons they were in a future iteration of Hell, a Hell made infinitely worse by greater terrors and greater fears, but still Hell. Somehow they'd managed to make the torments themselves have greater effect, but it was the same entities that it had always been. And the superheroes transformed. Thunder Warriors, Adeptus Astartes, Primarchs. Names gaudier than ever and the monstrous thing on the Earth of that time he saw, not through the eyes of the blind and of magic but with actual sight.

So yes, he intended to be away from them, and from everything to do with them, and even moreso with that damned family.

Two circles, one dotted with all manner of arcane symbols, symbols enhanced by the power of the True Name, and of a magic set of harmonics heavily reliant on that power. And a second circle with him, around which he had shielded himself. Even the Presence, even Darkseid, even the Anti-Monitor could seek to storm these things and they would fail.

He began to speak in words of power, cold and terrible and arcane, his mouth bleeding with the power of the Enuncia. One by one, forty-nine runes blazed in the second circle, gleaming with a hellish red glow. He finished with that last word, the other reason he'd come to this element of the swamps. Anything in a twenty foot radius of that True Name other than its speaker and the entity summoned would die, and here? All that would die would be bugs, gators, trees, and birds. Nothing of value lost. But for him, everything of value gained.

He finished the final word and she came, and she found herself staring at him, eyes open wide in sheer confusion. She sought to speak and then one last word of Enuncia followed. Each of the runes arced upward with lightning that shredded her clothing and emblazoned themselves on her skin, leading to a shriek of primordial agony that rippled through existence. A Sefirot could bind the Lord Shaper, but what could bind Life and Death itself? The power of Neverborn, of Unlife and Undeath, things that never were and should never have been. The runes blazed on her had her stuck in glacial slow motion as she tried to move. He was impressed, even with all of this on her she was too powerful to be truly bound.

But he was no Burgess, and she was no fighter, not like Dream.

In calmness he began a sentence she'd heard before, with Timothy Hunter sparing her harsh fate. No Hunter this time.

"I hereby summon and bind you to obey my words until such time as I release thy binding-" and then her true name again and she shrieked in agony as the runes blazed more powerfully and she fell to her knees, staring at him with hate.

Erik's smile was dark and cold, and she shivered. She was the most powerful of the Endless, due to being unbound by any rules, and now she was caught, helpless. Exposed.

"I see you full well, 'Didi.' Your little friend is fine, I'm sure."

Her gaze bored at him.

"Leave him alone."

"Give me what I want, and I will."

She glared at him further.

"I'm not really a woman, you know."

"Oh I know. You're Death, and you're Life. And that's just it. You made me walk through billions of years, bitch. I haven't forgotten it, and I certainly haven't forgiven it." His striding around her was followed by his giving slow sotto voce orders. She found herself on the ground with her face against the circle, teeth gritting in frustration.

"The arrogant and the foolish see what I'm going to do to you as something of desire, but it's not your sibling's realm. I don't think it's ever seen or been responsible for that. It's if anyone's your brother Destruction's."

He smiled, squatting down by her. He smelled bad, sour, unwashed. Death wanted to gag for multiple reasons but she could not, as his hand reached out to caress along her back.

"Show me the wings, whore," and with that her wings appeared in full beauty, initially glowing electric-lightning fire then dark black, as dark as her hair. He strode over to one of them and then Death screamed in a different note when he plucked several of the feathers.

"Yes....this will do. Feathers of the wings of the eldest sister of the Seven." Then he removed a blade from his trench coat and with more orders she found herself on her knees, throat bared to him.

"Your kind can't really die, but in case you're wondering, you won't shift 'point of view', either. I've worked into the binding that alone out of your siblings you can no longer change, physically. Forever fifteen years old in human terms and its equivalent in all other life. Just a little girl, playing in a game of gods and greater."

The knife was out, and it was at her throat.

"I could mute you, deprive you of that voice, but why punish people that way?"

The blade moved down and then it was at her left shoulder.

"Death's feathers.....and the blood of Death."

And with that his blade sliced downward and made a slow and painful cut in her shoulder. It was dull, and it was salted. He wanted it to hurt and Death's jaws were gritted tight as she knelt, bare and exposed, humiliated. Tears formed in her eyes.

"Yes....." as he collected it into a vial and put a cap on it.

Then his eyes went down as he ordered her "Back in your prior position, little one," and she found herself face down, ass up again. He went over to....to a part of her that she knew her siblings, all of them, even Despair, had seen something with. Even Destiny, indirectly, through his omniscience. She was the only true virgin in the Endless, or she had been. Not any longer, she feared. Not for much longer.

He shaved her, as he laughed coldly "I wondered how closely you approximated human form. Now I know. Something to see in the privacy of your realm, to know that I mastered you. Mastered Death itself."

It was not a kind shaving, blood poured further. Dream's was red, now, in his form as he who had been Daniel Hall, once. Hers was silver, the color of her ankh. It hurt, and that was the point. The tears were now flowing freely. Then she heard the sound of a belt unclasping and pants falling, and she tried to fight, to move, to do anything. The binding that held her in his power meant she could do nothing but endure what came. His cock was large and it was thick, making it more painful for Death, who had no frame of reference. He thrust into her raw, intending it to hurt every bit as much as it did. Bleeding within her body joined that without it, and she felt her hands clenched so tightly into fists her palms bled.

It was brutish, painful. As he put it, it was not desire, it was nothing of any of the realms of the Seven, it was simple, brutish, dominating force. It was also two minutes, which as he gasped in a grunt of what wasn't quite pleasure and removed himself, leaving her trembling, led him to smile at a much colder level. Two minutes, but it felt like an eternity, and when she felt the molten heat within her, she felt sick, tainted. A failure. She'd been broken, just like he wanted. Now she was in front of him, head down, ass up, cum oozing from her pussy, mixing with her blood on her body, between her thighs. She did not breathe, she made a set of stuttering gasps, her body trembling.

She remained where she was, as he gave her new clothes, picked to be as insulting to her as possible, and told her "Don them. Clad yourself in my gift to you."

As she did this, trembling, he then raised his fist and brought it down on her face as she made no effort to protect herself, her shirt barely covering her tits, leaving her with a swollen eye and a busted lip, and sinking back into the circle.

"Before I release you from your binding, I demand from you a promise. Until it is my destiny to meet you anew, no collection of me, no vengeance from you to me."

Death's mouth opened and she dully repeated the words.

Erik's face was stiff for a moment and then a cruel smile formed on his face.

"Now call yourself a selfish stuck up cunt who learned her lesson."

She repeated those words, too, the tears flowing down her face.

"Good, little Death, perhaps you've learned your lesson."

She heard but did not hear the words releasing her from her binding, but heard all too vividly the laughter echoing from his throat, as he stepped out into the swamp. Holding her sigil, Death picked it up and looked at it. Her vision was blurry, even as the healing power of an Endless meant the physical damage done to her was fairly simple to repair, at one level. This sigil, her job, her function, had brought her to something worse than what had led her to flee, to a deeper reality that would dampen the rest of her days. She took the sigil and threw it into the swamp, staring surprised for a moment when a shadowy form like that of a raven but not that of her brother's making caught it and looked at her with eyes of shock and worry.

Death fled.

In the broader multiverse, the effects of the Crisis began to undo themselves as Death's realm unraveled over the next few months. Events rippled outward and for all their cruelty, neither Darkseid nor Superboy-Prime were able to actually kill anything, and it was this that convinced Darkseid and Highfather to come to a temporary truce. Something had gone wrong somewhere. Not with the realm of the entity Nekron, whose control of the emotions of Undeath had emerged in a different sense. Death was gone, and the dead walked. Not in the horrific sense of mangled zombies, nor in the states of their own deaths. They walked whole, bemused. The Sunless Lands were lit, and reality convulsed.

None knew it, but the young woman who'd parlayed her beauty and done shameful things that compounded what Mr. E had done to her, deepened the sense of self-loathing she'd faced, all the way to Suicide Slum in Metropolis was the only one who could have fixed it. She had sucked off people, let them inside her, no part of her remained pure and untouched. The petty prostitution had gotten her just enough money to traverse a few thousand miles, but each further load increased the sense of filth coating her. She could not be Death, or an Endless. Not ever again. No Endless, not even her sister-brother, would have reduced themselves to blowing and fucking their way across the United States purely to end up here, for all of that. The short skirt and the mocking shirt he'd given her were long gone. She had on tattered jeans, a ragged jacket, and gloves with holes in them, and slept, underneath newspapers, in an alley, shivering. She shuddered again, her breathing low and slow, caressing her swelling belly. It was a cruel mockery of itself, that an act so cruel had made her......

She wanted to love it, she did.

Death slept in an alley with tears running down her face. She walked cautiously around Suicide Slums, not knowing what she faced, or how to navigate things. She saw the work of her realm collapsing but it was with a dull gaze, eyes that saw but did not truly see.

Then one day, a month later, her body convulsed in horrific pains and she could not truly remember, and did not want to remember, nor did she welcome the reality that a part of her was still able, if she wished, to do her function. She had seen the other her take the child, and look at the child with a forlorn gaze, and then walk toward a realm unknown. She was Death, after all, how could she have a child? Why would she be able to have a child in the first place? She did not see a young man with thick glasses staring at her in horror, then pointing to a tall bulky figure like a vagrant, whispering into his ear. Nor the triple-take and then his slow and deliberate steps, afraid lest he trigger or, or make her try to flee him. All she saw was the bloody mess between her legs and the image of the portion of her that had briefly appeared striding off and the sound of her own crying.

It was that sight that made her think, turn to someone who might be able to help. It was then that a powerfully built man who looked like a vagrant with a thick red beard and shining eyes extended his hand to her, and she took it, gazing at him with wonder and then grasped him, crying in wrenching sobs, not caring about her still-swollen belly and the dark stretch marks carved in as a winsome element of what could never truly be.

"Do you wish to see her?"

"Yes." It was a muted whisper.

"I hope Calliope knows how to help you."

No further words were said, only tears and a wrenching embrace.

Mr. E's Sanctum:

Mr. E stared with pleasure. Blood and a feather, and if he could harness them, he could perhaps become the new-

Hello, Erik.

It was a cold voice that greeted him and he saw a being as pale as the other one, the one he'd mastered. But this one was the superlative genderfluid blend of masculine and feminine, with glowing golden eyes. Behind it stood something, no someone else. Monstrously big, with a great red beard. Like Thunor of the Aesir, except he had a sinking feeling he knew exactly what this was.

That is not yours to claim, or to take. You hid yourself well during your deed, and for some time since.

He looked at Desire of the Endless with trepidation.

"I......I thought you hated your siblings."

No, even Dream I do not. Dream is an insufferable arrogant prick, absolutely, but that's all he is. He needs to be humbled. My older sister? She has been the only point of stability our family has had. You hurt her.

Then the massive being put his paw on Desire's shoulder and xie whirled around only to stare with stupefied wonder.

B-Brother?

"I'm not taking my title back, not right now, not for a very long time. But I know what happened to our sister. I've seen her. I know where she is."

"Tell me." It was not Desire, but Mr. E.

It was Destruction who stalked toward him and lifted him up with a single massive burly hand, smiling in his own cold and sinister look.

"You don't need to know. I do not intend to retake my title, but I shall enjoy doing this very much. The binding you placed on her means you'll live."

The cold smile intensified and it was the stale smell of a dead city that echoed from his mouth into Mr. E's ears "But you'll be surprised what you can live through" and with that Destruction's hands formed into a fist.

It took Mr. E intense magical healing for months to come out of it, and by the time he did, the feather and the blood were gone.

CALLIOPE'S SANCTUM, NEAR THEMYSCIRA:

A few weeks earlier, the muse Calliope had been surprised to see none other than Destruction of the Endless at her door. Or the entity that had once gone by that name. In his arms he held a crying figure, clad in tattered rags with an offensive stench. Her eyes widened and she stared in mute blank horror, jaw agape, to realize that this entity was none other than the missing Death, the second of the Endless to have gone missing since the captivity of Dream. Bowing, she took her, and held her cautiously. The sigil was gone, and Death's power to end life by a touch was not evident. She looked awful, and as she laid her down on a couch, Calliope stepped back. One of her breasts was visible, and her belly was-was-

"What happened to you?"

Death turned to her and spoke in a soft voice hoarse from tears:

"Something not too different from what happened to you, dear."

Both of them cried and Calliope went to work immediately to brew ambrosia. The Lord Shaper might be angry, in retrospect, that she did not tell him where his sister was, even in his white form as opposed to that of Morpheus. She did not care. Dream at best was self-absorbed, if he saw his sister in this state, there would be much much worse that followed.

She brewed the ambrosia, and gave it to Death to drink. Death took it without any qualms, feeling its healing power augmenting her own, which had ebbed with the sorrows she'd endured. Its taste was pleasantly sweet, not near as salty as the-her eyes blinked shut and she cried again, Calliope saying nothing and simply going to put her arms around her.

It was not longer thereafter that one of the Amazons of Themyscira, whose sorcery had detected the presence of two of the Endless, ventured cautiously near the outer edges of the divine realm where Calliope, who after everything had fewer qualms about being near mortals, was. She knocked, twice. Death looked terrified and cowered, placing her head between her hands and bent down, fearful to expose herself further to mortals.

She opened the door and it was the woman named after the Roman goddess, the only Roman name in all of Themyscira. Diana Prince looked at the cringing woman and asked a quiet question in Themysciran Greek: "Is it her?"

Calliope's response was a nod.

"I will tell the League that she has been found and convince the rest of the Dark team and the Sentinels of Magic to lay off the search."

Diana's hand on Calliope's arm was firm, her grip welcoming.

"If anyone can help her, it's you. The world of Men is cruel, isn't it?"

"Yes, yes it is."

And with that Diana turned away, and Death's head saw only her knees, as she trembled, weeping. Memories of kneeling, of taking things in her mouth, or other parts of her body, of being so weak without the sigil she'd thrown away. Part of her ached for it. Diana paused, then turned to Calliope, and handed her something bright and silver. 

"One of my colleagues found it in the swamps. She may not be ready for it yet, but it will be there when she is."

More deathless months passed as Calliope patiently tended to Death, helping her come to terms with her nightmares, treating her like a woman in need, not one of the Endless. Calliope herself found something pleasant, even wondrous here. What had happened to her with that author was being healed, and she could know she'd won over him. When Death thrashed and awoke in fearful shudders in the night, she was not alone, as Calliope herself had been. When she had needed a hug, she'd had no-one, but Death did. Ambrosia, what mortals would have called physical therapy and mages mystical therapy slowly and painfully worked Death back to who she was, and what she was.

The stretch marks remained, black scarring against her flesh, though she was easily able to remove it. As she knew Death's time with her was coming to an end, the day before she was given back her sigil, Calliope asked why she didn't heal them.

"I wanted to love her," was the only response and then quiet tears and a comforting hand.

The next day, as Calliope showed her the sigil, Death's hand remained caught by it, staring in indecision and fear. Behind her manifested two other of the Endless. One a stout and porcine-faced woman with sharp fangs, nude as the day she was born, blood running down her flesh from hooks. The other was clad in mesh netting and short shorts, hair in a quasi-punk cut. and it was she who went to Death, who was clad in robes of woven blackness that gleamed like starlight. She ran to her, holding her, holding her tight. Death paused.

She looked at her.

"YouV'E bEeN iN mY ReAlM tOO lOnG. CoMe HOmE."

With a sweet sad smile, Death knelt down and hugged her younger sister, thanking her for keeping her company those long months in the alleys, and then she went to Despair and put her hand on her shoulder and gave her a kiss on the cheek. It was not in Despair's nature to smile, but the neutral expression on her face had the same effect. Then with their encouraging nods, Death went to the ankh and clasped it in her hands and in a single flashing moment, death came back to existence itself. It was that same day that Mr. E awoke from his beating, fully healed.

The dead returned to their graves over night, and the strange and incoherent twists and turns of reality were still for a moment in time, as the universe set itself to rights.

A CENTURY AND A HALF LATER:

Death steeled herself. It was his time, and while Hob Gadling had become her own friend as well as Dream's due to her simply needing someone to talk to besides Calliope and Diana Prince, she would not give him the satisfaction.

She deliberately wore a top that left her midriff bare, and her top-hat.

He was old and stiff, the scars of Destruction's beating more than visible. But his smile was the same as it had been that day.

"Come back for more hmm?"

A dry old man's cackle followed.

"Help me get eternal youth and you and I, we could-"

Then his body stopped breathing and he stood gazing at her, his eyes fully restored in death. As he took her in, his gaze turned to her belly, and to what he knew all too well were what they were.

"Did the ch-"

"I did want to love her, Erik. It was not her fate to be born, like Rose Walker was."

Then as they turned to the Sunless lands, the silence and coldness of Death, who slipped back into the very old her she had been for so long, made the journey long and uncomfortable for him.

It was then that he saw briefly a very pale woman with bright blue eyes and blonde hair, and he froze. He turned back to her.

"Not her fate to be born, but now I am not alone. And you will never, ever know her, nor her name."

As he'd arrived at his destiny, usually mortals were to take the last steps themselves. Death's hand shoved him once with surpassing strength and then her steps moved away, and Mr. E met his just fate.

THE END OF TIME:

Death gazed at Mr. E with a look of cold and impotent rage. The only thing that stopped her from removing him from existence was knowing she had already done it.

"You can walk, Erik. And you can take the long way."

He turned, and then turned back to her as she raised her top further to show him the marks, and gazed at him with a look of cold defiance. He would think he'd beaten her, but in the end, she had endured. Timothy she sent back with kindness, and a look of fondness. He had saved her once and pointed her to the two who would bring her out of the months of coldness and loneliness and feeling herself forever tainted. The universe was closed, at last, and she was the only thing left.

Her hand raised and then from it formed something like lightning and like smoke, each of the two in perfect unity. The door was open, and she stepped through it, eyes dry, and face confident. Time to see what else was out there for her. She knew what she'd survived. The lightning smoke hit the material fabric of her multiverse and opened the door fully, and with a quiet look of serenity and determination, Death left. 



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